Stars To Steer By

The misadventures of a creative mind

Candies from Narnia May 14, 2015

For the Month of May, Rachael from Pizzarossa challenged us to make candy but not just any candy! She challenged us to make Turkish Delight, or Lokum. Or, if you live near the northwest corner of the US, aplets and cotlets.


I have to say, this truly was a challenge for me, and I won’t be insulted at all if you don’t read this recipe because I despise aplets and cotlets – the consistency is just so off. I remember being told that the delicious dessert found in the Chronicles of Narnia was actually this strange gelatin cube and I was just heart broken (honestly Vader’s got the snow queen beat, tempting people with cookies). But it was the challenge, so I started looking at some different recipes and figured maybe I’d be surprised.

I decided to go with a saffron turkish delight interspersed with some lightly chopped pistachios because I bought some saffron a long time ago and realized that I just don’t work with it often enough and spices don’t last forever.

*The one guy I found who does like aplets and cotlets thought this recipe was pretty good if that inspires confidence in you. And they come out really pretty.


1 1/4 cups cornstarch
2 1/2 cups water
3 cups sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 teaspoon saffron threads
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup roughly chopped pistachios

Mixing it up:

1. Whisk together 3/4 cup conrstarch with 2 1/2 cups water in a large bowl until smooth.

2. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, stir with a spatula. Keep microwaving in 1 minute intervals, stirring between until the mixture becomes thick and bubbly and is translucent.


3. Add the sugar, corn syrup, and saffron. Stir to combine.


4. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Stir and repeat two more times (total of 15 minutes.

5. Add the vanilla and lemon juice, stirring to combine well.

6. Heat on high in 3 minutes intervals for ~15 minutes, until a bit of this syrup scraped onto a cold plate quickly sets into a tacky solid.


7. Add the pistachios and scrape into a greased 8×8 pan.

8. Allow to rest several hours or overnight, until firm enough to handle.

9. Dust the top of the delight with cornstarch.

10. Flip the delight out onto a small cutting board and dust the other side with more cornstarch.

11. Set the delight (on the cutting board) in the freezer for 30 minutes.

12. Use a sharp knife to cut the delight into 3/4 inch squares.

13.Combine 1/2 cup cornstarch with 1/2 cup powdered sugar.

14. Toss the squares in delight in the powdered sugar/cornstarch mix.

15. Store in a wide shallow container.


Even though I wasn’t fond of the final product I did have a lot of fun making this. I think the colors in this recipe were fantastic, and my group who likes turkish delight (single outlier) seems very happy if a bit overwhelmed with the results.


Spice Up Your Tea – A Homemade Chai Blend April 14, 2015

Filed under: Daring Cook Challenges,Kitchen Catastrophes — Cisa @ 10:00 am
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What’s life without a little spice? For the month of April, Sawsan from Chef in disguise challenged us to spice things up by making our own spice blends from scratch for the Daring Cook’s Challenge. She gave us several different recipes from all over the world; a dip blend, pie spices, meat rubs and soup spices and challenged us to make up our own spice blends. The great thing about spice blends is that we use them in almost everything, and the more you think about this challenge, the more “I could make that at home” moments you’ll find.


Paris Brest – Another Pastry I’ll Never Be Able To Pronounce April 9, 2015

Filed under: Daring Baker Challenges — Cisa @ 2:24 pm
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Disclaimer: This post was supposed be posted months ago, but I forgot it in the drafts folder, so here’s Paris Brest, just a little late.

This months Daring Baker’s challenge was paris brest. When first hearing that name I panicked slightly, mostly because french desserts are notoriously difficult. But then I read the description and realized that paris brest is essentially a circular cream puff. And you get to slice it in half rather than trying to fill it with a pastry bag (which is always the part I can never get right). Cream puffs aren’t actually that hard, in fact you can make them all in one pan. So I challenge anyone reading this post – don’t be scared of the cream puff, grab a pan and impress all your friends/family with this dessert!

P1060694 (more…)


Tarte Tatin: Upside Down Pie March 27, 2015

When you think of upside down desserts what pops into your mind? For me its upside down pineapple cake, a pear version I tried once in a crock pot, a ice cream cones that have succumbed to gravity. But for much of the world, there are many foods prepped upside down and flipped for presentation. And this month, for the March Daring bakers’ challenge, Korena from Korena in the Kitchen taught us that some treats are best enjoyed upside down. She challenged us to make a tarte tatin from scratch. For those who don’t know what a tarte tatin is, it’s sort of like an upside down, single crust pie. You make a caramel, cook a bunch of fruit (or veggies), top with a pastry crust, and bake the whole thing in the oven. It’s then flipped out of the pan when your ready to eat it. (more…)


Pease Porridge Hot, Pease Porridge Cold, There’s Never Any Left That Get’s To Three Days Old March 14, 2015

Filed under: Daring Cook Challenges,Kitchen Catastrophes — Cisa @ 12:00 pm

This months daring cooks challenge was something that I don’t normally give much thought to – porridge, also known in my world as oatmeal. Specifically, Ruth from Makey Cakey invited us to start the day with something filling, warm and nutritious. We got to experiment with different techniques and flavorings to create our own perfect personal porridge. The goal was to make at least two different kinds of oatmeal that were different, in an attempt to find your favorite flavor. (more…)


Siopao, Bao, a New Attempt at Asian Cuisine February 27, 2015

Until I went to college, I didn’t have much experience with Asian cuisine, past pretty basic teriyaki. Then I moved to a much bigger city, with a much more diverse group of people, and all the sudden Asian cusine was everywhere. But even though I’ve started eating and enjoying this fabulous food, the concept of trying to make it myself is still very daunting. So this month, when the Daring Bakers’ told us we were going to be making Siopao, a yeasted bun full of savory/sweet fillings that hails from the Orient, I was a little nervous. (more…)


Broken Order: Landscaping in Pots February 17, 2015

Several weeks ago, I was sent a link to an amazing set of potted gardens, which use broken pots to create tiered mini landscapes bursting with creativity. I was blown away by how beautiful these creations were and by they possibilities they posed for having a bit of a garden indoors or on balconies for those of us who live in cities. (more…)


Whittling Away December 10, 2014

‘Tis the season for giving, which in my world means it’s the season for crafts. I love being able to give someone something completely one of a kind that was made just for them. Boys make this particularly hard – they never seem to want earrings or scarves, but this year I decided to try my hand at customizing a knife. (Here’s a preview of how the project turned out, I’m really happy with it.)

Knife 3 (more…)



Filed under: Crafting Creations — Cisa @ 1:27 pm
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I’m going to show you a set of personalized beer growlers, and beer mugs, that I designed and etched for my brother’s birthday/christmas. He’s in his early twenties and has been brewing beer with his roommate for a while now. I’ll admit, most of the family thought this was a fad, the first batch would be terrible, and he’d sort of give up on the process. Nope. The first batch apparently sucked fairly badly, but not enough to deter college kids who can’t afford to pay retail for alcohol and his brews have slowly gotten better over the last year or two. He’s started giving bottles away as gifts to family members.


A Time for Tamales December 9, 2014

I’ve been bad about keeping up with posting my Daring Cooks challenges on here. But they’re doing some restructuring to the group, and in the mean time all of us were given the chance to try challenges that we missed or that were posted before joining. I decided to go with an older posting challenging individuals to try making their own tamales. I love tamales, and can get them from some pretty spectacular places here, but it’s always fun to make something yourself.


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The misadventures of a creative mind

La cocina de Aisha

The misadventures of a creative mind

The misadventures of a creative mind