Two Loaves of Sourdough…

Today I baked two loaves of Sourdough Bread! Yum yum yum! 😀

The starter I used for my bread today was from the same starter as my original two loaves back on June 18th, and then again on June 30th. This whole time I’ve just been feeding my starter to help it grow and become more sour in flavour. They say patience is a virtue, and I guess my patience also paid off in yummy bread! 😉

Sourdough.

Chicken and Potato Soup with Bacon

Chicken and Potato Soup with Bacon.

Last night I made soup number two! I made Chicken and Potato Soup with Bacon. Yummy!!

I began with the Chicken Stock I had previously made. It was stashed away in my freezer. While it was defrosting, I started chopping up leeks, a couple of garlic cloves, and an onion. I continued by chopping a pound of potatoes, a pile of chicken, and a whole lot of bacon, all into bite size pieces. I will admit it definitely took alot longer to chop and slice everything than I had planned. But oh well, it looked great and I couldnt wait to begin making my soup. 😉

Once everything was ready, I melted some butter in the bottom of a large pot. I added the garlic and onion. Cooked it and stirred for 3 minutes until slightly softened. I then added the bacon and leeks, cooked everything for another 3 minutes, stirring. Then in a separate little dish, I mixed a bit of flour with just enough stock to make a smooth paste. I then added the paste to the pot, stirring for 2 minutes. I poured the remaining stock into the pot, then added the potatoes and chicken. I seasoned the soup with salt and pepper, brought it to a boil, then lowered the heat and simmered the soup for 25 minutes. After the 25 minutes, I stirred in cream and cooked for another 2 minutes. I removed it from the heat, and served immediately with a garnish of a strip of cooked bacon on top and a flat-leaf parsley.

This soup was super delicious, very flavourful, and extremely hearty. Its definitely one soup that can be served as a meal. I accompanied mine with garlic herb bread. 🙂

Farm Bread (Herb Bread) and Fougasse

In last night’s last International Breads class we made Farm Bread (Herb Bread) and Fougasse.

Farm Bread is an herb bread made from using a starter prepared at least a week in advance. It also has a combination of bread flour and whole wheat flour. The herb flavouring come from creating a paste from garlic, fresh basil, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary, fresh oregano, and olive oil which is them added near the completion of the forming of the dough.

Fougasse is a leaf shaped, flattish loaf from the South of France. It can be baked as a plain bread which is what we did last night, or it can be flavoured with cheese, anchovies, herbs, nuts, or olives.

L to R: Fougasse, and Farm Bread.

August 23, 2010 – Miss Mexico wins Miss Universe

Miss Mexico is crowned the new Miss Universe 2010 by outgoing Miss Universe 2009 Stefania Fernandez of Venezuela.
Miss Mexico, Jimena Navarrete after being crowned Miss Universe 2010.

Last night in Las Vegas, Jimena Navarrete, a 22-year-old brunette from Mexico, was named Miss Universe frrom a field of 83, extending Latin America’s domination of the pageant to three consecutive years. (The previous two years were won by Miss Venezuela). She becomes the second Mexican to take the crown, following Lupita Jones in 1991.

From the start, the pageant was a close race among Mexico, Jamaica and the Philippines, whose contestants all rated strongly in the swimwear and evening wear sections. But Miss Philippines bombed during the question section, failing to detail her biggest mistake and what she did to fix it. She appeared to be very nervous, stumbling over her words and thoughts. All five of the Top 5 on-stage questions were difficult, yet the other four finalists answered their questions eloquently and calmly.

The pageant, in its 59th year, was hosted by rock musician Bret Michaels and TV news personality Natalie Morales at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Bret Michaels was a surprising choice to host the Miss Universe pageant, and was constantly nudged and prompted to speak by co-host Natalie Morales throughout the live event. Miss Universe is the biggest beauty pageant across the world which is seen by nearly 190 countries and territories.

Miss Navarrete won prizes which include an undisclosed salary, a luxury New York apartment with living expenses, a one-year scholarship to the New York Film Academy with housing after her reign, as well as jewelry, clothes and shoes.

Top 5
Winner: Miss Mexico, Jimena Navarrete
1st Runner Up: Miss Jamaica, Yendi Phillipps
2nd Runner Up:  Miss Australia, Jesinta Campbell
3rd Runner Up: Miss Ukraine, Anna Poslavska
4th Runner Up: Miss Philippines, Venus Raj

Top 5.
Top 10
Ireland
Albania
Phillipines
Jamaica
Mexico
Ukraine
Puerto Rico
South Africa
Guatemala
Australia
Top 10.
Top 10 in Evening Gown.

 Top 15
Puerto Rico
Ukraine
Mexico
Belgium
Ireland
South Africa
France
Australia
Jamaica
Russia
Albania
Colombia
Guatemala
Czech Republic
Phillipines

Top 15.

Miss Congeniality: Australia – Jesinta Campbell
Miss Photogenic & Favorite National Costume – Thailand – Fonthip Watcharatrakul (both awards chosen by online voting)

Miss Universe Pageant
Miss Universe Pageant.

Happy Birthday to Me… ;)

Yup, you read that title correctly… today is my birthday!!! Yay!!
😀
And to celebrate my birthday, I baked cakes….. Cupcakes, that is!

I’m a big believer that birthdays are extremely important. They’re important because they celebrate you and the fact that you are here on this planet. And therefore, YOU must be celebrated. So to celebrate my birthday I wanted to bake something extra special… Something decandent.. Something unbelievably delicious: Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Mousse Filling and a Strawberry Swiss Buttercream Icing. Yummy!!!! 🙂

My super yummy Dark (Lindt) Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Mousse Filling and a Strawberry Swiss Buttercream Icing. 😀

Soup!

Okay.. I’m on this new kick… my obsession with soup.

It started a couple years ago when Brent and I went to Taste the Season in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Taste the Season is where people can devote a full weekend to a wine and food extravaganza presented by local wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Usually anywhere between 17-19 wineries participate (though I hear that 22 wineries may be participating this year). Hailed as the ‘go to event of the season’, this popular touring and tasting program celebrates the season’s bounty. It’s also a great time to explore unique wine and gift selections or stock up for all your holiday entertaining. Taste the Season takes place in Niagara during the month of November.

Anyway, a couple years ago while we were at our anual weekend away at Taste the Season, one of the wineries combined their wine selection with a soup. I believe it was a Minestone, but it started a discussion between the two of us about how we would like to start making soups from scratch. Although this idea never left my mind, and in fact has had me searching for interesting soup recipes over the past couple years, I never actually acted on it. Until today!

Last week I came across this fabulous book called Soup. It contains over 100 temptingly-tasty soups, in addition to the instructions on how to create the stocks from scratch that are the intergral part of a soup. So I bought it.

And today, after several days of planning, I began my taste-testing of soups. I will admit it was an extremely long day. It started first thing in the morning where I dug deep into the cupboard to find the perfect tall pot to make my chicken soup stock. From there I began making my stock by browning 3 pounds or 1.3 kilograms of chicken thighs and legs in the pot, along with two large onions cut into wedges. I then added water, which I brought to a boil. Then I added carrots, celery, fresh parsley sprigs, fresh thyme sprigs, bay leaves and peppercorns. I then let the ingredients simmer for 3 hours. After 3 hours I strained my stock into a bowl, let it cood and stored in the refridgerator. Once it was cold I was then able to begin phase 2.

Cream of Chicken Soup.

Phase 2: Cream of Chicken Soup.
Yup.. I am crazy. Or maybe just I have never made soup before. Or maybe, in all honesty, it is a little of both. Okay, so I admit I have never made soup before and thus I was not aware that it would have been smarter to make the chicken stock, then let it sit over night, then make the Cream of Chicken Soup the following day. But alas, I didn’t and so my extremely long day continued as I conquered my first soup creation.

For the Cream of Chicken Soup I had to melt butter in a pot and add chopped up shallots. I then added chopped up leeks for a few more minutes, stirring the whole time. I then added 1 pound or 454 grams of chopped chicken, chopped fresh parsley, fresh chopped thyme, and seasoning – salt and pepper. I brought it to a boil, lowered the heat, and let simmer for 25 minutes. I then removed the pot from the heat and let the soup cool for 10 minutes. I then transfered the soup to my blender and processed the soup until it was super smooth. I returned the soup to the rinsed pot and warmed up the soup on low heat for 5 minutes. I then added heavy cream and cooked it for another 2 minutes. Then I removed the soup from the heat and spooned the yummy fresh soup into serving bowls. I added a thyme sprig as garnish and voila: home-made fresh-from-scratch Cream of Chicken Soup! Delicious!! 🙂

Pane Al Cioccolato and Welsh Clay Pots Loaves

In last night’s International Breads class we made Pane Al Cioccolato and Welsh Clay Pots Loaves. Well, sort of. 😉 We made the Welsh Clay Pots Loaves without using the clay pots because to temper the clay pots we would have had to bake the pots four separate times. Instead we used some fancy decorative, teflon lined paper, paper “pots”.

Pane Al Cioccolato is supposed to be a slightly sweet bread from Italy that is often served with creamy macarpone cheese as a dessert or snack. The dark chocolate pieces baked into the loaves add texture to this light loaf. However, when you use Lindt chocolate, it turns this “slightly sweet” bread into a decadent and delicious bread with chuncks of chocolate that are soft amd melted within the loaf. Yum!

Pane Al Cioccolato (Chocolate Loaves)

Welsh Clay Pots Loaves are flavoured with chives, sage, parsley, and garlic. But you can use any selection of your favourite herbs. I also added rosemary. In addition, it can be suggested that if you want even more flavour, you can try adding a little grated raw onion and grated cheese to the dough.

Welsh (Clay Pots) Loaf without the clay pot. 😉

My book cover…

Okay okay… so it took me a while to finally get this posted on my blog, but here it is – my book cover!

Yup, that's me.. looking all "sad and forlorn".

Yes, that is me on the cover of a Harlequin Romance Novel under the line of books called: “Love Inspired Suspense” novels. My book was released in June. Look for the title “Risky Reunion”. 😉

Hot Cross Buns and Stollen Bread

In last night’s International Breads class we made Hot Cross Buns and Stollen Bread. They both turned out amazingly well, but can I tell you that those are two types of bread that require an insane amount of work! Yikes! I was exhausted by the end of the class from running around like a crazy person. Hahaha 😉

Hot Cross Buns are small buns which have been popular in England since Medieval Times. They are yummy with currants, raisins, and spices like cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cardamon. They are also famous for their water dough “cross” on top.

Hot Cross Buns.

Stollen is a specialty bread in Holland and Germany (though in Germany it is called by another name). It is made generally at Christmas time. Part of the recipe requires that some ingredients (raisins, currants, mixed peel, almonds, marzipan) be pre-soaked a week beforehand in alcohol (dark rum and brandy). The traditional way of doing Stollen is in the form of a loaf, where a roll of marzipan is wrapped into the dough. We also made smaller bite size squares without the marzipan inside. Everything was then dusted with icing sugar.

Bite-sized Stollen fresh out of the oven.
Dusting the Stollen bites with icing sugar.
Dusting traditional Stollen loaves with icing sugar.