Thursday, August 21, 2008

On Top of Spaghetti...

It's been a while since I had some good ol' fashioned spaghetti and meatballs... the last time I had it, it was of the swanky variety at The White Rabbit, which is a beautiful place, and I'm not just saying that cos the owners are my friends. I also happen to like the food there, despite having heard others complain about it. From the first time I visited the restaurant, I've yet to find fault with the food. And I especially love their bread! Everytime I go there I just can't wait for the bread basket to hit my table. The onion roll is just so yummy. But anyways... back to the spaghetti and meatballs. The version they serve at TWR has foie gras in it, which is hidden in each little meatball. Delish! Unfortunately, funds are running somewhat low this month, after some mammoth spending in the last few weeks. So what's a girl to do when she can't exactly afford to go out and have dinner at TWR cos she's already spent way too much on shopping and her soon-to-be-acquired iPhone 3G? She makes some herself, that's what!My little meatballs. I've made some giant-ass ones before, but I find the little guys more appealing. Browning the little fellas and sealing in the juices!Simmering the sauce, just waiting to throw in the meatballs so they can cook in the tomatoey goodness.I'm good with sharing the love. Good ol' spaghetti & meatballs, for my boy's lunch tomorrow.

Homestyle Spaghetti & Meatballs
For the meatballs:
1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp dried basil
1 egg, beaten
a splash of Worcestershire
a couple cloves of garlic, chopped
salt and black pepper

For the sauce:
2 tbsp olive oil
crushed red pepper flakes (use as much as you like, depending on how hot you want it)
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup beef stock
1 (28oz.) can crushed tomatoes
fresh basil, thinly sliced
fresh parsley, chopped

1. To make the meatballs, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Form into meatballs of your preferred size, and then cover with cling wrap and store in the fridge until ready to use.
2. For the sauce, heat oil over medium heat. Add red pepper flakes, onion and garlic and saute for 5 to 7 minutes. Add beef stock, crushed tomatoes and herbs. Bring to a boil and then let simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Brown the meatballs in a little bit of olive oil. Add meatballs to the simmering sauce. Let the sauce cook down till you reach the desired thickness. (I like to let it simmer for quite a while so I get a thicker sauce)

Doggone It!

I've been trying out some recipes for doggy treats for some time now, but somehow I never got around to writing about it. But anyhoo... I got to thinking that since I'm such a big fan of chocolate chip cookies, and am always on the hunt for the best recipe, why not extend the search to include chocolate chip cookies for my canine companions? My boy's aunt owns a pet shop which stocks a huge range of pet supplies, and I found this sack of carob treats amidst doggy sashimi and doggy bacon strips. I've been looking for carob for a while now, so I was pretty happy I found these.Choc Drops for dogs. It's supposedly enriched with vitamins too! All in a convenient resealable bag. Reese my Jack Russell is wondering why I am invading his bed space.

Next stop: the Chocolick Dog Treats website. They had a recipe for Chocolick Dog Cookies, which turned out to be peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Sounded pretty good to me, so I gave it a go. Appearance-wise, they turned out like normal cookies, with a somewhat softer texture like a chewy cookie, rather than those crisp and crunchy ones. Taste-wise, Reese really liked these, although he is a bit of a greedy pooch. I think the only time he turned down a treat was when I made the doggy ginger snaps. For some reason he sniffed those and decided he wasn't going to like 'em.
I think these look pretty damn good.This is about the only time I get Reese's undivided attention: when I have food.This is Reese sitting at my feet, sending me subliminal messages to give him more cookies.

Chocolick Dog Cookies
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1½ cups Chocolick chips
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup milk
2 eggs
¼ cup honey

1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
2. Combine the flour and baking powder in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine the peanut butter, milk, eggs and honey. Mix well.
3. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. After the batter has come together, fold in the choc chips.
4. Drop cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for about 18 to 20 minutes, depending on how big you've made your cookies. Cool on a wire rack.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

UBC Ponderosa Cake

It's been some time since I graduated from UBC... and boy do I miss my uni life. I made some of the most awesome friends, I had tons of fun, I really loved it in Vancouver, and all in all it was definitely an experience that I'm really happy to have had. I lived on campus for three out of my four years in UBC, the first two of which involved consuming a fair amount of cafeteria food. All's I can say is, they had a great sandwich bar, and they had good desserts. I loved their gigantic rice krispie treats, and the chocolate chip cookies. And I used to get my cousin the white chocolate macadamia nut cookies, which he adored. And then there was this banana cake, which I would get sometimes, but one of my best friends really loved it and used to get it all the time. He'd take it back with him to his room for a sugar boost during his marathon work/study sessions (he was in engineering so he kept insane hours). So when I chanced upon this recipe, I had to try it. Of course it didn't hurt that I'd just been given 2 overripe bananas that I needed to use pronto. I think the cake turned out pretty good, really moist and not too sweet. Yumms!

UBC Ponderosa Cake
113g butter
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla
¾ cup mashed banana (about 2 bananas)
½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ cup sour cream
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ cup brown sugar
¾ cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Grease an 8-inch square pan.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside. Mix together the cinnamon and brown sugar. Set aside.
3. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, then vanilla and bananas. Add flour mixture and sour cream alternately to the batter.
4. Pour half the batter into the prepared pan, then sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar mixture and half the chocolate chips on top. Top with remaining batter, and sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar and chocolate chips. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Chocolatey-cinnamony-banana goodness.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Itsy Bitsy Blueberry Babies

I couldn't stop myself from buying yet more blueberries... in my defence they were still on sale so why not? Blueberries are just so yummy. Plus I'd seen this post with the most adorable little babycakes ever, and since I didn't wanna shell out big bucks for cherries, I thought I could make a blueberry version. I will get around to making that recipe I hope. Fingers crossed cherries go on sale at some point.

So. Inspired by those little cherry darlings, I knew I wanted to make mini babycakes, with blueberries. I ended up using a cupcake recipe I'd used before which has almond meal in it, and I thought it would go well with the blueberries. To keep things simple, I topped these li'l babes off with a simple lemon icing (just mix icing sugar and fresh lemon juice till you get the consistency you're after) and finished them off with yet more blueberries.
Hot naked babycakes, fresh from the oven!Adorable blueberry babycakes!

Blueberry Babycakes
4 oz. butter, softened
4 oz. sugar
3 eggs
4 oz. ground almond meal
2 oz. self-raising flour
1 tsp vanilla
fresh blueberries

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Add in eggs alternately with almond meal and beat until smooth.
3. Gently fold in flour. Mix just until incorporated.
4. Line mini muffin tray with cupcake papers, and drop a small amount of batter into each. Place a single blueberry in the batter, and then top off with a bit more batter. Bake for about 15 minutes, until cupcakes are golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

One last photo for posterity.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Blueberry Buzz

I managed to score some blueberries on sale at the supermarket the other day, which is awesome cos more often than not blueberries (along with all the other berries) usually cost about an arm and a leg in these parts. I came across this recipe a couple weeks back, and I actually made it once before to try and it turned out fabulous. It's definitely a keeper. So when I got one of those "we have no preference" orders, this cake was at the top of my mind.

Cake batter sprinkled with goldenlicious crumb topping and about to be popped into the oven.Full of blueberry goodness.I always love the cake corners. Makes me wanna sneak a bite!

Sour Cream Blueberry Crumb Cake
(adapted from Tish Boyle's The Cake Book)

Crumb topping:
1 cup flour
¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
99g butter, melted

1½ cups flour
¼ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup sour cream
1½ tsp vanilla
141g butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs

For the crumb topping:
1. Mix all the ingredients together (add butter last) and stir with a fork, until butter is absorbed and all the ingredients are uniformly moistened.
For the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. Toss blueberries with 1 tbsp of flour mixture until evenly coated. Whisk together sour cream and vanilla.
4. Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions and sour cream mixture in 2 additions, then fold in blueberries. Pour into prepared pan, then sprinkle crumb topping evenly on top. Bake about 45 minutes, then cool on rack.