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Monday, September 30, 2013

Giant Pancake - Light and Fluffy!

Back to Monday, back to work! To spice things up this week, you may want to consider this recipe. You can make it ahead and heat it up day by day, piece by piece, for a fast breakfast for you and your family. It's light, airy, and completely delicious! It's also in-season (sick of apples yet?). Enjoy!

Light and Fluffy Baked Apple Pancake
Grace Parisi

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 Golden Delicious apples— halved, peeled, cored and sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, plus warmed syrup for serving
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup milk (Lizzy Bee's Note: I used nonfat!)
Bakes, like an upside down cake, in the cast iron skillet
Flip it out of the pan and voila!
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°. In a 10 1/2-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet, melt the butter. Add the apples, 1 tablespoon of the sugar and the lemon juice and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are golden, about 6 minutes. Add the 1/4 cup of maple syrup and simmer over low heat until thickened, about 1 minute. Spread the apples in an even layer and remove the pan from the heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt. In a measuring cup, whisk the egg yolks with the milk and the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Whisk the liquid into the dry ingredients.
  3. In a medium bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed until firm peaks form, about 2 minutes. Fold the beaten whites into the batter and scrape it over the apples; spread the batter to the edge.
  4. Bake the pancake in the upper third of the oven for about 20 minutes, until it is golden, puffed and set. Let the pancake cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge to loosen the pancake, then invert it onto a serving plate. Replace any apples that may have stuck to the pan. Cut the pancake into wedges and serve at once with the warmed maple syrup.

Happy baking!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Spicy Mix of Figs and Jalapenos

It's Thursday and we're almost at the weekend! Finally! I recently made a really awesome fig salad recipe that both my husband and I adore. The only catch is that it's not your typical salad. This recipe blends spice and sweetness; a big kick with a soft finish. Really delicious. I tend to serve this with grilled chicken or salmon, just for the added protein. Warning: I may have posted this one already awhile back...but it's worth the try. Enjoy!

Fresh Fig Salad with Feta and Blistered Jalapenos

Tim Byres

  • 1 ancho chile, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 12 dried Black Mission figs, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 fresh large Black Mission figs, halved lengthwise
  • 4 shallots, cut through the root into 1/4-inch wedges
  • 4 jalapeños, seeded and julienned
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
  • Cilantro leaves, crushed pink peppercorns and lime wedges, for serving
  1. In a medium saucepan, toast the ancho chile over moderate heat, turning, until fragrant and charred in spots, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
  2. Add the wine, dried figs, dark brown sugar and 1/4 cup of water to the saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over moderately low heat until the chile and figs are tender, 20 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and let cool slightly. Pulse until a chunky puree forms. Scrape the jam into a bowl.
  3. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Set a mesh or perforated pan on the grill. Spread the granulated sugar in a pie plate. Dip the cut sides of the fresh figs in the sugar and grill over high heat, until caramelized on 1 side only but still firm, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the figs to a plate.
  4. In a bowl, toss the shallots and jalapeños with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the vegetables to the mesh or perforated pan and grill over high heat, tossing, until lightly charred and softened, 6 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a plate.
  5. Spoon 1 or 2 tablespoons of the fig jam onto plates and arrange the shallots, jalapeños, caramelized figs and crumbled feta around it. Garnish the salad with cilantro leaves and crushed pink peppercorns and serve with lime wedges.
The chunky fig jam can be refrigerated for 1 week. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Lizzy Bee's Note: Don't waste that leftover jam! It's great on chicken, with salmon...something not overpowering. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Apple Cake or Midnight Snack?

It's Wednesday! I hope you're having a lovely day. As you may recall, I recently went on an apple picking extravaganza and have barely made a dent in my 25 lbs (or more quite frankly) selection of apples...but I'm trying. So today's recipe is an insanely delicious, dense, moist, and sweet apple cake that will make you sneak to the kitchen at midnight for a bite. I felt like the cake and crust were very rich, so I chose to do without the toffee sauce and ice cream, but I think you should be the judge! Enjoy.

Apple Cake with Toffee Crust
Lara Atkins

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples—peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Toffee Sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
Caramelized Apples
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3 large Granny Smith apples—peeled, cored and cut into 8 wedges each
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform tube pan. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the salt and baking soda. In a large bowl, whisk the oil with the granulated sugar. Whisk in the eggs one at a time. Add the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Fold in the diced apples with a rubber spatula. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the butter, cream and brown sugar and bring to a boil over moderate heat, stirring. Remove the toffee glaze from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
  3. Place the warm cake (still in its pan) on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the hot glaze over the cake and let it seep into the cake, poking lightly with a toothpick. Let the cake cool completely, about 2 hours. Invert the cake onto a plate, and invert again onto another plate, right side up.
  4. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Using a moistened pastry brush, wash down any sugar crystals on the side of the pan. Cook without stirring until a medium-amber caramel forms, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and quickly but carefully stir in the cream and butter. Simmer the sauce over moderate heat for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and stir in the brandy. Pour the toffee sauce into a pitcher.
  5. In a large skillet, melt the butter and the brown sugar. Add the apples and cinnamon and cook over moderately high heat, turning the apples once or twice, until they are tender and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the water to dissolve the caramel in the skillet, then transfer the caramelized apples to a plate.
  6. Slice the cake and serve with the caramelized apples, toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream.
MAKE AHEAD The unmolded cake can be stored in an airtight container overnight at room temperature. The toffee sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week; reheat gently before serving. The apples can be made up to 2 hours ahead and kept at room temperature.

Happy baking!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Chinese Takeout Favorite Reinvented for the Healthy Eater!

Happy Tuesday! Last night I made one of my childhood favorites from Chinese takeout - moo shu vegetables! When I was little my favorite thing to order was the moo shu pork, with the fun, messy little pancakes that get all over your fingers. In today's world, I no longer eat the pork but still love the messy pancakes and delicious Chinese food flavors. Yum. So I bring you the healthier, happier, veggie-friendly moo shu!

Moo Shu Vegetables
I used big whole wheat wraps and
soy sauce for dipping!

Printed in The Washington Post, April 27, 2011

  • 3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 to 8 scallions
  • 1-inch piece ginger root
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 12 ounces shredded vegetables or prepared slaw mix (from the produce department)
  • 2 cups mung bean sprouts
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  1. Heat a teaspoon of the oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  2. Lightly beat the 4 eggs in a liquid measuring cup. Pour into the skillet and stir for 1 to 2 minutes, or just until the eggs are set. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Wipe out the wok or skillet and add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil over medium heat.
  4. Trim the scallions and cut them on the diagonal into thin slices. Peel and mince the ginger to yield a tablespoon. Mince the garlic to yield 2 teaspoons.
  5. Add the ginger and garlic to the wok or skillet; stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the shredded vegetables or slaw mix, the mung bean sprouts, half of the scallions, the soy sauce and the vinegar; stir to combine, then cover and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  6. Add the hoisin sauce and return the eggs to the wok or skillet, stirring to break them up and incorporate them into the vegetables; this should take about 2 minutes.
  7. Stir in the remaining scallions. Divide among individual plates; serve hot. 
Lizzy Bee's Note: I added grilled chicken for my husband to add a little extra protein...same could be done with shrimp, cut into small pieces.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Football Finger Foods!

Hello everyone! Back to another Monday after a relaxing weekend. Alex and I went apple picking in one of my favorite spots around here (though if we were closer, we'd definitely be heading further upstate). At any rate, we picked about 25lbs of apples so expect some apple dessert pics to come. In the meantime, after yesterday's day of football, I realized we were ill-prepared for the day! I'm planning ahead for next Sunday so that doesn't happen again. Here are a few yummy desserts that are perfect for a crisp fall day full of football, friends, and food!

Like a Snickers, but more extravagant...

Butterscotch Blondie Bars with Peanut-Pretzel Caramel
Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez for Bon Appetit, Dec 2011

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teapsoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups (packed) light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Peanut-pretzel caramel:
  • 4 cups roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups 1 1/2"-wide thin twisted pretzels, coarsely crushed
For blondie:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 1" overhang on long sides of pan. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Stir butter in a medium skillet over medium heat until browned bits form at bottom of pan, 7–8 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add brown sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat until well combined and mixture resembles wet sand, 2–3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until fluffy and well combined, about 2 minutes. Add dry ingredients; beat until smooth (batter will be thick). Using an offset or regular spatula, evenly spread batter in prepared pan.
  2. Bake blondie until golden brown, edges pull away from sides of pan, and a tester inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 20–25 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

For peanut-pretzel caramel:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread peanuts over sheet in an even layer. Bake, stirring frequently, until golden brown and fragrant, 5–7 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Stir sugar and 1/2 cup water in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until caramel is deep amber, 12–15 minutes. Add honey; return to a boil, stirring often, about 1 minute longer. Add butter; stir until blended. Add cream (mixture will bubble vigorously); whisk until smooth. Stir in peanuts and pretzels. Pour over cooled blondie. Chill until cool, about 30 minutes.
  3. Run a knife around short sides of pan to release blondie. Using parchment-paper overhang, lift from pan. Cut lengthwise into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 10 bars. 
DO AHEAD: Chill for up to 1 week in an airtight container. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Fall flavors in a neat little package...

Pumpkin Pie Bars
Allison Ruth


Crust Ingredients:
  • 1 1/3 cup unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 8 tablespoons butter (softened)
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Filling Ingredients:
  • 8oz cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. In a food processor, combine crust ingredients and pulse two or three times until mixture is crumbly. Reserve 2/3 cup of the mixture for topping.  Press remaining mixture evenly into the bottom of an 8x11 baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Cool slightly. 
  3. In a medium bowl, combine filling ingredients.  Using an electric mixer at medium speed, blend until mixture is smooth.  Pour mixture over baked crust.  Sprinkle with remaining crust topping. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until firm. 

Pretzels, snack size...

Pretzel Bites
Bobby Flay adaptation

  • 1 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1pkg active dry yeast
  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 – 5 cups flour
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 egg, beaten plus 1 tbsp water
  • Course sea salt for topping
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (personal preference, you can use the dough hook if you prefer), combine brown sugar, yeast, melted butter and water. Give a quick mix, then let sit for 5 minutes or until slightly puffy.
  2. Add salt and flour to wet mixture. Mix on low speed, gradually increasing the speed to medium. Continue mixing until all flour is encorporated and the dough is pulling away from the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add additional flour until the dough pulls away from the bowl and is no longer super sticky. Transfer dough to a clean work area, knead by hand for 3-5 minutes, shaping into a ball.
  3. Grease a medium bowl with oil. Toss dough into bowl, then flip to coat all sides with oil. Cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm location for an hour or until dough is doubled in size.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large stockpot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Carefully and quickly, add baking soda – this may splatter.
  5. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long snake. Using kitchen sheers, cut 1″ pieces. Transfer pieces to a clean plate. Repeat process with all pieces of dough. Slightly more than a quarter of the full recipe should fit on one standard size baking tray. If making the full batch, work a quarter of the dough at a time, keeping the remaining dough covered with plastic wrap until ready to roll and cut.
  6. Prepare a baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper. Whisk one egg together with 1 tbsp water, set aside. Boil 10-15 pieces of cut dough at a time for 30-45 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon, transfering to your prepared baking sheet. Repeat process with remaining dough pieces.Brush egg wash over dough pieces. Immediately sprinkle with course sea salt.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Continue process with any remaining dough.
  8. Serve warm with dipping sauces, such as mustard or cheese. Store any remaining pretzel bites in an airtight container.
Lizzy Bee's Note: This would be great with warm peanut butter!

Happy baking!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Potato-Free Gnocchi, Fast and Easy

Hello everyone! I made a really delicious and easy mascarpone and lemon gnocchi for dinner the other night, and there was no need for mashing potatoes! I made a few adaptations (see my comments below the recipe), but if you follow those and along with the recipe, you'll end up with elegant results. Enjoy!

Mascarpone and Lemon Gnocchi
Giada De Laurentiis

  • 1 cup mascarpone, at room temperature (8 ounces)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 large lemons, zested
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan (4 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for forming the gnocchi
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, for serving


  1. For the gnocchi: In a large bowl, combine the mascarpone, egg, egg yolk, nutmeg, lemon zest, Parmesan, and salt. Using a hand mixer, beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Gradually beat in 3/4 cup flour until the mixture forms a soft dough.
  2. Sprinkle a pie pan or rimmed baking sheet with flour. Using 2 small spoons, drop 1 teaspoon-sized pieces of dough into the pie pan. Shake the pan gently to cover the dough with flour. Gently roll the pieces of dough into oval shapes.
  3. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a simmer. In batches, carefully add the gnocchi. The gnocchi should sink and then float to the top. As soon as the gnocchi begin to float, cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Drain and place in a large serving bowl.
  4. For the sauce: In a small saucepan, warm the oil and salt over medium-high heat for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the basil. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
  5. Add the sauce and cheese to the gnocchi and gently toss until coated.
Lizzy Bee's Notes: 

  1. I used one lemon instead of 2. 
  2. After I formed the dough, I divided it into four. I rolled each piece into a 1 inch log, and cut each log into 1 inch pieces (or so...just make them uniform and you're fine). I rolled each piece into an oval, placed it on a cookie sheet and covered it with a damp paper towel so it wouldn't dry out. I did this with all four pieces of dough until all the dough was rolled and oval'ed. I started boiling the water during this time as well. 
  3. I cut the sauce in half - you know me, I don't eat heavy sauces. Half was more than enough to cover every piece!
  4. I only cooked my gnocchi for 2-3 min, making sure to do it in small batches so to keep from crowding the pot. Once they float to the top of your pot, they're about done! No need to overcook these babies!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

All Kinds of Fall Flavors!

Happy Wednesday everyone. Let's talk about some more interesting fall flavors, because really, there are quite a few and why don't people discuss them all anymore? So let's discuss a few of them. These will get those fabulous ooohs and aaaaahs from your grateful guests.

Honeyed Fig Crostatas
Melissa Rubel Jacobson

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh green and purple figs, each cut into 6 wedges
  • 5 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves, plus small sprigs for garnish
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
  1. In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the butter and pulse until it is the size of peas. Add the water; pulse until the dough comes together. Pat the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut out eight 5-inch rounds, rerolling the scraps if necessary; transfer to a parchment paper–lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°. In a bowl, toss two-thirds of the figs with 3 teaspoons of the honey, the lemon juice, thyme leaves and a pinch of salt. Arrange the figs on the dough rounds, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Fold the edges over the figs and brush the dough with the egg wash. Chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Bake the crostatas for 35 minutes, rotating halfway through baking, until the crusts are golden. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  5. Gently toss the remaining figs with the remaining 2 teaspoons of honey. Transfer the crostatas to plates, top with the figs and thyme sprigs and serve.

Apple Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream
Bobby Flay

  • 4 Granny Smith apples, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup olive or canola oil
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted cold butter, melted
  • 8 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup granola
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • 1/2 cup prepared caramel sauce, heated, optional
  1. Heat the grill to medium.
  2. Place apples in a medium bowl and toss with the oil. Place the apples on the grill, cut-side down and grill until nicely browned. Flip the apples over and continue to grill until nicely browned on skin side. Remove from the grill and allow to cool briefly.
  3. Once they are cool enough to handle, core and cut the apples into wedges. Place the apple wedges into a bowl and toss with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 4 tablespoons light brown sugar and 1/2 stick melted butter.
  4. In another bowl, toss together the remaining melted butter, cinnamon, light brown sugar and the granola.
  5. Place 1 large scoop of ice cream into 4 bowls and top with the apple mixture. Sprinkle the granola mixture over the top of the apple and drizzle with some of the caramel sauce, if using.

Butterscotch-Pecan Cake
Martha Stewart Living, November 2008


For the Cakes

  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray, for pans
  • 3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 10 ounces (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups packed dark-brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons rum, preferably golden or dark
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk, room temperature
  • For the Frosting

  • 12 ounces unsalted butter (3 sticks), 1 stick left whole, 2 sticks cut into small pieces, softened
  • 2 cups packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 20 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

For the Butterscotch Sauce

  • 2/3 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups pecan halves, toasted and chopped, plus more halves for garnish


                              1. Make the cakes: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat three 8-by-2-inch round cake pans with cooking spray, line with parchment, and coat parchment. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
                              2. Beat butter and brown sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then add vanilla and rum. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 2 additions, alternating with buttermilk. Raise speed to medium-high, and beat for 2 minutes. Divide batter among pans.
                              3. Bake cakes until golden brown and testers inserted in centers come out clean, about 40 minutes. Transfer pans to wire racks, and let cool slightly. Invert cakes onto racks. Let cool.
                              4. Make the frosting: Melt 1 stick butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until dark golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add brown sugar, cream, and salt, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, and cook for 3 minutes. Transfer to a mixer bowl, and let cool.
                              5. With machine running, add remaining butter, a few pieces at a time, and beat on low until incorporated. Raise speed to medium, and beat for 2 minutes. In another bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners' sugar on medium-high until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add brown-butter mixture to cream cheese, and beat until smooth. Cover, and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours (or overnight, beating on low speed before using).
                              6. Make the butterscotch sauce: Mix sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat, and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and whisk in cream. Return to heat, and cook for 2 minutes. Let cool slightly.
                              7. To assemble the cake: Trim tops of 2 cake layers and top and bottom of third (this will be the middle) to create flat exposed surfaces. Brush 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butterscotch sauce on cut sides. Let cool. Spread 1 cup frosting on 1 layer, then place middle layer on top, sauce side down. Spread 1 cup frosting on middle layer, then place third layer on top, sauce side down. Spread 1 cup frosting on top and sides. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
                              8. Using an offset spatula, spread remaining frosting on top and sides of cake. Press chopped pecans on sides, and garnish top with halves. Transfer cake to a serving plate or cake stand. Refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours (or up to 2 days, covered).
                              Happy baking!

                              Tuesday, September 17, 2013

                              Fall Flavors and the End of Grilling Season

                              Happy Tuesday all! So I guess I forgot to show you the fabulousness from this weekend. I got the fall flavors brewing in my kitchen, making pumpkin plus bars - tender, moist pumpkin cake delicately resting on a thin layer of brownie; and salted oatmeal cookies. Yum, yum, yum. They will turn even the most skeptical oatmeal cookie eater.

                              Pumpkin plus bars - surprise brownie bottom!

                              Salted oatmeal cookies - sprinkled with
                              big crystals of sea salt.

                              Now onto a delicious, final days of summer, grilled (indoor OR outdoor), healthy meal. Try out this delicious soba noodle pasta dish (I found buckwheat soba noodles at Whole Foods, but you should at least be able to find your soba noodles in your local grocery store). Serve with your favorite green and a healthy protein - fish, chicken, soy hot dogs (in my case). Enjoy!

                              Soba Noodle Salad with Pesto and Grilled Eggplant
                              Bill Kim

                              • 1 pound Asian eggplant, sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
                              • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing and tossing
                              • Kosher salt
                              • 1/2 cup pine nuts
                              • 2 cups basil leaves
                              • 4 medium garlic cloves, chopped
                              • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
                              • 1/2 pound buckwheat soba noodles
                              • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
                              • 6 large radishes, cut into thin wedges through the stem
                              • 1/2 English cucumber—halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced crosswise
                              • 1 cup mint leaves, torn if large
                              1. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the eggplant with olive oil and season with salt. Grill over moderate heat, turning once, until tender and lightly charred, 6 minutes. Transfer the eggplant to a plate and let cool completely, then cut into 3/4-inch pieces.
                              2. In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat, tossing, until golden, about 4 minutes; transfer to a plate and let cool.
                              3. In a food processor, combine the pine nuts, basil and garlic and pulse until finely chopped. With the machine on, add the 1 cup of olive oil in a steady stream. Add the soy sauce and pulse to blend. Season the pesto with salt.
                              4. In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the soba noodles until al dente, about 4 minutes. Rinse the noodles under cold water, then drain and pat dry.
                              5. In a large bowl, toss the soba noodles with the pesto until evenly coated. Add the grilled eggplant, tomatoes, radishes, cucumber and 3/4 cup of the mint leaves and toss well. Season the soba noodle salad with salt. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of mint leaves on top and serve.

                              Monday, September 16, 2013

                              Apples, From Tree to Cake Pan

                              Back to Monday and fall is creeping upon us (kind of...). I've got apple picking on the brain and until I go, I'm just going to dream about it by dedicating this post to the lovely apple. Sweet, tart, crispy, crunchy, the glorious apple comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, textures, and uses. Here are three recipes that will put your freshly picked or purchased apples to a sophisticated and delicate use - the apple cake. Enjoy!

                              Tart Apple Cake


                              • 11 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled, plus more for pan
                              • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
                              • 1 ⅓ cups sugar
                              • 1 tsp. baking powder
                              • ½ tsp. kosher salt
                              • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
                              • 3 eggs
                              • 3 large tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
                              • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
                              • Vanilla ice cream, for serving


                              1. Heat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9" springform pan; set aside. In a food processor, pulse 5 tbsp. butter, flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt into pea-size crumbles. Add vanilla and 1 egg; mix until a soft, sticky dough forms. Add to prepared pan, dip your fingers in flour, and press dough evenly into bottom and halfway up the sides of pan. Arrange apple slices in a tight circular pattern, overlapping, and pressing slightly into dough. Bake until apples are tender and dough is almost cooked through, 35-40 minutes. 
                              2. Meanwhile, melt remaining butter in a bowl; whisk in remaining sugar and eggs, plus cinnamon. Remove cake from oven and pour butter mixture evenly over apples. Bake until top is browned and set, 12-15 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack until cool; remove from pan, cut into slices and serve with vanilla ice cream, if you like.

                              Marie-Helene's Apple Cake
                              Dorie Greenspan, Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours

                              • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
                              • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
                              • Pinch of salt
                              • 4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
                              • 2 large eggs
                              • 3/4 cup sugar
                              • 3 tablespoons dark rum
                              • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
                              • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
                              1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan and put it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and put the springform on it.
                              2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl.
                              3. Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1- to 2-inch chunks.
                              4. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. Whisk in half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it's coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and poke it around a little with the spatula so that it's evenish.
                              5. Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.
                              6. Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. (Open the springform slowly, and before it’s fully opened, make sure there aren't any apples stuck to it.) Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.
                              The cake can be served warm or at room temperature, with or without a little softly whipped, barely sweetened heavy cream or a spoonful of ice cream. Marie-Hélène's served her cake with cinnamon ice cream and it was a terrific combination.
                              The cake will keep for about 2 days at room temperature and, according to my husband, gets more comforting with each passing day. However long you keep the cake, it's best not to cover it — it's too moist. Leave the cake on its plate and just press a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper against the cut surfaces.

                              French Apple Cake
                              Chris Kimball


                              • 11/2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 8 wedges, and sliced 1/8 inch thick crosswise
                              • 1 tablespoon Calvados
                              • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
                              • 1 cup (5 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons -all-purpose flour
                              • 1 cup (7 ounces) plus 1 tablespoon -granulated sugar
                              • 2 teaspoons baking powder
                              • 1/2 teaspoon salt
                              • 1 large egg plus 2 large yolks
                              • 1 cup vegetable oil
                              • 1 cup whole milk
                              • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
                              • Confectioners' sugar

                              1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 9-inch springform pan with vegetable oil spray. Place prepared pan on rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Place apple slices into microwave-safe pie plate, cover, and microwave until apples are pliable and slightly translucent, about 3 minutes. Toss apple slices with Calvados and lemon juice and let cool for 15 minutes.
                              2. Whisk 1 cup flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt together in bowl. Whisk egg, oil, milk, and vanilla together in second bowl until smooth. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk until just combined. Transfer 1 cup batter to separate bowl and set aside.
                              3. Add egg yolks to remaining batter and whisk to combine. Using spatula, gently fold in cooled apples. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using offset spatula, spread batter evenly to pan edges, gently pressing on apples to create even, compact layer, and smooth surface.
                              4. Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons flour into reserved batter. Pour over batter in pan and spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface. Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon granulated sugar evenly over cake.
                              5. Bake until center of cake is set, toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, and top is golden brown, about 1¼ hours. Transfer pan to wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Run paring knife around sides of pan and let cool completely, 2 to 3 hours. Dust lightly with confectioners' sugar, cut into wedges, and serve.
                              Tips: The microwaved apples should be pliable but not completely soft when cooked. To test for doneness, take one apple slice and try to bend it. If it snaps in half, it's too firm; microwave it for an additional 30 seconds and test again. If Calvados is unavailable, 1 tablespoon of apple brandy or white rum can be substituted.
                              Happy baking!

                              Friday, September 13, 2013

                              Can Some Jam!

                              It's Friday! Perhaps you have a lot of time on your hand this weekend and want to try something new. Maybe you've always wanted to make your own jam. Either way, I've got a few recipes to get you started on your jamming adventures!

                              Peach Jam with Lemon Basil
                              The Washington Post, Sept 4, 2013

                              Lemon basil, if you can find it, adds an herbal note that plays well off the sweet tartness of the peaches. Regular basil, lemon thyme or lemongrass can be substituted. MAKE AHEAD: The fruit macerates for between 8 and 48 hours, either in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
                              Makes 8 to 10 half-pints

                              • 6 1/2 pounds large ripe yellow freestone peaches
                              • 3 pounds sugar
                              • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
                              • 4 large branches (12 sprigs) lemon basil
                              1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, reduce to a high simmer, and drop the peaches into the water for a minute or two. Drain and let them cool, then carefully slip the peels off with your hands or, if the peaches aren't quite ripe, with a paring knife. Halve and pit the peaches and cut them into 1/2-inch slices.
                              2. Put the slices into a mixing bowl and stir in the sugar and lemon juice. Cover with plastic wrap or parchment, pushing it directly onto the surface of the peaches, and macerate for at least 8 hours or as long as 48 hours, either in the refrigerator or at room temperature.
                              3. When you're ready to make the jam, put five metal teaspoons into the freezer for testing the jam later. Wash jars, rings, and lids by in hot soapy water and rinse them. Fill a water-bath canner or large stockpot equipped with a lid and a rack halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add the jars until covered by at least 1 inch of water (adding more water if needed), and boil for 10 minutes to sterilize. Turn off the heat and cover to keep the jars hot until you fill them. (You can also sterilize jars in the dishwasher; just keep hot until using.) In a separate small saucepan, cover the lids with water and bring just to a simmer, but do not boil.
                              4. Transfer the peaches to a large, wide pot set over high heat. Stir well to incorporate any undissolved sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and let it boil for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and skim off all the foam.
                              5. Return the mixture to medium-high heat and cook until thickened, stirring with a heat-proof spatula and scraping the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking or scorching, 25 to 40 minutes. (Lower the heat as the mixture thickens, also to prevent scorching.) Test for doneness by turning off the heat and placing a small amount of jam onto one of the teaspoons in your freezer. Return to the freezer for 1 to 2 minutes and check the consistency. If it’s too runny, continue cooking for a few more minutes and test again. While you're testing the consistency and the jam is off the heat, skim off any remaining foam. When the jam is as thick as you'd like, add the lemon basil sprigs or branches, pushing them under the surface of the jam.
                              6. Allow the lemon basil to steep for about 5 minutes, then taste the jam to make sure enough of the herbal flavor has come through, leaving it for longer if desired. Remove the lemon basil with tongs, shaking off excess jam, and discard.
                              7. Remove the jars from the hot water. Pour the hot jam into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch of head room. Run a chopstick around the inside edge of the jars to break up any air bubbles, wipe the rims clean with a moistened paper towel, and add the lids and screw on the rings until they are just barely tightened. Process by returning the jars to the canner or pot, making sure they are covered by 1 to 2 inches of water, and bring to a boil. Cover, and process for 10 minutes (from the time the water comes to a boil). Transfer the jars to a cooling rack to sit at least 24 hours undisturbed. They will seal as they cool; you may hear the satisfying pings as they do. Test seals after 24 hours by removing bands and lifting the jars by the lids to make sure the lids don't come off; transfer any jars that didn't seal to the refrigerator, where they can be stored for up to 3 months. The sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 year.

                              NOTE: Times given are for altitudes up to 1,000 feet. Consult a site such as for high-altitude directions.

                              Old-Fashioned Raspberry Jam
                              by Eleanor Topp and Margaret Howard
                              The Complete Book of Year-Round Small-Batch Preserving

                              • 4 cups (1 liter) granulated sugar
                              • 4 cups (1 liter) raspberries
                              1. Place sugar in an ovenproof shallow pan and warm in a 250°F (120°C) oven for 15 minutes. (Warm sugar dissolves better.)
                              2. Place berries in a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan. Bring to a full boil over high heat, mashing berries with a potato masher as they heat. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
                              3. Add warm sugar, return to a boil, and boil until mixture will form a gel (see tips, below), about 5 minutes.
                              4. Ladle into sterilized jars and process as directed for Shorter Time Processing Procedure.
                              Tip: To make a small boiling-water canner, tie several screw bands together with string or use a small round cake rack in the bottom of a large covered Dutch oven. Be sure the pan is high enough for 2 inches (5 cm) of water to cover the jars when they are sitting on the rack.

                              Kitchen Tips: To determine when the mixture will form a gel, use the spoon test: Dip a cool metal spoon into the hot fruit. Immediately lift it out and away from the steam and turn it horizontally. At the beginning of the cooking process, the liquid will drip off in light, syrupy drops. Try again a minute or two later — the drops will be heavier. The jam is done when the drops are very thick and two run together before falling off the spoon.

                              "The intensity of this jam is due to the fact that it has no added fruit pectin," says Topp. Adding pectin helps the jam jell, but necessitates more sugar, which dilutes the natural flavor of the fruit. Making jam without added pectin requires more careful cooking (see notes about the spoon test, above), but the extra effort pays off in a deliciously old-fashioned, fruity product.

                              Drunken Fig Jam
                              Jill Silverman Hough, Bon Appetit, Oct 2008

                              • 2 lemons
                              • 4 pounds ripe fresh figs (preferably black), stemmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 9 cups)
                              • 4 cups sugar
                              • 3/4 cup brandy or Cognac
                              • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
                              1. Using vegetable peeler, remove peel from lemons (yellow part only) in long strips. Cut peel into matchstick-size strips (about 3 tablespoons).
                              2. Combine lemon peel, figs, sugar, brandy, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt in heavy large deep saucepan; let stand at room temperature 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
                              3. Bring fig mixture to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium; continue to boil until jam thickens and is reduced to 6 cups, stirring frequently and occasionally mashing mixture with potato masher to crush large fig pieces, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat.
                              4. Ladle mixture into 6 hot clean 1/2-pint glass canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch space at top of jars. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe jar threads and rims with clean damp cloth. Cover with hot lids; apply screw bands. Process jars in pot of boiling water 10 minutes. Cool jars completely. Store in cool dark place up to 1 year.

                              Happy baking!

                              Thursday, September 12, 2013

                              Fish Tacos Made Easy and Elegant

                              Hello everyone! It has been a beautiful Thursday so far...though the rain is on its way! Last night I finally was able to feed my craving for fish tacos! I had them over recently at the end of the summer and have wanted to have them again ever since. I used an insanely delicious, easy, fast, and healthy recipe for these glorious tacos. The apple salsa adds a little fall flavor as well. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. YUM.

                              Chipotle-Rubbed Salmon Tacos
                              Deborah Schneider
                              I used big tortillas, so I cut mine in half.
                              This photo is pre-wrapped wrap. I just love all the colors!

                              • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
                              • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
                              • 2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
                              • 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
                              • 2 teaspoons sugar
                              • 1 pound skinless wild Alaskan salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces
                              • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
                              • 8 corn tortillas
                              • Salt
                              • 1 Hass avocado, mashed
                              • Apple-Cucumber Salsa *recipe below!
                              • 1 cup finely shredded cabbage
                              1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the lime juice. In another small bowl, combine the chipotle powder with the orange zest and sugar. Rub each piece of salmon with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and then with the chipotle–orange zest mixture. Let stand for 5 minutes.
                              2. Wrap the tortillas in foil and bake for about 8 minutes, until they are softened and heated through.
                              3. Meanwhile, heat a grill pan. Season the salmon with salt and grill over high heat until nicely browned and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.
                              4. Gently break each piece of salmon in half. Spread the mashed avocado on the warm tortillas and top with the salmon, Apple-Cucumber Salsa and the cabbage. Drizzle each taco with the lime mayonnaise and serve right away.

                              Apple-Cucumber Salsa
                              Deborah Schneider

                              • 1 Granny Smith apple—peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
                              • 1/2 cucumber—peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
                              • 1/2 small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
                              • 1/2 small red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
                              • 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
                              • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
                              • Salt
                              1. Directions
                              2. In a bowl, toss the apple with the cucumber, onion and pepper. Stir in the vinegar and sugar, season with salt and serve.

                              Wednesday, September 11, 2013

                              Dreaming of Paradise with Tropical Carrot Cake!

                              Hello everyone! Last night I finally got to make my favorite cake after dreaming about making it aaaaaall summer - carrot cake! I am in LOVE with carrot cake, have been since I was little. Anytime it was on a menu, it was an unspoken rule that I would order it (I still do now that I think about it...). So the opportunity finally arose to make this drool-worthy cake and I was ready for the task! I used a tropical carrot cake recipe, filled with coconut, pineapple, macadamia nuts, and candied ginger. When you're too short on cash to go to paradise, why not bring paradise to you? Hope you enjoy my pics! See you tomorrow!

                              Mise-en-place is ready! Time to get started!

                              Boy do I wish I had a camera that would do my hard work some justice! Here's the dreamy cake!

                              So moist it just melts in your mouth...I'm going to get a piece now...

                              Tuesday, September 10, 2013

                              Thank You!

                              I've reached 5000 page views! Thanks to everyone who's reading my blog, both new and since the beginning! Your support is truly appreciated.

                              Monday, September 9, 2013

                              Ready For Some Footbaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall!

                              Happy Monday everyone! Football season has officially begun and with that comes tailgating, house parties, and the Super Bowl. To get you started on the path to being loved by all of the other guests (and maybe a pardon for liking the other team), here are a few recipes to satisfy the sweet, salty, and in between.

                              Less muss, less fuss...

                              Platinum Blondies
                              Al Roker


                              • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
                              • 1 large egg
                              • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
                              • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
                              • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
                              • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
                              • 1/8 teaspoon salt
                              • 1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
                              • 4 ounces white chocolate, chopped, or 3/4 cup white chocolate chips


                              1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
                              2. Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking pan with sides at least 1 1/2 inches high. Using an electric mixer or mixing by hand, beat together the sugar and egg until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and butter and beat to mix well. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the butter mixture, beating until just incorporated. Do not overmix. Using a spoon, stir in the pecans and white chocolate.
                              3. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and use a flat metal spatula or a butter knife to smooth the top. Bake the blondies for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is dry and golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached (not wet, but not perfectly dry). Remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Cut the blondies into 2-inch squares. The blondies can be stored, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to 3 days (these seem to get better as they sit) or frozen for up to 2 months (thaw before serving).

                              Meat lovers rejoice...

                              Bacon-Bourbon Brownies with Pecans
                              Kat Kinsman


                              • 1/2 cup pecans
                              • 1/2 pound sliced bacon
                              • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
                              • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
                              • 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
                              • 1 cup granulated sugar
                              • 1/2 packed cup light brown sugar
                              • 3 tablespoons bourbon
                              • 4 large eggs
                              • 1 teaspoon salt
                              • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
                              • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


                              1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing 2 inches of overhang on 2 opposite sides. Spray the paper with vegetable spray. Spread the pecans in a pie plate and toast for about 8 minutes, until fragrant. Let cool, then coarsely chop the nuts.
                              2. In a skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat, turning once, until crisp, 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels and let cool; reserve 3 tablespoons of the fat. Finely chop the bacon.
                              3. In a saucepan, combine both chocolates with the butter and stir over very low heat, until melted; scrape into a large bowl. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat in both sugars with the reserved 3 tablespoons of bacon fat. Beat in the bourbon. Add the eggs and salt and beat until smooth. Sift the cocoa and flour into the bowl and beat until blended.
                              4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the bacon and pecans on top. Bake for about 50 minutes, until the brownies are set around the edges but slightly wobbly in the center; a toothpick inserted into the center should have some batter clinging to it. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the brownies cool completely. Lift the brownies out of the pan using the parchment paper. Cut into squares or rectangles and serve.

                              Just add salt...

                              Pretzel Bites with Quick Cheddar Dip
                              Elizabeth Green, Gourmet Live

                              Pretzel Dough:
                              • 1 cup warm water (100° to 110°F)
                              • 1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast
                              • 3 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour plus more for work surface
                              • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
                              • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
                              • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, well softened
                              • Vegetable oil for bowl
                              Baking Pretzels:
                              • 8 cups water
                              • 1/2 cup baking soda
                              • Pretzel salt (see Cooks' Notes) or coarse kosher salt
                              Cheddar Dip (see Cooks' Notes):
                              • 12 ounces good-quality Cheddar cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
                              • 6 to 8 tablespoons dry white wine or water
                              Make Pretzel Dough:
                              1. Stir together warm water and yeast in a large bowl and let stand until a creamy beige foam develops on the surface, about 10 minutes. (If mixture doesn't foam, start over with new yeast.)
                              2. Meanwhile, in a smaller bowl, stir together flour, salt, and light brown sugar.
                              3. Add flour mixture and butter to yeast mixture, and stir together first with a wooden spoon and then with your hands, until it forms a dough. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough until it is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes, dusting with more flour as needed if dough sticks to work surface.
                              4. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled large bowl and turn over to coat with oil. Cover with a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let rise in a draft-free place at room temperature until doubled, 2 to 3 hours.
                              5. Alternatively, after kneading, let dough rest at room temperature for 15 minutes, then transfer to oiled bowl as above, and let rise in the refrigerator overnight (12 hours or up to 2 days).
                              6. Punch down dough and divide into quarters. Form each quarter into 4 balls. Roll each ball into a 12-inch-long rope. Cut each rope into six (2-inch) pieces, and transfer to wax paper–lined rimmed baking sheets.

                              Bake Pretzels:
                              1. Heat oven to 450°F with racks in upper and lower third. Well oil 2 large baking sheets (about 17- by 12- inches).
                              2. In a 4- to 5-quart saucepan, bring water and baking soda to a boil (mixture will be foamy at first, but foam will dissipate). Add 12 pretzel bites and cook 30 seconds (they will rise to the surface almost immediately), then transfer with a slotted spoon to baking sheets. Quickly sprinkle pretzel bites lightly on both sides with pretzel salt before they dry (so salt sticks). Repeat with remaining pretzel bites, returning water to a boil between batches.
                              3. Bake pretzel bites in oven, switching sheets between racks and rotating sheets halfway through baking, until deep chestnut brown, 8 to 10 minutes (watch closely toward end of baking; bites brown quickly in last few minutes). Immediately transfer pretzel bites to wire racks to cool.

                              Make Cheddar Dip:
                              1. Purée cheese with 6 tablespoons wine or water in a food processor fitted with knife blade, stopping and scraping down sides with a spatula occasionally, until mixture is creamy and smooth, about 2 minutes. Thin to desired consistency with additional wine or water, adding it 1 tablespoon at a time. Serve immediately, or chill, covered, and return to room temperature before serving.

                              Cooks' Notes:•You can buy pretzel salt in some specialty food stores or online.
                              •Pretzel bites are best the day they are made, but they can be made 1 day ahead and kept in a resealable plastic bag or frozen 1 month. Thaw, and rewarm, if desired, in a 350°F oven for about 5 minutes.
                              •Cheddar dip is delicious plain, but you can flavor it with your favorite prepared mustard (we used grainy Dijon). Start with 2 teaspoons, adding more to taste, as desired, and/or caraway seeds (2 to 3 teaspoons, or to taste), coarsely ground in an electric coffee/spice grinder. Caraway seeds will be even better if you lightly toast them first (before grinding) in a dry heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring, until fragrant and a shade darker, 2 to 3 minutes.

                              Happy baking!

                              Thursday, September 5, 2013

                              A Romantic Rosh Hashanah For Two

                              Hello everyone! I hope your day is sunny and cheerful. My new year's meal last night turned out deliciously! Though there were only 2 of us, we have enough to feed us for the next two weeks! But who cares, it was deeeeelicious! Here are a few photos of the spread:
                              A homemade round vanilla challah -
                              perfect for the holiday!
                              Matzo ball soup in a veggie broth (for me, of course)...
                              check out the china! I remembered to use it!

                              The meal! I made brisket bathed in red wine for my husband (not shown),
                              gefilte with carrots (my fave...not for the faint of heart), and Granny's sweet kugel (not to be missed!)
                              Voila! The grand finale: my beautifully moist, insanely addictive honey cake!

                              Thanks for checking out my holiday table. More dessert posts tomorrow!