Thursday, May 5, 2011

Rasberry Glaze

I am always looking for quick, delicious substitutes for frosting! If I hadn't already mentioned it, I have an innate dislike of creaming butter and sugar. It started when I started baking, around 12 years old as far as I can remember. As the years went on, I just left off the frosting and cooked with oil.. NOw, with French husband who loves pastry & baked goods, kids and party cakes to make, leaving it off just doesn't cut it!

So when I was making a huge heart cake for the end of the school year party I stumbled across a most excellent idea... GLAZE. Thank you Fanny Farmer, my Gramma's and Mum's cookbook standby. Yes, sugar, but no butter. And SO EASY.

Confectioners powdered sugar (I make sure to have a whole box on hand to adjust viscosity)
hot water or juice or espresso of choice

Basic Method:
Heat the water or juice, take off heat before boiling.
Add in small amounts to however much confectioners sugar you choose. I usually start with about 1 cup for a regular sized cake. Until you reach the consistency you like. I prefer my glaze a bit thicker, but not spreadable, otherwise it al just ... glazes off and gets too thin.

If you get it too thick, add some more warmed water. If it gets too thin, just keep adding sugar!

In this instance I used raspberry juice. Usually I defrost about 1 cup of raspberries. Then smash them through a sieve so all the seeds stay in the sieve.
Heat the juice. Add slowly into the confectioners sugar as described above.

I have used this glaze on a HUGE heart cake, on 36 cupcakes decorated with sprinkles and one fresh raspberry. Usually on chocolate cake, Next time, I'll try and espresso version.... MMMMMmmmm

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pasta Risotto?

Yes, its true. Making pasta as if you were making risotto, but in 20 minutes, and without the cream. Although, it is pretty creamy. This is one of those magical recipes that tasted even better than it sounds. Where the sum of the ingredients is so much more than they are separate. It is , of course, from my favorite scientific cooking mag- Cook's Illustrated. Read on for the perfect spring feast.

3 medium leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2 inch (5 cm), slices (about 5 cups); 3 cups dark green arts roughly chopped and put aside

1 pound (450gr) asparagus, tough ends snapped off, chopped coarsely and reserved; spears cut on an angle into 1/2 inch (5 cm) thick pieces

2 cups baby frozen peas, thawed
2 large clove garlic (or more if you love it!), minced
5 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
2 TBL (soupspoons) chopped fresh mint
2 TBL (soupspoons) chopped fresh chives
1/2 tsp (coffeespoon) lemon zest PLUS 2 TBL juice from 1 lemon
6 TBL olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (opt)
1 pound pasta - with a shape- spirals, bows, squiggles, etc. the recipe calls for campanelle
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese, about 1/2 cup

Place dark green parts of leeks, asparagus tough ends, 1 cup baby peas, 1 minced garlic clove, and water into pot with vegetable broth, bring to a boil on high heat, then turn down and let simmer. Mince herbs and zest lemon into a bowl, mix.
Place sieve over a large bowl/cup and let drain while you prep the veg.
Make sure you have 5 cups, add enough water to get to 5 cups.

Heat 2 TBL olive oil in a dutch oven or large frying pan. Add sliced leeks and a pinch of seasalt. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown. Add asparagus tip until crisp, 4-6 minutes, then rest of garlic. Then last cup of peas. Warm through. Place veg mix on a plate.

Wipe out pan. Add 4 TBL olive oil, heat until shimmering. Add in all the pasta, and cook stirring often until all pasta is covered with olive oil and begins to brown. About 5 minutes. Add first cup of broth and stir until absorbed. Add rest of hot broth. Cook, stirring often until liquid is mostly absorbed. About 8 minutes, more if you are using whole wheat or whole spelt pasta.

When pasta is al dente, or cooked as you like it, take it off the heat. Stir in lemon juice, half of herb mixture, Parmesan cheese and veg mixture. Salt & pepper to taste. Serve right away, passing the Parmesan cheese and remaining herb mixture.

MMMMM... it's like eating a creamy veg pasta primavera without the cream, but with the creamy sauce sensation...