Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Erin's Fabulous Baking

Every week I have the pleasure of visiting my friends Matt and Erin to have a bible study with them and other friends from church. It is a time to discuss topics of faith and religion, socialize and of course... enjoy some of the finest food and drink! Matt can usually be found making hot drinks such as lattes, hot chocolate or his signature hot apple cider ( Christmas only :( ) for guests as they arrive. Meanwhile Erin puts the finishing touches on whatever delicious food she is making that evening.

Last week we were treated to "Chocolate Dump Cake" which was great. Apparently it is super easy to make as well. I do not know the exact ingredients but I do know that it has chocolate and peanut butter in it with is always a win. All it needs is to mix the ingredients together in a microwavable container and put it in the microwave for 10 minutes and its done! Above is a picture of the remains of the "Chocolate Dump Cake" after it had mostly been devoured. The week before she made a dessert pizza made with a cookie crust, cream cheese cake filling, and fruit toppings, it was great too!

I look forward to meeting this week, not just for the great food and drink, but also for great discussions and great friends.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Does the Deep Fryer = perfection?

Last night I was at a friends house and I had a discussion about deep fried food basically being awesome, unmatched in taste. My friend (of the male persuasion of course) made a comment like, "the deep fryer equals perfection", or, "everything is made perfect when it is deep fried." Now, I would agree that deep fried food is awesome and the taste is usually great... but perfection? That would mean that the deep frying method is always better than other methods.

As I was going to sleep last night I decided to run a little experiment, a competition if you will between deep frying and pan frying. For this first experiment I chose to make french toast. I have never prepared french toast before but it is super easy, I found a recipe from cooks.com here: http://www.cooks.com/rec/doc/0,195,135187-243192,00.html. I made the coating and coated 2 slices of bread; one for the pan and one for the deep fryer. Because bread floats in the deep fryer it is necessary to flip it over part way through (just like the pan fried one) so both sides are submerged in the oil.

The results were not surprising. The pan fried french toast came out delicious and great where as the deep fried french toast came out nice and crispy. I had no issues with the pan fried french toast which turn out the way french toast should. But the deep fried french toast was less appetizing because the inside was still soft and therefore retained a lot of oil. I still ate it... I guess that's why I try to go to the gym regularly. So the winner here is definitely the pan fried french toast, sorry Matt.

Next I tried a variation on the french toast idea just because I love to experiment in the kitchen. I had a small jar of raspberry jelly that I was not using in the fridge and decided to spread some on before coating the bread. I carefully spread the jelly on both sides of the bread and again put a slice in the pan and in the deep fryer.

The results this time were a bit more surprising. I figured that the pan fried french toast would again turn out better but it turned out to be quite soggy and not much like french toast at all. They both tasted like they had the jelly on it but the deep fried french toast came out much like it had in the first test; nice and crunchy (but oily too of course). In this case I much preferred the deep fried version; so in this case the winner is the deep fryer.

To be fair to my beloved deep fryer the odds were stacked against it. 1. it is an old deep fryer. 2. The oil was not fresh and clean. 3. The recipe used in this experiment was meant for pan fried french toast.

If anyone has any other suggestions for kitchen experiments I would love to try them out. Please let me know, Thanks.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Black n' Blue Crumble Pie

Last week I posed a question on Facebook asking what king of top crust I should try for my next pie. Based on those suggestions I wanted to try and do a lattice top. Unfortunately I didn't do it right and I did and epic fail :( I tried to do it while the filling was hot and was unable to weave it. The dough just melted and it got really messy.
I was out of the necessary ingredients to make more regular crust so I needed to improvise. I decided that a crumbly kind of crust might work. I had a box of Oatmeal Squares cereal that I didn't really enjoy as a breakfast cereal. But it is a pretty good texture for baking. So I just crushed some of those (the recipe below says 1 1/2 cups but I can't remember exactly how much I used, best to just eyeball it) and added it to a brown sugar sauce. It seemed to work just fine. You can of course make a different type of crumbly topping using other kinds of cereal; I could see it working with Golden Grahams or Cinnamon Toast Crunch as well. If I try this again I think I might use less sugar all around.

Left: Pie filling that is thick. Centre: Ingredients. Right: Adding Berries and butter.

3/4 c. sugar
1 c. blueberry/blackberry juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. blueberries
1 1/2 c. blackberries
2 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. butter

Top Crust:
1 1/2 c. crushed Oatmeal Squares cereal
6 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. butter

1. Combine sugar, salt, flour, and cornstarch; mix well.
2. Add juice; cook until thickened.
3. Add berries and butter, stir till butter is melted.
4. Put into bottom crust (of your choice).

Top Crust:
5. Melt butter and brown sugar.
6. Add crushed Oatmeal Squares cereal; mix well.
7. Cover Pie with top crust evenly.
8. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.