Wednesday, February 28, 2007



According to Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking, Snickerdoodle was "a miniature hero who drove a peanut car and cut giant problems down to size. The pintsize champ was the nephew of Yankee Doodle and the cousin of Polly Wolly Doodle." Supposedly these cookies are named for him.

I always think my snickerdoodles are underbaked when I pull them out of the oven, but when they cool down they're perfect: slightly crisp on the outside but still quite chewy througout. Perfect for enjoying while taking a jaunt in your peanut car.

Monday, February 26, 2007



I found this recipe at Penzey's Spices. It seemed mildly interesting, so I made the dough while focusing more intently on kumquat preserves and the previously posted ginger cake.

I baked the Kringles this morning, and I could hardly believe how delicious they were; crunchy on the bottom but deliciously soft on the inside and packed with warm brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, and walnuts. I would make them again in a heartbeat.

The glaze was a little thin though, for my tastes. I might look into a thicker glaze recipe.

This looks like a lot of work/ingredients but it really isn't. This is another recipe with yeast that is nearly foolproof, as in this case the yeast stays cold throughout and there is no rising. So easy!

This recipe makes two kringles and can easily serve 8-10 polite people or fewer unrestrained ones.

4 Cups all-purpose flour
1 Cup butter, slightly softened
2 TB. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 pkg. dry yeast (2 1/4 TB.)
2 eggs, beaten
1 Cup milk

1/2 Cup sugar
1/2 Cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tsp. cinnamon
5 TB butter, melted
1 Cup chopped nuts (in order of preference I would use pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, or walnuts)

2 2/3 cups powdered sugar
2 TB butter, softened
4 TB hot water
1 TB milk
1-2 tsp. vanilla extract

To make the dough:
Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl. Use a pastry blender, two knives of your hands blend together until mixture is crumbly. In a separate bowl mix the yeast, eggs, and milk. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients, making sure no yeast remains in the wet mixture bowl. Mix well until all is blended, it will pull away from the sides and form a ball. Divide it into two equal pieces, flatten them into discs, wrap in plastic wrap and put them into the refrigerator overnight (I left mine in for 24 hours and they were fine) or at least 6 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Mix together the two sugars and the cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside. Place each disc on an ungreased cookie sheet. Roll out each piece of dough to 1/8" thickness about the length of your cookie sheet and as wide as 1/8" thickness will allow. Brush half the melted butter over each piece of dough, sprinkle each piece with half the sugar mixture, and top with half of the nuts. Turn the cookie sheet so that the long side faces you and roll up the dough like a jellyroll stopping at the halfway point. Then turn the sheet again, so that the other long side is facing you and roll up the other side to the halfway point, so that the two rolls meet in the middle. Pinch the rolls together very firmly down the center line (they are going to want to separate in the oven so pinch like you mean it) and fold the ends under. Bake 20-25 minutes, changing racks halfway through the baking time, (switch the top to bottom, and front to back) Remove the kringles to a cooling rack and let cool at least 10 minutes before glazing.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

For Ginger Lovers Only.

Ginger Cake

Ginger Cake

A ginger cake from Baking with Julia. It is incredibly dark and spicy- the sort of cake that screams for a very cold glass of milk, or a generous helping of ice cream.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Oatmeal Coconut Raspberry Bars

Coconut Raspberry Oatmeal Bars

Here's the recipe.

Today has been happy, and these seemed like a happy bar cookie to me when I noticed the link at the traveler's lunchbox.

Also, I've been offered an internship with Miette!

Simple, but Fabulous.

Rice Krispie Robot

I love this recipe because it is fast and incredibly delicious. I generally use Werther's chewy caramels. Sometimes I like to add salted nuts or toasted coconut. If you want to be fancy, you can cut the treats with cookie cutters, or mold them in an interesting pan/container.

Caramel Rice Krispie Treats
adapted from Trish Deseine's Caramel.
1 stick unsalted butter
125 g marshmallows
125 g caramel candies
7 cups crisp rice cereal

1. melt the butter and caramel in a heavy pot/saucepan over medium heat. When the mixture is mostly melted, add the marshmallows. Stir until the mixture is completely melted and smooth.

2. Put the rice crispies in a large bowl. Pour the caramel mixture over the cereal and stir until well combined. Pour this mixture into a 9x13 baking dish (but really, any size will do) and let cool completely before cutting into squares (or other shapes/robots.)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Kataifi with Cream Filling

Kataifi with Cream Filling

Kataifi with Cream Filling

This is a Lebanese dessert from Claudia Roden's Arabesque. It's an intriguing cookbook with gorgeous photos and interesting Lebanese, Turkish, and Moroccan recipes.

This particular recipe was slightly difficult to interpret. It's essentially a milk/cream pastry cream thickened with rice flour sandwiched between generous amounts of buttered kataifi (shredded filo dough.)

The recipe doesn't tell you how exactly to add the rice flour paste, and if you just throw it into the cream it will curdle into dougy chunks. I solved this problem by whisking small amounts of the hot milk into the flour until it was liquidy enough to add to the rest.

Afterwards, you coat the pastry with a generous amount of sugar syrup cooked with lemon juice and orange blossom water. Occasionally, I think orage blossom water makes desserts taste like soap. I was very pleasantly surprised when this pastry tasted delicate and not overly sweet!

The taxi cab just happened to be outside my window. I thought it was fun.

Kataifi with Cream Filling
For the syrup
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups water
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tablespoons orange blossom water

For the cream filling
1/2 cup rice flour
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tbsp sugar

For the pastry
1 pound kataifi pastry, defrosted
2 sticks of 1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted
To garnish, 2/3 cupped chopped pistachios

Make the syrup first. Boil the sugar with the water and lemon juice over low heat for 5-8 minutes, until it is just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the orange blossom water and cook a moment more. Let it cool and then chill in the refrigerator. (If you have overcooked the syrup and it becomes too thick to pour, you can rescue it by adding a little water and bringing it to a boil again.)

For the filling, mix the rice flour with enough of the cold milk to make a smooth, creamy paste. Bring the rest of the milk with the cream to a boil, preferably in a nonstick pan. **Add rice flour paste, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Leave it on low heat and continue to stir for 15-20 minutes, until the mixture is quite thick, being careful not to scrape any burned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining sugar and stir well.

Put the pastry in a large bowl. With your fingers, pull out and separate the strands as much as possible. Melt the butter and when it has cooled slightly, pour it over the pastry. Press down firmly and flatten it with the palm of your hand. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.

Just before serving, run a sharp knife around the edges to loosen the sides, and turn it out onto a large serving dish. Pour the cold syrup all over the hot pastry and top lavishly with pistachios. Alternatively, you can pour only half the syrup over the pastry and pass the rest in a jug for everyone to help themselves to more. (I used half.)

** this is the part where you can curdle the flour mixture. I recommend adding hot milk to it seperately, whisking, and then pouring it back into the pot.

On Potlucks.







Monday, February 19, 2007

The Pie That Wouldn't Be Decorated

Decorating Pie

Key Lime Pie w/ Haupia Topping

I really look foward to potlucks. This weekend, I planned to recreate the delicious dessert i'd made earlier this month: key lime pie with pecan crust and haupia (coconut pudding) topping.

I decided to be ambitious with my decorating. Instead of chilling the entire layer of haupia in a seperate springform pan, I tried cooling it down and piping it on top of the finished pie. Unfortunately, the haupia wasn't set enough to hold a shape, and I ended up just spreading it on.

I froze a second layer of haupia, hoping to cut some pretty shapes out of it. Once again, I pulled it out too early and it wouldn't hold. I scooped it all into a pastry bag and tried to pipe some decorative circles, but this time they were too frozen and looked lumpy and turd-ish.

Simple is better sometimes. When it warmed up I spread it flat and made a pretty border of toasted coconut.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

South Side Soup Contest

Saturday was the third annual South Side Midwinter Soup Contest. I think this is one of the cooler events in the South Side (aside from the Zombie Walk...) There were 25 entries this year from various restaurants and organizations, some of my favorites being Gypsy Cafe (the owner, Melanie Evankovich, pictured below) Cafe du Jour, and Le Pommier.

Anyway, I headed down to the South Side and spent a good part of the afternoon walking up and down East Carson St. sampling the different soups. There were some interesting ones: a lamb soup heavily spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, butternut squash with ginger-lime creme fraiche, celery root bisque with bacon and chevre, an amazing crab, shrimp, and sausage gumbo, and minestra.

I quite enjoyed myself. Here are a few photos of people enjoying serving/eating soup!





Saturday, February 17, 2007

Auspicious Beginning.

Millionaire's Shortbread

I suppose every food blog has to begin somewhere, and mine begins with a mess.

The tabletop, floor, and inside of the freezer are splattered with drippings of chocolate ganache. The sink is full of various spoons, knives, and bowls coated with chocolate, dulce de leche, and a fine dusting of shortbread crumbs. The sponge seems to be irreparably soaked with chocolate.

An 8-inch square of Millionaire’s Shortbread, the cause of all this havoc, sits precariously on a rack in the freezer. There are fingerprints in the shiny glaze, and a rather large rip in the upper left corner. For now, I want nothing to do with it; I keep finding chocolate on my forearms and pajamas and I am grumpy.

One of my flamenco teachers says “si no es perfecta, es mierda” (if it’s not perfect it’s shit.) Fortunately, that statement doesn’t apply to baking. I gave up as soon as the dulce de leche wouldn’t spread evenly and ended up full of crumbs. I finished off the dessert as best I could. Even though it was slightly overbaked, messy, and falling apart, the shortbread was delicious.

Millionaire’s Shortbread
adapted from Trish Deseine’s Caramel
1x14oz can of cajeta/dulce de leche*
2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
½ cup salted butter
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
¼ cup unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-10 inch rectangular baking pan.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the flour, sugar, and salted butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs, or place in a mixing bowl and use your fingertips to combine as if making pastry.

Form into a dough, then press into the prepared pan. Bake until just golden on top.

Remove from the oven and let cool before spreading on a layer of caramel.

Melt the chocolate and unsalted butter together in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, or in a microwave, and stir well until smooth. Pour over the caramel layer and smooth with an offset spatula or palette knife.

To serve, let harden completely, then cut into squares.

*the original recipe has you make the caramel from a boiled can of sweetened condensed milk. I just bought a can of cajeta. I recommend you heat it up a bit to make it spread easier.