Will's birth dance

Cocoa Brownies

Apple Rhubarb Cobbler

There have been 3 huge bags of rhubarb in the freezer down at the garden from last Spring. So...I snatched a bag to make cobbler. I threw this recipe together and I thought it turned out lovely, especially with some good vanilla ice cream. If you don't like a lot of ginger, feel free to tone it down a bit. I just noticed this week that the rhubarb is popping up again, just in time to get through last years stash I suppose!

Apple Rhubarb Cobbler
4 tbs unsalted butter, browned
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
3/4 cup sour cream

3 cups sliced apples
3 cups rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cups sugar
1 tbs flour
1/4 cup minced crystallized ginger
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1. In a large bowl mix apples, rhubarb, sugar, tbs flour, ginger, and lemon juice. Spread into the bottom of your pan (I used a 9 inch cast iron).
2. Place flour, baking powder, salt, and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar in a medium-size bowl and whisk to combine.
3. Lightly beat the egg in a medium-size bowl. Add the sour cream and butter and stir to combine. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. Do not overmix or the topping will be tough.
4. Drop spoonfuls of the topping mixture on the filling. There may be gaps, but as the cobbler bakes the topping will spread out to cover the fruit.
5. Bake the cobble until the fruit juices bubble up around the edges of the baking pan and the topping turns golden, 45-50 minutes minutes. Let the cobbler cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Mom's Roast Chicken

When I think of a nostalgic home-cooked meal, I immediately think about roast chicken.

When I was a kid my favorite part was the salty, crispy, fatty skin (I would ask others if they were going to eat their skin and, if that failed, creepily stare them down until they handed it over). My mom cooks roasts chicken the Jewish way, that is covered in salt. The result is super flavorful and never dry.

One of the most important parts of this recipe is to not ignore the last instruction to cover the bird for at least 10 minutes to allow it to slump. I know the whole house smells like chickeny goodness and it's late and your hungry, but please wait for the chicken to slump, it's seriously worth it. Oh, and don't over cook the damn thing. This salmonella instilled fear really gets me down, over-cooked meat is sick and should be illegal.

Mom's Roast Chicken

1 whole chicken
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
fennel seeds
garlic powder

**I also suggest roasting potatoes cut-side down around the bird. Just toss them in some olive oil, salt and pepper and put them in a single layer on the baking sheet with the chicken. They cook in the chicken juices and get crispy and delicious on the bottom and fluffy and buttery on the inside. I usually throw in some whole garlic cloves to roast with the tators.

Preheat oven to 425

1. Wash chicken inside and out and dry thoroughly.
2. Make the spice blend by combining all the the spices listed above. You want about half the spice mixture to be salt and you should end up with about a 1/4 cup of spices. Then go ahead and rub them all over the bird. Don't think about how much salt you're using and really get in there and rub it in. Rub the inside of the cavity too. Go ahead and throw some fresh thyme in the cavity if you have it, okay?
3. Truss the bird and place on the sheet pan. Arrange potatoes around the chicken. Throw the chicken in the oven and turn the temp down to 400.
5. Roast for about an hour depending on the size of the bird. You know the chicken is done when the juices run clear.
6. Once you have take the chicken out of the oven cover it tightly with aluminum foil for at least 10 minutes to slump. It's too hot to cut up straight out of the oven, so just trust me and have patience.

I like to serve the chicken with roasted brussel sprouts, a fresh salad, and some challah. The result of this combination is in my opinion the perfect Shabbat dinner.
Don't forget to make stock after dinner.


Apple Pie

I had plans of getting doing homework tonight, but my friend Will dumpstered a bunch of granny smith apples and suggested we make a pie. I couldn't say no. I even ran to the store to buy flour and vanilla ice cream, that's how committed to pie I am.
Classic Apple Pie

2 1/2 lbs apples, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbs lemon juice
3 tbs flour

2 1/2 cups flour
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, chilled
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/4-1/2 cup ice water

egg wash:
1 egg yolk
1 tbs cream
sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425.
1. For crust pulse flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse a few times until the butter in pea sized. With processor on, slowly add ice water until the dough comes together and begins to form a ball. Form into a disc and wrap in plastic and refrigerate.
(This makes enough crust for a deep dish apple pie, but I halved the recipe because of I only had one stick of butter and it make just enough for a thin crusted pie)
2. Combine filling ingredients in a bowl.
3. When dough is chilled, split in two pieces. Roll out on a lightly floured surface and line pie pan. Fill with apple mixture. Roll remaining dough and lay over the apples. Cut excess dough around the edges and press the edges together with whatever designed of your choosing.
4. Mix egg yolk and cream and brush over the top of the pie. Sprinkle generously with sugar. Cut slits for the air to escape.
Bake at 425 for 25 minutes then turn down to 350 and bake another 25 minutes or until nicely browned.

Chocolate hazelnut biscotti


Tassajara bread a.k.a. my new fav

I have officially found my new favorite everyday, endlessly adaptable, simple bread recipe. Yahoo!


Cinnamon Buns

So I have a confession to make...I have never made homemade cinnamon rolls. Sad no? So I figured I am up early with nothing better to do; the time is now. I used Peter Reinhart's recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice because I trust him and I was looking for a yeast risen dough that was more bread-like than cake-like, an enriched, but not rich dough.

He has a version for sticky buns as well. What I was envisioning was a kind of mixture between a cinnamon bun and a sticky bun, basically an un-frosted cinnamon roll with a slightly sticky filling. Not drenched in sugar, but just sweet enough. So my brilliant move was to make his cinnamon sugar filling, but use a little less sugar and add some maple syrup for stickyness and lovely maple flavor. You could definitely add some chopped walnuts or pecans, but I didn't have any and didn't miss them.

Cinnamon Buns
6 1/2 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
5 1/2 tbs unsalted butter, room temp
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp lemon extract or grated zest of 1 lemon (I used orange zest)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or unbleached bread flour
2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/8-1 1/4 cups while milk or buttermilk
1/2 cup cinnamon maple sugar (3 1/2 tbs sugar, 3 tbs maple syrup, 1 1/2 tbs cinnamon)

1. Cream together the sugar, salt, and butter using a large metal spoon and mixing bowl. Whip in the egg and lemon extract or zest until smooth. Then add the flour, yeast, and milk. Stir by hand until the dough forms a ball. Knead for about 12-15 minutes, or until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky. You may have to add a little flour or water while mixing to achieve this texture. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover with plastic wrap.
2. Ferment at room temp for about 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
3. Mist the counter with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. To shape buns:
(a) Roll out the dough with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the top of the dough with flour to keep it from sicking to the pin. Roll it into a rectangle about 2/3 inch thick and 14 inches wide by 12 inches long for larger buns, or 18 inches wide by 9 inches long for smaller buns. Don't roll out the dough too thin, or the finished buns will be tough and chewy rather than soft and plump.
(b) Spread the cinnamon maple sugar mixture over the surface of the dough and
(c) roll the dough up into a cigar-shaped log, creating a cinnamon-sugar spiral as you roll. With the seam side down, cut the dough into 8-12 even pieces each about 1 3/4 inches thick for larger buns; or 12 to 16 pieces each 1 1/4 inch thick for smaller buns.

4. Line 1 or more sheet pans with parchment or grease with butter. Place the buns about 1/2 inch apart so that they aren't touching but are close to one another.
5. Proof at room temp for 75-90 minutes, or until the pices have grown into one another and have nearly doubled in size.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 with the oven racks on the middle shelf.
7. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Cool the buns in pan for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Wait at least 20 minutes before serving.

kale chips

Ok, I know what your thinking, kale chips sounds like some serious hippie snack right? Well, maybe you're right, but they are also crispy, salty, easy, fast, and delicious. So just trust me and give these a try.

Kale Chips
1 bunch kale
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350.
1. De-stem the kale and chop
2. Toss with a glug of olive oil in a bowl and massage until the kale is coated.
3. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
4. Bake for about 10 minutes, but keep and eye on them they burn easily! You may have to toss them around a bit half way through so that they cook evenly. They are done when they are nice and crispy.
Eat them straight up or dip them in your favorite sauce.


Nostaligia and Desserts

One thing I have noticed from talking to people about their dessert preferences and all-time favorite desserts is that, more so than savory foods, dessert preferences are largely determined by nostalgia. I'm not trying to get too philosophical here and I'm not trying to say desserts are all relative, because we all know that's not true. What I'm saying is that pastry chefs who play off comforting, nostalgic, childhood-longing feelings and flavors that we have surrounding dessert are seriously onto something. I think this is true for savory dishes as well, but it is overwhelmingly true when is comes to sweets.

I came to this conclusion from watching reactions people in my life have to certain sweet things and their complete indifference to others. For some it's cookies, rice pudding, and chocolate and for others it's key lime pie, wedding cake, and gummy bears. People have serious opinions when it comes to sweets. The faces of complete elation and utter disgust are so extreme in conversations I have with friends about their dessert preferences. People are often incredible defensive and amazed when you say you're not that crazy about one of their favorite sweets, they just can't believe it, but often enough it's because we don't have the same nostalgic feelings surrounding the specific sweet thing.

So often beyond just plain ol' personal preferences, peoples underlying favorites are determined by their childhood memories, special holiday sweets, and foods that gives them that comforting and deeply satisfying feeling. Here are some of my favorite sweet things:

1. chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, but not most chocolate cakes (they are often so dry and not chocolatety.
2. cereal (I think this was the most frequently eaten food from my childhood, my body is probably primarily made of cereal; cinnamon puffins anyone?)
3. apple pie (late summer, early fall was all about picking apple and making pie, but you've got to have great vanilla ice cream too)
4. blackberry crisp (also a summer favorite, picking buckets full, getting scratched up everywhere, and coming home with purple teeth)
5. really good strawberry ice cream from the Scoop in Fairfax, vanilla honey lavender ice cream too come to think of it
6. angelettes, a secret family recipe, sort of like a walnut shortbread, but better, the size of a quarter you can keep popping them into your mouth all day until you realize you've eaten a few sticks of butter
7. these cute raspberry teacakes that my sister and I made growing up, they were a rich buttery cookie with raspberry jam baked in mini cupcake tins. I haven't had them since I was little, where the heck is that recipe anyhow?
8. white nectarines, perfectly ripe, perfectly sweet, first good one of the summer seriously takes my breath away.
9. raspberries. with chocolate. or put on your fingers like little red thimbles and popped in your mouth.
10. hot chocolate with cayenne and sea salt, no marshmallow or whip creme, just give me the chocolate please and a roaring fire and a good book.


Spring Break Cookies

Spring break 2010. My sister is visiting for the weekend and we're having a craft night including shrinky dinks, stamps, pretty pens, and other crafty goodness.
My friend Kat and I don't fuck around when it comes to chocolate chip cookies. Tonight we decided to make the Alton Brown's famous recipe because it is one we both haven't tried yet. We didn't have any brown sugar, so we made some by mixing sugar and molasses, this made the cookies extra deep brown.
I have to say, these cookies are good, but I like my old stand by cookie recipe better.


Almond-Olive Quick Bread

It is easy to find good sweet quick bread recipes, but when it comes to savory ones they are few and far between. This bread literally takes 5 minutes to throw together and you don't have to fuss with rising times. The original recipe called for pistachios instead of almonds, so feel free to experiment. I think this bread would also be good with some chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

Almond-Olive Quick Bread
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tbs sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup olive oil
2 eggs
1/3 cup chopped almonds
3 tbs chopped pitted greek olives

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan and dust with flour.

In a bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the milk, olive oil, and egg until smooth. Stir in the almonds and olives. Add to the combined dry ingredients and stir until blended.

Pour and scape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until a thin wooden skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.



Cold Season

It's still snowy here. Can you believe it?

I have officially come down with a bad cold. The great news is that there is only one week left before Spring break and this weekend it's supposed to be in the 60s. Everyone is ready for Spring around hear.

I saw the green tips of daffodils up last week; I'm worried about them to say the least.

Anyhow foodwise, I promise to post even in my sick state something yummy today. Sound good?


Lemon Souffle Pudding

I came across this recipe at Joy's blog recently and was excited about it because:
a. it looked delicious
b. it's made with ingredients I tend to have on hand
c. it can be made in cute little individual ramikins or in one 9-inch pan
d. it's kinda like two desserts in one because you get a souffle/cake layer and a lemon custard layer

We're having a guest over for dessert tonight at the house, so it seems like the perfect day to try this little honey. Just click the title to link to the original recipe.

Lemon Souffle Pudding

1 cup granulated sugar, divided

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

3 large eggs, separated

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoon lemon zest

1/3 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup whole milk

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and place rack in the center of the oven. Butter six – 1 cup ramekins. I used one buttered 8-inch cake pan (a 9-inch glass pie pan works too).

Set aside 2 tablespoons of the sugar to use when whipping the egg whites. Place the remaining sugar in a medium sized bowl. Add the lemon zest to the sugar. With the back of a spoon, or spatula, grind the lemon zest into the sugar, creating a fragrant, slightly yellow tinged sugar. Working the zest into the sugar will release lots of the essential oils in the zest, creating a super lemony batter. Then, in the bowl of your electric mixer or with a hand mixer, cream the lemony sugar and butter. Add the three egg yolks, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour and salt and beat until combined. With the mixer on low speed, gradually pour in the lemon juice and milk. Set aside while you beat the egg whites.

In a clean bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter, in three additions, mixing only until incorporated.

Carefully pour (or use a ladle) the batter into the prepared ramekins. (The batter does not rise much during baking so you can fill the ramekins almost to the rim.) I poured the entire mixture into the 8-inch cake pan. Place the ramekins in a larger baking pan (or any size pan that will fit the ramekins and leave about 1 inch (2.54 cm) around the edges). Or place the 9-inch baking dish in a larger basting pan and set on your counter

Boil a tea pot of water to create a water bath. (A water bath is used to provide temperature protection for the eggs.) Place the basting pan with the souffle inside into the oven, carefully pulling the oven rack out a bit. Carefully pour in enough hot water so that the water is halfway up the sides of the ramekins or pie dish, and carefully slide the rack back into the oven.

Bake for about 40 – 45 minutes or until the sponge cakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake portion comes out clean. Be careful not to insert the toothpick into the lemon sauce at the bottom of the ramekins. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and cool slightly before serving.

This dessert can be served warm or at room temperature. Dust the tops of the puddings with confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar and dress with a dollop of whipped cream and fresh fruit (optional).