Simple Stewed Rhubarb

Last week I got a text from my friend Nicole wishing me “Happy Rhubarb Season!”. She knows me so well! It is truly the most wonderful time of the year. I was in a momentary panic a few weeks ago looking through a Buzzfeed gallery on rhubarb recipes, thinking that I had reached the end of the rhubarb road, having made a variation on almost every recipe they posted: cocktails, squares, cake, pie, popsicles, ice cream. I’ve really been through it all in the past seven summers since this obsession began!

So imagine my surprise when I tried to find a recipe on Planet Byn for simple, stewed rhubarb, after being #blessed with a gigantic bundle of rhubarb a couple weeks ago from my Mom’s dental hygienist (random, I know, but I love it). I suppose you don’t really need a recipe for this, but I wanted to get the proportions right. I don’t like rhubarb recipes where so much sugar is added that you don’t make that pucker with your mouth. The pucker is the best part!

Classic Stewed Rhubarb

So here’s the recipe I used, and it’s perfect. Use this on toast, stir it in yogurt, add it to a cocktail (coming up next post!) layer it up with overnight oats. Happy Rhubarb Season!

Simple Stewed Rhubarb

Source: Canadian Living

Ingredients

3 cups chopped rhubarb

1/2 cup sugar

1 tbsp water

Directions

  1. Add rhubarb, sugar and water to a medium saucepan over medium heat. When it starts to bubble, turn the heat down to medium-low, and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The rhubarb will break down into strands. Store in a glass jar or tupperware in the fridge.

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Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake

by byn on June 9, 2016

in General

Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake

When this recipe was posted on Smitten Kitchen last year, I was with Danielle in Atlanta and for sure said “I’m making this as soon as I get home!”. Well we all know what happened after that: two weddings, one case of bronchitis, and major summer fruit FOMO meant there wasn’t a lot of time for s’moresy things in my kitchen.

I made a half-hearted attempt to make this at some point in the Fall when I got my kitchen torch, but I tried to use frozen yogurt and almond milk. I mean, really.

I finally went all in on this milkshake last weekend when the Haagen-Dazs was on sale at my grocery store and I took it as a sign. Into the blender goes a whole tray of toasted marshmallows, vanilla ice cream, milk, a spoonful of greek yogurt and a little bit of vanilla bean paste. Whoa. Anyone reading this knows I have a major sweet tooth, and even I say this was teetering on the edge of too sweet for me. But as if I could resist this toasty delight!

S'mores Milkshake

Side note: As I was enjoying this, I realized I am not a milkshake person. I’ve only ever made two other types (both Baked Sunday Morning projects), and I don’t think I’ve ever ordered one in a restaurant , except coincidentally in Atlanta at Flip Burger, no doubt because we saw this post while we were there. I also don’t think I’ve had a Wendy’s Frosty since the 90s. Are they still a thing?

Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake

Source: Smitten Kitchen

Yield: this is 1/2 the recipe and makes 1 generous or two reasonably sized milkshakes

Ingredients

5 oz big marshmallows

1/4 cup milk

1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

1 cup vanilla ice cream

1 tbsp greek yogurt

+ extra marshmallows for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat your broiler, and move a rack close to the upper third of the oven. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray. Spread out the marshmallows and broil until golden brown. WATCH CLOSELY, they’ll burn so fast. I flipped my marshmallows over and broiled on the other side too. Let cool (you can speed this up in the fridge or freezer).
  2. I have an immersion blender, so I added the marshmallows, milk, vanilla bean paste, ice cream and yogurt to a big measuring cup and blended it up!
  3. Add to a glass with a few extra toasted mallows on top!

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CI Perfect CCC

At the beginning of the year, I declared it the YEAR OF CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES on Planet Byn. In keeping with my kitchen procrastination tendencies, it then took me four months to try another recipe, but here we are.

For my first venture outside of My Favourite, I went with a Cook’s Illustrated’s Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. Have you ever seen this magazine? My Mom used to have a few issues, and I didn’t understand it. It’s in black and white! There are no big, glossy pictures! But the thing is, CI tests the shizz out of their recipes before publishing them, so I figured they would be a good place to start.

The main difference in their recipe is the butter: not cold, not room temperature, not even just melted, but brownedThere are also a lot of “whisk, wait, repeat” steps that add extra time. Everything else is pretty much status quo, except I stepped up my chocolate and instead of using Chipits, bought some Valrhona dark chocolate chunks.

So what’s the verdict on the final product? They fit all of my CCC specs: thick, chewy, and full of chocolate. BUT for all the extra steps you have to go to, I don’t think they’re any better than Anna Olson’s recipe, which you can mix up in probably less than half the time. I also strongly feel that the flavour of the browned butter is lost once they’re baked.

I think I’m going to tackle the New York Times version next, because Deb just revisited the recipe and they look insane.

Cook’s Illustrated’s Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Source: The Way The Cookie Crumbles via Cook’s Illustrated

Ingredients

14 tbsp (1 3/4 sticks) butter, divided

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp salt

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 3/4 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/4 cups chocolate chips or chunks

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375° and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a small saucepan, brown 10 tbsp of butter (see here for tutorial on how to brown butter), then pour into a large bowl, being sure to scrape out all the brown bits. Add the last 4 tbsp of room temperature butter to the melted butter, and stir until fully melted.
  3. Add brown sugar, sugar, vanilla and salt and whisk to combine. Add egg and egg yolk and whisk until smooth, 30 seconds. Let rest for 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat this two more times.
  4. Stir in the flour and baking soda until incorporated, then stir in chocolate.
  5. Divide dough into 16 portions and roll into balls. Place 8 balls on each cookie sheet. Bake one sheet at a time for 10-14 minutes (I baked for 12 minutes), making sure they don’t get too brown.

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May on Planet Byn {2016}

by byn on May 31, 2016

in Monthly Recaps

Bey on Cake

Have you ever had a month that seemed to go by fast, but when you think about the stuff you did at the beginning of said month, seemed so long ago? That’s how I felt about May. It was long and full of fun stuff to do, which was very necessary to pull me out of a funk. Here’s what happened on the food front:

  • I went back to Fring’s, this time with my OGs Libby and Carole (that’s Original Gastroposters, by the way), plus Tasty G. We didn’t order any of the same dishes as my first visit, so I feel like I’m systematically working my way through the menu.  We all started off with a Sauga City Mule and then shared: roasted butternut squash toast, crispy chicken sliders, rock shrimp tempura, crispy lump crab cakes, beef short rib tacos, braised beef poutine and mushroom truffle papperdelle. I loved EVERYTHING, except we ordered a monkey bread dessert and it was underwhelming to say the least. Going back with Kristine at the end of June and I can’t wait.
  • There’s a small brewery on Victoria Street near my work that keeps shutting down and re-opening every few years, and has just re-opened once again, calling itself Batch. I went here after work for a quick bite and loved everything about it. The highlight for me was the mac & cheese app we shared, with pickled jalapenos and fried breadcrumbs. Need to go back here immediately.
  • All my Mom wanted to do for Mother’s Day this year was go out for NACHOS, so we did just that and then ate this Hazelnut Dacquoise for dessert.
  • I met up with Tasty G again, plus her friend Mel, at The Craft in Liberty Village for drunch (drunk brunch), and it was so good. I had a fried chicken BLT on a waffle and we all split a blueberry skillet pancake. I tried a blueberry blonde beer, which was amazing, and another one with watermelon. I love this place.
  • My 7 months pregnant friend Nicole came over for dinner to kick off the long weekend, and we had the first dinner of the year on my balcony. I made Smitten Kitchen’s Everyday Meatballs and Perfect Garlic Bread, and we had this vegan chocolate cake (sans frosting) for dessert. Not really a meal that screams summer, but it was so satisfying. Tangent alert: I had been eating vegetarian at home for almost two months before making this.
  • Also had the first barbecue dinner of the year at my parents on the long weekend: burgers, corn on the cob, and a kale salad made by me!
  • Meg and I went to dinner while our foodie friends were touring Chicago and I have three words for you: DORITOS. CHICKEN. FINGERS. Are these delicious morsels available at a trendy food truck or a hipster dive somewhere? Nope, they’re at Kelsey’s, and we’re not ashamed.

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

  • FORMATION WORLD TOUR!!! (But it has to be said, once you’ve been in the front row for a Beyonce concert, nothing can ever measure up #sorry #iaintsorry)
  • I finally finished Pride & Prejudice this month, after about four weeks of struggling through it (the writing from 1813 is no joke) because one of my favourite authors, Curtis Sittenfeld wrote a modern retelling of it called Eligible, which I proceeded to tear through in three days. It’s hands down my favourite book of 2016 so far. Curtis was at the Toronto Reference Library for a talk and I went to see her with my Book Club girls. She’s so smart and funny, I totally swooned over her.
  • It was so fun/stressful having the Raptors advance through to the second and third rounds of the NBA Playoffs this month, and I got to go to Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals with my friend Andrew. It was a blast, and they WON!
  • Summer Movie Season has officially begun and this month I saw: Captain America Civil War, Mother’s Day, Neighbours 2, X-Men: Apocalypse and The Nice Guys. Whew. June is pretty slow, and then thing’ll heat up again in July with Ghostbusters and Jason Bourne. Shout to my 6 months pregnant friend Alexis for booking all our summer movies in her calendar to keep us on track before she has this bebe!!

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Hazelnut Dacquoise

by byn on May 25, 2016

in Cakes, Cupcakes & Icing

Hazelnut Daquoise

A few weeks ago I found an old plastic file folder at home that was full of recipes torn out of magazines in the pre-Pinterest days. I don’t think I had opened it over a year, but dumped it out to find about 80% of the recipes were from the LCBO’s Food & Drink magazine. I have love for this publication, but think it falls into the aspirational category for me (i.e. I never actually make any of the things I tear out).

I did find a couple recipes I wanted to hang to though, and this Hazelnut Dacquoise (sounds so fancy!) is one of them. I knew my Mom would love this for her Mother’s Day treat, because she’s always asking for this Butterscotch Pecan Meringue Torte, and I don’t blame her, it’s one of my favourites too.

Close up

This was surprisingly simple to make, especially for a Food & Drink recipe! It’s three hazelnut meringues, stacked up with whipped ganaches (dark chocolate + white chocolate) and topped with whipped cream. It looks so pretty and we loved it.

Hazelnut Dacquoise

Source: Food & Drink Magazine, Autumn 2010

Ingredients

Meringues

4 egg whites, room temperature

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup sugar

1 cup toasted, skinned hazelnuts, ground to fine crumbs in a food processor

2 tsp cornstarch

White Chocolate Filling

4 oz white chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup whipping cream

1 tbsp butter, room temperature

Dark Chocolate Filling

4 oz dark chocolate, chopped

3/4 cup whipping cream

2 tbsp butter, room temperature

Garnish

1 cup whipping cream

2 tbsp sugar

Directions

  1. For meringues, preheat oven to 275°, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Draw two 11×3″ rectangles on one sheet, and another one on the second sheet, then flip over the parchment paper (so the side with the pencil/pen is facing down).
  2. In a large bowl, whip egg whites and salt until frothy. Slowly add the sugar while whipping the egg whites on medium speed until they’re thick and shiny, it should take about 5 minutes. Fold in the hazelnuts and cornstarch.
  3. Divide the egg white mixture equally between the three rectangles, and spread into the shapes with an offset spatula. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave the meringues in there until cool.
  4. For the white chocolate filling, place the chocolate and butter in a bowl. Heat the whipping cream in a microwave safe glass measuring cup for 45 seconds in the microwave. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and butter. Let sit for one minute, then whisk until smooth. Follow this exact same process for the dark chocolate filling. Cover both bowls with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
  5. Beat eat filling mixture on medium speed until thickened (it will look like whipped cream).
  6. Place one meringue layer on a serving platter or clean baking sheet, and top it with the dark chocolate filling, spreading it out with an offset spatula. Place another meringue on top, and top with the white chocolate filling, spreading that out. Place the final meringue on top (at this point you can cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight).
  7. For the garnish, whip the cream and sugar until soft peaks form. Add to a piping bag and pipe a cute design overtop. Add sprinkles for extra cute-ness!

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Strawberry Supreme Cake

It finally, FINALLY, feels like Spring around here, and I was so excited to have this Strawberry Supreme Cake on the Baked Sunday Mornings schedule this week. Let me break it down for you first, because there are a lot of different components of this cake:

  • Three layers of strawberry cake
  • Two different fillings: strawberry preserves + whipped cream with chopped fresh strawberries
  • Pink vanilla frosting

I started working on this last weekend, when I made a batch my favourite Skillet Strawberry Jam which I knew would be perfect in this. During the week, I made and froze the cake layers. Yesterday, all I had to do was the whipped cream filling and the frosting.

Strawberry Slice

Okay, so the frosting. This is one of the Baked Boys famous cooked frostings, which is very different from my usual go-to buttercream. I haven’t actually attempted one since this disaster back in 2012, but I wanted to give it another chance for this cake. This is how it goes: you cook a mixture of sugar, flour, milk and whipping cream until it bubbles and looks like pudding, then you beat it until it’s cool, and finally whip in an unholy amount of butter. I was nervous, but it turned out perfectly. It’s way more smooth and soft in consistency than the buttercream I usually make, which makes it perfect for icing a cake. Now I want to go back and try all the other ones!

Overall, this is just the prettiest summer cake ever. The recipe suggests tinting the frosting a very pale pink because it’s so elegant, and I totally agree. The only thing I wasn’t sure about is that my cake layers looked kind of gray, but they still tasted great, so I’m okay with it. The preserves and whipped cream fillings take this over the top.

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

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Minecraft Birthday Cake 2.0

The other day I blogged about the easy way to make a Minecraft Birthday Cake, which I made for my niece last summer. Last month, my nephew decided he also wanted a Minecraft cake for his birthday, but his ideas were a little more complex:

Blueprints

He drew these blueprints when we were out for lunch at Jack Astor’s, and I snapped a pic so I would remember what he wanted {insert the crying while laughing emoji}. You can see my annotations in purple, where I was trying to understand what each component was: grass, sand, water and dirt. I figured I would make the base as a cake, and the rest with rice krispie squares, like I did for his Wrecking Ball cake a couple of years ago. Here’s what I did:

  • Baked four 8×8″ square layers of cake, to be the base of the cake
  • Mixed up two 8×8″ pans of rice krispie squares which I basically then cut and shaped into the correct size blocks I needed
  • I made a double batch of My Favourite Buttercream and tinted the majority of it green for the base, reserving about 1 cup to die blue for the water layer and left about 1 cup plain for “glue” for the sand and dirt layers
  • For the sand, I spread icing on my rice krispie shape and pressed in graham cracker crumbs. I did the same for the dirt shape, using Oreo crumbs instead.
  • I stacked everything up very carefully, then used a small star tip and green icing to make the grass
  • My sister-in-law added little Minecraft guys, and Matthew’s vision was complete

Checkerboard Inside

Because I’m a glutton for punishment, I also decided to make the base of the cake as a Checkerboard Cake. Two of my layers were vanilla cake tinted green, and two were chocolate. It’s too hard to explain how to do this, so I’ll direct you to this video, which I followed exactly (except I used chocolate icing instead of ganache). The hardest part was just having the patience to do all the measuring and cutting, but I wouldn’t say it was that difficult to execute. I was the most excited of all to cut into the final cake and see what it looked like inside!

Matthew

Matthew’s previous birthday cakes:

6th (Lego cupcakes – not blogged – they were vanilla cupcakes with Lego block candy on top)

5th (Wrecking Ball Cake)

4th (Front-End Loader Cake)

3rd (Dumptruck Cake)

2nd (School Bus Cake…reigns supreme as most popular post on Planet Byn)

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Minecraft Cake 1.0

This post is a VERY belated documentation of my niece’s Minecraft Birthday Cake from last August. At the time I guess I thought it was really too simple to blog about, and didn’t look like much, but have since learned much more about the world of Minecraft cakes. I thought I would post about this easy version first, and later this week about the more complicated one I just made.

First of all, if you don’t know anything about Minecraft, I can’t actually help you. Go read Wikipedia or something. My basic knowledge is that it’s a video game, you build stuff, it’s pixel-ated and all of my nieces and nephews have loved it at some point or other.

So last summer my brother explained to me that WITHIN the Minecraft game, there is a birthday cake, so if I could make a cake of the Minecraft Cake (follow me?) my niece Charlotte would love it. For reference, this is what the cake looks like in Minecraft:

Minecraft Image

Many of the similar cakes I saw in my research were covered in fondant, but I’m against it, so here’s how I made this super simple version:

  • Baked up the best chocolate cake in two 8×8 pans (that’s a lie, I don’t have two 8×8 pans, so I just baked the layers one at a time)
  • Mixed up a half batch of this chocolate frosting to put between the layers (I don’t use Ovaltine, just sub in more cocoa)
  • Mixed up a full batch of My Favourite Buttercream, removed about a 1/2 cup (which I tinted red) and frosted the whole cake.
  • Added the red frosting to a piping bag with a small round tip and added the red squares.

Like I said, it was pretty straightforward, but the kids thought it was cool. This is definitely the path of least resistance when it comes to Minecraft baking!

HBD

Charlotte’s Previous Birthday Cakes:

7th (Balloon Bouquet Cupcakes)

6th (Castle Cake)

5th (Rainbow Cake)

4th (Blue’s Clues)

3rd (Big Greeny-Blue Cake)

2nd (Elmo)

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Derby Cookies

The Kentucky Derby has pretty much zero significance in my life. I think I watched it once, but it didn’t involve a big floppy hat or a mint julep which, in my opinion, are the two most appealing parts of this holiday.

For Baked Sunday Mornings this week, the Baked Boys are running with the bourbon theme (the booze in a mint julep) and whipping up these Derby Cookies. These are soft, boozy, nutty, melt-in-your-mouth dreams!

So many Cookies

I did make one substitution for these, which was using pecans instead of walnuts. I legitimately have not eaten or purchased a walnut in about two years. My old cubicle neighbour had a severe walnut allergy, so I just got out of the habit of baking with them (or even buying them). Once you toast and grind up your nut of choice, it gets mixed with butter, bourbon, vanilla, flour and salt. That’s it! No eggs, no leaveners. I had to check the recipe a few times to make sure that was right.

Bourbon Sugar

Before the cookies get baked, they get rolled in sugar for a crunchy coating. But not just any sugar! BOURBON VANILLA SUGAR!! I used raw turbinado sugar, added it to a jar, drizzled on the bourbon and stuck in a split vanilla bean.  I did this last weekend because it needs to sit for week to absorb all the flavours. It gives the cookies an out-of-this-world sweet crunch, and I loved it. There is also an optional step to roll/sprinkle the cookies with icing sugar, but I just left that out.

Bourbon Vanilla Sugar

I think I have my first Christmas cookie for 2016!

You can find the recipe here!

More Baked Sunday Mornings here!

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April on Planet Byn {2016}

by byn on April 30, 2016

in Monthly Recaps

Sweet Jesus

I feel like April is usually a pretty neutral month where nothing much happens, but this month it was long and weird and emotional. We had lay-offs at my work, a family friend passed away and Beyonce’s new album turned out to be all about Jay Z cheating on her. Here’s what else went down:
  • I spent the first week of April visiting my parents in Florida, and it was amazing as always. I spent my time as follows: at Target, watching Cooking Channel (how do Tiffani Thiessen and Tia Mowry both have shows?!), reading books (more below on that), eating Chobani Flips and drinking La Croix, two things I can’t find here. My suitcase was also legitimately full of jars of Jif to bring home.
  • My friend Nicole and I finally went to Sweet Jesus to try their insane ice cream cones (pictured above). We waited about half an hour in line, in our winter coats, so I don’t even want to know what the line-up situation is like when the weather finally warms up. We got two cones: Campfire S’mores (vanilla soft serve, marshmallow sauce, chocolate sauce, graham cracker crumbs, and mini marshmallows) and Bangin’ Brownie (chocolate soft serve, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, brownie bits and chocolate cookie crumble). It’s a total hot mess trying to eat off the actual cone, so you can also get a cup to flip it into for easy snacking. We will be going back monthly until Nicole’s baby arrives 😉
  • Kristine’s sister had her baby and I mixed her up some of My Favourite Banana Muffins, and they were a hit! Misfit Aunts need treats too, so I made Kristine some sugar cookies shaped like Homer’s Donut (pic on my Insta if you want to see).
  • Libby invited me to be her +1 at Fonda Lola’s launch of their lunch menu. We got to try four different types of tortas, and the pork shoulder with pickled red onion was my fave. Churros with whipped caramelized cajeta for dessert!
  • Can you believe I went back to Cactus Club Café again? My friend Jenn and I went and had ALL THE APPS, plus a salad for balance (ha). We had a few leftovers and they pack it up for you in your own reuseable tote to take home! So classy. You’re winning me over CCC!
  • It was my nephew’s birthday and I made him a pretty sick Minecraft Cake! Post to come!
 Other non-foodie things I was obsessed with this month:
  • LEMONADE. Can’t even put my thoughts and feelings into words here. The Formation Tour is in Toronto on May 25th and obviously I’ll be there.
  • I read a bunch of books in Florida and have two recommendations. First, The Nest, which you’ve probably seen everywhere. I loved this story about a dysfunctional group of siblings fighting over their inheritance. Second, The Name Therapist. As a longtime reader of Duana’s Name Nerd column on Lainey Gossip, I knew I would love this.
  • The Raptors are in the playoffs!!!

Flashback!

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