Archive for the ‘Baking’ Category

Tuesday with Dorie: Best-Ever Brownies

Sometimes, it takes chocolate to turn things around.  A brownie recipe labeled as the ‘Best-Ever’ should have that game-changing power.  And I needed these brownies, the subject of today’s Tuesdays with Dorie challenge to lift me out of a black mood.

The day started at 5 a.m. when I managed to break a spindle on the stairway. Later, I realized, at the half-way point, that I lacked the most important ingredient in an expensive recipe- an ingredient that can only be ordered online. Then I walked to the ATM machine to find it out of order, locked myself out of the house, and burnt my arm reaching in the oven. And I lost one of my favorite earrings.

It’s fair to say I was skeptical that these brownies would be the best ever.  But I had enough faith in Dorie to give them a try.

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Rosemary Salted Caramel Apple Pie

Recipe:Rosemary Caramel Apple Pie

Every year, beginning in August, my CSA starts inundating me with apples. It’s November now, and they are still coming; apples of every shape color and kind.  And, I’ve got an apple tree in my back yard, which drops its fruit long before fall officially arrives. So along with making apple sauce, apple jam, and apple crisp, I’ve been working on a new apple pie for Thanksgiving. A pie based on the idea that apples, salted caramel and rosemary have to lead somewhere good.

A quick web search will lead you to believe that Kraft invented the caramel apple in the 1950s. I don’t buy it. I’m not even buying Slashfood’s take it on it, that caramel apples originated in the late 1800s. Humans have been caramelizing sugar for thousands of years. Surely someone dunked an apple in the stuff, long, long ago.  Just because they didn’t do market research doesn’t mean they didn’t recognize a good thing when they tasted it.

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Muffins? Again? Cranberry Orange Mini Muffins for Tuesdays with Dorie

I almost skipped today’s Tuesdays with Dorie challenge. Buttermilk crumb muffins just don’t sound that enticing to me – especially since I still have a half dozen pumpkin muffins stored in the freezer.

Also, a plain muffin, with a trace of cinnamon and nutmeg for flavor, made from vegetable shorting and buttermilk? Not so much. But I really want to get back on the Tuesday with Dorie bandwagon, so when I saw the first harvest of cranberries at the market last week, inspiration finally took hold.

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Smash that Pumpkin

Recipe: Blueberry Pumpkin Muffins

I’m not going to make excuses for my blogging hiatus. Well, okay one. We had eighty days of pretty much straight sunshine here in Seattle. Really. Hardly any rain fell from mid-July through to the second week of October. Friends visited, trails were hiked, kayaks were paddled, day-trips were taken. And, I cooked of course – this year I really took my canning seriously – tomatoes, pickled peppers, creamed corn, and ketchup.

And I am, still delighted to be home. Delighted by everything I already take for granted in the is house, again, from the morning light, the 10 minute walk to Kerry Park, and the swing on the porch to the duel fuel stove.

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Homecoming Pie

I should be packing. We’re a few days away from moving home. In spite of boxes and painting projects, all the endless detail arrangements, I still don’t really believe. But every so often, I get close. Like the day I took the dogs over to play in the backyard and saw sheer joy in their body language.

Or when I realized that this week’s Tuesday with Dorie recipe, for Blueberry Nectarine pie, was contributed to the book and TV show by Leslie Mackie. It’s not only that Mackie is based here in Seattle, but her bakery is four blocks from my house. Macrina’s second location opened on McGraw Street in 2001. K.M. and I moved into the neighborhood in 2003.

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Remember Biscotti?

When did biscotti become invisible? All the rage in the early ’90s, there is still a jar of these twice-baked Italian delights in nearly every coffee shop —some good, some bad, but nearly all just fine after a few seconds in a shot of espresso. But until this week’s Tuesday with Dorie challenge, Hazelnut Biscotti, I hadn’t tasted one in years.

I’m never going to let that happen again. If you leave the hazelnuts out of the equation, biscotti are easy to make. Make the dough – shape it into logs, bake it, cool it (I refrigerated mine overnight), slice it and bake again. The hands-on-time is way less than the average chocolate chip cookie, I promise.

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Bread Pudding Chez Nora

Recipe: Bread Pudding with Salted Butterscotch Sauce

I ate bread pudding for dinner last night.

My mother didn’t serve Yorkshire pudding [with roast beef]…My mother served potato pancakes instead. I serve Yorkshire pudding and potato pancakes. Why not, you only live once.”
-          From ‘Serial Monogamy’

One of my favorite writers died this week. Nora Ephron may be better known as the queen of  romantic comedy, but she was much more. She was a real writer, concerned with craft, timing and the art of storytelling.

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Strawberries and Cream…and Cake

This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie challenge was a close call.  Who wouldn’t want to make a French strawberry cake: strawberries, cream and a chance to make a génoise? But what about the berries?  French rhubarb cake doesn’t have the same glamor. At least not in June.

Strawberries are delicate –the best ones really can’t travel very far, or wait very long.  And I’m stubborn. I’d rather wait for a local berry – one that is red all the way through, tender and truly sweet –  than make do with an imitation – something that exhibits all the mechanical characteristics of a strawberry without actually being one.*

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Eating With My Fingers

I love flatbread.  I adore the taste, the crispness with just the right amount of give – but really, flatbreads; naan, parathas, pooris, even pita bread – are a means to an end. They give me the freedom to eat with my fingers. The smallest bit of bread makes any dish manageable with just a thumb and two fingers.

For some Westerners it’s a skill that has to be acquired. Not for me. I jumped right in on my first trip to India  – to the astonishment of my Indian family.  Eating with your hands gives you a new way to appreciate the texture of food and for me, turns every bite into a conscious act.  If I could get away with it, I’d ditch the silverware at every meal.

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Sticky Buns: Brioche, Butter And Another Tuesday With Dorie

Recipes: Brioche and Pecan Sticky Buns

Sticky buns epitomize all that’s wonderful about weekend breakfast; indulgence, leisure, hanging out with people who are happy to see you in your pajamas, and of course, an excess of butter.  They go perfectly with strong coffee too. And because I was lucky enough to be chosen as one of the hosts for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie, I get to share the sticky bun recipe from Baking with Julia with you.

I’ve eaten and baked many a sticky bun.  I’ve even written about them before. But this sticky bun recipe – made from brioche dough, is a keeper. Watch (part 1 and part 2) Nancy Silverton – the contributing baker and driving force behind the La Brea Bakery - make these sticky buns for Julia Child.  See if you don’t end up wanting to run into the kitchen and bake.

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