the daughter, the baker

I feel compelled to blog about The Daughter's cookie.

To begin, for the past month, she has wanted to make a maple cookie. For reasons initially unbeknownst to me, I was reluctant to let her get started on the recipe, but she persisted in asking, and today she finally baked the cookie.  I was busy teaching piano and walked in only once- in time to see her dropping the very wet dough onto a crowded sheet. Being the hands-off mom that I am ‹cough› and trying very hard not to micromanage her, I said nothing. As you probably surmised, the sheets ended up looking like a bunch of multiplying cells...


I ♥ Costco

Well, I should say I ♥ Costco conditionally, like when I can get in and out of there in ten minutes.  The Husband, on the other hand, is always ready for a Costco run.  We love the savings on contact lenses, quality meats, La Brea Bakery breads, pecans, butter, and ... BANANAS.

We never seem to finish the huge bunch of bananas from there and they ALWAYS end up looking like this-
which means, It's Time to Make the Muffins.

The recipe I've fallen in love with is The Barefoot Contessa's Banana Crunch Muffins.  Montclair Diva's Daughter put it succinctly-"This is everything that a muffin should be."  I believe that she was referring to the combination of banana, butter, coconut, and nut mixed into a moist, flavorful cake.

I find it a bit odd that the act of mashing bananas always bring back 35 year-old memories of my mom doing that for The Baby Brother.  I think I was intrigued that you could pulverize something with a fork. I changed Ina's recipe slightly in the amount of sugar and butter (less of both) and in the procedure of mixing wet into dry.  The recipe below is my adaptation. 

I love that this becomes

this in the amount of time it takes me to drive the school carpool.

Banana Crunch Muffins
adapted from the barefoot contessa cookbook by Ina Garten

3 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
3/4 c. whole milk
2 t. pure vanilla extract
1 c. mashed ripe bananas (2 bananas)
1 c. medium-diced ripe bananas (1 banana)
1 c. small-diced walnuts
1 c. granola
1 c. sweetened shredded coconut
Dried banana chips, granola, or shredded coconut (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

Line 18 large muffin cups with paper liners.  Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. In a separate medium bowl, mix together the butter, eggs, milk, mashed bananas and vanilla. With the mixer on the lowest speed, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stir until they are just blended.  Gently fold in the diced bananas, walnuts, granola and coconut.  Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling each one to the top.  Top each muffin with dried banana chips, granola, or coconut, if desired.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool slightly, remove from the pan, and serve.


{sms} strawberry rhubarb cobbler pie

Well this is certainly a first, having a cobbler in a pie.  I'm such a stickler for semantics, so I'm thinking, "Doesn't a cobbler necessitate NO BOTTOM CRUST?"  Looking into the definition clarifies it a bit: "a deep-dish fruit pie with a rich biscuit crust, usually only on top" (Random House Dictionary); "a deep-dish fruit pie with a thick top crust" (American Heritage Dictionary); "A baked, deep-dish fruit dessert topped with a thick biscuit crust sprinkled with sugar" (The Food Lover's Companion)  The running themes are deep-dish and thick top.  I have to enlarge my personal vision of a cobbler and give it a bottom. I've also never baked with rhubarb before so I'm quite excited to see how it turns out.

I belatedly remembered that I don't have a 2-inch dough cutter (I made biscuits once, like maybe 15 years ago?  And probably used a makeshift upside down tumbler.)  I used a cookie cutter with pretty fluted edges, but which only allowed for a depth of 1/2-inch.  Oh well, no thick top.

The pie filling came together very easily, even more so with the help of a sous chef, aka The Daughter.  She cut the strawberries.

The Family was over (three brothers, SIL, and father) so I could get some honest feedback about the cobbler pie. Brother #3 managed, in-between bites, to mumble a few times, "This is REALLY good." Brother #1, having declared earlier in the day that he loved SR Pies, gave it two thumbs up.  The Husband decided this was on his shortlist of Top Dessert.

The SIL gave me constructive feedback.  The pie filling was a bit sweet (next time I'll cut out 1/4 cup sugar) and my biscuits were dry. The fact that they started on the dry side (did you see how crumbly my dough was??) and thinner (have you ever made a 1/2-inch biscuit?) was a handicap.

I also had serious issues with the filling bubbling over and in between the crust and the pie plate.  Anyone have a solution how to solve it so that the pie can be cut properly?  That was a definite mess.  Regardless, I need to get myself a proper dough cutter and learn to make proper biscuits now, because I will definitely be making this winner of a recipe again.

Many thanks to Tracey at tracey's culinary adventures for choosing this recipe, and check out the other Cobbler Makers at Sweet Melissa Sundays.


national jelly bean day

Everyone knows it's Earth Day today.  Did you know that it is also National Jelly Bean Day?  Jelly Beans are one of The Children's favorite candy.

If you are ever in Northern California, make sure to plan a trip to the Jelly Belly Factory.  We have been twice and highly recommend the tour.  You see the beans actually being made and smell in the air the sugary scent of the flavor of the day.  There are some wonderful jelly bean portraits of famous people on display, like Princess Di and Ronald Reagan (Patron President of the Jelly Bean.) The highlight of the trip undoubtedly is the Jelly Belly Tasting Bar.  You can check out any of the jelly beans (three at a time).  Seemingly, there is no limit to how many times you line up for more flavors, so cozy on up and sample away!


midafternoon pick me up

The French Student came for a piano lesson today.  I so admire this particular student, as she started not only piano lessons in her mid-60's, but also Mandarin Chinese lessons.  (In case you're wondering, I only teach piano and can only speak Chinglish.)  Knowing my penchant for All Things Valrhona, she brought along a special treat for me. 

I don't know if you've ever bitten into a piece of bittersweet chocolate, only to spit it out a few seconds later.  We're talking artisanal here- small batch, handmade chocolate- you know, bean to eight dollar bar.  I've experienced this far more than I care to remember.  The bar is all bitter and no sweet. You then run to find a piece of mint gum or listerine to cover the acrid aftertaste... well, you won't have to with this gem.  I introduce to you Valrhona Le Noir Amer, 71% Cacao, Dark Bittersweet Chocolate.

I took a bite, just a nibble, and wanted to hide away in a closet to savor every morsel.  I tried to ignore The Kid who asked what I was eating.  I said it was adult food. Only grown-ups could appreciate a deep, rich chocolate with lush fruit overtones. (Everyone, however, would enjoy the clean finish with nary a bitter sensation.)  Okay, I did let him have half of a half of a square.  Reluctantly.  I'm hiding the rest.

(If you're interested in reading up on Basic Chocolate Tasting 101, visit The Nibble.  This foodie magazine lists and reviews many chocolate bars and additionally has a wealth of information on gourmet and specialty foods.)


cornflakes for breakfast

Or should I say, Cornflakes, Chocolate Chips, and Marshmallow? With a Crack Pie chaser?

The Husband is always incredulous when I eat dessert at breakfast. Whether it be a pecan pie (always a favorite ANY time of day), butter pound cake, or a couple of cookies calling my name, I'm always game to have something sweet in the morning.  After all, how far removed are any of the above from coffee cake or doughnuts?

On a most wonderful excursion into Manhattan,  I stopped by Momofuku Milk Bar, which just opened a Midtown branch two weeks ago.  The Milk Bar is known particularly for two supposedly fabulous creations- Crack Pie and Compost Cookie.  I've had neither from the bakery, though I baked the latter a few weeks ago and have all the ingredients to make another batch when the craving hits, which was last Wednesday. The homemade Compost Cookies were/are stupendously good.  I had to taste test the real deals and got the Cornflake, Chocolate Chip and Marshmallow Cookie to round out the sampling.

chili cheese bake

My go-to egg dish for brunch is Chili Cheese Bake, which The Sister, The Best Third-grade Teacher in Oakland, introduced me to.  She had eaten this delicious dish, made by her school's principal, on many occasions at Teachers' Luncheons.  The recipe was shared ONLY upon the principal's retirement.

Like most of my favorite recipes, the dish is simple, fast, and tasty.  It requires a few ingredients not usually found in my home, namely diced green chili peppers and small curd cottage cheese.  

The original recipe didn't call for sausage, but I like the extra artery-clogging benefits it brings.

Chili Cheese Bake
from Beth, The Sister

4 oz. (1 stick) butter, plus more for greasing
12 eggs
1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
4 c. shredded cheese (I like using sharp cheddar)
8 oz. diced green chilies, drained
16 oz. small curd cottage cheese
16 oz. bulk sausage, optional

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Grease a 9x13-inch pan.

Melt the butter.  Let cool to room temperature.  If using, brown the sausage, breaking it into small pieces.

Meanwhile, whisk eggs thoroughly.  Add the flour, baking powder and salt.  Mix thoroughly.  Add the cheese, chilies, and cottage cheese.  Mix thoroughly.  Add the butter (and sausage).

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35-45 minutes.

n.b. The recipe is easily halved and baked in an 8-inch square pan.  If doing so, lessen the bake time by five minutes.


{sms} Sweet Potato Bread with Cinnamon-Rum-Orange Glaze

Sweet Melissa Sunday's recipe this week, chosen by Lorelei of Mermaid Sweets, is Sweet Potato Bread with Cinnamon-Orange-Rum Glaze. 

The recipe calls for the standard panty staples, plus canned yams. Alternatively, you can buy sweet potatoes, bake them yourself, and mash up two cups.

I like the inclusion of chopped pecans for texture, and since The Kids aren't interested in having any, I'm adding them in.  Also accidentally added was that stringy piece of a yam end.  I fortunately spied it in one of the loaves and hope there aren't any others submerged in there.


Silver Lining

The Poor Daughter is suffering from Seasonal Allergic Conjunctivitis.  She stayed home from school on Monday and we visited the pediatrician, who prescribed her four medications.

The silver lining in an otherwise miserable day was a new recipe venture- caramels.  The Daughter wanted to make them.  I would do anything to help her keep her mind off her red, itchy eyes, and if that includes caramels, why not?

I have never made any type of candy before and found this recipe to be remarkably straightforward and simple.

The instructions were to use a small saucepan; she pulled out this one (we halved the recipe).  We averted near disaster as the caramel almost boiled over and transferred everything to...

this pot.  Having a candy thermometer is key.  We were experiencing the proverbial "watched pot never boils" and the 20 minutes felt like to an eternity.  Finally, around 230º F I think, the liquid started slowly darkening.

We poured it into a buttered 9-inch baking pan and let it cool.


playing hooky

Who wouldn't, for a bite of this lusciousness?

Instead of our regular Sunday morning activity, which would be going to a church service at Renaissance, The Family took a quick trip into Manhattan to visit Doughnut Plant.  We first heard about it on Food Network and have wanted to try them for the past year.


{sms} chocolate malted layer cake

This week's SMS recipe, chosen by Nicole of Sweet Tooth, is Chocolate Malted Layer Cake.  I was excited about this cake, because I love malted milk shakes and I have never incorporated malt flavoring into baking.  I first was introduced to that idea through Baked, a cookbook which I love but have yet to feature in this blog. The malt flavor here, however, is only in the icing, not the cake. 

There's quite a bit of chocolate involved- 6 oz. unsweetened, 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder for the cake, and then a pound of milk chocolate for the frosting.

I used the dregs of the Ghiradelli cocoa powder canister, which was not enough.  Out came the Valrhona.  Can you guess which one is which?


hazelnut linzer cookie~ the third cookie

The third cookie for the baby shower was a Hazelnut Linzer Cookie.

Linzer Cookies are based on the Linzer Torte, which originated in Linz, Austria in the early 1700's.  The torte consisted of flour, ground nuts (usually almonds), sugar, egg yolks, spices and lemon zest that was filled with preserves (usually black currant) and then topped with a lattice crust.

These have ground hazelnuts and a raspberry jam filling sandwiched between two cookies.

I bought the unshelled nuts way back in December, hoping to make Linzer Christmas Trees.  Four months later...

The Husband likes to say I'm penny-wise pound-foolish and in this instance, I'd have to agree.  It certainly was not worth the money saved to spend an hour cracking nuts.  At least I worked out my vise grip.


rejected, dejected, delighted- pecan shortbread cookie {sms}

Beurrista was created a month ago for the sole purpose of joining an online baking club, Tuesdays with Dorie.  You would understand my chagrin, when three days after I contacted them, they posted that they had closed their door to new members.  I sent a follow-up email pleading my cause, but it was radio silence on their end. REJECTED by my raison d'etre.

After moping around for a few weeks and suffering a malaise not felt since high school, I googled "online baking club" and found Sweet Melissa Sundays.  The club is baking through The Sweet Melissa Baking Book, by Melissa Murphy, chef and co-owner of Sweet Melissa Patisserie in Brooklyn, NY.  I will one day a take the two-bridge trip over to her shop, but in the meanwhile, this post is my entry into the club.  

The recipe this Sunday, chosen by Lara of The Lab,  is Pecan Shortbread Cookies.  I had all six ingredients on hand and only needed to finely chop the pecans.


royal icing/royal mess

Today's project was making Royal Icing and frosting the cookies.

Mistake #1. Reading only The Joy of Baking and not checking in with the Doyenne of All Good Things, Martha Stewart, to get some helpful hints.

Mistake #2.  Coating cookie first. Outlining second.  IF I had read Martha's site, I would have known about first piping the outline, then "flooding" to coat the cookie.

Mistake #3.  Using chocolate/toothpicks/paintbrush to outline.  Don't even ask.

Mistake #4.  Forgetting to wish The Husband a Happy Birthday as I was too focused working on this blog.


tea bag cookies

The second cookie of the week is a Tea Bag Cookie. I saw this via Kim Vallee on Party Frosting! and thought they were delightful. I used The Joy of Baking's Sugar Cookie Recipe found here. I don't have a tea bag cutter (who does?) and so, I hand cut them. Remarkably, they were easier than the ducks from the other day.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...