Sunday, September 2, 2007

Missing in Action!

Sweet and Savory are on a bit of a hiatus, but you can find more from Mallow at Pietown. Come have a visit!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Plain Old Coffee Cake

Here on the West Coast we had the honor of a visit from Nina Roux recently. I made this cake for one of our gatherings. It was buttery and tasty, with a sweet (but not too sweet) crumb topping. I couldn't get a good photo, but if you are really itching for a glimpse, then scroll to the bottom for a mediocre picture.

The recipe came out of Martha's Baking Handbook, and the only modification I made was to use only half of the crumb topping. It was more than enough, and I can't imagine that you would even be able to find the cake if you had used the whole amount called for.

Classic Crumb Cake, from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

- 10 Tbsp butter at room temp
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/4 cups sour cream
- crumb topping

Crumb Topping (this is half of what was called for)

- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon (I will try more next time)
- 3/4 tsp coarse salt
- 1 3/4 sticks of room temp butter

Mix the dry ingredients first in a food processor, then add the butter in pieces until clumps form.

Oven to 350 degrees; grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
Mix dry ingredients in bowl and set aside.
Beat butter and sugar until fluffy (about 4 minutes.) Beat in eggs one at a time; add vanilla. Add sour cream and flour mixture, alternating. Spread batter into pan and then sprinkle crumb topping over batter. Bake for about 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for a little while, but this cake is great while still warm.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Whole Wheat Bread

As usual, I am baking way less since it is summertime. I imagine that will change once September rolls around, but in the meantime I did make a really tasty batch of bread. I am going to continue my lazy streak and simply say that I followed the recipe for Whole Wheat Bread in Baking Illustrated to the letter, and the results were fabulous. It called for all purpose flour, whole wheat graham flour, wheat germ, and rye flour. The bread was soft, it wasn't dry at all, and it didn't require an enormous effort to chew (I guess I had pretty low expectations, which is odd since I grew up with my grandma's amazing homemade whole wheat bread...?). The texture was actually pretty amazing, and I will definitely be coming back to this recipe.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Roasted Chickpeas with Cherry Couscous and Cucumber-Lime Raita

Nina Roux sent me this kick-ass cookbook for my birthday,The Flexitarian Table. The raita and chickpeas are the first things I have made from it, and they are both to be repeated soon. This is probably the best way I have ever eaten chickpeas - they are very nutty tasting. And the onions get nice and sweet during the roasting. I ended up altering the recipes a bit. For one thing, I didn't have some of the ingredients called for in the book (for example, I only had ground cumin - no cumin seeds.) I also have a very difficult time following recipes when I am cooking (baking is a different story), so there were no measuring spoons out when I made these.

Cucumber Lime Raita

- cucumber, seeded, peeled, and chopped
- dash of olive oil
- lime juice
- cumin
- coriander
- salt
- Greek yogurt (I had fat-free Greek yogurt, and honestly couldn't tell)
- black pepper

Combine all of the above ingredients, seasoning to taste.

Cherry Couscous

- couscous (I used Israeli-style)
- dried tart cherries
- salt
- butter

Cook couscous according to package instructions, but add cherries, salt, and butter to the water before it comes to a boil.

Roasted Chickpeas

- 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- olive oil
- lemon juice
- 2 bay leaves, broken in half
- cumin
- turmeric
- sweet paprika
- cayenne pepper
- fresh flat leaf parsley

Oven to 400 degrees. In an oven-proof skillet, place chickpeas, onion, oil, lemon juice, bay leaves, cumin, turmeric, paprika, cayenne, and a dash of salt. Stir over medium heat until sizzling, then transfer to oven for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Lemon Blueberry Bread

There has been a lot less baking going on around here lately because the weather was actually acting like summer. As a result I was spending way more time on my bike , and way less time in my kitchen. But last week, after the seventh straight day of rain, I found myself pulling out the butter, sugar, flour, and eggs again, and this bread is the result. (Luckily the sun returned today, and I just got back from a nice ride by the lake.)

Lemon Blueberry Bread

- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- zest of about 2 lemons
- 2 eggs
- 8 ounces yogurt (I happened to have fat-free Greek style at home and used that; it worked great)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups blueberries; I used frozen

Oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan. Mix first four ingredients together in medium bowl. In bowl of mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add lemon zest, then the eggs one at a time, and vanilla. Alternately add flour and yogurt, beginning and ending with flour. Mix in blueberries. Batter will be thick. Pour into pan and bake for 55 to 65 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Cover in foil part way through if cake appears to be browning too quickly. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on wire rack.

This bread (cake) is nice and lemony, slightly tart from the yogurt, and with the texture that I always hope for in a blueberry muffin. I used frozen wild blueberries, and they did the trick nicely. It keeps well for a day or two, but loses the slightly crunchy crust (my favorite part) that it has coming out of the oven.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Pillows A'Plenty

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I've decided that "Pillows" are my signature dish. I did some experimenting this Fourth of July, thinking I'd monitor reactions on the party guinea pigs. Well, that didn't work out because they all disappeared the moment I set them down! I'll take that as a good sign.

I experimented with my very first whole wheat pastry crust, and it's delicious. I prefer it with the savory pillows, but I think extra sugar on top would make a difference on the sweet.

These are really easy to make, and easy to experiment with. The fillings need some tweaking, I admit. As usual, I didn't find the EXACT ingredients I wanted; our little grocery store didn't have Greek feta, so I was forced to try Mexican feta, which is incredibly bland, and not feta like at all.

Also, the ricotta and sour cream blend was delicious, but wasn't as flavorful as I would have liked.

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But aren't they ADORABLE?!

Start with two batches of whole wheat pastry dough (one batch makes about 13 Pillows, so if its for a party, two batches will make enough for everyone.) I made each batch separately (rather than doubling the recipe, then splitting it) - but I'm sure it would work either way.

Whole Wheat Pastry Dough
7 Tabs butter (I used salted)
1 1/4 C. whole wheat pastry flour
1/8 tsp. salt
2-3 Tabs. ice water

Start with very cold butter (I stuck mine in the freezer for a while). Have your ice-water at the ready. Add flour and salt to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Add butter one Tab at a time, and pulse processor until the butter is incorporated, and crumbled into pea sized bits. Add ice water one Tab at a time, pulsing, until the dough starts combining and forming a ball.

Remove dough from processor, shape into a ball, then wrap in cellophane, and pat into a disc shape. Refrigerate for about a half an hour.

Prepare fillings.

Roll out flat until about 1/8 inch thickness. Using a cutter, cup, martini shaker, or whatever you have on hand, cut into discs about 4 inches in diameter. Each batch makes about 13 discs.

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Spinach and Feta Filling
2 cups frozen spinach (I used bag variety, but the packaged type would do)
1 1/2 cup feta cheese (give or take, separated)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook spinach in microwave (or stovetop) until tender. Drain, and squeeze out as much water as you can. Add 1 cup of feta cheese (setting aside 1/2 cup) to spinach, stirring together with a fork (not too blended).

Spinach Feta Pillows
1 egg white (beat gently with a fork)
1 Tab kosher or sea salt

Place a pinch of plain feta cheese in the upper half of a dough disc. Spoon about a tablespoon of spinach and feta mixture on top, then fold disc in half. Seal edge by dipping a fork into egg white, and pressing fork around the edges.
Once all pillows are assembled, brush the top of each with egg white, and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

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Blueberry Ricotta Filling
1-2 cups frozen blueberries
1/2 cup sugar (separated)
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)

Place frozen blueberries in a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup sugar, until blueberries are coated. Combine ricotta and sour cream. Add half of blueberry mixture, and stir until combined, gently squeezing juice from berries.

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Blueberry Ricotta Pillows
1 egg white
1-2 Tab sugar

Taking one dough disc at a time, spoon a small amount of ricotta mixture into the upper half of the disc, then add about 1/2 Tab blueberries, then fold disc in half. Dip fork into egg white, and seal the edges as above. Pierce the top of each pillow a few times with a toothpick or skewer, brush the tops with egg white, then sprinkle sugar on top. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Woolly Coconut-Lime Birthday Cake

This was my birthday cake. I had been craving lime and coconut, I think because I associate those flavors with trips to Mexico and summer was nowhere to be seen when my birthday rolled around a few weeks ago. This cake turned out to be exactly what I wanted, and I won't change a thing the next time I have an excuse to make it. The cream cheese frosting wasn't too sweet, and it was heaven with the lime curd (I was having an impossible time not eating spoonfuls of each while waiting for the crumb coat to chill.) The cake actually tasted of coconut too (just like the recipe promised) without any annoying coconut flakes in the batter itself. The half-toasted sweetened coconut smashed on the outside was actually WAY better than I was expecting. It was chewy-crunchy, which added a great contrast to the cake, but it also added a lot more flavor than I had anticipated.

(It is warm outside, my windows are open, I have wobbly-tired legs from a fifty mile bike ride today, and I am listening to Neil Diamond while I write this. Meow.)

I had searched high and low for a recipe that used coconut milk instead of "cream of coconut" (which I find a little scary - it contains several mystery ingredients), but I wasn't having much luck. I was surprised when I saw that the Cooks' Illustrated recipe even called for the stuff, but then they explained themselves (yay Cooks' Illustrated!). Apparently when they were testing recipes with coconut milk they had wildly varied results. With a little research they discovered that from can to can, coconut milk's fat content can vary as much as 33%. Hence, the cream of coconut.

Martha's Lime Curd, (slightly modified) from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

- 8 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp lime juice
- 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp lemon juice (I actually used more lime juice - I only had 1 lemon)
- zest of 2 limes
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 sticks cold butter, cut into pieces (10 Tbsp)(I used salted)

Put yolks, juice, zest and sugar in heavy saucepan. Whisk well to combine, then cook over medium-high heat, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon until mixture coats back of spoon and is 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer (about 8-12 minutes).

Remove from heat. Stir in salt. Add butter pieces gradually, stirring until mixed well. Press through sieve into bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing onto surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate at least one hour.

Coconut Cake, (modified slightly) from Baking Illustrated.

- 2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) cake flour (I used 9 ounce AP flour)
- 1 egg
- 5 egg whites
- 3/4 cream of coconut (Coco Lopez)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp coconut extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 sticks butter (12 Tbsp), softened but cool, cut into 12 pieces
- 2 cups packed sweetened shredded coconut

Oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans.

In a large measuring cup, mix egg and egg whites with a fork, then mix in cream of coconut, water, and extracts.

In bowl of mixer, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add butter one piece at a time, and mix until resembles coarse meal with no pieces bigger than a pea, about 2 - 2 1/2 minutes.

With mixer running, add a cup of the liquid mixture. Beat on med-high until fluffy, about 45 seconds. With mixer still running, add remaining liquid in steady stream over about 15 seconds. Scrape down bowl and beat for another 15 seconds.

Divide batter between pans. Batter will be thick - spread with spatula. Bake for about 30 minutes, until toothpick is clean. Remove cakes, and toast coconut spread on baking sheet for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until half of coconut is golden, half is still white.

Cool cakes on wire racks, remove from pans after 10 minutes to finish cooling.

Ina Garten's Cream Cheese Frosting, (slightly modified) from the Barefoot Contessa at Home

- 1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
- 2 sticks butter at room temperature (I used salted)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 pound powdered sugar

Beat together everything except the sugar. When it is well combined, add the sugar, and beat until smooth.

Assemble and eat! (I put a thin coat of frosting on the bottom layer before the lime curd.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Almond Pillows

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What is a girl to do when she’s at home alone on a Saturday, too lazy to go to the store, and needing sugar like a cat needs it catnip (this is a profound need, if the cat is near enough to the nip to know it's there)? She scrounges through the cupboards, freezer, and cookbooks to see if there’s anything she can throw together. With sugar.

In the freezer? Frozen pie dough left over from Thanksgiving 2006 (basic Martha Stewart dough recipe). Also, some almond paste left over from Christmas Morning Bear Claws. What could a freezer and 6 or 7 months do to ruin these things? I decided not to answer the question, and to forge ahead.

I rolled the dough out to about 1/4 inch thickness, and cut it into circles with a cookie cutter. Then I put a small amount (about 1/2 Tab.) of the almond paste in the center, then folded the circles in half. I brushed the edges with egg whites, and used a fork to seal the deal. As a final touch, I brushed the tops with egg whites, and sprinkled with sugar, then baked them for about 25 minutes at 350 (or until golden brown).

While these DID taste a little like freezer (I ate them too fast to judge), I must say they were a wonderful invention. I have decided these are a staple, and perhaps a signature dish. I will make Pizza Pillows, Mexi-Pillows, Blueberry Pillows, Cinnamon Apple Pillows, Pumpkin Pillows, Pecan Pillows...need I go on?

Portuguese Prize!

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This recipe and post is simply a vehicle for me to show off a picture of one of my birthday gifts. In the background, that lovely blue and white ensemble you see is an oil, vinegar, salt and pepper set direct from Portugal.
I spent 4 months traveling through Europe about 10 years ago (ack! Where did the time go!?), and everywhere I went (mostly in Spain, Italy and Portugal) I saw beautiful hand made pottery. Pitchers, plates, bowls...and decanter sets like these. And because I was back-packing, it seemed unwise to purchase something this precious and breakable at the time. I have since kicked myself every single day. I returned to Italy a year later, and didn’t see anything like it again. I thought my chances of owning one of these sets were gone for good.
When Tennille ( started planning one of her adventures, she was dismayed by the costs of going to Europe. I suggested she look into Portugal, as it is a little off the beaten-track of the Continent goers. She followed my advice, took some amazing pictures, and brought me home this GORGEOUS decanter set that I covet. I think it officially is the “one thing I would grab” in case of fire. After the husband.
On the food side of things, I have taken to oven-roasting my vegetables. It’s SO easy, they’re so tasty, and it’s easy to have a colorful assortment of earthly delights to go with any main dish.

Oven-Roasted Vegetables

Assortment of peppers (red, green, yellow, orange)

Heat oven to 425.

Chop assorted vegetables into large chunks, and arrange on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and pepper flakes. Bake for about 25 minutes. Drizzle balsamic oil over the top, or sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and serve as a side or main dish!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Cherry Blackbottom Cupcakes

After all my griping about the weather, I decided to celebrate the sunshine by taking my cupcakes outdoors for their class picture. It still isn't exactly summer here, but I have at least been able to go on a couple of long bike rides. This should somewhat compensate for the fact that I will be eating these cupcakes for dinner every night until they are gone (three per night, 12 in a batch means I'll be back to real food by Monday.)

These cupcakes land somewhere near World Peace Cookies on my top ten list. I love the combination of chocolate with the cherry and the cheesecake, and the texture is exactly what I want out of a cupcake, too. They are incredibly easy to make, and they keep well. Basically I have nothing bad to say about them. I used David Lebovitz's recipe for Black-Bottom Cupcakes from the Great Book of Chocolate, and made two tiny modifications (cherry jam and almond extract).

*I am in love with this jam, and am constantly seeking out new delivery methods (toast, sandwiched between graham crackers or cookies, by the spoonful when nothing else is available). That is how I ended up with cherry jam in my cupcakes.

Cherry Blackbottom Cupcakes

- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 5 Tbsp natural cocoa powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup water
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp white or cider vinegar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract


- 8 ounces room temp cream cheese
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 room temp egg
- 1/8 tsp almond extract
- 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
- cherry jam*

Oven to 350 degrees, line one standard muffin tin with cupcake papers.
Beat cream cheese, sugar, egg, and almond extract together. Mix in chocolate chips.
In large bowl, mix together dry cupcake ingredients. Make well in center and pour in wet ingredients. Stir together with wooden spoon. Distribute amongst cupcake papers. Next, distribute cream cheese mixture, about 1-2 Tbsp per cupcake. Finally, drop about a tsp of jam onto each cupcake.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until cupcakes are springy and tops are slightly golden.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Brownies with Peanut Butter Caramel

I am about to lose my mind - it is the middle of June and I can't remember the last day the sun was REALLY out. As I write this, it is 3:45 in the afternoon and 55 degrees out. And cloudy. And rainy. Two nights ago I finally broke down and brought my winter blanket back to bed. Meanwhile I am supposed to be training for various bike rides I signed up for this summer. Instead, I am staying inside, where it is warm-ish, and baking (and eating). Like these brownies, for example.

I'm discovering that I may be a bit of a chocolate wuss. With all of my brownie-experimentation lately, I am finding that my favorites have been a little bit light on chocolate. This time around I used David Lebovitz's recipe for his Dulce de Leche Brownies, then modified the dulce de leche with some peanut butter. The brownies were of the fudgy variety, and were so chocolately they were almost black. They were truly amazing, but I think that next time I will go back to these or these.

I followed DL's brownie recipe to the letter, so I won't re-copy it here. For the peanut butter caramel variety, just replace the dulce to leche in the recipe with the following:

Peanut Butter Caramel

- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup peanut butter (natural-style works fine, if not better - not quite as sweet)

Mix together in pan over medium heat until well combined. Continue to warm, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and use as directed in brownie recipe. This recipe makes much more than is needed for the 8x8 pan of brownies. I plan on using my left-overs on ice cream, but there would certainly be enough for a 9x13 batch instead.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

WCC #17 - Lemon Cornmeal Cookies

I have been wanting to try this recipe for awhile now. Then yesterday, after one of my most favorite co-workers worked her last day with me after quitting her job (I still can't believe it is true!), I decided to go home and drown my sorrows in these cookies. The recipe came out of a Martha Stewart Food Christmas cookie magazine. The recipe seemed a little odd to me, but I wanted to try it anyways because the photo looked so promising. Of course my cookies looked nothing like the ones in her picture. It turns out that these cookies are heavenly when they are warm out of the oven - lemony and buttery, but dense like shortbread, with a cornmealy crunch. The next day, however, they are just flavorful hockey pucks. That is when I discovered how lovely they are when softened by a little bit of melting blueberry frozen yogurt, or dipped into a hot cup of tea. So there is no need to worry that my lemony hockey pucks will end up in the garbage. These cookies are good enough (and easy enough) that I can imagine trying them again. But I may add a tiny bit of leavening, and also try a finer ground cornmeal or corn flour. Into half of my cookies I squashed a dried tart cherry. Next time I would definitely do that to all of them.

Lemon Cornmeal Cookies (adapted from Everyday Food, Holiday 2006)

- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 cup cornmeal (I reccommend finer rather than coarse, or maybe a mix of the two?)
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 12 Tbsp butter, at room temp
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 1 egg
- 24-36 dried tart cherries (optional)

Oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients together in small bowl. Beat together butter, sugar, lemon zest, and egg. Mix in dry ingredients. Roll dough into balls, using a heaping tablespoon of dough. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet lined with parchment. Flatten dough to 3/4" thickness. Squish a cherry into the center of each cookie. Bake until browned around the edges, about 20-25 minutes.

I am submitting these to the Weekend Cookbook Challenge. This is the 17th one, and the theme is cornmeal. I imagine the round up with be up soon, so check it out!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Blueberry Frozen Yogurt...

...good enough for a cold and rainy Seattle day. This stuff is way better than the sum of its parts. When I had my first taste, I honestly did a quick mental scan, trying to recall if I had accidentally dumped in a pint of heavy cream without realizing it. The texture is wonderful (requires a ten or fifteen minute thaw at room temperature before serving), but the flavor! I went back and tasted the plain yogurt left-overs, and that didn't explain this stuff either. Whatever. It is just good. Creamy and fruity and just sweet enough.

Of course this came from David Lebovitz's fabulous and amazing new book, The Perfect Scoop, which I finally have in my possession. Anyone with an ice cream maker that does not yet have this book needs to go out and buy it immediately! I think I have already read it cover to cover twice, and my lilliputian freezer is the only thing keeping me from making every recipe.

I used Greek-style yogurt, and frozen wild blueberries. (The recipe calls for straining out the blueberry seeds. All I will say is that I have a strange compulsion that prevented me from doing that - therefore my yogurt was unstrained.)

Blueberry Frozen Yogurt, from The Perfect Scoop

- 1 1/2 cups plain Greek-style yogurt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 cups blueberries
- 1 tsp kirsch
- 2 tsp lemon juice

Place yogurt, sugar, and blueberries in food processor and mix well. (Strain.) Stir in kirsch and lemon juice and chill for 1 hour. Place in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Oatmeal Lace Cookies

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I have always loved these cookies. A friend of the family used to own a food company in the Seattle area called “Canterbury Cuisine” – they sold healthy, gourmet baking mixes, soup mixes, etc. that required just a couple ingredients added in order to make all kinds of treats. I had the great fortune of babysitting for the owner, and would always salivate over the various mixes in her pantry.

One time, under the guise of a “baking lesson” I set about baking a cookie mix with my charges – it was an Oatmeal Lace Cookie mix. And to this day, I still dream about its deliciousness. I have not found a comparable recipe that can measure up to the crunchy and chewy texture of that mix, but I am beginning the journey now. I don’t care how fat it makes me, or my husband (who is actually starting to complain about what this blog has done to his waistline – this last batch of cookies particularly, as oatmeal cookies are his favorite. Though I ate WAY more than he did, and suffered for it in many ways) I will find the perfect recipe!

I started with the simplest recipe I could find – and simple as it is, it yielded a tricky result. The first batch just spread all over the cookie sheet, like one flat pan-sized cookie. I had to use a spatula to separate it into sections while it was still hot, then bake for a few minutes longer in order to get anything resembling a cookie. The second and third batches were progressively better, as I started with smaller scoops of dough, and fewer dropped on the sheet. Also, the original recipe said to bake for 8-10 minutes, but I found these needed at least 12 minutes in order to be firm enough to remove from the cookie sheet.

I think these would be even better with a little cinnamon added!

Warning: there is a LOT of butter in this recipe. A LOT. So these are very rich, as dainty as they look.

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Oatmeal Lace Cookies (Trial #1)

2 sticks of butter, room temperature
3 c. oatmeal (uncooked)
1 c. sugar
½ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. salt

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla and salt together in the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment. Once mixed, fold in the oatmeal, one cup at a time, ensuring each cup is sufficiently combined.

Drop in 1/8 c. sized balls onto a baking sheet (I used a silpat) with several inches between each scoop, as these cookies will flatten out completely as they bake.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool a bit on the cookie sheet (they harden as they cool) before transferring to a cooling rack.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

SHF #31 - Lemon Sorbet

I finally tried out my ice cream maker! Of course it was way easier than I had expected, and now I can't wait to try out all of the fabulous-looking recipes that have been popping up lately. A friend had put in a request for lemon sorbet, and sorbet didn't have the intimidation factor of actual ice cream, AND the Sugar High Friday event is requesting white food! So here we are.

I found different versions of this recipe on several different blogs. Some of them included alcohol and I wish I had made the trip to the liquor store because my sorbet ended up freezing up too hard. But the flavor was perfect - not too sweet, and very lemony. And while the texture worked itself out after being left on the kitchen counter for a little while, I'll definitely try it with the booze next time.

Lemon Sorbet

- 1 cup lemon juice
- 2 1/2 cups water
- zest of 2or 3 lemons (I added some orange zest too)
- 3/4 cups sugar

Place zest, sugar, and water in sauce pan and warm until sugar is melted. Chill completely, then add juice. Put in ice cream maker, according to directions. Makes about 1 quart.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Apple and Pear Tartin

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So, Mama Mallow has been a busy little baker since I've been away! My two week vacation has come to a close, and I am officially in awe of just how productive my blogging partner has been, and how happy she's been making both her tummy and the tummies of those near and dear.

We had discussed doing a Mother's Day Post, but the opportunity escaped us, and though I for the first time in 9 years was actually WITH my mother on Mother's Day, and cooked a lovely meal for her and my dad, I am posting the fun a little late.

It was such a pleasure cooking for my parents. They are no slouches in the kitchen. My mom tends to make the savory dishes, and more often than not my dad is perfecting a baked good. Some recipes that stand out to me from my Mom's repertoire are Cioppino, insane pasta dishes with tons of fresh vegetables and flavor, and a Christmas morning Strata beyond belief. My dad bakes a profound pie, a chocolate cake for champions, and home-made bear claws. This is just a sampling of the wonders that come out of the family kitchen.

I considered trying to cook something with my mom that was a special recipe of hers that I could share, but in the end decided to let her kick back in my living room, look at my honeymoon pictures, and taste one of my creations.

For dinner I made Chicken With Forty Cloves Of Garlic. WAY easier than you would imagine. How hard is it to brown a bunch of garlic? I accompanied this with some easy roasted vegetables (cauliflower, red and green peppers, olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 425 for 25 minutes. Easy as it gets!).

For dessert, I was GOING to make some home-made ice cream to go with the Tartin, but my mom is calorie conscious, and I decided to let her save her big indulgences for her trip to France the next day!

This Tartin was so easy, and so satisfying. You can easily use any type of fruit - my original idea was to use peaches, but was not able to buy them in time to allow them to ripen a bit. The result is a lot like a Pineapple Upside Down Cake - and there are few things better than that! I think I would use even more fruit next time, though I couldn't figure out how to cut the pears and apples in order to fit more into the dish (maybe next time I'll use round slices and layer them into the pan in a spiral). Oh, and I forgot to add the currants. They would have made the treat even more festive. And home-made ice cream would have made this even better.

Apple and Pear Tartin

6 T butter (plus extra for baking dish)
1 medium pear
1 small apple
1-2 Tab dried currants
1 3/4 cup sugar, divided
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 c. sour cream
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup + 2 Tab flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Butter a 9 inch pie or baking dish, arrange fruit in bottom of dish in an artful way, most appealing side facing down.

Combine 1 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water in sauce pan and cook on high until it turns a warm amber color, swirling frequently, not stirring (warning: Once the mixture starts to turn a yellowish color, watch the pan closely. I burned the first batch, and ended up with a candy-bottomed sink).
Cream 6 Tabs butter and 3/4 cup sugar in mixer on medium with a paddle attachment until fluffy. Lower the speed to low, and add eggs one at a time, followed by the sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Combine only, do not over mix.

Pour batter over fruit in pie dish, and bake for 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool 15 minutes before dusting confectioners sugar over the top.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Perfect Brownies?

I may have finally found a brownie recipe that satisfies my craving for brownies from a box. The texture was perfect! They are chewy and chocolatey but not at all damp - they are neither cakey or fudgy - they are just exactly how I want them! However, in the name of full disclosure I must confess that I had a horrible cold, complete with plugged nose, when I made these, so my taste buds were probably not performing at full capacity. (I suppose I will simply need to make them again soon to reassess their superb-ness.) I found the recipe in my weird old Pillsbury cookbook, then I modified it just a bit. I thought the photo in the book looked promising and so I left the essentials alone. You could mix the pecans into the brownies, but I prefer leaving them on the top so that they stay crunchy rather than becoming soggy.

Chewy Brownies, modified from a Pillsbury cookbook recipe
- 6 ounces plus about 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (12 ounce bag)
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 generous tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- about 1 cup chopped toasted pecans

Oven to 350 degrees; 13 x 9 pan lined with parchment or greased.

Melt 6 ounces of chocolate chips with the butter. Remove from heat when smooth and allow to cool slightly. Mix dry ingredients together in small bowl. Add sugar, then eggs, then vanilla to chocolate mixture. Stir in dry ingredients, and then remaining 3/4 cup chocolate chips. Pour into pan, then sprinkle pecans on top. Bake for 18-25 minutes (toothpick will be sticky with crumbs); cool in pan on rack.

Go check out the browniebabe event over at Once Upon a Tart!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Weekend Cookbook Challenge 16 - Something New...World Peace Cookies

These cookies are new for me, at least! I have been reading about them for ages now, and finally got to try them out. I just got Dorie's Baking From My Home to Yours cookbook and this was the first recipe I that I put to use. (Dorie Greenspan is also new to me, believe it or not!)

Just like everyone has said, these cookies are AMAZING. My plan had been to take them into work, but immediately after baking them I got a horrible cold. So rather than going in to work, I have spent the last two days laying on my couch feeling like death warmed over, eating a steady stream of World Peace Cookies. (Actually, I did venture out long enough to track down some hushpuppies, then I returned to my couch and my cookies). It should not be a surprise to anyone that I STILL feel like crap. And I have no cookies left.

Usually, after I violate myself with some sort of treat, I never want to see the thing again. But instead, I am actually mourning that I have none left! I kept reading about the "sandy texture", and didn't know what that meant - I guess I still don't exactly, but the texture of these cookies is soft and lovely. I like them with biggish chunks of dark chocolate, to contrast with the soft cookie. Then every once in a while you get a wave of salty goodness, and maybe even a tiny crunch when you find a bit of fleur de sel. Yum! I will be making these again soon, only I will find a way to share next time (maybe).

World Peace Cookies, or Korovas, from Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan

- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 11 Tbsp butter at room temperature
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp fleur de sel
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 5 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate (I used really dark chocolate)

Mix together flour, cocoa and baking soda.

Beat butter until soft, then add sugars, salt and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes. Add dry ingredients and mix slowly until just combined; mix in chocolate. Do not overmix this dough. Divide dough into two portions, and form into logs of 1 1/2 inch diameter. Chill in refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment. Slice dough into 1/2" thick cookies, squishing back on any bits of dough that fall off (the dough is crumbly). Bake for exactly 12 minutes even though cookies will look underdone, and cool on baking sheet on wire rack.

Be sure to check out the roundup for the Weekend Cookbook Challenge, which should be posted soon.

Monday, May 7, 2007

A Taste of Yellow - Macaroni and Cheese

I have been planning on participating in the Taste of Yellow event at winosandfoodies ever since I first read about it. (Like everyone else who commented after Barbara's announcement, cancer has made plenty of appearances within my immediate circle lately). But suddenly it was May 7th and I had not done my entry! I had pretty much given up on pulling anything together when I developed an enormous craving for mac and cheese - very convenient. So here it is.

With the exception of breadcrumbs, I followed the recipe to the letter, so I will just give an abbreviated version here.

Classic Macaroni and Cheese (only slightly modified) from The New Best Recipe from Cook's Illustrated.

- 1 pound macaroni
- salt
- 5 Tbsp butter
- 6 Tbsp flour
- 1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 5 cups milk (I used 1%)
- 8 ounces monteray jack cheese, grated
- 8 ounces extra, extra, extra sharp cheddar, grated
- panko breadcrumbs

Using a large pot, cook pasta in well-salted water until tender. Drain in collander and set aside. In the now-empty pot, heat the butter over medium-high until foaming; add flour, mustard and cayenne, and whisk for about a minute, until color deepens. Continue whisking while gradually adding the milk; whisk until mixture is brought to full boil. Turn down heat to medium and simmer for about 5 minutes, until mixture is the consistency of heavy cream. Remove from heat. Add cheese and 1 tsp salt and stir until mixed. Add back pasta and stir over med-low heat until well heated, about 6 minutes. Pour into 9x13 pan (or ramekins). Sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs and place under broiler until browned.

Go see what A Taste of Yellow is all about!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Chocolate Peanut Butter-Caramel Macaroon Tarts

I think you must have to REALLY like coconut to enjoy these macaroon tarts. I got the recipe for the tart shells from Donna Hay's book, Off the Shelf. I think that even with my pan modifications, they turned out "right". Unfortunately, it wasn't until I was sampling my first bite that I remembered that I don't like macaroons. Shoot. However, the whole point to making these tarts in the first place was to find out what happens when you mix peanut butter with sweetened condensed milk. Turns out it is every bit as good as I had imagined. I am already thinking up tastier ways to use it (ways that don't involve macaroons, for example), so you can expect to see more of that here soon. But for anyone who is interested, I will go ahead and add the recipe for the macaroons too...

Macaroon Tarts (from Donna Hay's Off the Shelf):

- 3 egg whites
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 cups desiccated coconut

Oven to 280 degrees. According to the original recipe, you should grease six 3 1/2 inch tart pans with removable bottoms. I had none of those sitting around, so I lined the bottoms of six ramekins with parchment cupcake papers. (That left me with tons of left-over crust, which I attempted to make use of in various ways, none of which succeeded.) Mix all the ingredients together and press into the tart pans (or ramekins). Bake for 25-30 (or 50) minutes, until firm and turning golden. Allow to cool.

Peanut Butter Caramel:

- 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter

Mix together over medium heat until well-combined and the consistency becomes thin enough to pour (about 3 minutes). Pour into tarts and return to 280 degree oven for 5-10 minutes, until bubbles appear in caramel. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Remove tarts from pans (or ramekins.) Make ganache.


- 4 ounces chopped chocolate
- 4 ounces heavy cream.

Heat cream in pan, add chocolate and stir until melted and combined. Pour over tarts. Chill until set.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Sweet and Savory Dinner Party

I did it again. Planned a party and a menu that meant 3 days of cooking. This time though, I enjoyed every minute of it, up until the last 5 minutes before guests arrived and I was frantically working on the cream sauce, and my phone was ringing…that stressed me out a little bit, but I threw my phone at Mr. Roux, and managed to get everything ready in time, so I could enjoy myself thoroughly with my guests.

The original invitation list was for about 15 people, about 10 RSVP’d, and only 4 were able to make it in the end. But I had determined to cook enough food for any number who wanted to come by, in the spirit of sharing the food fun. There were PLENTY of left overs! My ONLY complaint: 3 of the 4 guests were girls, who eat like birds, so they didn’t eat nearly enough in my opinion…

I’ve decided to host dinner parties on a regular basis, and am using my Buddhist group as an excuse. I am a member of this great organization ( - watch the video on the media tab! Or to find a group near you), and get to practice with the COOLEST people in the world, but after our small discussion meetings, there is NEVER enough time to hang out, chat, catch up, get to know each other… so the spirit of these dinner parties will be Dinner and Dialog – sometimes there will be 2 people, maybe someday 10 – I don’t care, I like to cook and I like to run my yap. The inaugural Dinner and Dialog was fantastic – and we were all shocked to see it was 3AM when the chat fest started winding down! Sure success.

Le Menu:
Roasted Vegetable Tapenade
Irish Soda Bread
Parmesan Pepper Crackers

Iceberg wedges
Blue Cheese Dressing

Lemon Fusilli
Tuna Tartare served on Endive
Chicken Veronique

Lemon Yogurt Cake
Orange Chocolate Mini-Cakes
Homemade Grand Marnier Vanilla Ice Cream

I realize how ambitious this all looks. And I suppose it was. Honestly, each recipe was as simple as could be. I made the hummus, blue cheese dressing and lemon yogurt cake on Thursday evening. Friday night I made the orange chocolate cakes and the crackers. This left the roasted veg tapenade, ice cream, pasta, tuna, and chicken for Saturday. I got up pretty early to get started, and had JUST enough time.

I must officially thank Ina Garten once again for her inspiration and recipes! I took the liberty of some variations… here’s one, which is simultaneously an I Love Lucy moment; I added a cup of mayo instead of a half a cup of mayo to the Chicken Salad Veronique. I hate mayonnaise, so it was a tough 10 minutes for me scooping out un-stirred mayo from the mix. I ended up doubling the celery and grapes, and adding roasted pecans in order to bring balance back to the bowl.

Recipes/links** and commentary below! I only put pics of the most photogenic dishes below – sadly, I have neither the artistic eye nor photographic talent of Mallow who can make any dish look like a still life!

Roasted Vegetable Tapenade (variation of Roasted Eggplant Spread - see Sw&sa 020

4 small zucchini
2 red bell peppers, seeded
1 red onion, peeled
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tb. Olive oil
1 ½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 Tb. Tomato paste

Preheat oven to 400. Cut veg and onion into 1-inch cubes. Toss them in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes until the veg are lightly browned and soft, tossing once during cooking.
Cool slightly.

Place the veg in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the tomato paste, and pulse 3 or 4 times to blend. Taste for salt and pepper.

(This was so delicious. I used the zucchini instead of eggplant, since it's the one food I hate. I would have liked it with olives and some spicy pepper as well!)

2 cans chick peas/garbanzo beans, drained
¼ cup tahini
juice of 2 lemons
1 Tab. Pepper flakes
3-4 cloves garlic
2 Tab. Olive oil

Put everything but the olive oil in a food processor fitted with blade attachment. Blend thoroughly, adding the olive oil slowly while everything else blends.

(This makes a pretty mild hummus – you can really jazz it up with some artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, or any think you like!)

Parmesan Black Pepper Crackers (See

(I followed the recipe very closely, and ended up with very crumbly dough that was hard to roll into a log. It was much easier to deal with once frozen, but once cooked I found them a little too delicate to dip into either of my spreads. So we ate them for dinner on Friday.)

Irish Soda Bread (from “Barefoot Contessa At Home”)
s&s 028

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for the currants
4 Tab. Sugar (optional)
1 tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. kosher salt
4 Tab. (1/2 stick) Cold unsalted butter, cut into Tabs.
1¾ cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1 cup dried currants

Preheat oven to 375. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silpat.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.
With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 Tab. Of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.
Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound. Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temp.

(I decided to make this easy slightly sweet bread to dip into the savory spreads, as I really like the combination of sweet and savory – go figure. It was particularly good with the veg tapenade. I might leave the sugar out next time if serving with savory stuff.)

Blue Cheese Dressing (from “Barefoot Contessa At Home”)
½ lb. Roquefort cheese (I used crumbled blue cheese)
1 cup mayo
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. tarragon wine vinegar
2 Tab. Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Place half the cheese, the mayonnaise, heavy cream, vinegar, 1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until combined but still chunky. The other half of the cheese should be crumbled over the top of salad, but I added it to the mix. It was too thick. If you’re using this as a dip, its fine to add all the cheese, but as a dressing, you only need half.)

Lemon Fusilli with Arugula (See

(This was SO delicious. The arugula wilts just so, and the tomatoes get tender and juicy! A great dish for feeding the masses.)

Tuna Tartare (See

(I was a little disappointed that the tuna absorbed the soy sauce enough that it turned sort of a brown/gray color, rather than a pretty pinky color. GREAT flavor, and so lovely with the avocado. The peppery endive is a great edible spoon.)

Chicken Salad Veronique (See

(Again, I hate mayonnaise, but if it’s a good balance and not too gooey, I can take it. This worked out perfectly. I really liked the added crunch and depth of the pecans.)

Lemon Yogurt Cake (See
Sw&sa 015

(Once I poured the juice and sugar mixture over the warm cake, all I could think about was the fact that most of the syrup was ending up on wax paper on the tray below. Once the cake had cooled, I wrapped it in the syrupy wax paper, then wrapped the lot in plastic wrap, hoping the cake would absorb more as it rested. Success! Also, instead of the glaze, I used butter cream frosting, with added lemon zest. I probably won’t next time.)

Mini Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake (See
Sw&sa 001

(Um… Yum!? These almost didn’t need the chocolate syrup. I think I would have preferred them with a glaze instead, so the chocolate isn’t so overwhelming. I could eat these all day on into the night.)

s&s 004

Vanilla Grand Marnier Ice Cream
4 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 cup cream + ¾ cup milk, scalded
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 ½ tsp. Grand Marnier liqueur

Beat egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer using paddle attachment on med. For 3 minutes, or until very thick. Reduce speed to low, and add cornstarch.

Slowly pour the hot milk into the eggs, with the mixer still on low. Next, pour this mixture (now like a custard) into a sauce pan and cook over low heat until the spoon coats with cream. (Don’t allow the temp to rise above about 150-160).

Pour the sauce through a fine strainer, add vanilla and Grand Marnier. Freeze using an ice cream maker per manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze in an air-tight container until ready to eat. Serves 4-5.

**My sincerest apologies! The hyperlink function is not currently working?! I have to annoyingly direct you to for recipe reference.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Spicy Hot Brownies

I have a confession to make: I love brownies from a box. I have never tried homemade brownies that I liked better than ones made from a mix. Homemade brownies always seem to be either fudgy or cakey, and what I want is CHEWY. Therefore, when I started out looking for a base for my chile pepper brownies, I chose a recipe at random. They turned out to be of the fudgy variety. The flavor is fabulous - spicy like a cinnamon red hot melted together with the most decadent chocolate, tons of cinnamon-chocolate flavor with a lingering heat. But it still doesn't have the boxed mix texture I long for... I have high hopes that somewhere in the browniebabe round-up there will be lurking my ideal brownie. But in the meantime, these were a fun experiment, and I'm sure they would be fabulous to those of you that like fudgy brownies (particulary spicy-hot fudgy brownies.)

Spicy Hot Brownies

- 1 stick butter
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 8 ounces dark chocolate
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9x9 pan with parchment.

Melt chocolate and butter together, then allow to cool slightly. Mix all of the dry ingredients together in small bowl. Stir sugar, eggs, and vanilla into butter and chocolate. Add dry ingredients and stir until mixed. Pour into pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until toothpick has crumbs. Cool in pan, then remove and cut.