Category Archives: Baked

On the Bagel Trail

I’m embarking on a quest for truly excellent bagels at home. Yeah, I could stop at a Murray’s every morning or stash a dozen from H&H in the freezer, but I want to make them myself. I suppose I have a bit of a frontier attitude, so I look upon most foods and think, “I can make that at home! It’ll be so much cheaper and more convenient!”

This is the same attitude that always led me to raft down the Columbia River when playing Oregon Trail. Usually, I ended up with drowned oxen and a broken axle, but sometimes that pixellated covered wagon pulled through. That’s what keeps me going.

So I’m testing out a bunch of bagel recipes and techniques in hopes that I’ll eventually find a combination that will get me through. At least this time no virtual lives are at stake. If you have a tried-and-true bagel recipe, pass it on!

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Filed under Baked, Side Dish

When Life Hands You Pummelos

Now that we’re in the midst of citrus season, I’m a bit overwhelmed by the bounty. Don’t get me wrong, I love every last one of those tart and juicy treats, but sometimes I run out of things to make with them. So far this winter, I’ve made marmalade, candied peel, cakes, cookies, sorbets – I don’t even know what else – from the lemons, limes, tangerines, oranges and grapefruit that pop up at every turn.

I thought I was tired of citrus season, but when I saw pummelos in my local grocery store, I couldn’t pass them up. Pummelos should be golden and these were a little under-ripe, but I brought home one of the giant green orbs and devised a use for it.

It smelled lovely – floral and bright – so I put its zest into a quick batch of shortbread.  And though it dwarfed my zester and strained my wrist, the gentle giant proved just the right match for these delicate shortbread coins.

So now that my love for citrus is rekindled, I’m starting to remember all the favorite foods I can only make this time of year. Berries can wait, I still have to make blood orange sorbet, meyer lemon curd, and grapefruit pound cake before the season ends.


Pummelo Shortbread – makes 36 1 1/2-inch cookies

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbs pummelo zest

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a sturdy wooden spoon), combine all ingredients. Mix on low speed until everything comes together in a smooth dough. Do not overmix.

Form dough into a flat block and refrigerate 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 325 and line 2 baking sheets with parchement paper. Roll out dough 1/4-inch thick and cut into desired shapes. I couldn’t find my cookie cutters, so I used a shot glass to make little circles.

Arrange cookies on sheets and pop into the freezer for about 10 minutes. This helps them hold their shape in the oven. Bake straight from the freezer 8-10 minutes, or until just golden at the edges.

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Filed under Baked, Fruit

Cheater’s Pizza

There’s been some talk on the internet about what it takes to make great pizza at home, and all the fussy preparation it entails. I’m here to tell you that great pizza takes about an hour and as much effort as you can spare between reading blogs and posting photos. You just need dough ingredients, toppings you like and have on hand, and about an hour of non-consecutive prep time. Some might consider this cheating, but I think that makes it all the more exciting. After all, it’s food, not taxes, so the important point is that you enjoy the end result. No one’s going to judge you for what you cook and devour late at night, honest.

Cheater’s Pizza – Serves 1

  • 1 cup flour (I mixed bread flour and AP)
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 c water
  • Toppings

Put everything except water in a medium bowl – I’m pretty good at eyeballing amounts, so the only thing I measured was the yeast. Measure everything if you need to, there’s no shame.  Add half the water and stir with a wooden spoon, adding more water as needed. The dough should be soft and stick to the sides of the bowl, but it shouldn’t puddle. If it gets too thin, add a bit more flour. Stir until the dough is stretchy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover, and walk away. You probably have to organize iTunes or something.

In about 15 minutes, preheat the oven to 450 F. Put the bowl on top of the oven to speed proofing. Take a 10 minute break to check your newsfeeds.

When you get back to the kitchen, make sure the oven is up to temperature. Then put a baking sheet in the oven while you prep your toppings. I used olive oil, 2 Tbsp minced onion, and 2 oz goat cheese, so I just got those things out. I also trimmed my basil windowbox (the one in my header – it’s grown so much since then!) and got about 2 Tbsp for the pizza. This would also be great with tomato sauce, bits of pre-cooked meat and vegetable, or whatever you have on hand.

Flour your counter and scrape the dough out of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Dust the dough with flour and using a rolling pin, get it as thin as you can. Take the baking sheet out of the oven, transfer the dough to it. Cover the dough with toppings and return to the oven as quickly as you can. Bake 10-15 minutes, until risen and golden. Update your Facebook status while you’re waiting, so all your friends know you’re making super easy pizza from scratch.

Remove from oven, and immediately place basil leaves on top and drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Let cool as long as it takes to load a DVD, eat with your hands.

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Filed under Baked, Main Dish

Votemeal Cookies

Today’s the day! If you’re reading this, take a break and go vote. If you’ve already voted, great! You may continue reading for a truly inspirational cookie recipe.

I’m presenting friends, family, coworkers, and you, dear reader, with these delicious oatmeal chocolate cookies to say thanks for voting. There are few things as important to the health of our nation, and few things can make you feel as much a part of the community. Even if you don’t consider yourself especially political, the simple act of casting a ballot renews your stake in the country. It’s the clearest way to say, yes, I am part of this community and my opinion matters.

It’s especially important to vote if you feel ignored or cheated by the government, if your values are under-represented, if you disagree with the laws being passed and the way those laws are enforced. This is a duty to the country, but it is also a duty to yourself. If you take part in choosing who represents you, then they are accountable to you. So thank you for voting, and making sure the people in office are the ones we choose.

This is my tried-and-true oatmeal cookie recipe, a combination of my favorite cookie characteristics. So these cookies are not dense and cakey, thin and crunchy, or soft and soggy – they’re crisp on the outside and soft inside with bursts of chocolate and cinnamon. I’m also including Ian’s recipe for spicy cinnamon glaze, which makes the cookies unforgettable.

Here’s hoping we’re about to start four years of responsible, accountable, trustworthy leadership. And delicious cookies, of course.

Votemeal Cookies

  • 1 stick of butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

Preheat oven to 325. Beat butter and sugar together in a stand mixer or with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gently stir in flour until there are just a few white streaks, then mix in oats. Stir in chocolate chips. Form tablespoon-sized balls of dough on baking sheets, and bake 8-10 minutes, rotating trays halfway through. When completely cool, drizzle cookies with glaze. Serve to fellow voters, and make sure to eat two or three yourself to keep up your strength for the long night of poll-watching ahead. Makes 24 cookies, can be doubled and still fit comfortably in a KitchenAid.

Ian’s Cinnamon Cider Glaze

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbs apple cider

Stir all ingredients together until smooth. You may need a tiny bit more cider, so increase the liquid 1/2 tsp at a time. This is enough glaze for a judicious drizzle on each cookie, but if you want to slather your cookies, by all means, double the recipe.

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Filed under Baked, Recipe, Sweets

Nectarine Clafoutis

After emerging from a 3 hour meeting on Thursday, I wanted to relax with some baking, but still had lots of work to do. I just needed to do something that made me feel comfortable and competent, and had immediately visible results. Preferably delicious results to buoy the spirits and blood sugar of my exhausted coworkers.

So I tossed together a quick clafoutis with a few things likely to be in the office fridge at any given time: eggs, milk, fancy product samples, and my latest cache of greenmarket fruit. Of course, since there are no measuring cups or spoons in the office kitchen I had to estimate amounts and bake my clafoutis in a skillet instead of a pie plate or souffle dish, but that just attests to the flexibility and forgiving nature of this dessert. And it’s very quick to mix and bake, so I was able to get it in and out of the oven in well under an hour.

Now that I’m sure I can make it at work whenever need be, I feel a little better about all the late nights we’re about to pull in preparation for our biggest event of the year. After that, I’m going to take my nectarines home and bake them into coffee cakes and pies at a leisurely pace.


Nectarine Clafoutis (loosely adapted from a memory of Julia Child’s recipe)

  • 3 nectarines, sliced thinly
  • 1/3 c flour
  • 1/3 c sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • faint grating of nutmeg, about 1/8 tsp
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs hazlenut oil
  • 1 c milk
  • 2 Tbs Saint-Germain elderflower liqueur

Preheat the oven to 375. Put the butter in a 10-inch skillet in the warming oven. Whisk 1/2 c sugar, flour, salt, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Then whisk in the eggs. Take the skillet out of the oven and pour the butter into the egg mixture and whisk in along with the oil. Use a paper towel to rub the remaining melted butter over the bottom and sides of the skillet. Slowly pour the milk and liqueur into the batter, whisking all the while. Sprinkle a little sugar on the buttered pan. Pour about a quarter of the batter into the pan and bake about 5 minutes, just until set. This creates a base to keep the fruit from adhering to the bottom of the pan. Remove skillet from oven, and arrange the nectarine slices over the batter skin. Gently pour the remaining batter over the slices, re-arranging them if any float out of place. Bake 20 – 30 minutes, until center is set and edges are golden. Remove from oven and sprinkle with just enough sugar to make it sparkle. Serve warm or room temperature.

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Rhubarb, Repeated

It’s like I have a one-track mind in spring, and that track is laid with slender pinkish stalks and leads inevitably to the oven.  I’m talking about rhubarb, of course, and my favorite (easiest!) preparation, the oven-baked compote.  So last week at the greenmarket, I was compelled to buy yet another pound-plus of the crunchy, tart, plant.  I had all kinds of glorious plans, but by the time I got home, I only had energy to chop it and toss it with some sugar before collapsing.

When the compote was meltingly soft, about an hour later, it occurred to me that rhubarb would make a delicious, silky sorbet, what with all its pink and earthy flavor and high pectin content.  So I puréed the compote with a cup of Vigonier that had been wasting away in the fridge, and ran the resulting slush through my ice cream maker.

The sorbet was delicious.  Just sweet enough to balance the tartness of the rhubarb and the crisp wine.  Somehow the wine brought a note of spice and sophistication, and thanks to the long, slow cooking process, the rhubarb fibers melted into the gelatinous purée.  I’m already thinking of how to improve this recipe when I make it again (though there’s still a half-full quart container in my freezer).  I think I’d opt for less wine next time and maybe a few drops of rose water.  I meant to put that in this time, but forgot.  I think adding some berries to the rhubarb would also be nice, as would agave nectar instead of sugar or two tablespoons gin instead of the wine.  It’s a pity rhubarb season is so short and my freezer so small — otherwise, I’d make a variation on this sorbet at least once a week.

Rhubarb Sorbet

1 1/4 pounds rhubarb, washed, trimmed, and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces (or use a mixture of rhubarb and berries)

3/4 c sugar

1 1/2 c crisp, fruity white wine ( I used an Argentinian Vigonier, but a California Pinot Grigio or Provenςal Rosé would be nice, too)

2 tsp rose water (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350.  In a pyrex loaf pan, toss the rhubarb and sugar.  Bake about 1 hour, until the rhubarb falls apart when stirred. Cool to room temperature.

Purée the rhubarb with a food processor or immersion blender and add the wine and rose water gradually.  Chill the mixture overnight, then run through ice cream maker.

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Caramel Coulant

I haven’t posted in over a week, as I’ve barely been able to cook anything more interesting than oatmeal. Yes, I have so-called reasons: I’m at work most of the day and trying to see my friends in the evening, and there was that appetite-negating heat wave. But it’s all just an elaborate excuse for not sticking to my guns. Oh, for shame!

The worst of it is, I’ve been neglecting this recipe for The Wednesday Chef‘s role-reversal project. I’ve had the Caramel Coulant recipe in hand almost a month without doing so much as buying a half-pint of cream. I finally made it a few days ago and took some pictures, and I’m glad to have at least one recipe checked off the infinite to-do list.

Thanks to Luisa for implementing this Freaky Friday-esque scheme. Swing by her site for full disclosure!

And just for posterity, here’s the recipe.

Caramel Coulant
For the caramel sauce:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1 ½ tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup milk

For the coulant:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Pinch of fleur de sel
  • ¼ cup plus 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup cake flour
  • 2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine the sugar and ¼ cup water in a pot. Do not stir. Cook over medium-high heat to a dark caramel, swirling as it begins to brown to distribute the sugar. Reduce the heat to low and deglaze with the cream, standing back to avoid bubbling caramel. Add the butter and milk. (It will bubble again.) Stir until well incorporated. Let cool. (The sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated.)
2. Spray 5, 4-ounce ramekins with cooking spray; cover the inside of the ramekin with sugar and remove excess. Place on a sheet pan.
3. Make the coulant by warming 1/3 cup caramel sauce in a medium saucepan; then stir in the butter and fleur de sel. Off the heat, stir in the sugar, then flour, then eggs, adding the next just after the prior has been combined. Pour the mixture two-thirds of the way into each ramekin. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, turning the sheet pan halfway through, until the shell is cakelike but the center is flowing. Let cool. When ready to serve, rewarm the cakes in the ramekins for a few minutes. Place a serving plate over the ramekin and flip it to release the coulant. Serve with salted caramel ice cream.

Serves 5. Adapted from Nicole Kaplan at Eleven Madison Park, New York.

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Filed under Baked, Pantry, Recipe, Sweets