Please Use A Pot Holder! Dutch Baby With Bacon Maple Syrup

After a brief hiatus, Shortbread is back to life and ready to bring y’all some tasty recipes for your kitchen!  First up is this Dutch Baby with Bacon Maple Syrup.  If you haven’t ever made one of these before, you won’t believe how simple it is.  The batter is made in the blender, just like my crepe batter, but is doesn’t need to rest at all and you just pour all of it in a preheated skillet and bake.

Dutch Baby

Which brings me to the post title warning:  DON’T FORGET THAT THE HANDLE OF THE PAN IS HOT!!!  Unfortunately, the deliciousness of this dish did not take away the burning in my hand, but it did take my mind off of it for a few minutes.  Especially when generously covered with Bacon Maple Syrup.  Let me just say that one more time…Bacon Maple Syrup.  Which is also so easy and so delicious and not at all limited to use in this recipe only!

Dutch Baby

Dutch Baby with Bacon Maple Syrup

serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 bacon slices, diced
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • confectioner’s sugar
  • whipped cream (optional)

Directions

  1. Put an 11-inch skillet or oven proof sauté pan in a cold oven and preheat the oven to 475°F.
  2. Put the eggs, flour, milk and vanilla in a blender. Blend on high until frothy, about 30 seconds, stopping the blender to scrape down the sides as needed.
  3. When the oven is preheated, add the butter to the hot skillet and return it to the oven until the butter melts and browns, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Carefully pour the batter into the hot skillet and bake until the Dutch baby is lightly browned and the sides have risen, 17 to 19 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, heat a smaller pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp and browned, 6 to 8 minutes.
  6. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Discard the fat in the pan. Return the bacon to the pan and add the maple syrup. Simmer over medium heat for 20 seconds. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
  7. Remove the skillet from the oven and let the Dutch baby cool for 3 to 4 minutes. Cut the Dutch baby into wedges and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve immediately with the bacon syrup and whipped cream if desired.

adapted from Williams-Sonoma Recipes

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{Tuesdays With Dorie} Baking With Julia Pecan Sticky Buns (Whew)

Whew!  I have to say I feel like I just ran a marathon after making these Pecan Sticky Buns.  It’s a good thing though, that these take so much time and effort to make because if it were easier I might be tempted to make them more often and that would not be good for my thighs.

The recipe for these buns (which was contributed by Nancy Silverton – love her) begins with making a brioche dough, which in itself is a fairly complicated and time consuming process with lots of rising and chilling and rolling.  Then once the dough is made, it is made into buns with a lot more rolling and chilling and rising.  And a lot of butter.

Even though there were a ton of steps in the recipe, they were all very easy to follow and really caused me no problems.  And the end result was the best sticky bun I have ever put in my mouth, with super flaky layers of dough and a nutty caramel topping.  Definitely worth the extra effort.

If you are tempted to try your hand at making this recipe you can visit this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie/Baking with Julia hostesses, Lynn of Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat and Nicole of Cookies on Friday.

Drumroll Please Shortbread Shortbread

It would seem logical that one should be able to find a recipe for shortbread on a blog named Shortbread, right?  Possibly even in the very first post one might think.  Well, it just didn’t quite work out that way here.

I suppose the reason is mainly that I wanted to make sure that if there was a recipe for shortbread, that it would be the best one I could give you.  So (drumroll) here it is!  I give you my favorite Shortbread recipe that is buttery, crumbly, and perfectly sweet.  I know, it’s about time.

Shortbread’s Shortbread

makes 16 pieces

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) granulated sugar, plus extra for top
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) corn flour or fine semolina*
  • 1/4 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Sift flours and salt (if using) together into a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Beat together butter and sugar with a stand or hand mixer until creamy.
  4. Gradually add flour mixture to butter/sugar mixture and blend just until it comes together as a dough.
  5. Dump dough out onto a piece of parchment or a lightly floured surface and divide into two halves. Gently shape halves into discs and press each into two 8-inch round tart pans or cake tins. (Alternately, shape all the dough into a rectangle and press into a 9×13 inch baking pan.)
  6. Using a fork, either prick holes all over the dough or press the tines around the outer edges (or both).
  7. Bake for 35-45 minutes until pale golden all over.
  8. Remove from the oven and dust top with sugar. Cut each into 8 triangles (or 16 squares) while still warm, then let cool completely before removing from pan.

*I use Bob’s Red Mill Corn Flour. If you can’t find or don’t have corn/semolina flour, the recipe will still work using just all-purpose flour.

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{Tuesdays With Dorie} Baking With Julia Lemon Loaf Cake

Alright, this post is going to be short and sweet – not unlike this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie/Baking with Julia pick, Lemon Loaf Cake contributed by Norman Love.  By that I mean that this cake couldn’t be easier to put together, and the result is a nice little lemony pound cake with a dense crumb that takes well to toasting, piling up with strawberries or peaches, or just eating as is.

No need to dirty up your mixer, this cake is made the old fashioned way with a whisk and a sifter.  It only uses lemon zest, so if you’re after an extra shot of lemon flavor I would add in a little juice too.  And it just begs for a little lemon glaze.

Please visit the blogs of our lovely hostesses, Truc of Treats and Michelle of The Beauty of Life for the recipe.

{Tuesdays With Dorie} Baking With Julia Pizza Rustica

Pizza Rustica, this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie/Baking with Julia recipe, is not exactly what most people think of when they hear the word pizza.  This is actually a traditional Italian dish translated as “rustic pie” that is made with a  sweet pie crust and a cheesy, meaty, egg based filling.  It is usually eaten at room temperature or even cold, and often as an appetizer according to Nick Malgieri, the contributor of the recipe.  The Italian version of quiche maybe?

The major difference is in the crust.  It is a basic Italian pastry dough called pasta frolla which is used in most of their pie recipes, either sweet or savory.  It is made with a good amount of sugar added to the flour with eggs to bind it together.  The recipe did not call for chilling the dough or pre-baking it, but it rolled out without problem and baked up just perfectly.

In the filling you will find ricotta cheese, eggs, mozzarella cheese and Pecorino Romano, along with prosciutto and parsley.  This savory filling, especially with the salty Romano cheese and prosciutto, is used to provide a pleasing contrast to the sweet crust.  I thought it was an interesting combination but I did feel like the filling lacked a little “oomph” which might possibly be cured by adding more of the Romano cheese, another salty meat, or a few more seasonings.

We had a slice warm with our dinner the night is was made, then I tried a bite once it was completely cool, and then had a cold slice for breakfast the next day and I liked it equally well at all temperatures!  This was a really fun recipe to make and not extremely complicated either.  I’m sure the other TwD’ers will provide a ton of ideas for additions and variations of it too.

If you’d like to try this one out, visit our lovely hostesses for the week, Emily of Capitol Region Dining and Raelynn of The Place They Call Home where you will find this recipe!

{Tuesdays With Dorie} Baking With Julia Rugelach

The end is near, VERY near.  The end of winter, I mean.  I’ve already sworn off heavy sweaters  no matter what.  I’m getting ready to buy some colorful flowers for my porch.  Daylight savings is about to begin.  THIS IS IT!

As for my kitchen, this cookie will probably be the last of the winter warm-spiced sweets that will be coming out of it before the light citrus and floral flavors take over.  Rugelach, with a cinnamon-sugar, nut and dried fruit filling, is the recipe for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie/Baking with Julia.

The recipe was contributed by Lauren Groveman and is slightly different from Rugelach that I have tried in the past whereby it is rolled up lengthwise and sliced and then drenched in cinnamon-sugar-nut crumbs before baking.  The dough is traditional, made with cream cheese and butter which is easy to work with and bakes up fluffy and tender and is really hard to mess up.

I used a natural apricot preserve for my filling, along with pecans and walnuts and a dried fruit mix from King Arthur Flour that includes apricots, raisins, pineapple cubes, dates, and cranberries.  I didn’t need to plump the fruit at all and the mix of flavors with the sugar and cinnamon was delicious.  I think the idea of rolling these in the cinnamon-sugar-nut mixture was brilliant.  It gave these cookies that little something extra that causes them to be slightly addictive.

This is not a ‘throw it all together and bake’ recipe, however.  It is fairly complicated and involves a lot of chilling.  I spread it out over three days – making the dough on day one, filling and rolling on day two, and coating and baking on day three.  You could do it in one if you started early enough, but it really needs at least two.  And I would suggest if you want to store some to bake later, freeze the logs after rolling them up but before coating them, just make sure to put aside half of the coating mixture in a bag to freeze with them.

Thanks to the Tuesdays with Dorie/Baking with Julia hostesses for this week, Jessica of My Baking Heart, and Margaret of The Urban Hiker.  You can find this fabulous recipe on their sites or in the lovely book Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

 

{Tuesdays With Dorie} Baking With Julia Chocolate Truffle Tartlets

Today it’s Tuesdays with Dorie – Baking with Julia and this week we baked David Ogonowski’s Chocolate Truffle Tartlets.  They’re made with a dark chocolate tart crust and a filling of butter, bittersweet chocolate, egg yolks, and sugar.  White chocolate, milk chocolate, and biscotti chunks are added to the filling before baking to push these tartlets over the top.

The recipe makes six 4 1/2 inch tartlets, but I only had four pans, so instead of trying to do some complicated math or only making three and risking a fight amongst the children, I halved both the dough and filling recipes and divided them up into four portions.  I had to roll the dough a little thinner but it still puffed up nicely when baked and made a significant crust.  The recipe also instructs you to remove the bottoms from the tartlet pans, but I left mine in (’cause I was scared) and they came out just fine.

The filling didn’t completely fill up the shells either, but once I tasted the end product I was kind of grateful that they weren’t any thicker.  These babies are RICH.  I would describe the texture of the filling as a kind of brownie/fudge hybrid.  They came out of the oven with that papery top you get on the best brownies and the inside was soft and a little fudge-y.  I almost didn’t add the biscotti to them because the idea just sounded wacky, but in the end I did, and I almost think that is the best part.  The whole thing is just so dang chocolatey that the biscotti adds that little bit of relief from chocolate overload.

I must admit that these tartlets had mixed reviews at my house, being deemed “too chocolatey” by the person who picks the chocolate chips out of the chocolate chip cookies (husband), and thoroughly enjoyed by another who was in the throes of some serious chocolate cravings (me).  Ultimately, I think this is the perfect recipe for a true chocolate lover – someone who doesn’t simply enjoy a Hershey’s milk chocolate bar but who also really digs the deep dark 70% and higher chocolate.

Our hostesses for the week are Steph, Spike, Jaime and Jessica, just click on their names to check out the recipe or you can get this fabulous book yourself by clicking here.

{Tuesdays With Dorie} Baking With Julia White Loaves

I’ve had the lovely book Baking with Julia in my cookbook collection for a while and have made some very successful and delicious recipes from it, but it had somehow gotten buried under the ever-growing pile of newer cookbooks over time. When I discovered that the Tuesdays with Dorie group had chosen this book, which Dorie Greenspan put together from Julia Child’s PBS series of the same name, I dug it out and flipped through the pages thinking all the time “Man, I forgot how good this book is!”

I know the brioche and sticky bun recipes are fabulous, and I love the idea of baking my way through the book in order to try all the other recipes.  So, here goes!

The first recipe chosen for the month of February was White Loaves, contributed by Craig Kominiak, which begins a chapter titled “Daily Loaves”.  Regular Shortbread readers will know that I have made quite a few loaves of bread in my time, and it was difficult for me to keep from straying from the recipe and doing my own thing.  But I tried to use the techniques it called for, and the only substitution I made was using instant yeast instead of active dry because it was all I had in the pantry.  (If you find yourself in the same situation, skip the first step of mixing the yeast, sugar, and water together and just stir the yeast and sugar into the first half of the flour before adding the water.)

This dough was definitely on the wet side for me, but the loaves rose quickly and baked up tall and fragrant.  It sliced easily and made tasty sandwiches, toast, and was even better with a layer of Nutella.

This week’s TWD/BWJ hostesses are Laurie of slush and Jules of Someone’s in the Kitchen, and on their websites you’ll find this recipe.  Visit the Tuesdays with Dorie blog for more information!

 

 

TENDER AT THE BONE Artpark Brownies {The Kitchen Reader}

For the month of May, The Kitchen Readers read Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table, by Ruth Reichl.  She is the well known restaurant critic for The New York Times, and in her book she shares the experiences growing up that she feels led to her great appreciation of food.

With her mother suffering from bouts of manic-depression, Reichl must intervene in her cooking “experiments” to keep her from making guests sick.  When her parents are often absent, she finds herself cooking for others to make friends and keep from being lonely.

When she is then surprised by her mother enrolling her in a French school far from home, Reichl makes friends with a schoolmate who’s father introduces her to the joys of fine food.  She spends much of her young adulthood traveling abroad experiencing the foods of the regions, and then joins a co-op restaurant as part owner where she learns about the restaurant business and acquires her first stalker.

It seems that Ruth Reichl naturally moved through her life on a path paved by food, as if it was destiny that she would eventually find herself surrounded by people like James Beard and Marion Cunningham.  Tender at the Bone is filled with humorous, self-effacing stories that make this book fun and easy to read.  And if all the recipes included are as tasty as these rich, fudgy brownies, that’s an even greater bonus.  I strongly recommend serving them with a scoop of ice cream.

Thanks to the sweet and talented Jill of Jill’s Blog for this month’s book selection.

Artpark Brownies

from Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl

makes 12 brownies

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 5 ounces unsweetened, best-quality French chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup sifted flour

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan.
  3. Melt butter and chocolate in double boiler, over boiling water. When melted, add vanilla and set aside.
  4. Beat eggs and salt in mixer. Add sugar and beat at high speed for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture is quite white.
  5. Add chocolate and butter mixture and beat at low speed, just until mixed. Add flour and combine quickly, until there are no white streaks.
  6. Pour batter into baking pan and put in oven. Immediately turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake for 40 minutes. (The normal toothpick test will not work on these brownies, but if you want to try pricking them with a toothpick, it should come out not quite clean.) Do not overbake; these brownies should be fudgy.

In Your Dreams Whole Wheat Chocolate Croissants

 

How do you know when your kids are watching too much Disney Channel?  That would be when you have a dream you’re a teenager and friends with the Jonas brothers, at a party at their house, and the girl who plays London on The Suite Life (Brenda Song) is trying to pick up your boyfriend.

I would probably be a little more worried about my mental state if I wasn’t going through a period in my life where I dream crazy dreams all night (or at least it seems like it).  So, sadly enough, this isn’t the most disturbing dream I’ve had lately, but at least I can laugh about this one.

I’m sure I’ve dreamed about Chocolate Croissants before, because I LOVE THEM.  I know I’ve daydreamed about them.  In the past I’ve made chocolate croissants with store-bought puff pastry and later with homemade puff pastry.  But this time I used King Arthur Flour’s recipe for Classic Whole Wheat Puff Pastry, from their giant tome, King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking.

Their recipe uses a combination of whole wheat pastry flour (usually found at a natural food store like Whole Foods or Earth Fare), and bread flour and is then made in a similar way as traditional puff pastry.  The result is a dough that bakes up flaky and flavorful, with almost as much flakiness as that made from all regular flour (and perhaps a little less guilt?).

One batch makes enough for 24 croissants, but I divided mine into fourths and froze three parts for later.  It’s a very nice thing to have in the freezer when you feel the craving for some pastry coming on, or if you start dreaming about them.

Chocolate Croissants

from Shortbread

makes 9

Ingredients

  • 1/2 recipe Whole Wheat Puff Pastry (see below for recipe)
  • 1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chips, chocolate pieces or 9 chocolate batons
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Directions

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
  2. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12 x 18 inch rectangle. Cut into thirds lengthwise, and then into thirds across to make nine 4 x 6 inch rectangles.
  3. Place about 2 tablespoons of chocolate or one chocolate baton in the center of each rectangle. Fold the rectangles like a letter and place seam side down on the baking sheet, pressing gently to seal.
  4. Cover the croissants with plastic wrap or a towel and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  6. Uncover and brush the tops of the croissants with the egg wash. Bake for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees, and bake until the dough is deep golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes more. Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.

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Whole Wheat Puff Pastry

adapted from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking

makes 3 3/4 lbs dough, enough for 24 croissants

Making the Dough

  • 3 cups (10 1/8 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) bread flour
  • 2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) nonfat dry milk
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick, 2 ounces) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (13 ounces) water, room temperature
  1. Whisk together both flours and the dry milk in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the butter and mix with the paddle attachment until the mixture resembles oatmeal (or cut in with a pastry blender). Add the salt to the water and stir until dissolved, then pour into the flour mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together into a rough ball and pulls away from the sides. Add more water a tablespoon at a time if there is still flour at the bottom of the bowl.
  2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead using a dough scraper to help lift it until it becomes smooth, about 2 or 3 minutes, trying not to add too much more flour (the dough needs a little extra moisture for the wheat to absorb).
  3. Pat the dough into a square about 1 inch thick and wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Preparing the Butter

  • 2 cups (4 sticks, 1 pound) unsalted butter, softened but still cool to the touch
  • 1/3 cup ( 1 1/8 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour
  • all-purpose flour for dusting

In a mixer or food processor, or with a spoon, combine the butter and pastry flour until smooth. Lightly flour a piece of plastic wrap and place the butter/flour mixture on it and pat it into an 8 inch square. Wrap the butter completely with the plastic and refrigerate on a flat surface for at least 30 minutes.

Rolling and Folding

You will need:

  • all-purpose flour for dusting
  • rolling pin
  • ruler or yardstick
  • pastry brush
  • small bowl of water
  1. Unwrap the dough and place it on a lightly floured surface. Roll it into a 12 inch square.  Unwrap the butter and place it in the center of the square at a 45 degree angle. (with corners pointing up and down and side to side).
  2. Moisten around the edges of the dough with a pastry brush dipped in water. Pull the corner flaps of the dough over the straight edges of the butter until they meet in the middle, and press to seal the edges together, smoothing out any air pockets before sealing the last seam. Dust the top with flour, then turn it over and gently tap it with the rolling pin into a rectangle, adding more flour underneath if the dough starts to stick.
  3. Continue to roll the dough into a 20 x 10 inch rectangle. Turn the dough so the short edges are at the top and  bottom and brush off any excess flour from the top of the dough. Lightly wet the edges. Fold the bottom short end of the dough up 1/3 to the middle of the rectangle, and then fold the top short end down to line up with the bottom edge of the dough, like a business letter. Turn the dough 90 degrees to the right, so it looks like a book = First Turn.
  4. If the dough feels warm or springs back when you roll it, cover it and return it to the refrigerator for 20 minutes. If the dough is still fairly cool and relaxed, repeat the previous step of rolling and folding = Second Turn.
  5. Make two dents in the dough with your knuckle to record how many turns you have completed, then wrap and return it to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (if resting more than an hour, let dough sit out 10 minutes before rolling again).
  6. After an hour, roll and fold dough twice more = Third Turn & Fourth Turn. Rest dough in refrigerator another hour or more, then roll and fold two more times = Fifth Turn & Sixth Turn.
  7. At this point you can use the dough to make any type of pastry you wish, or divide it into portions, wrap it tightly, and freeze.

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Ray Of Sunshine Kaiser Rolls {The Bread Baker’s Apprentice}

I dreamed last night that I woke up and it was snowing.  The schools were on a two hour delay and my kids were getting their clothes and boots on to go outside.  When I finally woke up, I realized it was just a dream, remembering that instead it was going to be sunny and in the 60’s.  You know that grateful feeling you get – ‘thank goodness, it was only a dream’ –  that’s what I felt.

How ’bout these Kaiser Rolls?  They’re like a ray of sunshine, a light from above.  The best thing about them is that they start out as a humble dough of just a few ingredients, and then somehow miraculously turn into gorgeous rolls with an intense depth of flavor.

Turkey, Havarti, Red Onion, Romaine and Lite Mayo

If you want to make a batch of these fantastic rolls, or any other recipe from Peter Reinhart’s terrific baking handbook, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, you can preview or buy the book here.

 

Snowball Coconut Cupcakes {Barefoot Bloggers}

I’m not really that outdoors-y.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy being outside – I love to sit outside in the sun, to take leisurely walks, read on the porch – you’re getting the idea, right?  When it comes to hiking through the woods or sleeping in a tent, I’m just not into it.

I have similar feelings about snow.  I think it’s beautiful and love to watch it falling and walk through it, making the first tracks afterward.  And I might throw a few snowballs and help build a snowman, or even sled down the hill a few times, but by that time I’ve had my fill and I’m done.  I’m happy to go inside and make the hot chocolate while everyone else runs around for hours on end.

When we lived in NC, it actually snowed often enough that I could get away with not going out every time, but here in SC we only get snow like this every, I don’t know, 7 or 8 years.  So I get guilt-ed into staying out longer than I’d like.  Sometimes you’ve gotta ‘take one for the team’, I guess.

I know a lot of you are really tired of looking at this:

Hopefully it’s melting, like this did the next day, and the worst is over.  If you can stay in at all from the snow, make your way to the kitchen and bake these Coconut Cupcakes from Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook – they’re like little snowballs themselves, but taste way better.

Unlike other coconut cupcakes I’ve tried that have coconut flavored cake and icing, these have real coconut baked into a vanilla/almond flavored butter cake with cream cheese icing.  “How good does that sound?”, as Ina would say.  Let me just say, “Soooo good!”

Barefoot Blogger Jamie, of Jamie’s Green Kitchen was responsible for encouraging us to make these ridiculously delicious cupcakes, and you can get the recipe for them on her blog, or at the Food Network.

Did I say how ridiculously good these are?  Oh yeah, I just can’t help it.

Squeeze Out Some Sweetness Macadamia Butter Cookies With Dried Cranberries

My super sweet, always agreeable, never give you a hard time child has finally reached the age of testing his limits.  Now every direction is met with a resounding NO, every explanation is followed by but, everything on his plate besides peanut butter and jelly sandwiches gets an ewww, and socks are his worst enemy.

I had a feeling this time would come.  I do know, however, that the sweetness will always be there waiting to be coaxed out with hugs and cookies.

These Macadamia Butter Cookies will surely do the trick for coaxing a little sweetness out of anyone this Valentine’s Day.  They are especially perfect for those non-chocolate lovers out there!  The trick is to process macadamia nuts into ‘macadamia butter’, and use it much like you would peanut butter.  Use whole nuts to start and process until very smooth – when I bought pre-chopped macadamias for this recipe once, the dough came out too dry.

Macadamia Butter Cookies with Dried Cranberries

adapted from Cooking Light, October 2002

makes 30 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Place nuts in a food processor; process until smooth (about 2 minutes), scraping sides of bowl once. Combine macadamia butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed. Add vanilla and egg; beat well.
  3. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and ground nutmeg, stirring with a whisk. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture; beat at low speed just until combined (mixture will be very thick). Stir in chopped cranberries. Chill 10 minutes.
  4. Divide chilled dough into 30 equal portions; roll each portion into a ball. Place 1 tablespoon granulated sugar in a small bowl. Lightly press each ball into sugar; place each ball, sugar side up, on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
  5. Gently press the top of each cookie with a fork. Dip the fork in water; gently press the top of each cookie again to form a crisscross pattern. Place 15 cookies on each of 2 baking sheets.
  6. Bake cookies, 1 baking sheet at a time, at 375° for 9 minutes or until golden. Remove cookies from pan; cool on a wire rack. Repeat procedure with remaining cookies.

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Let Someone Else Clean Nutella Swirl Pound Cake {World Nutella Day}

Apparently, there is a holiday for just about everything.  Bell Bottoms Day, Cheese Fondue Day, Zipper Day, Cow Chip Day, closely followed by Freak Out Day.  My personal favorite: Let Someone Else Clean Day.  If only I could talk the husband into that one.

I didn’t have to talk anyone into observing today’s holiday, World Nutella Day, once I starting baking this delectable Nutella Swirl Pound Cake.  The aroma from the oven was enough to make everyone a believer.

Nutella, a heavenly spread made from ground hazelnuts and cocoa, was first made in Europe, but has now gained popularity throughout the world and has thankfully made its way down to the Southern US.  And what would be a better way to use it than adding it to a buttery, rich pound cake (other than just eating it from the jar)?

The recipe for this pound cake comes from Lauren Chattman’s Cake Keeper Cakes cookbook. The cake bakes up with a dense crumb and a lovely crust on top (my favorite part of a pound cake).  I did find that I had to bake the cake a lot longer than the 1 hour and 15 minutes called for, more like 1 hour and 45 minutes.  Also, most of the Nutella sank towards the bottom of the cake resulting in really only one layer of spread.  So, the next time I make this I will just put 2/3’s of the batter in the pan, spread only one layer of Nutella over that, and then spread the other 1/3 of the batter on top.  Then I’ll give it a good swirl up and down and side to side.  Does that make sense?  I hope so, ’cause it is very important that you try this cake.

I’m here if you have any questions.

Nutella Swirl Pound Cake

adapted from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman

makes one 9×5 inch loaf cake

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • One 13-ounce jar Nutella

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Lightly grease and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, tapping out any excess flour. In a glass measuring cup, lightly beat the eggs with the vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk the 1 1/2 cups of flour with the baking powder and salt.
  2. In a large bowl beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer at medium-low speed, gradually beat in the egg mixture until fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, beating at low speed between additions until just incorporated. Continue to beat for 30 seconds longer.
  3. Spread one-third of the batter in the prepared pan, then spread half of the Nutella on top. Repeat with another third of the batter and the remaining Nutella. Top with the remaining batter. Lightly swirl the Nutella into the batter with a butter knife. Do not over mix.
  4. Bake the cake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a wire rack, turn it right side up and let cool completely, about 2 hours. Cut the cake into slices and serve.
    *The pound cake can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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Lovingly organized by Ms Adventures in Italy and Bleeding Espresso.

Super Bowl Subs Italian Bread Rolls {The Bread Baker’s Apprentice}

Rain, rain, go away . . . and don’t come again for a long time.  It seems to be feast or famine with the weather here.  Floods or drought.  I vote for a little more balance, before we all just float away.

If there is an upside to all the rain, it gives me more time inside to bake.  These Italian Bread rolls were the next recipe in my bake through of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.  The dough takes two days to make, mixing up half of it the first day, and the rest on day two.  A little time consuming, but if you can work it into your day, so worth it.  The bread rose and baked up beautifully, and the taste is fantastic.

Planning to serve sub sandwiches for your Super Bowl celebration?  These would be perfect for them!

If you don’t have this book by Peter Reinhart, be sure to check it out here.

I’ll Be In Australia French Bread {The Bread Baker’s Apprentice}

It’s been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.  My son woke up sick, my dog got off her leash, my oatmeal was runny, I put yeast in the flour canister instead of the mixing bowl, and my washing machine detergent dispenser is clogged.

I think I’m going to Australia.

I’ve hit a snag in my bake-through of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, too.  Peter Reinhart’s French Bread really gave me pause.  I have made most of the recipes with relative ease, but this bread proved to be a little more ‘sensitive’.  Making the dough was not difficult, but when it came to baking the loaves I couldn’t seem to get it right.

I started baking the loaves with my baking stone on the bottom rack of my oven.  When I checked them, they had gotten way too brown and the tops were still white.  So I moved the stone to the middle, but by the end of the recommended baking time they were still not brown on top.  I turned off the oven and left them in until they were brown enough.

The result?  Very tender with lovely holes on the inside, but a little too tough on the outside.  But I’ll keep working on it.

Just not today.

Interested in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice?  Preview it here.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

No Substitution Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars

There are just some things that cannot be substituted or duplicated.  Like ranch dressing, hazelnut spread, cherry pie filling, or Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups.  Try as you might, it’s just impossible to make some things at home that work as well in recipes or taste the same as certain foods, whether you like it or not.

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{Tuesdays With Dorie} No Substitution Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars

There are just some things that cannot be substituted or duplicated.  Like ranch dressing, hazelnut spread, cherry pie filling, or Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups.  Try as you might, it’s just impossible to make some things at home that work as well in recipes or taste the same as certain foods, whether you like it or not.

Another example of this is sweetened condensed milk.  This tooth-achingly sweet version of milk in a can makes so many recipes taste fabulous and they just aren’t the same without it.  Can you make it at home?  Most likely.  Would it taste the same?  Probably not.  But I’m willing to have someone else do the work for me in this case.

If you happen to have some of that fabulous milk on hand, you probably also have  the rest of the ingredients to make this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, Chocolate Oatmeal Almost-Candy Bars.  These bars are composed of an oatmeal cookie-like layer on the bottom, a rich fudge center, and are dotted with more oatmeal cookie dough on top.  Mine were made without the peanuts and raisins to increase their chances of being eaten at my house, but I know they would be great if you like them at yours.

Give Lillian a visit at Confectiona’s Realm to see the recipe or find it in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

{Tuesdays With Dorie} Swedish Chef And Mrs. Vogel’s Scherben

Mrs. Vogel’s Scherben brought to you by the Swedish Chef:

swedish chef doughnuts

Well, maybe not quite Scherben, but close.

It felt a little Swedish Chef-ish to make this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe, since it was something a little crazy and unusual.  A little ball of dough made from a small amount of butter, a tiny bit of sugar, a pinch of salt, one egg and a little flour and baking powder is then rolled out and cut into funky shapes and then deep fried.  The fried ‘shards’ are then covered in cinnamon sugar and powdered sugar to make a crispy and sweet and slightly addictive snack.

I wasn’t sure about them at first, but they grew on me and I found myself picking the last little pieces out of the sugar from the bottom of the bag.

Teanna of Spork or Foon? was the host this week, and you can find recipe there if you want to try these.

Hmmm, what can I fry next . . . maybe doughnuts?

Wetter Is Better Focaccia And Ciabatta {The Bread Baker’s Apprentice}

As 2009 draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on all the successes and challenges I’ve had in the kitchen this year.  One of the greatest successes – this Focaccia.  One the biggest challenges – this Ciabatta.  But a challenge can sometimes teach you the greatest lesson of all.

Not ever being satisfied with just so-so, I decided to give the ciabatta another try.  Even though I thought my dough had been wet enough the first time, the bread lacked the large holes that earn ciabatta its self-respect.  So this time I made sure to keep the dough as wet as possible making sure it just came together but was still very sticky.  The result?  A dough that bubbled and rose, and baked into a glorious hole-y ciabatta (pictured below) that didn’t have to hide.

The lesson?  Wetter is better.

I applied this same lesson to my focaccia with equally grand results, and it garnered the most raves of any bread I have made so far.  It could most likely be applied to all yeast recipes to insure you a greater chance for success.

These two particular recipes can be found in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart.  If you don’t have it, you can preview the book here.

 

{Tuesdays With Dorie} No Pressure Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies

Have you made your Christmas list yet?  Started your Christmas shopping?  Finished your Christmas shopping?  No pressure or anything.  It’s not like I’ve done any of those things yet.  I take that back, I bought my first Christmas present yesterday, so I guess I’ve officially jumped on the holiday bandwagon.

If you need a little nudge to get you started, here’s a recipe that will help get you in the holiday mood.  Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies chosen by Pamela of Cookies With Boys for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie is just perfect for snacking on while making out your gift list.  A crispy cookie with a little bit of softness in the center from the molasses and brown sugar that is spiced with ginger, cinnamon, allspice and a little pinch of black pepper, and covered with a little sprinkling of sugar ‘snow’.  Sweet, spicy and delicious.

Sound good?  Visit Pamela for the recipe.  Now I must go make my list.

No Pressure Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies

Have you made your Christmas list yet?  Started your Christmas shopping?  Finished your Christmas shopping?  No pressure or anything.  It’s not like I’ve done any of those things yet.  I take that back, I bought my first Christmas present yesterday, so I guess I’ve officially jumped on the holiday bandwagon.

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Happy National Bundt Day Hazelnut Espresso Coffeecake

hazelnut bundt

With today being National Bundt Day, I have to share this wonderful Hazelnut-Espresso Coffeecake I baked from my newest cookbook, Whole Grain Baking from King Arthur Flour.  I was inspired to make this cake by Mary of The Food Librarian, who has been celebrating the Bundt for thirty days by baking a Bundt each day.  Yes, I said a Bundt each day.  Now that is some Bundt love.

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Whew! Creme Brulee {Barefoot Bloggers}

 

What mistake do you make in the kitchen most often?  Omitting ingredients, forgetting to preheat the oven, or maybe not setting the timer?  I’ve made all of these more than once, but I find the thing I do more than these is trying to cut a recipe in half, and forgetting by the end of the ingredient list that I’m halving the recipe and adding the whole amount of the last two or three things.  Sometimes it ends in disaster.  Sometimes not.

I almost made the same mistake with this recipe, Creme Brulee from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris.  I decided to divide it in half, since I only had a pint of cream.  So I mixed together one egg and two egg yolks with half the sugar, heated half the cream and mixed it into the eggs, and then proceeded to add a whole teaspoon of vanilla instead of a half.  Then I thought to myself, I don’t really think the family will be crazy about this if I add a whole tablespoon of Grand Marnier (the original measurement), so I’ll just add . . . a teaspoon, I guess.  Lucky me, that I didn’t go ahead a put the whole thing in, I mean, extra vanilla usually can only be better, but I have a feeling all that orange liqueur in just a half recipe would have resulted in some faces being made at the dinner table.

Instead, this turned out to be the best Creme Brulee I’ve made yet.  It was so smooth and creamy, and the flavor was just perfect.  Everyone in the family finished theirs off.  I just wish I’d had enough ingredients to make the whole recipe.

Creme Brulee is actually a fairly simple dessert to make and can be done ahead of time and burlee’d right before serving.  If you don’t have a kitchen torch, just broil the desserts in the oven.  Here’s my suggestion for the best flavor:  Take them out of the refrigerator about an hour before serving so they will be cool, but not cold.  Much tastier that way.

Thanks to Suzie of Munch + Nibble for choosing this Barefoot Bloggers recipe, which you can print here.

 

Whew! Creme Brulee

bb creme brulee

What mistake do you make in the kitchen most often?  Omitting ingredients, forgetting to preheat the oven, or maybe not setting the timer?  I’ve made all of these more than once, but I find the thing I do more than these is trying to cut a recipe in half, and forgetting by the end of the ingredient list that I’m halving the recipe and adding the whole amount of the last two or three things.  Sometimes it ends in disaster.  Sometimes not.

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{Tuesdays With Dorie} Out Of The Mouths Of Babes Cran-Apple Crisps

Oh, children and the things they will say.  Like “My mom says you can’t come over ’cause you’re a bad influence” to a friend’s daughter.  OH THE HORROR.

So after eating some crow, I barely had room for dessert.  But I had made these Cran-Apple Crisps for Tuesdays with Dorie and I had to make room, and I’m glad I did.

These lovely crisps are made with fresh apples and fresh and dried cranberries.  I used a mixture of Granny Smith and Honey Crisp (my new favorite) apples.  The only change I made was to use walnuts in the crisp mixture instead of coconut, which I thought made a great substitution.

The sweet apples and tart cranberries were very tasty together in these crisps, and a scoop of ice cream added just a little more sweetness.  I highly recommend it.

 

This Tuesdays with Dorie pick was brought to you by Em of The Repressed Pastry Chef and you can find the recipe there.

Don’t Go Down The Drain English Muffins {The Bread Baker’s Apprentice}

 

Today’s question to ponder . . . Why is it always the good spoons that accidentally drop into the disposal?  Never the old hand-me-down silverware that you use for cooking, but the shiny new (-ish) stuff you got for wedding gifts.  Hmmm.

I can tell you that if you like to bake at home and you need one more reason to get The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, here it is.  These English Muffins are so over and above anything you have ever bought, and I don’t say that lightly.  These are so delicious they will even convert those who don’t usually care for English Muffins (i.e., the husband).

I really never even thought is was possible to make English Muffins at home until I got to this recipe in the book.  And still, I had a few reservations about getting that cornmeal crusted top and bottom and the ‘nooks and crannies’, but I was not disappointed.  The recipe consists of a yeast dough that has risen and is cooked in a skillet and finished in the oven.  Much easier than I had expected and with terrific results.

Later this week I’ll have a few recipes for things to do with these.  In the mean time, you can take a look at the book here.

 

An Easy Answer Napoletana Pizza Dough {The Bread Baker’s Apprentice}

 

Today’s question to ponder . . . Why does the clicking sound your car makes never happen when you’re at the mechanic’s?  Hmmm.   If only I knew the answer.  But I can answer the question of how to make the BEST pizza dough ever.  Two words – Peter Reinhart.

I have made quite a few pizza dough recipes in the past and none ever hit the mark.  I wanted a thin crust that wouldn’t be too bread-y, and that would bake up with some crunch on the edges.  I had seen the recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice for Napoletana Pizza Dough before, but since the dough required an overnight rest, I passed it over.  Finally, when I got my own copy of the cookbook and started slowly baking my way through, I realized how successful the recipes are.  So I gave in and mixed up a batch of the dough.

This dough was so soft and silky, and was a dream to stretch out.  It could be made a little thicker, like the Barbecue Chicken Pizza at the top, or extra thin and crispy like the White Pizza With Arugula below.  I was really amazed that I was able to make a dough like this at home, and so was everyone else in my family.

Like I said, it does have to be started the day before, but it is SO WORTH IT.  However, you can keep it in the fridge for 3 days, or in the freezer for 3 months.  I guarantee you it won’t last that long, though.

101 Cookbooks is where I first saw the recipe in a post coincidentally titled Best Pizza Dough Ever (it says the olive oil is optional, but I used it also).  If you’re interested in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice take a look here.

Dunk And Gift Chocolate Citrus Biscotti {Cookie Carnival}

 

Here’s a good one to put on your baking list for the Holidays – Chocolate Citrus Biscotti.  Perfect to bake and dunk in your warm beverage of choice while you do the rest of your work in the kitchen, and lovely to package and give away as gifts.

The recipe is from Giada De Laurentiis and is the Cookie Carnival pick for October.  It differs from the traditional biscotti with the addition of cornmeal, which gives it even more crunch than usual.  Lemon and orange zest are added to the mix also, in just the right amounts.  Chocolate and cocoa make them even prettier and even tastier.

Fun, festive, addictively crunchy and just right for the Holidays, click here for the recipe so you can bake up a batch.

 

Celebrate Fall Cranberry-Walnut Celebration Bread {The Bread Baker’s Apprentice}

 

It’s November, and now that Halloween is over, get ready to brace yourself for the full onslaught of the commercial holiday season.  Christmas items are already filling the shelves and Santa Claus is showing up on the television.  I really have to try not to get too carried away or fall and all its smells, sights, and sounds will pass by before I can enjoy them.

I believe in buying my Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, and waiting until December to start the Christmas holiday baking, which includes Fruitcake.  Yes, that’s what I said.  I am a fruitcake fan, but not the prepackaged kind that’s shaped like a brick, but real homemade more-fruit-and-nuts-than-cake fruitcake.  And I will share my favorite fruitcake recipe for my fellow fruitcake fans in December.

Even though I will sneak a few Christmas songs onto my iPod this month and definitely start my shopping, I plan to bake a lot of pumpkin-y, cinnamon-y, nutty things that remind me that it is still fall.  And if I start to feel a little wistful for some of that fruitcake, this Cranberry-Walnut Celebration Bread will surely tide me over until December.

This loaf from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice combines the flavors of cranberry and walnut with a touch of citrus flavor that reminds me a little of my favorite fruitcake, but can still be very fitting for the fall.  So, celebrate by baking some great bread filled with delicious fall ingredients and enjoy the season.

Interested?  Preview and purchase the book here.

Celebrate Fall Cranberry-Walnut Celebration Bread

bba cranberry-walnut bread

It’s November, and now that Halloween is over, get ready to brace yourself for the full onslaught of the commercial holiday season.  Christmas items are already filling the shelves and Santa Claus is showing up on the television.  I really have to try not to get too carried away or fall and all its smells, sights, and sounds will pass by before I can enjoy them.

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Doubting Thomas Corn Bread

bba cornbread

Being of the Southern persuasion, I grew up eating cornbread as a side for all types of Southern food.  And also because of said Southern persuasion, I grew up eating cornbread made without sugar.  But I did grow up in the generation of Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix (notice they call it corn ‘muffin’, not corn ‘bread’ – I don’t think that was unintentional).  So it’s not like I was never exposed to the sweet style of cornbread more popular in the North, I just prefer the Southern-style.

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Bread Baking Blitz Ciabatta, Cinnamon Buns And Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread

BBA cinnamon bun 2

Okay, so after browsing through my food photos I realized that I had a serious back-log of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice recipe pictures.  And since the back-to-school chaos has slowed my blogging pace down to a SLOW CRAWL leaving me like six months behind the other “Slow-and-Steady” bakers who post every two weeks, I decided to just throw them all out here in one fun bread baking blitz.

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Don’t Let The Dogs Eat The Bagels

bagels

One of our dogs loves to ‘counter-cruise’.  When no one is looking, she puts her paws up on the kitchen counter and grabs whatever has been carelessly left too close to the edge.  Once we opened a Krispy Kreme doughnut box and found it empty.  Somehow she had lifted up the top and eaten the doughnuts without even knocking it off, and carefully closed the box when she was finished.  Sneaky.

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Strawberry-Shortcake Cookie Fusion – Cookie Carnival

cc strawberry shortcake cookies

Craving some strawberry shortcake, but not in the mood to spend too much time in the kitchen?  Well, here’s your answer – the ultimate fusion of strawberries, cream, and biscuits – Martha Stewart’s Strawberry-Shortcake Cookies.  Like a scone in cookie form, these are sweet and tender with a crunchy sugared top.

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Tuesdays With Dorie Parisian Apple Tartlets

twd apple tart

Have you ever been to Paris?  If so, what is the one thing that made the biggest impression on you?  Whenever I think about my trip to Paris, the thing that sticks out the most in my mind is that the women walked around the city in heels.  Even the tour guides that took us on trips to gardens and museums wore some kind of shoe with a heel. Granted most wore very worn-in looking heels, but it was impressive nonetheless.

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Tuesdays With Dorie Cinnamon (And Chocolate) Squares

twd cinnamon square

My husband’s sweet great-grandmother is 91 years old. Until very recently she would still cook and bake her favorite recipes. One of the things she’s famous for is her chocolate pie, made with homemade pie crust and a fudgy filling.  Everyone loves them, especially my sister-in-law.  Last Christmas she sent over a couple of pies for everyone to enjoy, and when my sister-in-law took her first bite she made a funny face and said, “What’s wrong with this pie?”  My mother-in-law tried a bite and said, “It tastes like cinnamon.”  It soon became obvious that great-grandmother had mistaken the cinnamon for the cocoa powder.
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Ina’s Pork Loin And Barefoot Bloggers OUTRAGEOUS Brownies

BB Picnik collage

Once while in college, my boyfriend and I and another couple had gotten together to grill some steaks for dinner.  After my friend and I chatted and had a drink or two, the guys brought the finished steaks inside.  As I was cutting into mine, I spotted something green on the steak.  “What is this…grass?”, I asked.  After a lot of man-laughing, they told me they had dropped one of the steaks on the ground.  “Why’d you give it to me?”, I said.  Of course, the gentlemanly thing would have been for one of them to eat it.  But what did they do?  They just wiped it off and put it back on the grill and let whoever get that one.  I took my boyfriend’s steak and gave him the grassy one.

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Tuesdays With Dorie Chipster-Topped Brownies For Friends

bb chipster brownie

I miss my Friends.  That is one of the funniest shows ever, in my opinion.  I still catch a re-run every once in a while and just literally laugh out loud.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen a truly funny comedy that doesn’t make fun of people or just make you feel dirty.  Especially since I was around the same age as the ‘friends’ when they were on, I could really identify with their characters.  They were just plain funny.

Making this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie selection from Beth of Supplicious (click for recipe), Chipster-Topped Brownies, made me think of this:

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Do Believe The Hype Bread

anadama bread 3 BBA

Peter Reinhart’s book The Bread Baker’s Apprentice has been around for a while and has certainly made the rounds in the food blogging world.  After seeing a few of the recipes on various blogs my interest was piqued, but being a little bit of a skeptic, I told myself this book couldn’t be all that.  I had other baking books that I was sure were just as good, and do I really want to spend two, three, or more days working on a single bread recipe? Continue reading

Tuesdays With Dorie Tiramisu Cake(wreck)

twd-tiramisu-cake-2

Today’s Tuesdays with Dorie selection, Tiramisu Cake, chosen by Megan of My Baking Adventures (click for recipe), turned out to be a little bit of a ‘cake wreck’.

I made half of the cake recipe and baked it in a springform pan, to make it easy to remove and hopefully easier for us to finish!  The cake baked up nicely and came out of the pan with no problems.  When I started to cut it in half, though, it broke up into a bunch of pieces.  Waah!

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Ham-burg-er Bun-s

homemade-burger-buns

I really like knowing exactly what’s in my food.  I’m like one of those kids in the Breyer’s ice cream commercial where they’re reading the ingredients on the carton of the ‘other brand’ saying “polyphenolari-wha?”.  Whenever I can make something myself that is just as good or better than store-bought, I’m all for it.

Lately I’ve been put off by the long list of ingredients in hamburger and hot dog buns.  Even those in the bakery section of the grocery store include things I’ve never heard of.  So, I started searching for a recipe for buns that I could make at home and keep in the freezer.

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Tuesdays With Dorie Chocolate Cream Tart(lets)

twd-choc-cream-tart
Yesterday was one of those days, you know the kind, where everything you do takes 5 hours longer than it should.  I had set some lofty goals for myself around the house and in the kitchen, including hanging bathroom hardware, washing and folding the 50 loads of laundry that had mysteriously piled up over the weekend, spending 30 minutes on the treadmill, baking the Chocolate Cream Tart for Tuesdays with Dorie, carving and cooking a country ham, and making homemade pizza for dinner.  In my mind this seemed quite achievable.

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Tuesdays With Dorie Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding

twd-chocolate-bread-pudding

Okay, tell me you know what I’m talking about.  That look when the cashier who’s checking your groceries picks up some unusual item you’re buying and reads the label – MEXICAN DRINKING CHOCOLATE – raises their eyebrows, and gives a little shrug.  Sometimes they might even say, “What is this?”.  “A citrus reamer”, you answer sheepishly.  Yes, I’m thinking, I know it’s beyond your comprehension why someone might need two popover pans, but I do!

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Don’t Get Them Started Brioche French Toast

brioche-french-toast1

At the grocery store the other day I was in dire need of some windshield washer fluid, and the only kind they had said it was ‘scented’.  I wasn’t really sure how much you would be able to smell something that’s sprayed on the outside of the car, but I figured it couldn’t hurt.  Much to my amazement, I could actually smell the scent of the fluid after I used it the first time.  It was sort of nice.

Fast forward to about a month later, with the family in the car on the way home from dinner.  After hearing many large insects splatting on my windshield (you know it’s spring in the South), and having just had my car washed that day, I suggested to the husband that he spray some cleaner on it.  This is the conversation that followed:

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Tuesdays With Dorie 15 Minute Magic Chocolate Amaretti Torte

twd-amaretti-torte

Last night my husband was watching a show on the Golf channel called The Haney Project where Charles Barkley was trying to learn to become a better golfer.  Charles says at one point something like “I just know I’m going to be the one who goes through all this and still sucks.”  I can relate.  I started taking tennis lessons with some girlfriends recently, and I can just see myself being the one who still sucks after it’s all over.  I always wanted to play tennis, but it never came naturally, and no one wants to play with you if you can’t hit the ball back.  I even took tennis as a course in college, but it soon become apparent that everyone else already knew how to play, and were just doing it for the A.  Well, that’s not what I got.

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The Great Biscuit Debate #3 The Whole Hog

biscuits-3

The biscuits are back.  This time they are made with White Lily flour and half butter, half shortening.  I’ve actually made these a few times, but was just too lazy/busy/forgetful to take a picture.  We’ve been having country ham a lot with the biscuits, my personal favorite biscuit accompaniment.  I’m thinking I must do some research on buying whole country hams, so we can have it more often, but I digress.

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Tuesdays With Dorie Banana Cream Pie

twd-banana-cream-pie

Ever since my daughter could express herself, she has been an animal lover.  She used to stop people walking by our house with their dogs and ask if she could pet them.  Her book choices at the library always include at least one animal book.  Horses, whales, hedgehogs, naked mole rats – you name it, she wants it as a pet.

But she can’t stand monkeys.  I don’t even know when her dislike for monkeys started, but the first time we went to the zoo she told me in no uncertain terms that she did not want to see the monkeys.  “You know I hate monkeys, Mommy,” she said.  I do??  Monkeys have been very popular on kid’s clothes lately, and she was completely freaked out by this.  At her school one of the third grade teachers had decorated her room with all kinds of fun monkey stuff.  It would have been very traumatic if she had turned out to be my daughter’s teacher.

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Cookies Revisited And A Thank You

cookie-collage

To wrap up Cookie Week here at Shortbread, I’d like to revisit a few of the cookies I’ve waxed poetic about in the past.  If you’re new here, or if you’ve been visiting a while, I’d just like to re-introduce the melt-in your mouth Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbread Cookies, the over-the-top Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies, and the blog-tastic World Peace Cookies.  A little something for everyone.

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Don’t Wake The Dogs Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies

kitchen-sink-cookies

It amazes me how a dog can be sleeping so soundly, snoring and chasing squirrels and catching birds, and as soon as a single chocolate chip drops to the floor, he’s awake and in the kitchen scooping it up.  The way their supersonic ears can pick up the sound of a bag of chips being opened from the other side of the house just blows my mind.

Really, I can’t even walk into the kitchen without our dogs being in there under my feet waiting for something to hit the floor.  And the fact that I can be a little clumsy works to their advantage.  But sometimes I would like them to just STAY ASLEEP so I don’t have to worry about them while I’m trying to concentrate on a recipe.

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Always Trendy Thick And Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

tc-choc-chip-cookies

You know you’re getting old(er) when trends start to reappear from your childhood.  Like skinny jeans, legwarmers, and (gasp) shoulder pads.  Some say you should only follow a trend once in your lifetime.  Sometimes, however, a trend returns with such popularity that eventually you just have to embrace it.  Like wide-leg jeans, leggings, and big sunglasses.  I remember thinking I would be glad when the capri trend passed – that’s what my mother wore when she was young – and now they are a fixture in fashion.

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Tuesdays With Dorie Coconut Butter Thins

twd-coconut-butter-thins-2

I am a procrastinator baker.  If there is dusting to be done, I bake cookies.  Pictures to be hung?  I make bread.  Toilets to cleaned?  I must find a use for those browning bananas.

So this weekend when the floors desperately needed to be swept and mopped, I found myself in the kitchen once again baking up this week’s Tuesday’s with Dorie selection, Coconut Butter Thins.

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Cookie Carnival Inside-Out Carrot Cake Cookies

carrot-cake-cookies

No, these aren’t oatmeal creme pies!  But they look like them, don’t they?

Kate at the clean plate club has a baking group called The Cookie Carnival.  She will be posting around the end of every month a round-up of all the bloggers that make a chosen cookie recipe.

I’ll tell you, I’m all for celebrating the cookie!  I probably make cookies more than any other dessert, just because they are fun, family friendly, and freezer friendly.  So this week I’m going to have my own Cookie Carnival and post cookie recipes all week.

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Inaugural Tuesdays with Dorie Blueberry Crumb Cake

blueberry crumb cake

There’s a boy in my son’s second grade class who is constantly making up stories.  And my son, bless his heart, believes every word he says.  Most recently, my son reported, this boy made up a new crayon color, sent it to Crayola, and they are going to start putting in their box of 64.

I had to explain to him that sometimes other people don’t always tell the truth.  “You mean he LIED??”, he asked, horrified.  “Well, this is more like a tall tale”, I told him.  So now he’s never sure he wants to tell me the latest from the tall tale teller, ’cause he knows I probably won’t believe him.  Bless his heart.

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The Great Biscuit Debate #2 No Laziness Allowed

biscuits 2

Okay, are y’all ready for some more biscuits?

This is the second batch I made in my ongoing quest for the perfect buttermilk biscuit.  You can find Batch Number One, made with unbleached all-purpose flour and shortening here.  Batch Number Two was made with bleached, enriched flour and shortening, and actually turned into sub-batch a & b (how disturbingly obsessive is this?).

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Barefoot Bloggers Bonus Recipe Brownie Pudding

brownie pudding

It really just blows my mind when I think about the number of books in the world.  I feel like I’m in a race to read as many as I can before I die.  There’s just not enough time.

That’s how I feel about recipes, too.  I have tons of cookbooks (and keep buying them!), piles of recipes I have clipped or printed out, a computer file of saved recipes, and a list of my own recipe ideas.  JUST NOT ENOUGH TIME!  I think I need some kind of a plan of action to help me tackle some of these recipes and gain a little sense of control in my kitchen.

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Dear John Buttermilk Pound Cake

brown sugar pound cake

Dear Williams-Sonoma,

You are one of my favorite places to shop.  I love to look at your great selection of gourmet kitchen accessories and food products.  The recipes from your catalog and website are always exciting and delicious.  I have really enjoyed building a relationship with you.

It hurts me to say, however, that there is one thing that bothers me about your store that I just can’t get over.

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The Great Biscuit Debate (and the search for the perfect buttermilk biscuit)

biscuits-1

I don’t know what food embodies the South more than the Buttermilk Biscuit.  And just like most other foods of the South, the biscuit recipe is one that is handed down through generations and every family has their own way of making them.  A marriage in the South often leads to a little (or a lot) of argument discussion over what makes a good biscuit.

My mom’s mother could throw together a batch of biscuits in a matter of minutes, cutting hers out with a can and baking the scraps into little pieces for us to snack on.  My dad’s mother would use what I’ve seen referred to as the pinch method – she would pinch off pieces of dough, roll them up and flatten them in the pan with her knuckles.  My mother, a terrific cook and baker, was surprisingly not much of a biscuit maker, preferring the yeast roll or sometimes (gasp) biscuits that came from a can. Continue reading

Barefoot Bloggers Meringues Chantilly

meringues chatilly 3

I can’t remember my mother or grandmothers ever making any kind of meringue when I was growing up.  They didn’t put meringue on top of their banana pudding, or make divinity.  In my foggy memory I think I might have made some kind of meringue dessert since I have been married, but it doesn’t stand out in my mind.

That should have been a hint…

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Coffee Love Yogurt Cake

yogurt-cake

I first started drinking coffee in college to help me stay awake at night so I could study longer.  I discovered, however, that it only helped me to sleep on the couch with a book in my lap longer.  I do love it still, especially the smell of freshly ground beans – I probably could just snort it right out of the coffee grinder!  (Maybe that would have worked better in college.)

I have heard all the health benefits that come from tea drinking, and I like hot tea, but it just can’t replace a fresh, hot cup of coffee in the morning.  I figure I’ll just get my ‘tea vitamins’ from ice tea.

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Valentine’s Day Don’t Be Late Pink Velvet Cupcakes

pink velvet cupcakes

When you live in a small town, often that means one road from your house to where ever you’re going.  And that often means you’re most likely to end up driving behind someone going at least five miles under the speed limit when you are running late for something, be it work, school, doctors’ appointments, karate lessons, whatever.  So it doesn’t help to be someone who is always ten minutes late for everything.

Unfortunately, that is the situation I find myself in quite often, therefore resulting in a lot of cussing (silently, so the children can’t hear) at those who left in plenty of time to get to where they’re going.  I have dreams of becoming one of those people, and I haven’t given up.

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World Tour Day Six Cranberry Pecan Scones

cranberry scones

World Tour Day Six:  Great Britain.

The first time I had scones with real clotted cream and jam was in London at the hotel where we were staying.  I was very excited to sit for a proper afternoon tea and enjoy the formality of the tradition.  Even though I had eaten a nice lunch not long before, I was determined to have a pot of tea and scones while I was there, hungry or not!

I like a little tradition and I like a little formality now and then, too.  I have to say, I get a little frustrated with how casual and informal things have become.  I swear I was sitting beside a woman at the movies last night who was wearing her pajamas and bedroom slippers!  It just makes me a little uncomfortable.  I mean, if you want to watch a movie in your pj’s, get something from the movie store and stay home!  I’m really not interested in what you wear to bed.

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Barefoot Bloggers Easy Sticky Buns

Sticky Bun

You know how it goes.  You’ve made something really yummy and the last one is waiting at home for you after you’ve say, taken the kids to school in the wee hours of the morning, or worked all day, or worked out extra hard, etc.  Then when you finally get to the kitchen to sit down and enjoy your treat, all you find is AN EMPTY PLATE. Continue reading

Peace

World Peace Cookies

In honor of the Inauguration yesterday, I baked up a batch of World Peace Cookies.  If only baking cookies could solve the problems of the world…

Our new President has a hard road ahead and I, like everyone, hope he is what America needs to get us through.  In the meantime, bake some cookies for you and yours and spread some peace in your own corner of the world. Continue reading

What’s The Deal? Weekend Harvest Grain Wheat Baguette

whole-grain-baguette1

What is the deal with this cold weather??  “Arctic air mass drives through the south” says one TV station.  Wrap water pipes, leave faucets dripping, cover outside plants?  What?  It’s not very often that my part of the south hears things like this and that’s one of the reasons I like it here so much.  Long summers and mild winters are right up my alley.  But I guess we need some below freezing weather every once in a while to kill all the mosquitoes. Continue reading

Not Your Ordinary Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies

Even though it’s origins are in New York, cream cheese is something the South has embraced as one of it’s favorite ingredients to elevate a recipe from really good to heavenly.  Think carrot or red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, or any other kind of layer cake, cupcake or sheet cake for that matter.  Think cream cheese pound cake, brownies, or pumpkin roll.  Think cheese balls and cream cheese dips of endless variations, and meat or vegetable casseroles.  Even cream cheese fruit and jello salads.  Throw some cream cheese in it and call it DUUN!

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A Tale Of Two Toffees

Two Toffee Brownies

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities

It could have been much worse of course, but the wind storm we had really made a mess of my car.  A tree fell and the top half flew onto my car.  Crazy.  Lots of dents and cracks and broken things.  I hope falling trees are not going to become a pattern.

The question is, what does one do when such a depressing, frustrating thing happens?  Go for a jog?  Do some yoga?  Scream at the top of one’s lungs?  Well, I chose to bake brownies.  Not just one, mind you, but two kinds of brownies to help ease my mind. Continue reading

You Say Peecan and I Say Pahcahn Shortbread

Brown Sugar Pecan Shortbread

It’s the most famous nut in the south, with the most variations on how to pronounce its name.  I tend to change the way I say it depending on where I am.  With my family in NC – PEECAHN.  With my family in SC – PEECAN.  With the girls in the Junior League – PAHCAHN.  It’s all the same to me, and the pecan is probably the nut I choose first for my recipes.  They are so good just off the trees in the fall, and they freeze well, too.  And when you toast them, it takes them to another level. Continue reading

A Fresh Start

I believe there are two categories of cooks – those who cook so others can enjoy the food, and those who cook so they can enjoy the food.  I happen to fall into the second category, so my family and friends are often served creations from my kitchen which incorporate my favorite food groups:  cheese, bread, and potatoes (preferably french fried), and we almost never have the same thing twice.  I always thought this was the case in every household until I met my mother-in-law, who will not eat anything made with cheese, mayonnaise, milk, or processed meat products.  I discovered this at our wedding shower when she didn’t eat, even though there was creamy olive dip, cocktail hot dogs, cucumber sandwiches with cream cheese, and chicken salad.  However, she makes some of the best homemade macaroni and cheese, ham salad, and cheesecake.  Go figure.  She once asked me if there was any food I didn’t like…I was stumped. Continue reading