Sunday, July 17, 2011

What I've Been Up To

I would first and foremost like to apologize for my long hiatus which I am about to break.  A lot has gone on during my absence that I am very excited to share:

Say hello to Nikita Victoria Belykh, my baby sister, born June 09, 2011. ! Ever since she came into our family, life had not been the same.  She is truly the most precious and innocent little gift.

Right after exams, I was lucky enough to have my parents fulfill my childhood dream to visit Paris !!! I've been planning for months for this trip and surely had the time of my life once my dad and I arrived.  And oh my god, the food was simply heavenly.   My dad and I had determined the smell by which we define Paris - an overwhelmingly mindsweepingly amazing mix of cigarette smoke, Arabica coffee, and yeast risen breads and pastries from the multitude of boulangeries entering your nostrils early in the morning. Crusty ficelles and adorable pains sucrés dans la vitrine, people digging into their charming salades composés with their perfectly poached eggs on top, tantilizing baguettes farcies layed out like eyecandy on every block, the whip of galettes being prepared before your very own eyes... Ah, c'était une expérience inoubliable

I came back to see the world in different colours, bearing the wish that I will one day live in Paris and bake with their irresistable high-quality Echiré butter, have fresh, light, featherweight croissants every morning, stock up on salted butter caramels and read in the comfort of the Luxembourg gardens on my free afternoons with one--no, two, PH's macarons in hand.  Yes, yes, that is how I envision my ideal future.

I have done a lot of baking since I had returned, some being inspirations from France while other creations were meant for accompaniment to celebrations such as Nikita's first birthday.  I baked a simple Genoise Cake, layered it between Whipped cream frosting and layered on Buttercream Frosting on the sides and top of the cake. As for the mini madeleines, here is the simple, fail-proof recipe for those that are interested:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Carb Fix (& Pre-Easter Hype!)

Last minutes Easter preparations are happening as I type this.  Everyone seems to be hyped for tomorrow - me, especially, as I have been fasting for nearly two months and, boy, do I miss low-fat yogurt mornings and occasional buttery toast !  My parents and I decorated eggs on Thursday, I baked off a Kulich this morning, and our beautiful pistachio Russian Pasxa is sitting in the refrigerator setting.  Meanwhile, I am serving them carbs, carbs, carbs, perhaps to reflect my earning for these delicious baked goods. 

My mom, who is close to her due date for the baby, is suggesting I bake more whole-grain goods as she doesn't want to gain any more weight, and is attempting to make healthier choices for the next two months.  So, although I'm continuing to whip up high-carb breads and muffins, you will find that most of them contain whole wheat flour, and the muffins I am about to share with you are only 100 calories each, quite wonderful for those on a diet as well !  Only problem is, they don't rise quite as high as regular muffins, due to the reduced fats.  But nonetheless, they're a great shameless treat to have at the table : )

You'll notice that there is a book present in the last shot -- it is the Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, a great read to have for any bread-lover.  It inspired me to experiment with ingredients and develop my own sandwich bread recipe that I may share soon on this blog : )  It feels liberating to start to move away from recipes and develop your own !

In case I don't get another chance to wish you one, Happy Easter dear readers! If Easter is celebrated in your household and you have a second to spare, I'd really love to hear about what you prepare and how you spend this holiday : )

Thursday, April 7, 2011


These past few weeks have been hectic, with various assignment deadlines and pressure to find a summer job.  I had turned 16 last week, which means I am legally capable of taking the G1 driving test !  I hope to move through all the necessary procedures in order to be able to operate a car in no time : )

I've been meaning to make these lovely traditional Russian walnut-shaped cookies for quite some time.  It was quite a bit of work assembling them, but definitely worth the effort !  The madeleine cookies are chewable, while the cream sandwiched in between is rich, sweet, and luscious.  I brought some of these treats to school (as my parents are not always reliable testers) and asked a great friend of mine, Cindy, to taste them. It seemed that she had thoroughly enjoyed them, and she had said that they reminded her of cookies from her childhood.  I can't wait to make these again soon - this time after the end of the Lenten fast so that I could taste them ! ; )

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Crazy About Oats

First and foremost, I would like to apologize for my absense this past week and a half; I had a lot of schoolwork to finish up before my March Break started, and, in addition to that, I had started the Lenten fast which made baking quite difficult. Now that I am in the oil-free vegan regime, though, the smells of the treats I'm about to share with you don't lure me into taking a bite.  Instead, I hand over the job of taste-tasting, and eating, to my parents, who don't seem to mind the multitude of oats in our baked goods this week.

Over the course of this past week, I have been eating a lot of oatmeal.  The version you see in photo was topped off with dried figs, pecans, and blackberries.  (Mmm). Both of the recipes for the scones and the bars are not original, but there are several modifications that I had made to both. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

What a Knit Kit it Was

There are few things more wonderful than a hand-knit dress and a kitchen smelling of fresh basil on a Sunday afternoon.  The day before the start of a busy week is very important, as it is the last chance for everyone to relax and spend time together as a family.  This weekend my mom had been busy knitting a dress for my baby sister, who is on the way, and due in June.  I remember wearing my mom's knitted clothes when I was younger, and surprising as it may sound, they were never of the type that were embarassing to wear in public.  (I'll post a photo of the dress once my mom is finished with it).

Inspired by my mom's creativity and patience, I decided to collaborate both of our activities and do a knitting theme today.  I made panfried noodles with shrimp, kalamata olives and basil that reminded me of yarn, and baked off several trays of sugar cookies shaped like buttons.  After all, if I'm posting once a week, so why not do something fun and creative ?  I wish you all the most colourful, exciting week ! : )

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Little Oven Delights

I have a very simple recipe to share with you readers this week : )  It's from a cookbook my mom had bought at a warehouse this summer.  She loooves savory baking, and, unlike me, she doesn't really seem to have a sweet tooth. These are great with tea, coffee, and milk, though, though they contain no sugar.  I made them about three times this week ! The best thing about this is that only whole-wheat flour is used, and you get lots of protein from the seeds : )

And, to all of you that did something special this week, Happy Belated Valentine's Day ! : )

I would also like to thank Cafe Johnsonia for being so supportive and responsive these past few weeks !  It's great to have some wonderful inspiration and receive feedback as a new blogger; her page is really great and every one of her creations is so lovely and unconventional.  If you're reading this, I would definitely click that link and have a look at what she's making : )

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Living Green

This week I had realized that I, as much as I want to, can't post to this blog on weekdays.  From the time I leave from school to the time I come back, I miss the best lighting conditions for photographs - and seeing as I don't have any lighting eqipment in the house and rely heavily on natural light, this is a big problem.  So please bear with my weekly posting - I hope that this problem will be resolved in the summertime when there seems to be infinite daylight.

Today I had decided to make use of the brussel sprouts in the fridge by preparing a super easy but delightful salad.  What I loved most about it was not it's falvour - but the medley of textures.  The brussel sprouts were chewy, the pecans crunchy, and the arugula firm and peppery in taste - quite lovely if you ask me. : )  I dressed it with a fig balsamic vinagraitte and it paired well with all these greens. My mom whipped up some cute hors d'ouerves before we sat down for our Sunday supper - these are Paris toasts with brie and a port, pecan, and cranberry compote.

Now that I think about it, I was quite an abormal kid growing up.  I've always loved beef liver, and never refused to eat my brussel sprouts - how strange, considering these two ingredients are every kid's nightmare.

I had also decided to bake off a foccacia farcita this morning.  This is the second time I made it this week - my gosh, I can't describe to you how quickly homemade bread dissapears in our household.  There's only 3 1/2 of us (my mom is pregnant), and a giant loaf like the one below gets finished in an evening ! Crazy, isn't it ?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Autumn Nostalgia

Soup is something that has always been in the household.  We may not always have a main course prepared, but there is always soup in the fridge, and bread in the pantry.  Inspired by the beautiful colours of autumn and my nostalgia for warmer weather, I prepared this Roasted Autumn Vegetable Soup, and Classic French Bread to start off the weekend.

When it comes to soup, I never use or follow formally written recipes, or measure/weigh any of the ingredients.  After all, you can't go wrong with throwing a bunch of beautiful, fresh ingredients into a pot ! 

 In case you aren't familiar with how to oven roast these vegetables:
To prepare the squash for roasting, I cut it in half, removed the seeds, oiled it generously and placed it in, threw in a few herbs (thyme & rosemary) and put it in a 375°F (190°C) oven for about 50 minutes or so.  I then wrapped my carrots and parsnips in foil and roasted them in a separate pan for 50 minutes, at the same temperature as the squash.

Because there's always lots of room for improvisation when you're preparing soup, I'll keep the proportions simple to remember, and the recipe quite brief.  Enjoy your weekend, readers !

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Put the Crunch In It


Today we had a snow day here in Toronto, and that meant that I was excused from school - a rare occasion I couldn't not take advantage of. ; ) In the morning I flipped open my recipe organizer to find these caramel crunch bars from Dorie Greenspan.

Because we had little dessert left in our house, I took the oportunity to bake these - but tweaked the recipe a little to suit my mom's craving for nuts.  Since there was already so much chocolate required and we had no toffee in the house, I used nuts to top off these Crunchy Caramel Bars, renamed Crunchy Hazelnut Bars. 

I was surprised at how quickly the chocolate melted and set, and how unfragile they were when cut.  In other words, these were perfection.  Enjoy.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Almond Orange Rosemary Biscotti

It just wouldn't feel right to start a new blog without a proper introduction. : )   To anyone who's reading this, though there are very few (if any) of you out there, I'm Mary and I am 15 years old.  I'm an aspiring chef, and a photography fan (my flickr account can be found here).  A friend of mine suggested I start a food blog and post photos and recipes of my weekly culinary creations, so here I am, sharing with you a favourite of mine: biscotti.  

Biscotti is one of the few things I make every week - normally on a Monday, or Tuesday.  Though I use various nuts and dried fruits, my secret ingredients are rosemary and orange zest.  I guess it's because they are two very homey, familiar flavours to me, and they taste great in combination with the sweetness or the biscotti.  Oh, and, I'm sorry to rant, but I'm sure you foodies out there will understand what I mean - I get very irritated when I see a biscotti recipe with butter in the ingredient recipe.  The biscotti that is served at Starbucks is merely an americanized version of the traditional italian classic.  A traditional biscotti must be firm, hard, and strong enough to dip into coffee or tea - not cakey,  fragile and overly sweet.

This recipe is one that I have come up with after trying and combining various versions of biscotti recipes in the past week after week.