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Hawaiian Pizza

Ingredients:

1 prepared 12" pizza crust
1pk Sliced Provolone cheese -(6 oz)
12 oz. Cooked Ham, thinly sliced
1 cn Chunk pineapple, drained -(8 oz)1/2 c Thinly sliced red onion
1/2 c Chopped green pepper

Method:

Heat oven to 425F. Grease 12" pizza pan. Unroll dough; press in prepared pan. Top with cheese. Arrange remaining ingredients over cheese. Bake 25-30 minutes or until crust is deep golden brown.
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Memories the Essence of Life ~ Best of 2008!

Chalte Chalte Mere Ye Geet Yaad Rakhna
Kabhi Alwida Na Kehna
Kabhi Alwida Na Kehna...

yes, biding good byes are such tearful thing! I am not a person who stands much on ceremonial good byes. Infact during such times in my life, I take a moment to pause to think back on what's come into my life and wonder how its going to be going forward.

The same time last year I did something very much the same! And this being the last post for this year, I thought I will again do something on the same lines!

December 31st always holds many wonderful moments for me. I remember all the years that went by and how we celebrated each one with such fun and merry. With parents, some years it was spent with colony friends and families, then some at home with parents hosting the parties. Then some with just us, cutting cakes at the strike of 12' O clock! Then after marriage, with hubby dear not so very keen on such traditions, I used to drop in parents home to wish them. All of those moments so nostalgic. I remember the Jan first always being hectic, with Amma cooking elaborate breakfasts for people dropping in to wish us. The phones never stop, the calling bell never rests! Amma usually gears up to cook for some 50 plus people visiting us till afternoon. It used to be so much fun. With parents relocating to a different place, we somehow missed this tradition.

This year too, its going to be a quite affair at home. Its going to be an in house celebrations with just our kids. I can't but think back on what's been this year with respect to blogging. Writing my blog has become an important part of my life. My family has come to accept it as part of me and they make room for it, which I highly appreciate, as this gives me an opportunity to express my thoughts and interact with so many people. I have got to know so many wonderful people through my blog. And when I get a mail from a reader, saying they learnt many things from my blog, I feel so very happy.

I was happy hosting so many wonderful events, because of which I have come to know many yummy blogs out there! When I announced Dosa Mela to celebrate my first year of blogging, I never realized I will venture into a series of Melas. Each one has been a new experience and I am still learning. That also prompted me to focus on specific topics apart from our everyday cooking. Thus Spice your Life came into existence. Right now I haven't been able to focus much on it as I wanted, but yes I will have to start focusing on it more.

Taking a stock of the recipes I posted this year, I found it hard to choose which one I liked more. I blogged about 270 recipes this year, most of them are our regular everyday dishes. But some which I experimented and made it a regular.

Since I wasn't able to pin point on one particular dish that was best, I just choose the best meals we had.

First on the list is from our Weekend Cooking featuring Jeera Pulao with Aloo Peas Makhani and Mutton in Gravy

Daal paratha with Kakdi Nu Raitu ~ Our Gujarati Meal and Vangi Bath

Of course, my 101 Dosa Varieties are surely my favorite one. I was elated when my Dosa recipe got featured in a Magazine.

I was able to participate in both the Recipe Marathon organized by DK . I have got such good friends though it that I am happy that they fill the gap of not having any such friends in person!

Though I am not a person who is keen on resolutions, I think having some goals makes us better. Last year I decided I should cook more from other blogs, but sadly my schedules never permitted me from trying out the many bookmarked recipes.

And of course, there is baking. My blog so sadly lacks them. So I should gear to bake some and experiment new dishes. I am planning to come up with a new list of Lunch Box recipes. Plus some new features like Menu planner and of course my mela series!

I would like to thank my family, my blogger friends and my readers for the support and motivation I get everyday, to continue in this work. If not for you guys out there, I would be sadly talking to myself!

As my darling Peddu says, the moment he sees me cutting a cake, "Ahappy Beeday tu you" let me take a toast and wish all my lovely readers a Great Year ahead!

Have a great day!

Seasonal Greetings from the Su family!

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Frequently Asked "A Year of CrockPotting" Questions

Frequently Asked Questions sections always seem so impersonal to me, but after a year, I can honestly say that most days I answer the following questions. At least once.









How do I print out recipes?


I've found the best way is to highlight the desired text, then use the "print selection" button on your print menu. Or you can copy and paste into a word processing document.



What happened to all the food?

We ate it, and shared with friends and family. We now have a very nicely stocked freezer.

What's up with the gluten free?

My youngest daughter has celiac, and we have decided as a family to all eat gluten free while at home. If you are gluten free, please check all food labels yourself. Food manufacturers change ingredients often, and without warning. If you do not need to worry about gluten, ignore my notes and use the food brands you are comfortable with.

Do you travel with your slow cooker?
Yes. Bringing along a slow cooker when traveling ensures that your food is allergen-free and also saves a ton of money.


Did you save money this year?

No. We spent a lot on groceries this year because of the nature of the challenge. I cooked much more food than our family needed, and tried fancier ingredients/spices than I would have in a normal year. I figured this would happen and budgeted accordingly. Most people save a bunch of money by using the slow cooker, though. Here's an article on how to save money by using the slow cooker.

How much weight did you gain this year?

8 pounds. Thank you for asking.

Was your family annoyed at you?
No, not at all. My family is and always has been incredibly supportive of all my endeavors. This really turned into a family project. My kids, husband, parents, brother, grandparents, father-in-law, and friends have all given recipes or recipe ideas. They've also enjoyed eating the food!

How did you get on the Rachael Ray Show?

I emailed the show.

Why are the comments moderated? Did you get a nasty commenter?
Sort of. A reader got me on a bad day and I didn't like what he wrote (he said that my food looked like slimy green poop and that I should take a photography class). He was right---the photo was horrid, but it still hurt my feelings. I've had the moderation on since, and I'm happy with it because I need to actually read (more carefully than before) comments and respond to questions.

Do you have any resolutions for 2009?
Yes. I'd like to stop biting my nails, complete Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred, get the side yard rocks moved to where they should go (or get Adam to do it), start and maintain a blog for Totally Together: Shortcuts to an Organized Life, begin a garden gnome collection, and not stress out so much.


I'm worried about the not stressing so much.

How do you come up with your recipes?

I have the best readers in the world, and they send me new recipes every day. I've got a ton bookmarked that I haven't been able to test out yet. I also read a bunch of food blogs for BlogHerads.com and watch Food TV. I also make stuff up. Sometimes it doesn't work.

I need to cook something for a group of people and it needs to be super-easy.
Taco Soup. It's always a hit.


Will you keep the site up?

Yes. It will live on in cyberspace, and I'll update about once a week indefinitely.


What kind of slow cooker do you use?
I have only had the opportunity to use Crock-Pot brand slow cookers, but have heard wonderful things about all the different manufacturers. These are the slow cookers and slow cooker accessories (like the hand mixer and pyrex/corningware inserts I use in my own home.

Are you going to still use your slow cooker(s) a lot?
Yes. I will continue to use my slow cookers probably daily (maybe almost daily), because that's the only way I really know how to cook! My kids are looking forward to me making some of their favorites again (especially brown sugar chicken, fish chowder, and 5-layer brownies), and I have a bunch of other recipes saved I'm dying to test out.


I also woke up to this last week, and am desperate to crank it up:


The Crock-Pot Trio. Thank you, Santa!

Will there be a book?

Yes. Make it Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking will contain over 300 tried-and-true gluten free slow cooker recipes, and will be published by Hyperion. It will hit bookstores everywhere on October 13, 2009.


But that's not my question!

Email me. crockpotlady AT gmail DOT com


Thank you. Thank you for helping me to make 2008 one of the best years of my life. I could not have persevered without the daily hand-holding from all of you.
My eyes well with tears when I go through and read the heartfelt comments you've left----you are all truly amazing.

Thank you so much. Happy New Year. 2009 is going to rock. I promise.
xoxoxo
steph

 
Need more? Read Frequently Asked Questions, Part II!
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Salted Herring, Estonian Style



Did you know that Estonia has a 'national fish', in a similar vein to countries having chosen a 'national flower', a 'national drink', a 'national bird' etc? Well, we do since 2006 and it's a Baltic Herring (Clupea harengus membras). However, the big cousin on that tiny fish - Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) is very popular as well, and here's the most popular way of serving Atlantic herring in Estonia. You need salted Atlantic herring filets for this dish, available either at deli or fish counters or in a canned versions in your supermarket aisle. If the fish is too salty, then soak it in milk or several rounds of cold water first.

I must admit that I'm not a big fan of 'raw' fish, and salted herring belongs to that category of fish, too (I know it's cured, but it's hot heat-treated). But I served this at our Christmas Eve Dinner, where it was universally praised and finished very quickly. You cannot beat an old traditional favourite, can you..

PS I warn you, there are some pretty strong flavours combined in this dish, so it's not a dainty and elegant fish first course, but a full-on one!

Salted Atlantic Herring, served Estonian style
(Heeringas hapukoorega)
Serves 6-8

4 lightly salted Atlantic herring fillets
3 shallots or 1-2 medium onions
a scant cup of sour cream
2-3 hard-boiled eggs
fresh dill, finely chopped

Cut the herring filets into 1x2 cm pieces and place on an oblong shallow serving dish (it's usually fish-shaped, though ours wasn't).
Peel the onions and slice very thinly. Spread over the herring pieces.
Spoon the sour cream on top.
Peel the hard-boiled eggs, chop the egg whites and yolks separately.
Garnish the dish with lines of green dill, yellow egg yolks and white egg whites.

Keep in the fridge until serving with slices of rye bread as part of a Nordic buffet. Though you might prefer it as an accompaniment to boiled new potatoes (also a very Estonian thing to do). 

WISH YOU ALL A JOYFUL NEW YEAR'S EVE TONIGHT!
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CrockPot Black Eyed Pea Soup


Day 366.
because it's Leap Year.

Happy New Year's Eve! I made the most rockingest black eyed pea soup yesterday, and I take back everything I said last year about black eyed peas. They aren't gross. I just didn't know what I was doing.
And thank you also for all of the emails explaining pig anatomy. I get it now.


Although this is the end of my year-long challenge, the blog will not die, and I will not go hide in a corner in the fetal position. I promise.

Eating black eyed peas on New Years Day is good luck and is said to bring prosperity which can't be a bad thing. Ring in 2009 on the right note. Make this soup.

The Ingredients.

--1 pound dried black eyed peas
--1 pound spicy sausage (I used Aidells chicken habanero and green chile)
--6 cups chicken broth
--1 yellow onion, diced

--1 cup diced carrots
--1 cup diced celery
--4 cloves garlic, diced

--1/2 tsp Italian seasoning (not pictured. I didn't know I needed it at first. But I did.)
--1 tsp kosher salt
--1/2 tsp black pepper
--
Tabasco sauce (to add at the end to taste)

The Directions.

Soak your beans overnight. Drain and pick out the undesirables (broken, discolored beans) in the morning.


Use a 5 to 6 quart crockpot. This will serve about 8 people. Dice the veggies, and dump them into your crockpot with the pre-soaked beans. Add sliced sausage. Pour in broth, and stir in Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for about 6.
Before serving, use a stick blender to smash up about 1 cup of beans. If you don't have a stick blender, scoop out 1 cup of beans, blend them in a traditional blender, and add back to the soup. Don't blend too much---just enough to get the broth thicker and creamy-looking.

Ladle into bowls, and add
Tabasco sauce to taste.

The Verdict.


This tastes amazing. I am so glad that I tried cooking black eyed peas again---they are earthier than other beans and make a fantastic soup base. I've got a few different
tupperwares ready to go for lunches for the next few days. My brother and sister-in-law liked it too. The kids didn't taste it---they had spaghetti for dinner.
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Black-eyed pea dip for a new year

It’s that time of year when we our thoughts are simultaneously in the past via reflection and the future via resolution. It’s also that time of year when we must eat black-eyed peas.

I’ve written plenty about black-eyed peas and why we Texans (and other Southerners) eat them on New Year’s Day. I’ve also given you some recipes.

This year, I had the honor of picking black-eyed peas at my grandma’s farm. And let me tell you, if you ever have the opportunity to eat fresh black-eye peas straight right out of ground, you’re in for a treat. When preparing the still-green black-eyed peas, she kept it simple by only seasoning them with a bit of salt, pepper and ham. And for the duration of my visit, it was all I wanted to eat. (Well, almost, as she had also made a chocolate pie.)

I can’t get fresh ones here in the city. I can’t even find dried ones. So my recipes always have a canned option. You can hardly go wrong with classics such as Texas caviar or a delicious soup I made last year called Good Fortune Soup. But those are for the converted, those who already love black-eyed peas. What about something for those who don’t love black-eyed peas?

I recently made a black-eyed pea dip. I seasoned it with garlic, bacon, cilantro and jalapenos, I made it creamy with a bit of cheese and I served it warm with tortilla chips. If you don’t like black-eyed peas, this might be the one for you—it already converted one nonbeliever and I’d be thrilled if it could convert more.

But before I eat my black-eyed peas, I need to decide how I want their good fortune to guide me in the new year. 2008 was a roller coaster of a year—and like all of you, I’m looking forward to an awesome 2009. Here are some of my resolutions that I hope will make 2009 a more wonderful year:

1. Cure a ham in my refrigerator, hopefully in time for Easter. All the recipes I saw called for saltpeter, which is impossible to find because it’s also used to make explosives (and I did not know this so that might explain all the strange looks I got from shopkeepers when I asked if they stocked it). But thanks to Michael Ruhlman, I now know I can use curing salt instead.

2. Learn more about Asian and Caribbean cooking. Fortunately for me, two books by blogging friends are arriving this year to guide me in my education: Jaden’s Asian home cooking cookbook and Cynthia’s Caribbean cookbook.

3. Speaking of books, perhaps I’ll write one. People keep asking me when I’m going to write a book. Well, it’s been a long, strange journey and no, I’m nowhere near the end yet. But, I hope to at least fashion a book proposal this year that someone besides my mom will want to read.

4. I want to make fresh masa. Steve Sando became my hero this year by demonstrating how to make masa at home. I’ve long wanted to do this and have even seen the manual grinders at area cookware stores. But Steve got an electric masa grinder in Mexico, which makes the process such a snap, you could have fresh masa tortillas every day!

5. Finally, I just finished seeing "Slumdog Millionaire" and I think India should be my next big trip. I have a friend that lives in Dehli, so what am I waiting for?

What are some of your resolutions for 2009? Happy New Year!

Black-eyed pea dip, with garlic and bacon
Ingredients:
1 15oz can of black-eyed peas, drained or 1 1/2 cups cooked
4 pieces of bacon
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup cilantro chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon (or to taste) cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon lime juice (1/2 a lime)
1 jalapeno, diced (can be fresh or pickled)
1/4 cup shredded Monterrey Jack

Method:
1. In a skillet, cook the bacon. When done, crumble and place in a blender .
2. In same skillet, cook the garlic for one minute and then add to blender.
3. Pour 1 teaspoon of bacon grease from skillet into blender.
4. Add to blender black-eyed peas and all other ingredients except Monterrey Jack cheese. Pulse until ingredients are well mixed together.
5. Place blended dip into skillet, turn on low heat and slowly fold in shredded cheese. Cook until melted, about a minute.
6. Place in a bowl and serve immediately with tortilla chips.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
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Little Dipper Pizza Fondue Recipe


Day 365, take two.

I was annoyed with the white bean soup with fennel and spinach I made for dinner, but had all the stuff in the house to make a pizza fondue.

So I did.

I used the Little Dipper because I puffy heart LOVE it, but you could use an oven-safe dish inside a regular crockpot to create a smaller cooking vessel. Or you could increase the quantities.

The Ingredients.

--1 cup pasta sauce (my sauce had chunked mushrooms, it was perfect)
--1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
--10 pieces pepperoni, diced
--1 cup shredded cheese (I used a combo of mozzarella, cheddar, and swiss)

The Directions.

Count out 10 pieces of pepperoni. Then eat the rest of the package.
Put the pasta sauce into your Little Dipper, and plug it in. Add the Italian seasoning and diced pepperoni. Shove in the cup of shredded cheese. I promise it will fit. Cover and leave plugged in (there are no heat settings on a Little Dipper) for 45 min or so.

Stir well and serve with tortilla chips, bread sticks, or crustini.

I made some crustini with the Food for Life brown rice bread. I cut the pieces in slices, then brushed olive oil on each side. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 min, flipping once half-way through.

The Verdict.

This was great. We spread out a blanket in front of the TV and had a carpet picnic with the pizza fondue and watched Redbox dvds. How come I didn't know about redbox earlier?

good stuff.

Having a fondue party?
you really should.

fancy cheese fondue
chocolate fondue
peanut butter fondue
marshmallow fluff fondue
pumpkin pie dip
cream cheese, sausage, and Rotel dip (AKA mommy crack)
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CrockPot White Bean with Fennel and Spinach Soup Recipe


Day 365.

It's the 365th day of the year. But I'm going to post tomorrow---I didn't realize it was Leap Year when I started this project, and I have black eyed peas soaking to be turned into soup. When I made black eyed peas a year ago, I wasn't terribly impressed, but the soup recipe I have sounds pretty good.

Unlike this soup.

This soup is boring and bland and a waste of time. I should have known better. It came out of a little pamphlet of recipes. This was in the vegetarian slow cooker section. I thought we'd have a nice light meal so then we could eat a bunch of junk at New Year's without regret.

Instead, we each ate a bite or two and then made nachos. With extra sour cream.
and pizza fondue.

mmm.

The Ingredients.

--4 cups vegetable broth
--1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
--1 can (15-ounces) white kidney beans
--1 yellow onion, diced
--1 small bulb fennel, chopped
--2 cloves garlic, minced
--1/4 tsp black pepper
--1 bag (10 oz) baby spinach (to add later. but don't. don't waste your spinach. you shouldn't make this soup.)

The Directions.

Use a 5 quart or so crockpot. The best part of this whole thing was chopping the fennel. It makes your kitchen smell like a licorice factory, and provides great adult entertainment while the kids search for candy.

Combine everything into the crockpot except for the spinach. Cook on low for 8 hours, high for 6, then add the whole bag of spinach. It will wilt. It will look yummy. But there isn't any flavor.

I'm kind of annoyed at myself because I KNOW this! I know (just from this year. Before this year I was clueless) that if you put a bunch of bland stuff together the result will be bland and tasteless. But I did it anyway. I wanted this to work. I thought the picture was pretty.

The Verdict.

We've been having ants in the house because of the rain. I left the crock out overnight with the lid off. The ants didn't come.

This soup repels ants.
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Fish Marinade Recipe

This marinade recipe is perfect for fish. The low acid level will not cook the fish before it hits the grill. The combination of soy sauce and brown sugar gives it a teriyaki flavor.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup light soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco
Preparation:
  • Combine all ingredients in a glass container.
  • Store in the refrigerator.
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Nonya Dumpling

Ingredients:

20g pandan leaves, sliced
appropriate amount of bamboo leaves, soaked in hot water and washed
appropriate amount of raffia strands
1kg glutinous rice
300g pork belly
40g dried shrimps, soaked and chopped
20g dried Chinese mushrooms, soaked and diced
100g candied winter melon, cut into strips
50g shallots, chopped
30g garlic, chopped

Method:
  1. Wash the glutinous rice, soak for 4 hours and drain.
    Transfer the rice into bowl, add oil and salt, mix well.
  2. Heat oil, stir-fry the shallots, garlic and dried shrimps till fragrant.
    Add mushrooms, diced pork, season and stir-fry to mix.
  3. Add candied winter melon strips.
  4. Fold the bamboo leaves into a cone. Put 1 big spoon of rice, 2 tbsp of mixed ingredients, followed by another tbsp of rice. Cover with 1 pandan leaf.
  5. Use raffia strands to secure. Boil the dumplings for 2 1/2 hours.
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CrockPot Borscht Recipe


Day 364.

Good morning! I made borscht yesterday. I found a recipe in the January/February 2008 edition of Cooking Light, and changed it up a bit to work in the crockpot, and I am happy with the results. Since I've never had any other borscht, I don't really have anything to compare it to, but it was mild and tasty. I'd think of it more as a starter than a full meal. Wikipedia says that sometimes people add meat. Adam would have liked that----he dug around a bit trying to find some. Cooking Light didn't tell me I could have added meat...

The Ingredients.

--8 beets, peeled and sliced (wear old clothes! beets stain!)
--1 yellow onion, chopped
--1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
--1 1/2 cups chopped celery
--1/2 cup chopped carrot
--1 cup chopped parsnip
--1 potato, peeled and chopped
--2 1/2 cups shredded red cabbage
--3 cloves garlic, minced
--1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
--2 T apple cider vinegar
--1/2 cup beer (Redbridge is gluten free)
--5 cups water
--2 tsp sugar
--1 tsp kosher salt
--1/4 tsp black pepper
--1 T dill
--sour cream (at least 2 T per family member)

The Directions.

Use a 6 quart or larger crockpot. Coarsely chop vegetables and add to crockpot. You're going to blend the soup, so don't worry too much about how the veggies look.

After everything is chopped and thrown in, add the spices, vinegar, beer, and water.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4-6. You want the vegetables fully smooshy so you can blend them easily.

Carefully (and wearing OLD clothes cuz of the beets-staining-thing) use an immersible blender to soupify. Ladle into bowls and top with a generous dollop of sour cream.

The Verdict.

Borscht is good. It's got to be incredibly healthy due to all of the vegetables in there---Cooking Light says it serves 8 with 164 calories a bowl.

It is red. Very, very red. It looked like raspberry jam to me---and that's what I thought of when I while I was eating it (it doesn't taste like raspberry jam. It tastes like vegetable soup made with beets). The kids were asleep by the time the soup was done and didn't taste any. I don't know if I'm going to be able to talk them into it. They're still kind of crabby from getting over colds.

The guinea pigs were thrilled to eat all of the beet stems.
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Cabbage Casserole

Ingredients:

1 medium head of cabbage, chopped up small
2 lbs bacon
1 (12 ounce) bag egg noodles
1 (16 ounce) package sliced cheese

Method:
  1. Cook bacon until crisp. Remove from grease, but leave grease inpan. Set bacon on papertowels to finish draining.
  2. Cook chopped cabbage in grease until soft. When done removecabbage with a slotted spoon to drain off as much grease as possible.Put into a large microwaveable bowl.
  3. While cabbage is cooking, cook egg noodles as directed onpackage. Drain noodles when done. Mix with cabbage, add the bacon.
  4. Cover with cheese slices and microwave until melted. Remove and stir until everything is covered with cheese
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Christmas Day Feastings.

I woke up on Christmas Day at the clinic, after spending the night on call with the company of the lovely kitty Daphne. She indeed is a sweet little girl, and spent the night all snuggled up sleeping soundly.

I was ravenous by the time I got home for our family Christmas Day breakfast!



Here is my breakfast. Pancakes with fresh strawberries and blueberries, vanilla soy yoghurt, maple syrup and fresh orange juice. It was so yummy! My omni parents and veggie brother had eggs, croissants, haloumi and ham... so I had my pancakes all to myself and didn't I just eat them all... tee hee!

Breakfast was followed by present opening, which was fun. I got some books and DVDs, some pretty stuff and the black and pink cat mugs that I have been coveting ever since I saw them on Mandee's Cupcake Kitteh blog. They are so CUTE! The kitties also got a stocking full of toys and Greenies.

After presents came time to start the preparations for the late lunch! Last year I had made the pot roast from Vegan Vittles, and in previous years I had just munched on lots and lots of vegetables. This year I decided to try my hand at a stuffed seitan roast. I chose Roast Seitan With Ginger Peach Stuffing And Glaze from Vegan Dad. It was a bit of an exciting time, as I hadn't had any time for a test run before the big day! I chose it because peaches are a summer fruit, so it was kind of seasonal... even though it was still a honking big roast in the middle of summer. Hee.



And here it is! It doesn't look as pretty as the one on the page. I found that the stuffing recipe made way too much to actually stuff the roast with. Maybe I wasn't rolling it out enough, but any more rolled out and it would have been too thin and started tearing. It was a bit fragile, so care was needed to roll it and move it to the alfoil. Then I steamed it in yet another makeshift steamer. Once steamed and safely transfered into the baking dish, it was basted with the glaze and then baked according to directions. I found I also had loads of glaze left over as well. I think I have enough stuffing and glaze in the freezer to make another one. It fell apart a bit in the cutting and moving, but it was well received. I found the glaze incredibly sweet thought, I might add some soy sauce next time to up the salt a little bit. Also, I would have liked it to be a bit firmer and chewier in texture. It's a shame it is too fragile to crisp up quickly in frying pan before putting in the oven, but I might try baking first without the glaze to see if I can get a bit of a crust going. But all up, it was pretty tasty and the entire family enjoyed it. And it made for tasty leftovers too!



And here is the Christmas lunch plate! What is on it? Well, clockwise from the top there is slices of the stuffed seitan, sauteed mushrooms and peas (which were covered liberally in nooch after this photo), Christmas Day salad (baby spinach, asparagus, green beans, olives and cherry tomato) and roast vegetables (potato, parsnip, pumpkin and lots of garlic cloves). It was delicious! An exciting milestone is that this is the first Christmas lunch ever in my life that there has been no turkey or duck or similar. I was stoked! Not even a plate of ham made it to the table! Though my parents did have a prawn and mango salad, but I think that this is a great trend for years to come. See... our plans for vegan world domination are slowly but surely working! Let us all laugh our evil laughs! Mwahahaha!

After lunch was our Christmas Day Trivial Pursuit match... parents vs. kids. Alas, parents won. Evil. And it was one of those matches where Greg or I often had the right answer first, then talked ourselves out of it. Which is way more sad then just no knowing the answer at all. But still, it was a lot of fun and it was very close at the end. Next year we shall crush them like bugs, I am sure. You know, with Christmas Spirit and all!



Snacks during the game were a very pretty plate of the Santa Hats I made earlier in the week. And then there was fullness. And peppermint tea. And a fridge full of left overs. We didn't even manage to touch the Christmas Cake or the non-vegan Christmas Pudding until days later! Normally I make a vegan Christmas Pudding, but this year I just ran out of time with work... Next year I shall be back!

So I hope everyone had a fabulous Christmas Day with lots of food and presents but most of all, with the people and critters that they love.
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CrockPot Baked Beans with Apples and Jalapeño



Day 363.





mmmm. beans.

I really like baked beans, and am excited to have a few cups of these left in the refrigerator. I'm going to have some more with my pancakes this morning.



Again. I'm eating pancakes again.



We've had pancakes every. single. day. since school let out, and it doesn't look like that will be stopping. I'm glad I bought the big bags of Pamela's.



this has nothing to do with beans.



or the crockpot.



sorry.



The Ingredients.

--1 lb bacon, divided (I used turkey)

--2 cans white kidney beans, drained and rinsed

--1/2 yellow onion, diced

--2 granny smith apples, cored and diced (no need to peel)

--1 or 2 canned jalapeños, diced

--3 cloves garlic, minced

--1 tsp dry mustard

--1/2 tsp kosher salt

--1/4 cup ketchup

--1/3 cup apple juice

--2 T molasses

--1 T brown sugar (I did not add this, see verdict below)







The Directions.



Use a 3-4 quart crockpot. Put 2 pieces of bacon into the bottom of your crockpot. Layer in the

beans, jalapeño, onion, and apples. Sprinkle dry spices on the beans. Add the ketchup, molasses, and apple juice. Stir gingerly to combine.

Add 2 more pieces of bacon to the top of the beans. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 6-8. This is finished when the onions and apples are translucent and the flavors have fully melded.



Cook the remaining slices of bacon on the stove top and crumble over the top.



The Verdict.



I really liked these beans, but I missed the sweetness of traditional baked beans. Next time I will add a tablespoon of brown sugar with the dry spices. I needed to add some more chopped jalapeño to my bowl, but everyone else ate it plain. It wasn't spicy (to me) and the kids were okay with it. They didn't eat very much, and filled up on cornbread.







Follow RecipesDream

Daring Bakers December Challenge!



This month, the lovely ladies in charge allowed my sister and I to do our challenge together! I was home in Canada to visit for the holidays, so we put it together for Christmas dinner.

The challenge was certainly the most complex thus far - but between the two of us, it was definitely manageable. We changed a couple of elements: instead of the mousse, we did a chocolate cremoso, and instead of the creme brulée layer, we did a pastry cream.

I found the dessert a bit rich, but I really enjoyed a few of the elements, especially the feuillette layer and the dacquoise. All said, however, I really appreciated the chance to share my DB experience with family for once.

Thanks to Hilda (http://saffronandblueberry.blogspot.com/) and Marion (http://ilenfautpeupour.canalblog.com/) for the challenge this month.

Also, check out my sister's entry at Not So Vanilla.



**************************

This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux.
They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand

Here's the original recipe:

FRENCH YULE LOG OR ENTREMETS RECIPE by Flore of Florilège Gourmand


Element #1 Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)

Preparation time: 10 mn + 15 mn for baking

Equipment: 2 mixing bowls, hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment, spatula, baking pan such as a 10”x15” jelly-roll pan, parchment paper

Note: You can use the Dacquoise for the bottom of your Yule Log only, or as bottom and top layers, or if using a Yule log mold (half-pipe) to line your entire mold with the biscuit. Take care to spread the Dacquoise accordingly. Try to bake the Dacquoise the same day you assemble the log to keep it as moist as possible.

Ingredients:
2.8 oz (3/4cup + 1Tbsp / 80g) almond meal
1.75 oz (1/2 cup / 50g) confectioner’s sugar
2Tbsp (15g) all-purpose flour
3.5oz (100g / ~100ml) about 3 medium egg whites
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar

1. Finely mix the almond meal and the confectioner's sugar. (If you have a mixer, you can use it by pulsing the ingredients together for no longer than 30 seconds).
2. Sift the flour into the mix.
3. Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff.
4. Pour the almond meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula.
5. Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it.
6. Spread the batter on a piece of parchment paper to an area slightly larger than your desired shape (circle, long strip etc...) and to a height of 1/3 inches (8mm).
7. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 15 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden.
8. Let cool and cut to the desired shape.

Variations on the Almond Dacquoise listed above:

Hazelnut Dacquoise
Substitute the same amount of hazelnut meal for the almond meal.

Chocolate Dacquoise
Add 3 tablespoons of sifted unsweetened cocoa powder into the almond meal/caster sugar mix in Step #1 of the Almond Dacquoise.

Lemon Dacquoise
Add the zest of 1 Lemon after the flour in Step #2 of the Almond Dacquoise.

Coconut Dacquoise
Substitute ¼ cup of almond meal and add 2/3 cup shredded coconut in Step #1 of the Almond Dacquoise.


Element #2 Dark Chocolate Mousse

Preparation time: 20mn

Equipment: stand or hand mixer with whisk attachment, thermometer, double boiler or equivalent, spatula

Note: You will see that a Pate a Bombe is mentioned in this recipe. A Pate a Bombe is a term used for egg yolks beaten with a sugar syrup, then aerated. It is the base used for many mousse and buttercream recipes. It makes mousses and buttercreams more stable, particularly if they are to be frozen, so that they do not melt as quickly or collapse under the weight of heavier items such as the crème brulee insert.
In the Vanilla Mousse variation, pastry cream is made to the same effect.
In the Mango Mousse variation, Italian meringue is made to the same effect. Italian meringue is a simple syrup added to egg whites as they are beaten until stiff. It has the same consistency as Swiss meringue (thick and glossy) which we have used before in challenge recipes as a base for buttercream.
The Whipped Cream option contains no gelatin, so beware of how fast it may melt.
Gelatin is the gelifying agent in all of the following recipes, but if you would like to use agar-agar, here are the equivalencies: 8g powdered gelatin = 1 (0.25 oz) envelope powdered gelatin = 1 Tbsp powdered gelatin = 1 Tbsp Agar-Agar.
1 Tbsp. of agar-agar flakes is equal to 1 tsp. of agar-agar powder.

Ingredients:
2.5 sheets gelatin or 5g / 1 + 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
1.5 oz (3 Tbsp / 40g) granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp (10g) glucose or thick corn syrup
0.5 oz (15g) water
50g egg yolks (about 3 medium)
6.2 oz (175g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1.5 cups (350g) heavy cream (35% fat content)

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water. (If using powdered gelatin, follow the directions on the package.)
2. Make a Pate a Bombe: Beat the egg yolks until very light in colour (approximately 5 minutes until almost white).
2a. Cook the sugar, glucose syrup and water on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 244°F (118°C). If you do not have a candy thermometer, test the sugar temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water, if it forms a soft ball in the water then you have reached the correct temperature.
2b. Add the sugar syrup to the beaten yolks carefully by pouring it into the mixture in a thin stream while continuing to beat the yolks. You can do this by hand but it’s easier to do this with an electric mixer.
2c. Continue beating until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The batter should become thick and foamy.
3. In a double boiler or equivalent, heat 2 tablespoons (30g) of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.
4. Whip the remainder of the cream until stiff.
5. Pour the melted chocolate over the softened gelatin, mixing well. Let the gelatin and chocolate cool slightly and then stir in ½ cup (100g) of WHIPPED cream to temper. Add the Pate a Bombe.
6. Add in the rest of the WHIPPED cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.

Variations on the Dark Chocolate Mousse listed above:

White Chocolate Mousse
Substitute the same quantity of white chocolate for the dark chocolate in the mousse recipe listed above.

Milk Chocolate Whipped Cream (Chantilly):
(Can be made the day before and kept in the fridge overnight)
2/3 cup (160g) heavy cream 35% fat
7.8 oz (220g) milk chocolate
2 1/3 tsp (15g) glucose or thick corn syrup
1 1/3 cup (320g) heavy cream 35% fat

1. Chop the chocolate coarsely.
2. Heat the 160g of cream to boiling and pour over the chocolate and glucose syrup.
3. Wait 30 seconds then stir the mix until smooth. Add the remaining cream.
4. Refrigerate to cool, then whip up.

Vanilla Mousse
2/3 cup (160g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
2/3 cup (160g) whole milk
1 vanilla bean
4 medium-sized egg yolks
3 oz (6 Tbsp / 80g) granulated sugar
3 Tbsp (25g) cornstarch, sifted
4g / 2 tsp powdered gelatin or 2 sheets gelatin
1 cup (240g) whipping cream (35% fat content)

Make a pastry cream:
1. Pour the milk and 2/3 cup cream into a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean halves into milk and put the vanilla bean in as well.
2. Heat to boiling, then turn the heat off, cover and let infuse for at least 30 minutes. Then remove the vanilla bean.
3. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until white, thick and fluffy.
4. Add the cornstarch, beating carefully to ensure that there are no lumps. While whisking vigorously, pour some of the milk into the yolk mixture to temper it.
5. Put infused milk back on the stove on medium heat. Pour yolk mixture back into the milk while whisking vigorously. Keep whisking vigorously until mixture thickens considerably.
6. As soon as the mixture starts to boil, leave on for only 2 more minutes. (The recipe says you should remove the vanilla bean at this time but in the interest of no one getting burned, that can be done after you take the pastry cream off the stove.)
7. Once removed from the heat, cover the pastry cream by putting plastic film directly on the surface of the cream (this prevents it from forming a thick and unappetizing skin as it cools). Let cool at room temperature.
8. Soften the gelatin in cold water and melt in a small saucepan with 1 tsp of water OR melt in the microwave for 1 second (do not boil). Whisking vigorously, pour the cooled pastry cream over it.
9. Whip the 1 cup whipping cream until stiff and add gradually to the pastry cream (DO NOT WHISK). Blend delicately with a spatula (DO NOT WHISK).

Mango Mousse
2 medium-sized egg yolks
2 Tbsp (17g) cornstarch
1/3 cup (80g) whipping cream
7 oz (200g) mango puree
3.5 oz (1/2 cup / 100g) granulated sugar
1.3 oz (36g) water
2.5 gelatin leaves or 5g / 2+1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
3.5oz (100g / ~100ml) about 3 medium-sized egg whites

1. Beat the egg yolks with the cornstarch until thick, white and fluffy.
2. Heat the cream in a medium saucepan and once hot, pour a small amount over the egg yolks while whisking vigorously.
3. Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the rest of the cream in the saucepan, add the mango puree and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens considerably, at least 3-5 mn. Let cool to lukewarm temperature.
4. Make an Italian Meringue: Cook the sugar and water on medium heat until temperature reaches 244°F (118°C) when measured with a candy thermometer. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, test the temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water. If it forms a soft ball, you’ve reached the proper temperature.
4a. Beat the egg whites until foamy. Pour the sugar syrup into the whites in a thin stream while continuing to whisk vigorously (preferably with a mixer for sufficient speed). Whisk/beat until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The meringue should be thick and glossy.
5. Soften the gelatin in cold water and melt in a small saucepan with 1 tsp of water OR melt in the microwave for 1 second (do not boil).
6. Put the melted gelatin in a mixing bowl and, while whisking vigorously, pour the lukewarm mango cream over the gelatin.
7. Carefully blend the Italian meringue into the mango mixture.


Element #3 Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert

Preparation time: 10mn

Equipment: pan, whisk. If you have plunging mixer (a vertical hand mixer used to make soups and other liquids), it comes in handy.

Note: Because the ganache hardens as it cools, you should make it right before you intend to use it to facilitate piping it onto the log during assembly. Please be careful when caramelizing the sugar and then adding the cream. It may splatter and boil.

Ingredients:
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
4.5oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp/ 135g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
5 oz (135g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
3Tbsp + 1/2tsp (45g) unsalted butter softened

1. Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small saucepan with high sides. Heat over medium-high heat, watching it carefully as the sugar begins to melt. Never stir the mixture. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan occasionally to allow the sugar to melt evenly. Cook to dark amber color (for most of you that means darker than last month’s challenge).
2. While the sugar is melting, heat the cream until boiling. Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil.
3. Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth.
4. Add the softened butter and whip hard and fast (if you have a plunging mixer use it). The chocolate should be smooth and shiny.

Variations on the Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert listed above:

White Chocolate Ganache Insert
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
5 oz (135g) white chocolate, finely chopped
4.5 oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp / 135g) heavy cream (35% fat content)

1. Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small sauce pan with high sides. Heat over medium-high heat, watching it carefully as the sugar begins to melt. Never stir the mixture. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan occasionally to allow the sugar to melt evenly. Cook to dark amber color (for most of you that means darker than last month’s challenge).
2. While the sugar is melting, heat the cream until boiling. Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil.
3. Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth.

Dark-Milk Ganache Insert
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
4.5oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp / 135g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
2.7 oz (75g) milk chocolate
3.2 oz (90g) dark chocolate
3Tbsp + 1/2tsp (45g) unsalted butter softened

1. Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small saucepan with high sides. Heat over medium-high heat, watching it carefully as the sugar begins to melt. Never stir the mixture. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan occasionally to allow the sugar to melt evenly. Cook to dark amber color (for most of you that means darker than last month’s challenge).
2. While the sugar is melting, heat the cream until boiling. Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil.
3. Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth.
4. Add the softened butter and whip hard and fast (if you have a plunging mixer use it). The chocolate should be smooth and shiny.

Cinammon-Milk Ganache Insert
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
4.5oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp / 135g) heavy cream
A pinch of cinnamon
2.7 oz (75g) milk chocolate, finely chopped
3.2 oz (90g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
3Tbsp + 1/2tsp (45g) unsalted butter softened

1. Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small saucepan with high sides. Heat over medium-high heat, watching it carefully as the sugar begins to melt. Never stir the mixture. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan occasionally to allow the sugar to melt evenly. Cook to dark amber color (for most of you that means darker than last month’s challenge).
2. Heat the cream with the cinnamon (use the quantity of cinnamon you want to infuse the cream, a pinch is the smallest amount suggested) until boiling. Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil.
3. Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the milk and dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth.
4. Add the softened butter and whip hard and fast (if you have a plunging mixer use it). The chocolate should be smooth and shiny.


Element #4 Praline Feuillete (Crisp) Insert

Preparation time: 10 mn (+ optional 15mn if you make lace crepes)

Equipment: Small saucepan, baking sheet (if you make lace crepes).
Double boiler (or one small saucepan in another), wax paper, rolling pin (or I use an empty bottle of olive oil).

Note: Feuillete means layered (as in with leaves) so a Praline Feuillete is a Praline version of a delicate crisp. There are non-praline variations below. The crunch in this crisp comes from an ingredient which is called gavottes in French. Gavottes are lace-thin crepes. To our knowledge they are not available outside of France, so you have the option of making your own using the recipe below or you can simply substitute rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K for them. Special note: If you use one of the substitutes for the gavottes, you should halve the quantity stated, as in use 1oz of any of these cereals instead of 2.1oz.
If you want to make your own praline, please refer back to the Daring Baker Challenge Recipe from July 2008.

To make 2.1oz / 60g of gavottes (lace crepes - recipe by Ferich Mounia):
1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk
2/3 Tbsp (8g) unsalted butter
1/3 cup – 2tsp (35g) all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp / 0.5 oz (15g) beaten egg
1 tsp (3.5g) granulated sugar
½ tsp vegetable oil
1. Heat the milk and butter together until butter is completely melted. Remove from the heat.
2. Sift flour into milk-butter mixture while beating, add egg and granulated sugar. Make sure there are no lumps.
3. Grease a baking sheet and spread batter thinly over it.
4. Bake at 430°F (220°C) for a few minutes until the crepe is golden and crispy. Let cool.

Ingredients for the Praline Feuillete:
3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) butter
2 Tbsp (1 oz / 30g) praline
2.1oz (60g) lace crepes(gavottes) or rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K

1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.
2. Add the praline and the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate.
3. Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.


Variations on the Praline Feuillete (Crisp) Insert listed above:

Chocolate Crisp Insert
3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) unsalted butter
2 Tbsp (1 oz / 30g) praline
1 oz. (25g) lace crepes or rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K

1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.
2. Add the praline and the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate.
3. Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.

Coconut Crisp Insert
3.5 oz (100g) white chocolate
1 oz (1/3 cup/25g) shredded coconut
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) unsalted butter
2.1 oz (60g) lace crepes or rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K

1. Spread the coconut on a baking tray and bake for 5-10 minutes at 375°F (190°C) to toast (a different temperature might work better for you with your own oven).
2. Melt the white chocolate and butter in a double boiler. Stir until smooth and add the toasted coconut.
3. Add the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate. Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.


Element #5 Vanilla Crème Brulée Insert

Preparation time: 15mn + 1h infusing + 1h baking

Equipment: Small saucepan, mixing bowl, baking mold, wax paper

Note: The vanilla crème brulée can be flavored differently by simply replacing the vanilla with something else e.g. cardamom, lavender, etc...

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (115g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
½ cup (115g) whole milk
4 medium-sized (72g) egg yolks
0.75 oz (2 Tbsp / 25g) granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean

1. Heat the milk, cream, and scraped vanilla bean to just boiling. Remove from the stove and let the vanilla infuse for about 1 hour.
2. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white).
3. Pour the vanilla-infused milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well.
4. Wipe with a very wet cloth and then cover your baking mold (whatever shape is going to fit on the inside of your Yule log/cake) with parchment paper. Pour the cream into the mold and bake at 210°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.
Tartelette says: You can bake it without a water bath since it is going to go inside the log (the aesthetics of it won't matter as much since it will be covered with other things)....BUT I would recommend a water bath for the following reasons:
- you will get a much nicer mouth feel when it is done
- you will be able to control its baking point and desired consistency much better
- it bakes for such a long time that I fear it will get overdone without a water bath
Now...since it is baked in a pan and it is sometimes difficult to find another large pan to set it in for a water bath, even a small amount of water in your water bath will help the heat be distributed evenly in the baking process. Even as little as 1 inch will help.
5. Let cool and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up and facilitate the final assembly.

Variations on the Vanilla Crème Brulée insert listed above:

Chocolate Creme Brulée Insert
½ cup + 1 2/3 Tbsp (140g) whole milk
2/3 cup + 1tsp (140g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
1/3 cup (25g) unsweetened cocoa powder
4 medium-sized (72g) egg yolks
1.4 oz (3 Tbsp / 40g) granulated sugar

1. Heat the milk and cream to just boiling. Add the cocoa powder.
2. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white).
3. Pour the cocoa milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well.
4. Wipe with a very wet cloth and then cover your baking mold (whatever shape is going to fit on the inside of your Yule log/cake) with parchment paper. Pour the cream into the mold and bake at 210°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.
Tartelette says: You can bake it without a water bath since it is going to go inside the log (the aesthetics of it won't matter as much since it will be covered with other things)....BUT I would recommend a water bath for the following reasons:
- you will get a much nicer mouth feel when it is done
- you will be able to control its baking point and desired consistency much better
- it bakes for such a long time that I fear it will get overdone without a water bath
Now...since it is baked in a pan and it is sometimes difficult to find another large pan to set it in for a water bath, even a small amount of water in your water bath will help the heat be distributed evenly in the baking process. Even as little as 1 inch will help.
5. Let cool and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up and facilitate the final assembly.


Element #6 Dark Chocolate Icing

Preparation time: 25 minutes (10mn if you don’t count softening the gelatin)

Equipment: Small bowl, small saucepan

Note: Because the icing gelifies quickly, you should make it at the last minute.
For other gelatin equivalencies or gelatin to agar-agar equivalencies, look at the notes for the mousse component.

Ingredients:
4g / ½ Tbsp powdered gelatin or 2 sheets gelatin
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream (35 % fat content)
2.1 oz (5 Tbsp / 60g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (50g) water
1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes.
2. Boil the rest of the ingredients and cook an additional 3 minutes after boiling.
3. Add gelatin to the chocolate mixture. Mix well.
4. Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gelify), use immediately.

Variations on the Dark Chocolate Icing listed above:

Milk Chocolate Icing
1.5 gelatin sheets or 3g / 1/2Tbsp powdered gelatin
4.2 oz (120g) milk chocolate
2 Tbsp (30g) butter
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream (35 % fat content)
1 2/3 Tbsp (30g) glucose or thick corn syrup

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes.
2. Coarsely chop the chocolate and butter together.
3. Bring the cream and glucose syrup to a boil.
4. Add the gelatin.
5. Pour the mixture over the chocolate and butter. Whisk until smooth.
6. Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gelify), use immediately.

White Chocolate Icing
1.5 gelatin sheets or 3g / 1/2Tbsp powdered gelatin
3.5 oz (100g) white chocolate
2 Tbsp (30g) unsalted butter
1/3 cup (90 g) whole milk
1 2/3 Tbsp (30g) glucose or thick corn syrup

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes.
2. Coarsely chop the chocolate and butter together.
3. Bring the milk and glucose syrup to a boil.
4. Add the gelatin.
5. Pour the mixture over the chocolate and butter. Whisk until smooth.
6. Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gelify), use immediately.


How To Assemble your French Yule Log

Depending on whether your mold is going to hold the assembly upside down until you unmold it or right side up, this order will be different.
THIS IS FOR UNMOLDING FROM UPSIDE DOWN TO RIGHT SIDE UP.
You will want to tap your mold gently on the countertop after each time you pipe mousse in to get rid of any air bubbles.

1) Line your mold or pan, whatever its shape, with rhodoid (clear hard plastic, I usually use transparencies cut to the desired shape, it’s easier to find than cellulose acetate which is what rhodoid translates to in English) OR plastic film. Rhodoid will give you a smoother shape but you may have a hard time using it depending on the kind of mold you’re using.

You have two choices for Step 2, you can either have Dacquoise on the top and bottom of your log as in version A or you can have Dacquoise simply on the bottom of your log as in version B:

2A) Cut the Dacquoise into a shape fitting your mold and set it in there. If you are using an actual Yule mold which is in the shape of a half-pipe, you want the Dacquoise to cover the entire half-pipe portion of the mold.
3A) Pipe one third of the Mousse component on the Dacquoise.
4A) Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
5A) Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
6A) Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
7A) Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
8A) Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
9A) Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight eidge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
10A) Close with the last strip of Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.

OR

2B) Pipe one third of the Mousse component into the mold.
3B) Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
4B) Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
5B) Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
6B) Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
7B) Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
8B) Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight edge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
9B) Close with the Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.

If you are doing the assembly UPSIDE DOWN with TWO pieces of Dacquoise the order is:
1) Dacquoise
2) Mousse
3) Creme Brulee Insert
4) Mousse
5) Praline/Crisp Insert
6) Mousse
7) Ganache Insert
8) Dacquoise

If you are doing the assembly UPSIDE DOWN with ONE piece of Dacquoise on the BOTTOM ONLY the order is:
1) Mousse
2) Creme Brulee Insert
3) Mousse
4) Praline/Crisp Insert
5) Mousse
6) Ganache Insert
7) Dacquoise

If you are doing the assembly RIGHT SIDE UP in a springform pan the order is:
1) Dacquoise
2) Ganache Insert
3) Mousse
4) Praline/Crisp Insert
5) Mousse
6) Creme Brulee Insert
7) Mousse
8 OPTIONAL) Dacquoise

THE NEXT DAY...
Unmold the cake/log/whatever and set on a wire rack over a shallow pan.
Cover the cake with the icing.
Let set. Return to the freezer.
You may decorate your cake however you wish. The decorations can be set in the icing after it sets but before you return the cake to the freezer or you may attach them on top using extra ganache or leftover mousse, etc...
Transfer to the refrigerator no longer than ½ hour before serving as it may start to melt quickly depending on the elements you chose.

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Tom Yum Soup

Ingredients:

500g medium-sized raw prawns
1 tbsp oil
2 tbsp red curry paste
2 tbsp tamarind concentrate
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp chopped red chillies, optional
4 kaffir lime leaves, shredded
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp soft brown sugar
¼ cup (7g) fresh coriander leaves

Method:

  1. Remove the prawn heads and set aside. Peel and devein the prawns, keeping the tails intact and reserving the shells.
  2. Heat the oil in a large wok or pan. Add the prawn shells and heads and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, tossing frequently, until the shells and heads are deep orange.
  3. Increase the heat and gradually add 1 cup (250ml) of water and the curry paste to the wok. Boil for 5 minutes, or until reduced slightly. Add 1.75 litres of water, simmer for 20 minutes, then strain, reserving the stock. Discard the heads and shells and return the stock to the wok.Add the tamarind concentrate, turmeric, red chilli and lime leaves to the wok. Bring the mixture to the boil and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the prawns and cook for 5 minutes, or until the prawns turn pink. Stir in the fish sauce, lime juice and sugar. Pour into bowls and sprinkle with the coriander just before serving.
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