Au Gratin Potatoes

Au Gratin Potatoes - Candy Coated Culinista

Au Gratin Potatoes – Candy Coated Culinista

When I saw the pomegranate lacquered roast chicken I was thinking what I could make to accompany this as a side dish. Lucky for me Heather made some suggestions in her post and I chose to make potatoes.

Altered From Heather Cristo

Yield/Serving: 8-10
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 1 hour
Difficulty level is: Medium

• 10-12 Cups thinly sliced potatoes
• 4 cups 35% cream
• 4 tbsp butter
• 4 tbsp flour
• 8oz cream cheese, cut into chunks
• 1/8 tsp nutmeg
• Kosher salt
• Ground black pepper
• 2 tbsp melted butter for baking pan
• Fresh Thyme leaves
• Basil
• Parsley
• 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
• 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Bring the cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan.
3. Using a large saucepan melt the butter and whisk in the flour and make a roux.
4. Cook for a few minutes over medium heat to let the flour taste dissipate.
5. Add the cream to the roux pot and whisk until the sauce is smooth.
6. Now add the cream cheese chunks and whisk until smooth.
7. Season this with nutmeg, kosher salt and pepper.
8. Pour the melted butter into a 9×13 baking dish and layer the potatoes.
9. Ladle a thin layer of the sauce over the potatoes and sprinkle with parmesan and mozzarella.
10. Add another layer of potatoes and repeat this process over until complete. (The top will have the most sauce, parmesan cheese, mozzarella along with thyme, basil and parsley.
11. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour or until the potatoes are tender and the top is golden brown.

• I lessened the cheese to 1/3 cup parmesan cheese and added 1 cup of mozzarella cheese.
• I also added basil and parsley to the top of the potatoes.
• Increase the temperature 350°F so the chicken and potatoes are in the oven at the same time.
• This is also a great dish to make a second container of and freeze.

Please Enjoy

“So good I wanted more – the potatoes were roasted perfectly, falling off my fork as I went for bites.
Just the right amount of cream and cheese – the cheese crust on top was perfect, not too crisp and not too soft.”

I mentioned that I had altered the recipe a bit and was told “It was perfect just the way it was”

“Wonderful potatoes.”

My thoughts
Yum Yum Yum is all I have to say. It was homey and a great comfort food. I am glad I altered the amount and type of cheese as I didn’t want to consume all that cheese. I can finally say I made a roux which was really easy to make.

Pomegranate Lacquered Roast Chicken

Pomegranate Lacquered Roast Chicken - Candy Coated Culinista

Pomegranate Lacquered Roast Chicken – Candy Coated Culinista

I love pomegranates and when they are in season I am enjoying them as much as possible. Yes it is a messy and hard to eat fruit and I’d advise not to eat it in your best clothes, but it is so worth it. There is tartness and sweetness that I love and I enjoy it whether I have the actual fruit or the juice. This recipe has been on my “to-do list” and now that the seasons are right I made a seasonally flavoured roast chicken.

From Heather Cristo

Yield/Serving: 6 per chicken
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 1 hour & 55 min
Difficulty level is: Medium

• 1- 3 or 4 pound whole chicken
• Kosher salt, to taste
• Season salt, to taste
• Ground black pepper, to taste
• Paprika, to taste
• Onion powder, to taste
• Garlic powder, to taste
• 4 tbsp butter
• 1 cup white wine
• 2 cups pomegranate juice
• ¼ cup sugar
• 1 whole Pomegranate for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Rinse the chicken in cold water and dry with a paper towel, and set in a baking pan.
3. Sprinkle with spices and rub onto chicken.
4. In a small saucepan melt butter and then add wine, pomegranate juice, sugar and simmer on medium-low heat for 20 minutes or until the liquid has reduced to half.
5. Pour the liquid over the chicken and place on the middle rack in the oven.
6. Roast the chicken for 1 hour 35 minutes, basting every 20 minutes with the pans juices.
7. Let chicken rest for 10 minutes and serve.

• Sprinkle with some pomegranate seeds and serve.
• Invest in a turkey baster. I have made a few turkeys now and I still don’t own a baster. It’s time I get myself one I think.
• I basted more than the recipe suggested. (about every 20 minutes)
• The pomegranate sauce did reduce by half but I still found it to be very liquidy. The roast didn’t end up having a pomegranate stained lacquered look that the picture had at all. Next time I would make myself a pomegranate jam the day before and then brush on the jam, and use that along with the pomegranate reduction in the recipe above.
• I added more spices to the chicken (season salt, black pepper, paprika, and onion and garlic powder).
• Use the drippings for a gravy.
• This is a great recipe to make more than one roast of. 3 roast chickens fit into my baking pan perfectly and I used the same amounts in the recipes and it came out delicious. I made one for dinner, one to freeze and one for my dad.
• Serve with au gratin potatoes along with steamed green beans and carrots.

Please Enjoy

“It was wonderfully moist and the skin had a sweet taste to it. I would’ve liked a bit more crisp on the skin but the meat was so perfectly roasted and was literally fall off the bone delicious.”

“This was amazing babe”, “That dinner last night was incredible”, “Luscious chicken”

My thoughts
I am gushing about this roast chicken. It was juicy, sweet and tart and it is basically fool proof besides the pomegranate lacquered part and the need for the skin to be more crispy. This would also be a good alternate to a thanksgiving turkey for those who don’t like turkey. The drippings and the pomegranate sauce made a tasty gravy.

Pistachio Dark Chocolate Soufflé

Pistachio Dark Chocolate Soufflé - Candy Coated Culinista

Pistachio Dark Chocolate Soufflé – Candy Coated Culinista

“Please don’t sink! Please don’t sink!” is what I have been thinking since I knew I was going to be making a soufflés for the cooking challenge. The word Soufflé much like many other French foods I want to try sound so daunting. (I’m thinking of my first attempt at macarons: Lemony Letdown Frosted Flakes Macaron.) All I can see when I think soufflé is what happens on TV shows. A woman working tirelessly to make her precious soufflé; the kitchen and the woman is in utter disarray while she has her guest in the other room waiting for dessert. She opens the oven with wide eyes only to have the thing deflate the moment it comes out of the oven…and cue the canned laughter. This will not be happening to me…. I hope. I do have back up eggs and chocolate just in case to be safe. See my picture here in the gallery.

Altered from Chatelaine

Yield/Serving: 6 – ½ cup Ramekins
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 10-12 min.
Difficulty level is: Medium

• 1tsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 5 tbsp granulated sugar
• 200g good quality 70% dark chocolate, finely chopped
• 1/3 cup 35% cream
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 3 eggs, separated
• 3 egg whites
• 1/3 cup pistachio’s finely ground.
• ¼ tsp Maldon sea salt (optional)
Bailey’s Caramel Cream
• ½ cup 35%cream
• 2 tbsp Bailey’s Caramel liqueur

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter the inside of 6 ramekins that hold about ½ cup each. Dust with 2 tbsp sugar, tilting cups to coat evenly, then tap out any excess sugar. Arrange ramekins on a large baking sheet.
2. Fill a medium saucepan with about 1” of water. Bring to a simmer over medium-low. Combine chocolate, 1/3 cup cream and vanilla in a large heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan, covering saucepan completely. Stir often until chocolate is melted, about 3 to 4 min. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly.
3. Beat 6 egg whites in a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on high, until soft peaks form when beaters are lifted, about 2 min. Gradually beat in the remaining 3 tbsp sugar until stiff peaks form when beaters are lifted, about 2 min. Set aside. Using same electric mixer (no need to wash beaters), beat 3 egg yolks in a medium bowl until pale and thickened, about 3 min. Stir ½ cup chocolate mixture into yolks. Fold in remaining chocolate mixture and ground pistachio’s until blended. Gently fold in remaining whites. Pour or ladle mixture into prepared ramekins until full.
4. Bake in centre of oven until soufflés are puffed and tops are firm to the touch, 10 to 12 min. Sprinkle with salt.
5. Beat ½ cup cream until stiff peaks form when beaters are lifted. Beat in liqueur. Serve with soufflés.

• Whatever size ramekins you use, just ensure you fill it to the top.
• Add some pistachio’s on top of the caramel cream.

Please Enjoy

Mr. C. said “the soufflé was excellent and it had a very airy feel to it but thick at the same time. The chocolate was very rich and as you got the bottom of the soufflé it felt like you were getting a sponge cake which was really tasty.

My thoughts
For a person who doesn’t eat or like milk or dark chocolate, I really enjoyed this. It was light, airy and decadent. I am used to ramekins that are one cup sized and when I made this recipe the first time, I didn’t realize that it wouldn’t puff up to a cup size. Then and there I decided to make this a second time. I remembered that on an episode of Masterchef the pressure test was soufflé; and the ramekins were filled right to the top, so I went back and did it again. (It’s funny what the mind remembers, and retrieves when needed.) My second attempt was much better and the centre was perfect. When I saw my first attempt I was like this is okay and tasty, but me being the perfectionist I wanted to try it again and get that sense of accomplishment and completion, and I did. Sure I wasted 1 dozen eggs and 4 packages of expensive dark chocolate but you know what, it felt so good seeing my second attempt and knowing I can do this no problem that I didn’t care about the waste. Mr. C. still ate my first batch of “soufflé cakes” as they were still edible. Now I can check the dreaded soufflé off my list and accept my next challenge with no regrets.

Dark Chocolate Soufflé - Candy Coated Culinista

Dark Chocolate Soufflé – Candy Coated Culinista

Lemony Letdowns: Frosted Flakes Macarons

Lemony Letdowns: Frosted Flakes Macarons - Candy Coated Culinista

Lemony Letdowns: Frosted Flakes Macarons – Candy Coated Culinista

I had a 3 day weekend and decided I’m going to finally christen my Macaron making kit and make my most favourite confection. I had high hopes for this recipe, but as soon as I looked through the oven window I knew how this was going to turn out. I just have to remember that you can’t get good without some bad…I hope I just don’t have too many with my precious macarons.

From Picky Palate

Yield/Serving: 22-24
Difficulty level is: Very technical for a novice

• 95 grams egg whites (close to 3 large egg whites)
• 65 grams almond meal/flour
• 200 grams powdered sugar
• 25 grams granulated sugar
• 45 grams finely ground up Frosted Flakes Cereal
Honeyed Frosted Flakes Buttercream
• 1 stick softened unsalted butter
• 1 cup powdered sugar
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 1/4 cup Frosted Flakes Cereal

1. Preheat oven to 280°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Weigh your egg whites, almond flour, powdered sugar, granulated sugar and ground Frosted Flakes Cereal on your food scale.
2. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment add your weighed out egg whites, and sugar beating on medium speed. Beat on medium-high until stiff peaks form. Takes close to 5 minutes. Set aside for a couple minutes.
3. Place the powdered sugar, almond flour and Frosted Flakes into a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine. Place in a sifter or fine sieve and sift until all dry ingredients have passed through. Gently fold in the egg whites to the dry ingredients, mixing only until just combined.
4. Place batter into a large pastry bag with a large round tip attached. Pipe rounds, about ½” apart onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Give a good tap or two of the pan to remove any bubbles.
5. Bake macarons for 22-25 minutes. You’ll see a shell on top with “feet” around the edges. Let cool completely before removing. Once cooled, take an offset spatula to loosen from parchment. Pair the macarons close in size to each other to prepare for filling.
6. To prepare buttercream, beat softened butter and powdered sugar until creamy and smooth. Add honey and 1/4 cup crushed Frosted Flakes to the frosting, beating until combined. Place buttercream into a medium pastry bag with a large round tip attached and pipe a dollop of frosting on the center of a macaron and top with a second macaron. Serve room temperature. Store any remaining macarons in the refrigerator.

• Please note that all ovens are very different. These tips and instructions are a reflection of the picky palates kitchen and her oven.
• I had to use close to 5 extra large egg yolks to get the 95g. So make sure you have enough eggs on hand.

Please Enjoy

Mr. C. said “They tasted great. Sure they didn’t look like a perfect macaron put they tasted delicious.”

My thoughts
I had high hopes for my first attempt at macaron for some reason. I keep reading how hard these are to make, but then I come across recipes that seem so simple and have less ingredients, tricks and techniques. My macarons were flat lifeless circles and looked nothing like the photo. They tasted good; maybe a little too sweet for me but next time I will be trying another recipe until I get these right. I opted to not make the frosted flakes buttercream when I saw how my macarons looked. Why waste a stick of butter and more ingredients. I used jam instead to see what it should have looked like if it came out the way I hoped.

I used the macaron mat for my first batch and they stayed more circular but the bottoms didn’t finish cooking. However, when I free formed my second batch they didn’t stay in circles but the bottoms were cooked. I will need to work on this for sure. This is also a great time for me to start practicing my piping skills, since I haven’t used a piping bag before either. I obviously have some work to do.

I hope to have a perfect set of macarons made by Macaron Day on March 20th 2014. Wish me luck.

To be continued…

Autumn Squash Soup

Fall Squash Soup - Candy Coated Culinista

Fall Squash Soup – Candy Coated Culinista

This is a scrumptious fall soup recipe that I made on a whim; as I had to use up the left over pumpkin and coconut milk from my sky high pumpkin pie. I really enjoyed experimenting and making soup from scratch, and I thought about all the aspects of this like: the colour, taste, texture and the trickier aspect of how to make a not so pleasantly coloured soup look tasty and inviting.

Yield/Serving: Roughly 2 litres
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 1hour
Difficulty level is: Medium – Labour Intensive

• 1 butternut squash
• 1 pepper squash
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 8 garlic cloves, chopped
• 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 900 ml vegetable stock
• 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
• 2 ½ cups pumpkin puree
• 1 cup coconut milk
• 1 tbsp herbs de Provence
• 1 tbsp basil leaves
• 1 tbsp parsley
• 2 tsp black pepper
• 4 tbsp sea salt
• 1 sprig green onion, chopped on the bias
• Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425°F and roast butternut, pepper squash and sweet potato for 30 minutes.
2. In a large sauce pan on medium-high with olive oil fry onion and garlic until slightly browned.
3. Once browned add 1 cup of vegetable stock and blend using an immersion blender.
4. Pour the squash and sweet potato into the large saucepan along with the remaining vegetable stock and blend once more. Stir continuously until soup thickens.
5. Add the pumpkin puree and coconut milk along with all the herbs and spices and stir for 5 more minutes.
6. Let simmer for 10 minutes to let flavours marry.
7. Top with green onions and sprinkle red pepper flakes on top.

• If you would like this a little less thick add more chicken stock.
• Freeze some soup for another day to enjoy.
• Roast the sweet potato for 1 hour and not boil them if desired.
• Serve these with crescent rolls or homemade biscuits.

Please Enjoy

Mr. C. absolutely loved this. I got multiple compliments and high fives. He even asked to save him some for lunch the next day. I have to mention he doesn’t like carrying leftovers to work the next day so that means if he wants, it I really did a really good job. “Yum yum yum. That soup was amazing” He liked the extra addition of the pepper flakes and commented that it added a nice spicy kick. He cleaned his bowl so I knocked this one out of the park I think.

My thoughts
I am super proud of myself. This autumn soup embodied all the fall flavours to me: it was hearty, rich and had some complexity to it.

Campfire Fudge

Campfire Fudge - Candy Coated Culinista

Campfire Fudge – Candy Coated Culinista

I had all the ingredients to make fudge, and since I was on the love side of this love hate relationship I have with fudge today, I’m making some fudge.

Yield/Serving: 16 pieces (about a 1” square)
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 5 min.
Fridge Time: 1 hour
Difficulty level is: Easy

• 16oz White Chocolate, chopped
• 1 can(340g) vanilla frosting
• 100g S’mores toppings

1. Lightly spray with cooking spray a 9” x 9” dish, and the place saran wrap into the dish and make sure it takes the form of the pan.
2. Now spray the saran wrap.
3. Using a sharp knife chop the white chocolate into pieces.
4. Place in a microwave safe bowl and melt. (Stop the microwave at 30 second intervals and stir as to not burn the chocolate). Feel free temper the chocolate (see my “How to Temper Chocolate” for full instructions)
5. Pour the frosting into the melted chocolate and stir.
6. Add in the S’mores topping at the last moment to not crush the topping too much.
7. Pour Fudge into dish and even out.
8. Place in fridge and let sit for 1 hour.
9. Once set remove from dish from fridge and remove saran wrap.
10. Cut into 16 pieces.

• President’s Choice makes a S’more’s topping for ice cream, but I thought fudge can work too and save me the work.

Please Enjoy

I didn’t ask Mr. C. for a review but he is snacking on it a bunch, so I think I did okay. He said smaller squares would be good as it is so rich.

Co-workers of Mr. C. said the piece was small enough to think they could finish it in one sitting, but once they took a few bites the richness hits, along with the sugar rush. They loved it but definitely had to savour it.

My thoughts
It’s sweet but it definitely tastes like s’mores to me. Next time I will try milk chocolate or bittersweet chocolate as they are less sweet than white chocolate. However, I was told by a few to keep the white chocolate even though it is sweeter, so I may half the white chocolate and substitute the other half with milk chocolate or bittersweet chocolate.

Cinque Sapori Pizza & Caramelized Banana Wal-Nutella Dessert Pizza

Cinque Sapori Pizza & Caramelized Banana Wal-Nutella Dessert Pizza - Candy Coated Culinista

Cinque Sapori Pizza & Caramelized Banana Wal-Nutella Dessert Pizza – Candy Coated Culinista

Sometimes I find myself being a highly suggestible person. In life I am largely un-swayed and firm in my beliefs and thoughts. Granted I am always willing and open to new ideas I may have just not thought of yet. However when it comes to visual things I see a picture and I feel compelled to try it, make it, re-vamp it and use it as a jumping point for something creative and artistic. I don’t know what it is but I have always been this way and still am a very visual person. I will look at something and get an emotional feeling from it immediately telling me I either like it, hate it or “how can I C.C. this up”. When I received the November issue of Chatelaine there was a pizza on the cover, and when I saw all the great toppings and how mouth-watering it looked, I knew I was making pizza. I started the process of researching how to make dough when the following week the cooking challenge was pizza. It’s lovely when things come together like this. So I started on my pizza journey. Click here to see my photo in their gallery.

Pizza dough recipe from Chatelaine

Yield/Serving: 4
Difficulty level is: Easy

• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 8g pkg quick-rise instant yeast
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• ¾ tsp salt
• 9 tsp medium salsa
• 4 slices soppressata salami, cut in half
• 4 slices Genoa salami, cut into pieces
• Cremini mushrooms, sliced
• Grape tomatoes, sliced
• Mint leaves
• 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
• cormeal
• ¾ cup mozzarella cheese, grated
• ¾ cup mild cheddar, grated
Caramelized Banana Wal-Nutella Dessert Pizza
• Nutella
• 1 banana, sliced on the bias
• Walnuts, chopped
• 1/3 cup granulated sugar

1. Stir 2 tbsp flour with ½ cup warm water and yeast in a large bowl. Let stand until cloudy and bubbly, about 5 min.
2. Stir in the remaining flour and ½ cup more warm water, oil and salt.
3. Stir until the dough starts to come together.
4. Transfer dough to a well-floured surface.
5. Knead until dough is smooth, 2 to 3 min.
6. Lightly spray same bowl with oil and return dough.
7. Cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rest for 1 hour.
8. Dough should double in size.
9. Divide dough into 4 portions and roll into 8” circles.
Cinque Sapori Pizza
1. Infuse the mint leaves with balsamic vinegar in a small bowl.
2. Spread 3 tbsp of salsa on 3 of the pizzas, leaving space around the edges for crust.
3. Sprinkle some cheese down and add the salami, mushrooms, tomatoes and mint.
4. Add some more cheese to the top and spread cornmeal around the edges of each pizza.
5. Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes.
6. Slice and serve.
Caramelized Banana Wal-Nutella Dessert Pizza
1. Spread nutella onto pizza dough, leaving 1 cm space for crust.
2. Place bananas and walnuts on the pizza.
3. In a small heavy bottomed non-reactive pot, pour sugar into pot and ensure it is evenly spread out on medium-high heat until sugar becomes an amber brown colour.
4. Drizzle over pizza and bake at 425°F for 15 minutes.
5. Slice and serve.

• If the sugar smells like it’s burnt then start over. Once the sugar is burnt and bitter there is no going back. Start over.

Please Enjoy

Mr. C. was saying this smells great from the moment I was prepping and he wasn’t disappointed with my pizza.

My thoughts
Believe it or not this was my first time making a rising dough. I had fun watching the active yeast do its thing and I was pleasantly surprised with this pizza and will be making it again. My selection of ingredients tasted great. Truth be told I was supposed to use basil instead of mint, but the first container of basil looked a little decomposed and I grabbed another pack; it was however mint. Sometimes mistakes still taste great. The dessert pizza tasted exactly like I expected. Chocolately, nutty and with bananas and caramel on top. I think I will be making more homemade pizza in the future for sure.

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie - Candy Coated Culinista

Key Lime Pie – Candy Coated Culinista

It was United Way Cultural day at Mr. C’s office last Friday and I was asked to make some goodies. Correction I was told I am making my 2 dozen chocolate diablo cookies (I guess people like it) and I was allowed to choose my second dish. How considerate right? I decided to make a key lime pie with a toasted meringue top. I wanted to make the meringue as I loved how it came out in my sky-high pumpkin pie. I’m not a stranger to making key lime treats as I made key lime bars before, so I was hoping this would come off without a hitch and it did.

Yield/Serving: 8
Prep Time: 5 min.
Cook Time: 30 min.
Difficulty level is: Easy

• 3 egg yolks, beaten
• 1 can (300 ml) Sweetened Condensed Milk
• 3 limes, juiced or ½ cup lime juice
• 6 drops of green food colouring (optional)
• 1 readymade graham cracker crust
• 3 eggs whites
• 1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
• Lime zest

1. Preheat oven to 325°F
2. Whisk eggs and sweetened condensed milk together for 1 minute in an electric mixer.
3. Add in lime fresh juice and 6 drops of food colouring.
4. Pour into readymade pie crust.
5. Bake in oven for 30 minutes.
6. Let cool for completely.
7. Once cooled chill in fridge foe 2 hours minimum.
8. In the electric mixer pour in egg whites and slowly add the confectioner’s sugar.
9. Pour on top and torch with kitchen torch or broil in oven.

• Use fresh limes preferably.

Please Enjoy

Mr. C’s co-workers enjoyed the pie and it went fast.

One of my best reviews came from my friend. She told me “That was amazing! I have never had Key Lime pie before and I definitely want more.” Her sister quickly said “She loved it C.C., she told about this amazing pie three times and raved about it again and again; telling me about this pie like I hadn’t heard this story already. If she got that for Christmas she’d be happy. ” Nothing gets better than that. I felt great hearing this.

My thoughts
If you ever have to make a dessert on short notice, I suggest making this key-lime pie.

%d bloggers like this: