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the urban baker

the urban baker: August 2009

the urban baker

The Urban Baker is deliciously photographed blog about nourishing your family's soul through life in the kitchen. The recipes for fabulous savories and sweets are easily replicated and will inspire you.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Chocolate Pound Cake

I received an email the other day that our school community wants to provide lunch for all the teachers next week. They were reaching out for volunteers to help that day as well as contribute food. We are going to be out of town, but I couldn't not make something.

I am trying to use up the things in my fridge, that will no doubt turn green while we are away. I had just enough sour cream to make this cake. For the life of me, I can't remember where this recipe came from and as I write this, I am searching for the recipe in my recipe files on my desk top. I know I am overwhelmed with trying to pack for 5, but am I losing it here? I just made the cake yesterday and had the recipe that I had printed directly from my computer?!

I baked the cake in the morning and then when it was cool, sliced it and wrapped it for freezing. I dropped it off at my neighbors house as she so graciously offered to bring it to school for me. Whether we are in town or not, the Salzman family has to show our school and our teachers that we appreciate all that they do.

I will post the recipe when I get back (provided I can find it!)

Have a good week and a safe Labor day!

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Blueberry Crumb Cake

We were having dinner at some friends and of course I offered to bring some desserts. I had planned on making some sort of bread pudding as I had a half eaten challah sitting around. However, when I woke up in the morning, I felt lousy. I needed something easy.

This past week, I have been trying to be so creative in the kitchen. We are heading out of town tomorrow and I wanted try and not waste a thing in the fridge. I had some blueberries on hand and rather than freezing them, decided to use them in this dessert.

A few years ago, I had found this recipe for Blueberry Crumb Cake on the Martha Stewart website. I make a lot of different blueberry desserts. I had forgotten how good this one truly is. It is fool proof and everyone will ooh and ahh. The only addition I made to it was I added a little grated lemon zest.


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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cocoa Banana Muffins

I had the ugliest, yuckiest bananas one has ever seen. I left them in the fridge all week and they really couldn't sit another day. They were going to start growing stuff. After making the babka recipe, I wanted to make more from The Modern Baker. Nick (Malgieri) had a recipe for Cocoa Banana Muffins and they were the perfect solution for my ugly, mushy bananas.

These were delicious. They were light (sour cream in the base of the batter), not too sweet and perfectly chocolaty. The only change I made to the recipe was I added about a handful, handful and a half - of good chocolate chips.

Everyone should run out and buy this book. It is a keeper!

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Babka for Breakfast!

I wanted to experiment more with my new fav book, The Modern Baker. He has tons of breads and quick breads and I guess I was in the mood to work with yeast. I decided to make the Chocolate Babka. I do not make much bread, but I want to master it. This was a good place to start.

You see, although bread seems daunting, it really isn't. What bread requires is a lot of time. But not the kind of time that makes you a slave to the kitchen. The ingredients get thrown into the kitchen aid mixer. You either use the paddle attachment or the dough hook. Once the dough forms a ball slap it onto a floured surface, lightly knead it and then put it in a well oiled bowl. Let it rise. Then you go through the steps of the recipe.

The babka called for 6 egg yolks. Therefore I had tons of egg whites left over. I also had some egg yolks left over from something else I baked this past week (can't remember what). Friday night I had made a big dinner and I had had some roasted potatoes left over. I thought a Spanish omelet for breakfast the next morning would a good solution in not wasting the left over potatoes. When I mentioned "Spanish omelet" to Eli, he became obsessed. I told him that Dad and I lived on them when we traveled through Spain (especially in the South on the beaches in Nerja), prior to him coming into our lives. I made it from memory. Memory worked. I served it with some salsa and everyone was happy.

Bread is fun. I want to make more. This was good, not perfect. I think not perfect because of me, not because of the recipe. Eli and Mitch liked it. Levi likes anything with sugar. Again, Isaac would have preferred a bag of french fries!

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Grandma Sadie's Date Nut Loaf

My cousin, Hallie and I were talking the other day about our grandma Rose's recipes. We were talking about some of our favorite recipes and we both agreed that her date nut loaf was one of our favorites. Neither one of us could find her original recipe but I did find my Grandma Sadie's recipe (my mom's mom). I called my mom and suggested she come over and we bake it together. We made two loafs and took one over to Hallie's. She was happy.

This bread, loaf, cake - whatever you want to call it, is really good. It is somewhat addicting. It is dense, but it is not heavy. There is no butter or oil in the cake. The wet ingredients basically consists of whipped egg whites and egg yolks. At first, I thought...weird. But then when you taste it, it is not weird at all. It is all nuts and dates.

This is probably a 100 year old recipe. I believe that is why it is so good.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

What's in a cookie jar?

Our friends moved out to Agoura. Alex is Eli's best friend and Isaac and Caiti have been joined at the hip for the last two years. Although we are happy for them and their new life, we miss them. We spent a long, lazy summer day out at their new home. We planned on staying a few hours. We didn't get home that night until after 9p.m.! No one wanted to leave, including me.

I couldn't walk in empty handed so I decided to get them a glass jar and fill it with cookies. I like to make the Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookies because it makes tons. Plus, I freeze part of the dough, in golf ball size portions and then bake them off when we all feel like a little something sweet.

I also made them a lasagna as their kitchen is about to be gutted. Figured they could freeze it and save it for a rainy day. My kids had so much fun, not only did they not want to leave, but they want to move out that way!
I could say that all of us are going to miss our friends very much. However, we are going to make a HUGE effort to do a once a month "play-date". Yet, if it were up to my kids, they would make it a once a week gig!

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lemon Cake

Today was my friends birthday and she wanted nothing to do with it. She didn't want lunch, she wanted nothing. I had a ton of lemons on hand as today was the last day of a 10 day cleanse (no food for 10 days!). I woke up early and made two lemon pound cakes.

Today was kind of the perfect day. No kids. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids. Yet, when I can have a day all alone in my home, I am perfectly content. I don't even like to answer the phone on these very rare and special days. I become a hermit. I cook, I fiddle around on the computer, I finish a project, I embrace the quiet and solitude.

I decided to make my friend a "pseudo" birthday cake. I like the Barefoot Contessa lemon yogurt cake recipe because it is super light. Oil replaces butter and yogurt is added which gives this cake a lot of air. I like to use a greek yogurt. I had enough yogurt to make two cakes. One to wrap and give away and one for the family to devour.

The cake was still around over the weekend. So I decided to cut and slice it up and grill it on the bbq for dinner one night. This is really easy and can be done with any pound cake (even a store bought one). Brush each side of each slice with a little melted butter until the grill marks show. I made a quick blueberry sauce to serve along with it. Take your blueberry's, some sugar and a little bit of corn starch and bring to a boil (and the sugar has melted). The melted sugar will help liquefy the blueberries. Roasted fruit is also good on this or even a simple scoop of vanilla ice cream. Such a yummy combo!

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009


We are really into ice cream over here at the Salzman house. My kids have been requesting "mint chip ice cream" and I simply had to honor their request.

We were having an impromptu, spur of the moment dinner with some friends (lots of kids) which gave me a good excuse to make more ice cream.

I really didn't want to use the recipe from the Cuisinart manual, so I surfed the net. I found a recipe on Food and although the ingredients were a little different than the previous ice cream attempts, I thought how bad can half and half, sugar and eggs be?

I went with a recipe by Alton Brown, the crazy guy on the food network. The only thing I changed was I substituted mini chocolate chips for bittersweet chocolate chunks. Everyone agreed that this was a winning recipe.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Perfect Pie Crust

In honor of Julia Child's birthday (yesterday, the 15th) I wanted to make something from the Baking with Julia cookbook. I make something that would put me over the edge and really challenge me.

However, when a friend of mine asked me to "cater" her parents 50th wedding anniversary party, I had a hard time saying no. I am not a caterer. I just love to cook and everyone in my inner circle knows this about me. After putting the menu together, I thought it would be festive to make little apple tarts to go along with the "wedding" type cake they were going to get for the party.

In the front of the book are about 8 "basic" must do recipes. The flaky pie dough is one of them. I have not found a dough that I am in love with, until now! This is the perfect pie dough. It doesn't shrink when cooked and it holds true to its is flaky. The recipe says it makes enough for 4 9-10 pies or tarts. I made 22, 4" small tarts.

Originally, when I was planning the menu for my friend, I wanted to make individual apple crisps. I made some, as a test (aug. 10th post) and although I thought the crisps were good, it didn't translate well for individual desserts. I wanted to keep them small and remembered an apple streusel tart I made one Thanksgiving back in the early 90's. I found the original recipe, however didn't have both pages of the recipe. So I decided to make one up. Here is what I did:

Flaky Pie Dough
Baking with Julia

5 1/4 cups pastry flour
1 Tbls. kosher salt
1 1/2 sticks cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/4 cups solid vegetable shortening, chilled
1 cup ice water

I made mine in my food processor.

1. Put dry ingredients in bowl of food processor fitted with the metal blade and process.

2. Take the top off and scatter the cold butter and shortening and pulse until it resembles moist cornmeal.

3. Add a little of the liquid and pulse a few times and then add more liquid until the mixture has curds and clumps and sticks together when pressed between your fingertips.

4. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

5. Roll to 1/4" thickness. Cut out and place in desired pan.

The dough can be stored in the fridge for 5 days or frozen for one month. Divide it into quarters before freezing.

Apple Filling

2 Tbls. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
zest from one lemon
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1. Peel and core the apples. Cut apples anyway you like.

2. Pour other ingredients over apples and mix to coat apples

Put apples in prepared tart/pie shell

Streusel top

1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick (4 oz. ) butter, cold and cubed
zest of one lemon

1. Mix dry ingredients

2. Cut butter into dry ingredients with your hands or a pastry cutter. It should be chunky and crumbly.

Top each tart with a handful of streusel.

Preheat oven to 350*. Bake for about 30-40 minutes. At the 30 minute mark, check tarts, they may or may not need more time.

Happy eating!!

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Peach Tea Cake

I am reading my magazines and I am finding so many wonderful recipes to experiment with . I found these Stone Fruit Tea Cakes and couldn't wait to try them. I had an over abundance of peaches and with plans to go to our cousins for lunch this weekend, I had the perfect excuse to make it.

I made the pastry dough (doubled it) in advance and stuck it in the freezer. This is not a great dough to work with, it is super sticky, falls apart BUT the end result is worth the trouble and hassle of working with it. Be patient, don't be discouraged. I was super discourage, I wanted to through the entire dough in the garbage, but had already committed to making this plus my peaches were prepped.

This is an outrageously delicious cake. This is the perfect summer dessert, but could be made year around using frozen stone fruit. Yet, next time, instead of sprinkling the sugar over the fruit, I would mix it prior and add a little lemon zest.

Top this with a a little vanilla ice cream and you have a great crowd pleaser.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Power Boost Cookies

Mitch rides his bike with 2 buddies 3 times per week. They are not fanatic and crazy about it, but they love the exercise, they love the bonding and I think, they love feeling accomplished.

In the past year, they have completed a few races. The races they have completed in the past were no more than 65 miles. This past weekend, they did a 100 mile race in Santa Barbara.

Mitch had requested some of his favorites, Oatmeal Cookies. He thought they would be a good energy boost during the ride. Therefore, I individually wrapped them for easy access. I use a recipe from (this is also good with some added coconut )as my base, however I am always changing and adding to it. I love this cookie with the dried cherries, but Mitch only wanted raisins. I added a some slivered almonds, just to give them a little extra texture.

I believe, the cookies never made it to the ride. I was told they were eaten in the car ride on their way up to Santa Barbara. Should have made a triple batch!

Oatmeal Raisin Chunk Cookies

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cup dried raisins
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
Position racks in center and top third of oven and preheat to 325°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift flour, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar in large bowl until well blended. Mix in egg and vanilla. Beat in flour mixture. Mix in oats, raisins and almonds. I like to chill all my cookies dough for at least a day. But you don't have to.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake cookies 12 minutes. Switch and rotate baking sheets. Bake cookies until golden, about 6 minutes longer. Cool cookies on baking sheets (cookies will firm as they cool). (Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chocolate Buttermilk Pancakes

Once again, I had some buttermilk on hand. I wanted to make more scones (already made two batches), but wasn't in the mood. The solution...Pancakes! Chocolate, Chocolate chip pancakes.

I found the recipe on the Gourmet website. The batter looked good enough to eat. It was dense and thick, almost fudge-like. Of course, Eli loved these. Again, Isaac would have preferred a bacon sandwich (turkey or soy bacon on toasted french bread with arugula!).

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bite Size S'mores

What could be better than homemade graham crackers, chocolate truffles and homemade marshmallow cream? NOTHING!

I have recently had the pleasure of working with Jamie Cantor of Platine Cookies. Eli has sampled most of her desserts and the one he just can't stop talking about are her little s'more bites. He has been begging me to make something similar.

I remember reading a recipe for graham crackers in Nancy Silverton's Pastries. As most everything from that book has been good, I choose to make her graham crackers. This dough is a mother to work with. It is very, very wet and super sticky. After rolling out part of the dough, I had trouble. I decided that it would be best to roll the rest of the dough onto parchment sheets and freeze until they got firm. When I took them out of the freezer I immediately cut them into small rounds and then rerolled the scraps and froze those. And repeated it until all the dough was gone. The last of the scraps I baked off and then threw in the Cuisinart and made crumbs. They will be used for the next cheesecake I make.

These baked quickly. They were a little more crispy than I would have liked, but the taste was oh-so good. I baked these for around 10 minutes, which I found was a bit too long. Next time, I will adjust.

For the chocolate layer, I made the truffles from Sherry Yard, Desserts by the Yard and they were easy and perfect. I froze them and then when ready to use put them atop the little graham crackers.

Lastly, I made an easy marshmallow frosting from the Martha Stewart website. Not nearly as good as the marshmallow from the last Daring Bakers challenge, but the MS marshmallow frosting was way less steps. I needed something quick and easy.

I do need some lessons in piping. My piping leaves much to be desired. Hence, my kids didn't care. They were simply happy that these were finally assembled and complete. All that was left to do was to to torch them and eat them....

Graham Crackers

Pastries from the La Brea Bakery


  • 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp. Unbleached pastry flour or unbleached flour
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 tsp. Baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 7 tbsp. Unsalted butter, cut into cubes and frozen
  • 1/2 cup mild flavored honey
  • 5 tbsp. Whole milk
  • 2 tbsp. Pure vanilla extract


  • 3 tbsp. Sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon


1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda & salt. Pulse or mix on low. Add the butter and pulse on and off until it is the consistency of coarse meal.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the honey, milk & vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and pulse until the dough barely comes together. It will be soft and sticky.

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat the dough into a rectangle, 1” thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm; about 2 hours or overnight.

4. Prepare the topping, combine sugar and cinnamon and set a side.

5. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the fridge. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into along rectangle 1/8” thick. The dough will be sticky. Cut the dough to your desired size. Gather scraps together and re-roll. Place on parchment and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and chill until firm, 30-45 minutes. Repeat with other half of dough.

6. Adjust oven racks to upper and middle and turn oven on to 350*.

7. bake for 25 minutes until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets half way through.

Chocolate truffles

Desserts by the yard by Sherry Yard


  • 8 oz. Bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. Unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp. Jack Daniels or whiskey


I adapted these for the kids. I omitted the whiskey and didn’t roll them as I wanted

To make s’mores. I also omitted the coating as I was going to coat them in marshmallow cream.

Make the truffles:

1. Place the bittersweet chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream to a boil and pour over the chocolate and butter. Let sit for one minute. Using a rubber spatula, stir slowly from the center out. Be careful not to add too much air, about 2 minutes.

2. Add liqueur if using it. Allow the ganache to cool until it is firm. 4 hours in a 65* room or two hours in the refrigerator.

3. Once the ganache is firm, it can be formed into truffle balls. Using a piping bag, a mini ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, and make 1” blobs. If the truffles begin to warm, refrigerate for 10-15 minutes until firm.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Mini Apple Crisps

We are on our way to some friends house for dinner and I wanted to bring desserts for both the grown ups and the kids. I had recently bought these cute little cup liners at Surfas and really wanted to use them. I thought about making little bread puddings. Then I remembered that I had all these apples that I had bought at the farmers market. I decided to go with mini apple crisps. I was excited to use my little liners.

I turned toward the Tartine cookbook and she had an easy crisp recipe. I prepared the topping and then put in the fridge. I peeled and cored the apples and then started filling the cup liners.

All looked good. The topping was really easy to work with. The directions said to pat the topping into a flat, pancake type shape. In hindsight, I should have just crumbled it over the top of the apples. When I took the crisps out of the oven, they looked a little messy. I don't like messy looking food. They only looked messy because the juice from the apples and the butter from the topping kind of leaked out all over the baking sheet.

I brought them to our friends regardless. No one seemed to notice the mess that I was obsessing over. The only comments I received were positive, with one party goer asking for seconds!


  • 3 lbs. assorted apples
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • zest from one lemon
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
1. Preheat oven to 350*. If making one big crisp, butter bottom of a 9"x 13" baking dish.

2. Core, peel and slice the apples. In another bowl, combine sugar, lemon juice, zest and salt. Add to apples and either spread in large pan or divide among the individual cups.

3. To make the topping, place sugar and butter in a mixing bowl. Use the whisk attachment on medium speed and beat until smooth. Add flour, cinnamon & salt and mix until a smooth dough forms.

4. Top crisps with dough and lay on top of apples.

5. Bake large pan for about 1 1/2 hours. If making individual, check after 20 minutes. If not done, keep checking every 5-7 minutes until the apples start to bubble.

6. Can be served at room temp or cold.

Top with ice cream and everyone will be happy!

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Carmel Crumb Bars

These are hands down one of the best bars I have ever tasted and or ever made.

I am so excited about my new book, The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri. I know I have committed to making every recipe in other books. And have failed miserably. However, I could probably commit to that challenge with this book and actually follow through. I just got it and have probably gone through it 12 times. I want to make everything and can't decide what to make next. Everything in it is so tangible, so doable, so appealing and so beautiful.

I choose this as my first recipe because we had so many invites this particular weekend and I needed to make stuff that would travel well. Plus, even without doubling this recipe, it made a fair amount, making it easy to spread the wealth.

I made the dough the day before and then the next day, first thing in the morning I made the caramel filling. Basic pantry ingredients. This couldn't have been easier to make, to assemble, to cut. There were no issues with cutting these bars. It was effortless to get them almost symmetrical!

I paired these with my pseudo "oreos" from the chocolate cookie experiment and on the presentation was impressive!

Caramel crumb bars are going to become a basic go to recipe when I need something that is full proof and yummy as well as fast and easy!

p.s. don't feel right posting the recipe as this book was recently published. for those serious bakers out there, this is a must have book.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Chocolate Cookie Experiment

I wanted to make a cream filled cookie and wanted to use a chocolate cookie. I tried two recipes form Maida Heatter's Cookie book. I made what she calls, Marjorie Kinnan Rawling's Chocolate Cookies and Chocolate Street Cookies.

After completing each of the batters, I felt they were both a little too fudgy. I was nervous. It wasn't what I had in mind. I had way too many expectations for this and I was letting myself down. However, the batters were made and wasn't going to waste them. If worse came to worse, Levi's teachers at pre-school would benefit greatly.

When they first came out of the oven, after cooling a bit, I took a bite of each. The Street Cookie, in my opinion was the winner, but I needed a second opinion. I gave Mitch a piece of each, and although he is not as passionate about sweets as Eli and I are, he picked the Street Cookie as well. These cookies, actually, got better the next day. I, personally, did not like the MKR chocolate cookies. They were just "whatever". They didn't work for my challenge and didn't really work in general.

The Street cookies had the right texture, the right height that I was looking for, more a cakiness than the other cookie and although they weren't perfect, they were going to work for this particular project.

While they were cooling I made the butter cream frosting. I like the frosting from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook. However, as I have said in prior posts, I like it a little thicker and add more powdered sugar than the recipe calls for. The frosting and the cookie were a pretty good pairing. I only tasted a little bite as I was preparing my body for a 10 day cleanse. I know, crazy, but don't ask. But what I had tasted, I liked. I still need to perfect this particular cookie base. All in all they were very well received!

Chocolate Street Cookies
maida heatter, Cookies


  • 1/4 cup unsifted flour
  • 1/4 tsp. Baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. Salt
  • 8 oz. Semisweet chocolate
  • 1 tbsp. Unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla
  • 2 1/2 oz. Walnuts, finely chopped


1. adjust oven rack into thirds. Preheat oven to 350*. Line cookie sheets with parchment.

2. Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon & salt and set aside

3. Break up the chocolate and place in a double boiler. Add the butter, and place over moderate heat. Stir until smooth. Remove from hot water and cool.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs at high speed until light in color. Gradually add the sugar and beat for 4-5 minutes until almost white in color.

5. Add the cooled chocolate and then the sifted ingredients. Stir in the nuts.

6. Use a small ice cream scooper and place them 1 1/2” apart on prepared sheets. This is a gooey dough.

7. bake 12 minutes reversing the sheets and top to bottom. When done, the cookies will be cracked and will feel semi firm. Let cool and transfer to racks to cool.

Magnolia's Vanilla Butter cream Icing

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 8 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
cream butter and add first 4 cups of sugar. add milk and vanilla until smooth. on medium speed, gradually add 1 cup of sugar at a time until you get the consistency your desire.

spread icing onto cookies and enjoy!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Julie & Julia

Just saw it and I loved every minute of it! I loved everything about it and for 2 hours and 3 minutes I was inspired to honor my love and passion for all things edible. I love food. I can't help it. Some people drink, some people gamble, some shop. Those are not my addictions. Mine is food; reading about it, shopping for it, cooking it, photographing it and most importantly, eating it.

In honor of the opening day of the movie, I decided to make the Cantuuccini out of Baking with Julia. They are really a biscotti, but so much more crunchy. A simple enough recipe and it makes enough to give away. I packed up a bag for my friend Halle, whom I was seeing for lunch and I also gave some to our favorite neighbor!

I put a bag of them in Eli's lunch for camp. The first thing he said to me when he got into the car at the end of the camp day was, "Mommy, everyone loved the biscotti's". He is so thoughtful!

p.s. sorry for the photo, when I went to photograph them, they had been pillaged and eaten. All that were left were crumbs!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Profiteroles...More ways to use up the yummy ice cream

I love Profiteroles. The first time I had them, was probably back in 1981 (a junior at U.C. Berkeley), at some yummy restaurant in San Francisco and I fell hard for them then and I still feel the same way about them today. Probably one of my all time favorite desserts. There is something about the combo of the light pastry, the dense, rich ice cream and the velvety, chocolate sauce. Mmmm, Mmmm Good!

I turned my little culinary prodigy, Eli, onto them a while back (he fell hard as well) and felt it only fair that we make them at home. I had been wanting to challenge myself for some time and making Choux Pastry ( The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard)was something I had to gear up for. I don't know why I was so intimidated, easy - peasy! And so fun! Hence, I haven't mastered the pastry bag as of yet, but I am working on it. With that said, my little pillows of goodness came out pretty darn good.

I had originally made so many that I ended up freezing most of them. So last week, when we were in an ice cream making extravaganza, our little cream puffs came in handy. We took a few out of the freezer, slapped on some of our homemade vanilla bean ice cream (see blog post 8/3/09 ). The only missing ingredient was the chocolate sauce. So I turned to Baking with Julia, knowing that I would find the perfect chocolate sauce. And I did! It was a perfect trio.

There is nothing more satisfying than an 8pm snack with Eli, lover of almost all food, and an episode of So You Think You Can Dance! It was a good night.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Lots of left over egg whites!

I have wasted way too many left over egg whites in the past few months and I wasn't about to do it again.

After my ice cream bonanza last week, I found myself left with 6 egg whites. I have been wanting to make meringues and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so. Dorie Greenspan's Baking from My Home To Yours seemed to have a few good recipes. I ended up choosing the Cocoa Almond Meringues. As you all know, I love chocolate, so this was the obvious choice. Plus, it was something super easy and I could whip them up before starting dinner. These are really the lazy mans cookie. After baking at a certain temperature, you pop the oven down 100 or so degrees and they sit in there for 1 hour. The perfect end of the day task for someone as obsessed with baking as myself.

Everyone loved them except Isaac. He is somewhat hard to please. He sometimes prefers a bag of Doritos to a cookie. Too bad, I don't keep that crap in the house, because if I did, it would be all he would eat.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Ice Cream, Ice Cream & More Ice Cream

Eli has been bugging me to get an ice cream maker for EVER! I researched a little and came to the the conclusion that the simple Cuisinart machine was the best one for our culinary purpose.

I brought it home, cleaned it and immediately started experimenting. I started with a strawberry recipe from the August issue of Gourmet Magazine. I had tons of strawberry's. Usually, when I have too many strawberry's I freeze them for morning smoothies. Using pantry items for our first attempt at ice cream was super satisfying.

Ice cream has always seemed intimidating. Ice cream is my new found crush. I can't get enough of it and it is all I think about. And to be honest with you, I don't particularly love ice cream. It is not my go to dessert when I need something sweet. Yet, a little taste, straight from the ice cream maker is pretty darn goooood!

After the successful attempt at the strawberry ice cream, I decided to make the Vanilla Bean from the Cuisinart booklet. This was a good test for me as I really didn't get the full usage of the ice cream maker with the first go around. I really wanted to watch the machine do its magic. This recipe allowed me to full fill my fantasy. At first, this ice cream tasted a little too "eggy". However, once frozen it was good, not great. Need way more vanilla beans! I have researched a few other vanilla bean recipes. I am dying to make the vanilla bean from Sherry Yard, however the recipe calls for SEVEN, yes SEVEN vanilla beans. If I were to make this particular recipe, which I won't, I will have to invest approximately $77.00 in vanilla beans! I'd rather have a new pair of yoga pants for 77.00 bucks!

Next stop was Sherry Yard's coffee ice cream. Pure perfection. This was so amazingly good. It may have to become a staple in our freezer! Everyone in my house voted on what was their favorite. Coffee won by a landslide. Eli and Isaac are requesting Mint Chip. With all the cream and milk I have in the fridge their wish could come true. Be on the lookout for our next ice cream adventure!

Using the snickerdoodles that I had made the day before, the kids and their friends enjoyed homemade ice cream sandwiches!

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