Archive for the 'Food and Drink' Category

Finally, a Food Post!

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Because I’ve been writing other places about food, I don’t write so much about it here. And a few people mentioned that they missed it, plus I’ve been lax about blogging, so this is me killing two birds with one stick. I think that must’ve been a combo of “killing two birds with one stone” and “getting off the stick.” I don’t even really know if that last one means what I think it does. Anyway.

Here is what may very well be my favorite recipe. It’s easy, it’s tasty, it’s healthful, and it’s useful. By now, I’d think I’d have it memorized and wouldn’t have to pull out my broken-spined Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison every time I make it. Which I do. I’ve written about this recipe before. Here on Girl Detective (hey, apparently Guppy used to say, Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Tomatoes), and at Simple Good and Tasty. What I love about it is that it can be made year ’round, it’s adaptable (today I stretched the recipe with a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes, a half-pint of local new potatoes, 2 cups of broth rather than 1/2 cup, and bunch of absolutely beautiful carrots.) I can be precise (by peeling the carrots and potatoes and measuring) or play fast and loose, leaving skins on and throwing in whatever’s on hand. Also, I sometimes (gasp!) do not rinse the beans, but just pour in the whole can, Which goes against foodie practice, but I can’t find anything anywhere that says it’s anything other than a matter of taste/appearance, which don’t impact this stew.

chopped carrots

Chickpeas with Potatoes and Tomatoes
, adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 red potatoes, peeled and diced into cubes about the size of chickpeas
2 carrots, cut into 1/2-in. rounds
3-4 stalks celery, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 pinch dried red pepper flakes
2 plump garlic cloves mashed with 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 c. diced tomatoes
3 c. chickpeas, cooked, or 2 15-oz. cans, rinsed
salt and pepper
1/2 c. water, broth or wine
1/2 c. chopped parsley
garnish with lemon slices and kalamata olives (it really is very tasty with these) and sliced pita bread

Heat the oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it’s lightly colored, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the potatoes, carrots, chile and garlic and cook for 5 minbutes more. Add the tomatoes and chickpeas, season with 1 teaspoon salt and a few twists from the pepper mill, and add the water. Cover and simmer gently until the potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Taste for salt, remove from heat and stir in parsley.

(Another photo should go here, but something isn’t working, and telling the system administrator, who’s sitting next to me, hasn’t helped.)

Two-Minute Mothers Day Post

Monday, May 9th, 2011

First, of all, I hope you took time to honor all the mothers in your life. If you live in the US, where it was Mothers Day, or not.

Second, I hope you took time to honor all others who get short shrift this day: those who couldn’t be mothers, those who were but aren’t, those who chose and choose not to be in spite of tremendous societal pressure, single dads, dad-dad families, and anyone else this day. There are many ways to mother, and those whose title it is don’t even always do a good job at it, so we should honor ALL.

Third of all, I’m now up to 4 minutes, and haven’t even written about the lovely day I had yesterday: eggs Florentine and my favorite draft root beer for brunch, browsed at 2 shops full of pretty, shiny things, and got a necklace and earrings. Got a double of passionfruit sorbet and chocolate/amaretto ice cream at my favorite shop, then a macchiato at a new coffee shop, then a nap, then played catch with 7yo Drake and practiced 2-wheeling on his bike with Guppy. Read my book. Went to bed.

I am so, so fortunate and I wish love to you all.

Favorite Things!

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Or, what I did instead of writing and napping.

Shopped at Barnes & Noble Galleria (but didn’t buy anything.)

Shopped at Half Price Books in St. Louis Park (um, did buy some stuff; book stack photo to come)

Lunch of mushroom stroganoff with tofu drizzled with Sriracha sauce at Noodles and Co.

Double of Clusterfluff (Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Caramel Cluster Pieces, Peanut Butter & Marshmallow Swirls) and Chocolate Therapy (Chocolate ice cream with chocolate cookies and swirls of chocolate pudding) at Ben & Jerry’s, plus they were having a 3-fer sale:


It’s not the hubby who’s going to get chubby around here, it’s me.

A Few Favorite Things

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Todays post-nap afternoon snack:

Barsy’s smoky almonds mixed with Sunspire chocolate SunDrops, mini pretzels, dried cherries and Barbara’s Bakery Shredded Spoonfuls. It’s like Chex Mix, but easier. And tastier.

A cup of Peace Coffee Pollinator made in the one-cup Bodum French press my husband got me last year.

A serving of Ben and Jerry’s new flavor, Late Night Snack: Vanilla Bean ice cream with a salty caramel swirl and fudge-covered potato-chip clusters. I’m here to tell you: it’s also delicious in the afternoon! (Perhaps I should try it for breakfast tomorrow? You know, in the interest of science?)

Ben and Jerry's Late Night Snack: good all day!

Ben and Jerry's Late Night Snack: good all day!

Two Beloved Books about Eggs

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Two of my favorite books to read to my sons are about eggs. One is a classic, Bread and Jam for Frances:

It was breakfast time,
and everyone was at the table.
Father was eating his egg.
Mother was eating her egg.
Gloria was sitting in a high chair and eating her egg, too.
Frances was eating bread and jam.
“What a lovely egg!” said Father.

Frances the badger does not like eggs, or most other foods. She asks for bread and jam instead. But when she begins to receive bread and jam at every meal, Frances learns the perils of getting what you want. This book has so many things: charming pictures by Lillian Hoban, an amusing, yet gently instructive tale by her then-husband Russell Hoban, several songs about jam, and (as Kate Moses pointed out in her touching memoir Cakewalk) a story about food and its role in a happy family. My mom read this to us when my sisters and I were girls, and she made up tunes to go to the songs, just as I’ve done for my sons.

The second book was given to us by my sister Ruthie some years ago. It’s the deceptively simple Two Eggs, Please written by Sarah Weeks and illustrated by Doreen Cronin, the illustrator of the Click, Clack Moo books. It’s 2 a.m. in a downtown diner. A brown bear is in the kitchen, a red fox is out front. One by one, customers trickle in; they include a taxi-driving rhino, an upright-bass playing mouse whose band has probably just finished a set when the bar closed, a construction worker ram, and a homeless alligator and his pet snake. What do they all want? Two eggs, please. (And the “please” is pleasingly repeated.) They each get a nice, big cup of coffee but the egg orders are all different. The chef is shown breaking two eggs, one brown, one white, and both the same on the inside. The simple, timeless message told with charming pictures and few words moves me every time, and I only hope its deeper message is planted and growing inside my boys, even as they enjoy the simplistic portrayal of a late night diner counter.

I eat the same breakfast every morning: a cherry pomegranate toaster pastry and a cappuccino. About two hours later, I’m finally hungry for something more substantial, and that’s when I usually cook an egg. As often as we can, we get our eggs from one of Guppy’s preschool teachers, whose grandmother keeps chickens out in the country. Check out this yolk: half as high as a golf ball, and yellow-orange like a hot sun. These are eggs from happy chickens.

Frying egg

And from another recent morning, one of Guppy’s and my favorite second breakfasts: a bacon/cheese scramble alongside toast with a great deal of butter (hat tip, Mercy Watson books):

2nd brekkie: scramble

Note that I’m eating the heels of the bread, as the three other people in this family refuse to. Am I eating their leavings, or fortifying myself with the part of the bread that has the most nutrients?

Three Birthday Cakes

Friday, March 4th, 2011

I made three birthday cakes this month. One for 5yo Guppy:

Guppy's Cake

It is Obi Wan and Anakin battling on the planet Mustafar. I have not seen the movie this scene is from, but I know the relevant details, as it’s the kind of thing one learns as the wife of a geek and the mother of sons. The cake is one yellow round and one chocolate round, as 7yo Drake likes yellow cake and 5yo Guppy likes chocolate. I used recipes from Cook’s Country, and found them dry.

For my husband G. Grod, I made Cook’s Illustrated’s Chocolate Mousse Cake. (I’d link to their website, but it always freezes my browser, and thus annoys me. I will not reward them for that.) Very good, but the recipe is fussy, with whipped egg whites, a bain marie and hours to cool then hours to chill. I never managed to restrain myself from eating long enough to take a pic of the finished cake, but here were some steps:

Whipped egg whites

melted chocolate

For my birthday, I thought about buying a cake, but decided finally to make the Brown Eyed Susan Cake, which I’d coveted since I’d seen it in a 2005 copy of Cook’s Country.

Here was the magazine photo:


Here is my version:


For me, making it took all day, the chocolate marble and frostings were much lighter than the magazine pictures, and the cake itself was dry. With vanilla ice cream, it was quite good, but in retrospect not worth spending my entire birth day making. Memo to future self: buy a cake. As for the dryness of the cakes, I was using unbleached cake flour. That might have been a factor, so before I toss those recipes, I’ll try using regular cake flour.

What I Do After I Visit the Dentist

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

After the Dentist

I have been going to the same dentist office for 12 years. The previous dentist retired, and a new one bought his practice. They know our family, and can even say which son’s teeth seem like which parent’s. Best of all, right downstairs is one of the best Half Price Books in the area. (I worked there 12 years ago, which is why I started seeing that dentist.)

No trip is complete without a stop before or after to the bookstore. This stack of four was me restraining myself.The combination of The Morning News Tournament of Books, plus the new book group I’ve started, in which we’re reading fiction with themes of religion and mythology, hits me right in my vulnerable, compulsive book-buying spot. These I’m considering for the book group:

Bee Season by Myla Goldberg
A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M Miller, Jr.
Lamb by Christopher Moore
Lady Oracle by Margaret Atwood

After the bookstore, I go to Rustica bakery for an excellent coffee drink (macchiato nowadays) and their bittersweet chocolate cookies. Post-bookstore Rustica is one of my very happiest places.

Food in Books

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Depending on how the author writes, I can either loathe the mention of food in books, or be so enamored of it that I get hungry and promptly want what’s being described.

Two series in which the many food references didn’t work for me were in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, and in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series, beginning serialization on HBO this month with A Game of Thrones. In the Larsson books, I lost count of how many sandwiches, cups of coffee, and frozen Billy’s pizza were consumed. None of them sounded appetizing. Only dull and repetitive.

Ditto the food in the Song of Fire and Ice books. The food, along with what characters were wearing, was described so many times, and in such unnecessary detail, that I gave up partway through the third book, and am now afraid to pick up the series again as many fans fear Martin is going to die before he finishes the fifth book, which isn’t even the last in the series. And while the food, sauces and serving styles were repeated ad nauseum, vegetables are pretty much nowhere, something I noticed after reading Diana Wynne Jones’ Tough Guide to Fantasy Books. Meat: yes! Fruit: sometimes. Vegetables or salad? No way.

Two recent books had me salivating, though. Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad books, especially The Likeness, mentioned so many types of biscuits (cookies) so often that I now have both ginger lemon and chocolate cream in the house. Hollis Henry’s description of broasted potatoes from William Gibson’s Spook Country made me long for them. Hubertus Bigend in Zero History recommends The Full English breakfast a few times, so I ate baked beans with my eggs and toast all last week and am considering whether I want to go to Anchor Fish and Chips for the Full Whack. (Yes, you can get a Full Irish in Minneapolis!)

What food in what recent books has made you hungry, or horrified?

My Great-Grandmother’s Banana Bread

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

I always found my family’s banana bread recipe difficult to make. The baking time way exceeded the suggested hour, which seemed par for other recipes, too. Further, it often came out super dense and almost wet rather than moist, probably a result of including the liquid from the bottle of maraschino cherries. Later in life I fiddled with it, combining it with a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated with good results. Only recently, though, did it occur to me to try the original ingredients with CI’s method. I did this yesterday, and am happy to report success. Here, then, is my family’s recipe, minus extraneous liquid (the cherry juice and a Tablespoon of water to mix the baking soda in), with some whole-wheat flour replacing some of the AP flour, and using the Cook’s Illustrated method. In a perfect world, I’d freeze some, make either of the other recipes (original or combo) next and compare. That, though, would depend on me being able to leave any of this uneaten. Unlikely.

Banana Bread with Maraschino Cherries

Banana Bread with Maraschino Cherries

Great-Grandmother Jenny’s Banana Bread with Maraschino Cherries

(makes one standard loaf pan, or 3 mini loaves) If your bananas aren’t ripe enough, peel them and put them on a cookie sheet in the oven while it preheats. Remove them, let them cool, then mash and include them.


4/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons, or 1 stick) butter, melted then cooled
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
3 very ripe bananas, mashed well (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 10-ounce bottle maraschino cherries, drained, rinsed, stems removed, each ripped or cut in halves or thirds


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour one standard loaf pan, or three mini loaf pans. Melt butter in microwave or over low heat on stovetop. Set aside to cool.

2. In medium-large bowl, mix or sift together flours, sugar, salt and soda.

3. Check that butter has cooled, or it will cook the eggs. In medium bowl, mix together melted butter, eggs, mashed bananas and cherries.

4. Lightly fold wet mixture into dry with rubber spatula until just combined. Batter should be chunky with no flour streaks.

5. Scrape batter into loaf pan(s). Bake until golden brown, and tester comes out clean, about 55 minutes for standard loaf, about 40 minutes for mini loaves. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container.

“Cakewalk” Chocolate Chip Cookies

Monday, January 10th, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie

The Cakewalk Cookie

I recently read Kate Moses’ memoir Cakewalk, which I borrowed from the library based on the statement at the blog Tipsy Baker that the recipe in them for chocolate chip cookies was perhaps unbeatable. My previous go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe was Pam Anderson’s, which I included with my previous Cakewalk entry, since I no longer had a copy of Cakewalk at hand and couldn’t share that recipe. Then I went out and bought my own copy.

As with everything in Cakewalk, memories of growing up are intertwined with memories of baked goods and recipes. The chocolate chip cookies were a survival mechanism:

In the solitary refuge of our kitchen, I gradually gained the confidence in my basic skill as a baker to start improvising, playing with proportions and ingredients until what I made tasted the way I imagined it could.

The chocolate chip cookies I bake these days only remotely resemble the cookies I baked when I was in junior high and high school. Still, when I make them, I sometimes think about those weirdo kids from junior high, friends for as long as we needed each other, learning to appreciate what good came to us–or not (189)

I’ve halved Kate’s recipe, since hers produces 4 to 5 dozen cookies, and put a strain on the engine of my Kitchenaid mixer. (I have the smaller, non-lifty-bowl kind). Two or so dozen of these will be plenty. Also, I use the method from Pam Anderson’s recipe, which produces a puffier cookie than the time I made Kate’s recipe right out of the bowl, though she says its best to refrigerate them overnight or up to two days.

Absolutely Best Chocolate Chip Cookies, adapted from Kate Moses’ Cakewalk
(makes 2 dozen cookie, more or less depending on size)

4/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
3/4 cup salted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 large egg, room temperature
3/4 pound high-quality chocolate, coarsely chopped (this is an a$$load of chocolate, and if you buy the good stuff, 3/4 pound will cost a lot. I used the Guittard semi-sweet chips my grocery carries in bulk. They were delicious, if not as rustic as chopped chocolate.)
Optional: 1 cup walnuts, toasted, cooled then chopped coarsely

In medium bowl, stir together flours, soda, powder, salt and espresso powder. Set aside.

In large bowl of electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed for a couple of minutes, then add the sugars, beating until very light, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and the egg and beat again until very light and fluffy. With only minimal strokes of the mixer blade or by hand, stir in the flour mixture in three or four parts, mixing just until it disappears. Stir in the chopped chocolate and nuts, if using. The cookie dough can be used immediately, but it is better if chilled, covered, at least overnight or up to 2 days.

(If you refrigerate, I recommend scooping the dough into balls before doing so; scooping refrigerated dough is hard work and likely to bend a spoon or break an ice-cream scoop.)

Moses’ baking instructions: Preheat the oven to 350. On an ungreased cookie sheet, place balls of dough the size of golf balls at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes, checking after 10 minutes, until the edges are light brown and the surface is crackly and set but the centers are still soft. Let cool for about 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a wife rack to finish cooling completely.

My baking instructions: After mixing the dough, place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Scoop dough either by rounded tablespoonfuls, or with an ice cream scoop, onto sheet. They can touch. Place cookie sheet with dough balls in freezer. Preheat your oven to 400. Cover a second cookie sheet with parchment paper. After 30 minutes, remove the dough balls, put 6 to 8 on each sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between them. Return the rest of the dough balls to the freezer. (You can make them after the first batch is finished baking, or cover them and bake them later.) Place dough in 400 oven and bake about 8 minutes, or until dough ball loses shape and collapses. Reduce oven temperature to 350. Open oven, switch cookie sheets top to bottom and front to back. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes more until cookies are light brown at edges. Remove from oven. Cool 5 minutes on sheets, then completely on wire racks. If you are baking more batches, return oven to 400.

“Cakewalk” by Kate Moses

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

I first heard about Cakewalk, the food memoir by Kate Moses, at Tipsy Baker, who claimed that the recipe for chocolate chip cookies in it might be unbeatable. I mentally scoffed, as the recipe I use, by Pam Anderson*, is a slam-dunk that’s been requested numerous times. But I borrowed Cakewalk from the library and made the cookies. Very good, I thought, but I didn’t like how they turned -wise, since I wasn’t able to refrigerate the dough up to 48 hours as she suggested. Then I had to return the book, and wait a long time to get it again. This time I made the cookies with Moses’ ingredients and Anderson’s method of freezing scoops of dough for 30 minutes then baking in a 400 degree oven till they collapse, then finishing at 350. A bit fussy, yeah, but wow. The Moses recipe with the Anderson method might well be unbeatable.

So if you’re looking for a good chocolate-chip cookie recipe (and if you aren’t, why not?) get this book. But if you’re a fan of messed-up-family memoirs, like those of David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs, and you like food, then this book’s for you. Also, it’s for those of you who loved Norah Ephron’s book and the movie adaptation of Heartburn. Kate Moses is a strong writer, and tells good stories, even when they’re full of tragedy, like her home life and her middle-school life, and more and more. Good book, good recipes. Highly recommended.

Life does not always reward us with the best cookie in the box, or the happiest family; sometimes you take what you get and make the best of it. In my case, that’s where imagination came in as handily as learning how to bake. For both of those lifesavers, I have my confusing, painful, unforgettable childhood to thank. Which makes me wonder if my cake obsession, really, is not much more than my struggle to find a way to redeem with sweetness those moments that left, however bitter on occasion, such a lasting taste in my mouth.

* Pam Anderson’s recipe is no longer available online, though apparently it’s in her book CookSmart, but here’s her recipe:

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
I use 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour and 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/4 cups bleached all-purpose flour (use a 3/4 cup measure for this and the sugars: 3 x 3/4 = 2 1/4.)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 tsp. salt
14 Tbs. butter (2 sticks minus 2 Tbs.), cut into chunks
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs. flavorless oil, such as vegetable or canola
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips or 8 ounces good-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate cut into 1/4-inch chunks, about 1 1/2 cup
1 cup each chocolate chunks or chips and 1 cup toasted nuts (pecans, walnuts, unsalted peanuts or macadamias)

Mix flour, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside. Mix eggs, vanilla and salt in a small bowl; set aside. Microwave butter on high power until just melted but not hot, 30 to 45 seconds; set aside. Mix brown and granulated sugars in a large bowl. Add butter and oil; stir until smooth. Add egg mixture and stir until smooth and creamy. Add dry ingredients and stir until smooth. Stir in chocolate and optional nuts. Using a 1 1/2-ounce (3 Tbs.) ice cream scoop, spoon 16 dough balls onto a pan that will fit in your freezer. (Don’t worry if the dough balls are crowded. They pull apart when frozen.) Freeze until dough is hard, about 30 minutes. (Once dough balls are frozen, they can be stored in freezer bags up to 3 months and baked as desired.)

Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to upper middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Working in half batches, place 8 frozen dough balls onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake until set, but not brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Continue to bake until cookies are golden-brown around the edges and lightly brown on the top, about 10 minutes longer. Let cookies cool on cookie sheet. Repeat, preheating oven to 400 degrees again before baking second batch.

Cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 5 days.


Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Yesterday’s blog post was supposed to be about making time to write. You’ll notice that it didn’t appear, as it hasn’t yet been written.

Instead, my husband asked yesterday if I’d make cookies so he could participate in his friends’ cookie swap at work. So I’ve been nerdishly finding recipes, making trips to _3_ different stores (though all were part of 2 combined trips for other things.) And not writing. (This doesn’t count. This is thinking “aloud.”)

Anyone care to wager how many of five recipes I’ll end up making? Here’s the pie-in-the-sky (or rather, cookies-in-the-sky) list: Metropolitan millet muffins (which I wrote about before but am not going back to find the link for; sorry! See–not writing; thinking aloud.) 2 types of cake-mix cookie (to compare, of course), red velvet whoopie pies, buckeyes and mint thumbprints. Also prepping to take a meal to a sick friend for tomorrow.

So, writing? Not so much. Also, please feel free to leave comments, as many of you do. I’m getting SLAMMED with spam lately, so approving (or not) comments has gotten discouraging.

Metropolitan Bakery’s Millet Muffins

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

When I last visited Philly, I had a marvelous but all-too-brief visit with my friend lxn (stupid Schuykill traffic). We met at the University City Metropolitan Bakery. They didn’t have either of my favorites of sainted memory–the grape foccaccia or the berry roll–but lxn recommended the millet muffin. I was skeptical, then I tried it. Wow. The little bits of toasted millet are like crunchy pops of surprise in a lovely not-too-sweet muffin. Hoping to find something similar, I did an online search when I got home to Minnesota. Jackpot: a recipe for the real thing! I added whole wheat flour and modified it to make one dozen, as more than a dozen muffins at a time exhausts me. These muffins make friends.

Millet Muffins

Metropolitan Bakery’s Marvelous Millet Muffins

(makes 12)

1 cups millet, lightly toasted and cooled

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

4/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spread millet on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, shaking the pan 2 or 3 times. Remove and let cool.

2. Increase oven to 375 degrees. Butter or spray muffin tin.

3. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Stir in cooled millet.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla.

5. In the bowl of a mixer with paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.

6. At low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the egg mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Take care not to over mix.

7. Using an ice-cream scoop, put batter evenly into prepared muffin-pan cups. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through. Bake until a wooden skewer comes out clean. Cool for five minutes and then remove from pan and continue to cool on a wire rack.

Food Post: Autumn Vegetable Stews

Friday, October 1st, 2010

A few friends have commented about the lack of food posts this summer. I’ve been writing for the local food site Simple Good and Tasty, so that’s where my food-writing energy has been focused. In future I’ll post links to the articles. The most recent was “Local Potatoes; Global Flavors.”

Ethiopian Stew

There were other things in last week’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm-share box: basil, green beans, turnips, chard, tomatoes, onions. But the giant pile of potatoes kind of eclipsed everything else. The suddenly cooler weather plus those potatoes seemed to cry out for something warm and comforting. I glanced at my cookbook shelves, in search of recipes that would honor these humble midwestern spuds. Eureka, I thought, stew! Or, as it transpired, stews! Bland? Mushy? No way. These stews were going to be stars.

Minnesota Cooks Day at the State Fair

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

If you’re free any time today, head to the Minnesota State Fair for Minnesota Cooks Day. Admission is discounted, and there are demonstrations by local chefs all day, with free food samples of what they cook! I’ll be at the Simple Good and Tasty booth this morning, and doing things my kids wouldn’t want to the rest of the time, like visiting Creative Activities, Fine Arts and such.

My piece on how to enjoy the fair with your family is up today at Simple Good and Tasty. Check out yesterday’s post on guilty fair-food pleasures. You know: Oh, no, I shouldn’t. OK, one bite. Chomp. Ummm. OK, well one more. Wait, where’d it go?

Eat, Freeze, Give: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My CSA

Friday, June 25th, 2010

My newest piece at Simple, Good and Tasty is part of a bi-weekly series on using up my CSA box.

Sugar? Oh, Honey, Honey

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

For my foodie friends, I just finished a piece on sugar and sugar alternatives at Simple Good and Tasty.

Sugar is enjoying a resurgence in popularity after years of being vilified for empty calories and its role in things like tooth decay, obesity and diabetes. As the negative effects of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) have become better known, sugar’s profile has risen. Cane sugar, as opposed to cheaper beet sugar, has especially benefited from HFCS’s bad press; it is actually being touted as a healthful ingredient. Yet cane and beet sugars are highly processed, refined and provide no nutritional value. Other, less refined, sweeteners have some benefits that sugar doesn’t. Yet nearly all of them raise blood sugar, and have little nutritive value. So why bother?

Here’s what I learned/confirmed:

Honey can’t be organic. Maple syrup and honey are the only sweeteners local to MN. All sugars are bad for you, though some are better than others IN MODERATION. Almost all sugars/sweeteners, even if natural, are processed (except raw honey). And finally, I still prefer to bake with not-completely refined cane sugar for the best results. Oh, and Stevia kind of scares me.

Sign of Spring

Thursday, April 15th, 2010


Fresh baby radishes from Wisconsin. I separated the greens, washed them and put them away. Sliced the radishes, put them on a cracker with a schmear of sweet cream butter, then sprinkled with sea salt. Next day, sauteed the greens in an egg scramble.

“Reduced Calorie” Sweet and Salty Cake

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Glossy Sweet and Salty Cake

For a loved one’s 40th, I took Baked’s Sweet and Salty Cake recipe that I made for my husband G. Grod’s bday, reduced it by 2/3 to make a double layer cake, and didn’t whip the ganache. This eliminated one extra batch of salted caramel and a POUND of butter. So while its calories are reduced from the original, G. Grod noted it only meant he could finish a whole piece, not that it wasn’t still decadent.

Glossy Sweet and Salty Cake

Makes one 8-inch 2-layer cake.

1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup sour cream
1 3/4 cups cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoon pure vanilla
Salted Caramel Sauce, divided (see below)
Dark Chocolate Caramel Ganache Icing (see below)
Fleur de sel, for garnish

For the cake:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans. Line each pan with a parchment paper round, butter parchment paper and flour; set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa, 3/4 cups hot water, and sour cream; set aside to cool, about 10 minutes.

3. In another large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together until smooth and it appears to create strings inside the bowl, about 7 minutes. Add both sugars and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 7 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until well incorporated. Add vanilla, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, and mix again for 30 seconds. Add flour mixture alternating with cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

5. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake until cake is just firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 18 to 24 minutes. Let cool completely.

Caramel (for Salted Caramel Sauce and Dark Chocolate Caramel Ganache Icing)

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream, divided

For Salted Caramel Sauce:

1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel
1/8 cup sour cream

For Dark Chocolate Ganache Icing

10 ounces dark chocolate (60% to 70%), chopped


1. Combine 1/4 cup water, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan; stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the mixture reaches 350 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in another small saucepan bring cream to a boil, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. When the caramel mixture has reached 350 degrees, remove from heat and allow to cool for 1 minute. Carefully add 1/2 cup warm cream; stir to combine. Divide caramel into 2 batches.

4. For the Salted Caramel Sauce, whisk in fleur de sel and sour cream. Set aside.

5. For the Dark Chocolate Caramel Ganache Icing, place chocolate in bowl, whisk other 1/2 cup warm cream into 2nd batch of caramel, let cool 5 minutes. Pour caramel sauce over chocolate. Wait one minute. Stir to combine until chocolate is melted.

(Yes, dividing a batch of caramel is kind of a pain. But not as much as making an entire second batch, as in the original recipe.)

To assemble the cake:

Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level. Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate or lazy Susan. Place the first layer on the cake plate. Spread Salted Caramel Sauce on the cake, allowing some to soak into the cake. Follow the caramel layer with a layer of about 1 cup of the ganache icing. Place the second layer on top, bottom side up. Pour remaining ganache icing over entire cake. Sprinkle with fleur de sel.

Salted Caramel ooze

Root Beer Bundt Cake

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

root beer bundt cake

This Root Beer Bundt Cake was the first recipe I made in the new bundt pan my sister Ruthie got me for my birthday. Alas, it tasted almost nothing like root beer, but was a very good, fudgey cake. Like so much I’ve been baking lately, it was from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.

Root Beer Bundt Cake- yields 1 (10-inch) Bundt cake

2 cups root beer (do not use diet root beer)
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs

2 ounces dark chocolate (60% cacao), melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup root beer
2/3 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Vanilla ice cream

For the cake:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Generously spray the inside of a 10-inch bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray; alternatively, butter it, dust with flour, and knock out the excess flour.

2. In a small saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder, and butter over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool.

3. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together.

4. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until just beaten, then whisk them into the cooled cocoa mixture until combined. Gently fold the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture. The batter will be slightly lumpy–do not overbeat, as it could cause the cake to be tough.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a small sharp knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Gently loosen the sides of the cake from the pan and turn it out onto the rack.

For the frosting:

1. Put all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until the frosting is shiny and smooth. (My frosting never got shiny and smooth; it looked like mud.)

2. Use a spatula to spread the fudge frosting over the crown of the Bundt in a thick layer. Let the frosting set before serving, with the ice cream on the side.