All posts filed under: Baking

Open Sesame! ~ Not Chocolate, Not Peanut Butter Cookies

“I’d kill for a peanut butter cup.” It hasn’t helped that the Comet Halloween just whizzed past us tossing chocolate & peanut debris in it’s wake… nor that the typhoon “Winter Holiday” is churning out in the distance, chocked full of every imaginable forbidden delight in that never-ending advertising rotation, hitting the airwaves every… fifteen… minutes. Luckily, I’ve been able to igg out  a few small miracles. Watkin’s makes an impressive imitation chocolate extract. It’s not quite chocolate (being made from yeast), but it does give you the impression that you’ve doused the kitchen in chocolate liquor… and it does trick the mind a bit… just as long as you don’t think of it as Bosco. And, I’ve had a moderate amount of success with Tahini replacing peanut butter in savory situations for satays, peanut butter marinades, and an odd bout of mixing it with blue cheese for Ants on a Log… but, never anything sweet. I guess it’s about time. And, yes… they’re every bit as good as the ones we can’t even think about eating.  In …

Bread Whore ~ School Rolls

Except for a brief period of time when Jane went to Marietta High (she still attests that the meals cooked in any one of the three – count’em, 3  dining rooms – were stellar food),  school lunches have always been a point of contention. We bitch about the pseudo protein nuggets they currently feed our kids and the layers upon layers of overly sweetened,  deep fried “easy way out” meals that most systems have allowed to overtake the meal program. Years ago, we weren’t any better. Even though we had real, actual, lunch ladies – that cooked real, actual  meals; we still found the fuel and energy to moan about the worm-like spaghetti with the sauce that congealed before you got it back to the table, or the odd, flat meatloaf that more resembled scouring pads than actual meat. Every generation has it’s pressure point. …Except when it came to the bread. Most schools made their own bread; ours was no different. I bet every person that when to school when I did can remember splitting …

English Seed Cake

Looking back, I guess the cake all started as a way to get the four of us to sit still while she read. During the summer break, Jane would spend an hour,  one afternoon a week,  reading to us. In part, to keep the house from being destroyed as we moved play inside to avoid the heat when afternoon summer temps arched to sweltering highs… but, more over to guide our reading interests to more adult literature. That summer in particular, she read The Hobbit.. As you know, the stories are full of multiple meals, Elevensies, teas, cakes and the such. As a way of getting us in the mood she researched a seed cake made with caraway (a typical tea cake). We noshed on it as they left the Shire and headed on their adventure. Truth be told, I never really cared for it. Caraway seeds in cake just never translated to delicious for me. Jane however, loved it and made it long after the story concluded and we moved on to more contemporary adventures. With the success …

All that Lemony Goodness ~ #10

The other day while Jane was doing a bit of research, she came across the little jewel of information that hazelnuts aren’t the same thing as other tree nuts. Meaning – supposedly, she should be able to eat them and not have to hop on the train to Crazytown. I bought a small (1 cup) pack of dry-roasted chopped nuts, gave her a teaspoon to eat… and waited…. Nada.. Encouraged..Elated…Excited… I decided to make her up a batch of Trisha Yearwood’s Pecan Pie Muffins (you know… using hazelnuts). Because you all know that with her particular food triggers, anything I can do to make her life suck a little less – I’m going to do. Well…. we were a bit premature in our assessment. Hazelnuts didn’t effect her cognitive functions, the problem was much further down the pike (if you get what I mean)…. I had to toss them out. So why am I talking nuts when this is about lemony goodness? Because lemon is my go to for her. She loves lemon almost as much as …

Fifteen Steps

Some years ago I read a study where a group of fluid physicists determined the number of steps it would take before you sloshed coffee out of a cup…. that number – depends on length of your leg / width of your gait … the rhythm, if you will, of a standard walk. And for most people – that number is somewhere between 7 and 10. Mine is 15…. how do I know? Well, I counted… years before that study was ever published.    And, I didn’t even need a special grant or a college sanctioned study to come to that. I’ve counted crap all my life. The number of trees lining the driveway; the number of steps in a particular marching band routine; the number (and ratio) of off-colored tiles in a backsplash – and subsequently, the number of broken tiles in a box; the number of stories in a building. Over and over, from every angle and direction. Suffice to say, I loved physical china, glass, silverware inventory time in the hotel – stacks …

Tales of Woe ~ that Madeira Tart

I’ve always wanted to make a Bakewell Tart. But, with our particular allergy set, ground almonds in anything is just asking for trouble.  Back around the first of February, I came across this recipe for Irish Bakewell Buns. The ingenious thing is – unlike a traditional Bakewell Tart,  she didn’t use ground almonds… she used a Madeira sponge for the topping. Okay..fine.. I skimmed the recipe – saw the word Madeira – and my monkey brain said, “How cool! Madeira wine instead of almonds! … just the thing to give that nutty, rich flavor without dealing with the consequences of tree nuts.” If you’re from the UK – you already know where this is headed… feel free to bury your face in your hands. Anyway… I ran out and scoured the mountainside for Madeira to make those lovely buns. It wasn’t easy… it took me nearly 3 weeks to locate a bottle.  It appears Madeira isn’t terribly popular up here in the hills. Then, it was time to make the buns…. The thing is… Madeira Sponge Cake …

The Hybrid Portuguese Broa

Now, about that loaf… What began as a way to get a better English Muffin, evolved into something even more fantastic than I really could imagine. As you read earlier, I was out to make a modified starter – which we did, and succeeded in that task. What came next was to modify the dough to impart more flavor. To do that, I borrowed a lot from a standard  sourdough recipe utilizing a long slow refrigerated proof and by adding a certain amount of corn flour (superfine milled corn meal) to the mix as well. Tasting the dough, I knew I was on to something. So, I decided to check around through my books and see if there was an actual existing loaf like what I was creating. There is…. kinda… sorta. This is basically a Portuguese Broa loaf. Although mine has the addition of the starter.. and  less corn flour, and there is less sugar than in a traditional loaf…. then there’s the whole 24 to 36 hour cooler rise going on… So…yeah… kinda, but …

Bread Whore ~ The Modern English Muffin

The other week, out of the blue, Jane says, “I’ve been trying to think what this thing is called…” “What thing..” “Breakfasty, brunchy kind of thing” “What’s in it” Poached eggs and an English muffin…” “Oh, it’s an Eggs Benedict.” She thanked me – obviously it had been nagging at her head for days. A couple of days later…. a repeat of the initial Q & A. Then, last week… “What’s that thing again?” “Eggs Benedict… Do you want one?” “Well… yes. If it’s not a lot of trouble.” Trouble… considering the hoops I have to jump through navigating Jane’s growing food allergies, something like an eggy thing shouldn’t be very high up on the difficulty list. However, all English Muffins contain either soy… or unsafe dairy… or an unrecognizable oil… or a combination of all three. So, getting to the Benedict was going to take some work. Trouble… I poked around several recipes.  There are ones that sound and look like thick, doughy pancakes. There are a couple that have you making your own starter – …

Something Fishy Going on…

There are rules – Never run with scissors,,,, Look both ways before crossing the street… Never burn bridges with a former employer… Don’t stick your finger in the electrical outlet… Never.. Ever cook cheese with fish…. … And while with most of those there is some bit of common sense going on, it’s that bit about cheese & fish that’s never rang very true. I mean, every fish sandwich out there has a big ol’ slice of cheddar on it – and tuna melts are just bubbling with melted Swiss. So, why is it that culinary snobs the world over pale and froth at the mouth about cheese and fish….. Eh, I’ll never know. But, that question brings us to tonight’s recipe. I’ve been seeing a resurgence of an old dinner mainstay lately – The Mayo / Parmesan Crusted Chicken. I hadn’t eaten it in years, so when it came time to work up the week’s dinner menu, I thought – “why the hell not?”    You know, it was delicious! I mean… really delicious…. kinda …

Orange Snowballs

YEARS ago, I got on a kick making glasee oranges. I made them by the buckets full. I put them in jars and admired the little translucent orbs for months… then I started giving them away. Here’s the thing with making obscure condiments, unless you have a commercial kitchen or a standing waiting list of people wanting said obscure condiment (I have neither) … it’s a complete waste of time and material. I eventually gave away most of the jars. I did keep one… oh, just because. I thought I’d eventually find a reason to use them.    Oddly enough, that reason presented itself today. Getting ready to make another batch of those killer lemon cookies, I realized I didn’t have something very important…. lemons. And, since this is Gold Rush Weekend here in Dahlonega, I wasn’t about to go anywhere near town. Deflated, I prowled through the pantry; halfheartedly trying to convince myself I could make the cookies with a can of fruit cocktail…. when I spied the lone dusty jar of glasee oranges …