This page has moved to a new address.

the urban baker

the urban baker: December 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.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Pate Brisee, Plus

I love having Pate Brisee Pastry in the freezer. Actually, I love having most anything in the freezer. At the moment I have Marinara sauce, Bolognese sauce, vegetable, chicken & turkey stock, lime, orange & lemon juice (all previously frozen in ice cube trays and then bagged in Ziplocs), a turkey loaf, more pastry, chocolate chip cookies (frozen in perfect round balls-ready to bake) and some Beef Bourguignon. I like having stuff like this for those nights when I just can't muster up the energy to cook dinner.

Tonight, for X-mas eve, we are going to the neighbors and I wanted to bring a little something, even though the food is going to be plentiful. I defrosted the pastry in the fridge over night. I wanted to use the last of my goat cheese and leeks and opted to make little bite size tarts rather than one huge one. Just wanted to mix it up a little.

I shaped the tart dough in the a.m., then took off for yoga. When I got home, I popped them in the oven to cook, made the custard and sauteed the leeks. I love this recipe it is a winner every time.

3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
salt, white pepper & pinch of nutmeg

scatter leeks and goat cheese (4 oz.) over
baked tart shell
mix all together and pour over leeks and goat cheese, in baked pastry shell
11" tart, bake for around 35 minutes at 375*

Also whipped up a pitcher of cranberry margaritas. Will blend with ice when I get there! Should be a fun evening.

1 1/4 cup cranberry juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup cranberries
3/4 cup fresh lime juice
3/4 cup tequila
1/2 cup contreau
3 cups ice

dip glasses in cranberry juice then sugar.
blend all of the above in a blender. Add ice
and then blend to desired slushiness or serve
on the rocks.

Peace, Joy, Love

Labels: , ,

Cleaned out the Veggie Drawer

With tomorrow being Christmas, NOTHING will be open. Traditionally, we head off to China town for some good food and a stroll. We had Chinese last night, after our annual jaunt to "Santa Clause Lane", and I really couldn't do Chinese twice in one week.

With that said, I assessed the inventory. I still had some leeks, some left over haricot vertes from a crudites platter I had done last week, some potatoes that were on the verge of growing stuff. Also had some cucumbers and tomatoes that were starting to wrinkle.

Wanting a little comfort food I started with a Provencal Vegetable Soup (adapted from Ina Gartens, Barefoot in Paris, recipe here). I like this recipe because it is all veggie. I was able to not only use lots of the veggies I had on hand, but I used some of my homemade stock as well. As I am trying to be somewhat conscious about what I am putting in my mouth (sort of successfully), I added a can of white beans and omitted the pasta. Will be slightly less heavy and will give a teensy weeny bit of protein. I am going to roast a few chicken breasts and then shred the meat and add to the soup for tomorrows lunch. One more thing, I never add as much salt as she recommends. I like to add less and add more, if needed, after the dish is done.

The Pistou is what really makes this soup extra special. The smell from the garlic, basil, and tomato paste as it swirls in the Cuisinart is intoxicating. I could eat it spread on a baguette, but I wont!

Next, I pulled some tomatoes, Persian cucumbers, radishes, red onion, and red peppers from the drawer. Chopped super fine, added some olive oil, lemon juice and S + P and we have a delicious Israeli salad to munch on. I love this with a simple piece of grilled chicken. The perfect lunch.

I love using up what I have on hand. So satisfying. We have such a big pot of soup that I am going to package some up and drop at the neighbors!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Grandma Rose's Sables

It just wouldn't be a holiday without making my Grandma Roses' Sables. My grandma had a small tin that sat on top of her kitchen counter. That tin was either filled with Mandelbrot or these cookies. These were my favorites.

She would make these using a cookie press and they would either have an M & M in the center or be sprinkled with multi colored non-perils. My favorite are the ones with the M & M's. However, I always have to make both versions. Today I decided to make a little glaze and then add the non-perils. I think I like it the original way (a bit messier, but the nostalgia of them makes them taste better).

Happy Holidays!

1 lb. butter
1 cup sugar
beat w/electric mixer until creamy

1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
add and mix well

3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
whisk and mix in gradually

• preheat oven to 350*. line two baking sheets w/parchment
• put a portion of the dough in the cookie press
• place cookies 2" apart. decorate w/non-perils, jimmies, m & m's - anything that suits your fancy.
• bake 15 mins. rotating pan 1/2 way through.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Biscotti - Holiday Style

Preparing for X-mas eve at the Volks. Needing to do something that is representative of the "holiday" (do the holiday's ever end?).

I haven't made biscotti for sometime now and felt it was the perfect treat for a Christmas Eve buffet. I made a double batch of Pistachio Cranberry Biscotti (recipe here). I left some plain and took the other half and dipped in melted white chocolate.

I prefer them un-dipped. However, they are much more festive when dipped half way in the chocolate.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Sugar Strike

I think I am done with sugar for the time being. I am feeling the need for comfort food; soups, stews, and possibly, some homemade breads.

On this weeks menu, I plan on making:

• Sweet + Sour Cabbage Soup
• Puree of Vegetable Soup
• Turkey Meatloaf w/caramelized onions
• Farro Salad w/roasted asparagus + tofu

I also plan to eat alot of oatmeal, hard boiled eggs and raw veggies with Hummus. I am feeling somewhat toxic and I need to clean out.

I have a freezer full of stocks; turkey, chicken, and vegetable, which I have made over the past month. I find, when I use homemade stocks in most anything I make, the dish always tastes a little richer. After making my leek and goat cheese tarts last week, I found myself with a counter full of the green part of the leeks. I couldn't just toss them in my composter. I had to use them. I washed them and threw them in a pot with some carrots, celery, onions, garlic, potato peels, some herbs and some peppercorns. The smell was wonderful.

I roasted some asparagus and made a farro salad with asparagus, grilled tofu, nicoise olives, and peas with a simple Dijon vinaigrette.
I also made a triple batch of marinara. Storing up for the winter. It is perfect for those nights when you just can't bear to cook! Make a Caesar salad and you have the perfect meal.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Raspberry Crumb Bars

It's 7:15 p.m. and I just spent the day making ice cream, Short Ribs, a savory bread pudding and vinaigrette's for tomorrow nights dinner. Not to mention, setting the table, organizing, cleaning and running around getting last minute gifts, etc.

Tomorrow is another Open House at my friends salon (Piero in Santa Monica) and I think most of her peeps are expecting me to walk in their doors around 9:20 a.m. carrying a tray of goodies. Can't really let them down now, can I?

Needed something easy. After searching the Internet, I pulled Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook off the shelf. Found just what I was looking for. Easy, very few ingredients, and is allowing me to use the 3 sticks of butter that have been sitting on my kitchen counter all day.

I have been trying to deliver some sort of dessert indicative of the holiday (ginger, pumpkin, peppermint, etc.). However, tomorrows treat is going to be just that, a treat! I am sure no one will complain.


Chocolate + Vanilla Ice Cream

I had a ton of egg yolks staring me in the face every time I opened my fridge door (which is quite often). I am trying SO hard to eat somewhat healthy. With that said, I have been making scrambled egg whites most mornings for breakfast. Which leaves me with lots of egg yolks to play with. In our house, the best way to utilize egg yolks is to make ice cream!

Tomorrow night is the last night of Hannukah and the whole family is coming over to celebrate. Believe it or not, I am not in charge of dessert. My sister-in-law, Tammy, is going to bring some yummy, gooey chocolate thing (along with lots of other delicious dishes) and I am in charge of the main event plus a few sides. I guess I just couldn't help myself. I had to add one more thing to my "to do" list.

I sifted through The Perfect Scoop and found two recipes that I thought the kids would like. Milk Chocolate Ice Cream and Vanilla bean. I made some cookie dough and added it to the vanilla before freezing. They both smell heavenly.

If I was between the ages of 4-13 (that's the span of the 9 kids in our family), I would eat both tubs in one sitting! And wouldn't even think about what it would doing to my "rear"!

The Milk Chocolate won the taste test!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Baking is Done!

The baking is done and the gifts have been delivered. And, stupidly, I did not take photos of all my tins and packaging (except for this one horrible photo).

Let's recap:

Florentine Bark
(double recipe)
delicious. will make again & again

Pecan Logs
(11 dozen)
a favorite

Triple Chocolate Cherry Chunk
(7 dozen)
got rave reviews

Chocolate Ginger Stars
(3 dozen filled w/white chocolate ganache)
(4 dozen not filled)
better without filling

Coconut Macadamia Shortbread
(7 dozen)

Peppermint Shortbread Bark
(quadruple recipe)
easy, perfect holiday accessory

Pistachio Pinwheels
(5 dozen)
deliciously perfect

Chocolate Walnut Rugalah
(6 dozen)
the best rugalah recipe, ever!

Gingerbread People
(12 dozen)

Lemon Wreaths
(7 dozen-nearly not enough)

Molasses Ginger Snaps
(8 dozen)
always a winner

Bags of Molasses Ginger Snaps


Caramel Cake and Goat Cheese & Leek Tart

In my oven, at this very moment, are two Caramel Pound Cakes and 3 Goat Cheese and Leek Tarts.

Eli's teacher appreciation lunch is tomorrow(just dropping off the goods) and my yoga teacher thought it would be a "good idea" to have a little "holiday" breakfast tomorrow morning after yoga. The thought is great, but isn't yoga supposed to be about "me"? So much of my daily routine is so not about "me". It is about everyone else in my life, plus the kid next door, and everyone else who happens to cross our path. My two mornings a week, which equals 3 hours each week that I set aside for just "me" are 3 hours I embrace and look forward to. Now, instead of being in the zone for 90 minutes, I am being granted 60 minutes of zone time and 30 minutes of eating and conversing (plus I have to labor over and wake up early to create).

This tart is something I have been making for 15 years. I have perfected the custard filling and although I happen to adore the combo of leeks and goat cheese, I do, on occassion, mix it up. In the spring I like to do black forest ham, asparagas and gruyere. I also love the combo of procuitto, ricotta salata and basil. There are several other winning combos, but hands down, the one in the oven is the best!

The Caramel Cake is a winner as well. With a pound of butter (3 sticks in the cake and 1 in the glaze), what could be bad (photos to follow)?

Happy Holidays!

Labels: ,

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Levi

Levi was looking forward to turning 4! We talked about it, a lot! For those of you who don't know me, I love to plan a party. I like to create the theme, design and print my invites (no E-vite for me), plan the menu, blah, blah. I started talking with Levi about his "party" in early November. I wanted to find out what he wanted for his first ever birthday party ( I don't believe in giving or going to parties prior to their 4th birthday - I feel, it is at 4 that they really start to "get it"). One day we were chatting and I asked him to tell me what friends he wanted to invite. He said, "Mommy, I only want to invite my friend Alex and my friend William and that's it". I threw out some additional names but he wanted nothing to do with it. I was joyful!

At that point I re-evaluated the whole party thing. The original plan was to have our family Hanukkah celebration on the 18th and then I was going to have everyone over, again, on the 20th for a party. I discussed with Levi and we came up with a new plan. Celebrate his birthday with the cousins in conjunction with Hanukkah and take William and Alex, on the 20th, to the Merry-Go-Round at the Pier and then go out for "rice and beans". Oh, and he wanted me to make cupcakes. That's it. I was even more joyful!

So, on his actual birthday (the 15th) I got him doughnuts for breakfast and then he and I headed out to Travel Town. Just he and I. We both loved every minute of it. He had all my attention and he was surrounded by trains! Now, he was joyful.

After our adventure, we came home and, together, baked his birthday cake. He was very specific on having yellow cake with chocolate frosting and he wanted marshmallows on top! He got his wish.

I had been looking for an excuse to use one of my new books, Rose's Heavenly Cakes by my gal, Rose Levy Beranbaum. I choose the White Velvet Cake with Milk Chocolate Ganache. It is the perfect cake. This will become my go to birthday cake. I can't wait to sink my teeth into this book. When Eli bit into this cake he said, "this cake is like a lap dance on my taste buds"!

Levi loved his day. I made his favorite dinner; tacos, rice, beans, and guacamole. We sang to him and he opened his presents. He was one happy four year old.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Shortbread Bark

I found this recipe on Epicurious and had to make it. I have always wanted to make Peppermint Bark (recipe here), but never have. What I liked about this one was that it was more of a cookie. The shortbread crust is perfectly easy and you don't have to melt the chocolate in a separate bowl. After the shortbread comes out of the oven, you sprinkle the chopped chocolate all over the crust, wait a few minutes and spread the hot, melted chocolate with an off set spatula. One less step makes me super happy.

For about 4 seconds I entertained tempering my chocolate in my tempering machine. Let that thought go real fast! Couldn't go the extra mile on this one. Had it not been the morning of December 13th (marathon baking day) I probably would have stretched myself. Had to put things into perspective. Glad I did.

Isaac was ecstatic with his job of crushing the candy canes. He did a good job and I enjoyed sharing the kitchen with him. Actually, he is starting to become curious in the kitchen. He is asking to mix, stir, pour, grate, measure and whisk. Makes me super happy when he, or any of my boys, show interest in the kitchen. Maybe I am doing something right.

These were delicious!


Friday, December 11, 2009

Brown Butter Cranberry Tart

First night of Hanukkah and we are actually invited to our Rabbi's house for dinner. The kids are intrigued and excited. Although his wife had asked me to bring "nothing", I insisted on bringing dessert ( am guilty of not going anywhere empty handed - it makes me uncomfortable). I packed up a large box of the chocolate gingerbread stars, picked up some Sufganiot (mini jelly donuts-a holiday tradition) and made this Brown Butter Cranberry Tart (recipe here).

I was having breakfast with my friend Daryn (she and I had written a book together in 2001) and she had mentioned that she had made this dessert from Food & Wine for her Thanksgiving feast. She gave it rave reviews and I trust her taste in food. I ran home and pulled it off the Internet.

The crust is not your typical crust. It is more like a shortbread crust, light and flaky, buttery and yummy. This is a wonderful treat.

Next time I would add the cranberries right before serving. It would also be delicious topped off with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream!

p.s. sorry for the lousy photos. It has been raining here and I like to use natural light for all my photos. Will have to make it again just to photograph it!


Chocolate Gingergread Stars

I mentioned in another entry that I had picked up Cuisine at Home's Holiday Baking issue. It is really fantastic. I want to and probably will make almost everything in the issue. If it is still on the newsstands and you happen to see it, buy it. Don't hesitate!

With the first night of Hannukah approaching, I wanted to make something representative of our holiday. On the nights that we are not entertaining friends and family for dinner, we are invited to others for food and fun. With that said, I wanted to make cookies that everyone could enjoy.

I doubled the recipe and then cut out 3 1/2" stars. After freezing the rolled dough, I cut them into shapes and froze once again (I find the cookies keep their shape when baking when I do it this way). When I was ready to bake them I sprinkled with turbinado sugar and added some white non-perils.

I had so many cookies that I decided to make cream sandwiches out of half of them. I whipped up a batch of the best white chocolate ganache (recipe to follow).
These were absolutely delicious!

Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

Makes: 30 (3-inch) cookies

Total time: 45 minutes + chilling and baking

1 34cups all-purpose flour
14cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1tsp. ground cinnamon
1tsp. ground ginger
12tsp. table salt
12tsp. baking powder
12tsp. baking soda
14tsp. ground cloves
1 12sticks unsalted butter, softened
23cup packed brown sugar
13cup granulated sugar
Coarse or turbinado sugar, sifted powdered sugar

Whisk together flour, cocoa, cinnamon, ginger, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cloves in a bowl; set aside.

Using a hand mixer on medium speed, cream butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in a bowl until mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

Add egg to creamed mixture; beat on low speed until well blended. Add half of the flour mixture; beat on low until ingredients are combined. Add remaining flour mixture, beating only until flour is incorporated into dough.

Divide dough in half. Roll each portion between two sheets of parchment or waxed paper until dough is about 1/8-inch thick. Chill dough for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°; line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Remove top sheet of parchment. Cut dough into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Transfer cookies to the prepared cookie sheets, spacing cookies 1 inch apart. (Roll scraps again one time only.) If desired, sprinkle cookies with coarse sugar, or wait to decorate cookies after baking. Chill cookies again, about 20 minutes.

Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, until they’re firm to the touch and lightly brown on the bottoms, 13–15 minutes. Let cookies cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack.

Sprinkle cookies with powdered sugar or additional coarse sugar