Sunday, January 31, 2010


Happy Blogiversary! Coco Bean the Blog is One full year old!

Baked Asian Spiced Chicken Drumsticks

To celebrate Ian and I made the same dinner we had one year ago, enjoyed the company of some blogging friends, and watched the much anticipated Canadian Michael Smith vs. Bobby Flay Iron Chef event.

Baked Asian Spiced Chicken Drumsticks

Looking forward, Ian and I spent some time jotting down a list of 100 things we would like to cook over the next year. I was hoping to get more into bread baking and learning the basics of some dishes, like how to make a really good roast chicken, or simply try my hand at making butter.

Thank you to all the wonderful people we have met over the year, You have all made it an extremely memorable one and we are looking forward to the next!

100 Dishes for Coco Bean

Focaccia bread
English muffins
No-Knead bread
Sour dough bread
Cornbread in a skillet
Irish Soda bread
Pita bread
Bread pudding
Orangette’s Banana Bread - Completed

Shrimp bisque
Cream of mushroom soup
French onion soup
Tom Yum Soup
Chestnut Soup


Scalloped potatoes
Fennel Salad
Singaporean Slaw Salad with Salted Apricot Dressing‏
Stuffed cabbage
Spaghetti squash
Baked beans
Fettuccine Alfredo

Preserves and dips
Caramel sauce
Dolce de léché
Apple sauce

Fresh mozzarella
Goat Cheese

Croque Monsieur/Madame
Buttermilk Scones

Moules Mariniere
Seared tuna

Chicken pot pie
Beef Bourgeon
Chicken parmesan
Roasted Duck
Red curry chicken
Braised Short Ribs
Veal Liver
Coq au Vin
Roast chicken
Beef Wellington
Quiche from Tartine

Decorate Cookies
Gingerbread house
Lemon Squares from Tartine
Profiteroles & Éclairs & Gougers
Home made marshmallows
Pots de Crème

Cakes, Pies, & Tarts
Angel food cake
Carrot cake
Chocolate Friands
Chocolate Lava Cake
Black Forest Cake
Lemon meringue pie
Key lime pie
Pumpkin pie
Tiramisu + Homemade Lady Fingers
New York cheesecake
Flourless Chocolate cake
Boston Cream Pie
Cake pops
Mixed Berry Shortcake
Fruit Galettes
Portuguese custard tarts
Shaker lemon pie
Chiffon Cake
Banana cream pie
Tarte Tatin
Fruit tart with pastry cream
Sugar pie

Black and Whites
Snicker doodles
French Macrons

Recently Finished
Gingerbread cookies
Steamed Pudding
Linzer Cookies
Scottish Shortbread
Frangipane Tart
Crème Brulee
Nanaimo bars
Homemade onion rings
Whoopee Pies
Salt crusted fish

Recently Finished Redo’s
Yorkshire pudding
Carbonara Sauce
Crab legs
Homemade pasta
Pecan pie
Pecan pie

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo bars are part of the great Canadian experience; both Ian and I grew up with this classic snack. Here in Canada they can be found in every cafeteria, buffet, snack bar, hockey rink, school event, children’s party… well pretty much everywhere, and over the years we have both eaten our fair share of the good, the bad, and the ugly (bars that is).

Even though these bars are so prevalent in our chilly Canadian diet, it never dawned on me to try to make them. I guess there has always been a constant supply of them that there was no reason to try.

Boy was I happy I did. I halved the amount of coconut and added a cup of bing cherries to the bottom layer. These had to be the best Nanaimo bars that I have ever had, Ian and my roommate Adam agree. Adam agreed with them so much that he set up most of the props for the photos of the Nanaimo bars just so that he could get at them faster! They were a hit!

Nanaimo Bars

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and

Nanaimo Bars

Nanaimo Bar Recipe

Bottom Layer
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
5 tbsp. cocoa
1 egg beaten
3/4 cups graham wafer crumbs
1/2 cup Oreo crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1/2 cup coconut
1 cup chopped cherries

Second Layer
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. and 2 Tsp. cream
2 Tbsp. vanilla custard powder
2 cups icing sugar

Third Layer
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate (1 oz. each)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. cocoa powder

First layer
Melt first 3 ingredients in top of double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, coconut, and nuts. Press firmly into an ungreased 8" x 8" pan. Cool for half an hour.

Second layer
Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light. Spread over bottom layer. Cool for an hour.

Third layer
Melt chocolate and butter overlow heat. Cool. Once cool, but still liquid, pour over second layer and chill in refrigerator. Cool overnight before slicing or else chocolate will crack.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Turkey noodle soup

Turkey Noodle Soup

Dont you love soup? It doesnt have to be an entree, it can very easily be turned into a delicious meal. I decided to take some of the leftovers I have from the holiday season and give them a second life rather than let them go to waste. What to do when you have leftover turkey? Why not soup!

Turkey noodle soup

6 cups of Chiken broth
Bouquet of fresh Thyme, Rosemary and Sage
2 Celery Stalks, chopped
2 Carrots, cut into 1/4 in slices
1 1/2 cups of small torn up leftover turkey
1 cup of your favorite pasta (egg noodle works great)
Bread rolls
Salt & Pepper to taste

-In a large pot, add broth and herb bouquet,bring the broth to a near boil, and lower the heat so that the broth is at a gentle simmer, and allow to infuse for approx 1o minutes. Remove bouquet, and strain to remove bits of herbs if desired, though simply removing the big bits works for me.
-Add in veggies, and cook until the carrots are cooked through (a fork should easily pass through one), though still firm.
-In a seperate pot, bring some water with a pinch of salt to a boil, and add pasta. Once cooked, strain and add to the broth.
Serve with finely chopped flat leaf parsley sprinkled on top or and a nice bread roll

Winter is for Soup

Winter Walk

I love winter, its my favorite season. Winter means cold walks, warm sweaters, hot chocolate, skating, hockey, I can go on and on. One of my favourite things about winter is a good old blowing snowstorm, there is something about them that reminds me of being a little kid and staring out of windows during thunderstorms in the late summer.

Winter Walk

With this in mind, when I woke up this morning I was very excited to see several inches of fresh snow. I decided to grab a camera and take the 30 or so minute walk over to my local grocery store, snap a few pictures and get a few odds and ends to make some soup. What could be better than a nice, hot bowl of soup after a cold walk.

Winter Walk

Enter problem #1 - Ive never made a homemade soup (at least a real one).
Solution? - Using some simple ingredients, including some leftovers, cobble together
a basic soup and go from there. Oh, and read Christie's book about soup.
Yeah, that would help.

So, back on track to the soup. This time last year, I watched Christies brother Eric cook a beautiful pot of broth. This pot of broth simmered away for quite some time, and when it was ready to eat, everyone excitedly got together and ate a soup I had never seen before. The result was one of the simplest, and yet delicious soups that I have ever had. Here is my take on it

Tortellini Soup

Tortellini Soup

6 cups of Chiken broth
Bouquet of fresh Thyme, Rosemary and Sage
2 Celery Stalks, chopped
2 Carrots, cut into 1/4 in slices
400gm (small package) of your favorite Tortellini
Salt & Pepper to taste

-In a large pot, add broth and herb bouquet,bring the broth to a near boil, and lower the heat so that the broth is at a gentle simmer, and allow to infuse for approx 1o minutes. Remove bouquet, and strain to remove bits of herbs if desired, though simply removing the big bits works for me.
-Add in veggies, and cook until the carrots are cooked through (a fark should easily pass through one), though still firm.
-In a seperate pot, bring some water with a pinch of salt to a boil, and add Tortellini. Once cooked, strain and add to the broth.
-Grate some fresh Parmesan and sprinkle over the soup.
-Serve with finely chopped flat leaf parsley or chives and a nice bread roll

Friday, January 1, 2010

Christies Cookie Exchange

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Happy Holidays everyone! Its peanut butter cookie time! Okay, I admit it, Im pretty excited about cookies recently. Christie had the brilliant idea to host a Cookie exchange just prior to xmas this holiday season, and it was alot of fun. The concept was simple, bake up five dozen cookies (which sounds like alot, but really, its only 2 batches or so of cookies) and exchange said cookies at a gathering over home brewed coffee, a warming bowl of homemade soup, and some great conversation. Its a really great time of year to have a cookie exchange, everyone is settling into holiday mode, and who doesnt need overflowing cookie tins?

Cookie Exchange

It all sounds so simple, so cozy. That is until it dawned upon me that in attending, I needed to actually bake cookies(P.s Id never baked a cookie from scratch,ever). Uh oh. I could have ridden Christies coatails and said "Christie and Ians cookies" but as i wasnt helping her make hers, I decided to suck it up and learn how to make some cookies.

Cookie Exchange

The only thing going in to this that I knew, was that I did not want to make chocolate chip cookies. Dont get me wrong, I love chocolate chip cookies, but I wanted to try something a little different, something that I could be proud of. I think a scenario played through my head while deciding this that kind of went something like this

-Ian enters room. Places cookie tin on table.
-Christie opens tin, looks inside, slowly takes out mystery cookie, turns it over in her hand, looks one over. Gives a quick smell, looks again, looks at me, bites cookie.
-Empty moment of impossible strain on Ians face, clock ticking in backround out of focus comes into focus. Ian sweats and fidgets.
-Christie chews, closes eyes, softly says,
"mmmm, this is a good cookie, congratulations on baking your first cookies honey!"

-VICTORY SCENE (required props list below)
wind machine
dudes giving Ian high fives
Ian giving dudes high fives
cool google earth camera zoom in from space
squirels in partly hats

Cookie Exchange

So....back to my cookie decision. The mystery cookie, I needed to figure it out, this was the key to my glorious victory scene. But where, who? I typed "cookie recipes" into google and got 15,700,000 results, I needed some narrowing down. Then Anna Olson saved the day. I went to the Canadian Food Network website (check it out on the link at the bottom of this post, it really is a neat and really well made site) where a picture of Anna Olson was displayed for an ad of some sort, and I remembered her show "Sugar", as well as practicaly drooling on Christies floor watching the cookies and deserts she was making. Using the fancy new website, I was able to sort through her recipes and find first timer cookie magic, the Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookie (beams of light came down from parting clouds and cleared up all the bad things in the world for me at the very moment I found that recipe. Ok no, not that dramatic)

Cookie Exchange

The recipe was really simple, straighforward, though time consuming for a first time cookie baker. I of course cut my cookie a little too thick for my first batch, so they all grew quite large and touched the edges of the sheet, though after that setback I figured out the right size and placement on the sheet to avoid that again. The step that was the most time consuming was spreading the filling, as I was worried about using too much at first, got 1/4 through my cookies, and realized I had barely used any spread, so I had to go back and put more in each. It didnt help that I was nervous at each step and took extra time to make sure each step was done properly.

Cookie Exchange

On to the big unveiling. I had so many questions, were my cookies good enough? was anyone going to eat any? Or were they destined to sit on a plate, lonely and neglected like a gifted storebought holiday fruitcake? I had Christie try one right away, and she actually liked it! Hooray, (insert bad man dance victory dance). The rest of the cookie party was okay, but really, the highlight was my cookies, since all the other cookies ran away when they saw how awesome mine were. Okay, no they didnt.

Cookie Exchange

The party was alot of fun, Christie made some fresh squash soup for everyone, and handed out cookie tins for everyones efforts. If you have a chance, and are looking to plan a little holiday something, think about a cookie exchange amongst friends, or at work even. If I can bake cookies, anyone can.

Cookie Exchange

Anna Olsons Peanut Butter Sandwhich Cookies

Food Network Canada