Haniela's: July 2011

Bamboo Stick as Cherry Pitter

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Bamboo Stick as  Cherry Pitter Tool
I'm secretly hoping that I'm not the only person alive who does not own a OXO Good Grips Cherry Pitter

, believe me I'm working towards getting one right now. Oh, I see, you don't believe me!
Seriously I don't own one and I'm not sure why I've never gotten one. I've heard about it a lot over the years though.
So  in case you are like me...cherry pitterless..ehm, I'm pretty sure that is not an existing word...
this post is for you.
I find that a bamboo stick can work as an alternative to a cherry pitter tool, obviously it is not as fancy and your hands will get a bit red from the cherry juice but it works. 
Push Flat End of a Bamboo Stick into the Center of the Cherry

Pit is removed

~♥~

KITCHEN HELPERS UNLIMITED



~I Love Those One-Bite Tomatoes~




As you all know I'm so behind with posting pictures from our garden, mainly because there is so much to do in there and I just don't have enough time to go through all the pics in time! Today I spent nearly 2 hours weeding, cleaning and preparing the area for a new crop of beans and peas, hopefully we get those in tonight or sometime over the weekend. I had to clean the zucchini/squash area, there were lots dead leaves and I don't like those to be sitting on the ground, it can cause the fungus to develop and that's a whole new set of problems.
Our Gourmet Squash is doing so well,  we haven't planned on having  triplets but we are now and still growing! I will probably pick some this coming week. Cucumbers are doing fine, with the last week's extreme heat over 100F pickling ones died so we planted new ones. I was able to can about 5 jars prior that.
As for the beautiful tomatoes, those are taking over the garden not only the  with their height(oh an one bird got stuck in them..they are so tall!!!)but their pure red color is so vibrant, you can see them from the street, don't let me start on the taste. They are just pure joy to pick and eat. 
We picked tons of scallions and let me tell you despite the fact  there was sweat dripping from my head and going down my back, my hair got stuck on my forehead, something was crawling on my leg and up my shirt... but the smell of those fresh scallions, oh that smell! It was like a nice breeze in the Summer heat.
  Next year I think I want to try garlic as well.
Scallions, July 30th, 2011

Squash/Zucchini July 7th, 2011

Squash/ Zucchini July 7th, 2011


Tomato Tree July 7th, 2011
July 30th, 2011


We have several varieties of tomatoes this year, I love them all but I have a soft spot for "Julienne" they have pinkish color and are super sweet.
Tomatoes, July 30th, 2011
The most producing Squash : Gourmet Squash, July 30th, 2011
Tomatoes, July 7th, 2011
Tomatoes, July 30th, 2011


I think this will be my lunch :
  whole grain pasta with fresh scallions, tomatoes and fresh basil sprinkled with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
~♥~

~Peach Mousse Torte~

Wednesday, July 27, 2011



While I was preparing  Squash soup from over 10 kilos(over 22 pounds) of gourmet squash I sent my other half to the farmer's market to do some shopping  .He knows I love fruit and always brings me something I haven't written on the list.  Gotta love that.This time he bought some delicious peaches.
It was hot last week, very hot,  and temperatures in triple digits are enough for me to scare me and I stay  away from baking, unless of course it is absolutely necessary and so I decided to make a simple and delicious Summer treat Peach mouse torte,  in fact this is a no bake dessert which makes it perfect for  the Summer.
Would be great if I had ladyfingers, those would be perfect to use with mousse but I didn't (didn't feel like baking them)so I compromised and used one of my favorites - 
Ulker Tea Biscuits (Petit Beurre) Turkish 175 gram package
I get them in the Russian Store called Net Cost Market, they sell these in bulk. They are delicious and store well too. Love them. 
I also use these for my Banana in Chocolate
I let you on a little secret, I love dipping these in milk, that is without a doubt one of my favorite snacks.
You could make this dessert with any seasonal fruit, but today we are having 

Peach Mouse Torte


You need:
loaf pan, plastic wrap
Fruit Puree
Swiss Meringue
Gelatin
Heavy Whipping Cream
tea biscuits or ladyfingers




To make Fruit Puree

5large ripe peaches
depending on how sweet they are add sugar or honey, I added 1/4 cup honey
1 whole star anise
juice of one lemon

Wash peaches, remove the pit and slice them, and cook  them with  honey, star anise and lemon juice   on medium heat, stirring occasionally, especially in the beginning stir more frequently, once they become  soft, let them simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool a bit, remove anise star and process in the blender or food processor, strain through a fine mesh sieve and reserve for later use. Store in the fridge. You can use fruit puree as a sauce with your ice cream, in your yogurt or you can make delicious mousse.
Fruit puree can be made ahead of time. Once ready to use, make sure you bring the puree to room temperature.

Swiss Meringue

4egg whites
120grams/ 4 1/4 oz  granulated sugar

pinch of salt

Place the egg whites, sugar and pinch of salt in a clean bowl of your mixer and place it over a pot of simmering water, whisking constantly, until egg whites get too hot to touch, you want the sugar to dissolve and bring the egg whites to a safe temperature for use. Once your egg whites get hot to the touch, continue whisking for about 2 more minutes, then remove from heat and using a hand or  a stand mixer and whip it on high
 until it is stiff and it has cooled off , but don't over beat them as they will get grainy. Once they lukewarm it is fine to stop beating.

Gelatin

16grams/0.6oz -about 1tbl gelatin
60grams/2oz water

Using a small dish or a cup, bloom gelatin in the water for about 5 minutes, then either place it over a simmering water and stir until dissolved, or I use microwave, 1/2power setting for 5-10 seconds, until dissolved, but watch it carefully so it doesn't boil or gets very hot.
Let cool slightly until ready to use




Heavy Whipping Cream
 about 180gram/6.4oz, or a 1 1/2cup heavy whipping cream


Using a mixer or a whisk, whip the cream until soft peaks are formed


Folding the Mousse and Layering the Torte
Line the loaf pan with plastic wrap

At this point you should have prepared
Fruit puree, Swiss meringue, and Dissolved gelatin


Add dissolved and  slightly cooled gelatin to the room temperature fruit puree, gently fold in swiss meringue and then fold in whipped heavy cream.

Layer mousse into the prepared pan that you lined with plastic wrap. Start with mousse and then alternate layers of vanilla tea biscuits or graham crackers or ladyfingers. Finish with a layer of mousse. Cover with plastic wrap, give the pan a little tap and refrigerate overnight. 
Unmold the torte onto a clean serving dish , slice and serve. Can be stored in the fridge once prepared until ready to use.
~♥~

~Chocolate Vanilla Raspberry Rainbow Birthday Cake~

Monday, July 25, 2011


This is the cake I made for a little boy turning 2. I wanted the cake to be happy and colorful and rainbow colors seemed like a perfect match for the occasion plus I've always wanted to make a rainbow cake.
I made a chocolate and vanilla cake filled with raspberry jam and vanilla cream cheese, frosted with vanilla cream cheese. I have to say I've come to love these flavors of moist cake and jam and since my friend who ordered the cake is allergic to egg whites I used cream cheese frosting as an alternative to swiss buttercream.

Bellow you can find all 4 recipes I used to make this cake and instructions of how to make rainbow sides.

This yellow vanilla cake alone is delicious, it is moist and has a velvety texture.
Egg White Free Sponge Cake (recipe adapted from The Cake Bible
)
(9inch cake)
12 large egg yolks
3/4cup +2tbl sugar
1cup sifted cake flour
3tbl unsifted cornstarch
1/4 cup water
2tsp vanilla extract


Oven 350F
Butter, Line the bottom and sides of the 9inch round cake pan with parchment paper, and butter again and flour the pan, shake the excessive flour out off the pan.

Prepare Clarified Butter
Make Clarified Butter from  9tbl of butter (130grams)
Once you have clarified butter add vanilla extract and put aside, you want the clarified butter be warm when adding to the cake butter but not hot. If needed to cool off simple place the bowl with clarified butter into a cold bath and stir for several minutes until it is just warm but not hot.

Flour Mixture
In a medium size bowl sift together sifted cake flour  and cornstarch. Set aside.

 Egg Yolk Mixture
Put egg yolks and sugar into the bowl of your mixer and set the bowl over the pan of simmering water. Whisk until egg yolk mixture is hot to the touch, several minutes. Remove from the heat and using a wire attachment beat the egg yolk mixture on high, until it triples in volumes, for about 3-5 minutes.Is using hand held mixer this will take longer.


Cake Batter - Folding
Sift about 1/2 of the flour into the beaten flour mixture and using
 a large balloon whisk fold it in, continue with remaining flour.
At last in 2 additions add warm clarified butter, gently fold it in  and immediately  pour the batter into a prepared cake pan.
Make sure you don't open the oven during baking. My oven bakes this cake in 30 minutes, so this is when I first check if it is done, if you see cake is not done yet leave it in the oven for additional 5 minutes.Cake will be golden brown on the top once baked.
Opening the oven during baking could cause the cake to fall.
Invert the baked cake onto a greased cutting board and let cool completely. Store wrapped in the plastic foil in the fridge until ready to use. Cake can be refrigerated for about of 4 days, cake can be also frozen.

~

Recipe for chocolate cake can be also used to make cupcakes, trick is to use a high quality cocoa powder, it makes all the difference.
German Chocolate Cake 
(9 inch cake)
1 1/2 Cup Sugar
1 1/4 cup + 2tbl All purpose Flour
1/2 cup +1tbl unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/8 tsp baking soda
1 1/8 tsp baking powder
3/4tsp salt
2eggs
1/3 cup oil
1tbl vanilla extract
3/4 cup boiling water

 Oven at 350F
Butter, Line the bottom and sides of the 9inch round cake pan with parchment paper, and butter again and flour the pan, shake the excessive flour out off the pan.

Dry Ingredients
In a large bowl of your mixer, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Mix on low speed for 30 second until ingredients are well combined.
Wet ingredients
In a medium size bowl, using a fork combine together  buttermilk, oil, eggs, vanilla extract

Batter
Add wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mix the batter for 5 minutes on low speed.
Then add boiling water and mix on low speed just until batter comes together, Batter will be thin.

Pour the batter into a prepared pan, bake for 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool cake in the pan, then carefully invert the cake onto cutting board, store wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge until ready to use Bring to room temperature before serving.

~

Cream Cheese Frosting
3 packages of cream cheese
3 1/2 sticks of room temperature butter
6 cups of powdered, add more if you'd like
1/2cup to 3/4 cup heavy cream

Beat butter until smooth, add cream cheese, 1/2 of the package at a time, beating well after each addition. Add powdered sugar and heavy, gradually, one cup of powdered sugar at a time, alternating with heavy cream, mix on low speed and gradually increase speed and mix until smooth and desired consistency is reached, add vanilla extract and mix until combined. Set aside until ready to frost the cake
*to make chocolate cream cheese frosting, add 1/4cup good quality cocoa,add more sugar if desired


Filling the Cake and Crumb Coat
Once both cakes are cooled, cut them in half, you should have 4 cake layers. Fill the cake, alternating generous amount of raspberry jam and vanilla cream cheese(about 1/2 to 1cup per layer)
Once your cake if filled, you will need to do a crumb coat  using white vanilla cream cheese.

Once you have your cake crumb coated you can stabilize/dowel the cake using drinking straws,  especially if you are planning on transporting the cake. 
Once you have the drinking straws in, you can now chill the cake for several hours. You want the crumb coat be firm before you apply the final frosting.


* if you want to make sure your cake stays moist you can also make a simple sugar syrup and brush each cake layer with cooled vanilla flavored sugar syrup and then fill the cake.
Simple Sugar Syrup
3parts of water
1part of sugar
flavoring of your choice, I like to use vanilla, chocolate or lemon,depending on the cake
Simmer water with sugar until it comes to boil and sugar is dissolved, let it boil for additional 1 minutes, but don't go  over 3 minutes, syrup will get thicker longer you cook it. Once it is cooled add the flavoring.
Use as desired.

Making Rainbow Sides

First frost the top of the cake with white vanilla cream cheese. 
Divide remaining white vanilla cream cheese into 6 cups,  color each portion with a rainbow color
red,orange, yellow, green blue, purple
Fill piping bags or sandwich bag with colored frosting. Snip of the end of the piping bag or sandwich bag. Pipe vertical lines onto the cake, alternating colors to create a rainbow effect, continue around the whole cake.
Chill the cake for about 30 minutes. Using a tip of a small angled spatula, starting at the bottom of the frosted cake gently move spatula upward creating lines like shown below. You may have to wipe off excess frosting between. Refrigerate until ready to serve. If chilled let the cake sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving.
Ribbon Cake Banner





~♥~

Linking to Tidy Mom

~ Mariah Carey Cookies~

Saturday, July 23, 2011

 


Yesterday I showed you "Vintage" Cookies for the 50th B-day party and today is time to show you the rest.
 I learned that gentleman celebrating is a huge fan of Mariah Carey and so whom better to sing to him than Mariah on his Big 50th, right? Even though  she will not make a personal appearance at the party.
For Mariah Carey image I used royal icing transfers along with the dry - wet application, meaning I applied the royal icing transfers immediately  after I flooded the cookies.
Party is today and so I really hope these will make it a bit more special.
Details  are painted with Americolor Food Marker Writers- 10 Color Pack

~♥~
Linking to Tidy Mom

~Classy Cookies for 50th Birthday~

Friday, July 22, 2011

 

A friend of mine is going to a 50th Birthday Party tomorrow  and she asked me to make  some cookies. It is a gag party and so I presented several gag ideas to her and though this one is not so much gag  as it  is classy  she liked this  more than gag designs. You should see some of the other designs, denture floating in the glass of water, hearing device, over the hill crossing sign..etc. I'm actually really glad she picked this one  and I think she is too, they are classy  but not boring.

As for the design I can't really take the credit as it came off the T-shirt. Funny thing is when you search for gag party ideas all kinds of silly things will come up, most of them not usable for cookies at all. 
People put all kinds of things on their T-shirts and so I searched  a gag t-shirt idea and this one really caught my eye. I changed the color a bit to make it  suitable for the man of the hour.

My biggest concern was the writing, as  it had to be  kind  of fancy, I don't own a kopycake so everything is done freehand and I used small sandwich bags for writing.

Cookie Facts
~♥~

How To Store Vegetables

Thursday, July 21, 2011


This Week's Kitchen Helper is a notoriously Famous Paper Towel. I know what you are thinking (Nothing new, we know that already!)
We all agree that Paper Towel is a such a great multitasker. 
From spills to napkins, sandwich wrappers to pretty hand made doilies..anything is possible, right ?
Storing Vegetables and Herbs with a Piece of Paper Towel

I love herbs and vegetables and often I find myself, especially now that we have a big garden, with an abundance of produce, trying to keep them fresh without going soft or bad is always  a challenging task.
I've been using a little trick to keep my herbs and veggies fresh. I use fresh herbs every day and so it very important to me that they are fresh with a beautiful fragrance.
When packaging, I wrap them in a piece of  a paper towel and them I put them into the ziploc bag and into the fridge.
I picked up this tip years ago, first I was only using it to store my herbs but about 2 years ago I started using it for all my vegetables. What a difference!  Right now I have fresh peas that we picked about 3 weeks ago  and they are still crisp and fresh, just because I'm storing them in a ziploc bag with a piece of paper towel.I had some few days ago, they are still sweet and delicious.
It really works. Paper towel absorbs the moisture and once it gets wet I replace it with a fresh one.
I've had fresh herbs in my fridge for 2 weeks, wanted to use them few days ago and once I unwrapped them from the paper towel I could smell them as if they were picked few minutes ago, they were bright green and crisp.

Below is a little tour of the process.
Fresh  String Beans and Herbs.
 I really hope you find this tip useful, give it a try and you'll be surprised with the results.
 

~Template for Calendar Cookies~

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Some of you emailed me asking for the instructions for How to make Stencil  Templates I used for my Calendar Cookies.
I tried to explain my process below, it is quite easy, I just hope I'm clear enough so you  can get the idea how I made these. I'm sure you'll be able to achieve straight lines once you make these.

You need
ruler
 Chopping board(I use this to prevent my table getting ruined while I work with exacto knife)
pencil or pen
sheet of paper, on the heavier side

1. 
 First I made a design template for the cookie, like this one you see below. It was made to fit a square cookie about 3 inches.

2.
Using the  template above I made 2 separate stencil templates(the ones I used to make the lines on my cookies), one with horizontal lines and one with vertical lines, as you see there are 4 horizontal lines and 3 vertical ones, I traced horizontal and vertical lines individually yielding to 2 separate stencil templates. Using pencil and a ruler I made each line about 1.5mm/1/16 inch thick.
When tracing onto a white heavier paper you may have a hard time tracing lines without using a back light, in this case simple place the design template onto the window(use a piece of tape to attach it so it stays at place if needed) and place blank heavy paper on the top, using a ruler and a pen trace the lines onto your heavy paper. You must use ruler for this or lines won't be straight, unless you can draw super straight lines.


3. Now, place a cutting board on your table, place your vertical stencil template on top, using an Xacto X3601 N0. 1 Precision Knife With Safety Cap
 and a ruler cut each line individually, like shown in the picture below. You may have to push harder with your exacto knife depending on how thick the paper is, you want to cut through the paper.
Once you have all lines cut through, simply cut the ends and remove the little piece of paper that should be about 1.5mm(1/16inch) thick, you should be left with a piece of paper that will have see through lines.
Continue with second template.

4.
Once you are ready to draw onto the cookies. Use first template, in my case I used horizontal one, finish off all the cookies, this will give the food coloring from the edible pen chance to dry a bit and then continue with vertical template, making vertical lines. I really hope this makes sense to you.


~♥~

~Caramelized Banana Blueberry Cupcakes~

Monday, July 18, 2011


One word that would describe these would probably be....cupcakelicious...everything about these is delicious. Banana cupcake is decadently moist and you can really taste the banana!
I was torn when it came to deciding on the frosting flavor; I went with my instincts : banana and blueberry make a perfect marriage in the yogurts, parfaits, and other frozen or baked goods so I decided on blueberry mousse.Can I just tell you that this combo really blew me away, it's like they both have been secretly in love and finally they said " I DO". You don't need much to enjoy these as they are good just like that , but  I thought they needed a little garnish and since on my FB page many of you suggested caramel I added a slice of  cooled caramelized banana with a piece of caramel candy I made.
You could easily make this into a 9 inch cake if you'd like.
You can start working on the blueberry mousse frosting day or two before.I prepared my fruit puree during the week and had it in the fridge until I was ready to use it, just make sure you bring the puree to room temperature before using.

Caramelized Banana Cupcakes 
(about 16-18 standard size cupcakes)
125 grams/4oz/ room temperature butter
175/6oz/ granulated sugar
2eggs
2tbl boiling milk
1tsp baking soda
225grams/8oz/ all purpose flour
1tsp baking powder
Banana Puree from 4 Caramelized Bananas :
4 large bananas
1tbl brown sugar
1tbl butter

oven at 180C/350F/
line muffin pan with liners

Prepare Banana Puree
in the skillet heat butter and brown sugar, add sliced banana and cook on medium heat until caramelized, this will take several minutes, once done, remove from heat and mash with a fork, let cool to room temperature.

Making Cupcake Batter
Sift flour and baking powder in a medium bowl.Set aside.
 In a mixer beat butter and sugar, until light and fluffy add eggs, one at a time, beat until smooth, add cooled mashed banana, mix just until combined. Add baking soda that you dissolved in 2tbl boiling milk, mix until incorporated. Gradually add flour mixture.
Spoon Batter into the prepared muffin pan, bake for about 18-20 minutes, they should be very lightly brown on the top, check with the toothpick as well.
Cool on the cooling rack

Blueberry Mousse Frosting
3 cups blueberries
1/2 cup honey or sugar
3 cups heavy cream
3tbl sugar or to taste
1 1/2 tbl unflavored gelatin
3tbl heavy cream

Make Fruit Puree
Cook Blueberries and sugar until soft, puree fruit in food processor or blender, press through a fine mesh strainer, reserve puree and store in the fridge until ready to use.Bring to room temperature when ready to use-important

Gelatin
Using a small dish or a cup, bloom gelatin in the heavy cream  for about 5 minutes, then either place it over a simmering water and stir until dissolved, or I use microwave, 1/2power setting for 5-10 seconds, until dissolved, but watch it carefully so it doesn't boil or gets very hot.
Let cool slightly until ready to use.

 Heavy Cream and Folding
Beat heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks are formed add 3tbl sugar.
Add gelatin to room temperature  fruit puree and fold in.
Add about 1/3 whipped heavy cream into the puree and fold in, continue with remaining heavy cream, don't stir, fold the mixture until it comes together and no streaks are visible.
Fit the pastry bag with large round piping nozzle, fill the bag with mousse filling and frost the cupcakes. Place the cupcakes into the fridge into an airtight container, at least for several hours or overnight, this helps mousse to set, as well as flavors get more vibrant. 

Garnish
You can enjoy cupcakes as they are or if you'd like to add a little garnish I suggest using cooled slices of caramelized banana, and if you feel extra ambitious add caramel candy on the top

Caramelized Banana Slices  (for 18 cupcakes)
2 bananas, sliced into about 1/2-1 inch slices
1tbl brown sugar
1tbl butter
Melt butter and brown sugar on the skillet, place slices into the skilled and cook on medium high, for several minute, gently turn the slices and cook on another side. Once done, let cool completely before using as garnish for your cupcakes

Caramel Candy
1/2cup+1tbl white granulated sugar
2 tbl corn syrup
2tbl water

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, using a piece of paper towel that you dipped in vegetable oil, oil the aluminum foil, you need a very thin layer, you don't want oil to be forming puddles. Set aside
Cook in until sugar is dissolved, bring to boil, turn the heat to medium to low, continue cooking, mixture will be boiling,  brush the sides of the pan water to prevent sugar crystallizing. Cook until temperature reaches 300-310F(148-154C) Remove from heat and pour the mixture into a heat proof dish, I used tempered glass bowl.Be very very careful this mixture is extremely hot, do not touch with bare hands
Using a spoon or a fork, dip the utensil into the hot caramel and go zic zac across the prepared aluminum foil, go with your imagination. Repeat until you have no caramel left. Let the caramel harden.
Using both hands gently flip aluminum foil onto a greased cutting board, gently tearing the aluminum foil peel the foil leaving the hard candy on the cutting board. Discard aluminum foil. Using knife chop the candy into desired size and decorate your cupcakes. Caramel can be stored in a container up to one day, it will get very sticky once exposed to humidity.


Aren't they pretty?
~♥~
Linking to Tidy Mom 

Drinking Straws

Thursday, July 14, 2011


 

In this week's Kitchen Helpers Unlimited  I'm featuring my old time favorite..a Drinking Straw, though at home  I hardly ever use it for its original purpose : sipping a drink.
Drinking straws have been around for centuries, first Egyptians used them to sip the beer, yes they did and  it is to be believed that Babylonian royalty  used golden straws for their beer sipping, later on 1888 Marvin Stone patented spiral winding process to manufacture paper drinking straws; actually before paper straws people used natural rye grass straws.
Nowdays drinking straws come in so many designs and shapes, did you know they can be in the shape of a name? Drinking straw is a functional accessory for any drink and even though that is their main purpose they are very useful to have around in the kitchen as well.

1.Freezing Vegetables and other food items
- drinking straw can be used to suck the air out of the plastic freezer bag with the closure
When I first learned about this, I was very sceptical but after few tries I was happy I tried it. 
It works!
String Bean Tart

2. Cookie Making
One day, a long time ago  I was making Christmas Cookie Ornaments and I needed to make a hole for the ribbon to go through so I can hang them around the house and so I used a drinking straw, not really knowing everybody is using drinking straw to make a hole in the cookie.
 

Ballerina Cookies

3. Cake Inner Supports
You'd be surprised how strong drinking straws are! I learned about it in a really amazing book Professional Cake Decorating  by Toba Garrett, and so I tried it and it works and is so very easy. Simply insert drinking straw into the cake and then  using scissors cut the drinking straw to desired length. In this cake below I used drinking straws for bottom and top tier and for the middle support I used a bamboo stick
Silver and White Engagement Cake