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.

Catering Peek.

Heres is a pic of some M&M cookie cups I did as an order for a friend shortly after I put up the original post!

If you would like to place an order just send an email to

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Trinidad Coconut Fudge

When I think back to my favorite sweets from my childhood, along with the readily available American sweets and the English sweets my aunt always brought back from the UK, I always think of the creamy, delectable coconut goodness my mom always bought home from her many trips to Trinidad. My mom never made fudge at home so it really was a special treat to me and my siblings. Along with the coconut fudge she bought back vanilla fudge and brown sugar fudge but none of them stood in comparison to the coconut fudge. fast forward years later to adulthood and coconut fudge is still one of my favorite confections. Once you live in a Caribbean based neighborhood or in Trinidad then coconut fudge is something easily attainable...but let me warn you not all fudge is created equal. Right here in Brooklyn or on my travels to Trinidad I've encountered people selling  tasteless, dry, brittle fudge that could scar your palette for life. This brings me to my next point when you make your fudge or buy fudge store it by wrapping in plastic and placing in a air tight container, that will keep the fudge from being over exposed to air and retain its melt in your mouth texture. Now on to the fudge recipe. This recipe is from the famous Naparima Girls cookbook, it just requires a few simple ingredients and time. Here are a few more tips for the road:

- If you are going to use can coconut milk look for the milk with the fewest preservative as some of those extra ingredients will prevent your fudge from setting up correctly.

- If you want fresh coconut milk pick a coconut that has weight and when shaken you hear liquid inside.

- A hand held blender is helpful and time saving instead of stirring by hand at the end.

- The book states that the candy has to be cooked to soft ball stage but I cooked it to firm ball. 

Trinidad Coconut Fudge
Make 36 squares
4 cups coconut milk
2 (14oz) cans of condensed milk
pinch of salt
2lbs granulated sugar
2 tbsp margarine (I used butter)

- If you chose to use fresh coconut milk you can make it by removing and discarding the outer husk of the coconut; cutting to coconut meat into small chunks and placing in a blender with enough water to make up the amount of coconut milk you need. 

- Blend the coconut and water on liquefy and then strain through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Place the milk in a container and discard or freeze the coconut flesh for future use.

- Combine the coconut milk, condensed milk, salt, and sugar in a large pot over medium high heat.

- Stirring regularly cook milk mixture to firm ball stage. If you have a candy thermometer that would be 245-250 degrees. If you dont have a thermometer have a bowl of ice cold water near by and when ready to test the mixture, take a drop of the candy and place in the water. The drop should form a firm yet pliable ball.

- When candy reaches the ideal temperature/texture, remove from heat an beat in margarine with an electric beater. (you could beat this mix by hand but I wouldn't recommend unless your name is Tanty Merle)

- Continue beating until candy loses its gloss. (this is the time consuming part, turn on your favorite radio station or itunes playlist by the time)

- Now pour the mixture into a greased pan. (I used a pan lined with wax paper)

- Spread/press mixture into place.

- Cool and cut into squares.

- Enjoy!