This is the hardest part of the recipe, I promise

I made a Dutch Baby. Or maybe it’s not a Dutch baby; it’s just a big apple pancake. I’m not entirely clear on the difference, but boy was it delicious. Really, so darned good. And pretty, but I’m afraid you’re going to have to take my word on that. I always saw these going by to other tables on visits to the Original Pancake House, but I never had the patience to order one. They take extra time, and I wait for no pancake.

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One of the first things newly gluten-free people learn how to bake is flourless peanut butter cookies. They’re easy, taste familiar, and comfort you that just because you can’t eat gluten anymore doesn’t mean that you’ll never enjoy homemade cookies again. However, since I was taking dessert to a party that was going to be attended by several hot-stuff bakers, I didn’t want to show up with plain old peanut butter cookies. I needed something with a little wow and a lot of decadence. There needed to be crunch, sparkle, a hit of salt. There needed to be chocolate.

Peanut Butter Cookies

3 cups crunchy peanut butter
2 cups white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup any GF flour mix
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 eggs

Cream together peanut butter and sugars, stir in baking powder and flour until incorporated. Mix in eggs, one at a time. Refrigerate dough for an hour.

Scoop dough up by rounded tablespoons full, roll in white sugar, and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Criss-cross with a fork. Bake at 325° for about 8 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool the rest of the way.

Chocolate Frosting

This chocolate frosting recipe is right off the side of a Hershey’s cocoa box.

1 4-oz stick of butter
2/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Melt butter and stir in cocoa until smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar, alternating with milk, until desired texture is reached. Beat in vanilla and salt.

Assemble cookie sandwiches:

Place about a tablespoon of frosting on the flat side of one cookie. Put another cookie on top and gently press down until the frosting comes nearly to all edges. Place on a cookie sheet. When all sandwiches are made, refrigerate for about 30 minutes to set frosting. Before serving, sprinkle a little coarse kosher salt over each sandwich.

Stand back and watch fisticuffs ensue. Makes about 2 dozen cookie sandwiches.

 

 

Pre-deflation cake

Last weekend, we made our annual pilgrimage up to Oak Glen’s apple farms. Last year, the apple crop wasn’t strong enough to sustain their usual u-pick operations, so we were happy to see that this year there was a healthy crop of fruit-laden trees. Right now, they have Granny Smith, Red Rome, and Red Delicious ready for picking, but it changes as the season progresses. We picked a peck of all three (after surreptitiously taste- testing the Red Delicious to make sure they were as different from the supermarket examples of that variety as we hoped — they were, crunchy and sweet, with a little tartness). We used up all our cash paying for the apples we picked, and then it was downhill from there. My husband left his Visa at home, I couldn’t use mine because some fool in Florida made a counterfeit card to fund his $5/gallon gas habit, and the yummy barbecue place didn’t take AmEx. But at least we had apples. Lots and lots of apples.

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First of all, I should level with you: Proud Chicagoan though I may be, I think pizza crust is kind of a waste of space.  As far as I’m concerned, pizza is just a vehicle for an explosion of concentrated flavor in the form of toppings.  Why would you fill up on bread, I can never help but wonder, when you’re just going to crowd out the delightful, carefully assembled cast of meat/cheese/vegetables/fruit/sauce that makes a pizza, you know, a pizza?

With all that in mind, I was pretty thrilled when I got a pizza stone as a Christmas gift a few years ago and discovered Peter Reinhart’s Neo-Neapolitan Pizza Crust recipe shortly thereafter.  Neapolitan-style pizza is right up my alley: An extremely crunchy, cracker-thin crust that takes a backseat to a precise balance of toppings, all fresh, and all calculated to deliver maximum flavor from minimal real estate.  Even better?  The key to Neapolitan pizza is to get your oven rocket hot, so they finish cooking in around ten minutes.
Reinhart’s crust recipe is particularly appealing for a number of reasons: 1) It’s so ridiculously stupid-easy that even I, the worst baker on earth, have never managed to screw it up; 2) It turns out so tasty that even the crust enthusiasts among my acquaintance (and there are some) give it high marks; and 3) It freezes like a dream, which is most relevant today, as I recently unearthed a buried frozen crust and invited a friend over for dinner, which gave rise to the pie you’re looking at.

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Fig upside-down cake

No spam was harmed in the taking of this picture.

We have this thing in our house. Whenever the kids are giving us a hard time about food — you know, won’t choose a snack, can’t decide what they want — we offer them figs. Figs figs figs. Sometimes we throw in some Spam. Figs and Spam Spam and figs. For some reason lost to time, they find the idea of figs hilarious and kind of disgusting. Figs figs figs. Read the rest of this entry »

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Everyone loves the traditional NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Cookie recipe. Sure. But do we really have to stick so closely to it? If we add a few things, will the NTHCCCC* come down on us like a ton of bricks? There is really only one way to find out. Read the rest of this entry »

If you are like me (and I think you probably are),  your tomatoes haven’t been very good this year.  In fact they probably haven’t ripened at all, and here you are at the beginning of October with a bunch of green tomatoes to dispose of and a distinct lack of options.

I have always been vaguely disdainful of the whole fried green tomatoes idea. Anything tastes good when you coat it in eggs and breadcrumbs and fry it 1/2 an inch of oil.  That does not impress anyone. This will. Read the rest of this entry »

tartredux1

Of course they were on sale. Strawberries, $1.25 a pound; blueberries, $1.25 a pint. I bought five of each and made the hell out of some jam, and when I was done, there were leftover berries. What to do with them? The answer seemed obvious: Make a tart.

I live about two blocks from my office, and smack-dab in the middle of that short distance is the Whole Foods, a gleaming, delightful emporium of products that someone more ethical than me would be able to figure out a way to afford. I, on the other hand, merely wander its aisles occasionally marveling at the otherworldliness, and/or run in there begrudgingly when I realize I’ve run out of sugar halfway through jam-making and don’t have time to drive to a cheaper store. Whole Foods: my corner bodega.

Anyway, one of the many things I covet at Whole Foods is their tarts. Behind the gleaming, curved glass of the pastry counter, they beckon me with their bright colors and perfect sugar glaze. And they are like $4.99 for a two-bite tart. Now, I will not lie and tell you I have never succumbed. Even the stingiest coupon maven has to throw caution to the wind sometime. But I simply cannot justify the frequent consumption of those tarts.

When berries are on sale, though, I can damn sure make my own.

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Did you know that, according to the Southern Rockland Co. Center for Wheatberry Studies, 99.99% of all Americans are not getting their recommended daily allowance of wheatberries? And according to the Wheatberry Institute at the State University of New York at Pulldata Myasse, just one serving of wheatberries a day can lead to higher levels of energy, youthful high-spiritedness and increased sexytude? Not to mention their effect on bowel regularity. So, as part of my work for the National Association for the Advancement of Wheatberry Consumption, I am dedicating the following blog post to the delicious fruit of the wheat tree, the wheatberry.

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Beff inspired me, and so I made blueberry jam.

Jamjam2

I am eating this RIGHT NOW. Are you jealous? I don’t blame you. I finished this jam about midnight last night, and all I have been saying since then is “I made jam! I made jam! I made jam! I made jam! Hey, [Husband], did you know I made jam? I MADE JAM!”

But seriously, y’all, this is delicious. And frugal! I did what Beff said and followed the instructions inside the pectin, but here are the details if you are curious:

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