Thursday, 29 November 2012

Daring Bakers: Chocolate Hazelnut Crinkle Cookies

Holiday season is the time for sharing and Peta of Peta Eats is sharing a dozen cookies, some classics and some of her own, from all over the world with us. 

Can you guys believe it's almost December? Holy crap, this semester has gone fast. It feels like I only just started my fourth year and now I'm already halfway done. In another 6 months I'm going to be graduating. What happened to the past four years? They've been a blur of lectures, exams, bars, alcohol and good friends. I couldn't really ask for more, huh?

Speaking of friends, this past weekend my two friends from elementary school came up for a visit. I've known my friend Emily for about 17 years. That's almost all my life. How awesome is that?

So I'm trying to get back on track with the Daring Kitchen and this month we're celebrating Christmas! We had the choice of 12 Christmas dessert recipes to try and I chose crinkle cookies, since they're a classic I've never done before. I used the recipe from Epicurious, with the only tweak that instead of chocolate I used 1/2 cup of Nutella.

These cookies were pillow-soft and went down almost too easily. They weren't too sweet; just sweet enough. We literally ate them off in one day.

So have some fun this month and celebrate! Make sure you all start baking some delicious eats. I definitely will, so expect some more posts soon!

Recipe for the Crinkle Cookies can be found by clicking here. As I said before: instead of bittersweet chocolate I used 1/2 cup of Nutella. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Daring Cooks: Brined Roast Chicken

Audax of Audax Artifax was our November 2012 Daring Cooks’ host. Audax has brought us into the world of brining and roasting, where we brined meat and vegetables and roasted them afterwards for a delicious meal!

So I've been pretty busy these last few months. I feel guilty. I haven't updated in ages, but in my excuse, I just started my fourth year of university. My undergrad has just flown by. I'm also doing a thesis project at the St. Joseph's Lawson Health Research Institute (what a mouthful). I'm working with Dr. O'Gorman and his two PHD students Christina and Justin. The focus of the lab is Dupuytren's Disease. I won't bore you with the scientific details, just know that it's a lot of work!

Anyway, this month's Daring Cooks challenge was one that was perfect for the cool fall weather. My mom swears by brining her turkey. It makes the meat succulent, moist and tasteful. I did my first solo brine over the summer using Anthony Sedlak's recipe and it was so good my roommate asked me to make it for her this month.

Brining may seem like a lot of work, but it's really simple. You just have to make what is, essentially, salty water and soak the meat in it. Not too hard, right? And the payoff is huge!

As I said before, I used Anthony Sedlak's brined chicken recipe from his book, the Main. I modified it a bit, but it's a great recipe for anyone willing to try this awesome technique out!

Anthony Sedlak's Brined Roast Chicken
Adapted from The Main, by Anthony Sedlak
•3 cups water
•3 cups white wine
•1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
•1/2 onion, roughly chopped
•10 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
•2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
•3 bay leaves
•3 springs of rosemary
•2 sprigs of thyme (or 2 tsp dried thyme)
•1/4 cup salt
•1/4 cup sugar
•1 3-3.5 lb chicken
•2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
•2 sprigs rosemary
•4 sprigs thyme
•1/4 cup softened butter
•1 onion sliced into 1/4 in rings
•2 large carrots, chopped into 1" pieces
•2 bulbs garlic, tops cut off lengthways
•3 medium potatoes (white or sweet), chopped into 1" cubes
•1/4 cup olive oil
•salt and pepper

For the brine: combine all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Let cool to room temperature. Place chicken in a pot or roasting pan big enough to hold the chicken and the brine. Cover the chicken with the brine, weighing it down if you need to. Place in the fridge overnight.

Roast chicken: Preheat oven to 400C. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry. Strain brine, reserving solids. Smear half the butter and the sliced garlic under the breast skin. Tuck fresh herbs and brine solids (onion, celery garlic cloves, etc) inside before trussing chicken.

Rub remaining butter into skin and season generously all over with salt and pepper. Arrange onion slices, carrots, garlic and potatoes on a lightly oiled roasting pan. Place chicken on top. Roast in the oven for about 1 hour or until juices run clear. Rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.