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Feb 28, 2013

Buttermilk Cottage Dill Bread

Buttermilk Cottage Dill Bread

This is a mild whole wheat bread with a lovely combination of fresh dill, onion, buttermilk, and believe it or not, cottage cheese. It's leavened with both yeast and a bit of baking soda. It's super soft, super moist, and is wonderful toasted with cheddar or butter.
Feb 25, 2013

Assyrian Spinach Pies | Syrian Sabanrhiyat

Assyrian Spinach Pies, or Syrian Sabanrhiyat, are little packets of yeasted dough filled with spinach, onions, dried cherries, feta, lemon zest and juice, pepper, toasted walnuts, and olive oil.

Assyrian Spinach Pies - little packets of dough filled with spinach, onions, cherries, and feta

These Assyrian Spinach pies are about the size of a bagel, and are filled with a delicious filling.

A key ingredient to these Syrian Sabanrhiyat is mahlab, a powder made from the seed of the St. Lucy's cherry. I found it in my local Middle Eastern market.
Feb 20, 2013

General Tso's Chicken

This General Tso's Chicken is reminiscent of New York City Chinese take out from the 20th century. It's sweet, spicy, and crispy. It's completely delicious too.

This General Tso's Chicken is reminiscent of New York City Chinese take out from the 20th century. It's sweet, spicy, and crispy. It's completely delicious too.
Feb 19, 2013

Boca Negra Cake | Tuesdays with Dorie - Baking with Julia

Boca Negra

This cake looks innocent enough sitting here on this plate. It's not.
Feb 17, 2013

Ovaltine Macarons

Ovaltine macarons

I've had my ups and downs with macarons. I had beginner's luck with my first and second batches, which gave me a sense of false confidence. Then my third batch cracked... baking sheet after baking sheet cracked.. and cracked... and cracked.

I am competitive (it runs in my family). This sort of thing becomes an obsession. I ended up taking a class at Sur la Table, which was both confidence building and a lot of fun. I highly recommend it.  I got to ask a billion questions as well as practice "macaronnage," the technique of mixing almond flour and meringue. I still approach baking macarons with a little bit of fear, but the class really helped.

I still park myself in front of the oven with the light on while the first batch bakes, just to see if I get "feet" (the crinkly part) and un-cracked shells.

I love the flavor of chocolate malt, so when I saw this recipe, I had to give these a try. These are filled with chocolate ganache, which goes nicely with the malt and almond flavor of the shells.

Ovaltine macarons

Ovaltine Macarons

Inspired by Daydreamer Desserts

Note: Using a scale is essential for making macarons. They are not very expensive. If you bake, get one. You won't regret it. And it will save you a lot of time in dishwashing. 

Second note: On a piece of parchment paper, draw 1 1/3 inch circles to use as a pattern template. Place this paper under the parchment paper that you will use to bake the shells. Slide it out from under the top piece of parchment prior to baking the shells. 



175 grams powdered sugar
25 grams Ovaltine
110 grams almond flour
90 grams egg whites (from three to four eggs)
Pinch of cream of tartar
25 grams granulated sugar


Your favorite chocolate frosting will work here. I used a ganache filling. 


  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  • In a food processor, pulse the powdered sugar, Ovaltine, and almond flour together. 
  • Sift the dry ingredients through a sieve into a bowl. Discard any large pieces.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment, whisk the egg whites and the cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar. Once the sugar has been added, scrape the bowl, and increase the speed to high and whisk until the egg whites are stiff and form glossy peaks.
  • Sift the almond flour mixture 1/3 at a time over the egg white mixture and fold it in using a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and shiny and drips slowly from the spatula. 
  • Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch plain round pastry tip and pipe into 1 1/3 inch rounds onto parchment lined baking sheets. Slam the sheets onto the counter to release any trapped air. Let the rounds sit for 30 minutes, or until no longer sticky on the surface. 
  • Stack the baking sheet on top of another baking sheet and bake, one sheet at a time, about 15 to 18 minutes, rotating half way through. 
  • Let the macarons cool on the baking sheets for a couple of minutes. Transfer the shells to a wire rack and cool completely. 
  • Pipe the filling onto one of the shells, and top with another shell. 
  • Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator up to one week. 

Feb 16, 2013

Asparagus, Pea, & Leek Stir-Fry

This asparagus, Pea, & Leek Stir Fry is fresh and crisp, and the recipe is wonderful to make during asparagus season. 

Asparagus, Pea, & Leek Stir-Fry

This asparagus, pea, and leek stir-fry has two kinds of peas... sugar snap peas and petite peas... and it's so green!! 
Feb 14, 2013

Friday Cocktail | Tangelocello Martini (or Orangecello)

tangelocello martini

This cocktail takes about three months to make. But it's worth it.

First you make tangelocello.

Or.... you could just buy a lovely bottle of orangecello, some good gin, and a few tangerines or tangelos, and call it a day.  I vote yes for that.

orangecello martini

We have no yard, but somehow have about 6 or 7 citrus trees. Three are planted in the ground and making do with a few square feet of clay. The rest are in pots. All of these trees are producing an amazing amount of fruit. Tangelos, Mandarin oranges, Bearss limes, and Meyer lemons. Vitamin C is covered.

Tangelocello Martini

Makes one cocktail


1 1/2 ounces gin
1 ounce tangelocello or orangecello
1 ounce fresh tangelo, tangerine, or orange juice
1 or 2 dashes of orange bitters (optional)
citrus slice garnish


Chill a martini glass in the freezer
Fill a martini shaker with ice and add the gin, cello, juice, and bitters
Shake until fully chilled and strain into the chilled glass
Garnish with a wheel of citrus


Sharing on Tasty Thursdays

Whole Wheat Sourdough with Toasted Walnuts and Cracked Wheat

Whole Wheat Sourdough with Toasted Walnuts and Cracked Wheat

This is the perfect bread to serve with flavorful cheeses and pâtés, along with fall fruits, such as apples, pears, and grapes. It is great thinly sliced and toasted. The crust is nice and crunchy, and the crumb has a wonderful toasted walnut flavor. 
Feb 11, 2013

Soft Sourdough Sandwich Bread

sourdough sandwich bread

Most of the time, I like making big crusty loaves of lean sourdough, but sometimes it's nice to have a loaf that produces evenly shaped slices for sandwiches. This bread is the best of both worlds (and it makes excellent grilled cheese sandwiches).

This bread is also very good at helping us practice "delayed gratification." The dough requires about six hours of rising. Studies have shown (citation should go here) that individuals who are good at delayed gratification are more successful (it has something to do with toddlers and marshmallows). I vote for baking more sourdough bread just to practice delayed gratification.

It's worth the wait.

sourdough sandwich bread

Soft Sourdough Sandwich Bread

Adapted from Wild Yeast. Makes two one-pound loaves.


622 g bread or unbleached all purpose flour
323 g water
16.2 g salt
65 g room temperature unsalted butter
31 g honey
33 g milk powder
411 g fed 100% hydration sourdough starter


  • Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer on low with the dough hook until it comes together. Add more flour or water by tablespoons as needed. If it is humid, start with about 300 grams of water.
  • Mix at medium speed for about seven to ten minutes. 
  • Scrape the dough into an oiled bowl or dough rising bucket and allow to to rise for three hours, doing a stretch and fold (see the video in this post for a demonstration of the technique) at the one hour and two hour mark.
  • Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide it in half. 
  • Form the dough halves into rolls, spray with spray oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest for about 30 minutes. 
  • Spray two 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 bread pans with spray oil. 
  • Shape the dough into loaves by flattening it, tightly rolling it (imagine a jelly roll with no jelly), and placing it into the loaf pans. 
  • Spray the loaves with spray oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until the dough crests by about 1 1/2 inches above the top of the pan, about 3 hours. 
  • Place a pizza stone, if you have one, on the lower middle rack of your oven, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place a broiler pan on the lowest rack. 
  • Place the loaf pans on the baking stone or rack, pour one cup of boiling water into the broiler pan, and shut the oven door. Reduce the temperature to 400 degrees F. 
  • Bake the loaves for 25 minutes, removing the steam pan at 15 minutes. 
  • Remove the loaves from the pans and place them directly on the stone. If you don't have a stone, place them on a sheet pan. This will brown the crust. 
  • Bake for 20 minutes more, until golden brown, and the internal temperature of the bread reaches 200 degrees F. 
  • Cool completely on a wire rack. 
Feb 9, 2013

Italian Challah

Back in January, 2012, Anthony, a member of the Artisan Bread Bakers Facebook page, posted this recipe for our Bread of the Month. He calls it Italian Challah because, while the recipe is his Italian grandmother's egg bread (Nana's egg bread), it is remarkably similar to a challah recipe he found in a 1960s cookbook. Anthony is a professional baker (and a cool guy) so who am I to question the name?

Italian Challah


500 g unbleached all-purpose flour
11 g kosher salt
10 g active dry yeast
15 g extra virgin olive oil
15 g sugar
215 g warm water (120 - 130 degree F range)
1 large egg
1large egg yolk
1 large egg for egg wash
Sesame or poppy seeds (optional)


  • Prepare a 9 inch by 5 inch loaf pan with spray oil.
  • Add the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil, and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer.
  • Add the egg and the egg yolk.
  • Add the water.
  • Stir the mixture in the bowl with a large spoon or dough whisk just to moisten the dry ingredients.
  • Using the dough hook attachment, mix the dough on the lowest settings for 2 to 3 minutes. 
  • Knead the dough with the dough hook for 15 minutes at the speed you normally use for bread that doesn't strain your mixer. 
  • Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic, and allow to rise until doubled.
  • Divide the dough into three even pieces, shape into long strands, and braid the strands. 
  • Tuck the ends of the braid under, if your braid is longer than the pan, and place the dough in the pan. 
  • Cover with plastic wrap and allow to double. The dough should crest above the top of the pan. 
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and place a pan on the lowest rack. 
  • Whisk the egg and brush over the dough. Sprinkle with the optional seeds. 
  • Place the loaf on a rack above the empty pan, and toss some water into the empty pan to create steam. 
  • Bake the loaf for 20 minutes, rotating the loaf at 10 minutes.
  • De-pan the loaf and bake for 5 minutes more on a sheet pan to brown the lower crust. Loaf should reach an internal temperature of at least 195 degrees F. 
  • Cool completely on a wire rack. 
  • Enjoy! Thank you Anthony!
Feb 5, 2013

Focaccia | Tuesdays with Dorie


This week the Tuesdays with Dorie group is baking focaccia. This recipe was created by Craig Kominiak, one of the contributing bakers for the book, Baking with Julia (as in Child) edited by Dorie Greenspan, and based on the PBS series of the same name. I've been having a lot of fun viewing the various videos online before baking the dish of the week.


Focaccia you say? I do have some experience making focaccia, (see my post on roasted pepper and chili focaccia, onion and sage focaccia, fresh berry focaccia (which actually involves this dough), and Bread Baker's Apprentice focaccia.

This dough consists of flour, water, salt, yeast, and olive oil, and is mixed for about 10 minutes in a stand mixer until it is glossy and elastic. Judging from the PBS video of Craig Kominiak making this bread, I would guess that my dough was a little more hydrated than his. I chose to leave it that way because I wanted to see if I could develop a very airy focaccia.


How did this recipe differ from the description in the book? Well, my first rise took 15 minutes when it was supposed to take an hour and a half! What? I checked and rechecked the yeast amount and know I was accurate so I have no idea why this happened. My second rise took 20 minutes while it was supposed to take about an hour. Yikes! This one liter of dough was suddenly 4 liters.

At this point, the dough is divided into three pieces, bagged, and cold fermented over night in the refrigerator to develop flavor.

What did I do differently from the recipe? Instead of baking the breads on the baking stone, I baked mine on oiled quarter sheet pans. I even baked one in the toaster oven. (The same one in which I baked my last post, the Boston cream pie. I'm still very excited to find out that my toaster oven can properly bake cakes and breads). Actually, the one baked in the toaster oven baked faster and browned better. Hmmm.  Also, rather than stretch and slash the dough to get it to the desired size as described in the book, I used my fingertips to dimple it and slowly coax it to the edges of the pan.

Suggested way to season the focaccia breads:  Infuse some olive oil with crushed red peppers and brush it on top of the breads. Sprinkle the loaves with some chopped fresh rosemary and sage, a light dusting of crushed dehydrated onion and garlic, and a light sprinkling of sea salt. So good.

For the complete recipe:  Please visit Wandering Through...  To see others' experiences and ideas with this recipe, visit the Tuesdays with Dorie site and check out the links.

Sharing with Yeastspotting.
Sharing with Tasty Thursdays.
Feb 3, 2013

Boston Cream Pie | Avid Baker's Challenge

Boston Cream Pie

Each month of 2013, the Avid Bakers are baking a different recipe from King Arthur Flour.  This month's recipe is Boston Cream Pie.