Dec 30, 2012

Mini Twice-Baked Potato Appetizers

These Mini Twice-Baked Potato Appetizers are are pretty much "comfort food meets the cocktail hour."

These Mini Twice-Baked Potato Appetizers are are pretty much "comfort food meets the cocktail hour."

The next time you throw a cocktail party or host a game day party, give these mini twice-baked potatoes a try. You will be a very popular host.

Dec 29, 2012

Cracked Wheat and Bran Bread

Cracked Wheat and Bran Bread

This is the time of year when I feel like I have to get organized, clear out closets, and make plans for the upcoming year. If I don't get to go through this process, I'm a little off kilter for the year. I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, but I do like to start the year with a plan... or at least a cleaner slate. It just feels better... at least to me.

I am not naturally organized but I hate that feeling of being disorganized. I still need to figure out how to keep track of the ingredients I have in my pantry and freezer so that I don't waste them. January, at least some of it, will be about using what I have on hand.

For this recipe, the pantry ingredient I randomly pulled out of my freezer to use was cracked wheat. I had purchased it at one point when King Arthur Flour offered free shipping, but I hadn't given a lot of though about how I was going to use it. It has languished in my freezer for who knows how long. It needs to be used (or least I need to use it so I don't feel like I belong on Hoarders!).  I was also able to use some wheat bran I also had in my freezer.

Cracked Wheat and Bran Bread


1 1/4 C boiling water
1/4 C plus 2 T cracked wheat (bulgur may be substituted)
1/4 C bran
1/4 C dark brown sugar
1 T vegetable oil
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp instant yeast (I used SAF)
1/2 C whole wheat flour
9.5 to 10.5 (or 2 1/8 to 2 1/3 C) ounces bread flour


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the boiling water, cracked wheat, bran, oil, and salt, and let set for for 15 minutes, until it reaches about 90 degrees F.
  2. Add the whole wheat flour to the mixture and mix until fully incorporated. 
  3. Add the yeast and 1 cup of the bread flour. Mix until blended. 
  4. Place the bowl into the mixer and attach the dough hook. Begin mixing and slowly add the rest of the flour until you've developed a slightly sticky dough. Knead for about 15 minutes. 
  5. Place the dough into an oiled dough rising bucket or a large bowl, turn the dough to oil all sides, and allow to rise for about an hour, until doubled. 
  6. Gently deflate the dough and roll into a loaf and place into an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan. (This loaf was baked into a 9 by 5 inch pan, which turned out to be a little too small. 
  7. Let the loaf rise for about one hour in a warm place. 
  8. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and spray the loaf with water. 
  9. Bake the loaf for 35 to 40 minutes. Tent the loaf with aluminum foil if it begins to brown too much. Bake until the loaf interior reaches 180 degrees F. 
  10. Remove from the oven, de-pan, and cool completely on a wire rack.
I love the flavor of this bread. It has a great whole wheat flavor that is balanced by the bread flour. The cracked wheat and wheat bran add all of the benefits of whole wheat. This is an excellent tasting and performing whole wheat bread recipe. 

Adapted from The Knead for Bread. Sharing with Yeastspotting
BYOB 125 x 125

Dec 28, 2012

Friday Cocktail | The Sugar Plum

Friday Cocktail | The Sugar Plum

I don't think it's any secret that I am a big fan of Nancy Silverton. Her book, Nancy Silverton's Breads from the La Brea Bakery: Recipes for the Connoisseur is a bread head's inspiration.

Last year, she published The Mozza Cookbook: Recipes from Los Angeles's Favorite Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria. Of course I "needed" it.

While looking through the book for appetizer ideas for our family's Italian themed Christmas Eve dinner, I discovered the cocktail section of the book. There are five, all really interesting sounding. She prefaces these recipes with a discussion of the Italian preference for only a few options for the pre-dinner hour, usually a glass of Prosecco. She describes her cocktails as "conceived in an Italian spirit and executed in an American one."

Serendipitously, I had all of the ingredients for the one I most wanted to try. It's my new favorite.

The Sugar Plum cocktail

The Sugar Plum

Pomegranate Reduction 

(Makes enough for eight cocktails. Can be stored in the refrigerator up to one week.)
1/4 C pomegranate juice (like Pom)
1/4 C sugar

Bring the ingredients to a boil and reduce to a simmer until the mixture thickens into a thin syrup. Cool before using. 

The Sugar Plum

(Makes one cocktail)
2 ounces gin
1 ounce grapefruit juice
1 1/2 tsp pomegranate reduction


Chill a martini glass in the freezer.
Place all of the ingredients into an ice filled shaker and shake until thoroughly chilled. The shaker should be nice and icy on the outside. 
Strain the ingredients into the chilled glass.


Wouldn't these be lovely on New Year's Eve? 

Dec 27, 2012

Holiday Apple Kuchen

Apple Kuchen

This is a yeasted bread/coffee cake/pastry/breakfast treat/dessert (I'm flashing back to the Gilda Radnor, Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase commercial parody).

"It's a dessert!" "No, it's a bread!"

I'm getting off track here.

This was my dessert tonight, and will be my breakfast tomorrow. It's really good.

The bottom layer is a yeasted "cake" (I guess Kuchen means cake in German) that is dough-like and is spread on the bottom of the pan. The second layer is a mixture of a good amount of spiced apples. On top of that is a crumb topping. I nearly doubled the amount of topping listed below. Also, I halved the original recipe and baked mine in an 8 x 8 inch square pan.

The assembled Kuchen is allowed to rise for one hour (there is no first rise), and then baked. The recipe calls for a sweetened cream cheese topping. I confess! I did not make the cream cheese topping, but used whipped cream instead. The Kuchen is good without any topping but would be great served warm with ice cream.

Love this.

Holiday Apple Kuchen

6 servings. 

Crumb Topping

I doubled these amounts, and then used most, but not all of it. 
1/4 C flour
1/4 C brown sugar
1 1/2 T cold butter


6.25 to 6.85 ounces all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 C milk
1/4 C sugar
2 T butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg

Apple Topping

2 C thinly sliced baking apples (I used Braeburn)
2 T + 2 tsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp quick cooking tapioca
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp apple pie spice. (I actually had some on hand. Mine is a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and mace. I'm sure just cinnamon with a pinch of nutmeg would be fine.)

Cream Cheese Topping

4 ounces of softened cream cheese
1/3 C whipping cream
1/3 C powdered sugar


  • To make the crumb topping, combine the flour and brown sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Cut the cold butter into 1/2 inch pieces and place in the bowl. Pulse the mixture just a few times, until you have developed the consistency of course breadcrumbs. I pulsed mine about eight times. 
  • To make the pastry/cake, grease an 8 x 8 inch square pan. 
  • Combine 1/2 cup of the flour and the yeast.
  • Heat the milk, granulated sugar, butter, and salt in a small sauce pan until the mixture reaches 120 to 130 degrees F. 
  • Add the heated mixture and the egg to the flour and yeast, and beat on low to combine, then beat on high for about two minutes until the mixture is smooth. Using a dough whisk or wooden spoon, add the remaining flour to create a stiff batter. 
  • Spread the batter into the pan. 
  • To make the apples, in a large bowl, mix the apples, brown sugar, tapioca, lemon juice, and apple pie spice. 
  • Spread the apple mixture on top of the batter, and then top the apples with the crumb topping. 
  • Allow to rise for one hour in a warm place. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, until top is browned and the apples are cooked through.
  • Cool on a rack for 30 minutes.
  • To make the cream cheese topping, beat the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth. Beat in the rest of the ingredients. 
  • Can be served warm or at room temperature. 

Dec 26, 2012

Mini Caprese Salad Skewers

Mini Caprese Salad Skewers

My sister hosted our annual family Christmas Eve dinner this year and the theme was Italian. While being the hostess is a lot of work (my turn is coming up in 2014, getting psyched!), everyone brings sides, desserts, and appetizers, which makes it a little bit easier. I brought a couple of appetizers (she knows I'm punctual), including this one.

So, if you are hosting a New Year's Eve soiree, or you need to bring a little dish to a party, think about making this dish.

This is a little appetizer that is so fresh, easy, elegant, and tasty. Most of the adults will love it, and the kids will usually leave it alone ("what's that green stuff?").  Even the diet conscious will try it.

Mini Caprese Salad Skewers


One basket of grape tomatoes
One 12 ounce package of fresh mozzarella
One large bunch of fresh basil
Fleur de sel or Kosher salt (the fleur de sel adds a nice crunch)
Freshly ground pepper (I used a mix of black, pink, green, and white, but black pepper is fine)
Finishing quality extra virgin olive oil


  • Cut some of the cheese into 1/2 inch squares.
  • Cut stems off some of the basil and cut the spine out of the leaves. 
  • Working one skewer at a time, cut a tomato in half, tear off and fold a piece of basil and place it against the cut side of the tomato, place a piece of cheese on top of the basil to sandwich between the cheese and the tomato. 
  • Skewer with a toothpick and set aside on a serving dish.
  • Continue until you run out of tomatoes. 
  • Lightly drizzle the skewers with olive oil, sprinkle the skewers with the salt and freshly ground pepper. 
These can be prepared a few hours in advance and refrigerated, or they can be served immediately. 

So easy. So tasty. 

Sharing with Tasty Thursdays

Dec 23, 2012

Czech Christmas Bread

Czech Christmas Bread

I did not grow up with a Christmas celebration bread tradition. The only Christmas bread I was aware of was the dreaded fruitcake. I think we would occasionally receive them as gifts, but I don't remember actually eating them. In fact, because of the aforementioned fruitcake, I had an aversion to any bread with fruit in it (except maybe cinnamon rolls).

Who knew there was a whole world out there of wonderful celebration breads, some even with fruit!  Because I committed to making every recipe in The Bread Baker's Apprentice, I have had the opportunity to try many, many of these breads. So much for preconceived notions.

I've made challah, babka, Finnish pulla, panettone, stollen, and Greek celebration bread to name a few.

Celebration bread. What a wonderful tradition.

This bread is soft and fluffy, and the sweet fruit and the toasted almonds form a nice contrast. It is a fairly small loaf, so the braiding and dough handling are pretty easy. You can whip this bread up in about four and a half hours with very little hands on time. I know, I know, "whip up" and "four and a half hours" don't really go together!

Note: The original recipe calls for sliced almond, but because I have an abundance of these slivered almonds, I used them.

This recipe was contributed to the Artisan Bread Baker's Facebook group as the Bread of the Month by David of Hearth Baked Tunes. Definitely hop on over to his blog to see great step-by-step photographs of the baking of this bread.

Czech Christmas Bread


7.4 oz warm whole milk (90 to 105 degrees F)
2 yolks from large eggs
1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
12 1/4 ounces bread flour
1.8 ounces unsalted softened butter
1.6 ounces sugar
1 tsp salt
3.2 ounces of raisins (I used a combination of brown & golden raisins, plus dried cranberries, cherries, and blueberries). For a boozy effect, soak the fruit in 1/2 C Cognac, brandy, or rum. 
1 large egg and 1/2 tsp of sugar for the egg wash
1/4 C sliced almonds


  • Pour the milk into the bowl of a stand mixer, add the eggs, and whisk by hand until combined. 
  • Add the yeast, flour, butter, sugar, and salt and mix on low for three minutes. 
  • Mix on medium low for three more minutes.
  • Add the fruit and mix on low until all of the fruit has been thoroughly combined into the dough. 
  • Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for about 90 minutes, or until doubled.
  • Gently deflate the dough and divide it into three even pieces. Shape the pieces into three 12 inch ropes. Braid the ropes as you would a challah. It will not be as large as your typical challah. 
  • Place the loaf onto a greased sheet pan, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until puffy. 
  • Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 375 degrees F.
  • When the bread is ready, brush it gently with the egg wash, and sprinkle it with the almonds. 
  • Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Tent the loaf with foil if it browns to quickly. 
  • Cool on a rack completely.

Roast Turkey | Easiest Turkey Ever

Roast Turkey | Easiest Turkey Ever

Everyone has their favorite method of roasting their turkey. Many brine their turkeys, either in a salt or salt/sweet solution, or with a dry brine. Others swear by cooking their turkeys in a bag or a covered roaster. One of my colleagues has an electric turkey roaster that she says produces perfectly flavored turkey every time (although the turkey skin kind of explodes). I have friends who cook their turkeys on their barbecues or in fryers outside in the backyard. At work, we have a guy who uses his beautiful designer oven once a year, just to roast a turkey for our annual Thanksgiving potluck. He turns on the oven, puts the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, and roasts the turkey until it reaches the right temperature. No basting, no seasoning, just roasting. It comes out beautifully. It's enough to make those of us who slave over our turkeys a little annoyed.

Everyone has their favorite method of roasting their turkey. This just happens to be mine.

Did you run out of time or do you lack the room to brine a turkey?

Do you bake your turkey breast side down and then have to flip it in the middle of roasting?

Did you put off buying the turkey until the day you need to roast it?

Sick of basting the turkey every so often when you'd rather be hanging out with your guests?

I'm here to help.

I first saw this method on an episode of Cooks Country. It involves poking holes in the skin of the turkey, covering it with salt port, a wet cheesecloth, and heavy duty foil. This method is referred to as larding, and is designed to insulate and slowly baste a cut of meat that might otherwise dry out.

The turkey is roasted covered with the fat for about 2/3 of the roasting time at a lower oven temperature, and then is roasted uncovered for the remaining time at a higher temperature to brown and crisp the skin and complete the cooking of the bird.

Roast Turkey


1 cheesecloth package, new
4 C water
1 12 to 15 pound turkey
1 pound salt pork. I use the pre-sliced salt pork from Hormel.  If yours is unsliced, cut it into 1/4 inch slices. If you can't find salt pork, you can use bacon, however bacon will impart its own smoked flavor.


Preheat the oven to 350 F with the rack placed on the lowest position.
Remove all of the packages of giblets, neck, etc from the cavities of the turkey. Rinse and pat the turkey dry. 
Fold the cheesecloth into an 18 inch square, place in in a large bowl, and cover with the four cups of water. 
Lifting up the skin, pierce the skin of the breast and legs several times with a fork. Do your best not to pierce the meat itself. 
Cover the turkey with the strips of salt pork (see photo), and cover with the soaking wet cheese cloth (do not wring it out). Pour the rest of the water into the roasting pan. 
Cover the entire pork and cheesecloth contraption with heavy duty foil.
Roast until the breast reaches 140 degrees F. This should take about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours.
Remove the foil, cheesecloth, and salt pork (discard).
Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F and roast until the spot between the breast and thigh reaches 160 degrees F. This should take another 45 minutes to an hour. 

When the turkey is done, remove it from the oven, place it on a carving board, and tent it with foil for 30 minutes to an hour to rest. 

Hope this helps! Let me know if you try it. 

Dec 22, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

During the holiday season, with all of the sweets that are around, I sometimes just crave something savory. I am thinking about a chicken pot pie right about now.

I have made this recipe a few times. Those at the table quickly earned memberships to the "clean plate club."

One thing I love about this recipe is that I can make the filling a day in advance and then bake the individual pot pies just prior to serving. This cuts down on all of that dinner party stress that gets me really cranky. Serve these with an easy appetizer, a really nice green salad and homemade ice cream or sorbet for dessert and you are in business.

I baked these in these little individual mini Dutch ovens.  I love them because they are so cute, and they also keep the pot pies super hot. You can also use 2 cup souffle dishes to make these pies.

Because the cast iron Dutch ovens are so hot, I like to serve them on a large salad plate topped with a couple of super pretty cloth or paper (gasp!!) cocktail napkins under the ovens. This will protect your table as well as your plate, and won't look like you are serving dinner on trivets.

Chicken Pot Pie

Serves 4, but I usually have lots of leftovers.


6 half chicken breasts, bone in, skin on (see note at the bottom of this post)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
40 ounces of low sodium chicken stock
2 T chicken demi glace or two envelopes of Swanson Chicken Flavor Boost
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 large onions, chopped
3/4 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 C heavy cream
3 T dry sherry
2 T Signature Secrets from King Arthur Flour (optional, not necessary for this recipe)
2 C diced carrots (about 3/8 inch), blanched for about 2 minutes
1 10 ounce package of frozen peas
1 1/2 C frozen pearl onions
1 1/2 T chopped fresh thyme or 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 C minced fresh parsley

Pie Dough

You can either make your own pastry, use store bought pre-made pie crusts (Pillsbury is my favorite brand, do not use generic.. trust me on this), or frozen puff pastry. Here is a suggested recipe:

3 C all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 C shortening or lard
1 stick unsalted butter, diced
1/2 to 2/3 C iced water
1 egg beaten with 1 T water (for egg wash)
Flaked sea or Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Dec 21, 2012

Kahlua Cake

Kahlua Cake

I probably should have sprinkled this with powdered sugar to pretty it up. My excuse? Elves stole my powdered sugar. Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket.

The theme for this month's Bundt a Month is booze. My aunt Chris makes this Kahlua cake. She brought it my house a few years ago when it was my turn to host our family's Christmas eve dinner. Let's just say it is very boozy. And very, very good. If you like the combination of coffee and chocolate, you will like this cake. It is moist and dense, and very addicting.

Kahlua Cake


For the cake:

2 1/2 C granulated sugar
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1 1/2 C cake flour
1/2 C dry milk
1 T baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 package (large) instant chocolate pudding
2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened, or one cup of vegetable oil (I used butter)
4 large eggs
1/4 C vodka
1/4 C Kahlua
3/4 C water
1 T vanilla

For the glaze:

1/4 C Kahlua
1/2 C powdered sugar


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray a bundt pan with spray oil.
Whisk all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.
Add the rest of the cake ingredients and mix on medium speed for four minutes.
Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan. It might shrink a little. Don't panic!
Turn the cake out onto a plate and poke holes on the top with a skewer or a fork. Mix the glaze ingredients and slowly spoon over the cake so that the glaze will seep into the cake.

You can garnish with powdered sugar or make a second, thicker glaze with more powdered sugar and less Kahlua.

The original recipe calls for yellow cake mix. You can substitute the cake mix for all of the flour, milk, baking powder, salt, vanilla, and 2 cups of the sugar. Use oil instead of butter.


Dec 18, 2012

Roasted Onion and Asiago Miche | Mission Accomplished

Roasted Onion and Asiago Miche

The Finish line. This is the last bread, bread #43, from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. I baked every single bread in the book. I've never baked an entire cookbook before and I'll probably never do it again, but I am proud that I did. It's always good to flex new muscles. I feel like I earned my journeyman status in the art of bread baking.

Let's talk about this bread.

Days to make? Three (don't worry, there's lots of down time here)
Worth it? Yes.

This bread is crazy good. Crazy good.

I remember when I first baked it I thought that it was just a giant hunk of bread gorgeousness. Bear with me because I took a lot of photos of this one.

The original recipe makes two large loaves. I've cut it in half for you here.

On day one, make a "sponge," a combination of sourdough starter, water, and flour.

On day two, roast the onions, mix the dough, let it rise, shape the loaves, and chill them overnight.

On day three, do a final shaping, and bake the loaves.

Roasted Onion and Asiago Miche


1 ounce of 100% sourdough starter
4 ounces of room temperature water
5.6 ounces of unbleached bread flour

Roasted Onions

4 ounces  of onion, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
Pinch of ground black paper
Pinch of salt


16 ounces of unbleached bread flour
1 1/8 tsp instant yeast
9 ounces of lukewarm water (90 to 100 degrees F)
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 T olive oil
8 ounces grated Asiago cheese. You can also use Parmesan, Romano, or dry Jack cheese. I used a combination of what I had on hand. 
1 ounce of chopped chives
1 ounce of sliced scallions
Semolina flour or corn meal for dusting the pan. 

(the dough in this photo is for two loaves. This recipe is for one loaf.)

Finnish Pulla | Tuesdays with Dorie - Baking with Julia

Finnish Pulla

The next recipe that the Tuesday's with Dorie bakers chose to bake is Finnish Pulla. Along with yeast, salt, flour, and water, it includes eggs, milk, sugar, and butter, and is flavored with cardamom. It is a lot like a faintly sweet challah.

I know two little boys who loved this bread. While waiting for their dad (our son) to pick them up, they each asked for a piece, and then asked for another piece, and then a third piece until I cut them off before spoiling their appetites. I sent half of the loaf home with them.

This bread is braided and shaped into a ring. A small amount of the dough is cut off of the ends of the bread and shaped into a bow to conceal the seam where the two ends are joined.

I tried several times to make a bow, but it looked more like a weird pretzel, so I ended up wrapping the strands around the seam (see upper left). Hey, the photo in the cookbook, doesn't have a bow either.

I followed the recipe as written (except the bow), and even used the Swedish pearl sugar called for in the recipe, which I had added on impulse to a King Arthur Flour order. It's soooo nice to justify an impulse buy.

This bread rose quite a bit in the oven. I just love watching the miracle of "oven spring" in the oven window. I've probably shortened the life of my oven light because I love watching bread rise when it first hits the heat. You'll love working with this dough.

This bread is surprisingly easy to make and looks impressive. It is best served the first day, but also makes lovely toast and French toast. Serve it as a breakfast bread or celebration bread.

This bread is on page 106 of the book Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. It is based on the PBS Series of the same name. To get the recipe, visit our host Erin of The Daily Morsel. Or buy the book! To see other bakers' experiences with this recipe, visit the Tuesdays with Dorie site.

BYOB 125 x 125

Dec 16, 2012

Sunday Brunch Cocktail | The British Mary

Sunday Brunch Cocktail | The British Mary

Ever had a bloody Mary with gin? Me neither, until today.

It seems like gin is making a resurgence these days. Just look at all of these brands.

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons License Wikimedia. 
I used Bombay Sapphire, and the botanicals in the spirits added an interesting and tasty dimension to this Sunday brunch cocktail. I will be making this again.

The British Mary


2 ounces gin
4 ounces low sodium tomato juice
1 T lime juice
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cumin
2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp prepared horseradish
Minced jalapeno to taste
Pinch of minced garlic
Pinch of celery salt
Squeeze of Sriracha sauce, the amount is up to how spicy you want your cocktail. I use quite a bit. =)

Garnish with pickled beans, lime wedges, celery stalks, cherry tomatoes, green olives, cocktail onions, bell pepper slices, or whatever else you can think of. After all, it's a salad in a glass, right?

You can also coat the rim with Old Bay seasoning. 


Add all of the ingredients to a large glass. Stir. Pour into an ice filled glass. Garnish. Enjoy. 

Dec 15, 2012

Cookie Dough Fudge | Part Deux

Cookie Dough Fudge

Now this is good. Little scoops of cookie dough tossed in a batter of chocolate chips and condensed milk. It's really candy more than fudge. Chocolate cookie dough candy. Ah-maze-ing.

While the previously posted recipe is my husband's favorite in the battle of the cookie dough fudge bake off, this one is mine.  I'm cool with that. Making this was a lot of fun.

Are you a cookie dough fan? Check out my husband's favorite. Try mine. Vote here!

See those lumps of cookie dough awesomeness in the chocolate fudge?

Cookie Dough Fudge

Cookie Dough

1/2 C softened unsalted butter
1/2 C light brown sugar
1/4 C granulated sugar
2 T milk or half and half
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 C flour
3/4 C semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used regular, mini chips also work very well here)


2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 C milk chocolate chips
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk


Make the Cookie Dough:

  1. Place everything but the flour and chocolate chips in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until fluffy. 
  2. Add the flour and mix until just combined.
  3. Add the chips
  4. Make 1/2 inch or so sized balls of cookie dough and place on a sheet pan. I used this little cookie scoop to form the dough balls. Made it much easier. 
  5. Freeze the dough balls for at least 15 minutes. I froze mine for one hour.

Make the fudge:

  1. Spray and 8 by 8 inch square pan with spray oil, and line with parchment or wax paper leaving enough paper to lift the chilled fudge out of the pan. I use binder clips to attach the paper overlap to the edge of the pan. Spray the parchment. 
  2. Place the chocolate chips and condensed milk in a sauce pan and heat over low heat until the chips are melted. Stir continuously. 
  3. Once the chips are melted, remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Fold the frozen dough balls into the chip mixture and then place the entire mixture into the pan. 
  5. Chill the fudge in the refrigerator until solid.
  6. Cut into squares. Makes 64 one inch squares.
These should be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container.

I found this recipe on Cookies & Cups. Check out her blog. She tells some really cute stories. It's such a fun read.

Oh, by the way, this is my 100th post! Celebrating!

Dec 14, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge

This fudge is meant for those who really love to eat cookie dough right out of the bowl. It really does taste like cookie dough.

It is made with an eggless cookie dough batter mixed into a brown sugar, vanilla, butter, cream, and powdered sugar (LOTS of powdered sugar) fudge base. A little goes a long way. Kind of like tasting the batter before baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies. Oh right! That's the point.

I think this recipe would be great used as a truffle filling or mixed into home made ice cream. I'd also like to try it with a pinch of cinnamon and/or espresso mixed in. This recipe is the purist version, based on the recipe on the package of chocolate chips. So if you are a lover of raw chocolate chip cookie dough, give this recipe a try. You will love it.

This recipe is from the book The Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge

The original recipe says that it mades 36 squares, but I cut mine into 64 one inch squares.

Cookie Dough Ingredients

1/3 C unsalted room temperature butter 
1/4 C sugar
1/4 C packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla 
1/8 tsp salt
2 T cream
1/2 C flour

Fudge ingredients

1/3 C packed light brown sugar
1/3 C unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
1/3 C cream
5 C powdered sugar (seriously)
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 C mini semi-sweet chocolate chips


  1. Line an 8 inch by 8 inch baking pan with parchment, wax paper, or foil.
  2. Make the cookie dough by beating the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until fluffy. Add the vanilla, salt, and cream and mix. Mix in the flour until combined. You can also use a hand mixer. 
  3. For the fudge, mix the butter, brown sugar, salt, and cream in a sauce pan over low heat until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves. 
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the powdered sugar in one cup increments. 
  5. Add the vanilla.
  6. Mix the cookie dough mixture into the fudge and stir until the mixture is combined and has reached room temperature.
  7. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour into the pan.
  8. Chill about 3 to 4 hours.
  9. Cut and serve. Keep any leftovers in the refrigerator. 
I found the recipe on Cooking to Perfection, which led me to Sally's Baking Addiction. I'm in good company.

Sweet 2 Eat Baking

Dec 13, 2012

Cranberry & White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Cranberry & White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Yesterday I went to a cookie exchange with a wonderful group of women. One brought cookies from the book Presidential Cookies by Bev Young. She has been baking the various cookies of the US Presidents from George Washington to George Bush. The cookies she brought tonight were from Chester A. Arthur's era. They were called Rocks. Who knew?

A sampling of some of the other cookies at the party.... Clementine Gingerbread Checkerboards, Linzer Tart Cookies, Chewy Lime Sugar Cookies, Gluten Free Berry Pillow Cookies, Caramel Pretzel Pecan Cookies, Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti, and Grandma Emma's Sugar Cookies.

I am humbled.

Cranberry & White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

These cookies were my contribution. They consist of a shortbread, leftover homemade cranberry sauce, and white chocolate.

I have made these cookies many times, usually using raspberry jam. They are always a big hit, but the spicy homemade cranberry sauce seemed to add another dimension.

Cranberry & White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Cranberry & White Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Makes 36 cookies

½ C unsalted butter
¼ C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
About 1 ¼ C all purpose flour
1/8 to ¼ tsp salt
¼ C cranberry sauce (or raspberry, blackberry, or any other jam, not jelly)
2 ounces of white chocolate, chopped

1.     In the bowl of stand mixer beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla with the paddle attachment until smooth.
2.     Stir in the flour until the dough comes together
3.     Divide the dough into three equal parts and create three 9 -inch logs
4.     Place the logs on a parchment lined baking sheet
5.     Press the logs with your finger to make indentations every inch
6.     Spoon about a ¼ tsp of jam into the indentations
7.     Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned at the edges
8.     Cool on the pan on a rack
9.     Place the chopped chocolate in a plastic bag and melt in hot water
10. Dry the outside of the bag
11. Squeeze the melted chocolate toward one of the bag’s corners and tie the bag above the chocolate.
12. Cut a corner of the bag and pipe the melted chocolate across the ropes from side to side.
13. Chill until the chocolate is firm.
14. Cut the ropes diagonally into 12 pieces. 

Dec 11, 2012

Toasted Sunflower Seed and Pumpkin Seed Bread with Rye Sourdough

Toasted Sunflower Seed and Pumpkin Seed Bread with Rye Sourdough

Supposedly pumpkin seeds have properties that are very good for you. Sounds good to me. Good excuse to eat more of this bread. It is loaded with them.

If you make this bread, make sure you add more seeds to the frying pan when toasting them so that you will have extra for "quality control purposes."

Don't let the word "rye" scare you away. I took a loaf of this to work and told everyone that it was pumpkin and sunflower seed bread (didn't mention the rye). It was a huge hit. I don't think they would have tried it if I had told them it was rye bread.

This bread will make a regular appearance in my house. It's that good.

What would I do differently? I think I'd probably bake it in a loaf pan because the dough is pretty slack.

This recipe makes one approximately 2 pound loaf and can easily be doubled.

Toasted Sunflower Seed and Pumpkin Seed Bread with Rye Sourdough



1 ounce fed 100% sourdough starter
3.2 ounce whole rye flour
2.6 ounce water


2.7 ounces rye chops (I found them at King Arthur Flour)
2.7 ounces water


10.2 ounces bread flour
1.6 ounces unsalted sunflower seeds
1.6 ounces unsalted pumpkin seeds
8 ounces water
1 3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp malt syrup (can be found at Whole Foods)
Soaker and sourdough


Mix the sourdough and soaker with a spoon in separate bowls about 14 to 24 hours in advance, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit at room temperature.

Very lightly oil a cast iron or heavy frying pan and toast the seeds, stirring constantly, until they are fragrant and browned. Do not walk away as the seeds will burn very quickly. Remove the seeds from the pan and allow to cool. 

Put all of the ingredients, including the seeds, soaker, and sourdough, into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix for 3 minutes on low with the dough hook. Scrape the bowl and mix for three minutes more on the second lowest speed. 

Allow the dough to rise for one hour. 

Shape the dough into a boule, batard, or a panned loaf (use a 10 inch by 5 inch loaf pan). 

Allow to rise for about an hour.

Preheat the oven to 460 degrees F and set up a steam pan on the lowest rack. 

Slash the loaf and place it on the middle rack, add boiling water to the steam pan, spray the oven with water, and close the oven door. 

Bake for 15 minutes and lower the oven's temperature to 440 degrees F and bake for another 30 minutes, until the interior of the bread reaches 200 degrees F. 

Cool on a rack. 

This recipe was adapted from a recipe kindly provided to our Artisan Bread Bakers Facebook page by David Wolfe of Hearth Baked Tunes. He adapted this recipe from Jeffrey Hamelman.

Check out David's blog. He's a true bread head (and a Dead head btw).

I've shared this post with Yeastspotting

BYOB 125 x 125

Dec 10, 2012

Chocolate Pots de Creme

Chocolate Pots de Creme

The first elegant dessert I ever made was pots de creme. I made them in little demitasse cups that my mother had given me hoping that I would get into collecting them. I still have the original four that she gave me... one Danish, one French, one English, and one Lennox (American). They are lovely. I never added to them.... but I sometimes think about it.  Wouldn't it be sweet to serve mini pots de creme in beautiful unmatched china demitasse cups to all of your guests?

So Martha. So not me.

Chocolate Pots de Creme

In the meantime, these ramekins will do just fine.

Chocolate Pots de Creme

Serves 8


12 ounces of milk chocolate, finely chopped
5 large egg yolks
2 T sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 C heavy cream
3/4 C half-and-half
1 T vanilla
1/2 tsp espresso powder that has been mixed with 1 T water
Sweetened whipped cream, cocoa powder, and chocolate shavings for garnish (optional)


  1. Place the chopped chocolate into a bowl and place a strainer over the chocolate.
  2. Place the yolks, sugar, and salt into a bowl and whisk until just combined. 
  3. Whisk in the cream and half and half.
  4. Move the yolk, sugar, salt, cream, and half and half mixture to a sauce pan and cook on low, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thick and the custard reaches 180 degrees F. This should take about 8 to 12 minutes. Do not overcook. 
  5. Pour the custard over the chocolate (through the strainer) and let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes. 
  6. Whisk until smooth and then add the vanilla and espresso. 
  7. Divide the mixture among 8-5 ounce ramekins, cool, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. 
  8. Garnish with whipped cream and shaved chocolate (optional).
  9. Serve with garnishes and mini spoons. Enjoy!
Chocolate Pots de Creme
Recipe adapted from the March, 2007 issue of Cook's Illustrated.

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Dec 9, 2012

Ruby Port Cranberry Sauce

Ruby Port Cranberry Sauce

I had no idea that cranberry sauce could be this good until my friend Michele, an outstanding cook, told me about this recipe five years ago. She had made it for Thanksgiving and was bowled over by the flavor. It was my year to host our extended family's Christmas Eve celebration, and I was planning a traditional turkey dinner. Cranberry sauce has always been one of those things you have to serve but no one actually eats.

This was much better. While it's still cranberry sauce (there's no getting around it, it's not for everyone), it really has a much richer, deeper, spicier flavor. I've made it every year since. I use the leftovers for cookies, ice cream, and even PB&J. Thanks Michele!

So for those who prepare turkey dinners for Christmas, give this sauce a try. I think you will be pleased.
Ruby Port Cranberry Sauce

This recipe appeared in the November 14, 2007 issue of the Los Angeles Times Food section. I still have the email Michele sent me with the scanned clipping.

Oh, and I developed a taste for good Ruby Port.

Ruby Port Cranberry Sauce


1 1/2 C Port
3/4 C sugar
Spice bundle: 3 cloves, 1 cinnamon stick, 3 allspice berries, 4 black pepper corns, tied into a bundle with cheesecloth
2 inch by 1/2 inch strip of orange peel. Alternatively, a drop of orange oil can be substituted
1 package of cranberries, fresh or frozen


  1. Place everything but the cranberries into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for four minutes to reduce the wine to about one cup.
  2. Add the cranberries and bring the mixture to a boil again. Reduce the heat and simmer for about ten minutes, until the cranberries pop.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool. Remove the orange peel and the spice bundle.
  4. When fully cooled, pour into a container and refrigerate.

Dec 8, 2012

Smashed Potatoes

Smashed Potatoes

This is an excellent side dish for roasts or steaks. It is made with baby potatoes that are first roasted in a small amount of water, and then coated in olive oil, "smashed," brushed with more oil, seasoned, and then roasted again. We served these with beef tenderloin. Let's just say, I had a hard time sharing.

This recipe serves two to three, but can easily be doubled by using a half sheet pan. I used a quarter sheet pan so I could roast the potatoes in the toaster oven while the tenderloin roasted in the oven.

Smashed Potatoes

The potatoes are creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside. Here's how to make them....

Smashed Potatoes


1 pound of white or red baby potatoes. I used "California Gold" potatoes. The potatoes should be no larger than two inches in diameter.
6 T water
4 T of extra virgin olive oil
Kosher or sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
Chopped fresh thyme, rosemary, or chives, or a combination
Freshly grated parmesan cheese to taste

Dec 7, 2012

Vanilla Bean Sable Cookies | Best Vanilla Cookies Ever

Vanilla Bean Sable Cookies

See those tiny dots? Vanilla.

Vanilla Bean Sable Cookies

Scraped from vanilla beans. Unbelievably good.

Vanilla Bean Sable Cookies

This cookie is sort of a cross between a sugar cookie and a butter cookie. I've heard sable means "sandy" in French. Not sure if it's true because I don't know French, but the description fits the texture of these cookies.

This recipe is by Dorie Greenspan and is featured in the April/May 2012 issue of Fine Cooking. I posted a photo of these on Twitter for Dorie and she responded saying that they were lovely and that she liked the twine. Sigh. Love her. Trying not to be seen as a stalker. Sigh.

Vanilla Bean Sable Cookies

Here's the recipe: