Monthly Archives: September 2010

And the Winner Is…


Katie from Band-Aids and Baking you are the winner! Lucky number eleven! You’ve won yourself a box full of Nestlé Toll House goodies! I’m sure you’ll put them to good use.

Please email me at hotpolkadot (at) live (dot) com to give me your mailing address and I’ll ship you the Nestlé Toll House Back to School Kit right away!

Congrats!

Project Food Blog #2: Voting Opened!

Hi folks! I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciated your votes for my first Project Food Blog challenge. Because of all of you I advanced to the next round! I couldn’t be happier!

It’s voting time again for the second challenge. It all depends on you now. I would be so grateful if you could vote for my second entry to Project Food Blog.

If you’re not already a member of Foodbuzz all you have to do is…

     

1.
Head on over to foodbuzz.com and click on “Join Foodbuzz” at the top.
     

2.
Create an account with a username, email and password. Painless right?
     

3.
Then go here and vote for me by clicking that purdy little heart above my banner.

Voting for this challenge will be open from Monday, September 27th until Thursday, September 30th. You only get to vote for me once, but if one vote just doesn’t feel like enough then you could go a step further and “like” my entry, for those of you on Facebook, and even “tweet” about it, for those of you on Twitter. Those buttons are right next to the little heart.

To keep up to date with my future entries to Project Food Blog and my goings on at Foodbuzz then become my friend. We can be BFFs. Or you can check out my official contestant profile here.

I really appreciate your support! Thank you all!

Project Food Blog #2: The Classics.

“Ready to tackle a classic dish from another culture? Pick an ethnic classic that is outside your comfort zone or are not as familiar with. You should include how you arrived at this decision in your post. Do your research then try to pull off successfully creating this challenge. Try to keep the dish as authentic as the real deal, and document your experience through a compelling post.”

I represent a diverse combination of cultures from around the world. On my dad’s side there’s Irish, Scottish and possibly a little Native Canadian mixed in there somewhere, but we’re not too sure. On my mom’s side there’s Dutch and Indonesian.

I could have chosen to make any classic dish from any culture, but that wouldn’t be as meaningful. Sure it would probably be delicious and I’d learn a lot about it, but I’d prefer to learn a bit about my own culture and, in turn, learn something about myself.

I’m pretty familiar with Scottish, Irish and Dutch food so I opted for something a little outside my comfort zone and also very challenging. Though I am part Indonesian I’ve never tried any Indonesian desserts like this Kue Lapis Legit (Indonesian) a.k.a. Spekkoek (Dutch) a.k.a. Thousand Layer Cake.

Through my research I found out that this cake was born out of the colonial period in Indonesia when Dutch settlers were melding with the native people. Both cultures influenced each other and out of the diverse sharing of traditions came this cake. Dutch baking methods collided with Indonesian spices.

The symbolism of the layers is poetic. Two cultures, both unique and beautiful, both contributing equally to make something sweet. Everyone has their layers and we would be lucky if they were made of sugar and spice and everything nice.

I like to picture my beautiful Indonesian great great grandmother baking this cake with her loving Dutch husband. It’s a sweltering morning on the island of Sumatra and the lazy breeze sends the scent of this new cake whirling through the settlement past banana trees and around mischievous monkeys. She hums a curious tune to herself as she adds the final layer to the cake while he puts another log in the oven.



Kue Lapis Legit (Thousand Layer Cake)

Source: Adapted from The Exotic Kitchens of Indonesia by Copeland Marks’ Thousand Layer Cake.

2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 vanilla beans, halved and seeded
20 eggs, separated
2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup flour
2 tsp mace
1/2 tsp ground cloves
4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Note: I doubled the measurements in order for it to fit nicely in a 9 inch spring form pan. If you’d prefer a smaller cake then half this recipe fits snugly in a 9 inch loaf pan.

Printer-Friendly Version

Preheat the oven to broiler and position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9 inch round spring form pan then set it aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the butter and vanilla seeds until it’s smooth.

In a separate bowl with an electric mixer beat together the egg yolks and half the powdered sugar until it’s light and fluffy, about 5 minutes on high speed.

In yet another bowl (yes I know the dishes are piling up but, trust me, it’s worth it) with an electric mixer beat the egg whites and the remaining powdered sugar until stiff peaks form.

Add the butter mixture to the egg yolks while mixing on low speed. Add the flour next and stir it until it’s all combined. Add the egg white mixture and carefully fold it in.

Divide the batter evenly between 2 bowls and mix in the mace, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom to just one bowl.

Pour a layer of spice batter into the prepared spring form pan about 1/8 of an inch thick and smooth it out with a rubber spatula until it’s even and level. Bake it under the broiler for 1 – 2 minutes until it’s just set and barely browned, but not completely baked. Next layer the vanilla batter the same way and bake it under the broiler for the same time. Keep alternating the layers this way until you’re out of batter.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and bake your completed cake for about 15 – 20 minutes. This is to ensure the cake is baked through. Let it cool in the pan for 10 – 15 minutes then remove the outer ring and let it cool completely on the bottom plate of the pan. Flip it upside down and transfer the cake to a cake plate.

Candied Orange Slices

Source: Food and Wine’s Candied Orange Slices.

1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 orange, sliced 1/4 inch thick

Note: The original Kue Lapis Legit recipe recommended garnishing the finished cake with candied fruit, but I thought I’d go one step further and make my own.

Line a baking sheet with wax paper and set it aside.

In a medium frying pan combine the water and sugar then bring it to a boil. Add the orange slices and cook them over medium heat, turning them occasionally until the liquid is reduced to a thin liquid and the slices are translucent, about 20 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium low and let them simmer for another 10 minutes or until the syrup is thick and the slices are tender but still intact.

Transfer the slices to the prepared baking sheet and let them cool completely. Reserve the syrup for later.

Orange Glaze

1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp orange juice
Reserved orange syrup

In a small bowl mix together the powdered sugar, orange juice and leftover syrup until there are no more lumps. Add more sugar or orange juice to get your desired consistency. Pour it over the cooled cake until the edges drip slightly. Curl and shape the candied orange slices into ribbons then arrange them as you like on the glazed cake. Enjoy!

Giveaway: Bake Up Memories With Nestlé Toll House!


Hey guess what?

I’ve got another giveaway for you! Yay! We love free things!

The kind folks at Nestlé Toll House sent me two of these awesome Back To School Kits the other day and, wouldn’t you know, one is for me and the other is for you!

It’s filled with loads of fun stuff like Chocolate Mini Toppers, matching aprons for you and your little one, a handful of free coupons for other Nestlé goodies, recipe cards to make some super yummy things and even some adorable sticky notes to stash in lunch bags to surprise your little ones.

It’s all for you!

The Back To School Kit is all about reconnecting with your family with a batch of cookies or while decorating some cupcakes. Isn’t that precious? Some of my fondest memories take place in the kitchen and Nestlé Toll House wants to help you make your own.



How to Enter:

     1. Leave a comment here telling me a fond memory of yours that takes place in the kitchen. It could be baking cookies          with your mom back when you were knee high or even rolling out dough in a cloud of flour with your own children.          I’d love to know!
     2. Follow me on Twitter, tweet this giveaway (Awesome giveaway! RT @Hot_Polka_Dot Bake up memories with Nestle          Toll House! http://bit.ly/a1gtlp) and leave another comment here telling me you’ve done so.
     3. Like me on Facebook and leave even another comment here telling me you’ve done so.
     4. Become my friend on Foodbuzz and leave yet another comment here telling me you’ve done so.

Contest Details:

     – Only a maximum of four entries per person will be permitted in the ways I’ve designated above.
     – Anyone in the world is welcome to enter.
     – Upon winning please email me at hotpolkadot (at) live (dot) com to claim your prize and give me your mailing address        to receive your Nestlé goodies.
     – All emails and addresses will be kept confidential.

Contest Deadline:

The contest will be open through the weekend and be closed on Tuesday September the 28th at 9pm MST. I will close the comments at this time so make sure to get your entries in soon! The winner will be chosen at random and announced Wednesday morning. Make sure to get in as many extra entries you can for a better chance to win!

The giveaway is now closed. Thank you to all who entered! See who won here.

(Disclaimer: I was sent two Nestlé Toll House Back To School Kits free of charge. One to use myself and one meant to giveaway. I was not compensated in any other way by Nestlé Toll House. The opinions expressed here are my own and based purely on my experience with the products.)

The Cupboard Was Bare.

Maybe I ran out of ideas.

Maybe I neglected to plan anything this week.

Maybe I’m a genius…

…Or maybe I just stood gape-mouthed in front of the open refrigerator until it hit me.

A peanut butter and jam sandwich in cookie form. Could there be anything better? That would be a no.

I think my favourite recipes are the kind you can just whip up using leftover things you have laying around in the back of your fridge or pantry. I mean everyone has peanut butter and jam somewhere in their house right? You better. Otherwise our friendship is on shaky ground.

One egg? No problem. A bit of butter? That’s cool. Some flour? Sure thing. Oodles of sugar? Yes please.

Slap it all together and you have yourself 2 dozen pretty simple but dang impressive cookies. When you bite into one you’ll not only be surprised there’s jam shoved in there, but you’ll also be surprised you even had the ingredients to make cookies. Everybody likes surprises.

Peanut Butter and Jam Surprise Cookies
Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Source: My imagination

1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup strawberry jam

Printer-Friendly Version

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the butter, sugars, egg and peanut butter. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and combine it well. Refrigerate the dough for about 30 – 60 minutes to make it easy to form into balls.

Scoop a heaping tbsp of dough, form it into a ball then press it into a flat disc between your palms for each cookie. Spoon about a tsp of jam into the center of the disc then fold the edges in around the jam making sure to seal it in by pinching together any openings. Gently smooth and pat down out any edges while forming the cookie back into a ball. Place them evenly spaced apart on the prepared baking sheet with only 9 on each to give them enough room to spread out.

Bake them for about 12 minutes. When you take them out of the oven let them rest on the baking sheet for 1 or 2 minutes then transfer them to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Project Food Blog #1: Voting Opened!

Remember when I told you all about Project Food Blog? Remember my first challenge entry? I talked all about how I like to play with my food and even admitted that I used to jump down the stairs and hope to fly like Peter Pan. Yeah, your memory is officially jogged.

Well voting has just opened. That’s right folks! If you like me and you think I deserve to advance to the next round then I need your help!

It’s real simple. For serious. I wouldn’t lie to you.

If you’re not already a member of Foodbuzz all you have to do is…

     

1.
Head on over to foodbuzz.com and click on “Join Foodbuzz” at the top.
     

2.
Create an account with a username, email and password. Painless right?
     

3.
Then go here and vote for me by clicking that purdy little heart above my banner.

Voting for this challenge will be open from Monday, September 20th until Thursday, September 23rd. You only get to vote for me once, but if one vote just doesn’t feel like enough then you could go a step further and “like” my entry, for those of you on Facebook, and even “tweet” about it, for those of you on Twitter. Those buttons are right next to the little heart.

To keep up to date with my future entries to Project Food Blog and my goings on at Foodbuzz then become my friend. I don’t bite. Promise. Or you can check out my official contestant profile here.

Your help means so much to me! Thank you all!

Project Food Blog #1: Ready, Set, Blog!

“For the very first Project Food Blog Challenge, we’re asking you to create a blog post that defines you as a food blogger and makes it clear why you think you have what it takes to be the next food blog star. Consider what makes your blog unique and sets you apart from other food blog brands: is it your foolproof recipes, your mouthwatering photos, or your perspective on family meals? Write a post that comes from the heart and is true to you and your blog.”

The kitchen is my playground.

In many ways I am like a child still struggling to reach the counter on her tip toes or hungrily licking the beaters clean of icing. The kitchen still holds that sense of child-like wonder for me. It’s a place where magic is made. Souffles rise, egg whites transform into candy and mousse sets like a cloud.

I don’t consider myself the sort of person who takes chances. In fact, I’m very cautious by nature and I think things through. The kitchen is the one place where I take risks and experiment. When I step into the kitchen I become that child who still believes in faeries and lacks any reason for fear or doubt.

Without anything holding me back I can accomplish things I never would have thought possible like being able to fly with the birds or breathe underwater. Not all of my experiments are a success. Sometimes my cheesecakes crack. Sometimes my custard doesn’t set. Sometimes my tarts don’t turn out. I discovered long ago that I couldn’t fly, but that didn’t stop me from jumping down the stairs with nothing but my happy thought. I’m not going to hide that from you. I learn from my mistakes and I move forward with the knowledge that I’ve gained.

Ever since I was a child I’ve been very creative and artistic. I’ve always strove to create art in all that I do. What started as drawing stick figures and beaming suns in the sand as a toddler has transformed into cupcakes, cookies and brownies. Instead of a paintbrush or a putty knife I choose a whisk and a pastry bag as my preferred artistic tools. I sculpt with cake. I paint with buttercream. I print with peaches. How often do they let you touch the artwork in a gallery let alone eat it?

Hot Polka Dot is all about playing with your food. Like the recipes that I make it’s sweet, cute, daring, creative and, above all, whimsical. I show people that it’s alright to approach food with the same childish innocence that you’d apply to a sand castle or a snow ball fight.


And the Winner Is…


Rachel from A Cupcake for Moose, you are the proud new owner of an adorable polka dot Anthropologie apron and the lucky winner of the $20 Bake It Pretty gift certificate! Yay you! I’m so jealous!

Please email me at hotpolkadot (at) live (dot) com to give me your mailing address and I’ll ship you the apron right away. I’ll also send you the code for the Bake It Pretty gift certificate to be used as you wish. Maybe you can bake those Cherry Almond Cupcakes!

Congrats!

Project Food Blog: The Details

In the time to come you will be reading a lot here about Project Food Blog. I just thought I’d give you a heads up and introduce you to this exciting contest.

Project Food Blog is the first ever interactive competition launched by the lovely people at Foodbuzz where over 1,800 food bloggers from around the world compete to become the next food blog star.

That’s all well and good, but what does it all mean, you ask? It means that yours truly has, against her better judgement and dwindling sanity, entered in a serious competition to win $10,000 and a featured spot on Foodbuzz for a year. Over the next 12 weeks I hope to stick it out with some very talented food bloggers in 10 challenges meant to test our skills as a blogger, photographer, writer and foodie.

There will be food.

There will be stress.

There will be a winner.

I hope it’s me!

I will be posting the details of my first challenge tomorrow so please check it out and let me know what you think. You can view more information about Project Food Blog on Foodbuzz as well as take a look at my contestant profile. If you’d like to support me in this endeavour you can create a Foodbuzz account, add me as a friend and vote for me when the voting opens. I will be posting a reminder for you each time this starts.

Your help means a lot to me. Wish me luck!

PS: The giveaway is closing tonight! Get your entries in quick to win a Bake It Pretty gift card and polka dot Anthropologie apron.

How Do You Like Them Apples?




You might have noticed recently that I enlarged all the photos on my blog. In celebration of this very visual achievement I decided to do a very visual post.

These are the prettiest dang apples I’ve ever laid eyes on and they grew in my very own front yard! They range in size from small apricots to small McIntosh apples. I made Crab Apple Crisp with them and it was the tastiest apple crisp I’ve ever eaten.

If you lack a Crab Apple tree of your own or legal access to one I suggest you don a black mask straight away and shake down your neighbours tree.

Ah hem…

What I meant to say was you can use any sort of apples in place of crab apples.

I’ll shut up now and let you enjoy the pretty pictures.



Crab Apple Crisp

Makes about 6 servings.

Source: Adapted from my family recipe.

8 medium crab apples, peeled and sliced
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup salted butter
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon

Printer-Friendly Version

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the center. Butter a 8 x 8 inch baking dish and set it aside.

In a medium bowl combine the apple slices and lemon juice then mix in the cinnamon and sugar. Arrange the apples in the bottom of your prepared baking dish until they reach about halfway up the side.

In a small sauce pan on low heat melt the butter. Once it’s melted remove it from the heat and lightly mix in the oats, flour, brown sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon. Lightly and evenly sprinkle the crisp layer over the apples.

Bake it for about 30 minutes or until it’s crispy and bubbly. Allow it to cool for about 5 – 10 minutes then scoop it out onto serving plates and top with whipped cream or ice cream. Enjoy!


PS: Don’t forget about the awesome giveaway! Get your entries in before Tuesday night!