Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Squares

We had a big day here on Planet Byn last week. After exercising remarkable restraint for a whole month, I brought treats into my new office for the first time.  Based on some life advice from my baking spirit guide (Danielle: “You can’t show up on the first day with a six-layer cake”), I decided to go with these Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Squares. Simple, seasonal, delicious.

I handed out a few to some people around me, and then left my container in the designated spot for leftover food that my new friends told me about. I heard a few “who made these?” and “are there any more of these?” and within an hour, they were gone. I exhaled. I really don’t feel I’m being overly dramatic here; I was honestly worried that people might not be into baked goods. And then what would I do? Despite one co-worker with a severe nut allergy, I think I’m good to go!

So these bars are insanely easy and SO GOOD. If you’re a person who thinks the crumble topping is the best part of a fruit crisp, this is is the square for you. Deb even includes instructions on how to mix everything up right in the pan, although I didn’t do that since I needed to cut and remove the squares to bring to work.  I can’t think of a better way to enjoy these last few weeks of rhubarb goodness.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp Squares

Source: Smitten Kitchen

Yield: 16 squares, many happy co-workers

Ingredients

1 cup oats

3/4 cup + 2 tbsp flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

6 tbsp (3/4 stick) butter, melted

1 cup diced strawberries

1 cup diced rhubarb

1 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp cornstarch

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 and line an 8×8″ square baking pan with foil. Spray the foil with non-stick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, flour, brown sugar and salt. Add the melted better and stir until well combined, and the mixture is crumbly. Set aside 1/2 cup of the mixture, and add the rest to the pan, and press it into an even layer.
  3. In the same medium bowl, toss together the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch. Pour over the crust and spread into an even layer. Crumble the reserved 1/2 cup of the crust over the top of the fruit.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly and amazing. Let cool completely and then cut into squares.

{ 0 comments }

Lemon Parmesan Cookies

Our assignment this week was a savoury shortbread cookie with three flavours: lemon, pecorino cheese and black pepper. This actually didn’t seem strange to me, as Barefoot Contessa has a recipe in one of her books for a parmesan thyme savoury shortbread, which she refers to as a cracker. My more pressing concern was all the lemon up in this recipe (I’m not the biggest citrus fan) and the full tablespoon of cracked black pepper.

I wimped out a little bit and put about half the amount of lemon zest and a quarter the amount of black pepper in the dough. I also substituted parmesan for pecorino, because I had it in the fridge. I had my usual problem with slice and bake cookies, which is that I can never seem to roll my dough into a nicely shaped log, and then it usually has a flat edge from where it sat in the fridge. Anyone have any insights on how to deal with that?

This is a weird little cookie. Even with the fraction of the lemon zest I added, I found the lemon was the overpowering flavour. I couldn’t taste the parmesan at all, but it probably just added a bit more of a salty edge. I also thought they were a bit too sweet. I didn’t really like them on their own, but channeling Ina, I considered them as a cracker, and paired them with some green grapes, sliced apple, and honey cheddar. They were great this way, and now I can see them as part of a cheese board or platter.

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

 

 

{ 6 comments }

Meg2_01_01

Our sweet friend Meg is having a baby! What better way to celebrate than with a virtual baby shower in her honour. Meg’s expecting Baby Girl #2 at the end of this month, and we’re all so excited for her.

I love that we’ve been there for all the fun parts of Meg’s pregnancy, from her announcement, to her cute gender reveal treats, to her intense cravings for banana baked goods. I can’t wait to meet this little one and to see all the amazing birthday cakes Meg will make her two lucky little ladies.

Strawberry Sprinkle Ice Cream Sandwiches

When I was brainstorming what to bring to this party, I knew I wanted to make something pink, and when I saw these ice cream sandwiches on Annie’s Eats, I knew they were it. Pink AND sprinkles? Perfect party combo right there! I used the Funfetti Cookie recipe from my archives, and the easiest recipe for Strawberry Ice Cream from Annie’s post (basically just whisk and freeze).

So congratulations Meg! I’m so excited for you and your family!!!

Make sure you check out what everyone brought to the party:

Tangent alert! Way back in 2005, my Mom and I threw a baby shower for my sister-in-law, and it was early days into my baking obsession (which means everything was an Anna Olson recipe). I remember making her chocolate chip cookies, sandwiching them together with vanilla ice cream, and rolling the edges in chocolate chips. I had no idea what I was doing and assembling them was a huge mess. I actually ended up forgetting about them in the freezer until the end of the party. Whoops!  I also made a Twix type square in which the caramel hardened like toffee and I couldn’t even slice them up. Luckily the cupcakes I made were edible! I’ve come a long way guys!!!

Strawberry Sprinkle Ice Cream Sandwiches

Source: Annie’s Eats

Yield: 7 ice cream sandwiches; the ice cream amounts below are half of the original recipe

Ingredients

8 oz fresh strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/4 tsp lemon juice

+ a batch of Funfetti Cookies

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the strawberries and sugar, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for an hour.
  2. Whisk in the sour cream, whipping cream and lemon juice.
  3. Use an immersion blender to slightly puree the mixture, leaving some small bits of fresh strawberries throughout.
  4. Chill mixture overnight, then churn it up in your ice cream maker. Transfer to a tupperware container and freeze until scoopable.
  5. Smoosh a scoop of ice cream between two cookies and go nuts, or wrap individually in plastic wrap and freeze until firm.

{ 1 comment }

Easy Candy Bar Tart

As much as I love baking my way through Baked Elements with the Baked Sunday Morning team, I noticed something strange today. Everything we’ve been making from this book lately has been brown or beige. There’s nothing wrong with that as it usually means chocolate or caramel is involved, but it’s a such a contrast to what else is going on in my kitchen these days. The farmer’s markets near my place are bursting with ruby red strawberries, tomatoes, and cherries, bright yellow and green zucchini, and vibrant blueberries that I can wait to eat and bake with. I wait all year to eat those colours, but on to the task at hand: Easy Candy Bar Tart.

This tart has three components, none of which are that hard to mix up. First a chocolate cookie crust, followed by a quick caramel mixed with deeply toasted walnuts, and finally a buttery (too buttery?) chocolate glaze. This came together in no time, and will be shared with my co-workers (old or new? I can’t decide) tomorrow.

Candy Bar Slice

So that brings us to the end of the Caramel section of Baked Elements! As we wrap up each section, I thought I’d provide a little recap of what I made, and my favourite recipe from each section.

You can find the recipe for the Easy Candy Bar Tart here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

{ 6 comments }

June on Planet Byn

by byn on June 30, 2014

in Monthly Recaps

Fresh Strawberries

It was a bittersweet month here on Planet Byn as I left my department of the past two years and moved on to a new one. I’m going to miss my co-workers tremendously; they were excellent snackers and eaters of all baked goods I brought in. The first two weeks of June were my last in the department, and then I started my new job right away on the 16th. This is what was going on in my foodie life in the midst of this transition:

  • On my flight home from Ottawa on the 1st, I was brainstorming all of the treats I wanted to bring in for my last two weeks of work. You might remember I did this when I left my last job (see: Byn’s Farewell Tour of Treats). I then showed up on Monday to a beautiful Fresh Strawberry Bundt Cake baked by my friend Janelle. This kicked off two weeks of my co-workers bringing in treats to thank me for everything I’ve made them over the last two years. I was so incredibly touched by this. You can see everything that they brought in on Instagram.
  • Tasty G invited me to an event at Smoque N Bones where we got to try just about everything on the menu and tweet our little hearts out. The standouts to me were the ribs, pulled pork and spicy sausage, but I wasn’t really a fan of the brisket. I definitely want to go back with a purse full of wet naps and go to town.
  • For Father’s Day I didn’t cook anything new to blog about, but went with Dad’s requests of steak, twice-baked potatoes with caramelized onion and bacon, grilled veggies and this Rhubarb Custard Pie for dessert.
  • I celebrated/drowned my tears on my last day of work with my friends at Barhop.  They have like 36 craft beers on tap and 100+ more in bottles and cans, plus some delicious snack options. We had the best time.
  • I’ve resumed my Sunday morning trips to the Square One Farmer’s Market, and it’s just bliss there. So far I’ve been picking up strawberries, cherries, plums and tomatoes, and everything has been perfect.  My friend Christina wrote an excellent post about Ontario strawberries; she totally gets it. We’re strawberry soul mates.
  • I find it so hard to cook actual meals in the summer when it’s hot out, but did get it together enough to make this Banh Mi from my friend Gwendolyn’s blog (with turkey instead of pork) and I was obsessed with it. I didn’t take any pictures, so that just means I need to make it again.
  • I met my FBC girls at 7 Enoteca in Oakville after hearing good things from my brother and friend Lydia. They don’t take reservations, but we were able to get a table for 7 with no problems (it was a Tuesday), but it was jam packed. I had a beet salad that was mediocre to be honest, but then a pretty amazing pizza. I gave the girls these for dessert!
  • I went to Pai for lunch with a new co-worker and we split Pad Thai (I believe you have to order it the first time you go to any Thai restaurant; I feel that will tell you if they know what they’re doing) and Panang Curry. Both were delicious. I kind of love how it’s sort of in the basement and has a cozy vibe. I can see this being added to my regular lunch rotation.

Other non-foodie things I was obsessed with this month:

  • I went to see The Fault in Our Stars and just openly WEEPED amongst all the tweens. There was audible sobbing and “awwwwww”ing pretty much constantly throughout this movie and I loved every minute.
  • After reading and loving Eleanor & Park, I picked up Fangirl, and (this won’t be a surprise) LOVED IT. I went to see Rainbow at the Toronto Public Library a couple months ago and she spoke about how Levi from Fangirl was her favourite character to write. I now see why!
  • Okay, this might sound crazy, but I’m among friends, so I’m going to disclose this. Since I started my new job, I’ve been taking selfies of my outfits every morning and putting them in an OOTD folder on my phone. It’s totally making it easier for me to get ready for work now, because I can look through the pictures, remember what looked good/fit properly/was comfortable and throw it on without changing 2698317 times. I kind of feel like Cher in Clueless, but I highly recommend this. It’s also helping to edit my closet, because if I wear something that doesn’t look good/doesn’t fit/needs to be altered, I can either trash it/donate it/alter it and move on with my life.

{ 1 comment }

Banana Whoopie Pies

I think I’ve made every whoopie pie recipe that the Baked boys have included in their previous cookbooks. I made the Red Velvet ones for my sister-in-law back in 2010, the Pumpkin version as part of Thanksgiving dessert in 2011, and the Chocolate Whoopie Pies in 2012. Guess 2013 was a Whoopie Pie free year, but they’re back on Planet Byn for this week’s Baked Sunday Morning.

I was excited to tackle this recipe for one main reason: the Milk Chocolate Swiss Meringue Filling. I’ve only made a swiss meringue frosting once before, and it was for the Chocolate Whoopie Pies I linked to above. I re-read that old post and remembered my main issue with it from back then: too much butter. I felt (and my brother confirmed) that it just tasted like whipped butter. Not really ideal. So I compared that recipe with the one on deck for this week, and found they are exactly the same, but with the addition of milk chocolate. I decided to proceed, but to see if I could reduce the amount of butter and not have it affect the texture/structure of the icing.

Whoopie Pies

The way you make swiss meringue frosting is to heat egg whites and sugar over a double  boiler. Once the sugar dissolves (I find the easiest way to test this is to actually just to stick a clean finger in, and then rub it between my fingertips to see if it’s still gritty), you remove it from the heat and whip for 5 minutes, before adding in room temperature butter. I added half the amount of butter that the recipe calls for, then the required amounts of vanilla, salt and melted milk chocolate and whipped again. The reduced amount of butter didn’t affect the structure of the icing: it was still shiny and smooth, didn’t break, and didn’t have that overwhelming buttery flavour.  I’ll always be loyal to My Favourite Buttercream Frosting, but it’s nice to know I can make this too.

There’s not much to add about the banana cookies: they’re very simple to make and I used one bowl and a whisk to mix them up. I liked the milk chocolate filling in them, but I think the peanut butter swiss meringue frosting variation in Baked Explorations would also be great.

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday mornings here!

{ 3 comments }

Bourbon Rhubarb Cocktail - Copy

Summer has arrived in all it’s hot, humid, sweaty glory. After complaining all winter about the polar vortex, I have vowed to embrace this summer, and any time where I start to complain about something heat related, I flash back to every freaking layer of clothing I had to put on back in January, and that shuts me up pretty quickly.

Last weekend I had myself a little Sunday afternoon happy hour on my balcony with a frosty beverage, magazine, sunscreen and my planner (yes, I still use an actual planner). I also found an old CD in my car called “Byn’s Summer Hit Mix 2001″, so I dragged up my little boom box from my storage locker, and put it on blast*.  I only lasted for about half an hour in the sun, but it was all I needed. It totally recharged my batteries for the week, and I made a mental note to try to slow down on Sunday afternoons, as I’m often scrambling to get ready for the week: doing laundry, ironing, grocery shopping, cleaning and just general life maintenance.

I usually make some type of boozy rhubarb concoction each summer, which can be traced back to Gwendolyn’s Foxy Lady Rhubarb Cocktails. Last year I infused some vodka with strawberries and rhubarb, and that was a neat party trick for sure. This year I remixed the rhubarb syrup I usually make, and added a strip of lemon peel and some vanilla bean paste, after seeing Cheri’s post on Kitchen Simplicity. It was unreal. I topped it with sparkling water, and then instead of adding vodka, I went with bourbon, after Gwendolyn and I were chatting a bit about rhubarb/bourbon cocktails on Twitter. I can’t stress enough how well it paired up. This is my go-to summer cocktail of 2014 (so far!).

*Lots of Missy Elliot, Ludacris and Destiny’s Child, in case you were wondering.

Rhubarb, Lemon & Vanilla Bean Simple Syrup

Source: Kitchen Simplicity

Ingredients

4 cups chopped rhubarb

1 cup sugar

2 strips of lemon peel (use a vegetable peeler, and try not to get too much of the white pith)

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup water

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

+ sparkling water

+ booze of choice (bourbon, vodka, I bet tequilla would be outstanding here as well)

Directions

  1. Add the rhubarb, sugar, lemon peel, lemon juice, water and vanilla bean paste to a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer, and let bubble for about 10 minutes. The rhubarb will totally break down.
  2. Let cool for half an hour or so, then pour through a fine-mesh sieve (I put a bowl on top and a can to weigh it down and let it sit overnight in the fridge so it could drain into a big measuring cup).
  3. Mix rhubarb syrup, sparking water and booze to taste. You can remove the lemon peel and eat the strained rhubarb with yogurt, which is amazing.

 

 

{ 0 comments }

Rhubarb Custard Pie

I’ve been waiting a whole year to make this pie! This is what happens when your baking BFF lives on the West coast and her rhubarb season comes AFTER yours. By the time Danielle made this last summer and raved about it to me, rhubarb season was finished in Ontario, so onto my Pinterest board and into my dreams it went.

This week we’re having a little Rhubarb Remix here on Planet Byn. I realized the first three rhubarb recipes I made this year were slight twists on things I’ve made in the past. For example, last year I made a pretty basic, yet amazing, Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Pie. This Rhubarb Custard Pie features the same crust, and a crumble topping, but the Switch-Up* comes in the filling: instead of using all fruit, you mix up a dreamy, creamy Greek yogurt based filling and fold in diced rhubarb.

The end result is ah-may-zing.  The tartness of the rhubarb and the creaminess of the filling (something I normally don’t like in citrus/creamy desserts) was totally working for me here. Not to cheat on rhubarb or anything, but I’m sure this would also be incredible with strawberries or peaches, when that time comes.

Rhubarb Remix Pie

*Who remembers the Switch-Up from Anna Olson’s Sugar show? My favourite!

Rhubarb Custard Pie

Source: Topping & Filling from Sugarcrafter, Crust from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

Crust

1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold, cubed

1/2 cup ice water

Filling

2 eggs

6oz vanilla Greek yogurt

1 cup sugar

4 tbsp flour

3 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb

Topping

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup oats

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, can be cold or room temp

Directions

  1. I like to begin with a nice clean kitchen when making a pie, so if you’re me, clean all the clutter off the counter and take a nice deep breath, and get out a pie plate and your rolling pin.
  2. Let’s start with the crust. Add the flour, sugar and salt to a big bowl, and whisk together. Add the butter, and use a pastry cutter to cut it in, until the butter is the size of peas and the mixture is crumbly. Start by adding 1/4 cup of cold water, and stir together with a spatula until the dough starts to come together. Add more ice water a tbsp at a time, until all the floury bits are incorporated. Knead the dough very briefly with your hands until it all comes together, then shape into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Stick it in the fridge to chill for about an hour.
  3. For the crumble, whisk together the flour, brown sugar and oats in a medium bowl. Add the butter and if cold, cut in with a pastry cutter or a fork, or if warm use your hands. Chill until the crust is ready to go.
  4. For the filling, whisk the eggs together in a large bowl. Add the yogurt and whisk again. Add the sugar and flour and whisk again until smooth and combined. Add the rhubarb and stir to coat.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400. Roll out your dough on a well-floured counter, then gently add to your pie plate, trim the edges and crimp if you like.
  6. Add the filling to the crust, and crumble the topping over top.  Place on a baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 and bake for another 35-40 minutes until the top is golden and bubbly. (If it gets too brown, too fast, just cover lightly with foil.)
  7. Let cool completely, then chill for 2 hours before serving.

 

{ 0 comments }

Vanilla, Bourbon & Chocolate Milkshake

I was pretty excited to make this milkshake, as I thought it would be a nice break from some of the more time-consuming recipes we’ve made over the last few weeks (i.e. Bananas Cake, Turtle Thumbprint Cookies) for Baked Sunday Mornings. What could possibly go wrong with a milkshake?

Well, it turns out the milkshake wasn’t a problem, but I has serious issues with the Homemade Chocolate Syrup we needed to make to go in it.  The instructions say it can be used straight from the fridge, so I poured mine into a little mason jar and set it in the fridge to cool and use later in the day. When I pulled it out, it was rock hard. I had to heat it a bit in the microwave, and it kind of turned gritty and lumpy. I’m not quite sure what happened there. I followed the instructions, but my guess is that I boiled it for too long.

I also made some substitutions for the milkshake itself: I used vanilla frozen yogurt instead of ice cream and almond milk instead of cow’s milk. But let me tell you, even with some chunky chocolate syrup, this milkshake is a winner. It’s the bourbon, y’all (said in Southern accent). I gulped this one down in no time!

Note: It is not essential to the success of the recipe that your nail polish matches the milkshake (Essie in Sand Tropez, in case you needed to know).

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

{ 7 comments }

Turtle Thumbprint Cookies Last week, the Baked boys announced that their new book (their 4th!) is called Baked Occasions and will be out on October 7th! So I think I can safely announce now that this is the top secret project I mentioned back in February. I recipe tested for this book!!! It was an amazing experience and I’m sure it’s all I’ll be talking about as we get closer to publication date.

Because the new book will be out in just 4 months, the lovely ladies who run our Baked Sunday Mornings group (which is how I got involved in testing for the new book) have condensed the schedule so we’ll be baking/posting every week so we can finish in time for the new book’s release. I’m really going to try my best to keep up, especially since I started on Baked Elements really late. This morning I made these Turtle Thumbprint Cookies, and I have many thoughts and feelings on them. First of all, this is one fussy little cookie. I know this from my past experience with thumbprints, but this one has many extra steps. These are my thoughts:

  • Instead of letting the dough chill for one hour after mixing, I let it chill for about 20 minutes while I toasted and chopped the nuts, because I was nervous that the dough would be too hard if I let it chill too long (this happens to me all the time…why do recipes tell you to chill the dough overnight, and then scoop it from there…it’s always too hard) and would then crack when I tried to put the thumbprints in them. My strategy worked great (no cracks).
  • Because I was nervous that my thumbprints would lose their shape (something that happened to me when I made these) I chilled them for 30 minutes before baking, after I had rolled the dough into balls, dipped them in the egg white and rolled them into the chopped, toasted pecans (see told you they were fussy).
  • I was not a huge fan of the caramel filling. It was a weird cross between dulce de leche (because it has condensed milk in it) and a regular caramel sauce. Mine started to bubble really quickly and I got all these little brown bits in my caramel. I strained the caramel as the recipe instructions suggest, but it didn’t filter them all out. No big deal really, and it still tastes great, but I think I would a regular caramel sauce if I made these again.
  • I also made my cookies a bit bigger than suggested (mostly because they were fussy enough…I didn’t feel like filling little tiny thumbprints) and used the pestle from my little mortar and pestle set to make nice big thumbprints. I made half the recipe and got 13 big cookies.

I LOVE how these cookies look! The actual cookie part is almost brownie-esque, but a little on the bitter side. I feel like a sprinkle of sea salt would go a long way on these as well. I think we have our first contender for Champagne & Cookies!

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

{ 1 comment }