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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