Making Dough — Cookbook Review … and I made Croissants

When I first got the e-mail to review this book, I thought it was a joke. I thought it was spam … but i wanted it to be real soooo badly that I provided all of the required information, and remained hopeful.

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When the book Making Dough by Russell Van Kraayenburg showed up at my door step, again, I thought it was a joke. Hah, me? – review a cookbook, an actual cookbook with amazing pictures, and recipes, test out, and give my opinion on someones labour of love – stepping into their shoes and experimenting with their baking journey. Me, are you sure?!?!  

I knew i had a great task at hand.

I was honored.

Humbled.

So first, thank you Quirk Books, Pinguin Random House Canada and Russell … can I call you Russel, like we’re friends?!?!

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I cracked open the book, loving the sound of that spine cracking and the smell of fresh pages. In the most ironic possible way … the book was “recipes and ratios for perfect pastries” hahaha … good joke. Remember how I’m crazy scared of pastries … again, was someone playing a joke on me?!?!

I thought though, this was my chance, this would actually be a true test of this book. I’m not a dainty baker, ask me to dump cake batter in a pan and bake it, done — ask me to scoop out cookies on tray suuuuurrreee … ask me to make a soufflé-fra-li-lah … yea, no, not happening. I normally put pastries/ doughs under that “ soufflé-fra-li-lah” category.

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As I skimmed through the book, divided by 12 key dough recipes I realized, I’m actually a big huge liar … I’m not actually scared of pastires, according to Russell’s book, I’ve actually made tons of pastries!! Scones, done it – Biscuits, nailed it … and the idea that Gnocchi is a type of Pate A Choux excited me … I thought, you know what, I can totally do this.

And then I decided to make croissants.

And not just any old kind of croissants, but poolish croissants – promised as a more “yeasty flavoured” croissant.

Review of the book:

My first reaction was, its beautiful. I flipped through the pages drooling and intrigued by recipes like Bourbon-Maple Glazed Cheddar Bacon Biscuits, Blueberry Mascarpone Hand pies and Salted Caramel Eclairs topped with Salted Caramel Popcorn … 2 words: I.DIE.  I knew it would be tough to narrow down exactly what I was going to bake.

As I continued reading, I realized this wasn’t just a cookbook – and in fact if I were to give it an alternate title – I would call it “ The Theory of Dough” the time, patience and detail included in each of the steps, the explanations included in how your dough should look as you progress through a recipe, the attention to explaining each component of your masterpiece it definitely gave me a new perspective on baking.

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Quite often, baking is compared to science – and I suppose it is ( although i was NEVER good at science) Russell’s book is a true testament to the science of baking. I wouldn’t say it’s overly technical, but it is extremely detailed. I would deem it a baking textbook, one that every ambitious baker should have on their shelf. There is a lot to learn, and Russell makes it easy to do so.

I would definitely refer Making Dough to a seasoned baker; while the steps included are clear and easy to follow – I found that a lot of the required tools ( a kitchen scale, candy thermometer, marble slab) just aren’t tools a home bakers like myself have on hand ( hehe … this could DEFINITELY be a hint to that Santa!!). I also found it challenging to work with weight measurements as opposed to cups, tablespoons and teaspoons.

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For those who are new to the baking game, I think this book could serve as a great method to learn the ins-and-outs of how to be a great baker … I would definitely package this book with a couple items – a food scale, thermometer, pastry brush and ruler … hhheeellllloooo foodie gift basket!! 

Baking from the book:

First … look what I made!!

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Croissants are NOT an easy feat – I must say, this recipe has taken my baking ambition to a whole new level. I’m going to deem this a win, as a first time try but honestly, I probably won’t be making croissants again in a while.

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They.take.SO.long. either that, or I just lack any sort of patients!! The result was a flakey pastry and buttery center – worth the 26 hours …. Mmmm … for the smell of my home; yes – for how they actually turned out, not so much. I must have done something wrong ( and it’s very possible …) my croissants were heavy, not light and fluffy as I hoped. They also baked a lot faster than the suggested 45 minutes. While the tops were golden brown, the bottoms were toasted – not burnt, but definitely more cooked than probably necessary.

Baking from the book was relatively easy – the instructions provided are clear, and detailed. One thing that definitely stood out ( and maybe this was based on the recipe that I choose) I continuously had to flip back and forth to reference other information; as well, as I mentioned before, some of the tools required, I just didn’t have and I ended up improvising.

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There are a ton of other recipes I would like to try. Overall, I would say Making Dough is a keeper – ideal for any seasoned baker as a Christmas present; and a new adventure for novice bakers such as myself.

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Honey Drizzled Turkey, Cranberry, Sweet Chili Walnut Blue potato pizza with crispy sage

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Holy jumpin jones … do I have a pizza recipe that’s about to blow your mind!!

But first, a little story …

A couple of weeks ago Food Bloggers of Canada advertised for their members an opportunity to participate in The Little Potato Company event – each lucky blogger would recipe a couple bags of spuds – make something jazzy – blog about it – and we’ll all live happily ever after.

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So I entered. I did so without even thinking much about it … seriously, this little blog wasn’t going to get the chance – there are so many stinking out of this world bloggers that are members of Food Bloggers of Canada , why would I get the chance of spud serendipity?

Fast forward 2 weeks … and this shows up!! 2 Bags of Something Blue Potatoes & 2 Bags of Fingerlings

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Of course, the first thing I do is call my mom. And this is how the conversation went ;

“Ma, you need to come to my hose to eat potatoes … I just scored 4 wicked cool bags”

“For free?”

“ yes mother, for free …please come over”

“Dear child, no one in their right mind gets as excited as you do over potatoes … but I’ll be over as soon as possible” 

I wish I made that up. I WAS PUMPED!! The Little Potato company chose me … and I hope I did them proud with my

Honey Drizzled Turkey, Cranberry, Sweet Chili Walnut Blue potato pizza with crispy sage.

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While I was compensated with these potatoes, all opinions are my very own … and now, the good – bad – and beautiful about these little taters.

 Yays:

–          They are little, cute and perfect for roasting alongside your holiday meal

–          LOVE the packaging and how compact they fit in my tiny refrigerator

–          LOVE the burst of blue

–          LOVE the thin skin

–          LOVE that this is a Canadian company

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Nays:

–          I wish the purple run throughout the potatoes ( this may be me, just being picky)

The Beautiful :

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And now, let’s talk pizza.

Seriously when it comes to pizza – quality matters to me, especially when I’m making it at home. I want fresh – I want exotic – I was sweet- spicy – tangy – rich – a crunchy crust, and chewy dough… and I want it to all work together … read : Pizza Snob. And this one … BLEW MY MIND. It’s not too spicy, but there’s a kick and the honey … oooohhh the honey … and the sage … and the walnuts.

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Honey Drizzled Turkey, Cranberry, Sweet Chili Walnut Blue potato pizza with crispy sage

 Pizza Dough (you can of course, also use store bought!!)

3 Cups Flour

1 Tbsp quick acting yeast

1 Tbsp Sugar

2 Tsp Sea Salt

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 1/4 Cups of Water

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Directions:

In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast, sugar, olive oil and water. Mix until well combined.

Pour out onto a floured surface, and knead until a smooth ball forms.

Using the original bowl, lightly spray grease. Place your dough back in, and allow to rise for at least 30 minutes.

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The Pizza

Ingredients:

10 small purple potatoes  thinly sliced, about 1/4 inch thick
½  cup olive oil, divided ¼ cup x ¼ cup

3 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp sea Salt

1 Tsp ground black pepper

1 Tsp curry powder

1 Tsp cinnamon powder

½ tsp ginger powder

½ tsp ground cardamom

¼ cup sliced brie cheese

½ cup thinly sliced turkey kielbasa

¼ cup dried cranberries

¼ Cup + 2 tbsp honey ( divided)

1/2 cup walnuts

1 Tbsp sweet chilli sauce

4 fresh sage leaves

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Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 oc.

In a bowl, combine potatoes, ¼ cup olive oil, garlic & spices. Set aside and allow to marinade.

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In a smaller bowl, combine walnuts, ¼ cup of honey and sweet chilli sauce.

Roll out prepared pizza dough.

Top with marinated potatoes

Sporadically spread your cheese

Add turkey

Sprinkle on your cranberries & top with marinated walnuts.

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Bake for 30 minutes.

While baking, in a small frying pan add ¼ of olive oil and sage leaves allow to crisp for 8 minutes. Remove from oil and set aside.

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Remove pizza from oven – add sage leaves and drizzle with 2 tbsp honey.

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Verdict, Mama LTSL Loved the pizza … so did Papa … and I ate it twice again this week aka — grab some The Little Potato Company Spuds and PUMP UP THE PIZZAAAA!!

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Cardamom Chai Date Nut Muffins

You know that feeling you get when you’re grocery shopping and you gaze upon a shiny box of a brand spankin’ new product. Excited and intrigued – – you pick it up, have a read about what all the jazz is about and then pop it into your cart.

Well that’s what happened, when my eyes pondered onto this bad boy.

How great does that sound, Cardamom Chai tea – it’s pre-packaged, not sweetened however it already comes with milk. The idea is, you just add water.

I thought – – cool, maybe it’s like a loose tea. I got home, opened it and brewed myself a cup.

My first observation, it was not loose tea. In fact it was simply a powdered substance. I added the water and at first, no sugar or sweetener. I wanted to see what it actually tasted like at first.

I took a sip. …. Let’s just say, NOT MY CUP OF TEA.

I added a little sugar, to see if a little sweetness could help the situation. It was a no go.

So, what did I like – – I like the idea that there was a strong taste of cardamom…. That’s about it.

And didn’t like? – It tasted like powder. The pre-packaged convenience of already adding powdered milk to the tea did not work well for me. While drinking the tea, I had to continuously stir it, so that the mixture wouldn’t settle at the bottom *yuck*. And even still, after consuming the cup – -there were strange bits at the bottom *yuck*.

I had to try it – – it sounded so good!! Would I buy it again? – no. Well, not to drink it as tea. But as I usually do when I find a product I don’t like – – I made muffins.

And so, Cardamom Chai Tea, turned into Cardamom Chai Date Nut Muffins. And these muffins, well they made all well in the world again.

Cardamom Chai Date Nut Muffins

1 box spiced cake mix

3 eggs

1 Cup warm water

1/3 Cup Milk

1/3 Cups Olive oli

1/4 Cup Cardamon Chai Mix

1/2 Cups Slivered Almonds

2/3 Cups Chopped date + 12 whole to top your muffins

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 oc. Prepare a 12 cup muffin pan.

In a medium bowl, mix together spice cake mix and cardamon chai mix.

Add the eggs, water, milk and oil. Mix until well combined.

  

Add almonds and chopped dates.

Fill your prepared pan and top with whole dates.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Fluffy – full of rich spices – the crunch of nuts and the simple sweetness of the dates. Now we’re talking yum!

Stay sweet darlings

ps. don’t forget to enter for your chance to win 100 + Cookies & some holiday goodies. It could be YOU this time!!

Xox

What’cha Think : Tetley Dark Chocolate Chai Tea and Dark Chocolate Chai Pear Muffins

I made you muffins.

I made you muffins and there’s fruit in it.

There’s also a slight hint of cocoa

The way this little party works is – I love you – make you yummy things – take pictures and then you make it and come back to tell me that you love it or hate it … sweet deal?

 ….And even if you hate it, I’ll still love you (it has a lot to do with how cute you are :)).

Before we get to the muffins, lets chit-chat about tea.

Are you a big tea drinker? Or a coffee Mama?

If I’m not drinking water – I’m drinking tea. Yep, even with my meals … is that strange?

Nothing comforts me like a piping hot cup of tea. Usually green.

Lately though, I’ve been experimenting … and that’s when I came across this.

Dark Chocolate Chai Tea.

I was pretty pumped. A hot tea, that tastes like hot chocolate with some lovely added spices – – where do I sign up?!?

I made it.

I made it, and it tastes nothing like hot chocolate. I was a little disappointed, but not surprised. I didn’t add milk or anything fancy; I just wanted to taste the actual tea.

It’s a light tea, with strong notes of cinnamon – cardamom and nutmeg. It’s nice, but doesn’t taste like chocolate at all.

While I love many of Tetley’s Teas – – this one gets a yay-boo from me.

Yay – it’s nice for a change. Perfect to bake with due to its light flavourings.

Boo – Where’s the chocolate? … Where’s the chocolate😀 loll

So with a full canister of tea – the wheels in my old noggin began to turn.

Pear Dark Chocolate Chai Muffins

 2 Cups Flour

½ Cup Quick Oats

1 Tsp. Baking Soda

½ Tsp. Cocoa Powder

½ Tsp. Salt

½ Tsp. Cinnamon

½ Cup Brown Sugar

1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil

½ Tsp. Vanilla

1 Large Egg

1 Medium Pear – Grated

1 Tbsp. Vinegar

1 Cup Milk

2 Dark Chocolate Chai Tea Bags

Preheat oven to 350 oc – prepare a 12 cup muffin tin.

Over medium heat, simmer tea bags and milk for 5 minutes. Once small bubbles begin to form, remove from heat and remove tea bags.

Add vinegar to the chai milk mixture.

In a medium sized bowl, combine all of your dry ingredients – flour – oats – baking soda – cocoa powder – salt – cinnamon.

In a separate bowl, combine your sugar, oil, vanilla extract and the chai mixture.

Now, mix the wet and dry together.

Last – add your grated pear and fold into mixture.

Fill your muffin tins – bake for 20 minutes and then mmmmmmm-muffin time:)

Sweet Idea: Mother’s day is Sunday … hold her tight and make some muffins for your mama

xoxox

Good news and … What’cha think: A Skotidakis Greek Yogurt Product Review

I have news ….

GOOOODD NEEEWWWSSS

actually – – I take that back, I have FANTASTIC NEWS!!

Are you ready for it?!?!

.

..

….

..

.

I’m back to being EMPLOYED!!😀 yahooooooo!! * cue the fireworks*

I know it sounds like im exaggerating, but this honestly means the world to me!! A little over two months ago, I lost my job due to cut backs – blah blah blah– and I was really upset. Really really really upset!!

Luckily, I had all of you though – – I didn’t share this news on LTSL-blog because, I didn’t want to come down from my sugar high. This blog was my escape. It was where I could turn, and let my imagination run free without having to worry about anything else. And I thank YOU all for allowing me to do so:) .

Being employed in a corporate environment, where I’m putting my university education to practical use, means more to me than just being employed or just earning an income. To me, it’s my independence. It’s the product of all of my hard work from university, and extension of me now doing my post-grad (p.s for those of you who don’t know … I’m also doing my masters :)).

So, loosing my job sucked more than running out of chocolate chips on a rainy day.

But noooowwww… I’M BACK!!

I’m back and loving it😀 My first day was yesterday. Luckily, I work with a great set of people and in the words of Annie (yes, orphan Annie) — “I think I’m going to like it here”😀 lol.

Want to know something else that’s pretty hilarious ( but oh so typical of what a roller-coaster my life is). I went to work yesterday – – had a marvelous day … and then came home to find ANOTHER JOB OFFER!!

… yes cupcakes, for two stinkin’ months I was home tossing my cookies to find something and now – – TWO JOB OFFERS … tell me, what in the mother of cupcakes is up with that?!?!  – of course I politely declined.  I’m not going to turn down my current role after one day! My mom taught me a little bit more manners than that and also, the industry I work in is far too small for me to ruin any sort of relations.

So – I was honest and told them that I would have to decline.

Such is life kiddo’s …

I also have some other good stuff to share with you ….

Blueberry Skotidakis Greek Yogurt!!

I saw this yummy-ness in my grocery store and had to pick it up!!

*Note: this is NOT a sponsored post, all of my comments (and criticisms) are thought up all by myseelllff ( big girl things happening right here ;)).*

Let’s chat a little about Greek Yogurt… I LOVE the stuff!! Seriously, hook me up to a Greek Yogurt IV and I’d by a happy little cupcake for a long time!! And in this case, I had a portion controlled amount of Greek Yogurt along with fruit preserves.

HEAVEN!

There are four different flavours to choose from – strawberry, honey, raspberry and blueberry. Blueberry of course won the battle because, I would make love to blueberries if possible (errr… i’ll try to cut down on the creepyness :()

So, maybe I went into this whole taste test a little biased. I loved all components and knew it would be magic once it was all mixed together.

And, magic it was!!

Besides the actual yogurt being extremely thick and decadent – – the blueberry preserves were just sweet enough.

Dear I say, I’d actually consider substituting this in for desert once in a while. It was THAT good!! The yogurt is smooth and creamy – – it’s thicker than regular yogurt and quite filling. I had this little baby for breakfast and it kept me going well into the afternoon.

In total there’s about 2/3 cups of yogurt and 1/3 cup of flavouring. For the complete package it’s 190 calories, 110 of it being from fat. Though you may find the fat content a bit high, this is pretty normal for greek yogurt. I have tried other brands that make fat-free and 1%  – – but in comparison, they just weren’t as creamy as this one.

The extra fat is TOTALLY worth it when it comes to the taste😉 .

What’s extra special about this product, and what actually drew me to purchasing it (besides the deliciousness that is Greek yogurt and blueberries) is the fact that, there is a slight groove separating the two flavours. Once you’re ready to chow down – – you fold along the groove, add the two together and then whisk yourself away to a Greek fantasy.  It’s perfect for those busy mornings when you want something quick and healthy – but just don’t have the time to throw something together.

I honestly loved this. The only real drawback I saw was the amount … I wished there was more😦 (I know you’re laughing … lol) It was probably the ideal amount, and I wasn’t hungry after eating it – – I just found that my Greek fantasy ended far too soon!! … or maybe I ate it too quickly ;) he he he 

Would I be buying this again – for sure!

Do I think you should pick up a cup, the next time you’re doing your groceries? – Sure … and feel free to come back and let me know what you think:). Also feel free to let me know any other brands that you’ve tried and enjoyed. I really like hearing what you good looking people have to say:)

Till next time my loves,

Stay Sweet

xoxo