Monday, June 18, 2018

Maple Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

I keep talking about the Alaska from Scratch cookbook, and this cookie recipe also comes from it. You see, I followed the author/blogger for years, but I was even more excited it came out this year because I am going to Alaska for the first time later this summer! Cooking and baking these recipes has felt like a connection to a place I just know I am going to love.


I made these Maple Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies during the week we had in May in upstate South Carolina where it was hot, humid, and rainy ALL DAY LONG EVERY DAY. The students in my Storytelling class were tired of having to trudge around in downpours and I wanted to bake them a treat for working so hard in class. It can feel very vulnerable to share your personal stories, after all.

These were everything I hoped they would be - soft, sweet, and the "imitation" maple extract I had to order from Amazon (maple is just not a popular flavor in the south) wasn't fake tasting, and actually also contained maple syrup. The addition of pecans was perfect, and I actually think you could leave out the chocolate chips for a nice fall cookie... but if you can add chocolate, I don't see why you wouldn't.

I think you should buy the cookbook, so I won't post the recipe here. I did notice that Maya posted a similar recipe in her blog from a visit to her sister.

If anyone has recommendations for ingredients or food products I can buy in Alaska that are hard to find elsewhere, I'd love to know about them.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Apply to Join the ABRAMS Dinner Party plus 2017-18 Roundup

If you coveted my experience of spending a year experimenting with the cookbooks from ABRAMS Books, it is time to apply for the next season! The application is due July 20th, and more information can be found on the application page.

You may be wondering what a year on the ABRAMS Dinner Party is like. I felt like it reinvigorated my baking and cooking by giving me new recipes to try out and a community to share it with. I was exposed to cookbooks I don't think I would have come across otherwise, and chefs I didn't know about. Who would have thought I'd start salivating over Action Bronson's "Egg Noodles with Feta and Paprika?" (dang, that sounds good again) or that the "Traditional Pinto Beans" from The Austin Cookbook would become the most requested recipe in our household? Or that I'd take to making "Morning Loaf" from Simple Fare when I felt like bringing in a snack for my co-workers? Or that the "Gooey Chocolate Chip Bars" from What's Gaby Cooking would be one of my most popular Instagram posts all year?

I thought it would be fun to do a cookbook and recipe roundup from JennyBakes, so you can get a sense of the variety of this past season, and maybe see a dish or two you might have missed. For some of the cookbooks, I played more with regular food and didn't think it fit for JennyBakes, so there will definitely be cookbooks on this list that have not been on this blog!

Fall 2017

Acid Trip by Michael Harlan Turkell
JennyBakes: Balsamic Zabaglione with Peaches | Instagram

F*ck, That's Delicious by Action Bronson
JennyBakes: Chocolate Chip Cookies and Salted Honey | Instagram

Slow Cook Modern by Lianna Krissoff
JennyBakes: Apfel Quark Kuchen / Apple Quark Cake | Instagram 

The Dinner Plan by Kathy Brennan
Instagram: Dark Chocolate Banana Bread and a Chickpea, Tomato and Spinach Stew over Lemony Quinoa

Simple Fare: Fall/Winter by Karen Mordechai
JennyBakes: Morning Loaf | Instagram

Cook Beautiful by Athena Calderone
JennyBakes: Cardamom Cognac Apple Cake | Instagram

Southern Girl Meets Vegetarian Boy by Damaris Phillips
Instagram: Benedictine and Tempeh Bacon Sandwiches, Spicy Buffalo Deviled Eggs, and the Carrot Cake Bars
 
The Artful Baker by Cenk Sonmezsoy
JennyBakes: Double Chocolate Bundt Cake | Instagram

Paladares by Anya von Bremzen
Instagram: Katia's Ginger Cookies

Healthyish by Lindsay Maitland Hunt
Instagram: Broccoli Pea Soup, Apple Slice Snacks, Kale Caesar with Curried Cauliflower, multiple smoothies, and Beans with Baked Eggs

One Knife, One Pot, One Dish by Stephane Raynaud
JennyBakes: Pineapple with Hazelnuts and Vanilla | Instagram

Spring 2018

Tom Fitzmorris's New Orleans Food by Tom Fitzmorris
JennyBakes: Chocolate and Cafe au Lait Mousse | Instagram | Instagram

The New Farm by Brent Preston
Reading Envy: Book review | Goodreads | Instagram
 
Godforsaken Grapes by Jason Wilson
Reading Envy Podcast Episode 117

First We Eat by Eve Kosmas Flores
JennyBakes: Rhubarb Tarragon Ice Cream | Instagram

The Austin Cookbook by Paula Forbes
JennyBakes: Enchiladas and beans | Instagram

Katie Lee's Easy Breezy Eats by Katie Lee
Instagram: Spinach Salad with Pickled Strawberries & Poppy Seed Dressing and Rolled Goat Cheese & Dill Omelet.

The Cook's Atelier by Marjorie Taylor
JennyBakes: Wild Ramp Souffle | Instagram

What's Gaby Cooking by Gaby Dalkin
JennyBakes: Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares | Instagram

The Foreign Cinema Cookbook by John Clark
JennyBakes: Tahitian Vanilla Pavlova with Strawberry Coulis and Rose-Scented Rhubarb | Instagram
 

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Strawberry Shortcake Scones

We are heading to Alaska this summer and I'm still checking in and trying out new recipes from The Alaska from Scratch Cookbook by Maya Wilson. When it was finally strawberry season, and I had berries that were in their last days, I remembered seeing a strawberry scone recipe in there, and decided to make them.


This isn't the recipe to use if you're trying to use up a bunch of berries; it only calls for 12. But somehow those are well utilized and the flavor is balanced with a sweet glaze.

(I'm copying the recipe from her blog rather than her cookbook, but I think everyone should buy her cookbook. Not a paid advertisement.)

Strawberry Shortcake Scones
(from Alaska from Scratch, based on a scone recipe from Smitten Kitchen; we're all friends here)

Yields: 12 scones (or, as JennyBakes says: 8 in a scone pan)

For scones:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 Tbsp chilled butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
12 strawberries, hulled and quartered
3/4 cup half and half or cream

For glaze:

3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup half and half or cream
1/2 tsp vanilla.


Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add butter and cut in with a pastry blender until mixture resembles crumbs.

Toss in strawberries and coat lightly with the flour mixture. Add half and half and fold together gently until the mixture just begins to come together and form a soft dough (more cream can be added if needed). Do not knead or over mix the dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and pat into a 1-inch thick rectangle. With a sharp knife, cut the rectangle into 6 squares, then cut the squares on the diagonal to form 12 triangles. Place scones on prepared baking sheet and bake 16-18 minutes, or until scones are cooked through and golden.

Place a sheet of parchment on a work surface, then place a cooling rack over top of parchment. Remove scones from pan to cooling rack. Cool about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make glaze by whisking together powdered sugar, vanilla, and half and half until smooth. Glaze too thick? Add more cream by the tablespoon. Too thin? Add more powdered sugar by the 1/4 cup until the desired consistency is achieved.

Taking each scone by the bottom, dip them top side down directly into the glaze until top is covered. Return scones to cooling rack and allow glaze to drip down the sides and off the rack onto parchment. Glaze will firm up when scones are completely cool.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Easy Rhubarb Breakfast Cake

I was hunting for a recipe to use up some rhubarb. It's like the cereal bowl issue, I always find myself buying more rhubarb to have enough for the next recipe, and I always have leftovers. I didn't have enough to make the roasted rhubarb for this scone recipe I found on a Canadian Mennonite baking blog, but I did realize from that one that rhubarb is an easy one to chop up and freeze for later. (Perhaps next time I'll do that instead of "pouring more cereal into the bowl.")

So I went with this recipe that only called for 2 cups of rhubarb, which was precisely what I had. I do like breakfast/snacking cakes, and this one came together quickly and baked before I was starving on a Sunday morning. The color of my final cake is more golden brown than the blogger's original, but I did have to make a few changes to the recipe: I used milk instead of half-n-half, and once I started measuring things realized I only had 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour! So I used up the gluten-free flour mixture that I bought for my sister's visit, and filled in the gaps with spelt flour. I loved the texture of the cake, and the lovely flavor. I would have liked it even better with some hazelnuts or pecans. And my rhubarb doesn't look as pretty and pink after baking as the original blogger's - so even if you can't see rhubarb in there, it is! And it's delicious!


Easy Rhubarb Breakfast Cake
(from The View from Great Island blog)

Ingredients 

1/2 cup (116 grams) half and half
1 tsp lemon juice
1 stick (1/2 cup, 113 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup (214 grams) granulated sugar plus 2 tsp for sprinkling
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups (256 grams) all purpose flour, saving out 1 Tbsp to toss with rhubarb
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups thinly sliced rhubarb

Instructions

Set oven to 350F Lightly butter a 9x9 square baking pan. I like to line the pan with parchment paper with overhanging ends so I can easily lift out the cooled cake for cutting. That's optional.

Stir the lemon juice into the half and half and set aside.

Cream the soft butter and sugar in a stand mixer, or with electric beaters, until fluffy and pale yellow.

Beat in the egg and vanilla, scraping down the bowl as necessary.

Take 1 Tbsp of the flour to the rhubarb and toss well.

Whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add half of the flour mixture to the bowl and blend in. Add all of the half and half, and blend in.

Finally add the rest of the flour and blend just until combined, don't over mix. Fold in the rhubarb. Note: the batter is on the thick side.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top evenly with a little sugar. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until the cake is turning golden and a toothpick in the center comes out without wet batter clinging to it (moist crumbs are fine.)

Let the cake cool slightly before cutting.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Tahitian Vanilla Pavlova with Strawberry Coulis and Rose-Scented Rhubarb

As we planned the annual book club pick party for my in-person book club, I started thinking about which dessert I would make. When I RSVP'd, our fearless leader emailed me back:
So, what extraordinary thing are you bringing on Monday?  Please make another Pavlova!  My bday is this Friday and I would love to have a piece on Monday!!
How could I ignore a birthday request? I had marked a recipe in The Foreign Cinema Cookbook: Recipes and Stories Under the Stars by Gayle Pirie and John Clark for a pavlova that used spring fruits, so once I checked that she was okay with rhubarb, I knew I'd make this recipe.
 
The recipe in the cookbook ends up making 6 individual-sized pavlovas, but I wanted to make one giant one, not being able to predict how many people would be there, but knowing it would be more than six. So I found a recipe with what looked like a scaled up recipe with the same ratios, just to make sure it would work, with one stabilizing ingredient (I'll link to it; the recipe that I'm including is from the cookbook itself.) I used the fruit methods from the cookbook recipe exactly, except I didn't have time to go find rosewater and left that out. I think this is how cookbooks are used, though, where you start with the recipe and adapt to make it work for your available ingredients and who you are making it for.



Tahitian Vanilla Pavlova with Strawberry Coulis and Rose-Scented Rhubarb
from The Foreign Cinema Cookbook 

Serves 6

Meringue
2 large egg whites
6 tbsp (75 g) sugar
pinch of kosher salt
1 Tahitian vanilla bean

Strawberry Coulis
1 pound (455 g) strawberries (about 4 cups)
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
pinch of kosher salt

Rhubarb
2 cups (400 g) sugar
1 tsp rosewater
pinch of kosher salt
3 medium stalks rhubarb, ends trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch (6 mm) dice

Whipped cream, for serving

To make the meringue: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 200 F (90 C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Fill a medium saucepan with enough water to reach about one-third of the way up and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat so that the water is just barely simmering.

In a medium heatproof bowl large enough to rest on the edge of the pan of simmering water without touching the water, whisk the egg whites, sugar, and salt. Slit open the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the bowl. Drop in the pod as well.

Set the bowl over the pot and gently whisk the egg white mixture until the sugar completely dissolves and the mixture is hot (a thermometer should read 150 F/ 66 C). The liquid will look clear with a little bit of foam on top.

Remove the bowl from the pan and transfer the egg white mixture to a clean bowl. Discard the vanilla pod. Beat the mixture with a handheld electric mixer on medium-high speed until it doubles in volume and stiff peaks form, 7-8 minutes. You should see no unincorporated liquid in the bottom of the bowl.

Use a 3/4 cup (60-ml) measure to dollop the meringue onto the prepared baking sheet in 6 mounds with 2 inches (5 cm) all around them. Use the back of a spoon to make a well in the center of each.

Bake until the meringues are dry on the outside and soft in the center, about 90 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely, at least 30 minutes.

To make the coulis: Hull and roughly chop the strawberries and put them in a medium saucepan. Add the sugar, lemon juice, salt, and 1/4 cup (60 ml) water. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the strawberries are soft and the liquid is syrupy, about 10 minutes.

Let cool slightly, then transfer the strawberries and syrup to a food processor fitted with a metal blade and process until smooth. Strain the berries through a fine-mesh strainer (discard the solids) and let cool completely.

To prepare the rhubarb: Line a plate with paper towels. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, rosewater, salt, and 4 cups (960 ml) water. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup comes to a simmer, about 5 minutes. Add the rhubarb and return to a simmer until it is just barely tender, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer; discard the liquid. Scatter the rhubarb onto the lined plate to cool.

Pour 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the strawberry coulis into 6 shallow individual serving bowls and set a meringue on top of each. Center a heaping spoonful of rhubarb over each of the meringues, letting it cascade over the sides. Dollop each pavlova with whipped cream and serve immediately.

Make ahead: Although this dessert has several components, all can be made in advance and assembled to order. Refrigerate the strawberry coulis and rhubarb in separate airtight containers up to 1 day ahead. Store the baked meringue in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Notes from JennyBakes: I substituted this classic pavlova recipe, which has a lovely marshmallow texture on the inside if prepared correctly. I made the whipped cream, rhubarb, and coulis the night before, then made the pavlova the morning of book club, allowing it to cool in the oven while I was at work. This worked okay but it did get quite a bit wider and flatter than it started, so I may not have beat the whites long enough! It still tasted good, still soft inside, and heck, it made it easier to share.

This cookbook is brand new, and came out last week on May 15, 2018. Since I wasn't familiar with the restaurant, I started out expecting recipes that matched with movies somehow. But apparently this is a well-loved San Francisco restaurant that has been around since 1999. Woe is me, for I live too far from the west coast. You can read more about the restaurant at its website.

Until I had a reason to make the pavlova, I had my eye on a bunch of recipes that I am likely still to try (including some delicious sounding drink recipes based on homemade ingredients) - Potted Smoked Trout, Tomato Salad with Harissa Vinaigrette, Farro and Grilled Kale, Buttermilk Spoon Bread with Shiitakes/Corn/Scallions, Wild Greens Soft Polenta, Ginger Cake with Cardamom Creme Chantilly, and Champagne Omelet from the brunch section.


This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party. 


Monday, May 14, 2018

Rhubarb Tarragon Ice Cream

When I first perused First We Eat, one of the cookbooks sent to me as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party, I was enamored by its northwestern focus, as a former resident of the northwest. I also loved the seasonal sections, and had my eye on some of the rhubarb recipes in particular. When rhubarb proved hard to find, I dug my heels in until I could find some. One (new, I presume) worker at a local organic store told me that rhubarb season is August, but anyone who knows looks for it between April and June. Finally the produce guy at Publix, wearing a light pink shirt, said he had a big box in the back, and stopped what he was doing to package some up just for me, including washing and chopping it. This is not a paid advertisement for Publix, but seriously, does any grocery store even come close to their service level?

I marked several rhubarb recipes, but the one that moved to the forefront is this recipe for rhubarb-tarragon ice cream. I couldn't imagine the flavor combination. It took almost a week longer to make all the parts and to allow time for everything to chill properly, but I did it!


Rhubarb Tarragon Ice Cream
from First We Eat

1/2 cup (120 ml) sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup (13 g) coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
3 large rhubarb stalks (about 1 pound/455 g), cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) slices
1 cup (200 g) sugar
2 star anise
2 egg yolks
1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream

In a very small saucepan, stir together the condensed milk and tarragon. Heat over low heat until hot but not boiling, stirring every minute. Remove from the heat and allow to rest at room temperature for 1 hour. Strain the infused condensed milk into a bowl, discarding the tarragon.

In a medium saucepan, combine the rhubarb, sugar, star anise, and 1/2 cup (120 ml) water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring every 5 minutes, until the rhubarb has become pulpy and partially disintegrated, 20-025 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Strain the syrup through a mesh sieve into a bowl and discard the solids. You can double the syrup recipe, and serve half alongside of the ice cream for garnish. The syrup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the rhubarb syrup until the mixture lightens in color, 3-5 minutes.

Bring water in the bottom of a double boiler to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low. In the top of the double boiler, whisk together the infused condensed milk and the egg yolk mixture. Whisk until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream on medium-high speed until it holds soft peaks. Cover and refrigerate.

Fold the whipped cream into the chilled egg yolk mixture, then pour the mixture into an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer's directions. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze. Best if eaten within 6 months.

Makes about 1 1/2 pints.

Notes from JennyBakes:

I did make the double recipe of the syrup, as you can see in the photo. What a pretty pink color! I also have been adding some to sparkling water for a fizzy spring drink, since I didn't end up using all that much when serving the ice cream.

If I know anything, it's that you have to really chill everything, so I did overnight for all of it.

First We Eat: Good Food for Simple Gatherings from my Pacific Northwest Kitchen, is by Evan Kosmas Flores, and came out March 20, 2018.

I also made the Fennel-Pistachio Pesto Lasagna, since it also had the tarragon and I had enough for both recipes. If you can't picture this flavor combination, well neither could I. It was amazing. Fresh and tasting of spring, and if I had not known what was in it I'm not certain I could have identified the flavors individually but they really did work nicely together. I'll post a picture of that at the end of this post.

I have my eye on the Brown Butter Sprouted Grain cake that is made here with a rhubarb buttercream, but probably has endless flavor possibilities. I even went as far as purchasing the sprouted grain flour but have not made it yet. I also plan to make the Chai and Poppy Challah (but it seemed better for the fall), the Homemade Chai Latte, and perhaps I'll bring the recipe for Foraged Fir Tip Herbal Tea with me to Alaska.

Fennel Pistachio-Pesto Lasagna

This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Wrinkle Cookies of Internet Fame

I saw these cookies everywhere, even in the spaces around the paywall the New York Times has for a recipe that wasn't even their recipe in the first place (harumph.) Luckily enough people on the internet have made these cookies that it started to beg the question, why haven't I? And so I did.


The original recipe creator just calls these chocolate chip cookies but then interrupts the baking process to slam the cookie sheet down on the rack, deflating the cookie and causing ripples or wrinkles in the surface. They are also giant.


This is definitely a cookie that is simple enough that it is going to depend on the quality of your ingredients. I used Trader Joe's dark chocolate block for the chocolate in this and I think that's why my cookies tasted a bit off. Look, it's cheap chocolate. I would make these again with higher quality chocolate that doesn't just taste like sugar alcohol. I also overbaked my first batch (not pictured) by only two minutes, and while they were a lovely golden color, they were crunchy all the way through. I went for underbaking for the rest, and added a bit of salt on the top, and these two changes made for a more delicious cookie.

Sarah Keiffer’s Chocolate Chip Cookies 
very slightly adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book 
as seen on Building Feasts

Makes 14-16 cookies

285g (2 cups) all-purpose flour 
1/2 tsp baking soda 
1/4 tsp salt (plus more for the top of the cookies) 
225g (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature 
300g (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar 
50g (1/4 cup) packed soft brown sugar 
1 large egg at room temperature 
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract 
2 tbsp water 
170g (6oz) dark chocolate chopped into irregular bite size pieces

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F). 

Line two extra large or three regular baking sheets with parchment paper. 

In a small bowl whisk the flour, baking soda and salt. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the butter and sugars together until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla and water and mix on low to combine, scraping down the bowl to make sure it is all fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture and mix until combined.  Add chopped chocolate and mix on low into the batter. 

Using a large ice cream scoop (or a 1/4 cup measure) form the dough into balls and place next to each other onto one of your prepared pans. Cover with cling film and place in the freezer for 15 minutes (or at this stage you can freezer the dough balls completely, transfer into a ziplock bag and keep for as and when you need them). 

When you are ready to cook, arrange the cookie balls well spaced apart on the baking sheets (they will spread considerably) and bake for 8 minutes until the cookies are puffed slightly in the middle. 

Pick up the baking sheets and let them drop onto the oven rack to set the edges of the cookies and the middle deflates (trust Sarah - it feels wrong but works). Repeat this lifting and dropping of the cookie sheets every two minutes three more times (baking 14-16 minutes total) to create the ridges and the crisp edge but with pale and not fully cooked middles. 

Allow the cookies to cool completely on the racks before removing from the tray.

Note:  If you skip the freezing stage the cookies will spread too much and not keep their shape.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Wild Ramp Souffle

This recipe comes from The Cook's Atelier: Recipes, Techniques, and Stories from Our French Cooking School by Marjorie Taylor, Kendall Smith Franchini, with beautiful photographs (often full-page) by Anson Smart. In the introduction to this recipe, it says "in the springtime, we like to infuse the milk with fresh green garlic, ramps, or even a bouquet garni before preparing the béchamel." Since my trip to a local grocery with local produce included a bunch of ramps, and ramps have such as short shelf life, I decided they would be perfect in this souffle! I will include the recipe as it occurs in the cookbook but add notes at the end so you can see my changes.


Green Garlic Soufflé (which I made into Wild Ramp Soufflé)
Serves 8

5 tbsp (30 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) whole milk
8 stalks young, green garlic, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise
3 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for the mold
1/4 cup (30 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp fleur de sel
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup (85 g) coarsely grated Comté or Gruyere cheese
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp dry mustard (optional)
7 large egg whites

Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C). Butter the inside of a 6-cup (1.4 L) soufflé mold or eight individual 1-cup (240 ml) ramekins. Sprinkle the inside of the mold(s) with some of the Parmesan, reserving any excess. Set aside.

In a saucepan, combine the milk and green garlic. Place over medium heat and bring to just under a boil. Remove from the heat and steep for about 15 minutes to infuse the garlic into the milk. When ready to prepare the soufflé, bring the milk back to just under a boil, then strain out and discard the garlic.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir briskly with a wooden spoon until the butter and flour come together, being careful not to let the mixture brown, about 1 minute. Add the hot milk, all at once, and whisk to blend well. Add the salt and pepper, whisking continuously, until the béchamel becomes thick, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the egg yolks, one at a time, until incorporated. Add the cheese, nutmeg, and dry mustard (if using) and stir until fully combined. Transfer the soufflé base to a large bowl and let cool slightly.

In a large, very clean, preferably copper bowl, use a large balloon whisk to beat the egg whites until firm peaks form. Stir a large spoonful of the whipped egg whites into the base to begin lightening it. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the remaining egg whites, working quickly to keep the base light and airy.

Pour the finished mixture into the prepared mold(s), filling it just below the top rim. Sprinkle the top with the remaining Parmesan. Bake on the middle rack of the oven until the top is golden brown and lifted about 2 inches (5 cm) over the edge of the mold, 25-30 minutes (15-18 minutes for the ramekins). Do not be tempted to open the oven during baking or the soufflé will fall. Serve immediately.

Jenny's notes: First, check out the wooden spoon sent from the folks at The Cook's Atelier for a holiday gift. I saved it to use with their cookbook so I used it for the bechamel part of the recipe. When it said to whisk, I just used the spoon, not sure if I should have also used a whisk. Speaking of equipment, I don't have copper bowls; I just used my KitchenAid to beat the egg whites and thought it worked fine.

As far as ingredient replacement, I used 8 ramps for the 8 stalks of green garlic. I cleaned them very well and trimmed off the roots, but used the entire ramp from bulb to leaf. I ripped the ramps up into pieces before infusing with the milk, hoping for more release of flavor. I could taste it in the souffle but thought it was well-balanced with the other flavors.

I only had canned Parmesan so I used a brick of manchego for all the cheese parts of this recipe. Manchego is one of my favorite cheeses. I also decided to leave out the dry mustard, but ended up wishing I'd had one more flavor, maybe.

Souffles are not hard, but the one thing that really helps is having everything ready before you start. That includes the dish!

This is a beautiful cookbook, but with its size and heft, it would be easy to recluse it on a coffee table. The recipes are highly seasonal and often focused on gatherings, holidays, and occasions, so there is a lot of good fodder for entertaining. The photography will make you wish you attended this cooking school, maybe on jam day.

Other recipes I looked at: Almond-Cherry Galette, Gougeres, Lemon Soufflés.

This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares from What's Gaby Cooking

I have a soft spot for chocolate chip cookie recipes, chocolate chip bar cookies, you name it. I"m always willing to try a new recipe to see how it varies from others. Will it replace my favorite? When I came across this recipe in What's Gaby Cooking: Everyday California Food by Gaby Dalkin, I knew I'd have to try it.



The hardest part with these cookies is waiting for the cooling time, but they are worth it! (I guess it makes up for the time saved by melting the butter to start with.) Even my co-worker who loves chocolate chip cookies more than anything demanded the recipe. 

Gooey Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups light brown sugar
4 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup chocolate discs*
1/4 tsp Maldon sea salt*

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 9x9 inch baking pan with nonstick spray and line it with parchment paper.

In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine the melted butter and brown sugar and mix with a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment for 1 minute, or until combined. Add the vanilla and eggs and mix, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until fully incorporated. Add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and slowly mix until just combined. The batter will be a bit stiff, but that's normal. Fold in almost all of the chocolate discs, leaving a few for sprinkling on top.

Spoon the batter into the prepared baking pan, sprinkle with the remaining chocolate discs and Maldon sea salt, and transfer to the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. The top should be golden brown and still have a slight jiggle when gently shaken. Remove from the oven, place on a wire rack, and let cool for at least 2 hours before cutting and serving. If you want to speed up the cooling process, transfer to the fridge for 30 minutes and then slice and serve.

*Notes from JennyBakes - I had leftover gluten free mini chocolate chips from my sister's visit, so I used those instead. Rather than sprinkling on sea salt, I added 1/2 tsp of regular salt to the batter, and felt this was a good choice (I'd just rather have salt throughout than as an accent.) I also baked the bars at least 10 more minutes than the recipe calls for, and still didn't have the dark golden brown that is in the cookbook picture. So mine may have been a bit more gooey, but after being overnight in the fridge, that turned into the kind of caramel-like middle that you can see in the first picture. These are thick, and I wonder what would happen in a 9x13 pan.


This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party.

I have my eye on some other recipes in this book, but they felt more summery than our weather has prepared for, even in the south. Those include "Breakfast Flatbeard with Ricotta and Strawberry Basil Jam," "Chicken Larb and Coconut Rice Bowl," "Summer Chipotle Cobb Salad," "Chocolate Chip S'mookies,"and "Green Goddess Dip.

Bring on the summer!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Enchiladas and Beans from The Austin Cookbook by Paula Forbes

One of the cookbooks I was sent in February from the ABRAMS Dinner Party is The Austin Cookbook by Paula Forbes. I wasn't as intrigued with the baked goods as with some of the savories, so I decided to try a few dishes. I mean, this is JennyBakes, and I definitely baked these enchiladas.

I made a huge pot of vegan lentil chili that was too spicy for us to eat, but I still have a sneaking suspicion that I grabbed the cayenne when I was supposed to use paprika, and you can only imagine the difference in heat that would create. Luckily my co-worker, consumer of all things spicy, took it off my hands.

I also made the pimento cheese because I wanted to see how Texan pimento cheese differed from South Carolina pimento cheese, which I have been consuming ever since moving here. It was a bit spicier, not as creamy, and the green onions were a tasty addition that would be good in any pimento cheese!


I challenged myself to make a vegetarian meal from this very meat-heavy cuisine and cookbook, so I made the ranchero sauce from the last chapter, full of pantry recipes. I replaced the chili con carne in the "chili con carne" enchiladas with ranchero sauce (the insides were always only cheese.) I made "Traditional Pinto Beans" on the stove, which take about 3-4 hours total but were super tasty, the true hero of all my experiments, and winner for recipe I'll most likely make again soon. Instead of turning them into refried beans, which was my original plan, we just ate them as is. Without the optional edition of pork, of course.

Two days later, I used leftover ranchero sauce and leftover pinto beans to whip up huevos rancheros for a light supper. The recipes keep on giving!


This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party. All experiences and opinions are my own!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Coffee Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

I'm still loving the Alaska from Scratch cookbook, and made another delicious treat from the breakfast section a few weeks ago. I only wish I'd taken a picture of the browned butter apple blondies I made and took on my trip with me. I will be making those and this recipe again!

Coffee Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Recipe from Alaska from Scratch website and Alaska from Scratch cookbook

Yields: 1 loaf
  • 4 ripe bananas
  • 1/3c butter, melted
  • 3/4c sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1t vanilla
  • 1/4c strong brewed coffee
  • 1t baking soda
  • 1/4t salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2c chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a loaf pan.

Peel bananas, break them up and toss them into a bowl. Mash with a potato masher (I leave some banana pieces so you get occasional nice bites of banana in the bread; don't mash until the bananas are completely liquefied).

To the bananas, add the rest of the wet ingredients and stir with a wooden or plastic spoon. Add dry ingredients and stir until combined. Do not over mix. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 55-60 minutes or until center springs back when lightly touched.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Swedish Pancakes from Alaska from Scratch

I have been a baking blogger for over 10 years. Back when I first started, I had a set of food and baking blogs I followed religiously. Since the demise of Google Reader, I've lost frequent contact with a lot of these blogs, but some I've rediscovered through Instagram. One of those is Alaska from Scratch (link to blog; link to Instagram.) I was absolutely thrilled when Maya published a cookbook, and ordered it to arrive the day it came out. I've been having a lot of fun trying recipes out from it, and haven't exhausted its possibilities yet. You may hear from it again this year.

The first recipe I made was for myself one morning, and instead of retyping it from the cookbook I'm copying it from the first time Maya posted it on her blog. (She posted it again four years later without a lot of changes, but enough to make me think that this is a recipe on frequent rotation at her house! She increases the amount of milk and adds lemon juice to serving.)


Swedish Pancakes

Yields: 12 Swedish Pancakes
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup milk (later versions us 1 1/4 cup)
  • 3 Tbsp sour cream + more for serving, if desired
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • oil for the pan
  • lingonberry jam, for serving
  • melted butter, for serving
  • powdered sugar, for dusting on top to finish
In a blender, whirl eggs, milk and sour cream together. Then add flour, salt and sugar to the blender. Whirl until completely smooth. Batter will be thin and pourable.

Heat a medium-sized frying pan over medium heat. Oil the pan with about a teaspoon of oil (may need to add more later). When pan and oil are hot, pour 1/4c sized amounts of batter onto the center of the pan. Quickly but gently lift and swirl pan to spread batter to the edges. Batter should sizzle some in the oil if pan is hot enough. Cook about 60-90 seconds, until bottom begins to turn golden, then flip. Cook another 30-60 seconds until other side begins to brown. Fold in half and in half again to make a triangle. Set pancake aside and repeat with remaining batter.

Serve with melted butter, powdered sugar, and lingonberry jam (with sour cream, if desired).

These were delicious. The sour cream introduces a tang and a soft element that really works with a tart jam. Since what I had on hand were blueberries and lemon curd, that's what I used.

Like pancakes? I seem to make them from around the world! Check out the Finnish pannukakku, Icelandic pönnukökur, Papua New Guinean banana pancakes, the Danish ebleskiver, the Hungarian palacsintas, and what we call the German oven apple pancake. I also made ratio pancakes from Michael Ruhlman's book, which we can call American. 

Monday, March 05, 2018

Chocolate and Cafe au Lait Mousse from Tom Fitzmorris's New Orleans Food

One of the cookbooks I received for the spring season of the ABRAMS Dinner Party is Tom Fitzmorris's New Orleans Food. It is the "revised and refreshed" edition, based on recipes from the best restaurants and chefs in New Orleans, intended for the home cook.


For the recipes to originate in restaurants and with chefs, you'd better believe that some of them are complex and require multiple parts. Others require ingredients you may or may not be able to access if you live too far away from New Orleans. My first read through the cookbook had me ordering Tom's recommended New Orleans coffee and chicory blend from Union (via Amazon.) I set the cookbook aside until that showed up, and brewed some cafe au lait from the pages while I went through a second time.

I started pining for summer, when the coastal seafood suppliers show up at my local farmers markets (4 hours inland.) I just couldn't imagine making some of the shellfish recipes with frozen or lesser ingredients than they seemed to demand. There is a heavy richness to some of these dishes, as you would find in old school New Orleans cuisine. I made the shirred eggs with crab remick for brunch this past weekend, and even leaving the bacon out, it was incredibly rich and flavorful. Even so I had to buy multiple ingredients just for the sauce that I didn't already have in my pantry. Luckily these are common enough in the south that I was able to find chili sauce, creole mustard, and salt-free creole seasoning from my local grocery store. I have a bunch of recipes marked for when I have better access to oysters and shrimp. SOON.

For now, I turned my attention, as I do, to the breakfast, baked goods, and dessert sections of the cookbook. Since I was enthralled with the cafe au lait flavor, I decided to make a very traditional dessert - chocolate mousse! This recipe doesn't have a story linking it to a specific restaurant or chef, so I imagine this is Tom's recipe. Since I didn't need to serve 6-8, I halved the recipe, and ended up very glad I did. A half recipe was almost too much for my mixing bowl when I folded ingredients together. You'd need commercial stainless steel mixing bowls for the full recipe! I am including the full recipe from the cookbook below, but it divides in half fairly easily.


Chocolate and Cafe au Lait Mousse

1 lb. Baker's semisweet chocolate
6 eggs, separated
1/2 cup warm, brewed very dark coffee, preferably coffee and chicory blend
1/4 cup warm milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

  1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl in a microwave oven in 30-second bursts, stirring between each burst until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. (This can also be done in a bowl over a pan of boiling water.)
  2. In another bowl, whip the egg yolks until they become distinctly lighter in color. Combine the coffee and milk, and add it slowly to the yolks, whisking as you go. Add the chocolate slowly the egg-and-coffee mixture and whisk well until the mixture is just barely warm and well blended.
  3. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form, then add the sugar and vanilla. Continue beating until stiff. With a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Do this gently; don't worry about achieving an absolutely uniform texture.
  4. Whip the heavy cream in a metal bowl. Remember that cream whips best when cold and that if you overwhip, it will break up into butter and buttermilk.  
  5. If the chocolate mixture is still warm, let it continue to cool to room temperature. Then fold in the whipped cream with the rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Do this gently and keep at it until you have a uniform texture.
  6. Spoon the mousse into serving dishes or pipe it in with a pastry bag for a more elegant presentation. If you like, top it with shaved chocolate or a strawberry.
Serves 6-8

This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party. All experiences and opinions are my own!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Chocolate Cake Dressed In Berries (Gluten-Free)

For the week of Valentines Day, I designated a cookbook on theme: Intercourses: an aphrodisiac cookbook. From this cookbook, I selected a tiny chocolate cake. I used raspberries instead of strawberries, and apricot jam instead of strawberry jam, and Kirsch instead of vanilla extract, because that is what I had on hand, but you know, it worked. I was also pleased that the recipe was naturally gluten-free, and did not suffer because of this fact. This is a perfect cake for two! I have added a few details to the recipe to make it better for baking, things I wish the cookbook author had done.


Chocolate Cake Dressed in Berries

1/2 cup toasted almonds, finely chopped*
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla*
1/4 cup chopped fresh strawberries*
1/4 cup strawberry preserves
2 tbsp heavy cream
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips*
strawberries for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine the almonds and cocoa powder in a small bowl. Cream the butter and sugars in a bowl until fluffy. Beat in the eggs and the vanilla. Fold in the almond mixture, then the fresh strawberries. Spoon mixture into a greased 8-inch springform pan. Bake 35-45 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool completely. Remove from the pan. Spread with the preserves. Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips. Stir until smooth; cool for 5 minutes. Pour over top of cake (let drizzle down the sides.) Garnish with fresh strawberries if desired.

*Notes from JennyBakes - I had a huge bag of almond flour, so I used 1/3 cup of that instead of the nuts. I used kirsh instead of vanilla and raspberries in place of strawberries, and chopped dark chocolate instead of chocolate chips. I would say you shouldn't boil the cream, but heat it, maybe 20 seconds in the microwave, and if needed, heat the chocolate and cream up until you can mix it smoothly. After five minutes of cooling, my chocolate was not going to drizzle down the sides, so I just spread it on top of the jam to the edge, and it was shiny and beautiful. 


Intercourses: an aphrodisiac cookbook, by Martha Hopkins and Randall Lockridge, first came out in 1997. It's now in a new edition titled The New Intercourses. I've owned it practically since I got married in 2000, which means it has moved between kitchens at least four times. Its focus is on a few recipes for ingredients that have been designated as aphrodisiacs, whether from tradition, shape, or other properties. The real draw for the cookbook is the gorgeous photography, nude models posing strategically with the key ingredients. I've made the honey peppered salmon recipe a bunch of times, but the rest of the cookbook has lingered on the shelves. After the success of this cake, I might be tempted to try more of the recipes. Some of the so-called aphrodisiacs don't bring romance to mind... black beans? Huh.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Paleo Chocolate Pudding

I often look to paleo recipes because they are pretty close to how we eat. However paleo allows for more natural sugar than I usually eat, often using copious amounts of maple syrup or honey. So I'm often focusing on the subsection of lower sugar paleo desserts and baked goods.

Two weeks ago, cookbook for my unread cookbook shelf project was The Paleo Chocolate Lover's Cookbook. In it, I found this pudding recipe with only five ingredients, all of which I had on hand, so I knew it would be an easy one to try. Ultimately my conclusion is that my blender does not as finely as one would want for the right texture, as my finished pudding had chunks of date in it, but it was still fairly tasty, and definitely the right consistency apart from the chunks. This is not a low-sugar dessert, but does qualify as paleo if that's your thing.


Paleo Chocolate Pudding

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup canned full-fat coconut milk
4 large, soft, pitted Medjool dates
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped, seeds reserved
3 oz dark chocolate, roughly chopped

  1. In a blender or food processor, puree the almond milk, coconut milk, dates and vanilla bean until completely smooth. The mixture will probably separate, but that's okay.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan, and bring it to a simmer, watching carefully so that it doesn't boil over.
  3. Reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes, whisking frequently.
  4. Turn off the heat, and add the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the pudding.
  5. Ladle the pudding into bowls, and serve it warm or cold. It will be thicker after refrigerating.
Makes 2-4 servings, depending on the size of the bowls. 

Cookbook notes: I also made the banana chocolate pancakes (not quite sweet enough and did not hold together well in the pan), which I won't post, and previously made the raspberry chocolate clafoutis in 2015. The recipe I wish I'd had time to try making was the paleoleos (similar to oreos) but was discouraged by the fact that I couldn't get my hands on one of the ingredients needed for the filling, and in seeing they had to be stored in the fridge.

All the recipes are depending on a core set of paleo ingredients - coconut milk, Medjool dates, cocoa powder, etc. I find this to be somewhat limiting and would have liked to see a slightly less narrow focus. The heavy use of coconut is surely going to decrease in popularity as the years go by, and when it does, this one will feel pretty irrelevant. Texture is sometimes sacrificed for the paleo ingredients but anyone trying to bake this way will not be that shocked! There is a distinct attempt to do more than just basic recipes, to offer some fancy yet still paleo recipes, and this is something I definitely appreciate. Interested bakers should note that chocolate is not always the central flavor, and white chocolate is given some attention as well. Because I love chocolate, I really only seriously considered the chocolate focused recipes.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Finnish Cardamom Braid (Pulla)

Last week, I posted Apricot Diamonds from the same cookbook this recipe comes from, The Winter Vegetarian. It was my cookbook for last week's focus for my year-long unread cookbook shelf project. Comments about the cookbook overall will be at the end.

Pulla is a Finnish sweet bread with cardamom. It has a similar texture to challah, with the addition of vanilla and cardamom. It came together quickly and ended up being pretty forgiving (I suspected I didn't add quite enough flour.) There are a lot of grandmothers in YouTube who will demonstrate two ways of braiding the bread - one uses three strands and the more traditional seem to use four. For simplicity, I went with three.

Pulla was delicious in slices, toasted, with butter and orange marmalade (because, you know, orange and cardamom are magical mystery twins.) It would have made good french toast too!

This recipe makes three loaves, but they freeze well. I brought two to work and kept one home.


Finnish Cardamom Bread (Pulla)

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp plus 3/4 cup sugar
2 cups lukewarm milk*
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cardamom (from about 32 pods)*
12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, melted*
4 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
7-8 cups unbleached white flour

1 egg white, lightly beaten until frothy
3 tbsp sliced almonds*
3 tbsp pearl sugar or coarsely crushed sugar cubes

Dissolve the yeast in the water with 1 tsp of sugar until bubbly. Stir in the milk, remaining 3/4 cup sugar, salt, cardamom, melted butter, eggs, and 4 cups of the flour. Beat well. Gradually add just enough flour to form a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured board and knead until the dough is stmooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Place the dough in a large greased bowl, turning to grease the top. Cover and leave to rise until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Punch down the dough and let rise again until nearly doubled, about 1 hour.

Divide the dough into three pieces. Divide each piece into three balls of equal size. Roll each ball out between your hands into a rope about 12 inches long. Braid three ropes together, turning the ends under. Place the loaf on a lightly greased baking sheet (you will need two sheets). Repeat with the remianing dough. Cover the loaves and leave them to rise until slightly puffy, 20 to 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Brush the loaves with the beaten egg white, then sprinkle each with 1 tbsp of almonds and 1 tbsp of pearl sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until nicely browned.

*Notes from JennyBakes: I used buttermilk because I had some I needed to use up. I didn't notice until typing this up that I was supposed to use salted butter, so I probably should have added salt as I don't keep salted butter on hand. I did not sprinkle almonds on the loaves before baking; I was worried they would burn. I used ground cardamom and did not grind it fresh from cardamom pods!

The Winter Vegetarian by Darra Goldstein
Cookbook notes: The sticker on the front of this said it came from Half Price Books, which means I bought it used when I lived in Indiana, sometime between 2001-2006. It was published in 1996, and was also published under the title The Vegetarian Hearth. Darra Goldstein has written Russian and Georgian cookbooks previously (Georgia the country, not the state), so many or most of the recipes in this cookbook come from a Russian and Eastern European background. I wanted to focus on this one while it was still winter since so many of the recipes seem quite heavy. Back when I was trying to have a cooking blog, I made the mushroom coulibiac, and I believe that was the only recipe I'd made from this cookbook in 15 years.

This time around, I marked more recipes than I got to. I bought all the ingredients for mushroom dumplings except couldn't find mushroom broth, and it wasn't a realistic weeknight dish, so the mushrooms went bad, whoops. I did make the turnip gratin but not the rutabaga pudding, another Finnish recipe. I tried making the sweet cheese pancakes (syrniki) but I feel I must have done something wrong as they weren't a great texture. I would have liked to make the blini and more of the sweets, but the majority of recipes in this book for regular food are too rich and too heavy for how we usually eat! But you never know until you try.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Apricot Diamonds

This is the first of two recipes I'll post from this past week's cookbook focus, The Winter Vegetarian. I'll save my broader comments for next week! All that's important here is that this recipe is simple, can be made into practically any flavor depending on the jam you like best, and the cookies are tasty. I rewrote the recipe in my own words, because this recipe is so simple I could still remember the ingredients it called for.


Apricot Diamonds

2 sticks butter, or 1 cup, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup apricot jam

1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes.
3. Mix in egg yolks and vanilla. Scrape down as needed.
4. Add flour and mix just until blended. The dough may not be completely cohesive and this is okay.
5. Dump 1/2-2/3 of the dough into a 9x13 pan and press down to make an even crust. 
6. Drop spoonfuls of the jam onto the crust and spread out as evenly as possible.
7. Crumble the rest of the dough on to the jam and spread evenly. It can help to press some together in flat pieces, but I found that just dumping and lightly spreading, pressing down into the jam, worked just fine.
8. Bake 25-30 minutes or until browning along the edges.
9. Cut into diamonds and serve.

If you don't know how to cut into diamonds, there are a bunch of videos on YouTube with grandmas who have their own cooking channels, showing you how to cook bars into diamonds. 


Monday, January 29, 2018

Grapefruit Buttermilk Cake

This past year I have had major grapefruit cravings, even eating them the way I eat oranges, peeling segment by segment. But I don't tend to think of grapefruit in baked goods, as it isn't really very sweet. So I was intrigued by the idea of this cake and knew I would need to make it. For the cookbook it comes from, scroll down to the bottom of this post. One co-worker called this cake a "keeper," and I thought it was delicious.


Grapefruit Buttermilk Cake
(Recipe from Wintersweet)

Cake
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp finely grated grapefruit zest
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk

Syrup
1/3 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar

Glaze
1 tbsp freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Butter a 9 1/2 x 5 1/2 inch loaf pan. Tear out a sheet of parchment paper. Fold it in half or thirds so that it can lie inside the whole width of the pan, ends hanging over the long sides of the pan. This paper hammock makes it easier to lift the cake out of the pan later.

FOR THE CAKE, mix the sugar with the grapefruit zest in a small bowl. Rub the mixture together with your fingers so the zest releases its oils.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar mixture until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Add the vanilla and mix again.

Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Add one third of the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture and mix on low speed just until combined. Alternate adding the buttermilk and the rest of the dry ingredients in halves to the sugar mixture, mixing until just combined and scraping down the sides of the bowl in between. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Bake the cake for 55-60 minutes, or until the top is golden and puffed and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes.

FOR THE SYRUP, combine the grapefruit juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil the syrup for 1 minute and then remove it from the heat. With a toothpick or skewer, poke holes all over the top of the cooled cake. Pour the syrup over the cake, a little t a time, brushing it with a pastry brush to ensure even soaking. When all of the syrup has been added, let the cake cool completely. To remove the cake from the pan, lift up by the edges of the parchment paper.

FOR THE GLAZE, whisk together the grapefruit juice with the confectioners' sugar until smooth. You want the consistency to be loose enough to drizzle, but not so thin that it soaks into the cake. If it's too thin, add more sugar! If it's too thick, whisk in some water a few drops at a time. Drizzle the icing over the top of the cake with a whisk. The cake can be stored at room temperature, covered, for 2-3 days.

Notes from JennyBakes:
1. No need to limit the grapefruit zest to 1 tsp. I just used what I could easily get from the outside of one fruit. Also no need to rub the sugar and zest in another bowl, why not the mixing bowl, so you don't make another bowl dirty.
2. I found one grapefruit sufficient for all grapefruit parts required.
3. I added vanilla to the glaze as well.


This recipe comes from Wintersweet: Seasonal Recipes to Warm the Home by Tammy Donroe Inman, published in 2013. I believe I got this as a review copy from the publisher back then. I made two recipes from the cookbook at the time, one I loved and have made several times (cocoa pomegranate pavlova!). It's funny because I think of myself as "using this cookbook all the time," when in reality I just find myself drawn to it to flip through because of the gorgeous photography. It also relies on winter ingredients for baked goods, which is not only friendly for this time of year, but often even what you may normally have on hand in the pantry. I also have my eyes on the Spicy Mexican Chocolate Cake (which is gluten-free) and the Spicy Prune Cake with Penuche Frosting, which I may make tomorrow, since I bought prunes. Some of the seasonality of these recipes has already passed by, because cranberries have disappeared from the store post-holiday. I'll have to make a mental note that I never made that cranberry cobbler recipe....

As far as #theunreadshelfproject2018 goes, I am still glad to spend a week with this one, because it is clear it has untapped riches. But this is a keeper of a cookbook.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Writer's Block Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (and more on my 2018 cookbook project)

One of the big reading challenges to hit social media in 2018 is #theunreadshelfchallenge2018, where a bunch of bookish people are trying to read books on their shelves. This ranges from reader to reader, from exclusively only reading books they already own to trying to read more of them. For me, it manifested in attempting to go for 50/50 (which would be an increase of over 20%). I'm also working on a cookbook project where I spend each week with a different cookbook already in my collection. At the bottom of this post, I'll post the cookbook and reflect on the experience of cooking from it this week.


Writer's Block Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp water
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
2 cups rolled oats
1-2 cups raisins

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, and water, and beat until smooth.

Sift dry ingredients together. Add to the butter mixture and mix well. Fold in oats and raisins.

Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet, leaving enough space for the cookies to spread. Bake 8-10 minutes, until golden. 

***


This recipe comes from Plenty: A Collection of Sarah McLachlan's Favorite Recipes, published in 1999, right after the high point of Lilith Fair and her very busy touring life. And actually it isn't her favorite recipes as much as it is the recipes chosen by her personal/tour chef. I had marked more recipes than I ended up making from this cookbook, because although the cookies were decent, the savory recipes I made were badly in need of updating into the 21st century. The cookbook apparently came out before they had even heard of olive oil! I made the curried orange lentil salad recipe exactly as described and it was awful; the lentils were overcooked and the raw onion was too strong (I already added half of what it said) and the water never fully drained so it was pretty liquid. On a day my husband and I were home due to snow cancellations, I sauteed some leftover kale and heated the lentils up, trying to salvage it as a soup. It was okay but too vinegary for a soup. AFter that two day fiasco I crossed off the vegetable curry from the recipes to try. It was going to be a lot more work and I wasn't convinced it would be worth it. I did make the creamy mushroom-sherry soup but hardly used the recipe as written. I replaced vegetable oil with olive. I used half the fat and half the flour called for. I used a variety of mushrooms and red wine instead of sherry, shallots instead of onion. It was delicious but I feel like I deserve the credit for that one. I made the chai recipe as described and it was weak. They didn't even have me roast the spices!

So this cookbook is probably one I can let go from my collection. But it had lingered on my shelves for over a decade before this past week.

I'm still a huge fan of Sarah McLachlan though, and this cookbook is a reference to her song Plenty, which is on my favorite Sarah album - Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, from 1993 (! whaaat, 1993? I'm old.)

 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Pineapple with Hazelnuts and Vanilla

Can you roast a fruit in the oven like you would a cut of meat? Apparently, you can. I was thumbing through One Knife, One Pot, One Dish: Simple French Feasts at Home by Stéphane Reynaud and came across an interesting dessert. It called for making a caramel (my nemesis), then pouring it over a fresh pineapple, baking it in the oven, and basting it as it baked. I couldn't get the idea out of my head!


I thought the flavors were delicious and not too sweet. The nuts add a nice texture and roast alongside the pineapple. You can't just slice entire slices across the pineapple, it must be the outside, leaving the core, so just plan accordingly. I served my shards with the High Road Bourbon Brown Sugar ice cream, and that was a great pairing as the caramel also has alcohol.

Pineapple with Hazelnuts and Vanilla

Serves 4

1 good-looking pineapple
1 vanilla bean
7 tbsp (80 g) sugar
6 tbsp (3/4 stick/80 g) butter
2/3 cup (150 ml) rum
Generous 1/3 cup (50 g) hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 300 F.

Peel the pineapple, heat the sugar over medium-high heat, without stirring, until the sugar melts into caramel, about 10 minutes.* If necessary, brush down any crystals that form on the side of the pot with a damp pastry brush.

Add the butter, rum, and vanilla bean pod and seeds. Stir to melt the butter and combine.

Place the pineapple in the Dutch oven, cover with the rum-flavored caramel, and add the hazelnuts.

Bake for 40 minutes, basting the pineapple with the caramel frequently during cooking, until it is tender, and then serve immediately.

*I don't believe sugar just melts down into caramel, so my interpretation of this step was letting the sugar cook a while until it was a medium-dark brown. It tasted okay so I think this works. When I added the butter and alcohol, everything seized up but I just kept stirring..... 

 

This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party. All experiences and opinions are my own!