Category Archives: Snacks

If at first you don’t succeed…try try again

This morning when I woke up, I remembered that I had a score to settle. A crispy cheesy score.

I tried to make gougeres, or cheese puffs last year, and they were everything except for the puff. So I looked up David Lebovitz’s post on gougeres and something he said made me feel better. He thinks “the funky-looking ones have a lot of charm”! How nice of him.

Even so, I figured it’s time to show those little puffs who’s boss.

I think I put the puffs in their place this time. (literally) 😉

Oh, if you ever need to impress someone, this is the way to go.

Gougeres – adapted from David Lebovitz
makes about 18 small puffs

1/3 c. water
2 Tbsp. butter
1 pinch of each: chili powder, garlic powder, salt
1/3 c. flour
1 extra large egg
1/2 c. grated sharp cheese (I used aged cheddar)
extra cheese to sprinkle on top

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a small saucepan, heat the water, butter, and the pinches of spices together until butter is melted and water is boiling.
2. Add flour all at once and stir quickly until the dough leaves the sides of the pan. Turn off heat.
3. Continue to smoosh the dough around the pan for a few minutes to cool it off a little. (so you don’t scramble the egg when it’s added)
4. Add the egg and beat until the dough is soft (more of a stiff batter) and shiny. This might take a few minutes, don’t despair if it looks curdled, just press on.
5. Stir in the cheese.
6. At this point, you can: pipe the dough with pastry bag and round tip onto a baking sheet lined with parchment; or lacking a pastry bag, use a ziplock bag with a corner snipped; or just use two spoons to drop the dough.
7. Just make sure they’re evenly sized, about as large as a cherry tomato.
8. Sprinkle with extra cheese.
9. Bake at 425 degrees for about 6 minutes, until they have puffed, then reduce heat to 375 degrees F and continue to bake another 6 minutes, or until the puffs are browned on the sides.
10. Take care not to underbake or the puffs will collapse when taken out of the oven.

Easy Cheese Puffs on Foodista

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Filed under Appetizers, Cheese, Snacks, Vegetarian

Ceiling Art

Let’s play 20 questions:

Q1. What happens when you try to blend chickpeas in a blender?
A. They get stuck on the sides of the blender.

Q2. What do you do to get them down so you can puree them?
A. You open the top of the blender while it’s running and you scrape down the sides with a metal spoon.

Q3. Does that work?
A. Yes, surprisingly, it does.

Q4. Doesn’t the chickpeas fly out?
A. No, they don’t. Not unless you accidentally poke the whirling blade with your spoon.

Q5. !!!
A. 😀 I’m ok.

Q6. So what happened?
A. My kitchen got a makeover…I got ceiling art!

Q7. Uh, so what do you do to prevent that?
A. Don’t touch the blade while it’s on! Or use a food processor.

No…that wasn’t me. I would never put hummus on the ceiling. That was somebody else. I did, however, have fresh, homemade pita and hummus yesterday. I love hummus…garlicky, creaming goodness.

And watching pitas puff like balloons in the oven is so much fun!

You should try one day. 🙂

Just use a food processor.

makes about 1 1/4 cups

1 1/2 c. canned chickpeas, drained, but reserve the liquid
2 Tbsp. tahini (substitute smooth peanutbutter in a pinch!)
4 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil (available at most Asian groceries)
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
olive oil, to drizzle on top

1. Add all ingredients except for the olive oil to the food processor.
2. Puree until smooth.
3. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with warm pitas.

makes 6 small

3/4 c. warm water
1 tsp. yeast
1 3/4 c. all purpose flour (I sneaked in 1/4 c. whole wheat)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. olive oil

1. Add yeast to warm water in a large bowl and let stand for a couple minutes.
2. Add the salt, sugar, oil, and 1 1/2 c. flour. Mix until smooth.
3. Gradually knead in the last 1/4 c. of flour until you get a smooth, elastic ball, about 5-7 minutes.
4. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
5. Divide the dough into 6 portions and form each into a ball. Let rest 10 minutes. Crank up your oven as high as it can go, mine’s 500 degrees F. Put a cookie sheet upside down in the middle.
6. Roll out each ball on a floured surface until 1/8 inch thick. If too thick, pitas won’t puff properly.
7. Bake each pita about 3-4 minutes, or until puffed and the very lightest brown.


Filed under Appetizers, Breads, Snacks, Vegetarian

Cinnamon Sugar Rugalach

I made this a while ago, right before I came back to school. I had some leftover dough from the last time I made chocolate pecan rugalach. The dough freezes incredibly well, just thaw overnight in the refrigerator and you’re good to go.

This filling couldn’t be easier either. Just mix 4 Tbsp. softened butter with 1 Tbsp. cinnamon and about 1/2 c. brown sugar. Spread this mixture on rolled out rectangular dough and roll up jelly style. Cut and bake at 375 for 10 minutes and 350 for a further 5, until browned and gooey. Great treats to share! And cute as snails.

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Filed under Pastries, Snacks

Cheese Coins (Failed Gougeres)

Let me tell you something.

I like cream puffs. I like making cream puffs. I like serving cream puffs. I like eating cream puffs. I like that the choux pastry is easy to make and is so flexible. I have never had a fallen cream puff. Ever.

Until now.

Well, technically, a gougere is not a cream puff, but rather a savory application of the choux pastry dough. The dough is rich in eggs, which provides the steam so the puffs can, well, puff. Gougeres are a slightly richer dough with grated cheese mixed in.

For some unfathomable reason I seemed to have put too much milk, or moisture in the dough, which caused it to be able to incorporate less egg. Less egg means less structure and rise. Which means a fallen puff.

It is a sad, sad thing.

However, the poor things wrinkled up attractively and had terrific flavour. Both my siblings loved it and had one after another. Which I guess is a good thing. But until I recover from my cream puff failure, I won’t post the recipe for gougeres.

I guess sometimes baking is forgiving.

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Filed under Beautiful Disasters, Snacks

Zucchini-Pecan Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (Magazine Mondays)

I discovered Cream Puffs in Venice a long long time ago and have always loved the blog. Ivonne at Cream puff hosts Magazine Mondays, where she posts recipes from magazines tackled by bloggers. I love the idea.

That being said, tomorrow is my dad’s birthday, so while I was flipping through the August edition of Bon Appetit I came across this recipe. The article said that this cake is inspired by the classic carrot cake, but of course, with a different vegetable. And I thought, if you can have zucchini bread, why not cake?

Then I thought, this would be a great cake to make for dad since I’ve always considered spice cakes to be more “grown-up,” which I guess is true, since most kids I’ve met don’t go “whooooop, spice cake!” So I made it last night and brought it to today’s barbeque with some family friends.

The cake is not big or elaborate. It’s very humble but boasts a myriad of spices as well as toasted pecans. The tiny strips of zucchini are seen, but not tasted. It’s funny, the cake is light in texture but somehow gives off the feel of a lot of weight. Maybe it’s the ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. It’s an intoxicating combination.

I found that I needed a bit more icing sugar to make the frosting a stiff enough consistency to spread. This is very similar to a carrot cake and will definitely attract carrot cake lovers. Maybe this works for number 10 on my wish list?

I was just saying how kids aren’t wild for spice cakes, curiously though, the few youngsters at the gathering today seemed to like this cake. It’s sturdy enough for them to hold by hand so no fussy fork and plate needed. Spread the frosting thin and this makes a wonderful snack cake.

Zucchini-Pecan Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
makes one 9-in. cake

1 ½ c. all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. coarse kosher salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¾ c. olive oil, not extra virgin
1 c. brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
8 oz. zucchini, grated
3/4 c. toasted pecans, chopped

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 Tbsp. butter, room temperature
¾ c. powdered sugar
½ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. cinnamon

To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease/flour a 9 inch cake pan.
  2. Mix well the oil, eggs, vanilla, and brown sugar in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the spices, flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the oil mixture, stir to combine. Blend in the zucchini and pecans, do not over mix. (Note: I didn’t squeeze the moisture out of the zucchini because I figured the cake would benefit from the moisture.)
  5. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes. (Mine was done at 30, so check early!)
  6. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before unmolding. Let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting:

  1. Cream together the butter and cream cheese.
  2. Sift in the powdered sugar and blend. (I used about 1/2 c. more)
  3. Add the cinnamon and vanilla, mix well.
  4. Spread over the top of the cooled cake.

Er, you might recognize that candle as the same one that perched on top of my brother’s soccer birthday cake. That’s because it is. We forgot to get candles, so candle Eight got reused. But we didn’t end up lighting it anyway because it was so windy today. Hey, my dad can always dream of becoming younger right?


Filed under Cakes, Desserts, Snacks

Mini Banana Muffins

Finally. We stop devouring bananas long enough to have three bananas go brown. Seriously, my family consumes a fantastic amount of bananas, at least a good couple bunches a week. Rarely do we have brown bananas. For eating, I prefer the beautifully rich yellow ones that still have green ends. Then when I peel it open, there is no sign of bruising on the pale creamy flesh, which still resists a little before yielding. Just a hint of tartness before the sweetness settles in. Yes, I can be picky like that, but I would take a sub-par banana anyway. 😉

So I’ve got these three large squishy, sorry looking fruits sitting on the dinner table. Time to make muffins.

Mini ones are just so darn cute. It’s impossible to eat just one. I stopped looking up banana bread recipes a long time ago. These days I just use what I have and make it up along the way. They always come out differently, just like my chocolate chip cookies.

This particular batch packs a powerful banana punch and is super moist. For banana bread lovers!

Super Banana Muffins, Mini-ed
makes 24 mini muffins plus 6 regular ones

3 large bananas, mashed to make about 1 1/2 cups
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 c. oil
1/4 c. whole milk
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4. tsp. salt

  1. Mash the bananas in a large bowl and mix thoroughly with the eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar.
  2. Mix in the rest of the ingredients until smooth, take care not to over mix.
  3. Spray mini muffin tins with cooking spray and fill with batter. Spoon the rest of the batter into sprayed regular muffin tins.
  4. Bake in a preheat oven at 350 degrees. 20 minutes for mini muffins, 25-30 for regular muffins.

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Filed under Banana, Comfort Food, Muffins, Snacks

Sunday Cake (Strawberry Bread)

This was interesting. Before, the only way I’ve incorporated strawberries in baking was in a strawberry almond cake I used to make a long time ago. That recipe had chopped strawberries layered in the middle of the batter.

That wasn’t the way here. I call this a bread simply because the recipe had called it a bread, but personally, I thought the texture was fine enough to be a cake. It was slightly dense, but very very soft, and moist enough the next day. I guess the secret is the crushed strawberries.

So instead of smooshed bananas, you have smooshed strawberries. And it definitely smelled like it too. Simply wonderful.

I used brown sugar instead of the white, as called for in the The Best Bake Sale Ever Cookbook, to preserve its moisture better since it wasn’t going to be served the same day it was baked. I think it brought out the lovely scent of the strawberries more.

This recipe is great for those not-up-to-par-left-forgotten-in-the-fridge berries, or frozen berries. I used some leftover frozen berries and added a touch of milk. It was well received by the church congregation.

Oh, I used my jelly moulds again. And they didn’t fail me. Even browning and easy release, I love those pans!

Strawberry Bread
adapted from The Best Bake Sale Ever Cookbook
makes one 9×5 loaf

2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 c. crushed strawberries, fresh or frozen, just use a fork
2 Tbsp. milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder, set aside.
  3. Crush the strawberries and add the milk.
  4. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla.
  5. Add alternately the flour mixture and the crushed strawberries to the creamed ingredients, ending with flour.
  6. Spoon into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spoon.
  7. Bake 55 to 60 minutes, or until the top is browned and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Great as a light, tender, and fragrant accompaniment to tea!

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Filed under Cakes, Snacks