Friday, December 14, 2012

Carrot Cake Oatmeal

There is finally frost on the ground this morning. Unless I've missed something, this is the first day that has happened this winter! Now, the only thing this house is missing, is a fireplace. Excuse me while I add that to my deal maker list for our forever home someday...

On these chilly mornings, a warm breakfast and a hot cup of coffee or tea is absolutely mandatory. This little bowl of heaven is one I haven't had in a while but have fond memories of making with a friend in TX and I am happy it is making a comeback in our lives. It is lightly sweetened, devastatingly fragrant and very filling for getting through these long days anticipating the upcoming holidays!

Speaking of that, back to party prep for me! If you're in DC, swing on by Tilden, we'll be decked out in festive gear, sipping Glogg, and munching on homemade marshmallows, macarons and, gingerbread cake!                  

Carrot Cake Oatmeal
Serves 2

2 medium sized carrots, finely grated
1 cup almond milk (or regular)
1/2 cup oats (instant or slow oats work just fine)
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbs maple syrup
2 tbs golden raisins
a sprinkling of crushed walnuts

- In a small sauce pan, add milk, salt, and spices and raise the heat to about medium. Whisk to avoid scalding and once steam begins to roll off the milk, add in the carrots and oats. Allow to simmer on low, whisking often, for about five minutes or until looking creamy. Stir in the remaining ingredients and serve!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

GF Sweet Potato Biscuits with Vanilla Bean Honey Butter

    Santa came early! Hoo!! Thanks, Kelly! xo

Gluten free brunch-for-dinner with friends around a Christmas tree? That's what I call a fun Friday night!

I'm not really trying to make everything that I love gluten free as much as I am just trying to eat whole foods, but I figure a few things here and there as a special treat are totally worth it. These little biscuits were quite tasty and met my standard for gf deliciousness. And they were hassle free, as far as biscuits go. It's time for brunch. Get to work!

GF Sweet Potato Biscuits
Makes about 15

1 cup baked sweet potato (for quick results, pierce a sweet potato and place in the microwave for 5 minutes or until tender)
1 1/3 cups gluten free all purpose flour
2/3 cup cornmeal
1 tbs baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup salted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup buttermilk or substitute such as a tbs of vinegar mixed with almond milk, allow to curdle
1/4 cup honey

- Preheat oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. With a food processor, mix the dry ingredients until incorporated, pulse in cold butter until it appears to be coarse meal. Add in sweet potato, buttermilk and honey. The dough will be wet. Flop it out onto a saran-wrapped baking sheet, cover and refrigerate for thirty minutes. Cut with a biscuit cutter and bake for 15-18 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. I needed mine to be warmed up again, so I did a little under baking and reheated them to crisp them up for later!

Vanilla Bean Honey Butter

1/2 stick of butter
1/8 cup honey
1/4 vanilla bean beans

- In a stand mixer, whisk the butter until creamy. Add in other ingredients, refrigerate until ready to use, at which point you can allow to sit out at room temperature for about thirty minutes before serving.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Getting It Together

How is it that when you're sick for a while, it is just quite simply impossible to have normal days or even imagine what it would be like to have them ever again?

"Normal" becomes some annoying blob in my memory of events and moments that I look back on with fondness, recalling the perfection of those times. But how absurd. Because in reality, most moments at the time are surrounded by lurking discontent. That ever-pestering, nagging need for perfection is always on my mind. Living in the moment is usually something I leave to the birds.

But when you feel like your guts have been removed from inside of your body, run over by a truck in a dirty road, then stuffed back inside of you to fend for themselves, perspective changes. And although I don't quite get why I have to be plagued with this thing, I have begun to realize that it is a pretty solid reminder of the fact that happiness is a choice. And that I'm pretty lousy at being thankful because I am so preoccupied with gaining perfection in one thing or another at any  given moment.

So, I've been attempting to pull myself together in the last week or so. I've realized that the people and things I am blessed enough to have in my life are all pretty amazing and inspirational.

And that's just it! Inspiration. It makes all of the difference.

Recently, I've been most inspired by the rare chance to play for important people with incredible musicians on the most wonderful instrument of my life. That also provides perspective and a new lease on practicing, I tell you what. And I'll tell you more about that if you ask, of course!

But on ordinary days when I feel like giving up, I am reminded of those small things in life that are so inspirational. And as I gather them together and search for new motivation in life and in food creation and music making, I might be changing, and my choices might have to be a little different from now on, but how stupid would I be to waste another moment being ungrateful, striving for unnattainable perfection? Stop it, Anna. Seriously.

Get it together.

If you're anything like me and you find yourself needing a little help, drop by Julia's kitchen and see me while you're at it. I'll probably be there, having conversations with her in my head.

"You'll never know everything about anything, especially something you love." - Julia Child

photo taken at the Smithsonian of Julia's kitchen and her coffee pot with very helpful tips on how much coffee you actually get from certain amounts of water. Love it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter Balsamic &Sage

Things that are good.


This right here is pretty tasty.

I love every element of this dish by itself, and together, the combination is nothing short of dangerous.

Gnocchi is a bit time consuming to make, but with enough flour, it shouldn't be too daunting. The boiling step is simple and the sauce takes five minutes.

I made mine gluten free but you can definitely use all purpose flour. The sauce recipe is for half of the batch of gnocchi. I froze the other half for another day!

Sweet Potato Gnocchi

3 cups cooked, smashed sweet potato (this was about two regular sized sweet potatoes for me)
1 cup cooked, smashed baking potato (this was about one medium sized baking potato)
2 tsp sea salt
1 egg
3 tbs honey
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 cups all purpose gluten free flour plus extra for dusting

- If you have cooked potatoes already, great! If not, fire up the oven to 425, put a little water in a baking dish, slice your potatoes in half lengthwise and roast slice side down for 30-45 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. Allow to cool, scoop out insides and measure to the above and place in a large bowl.

- To the potato mixture, add the salt, egg, honey, and parmesan to incorporate. Next, add in the flour in small portions to judge how much you need. The dough should be pretty wet looking but not sticking completely to your hands. I used the two full cups of flour!

- Flour a work surface and your hands then take a handful of the dough and begin to pat it gently and roll it into a log, like you're making a play-dough snake! This part takes a bit of flour, so don't be worried if it's looking rather dusty. Roll it into as skinny as a log as you like. If you've never had gnocchi before, just think of the thickness of a nice little bite size. At this point, use a knife to cut off 1/2 inch hunks. You can then squeeze the middles of them with your fingers to make a bowtie shape, leave them as they are, or be really fancy and roll them over a fork to create ridges. Set the little babies aside on a clean baking sheet that has a little flour on it as well. For half of the critters, place them in a freezer bag on a baking sheet, seal it up, allow to freeze so they won't stick together, then bunch it up and leave in the freezer until the next time you want to make the remainder of the pasta!

- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and drizzle olive oil in it. Place the gnocchi in carefully with a slotted spoon being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Allow to cook until risen to the top, about 4 minutes. Do this in batches and put the finished gnocchi back on its baking sheet until the sauce is ready. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water for the sauce.

Brown Butter Balsamic Sauce with Sage

4 tbs butter
12-15 sage leaves
1/3 cup thinly sliced onion or shallot
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup reserved cooking water

- In a large saute pan over medium high heat, melt the butter and add in the sage leaves. Allow the sage to soak up the butter and start to crisp (about three minutes) before adding in the onion. At this point, watch and stir as the onion wilts down and becomes golden. Once it begins to brown nicely (another three-five minutes) turn the heat to low and throw in the vinegar (watch out - don't inhale!!) Stir in the pasta water, add in the gnocchi and simmer to coat for another 5 minutes or so. Serve with shaved parmesan!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Time for Change (and not just the political kind)

Oh, little blog, how I have neglected you.

It's not from lack of culinary inspiration, because I've missed a bit of that recently and have definitely missed keeping up with all of you in the blogging world.

Instead, I've been rather under the weather since my birthday.

It's time to get real. After four years of remission from ulcerative colitis, it's back with a vengeance. It's progressed in a month more than it did in my first year of diagnosis and boy am I feeling it. After blood tests and procedures the last few weeks, I (the anti-general-medicine, hasn't-had-an-antibiotic-in-over-ten-years-girl) have been prescribed a high powered antibiotic indefinitely, prednisone indefinitely, and a high powered anti-inflammatory indefinitely. This is devastating to me. I hate the thought of being on any medication at all, let alone long term. I don't believe in stripping my intestinal flora and wreaking havoc on my entire body. I've spent a few days harumphing about because of this, but am slowly coming to terms with the fact that this is necessary for now, to hopefully avoid this problem in the future.

My  goal : Get back into remission as soon as possible.

Post remission : Lifestyle change.

As much as I love traditional cooking a la Julia Child and as much as I aspire to be an ultimate baker with the knowledge of a pastry chef, I now realize it can't be through the avenue I had planned on. And for now, all of that will be on hold as I attempt to discover foods my body will actually allow me to have. I don't know what those are yet. But I do know that so many of us struggle with colitis and other digestive issues. Don't even get me started on why this is and how the process we use to get to the end result of food as we know it today is less than natural or even ok. The bottom line is that if my journey and discoveries can help anyone else come to health in the slightest, or even myself for that matter, I'll be happy.

It seems that once your body contains any kind of inlammation, it automatically puts up a fight with anything difficult to digest. Raw foods, processed foods, certain fruits, acidic items... the list goes on. I've tried the Maker's Diet, Low Fod-Map, Nightshade Avoiding, etc. etc.

I haven't chosen one of these yet to stick to at this point since my body is being so touchy. But when I have success with a recipe, I'll share it here.

Yesterday, I started the day with an oatmeal smoothie. These are pretty popular right now. Although I'm limiting grains and dairy, only eating fermented dairy products, this recipe fits into this category pretty well and started my day off right. I've found that room temperature or warm foods are best. Although this is a bit on the icy side, it wasn't too shocking to my insides.

Inflammation or not, this is a good breakfast!

Blueberry Oatmeal Smoothie
makes 2 big glasses or 4 small

1 cup ice
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tbs honey
1 banana
1 cup almond milk
1/2 cup instant oats, not cooked!

-Make sure ice and blueberries are on the bottom of your blender to get a good grind. Throw the rest on top and blend away until smooth.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fall and Twenty Seven

My birthday was yesterday. Although getting older is a little bit scary, I always get excited for 10-4 each year. I'm proud of those digits and I love that my birthday always happens as fall begins up here in these northern parts!

G and I shared a lovely day together yesterday and finished it off with dinner at Thai Xing downtown, which was such a unique experience. Check it out if you're ever in DC! Tonight, he has invited a few friends over for a birthday party that seems to be containing a few unkowns. Eeee the excitement of birthdays and the akwardness of friends! Going to try to embrace it.

As fall begins, it is high time pumpkin makes an appearance here. I love soft pumpkin cookies. I went with a recipe I knew would be flawless and added my own frosting to them. I've never had such compliments on a cookie like I did with this one. Check it out. Cookie recipe courtesy of!

Old Fashioned Soft Pumpkin Cookies
makes 20 large cookies

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup packed pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

-Combine dry ingrededients in a smaller bowl. Cream butter and sugar together. Add in remaining three ingredients to incorporate, toss in flour mixture until well mixed. Drop rounded tbs of batter onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until cookies have just set up and can be easily placed with a spatula onto a cooling rack. We want them extra soft! Allow to cool before topping with glaze.

Cream Cheese Orange Glaze

4 oz cream cheese (1/2 a usual pckg)
zest of one orange
scant tbs of milk
splash of vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar

- Combine first four ingredients until mostly smooth. Add in powdered sugar. Drop tsp sized dollops onto the cookies and spread. Cookies keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Three Years of KeepitLuce and Banana Scones!

 Three years of blogging and as it was on the day it began, Greg is out of the country for ten days. What a coincidence!

Although my life is a little different now than it used to be three years ago when I started this blog in Austin, I still feel the need to keep it up. There's something to tossing your thoughts and creations out into space, not expecting anything in return. When I first started, I just desperately wanted to remember every moment of our newly married life. Oh how I took for granted the free time I had, the ability to cook on a dime in a state like Texas with cheap and abundant produce, and the now-coveted cleanliness of our first apartment together! On September 20, 2009, I had barely been married for one month. Man, I'd love to go back to that time. As silly as self-reflections can be, I guess I'm pretty thankful for this one and maybe, someday, I'll actually read these silly posts and remember the priceless days of our happy beginnings as the Luce family.

This three year journey has inspired in me a very necessary desire to be content with the moment. I wasn't as happy as I should have been in Austin or in our ghetto apartment last year. And you know what? I haven't been so happy in our new hippy commune house either. I focus on things like dirt, shared space, and organizational problems.  The good news is that I will constantly be attempting to get it together in life, apparently. So, as long as that is happening, I'll still make new recipes to take my mind off of the fact that keeping it together is too hard. And as long as there are new recipes, there will still be KeepitLuce.

Happy Three, little blog.

Oh right, these banana scones are VERY tasty. Highly recommend. Serve warm!!

Banana Scones
Makes 8, or 6 if you're real hungry

3 very ripe (black) bananas, mashed
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 and 1/2 cups flour
3 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbs butter, cut into small pieces

1/4 package of cream cheese, room temperature
2 tbs butter, room temperature
Splash of vanilla
1/2 cup of powdered sugar

- Mix together dry ingredients, cut in butter, and stir in buttermilk to incorporate. Gently fold in mashed bananas. Line a dinner plate with wax paper, plop scone mixture onto the plate, top with another piece of wax paper, and freeze for thirty minutes while you preheat the oven to 400. Remove scone mixture from the freezer, remove top piece of wax paper, cut into eight pieces, pull apart slightly and place on a baking sheet for 25-30 minutes or until golden.

-For the glaze, mix the cream cheese and butter to incorporate, add the vanilla, and stir in the powdered sugar. Adjust measurements according to your liking. The mixture will look a bit gloopy, but once spread on warm scones, it will spread out nicely.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tuesdays with Dorie : Nectarine Chiffon Cake

Welcome to Tuesdays with Dorie, where a hundred or so bloggers bake through the book Baking with Julia! This week, we've made the Nectarine Chiffon Cake and boy is it a delight. This versatile cake can be served for brunch or as dessert for any meal! You can also sub out different fruits and omit the streusel layer if you're short on time or would like more of a non-brunchy type cake. I used peaches because my nectarines weren't ripe and I also didn't include the streusel. But any ole way, it'd be great. The most satisfying aspect of this cake is the beautiful pattern that is created on the top of the cake (it appears complicated but it is the easiest thing in the world) and the fluffy batter of whipped egg whites, is always just so beautiful and decadent looking. Give it a try!

You can find the recipe on the host sites by visiting the challenge website!!

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Peach Salsa with Mint

The lazy days of summer are quickly passing! And I'm just soaking it up. G and I just celebrated three years of marriage in the Shenandoah Valley after an extremely busy summer full of travel and weddings and performances and 6 a.m. work shifts! Just three days of doing nothing can really do you some good. And it gives you a little perspective. I am slowly learning how to manage my extremely inconsistent schedule of going non-stop for days on end and then having four days in a row involving (technically) no obligations. What an abnormal life I lead! If I get it figured out soon, I'll let you know.

As much as I hate to have hopes of weeks on end at the beach, fresh berries and peaches, a blooming fig tree, corn and tomatoes from our garden and local farms,  and sleeping with the white noise of the AC unit pass before my eyes, I can't help but get excited for the fall and winter months here at our house on Tilden. This old house (1896) simultaneously has its fair share of character and inherent dirt. It frustrates the crud out of the OCD (obsessive cleaning disorder) part of me. But the house is just so darn cozy inside, I know this fall will be extra special.

Before I go into my yearly post(s) about my love of fall, it goes without saying that the whole discussion leaves me feeling nostalgiac. And I guess I'm gearing up for that with even this end-of-summer recipe. One of my closest friends from undergrad is quite a guy. We've shared many a silly memory, and a few serious ones, too, and of course as college kids, most of them revolved around really unhealthy food groups. Perhaps the most healthy thing we enjoyed together was peach salsa. And I gotta tell ya, it's hard to find a good peach salsa. And for some reason, maybe because he's about to get married and he's been on my mind a lot, I whipped up this recipe yesterday in hopes that it'd be as good as the one he introduced to me. It's much different, though. But pretty darn good! I love the sweet-hot ratio. Perfect for the excess of peaches sitting on your counter and packed with only fresh ingredients. Make it for Labor Day!

Peach Salsa
makes about 1.5 cups

2 peaches, peeled, cut into a chunky dice
1 tbs lime juice
1 tsp honey
2 tsp jalapeno or other hot pepper, finely chopped
Half of a medium sized red onion, finely chopped
About 4 fresh mint leaves (1 tbs) finely minced
Dash of salt (to taste)

-Mix together. Let sit for an hour or so before serving (or up to 4 hours) and enjoy with tortilla chips!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Peach Tart

Peach tarts are good.

Isn't this one pretty?

It wasn't done in the middle.

Thanks, rental oven. You the best.(Like the one-sided burn?)

I guess you'd better find a different peach tart to make, just in case this was a bum  recipe. I have those once in a while, of course. Maybe I'll try this one again soon just to check (in someone else's oven.)

I just had to show you how pretty it was.

One more wedding for the summer! Then back to the norm? And practicing? And real cooking? Let's  hope.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Table of Cakes

What a weekend we've had here in beautiful Branford, CT. It's been such a joy to be with all of G's family members welcoming in the newest Luce, Katharine! The last Luce sibling has finally been married off and to one of the coolest girls I know. She was an absolutely stunning bride, the wedding was the perfect blend of new trends and old fashion, and the ten-cake table setup was the cutest thing I've ever seen at a wedding! Making the cake banners with one of my best friends was also an extra special treat. Cake bunting is all of the rage these days, but varying the styles of the banners add a little extra something to the set up. Definitely worth the semi-tedious work!

G's brother, the groom, made an incredible work of art out of all of our reply cards as you can see below, pin pointing everyone's location on the map, and needless to say, this made an amazing backdrop for a cake table. Let's be real, we may be from all over, but the cake's where the heart is.

The table displayed an array of absolutely delicious cakes. Even though I was extremely worried about mine making it from DC to Philly to CT, they did! And I was even able to decorate them in this gorgeous home we're staying in on the water... in the butler's pantry (which is the most beautiful little nook I've ever seen.) Man I'm blessed.

This whole "vacation" has been an absolute treat!

Now, for the part you may actually want to hear! Although the Persian Cardamom and Red Velvet cakes were from a local bakery, you can bake a few of the others yourself! Joy The Baker's Avocado Poundcake (incredible and extra special with an orange glaze!!), my Luce family favorite All Natural Strawberry Cake and Chocolate Truffle! The time for cakes is NOW!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Blueberry Nectarine Pie

Spending time with family today, turning in applications, organizing repertoire for the chamber orchestra I am in, running around like a crazy making three cakes for my brother in law's wedding next week, and getting ready to work shifts at Anthropologie starting at 6 am! So much for a relaxing summer but you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way.

All of that to say, today's post is short! Just sharing with you this week's Tuesdays with Dorie post : blueberry nectarine pie! I've gotta tell you, this crust wasn't easy and I cut the sugar to 1/4 cup and it was still decadently sweet! The filling is delicious though, and worth a try! Just a secret from you to me, though, I'd use your favorite crust recipe instead!

Check out the other posts and the recipe on our host blogs at!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Citrus Ale Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Citrus Bacon

We just celebrated a lovely birthday with my better half, G. It was nice for the first time in our marriage (and dating!) to actually be with him and do a birthday the way my Momma did for all of my growing up years. We kicked off the week with a party for G and his cellist, Alan, since they share the same day of birth. The party was strictly ale themed, featuring homemade ale hot dog buns, beer brats, ale baked beans and a few non-ale items including America's Test Kitchen's granny smith cole slaw, and G's brother's AMAZING guacamole recipe. Last but not least, these little cupcake friends were also in attendance.

Although I was a little bummed with myself for over-baking the cakes due to our stupid-hot oven, the batter had that very desirable birthday cake taste, with just that little extra fizz from the ale. The citrus and cream cheese truly compliment such a birthday batter flavor and the candied bacon just adds that extra celebratory flare. They were definitely a hit and truly didn't require any extra work! Try 'em out!

Citrus Ale Cupcakes
adapted from Sweet Tooth
makes 24

3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 and 3/4 cup sugar
2 and 1/2 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
zest of half an orange
1 cup of your favorite summer ale or heffeweisen (I went with Weihenstephan!)
1/4 cup milk

- Preheat the oven to 375 and line muffin tins with 24 liners.
- In a stand mixer, combine sugar and butter and mix until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, vanilla and zest until combined.
- In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
- In another small bowl, combine milk and beer.
- Alternatively add the flour mixture and the beer mixture, ending with flour.
- Fill the liners about 2/3 of the way, bake for about 15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean *my oven is super-sonic so it might take a few more minutes for yours*
- For extra flavor, combine a few tbs of ale with a little squeeze of orange. Poke holes into the warm cupcakes, brush on ale/citrus. Set aside.

Citrus Cream Cheese Frosting
generously frosts 24 cupcakes

2 packages of cream cheese (16 oz total) at room temperature
1 stick of butter at room temperature
6 cups powdered sugar
The other half of the zested orange
2 tbs fresh orange juice

- Combine cream cheese and butter to incorporate. Add powdered sugar in until well blended and toss in the juice and zest. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

Candied Citrus Bacon

8 pieces bacon
2 tbs orange juice
1/4 cup brown sugar

- Preheat the oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Drizzle orange juice and brown sugar over bacon strips. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until dark and crispy. Cool completely before breaking apart and placing on cupcakes!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Semolina Bread for Tuesdays with Dorie!

This summer has been so very busy that this week's Tuesdays with Dorie post really snuck up on me! It's such an honor to host for such a lovely recipe and it's one I'm really glad I didn't miss. The opportunity to bake (even in this heat) is always a welcome reprieve from other obligations, yes? So check out the other posts and definitely hop on over to the website of the other host who is such a  talented blogger!

Semolina bread is so very simple, so very therapeutic to bake, and so very versatile. This particular recipe has quite a bit of salt in it but this didn't bother me so much seeing as my little plan for this loaf was to eat it by itself with a little balsamic, olive oil, and a special herb blend. For this purpose, it was absolutely perfect and I wouldn't want it any other way.

Allow for two hours in between each step for this recipe, which otherwise requires minimal work, and you'll have a fabulous accompaniment to any meal! Don't worry if it doesn't puff up like a normal loaf. In this heat and in my real-life, no-AC kitchen, this little baby was rather deflated-looking which had me worried, but it turned out just fine! Keep plugging away! That's what Julia would do. And don't we all just want to feel that much closer to her?

1 cup warm water
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

Pour the warm water and yeast into a medium bowl.  Whisk to combine.  When the yeast has dissolved and is creamy, about 5 minutes, stir in the flour.

Cover the bowl and let it rest at room temperature until the sponge doubles in volume, about 2 hours.

the sponge (above)
1/2 to 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup semolina flour
2 tsp salt
1 tbs olive oil

To make the dough in a food processor:
Scrape the sponge into a food processor fitted with a metal blade.  Add 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour and the rest of the ingredients and pulse on and off until the dough forms a ball on the blade.  If the dough doesn't form a ball, add another 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour a tablespoon at a time, pulsing to mix it in.  Let the dough rest in the bowl for 5 minutes, then process for a full 20 seconds.  The dough will be sticky.

To make the dough in a mixer:
Scrape the sponge into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Add 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour and the rest of the ingredients (be sure to chop the rosemary very finely because you won't have the blade of the food processor to help you chop it further).  Mix on medium speed until you have a dough that is smooth and elastic, but somewhat sticky, about 5 minutes.  If the dough is too soft, add up to 1/4 cup more of the all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon at a time.

First rise
Turn the dough into an oiled bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature until it doubles in volume, about 2 hours.

Shaping and second rise
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and deflate it by flattening it with your palms.  Pat the dough into a rough oval shape and then roll it, from one long side to the other, to form a plump loaf.  Tuck the ends under and transfer the loaf to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Cover it lightly with oiled plastic wrap and allow it to rest until it doubles in volume again, about 2 hours.

Baking the bread
Holding a single edged razor or sharp serrated knife at a 30-degree angle to the loaf, slash lines up and over the width of the loaf.  The lines should be at an angle and about an inch away from each other.

Bake for about 35 minutes, until deeply golden or an instant read thermometer inserted into the bottom of the loaf reads 210 degrees.  Transfer the bread toa  rack and cool completely.

The bread can be kept at room temperature for a day; cover it loosely with plastic wrap.  For longer storage, wrap it airtight and freeze for up to one month.  Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Mama's Spinach Cornbread

Everything I know about cooking comes from my Mama. And sitting at her southern table, cornbread was always a staple in our home. Sometimes cornbread in a big pan or in the shape of a muffin, maybe with a little butter and honey. And if you've had good cornbread, you know very well what good cornbread is, and most certainly appreciate it (in addition to perhaps being  a bit snobby about it.) Unfortunately, there's a lot of bad out there, so you have to tread carefully in these northern lands.

So whether you're unsure of how to make it the right way or if you'd just like to make the most tasty cornbread of your life that even includes a vegetable, look no further.

This is hands down the BEST cornbread on the planet. It's the single most asked for recipe from my Mama's table and believe me, there are a ton of those, but this one has got to be number one (right, Mom?) Kids who don't eat spinach, eat this. Adults who don't eat spinach, eat this. Guaranteed.

Can you just trust me on this one and try it? Part of me almost doesn't one to share it. I'd kind of like to keep it to myself forever. But I'll be nice... because it's that good. And that easy.

Spinach Cornbread
serves 12... or 1

1 box Jiffy (what else?)
3/4 stick of butter, melted
1 c of sour cream or cottage cheese
1 medium onion, chopped fine (green onions are good, too)
1 box of frozen spinach, thawed and juices squeezed out
1/2 tsp of salt
4 eggs, beaten

- Preheat oven to 400 and butter a pie plate or a small square dish. Mix all ingredients until well incorporated and bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned on top, depends on your pan. You want it to be done but not too dry!!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes

 Please tell me other people have kitchen failures!

Sometimes I think it's just me. And most of the time, I have all of them in one week! What is that?

So, I'm about to be a proponent of something embarrassing and NOT recommended...

As a food blogger, I spend a good deal of time altering recipes to my liking or just making my own up as I go. Most of the time it's fun and sometimes, it's a real pain.

My dear Mom suggested I make the pink lemonade cupcakes for the auction a few weeks ago because they're something a little different and kinda cute. But all of the recipes I looked at turned up with cake mixes, which I really, really loathe. No offense to those who use them, but I need to know what's going on in there and I don't like the uncertainty of a box mix and it's processed bits. So, I did some reverse guessing and attempted to make my own box mix to make sure proportions were correct with the concentrate lemonade. (It made sense in my head at the time.) In the midst of this adventure, I also decided to teach my friend's boyfriend a few baroque dance steps to go with his extremely inspirational Jane Austen "Mr. Darcy" voice. Needless to say, the cake didn't turn out quite how I wanted. I think it was missing some flour. Whoops!

Then I realized something.

I'm already using concentrate lemonade.

It only fits to use a box mix.

Anna, stop trying. You're insane. Give into the processed foods on this one. It just happens sometimes.

So, here you go. A delicious processed cupcake that is too easy to put together and great for summer picnics. Give in this time. But just this once! Even your dog will want to eat it (like Juliet up there!!)

It's funny that I am posting this while I am on the Maker's Diet.

Oh life.

House warming and roommate birthday on Saturday! Excited to share new things with you from that!!

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes
makes 24

1 box white cake mix
3/4 c pink lemonade concentrate
1/2 c milk
1/3 c butter, melted
4 egg whites

-  Preheat oven to 350. MIX TOGETHER until well incorporated. Hard, right? Line 24 cupcake tins and fill 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 20-ish minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Pink Lemonade Frosting

2 sticks of butter, room temperature
6 cups powdered sugar
6 tbs concentrate lemonade

- Beat butter until soft, add in lemonade and whip in sugar until incorporated. Add in food color of your choice. Frost when cupcakes are cool!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Waiting For Ruby : Goat Cheese Vegetable "Lasagna"

Something new is happening in the lives of the people around me. That something is a little thing called... BABIES. So many of my friends are blessed with little ones and getting to witness that proof of love is something quite magical! Maybe this is why they enter the world with such celebrations, being the little heart-melters that they are. The blog world may not exactly be real life, but don't worry, we still know how to party through posts when separated by thousands of miles. So, this week a few of us are throwing our friend Shelley a virtual baby shower for the nearly-here Ruby! Isn't that the sweetest name? Stick around for dishes from many friends that can be stored in your freezer!

Shelley is basically the best. When I was first starting out (ok, I'm still starting out...story of my life) about two years ago in Austin, I was so inspired by the blogging atmosphere. The food bloggers in Austin have an amazing little community and I was so grateful to be around such lovely people. I remember the first day of the food blogger conference we attended at the flagship Whole Foods very clearly. I was a bit unsure of myself, had some crappy business cards and wasn't sure how food bloggers were supposed to act. I met some pretty neat people there and made some friends but only one of the bloggers sought me out to tell me that I should keep the name of my blog, and it was Shelley. In her naturally friendly way, she told me that a blog name really sets the tone for your work and just in the moment when I was thinking of overhauling mine, she told me it was cute and personal and I should leave it. Needless to say, hers was the first blog I really started to follow. She has an incredible ability to make perfect looking baked goods and if I 'm ever half as good as she is, I'll consider myself a success.

So, Shelley dear, thank you for being such an inspirational food blogger! I wish you all of the best throughout the rest of your pregnancy and delivery and can't wait to hear about the ways in which you will most certainly be the very best Mom to sweet little Ruby!

I hear from my friends who have been through this, that many people bring or make carb-loaded meals. But as we all know, traditional comfort food can be altered a little to make Mom and baby feel healthier! Instead of a heavier casserole-type dish to prepare ahead and stick in the freezer, I made a very simple type of lasagna or ratatouille. I've had a crazy busy week and needed to make something embarrassingly easy but for an expectant mother, easy is probably the ticket, even for a great pastry chef, yes? Fresh vegetables, your favorite tomato sauce, and a little goat cheese make for a refreshingly filling and light dish that can be heated up quickly and eaten during those times in between changing diapers and naps!

The party continues on the following sites with more freezer-friendly recipes:

shower shelley Summer Corn Chowder to Welcome Ruby 

Ilke from Ilke’s Kitchen
Carrie from Bakeaholic Mama
Christina from Girl Gone Grits
Elaine from   California Living  
Esra from Irmik Hanim
Jennie from Pastry Chef Online
Jennifer from Scissors and Spatulas
Lisa from Lisa Is Cooking
Renee from Sweet Sugar Bean
Robin from A Chow Life
Sarah from Snippets of Thyme
Lana from Bibberche

Goat Cheese Vegetable "Lasagna"
serves 6

1 small eggplant
1 zucchini
1 squash
1 32 oz can chunky tomato sauce (or your favorite homemade)
1 15 oz can pureed tomato sauce (or homemade)
Spices to taste
8 oz fresh goat cheese

- Preheat a broiler and spray or coat a broiler pan with olive oil. Slice each vegetable into rounds about 1/8 of an inch thick. Fit as many rounds on your broiler pan as possible, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and broil for about 8 minutes or until browning. I did each vegetable separate which worked pretty well for layering purposes. Remove the vegetables to a plate to cool slightly. Re-spray as you go.

- In the meantime, take out a 9x9 casserole dish or some other small pie-plate sized dish and spread half of the pureed sauce on the bottom. Layer your vegetable rounds in a desired fashion, spreading a healthy amount of the chunky tomato sauce and spices in between each one. Top with remaining pureed sauce to cover and place goat cheese rounds on top. Cover well with plastic wrap and foil and freeze for up to one month or bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with warm, crusty bread!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Coconut Lime Bars

Well hello there, blog! It's been a little while.

Today's post is brought to you from Cleveland, where I am staying while I attend the Baroque Performance Institute at Oberlin! I have been learning so much this week about baroque violin that it is a miracle my brain hasn't exploded. This process is basically like starting over. Although frustrating and a bit terrifying for someone who has played modern violin for twenty years, there is no better place to do it! The faculty and students are all extremely encouraging and kind. It's very refreshing to be in such an environment when so much of the music world is hopelessly competitive.

Every year at this festival, they put on an auction to raise money for scholarship students for next year! Being a very grateful scholarship recipient, I gladly jumped on the chance to give my violin brain a break and make a few baked items for the auction. I spent this morning in my friend's kitchen, baking up coconut lime bars and pink lemonade cupcakes! Tune in next time for the latter. And while you're at it, consider giving to the arts!

Have a wonderful weekend!!

Coconut Lime Bars
makes 24 small pieces

adapted from Southern Living

2 c all purpose flour, divided
2 c sugar, divided
1/2 c cold butter, unsalted
4 large eggs
1.5 c shredded coconut
1 tbs lime zest
1/3 c lime juice plus 3 tbs
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

- Preheat oven to 350 and line a 9x13 pan with heavy duty non-stick foil or butter heavy duty foil. Allow an extra ledge around the pan so that you can use the foil to lift the bars out when they have cooled! Set aside.
- Stir 1 and 3/4 c flour and 1/2 c sugar to incorporate. Cut in the butter until crumbly. Press firmly into the foil-lined pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until light brown.
- Whisk eggs until smooth, add in coconut, remaining sugar, zest and lime juice. In a smaller bowl, combine the remaining flour, baking powder and salt. Add to lime mixture and pour over hot crust. Bake for 25 minutes or until filling has set. Allow to cool for at least one hour before lifting out and dusting with powdered sugar.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My First Wedding Cake: Chocolate Truffle with Vanilla Buttercream

The past few weeks have been filled with... life.

Life can be completely devastating, full of grief and sadness and loss. You can have those moments that continuously break you down. Negativity can completely rule you. Just a single minute alone can make you cry.

And then there are moments of complete elation. The joining of two friends in a picture perfect wedding. Being reunited with such incredible people from so many countries in a space filled with nothing but hope and love. Reunions of family and reminders of my heritage and a deep sense of gratitude for who I know and where I am from.

And sometimes all of this happens in the span of a few days.

That was my life the last week. A wedding and a funeral. Saying goodbye to the ultimate hero. Watching the strongest man in my life draw his last breaths and begging God to take him in his suffering. And a few short days later, dusting myself off to celebrate a new life and union in the marriage of my friends while having the privilege to make their wedding cake.

This may be a bit heavy for a food blog - but I suppose this is where the living portion of my blog plays out, because you see, in both of these circumstances at opposite ends of the spectrum, there's still food. Whether we celebrate or mourn, we eat to live, we eat to feel. And sometimes in our deepest moments of desperation and hopelessness, we pray and cook, or at least I do. And I did. The trial wedding cake was made the day I knew my Popop was leaving us. After one of my shifts at the nursing home, instead of sleeping, I got out Mom's Kitchen Aid. And it helped more than sleep could have. Mixing up batter, following the precision of a well-tested recipe, allowed for my mind to hang onto something that was concrete, something that was certain, and took me to a place of sweet memories of food around my Grandmother's table and the way in which Milton Parks so enjoyed every meal. My love for food has grown in many ways but it started with family and that's something I can be so proud of. He was a farmer and a tomato canner. He was strong and firm but exuded kindness and the most incredible smile. He was my hero.

So, I cried and celebrated him in making a recipe that now holds so many wonderful memories for me that I was able to share with family. And then I made it again a few days later on a bigger scale with the help of dear friends and was so very happy to contribute even something small to one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever been to.

Life is ugly. Life is beautiful. Life is what you make of it.

When you feel out of control, bake. That's my new motto. One I've been guilty of since avoiding finals during college and now one that I admit consciously.

And when you're given the opportunity, bake a wedding cake. It provides a unique perspective on life.

This cake recipe is for a three layer cake. it is absolutely fudgy and delicious. The cakes turn out perfectly with no need for leveling and it is one I will be making for years to come.

Chocolate Truffle Cake
16 servings - begin three hours before serving or day ahead

2 8 oz packages unsweetened chocolate (16 1-oz squares like Baker's)
1 cup plus 6 tbs unsalted butter at room temp
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 and 2/3 c all purpose flour
2 c sugar
1 and 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 and 1/2 c powdered sugar
1/4 c heavy whipping cream

(for the buttercream)
2 sticks of butter unsalted, room temp
1 tsp vanilla
3 c powdered sugar
1 tbs heavy cream

- Grease three 9-inch round cake pans and preheat the oven to 325.
- In a medium sized sauce pan, heat 12 squares of unsweetened chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly until melted. Add in the cup of butter to incorporate and then 2 and 1/2 c of water. Stir until smooth, remove from the heat and cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, whisk eggs and vanilla extract. Beat a little bit of the chocolate mixture in, whisking vigorously to avoid scrambling, then add the remaining chocolate mixture. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt with a fork. Then gently stir this into the chocolate bowl until well blended.
- Pour batter into cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool cakes in their pans on racks for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and complete cooling.
- At this point, prepare the truffle mixture. In another medium sized saucepan, heat the remaining four squares of chocolate over low heat as before, stirring often. Stir in the remaining 6 tbs butter, powdered sugar and whipping cream until blended. It may look lumpy and impossible for a little while, keep stirring!
- Once your cakes are cool, place the bottom layer on your cake plate. Spread half of the truffle mixture on top, put the middle layer down and top with the remaining truffle mixture and put the final layer on. At this point, tightly cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or even overnight before frosting.
- To mix up the buttercream, beat the two room temp sticks of butter until smooth, add in the sugar, vanilla and cream until fluffy and spread evenly onto your cake!
- If assembling right out of the fridge, allow an hour or so for the core of the cake not to be chilled.

*Recipe adapted from All Recipes

He Comes Bearing Na'an

Welcome to June's Tuesdays with Dorie post, where I test out many of the recipes in Baking with Julia with dozens of other bloggers! I've been rather behind in blogging after the death of my sweet Grandfather and many other life events which I will share with you in a second post later tonight (nothing like catching up!) but for now, here's a look at Oasis Na'an straight from the book!

If you're looking for a simple na'an that requires few steps and is super easy to work with, look no further. I made this in our little garage apartment which is our residence for the next week while we play the Bach Festival in Victoria, TX. Greg even took some to our hosts in the big house! With just a few ingredients and utensils, you'll end up with quite a tasty treat.

You can find the link to the recipe here! Tune in later tonight for the wedding cake post!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Flourless Chocolate Cake

You know what's good about gluten-free eating? You can always have flourless chocolate cake.

Do you know what isn't flourless? Wedding cakes.

Excuse me while I disappear for the next week in preparation for making my first wedding cake.

Fasten your seatbelts. I'm a little scared but mostly determined and very excited. See you next week!

Flourless Chocolate Cake
adapted from Martha Stewart

6 tablespoons salted butter, plus more for pan
8 ounces 60% cocoa chips
6 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

- Preheat the oven to 275 and place a rack in the center. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch spring form pan and set aside.
 - Place butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring each time, until completely melted. Let cool slightly. Whisk in egg yolks.
 - In a large bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add granulated sugar, and continue beating until glossy stiff peaks form. Whisk 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture; then gently fold in remaining egg whites.
 - Pour batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and is set in the center, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack; remove sides of pan. Serve at room temperature, dusted with confectioners' sugar. Serve with whipped cream or raspberry reduction or your choice of toppings!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pecan Sticky Buns with Julia


This week's Tuesdays with Dorie : Baking with Julia post is brought to you by five sticks of butter.

That's right, I said five.

Although Julia Child did say that "If you're afraid of butter, use cream," that wouldn't quite work in this recipe, (although I do love that quote.)

I stuck to the recipe to a T, every step, every measurement. That's kind of a tricky thing for me to do as a blogger. Afterall, we live to adjust recipes so that we can post about them, right? And I gotta say, this was the absolute easiest dough I have ever worked with. Don't worry about the fact that my poor little Martha Stewart blue artisan Kitchen Aid almost crapped out, it was worth it. I've never rolled out such a beautiful dough. Did I mention it calls for brioche? Too good.

But next time, I think I'll cut the butter that's folded into the dough and the butter in the bottom of the pans. I'm a big fan of butter being from the south, but it was even a bit much for me.

If you're striving for baking excellence and tradition, definitely give these a try for your next special brunch. Allow up to three days for prep, though! Although not actively time consuming, there is a lot of waiting!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lobster Kielbasa Paella

Happy Mother's Day!

It's the perfect spring day in Delaware and we enjoyed our lunch outdoors in my Mom's gazebo. How cute.

This was my maiden voyage in paella-making and it is hands down one of the most simple and quick dishes that has more complex flavors then some multiple-hour dishes. I am excited to add this to my collection of go-to meals! I can't believe I've waited this long to make it myself. Don't be like me - get it done for your next meal, no special occasion required - it comes together in one hour tops! Serve it with an avocado and tomato salad topped with lime mojo and you've got one delicious meal.

Tune in tomorrow for my hopefully successful flourless chocolate cake (which is in the oven now!)

Lobster Kielbasa Paella
serves 6-8
adapted from Ina Garten

1/4 c olive oil
1.5 c chopped yellow onion (about 2 small)
1.5 c thinly sliced red pepper (1 large or 2 small)
6 cloves of garlic minced, at least 2 tbs
2 c basmati rice
5 c chicken stock
1/4 tsp saffron threads, partially broken
1/4 tsp red chile pepper flakes
1 tbs sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1.5 lbs cooked lobster meat
1 lb kielbasa, thinly sliced
1 package frozen peas (10 oz)
1 tbs parsley, chopped
2 lemons, cut into quarters for placing on the side of the skillet

-Preheat the oven to 425. Get out a large dutch oven, creuset or iron skillet. Heat oil in your pot, add onions and cook for 5 minutes over medium-low. Add red peppers and cook for another 5. Add in the garlic, cook for one minute and then stir in the rice, stock, saffron, pepper flakes, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and place in the oven for 15 minutes. At this point, gently stir the rice with a wooden spoon and return it to the oven uncovered for the rice to finish cooking (check after 10 minutes.)
- Once the rice is done, bring the pot out of the oven, stir in your proteins and peas very gently to incorporate. Cover with the lid and allow to sit for 10 minutes then serve. Garnish with the parsley and lemon.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sweet Potato Salad

It's almost Mother's Day! So happy I get to be with my Mama this year!

Yesterday, I was attempting to compile a tasty, gluten-free menu for her special day while working on the upcoming Baking with Julia pecan sticky buns (that I obviously can't give my Mom,) and got a bit hungry.

With the breeze rustling the papers of my cookbooks and some sweet potatoes staring at me, I had the desire to make picnic food. And you know, I was thinking, a picnic with your Mom in this amazing weather would be really lovely! No matter what you're making this weekend, store this recipe away for a beautiful day. Super easy to put together and great with any grilled protein or burger, it's a must have for your outdoor event!

P.S. These pictures were taken with my new iPhone. Not bad, right? I'm not one for expensive technology but this thing is kind of totally worth it. Although if I don't calm down soon, Siri may be my only friend. But pretty good camera, right? Back to food...

Sweet Potato Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
 serves 4-6 as a side dish

2 large sweet potatoes cut into one-inch cubes, about 4 cups
2 celery stalks, finely minced
1/3-1/2 cup of red onion, finely minced
1 handful parsley, chopped
1 lemon
1/3 c milk
3 tbs mayonnaise
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

- Put the potatoes in a medium sized pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce to a medium-high simmer and cover for 8 minutes or until tender. Drain and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.
- In the bowl you will store the salad in, zest a teaspoon of the lemon's rind.
- Take 2 tsp of the lemon juice and put into the bottom of your 1/3 cup measure. Top the lemon juice off with the milk and allow to sit for a minute or two (or use buttermilk!)
- Back to the bowl with the zest in it. Add the remaining lemon juice to the zest. Toss in the celery, onion and parsley and season with the salt and pepper. Add in the buttermilk once it is curdled. Toss with the sweet potatoes until well incorporated and refrigerate until ready to serve!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Easy Broccoli Pasta

Life is never just the way we want it. But it is so possible to choose happiness, to make the most of every potentially special moment, and to just soak up what you've got, you know? Yep. I know you know. And right now I know. And I am just so very thankful! My roommates are the best and the funniest, our house is delightfully quaint and is finally coming together (albeit slowly) AND I have a lovely, bright, large kitchen! Yay!

On top of all of the usual busy things happening over here plus the move, I just scored a job at my favorite store, Anthropologie! Eeeeeeeeeeee! As scary as a job in retail is for someone who has only ever been a musician, I'm super excited to work in such a creative environment, to keep blogging and to also be practicing and performing! Might be living the life over here people, so look out.

All of this to say, I've got a terrible case of the Mondays. And there's no way I'm making anything fancy for dinner tonight. So, here's a little recipe from my kitchen to yours. Super simple with fresh ingredients, healthy pasta (I used Ezekiel sprouted grain pasta) and a little reminder to always salt as you go. Salt the water you cook veggies in and always, always salt your pasta water. That's what I'm learning! Happy Monday!

Monday Night Broccoli Pasta
serves 4-6

1 head of broccoli, florets!
1 pound of pasta
4 tbs olive oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp chili flakes
1/2 c parmesan

- In a large pot, steam broccoli in boiling, salted water for 3-5 minutes or until tender. Remove with slotted spoon and reserve a bit of the cooking liquid. Cook the pasta, drain, and remove. In the same pot, heat olive oil and add garlic and chili to toast for about one minute. Add in broccoli for a few minutes to toast, add in pasta. Stir in parmesan and a bit of the reserved cooking liquid to thicken the sauce. Serve warm by itself or with a protein of your choice.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hungarian Shortbread with Lakkahillo

Welcome to Tuesdays with Dorie! TWD happens twice per month and over 300 bloggers join in baking up some of the fabulous recipes from that TV series hosted by Julia Child that we all know and love (and still watch!?)

This week's recipe is Hungarian Shortbread and with a new gluten-free roommate, I chose to make mine sans gluten. In addition to that I didn't go the traditional rhubarb filling route but used some of my favorite jam from Finland; Lakkahillo! Am I mixing too many traditions here? I think not! You see, one of my first international performance experiences was to a music festival in Hungary, where many of my closest friends formed one of the chamber orchestras I am now apart of. In addition to that, G and I began dating in Hungary! That chamber orchestra also toured to Finland, where G and I spent our first anniversary thanks to our incredible friends and family. It may seem silly to put memories like this into a recipe but I just think it's super meaningful and full of quite a bit of love.

Lakkahillo is an incredible cloud berry jam that is so flavorful and not too sweet, which is definitely a perk in our country where store-bought jam is so very sugary. Seeing as I've had that jar in my fridge for a year or more, trying to savor it slowly, I figured it was finally time to finish it off (pun intended.)

These little bars are a fantastic treat and remind me very much of the texture of lemon bars, which I love.  Made with your favorite jam, these come together in a jiff and with little mess if you follow the instructions to freeze the dough for a little while before grating into your dish.

Gluten-Free Hungarian Shortbread
serves 12

Trying not to eat too many baked goods these days, I halved the recipe. It would also do well with less sugar!!

2 sticks of butter, salted, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup corn starch
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup flax seed, ground
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp xantham gum
1/2 cup (or a little more) of jam
powdered sugar for sprinkling

- With a stand mixer, whip butter until smooth. Add sugar and yolks and beat until light and fluffy. Mix dry ingredients together. Combine all to incorporate. Divide dough into halves, wrap with plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes or more.
- Remove dough from freezer and preheat your oven to 350. With a block grater, grate half of the dough onto a plate. Sprinkle into a cake pan or a 7x9. Don't press, just spread gently to reach corners of the pan. Top with jam. Grate remaining dough and sprinkle on top. Bake for about 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar and cool to room temperature.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Chocolate Chip Espresso Cookies

Cookies are good. Espresso is better. Add the two together and you're in for a treat.

Good for making when you need a distraction from things like moving or cleaning or job searching or practicing.

Perfect for no reason at all!

The move is complete in t-minus two days! Then on to putting everything in order. Yep, time to make more cookies.

Chocolate Chip Espresso Cookies
makes 18

1 stick of butter, softened
1 c brown sugar, loosely packed
2 tbs granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 and 3/4 c flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 and 1/2 tsp espresso, ground
1 and 1/2 c semi sweet chocolate chips
(adapted from the food network website)

Preheat oven to 300. Mix the first five ingredients to incorporate. Sift the dry ingredients together and add to the wet. Stir in the espresso and chocolate, spoon onto a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on your preference for gooey to crisp cookies!