Cook a Steak Like a Pro

Butter, Fresh Rosemary, Fresh Garlic, Sea Salt, Ground Black Peppercorns

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Eggy Bread with Apples (French Toast Made Delicious)

A delicious wholesome way to start the day

Breakfast is important. Very important. Especially for young growing minds. Here is a very easy, very quick recipe which is wholesome and full of energy for yourself or a school kid to devour first thing in the morning. Just make sure your bread loaf is starting to go a little hard and stale as this is what makes it able to take on so much egg mixture. I eat this at least twice a week and when I cook it people tend to gather around the dining room waiting.

Serves 3-4

4 medium eggs , 2 Tablespoons of milk, 2 tablespoons of caster sugar, 4 thick slices of slightly stale bread with crusts removed, butter and sunflower/canola/grapeseed/rice bran oil, pinch of cinnamon, 2 crisp eating apples peeled.

Method:

Beat the eggs together with the milk and sugar then pour into a shallow dish. Add the bread slices and submerge them in the egg allowing the egg to absorb. After about 5 mins turn them over so both sides absorb the egg and are soaked through.

Whilst you are waiting for this peel and slice the apples and fry on a medium heat with a knob of butter and a dollop of oil. Cook until soft and slightly brown. When almost done add a teaspoon of soft brown sugar to make a nice apple syrup. (This is optional if you are trying to cut out sugars)

 

Pour into a bowl and keep warm.

Wash pan and add another knob of butter and dollop of oil.

Fry the bread on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes each side until they are golden brown and cooked through.

Pour apple mix onto bread and serve.

Enjoy!

A Beer Note

Read the typical Kiwi response from a typical Kiwi company.

 

Home made Potato Chips – Special Update!

Not the best photo, but the best chips!

Okay,

This is simple but might take two attempts to get an idea of the power of your microwave. Yes, I said microwave (shock horror).

If you have some potatoes, a sharp knife and a microwave then you are set to go. I cook these up often when I am feeling like a snack but have either nothing in the house, or am simply too lazy to get up and go to the store. This has an added bonus. As you can only fit so many on the plate to microwave you eat less and feel quite satisfied. I would probably sit down and eat an entire bag if I bought one.

These chips taste great if you enjoy a simple salted chip that has a natural earthy taste to it. Here is what you do:

Ingredients

1 large (oval if possible) potato
Salt & olive oil (oil optional)
Method
 

Cut thin slices of the potato. The thinner these are the shorter the cook time. I try to get something about the thickness of the kitchen knife I use to cut it but it is all personal preference. If you make them too fat however you will end up with a rubbery chip rather than a crisp crunchy one.

Arrange on a waxed cooking paper on a plate as shown

Lay these out onto a plate. I place some cooking paper underneath as they tend to stick to a plate. Just find some waxed baking paper and you will be fine. I spray mine lightly with olive oil but this is not necessary. I find it gives it a slightly more deep fried taste and look and helps the salt stick to it.

Microwave on high for 3 minutes (1000w microwave). Turn slices over and repeat for a further 3 minutes. Remove and inspect. I then microwave for another minute or two keeping an eye on them making sure they do not colour too much. When they colour they taste earthier in strength.

Slice to desired thickness

Once they are done take them out, sprinkle a little salt on them and enjoy. You might want to put your next batch in. I do two batches of a single large ptoato which fills a small bowl for me to snack on as I watch the mighty Vancouver Canucks (or insert your own show in here).

Check out the photos for what these should look like. Apologies for the quality but the mobile was on hand and the camera was not.

Nom nom nom nom nom

 UPDATE TO ORIGINAL POST

Okay, I was playing around with leftovers and remembered some pototo sticks that I had eaten in Prague, Czech Republic.

I chopped up some slightly thicker sliced pieces of potato and cut them into sticks. I put them in the microwave as shown in the photos below, added salt and sprayed with oil and microwaved for 3 mins on high. They became crisp with a few softish ones. Did them for another minute monitoring the colour making sure they did not go brown.

TASTY! Try them out. These may even be better than the original chips (?). I am pretty hooked on them.

Chop it into sticks

Put them on a plate (with non stick paper as usual) salt and spray with oil.

 

Microwave them............

 

The final result. Delicious crispy salty potato sticks. Share them around.

 

Nutella Shots

Who doesn’t love Nutella? Nutella is good with anything and everything; bananas, bread, in crepes, strawberries…. shots?? Yeah shots! Try out this Nutella shot recipe, you won’t be disappointed, it’s delicious!
The ingredients and measurements are:
* 1 cup ice
* ½ cup milk
* 2 tablespoons Nutella
* 1 shot Baileys
* 1 shot vanilla vodka
Instructions:
Place all the ingredients into a blender and blend until thick and creamy. Pour into shot glasses and enjoy!

source: http://www.luuux.com/food/nutella-shot-recipe-0

Cooking Tips

 

cardamom seeds - grab them at any bulk bin store or Whole Foods

 

Find you are bored with regular rice?

Buy Basmati rice, throw in 2-3 cardamom pods when boiling and fluff with a small knob of butter. Mmmnnnnnnnn.

Garlic and Rosemary Steak

Butter, Fresh Rosemary, Fresh Garlic, Sea Salt, Ground Black Peppercorns

There is nothing I like more on my summer dinner  plate than a perfectly cooked steak.

I know everyone is getting their BBQ out and charring the flavour on with loads of marinades or rubs but if you are more discerning than that and want something a little more then try this out.

This is my adaptation of a French method of cooking steak. I learnt to cook this from Larousse Gastronomique which is the French cooking bible. I have adapted it slightly to enhance the crispy brown edges and seal in a bit more flavour. I find the French prefer their beef to be a bit tough and dry for my liking.

Cook this recipe and you will have people begging you for the method. This steak certainly stands out from the regular everyday steak that you always eat and it is fun to cook. Feel like a Chef who knows the secrets by memorising this simple recipe written below.

Recipe:

1 clove of garlic (chopped into large bits)
Sea Salt (Rock Salt)
Ground Peppercorns
Fresh Rosemary (a few sprigs)
Organic Butter (a few teaspoons full)
Olive Oil (extra virgin) A glugs worth
1 x scotch fillet steak
Equipment:
Tongs
Cast iron frying pan
Method: 1. Heat the butter, olive oil,salt, pepper, rosemary and garlic in the cast iron frying pan until  it sizzles. Season steak liberally with ground salt and pepper.

Look at it all sizzling, the flavours combine

2. Once the butter is hot enough add  the steak by placing the edges only in  the pan. Leave each edge there long enough for it to brown slightly and go crisp. It usually takes me around 30 seconds each side. Do not worry if it  does not go that crisp as it will during the  cooking of the steak.

Seal the edges in the butter. You will thank me for this.

3. Place the steak in the pan and sear one  side for around 30 secs and then turn over. Leave the steak in the pan  for around three minutes for med/rare and continuously baste with the butter mix so the top sizzles. Turn steak over and cook for another three minutes ( or there about) all the time basting with the butter mix.

The top should start to brown and go crisp like on the right of this photo

4. Remove from the pan and allow to rest for the same amount of time as the steak was cooked. I know this seems wrong but trust me. It makes for a fully relaxed piece of meat. Enjoy. Any questions leave below.

Mmmmmnnnnnnn

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How to Smoke a Salmon – Perfect everytime

The Final Product - Hot Smoked Salmon

In New Zealand Christmas is in Summer. We have Christmas in the sun, on the beach, playing sports and having BBQ. I tend to use this time of the year to impress everyone with my smoking skills. Chickens, fish, hams, turkeys.

There is nothing that equals the taste (in the world of fish at least) to that of smoked salmon fresh from the smoker.

Smoking salmon is easy and does not take that long in preparation and execution.

All you need is a simple brine (the night before) and a few hours smoking with your favourite wood smoke.

If you want to give it a go, and find all of the different recipes and methods out there too much, then try this one. It won’t have you pulling your hair out or make you develop a stomach ulcer with worry from confusion. As I write this I have just been out to my parents house, smoked them a nice salmon fillet (as seen in photos) and half of it has already been devoured.

First off you need to choose a good piece of salmon. Look for something that is not discoloured around the edges, is firm to touch and does not have a fishy smell. If you can, get them to cut you a fillet straight from the whole fish. Most places will be more than happy to do this.

I chose this piece from the Auckland Seafood Markets but you should be able to find something as good as this at any Whole Foods store or similar.

Fresh New Zealand Salmon

Once you have chosen the perfect piece you will then need to make the brine. Brining a piece of fish changes the protein structure of the flesh and makes it better to smoke and also allows for a better texture when eating. I use a basic brine as I like the simple flavour of the smoke and the fish. If you want to get creative (bad idea in most cases) there are plenty of brine recipes out there.

If you use my brine i can assure you that you will not ruin your expensive cut of fish. I can not guarantee that for any of the others out there.

Almost Brine

BRINE RECIPE:

1/4 cup of kosher salt or fine ground sea salt    DO NOT Use iodized salt, it will give a metallic taste to your fish

1/2 cup of brown sugar

5 cups of water (purified if possible but no worries if not)

METHOD: Put all ingredients into a pot and bring to the boil. Boil for 3 mins constantly stirring. This enables the sugar and the salt to dissolve perfectly. Allow to cool to room temperature and place in a container in the fridge until it has become chilled.

Once chilled place the fish into the container making sure the entire piece has been covered with the brine.

New Zealand Salmon in Brine

Leave in brine for 8 hours. Remove and rinse with a gently running tap to remove traces of the brine.

FORMING THE PELLICULE:

Once the fish has been rinsed pat it down with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. This step is called forming the pellicule.

A pellicule is a thin sticky layer that forms on the flesh of the fish when left out in a cool breezy environment.

I place mine on a bench with a fan blowing on it. If you can not do this then just leave it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight if easier. I left mine for 2 hours under the fan and it formed nicely. I then left it in the fridge overnight as I did my brining before bed. I smoked it the next day and everything was fine. Do not be too scared as the fish takes a lot so you will not ruin it.

SMOKING THE SALMON:

You can do this in your kettle BBQ or in a smoker.

For this fish I have used New Zealand native Manuka (Tea tree) wood. If you ever happen to visit New Zealand I would highly recommend trying the Manuka smoked bacon and fish found everywhere. You have tasted nothing like it, seriously.

You can use any hard wood but I would advise woods such as Hickory, Mesquite, Apple or Maple for Salmon.

I use a propane vertical smoker (Gascraft brand) which you can pick up under $150 at places like Walmart or other stores.

METHOD: I have a digital probe that I put in to monitor the internal temperature of the fish. If you do not have one get one. It means the difference between tender perfect juicy meats and over cooked dry meat. I NEVER smoke anything without one.

A regular kitchen meat thermometer will do fine, I just happen to love gadgets.

Put this in the thickest part when cooking.

Meat probe in thickest part of fish

You want to reach an internal temperature of 140 – 143 degs F. Take it out after this as the fish keeps cooking for 10 mins after.

You can see I have placed some aluminium foil under the fish to prevent it sticking to the rack, it’s a good trick.

Next, heat your smoker to 200 – 250 F and get th smoke going. Once it is rolling place the fish in the middle of the smoker.

Leave it in and keep it at this temp until 140f has been reached internally (1.5 – 2 hours).

Putting in the smoker - Mmmmnn smell that smoke

Once you get the right internal temp remove the fish and place it on a bench to cool. You want to leave the fish for 30 – 45 mins before eating to  let the smoke settle and the fish to rest.

Once that is done, EAT!

Enjoy your delicious homemade smoked salmon that people will talk about for ages.

If you attempt this leave a message below and let me know how you went. I would love to hear about it. Any questions feel free to ask and I will answer asap.




Dry Rubs – The only way to get that BBQ taste in your meat

BBQ Chicken Rub

So it is no secret that I love to BBQ and I love to use my vertical smoker (see Making Bacon). One thing I love more than this though is making an amazing rub for your meat.

There are so many varying recipes for rubs out there that it is difficult to choose what would suit you and it can be a daunting task. You certainly do not want to ruin your expensive piece of meat by getting the wrong rub.

Simply cooking something on the BBQ or smoking something in your smoker is not enough. You will get minimal flavour to your food and often you will only achieve a flavour from the plate of your BBQ that you failed to clean 3 weeks ago.

I have spent a long time perfecting these rubs and I have stolen bits from all types of recipes online until I achieved something that made my friends and family moan with pleasure when eating.

Here are two that I have made. I will add some more as I perfect them. You can be sure that these recipes will work and will satisfy.

I have yet to name these so if you can think of anything leave a comment below and I will choose the best one.

BBQ Chicken Rub

BBQ Chicken Rub

This rub has a garlic flavour with the other ingredients adding an extra bit of excitement. One thing I must stress is to only coat the meat. Do not be too heavy with the rub as it will be over powering, do not be too light as it will not flavour it. I generally shake on enough to lightly coat the skin everywhere and then rub it in with my fingertips.

Recipe:
4 T Coarse Salt
2 T Coarse Pepper
4 t Garlic Powder
2 t Paprika (or smoked Paprika if you like)
4 t Ground Bay Leaf

Coat chicken with olive oil. Rub this into your chicken and let stand for around an hour to allow the flavour to permeate into the meat.

Beef Dry Rub (best on beef but works with pork and chicken also)

Beef BBQ Dry Rub

Now this rub is the absolute business.

It is the beef rub to end all other beef rubs. I can not wait when we have T-Bone steaks to cover it with this, let it sit an hour and then throw it on the Barbie.

I ALWAYS end up munching on the bone as I am sad that it has finished. I often find myself dipping my finger in when I am rummaging around te pantry and sneaking a little taste.

The key to this rub is the salt and the sweet and the heat.

Now I love BBQ but I am not one for having a burning mouth. I like to taste my food so the amount of cayenne pepper in this is tailored for my taste. It adds a slight bit of heat but nothing much. A tang at best. A tingle on your tongue.

If you can not handle anything spicy then simply 1/2 the amount.

If you love heat and spice then double it.

If you like a little but not a lot, then make it the way I have it below.

Recipe

2 cups Sugar
1/4 cup Paprika
1/2 cup Coarse Salt
2 t Coarse Pepper
1 t Garlic Powder
2 t Chili Powder
1/2 t Cayenne Pepper

Rub meat with olive oil and coat with rub. Rub in with fingertips and allow to stand for 1 hour. Throw it on the BBQ and enjoy.

Remember, if you can think of a decent name for these rubs leave a comment below and I will choose the best one.

If you enjoy these, share them with your friends and family.

Making Bacon at Home – The tasty way

P1000228

This was the most exciting project that I have done.  I have a fascination with bacon and its flavours. Watching this whole process was incredibly satisfying….and very simple. Anyone can make this no matter what their skill level.

Bacon has a tendency to make everything better, and let’s be honest here, bacon is great stuff. We have, however, a couple of problems with the bacon-like junk available in most grocery stores. First, few foods are more highly processed than mass produced bacon. It is usually prepared in a huge factory that is focused primarily with churning out as much bacon as possible. This means that every shortcut is taken during the processing to produce the most bacon in the shortest amount of time. Truck loads of pork bellies are shipped to a plant, where they are skinned and trimmed to a uniform shape, then “pumped” with a curing solution designed to cure the meat as rapidly as possible. They then go through a “thermal processing” (yes, that’s the technical term) then they are chilled, pressed and sliced. It all sounds very clinical, because it is. The result is a bright pink meat, that is always unpleasantly slimy when you open the package.

There is one main concern when curing and smoking meat, and that is botuslism. While botulism is most closely related with improper canning procedures, food-borne botulism also occurs in meats that have been improperly preserved. To prevent this, commercially cured/preserved meats contain sodium nitrite, which acts both as a preservative and a color fixer. (This is what gives store-bought bacon that bright red color.) In quantity, sodium nitrite is toxic and has been linked to migraines in certain people. While that is of concern, the quantity required to be toxic would only affect someone eating Homer Simpson levels of bacon. The main concern with sodium nitrite, is that when it is exposed to high heat in the presence of protein (like a piece of meat treated with sodium nitrite being cooked), proteins in the meat bond with the sodium nitrite to produce nitrosamines. It is also possible for nitrosamines to form from sodium nitrite in highly acidic conditions, like your stomach. Basically, the frying and eating of nitrite containing bacon presents the perfect scenario for nitrosamines to enter your system. Unlike sodium nitrite, which we know is toxic in large quantities and may make you sick if you eat too much, certain nitrosamines have been proven to be deadly carcinogens.

That sounds bad right?

The sodium nitrites are necessary in a large industrial setting, where many different individuals, machines and movements are involved to ensure that the resultant product is botulism free. The home chef can better control the variables and handling procedures, and can get those assurances without the nitrites. Oh, and your bacon will taste much, much better than anything you’ve purchased in plastic wrap, I can guarantee it.

What you will need to begin is a piece of pork belly, which you will have to get at your butcher shop. Call to see if they have any. If they don’t they will be more than happy order you one. You are going to a butcher right?

5 pounds will do nicely. Your belly should looks something like this:

P1000151

Next you want to make your cure.

I used the following, although some may find this one sweet I like it and it reminds me of the stuff I used to get living in Canada.

If you don’t like it sweet I would cut the sugar/syrup amounts by half and keep the salt amount the same.

1/2 C kosher salt (salt flakes)

1/2 C maple syrup

1/2 C brown sugar

Mix all together in a bowl and coat the pork belly. Rub it in well and when you think you are done, rub it in some more.

P1000146

Then place the pork belly into a ziplock bag which is placed into another ziplock bag (just in case the first one leaks).

Place in fridge and turn every second day. I cured this lot for 8 days but you can cure it up to 16 if you want. I can’t wait so I do the minimum amount.

You will notice lots of liquid coming out of the pork in the bag, this is normal as the curing process removes the water contained inside the meat. Just leave it in there, it will not do any harm. Just make sure you flip the bag every second day.

Once the curing process has finished remove the pork from the bag and wash it in cold water for 5-10mins. This part you DO NOT WANT TO SKIMP ON. Wash it well, you do not want bacon that is too salty.

Pat the pork dry with kitchen paper (paper towel) and place it back in the fridge for 24 hours. This is what is called “Forming the Pellicule”. The pellicule is a thin membrane that forms which allows the smoke to adhere to it.

I use a Canadian built Grill Pro propane upright smoker as seen below. You can use any smoking device though as long as it can heat the meat up to an intrnl temperature of 150 deg F (this is what kills the pathogens and makes it safe to eat).

getpic.php

It took me about 2 hours to get the internal temperature to 151 deg F and this was with the smoker temperature ranging between 20 – 300 deg F.

See the smoke?

P1000222

Once it is smoked let it cool, place in a ziplock bag and place in the fridge overnight to allow the smoke to permeate the meat.

P1000221

Once you have it chilled, slice, fry and enjoy!

You will never look back!

P1000215

P1000216

And here is the final result……mmmmmmmmmmmn baaaaacon.

baconsarnie

If you have any questions feel free to comment below.

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Chicago Dogs

Chicago Dog

Cooking finer food is all well and good but I actually really like hot-dogs. These are one of my true favourite foods and I am not ashamed to admit it.

I make numerous types based on the ones that I have tried around the world and here is one that has a different flavour than others.

It is a take on the Chicago Dog and instead of sweet and cheesy it is tangy and lower in fat.

Heres the details:

Ingredients:
1 all-beef hot dog
yellow mustard

Bakery hot dog buns (not the processed factory buns)

1 tablespoon sweet green pickle relish
Red/white onion (chopped)
4 tomato wedges
dill pickle spears
Sweet peppers/capsicum
Celery salt

Heat franks in water for 5 mins or until warm through, steam buns split side down for 1-2 mins till warm but not wet.

Put frank in bun.
Add (in this order) mustard, green relish, onion,tomato,pickes,peppers,celery salt

Eat.

 

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Praline – The old Italian way

praline

It is nice to have sweets sometimes that contain just the basics.

This praline will satisfy anyones urge for sweet and it only takes 5 mins to make and 5-10 mins to cool.

I am a big fan of simple Italian recipes when cooking and nobody beats the Italian’s for the simplicity of their sweets.

I generally go organic but the taste is just the same with regular ingredients.

Let me know what you think.

RECIPE

olive oil (for brushing)

130 grams / 4 1/2 oz caster sugar (fine sugar)

150 grams /5 oz blanched almonds, chopped (I use less sometimes to get more of a toffee taste)

15 grams / 1/2 oz unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice

fresh bay leaves (optional)

Method:

Brush a marble slab or baking sheet with oil.

Melt the sugar with 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of water in a heavy based pot over a low-medium heat.

Stir in the almonds, then add the butter and lemon juice.

Lower the heat and cook until the mixture is a golden brown    (it will start to burn around the edges, this is what you want.         Just  keep stirring it in to the mixture until a golden colour is achieved)

Remove the pan from heat and pour onto baking sheet and spread out to 1cm / 1/2 inch thick.

Cut into diamond shapes with a knife and let cool and set.

Break up praline into diamonds and prior to serving rub bottoms with fresh bay leaves until scented.

Poached Pear with Cinnamon Quills and Brandy

PoachedPear

I sat in my kitchen trying to come up with a dessert that was slightly unusual and not something that most people would have tried.

The problem with being a male who loves cooking is this

1. I  always have that urge to justify why what I am making is masculine.

2. I am lazy.

With both of these factors in mind and a bowl of pears sitting under my nose I came up with the following recipe.

It is simple, delicious and contains brandy (the masculine part).

Serve this dish up the next time you have someone over and they will be blown away by the mix of flavour and presentation.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 pears (peeled)
  • 3 cinnamon quills
  • ¼ cup brandy
Method

  • In a large deep pot over a medium heat stir the water, sugar, cinnamon and brandy until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil.
  • Add the peeled pears  (leave the stalk on),  reduce the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Make sure the pears stay under the syrup while cooking.
  • Serve with ice cream and bittersweet chocolate chips/shavings
Hint
Slice off the rounded base of the pear to achieve a flat surface on which to sit the pear for serving.

Bacon, Maple, French Toast Cupcakes

Mmmmn bacon.....

When a guy cooks it is usually something masculine like a huge T-bone or ribs, hamburgers or wings.

Not cupcakes.

My wife needed something for her companies bake sale for charity. Offices around the country were all participating so she was feeling the pressure. As my skills  in the kitchen (dare I say it ) are a fraction higher than hers I offered to make something that everyone would remember.

She wanted cupcakes.  She had even told people she was bringing cupcakes.

How do you make cupcakes memorable, and more importantly, less feminine?

Solution: Add bacon.

Delicious

The cupcakes were a hit. My wife raised over $200 and a common comment was  “Eeeew bacon! On a cupcake!” , which soon changed once they purchased their second one.

Below is the recipe for the Bacon,Maple, French Toast Cupcakes that I devised from a few different recipes online.

French Toast Cupcakes

What You’ll Need:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1 ½  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
  • Maple Buttercream Frosting, recipe follows
  • Crisp Bacon
  • Equipment: A six cup jumbo muffin pan or 12 cup regular muffin pan

Directions:

1.) Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Line the muffin pan with paper cupcake liners.

2.) In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Raise the speed to high and mix until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the sides of the bowl down with a rubber spatula.)

3.) Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and vanilla, and also set aside.

4.) Add the egg yolks to the creamed butter one at time, waiting for each one to be fully incorporated before adding the next.

5.) Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Alternately, add the flour mixture in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions, waiting for each to be fully incorporated before adding the next (scrape the bowl down occasionally). Raise the speed to medium and mix briefly until a smooth batter is formed. Transfer the batter to a large bowl.

6.) Thoroughly clean the bowl of the mixer and put the egg whites inside. Whip the egg whites on high speed, using the whisk attachment, until stiff peaks are formed.

7.) Working in 3 batches, using a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the batter, until just incorporated. Divide the batter evenly among the cups in the muffin pan. Bake, rotating the pan once, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

8.) Remove the cupcakes  from the oven and cool completely.

For the frosting: I wanted something that had actual maple syrup in it, but not a huge quantity like most of the frosting recipes online. This worked very well and disguised the strong butter flavour to a delicate creamy sweet maple taste.

1/2 cup (115g)  unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3-4tbsp. maple syrup
1-2 tbsp. milk (if needed)

To prepare the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed until smooth.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the powdered sugar.  Beat on medium speed until well combined, then increase speed and beat until smooth.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl again and add the maple syrup.  Mix until incorporated.  If the frosting is too thick, add 1-2 tablespoons of milk and beat until smooth and desired consistency is achieved.  Top each cupcake with a swirl of frosting on top