Tag Archives: baking

Ginger Cornmeal Biscotti

3 Mar

Cornmeal and ginger biscotti

You’ve got your coffee…but what about a little something to go along with it on this Monday? I’m opting for some of these tasty biscotti that I conjured up a few weeks ago.

ginger biscotti

The main ingredients are candied ginger chunks, cornmeal and chocolate. I show you how to make your own candied ginger here.) There’s also orange zest, almonds and anise seed. It’s a pretty flavorful treat that is super easy to make. Bring some with you for catching up with a friend or to your office to share with coworkers. The mix of flavors within will leave your cohorts in awe of your supreme baking abilities (which you may or may not have…but let’s just let them think you do either way).

For the full recipe and some more photos, head over to my recipe at Eat Boutique.

GB-12

Union Square Donuts.

10 Oct

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So I had a REALLY great time shooting and writing this post on Union Square Donuts in Somerville, Mass…

Are donut parties something that people do? They should. And every single one of those parties should be catered by Union Square Donuts in Somerville, Massachusetts. It is guaranteed I would never decline an invite.

donut-6I’ve heard folks around town talking about this donut shop for the better part of a year, so I’m delighted to report that I finally got my hands/mouth on one of these. (Okay, fine, I tried six flavors – if we’re being honest.)

 

donut-7The popular donut making operation started out as the brainchild of Josh Danoff and Heather Schmidt. After a mere two months at their first location, the duo’s creations were in such demand that the business had to relocate to a larger space (its current location at 16 Bow Street).

donut-3donutThe donuts are (does it even need to be said?) made fresh daily. I arrived at 10 AM the morning of my visit, which happened to be the release time of the special Fluffa Nutta donut, a marshmallow Fluff topped donut with peanut butter cream filling.

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I mean, seriously! Fluff was created in Union Square and is a bit of a local celebrity – there is even an annual Fluff festival, at which these will hopefully be making an appearance.

See my full post on Union Square Donuts at Eat Boutique.

Clementine (Orange…) Pistachio Muffins.

10 Jun

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I was lucky enough to get a copy of Jennifer Perillo’s new cookbook Homemade with Love, featuring recipes from her blog In Jennie’s Kitchen. I chose to write up a review of one of the many difficult to choose from recipes, but ended up going with the delicious Clementine and Pistachio Muffin recipe. Not only was it fun to make, it was a joy to photograph. Here’s part of my post from Eat Boutique:

As soon as I unwrapped Homemade with Love, the newly released cookbook from Jennifer Perillo, I knew this was going to become one of my favorite cookbooks. Yes, I was absolutely judging this book by its cover, and I happened to be completely correct about it.

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Reading Jennifer’s story of how she came to her current place in life, the lines between cookbook and the start of a really great novel became slightly intertwined. I was not familiar with Jennifer’s blog or her story, but know now that I will be a reoccurring visitor to In Jennie’s Kitchen.

Homemade with Love could double as an owner’s manual for the self-sufficient kitchen. Providing both a list of must have pantry items, as well as recipes for easy-to-make basics – you’ll be off to making truly homemade meals and treats right away….

 

To read more about my experience with this amazing recipe, as well as recipe for it, I urge you to go to read the rest of my post here. And also, be sure to check out Jennie’s blog if you have not done so already!

Anise Sugar & Thyme Cornbread

1 Feb

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Cornbread is always a pleasing and filling addition to any meal it accompanies. This cornbread is no different. It’s filled with fresh thyme and sweet anise sugar – adding a unique element to an already tasty side. 

I came up with this recipe while working on my latest post for Eat Boutique. If you want to make this to warm you up in the middle of winter, head over to read about my Cast Iron Skillet Herbed Cornbread.

Cranberry-Orange Anise Pecan Christmas Cake

24 Dec

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Sometimes you have an idea in your head of what you are going to bake. You have the recipe in front of you. There are pictures. It’s all quite simple to follow, really. And then…your simple change of making a bundt cake instead of two loaves throws a wrench into the ENTIRE recipe…because you’ve poured the batter into the cake pan and it’s already baking. That’s when you (I) realized that the crumble top that gets BAKED on TOP of the cake cannot happen now. Time to reassess.

It’s also the afternoon of Christmas Eve…and this is a dessert for, oh, three hours from now.

So, first thing that pops in to my head is a simple icing for the top. I then took the pecans I had remaining and toasted them with brown sugar and, get this, toasted anise spice sugar! It’s perfect for my Italian family, who are all obsessed with anything anise flavored. Continue reading

Last-minute Christmas to-do list… (Now with added hypens!)

23 Dec

 

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Are you totally waiting until the very last minute to do EVERYTHING? Yeah, me too. That was not the plan though (it never is). Although I was able to knockout the remainder of my Christmas shopping yesterday, I still have to go out and brave society at Christmas time in the stores because I forgot to get a Yankee Swap gift. I also have to…

  • Drink coffee
  • Go to the grocery store for ingredients
  • Figure out what ingredients are needed before going to the grocery store
  • Make food things: antipasto, cheddar & walnut stuffed mushrooms, desserts, etc
  • Figure out what “desserts” and “etc” will be made, then revisit ingredient list
  • Drink Coffee
  • Pick-up 2 pounds of tuna sashimi from Turner’s (a holiday tradition for about 7 years now)
  • Make place cards for the table
  • Finish wrapping gifts (with the help of the pug of course)
  • Make a cup of my favorite new winter cocktail and post it here ASAP!

Okay…so maybe it’s not all THAT much, (maybe it is?!)  but it’s not like I can sit around and watch holiday movies and the 10 episodes of Parking Wars I have DVR’d. Not yet anyway…

Hopefully you’ve got your stuff together a little bit more than I have.

Chestnut Stuffed Mushrooms (and holiday gift ideas!)

11 Dec

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My most recent post for Eat Boutique focuses on using chestnuts as the main ingredient in a filling and seasonally mouth-watering stuffed mushroom. 

Over the past few weeks the air in New England has been changing. It’s a familiar feel that brings an open-arm embrace to sweaters and hooded sweatshirts while at the same time an outstretched grasp hoping to cling to a few more days of warm weather. Fireplaces begin to smoke and the scent of burning wood while working out in the yard brings about a certain hunger. Thoughts of consuming recipes composed of  heartier elements than most that I have eaten over the past few months begin to invade my cravings.

The seasonal changes of fall bring about the recollection of roasting chestnuts in the fireplace while growing up. The uniquely brown nuts marked with an “X” pattern would line the outer tiles of the fireplace hearth, slowly roasting until their aroma filled the room. My family would eat them together as soon as they were cool enough to peel, but we had never used them in a recipe.

Chestnut-5Recently, while consulting with my hunger, I sensed that these hard-shelled delights might work well in a stuffed mushroom. I combined the fresh chestnuts with local leeks and hand-picked apples from a local orchard, then added some Manchego cheese to round out the flavors…

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To read more and to get the recipe, head on over to Eat Boutique! While you’re there, check out the gift boxes and individual items in the shop! I had the chance to sample (and purchase!) many of the items available at the Eat Boutique Holiday Market in Boston this past Sunday. The items and packages you will find easily make perfect gifts for someone on your list (or treat yourself!). 

My favorites include the Mexican Chocolate Almonds from Q’s Nuts (made right in my neighborhood!), Donovan’s Cellar Ginger Spiced Beets and for someone special, the Joy the Baker Gift Box which comes with Sweet Brook Farm Maple Syrup,  Sweet Revolution Caramels and a 14-oz bag of Marge Granola – oh, and a signed copy of Joy Wilson‘s cook book!

Fresh Fried Eggplant Slices

8 Aug

So I was very excited to find that the first thing ripe and ready to eat from my garden was an eggplant. I had never grown an eggplant before, and it seems to require little attention and maintenance to get to the eating stage.

I cut this little gem off from the stem with much excitement. While I have plenty of recipes in my mind that I am going to utilize eggplant for, having just one small eggplant limits the extent to which I can carry through on those ideas at the moment. 

So, with it being the middle of a lazy Saturday afternoon, I glanced around my kitchen and decided I had the ingredients for frying up some eggplant slices. First thing I did was cut the eggplant into about 1/4 ” slices and pressed them while I got everything together.

The Italian in me knows that the best way to prepare eggplant like this is to salt the slices and press out the excess moisture – and if you listen to my mom who listened to her mom who listened to her mom, it’s best to prepare ahead of time and leave overnight if you can.  But, in real life, when I just want to eat fresh food by frying it up in oil, twenty minutes will totally suffice.

Once the eggplant is pressed, coat with fresh breadcrumbs (or, if you’re like me, use the can you found in the back of the pantry shelf that was probably opened three years ago and is 3/4 empty…either way works.) Then…fry it up!

Drain the eggplant as it comes out of the pan and set it aside while you cook up the rest. Plate and serve with a fresh tomato sauce (or, again, follow the path of the breadcrumbs…) and eat it all in under five minutes while sitting on the couch catching up with your DVR. Or, you know, you can serve it to friends/family in a civilized manner if that’s your thing.

To Make:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Eggplant sliced into 1/4″ pieces (or more than one, depending on how many servings you’d like)
  • Oil (enough for frying, heated in skillet/pan)
  • Breadcrumbs (1 cup)
  • Pasta Sauce (or other dippy yumminess)
  • 1-2 eggs heated

Recipe:

Dip eggplant into eggs and then coat on both sides with breadcrumbs. Place into hot oil and cook until browned on each side. Place cooked eggplant on paper towels to drain excess oil off. Repeat process until all all cooked. 

Plate and serve with sauce.

Fast And Easy Falafel Lentil Loaf.

9 Jul

Yeah, this recipe does have a lot of letter “L’s” in it. Rest assured, they will all stand for “love” once  you taste this dish. This has been a staple dinner recipe in my home for quite a while, for a few reasons:

  1. It’s simple to make.
  2. It’s inexpensive.
  3. There are always leftovers to enjoy the next day.
  4. It’s healthy.
  5. It’s filling.

The ingredients are most likely things you’ll have around your kitchen anyway. I always check to make sure I have the basic components (canned lentils, jarred roasted red peppers, falafel mix) in the pantry at all times.

It’s really great on those nights when reality hits. Those times you barely got yourself home from work and somehow forgot that you still need food before the evening is through. (It’s also really great on those nights when you plan ahead for it, too.)

Basically, you throw the seven ingredients in a bowl. Form that mixture into a loaf and put it in the oven. Wait a short while and dinner is served! It’s not hard. It’s super easy food for times when life is hard/annoying/too fast. 

How To Make:

(serves up to 4)

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 6 ounces falafel mix
  • 1 can lentils, rinsed
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 cups of chopped baby spinach
  • 1 12-ounce(ish) jar roasted red peppers, cut to 1/2″ pieces. Reserve 2 Tbs. of liquid from jar.
  • 2 eggs
Recipe:
 
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, including the 2 tbs of liquid from pepper jar. Mix well.
 
Form into a loaf on baking sheet with aluminum foil or other non-stick layer.
 
Bake in preheated oven set at 375° for 35-40 minutes. 
 
Eat on its own, or combine with a fresh vegetable or other side dish. This also goes really great with this easy to make peanut sauce recipe!


Shortbread Pop Tarts.

25 Mar

Homemade shortbread pop tarts? Uh-huh.

I had been looking for a way to make pop tarts from scratch. The filling was the easy part, the crust is what was perplexing. Recipes I had seen all call for making the crust with pre-made pie crusts. Meh.

Let’s be honest here, pop tarts don’t taste like pie. That’s why Hostess Fruit Pies exist.  So all of those recipes calling for pie crust use in this case are wrong. (Or, at the very least, terribly misguided.) After much consideration, I decided that the best option for crust would be a homemade shortbread crust.

As my friend Shari would say: Holy cats!

The shortbread is sweet and buttery and delicious. I flattened the dough into small rounds, placed some decent quality mixed berry preserve in the middle and topped it with another flattened dough the same size as the one on the bottom. These would definitely make Lorelai Gilmore go nuts – aside from the make it from scratch part.

Slice off the sides to give the pop tart its shape. Then, put in the oven for 20 minutes. Once they’re done, take them out and let cool. Drizzle the icing onto the top and add sugar. It’s really that simple.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups butter (unsalted)
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • jar mixed berry preserves
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • decorative sugar

Recipe:

Preheat oven to 350°F

Mix together the butter and sugar first. Make sure the butter is room temperature so that it mixes well with the sugar. Once they are mixed, add in the salt and gradually add in the flour.

Next, chill the dough for a few minutes until it is easy to form little pancake like shapes. Put a heaping tablespoon of preserve in the middle and spread around. Cover with another pancake shaped round of the shortbread dough. Trim the sides into a pop tart shape/size.

Once they are formed, put on a greased baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

While that cooks, mix together the confectioners sugar and milk. (Add in the milk one tablespoon at a time to be sure the icing doesn’t become too runny.)

Take baked tarts out of the over and put on cooling rack to cool. Drizzle on the icing glaze mixture and top that with decorative sugar.

Chocolate Hazelnut Orange Cake.

4 Mar

On this particular sunny Sunday, I was supposed to be attending the wedding of my dear friend Meghan in Los Angeles. Two people I could not be happier for are celebrating their marriage outdoors in Elysian Park with a huge party. Instead of spending the day with them and dancing it up with friends and a speckle of celebrity attendees, I am here in New England because things don’t always work according to plan or intention.

However, today is also Molly’s birthday and she will be having a get together later on this evening. So I have that to look forward to. And, since I had the time, I made a cake to bring with me.

I have only made this cake once before for another friend on her birthday years ago. I remember everyone enjoyed it thoroughly, and I felt it was time to get on it again.

It’s not that hard to make and won’t take too long (as long as you aren’t staging photos, finding the right lighting and fighting with the dog because all she wants is to eat everything you are touching.) Oh, and the frosting is made with cheese. Enough said.

Once you have all of your ingredients together, it’s time to get started. Now, for the cake, just get yourself a good quality chocolate cake mix. Unless you want to upstage me and make it from scratch. That’s totally cool.

While the cake is baking, make the crunchy hazelnut caramel toffee. It’s pretty freaking simple. Water and sugar. Boil. Pour. Let set.

Now that the cake is cooling and the toffee is chopped, it’s time to make the frosting. The key to making this correctly is to have the Marscapone cheese at room temperature for mixing. Another thing is to make the whipped cream portion of the frosting first before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.

Once it’s all mixed, spread and even layer on top of the bottom layer of cake and sprinkle that with some of the orange zest/chocolate/sugar mixture.

Next, add the top layer of cake. And more frosting.

Once the chocolate cake is covered with the hazelnut crunch frosting, sprinkle as much of the orange/chocolate/sugar topping as you’d like.

And all of a sudden, you have a cake everyone will LOVE.

To make this cake: Continue reading

Cardamom, Vanilla & Orange French Toast (in a skillet!)

12 Feb

Winter has finally arrived here in New England, in mid-February. Well, maybe there isn’t any snow yet, but it’s frigid out. The sunshine and blue sky are deceiving. All I want to do is to be outdoors somewhere enjoying fresh air, but I hear the wind and bare tree branches clicking, and instead of outdoor activities, I think about what there is for me to eat.

And it’s that time on a Sunday between breakfast and lunch, so of course, brunch ideas come popping in.

You guys know about brunch, right? I ask only because a few weeks ago we were out enjoying some brunchy delights in Cambridge, and the couple at the table next to us HAD NEVER HEARD OF BRUNCH.

“You mean we can get something from the breakfast menu or the lunch menu? And what’s this ‘Brunch’ menu here? Can you explain ‘brunch’ to us?” Really?!?! REALLY.

They talked about what a great idea this brunch thing was for about 15 minutes. It was all very serious. And equally as disturbing. The term “brunch” was coined in 1895. 117 years ago. Perhaps I should have mentioned having a “midnight snack” to them and completely turned their world lopsided.

Anyway, brunch.

I got to thinking about what I felt like eating on this cold Sunday. French toast was sounding good. But so was something baked. And here was where I had a craving for a baked brioche french toast with hints of vanilla, cardamom and orange. (Totally normal craving, I might add.) I bundled up for a quick trip to the store and fifteen minutes later was back home in the kitchen.

This was one of the simplest and quickest meals to put together. Cut up the Brioche into thick slices and set 1/2 of the loaf aside. With the other half, break up the remaining slices into quarters. Leave them in a pile for a moment.

Add together the rest of the ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix. Drop the bread in and let it soak.

The great thing about this recipe is that you can use the soaked bread pieces immediately or you could let them sit overnight in the fridge. This way, when you wake up in the morning, all you have to do is put this mixture in an iron skillet or glass bakeware and pop it in the oven for a half hour while you wake up, take a shower, hit the snooze button, etc.

Once the soggy bread is in the skillet, place it in the oven. Thirty minutes or so later you have breakfast. And an incredible smelling kitchen! Seriously, you’ll want to roll around in this smell. It’s good.

Carve out a slice and add on some fresh whipped cream and/or maple syrup (the real stuff!). This will be an amazing breakfast/brunch experience right at home. And because of the cardamom, this dish will pair very well with a citrus based drink, such as lemonade, orange juice or Mimosa.

Continue reading

Blackberry & Kumquat Filled Brandy Tuiles.

13 Jan

Now. Look at these. Look at them closely. You know how you are studying them, imagining how incredible biting into any of them would be? Take that taste in your head. Multiply it by at least 17,000. That’s how good they are.

Let’s talk about the Tuiles, shall we? Crispy little cylindrical brandy wafers filled with Greek yogurt, blackberry jam, clementines, kumquats and black pepper. Oh man.

These little tubes of tastiness really get your tastebuds up on their feet. They are a perfect way to end a meal. Or a perfect snack to eat while watching TV. Or right before bed. If you made them right, you could probably have them for breakfast too…maybe add some apple and cinnamon into the mix?

These tuiles were just one of the desserts Molly Loveday made when she created this dinner. As an aside, we were also invited over for dinner last night. Homemade Gnudi pasta. Oh my.

I’m getting way too used to this having an awesome neighbor thing.

Continue reading

Thinking about… Joy the Baker

13 Jul

So if you’ve read anything of mine over the past few months, you may have noticed I have been a bit preoccupied with the likes of Joy the Baker. Yes, Joy is a baker. And yes, she does it incredibly well.

Just ask Saveur, who named her blog the Best Baking and Dessert Blog of 2011. Also, the London Times granted her website the distinction of being one of the Top Fifty Food Blogs in the World (Yes, in the WORLD.)

Also, she has a highly popular and equally enjoyable podcast available on iTunes, where it debuted in May as the #9 most listened to podcast of the week. Go listen after you check her website and finish reading this interview, but before you make dinner.

I got the chance to sit down and chat (via video internet amazingness) with Joy. The resulting text below is what I have strung together into some semblance of an interview after nearly an hour of pretty awesome banter.

Joy doesn’t really like the woods. Or Ke$ha. She does, as one would expect, like to go out for dinner and cocktails. She likes to put Maker’s in her tea. And I am very much okay with all of it.

Continue reading

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