Friday, October 29, 2010

Buckwheat Chocolate Muffins with Raspberries and Chocolate Ganache

These muffins are another recipe from Good to the Grain. This is the third recipe I've made from the book and was a great way to keep on using the buckwheat flour I know have in my pantry. To tell you the truth, I was a little disappointed by the texture of these muffins. They are very, very, very dense! I changed the original recipe a little (I did not have any persimmons and used fresh raspberries instead) but I still felt that these weren't quite the right muffin texture. They were still delicious, with dark chunks of chocolate seeping throughout, and little specks of bright red raspberry. I added some chocolate ganache to finish them off, which added a nice touch of sweetness. These muffins are really best eaten warm, right after having been topped with the ganache. If you don't eat them right away, I would suggest freezing them and re-heating them in a warm oven when you want to eat them again. If freezing, freeze the muffins without the ganache as soon as they have cooled down and add the ganache right after the muffins comes out of the oven and are defrosted.

I will be playing around with proportions to make these a little less dense but they were sill quite the delectable warm treat - with a tall glass of milk of course!

Buckwheat Chocolate Muffins with Raspberries and Chocolate Ganache

1 cup buckwheat flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose)
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
6 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup of fresh raspberries
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a muffin tin.

Mix the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.
In another bowl, cream the butter and sugars for few minutes, until light and creamy (about 3 minutes). Then add in the eggs and beat until combined. Then add the yogurt and beat until combined.
Add in the dry ingredients, 1/3 at a time, until combined. Fold in the raspberries and chocolate. Transfer the batter to the muffin tin and bake for 30-35 minutes. Twist each muffin out of the tin and set on its side to cool.

Best served warm on the same day baked. Extras can be frozen and reheated.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pear and Buckwheat Pancakes

First, I should start this post by saying that I'm usually a crepe lover. I grew up with crepes being a family weekend staple, usually enjoyed with just a a little granulated sugar and a generous squeeze of lemon. My mom, as I've mentioned before, doesn't cook very much, but what she makes, she makes amazingly well.

Let me tell you, even though I didn't grow up eating pancakes (when I first moved here I use to call them crepes, fatter and less popular cousin) these pancakes are absolutely amazing and didn't make me miss the crepes a single second! They are part of my new quest in the kitchen: baking with new types of flours. I've always had the feeling that flour was needed in baked goods but really didn't bring much in the flavor department. By using more flavorful, textured flours you end up needing to use a lot less sugar as well. Let's face it, if flour and sugar were in a battle they would be carrying pretty similar weapons. Sugar, besides pure, basic sweetness, holds very little subtleties in flavor. That's why I usually tend to use brown sugar instead of white as the addition of molasses makes the taste of the sugar more interesting. In the case of these little pancakes, the buckwheat flour mixed in with freshly grated pears makes them the best pancakes I've ever had.

Pear and Buckwheat Pancakes

Adapted From Good to the Grain

Dry Mix:
1 cup of buckwheat flour
1 cup of whole-grain pastry flour
3 tablespoons of granulated sugar
2 tsp of baking powder
3/4 tsp of kosher salt

Wet Mix:
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 + 1/4 cup of whole milk
1 egg
2 medium ripe pears

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl.

In another bowl, whisk the melted butter, milk and egg until thoroughly combined.

Peel the pears. Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the whole, peeled pears into the milk mixture. The pear juice should fall into the milk along with the grated pears.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and gently combine using a rubber spatula.

Heat a cast iron pan or griddle over medium heat until water sizzles when splashed on the pan. Rub the pan generously with butter. Working quickly, dollop 1/4 cup mounds of batter onto the pan.

Once bubbles have begun to form, flip and cook until bottoms are golden brown. The pancakes should cook for about 5 minutes total.

Wipe the pan with a cloth before the next batch and rub the pan with butter again. Serve warm, with maple syrup and fresh fruit. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Olive Oil, Rosemary and Chocolate Cake

I've been on a mission. A mission to undercover how different types of flours can be used in baked goods. I've always felt that white flour was quite tasteless and although it adds necessary texture to cakes and tarts, it really doesn't have the depth of flavour that other flours might have. After eying this cookbook at different bookstores, I finally got around to getting a copy and it's been a real love affair ever since. Kimberly Boyce’s Good to the Grain is a real gem. The book is divided by type of flour and explores new avenues in baking. This is my starting off point to experiment.

This cake utilizes spelt flour, which, combined with good quality olive oil, fresh rosemary and dark chocolate makes for one of the best cakes I've had in months. Trust me. If you've never made a cake with olive oil, let alone with rosemary and chocolate, this dessert might seem like quite an odd concoction... but it's absolutely delicious. Because of the complexities and textures in this cake, it really doesn't need very much sugar which makes it a nice treat for any time of day.

Olive Oil, Rosemary and Chocolate Cake

Click here for this recipe as well as other delicious Kitchen Aid sponsored treats!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Creamy Pumpkin Risotto

I was working on testing holiday recipes for Indulge magazine a few days ago and found myself with some leftover pumpkin puree. In the spirit of Fall and those beautiful shades of red and orange outside, I made pumpkin risotto. Risotto is always a great comfort dish. I love how creamy the rice gets after being stirred and infused with flavourful stock. Risotto sometimes gets a bad rep as a dish that is time-consuming and difficult. The fact is, it's not really either of those. You do have to be not too far from the stove for 20 minutes or so while it's cooking, but it comes together quite quickly and the prep time is pretty minimal. It's an incredibly versatile dish too, perfect to serve as a vegetarian option for Thanksgiving (if you use vegetable stock of course!).

I just love the color the pumpkin gives to any dish it's in. The flavor in the risotto is just perfect and adds that perfect touch to creamy rice. To all my Canadian readers, I want to wish you all a great Thanksgiving! Here is a link to some of my Thanksgiving side dish recipes if you're still thinking about what to serve!

Creamy Pumpkin Risotto
Serves 4
1 1/2 cup of arborio rice
4 cups of chicken stock
3 shallots, diced finely
1 teaspoon of dried sage
1 glass of good quality white wine
A large handful of cremini mushrooms
1/2 cup of pumpkin puree
1/2 cup mascarpone (optional, to use to top the risotto)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan, and extra for serving

In a pot, bring the stock to a boil, reduce to a low simmer.
In a saucepan, add a good drizzle of olive oil on medium low heat. Add the shallots, and the dried sage. Once the shallots have softened (about 2 minutes), add the rice and mix, stirring until the rice looks lightly toasted. Add the wine and gently stir. Once the wine has almost evaporated, add the stock one ladle at a time. Keep adding stock once it has almost evaporated in the pan. Season lightly with salt and pepper (the stock will reduce and is salty so make sure not to add too much salt while you're cooking the risotto).

In the meantime, heat some olive oil on medium high heat in a separate pan. Add the sliced mushrooms. Season lightly with salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are cooked through. Set aside.

Keep a constant eye on the rice, adding stock as it gets incorporated into the rice. The risotto should gently simmer for about 16-17 minutes. Once the rice is cooked, add the mushrooms and pumpkin puree. Gently mix them, making sure the pumpkin puree is well stirred through. Fold in the Parmesan.Serve immediately, adding a spoonful of mascarpone and a little more Parmesan. Enjoy!
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