Sunday, July 13, 2008

Blueberry Mood

I have a lot of cookbooks and I cannot remember all the recipes there, but sometimes some of them stick in your mind. Maybe it's the picture, maybe it's the ingredients or technique, but a recipe just stays with you. And this is exactly what happened a few days ago. I was at a supermarket and I saw this deal with 3 pints of blueberries for 5$. I just knew that I had to buy them and make that Blueberry Pie.

But first I had some fresh blueberries with my breakfast.

Blueberry Pie

Friday, July 11, 2008

I'm back...

Ok, it's been long. Too long. Almost a year to be exact. But I am back and I hope to be back for good. I have excuses as to why wasn't posting, but they are too long and... well... not really good excuses. So, I am back and I'll start with a nice and refreshing cold soup.

I only discovered cold soups a few weeks ago and I can't get enough of them. They are so versatile, light and tasty. They don't require you spending time chopping, sauteeing, simmering. And they usually come together only in a few minutes. What can I say? I love them!!

This recipe is an adaptation from a recipe-ad I found in yesterday's Metro newspaper. I knew right away that it's something I'd enjoy. I changed some ingredients and voila I had a wonderful cold soup.

Cold Yogurt Soup with Cucumber and Avocado

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Baking with a Friend

I am taking photography classes at George Brown College. They are quite fun, interesting and a bit different from my baking classes. I actually have assignments to do and next class I am going to write a final test!! So, the last assignment was supposed to be a Story. Something that has a beginning, a middle, and an ending. What could I do? It was very obvious: baking. So, I asked my best friend to come over, have some patience, and bake cookies with me. Patience was the key, since she had to pose for some of the pictures and I am a beginner with photography (I've only had my camera for 2 months).

And this is a result:

A recipe shot

My friend reading a recipe... Well, not really reading, but moving her finger pretending to be reading the recipe... for about 10 minutes!


My friend putting an apron on... another 10 minutes

Sugars and butter in a mixing bowl

My trusty KitchenAid mixer at work... If you look closely, you'll see that is actually working and the paddle is moving

And another shot of my mixer working. Can you see the paddle moving?

Ok, to get this shot she had to crack an egg and then put it back into the shell a few times... Well, that or cracking quite a few eggs... We decided to cheat :)

Sifting the flour

Still sifting the flour

Mixing in the chocolate chips

Scooping out the cookie dough

And a shot of the scooped out cookie dough... I needed about 20 pictures
for this assignment, so I shot everything I could think of.

Putting the cookie sheets into the oven... For about 10 minutes (in and out) to get this shot!

Cookies in the oven... Working on getting 20 pictures!

Cookies almost done in the oven

Getting the cookies onto a rack...

Cookies on a rack... Cookie heaven! I like this picture even though it is quite yellow, I think it's very nice.

Pouring some tea, this is I think a fourth cup... again, just to get this shot!

And the final product!!!

The cookies turned out really good. They kept very well. After 6 days they were still soft and moist. The whole experience was also interesting and fun and a little bit frustrating. I was really disappointed with my lighting in the kitchen. Some pictures were really yellow and for some I needed a ridiculously long Shutter Speed just to get a proper exposure, that's why most of the pictures had to be shot using a tripod and that interfered with my creativity a little bit. But all in all it was a fun experience and my friend was really 
supportive and patient.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Chocolat... Ah...

I wanted to watch Chocolat again for quite some time and I would always forget or when I remembered I'd be busy. I was not going to watch it today, but there was a recipe that caught my attention a few days ago and I had this urge to try it. I had no idea how it's going to taste and I was intrigued. You see, I got this book a while ago, book about Cooking with Chocolate. Yes, it had a lot of dessert recipes and chocolate drinks, but it also had a section about cooking, just plain cooking... with chocolate. And a recipe for Chocolate Ravioli with Ricotta just called my name. I had to make it!!!

I also had some left over sponge cake and what can you do with it? It's simple. Rum Balls! I love those little desserts, they taste like it's an elaborate cake that took you hours to prepare, but they only take a couple of minutes to mix together.

At that point I knew that it is time to watch that movie again. I ate Rum Balls and I watched the movie and drooled over chocolates (and melted over Johnny Depp). I still was not satisfied. Something was missing. That scene when they have a chocolate dinner was stuck in my mind. The chocolate sauce over meat... Mmm... I've never tried anything like it. But I had a recipe just for that. It was exactly what I needed. Shrimp in Chocolate Sauce.

And then I was in Chocolate Heaven.

Chocolate Ravioli with Ricotta

Shrimp in Chocolate Sauce

Rum Balls

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Back to my roots

I am Russian and I love Russian food. I rarely eat it now, because I always want to try some new recipes, but I still remember the tastes from my childhood. Each time I visit my grandparents, I usually have something Russian, like our famous potato salad (Оливье), or just a plain cabbage slaw with carrots and mayo, or canned salmon with boiled eggs salad. The taste of these salad is so simple compared to what I make sometimes (mayo vs. fancy vinaigrette), but it is so satisfying! And lately I've been craving to make those foods at home..

So finally, yesterday I made something that my mom would make when I was little. Not exactly the same, but it tasted very good and very... Russian.

It was my own invention: Chicken gizzards and hearts a la Stroganoff which I served with a traditional Russian side of buckwheat. And I just made law salted cucumbers (малосольные), they went perfectly with the main course.

Chicken Gizzards and Hearts a la Stroganoff

Freshly-Salted Cucumbers

Friday, July 27, 2007

Azure kitchen...

As I mentioned before, I just finished taking baking classes at George Brown College. My last two classes (Art of Cakes and Cakes: Classical to Modern) were absolutely amazing mainly due to the guidance of a wonderful instructor, Christophe.

He is a Pastry Chef at a restaurant in downtown Toronto - Azure. Last week I had an opportunity to visit a professional kitchen at that restaurant. It was really interesting and exciting.

First I had a late lunch there.

And a dessert... of course!!!

And then the tour started...

This rectangular thing on the right is a... frying pan!

A pot of soup anyone?

Banquet kitchen.

Dessert Station.

Huge oven.


A Chocolate Piece made by my instructor.

Some chocolate decorations.

And Christophe!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Bakery Arts Certificate

I am very proud to say that this past Thursday I had my last baking class at George Brown College and now I can get my Bakery Arts Certificate! It was an interesting, fun, tiring and tasty journey. I found out about this program from Cream Puffs in Venice blog (I actually even took one class with her :) ) and I instantly knew that I had to try out the classes.

I started exactly a year ago. In July 2006 I took my first baking class - Basic Baking. I was a little bit disappointed - not enough explanation about the science behind the ingredients and a lot (A LOT) of shortening, which I do not ever (ever!) use at home. But then I came to understand that I can almost always use butter instead of this shortening at home and they do it to save the cost. I had some absolutely wonderful instructors. Some just showed us how to do the recipe, but some actually talked to us about the ingredients, substitutions, some tricks, etc. It was tiring taking 2 classes a week from 6 to 9 (or sometimes to 10-11 depending on the class) after work, but it was worth it. I learned a lot. I made pies, cookies, muffins, cakes, pastries, breads, Chinese buns. I learned how to temper chocolate, how to make a perfect pie crust, how to make various pastry creams and shape breads.

And last Thursday I had my last class. It was Art of Cakes course and we made the best chocolate cake! It was the perfect ending to my classes.

Apple Pie - first course, first class

Chocolate Decadent Cake - last course, last class

Chocolate Decadent Cake