Category Archives: recipes

Get a loaf of this

Winter baking continues! Bread (and more bread), scones, pancakes, cake, cookies, pizza dough, granola, and probably more I’m forgetting.

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The oatmeal potato loaves from The Bread Bible

Bread: Most of my bread recipes come from King Arthur Flour, but I branched out recently and tried the potato oatmeal bread from Beth Hensperger’s The Bread Bible: 300 Favorite Recipes. It was a little more work upfront, but it makes two loaves and it came out great! I made one loaf in a 9×5 bread tin and one on a baking sheet (using a Silpat). The ingredients list calls for water, but in the text of the recipe it says milk; I used milk. I think the milk-for-water substitution was mentioned elsewhere in the book.

From King Arthur, the Oatmeal Toasting & Sandwich Bread has been a steady winner, with a good rise, nice color and flavor and texture. I’ve also liked the Vermont Maple Whole Wheat Honey Bread and the Vermont Maple Oatmeal Bread (I use the maple syrup, but not the extra maple flavoring). IMG_20180131_165114

My best discovery from King Arthur, though, has been the Almond Flour pancakes: they are perfect. Like most pancake batter, it’s quick to mix up a batch. I can make three at a time in our biggest skillet without them touching; they’re light-textured and airy and delicious, more filling than the average pancake (because of the nut protein?), and they keep and reheat well. The only downside is that I can’t send them to daycare with the little one, as it’s a nut-free environment. (Insert joke here.)

IMG_20180207_161715Pizza: The “rushed” version from Smitten Kitchen Every Day actually came out just fine, while the ATK recipe didn’t come out as well (it was still quite edible, just didn’t rise the way I thought it should).

Cake: Chocolate cake with chocolate icing: top-secret family recipe, for birthdays and weddings!

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Chocolate cake, before icing the sides

Cookies: Deb Perelman’s latest hamantaschen recipe from the book Smitten Kitchen Every Day. These didn’t come out as well as ones I’ve made previously; the dough was not quite as pliable, and liable to crack rather than bend when folded. Next time I’ll go back to one of her other hamantaschen recipes (there are lots) or my original family recipe (don’t know where it came from, but it works). Filled them with raspberry jam this year (yum) and fig (too sweet).

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Oatmeal scones from ATK recipe

I also made the blondies from the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook (a.k.a. the red binder), because I wanted chocolate chip cookie bars. They were good but I’d consider trying other recipes as well – anyone have a chocolate chip cookie bar they love?

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In the oven (NOT A METAPHOR)

Homemade cinnamon raisin bread

Cinnamon raisin bread

Give me a little free time in summer, and I’m in the garden; give me a little free time in winter, and suddenly the house is full of sandwich bread, cinnamon raisin bread, cream scones, oatmeal cookies, chocolate chip cookies, Swedish visiting cake, and sour cream coffee cake. (To be fair, my partner-in-kitchen made the coffee cake. And helped with the cookies.)

Sandwich bread: King Arthur Flour

Cinnamon raisin bread: America’s Test Kitchen (but the kid baffles me: “No butter on my toast!” What??)

Oatmeal cookies: Flour by Joanne Chang (I used dried apricots instead of raisins)

Chocolate chip cookies (a.k.a. “most best”): Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce

Cream scones: America’s Test Kitchen (I used raisins and candied ginger instead of currants)

Swedish visiting cake: Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan (I’ve made this at least seven times since discovering it. It is SO EASY and SO DELICIOUS. I don’t make the topping, I just sift a little powdered sugar over it once it’s cooled a bit.)

Sour cream coffee cake: Flour

We did have salmon and kale for dinner the other night, so we’re not subsisting solely on baked goods, and both cakes were to share…but still, I should probably concentrate on vegetables for a little while.

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What’s cooking

Dog lying on a pillow

But also, here is a photo of the dog.

This used to be, as a friend once described it, a blog about food and pictures of my dog. It’s evolved a little bit away from that in the past few years, but here’s a roundup of some of the recipes I’ve made over the last few months, partly inspired by my reading and by the new cookbook club I started at the library.

Cooking

Tsimmes from Cooking for Jeffrey by Ina Garten: Fine, but not as good as the tsimmes my friend brought to Rosh Hashanah last fall; I should have used her recipe. I tried the Barefoot Contessa’s because (a) it took less time, and (b) that was the cookbook club book.

Pita chips from The Food52 CookbookAs advertised: better than store-bought chips. I made these to bring to the first cookbook club.

Pasta with tomato sauce and cheese, with a side of Brussels sprouts in the cast iron on the stove top: first time I’d made Brussels sprouts in a while, I forgot how good they are. (Not that good left over. Get ’em while they’re hot and crispy.) This isn’t really a special recipe but it’s here as proof that I don’t use my kitchen solely to bake cookies.

“Green casserole”: I don’t particularly enjoy munching on spinach leaves and neither, it turns out, does my two-year-old, but we will both happily eat “green pasta.” 1. Cook any short/medium shape of pasta as usual. 2. Put a whole bag of spinach in the food processor with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and one clove of garlic. 3. Drain pasta, and while the empty pot is still warm, add a couple tablespoons of butter, some milk or cream, grated cheese, and salt and pepper to taste, then mix in the spinach. 4. Add the pasta back into the pot and stir to coat. 5. Optional: add more milk or cream, dump it all into a casserole dish, top with extra cheese, and bake for 20 minutes. If you do this, make sure you take the pasta out when it’s al dente, or it may get too mushy.

Winter vegetable crunch: My friend brought me some salad she’d made, a combination of Brussels sprouts and carrots, and it was delicious. I borrowed her recipe (lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper, mustard) and used purple cabbage and rainbow carrots. Everything into the food processor! This was the first time I bought a cabbage. (It goes a long way. This would be a good salad to serve if you have a lot of people coming over.)

See also: pizza (below)

Baking

Last-minute chocolate cake from Garlic & Sapphires by Ruth Reichl: The cake didn’t rise much (not even all the way to the top of the bread tin). It was good warm, but not great leftover – definitely needed ice cream or whipped cream. Probably wouldn’t make again, but will try “Nicky’s Vanilla Cake” from the same book.

Pear clafouti from Wintersweet: This recipe called for cranberries also but was very, very good with just pear. I’ve made it both ways now. Easy and delicious.

Oatmeal raisin cookies from Flour (again, and again, and again)

Pumpkin cookies from Martha Stewart Cookies: Like all pumpkin cookies I’ve ever made, a little wet and cakey, though the flavor was good.

Pumpkin “bread” (cake) from my mom’s recipe, with the caramel icing from Faulknerian Family Spice Cake from The Food52 Cookbook (minus about a cup of confectioner’s sugar): This pumpkin bread really doesn’t need icing, but I made it in muffin tins (halve the baking time) for my daughter’s second birthday party, and, well, cupcakes should have a little icing. It was a good combination.

“Easy as pie” Apple cake from the New York Times: A friend brought this over for brunch and this was the recipe she used. I think I made it too, afterward, but I don’t remember. Apple cakes are usually pretty foolproof.

French toast: French toast seems fancy but is actually very easy. Soak bread in egg/milk/vanilla mixture, sprinkle it with cinnamon, and cook it on both sides over medium heat till golden-brown. Slice some bananas into the pan with butter too so they caramelize and put them on top, or use fresh fruit.

Guinness Brown Bread from Cooking for Jeffrey by Ina Garten: The bread fell apart when I tried to turn it out of the loaf tin. Flavor was OK but not outstanding. Rather than make this again I’d just make Boston brown bread.

Cranberry orange bread from America’s Test Kitchen: My mom brought me some fresh cranberries from the Cape and this was one of the ways I used them (see also: pear clafouti). If you only have dried cranberries, soak them in water or juice before adding them to the batter.

Banana bread from Flour (again)

Sprinkle cookies from Smitten Kitchen: A friend made these for our December book club/cookie swap and they were so much better than sprinkle cookies usually are that I made a batch a few days later. So good – and fun for kids to roll the balls of dough in the sprinkles!

Sliced bread

Loaf of bread on a wire rack

ACTUAL BREAD from King Arthur Flour’s recipe for Pain de Mie. One of my goals for 2018 was to start baking sandwich bread instead of buying bread at the grocery store, and I tackled it on January 1. It came out beautifully! (For years I have been avoiding any recipe that called for active dry yeast, after being burned – not literally – too many times by less-than-active yeast. No more!)

Emboldened by my success with the sandwich bread, I made pizza dough from Smitten Kitchen tonight: her “rushed” version from the first book takes about six minutes to put together and has just a 30-minute rise, so it is actually manageable for dinner without much planning ahead. We topped it with pasta sauce, Italian herbs, shredded mozzarella,  black olives, and kale.

Toddler with olives on fingers

She quickly mastered the ancient art of putting olives on one’s fingers

 

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More tasty things in the kitchen

Tasty things we made in December

Sweet potato casserole (adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)

Ingredients
8 Tbsp butter
5 sweet potatoes
Less than 1/3 cup each of brown sugar, molasses, and maple syrup*
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Pecans for topping (optional)

*The original recipe called for 1 cup of packed brown sugar, and also 5 lbs of potatoes; a few of my potatoes were probably under a pound, but even so, that seemed like a lot of sugar. I replaced some of the sugar with other sweeteners, about 1/4 cup of each – you could definitely cut back even more and this would still be a very sweet dish.

Instructions
Peel and cut sweet potatoes into chunks. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sweet potatoes, sugar/molasses/syrup, water, salt, and pepper; bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook, stirring often, until the potatoes are tender, 30-45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450.

Remove the lid and bring the potato mixture to a simmer; gently mash the potatoes into the liquid with a potato masher. Chop the pecans and spread them over the top of the potato mixture, then bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool just long enough so that you don’t burn your mouth on the first bite.

Olive oil cake with lemon and ginger (adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake)

We made the blood orange olive oil cake, and it was very good, but it will be years before I “supreme” a citrus fruit again. Make the same cake using lemon zest and juice instead of orange, and add about 1/2 cup of chopped crystallized ginger, and it’s an easier and equally delicious cake.

Green casserole a.k.a. secret spinach casserole (adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)

Very adapted: I actually used the ATK recipe for fettuccine alfredo sauce, added a cube of last summer’s frozen pesto and a whole bag of spinach (turned into green paste with a little bit of olive oil in the food processor), and used this green sauce mixture to coat cooked (al dente) rigatoni pasta, which I then baked in a 9×13 casserole dish at 350 for about 20 minutes. Grate some extra cheese over the top if you like (and who doesn’t like?).

Oatmeal walnut raisin cranberry cookies (from Baking With Less Sugar by Joanne Chang)

These are good if you think of them as breakfast cookies instead of dessert cookies.

A note on crystallized ginger and raisins, vis a vis toddlers: our kid is wild about these. I just heard you’re not supposed to give raisins to kids under three because they are a choking hazard, but they are very small raisins, and she’s been fine so far. And she brushes her (many, many, I think about 80 now?) teeth. As for the ginger…neither her dad nor I can handle eating a whole piece of ginger, but apparently she has a much higher spice/heat tolerance than we do!

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Various tasty things

Friends, Romans, Countrymen…I have discovered the casserole. Mostly what I have discovered is cooking one big thing and having several days’ worth of leftovers for 2-3 people. From what I’ve heard, casseroles are merely the gateway drug to slow cookers, but I’m not quite there yet (I’m hesitant to add one more gadget to the kitchen, though I hear they are well worth it).

What we’ve made lately, savory:

  • Macaroni and cheese casserole, Pioneer Woman (a.k.a. Ree Drummond) recipe. I added caramelized onion, broccoli, and chicken meatballs. Used traditional elbow noodles.
  • Pasta and meatball casserole, America’s Test Kitchen recipe. I jarred sauce instead of homemade, made it with penne or rigatoni.
  • Sweet potato and macaroni and cheese casserole, Nigella Lawson recipe. You may need a side of greens with this. I used cavatappi pasta.
  • Fettuccine alfredo, America’s Test Kitchen recipe, except I think we used linguine, and we used less cheese because we didn’t have parmesan on hand, and I added a couple cubes of the pesto I made and froze at the end of the summer. And chicken meatballs. Pesto fettuccine alfredo? It was good.
  • Thanksgiving dinner! Not just on Thanksgiving anymore. Turkey breast from Trader Joe’s, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sometimes box stuffing.
    • Cranberry sauce: two cans of whole berry cranberry sauce, a little water (or orange juice), half a lemon, some lemon or orange zest, an orange, clementine sections, chopped walnuts.
    • Mashed potatoes: With butter and whole milk (at least. Half-and-half or cream also works), some salt and pepper, and whatever herbs are still alive – rosemary, thyme.

What we’ve made lately, breakfast-y or sweet:

  • “Big beautiful muffins,” America’s Test Kitchen recipe, different variations: blueberry and lemon, raspberry, apple-cinnamon.
  • Granola (Ben makes this from my friend Sarah’s recipe)
  • Cranberry-apricot scones, America’s Test Kitchen recipe.
  • Chocolate chip cookies, recipe from Good to the Grain (uses whole wheat flour and bittersweet chocolate instead of AP and semi-sweet)
  • Molasses spice cookies, recipe from Flour by Joanne Chang (and someone just got a copy of Flour, Too for an early Hanukkah present…)
  • Orange cardamom madeleines, recipe from Martha Stewart’s Cookies. I had the ingredients, neighbor Catherine had the madeleine pan (and an expert set of hands). Despite baking for more than twice the prescribed time, they were a little underdone, but still delicious.
  • Pumpkin pie (homemade filling from my cousin’s recipe, frozen crust. Frozen crust is fine but use a sweet one, not a savory one!)

In a happy turn* of events, the kid is now eating food in quantities larger than a tablespoon at a time! She has enjoyed all of the above (but especially the muffins and madeleines).

*It was more like a fifteen-point-turn, rather than a U-turn or even a three-point-turn, but in her defense, you see a lot of those around here, on account of the insane layout of the roads, and the drivers who would probably drive the way they do even if all the roads were laid out on a perfect grid. Anyway, muffins!

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Cake in the morn

nightkitchen

“I’m not the milk and the milk’s not me!”

Improbably, we’ve actually been able to get a good amount of cooking and baking done with an infant in the house, through a combination of trading off baby duty, employing one-handed kitchen skills, and practicing moving pots and pans silently. (Is there already a YouTube channel called “I’m Hungry, But Don’t Wake the Baby” about ninja-style cooking? If not, maybe we’ll start one…)

Lately, we’ve made lots of oatmeal cookies (from the Flour recipe), “Chunky Lola” cookies (also from Flour), a batch of molasses spice cookies, oatmeal scones with maple glaze, this “taco torte” from Smitten Kitchen, granola, applesauce, and tiramisu. So…really healthy! (We have been eating real meals with vegetables and stuff, they’re just not as exciting to write about.)

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Oatmeal maple scone and molasses spice cookies

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Granola

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Tiramisu: sponge cake, tiramisu cream, chocolate mousse, chocolate ganache. Major hat tip to our neighbor friend for the sponge cake and the recipe!

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Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

In late September, we took a tour of the Taza chocolate factory in Somerville. I highly recommend this tour; it’s informative and there are lots of samples! However, I have been bombarded with e-mails from Taza ever since. Mostly I delete them, but the most recent one caught my eye, because aside from promising $15 off (if you spend $100, so, no, not happening), it included a recipe for Peppermint Cookies.

The e-mail happened to arrive at a time when the baby was napping and likely to be napping a bit longer (she’d had her vaccinations that morning, which, predictably, made her scream and cry and then conk out), and I had most of the ingredients on hand, so I decided to try the recipe. It said it only made 12 cookies though, so I went ahead and doubled it; also, I didn’t have any candy canes or starlight mints on hand, so I used Williams-Sonoma peppermint hot chocolate instead. (It looks like they’re not selling this right now or I’d link to it. Meanwhile, here’s a hilarious take-down of W-S’s holiday catalog instead.)

Other than doubling the ingredients (amounts below), I followed the recipe instructions (link above), and they came out great! I would recommend chilling the dough for 15-20 minutes at least – and overnight is probably fine – so it’s easier to roll into balls.

1 stick butter
5 oz. dark (60%) chocolate with 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp of salt
4 oz. Chocolate Covered Cacao Nibs (we had these from the tour)
2 oz peppermint hot chocolate (no need to double this amount, I used 4 oz. and there was a lot left over)

They came out uniformly round, flat, and soft – I baked them on a Silpat – and have kept well in a tupperware container thus far. This is a nice easy recipe that doesn’t even require a stand mixer, for those of you with minimalist kitchens. What’s your favorite holiday cookie recipe?

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