Tuesday, December 17, 2013


These little cookies required making a very simple dough, a very sticky simple dough.  Even after time in the fridge it was still a bit sticky to handle.  I followed the advice of fellow Tuesday with Dorie bakers and switched the process a bit.  Instead of rolling and cutting out shapes, I simply rolled it into a log and sliced the cookies from that.  It made a rather few small round gingersnaps.

They made odd gingersnaps as they were not too gingery and they lacked any snap.  They were more molasses-y  and chewy.  They were ok but not my first or even third pick in any given holiday cookie line up.

Addendum: I made a second batch of these with the leftover frozen dough.  We cut them out into gingerbread men and frosted and decorated a few.  They were much better this way.  I think it removed them from the "gingersnap" category and put them into the "gingerbread cookie" category in my head, which just made a lot more sense.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013


I went through a bread baking phase about 20 years ago.  Regardless of my efforts the loaves turned out quite dense and rather bland.  All of them, except Challah, which always came out soft, moist and flavorful.  And the braid was always beautiful.  So for awhile, I went through a phase of making Challah.

This past Thanksgiving weekend brought back memories of green bean casseroles and buttery mashed potatoes and delicious pumpkin pies.  I have let most of those recipes trail off in the past years, favoring them for newer, fresher dishes and desserts.  But like, Challah, maybe some of those are worth bringing back.

And here's Rhiannon.

For links to fellow baker's creations in the Tuesdays with Dorie cooking group, click here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Double Chocolate Cookies

Ok, so I slacked on the Pumpernickel loaves from two weeks ago, but I could not pass up Double Chocolate cookies even it is nearing the crazy prep time of Thanksgiving.   I have been baking endlessly it feels like, just not on the Tuesdays with Dorie schedule as of late.   My freezer is full of pizza dough balls, galette rounds, pie crust rounds... all awaiting their Thanksgiving debut.

But onto Double Chocolate cookies.  These are pretty incredible cookies, definitely brownie-like in their crumb and filled with melty chunks of chocolate.  And not too much more difficult or time-intensive than a regular cookie recipe, especially with the use of a mixer to whip up the eggs and sugar.  The recipe calls for quite a bit of chocolate lending a richness to these, and the hint of coffee with instant espresso powder adds nice depth.

This may make it into my keeper book of recipes...  and that is hard to do.

the whipped sugar and eggs

the melted butter and chocolate

the end product prior to baking

To see other's bakers' renditions of this recipe, check out Tuesdays with Dorie for their links.

Rhiannon painting away.

Monday, November 18, 2013

X Cookies

So I am a little behind with the baking group, Tuesdays with Dorie, but not as behind as my blog shows.  I did do the X cookies from about a month ago but was too late in posting.  I did bail on the Pumpernickel; maybe I will do that one when I have a little bit of extra time.  The X cookies were enough of a challenge.

They required putting two recipes together- the dough and the filling.  Neither one is very difficult, and the dough is the same one we used for Pizza Rustica which I just loved.  It has this sweet flavor to it that is irresistible.  The filling I had to improvise a bit as I forgot the figs at the grocery store.  I put them in a bag, was weighing them and then had to scramble to stop my kids from sticking their hands into the bulk bins.  In that scramble, I forgot the figs.  I didn't have enough dates either, so I used cranberries and added lemon zest to make up for my lack of candied orange peel.  The filling was less than stellar the way I made it.  I would like to try these again with the proper filling as I absolutely love fig newtons and if these are anything like them....

The eldest wanted to help with this recipe; he added his own flare by making some of the cookies into candy canes.  He is getting ready for the holidays.

And the youngest, Rhiannon:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Danish Braid

This recipe took me awhile.  I had it on my "to-do" list for the past two weeks but somehow it eluded me.  Things kept getting in the way or rather things were always higher on the "to-do" list, exciting things such as laundry or sorting through winter clothes.  I was having a conversation about this with one of my friends today; how the things I like to do or want to do, often get shoved down on the priority list or maybe not even purposefully shoved down but circumstantially bumped.  I am uncertain how to remedy this for the long term (the answer I am sure, is far greater than the scope of this blog) but yesterday and today I decided to put this at the top of the list and get it done.

The recipe actually requires three recipes or three components: the danish pastry dough, the fruit filling and the "other" filling.  I decided on an apricot filling (I was short on apricots so added in cherries as well) and the almond filling.  The dough I made a day or two ago and just used a pastry cutter to cut in the butter instead of the recommended food processor.  Thank goodness at this point, I took the time to read some of my fellow bloggers' blogs as I would have skipped all the turns (the rolling and the folding) required for this dough.  

The final turn.
Once the dough was chilled and ready, it all came together rather easily.   Fillings were spread into the center, diagonals cut and braided over, egg wash applied and sprinkled with sugar  (I didn't have the almonds).   A short rise and into the oven.  

I imagine this to be a crowd pleaser (I didn't have a crowd to feed it to this time round).  It looks quite fancy and tastes like a perfect breakfast pastry.  And the best part is, I have another dough sheet all ready in the freezer ready to go, for the next time my priorities get rearranged.  

Rhiannon, now 2!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Espresso Profiteroles

This was a three in one recipe.  Yes the recipe states espresso profiteroles only, but embedded in it are three separate recipes: the profiterole itself, cinnamon ice cream and chocolate sauce.   I did by chance happen to read this recipe ahead of time, so I was not left with a trifecta of recipes to do the day before our posts.  Phew.

I made the chocolate sauce a week ahead of time (and snacked on it all week).  This was by far, my favorite part of the three-part-recipe and so easy to make.  I will stash the recipe away as a stand-by chocolate sauce, although I would use less sweetener than called for, as I like the chocolate to come through a bit more than it did.  

I simplified when it came to the ice cream part.  As I do not have an ice cream maker, I simply softened some vanilla ice cream I had and added a teaspoon or so of cinnamon and refroze it.

The profiteroles were surprisingly easy to whip up.  They are made by first making a paste called pate a choux.  I have never made anything quite like it.  It requires heating up milk with sugar, butter to a boil, adding flour and then whipping in eggs one at a time.  And every time an egg is added it all falls apart, but with mixing it comes back together just in time to add another egg.  This paste is then piped warm onto a sheet and baked, making profiteroles.  Now these are petite profiteroles and I wonder what method is use to make the larger ones that I am more familiar with?  Or it's cousin (I am assuming they are related) the cream puff? (Wisconsin State Fair anyone?)  And these profiteroles had a hint of espresso flavor due to a touch of coffee and instant espresso added to the heated milk mixture.

To put all three recipes together was simple.  Slice a profiterole, sandwich ice cream in between top and bottom and drizzle all with warm chocolate sauce.   It was quite delicious all put together: cinnamon, coffee, chocolate.  Seriously difficult to mess up with that combination.

And despite my efforts at being on top of things with this three part recipe, I only managed to take a few not-so-great late night pictures of the whole thing put together.

This post participates in Tuesdays with Dorie.  

Rhiannon almost 2!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Blueberry Muffins

Awhile ago, we lived in Telluride, CO, and living near us were two of our dearest friends.  They were the reason we moved to the boxed in canyon, dead end street town.  Not to say anything disparaging about Telluride, as it is indisputably one of the most beautiful towns in the lower 48.  But food is difficult to come by there.  We traveled to not so nearby Montrose every other week to stock up on goods.  Despite this, our friends never seemed to be short on food, delicious food at that.  If we stopped by their house in the morning, it was par for the course to have fresh waffles or my favorite, fresh, huge blueberry muffins.  

Within a year of our arrival, both couples soon moved from Telluride, we to Portland and they to Austin.   But I have never forgotten those muffins.  I got the recipe and even bought oversized muffin tins to replicate them exactly.  They are nothing extravagant but just right.  They have the perfect crumb and density that I crave in a muffin. 

So, looking at the blueberry muffin recipe in Baking with Julia, I was reluctant to even try it.  It requires a few more steps than the normal muffin recipe and it even states the muffins turn out with a flat top, not at all like my giant overstuffed muffins of Telluride.  

I tried it anyway.  It turned out just fine.  But that's just it, fine.  The crumb is light and cake-like, maybe too light for me, as I am not a big cake fan.  So for cake lovers these may be the perfect recipe.  

As for me I will stick with my friends' recipe.  

Rhiannon on a BC Ferry

This blog participates in Tuesday with Dorie baking group.  See the link for others' experience with this week's recipe.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Eastern Mediterranean Pizza

It is summer.  That means vacation.  That means traveling.  

I missed the last blog posting and recipe, Eastern Mediterranean Pizzas, due to the hardships of summer.  

But now we are back and I wanted to catch up with the Tuesdays with Dorie baking crew.   This recipe takes basic pita bread dough and instead of baking and filling them as tradition, a tomato and lamb topping is placed on top and little "pizzas" are made.  The recipe states, if one wants to omit the lamb, it is possible to just cook up more tomatoes.  Since I am a vegetarian, this is what I did.  

The topping comes out delightful with touches of cinnamon and allspice, but it isn't enough to make the pizzas satisfying; it really does need the lamb or something else.   As my husband stated, it comes off more as a snack than a meal.  And it really took too much effort for a "snack".  But the pita dough is tasty, and I have half a recipe worth in the fridge awaiting this Wednesday's dinner.   Let's hope round two is an actual dinner.

Here's Rhiannon:

Johnny Cake Cobbler

Cobbler is one of those desserts that I have tried and tried again, never settling on one solid recipe, kind of like brownies.  One turns out too watery, to thick, the next one too little topping, the next one too much topping.  So when this one was slated for this week's Tuesday with Dorie, Baking with Julia group, I was excited to try it. Maybe this one would be the one that I hang on to.

First, it calls for prepping the fruit, in this case plums and nectarines (I substituted peaches for the nectarines): slice and mix with an already heated butter and sugar mixture. Then it states to cook it for a  few minutes (maybe a few more) to cook off some of the juices.  

Then, it's time to prep the topping which includes a small amount of fine cornmeal to give it some texture.  Sift the dry ingredients and cut in the butter with a food processor.  (I did this by hand).  Fold in some cream and spread it on the prepared fruit.  This is ideally done in ramekins or small bowls.  I do not have any of the right size, so I went for one big cobbler.

Then into the oven for a short time to bake the topping (the filling is already cooked so it is a very short cooking time compared to most cobblers).  So, this is where I messed up.  I cooked it for 4-5 minutes too short and the topping did not cook through entirely.  We ate some of it anyway this way, and then I experimented and put it back in the oven.   In my experience this never works, to put an already baked  item that has cooled and been cut into, back into the oven to finish cooking.  But it worked!  The topping came out fully cooked and perfectly proportioned to the fruit (I like a lot of topping per fruit).

Is this my go-to cobbler recipe?   I don't think so, but maybe...  I like cooking the fruit ahead of time in order to be able to better control its consistency and flavor, but I also hate cooking it ahead of time; it is one extra step and more dishes.  The topping is great with a light, cornmeal texture and with the richness of cream.  This recipe needs a few more go-arounds before I give up on it.

And Rhiannon...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Summer Vegetable Tart

Summer, summer, summer.  Dinner on the porch.  Cool rose' on ice. This summer vegetable tart fits in beautifully to this scene.  Light but substantial.

The crust is made with phyllo dough, piled on in layers with butter and cracker pepper.  This is then pre-baked while the vegetables are lightly sautéed.   Once the vegetables are done they are lightly tossed with (a lot) of goat cheese and then dumped into the phyllo shell.  The original recipe as written in the Baking with Julia book instructs us to use peppers and mushrooms, which is what I did,  but I can imagine this could be filled with many combinations of summer (and winter) vegetables.

I have a bumper crop of green beans and patty pan squash arriving in my garden right now, and I am imagining another rendition of this tart, but I must say I think I may go back to the galette dough for the base.  The phyllo was fun to try this time, but it is a bit more time consuming, and I enjoy its texture less than the galette dough.

This blog is part of the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group.

Here is Rhiannon enjoying some summer fun.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Baked Yogurt Tart

I am not sure what to write about this recipe from the Tuesdays with Dorie/ Baking with Julia group.  I liked it's simplicity and lightness.  I disliked how underwhelming its flavor was.  And this has nothing to do with the berries, because the berries in Oregon are incredibly insane right now.

Maybe it could use more berries.  Maybe it's because I really just wanted a berry pie to eat those berries, not a baked yogurt filled pie shell with a smattering of berries.

As far as the recipe goes, it is simple.  Start with pre baking a piecrust (mine fell, as you can see), then fill it with a yogurt, flour, eggs, vanilla and sugar mixture.  Top this with berries and some chopped almonds (missing from the picture as I added these after the baking process to avoid burning them).  Bake it all and it's done.  I did bake mine longer than the recipe states, and I still could not imagine flipping this one over (as instructed) as it's center was still a bit loose.  (I would curious to hear if anyone successfully flipped theirs.)

For others stories and pics, see the link above.

Rhiannon camping...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tomato Cheese Galette

I must confess, I made this last summer when we did the berry galette for Tuesdays with Dorie.  I made both as a dinner-dessert combo; what a fabulously summer meal that was.  I plan to recreate it multiple times this summer as soon as my tomatoes ripen.

Until then, I plan on playing with different fillings as this dough/ recipe begs to.  This is my go-to galette dough recipe.  I find it simple and easy to work with, and I love the addition of the cornmeal.   And galettes are so much easier, so much more forgiving to work with than pies.  They are the lazy person's pie. And they are still show-stoppers; perfect to bring over to a BBQ or a small dinner outing.


This recipe is part of the Tuesday with Dorie baking group, baking our way through Baking with Julia, by Dorie Greenspan.

Rhiannon eating an ice cream cone as big as her head.  (At least it had real, fresh strawberries in it.)

Monday, June 3, 2013


Reading through this recipe I thought it would take just a bit of time: the rise times were short and so was the bake time.  But that is just like me, to underestimate the time something takes.   We had a birthday party to go in the afternoon and I had been gone most of the morning.  I thought I could squeeze this cake in, in between lunch and showers and naps and a birthday gift...  first rise, no problem, second rise, I was counting the minutes until I could shove it in the oven in time for us to leave for the party. It was so flat coming out of the oven, but I didn't have time to think about just then.

I came back to the cake later that night and sampled it (thus the wedge removed from the circle- I figured I could fill it in with whipped cream later).  It tasted awful; it tasted rushed.  It tasted yeasty.  But I thought maybe it could be salvaged by simple syrup.  I thought wrong.  I didn't bother with the berries (why waste good berries on this?) and the whipped cream.  Besides it was 10pm. A gross underestimation of time needed.

I am not sure what went wrong, but most likely I rushed that second rise time and I could have used more dough for my larger bundt pan.  Seeing as we will likely do Babas in the future, I am in no hurry to repeat this recipe now.  

Looking at my last 2 posts, it appears I am hopelessly busy, but I'm not.  I'm just choosing poor times to   make these recipes or rather underestimating the time and commitment they take.  Maybe I need to just add an hour on to every recipe to be realistic.  It will be just like what I have done to estimate leaving times with two toddlers. Want to leave at 9? Start getting ready to leave at 8...

Eating berries meant for the Savarin!
This post is part of the Tuesdays with Dorie, Baking with Julia group.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Savory Brioche Pockets

I should not have done this recipe...  not at this moment... not this past weekend.

With a sick husband.
With my parents out of town.
With a house full of 5 guests.

But it is done.

And it doubled as dinner (even if my kiddos didn't eat it).
And it utilized sage and chives from my garden.
And it reminded how much I love working with and eating brioche dough.

This post is a part of Tuesdays with Dorie/ Baking with Julia cooking group.  See our host, Carrie at Loaves and Stitches, for the full recipe.

And here is Rhiannon!