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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Purim Party (The Festive Goodies)

Happy Tuesday everyone! Purim is just around the corner, and even if you don't celebrate, it's a cookie holiday so who can turn that down??? I've got a few recipes to make your Purim happier, sweeter, and a little more intriguing. Enjoy!

Modern update on the staples...
Chocolate Hamantaschen with Caramel Pecan Filling
LA Times

Chocolate Pecan Filling:
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups toasted chopped pecans
  • 7 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup milk or nondairy creamer
  • 1/4 cup honey
Chocolate Filling:
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk, whipping cream or coffee
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup finely ground almonds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
  • 3 tablespoons hot water
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
Chocolate Pecan Filling:
  1. Bring sugar and water to boil in heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring with wooden spoon until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add pecans, butter and milk. Return to heat, stirring constantly, and simmer until thick, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in honey.
  2. Transfer to oven-proof glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.
Chocolate Filling:
  1. Combine cocoa, sugar, milk and walnuts in bowl and blend thoroughly.
  1. Combine flour, almonds, baking powder, salt and sugar. Blend in butter with electric mixer until mixture resembles very fine crumbs.
  2. Blend water and cocoa in small bowl and beat in egg. Add to flour mixture and beat until mixture begins to form dough. Do not over-mix.
  3. Transfer to floured board and knead into ball. Chill 30 minutes for easier handling. Divide into 6 or 7 portions. Flatten each with palm of hands and roll out 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 3 1/2-inch rounds with scalloped cookie cutter. Place 1 teaspoon Caramel Pecan Filling or Chocolate Filling in center of each round. Fold edges of dough toward center to form triangle, leaving bit of filling visible in center. Pinch edges to seal.
  4. Place on lightly greased foil-lined baking sheet and brush with egg white. Bake at 350 degrees until firm, about 20 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool.

Traditionally delish...
Apricot Hamantaschen
Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray, The New Jewish Table

  • 4 cups dried apricots
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 cup egg wash
  1. Soak the apricots. Place the apricots in a medium bowl. Add boiling water to cover and set aside to soak for 1 hour.
  2. Mix the dough. Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl. Whisk together the eggs, 1 cup of the sugar, and the lemon zest and orange zest in a large bowl, whisking until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is creamy and foamy. Sift the flour mixture into the egg mixture, stirring together with a wooden spoon until combined and a dough forms. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Make the filling. Drain the apricots in a colander, stirring to eliminate the surface water, and then blot dry on paper towels. Transfer them to a chopping board or bowl and finely chop. Mix the apricots, walnuts if using, and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a medium bowl, stirring until well combined.
  4. Make the cookies. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray two baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out 3-inch circles (use a biscuit cutter). Place a generous spoonful of filling in the center of each circle, then fold up three sides so the cookie looks like a 3-cornered hat, pinching the dough edges together but leaving the center open as shown in the photo. Gather the dough scraps and reroll; cut and fill in the same way. Arrange the cookies on the prepared baking sheets and lightly brush with the egg wash, which will give them a nice color. Bake until the pastry is golden brown—20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the cookies from the baking sheets to wire racks to cool.
Sandwich Cookies Are Nice, Too
  1. For a different presentation (especially if you like to save the hat shape for Purim), make these into sandwich cookies. Use a small cutter to remove the centers from half the circles you cut out. Spread the filling over the whole circles and place a cutout circle on top of each one. Bake as above. You can dust the cooled cookies with confectioners' sugar if you wish.
Use Almonds for Passover
  1. This recipe can easily be transformed for serving at Passover. Simply substitute ground blanched almonds for the flour and omit the baking powder, and mix as directed for the Hamantaschen. The dough will be too sticky to roll out so choose one of the following options to shape and bake the cookies.
  2. Thumbprint cookies. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. Pinch off walnut-size pieces, roll into balls, and arrange on a baking sheet, pressing a hollow into the center of each with your thumb. Fill the hollows with the apricot filling and bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Slice-and-bake cookies. Shape the dough into a log about 2 inches in diameter and wrap in plastic wrap; freeze overnight. Slice 1/4-inch thick and bake for 12 minutes. Make into sandwich cookies with the apricot filling if you wish.

Often overlooked, but not forgotten...
Ma'amoul (Nut-Filled Cookies)
Joan Nathan, Jewish Holiday Cookbook

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup semolina flour
  • 10 ounces (2 1/2 sticks) pareve margarine or 1 pound (2 sticks) butter
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water
  • Confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups roughly ground walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  1. For the dough, place the flour, semolina, margarine, and oil in a food processor equipped with a steel blade. Add the water gradually, pulsing until a soft dough is formed. Cover and set aside for 10–15 minutes in the refrigerator.
  2. For the filling, combine the walnuts with the cinnamon and sugar.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Either use the ma'amoul mold described above or take a piece of dough about the size of a walnut. Roll it into a ball and hollow out the center. Inside, place a heaping teaspoon of walnut filling. With your hands, mold the dough closed.
  5. Continue with the rest of the dough.
  6. Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet. With the tines of a fork or tweezers with a serrated edge, make designs on the top of each cookie, being sure not to penetrate the crust.
  7. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. Do not brown; the cookies should look white. Cool. When hard, roll in confectioners' sugar.

Happy baking!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Repurposing Leftovers into a Pot Pie

Happy Wednesday everyone! I've done so much cooking in the past week or so - chalk it up to the awful weather - my fridge is exploding with plasticware! So in order to consolidate, I took some of the leftovers, and turned them into a pot pie. All you need is a good crust recipe (which I provide below!) a few vegetables, gravy, and your meat of choice. Pop it in the oven on 400 for about half an hour and you're done!
Filled with chicken, peas, mushrooms, and more!

Herb Crust
Bon Appetit October 1999


  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I sub 1 cup whole wheat flour)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons (about) ice water

  1. Blend first 5 ingredients in processor until herbs are very finely chopped. 
  2. Add butter and shortening. Blend until mixture resembles coarse meal. 
  3. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Using fork, mix enough ice water into flour mixture to form moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; flatten into rectangle. 
  4. Cover and chill 30 minutes. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Let dough soften slightly before rolling out.)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Red, White, or Blue for President's Day

Happy President's Day everyone! Today's dessert recipes might be too soon for summer fruits, but I can't help it - I'm over the winter (and I'm sure I'm not alone). Besides, lots of summer berries are going on sale these days. So crank up your heat, close your eyes, and enjoy feeling like summer is near.

Red...and as Americana as apple pie...
Apple Pie Granita
Emeril Lagasse


  • 3 cups natural-style apple juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground allspice
In a saucepan, combine all of the ingredients and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, 3 minutes. Pour into an 8-inch square glass baking dish. Freeze until icy around the edges, about 1 hour. Using a fork, scrape the icy shards into the center. Continue to freeze, stirring occasionally, until slushy throughout, about 3 hours longer. Scoop into bowls and serve.

Red and white...
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies
Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez, Gourmet Live January 2011

Cake rounds: 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened (natural) cocoa powder (not Dutch process) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened 
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil 
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar 
  • 2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk 
  • 1 (1-ounce) bottle red food coloring (2 tablespoons) 
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened 
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened 
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt 
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
Make cake rounds:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with racks in upper and lower third. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
  3. Beat butter, oil, and sugar with an electric mixer until combined well, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg, vanilla, and vinegar.
  4. Reduce speed to low and alternately mix in flour and buttermilk in batches, beginning and ending with the flour until combined.
  5. Add the red food coloring and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined.
  6. Spoon 2 tablespoon mounds of batter 2-inches apart on lined baking sheets.
  7. Bake, switching positions of baking sheets halfway through baking, until rounds are puffed and set, 8 to 10 minutes.
  8. Slide parchment with rounds onto wire racks to cool completely.
Make filling:
  1. Beat together cream cheese, butter, lemon juice, vanilla, salt, and sugar until creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread about 2 tablespoons of filling on flat-side of half the rounds; top with remaining rounds, flat side down, to form whoopie pies.
  • To get perfectly round whoopie pies, use a 2 tablespoon ice cream scoop with the cake batter.
  • Store whoopie pies, chilled, in an airtight container, the layers separated between sheets of parchment paper, for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Honeyed Yogurt and Blueberry Tart with Ginger Crust
Melissa Rubel Jacobson

  • 10 whole graham crackers, broken into pieces, or 1 1/2 cups plus 2 1/2 tablespoons of crumbs
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 cups Greek-style nonfat yogurt, drained overnight
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries (9 ounces)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray a 14-by-4 1/2-inch rectangular fluted tart pan with a removable bottom with cooking spray. In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers with the crystallized ginger, sugar and salt until finely ground. Add the butter and egg white and pulse until the crumbs are evenly coated. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned. Let the crust cool completely.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the drained yogurt with the honey. Spread the yogurt in the crust and arrange the blueberries over the surface of the yogurt. Cut the tart in slices and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The baked crust can be wrapped in plastic and kept at room temperature overnight.

Happy baking!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Flavor Explosion of Paella: Under an Hour

Happy Tuesday everyone! So as I mentioned yesterday, today I bring you a delicious (and surprisingly easy) paella recipe. I have fond memories of going to the restaurant Jaleo, and this recipe comes from its restauranteur, Jose Andres. It takes about half an hour to make this flavorful, easy dish. I used 1/2 lb each of squid, scallops, and shrimp. You can try what you like!

Smoky Paella with Shrimp and Squid
Jose Andres

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup arborio or Valencia rice
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small pinch of saffron, crumbled
  • 2 cups clam broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 pound baby squid, bodies cut into 1/4-inch rings

  1. In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and add to the skillet. Cook over high heat until lightly browned on one side, 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a plate.
  2. Add the rice to the skillet and cook, stirring, until opaque, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, paprika, garlic and saffron and cook, stirring, until the rice is toasted and sizzling, about 1 minute. Add the clam broth and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until the rice is still a bit crunchy and about half of the broth is absorbed, 10 minutes. Lower the heat and simmer until the rice is nearly tender and the liquid is soupy but slightly reduced, about 8 minutes. Stir in the squid, then lay the shrimp on top, cooked side up. Cover and simmer until the squid and shrimp are cooked through and the rice is tender, about 2 minutes longer.
Lizzy Bee's Note: As it sits, the paella absorbs the juices. It's best not to overcook it - it will be the perfect consistency if follow Jose's directions: just be sure to cook your seafood all the way through!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Cake..For a Night In

Freshly frosted.
Happy Monday! This weekend, my husband and I decided to have a spontaneous (and delicious) special night in. I made paella (see recipe tomorrow), but felt there was something missing - dessert perhaps? What is a pastry chef to do??!! I whipped up a cake, of course! Dense and moist white cake, exploding with rainbow sprinkles, filled with caramel cream cheese frosting and topped with delicious vanilla cream cheese. YUM. So today's post includes 2 recipes for white cake because...why not? Sometimes you just need to make yourself a cake. Enjoy!

Now it's your turn!

Party on the inside!

Triple-Layer White Cake with Orange Curd Filling and Frosting
Bon Appetit, February 2003

Orange Curd

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 9 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons grated orange peel
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

  • 2 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 10 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups powdered sugar
For orange curd:
  1. Place lemon juice in small bowl or custard cup. Sprinkle gelatin over. Let stand 15 minutes.
  2. Whisk sugar, orange juice, yolks, orange peel, and lemon peel in heavy large saucepan to blend. Add butter. Whisk over medium heat until curd thickens and bubbles begin to appear at edges, about 9 minutes. Remove from heat. Add gelatin mixture. Whisk until gelatin dissolves. Transfer curd to small bowl. Press plastic wrap onto surface of curd. Chill overnight.
For cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Sift flour, 1 1/4 cups sugar, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Whisk oil and egg yolks in large bowl until well blended. Whisk in sour cream, then milk, orange peel, and vanilla. Whisk in dry ingredients in 3 additions. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 2/3 cup sugar, beating until whites are stiff but not dry; fold into batter in 4 additions. Divide batter among prepared pans.
  2. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 5 minutes. Cut around pan sides. Turn cakes out onto racks and cool completely. Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on 8-inch tart pan bottom or platter. Spread 1 cup curd over. Top with second cake layer, flat side down. Spread 1 cup curd over. Top with third cake layer, flat side down. Cover; refrigerate assembled cake.
For frosting:
  1. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in medium bowl until smooth. Beat in powdered sugar, then 3/4 cup orange curd. Spread frosting over cake. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; refrigerate.)

Classic White Cake
Perfect Cakes, Nick Malgieri

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • Two 9-inch round cake pans, buttered and bottoms lined with buttered parchment or wax paper
  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, mixing well.
  3. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until very soft and light. Beat in the vanilla.
  4. Whisk together the egg whites and milk by hand in a medium mixing bowl until just combined.
  5. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in one-quarter of the flour mixture, then one-third of the milk mixture, stopping and scraping down the bowl and beater after each addition. Beat in another quarter of the flour, then another third of the milk mixture. Scrape again. Repeat with another quarter of the flour and the remaining milk mixture; scrape. Finally, beat in the remaining flour mixture.
  6. Scrape the bowl well with a large rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the tops.
  7. Bake the layers for about 30 to 35 minutes, until they are well risen and firm and a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean. Cool the layers in the pans on racks for 5 minutes, then unmold onto racks to finish cooling right side up.
Storage: If you are going to use the layers the day you bake them, wrap in plastic and keep them at room temperature. Double-wrap and freeze for longer storage.

Happy baking!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Baking with Unusual Flour

Happy Wednesday everyone! I was trying to decide what to write about tonight, and I realized we have so many glorious types of flour that people are afraid to try! I bring you three delicious recipes that use 3 different types of flour. Explore and enjoy!

Oat flour...
Oat Shortcakes with Sauteed Apples, Cinnamon, and Whipped Cream
Alice Medrich

For the cake:
  • 3 tablespoons (45 grams) clarified butter or ghee
  • 1 cup (100 grams) oat flour
  • 2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
For the topping:
  • 2 large Honeycrisp or Gala apples, unpeeled, cut into 1/4-inch wedges
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for dusting
  • 1/8 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Special Equipment:
  • Stand mixer with whisk attachment or handheld electric mixer, 9-inch square cake pan, sifter or medium-mesh strainer
Bake the cake:
  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of the cake pan with parchment paper, but leave the sides unlined and ungreased.
  2. Put the clarified butter in a small pot or microwavable container ready to reheat when needed, and have a large bowl ready to pour it into as well. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and 2 tablespoons of the sugar together thoroughly.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine eggs, salt, and remaining granulated sugar; beat on high speed until light-colored and tripled in volume, 4 to 5 minutes. You should see well-defined tracks as the whisk spins; when the whisk is lifted, the mixture should fall in a thick, fluffy rope that dissolves slowly on the surface of the batter.
  4. Just before the egg mixture is ready, heat the clarified butter until very hot and pour it into the reserved large bowl.
  5. Remove the bowl with the egg mixture from the mixer. Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the eggs; fold in with a large rubber spatula until the flour is almost blended into the batter. Repeat with half of the remaining flour, then repeat with the rest of the flour. Scrape about a quarter of the batter into the bowl with the hot clarified butter. Fold until the butter is completely blended into the batter. Scrape the buttery batter over the remaining batter and fold just until blended. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan.
  6. Bake until the cake is golden brown on top, 30 to 35 minutes. It will have puffed up and then settled level, but it won't have pulled away from the sides of the pan, and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean and dry. Set the pan on a rack to cool completely.
  7. When cool, cut around the edge of the cake to release it from the pan, then quickly invert over a cutting board. Cut in a tic-tac-toe grid, creating nine even squares of cake.
Make the topping:
  1. While the cake is baking, make the topping: In a medium bowl, toss sliced apples with lemon juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and 1/4 cup water. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat butter until melted. Add apple mixture and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat, turning occasionally, until apples have softened but still hold their shape and the sauce has thickened, 10 to 12 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in the chilled bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, or using a handheld electric mixer, whip the cream until it holds a soft shape—not too stiff. (The cream can be covered and refrigerated for up to several hours. If liquid separates from the cream, whisk briefly before using.)
Assemble the dessert:
  1. To serve, top each piece of cake with 4 to 5 cooked apple slices and a drizzle of sauce and garnish with a generous dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Spelt flour...
Chocolate Espresso Spelt Cake
Gourmet, October 2005

  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for pan
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder plus additional for dusting pan and cake
  • 1 cup boiling-hot water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant-espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 lb Medjool dates (12 to 14), pitted and coarsely chopped (1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Special equipment: a 9-inch springform pan
  • Accompaniment: lightly sweetened whipped cream
  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter springform pan, then lightly dust with cocoa powder, knocking out excess.
  2. Stir together boiling-hot water, espresso powder, vanilla, and baking soda in a bowl, then add dates, mashing lightly with a fork, and steep until liquid cools to room temperature, about 10 minutes.
  3. Whisk together spelt flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in another bowl. Beat together butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until just combined. Beat in date mixture (batter will look curdled), then reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing until just combined.
  4. Spoon batter into springform pan, smoothing top, and bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes, then remove side of pan and cool cake on rack. Serve cake warm or at room temperature.

Cornmeal...Concord Grape Cornmeal Cake
Bon Appetit, November 2012

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly, plus more
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour; more for grapes
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 tablespoons buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 pound Concord or black grapes, stemmed, seeds removed, divided
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8x8x2" baking dish. Whisk 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk eggs, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla in a large bowl to combine. Add oil and 2 tablespoons melted butter; whisk to blend. Whisk in flour mixture, then buttermilk. Stir in honey, being careful not to fully incorporate.
  2. Pour batter into prepared dish. Toss half of grapes with a large pinch of flour in a medium bowl until well coated. Scatter over cake batter.
  3. Bake until cake turns light golden brown around the edges and starts to set, 15-17 minutes. Remove from oven and scatter remaining grapes over cake. Continue to bake until top is golden brown and cake springs back when pressed, 20-25 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack. Let cool slightly in pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Happy baking!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Explosion of Flavor Wrapped in a Surprisingly Healthy Chicken

Happy Tuesday! I'm attempting to get this blog back into fighting form - savory recipes included. You don't need a New Year's resolution to eat healthy and you can definitely enjoy it if you embrace seasonings (that you probably already have!) and spices. Turn this chicken sate recipe into a meal by adding some roasted veggies and rice. Skewer these for a fun night in, or leave them whole for a heartier portion. Just be prepared: if you use a grill pan indoors, turn up the kitchen fan and open some windows. It's gonna get smoky! Enjoy!

Chicken Sate with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce
Chicken sate: Top left (sauce below).
Also pictured: (Clockwise from L) homemade pretzels,
my famous guacamole, and healthy marinated feta skewers.

Ellie Krieger


  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup lite coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 shallot, sliced thin
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Thai fish sauce (or 2 additional teaspoons low sodium soy sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast pounded slightly and cut into 1-inch strips
  • 3/4 cup Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce, recipe below
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil or cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted peanuts
Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon red curry paste
  • 1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 8 (8-inch) bamboo skewers, soaked for 20 minutes
  1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the chicken stock, coconut milk, soy sauce, shallot, garlic, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime zest, and ginger. Add the chicken strips and marinate for 1 hour. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.
  2. Spray a nonstick grill pan with cooking spray and preheat over a medium-high flame. While pan is heating, thread chicken onto skewers. Grill 2 to 3 minutes per side, until meat is cooked through and has light grill marks.
  3. Serve chicken skewers with Peanut Dipping Sauce, and garnish with basil or cilantro and chopped peanuts.
Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce:
  1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Sauce can be made 1 day ahead of time, and will keep 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Super Bowl: We Can At Least Agree on the Food

Happy Monday! The post-Super Bowl weather is dreary and dull here in the tri-state. Perfect kind of weather for baking (or just thinking about desserts). Yesterday's feast included a happy combination of fried and healthy appetizers, and finished with homemade Tahitian vanilla ice cream and a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie cake. I'm always dreaming about cookie cakes so the Super Bowl is the perfect excuse to make one. My recipe came from an old Mrs. Fields cookbook; but you can use any cookie recipe.

This leads me to today's tip:

When making a GIANT cookie, you can use your favorite cookie recipe, just roll out the dough on a big cookie sheet (use 2 pieces of wax paper or parchment paper if it's sticky - maybe even a dusting of flour if it's unmanageable). The most important thing is to watch it closely when you put it in the oven: it takes a lot of extra time!! Start with 10 minutes, rotate, and do another 10. After that, it's time for 8-10 minute increments, just keep watching. You want the inside a little underdone, but not so much that it's gooey. Make sure the outside is crisping; it should be golden allover. Once cool, a nice cream cheese frosting is the perfect accompaniment.

Happy baking!