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sugar plum

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  1. I made the Mango Bread (p.45) this afternoon. I only own a glass pyrex loaf pan so I baked it at lower temperature to compensate. Was this a correct assumption? I tried to search on the site for the cooking time difference between metal and glass baking pans and couldn't find anything on the topic. I should have just used the recommended 350 degrees as it took forever to finally set in the middle. I think it was in the oven for over 2 hours. It's definately overbaked and dry on the ends. I lined my loaf pan with parchment paper with some overhang. I find it makes the removal from the pan much, much, much easier. Very tasty loaf. I love the unique combination of the fruit/spices/lime. Definately a nice change from the usual banana bread.
  2. How about George in Yaletown? http://www.georgelounge.com/
  3. It was a stupid choice--being it's almost November--but I've been longing to bake the White Chocolate Patty Cake (p.284-285) since I first flipped through this book. I mean 12 ozs of white chocolate...how can that be bad??!! In fact, it didn't turn out very well at all. First, I overbaked the cake so when I patted down the edges they basically crumbled beneath my fingers. When I re-attempt this recipe next summer (during raspberry season!), I'll remember to take it out after the suggested 26-28 mins. I had it in the oven for over 45 mins because the middle of the cakes still appeared to be raw. Secondly, my raspberry crush was very liquidy. I tried to rectify this by poking holes in the cake as to absorb some of the "raspberry lake" that was forming on it. We'll see how this worked when I slice into it later on... Not a very successful 2nd attempt from this book (my first attempt was the Mocha Brownie cake) but it's all part of the learning process, eh?
  4. Over the past few days, I baked a batch of peanut butter crisscrosses (p.78) and cinnamon squares (p.210). For the crisscrosses, I followed the recipe exactly--dividing the dough by level tablespoon--and wound up with over 50 2-2.5 inch cookies. The recipe says it would make ~40 cookies. They still took about 12 minutes to bake. My cinnamon squares took about an hour baking time (at 350F) to fully set in the middle. I don't know what happened to my frosting for the squares. It ended up looking and acting more like a glaze. I have a sneaky suspicion that it had something to do with my amateur technique (I nuked the chopped chocolate and butter in the microwave instead of using a double boiler). Both were delicious!
  5. I made the apple coconut family cake (p. 214) this evening. This is my interpretation of what she calls a "sunburst pattern"! What you get when someone completely uncreative is left to her own devices with that sort of instruction. I used 3 large Golden Delicious apples and I think the recipe may have called for a smaller apple? All those apples made for a wet batter. Instead of the 45-50 minutes it took ~1 hour to bake. I also found that I had to use the mixer to get the major lumps out when mixing the wet and dry ingredients. The recommended whisk/spatula was just not enough.
  6. More from Magnolia's banana cake with white chocolate cream cheese frosting. Tasty but awfully sweet. I've had a few failures from this book so this cake was a welcome and suprising success.
  7. Midnight Crackles (p.74) are a chocolate lover's dream! They filled our condo with such a wonderful aroma as they were baking this evening. You're right Dorie, a few to nibble on just doesn't do the trick. I'm sure I'll be craving one of these delicious chocolate treats in the wee hours of the morning. As a recipe note, I found that I had to adjust the baking time slightly to ~9 mins (I have an oven thermometer so I kept it at the suggested 350F). Any longer and the bottoms of the cookies got a little too dark for my liking.
  8. I'd be up for this! I just bought the book from a used book store a few weeks ago. I've only made the Mocha Brownie cake and would love any excuse to bake more! Now where should we start?
  9. Here is my rendition of Dorie's lemon poppy seed (p. 10) and chocolate-chocolate chunk (p.19) muffins. They're all packed up and ready to be taken to work tomorrow morning! This is my first "photo post" so bear with me. I'm not too swift with the camera OR the computer. Tonight, I also made the dough for the Midnight Crackle cookies. Plan to bake them off tomorrow night. This whole thing is becoming quite addictive...
  10. I began my foray into this book with the World Peace Cookies. This is my second attempt with this recipe and for some reason this time around didn't go as well as the first try from "Paris Sweets". Weird. It's the same recipe! I found the dough very dry so as I sliced the cookies off they tended to fall apart. I soldiered on and followed Dorie's recommendation to just patch them back together. Continuing on with my chocolate trend, I made the Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk muffins yesterday. They are delicious but not very "pretty" to look at. I was a bit disappointed. The batter is quite dry so when I was distributing it into each muffin cup, I didn't achieve the lovely rounded tops that I had hoped for. I should have used an ice cream scoop or something like that. Oh well...onto the next recipe! I've got a huge hunk of Callebaut bittersweet in my baking cupboard. I may tackle the recipe for the Midnight Crackles cookies.
  11. We ate at Olea on our way back from the Oregon coast in June. I loved the food however, I found it very "open concept"...not quiet. Personally, when I'm looking to have a romantic meal, I enjoy a little privacy and don't like to feel overly exposed. Olea is kind of like that. Perfect for a meal with a friend or as a big family but not really for a couple. Just my opinion. I do believe they have a private dining room at the back of the restaurant for small groups. I tried to find my receipt from our meal but couldn't. I believe I had two glasses of wine and my boyfriend had one of their speciality martinis and a glass of wine with dinner. I had their 11 vegetable salad and a pasta main. He had a starter and a main as well but I can't recall what (it was almost 2 months ago!). Our bill was just ~$100-120. Somewhere around that. Our server was very knowledgable about menu. I remember being very impressed with her service. The quality of the food was superb and I found it to be reasonably priced (although I become quite accustomed to spending a "few bucks" on dining out). I loved walking through the Pearl District to get to Olea. It's a great part of Portland to check out. We stayed at the Hotel Lucia which is just a short walk to the restaurant. Wish I could give you a few tips on places to dine on the Oregon Coast but we were camping and most of our meals were over a campfire courtesy of Safeway! Portland was my treat at the end of a week of "roughing it". Have a wonderful trip.
  12. We were there on Friday night. My SO started with the octopus salad and then had the halibut with grilled chorizo and prawns. I kept to my vegetarian ways with a main of pea and ricotta ravioli and as a starter, the mixed greens with tomato fondue. We shared a bottle of Blue Mountain Pinot Blanc. For dessert, the SO had the banoffi pie (which was actually a deconstructed version) and I had the coupe glacee (chocolate sundae with homemade marshmallows, yum!). Parkside lived up to all expectations. I've been wanting to dine there for quite some time after reading all the positive reviews on eGullet. We will definately be back again...possibly when the Valrhona tart and/or sticky toffee pudding reappears on the dessert menu!
  13. Wow Becca, I'm totally impressed with all your baking from this book. I find work is really cutting into my extra-curricular (i.e. baking) time! I received the handbook as a Christmas gift and all I've done (sadly) are the blueberry muffins, marble cake with white chocolate glaze, white chocolate butterscotch cookies, gingersnaps, cheesecake thumbprints, and white cupcakes (without the Strawberry Buttercream). I can't really say any of the above recipes blew me away. I recall that making the cheesecake thumbprints was a frustrating experience. The white cupcakes were very light and had a wonderful buttery flavour. I'm probably going to bake one of her sandwich cookie recipes next as I've developed quite the following with her recipe for "carrot cake cookies" (featured in her 2001 Christmas cookie magazine). They are delish!
  14. I made the Commissary cake yesterday for a BBQ we were going to last night. It's a strange recipe and I worried that it wouldn't work out in the end (I seem to always do this to myself...try recipes for the first time for major events!). I'm used to cake recipes that add the eggs to the butter or oil/sugar mixture first. The alternating flour mixture with eggs addition threw me for a loop. I fretted that with all that mixing it would lead to a tough, dense cake (i.e. the flour would get overworked). The cake layers definately didn't rise very much in the middle which I guess was good in the end as I didn't have to level them off. I followed Ling's suggestion of trying 1 cup butter with 1/4 cup oil. I thought it might be too rich with the oil+butter+4 eggs but it turned out very well. I baked it in 2 9-inch cake pans at 350 for about 30-40 mins. I left the nuts out as I didn't know if the other guests had allergies and frankly I prefer a nut-free carrot cake. My SO didn't enjoy the raisins but everyone else raved about the cake! I'm now keen to try the UCLA carrot cake and decide which one will be my "go to" recipe. Although they are very similar recipes, I'm interested to see how I like the extra spices in the UCLA version. I'm also wondering how cutting back on the fat will change the final outcome. Do you notice a difference by eliminating the 1/4 cup of oil? I frosted with a recipe of 2-8oz blocks of cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter, 2 cups of icing (confectioners for you Americans) sugar and 1-2 tsps of vanilla. I found it goopy. I prefer my frosting bit "stiffer" but it did have the perfect amount of tang and wasn't overly sweet. Thank you everyone for all the tips! I'll let you know what I think of the UCLA version when it comes out of the oven.
  15. Ironically, I was thinking about this exact subject while dining last night at Parkside. At the table beside ours, two couples and a very young child (I would guess he/she was ~ 12-14 months old) were seated. I was AMAZED how well behaved the child was...no crying, no squirming, no tantrums, nothing. Mom would feed her/him from her own plate and this child would eagerly accept all the food (and, by the way, seemed absolutely mesmerized by mommy's mojito!). If you are looking for fine dining opportunities with your little bambino, it appears that Parkside welcomes them with open arms. At least outside on the patio, where we were seated.
  16. I lived in Ottawa for years and restaurants in the Byward Market would probably suit your needs (i.e. close to the nightlife!). I would recommend the following: www.bluecactusbarandgrill.com www.empiregrill.com www.theblacktomato.com www.domuscafe.ca (a little higher end...maybe not suitable for a Bachelor/Bachelorette party) Another great location, close to the Market, is Elgin Street. I loved these restaurants there: www.johnnyfarina.com www.bravobravorestaurant.net Have a great time!
  17. Chufi, I must recommend the Naramata Heritage Inn. It was one of my favourite memories from our trip to the Okanagan a few summers ago. We had a wonderful meal at the Cobblestone Wine Bar. Financially, it's a little more feasible than the Inn's dining room. Down the road from the Inn (towards Penticton) is both Joie Cooking School and Elephant Island Winery. Have a wonderful trip!
  18. Ling, I'm so looking forward to the pics from BB! I haven't been in about a year and a half and I'm going to have to live vicariously through your experience. One cannot afford such meals all the time! I just looked back at our menu (which I saved, of course) and for dessert we had a frozen orange mousse with cinnamon pepper shortbread. Can't wait to hear more about your 8 hour experience there!
  19. Just before Christmas, myself and a friend "indulged" in the early prix fixe menu at West. It lived up to all expectations but the highlight was dessert! The chocolate caramel pot de cremes are to die for...a definate hit. I could have polished off about three more pots! Last night, I headed to Il Giardino with a few co-workers. We arrived early for a 7:30pm sitting. Little did we know that we would be soon surrounded by many loud and obnoxious hockey fans celebrating (or continuing to celebrate) Canada's junior win against Russia. I had no idea it was such a big game (maybe everyone is trying to catch up after last year's televised hockey fast?). Anyways, it lead to a very noisy meal for us. We enjoyed the gnocchi, roasted pheasant and a shrimp dish. As we were diving into our dessert of cheesecake and a raspberry chocolate ganache tart, the waiter served us complimentary glasses of a California dessert wine and informed us that our desserts were on the house! Wonderful service, food and atmosphere. I hope there are still availibilities during DOV as I will be returning to Il Giardino soon.
  20. CHOCOLATE CRACKLES (makes ~5 dozen) 8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped 1 1/4 cups AP flour 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder 2 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp coarse salt 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar 2 large eggs 1 tsp vanilla extract 1/3 cup milk 1 cup granulated sugar 1 cup icing sugar 1. Melt chocolate in heat proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring. Set aside and let cool. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. 2. Mix butter and brown sugar on medium speed until fluffy about 2-3 mins. Mix in eggs and vanilla and then the melted chocolate. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the milk. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Wrap each in plastic and refrigerate until firm. About 2 hours. 3. Divide each piece into 16 1 inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar and then in icing sugar to coat. Space 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets. 4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake until surfaces crack, about 14 minutes. Cookies can be stored at room temp for about 3 days (mine were fine after 4 days!).
  21. I thought I would rekindle this post as it is the season of cookie baking...and I'm in full gear! I bake up a storm throughout the year and frequently bring in my creations to my oh so eager co-workers. They are enthusiastic about whatever I cart in but yesterday they went absolutely BANANAS over Martha's Chocolate Crackles! And I mean crazy about these cookies. I've never received such a response! It's a recipe from her latest Christmas cookie magazine. A definately hit! I didn't even use premium chocolate for my recipe (just plain old Baker's bittersweet). I would post a picture but they're all gone!
  22. We attempted to check out George post-Yuk Yuk's last night but the place was packed! Just teaming with beautiful people. It would have been a 30 minute wait (at what I believe was only around 9:30pm) and frankly, I wasn't that keen. Instead of drinking ourselves sillier, we headed to HSG for the infamous gingerbread pudding. Yum!
  23. Just briefly : Was your tuna perhaps Albacore tuna ? It is not the same bright red that you would normally see. I have seen pieces that are very light in colour, sometimes slightly beige for lack of a better colour word. This would be more in line with their Oceanwise program. ← Now looking at the website, it WAS Albacore. That's reassuring. Thank you! Despite that, I wasn't impressed at all. I had about 5 scallops (again covered in PARSLEY) for the bargain price of $37! ← Sugar Plum, I wanted to pass on some information that you may be interested in. The scallops that we use at C are called Kagan Bay Scallops. They are a local, sustainable BC product. You may have noticed that the size and taste were different then your average scallop. These scallops are flown in once a week from the producer. If you have the time, please check out the following link for additional information on our restaurant and the Vancouver Aquarium's Oceanwise Program. On a side note, the dish is not served with 'parsley'. It is served with 'peppercress'. If you have any questions or need any information please don't hesitate to contact me at 604-681-1164. Sincerely, Leonard J Nakonechny C GM ← Dear Leonard, Thank you for your response. I'm fairly new here and I wasn't aware who posts/lurks. Knowing you'd be reading, I would have censored my thoughts a tad?!! How embarrassing! There was so much buzz about your restaurant that we may have gone into it with unrealistic expectations. I've eaten at other fine dining locales (Sooke Harbour House, Bearfoot Bistro, Lumiere) and the service at C was on par with all of the above. My disappointment was in the food alone. I contemplated ordering the tasting menu or a "taster box" and I should have for a more rounded dining experience at C. I'm not a seafood connoisseur, in fact, I've just returned to an omnivore status from being a vegetarian for the last decade or so. Perhaps, I'm the last person who should be reaming off their opinions on seafood! I did however, enjoy the taste of the scallops but the peppercress threw me off as well as the olive side. It just wasn't what I was expecting. I wasn't aware of the restaurant's committment to sustainability. That, I assume, drives up the prices?
  24. Just briefly : Was your tuna perhaps Albacore tuna ? It is not the same bright red that you would normally see. I have seen pieces that are very light in colour, sometimes slightly beige for lack of a better colour word. This would be more in line with their Oceanwise program. ← Now looking at the website, it WAS Albacore. That's reassuring. Thank you! Despite that, I wasn't impressed at all. I had about 5 scallops (again covered in PARSLEY) for the bargain price of $37!
  25. Last night we went to C for the first time. My friend and I are trying to work our way through the "must-eats" of Vancouver and C was on both our lists. I wish now we would have opted for Diva at the Met as we had originally planned. We had heard that although C being a fine dining restaurant, it was supposed to have large enough portions to satisfy our respective partners "healthy" appetites. It did not however and the food was just mediocre. I had seared scallops with artichoke chips (the whole thing was then covered in what looked and tasted like parsley..eeegaads!) and a dollop of chopped green olives on the side. Mr. Sugarplum had the ultra rare Ahi Tuna (it was a funny colour, not the usual pink I'm accustomed to), my friend had the Queen Charlotte halibut and her boyfriend had the salmon with goat cheese gnocchi. While the food was disappointing, the service was excellent. I was hoping to find C to be a reliable seafood choice when entertaining out of town guests. After my experience last night, I think my search continues...
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