Posts Tagged Recipes

Whole Wheat Honey Buttermilk Biscuits

Whole Wheat Honey Buttermilk Biscuits

The whole wheat flour makes these better than regular biscuits.

I don’t often make biscuits. They’re something that are really best right out of the oven, and it’s rare that I want to eat a dozen biscuits in one sitting. Actually, that’s not true – I often want to eat a dozen biscuits in one sitting, but it’s rare that I would allow myself to do so. Instead, I like to save them for brunch or dinner parties or other large gatherings. And the good thing is, once you’ve made them, they’re something you can easily whip up in 20 minutes.

Ever since reading Good To the Grain, By Kim Boyce, I’ve been inspired to bake more with whole-grain flours, and I’ve been enjoying the hearty flavor they bring to baked goods. So the last time I was baking biscuits I thought – why not try them with some whole wheat flour and see what happens?

Well, I may have created a new go-to biscuit recipe. Since I still haven’t managed to pick up white whole wheat flour, I went with the recommendation from The Bread Bible, and used part all-purpose and part whole wheat flour. I decided that I wanted bring out the nutty flavor of the whole wheat flour, so I added some honey to the dough. Finally, I used buttermilk as the liquid, which brought a nice tangy note to biscuits. They were crisp and buttery, and I found the light sweetness from the honey, the tang from the buttermilk, and the hearty note from the whole wheat flour completely addictive.

But did I eat all these biscuits in one sitting? I’ll never tell.

Whole Wheat Honey Buttermilk Biscuits 2

Maybe I need to make these again. Like, right now.

Recipe: Whole Wheat Honey Buttermilk Biscuits


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Alex’s Chocolate Chunk Banana “Brownies”

Banana Brownies 2

Yes, I realize they look like muffins - but they're actually intended to be brownies.

My brother has always had a thing for bananas. I don’t know what it was about them. I mean, I liked them as a kid, but Alex loved them. One of his favorite snacks to make was a “banana milk shake,” a term that I think my mother came up with to re-brand banana smoothies as something much more indulgent. He was a fan of the banana ice cream they served down the street at Prince Puckler’s, still my favorite ice cream shop in the country. And now that he’s a post-college grad trying to make it as a playwright in Chicago, one of his more bizarre frugal dinners it to make banana omelets. Yes. Bananas. In an omelet.

Okay, so I’m not sold on the banana omelets, although Alex will defend them to the death. But I started thinking about bananas when I was wondering what to get Alex for his birthday. Usually, I’m a pretty boring present giver – I go for the amazon gift certificate, or, once in a while, a book. But I decided to do something different this year – I decided to make him his very own banana baked good recipe.

Now, you’ll notice that the title of this post is for banana “brownies” and yet the photo clearly looks like muffins. But consider this discrepancy merely a deficiency of my kitchen – I actually don’t own a square baking pan, and it just didn’t seem right to bake them in a round pan. Plus, for shipping purposes, the individually packaged muffins are pretty sweet. But, rest assured, while you can bake these in muffin tins, they are intended to be baked in a 9×9 inch square cake pan.

I adapted this recipe from my own banana bread recipe, as well as a butterscotch brownie recipe from The Joy Of Cooking – one of the few sources I could find that had recipes for “brownies” that didn’t actually contain chocolate. Since Alex is such a banana fiend, these are heavy on the fruit – they’re best made with really old bananas that are beginning to blacken on the outside. They’re chewy and moist, sweet with the banana flavor, and punctuated with chunks of chocolate. I used bittersweet chocolate but I’ll actually use milk chocolate when I make these again – the sweetness of the milk chocolate would be a more harmonious compliment to the banana flavor.

So, happy birthday Alex. And yes, I realize that I’m writing this a week after your actual birthday. But, um, can having your very own handmade recipe make up for that?

Banana Brownies 1

Oh, and I also ate two.

Recipe: Alex’s Chocolate Chunk Banana

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Saint Patrick’s Day Guinness Cupcakes

Guinness Cupcakes 3

Guinness Cupcakes - perfect for St. Patrick's Day. Or any day.

I’ll admit, I’ve never done that much for St. Patrick’s Day. I mean, my mother would festoon the dining room with green clover garlands and chocolate “gold” pieces around the holiday each year when I was little, given our Irish heritage. And I’ve gone out to a couple of Irish bars on the holiday. And there was that one memorable Saint Patrick’s Day during college at Earl’s on the Ave (the old one) with a bunch of blue drinks and my friend Sara. But let’s not talk about that.

It may be a holiday that has garnered little of my attention, but I think that Saint Patrick’s Day is due for a second look. Not because it celebrates a certain Irish Saint, but because it’s an opportunity to bake with beer.

Everyone should bake with beer. I’m just going to put that out there. Baking with beer is awesome. It adds a smoky, almost savory note to baked goods that’s a lovely compliment to sugar. It’s an excellent addition to bread recipes – just replace the water or liquid called for with an equal amount of beer. And dark beers like stouts or porters go exceptionally well with chocolate.

These Guinness cupcakes with Guinness glaze take advantage of the dark beer/chocolate pairing. The smoky flavor of the Guinness helps balance the sweetness of the cake, and brings out the cocoa in the cake. It also contrasts with the sugar in the glaze, which keeps the cake soft and sweet. The only problem I had with the cake is that it turned out exceptionally moist – maybe even a little gummy in the center. I guess a quest for a perfect cake is never really done. But baking with beer? That’s a quest that I’m happily convinced will never be done – there’s just too many things to experiment with.

Guiness Cupcakes 2

Love that you can see the bubbles from the beer in the frosting.

Recipe: St. Patrick’s Day Guinness Cupcakes

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Winter Farmer’s Market Pizza

Farmer's Market Pizza

Made with local cheese from the Dupont Circle Farmers Market

Cross posted at Going Green DC.

March can be difficult time at the Farmers market if you’re a baker – you’re already sick of the apples and pears of winter, but it’s too soon for rhubarb season. After this particularly snowy winter, most of us are thinking wistfully of the peaches, cherries and berries that flooded the markets this summer.

But bakers, take note, there’s more at the Farmer’s market than just fresh produce – you can also use the excellent local cheeses in a number of sweet and savory baked goods. If you’re not too tired of apples just yet, you can use a local cheddar cheese in a cheddar pie crust, which is always a great option to spice up apple pie. You can use a local blue cheese in scones, biscuits, or a quickbread. Or, if you’re feeling like dinner, use a local cheese on your pizza, which is what I did this Sunday.

This pizza recipe uses a feta cheese with tomato and basil from Keswick Creamery, a Pennsylvania farm that sells at the Dupont Farmer’s Market. All their cheese is made from raw Jersey milk, and their cows are exclusively grass-fed. Unlike grocery store feta cheese, which can be dry and harsh, this is creamy and tangy, with just a hint of tomato and basil. Because I wanted the flavor of the cheese to stand out, this pizza is simple – topped with just the cheese, fresh basil, and a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Feel free to adapt this recipe to your tastes and whims. Pizza with very thinly sliced apples and Havarti could be lovely, as could a cheddar pizza topped with crumbled bacon. A good pizza crust the perfect vehicle for whatever’s in season, making it an excellent recipe to have on hand for the local shopper.

Farmer’s Market Pizza with Feta and Basil

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Sweet Potato Muffins: Making Whole Grain Baking Sexy

Sweet Potato Whole Wheat Muffins 1

Whole wheat sweet potato muffins. Yes, they are sexy.

Whole grain baking isn’t sexy. In fact, when I think of whole grain baking, I think of Eugene, Oregon, where I grew up. Specifically, I think of aging hippies dancing around to drum music, doing yoga before it was cool, wearing patchouli oil, and making their own whole wheat bread.

But Good to the Grain, the new cookbook by Kim Boyce, makes whole grain baking sexy. Her recipes make me actually want tosseek out flours that I never thought I would want to buy. Kamut flour. Spelt flour. Teff flour. They sound so Eugene. So hippie. So unsexy. But Sand cookies? Five grain cream waffles? Soft rye pretzels? I want to go to there.

So far, I’ve tried one recipe from the book for whole wheat sweet potato muffins, but there are many more that I want to try. I’m especially intrigued with Boyce’s whole wheat chocolate chip cookies – the whole wheat flour gives the cookies a nutty taste, and she uses bittersweet chocolate to complement the whole wheat flour. Unlike a lot of cook books, these recipes look really new, and unlike anything I’ve encountered before.

These muffins use a one to one ratio of white flour to whole wheat flour, which keeps them from being too dense. The sweet potato keeps them incredibly moist – in fact, I think I should have baked these a bit longer, as the centers sunk down after I took them out of the oven. I liked how the earthy flavor of the whole wheat flour balanced against the sweetness of the sweet potatoes, although I think that they could have used a bit more depth of flavor. I only added a teaspoon of cinnamon, rather than the tablespoon the recipe calls for, since I didn’t want the cinnamon to overpower the other flavors in the muffins. Next time I might try to add maple syrup or molasses, to make them just a touch sweeter and round out the flavors. Also, since I shop at the crappy Safeway, I wasn’t able to get the Medjool dates called for in the original recipe. I substituted golden raisins instead.

In general, though, I loved these muffins – I loved how moist they were, and I loved how they take a nutty flavor from the whole wheat flour, but a lighter, fluffier texture from the white flour. The spices add interest, and bring out the flavor of the sweet potato. Toasted and spread with a little butter, they’d be a great, healthful, and, dare I say it – even sexy – addition to a breakfast spread.

Sweet potato whole grain muffins 2

Look at that fine piece of muffin.

Recipe: Sweet Potato Muffins

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The Secret to Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies

These are exactly the way I like them. Exactly.

I feel okay about cupcakes. I feel okay about muffins. I even feel okay about cakes (well, not frosting them, but making them). I feel okay about my ability to make them consistently. I feel like they’re products that, while I wouldn’t say I’ve “mastered” them, I feel confident that I can make them well.

But cookies? Cookies are something else.

Cookies are tough. They’re small and delicate. They burn easily. I have a hell of a time making them the same size and thickness. And it’s easier to mess a cookie up. Yes, if you accidentally add too much butter to your cake, it might turn out a little heavy. But if you add too much butter too your cookie it will spread out all over the pan into a thin, crispy, inedible mess.

And of all the cookies I’ve ever made, the ones I’ve had the most trouble with are chocolate chip cookies. Yes, the things I’ve been making since I was four – the baked good I’ve made more than any other. They’ve been a source of endless frustration – sometimes ending up dry and crackly, other times spreading out into paper thin circles. Even though I use the same recipe every time (the one on the back of the bag of Nestlé Toll House Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips), the actual finished product varies wildly.

For what it’s worth, I like a thick, hefty chocolate chip cookie, with a soft, substantial center and a slight crispness around the edges. I like them best right out of the oven, when they’re falling apart and melting and the centers are just barely set.

I had some girlfriends over Friday night for girl talk, wine and Apolo Ohno watching, and I did something I’ve always wanted to do – I popped up in the middle of the evening and made everyone a batch of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. It made me feel like the best hostess ever – although I think they were humoring me more than anything (one of my friends was like “just let her be The Modern Domestic, guys”).

But I have a new weapon in my kitchen arsenal these days – I finally went out and bought a kitchen scale. And I would just like to say that every home baker should go out and get one right away. Immediately. They make baking so much easier; rather than messing around with measuring cups, you just pour everything into the bowl. And it’s so much more precise – rather than hoping that my “dip and sweep” cup of flour really is one cup, I know that I’ve added exactly five ounces of flour to my batter.

So this Friday, I converted the Nestlé Toll House chocolate chip cookie to weighed measurements using an excellent set of conversion tables in the back of The Cake Bible. And the cookies came out perfectly – slightly mounded and soft in the center and crisp at the edges. For the first time in a long time, they were exactly the way I liked them. Because the tiniest changes in the portion of fat to flour to liquid matters so much in a cookie, the extra control that the scale affords can make a huge difference.

So go out. Buy that kitchen scale. And the first thing you can make are the Nestlé Toll House chocolate chip cookies – my converted recipe is below. Go fourth and weigh!

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Cookies

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When Life Gives You Cookie Dough, Make Lemon Cheesecake Cookies

Lemon Cheesecake Cookies

Lemon cheesecake cookies - the first of many sugar cookie experiments.

When life gives you lemons you’re supposed to make lemonade, but what about ten pounds of sugar cookie dough? The excess dough I had left over from last week’s TogoRun cookies presented me with quite a dilemma. As I’ve mentioned before, this dough failed to hold its shape, making it unsuitable for last week’s cookie project.

Since I rarely ever make sugar cookies – I usually find them too sweet for my taste – I turned to Twitter for ideas. The lovely Alejandra sent me this Real Simple article about creative uses for sugar cookie dough, which gave me the idea to make thumbprint cookies. I also had a lot of pre-zested lemons left over, and I already knew I wanted to use them for lemon curd. So I decided that, if life gave me lemon curd and cookie dough, I would make lemon cheesecake thumbprints.

I need to digress here for a moment, because you really need to know just how wonderful this lemon curd is. This is the third time that I’ve made this particular lemon curd using a recipe from The Cake Bible, and each time I make it I fall a little more in love. While some lemon curds can be cloying, this is tart and fresh, and really tastes of lemons. Mixed with cream cheese and a little sugar, it made a pungent, creamy, refreshing filling that was good enough to eat on its own.

My other little twist on these cookies is that I rolled each of the sugar cookies in orange scented sugar before baking them, which gave them a deeper citrus note and a nice sparkle. But in the end, the problem with these cookies was the dough – although I shaped them into little thumbprints and even froze them before hand, they still spread out like crazy and my perfect little indentations were lost. I ended up spooning the filling in circles on top of the cookies. Instead of perfect little thumbprints, they looked like a sugar cookie crossed with a lemon danish.

I can’t in good conscience call these thumbprint cookies, although that’s what they were intended to be. But they were still pretty tasty – I liked the tartness of the filling set against the sweet cookie base (which is still too sweet for my taste, but whatever). Were I to make these again I’d bake the cookies slightly less – the brown edges were crispier than I wanted them to be. And I’ll definitely be using the filling again – hopefully in proper thumbprints next time.

Only nine pounds of dough to go.

Lemon Cheesecake Cookies 2

Man, I'm going to be really sick of sugar cookies by the end of this.

Recipe: Lemon Cheesecake Cookies

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For the Blizzard: Spiked White Hot Chocolate

Spiked White Hot Chocolate

Mmm, white hot chocolate. This is what I had for breakfast.

I’ve never seen a blizzard until today. Outside my window, the snow is practically falling horizontally because of the high winds. I can barely see down the street, and everyone’s steps, which they diligently shoveled yesterday, are already covered in snow again.

Some of my friends are braving the blizzard and going sledding later today, but I think I’ll stay cozy and warm in my nice little apartment. But, for all of you people who are venturing out into the winter wonderland, I have a recipe to warm you up when you finally come back inside – spiked white hot chocolate.

Now, white chocolate gets a bad rap, in my opinion. Yes, it’s not exactly chocolate – it doesn’t contain cocoa solids. But the mixture of cocoa butter, milk solids, and sugar is rich and creamy. Poor quality white chocolate will taste shockingly sweet, but good quality white chocolate is like eating a bar of vanilla. I love using white chocolate in frosting and mousse, and it pairs well with ginger, dark chocolate, and berries.

This spiked white hot chocolate is lovely for a cold snowy day like today – it contains no other sweeteners besides the chocolate, so it isn’t too sweet. And the rum brings out the vanilla flavor of the chocolate, and gives the drink just a touch of bite from the alcohol. It’s white chocolate at its best – and perfect to warm you up after a snow ball fight.

Spiked White Hot Chocolate
Makes one serving

10 oz whole milk
2.5 oz good quality white chocolate, such as Lindt, roughly chopped
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs dark rum

Heat milk on stove until hot (but not boiling). Meanwhile, melt white chocolate in a medium bowl in the microwave (microwave on low in 20 second bursts, stirring between intervals, until chocoalte is melted and smooth). Pour milk over melted white chocolate, stirring until blended. Add vanilla and rum. Serve warm, garnished with whipped cream of chocolate shavings, if desired.

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Snow Weekend Baking: Banana Muffins With Sour Cream and Lemon Icing

Banana Muffins 1

One of the things I baked this weekend - banana muffins with lemon sour cream icing.

This was a beautiful weekend. Snowpocalypse II really brought out the beauty in DC – both in the snow covered landscape, and in the sense of community and neighborliness it sparked in DC residents. Snowball fights, people walking in middle of the snow-filled streets, neighbors chatting with each other as they shoveled snow – everyone was downright friendly during Snowpocalypse II. I know it’s easy for me to say that given that I live in the city and wasn’t stranded out in the suburbs due to the lack of above-ground metro access like DC Thrifty Cook, and I didn’t lose power like Mango and Tomato. But it’s heartwarming to see people breaking out of their shells in the face of the snow.

On Saturday night, I decided that I needed to get out of the house or go crazy with some serious cabin fever, so I put the call out on Facebook, Twitter, and the Adams Morgan listserv to see if anyone wanted to meet up at The Black Squirrel for drinks. To lure people out, I brought along banana muffins to share, and even ended up giving some to the Squirrel’s hungry servers.

Now, I have a hard time classifying these particular banana muffins – sometimes I want to call them cupcakes, and sometimes I want to call them muffins. I actually made them using my banana bread recipe, which is less sweet than a full-blown cake, and has a rich banana flavor. Since bananas are so sweet, I used half whole wheat flour, which gives them a slightly coarser crumb and darker flavor. I also upped the amount of salt, which helps balance the sweetness of the fruit. And unlike a lot of banana bread recipes, this one uses butter, which gives the cake a rich, almost savory note, and helps keep it moist and fluffy.

Because there’s so much flavor in the cake, it doesn’t need a lot of frosting to jazz it up – another reason that puts these confections in the muffin camp. I topped mine with sour cream and lemon icing, which helps bring out the sweet and salty notes of the banana cake. The icing has so much flavor that all you need is a thin layer – too much and it would overwhelm the cake.

Today is a snow day for me – the DC Federal Government is closed, most likely because the snowstorm has shut down above-ground Metro access and no one from the suburbs can get to work. So if you’re stuck at home and have some bananas going bad (as happens so often with supermarket bananas), then I think you should make these muffins. Then put the call out to your neighbors and see if anyone else is getting cabin fever. Meet up at someone’s house, at your favorite bar, at a local coffee shop, and bring these muffins to share. Maybe you’ll make some new friends, or find out something new about the people in your community. It’s a snow day – it’s time to be social.

Banana Muffins 2

You can really see the crumb here - slightly coarse, but still very light. No wonder I ate, like, four of these in a morning.

Recipe: Banana Muffins with Lemon Sour Cream Icing

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For Your Super Bowl Party: Churchkey’s Caramel Corn

Stuck Kernel

I would totally go to the Super Bowl party that had this caramel corn.

Photo by Helga’s Lobster Stew, via flickr, used under the Creative Commons license.

I don’t like sports. Well, except the Olympics – and then mostly just figure skating and gymnastics, so I feel that doesn’t count. Granted, I like to go to a Nationals game now and again, but mostly for the opportunity to drink beer, eat Noah’s pretzels, and bemoan the number of my tax dollars that went into subsidizing a stadium that’s rarely half full.

So my friends and family may be a little surprised that, yes, I am actually blogging about what to eat at your Super Bowl party. I’ve only watched the Super Bowl once, and then only because I had relationship obligations. But now my life is blissfully sports-free, besides the occasional update on the Ducks football from my dad (which is quite fine).

Still, the Super Bowl is a time for parties and gatherings – and if you end up hanging out with a bunch of people in the kitchen, not watching the game and chatting, then what’s the harm?

This recipe for caramel corn comes from Tiffany MacIsaac, the fab pastry chef at Birch and Barley and Churchkey (she serves it up at Churchkey). But it’s not just any caramel corn – it’s mixed with salted cashews, toasted coconut flakes, and candied ginger, and coated in homemade caramel sauce. It’s a perfect Super Bowl treat – you can snack on this stuff all day. Many thanks to MacIsaac for sharing her recipe. It looks like a stroke of salty, sweet genius. In fact, if I went to a party that served this caramel corn, I might even agree to watch the game.

Caramel Popcorn
By Tiffany MacIsaac, Birch & Barley and ChurchKey

Note, I recently purchased a kitchen scale (such a great idea – so much easier just pouring stuff into a bowl and weighing, rather than scooping out all those damn cups), but for those of you without, there are a couple of online resources for converting metric recipes into cups. Check out this converter on Gourmet Sleuth, and also the ingredient database at Nutrition Data. If there’s great interest, I can test this out and come up with a conversion myself – just let me know in the comments.

Caramel Popcorn
By Tiffany MacIsaac, Birch & Barley and ChurchKey

3/4 cup popcorn kernels
300 grams salted cashews
200 grams toasted coconut flakes
1/4 cup candied ginger, minced
1000 grams granulated sugar
350 grams water
45 grams butter

1) Cover the bottom of a saute pan with a thin layer of oil (about 3-4 TBSP) and pour in the kernels in a single layer. Cover with foil and place over a medium heat until you hear them start to pop. At this point, shake the pot and continue to cook until all corn is popped.

2) Sift out pieces of kernels. Place popcorn in a bowl and add the cashews, ginger and coconut.

3) In a medium pot, cook the granulated sugar and water to a medium caramel. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Pour over the popcorn mix and use a heat proof spatula or metal spoon to stir. All the popcorn should be coated. Pour onto a silpat or 2 cookie sheets that have been sprayed or buttered. While still hot, sprinkle with a heavy amount of salt. Kosher is fine but a sea salt like Maldon or Fleur de Sel is best. Once cool, store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

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