Saturday, December 27, 2008


this is one of those things that can go very well, or very bad, depending on how well you follow directions. after doing some internet research, it seems that this recipe has seriously flopped for a lot of people-- most of whom end up sticking by an egg-less marshmallow recipe. i had no problems with this, aside from the frenzied organization of ingredients during the sugar-boiling process. they tasted WAY better than i thought they would (LIKE MARSHMALLOWS!), were great toasted, and are still fluffy, two days after the making. now i can't wait to experiment with crazy flavors.

adapted from dorie greenspan's "baking: from my home to yours"

about 1 c cornstarch (or potato starch, or powdered sugar)
3/4 c cold water
1 1/4 c
2 T corn syrup
2 1/4 oz packets of un-flavored gelatin
3 egg whites
1 T vanilla

put 1/3 c water, the sugar, and corn syrup in a saucepan over medium-low heat. stir until the sugar is dissolved. bring to boil and let boil, without stirring, until mixture reaches 265 degrees.

dissolve gelatin in remaining water-- either in a saucepan over low heat, or in a microwave.

meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until firm but still glossy.

when the sugar syrup has reached 265 degrees, pour it carefully into the mixer (medium-low speed). try to pour the syrup directly into the egg whites, if it hits the sides of the bowl or the whisk attachment directly, it will harden on to the surface.

once the syrup is all in, add the gelatin and beat for three more minutes. add vanilla and beat until incorporated.

line a baking sheet or cake pan (with sides at least 1" high) with a piece of parchment paper. sprinkle generously with cornstarch. scrape marshmallow mixture into pan. you won't fill the whole thing, but try to keep the height even, at around 1". smoothe the top and sprinkle generously with corn starch.

let sit at least 3 hours in a cool dry place, then cut into desired shapes.

mmmm. i can't wait to have these with hot chocolate!

Monday, December 15, 2008


last night:
coq au vin; dorie greenspan's "world peace" cookies

fennel, potato, and onion gratin; cranberry vanilla coffeecake

braised duck legs; butternut squash soup


Friday, December 5, 2008

my freezer

my freezer is starting to resemble that of a restaurant walk-in. it's filled almost entirely with plastic quart containers. homemade chicken stock, vegetable stock, turkey stock, turducken stock, applesauce, apple puree...

someone please tell me what to do with these things. namely, the stock. was it all in vain? say it ain't so!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

turducken update

after 5 hours of de-boning, 2 hours of stuffing-making, and a 5:45 wake-up, THE TURDUCKEN IS IN THE OVEN!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008


For some reason, I am really into all (culinary) things Spanish right now. I think it blossomed out of my love for making and, of course, eating paella. Last night, to celebrate the Top Chef premiere I bought a block of both Manchego and Idiazabal and a nice fresh baguette. This was all pretense for using my new smoked Spanish paprika, from the best place on earth: The Spice House. I decided to go the ol' aioli route.

Smoked Paprika Aioli

1 egg yolk
1 c olive oil
2 large cloves garlic
1 1/2 t smoky paprika
1 T lemon juice
pinch sugar

Mince garlic. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and mash into paste. Put egg, garlic, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Slowly, ever so slowly-- so slow it's almost droplets at a time, pour the olive oil in, whisking constantly. Stir in the pinch of sugar and smoky paprika. Mmm!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Another Whoopie Pie Post

(Jointly posted at

Ask anyone who even remotely knows me, and they'll tell you: for at least six months I have been proclaiming the whoopie pie as the next big dessert.

Why? Well, I'm glad you asked.

The whoopie pie has humble, but not very detailed, origins. A popular East coast treat, they are most commonly found in the heart of New England. They are often attributed to the Pennsylvania Dutch, but there is not much literature (perhaps this is my calling? Whoopie pie literature?) offering more than that. Regardless, I will forever have an image in my head of early American settlers walking across the landscape holding whoopie pies in waxed paper. There are plenty of urban legends circulating, too. Some say that whoopie pies were originally created to be easily transportable, individual cakes. Some say that they got their name from the exclamations of children who loved the treats. And I remember reading once that their popularity was somehow tied to the invention of Marshmallow Fluff. Wherever they were created and why, I'm just glad they're catching on.

The most wonderful thing to me about the whoopie pie is that it is completely antithetical to the most recent trend in baked goods, cupcakes. I think we're all starting to realize that it's actually very hard to find an exceptional cupcake. It's not hard to find one that LOOKS amazing, but usually the taste and/or texture disappoints. Cupcakes, plain and simple, try to win us over with their looks. Whoopie pies... don't.

Once I embarked on my whoopie pie crusade, it took quite a bit of tinkering to come up with what I felt was the perfect recipe. Part of my goal was to have a really good base recipe-- something that could be altered for flavor without changing texture or consistency. I wanted my dry ingredient proportions to stay essentially the same, so that only the wet ingredients would really vary. It wasn't all fun and games, landing on the perfect recipe. The chocolate batter alone went through several iterations. An attempt at a cinnamon cake resulted in something that tasted eerily similar to Cinnamon Toast Crunch. One crazed night, in an attempt to make perfectly uniform Whoopie Pies, I bought a plunger-gun that supposedly dispenses batter evenly. It didn't. These whoopie pies were turning out to be quite the endeavor, I tell you!

My other goal was to come up with a perfect, and shortening-free filling. For whatever reason, most whoopie pie recipes call for shortening in both the filling and in the cake. And, while I may tend to have shortening on hand in my freezer at all times, I know most people don't. It's an ingredient that people are scared of, hesitant to buy: "When else am I going to use that?" Lucky for us, there's butter!

So, regarding frosting, there are two options in my opinion. One is a simple butter/powdered sugar frosting. The key to this is creaming the butter forEVER, otherwise it will taste too thick. Cream it, cream it, and then cream it more, until it is super light and fluffy. Remember: when it comes to frosting, you really can't over-cream. Add a splash of vanilla and a pinch of salt with the powdered sugar. The other option is an italian meringue buttercream, a rich frosting lightened with egg whites. Recipes vary in quantities, and I haven't found one that I'm married to, but Martha Stewart and Dorie Greenspan will never lead you wrong.

And now, without further ado, my Whoopie Pie recipe-- fluffy, spongy, moist, and delicious slathered with frosting.

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

2 c flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
1 1/4 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 c buttermilk
1 t vanilla
1 stick butter
1 c brown sugar
1 egg

Whisk together dry ingredients. Add vanilla to buttermilk. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg. Alternate additions of wet and dry ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry. Bake at 350, until cakes spring back to the touch.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

so. many. apples.

michael and i went apple-picking, and got TWO PECKS of apples. that is twenty-one pounds of apples. i have so far made two pies, and it's hardly made a dent. cider, applesauce, chutney, and caramel apples must be made soon!!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

chocolate swirl cheesecake

charlie, this one's for you!

2 cups of crushed oreo cookies (i found this to be almost two rows out of a package!)
3 T sugar
1 t salt
6 T butter, melted

combine all ingredients until cookies are evenly moist. press into bottom of 9" springform pan, and up the sides, if desired. bake for 10 minutes.


2 lbs cream cheese
1 1/3 c sugar
1 t salt
2 t vanilla
4 eggs
1 1/3 c sour cream, or heavy cream, or a combination of the two

beat cream cheese until lif\ght- about four minutes in a stand mixer. gradually add sugar, and continue to mix until light and fluffy. add vanilla. add eggs one at a time, beating a full minute after each addition.

wrap bottom of pan in two layers of foil. place in a roasting pan. pour batter into springform pan until it just reaches the top. fill roasting pan with boiling water, about halfway up the sides of the springform. here's something i learned when making huge batches of frittatas in sheet pans at vella: put the roaster/cheesecake in the oven, and pull out the rack, then pour in the boiling water. much easier than carrying it TO the oven, when it is already full of the hot water. bake for an hour and a half at 325. turn the oven off, prop open, and let sit for another hour.

this is actually where i am right now-- still cooling in the oven... we shall see how it goes!

p.s. i forgot the chocolate swirl part. melt 4 oz dark chocolate and let cool. spoon tablespoons of chocolate into cheesecake batter (once in pan). use the tip of a knife to swirl it through.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


the bread bible, by rose levy birnbaum.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


i've never really felt a strong urge to make bread(s). but something about this fall- which is the most picture-perfect fall so far- is stirring up a change. ALL i want is to make bread! last night i experimented with a challah recipe. it turned out great, but i still want to try some other recipes. i think i might like a little bit more sweetness...

and unfortunately, i could not get a decent picture... but trust me, it was pretty.

p.s. this recipe was cut in half from one that made two loaves, hence the odd quantities. just do your best to estimate, and it'll be fine.


3/4 tablespoon of yeast
1/2 tablespoon + 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup oil
2 eggs, plus one for egg wash
1/2 tablespoon salt
5 cup flour

**the recipe actually called for about 4 c flour, but the dough was very wet, and i probably ended up adding closer to 5 cups, possibly more than that.

1. in a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1/2 tablespoon sugar in a little more than 1 cup of lukewarm water.
2. whisk oil into yeast, then beat in the eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt. gradually add flour. when dough holds together, it is ready for kneading.
3. turn dough onto floured surface and knead until smooth. put dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place, about an hour, until doubled in size. punch down dough, cover and let rise again for another half an hour.
4. shape dough as desired (braid, form circle, plain loaf). beat remaining egg, and brush it on the loaf. let it rise for half an hour. brush again with egg. bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes, until golden.

Monday, September 15, 2008

rainy weekend

this weekend i made brioche. victory! with the leftover dough, i made cinnamon rolls. and then i made gingersnaps. and jenny made pumpkin ice cream. delicious all. recipes and photos coming!

brioches a tete, from saveur magazine

1/3 c milk, heated to 105°–110°
1/4 c sugar
1 1/4-oz packet active dry yeast
5 eggs, at room temperature
4 c flour
1 t fine salt
1/2 lb unsalted butter, plus more as needed, at room temperature

dissolve yeast in milk with a pinch of sugar. ;et stand until foamy. whisk together the flour, salt, and remaining sugar in the base of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. mix in the milk mixture. add in 4 of the eggs, mixing after each addition. cut butter into 2 tablespoon portions. with the mixer on medium, add the butter one piece at a time and mix until dough comes together. it will be shiny and smooth and will clean the sides of the bowl. transfer to a buttered bowl, cover, and let rise 90-120 minutes in a warm place, until doubled in size. punch down. let rise another hour. shape brioche to fill mini brioche tins, let rise another 30 minutes. apply egg wash, bake 25-30 minutes at 375, until the brioches feel hollow and dense. voila!

i made 6 mini brioches, and with the rest of the dough, made cinnamon rolls. to do this: chill remaining dough, then roll it into a square, about 1/4"-1/2" thick. spread with butter. sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (and any other desired fillings), and roll tightly starting at the side closest to you, moving away. gently slice into 1" rolls. let rise one more time, until fluffy and doubled (rolls will most likely touch each other) before baking. i gave mine a simple powdered sugar glaze when they came out.

if you have time, try making the brioche. it is extremely satisfying! beautiful, fun, and delicious. mmmmmmm!

raw cinnamon rolls

getting bigger

finished products

Monday, September 8, 2008

tis the season

fall, my absolute favorite season, is upon us, and with it come all things warm, cozy, and smelling good! that means lots of baking.

i recently made a brown sugar bundt cake and... pumpkin donuts! the quintessential fall treat, i think.

pumpkin donuts:

3 1/2 c flour
4 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t nutmeg
1 c sugar
3 T butter
1 whole egg, two yolks
1 t vanilla
1/2 c buttermilk
1 c canned pumpkin

whisk together dry ingredients. cream butter and sugar. add egg, yolks, vanilla, then buttermilk and pumpkin. combine with dry. form dough into the shape of your liking. heat about 6 inches of vegetable oil in a large, but not tall, pot, to 365 degrees. with a skimmer, drop doughnuts into oil and let cook until deep golden brown. flip once. you are looking for color as an indicator of when to flip/take out of the oil. let cooked doughnuts sit on power towels to drain excess oil. roll or dip in cinnamon sugar.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

savory AND sweet

yesterday i made ratatouille, a provencal fish soup, and a totally un-related caramel-peanut-chocolate tart. here are the photos. recipes after the pictures.

soup prep.

the finished soup.

ratatouille prep.


this is the tart before the chocolate ganache was poured on top.

fish soup:
1 fennel bulb, diced
2 leeks, sliced
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
2 large baby leaves
3 cloes garlic, sliced
2 T tomato paste
1 c wine
4 tomatoes, chopped
3 lbs fish (i used cod and sea bass)
1 pinch saffron
6 c liquid (combo of chicken stock and water

saute first six ingredients in olive oil until soft. add tomato paste, tomatoes, wine, and saffron. bring to boil. add fish and stock, simmer until fish is falling apart.


4 small zucchini, sliced
3 yellow squash, sliced
1 large onion, slice (half rings)
1 red bell pepper, 1 yellow bell pepper, in strips
1 large eggplant, diced
3 tomatoes, diced
1 c fresh basil, ripped
1 T fresh thyme
2 T red wine vinegar

roast eggplant in a 400 degree oven, covered with foil, for about 20 minutes. set aside. saute onions until they begin to caramelize, then add bell pepper. allow them to caramelize together. add red wine vinegar, scraping up bits from sides and bottom of pan. simmer until liquid cooks off. set aside. saute zucchini and squash until soft. add tomatoes, cook until their liquid begins to simmer. add all other ingredients into the pot, along with the thyme. fold in basil before serving.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

cherry streusel coffee cake

adapted from martha stewart

1/2 c butter
2 c flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1 1/4 t salt
1 c sugar
2 large eggs
2 t vanilla
1 c sour cream
2 c sour cherries

for streusel:
2 c flour
3/4 c brown sugar
2 1/4 t cinnamon
1 t salt
1 stick butter

cream butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light and fluffy. alternate the addition of dry ingredients with the sour cream. spoon about half the batter into a tube pan, layer cherries on top, top with remaining batter, making sure to smooth it. sprinkle with streusel. bake until cake springs back and no longer jiggles, about 35-40 minutes.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

cinnamon whoopie pies

cinnamon whoopie pies begat homemade cinnamon toast crunch begat a better version of cinnamon whoopie pies. details to come...!

Friday, June 6, 2008

almond jam bars

this was adapted from a martha stewart recipe. sorry, no photos!

1 stick butter
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t cardamom
1/4 t baking powder
1/2 c dark brown sugar
1/4 c sugar
1 egg yolk
1 cup sliced almonds
3/4 c peach jam, or jam of your choosing.

whisk together dry ingredients. cream butter and sugars. add egg yolk, scraping down the sides. add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, stir in almonds.

line an 8x8 inch pan with greased/sprayed foil. pat half of the dough into the bottom of the pan, cover with jam, leaving a small jam-less border. crumble the remaining dough on top, and pat into a more solid later. bake at 350, about 30 minutes. when cool, cut into bars.

Saturday, May 31, 2008


i made truffles. three of them. because that's how much ganache i had leftover from the german chocolate cake... left to right: cocoa powder, ginger nibs, coconut.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

german chocolate cake

because i'm feeling lazy, i'll just tell you that this recipe is from epicurious-- it's called "inside out german chocolate cake." can we all agree that when the coconut/dulce de leche/pecan is on the outside, it kind of looks gross?? oh- i took a shortcut with this. i bought dulce de leche, rather than boiling or slow-cooking condensed milk-- i used 2 13 oz cans, and they worked great. it just needs to be softened/warmed on the stovetop before the rest of the filling ingredients are mixed in. and use good quality chocolate for the ganache. oh, and definitely make sure that you have a sweet boy to help you transport the finished product during weekend rush hour on western avenue.

molasses whoopie pies

this was a little bit tricker than the chocolate whoopie pies. i found a recipe from martha stewart for molasses sandwich cookies, but they seemed to be crisp and more ginger snap-y than i would want. the recipe wasn't tooooo too different from the chocolate whoopie pie one, so i just made a few changes (increased flour, baking soda, added buttermilk...) and this is what i ended with:

2 c flour
1 1/8 t baking soda
1 1/4 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
1 c light brown sugar
1 stick butter
1 egg
1/4 c molasses
1 t vanilla
3/4 c buttermilk

same procedure as with chocolate cookies.

chocolate whoopie pies

alright, here goes. 2007 was the year of the brownie. 2008 looks to be the year of the whoopie pie. only seven months left to perfect my art!

it's hard to find a good, basic recipe for whoopie pies-- filling or cake. through my "research," i've discovered that shortening is favored in both elements of these tasty treats, which doesn't seem necessary (or appealing) to me at the moment. i've settled on 2 good (and very different) shortening-free fillings. now i'm accumulating some good ideas for cake. i'd like to have at least three or four cake flavors, working off of the same basic recipe-- the chocolate pie, my recipe for which was adapted from epicurious.

here's the chocolate recipe:

2 c flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
1 1/4 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 c buttermilk
1 t vanilla
1 stick butter
1 c br sugar
1 egg

combine dry ingredients; combine buttermilk and vanilla. cream butter and sugar. mix in egg. keeping mixer running, but scraping down sides of bowl as necessary,alternate additions of wet and dry ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry. spoon onto lined cookie sheet (tablespoons of batter). bake at 350 until cakes are springy.

Monday, April 28, 2008

lacy almond cookies

easy, yummy, candy.

beginning to melt and bubble, almost at full melty potential

an experiment in shaping

1/2 c light brown sugar
1/2 stick butter
1/4 c light corn syrup
1/3 c flour
1/2 c sliced chopped almonds

stir first three ingredients together over heat until smooth. stir in flour an almonds. drop scant teaspoons onto silpat or parchment paper, 2 inches apart. cook until golden brown, 6-8 minutes. let cool a few minutes on sheet, then transfer to rack (or mold around cup or bowl, then move to rack)!

chewy chocolate gingerbread

these are a martha stewart recipe- she has better photo stylists than i do! i was hoping to use crystallized ginger rather than fresh but couldn't find any at my market. next time i'll either increase the ginger even more, or make sure i can get my hands on crystallized!

dough, rolled into balls, dipped in sugar

the finished chewy, crackly goodness.

1.5 c flour
1 1/4 t ground ginger
1 t cinnamon
1 T cocoa powder
1 stick butter
1 1/2 T grated fresh ginger
1/2 c dark brown sugar
1/2 c molasses
1 t baking soda

whisk together dry ingredients. beat butter until whitened, about 4 minutes. add brown sugar and mix until combined. add molasses and mix until combined. dissolve baking soda in 1 1/2 t boiling water. mix half of dry ingredients into batter. beat in bakning soda mixture, then rest of the dry ingredients. mix in ginger and 7 oz chocolate chips. refrigerate dough in discs till firm. make balls, roll in sugar. bake 10-12 minute at 325.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Saturday, April 12, 2008

whoopie pies

you heard it here first. i strongly maintain that whoopie pies are the new donut are the new cupcake. watch out, world! this is like when i predicted that max would be a leap baby.

the cake of these is deliciously spongy. it reminds me of something, but i can't put my finger on it exactly... taste testers? where are you? i need your help. anyhow, yummy, and a nice filling, too.

"pies"/"cakes"/"cookies" about to go in the oven.

finished product. didn't want to fill all the sandwiches prematurely...


biscuits in the oven, gonna watch 'em rise! actually, they didn't rise nearly as high as i'd hoped. these are martha stewart's buttermilk biscuits.

dough, pre-cut

ready for cream wash and sugar sprinkle

golden brown, flaky, yummy

3 c flour
1 c cake flour
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 1/4 t salt
2T + 1 t sugar
1 stick butter
1/2 c shortening
1 1/2 c buttermilk

cut cold butter and shortening into SIFTED dry ingredients, till your fat is pebbly and pea sized at largest. pour buttermilk into a well, gently work in and knead with your hands till incorporated. turn out onto floured tabletop, and pat into a rectangle about 1/2 inch high. cut into desired shapes.

fig cake

many people have said, "that looks like a pizza." it's not. it's a delicious fig cake from, of course, dorie greenspan. very good for autumn (which is when i made this...) and makes the house/tiny apartment smell DELICIOUS.

cardamom butter cookies

3 c flour
1 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
2 t cardamom
1/4 t cinnamom
2 sticks butter
1 1/4 c sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla

addendum-- i just remembered that i made these the day that the doorknob to my bedroom fell off, while closed. i offered these to the older gentleman locksmith who came to rescue me.


colleen and i made these probably almost a year ago. i think we spent a solid 6 hours in the kitchen, making three different kinds of madeleines.

chocolate bread pudding

this is one of those things that i can never make again. it is FAR too dangerous. recipe from dorie greenspan...

1 loaf good challah, stale or dried out
3 c whole milk
1 c heavy cream
3 eggs
4 egg yolks
1/2 c sugar
6 oz chocolate, finely chopped

cut bread into cubes. bring milk and cream just to boil; remove from heat. meanwhile, whisk eggs, yolks, and sugar together in a bowl. still whisking, slowly drizzle in about 1/4 of the hot milk mixture. still whisking, slowly pour in the rest of the hot milk. add the chocolate, and whisk gently till it is melted. pour the custard over the bread and press to help cover it with the liquid.bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, until uniformly puffed and top is dull and dry.

from dorie greenspan.

Friday, April 11, 2008

cupcakes galore

jenny and emily get most of the credit for these...!

chocolate with vanilla buttercream

vanilla with strawberry meringue buttercream

walnut with maple walnut frosting


thanks, michael!


okay, fine. i made my own birthday cake.

back at it

i've got a lot of catching up to do! thanksgiving, pecan pie:

pumpkin cake roll