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Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category

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A picture from our wedding reception.
© Derek Poore – Table design by Jaclyn Journey – Catering by Mirabelle.

The last year was a pretty major one. I bought a house with the cheese-grater extraordinaire, and we got married. Between packing up our only recently merged life and planning a wedding, blogging was at the bottom of my to-do list.

But 2013 is a new year. While making a list of household goals inspired by Apartment Therapy’s January cure, I started thinking about other goals for the year ahead. This is a short list and includes setting a budget with my sous-chef for life, and to keep up my blog.

I don’t have a cooking experience to share today, but I’m instead presenting a list of recipes that have caught my eye over the last year that I want to make soon. By the way readers, how do you save recipes you see online? I try to either star them in my blog reader, or email them to myself. Sometimes I forget to include the link though… So here’s a list of things I hope to cook in 2013 – maybe you will be inspired to try some too.

North End Cafe’s Eggplant Casserole and Spicy Lentils, from the Courier Journal. I love the Wednesday edition of the Courier-Journal because it includes the food and dining section, which includes reader-requested recipes from area restaurants. I love the North End Cafe for it’s eclectic, tasty menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Eggplant casserole is my favorite thing to order at the restaurant and is one of my favorite dishes in the city. It is reliably comforting, spicy, and hearty. I was thrilled to see the recipe printed. The Courier also printed one of my requests for a recipe I submitted last year for El Mundo’s spicy black bean dip. I will be making this soon.

In the winter, sometimes I struggle to figure out ways to incorporate fresh fruit into my normal breakfast routines like oatmeal, peanut butter toast, and yogurt. In the summer, it’s easy to top yogurt and with berries and easy to top toast with apples and pears in the fall. This recipe for Winter Citrus Compote for Yogurt or Oatmeal looks like a great way to use citrus fruit as a breakfast topper.

I’ve been wanting to make Snobby Joes – or meat-free sloppy joes for a while. Maybe 2013 will be the year.

I haven’t made biscotti since I tried it one Christmas break when I was in college. I followed a pretty basic recipe for anise-scented biscotti. I don’t like black licorice and did not realize until after I made the cookies that anise tastes like black licorice. This recipe for Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti looks more promising for my tastes.

Spicy Lentil Wraps with Tahini Sauce – this looks like a great recipe for make-ahead lunches.

We have some CSA beef filets in our freezer. I’d like to make this.

I love this post on making your own birthday cake. I’d like to try making my own birthday cake this year.

I will report back as I check things off my “to-cook” list.

Have a healthy and happy 2013.

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We’ve reached the end of the stollen story, and really, it’s pretty anticlimactic. After two days of resting, you sprinkle on about another 1/2 cup to a whole cup of powdered sugar, slice, serve, and enjoy. It isn’t the prettiest or most photogenic of holiday treats, but it istasty.

Moist and tender. Boozy and fruity. Sweet, but not too sweet. It really is a delicious holiday bread. But don’t just take my word for it…

Slate just published an article hailing Stollen as the best Christmas bread. The author, L.V. Anderson, begins the article: “There are certain things Germans do better than everyone else. Not incurring massive amounts of public debt is one of them. Christmas baking is another.” Public finance aside, the article even mentions Melissa Clark’s recipe from 2009, which is the recipe featured here.

Since I began this holiday baking over a week ago, I’ve been feeling a mix of emotions: anticipation as I shopped for the ingredients and soaked the fruit and nuts; excitement as I started mixing the bread; panic and frustration when it all went awry; fear that the bread wouldn’t rise at all after sitting in the refrigerator all night; hope that it would turn out ok; relief when it did; and finally, pride. I succeeded in making an edible, even delicious, holiday stollen. And I shared the experience with you.

I’m  headed home to Iowa Friday, where I’ll be for a few days and I plan to take the second loaf of Stollen home with me. Hopefully my family will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the experience of making it.

I want to wish all of my readers, friends, and loved a very happy, restful, and tasty holiday season.

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holiday stollen – day four

Well friends and readers, the story of the stollen is winding down. In fact, all day four requires is coating the two loaves with 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar, wrapping them well in plastic, and storing for two days before finally serving. Really – the story reached it’s climax in day two – the mixing stage.

The loaves aren’t very pretty (see above), but Chris and I were both tempted to cut into the bread before it had time to “ripen.” We waited.

And you will be waiting too! See you in two days.

Day Four: “Holiday Stollen” by Melissa Clark

After the loaves have sat for 8 hours or overnight, sift 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar over loaves, rolling to coat bottom and sides evenly with sugar. Wrap each loaf in plastic and let sit at room temperature for at least 2 days before serving.

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holiday stollen – day three

Now it’s day three of the holiday stollen baking extravaganza!

After mixing the dough and letting it rise and rest, it is now time to bake the bread. As I mentioned yesterday, I might have been able to do this on the second day but I ran out of time.  Here’s what you do when you are ready to the bake the bread.

Day Three: “Holiday Stollen” by Melissa Clark

If you refrigerated the dough overnight, take out of the refrigerator and let come to room temperature, about 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove plastic covering loaves and bake for about 1 hour. Loaves should look uniformly dark golden brown. As you might notice in the picture above, my loaves ended up a little darker than dark golden brown. I wasn’t too worried because of the vast quantities of butter involved.

While the bread is baking, whisk together  3/4 cup sugar and 2 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger.

When stollen is done, transfer top pan holding loaves to a wire rack (leave stollen on pan). While still hot, brush stollen with remaining 1 cup of melted butter, letting butter soak into loaves. Sprinkle ginger sugar on tops and sides of loaves.

When loaves are completely cool, cover loosely with waxed or parchment paper or foil and let sit at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight.

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holiday stollen – day two

Welcome back for the second installment of my adventures in holiday baking featuring stollen. After shopping for ingredients and letting the nuts and dried fruit soak overnight – I was now ready to actually mix the dough for the bread.

I started mixing the bread last Saturday – but I had a very strict window of time between 10:30 and 3:30 to mix the dough, let it rise, bake it, and glaze it. It was ambitious but doing the math in my head accounting for the rising and baking time, I thought I could make it work in between my spinning class and a play Chris and I were going to attend.

All was going well. I had even mixed up the spices, including grinding cardamom and grating nutmeg the night before to cut down on that time on the mixing day. Then – in my effort to hurry, I misread the recipe and added a full 2 cups (!!!) of melted butter to the dough instead of the one cup. It was ruined.

(By the way – two cups of a butter is a lot! See:

This holiday stollen is certainly an exercise in indulgence. Oh well, it is the holiday season)

Luckily, I had enough spices and flour, and 1/2 of a vanilla bean left, to mix the dough again – paying close attention to the amount of butter added. Then the next challenge arose.

My dough was not coming together. I’ve never wished for a brand-new, super fancy Kitchenaid mixer before last weekend. The recipe says to use a paddle attachment on a standing mixer to mix the dough. Well, I have my mom’s old stand mixer that just has the regular old beater attachments. So that’s what I used. Well the dough was so dry and stiff that it was just not holding together. I even transferred it to my food processor with the dough blade to mix it – but it was way too thick. I was splattering dough everywhere, and working quickly, I was not cleaning as I went. My kitchen turned quickly into a disaster.

And the time kept ticking away. At this rate I was not going to be done with everything in time to leave for the play.

I ended up mixing the dough by hand, slowly… and adding all of the almonds and dried fruits and ginger by hand as well. It was hard work, but it did work.

Finally, the dough was mixed and ready to rise – but I did not have time for it to rise and bake it too. I ended up taking it through the final resting time and then wrapping it in plastic and refrigerating it overnight and planned to bake it the next day. I learned this trick in this helpful post from The Kitchn.

So – plan to spend about 5 or 6 hours putting this bread together today. If you don’t want to continue you could always use those rum-soaked raisins and almonds for bread pudding… or oatmeal?

Day Two: “Holiday Stollen” by Melissa Clark

For planning purposes, I’m posting all of the ingredients here. For those of you in Louisville, you can find find all of the nuts, dried fruit, vanilla beans, and candied ginger (as well as any of the spices and flours you might need), at Nuts n Stuff.

2/3 c. black raisins

2/3 c. golden raisins

1/2 c. dried cherries

1/3 c. dark rum

1 c. slivered almonds, lightly toasted

1 package active dry yeast (1/4 ounce)

1/2 c. milk, at room temperature

4 c. all-purpose flour

3/4 c. plus 3 T. sugar

2 3/4 t. ground ginger

1 t. kosher salt

1 t. ground cinnamon

1 t. ground cardamom

1 t. freshly grated nutmeg

1 t. freshly grated lemon zest

1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and reserved

2 c. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, divided

1 large egg yolk

1/2 c. chopped candied ginger

1/2 c. mixed candied citrus peel (optional, you could omit this and use one cup of the candied ginger)

2 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar

In an electric mixer with paddle (or mixers! – but if you have a paddle, use it), set on low speed, mix yeast with milk until dissolved.

Add 1 cup flour and mix until a soft, sticky dough forms, about 2 minutes. This is the “starter.” Transfer starter to a lightly greased bowl, cover with greased plastic, and let rest for 40 minutes at room temperature.

In an electric mixer with paddle and set on low speed, mix remaining 3 cups of flour, 3 tablespoons of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, lemon zest and vanilla seeds. With motor running, pour in 1 cup (not 2!) melted butter. Mix on slow for 1 minute, then add egg yolk. Mix until liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute more.

Divide starter dough into 3 pieces. Add starter to mixture in bowl, 1 piece at a time, mixing on slow until each addition is thoroughly combined, 2 to 3 minutes after each addition. After starter is absorbed, mix dough on a medium speed until glossy, 4 to 5 minutes. As I mentioned above, my dough never reached this point. It was a crumbly mess – so I turned it out onto a board and kneaded it until it became softer and a little glossier.

Add almonds, candied ginger and citrus peel if using, and mix on slow until combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Add raisins, cherries, and rum and mix on slow until combined, 2 to 3 minutes more (or knead by hand).

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until fruit and nuts are inside dough rather than stuck on surface, and dough is smooth and glossy, about 5 minutes. Place dough in a medium bowl and cover with plastic. Rest for 1 hour to let rise slightly. Then knead it once or twice, cover with plastic and let rest for another hour.

Divide into 2 equal pieces and shape each into an oval loaf about 8 inches long. Stack 2 rimmed baking sheets on top of each other, lining top pan with parchment. Place loaves on doubled pans and cover with plastic. Allow loaves to rest 1 more hour at room temperature.

By this time, I ran out of time. If you run out of time too – just refrigerate the dough after the final rest. You can bring it to room temperature and bake it the next day.

Tomorrow – we’ll bake the bread. But don’t get too excited, you will still have to wait several days before consuming.

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holiday stollen – day one

This last weekend, I embarked on a holiday cooking adventure — I started a six-day project (seven-day if you count the day I bought the ingredients) baking a holiday treat that my mom would not make for me because it was too much of a pain.  This is holiday stollen, a dense, German fruitcake flavored with cardamom, rum, and lots of dried fruit and slivered almonds.

I’d never had a fruit cake I liked until this. Two years ago I saw it featured in the New York Times and knew I wanted to try it. My mom usually takes requests for her holiday baking, and my sister, brother and I each get to choose a treat for her to make. Michael, before his tastes matured, used to request the slice-and-bake Pillsbury sugar cookies. Now he requests peanut butter cookies filled with a mini peanut butter cup. Kristen chooses peanut clusters (right?). That year I chose the stollen. My mom agreed to make it, not realizing what a pain it would be at the time. It was delicious, but I didn’t really appreciate it and all of its complexity. Since then I’ve been baking significantly more and now realize the time and work (and love) my mom put into that holiday bread – just for me.

This year – I found myself craving stollen, so I asked my mom to make it. She said, “Hell no,” or something akin to that. I decided to embark on the culinary adventure myself.

So – in the next several days, I’m going to post pieces of the recipe. In six days, you will have the whole thing. And stay tuned, because I ended up averting what could have been a disaster last weekend.

For those of you that can’t wait 6 days, here’s a link to the original New York Times article. Melissa Clark, one of my favorite recipe-authors, wrote the article and adapted the recipe, so you know it’s going to be good, if you have the patience.

Day One: “Holiday Stollen” by Melissa Clark

For planning purposes, I’m posting all of the ingredients here. For those of you in Louisville, you can find find all of the nuts, dried fruit, vanilla beans, and candied ginger (as well as any of the spices and flours you might need), at Nuts n Stuff.

2/3 c. black raisins

2/3 c. golden raisins

1/2 c. dried cherries

1/3 c. dark rum

1 c. slivered almonds, lightly toasted

1 package active dry yeast (1/4 ounce)

1/2 c. milk, at room temperature

4 c. all-purpose flour

3/4 c. plus 3 T. sugar

2 3/4 t. ground ginger

1 t. kosher salt

1 t. ground cinnamon

1 t. ground cardamom

1 t. freshly grated nutmeg

1 t. freshly grated lemon zest

1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and reserved

2 c. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, divided

1 large egg yolk

1/2 c. chopped candied ginger

1/2 c. mixed candied citrus peel (optional, you could omit this and use one cup of the candied ginger)

2 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar

The day before baking, make sure you have all of your ingredients. And pick a day for baking that you have at least 6 hours to spare.

The night before, mix raisins, cherries and rum in a small container. Mix almonds with 1/4 cup water in another container. Cover both and let sit overnight at room temperature.

That’s it! Now get some rest, you have a big day ahead of you tomorrow.

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As my readers know, I am passionate about cooking delicious, (sometimes) healthy food. But when it comes to expressing that passion on a blog, sometimes life gets in the way.

A busy workload in October, which included a trip to Baltimore, culminated in the deadline for a major project in November. Then I got word that my grandmother’s death was imminent, and I rushed home to Iowa to be with her during her final days. While my amazing, dedicated, and hard-working coworkers picking up the slack, I was able to focus on my family during a difficult week.

Suffice to say, tending to the blog has been the last thing on my mind. Of course, ignoring one’s blog violates the cardinal rule of blogging.

I figure I’ll start back with a simple classic — chocolate chip cookies. What is it about chocolate chip cookies? They are so comforting and wonderful and there are as many variations as there are personal tastes. After my Nanny died, my mom’s three cousins brought over a lasagna dinner, which included homemade chocolate chips cookies (in addition to salad, bread, and huge pans of lasagna). These cookies were amazing. They were pale in color and crisp, without being hard. They were also thick, without being too dry or cake-like. That evening I asked the cousin for the recipe. She said she uses the traditional, Nestle Toll House recipe, but ups the amount of baking soda and swaps Crisco for the butter.

After the Thanksgiving festivities, Chris and I returned to Louisville Thursday night, and deciding we did not indulge enough in turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, I decided to try the tweaked recipe for the cookies.

They were good, but did not have the same thick, dense, but not too-dense consistency I remembered. They were thinner, like the batter may have been thinner from the start. Next time, I’ll try adding a little more flour and will report back.

Thanks for sticking with me through this.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup Crisco, vegetable shortening

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I actually used Ghirardelli chocolate chips instead of Nestle)

1 cup chopped pecans (nuts are optional, could also use walnuts or another nut of your choice)

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Whisk together and set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Gradually beat in flour mixture. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts. Drop by overflowing tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets.Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

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