Saturday, August 29, 2015

GJUSTA COOKIES

This recipe leapt off of the page of my latest issue of Bon Appetit.  It comes from Gjusta, a restaurant that the magazine has identified as one of "America's Best New Restaurants". It's in Venice, Ca. If I'm ever there, I'd love to stop by for the full experience, but, for now, the cookies will have to do. 

Here's a link to the full recipe.  These cookies are so unique! I really admire people who can be successfully creative with new recipes. The toasted pumpkin seeds add an interesting roasted flavor, and the smoked paprika (what!?!) and cinnamon add a little kick. 

I only made small changes to the recipe. I used dark chocolate instead of bittersweet. I sprinkled salt before and after baking. Also, I had to reduce the cooking time by a couple of minutes (that could just be my hot oven). 

I couldn't be more pleased with the flavor! It's interesting, but still totally delicious. They are chewy like brownies. They smell amazing! And, I love that the cookies include pumpkin seeds. A great way to be seasonally appropriate without jumping on the pumpkin spice everything bandwagon.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Coming Soon!

Here are a few sweets that I can't wait to try out...

Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookies...any suggestions other than beet powder for making these red? A friend requested these, and I'm determined to make it happen.  However, the entire bottle of food coloring makes me cringe.  What do I do?

Cookies and Cream Frosting...I'm going to make some version of this to frost a cake for my son's 1st birthday! I want the cake to look like an abstract version of the moon. I say "abstract" because I'm not up for carving a cake in to a sphere or half sphere.  There will be planets and astronauts too.  It's an outer space theme, people!

Chocolate Chunk Pumpkin Seed Cookies...Don't worry, I'm not on the pumpkin spice bandwagon, but I'm not entirely anti-pumpkin.  These are spiced with paprika. What!?! I'm too curious to not try them.

Stay hungry.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Sweet Dreams are Made of These


I am not great at planning ahead for breakfast. This is a problem since I am wild about cinnamon rolls. They require major prep work.  Today, I tried out a cheater version of cinnamon rolls. I used my usual recipe for biscuits, but I made a few changes. 

If you don't have a good biscuit recipe, here's my favorite. They are great as is, but to make the cinnamon rolls here's what you do:

-Cut in only half of the butter when making the dough. 

-Roll the dough to a 1/4 inch thick rectangle. 

-Soften the unused butter, and spread it on the dough. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar. 

-Roll up the dough, and slice into 1/2 inch spirals. 

-Place them into a buttered round cake pan. 

-Bake at 450 for ~20 minutes. 

-Serve with vanilla glaze or cream cheese frosting. 

I was so happy with the result. Delicious and fast! I mentioned them to my mom, and she told me that my grandma used to make these for her! So, this is nothing new, and I think that's a good thing. Most recipes that are repeated by many are the best ones. I'll be adding this one to the rotation for sure.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Smooth Like Butter(cream)

Have you heard about the recent trend of adult coloring books?  I've heard that it's great for our health.  I think it is supposed to help with stress, help with mental aging, etc.  It sounds pleasant.  I'd be open to coloring. 

In the meantime, frosting cakes is my coloring.  I love the process.  It's very relaxing, like a meditation.  I enjoy sloppy frosting, but today I tried to make it very smooth.  It isn't that easy to do!  I watched an instructional video on YouTube.  It was very helpful...and mesmerizing.  I felt a bit hypnotized at the end.

To follow the instructions in the video completely I needed to have a few more tools.  A bench scraper and a turntable might end up on my Christmas list. ;)  For now, I just used my off-set spatula and cake stand.  With those, I was able to follow the general techniques demonstrated.  You frost the cake roughly with too much frosting.  Then, you slowly, smoothly remove it. 

You see my result is certainly not a perfectly smooth surface, but it is the smoothest cake I have ever made.  I'm quite happy with that!  I used Swiss meringue buttercream frosting.  I'm really in to that lately.  It's less sweet than American buttercream (butter and powdered sugar), and it is waaaay more silky.  It was the perfect medium for my study in smoothness.  

Monday, August 3, 2015

Gateau Basque

Gateau Basque... like a giant shortbread cookie filled with jam and pastry cream, or a sophisticated pop tart.  I've heard described both ways.  It doesn't matter to me how you describe it.  Just eat it and be happy.


I came across this pastry at The Little Tart Bakeshop.  I would have never ordered this unassuming item if it wasn't for a suggestion from a friend.  This particular friend has a knack for knowing what is good, so I tried it out.  It was a great pal for my coffee.  Since it is an intentionally dry pastry, I think you definitely want to have it with tea or coffee.  Their version was filled with a jam made from local fruit and a lemon cream.  Very tasty.  I was sad when it was gone.


Of course, I had to do some research so that I could make my own.  I scoured the internet, and I found this recipe by Dorie Greenspan to be the most compelling.  It has a few steps, but none of them are particularly difficult.  The audio NPR story is full of interesting details.  I encourage a quick listen if you are curious.


The first time I made it, I used pastry cream and cherry jam as the filling.  This most recent time (in the pictures), I only used currant jelly.  The pastry cream is delicious, but I wanted to simplify it a bit.  I liked it both ways, it's a very flexible cake.  You could probably even fill it with something chocolatey...Nutella possibly?


Gateau Basque is enjoyable most anytime of day.  It is great with coffee for breakfast or an afternoon snack.  I hope you will order one up or try making it yourself.  Try to resist the urge to pass on it because it looks so plain.  Hey, don't be so superficial!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Buttermilk

Last week, I had buttermilk in my fridge to make a buttermilk pie.  The pie was delicious and easy to eat.  I really prefer straightforward food. It is fun to occasionally challenge your palette, but it's also nice when you find something that is simply pleasant.

I didn't want to waste the buttermilk, so I had to make some buttermilk biscuits.  I had to.  I still had more buttermilk, so I also made a buttermilk buttercream for a chocolate cake.  I just subbed the buttermilk for the cream I would normally use.  It was tangy in a great way.  It reminded me of a cream cheese frosting.

After all of that, you would think I'd be over anything with buttermilk.  Oh, don't under estimate my Southern taste buds! My favorite yellow cake recipe happens to call for two cups of buttermilk. The yellow cake by Add a Pinch is pretty much the only yellow cake I make now. It's tangy and creamy. It tastes deliciously homemade. 


The yellow cake is simple to put together. I usually bake it in 9 inch rounds, but the recipe includes other options. If you find yourself wanting to make this but you are out of buttermilk, don't worry. It's easy to fake it. For each cup of buttermilk (in this case you need two), measure out one tablespoon of white vinegar. Put the tablespoon of vinegar into a one cup measure. Fill to the top with milk (total volume is one cup). Let it sit for 5 minutes. Tada, buttermilk!

For the yellow cake, you probably have the rest of the ingredients on hand. Frost it with you favorite frosting or eat it with whipped cream and fruit. It's not picky about what it wears. ;)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Thankful

Sometimes life happens in such a way that I am overwhelmed with feelings of thankfulness. It's easy for my mind to be wrapped up in the meaningless action items of the day, but, when I slow down, I'm amazed at how many wonderful things there are to see. 

Happy Saturday. I hope you all get a moment or two of peace and rest.