Saturday, November 5, 2011

Brioche Sticky Buns with Homemade Toffee Sauce

Hey see I'm still playing hide and go seek with you? Things have been so hectic that I hardly get the time to write. Don't get it twisted though...I still cook most every day but my hands don't go past the sentence or two attached to the pic I send to facebook to show what I made.  But no more excuses, here is the recipe for the Sticky Buns I made about two weeks ago. These are so soft, buttery, and decadent. I don't like nuts so I opted to use raisins (even though I cant stand those too much either) in the dough. I soaked them that morning for about an hour in a mixture of rum and water. Plain water or juice is fine if you cannot have alcohol. As for the toffee sauce, make it before you roll out your dough. I have extra vanilla bean pods laying around from when I scrape out the pulp. I just threw those into the mixture to boil and give it exceptional vanilla flavor.  These really were a treat for the entire family.
The brioche is a super quick method from the book "Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day". The bread is mixed up in a few minutes, no kneading or kitchenaid necessary, then chilled in the fridge overnight or up to 5 days. I made my dough the night before I wanted to bake it and let it chillax in the fridge. I must say handling this dough is no easy feat as its on the wet side. I used my silpat, a bench scraper, and a handful of flour to make it a bit easier. This dough is supposed to yield four loaves but it gave me a 10 inch pan of sticky buns and 2 full sized loaves. I left one loaf plain and the other I filled with a crushed almond, cinnamon, butter, rum, and raisin mixture. Everything was just spectacular. I hope you enjoy eating this as much as I did.

Brioche Sticky Buns with Homemade Toffee Sauce
Makes 10 large sticky buns
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup rum
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground clove
pinch of  ground allspice
1/2 cup brown sugar

Toffee Sauce
1 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp dark corn syrup
1 1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup heavy cream
vanilla bean pods, optional

- Place raisins in small bowl to soak in mixture of 1/2 cup rum and 1/2 cup water, set to the side.
- Make toffee sauce first by combining brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and vanilla if using over medium heat.
- When mixture comes to a boil add in cream and cook over low heat until thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Turn off mixture and place to the side.
- Remove brioche dough from refrigerator and roll out to a large flat square, about 1/3 inch in thickness.
- Combine cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, allspice, and brown sugar. Sprinkle mix over rolled out dough.
- Drain raisins from liquid (reserve liquid) and sprinkle evenly over dough.
- Start to roll dough into cylinder shaped log.
- Cut dough into even rolls
- In a 10 inch pan pour all of the toffee sauce into the bottom and place buns on top of the sauce.
- Let dough rest an hour before placing in a 350 degree oven.
- Bake 35- 40 minutes.
- Unmold immediately and serve.

** Toffee sauce from

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Gone for a bit but hopefully not forgotten...Spiced French Toast

Its been a while.. hasn't it? I still cook everyday but I've been going through some things and writing took a back seat for a moment there. I hope you all can forgive the absence. I'm back with something perfect for the fall. Rich, buttery french toast accented with pumpkin pie spice and hints of rum. I cannot tell you all the failed attempts Ive had with french toast. I managed to take something so simple and ruin it by making it too soggy, or too eggy, to burnt...just wrong! This time I told myself if I messed up that I would throw in my french toast towel indefinitely. With a couple slices of my whole wheat country flax bread I made a few days prior and the "eye of the tiger", I went about one last attempt to prove I was worthy of the french toast badge...wait do the Girl Scouts have that?..I dunno..whatever. I followed Alton Brown's recipe which had rave reviews on the food network website. I noticed that the recipe didn't use any extracts or spices and already knew my taste buds wouldn't find that too appealing so I used some pumpkin pie spice I picked up at Trader Joes the day before in lieu of plain ole cinnamon. I also splashed in some mixed essence, vanilla extract,my favorite Angostura rum, and it was time to rock and roll. One thing I have to note with the recipe is that you may need to increase your custard mix by a third if you're like me using 1 inch thick slices of bread. The recipe overall is really easy and cannot be messed up. It was so nice that I made the recipe again within a few days using some challah bread I baked. I cant tell you all how absolutely delicious this french toast is(thanks to my changes). Just grab a couple slices of day old bread and try this out for yourself. Its perfect for breakfast or brunch and so versatile in that you can top it with anything from apple pie filling to fluffy whipped cream.

Spiced French Toast
serves 4
1 cup half and half
3 eggs
2 tbsp warmed honey(I used 4)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp mixed essence
1tbsp dark rum (I used Angostura Single Barrel)
(8) 1/2 inch slices of day old country bread, challah, or brioche bread
4 tbsp of unsalted butter

- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Place a cooling rack on sheet pan and set to the side.
-Whisk together half and half, eggs, honey, salt, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, rum, and mixed essence.
- Place slice of bread into mixture and let it soak for 30 seconds on each side. 
- Place soaked slices on bread on cooling rack for 1-2 minutes.
- Place a skillet over medium heat with 1 tbsp of butter.
- When skillet is hot place 2 slices of bread in it and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden.
- After removing from skillet places french toast slices on a heat proof rack in the oven for 5 minutes.
- Remove french toast from oven, serve and enjoy!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Quick Pics from the Pink Room Kitchen

These are some caramel brownies I made the other day, check those lovely grooves filled with caramel goodness!
These are some well recieved red velvet cupcakes that I did for a recent order, and finally heres a picture of a group of zinnias from the garden. These were the second to last group to bloom.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Achiote(Annatto) Oil

Infused oils are nothing new, you can find them in any store or take a few minutes to make your own. The process is simple and you can make virtually any flavor. All you need is a bottle, any oil of your choosing, and the item you want to infuse the oil with. For this post ill just focus on the achiote oil but I also made a garlic rosemary infused olive oil that tasted divine! Achiote also known as annatto and roucou is a plant species native to South America and the Caribbean. Achiote has a taste that can simply be described as unique, It has a mix of sweet and spicy notes to it that goes well in a variety of dishes,The seeds come from a pod that is shaped like a prickly teardrop.
Achiote gives food a reddish to golden hue depending on how much you use and how you make your infusion.Boiling the seeds in water gives you a more reddish concoction and infusing in oil gives your food a golden color in my opinion. I use the water based roucou in my smoked herring primarily to give it the desired red color, the oil is used in almost everything else I cooked. I had my first encounter with achiote in Trinidad a few years ago where my aunt made me a water based liquid infused with the seeds called roucou that can be used to color food just like the oil. Now...don't get confused. Achiote, roucou, and annatto is the same thing, different regions just refer to it differently. Achiote seeds are available in most international food sections of supermarkets or available for order online. For this recipe I'll just give the process without exact measurements because you can make any quantity you want to suit your need.

Achiote Oil
Achiote seeds
Vegetable/Canola Oil

- Measure out ingredients so that for every cup of oil you have 1tbsp achiote seeds.
- Put saucepot over low heat with amount of oil and seeds to be used.
- Cook oil over low heat stirring occasionally.
- When oil reaches a beautiful sunset red/orange color and seeds have darkened you can remove pot from heat.
- After oil has cooled, strain the seeds out and funnel into bottle to be stored in.
- Store at room temp or in refrigerator if concerned about pathogens.

**I had 2.5 cups of achiote oil stored at room temp for just over three weeks with no spoilage. I am no food scientist so keep refrigerated for a 3 week maximum if you have concerns. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Zinnia's from the garden and a furry surprise.

It took all summer but FINALLY the Zinnia's from the fruit smoothie mix came in. This is the first to fully bloom. It reminds me of a blazing august sunset. I cant wait to see the other colors. I also have to note that my peppers have gone into overdrive producing numerous buds which will be tons of peppers by mid to late September...which is perfect for making tasty Caribbean style pepper sauce to use over the winter.

Lastly here is the surprise:
This is from last week.
And this week.
The kitten is named Juma which is Swahili for "friday born". He shakes like he has Parkinson's, so I hardly get a clear shot of him. He is now hopefully the last of four rescued cats.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New Cupcakes: Caramel Mocha Latte Cupcakes

This will be a next short post. I just wanted to show some ultra delicious cupcakes that I baked up last night. Its an over the top version of the Brown Eyed Baker mocha cupcakes. This recipe is perfect if only for the fact that it makes exactly 12 cupcakes. I must say that I  changed some of the ingredients to suit my personal taste and I also used my own icing. I am sure the original recipe is good as is since it has gotten great reviews all over the web...but I know what I like and bake to suit. To make these extra decadent I made some caramel sauce following a David Lebovitz recipe. I have made his salted caramel before for brownies with success, so I decided to try his other caramel recipe that doesn't need butter. This caramel recipe cooks relatively quick and taste great. Enjoy

Creamy Caramel Sauce
makes 1 1/2 cups
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

- In large heavy-duty saucepan, spread the sugar in an even layer and cook over medium to low heat.
- Keep careful watch on the sugar to see when it begins to liquefy.
- Use a heatproof spatula or spoon to gently stir and encourage cooking.
- Stir sugar until it is completely melted and turns a deep amber color.
- Immediately remove from heat and stir in half of the cream and stir vigorously.
- Carefully stir until the sugar is dissolved and then whisk in remaining cream, salt, and vanilla.
- If you get any hard bits just cook over low heat until dissolved and smooth.
- Sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for two weeks.

Garden Pics: Asters

This is just a quick picture to show you all the aster crego mix flowers that have been blooming profusely since the beginning of august. I have enough flowers to cut new ones everyday.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mixed Drinks: Carnival Breeze.

Who doesn't like a good mixed drink in the summer? Living in the city far away from my favorite beaches in the Caribbean means that I don't have many beach days. Today I just wanted to feel like I was back in Trinidad for carnival surrounded by sweet music, great friends, ridiculous antics, never ending parties, and sunshine. There was only one...well two problems, carnival is almost six months away and I am no mixologist. I did some research on existing drinks around how I wanted mine to look and I got to work. This drink uses the special edition Angostura Single Barrel rum that came out for carnival but any TRINIDAD rum will do. Don't let me hear you using wray and nephew or just wont do!! We also used the famous Angostura bitters in this as well. As soon as I finished mixing I took a towel up to the rooftop and took in some sunshine. Its no beach but it gave me a lil time to reminisce. Mix this this up quick and take a mind trip to the sun and soca.

Carnival Cooler
Makes 1 drink
1 1/2 shots Single Barrel Rum (or other trinidad dark rum)
1 dash Angostura bitters
dash of lime juice
4 shots pineapple orange juice (can use plain orange juice)
Crushed ice
Grenadine Syrup
1 Maraschino cherry
Lime wedge

- Mix rum, bitters, lime juice, and orange pineapple juice together.
- Pour mixture into tall glass over crushed ice.
- Pour grenadine syrup into the glass slowly it will sink to the bottom. DONT MIX.
- Garish with lime wedge and maraschino cherry.
- Serve immediately.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Garden Critters

This what I believe to be an eastern black swallowtail caterpillar that has taken up residence in my curly parsley. I usually would run like hell in the presence of most creepy crawly caterpillars but this one reminds me of the blue caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland. It is going to turn into a beautiful black based butterfly if it sticks around. Ill take an update picture later on in the summer...stay tuned!
This is what it will turn into!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Weekend Baking: Watermelon Cupcakes.

I made these watermelon cupcakes for my girlfriend...she LOVES watermelon! I used mini chocolate chips for the watermelon seeds and I tinted her favorite cream cheese frosting.These were too cute for words and too yummy to last any more than 2 days lol!

Pink Room Garden News: August Edition

Sadly the end of the summer is nearing and I cant stand to think about it. Why does summer feel like the shortest season? Probably because you're just enjoying it too much. Anyways....on to the garden. August is the month that the tomatoes finally decided to come in. They didn't grow to the size I wanted them too and I just think they took entirely too long to ripen, I will not be growing big boys next year. Instead I'll grow some roma tomatoes and maybe some heirloom varieties. I also lost an entire plant to some fungal disease which reduced my expected crop dramatically! Ill do a lil' more research to prevent these problems next year.
The Big Boys
The sunflowers and zinnias I plated in the vacant box by my neighbors window seems to be growing at a greater speed than those planted by my window but I believe I know why. The zinnias and sunflowers over by my neighbor have enough space since they are in their own boxes. The flowers in front my window are cohabiting. I ignore a lot of planting rules...I planted a whole pack of asters and morning glories in a box that's about 2 feet and the morning glories grew up an entire story. I guess it didn't work in my favor for the zinnias. Don't get me wrong they are growing, just slowly.
The zinnias by my neighbor grew so fast!
The sunflowers are almost as tall as her window!
I'm also waiting on my African cayenne, habeneros, and Trinidad hot peppers to come in. So far I've gotten a few peppers from one of my habenero plants.
Habenero pepper.
African Cayenne, its about 4 inches now.
Check out my rosemary from last year...its gotten so robust! Over the winter it looked so scrawny and half dead. I asked some farmers from USQ farmers market for some tips and I was told to change the pot your rosemary is in every year and keep in a sunny spot. I followed these tips in April and even changed the soil it was in....within a month the half dead rosemary started to look better than when I initially bought it.

Finally I harvested some sweet pea flower seeds to use next year. After the flowers drop, a pod starts growing in the same spot. You let the pods turn brown and then you harvest the seeds. You place them in a dry place in an envelope and plant next year spring.

Dried seed pods
Sweet pea seeds

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Whole Wheat Hamburger Rolls.

Eating hamburgers in my house always leaves us with the same dilemma all the time...large burger and small bun. The veggie and salmon burgers we usually buy are a bit larger than the standard hamburger buns sold in the supermarket. This summer I have tried to make hamburgers buns twice. The first time I tried a recipe from king arthur flour but the results were almost to flat to split. My second attempt yielded much better results. I also started keeping boiled potato water to make my bread with as I've heard it works as a natural preservative for bread and gives you a softer loaf.  The recipe I used was from I tweaked the recipe by using part whole wheat flour, raw turbinado sugar, and potato water. The substitutions made is part of my plan to eat a lil bit healthier everyday but you can definitely follow the original recipe if you like.  These lovely buns came out large enough to accommodate a 4-5inch burger, with incredible softness, and a beautiful crust. If your wondering why they aren't shiny like most hamburger buns that's because I didn't use any egg family doesn't care for it, but Ill post it in the recipe so that you have the option of using it. 

Whole Wheat Hamburger Rolls
Makes 12 rolls

1 cup milk
1 cup potato water or regular water
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour*
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour*
1 1/2 cups bread flour*
2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water

- Warm milk, water, sugar, salt, and butter in saucepan.
- In bowl of stand mixer combine flour(s) and yeast.
- Pour milk mixture into flour and mix on low speed with dough hook attachment until soft uniform ball forms.
- Place dough into a greased bowl, cover and let rise one hour.
- After one hour punch down dough and divide into twelve equal portions.
- Shape dough into rolls and after 1 minute press down each roll with the palm of your hand. 
- Place rolls on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper.
- Let rise until doubled in size.
- While rolls are rising heat oven to 400 degrees.
- If using egg wash  mix yolk and tbsp water together, brush on top of rolls.
- Place rolls in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and cool.
- Serve with your favorite burger!

* I mixed different flours together but the original recipe uses entirely all purpose flour. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Portuguese Sweet Bread.

Portuguese sweet bread is a soft crust, rich bread with a slightly sweet taste. if you need to compare it to something it taste just like the Kings Hawaiian rolls you get in the grocery. I always loved getting kings hawaiian rolls during the holidays from my uncle who lives on the west coast. Now I could easily buy them in my local grocery but I also wanted to try making my own. I made portuguese sweet bread once in Baking 1 my sophomore year of college but I thought it was time that I try it again. I have a recipe for portuguese sweet bread in my baking text book from school but its too large scale so I tried a recipe I found on good reviews.

Portuguese Sweet Bread
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp margarine or butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
3 cups bread
3/4 tsp salt
1 large egg

- Warm milk and margarine to no more than 100 degrees.
- Stir sugar into milk until dissolved and then add in yeast.
- While milk mixture sits add combine flour and salt in bowl of stand mixer.
- Make a well in the middle of te flour and place egg.
- Finally add in milk mixture to flour and attach the bowl to stand mixer.
- Mix on speed 2 with dough hook until a soft dough ball forms.
- Place dough in a greased bowl and let it rise for one hour.
- Punch down dough after one hour.*
- Place dough into a greased loaf pan or a round 9x3in cake pan.
- Let dough rise and additional half hour before placing in a 375 degree oven.
- Bake bread for 30 - 35 minutes.
- Remove from oven and baking pan, cool on a rack.

* Punching dough is the process of removing the CO2 that built up during the first rise by gently pressing your hand into the dough.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sunshine on the Fire Escape

These sunflowers came from a cheap pack  of seeds with no description so I really didn't know what variety they were and what to expect. Would they be some dwarf variety or the giant blooms that can grow as tall as 12 feet? I planted the seeds in small containers but soon found out they  outgrew them within a month or so. You definitely know when a flower has outgrown its pot when the bottom leaves continually turn yellow/brown and drop off.  I transplanted some of the flowers into a vacant space next to my sweet peas and the rest went into my neighbors vacant herb pot that became a home for pesky weeds. I though she would enjoy seeing flowers every morning opposed to weeds so I did some guerilla gardening, tossed those weeds and replaced them with sunflowers. The majority of the sunflowers have bloomed (just waiting on about two slow growers to open) and they all average about 2 feet tall with 3-5 inch flowers. I am soo proud of my flower growing progress this year, now the last to bloom will probably be the asters and the Zinnias.

P.S here is a pic of a baby carrot that was thinned from the carrot pot, it already has good flavor!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Experiment: Butter Toffee Brownies

I made these yesterday just experimenting. I didn't write down anything but it came out delicious. I made some soft butter toffee yesterday but burnt it slightly. I didn't want to throw it out  since the flavor was slightly burnt. I decided not to throw it out but layer it in some extra brownie batter. The chocolate mask the burnt flavor and there was just yummy toffee goodness left. It also added this extra moistness to the brownies...this was a win. Look at that toffee trying to escape the sides and the beautiful crackle in the brownie top. These were gone in less than a day!

Homemade Cheddar Cheese Crackers

I made these crackers out of boredom and my love of all things cheesy. I see homemade crackers all over the blogosphere but this was my first time making them. I was browsing through blogs this past Sunday and within 20 minutes of me seeing the cracker recipe I got to work on making them. The recipe comes together pretty quickly as the whole process is similar to making shortbread cookies. After they baked I gave them 5 minutes to cool and started to indulge. After eating one...two...maybe three...whatever, whose counting..I came to the conclusion that these were really tasty but a little to cheesy for my taste. I know your looking like me as if I'm crazy..but yea these were a little to cheesy for cheese crackers. It tasted like the little bit of cheese that runs out of your grilled cheese sandwich and gets fried in the pan by itself. I will definitely make again and just cut down on the cheese. I have to note that my sister thought they were perfect as is but she's a extreme cheese lover. Now the only way for you to form an opinion would be for you to make these yourself so get to baking!

Cheddar Cheese Crackers
makes 28

1/ 2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp or pinch cayenne pepper
8oz cheddar cheese, finely shredded
1 cup unbleached flour

- Prepare a large sheet pan with cooking spray or with parchment paper and set to the side.
- In bowl of stand mixer combine butter, salt, and peppers until well mixed.
- Add in flour and cheese, mix on medium until well combined.
- Place mixture in plastic wrap and roll into a log shape.
- Place log in refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes.
- In the mean time heat oven to 350 degrees.
- After 30 minutes remove dough from the refrigerator and cut into slices.
- Slices should be cut 1/4 inch thick but I cut mine a little thinner for more crispiness
- Place slices on sheet pan and bake until crisp and golden.
- Remove from oven, cool and enjoy. via

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Strawberry Dream Cups

This recipe here epitomizes summer time decadence. Its a vanilla infused blondie on the bottom with creamy strawberry mousse on top. You do have to turn on your oven to bake the blondie but it bakes so quick you'd hardly have time to feel the heat. The mousse whips up really quick in less than ten minutes!
I used strawberry preserves for the mousse but you can experiment with all different flavors of preserves. The blondie recipe is from Smitten Kitchen and the mousse is my own. This dessert is perfect for a summer evening. Try it out today and let me know how you liked it!

Strawberry Dream Cups
makes 6

1 stick butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1 cup flour

- Heat oven to 350 degrees and spray ramekins with cooking spray.
- Mix melted butter and sugar with a whisk until combined.
- Whisk in egg, vanilla, and salt.
- Whisk in flour until no streaks of flour remain.
- Dive batter equally amongst ramekins.
- Bake @350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

- Remove from oven and cool completely.

Strawberry Mousse
8oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
4oz whipped topping, slightly softened
3 tsp strawberry preserves
pink food coloring, optional

- Mix cream cheese and sugar until combined.
- Add in whipped topping, mix until combined.
- Now add in preserves, mix until well blended.
- Finally add in food color if using.
- Spread mousse on top of blondies in ramekins equally.

- Top with fresh strawberries if desired.
- Chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
- Dig in and enjoy.

** If using fresh strawberries, after you cut them place them on paper towels to absorb excess juices. After a few minutes you can proceed to place them on your dessert.

Monday, July 18, 2011

New York Style Crumb Cake

One of my favorite desserts growing up used to be Entenmanns crumb cake, I would literally devour an entire crumb cake growing up. I haven't been able to find another commercially produced crumb cake that could match up with Entenmanns in my opinion. Since I am trying o cut down on food that I buy containing preservatives I don't really buy my beloved Entenmanns crumb cakes anymore. I mean I love the cake but I'm not a fan of the fact it can sit on a shelf for so long in a box and not go whats in that stuff???!!! Nowadays I have resorted to testing out different crumb cake recipes and seeing which one can win over my discerning palette. I have tried several recipes in the past some I like more than others..some tasted like complete garbage. Today ill focus on the New York style crumb cake from America's Test Kitchen. I like most America's Test Kitchen recipes since they try to take the great elements from several recipes and make one final recipe possessing all the desired traits of the other recipes. This recipe came together fairly quickly and I was so happy I had all the ingredients on hand so I didn't have to go to the store. I baked the cake for 45 minutes on 325 degrees because I really didn't want the cake to bake to quick and brown too much, I also didn't want the crumb topping to burn. I decided slow and steady wins the race so I would wait the extra time and bake at 325. It baked perfectly....I mean  the color was exceptional!
This cake had a really nice flavor and it was a crowd pleaser, Ill definitely bake again.

New York Style Crumb Cake
serves 9
Crumb Topping
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon (I used 1 tsp)
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 3/4 cup cake flour

- In medium bowl combine sugars, salt, and cinnamon, make sure there aren't any lumps.
- Add in melted butter and mix until smooth.
- Mix in flour until crumb forms.
- Set bowl to the side.

1 1/4 cup cake flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 large egg + 1 yolk

- Heat oven to 325 degrees and prepare an square 8inch pan with foil or parchment paper.
- Combine cake flour, granulated sugar, salt, and baking soda in mixing bowl fitted with paddle attachment. 
- Combine buttermilk, vanilla, egg, and yolk. Set to the side.
- With mixer on medium speed add butter to flour mixture one tablespoon at a time. 
- Mix until small crumbs form and there are no big lumps of butter left.
- Add in buttermilk mixture and mix on medium speed until you have a smooth batter. 
- Pour batter into prepared pan and top with crumb topping.
- Bake cake for 45 minutes or until a cake tester/toothpick comes out clean.
- Cool and enjoy.

Recipe from America's Test Kitchen via

Friday, July 15, 2011

Trinidad Coconut Drops...Diabetic/Sugar Free Version

Don't open yuh eye big so...coconut drops can be made sugar free and still remain tasty. Traditionally Trinidad coconut drops are little sweet dense mounds that are a cross between bread and cake. The smell of these little buns of tropical goodness baking send your senses straight  to the Caribbean with the scent of coconut, rum, and spices. I usually make coconut drops with regular sugar but since my mom has to watch her sugar intake I decided to make these sugar free. The main sweetener for this recipe could have easily been splenda but since my mom is skeptical about artificial sweeteners I decided to go the all natural route with agave nectar. In short agave nectar is a sweetener derived from the Mexican cactus like agave can learn more here.

  For my mom I decided to use part whole wheat flour and part all purpose flour to add to the nutritional value of the drops, but you can choose to make the recipe using all purpose flour alone. Another tip for baking drops is to soak your raisins so that they don't dry out while baking. I soaked my raisins in a mix of cherry brandy and Angostura Single Barrel rum but water can be used to soak raisins as well.

Since many people both old and young have dietary restrictions when it comes to sugar I decided this would be a great recipe to post so that my diabetics and pre-diabetics can still enjoy delicious homemade coconut drops. I will also experiment with other flours such as whole grain and rice to see if I can develop versions to accomodate other diets. Will Keep you all posted in the mean time Happy Baking!

Sugar Free Trinidad Coconut Drops
Makes 6

1/3 cup raisins, soaked in rum or water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cola essence, optional
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cup grated coconut

- Soak raisin in small bowl at least 1hr before baking.
- Prepare sheet pan by greasing or lining with parchment paper. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine flour(s), nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt
- Melt butter and place in mixing bowl along with agave nectar. Mix on medium speed until well blended and emulsified.
- While butter and agave mix, combine egg, extracts, and lemon zest in small bowl.
- When agave and butter emulsify add in egg mixture and mix until combined.
- Add in coconut to mixture and combine.
-Add in flour mixture, mix until just combined.
- Add in raisin, leaving reserving the liquid to the side.
- Divide batter into 6 equal portions
- Shape into circular mounds

- Place in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.
- Remove from oven and brush lightly with rum mixture raisins were soaking in. (Omit this step if you used water)
- Cool and enjoy

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Homemade Strawberry Lemonade

Summertime conjures up several things in my head, along with longer days, picnics, and abundant fresh produce..lemonade happens to be one of those things. The association with lemonade and summer may be from one to many cartoons as a kid where every child on TV raised money for toys by setting up lemonade stands in the summertime. Growing up my favorite was pink country time lemonade but as a adult I need my pink lemonade to be preservative free.  I decided to experiment with some extra strawberries and lemons that were in the house. I thought that it couldn't be a complete waste since the ingredients were so just had to work. The lemonade came out deliciously refreshing with just the perfect amount of sweet strawberry to compliment the tart lemons. Whip this up quick, put some ice in a glass and enjoy!

Homemade Strawberry Lemonade
makes 1 gallon
1 pint fresh strawberries, washed and hulled (frozen berries can be used)
1 cup fresh lemon juice (I used 2 limes extra to contrast)
honey or sugar to taste
4 cups hot water
cold water

- Place strawberries in blender along with 1/2 cup of the lemon juice and process on liquefy.
- Strain strawberry liquid into a fine mesh colander over a gallon pitcher. Discard the seeds and pulp.
- Mix the remaining lemon juice into strawberry liquid along with hot water.
- Let that mixture sit for 10-20 minutes and then add in cold water to fill the rest of the pitcher.
- Sweeten lemonade with sugar or honey to taste.
- Serve ice cold with a lemon wedge!

**This recipe can also be made with essentialy any fruit you desire, fresh or frozen.
**You can also use sparkling water to make this extra refreshing and festive.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Trinidad Butter Bread

Keeping theme with yesterday here is a next Trinidad recipe. Trini butter bread is one of those recipes right up there with Trinidad Hops Bread, its a favorite with the Caribbean massive. Trini butter bread is a dense, filling bread with the taste of butter baked right in. At my local Trinidadian bakery by me this bread always sells out! Butter bread is a favorite of mine and I use to regularly buy a loaf from said bakery but I decided it was time that I try to make my own. While searching online I realized there was no real recipe for Trinidad butter bread. I decided that once the experiment was successful I would be able to put it on a platform to share with Trini's and non-Trini's across the globe. My sister gave me some tips she found out on how to make the bread and I also enlisted the help of my mom...yes there was a three man team to bake two loaves of bread...don't judge me.
My mom and I tried the recipe completely from scratch, we just started scooping flour an prayed for success. I have to note that Trinidad butter bread isn't baked in loaf pans but on a flat baking sheet, so once you use parchment paper there really isn't any clean up. This bread came out better than what I am used to buying and I am so excited to share the recipe with you all...hopefully this bread will become a staple in your home adding a lil' Trini flavor to your baking repertoire.
Trinidad Butter Bread
makes 2 loaves
8cups flour
2 1/2 tbsp instant yeast
1tbsp salt
4tbsp granulated sugar
1/2cup + 2tbsp vegetable shortening
1 cup warm whole milk
1 cup warm water
4 tbsp melted butter

- Combine all ingredient except butter in bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook and knead until a soft, smooth ball is formed.

- If you don't have a stand mixer melt shortening in small bowl in the microwave. Add sugar, milk, and water to shortening along with yeast. *Take care that the liquid mixture isn't too hot or it will kill the yeast, it should just be warm to the touch. Place flour and salt in a large bowl and combine. Form a well in the center and add in liquid mixture. Knead by hand until you form a smooth ball.

- After kneading shape into a ball and place in a large bowl, cover with plastic, and let rise 1 hour.

- After one hour punch down the dough,divide into two equal pieces, and roll into two flat circles.

- Brush each circle with 1tbsp melted butter.
My mom is working hard!
- Roll each circle into a flat cylinder shaped loaf and place on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
Ignore my oven thermometer...its seen better days lol!
- Let Loaves rise for 30 minutes. During the last 15 minutes light the oven to 350 degrees.

- Before placing loaves in the oven brush each loaf with 1tbsp melted butter.

- Bake loaves for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. If loaves are browning to quick lower oven to 300 degrees and bake for the remainder of time.

- Remove loaves from oven and brush each loaf with 1tbsp butter each.

- Cool and eat.

Garden News

This morning glory vine has been running so well its gone from my floor up to the roof, its gonna be a beautiful sight when the whole vine flowers!

So the strawberry plant has given its last set of strawberries for the time being...I dont know if itll bear anymore for the summer ill keep it outside and monitor it.

The Zinnias are getting ready to open...I wonder what color mix I'll get.

Sweet Peas continuing to bloom!

These are the sweet peas on the trellis I made for them.

The Garden is coming along slowly but surely...Im waiting for my first tomato though. Patience is the name of the game.