Friday, September 24, 2010

Cafe World Challenge Week 29

Week 2 of working again and things have been hectic, but I did make a dish, as promised. I chose to do breakfast for dinner this week, which is always a hit here as my kids seem to always love eggs and bacon. Since I've already crossed Bacon and Eggs off the list, I made Eggs Benedict.

Eggs Benedict

I love eating Eggs Benedict and all its variations at restaurants for breakfast, although I find a good Hollandaise sauce is not easy to find. I love my recipe for Hollandaise sauce, but have only made Eggs Benedict once before with smoked salmon. I usually love eating my Hollandaise sauce with asparagus, so I served my dinner Eggs Benedict with asparagus so I could dip the spears into the leftover sauce, delicious and decadent. I've only ever made my sauce over indirect heat, you can use a double boiler, but since I don't have one, I use a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.

Hollandaise sauce recipe

4 egg yolks
3 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 pinch ground white pepper
1/8 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1 tbsp water
3/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 tsp salt

Bring water to a gentle simmer in a pan, making sure that the water doesn't touch the heatproof dish or double boiler top pan. In the top dish whisk together the egg yolks, lemon juice, white pepper, Worcherstershire sauce and 1 tbsp water. Continue whisking, add melted butter a few tablespoons at a time. Continue whisking until until all the butter is incorporated and the sauce is smooth. Whisk in salt and remove from heat. Put a lid over the dish to keep the sauce warm.

Eggs Benedict recipe

Hollandaise Sauce
eggs, 1 or 2 per person
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Canadian bacon/back bacon or I used peameal bacon, 2 slices per egg
English muffins, split, 1 half per egg

Fill a large saucepan with water (3 inches) and bring water to a simmer. Add vinegar. Gently break eggs into simmering water and allow to cook for about 3 minutes. Toast muffin halves and brown the bacon in a skillet. Place 2 slices of bacon on a muffin half and when ready top with a poached egg. Top with Hollandaise sauce.

There are many variations on the standard recipe:
-Eggs Florentine with spinach instead of bacon
-smoked salmon instead of bacon
-mushrooms and brie
-asparagus and swiss cheese
etc, etc the possibilities are endless and fun to try. I always love to discover a new combo at a restaurant and order.

Next Up: Cooking and Cafe World Challenge not sure, but I'm going to the American Sewing Expo this weekend, woohooo!!! So I'll fit in a post about what I see, do and (in a whisper) BUY!!

Progress: 54/80

Disclaimer: Image owned by Zynga. This site is not owned by Zynga. This site is not the owner of the intellectual property

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cafe World Challenge Week 28

Despite starting a volunteer job this week, I actually managed two dishes. Although the lamb was made on the weekend when I had more time. I was exhausted after the first two day's work, but am now faring better and am having a fun and rewarding time after spending the last six years at home with the kids.

Rack of Lamb

There are so many flavour options with lamb: traditional with mint sauce or rosemary or North African/Middle Eastern spices, but I came across a recipe for Cranberry-crusted Rack of Lamb, which combines cranberry, sun dried tomato and thyme, and I thought, "Here's something different!" This actually describes my approach to recipe selection pretty well, I tend to decide the type of flavour (if this makes any sense) first, as in do I want plain, herby, spicy, fruity, rich, zesty or an interesting fusion. Then I either look what I have and make up my own dish or browse through the various sources and get inspiration.

The chosen recipe was delicious and my family really enjoyed this meal. The leftover lamb was a favourite as well, eaten as my son called it "Caveman"-style using the frenched bones as a grip to tear into the yummy lamb.

Clubhouse Sandwich

A Clubhouse or just Club Sandwich is one of my favourites. I must have mentioned before that I love bacon?? So for those that aren't familiar with this one, it's a combination of turkey (in some cases chicken), lettuce, tomato and bacon which are usually layered with three toasted bread slices, although many restaurants serve them in a sub (bread roll).

My Clubhouse sandwich was layered as follows, starting at the bottom:
1. Toasted bread
2. A healthy smear of Dijon mustard
3. Lettuce
4. Smoked Turkey deli meat
5. Toasted Bread
6. Mayonnaise
7. Bacon
8. Tomato, with a sprinkling of salt & pepper
9. Mayonnaise
10. Toasted bread

I then cut my sandwiches in triangles and speared them with a cocktail stick to hold them all together.

This makes a fantastic lunch, but I served mine for dinner with some garlic seasoned baked fries. My son actually loved it so much he's asking for the same for lunch everyday for school and he actually eats it....Hooray!!! I just skip the middle toast layer for his school lunch, his little 4 year old mouth doesn't quite handle the layers yet.

Up Next: Seriously!! Who knows, I'm still adjusting to working and have a very busy weekend too, but I'll make something. I've actually already picked out a Stuffed Turkey recipe for Thanksgiving in October (in Canada) and that is something to look forward to.

Progress: 53/80

Disclaimer: Image owned by Zynga. This site is not owned by Zynga. This site is not the owner of the intellectual property

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pasta Making in Pictures

A few months back I finally caved and bought myself a pasta machine. I've attempted to make pasta a few times with a rolling pin, but I've never gotten the lovely silky consistency and it was either too thick or just fell apart. I also have the book, Cook with Jamie by Jamie Oliver that features a number of deliciously tempting fresh pasta recipes. If you haven't tried very fresh pasta, you are missing out, it is amazing. The pasta is very tasty and you have so many flavour options too. Basic pasta dough is nothing but flour and egg, I made one batch of plain spaghetti and another spinach dough, where I replaced one egg with pureed spinach.

I've had all the photos I took during a few pasta-making sessions on my camera and have finally downloaded them to share.

Below is the finely sieved tipo 00 flour that Jamie recommends in his recipes. I used this flour for the spinach pasta and unbleached all-purpose flour for the unflavoured pasta and both worked well.




AND MAKES IT ONTO THE PLATES AS.....My version of Jamie Oliver's recipe for Raviolini of Celeriac and Thyme.

I also used up the leftover dough to make fettuccine served with a tomato pasta sauce.

I also used the dough recipe that came with my machine to create spaghetti.

To end off, just a few tips on making your own pasta.
1) Dust with lots of flour after each rolling to prevent sticking and to help prevent the formed noodles from sticking together.
2) This is a great activity for letting loose some frustration/ energy
3) You need lots of patience, which is almost counter-intuitive to tip 2, but very much required.
4) Making your own pasta takes time, but I've also frozen leftovers and found that the cooked frozen pasta is still tastier than dried.
5) Have fun, experiment and enjoy!!!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Blog Birthday

Well it seems I missed my 1 year mark yesterday. So Happy Birthday Pots and Pins!!!
As I predicted in the first post, I haven't posted every day, but I challenged myself to keep posting by introducing the Cafe World Challenge. You readers might be put off by the gaming aspect, but it is all cooking, which I love to do. It's forced me to post and also to really think about some classic dishes in a new way and introduced me to some international fare that I otherwise wouldn't have prepared.

As far as the sewing goes, eeek, I've been really bad, in the last year I've completed 14 items, with two major alterations, the body armour and an evening dress (which didn't make it to the blog) and one knitting project. Okay looking at it that way, I suppose it wasn't too bad, more than one a month. I judge myself harshly because my mind sews faster than the body and is always on to the next project before I'm done with the current and I think sometimes my mind is too detailed in it's expectations. Are any of your minds also prone to such misbehaviour????

I'm enjoying some mindless knitting....squares for two blankets and a chunky scarf, I've also started a camisole in a lovely hemp/cotton blend, which is a new experience for me as I've never knitted entirely in the round before, this one is not mindless...note to self don't knit this one with husband or especially kids around. I had severe stress trying to follow the pattern on a road trip with the whole family. Yea I know...not too clever!!! I bought myself a sock book, so want to start a pair in the next blog year, and also want to knit something small for my little guy, he deserves more than hand-me-downs from his big brother. Remember THIS POST, well I still love that Minimissimi sweater coat, but have taken it off my To-Do list for now. I need to get better at knitting before I attempt it. That coat needs fabulous yarn and I don't want to waste money on something I'll probably foul up every row.

My next sewing project is a winter wool jacket. I've had an idea of what I wanted for a while and a photo in the Fall 2010 Sew Stylish magazine totally encapsulates my vision. Its on page 14 for those who have the mag, it is a ready-to-wear coat that's been modified by adding fur cuffs and collar. The magazine doesn't have a photo on their website, but have a glimpse at the images below (ignore the fur)

The coat pictured is pretty much exactly what I want, except the fur, yoke at bustline and an applied yoke with the jacket flaring slightly. I thought it would be a pretty common design, but obviously not. I've spent weeks searching patterns and found only some options, but they just don't appeal to me. I'm now searching vintage patterns. Do any of you know a pattern I could use?? I ask myself, "Why am I so inflexible in my vision???" I'm sure after a few more days I'll be absolutely crazy and give up the search. I really want to make a well fitting, well tailored jacket so don't want to add additional effort adapting a pattern to my wishes, when I'm sure the fitting and tailoring will be quite enough of a challenge on their own.

This time last year I was also sad because I couldn't attend the American Sewing Expo in Novi, Michigan, which is less than an hour away across the border. Travelling to the US is not easy on a South African passport, but I became a Canadian citizen earlier this year and am now a proud Canadian passport holder, so in two weeks I can cross the border and engulf myself in sewing heaven.

Personally the last year has changed for me too. My little guy started full-time preschool a few days ago and my bigger guy will be starting Kindergarten next week. My boys sure have grown up. So that leaves me home alone for now. It feels very weird, but I'm hoping to find a job that'll allow me some flexibility to still be available when the kids get out of school.

So here's to another year, I'll hopefully get that Cafe World Challenge finished and spend some more blogging time on my sewing and knitting passions. Thanks for reading and goodnight!!

Cafe World Challenge Week 27

I made some shrimp cocktail this week with the flavours of an old favourite from South Africa.

When my husband & I were dating, his idea of romance was serving me shrimp cocktail and then strawberries for dessert. I had told him how much I liked shrimp or prawns, as I'd have called them then. But my idea of prawns was grilled in lemon butter with the shells intact and served on a bed of rice. I was not really expecting ice cold prawns with a horseradish cocktail sauce. But of course I ate as many as was polite. I still never touch the shrimp at a function, it just doesn't appeal to me. Back in South Africa, we called the bigger sea bugs prawns and the little mini things are shrimp. Therefore shrimp cocktail is little mini shrimp mixed with our version of cocktail sauce and served in a cocktail glass on a bed of lettuce. But my favourite version of this idea is what is called Avocado Ritz, which is a halved avocado with the shrimp cocktail filling and topping it. It is totally delicious.

So I thought if I had to eat cold shrimp (prawns), I'll make the version of cocktail sauce I preferred. My husband of course was very skeptical, but ended up really liking it.

Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail

The cocktail sauce I made is a version of the type you'd find in South Africa or I suppose also Britain and other parts of the world, as much of the food back home is of British influence. In its basic form, it is mayonnaise with ketchup (tomato sauce in SA). I wanted mine to be a little tangy so this is my version:

Cocktail Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Salad Cream English Dressing (Heinz sells a version in North America)
2 tbsp whipping cream
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp lemon juice
a dash of hot sauce

Mix all the ingredients to form a smooth pink sauce.

Serve with shrimp on a bed of lettuce and sprinkle with paprika. The sauce is also good as a creamy salad dressing on that bed of lettuce when the shrimp is done.

Cafe World Cookbook Additions

I unlocked the Rack of Lamb in the game and they also added Tempura Udon.

Up Next: I have some rack of lamb in the fridge

Progress: 51/80

Disclaimer: Image owned by Zynga. This site is not owned by Zynga. This site is not the owner of the intellectual property

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cafe World Challenge Week 26

I made two more dishes this week. I started with Corn dogs, which I just don't eat or for that matter allow my kids to eat. So I had to get creative to make something I would put in my mouth. While I'm typing I waiting for my Sorbet to finish making. I bought a new little ice cream machine. Actually after getting home I realised it was a "Soft Serve" ice cream machine, so hopefully it works for the sorbet. It was a choice between this cute little maker for $40 or the MUCH bigger Cuisinart all purpose maker for $100. I know I'm cheap, but I also just don't have the space for the big one. At least the little bowls for my model fit in my freezer without me having to completely empty it and I can store the lid/motor/paddles in the space I have available.


I spent most of my life never having heard of this fast food option. It simply doesn't exist in South Africa where I grew up. So I naturally had to try when I encountered this thing when I moved to North America. I wasn't impressed!!! It was heartburn on a stick!! For my readers in other parts of the world who likewise know nothing of this, check out the wikipedia entry that will fill you in. It is basically a frankfurter/wiener/Vienna sausage encased in a corn batter and deep fried. Since I had to make this at some stage for the challenge, I thought about what exactly I didn't like about the corn dogs. Firstly I hate deep frying foods, so I would not do that, I also don't like the spongy consistency of the corndogs or they usually use those red sausages that have a more fake flavour. So after some research I found a kids cookbook at the library that had a recipe for Corn Doggies and this was perfect, they use pie crust mix and corn meal with a bit of chili powder and these are baked, not fried, healthier and they were crispy, so I actually liked them. I used the smoked wieners too, so it tasted very much better than those I'd eaten before.

Sirius Sorbet

This dish was part of the Alien theme, so it has some fantasy components. According to Cafe World the steps were: Dust Stars, Gather Plasma, Refine Light, Condensing Nebulae, Pureeing Stardust and Freezing Plasma. Which evokes some really cool images, but alas not practical for the kitchen. I was just going to flip through a few cookbooks and find a recipe for some refreshing sorbet, which would be great in this HOT weather. I was uninspired by the options in many of the books, but picked up SAHA, a cookbook I got for Mother's Day and haven't made anything yet. Check out this previous post to see the book. It has an entire chapter dedicated to ice creams and sorbets. So I started having silly thoughts rather cornier than my corndogs, and figured that Alien can mean Foreign, so if I made the Lebanese Lemonade Sorbet, it would fit the theme?? It works for me.

I love all things lemon, so this sorbet would be perfectly refreshing and delicious.

An adaptation of the recipe from the book (as well as a few others)can be found on The Stone Soup Blog, scroll right to the bottom for the sorbet recipe.

I had to wait a few days to be able to make this one as the store had these pitiful-looking lemons, not good enough for my needs. Eventually I went in and found these beautiful big yellow darlings. I bought the 10 required for the recipe and when I started cleaning and preparing them, the little sticker told me...grown in South Africa. Awesome, way to go homeland!!! So I couldn't resist taking a photo.

After using the ice cream maker, I wish I'd gotten a different one, it just makes 1 or 2 person servings at a time. I have two bowls, but they have to get frozen again before I can make some more. That sucks. So I will keep the lemonade mix in the fridge and make the sorbet as I want it. Luckily it only takes 10 minutes to make a batch.

Excuse the sorbet pic below....I got distracted by kiddie needs and my sorbet started melting before I could get a shot, but you get the idea!!

Cookbook Additions

Ranch Beans have been included for the Wild West theme and I've completed a new team catering challenge and unlocked the Birthday Cupcakes, bad timing I could have made them two weeks ago for mine.

Up Next: Shrimp Cocktail, but not North American style...

Progress: 50/78 (that looks good only 18 more)

Disclaimer: Image owned by Zynga. This site is not owned by Zynga. This site is not the owner of the intellectual property