Monday, November 8, 2010

Time For A Change

I'm moving and I'd love for you to join me, if you would - it's not far and I'm quite sure you'll like it...please come and have a look around?

There won't be any new posts written here, but all past articles will remain up and available. The decision was made because with a special needs 3 year old, a part time job and a home to take care of, having two sites to manage (Suitable and Little Space) was causing a less than ideal posting frequency.

It would make me especially pleased if, once you've had a peek around the other blog, you decided to grab the RSS feed or hit the Follow button...but I'll understand completely if you choose not to.

Suitable For Consumption has been a good thing for me and I appreciate all of the support I've received since its inception. You are all wonderful!


Monday, October 4, 2010

Ham & Parmesan Quiches

My husband and I have friends who always serve an abundance of delicious appetizers when we're visiting their home. Being that we are exceptionally more portable than they (with three young children to our one), we visit their home (two cities away; just under an hours drive) far more than having them to ours.

Not long ago, the stars aligned just so, and children were shuttled off to grandparents so our friends could attend a dinner - in our city. We decided that they should stop by our place afterwards for a few drinks, seeing as they were in town anyway.

Although they would be coming directly from dinner, I thought a few small appetizers might be appreciated. These quiches were a spontaneous idea inspired by a recipe found in a Fine Cooking magazine my husband had given me several Christmases ago, along with a miniature muffin tin.

I thought the quiches needed something more, perhaps a bit of good smoky paprika or even cayenne. In hindsight, I could have sprinkled on either of those spices even after they were baked but as you can see from the photo, I went with a small spoonful of sour cream instead.

The puff pastry was rolled out, cut out, pricked with the tines of a fork and baked, in the mini muffin tin, prior to adding the egg mixture. I used a tablespoon measure to transfer the egg mixture into the pastry pockets - far easier than attempting to successfully (and neatly) pour it.

Ham & Parmesan Puff Pastry Quiches
Makes 24
Inspired by Best of Fine Cooking Appetizers

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup minced ham
2 teaspoons dried oregano

Spray or otherwise lightly grease a miniature muffin/tart pan. Preheat oven to 400F. Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Cut into 24 squares approximately 1 inch by 1 inch. Gently press each pastry square into a baking tin pocket. Prick the bottoms and sides of the pastry with a fork. Bake until lightly golden but not too dark as they'll be baking a second time. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, blend cornstarch, milk, cream, eggs, Parmesan and ham with a whisk. Season with salt, pepper and oregano. Using a tablespoon measure, fill each pastry cup with approximately 2 tablespoons batter - you may use a little more or less than this but do not overfill as the quiche will puff slightly.

Bake approximately 20 minutes or until quiches are golden brown. Allow to cool slightly in pan and then remove to rack to cool. Serve either reheated slightly or at room temperature.

Just before serving, place a small spoonful of sour cream on top of each quiche.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Versatile Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Frosting

So it was the Bear's third birthday this month. We had celebrations all over the place - the Sunday prior to his birthday was a joint party with his cousin with the in laws; the day of his birthday the Bear and I had blueberry pancakes with birthday candles for breakfast and that evening Papa Bear, the Bear and I went out to dinner for a birthday pirate pack. Then just this past Sunday we had the big birthday bash with friends and relatives. Almost as busy as Christmas!

By the time we got home from our dinner out, it was far too late to give Bear a piece of his birthday cake so we had it the next night - and of course, he loved it. Takes after his Mama, that boy.

I used a Martha Stewart cake recipe from the Everyday Food magazine, which has been torn out and sitting in my recipe binder for well, awhile, and a chocolate frosting recipe I've used in the past with good results. My first priority was a batch of tiny cupcakes for the Bear's preschool class - they turned out so well. I used the mini baking cups from Bake It Pretty and am kicking myself for not snapping a quick picture!

With the remaining batter I made half a dozen regular sized cupcakes and a layered five inch round cake.

Ivonne from Cream Puffs in Venice hosts a semi regular event called Magazine Mondays that I'm submitting this post to - to get us all using the recipes we cut out or save in some way instead of letting them linger and collect dust.

Versatile Vanilla Cake
Martha Stewart
Serves 12

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup low-fat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-by-2-inch cake pans, tapping out excess flour. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined.

Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake until cakes pull away from sides of pans, 32 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pans and invert cakes onto a wire rack. Let cool completely.

Place one cake, bottom side up, on a cake stand. Tuck strips of parchment paper underneath. Using an offset-spatula or table knife, spread top with frosting. Top with remaining cake; frost top, then sides. (Store unfrosted cakes at room temperature up to 1 day. Once frosted, serve within a few hours.)

Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 2/3 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
CHOOSE ONE: 1/3 cup cocoa powder, 1/2 cup cocoa powder or 3/4 cup cocoa powder (depending on how light or dark you'd like your frosting to look and taste)

Sift together icing sugar and cocoa.

Cream butter. Blend in vanilla.

Alternate adding cocoa/sugar mixture with the cream, beginning and ending with dry mixture. Beat until desired texture is achieved.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

It can be expensive to purchase sun dried tomatoes.

My tomato plants did not do well in my first garden. I've been saving as many cherry tomatoes as I could and oven-drying some of them. They'll keep forever in an airtight container, and will add a burst of flavor to cold winter nights meals.

Simple wash your tomatoes, slice in half, arrange on a baking sheet and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Set in a 200F oven. Depending on the size of your tomatoes, the drying process could take up to twelve hours. Check on the tomatoes frequently and remove from the oven any that dry faster than others. They will shrivel and reduce in size. The perfectly dried tomato will be slightly flexible. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies

The urge to bake a batch of cookies struck yesterday evening so I asked my husband what he'd like - but that he should keep in mind my baking cupboard was bare of chocolate save for cocoa (a tragedy, for sure!!).

After thinking on it for a little while, he decided he liked the idea of a spicy gingery cookie - something like a Starbucks product typically offered during the fall.

If you have a decently stocked pantry, you should have everything you need to put these cookies together. They'll make your house smell fabulous and they taste delicious, too.

This cookie is soft and chewy, the sugar adding a bit of a crunch. The flavor is unmistakeably autumn but we enjoyed them just fine here at the end of August! Ginger, cinnamon, allspice and a good coarse grinding of black pepper (even just cracked, if you like the spiciness!) are the main flavor stars but the molasses ties everything together with it's warmth.

Sugar-Topped Molasses Spice Cookies
Makes 24
Bon App

2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
pinch (small or not so small ) of cracked or coarsely ground black pepper
3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1 large egg
granulated white sugar for rolling

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and pepper.

Beat the butter on medium speed until it is smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and molasses and beat for 2 minutes or until blended, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add the egg and beat another minute. Add the dry ingredients, mixing until the flour and spices disappear. If there are any dry ingredients remaining at bottom of bowl, do not overbeat the dough and mix them in by hand with a spatula or spoon. The dough will be quite soft and smooth.

Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for an hour or freeze for 30 minutes. You can refrigerate dough for up to 4 days at this point if desired.

Preheat oven to 350F and line baking sheets with parchment or silpat. Place the granulated sugar into a small dish.

Break off pieces of the dough (you should have 24 pieces) and roll each piece into a smooth ball between your hands. Roll the balls into the sugar and place on baking sheet. Dip the bottom of a glass into the sugar and press the cookies down to 1/4-1/2 inch thickness.

Bake 12-14 minutes or until the tops of the cookies feel set. Remove from oven and transfer to rack to cool to room temperature. I sprinkled just a touch of sugar on top of the still warm cookies for aesthetic purpose and added crunch.

Cookies will keep for one week in cookie jar and can be frozen up to 2 months in an airtight container.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Grown Up Strawberry Lemonade Slushies

Summer has finally shown it's face around this area and we're going to squeeze the ever-loving-life out of every second of it. Boozy pink slushies in one hand, feet in the toddler pool and faces turned towards the sun.

I first saw this slushie recipe at
Everybody Likes Sandwiches. Make it for the first time
this year, just a few days ago. It's delicious, fruity, boozy (optional) and terribly refreshing on hot days.

Strawberry Lemonade Slushie

Everybody Likes Sandwiches
Serves 4

1/2 container of frozen lemonade concentrate

juice of 1 lemon or lime

1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries

ice water

ice cubes

Spoon half the lemonade into a blender or tall pitcher. Add strawberries and lemon or lime juice. Add a few splashes of water and blend or use immersion blender, until it becomes a slush. Add more water if necessary. Add ice cubes and rum; pulse several more times. Pour into glasses and serve.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

We've been plucking gorgeous ruby raspberries off our canes for a couple of weeks now. The rainy weather has completely changed the fruit schedule for this summer - we've just picked our first strawberry last week!

Our good friends hosted their annual car show and BBQ yesterday and despite the rain, we packed up our regular car and my husband's 1970 Ford Maverick and headed out to the country.

Even though we only had to bring our own chairs and adult bevvys, I wanted to bring something simple as a small contribution - and I wanted to use the few handfuls of fresh raspberries I'd picked just that morning.
Enter an easy, no-fuss everyday cake: raspberry buttermilk cake.

As Deb mentions in her post, you aren't limited to raspberries here. Try blueberries, blackberries, strawberries (diced)...whatever type of berry you'd like. This is a simple cake that comes together in a hurry and was perfect for packing along to our rainy day BBQ with friends.

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake
Smitten Kitchen
Makes 1 thin 9 inch cake

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest, optional

1 large egg

1/2 cup shaken buttermilk (don't have buttermilk? Make your own by adding a 1/2 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice to 1/2 cup regular milk. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes)

1 cup fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 400F. Butter and flour a 9 inch round pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with mixer until pale and fluffy, about two minutes at medium high speed. Then beat in vanilla and zest, if using. Add egg and beat well.

At low speed, mix in flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour. Mix until just combined.

Spoon batter into cake pan and smooth top. Scatter raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.

Bake until cake is golden and cake tester inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack and cool till warm, 10 to 15 minutes. Invert onto serving plate or stand.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes

It was my birthday this past weekend.

The months leading up to it were tinged with this feeling of dread, but when I woke up in the morning on the day of, I didn't feel any different. I'm still not impressed about the number itself but I haven't suddenly become old or noticed new wrinkles, and there hasn't been a moment that I felt sad or depressed.

I was too busy baking triple chocolate cupcakes with an obscene amount of rich, fudgey frosting and a velvety ganache filling, in any case.

Do halve this recipe unless you have quite a few people to share these with. They are terribly decadent and just one is almost too much chocolate, in my opinion!

For the chocolate curls, see the Annie's Eats link below the recipe title; she gives a fabulous mini tutorial - I'm still practicing!

Triple Chocolate Cupcakes
Annie's Eats
Makes 32 cupcakes

3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup hot water
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream, room temperature

ganache filling:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, room temperature

14 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
9 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups icing sugar, sifted
6 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and hot water until smooth. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the butter and the sugar over medium heat. Heat, stirring occasionally to combine, until the butter is melted. Remove the mixture from the heat and transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-low speed for 4-5 minutes, until the mixture is cooled. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed and beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla and then the cocoa mixture and beat until incorporated. With the mixer on low speed add in the dry ingredients in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, beating just until combined.

Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 of the way full. Bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let stand about 1 minute. With a whisk, gently stir the chocolate and cream together in small circles. When the ganache has become smooth, whisk in the butter 1 piece at a time until incorporated. Transfer the bowl to the freezer or refrigerator to chill and thicken the ganache a bit. Whisk every 5-10 minutes to help it cool evenly. Once the mixture is slightly thickened and no longer runny, you are ready to fill the cupcakes.

To assemble the cupcakes, cut a cone out of the center of each cupcake with a small paring knife. Cut off the pointed end of the cone and discard (or eat) so you are left with a cap of cake to cover the filling. Drop a spoonful of ganache into the center of each cupcake and recover the hole with the cap.

To make the frosting, melt the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Set aside to cool until just barely warm. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Gradually mix in the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Beat in the melted and cooled chocolate and then the sour cream. Continue beating until the mixture is smooth and well blended. Frost cupcakes immediately.

To make the chocolate curls, warm the block of chocolate just slightly (heat in 5-second intervals in the microwave – be careful not to melt). Use a vegetable peeler to create chocolate curls. Top cupcakes with curls immediately. Reheat chocolate as needed to keep it workable.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Martha Stewart's Crisp & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

One cannot live by one cookie recipe alone.

Or that's what I think now, at least. I used to be on a very serious chocolate chip cookie recipe quest. It was my goal to find
the recipe, the recipe that would trump all others and make my cookie jar the one that all the neighborhood kids wanted to dig into.

The Jacques Torres recipe I posted about at Gotta Little Space remains the best recipe I've tried to date; I've made it countless times and it's my go-to recipe for dependable chocolate chip cookies.

However! When I see other chocolate chip cookie recipes, I still glance at them and if I'm interested, I'll give them a try.

Such was the story of these cookies.

Overall, they're a basic chocolate chip cookie. They deliver as promised: crispy edges and chewy centers. Try them straight out of the freezer; in my opinion the flavor and texture improves after a bit of a chill.

Crisp & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 20

Martha Stewart

2 3/4 cups flour

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened

1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar

3/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Sift together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
Preheat oven to 350F. Beat butter and sugars on medium high speed till light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Add vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add in flour mixture. Beat till combined, then mix in chocolate chips.

Drop 3 tablespoons worth of dough onto parchment lined baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake till golden around the edges but still soft in the middle, about 15 minutes.

Let cool on baking sheet 5 minutes then transfer to a rack to cool completely.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Honey Vanilla Pound Cake

The urge to bake something sweet struck suddenly a few mornings ago. Cookies felt like too much work, not in the mood for pie, a tart required pâte brisée and a cake would have been impractical. But wait - how about a pound cake?

And pound cake it was.

In my recipe binder I have a Barefoot Contessa recipe from her book Back to Basics - a honey vanilla pound cake. Easy enough to put together, a minimum of dirty dishes and once baked, easily nibbled by the slice.

Honey Vanilla Pound Cake
Makes one 8 inch loaf

Barefoot Contessa

1/2 pound unsalted butter, at cool room temperature (leave refrigerated butter out for about 1 hour to achieve this)

1 1/4 cups sugar

4 extra large eggs, at room temperature

2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons pure vanilla
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 cups sifted cake flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the bottom of an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch loaf pan. Line with parchment then grease and flour entire pan.

In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3 to 4 minutes until light and fluffy. In the meantime, put eggs, honey, vanilla and lemon zest into a measuring cup but do not mix.

With the mixer on medium low speed, add the egg mixture, one egg at a time, scraping down the bowl and allowing each egg to become completely incorporated before adding the next egg.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture slowly until just combined. Complete mixing with a spatula and pour into prepared pan. Smooth the top.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a rack and cool completely.

I must say - pound cake is like a fine wine. Let it age even just a day and the flavor and texture both improve. This particular recipe wasn't as stunning as I'd hoped - I was looking for a more flavorful cake. I think adding a bit more lemon zest or even extra vanilla would have helped.

Overall, quite enjoyable and the perfect sweet treat to have sitting on the counter for anyone to slice off a piece and enjoy - with tea or a glass of cold milk, or a spoonful of softly whipped cream!


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

My first thought when I saw cucumber sandwiches several years ago wasn't a positive one. I couldn't imagine how cream cheese slathered pieces of white bread that had cucumber slices sandwiched between them would taste good.

I was so, so wrong.

These are incredibly simple but very tasty. Use fresh dill if you have it - I mix it in with the cream cheese. Perfect for a quick lunch or as a pretty little snack at a baby shower, bridal shower, luncheon, and more.

Cucumber Tea Sandwiches
Makes 24 sandwiches

2 seedless cucumbers, ends trimmed
12 slices white sandwich bread
6 ounces whipped cream cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill, optional

Cut each cucumber crosswise into 4 equal pieces. Thinly slice each cucumber piece lengthwise into strips. Place the bread slices on a work surface and spread with a thin layer of cream cheese. Divide the cucumber and dill (if desired) evenly among 6 of the slices (you may not use all of the cucumber). Top with remaining bread. Trim the crusts and cut into quarters.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Macaroni Salad

Nothing pleases me more than to have a go-to recipe. A recipe that works perfectly, tastes unbelievable and is so simple you can make it on the fly if you wanted to. Perfect for the warm spring and summer days ahead. Bring it to potlucks and BBQs, on a picnic or as a side to something grilled at home on the patio. This is that recipe.

Elise at Simply Recipes posted this last summer and the first time I made it, I was so ecstatic to be able to replace the store bought, not-very-good-for-you stuff. If you like cold pasta salads, you are going to love this macaroni salad.

Macaroni Salad
Simply Recipes
Serves 4

2 cups dry macaroni pasta
1 hard boiled egg, chopped
1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped red, yellow or white onion
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
few pinches paprika
ground black pepper to taste

Cook macaroni in a pot of salted water. When al dente, remove from the heat, drain and rinse with cool water until room temperature.

Place chopped onions in a bowl and pour lemon juice or vinegar over them - this takes the edge off.

Add remaining ingredients including pasta and combine. Season to taste and refrigerate till quite cool. Serve.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Eggs In Bacon Cups

So. Bacon: cupcakes, doughnuts, pancakes and waffles, breakfast rolls, candied bacon, bacon caramels, bacon-wrapped-asparagus-bundles...oh! And cookies. We wanted breakfast.

I made cups.

Well, cups of bacon, and in all honesty, there's not really a recipe. You just line the sides of a greased muffin tin with bacon (not on the bottoms, however). And crack an egg into each bacon lined muffin cup, sprinkle with a bit of ground black pepper and coarse salt - then bake till however you like your eggs.

And there it is. Bacon with breakfast.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Over at Gotta Little Space, I have a 100 Things To Make list. When I first created that list, I asked for suggestions from friends and blog readers. My husband requested peanut butter chocolate chip cookies - and here they are.

I love them. They are just barely peanut buttery and combined with the dark chocolate chips I used, make for a delicious cookie. Their texture is similar to that of a traditional peanut butter cookie - almost crumbly but held together by a bit of chewy.

My husband feels they need more of the peanut butter flavor so the next time I make them I'll be upping the peanut butter content, but I think they're perfect just the way they are.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 3 to 4 dozen

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325F. Line at least 2 baking sheets with parchment.

Cream butter till smooth. Add peanut butter and both sugars; beat until well combined. Add eggs and beat well. Add flour and baking soda gradually till combined. Stir in chocolate chips by hand.

Scoop cookie dough onto parchment lined baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between each cookie. Bake about 15 minutes or until cookies are just firm around the edges - do not overbake or brown the tops, they will be too crunchy. Cool completely on wire racks.

Repeat with remaining dough.


Monday, March 29, 2010

How To Segment An Orange

To segment an orange, begin by slicing off the top and bottom of the orange, so you have a good steady surface on which to rest the orange. Ensure you've sliced off enough to see plenty of the orange and not too much pith.

Then, following the curve of the orange, slice off sections of peels, starting from the top to the bottom of the orange as it's resting on your cutting board. Trim off any excess pith remaining on the orange.

Place your knife as close to a line of membrane as possible and make one slice. Move your knife to the other side of the orange segment, as close to the other line of membrane as possible, and make another slice.

The orange segment should pop right out - remember to segment your oranges over a bowl in which to drop the slices as well as to catch the juices.

Continue with this process until you've segmented the entire orange. Squeeze the remaining orange piece to extract all juice.

Orange segments are perfect pieces of orange that can be used in a number of ways: salads, breakfasts, desserts (see my Orange Tian) and even just for eating alone.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Honey Buns

The name of these sticky buns has been making me smile all day long - and giving some of my Twitter contacts a good laugh as well.

There isn't anything to poke fun at with these, though. They're the best non-cinnamon buns I've ever tasted - moist, tender and the flavor! oh my. If you can believe it...there's a mere two tablespoons of sugar in the entire recipe.

I've been waiting to make these sticky buns for quite some time. My mother in law gave me a jar of locally made cranberry blackberry honey for my birthday last June and I hadn't had a recipe to use it in till recently. I needed to wait a little while longer, too, in order to find crème fraîche - thankfully discovered at Trader Joe's a few weeks ago. I have attempted to make my own without luck. Any tips?

Since I typically don't get up before eight o'clock on my husband's days off, several hours of rising and baking combined won't work for us. So I started this dough the night before, sliced them into rounds (use dental floss - no more squashed buns!) and deposited them into their honey butter bath and slid the pan into the fridge for the night. In the morning, I started the oven preheating and put the pan (remove plastic wrap) on top of the stove to finish the rising process while the oven preheated - I gave them thirty minutes before placing them in the oven.

The honey buns only took forty minutes to bake in my gas oven, so watch them closely. Mine started to brown at the thirty minute mark so I covered them loosely with aluminum foil and let them bake another ten minutes, when the honey butter started to bubble.

Right after pulling them out of the oven I inverted them onto a foil lined baking sheet and drizzled them with the remainder of the cranberry blackberry honey - I used the entire jar for this recipe, but it was worth it. They need no other adornment; the final splash of honey is more than enough. These buns are sticky, sweet without being overly so and the bread is unbelievably moist and tender; the crème fraîche and mascarpone mixture absorbs right into the bread giving it a pleasant but again not overpowering tang.

While they are best still warm from the oven, I ate my second after it was completely cooled and it was still delicious. Reheat them for a few seconds in the microwave if desired!

Honey Buns
Martha Stewart
Makes 9

For the dough:
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
1/3 cup honey, any type
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 to 6 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
vegetable oil, for bowl

For the filling & topping:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup honey, any type, plus more for brushing and drizzling
1/2 cup corn syrup
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese (
make your own - it's easy!!)
1/2 cup crème fraîche
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional - I did not use)

Make the dough:
Sprinkle yeast over warm water in a small bowl. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Whisk milk, butter, eggs, honey, salt and vanilla with a mixer on medium speed. Add yeast mixutre and whisk 1 minute. Switch to dough hook and reduce speed to low. Add 4 cups flour. After flour is mixed in, raise speed to medium and continue kneading.

Add remaining flour, a half cup at a time, mixing until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl. Raise speed to medium high and knead for another 10 minutes. You can also knead by hand until smooth, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead until dough is very smooth, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover. Set aside in warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Make the filling & topping:
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in honey, corn syrup and sugar. Bring to a gentle simmer then remove from the heat. Let cool. Combine mascarpone and crème fraîche in a bowl.

Punch down the dough and turn onto lightly floured surface. Divide into 3 portions. Roll each into a ball. Freeze 2 portions for up to three months, thawing in refrigerator before use. Roll remaining dough into a 10x13 1/2 inch rectangle. Brush lightly with honey, spread mascarpone mixture evenly on top, leaving a 1 inch border. Sprinkle with pecans if using. Starting on 1 long side, roll dough into a log. Pinch along seam to seal. Cut into nine 1 1/2 inch thick slices.

Pour honey mixture into an 8 inch square baking pan. Place buns, cut sides down, into pan, 3 to a row. Let buns rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 30-40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F. Place oven rack in lower third. Bake buns, rotating halfway through, until browned and bubbling, about 1 hour. Set pan on wire rack on baking sheet and immediately invert buns onto rack. Drizzle with honey and serve warm.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cocoa-Nana Bread

A night or so ago, I noticed a few bananas in my fruit basket had changed to the over ripe and bake-with category, and made a mental note to bake something with them the next day. As it turned out, later that evening, a post came up in my RSS reader: this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was for a chocolatey banana bread - my over ripe banana problem solved.

This loaf is as dense as they come, thick with chocolate and banana flavors - and perfect with a cold glass of milk. My Cocoa-Nana Bread took an extra 15 minutes to bake through, so be sure to test the center of the loaf with a thin knife rather than judging doneness by the clock alone.

Cocoa-Nana Bread
Dorie Greenspan
Makes 1 loaf

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semisweet cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter at room temp
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, or 1/2 cup store-bought chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and place it on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked on top of the other. (This extra insulation will keep the bottom of the bread from over baking.)

Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for about a minute, until softened. Add the sugars and beat for 2 minutes more. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. At this point, the batter may look a little curdled -- it's okay. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the mashed bananas. Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Still on low speed, add the buttermilk, mixing until it is incorporated. Stir in the chopped chocolate. Scrape the batter into the pan.

Bake for 30 minutes. Cover the bread loosely with a foil tent to keep the top from getting too dark, and continue to bake for another 40 to 45 minutes (total baking time is between 70 to 75 minutes) or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for at least 20 minutes before running a knife around the edges of the bread and unmolding. Invert and cool to room temp right side up.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

It feels as though I'm always on the prowl for a new chocolate chip cookie recipe. This one is good - but we felt as though two teaspoons of coarse salt was a bit much. My husband thought the cookies were too big, I disagree.

The mix of chips and chunks make these cookies decadent.

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies
Martha Stewart
Makes 24

3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Mix in the flour mixture until just incorporated, fold in the chocolate chips and chunks.

Using a 1/4 cup scoop, drop dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet (you will have 24). Refrigerate 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350F. Arrange 6 unbaked cookies, 3 inches apart, on each of two parchment lined baking sheets. Bake until edges are light golden brown, 16-18 minutes, rotating halfway. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Homemade White Sandwich Bread

My standard breadmaker bread recipe makes a usable loaf of bread, but it dries out quickly and my husband doesn't like how chewy the texture is. I tried this recipe and we're absolutely loving it.

It's just barely firmer than storebought sandwich bread, but is still quite soft and tender. It slices beautifully and tastes even better.

White Sandwich Bread

Recipezaar & Martha Stewart
Makes 2 loaves

2 envelopes active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons melted unsalted butter
2 tablespoons coarse salt
6-7 cups flour plus more for dusting

Pour warm water into breadmachine pan and sprinkle yeast over. Add 3 tablespoons honey, butter and salt. Add 6 cups flour and start machine on dough cycle. You may have to use the end of a wooden spoon to 'rearrange' the dough once it's starts kneading.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Butter 2 loaf pans.

Punch down the dough and divide in half. Knead gently till smooth and shape into a loaf. Place into buttered pans, cover with towel and let rise 15-20 minutes. Brush each loaf with a teaspoon of melted butter and bake till golden brown and hollow to the tap; 30-40 minutes. Let cool slightly in pans on wire racks, then unmold to cool completely.