Oatmeal and Pecan Brittle Cookies

This year was a good year for baking books. I didn’t get to see them all, or bake from them, but one that I got a preview of before it was released was Dessert Person by Claire Saffitz. She may be familiar to you because of her tenure in the test kitchen at Bon Appétit and more recently, her very popular online videos, but reading…

This year was a good year for baking books. I didn’t get to see them all, or bake from them, but one that I got a preview of before it was released was Dessert Person by Claire Saffitz. She may be familiar to you because of her tenure in the test kitchen at Bon Appétit and more recently, her very popular online videos, but reading through the book, I learned that she just happened to have gone to Harvard, was a graduate student in French food history in Montreal, studied pastry at Ecole Ferrandi in Paris, and worked at the now-closed Spring restaurant, which jolted me back that era in Paris when a younger generation of chefs was opening restaurants and changing the game in France (sometimes, controversially), focusing on fresh ingredients and putting their own mark on French cuisine.

That’s how I feel about her book. Claire pretty much changes the pastry game. Preserved lemons are added to a glorious-looking Lemon Meringue Cake, chocolate and hazelnuts enrich a Galette des Rois, and coffee finds its way into a Coffee-flavored Coffee Cake. (How come no one’s thought of that before?) But these Oatmeal and Pecan Praline Brittle Cookies sounded so good to me that I decided to start off with them.

Continue Reading Oatmeal and Pecan Brittle Cookies...

Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownie Bars

Welcome to 2021. We had sort of, um…an abrupt beginning to the New Year. After a punishing 2020 where the pandemic pretty much upended everything in our lives, a lot of us were looking forward to some stability, seasoned with some optimism about the virus, but things took a decidedly different turn in a direction not many of us could imagine. I stepped away from…

Welcome to 2021. We had sort of, um…an abrupt beginning to the New Year. After a punishing 2020 where the pandemic pretty much upended everything in our lives, a lot of us were looking forward to some stability, seasoned with some optimism about the virus, but things took a decidedly different turn in a direction not many of us could imagine. I stepped away from a few things which allowed me a little time to get my mojo back and regroup.

The lockdowns (plural) and the pause for the holidays allowed me to sort through stuff in my kitchen drawers and clear a path to sanity in my office to face-down that pesky end-of-the-year paperwork. I organized the desktop on my computer (a task I highly recommend tackling), changed my newsletter service, deleted some passive-aggressive messages (still not sure I understand the point of those…) that were taking up valuable space in my head, retreated from the online world, bereaved the passing of a family member, took a step toward overcoming yet another leak as the plumber assured me the plumbing store would have toilets back in stock by the end of January (I hope he was talking about 2021), and emotionally regrouped to begin what I’m sure will be a fabulous a new year.

Continue Reading Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownie Bars...

Dulce de Leche Brownies

I thought I’d share this recipe for Dulce de Leche Brownies from The Sweet Life in Paris because I had several jars of what the French call Confiture de lait in my refrigerator from another project. Since I happened to love the combination of ca…

I thought I’d share this recipe for Dulce de Leche Brownies from The Sweet Life in Paris because I had several jars of what the French call Confiture de lait in my refrigerator from another project. Since I happened to love the combination of caramelized milk and dark chocolate, I thought – Why not combine the two in brownies?

Continue Reading Dulce de Leche Brownies...

The Algonquin cocktail

When I rediscovered cocktails a while back, rye whiskey was the spirit that reeled me in. I loved its spicy, smoky notes and each one I tried was different than the others. Here, in the Algonquin cocktail, the rye is mixed with fruity pineapple juice, which gives it a suggestion of the tropics, but the whiskey brings it back to the “serious” category. But not…

When I rediscovered cocktails a while back, rye whiskey was the spirit that reeled me in. I loved its spicy, smoky notes and each one I tried was different than the others. Here, in the Algonquin cocktail, the rye is mixed with fruity pineapple juice, which gives it a suggestion of the tropics, but the whiskey brings it back to the “serious” category. But not too much.

Continue Reading The Algonquin cocktail...

Cranzac Cookies

When the lockdown was announced about a month ago, I thought of all the great things I would finally be able to do. I would finally tackle those five- to seven-season tv series that everyone told me that I just had to watch, that require a hundred-hour commitment to get through them. (Breaking Bad and The Wire, I’m looking at you…) I would have the…

When the lockdown was announced about a month ago, I thought of all the great things I would finally be able to do. I would finally tackle those five- to seven-season tv series that everyone told me that I just had to watch, that require a hundred-hour commitment to get through them. (Breaking Bad and The Wire, I’m looking at you…) I would have the time to go through all those folders of paperwork that pile up like a fallen cheerleader formation when you live somewhere where paperwork is as common (but not as welcome) as wine.

Or I might finally tackle The Goldfinch (769 pages) or finish A Little Life. I only made it to page 30 (of 720 pages) of the latter before my brain felt like an Escher print.

Yet none of those things have happened. I ended up launching a daily Apéro Hour on my Instagram IGTV channel and found myself doing a lot more cooking and baking and writing. I try to squeeze in a little exercise either following videos on YouTube or taking online Pilates classes, and ended up revisiting some vintage recipes, including my variation of one by Marcella Hazan. But I dug into my own personal cookbook archives to make these Cranzac Cookies, and I almost wish I didn’t, because I could not stop eating them. Continue Reading Cranzac Cookies...

Chocolate Chip “Kitchen Sink” Cookies

Being confined for two weeks has been, um, interesting. As someone who works at home, I was, like, “I got this…” But by day two I started getting loopy. As much as I think Romain is the greatest thing ever, it’s hard to be cooped up and not allowed to go out. True, we can go to the grocery store or bakery if we bring…

Being confined for two weeks has been, um, interesting. As someone who works at home, I was, like, “I got this…” But by day two I started getting loopy. As much as I think Romain is the greatest thing ever, it’s hard to be cooped up and not allowed to go out. True, we can go to the grocery store or bakery if we bring a signed attestation with us for each trip we make (good thing we keep plenty of paper on hand for printing and photocopying here all the paperwork) but I was surprised how much I missed the interactions of daily life, much more than I thought.

Today they suddenly closed one of my local bakeries because they didn’t have enough masks and other supplies to protect their employees and customers, and tears welled up when I talked to one of the owners, who I’ve known since they opened the place. I ran over to get a baguette and a loaf of bread. They’re not the only bakery in the neighborhood, but it was sad to see them go and I hope they can reopen.

I knew from living in earthquake country, when this started, to have extra provisions on hand, so I bought a few extra bags of non-perishables like sardines, tuna, canned tomatoes, and pasta sauce. I have tons of grains and pasta always on hand, but I wanted to make sure I had enough butter, eggs, and flour, which I usually keep well-stocked. But when I was at the grocery store last week and saw all those blocks of butter on the shelf, I thought, “Why not?”

Continue Reading Chocolate Chip “Kitchen Sink” Cookies...

Thin, Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies

I recently put my foot in my mouth, again. Speaking at a writer’s conference and rambling on at the podium, as usual, I offered up that I don’t think that cooking or baking as love. It’s cooking and baking. Maybe because I was a restaurant cook for so long and spent decades pumping out food (which would have been a lot of love-making), I think…

I recently put my foot in my mouth, again. Speaking at a writer’s conference and rambling on at the podium, as usual, I offered up that I don’t think that cooking or baking as love. It’s cooking and baking. Maybe because I was a restaurant cook for so long and spent decades pumping out food (which would have been a lot of love-making), I think of food as, well…food.

Of course, right after my talk and I left the podium, the screen behind me flashed in large letters: “Food As Love,” announcing the next topic, followed by a group of food writers coming onto the same stage to talk about how food was love.

Oops.

Continue Reading Thin, Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies...

Multigrain and Seed Biscotti

I was browsing some older cookbooks recently. There are so many really great new cookbooks that come out every season that it’s easy to forget some of the beloved ones waiting patiently on our shelves, for us to return to them. Before electronics came on the scene, I used to curl up every night under the cover with an actual book or two, before dozing…

I was browsing some older cookbooks recently. There are so many really great new cookbooks that come out every season that it’s easy to forget some of the beloved ones waiting patiently on our shelves, for us to return to them. Before electronics came on the scene, I used to curl up every night under the cover with an actual book or two, before dozing off to bed.

The downside was that I always ended up bookmarking recipes that I wanted to make, and I’d get excited, and start running up and down (in back and forth) in my mind, about how I’m going to gather the ingredients when I wake up the next morning. Recently one that I came across was a recipe for Multigrain Biscotti in a cookbook from the ’90s that had nearly two dozen ingredients in it. But they sounded so good, I made a little (okay…not-so-little) shopping list, for the next day, using that list as a bookmark, planning to make them the next day.

Continue Reading Multigrain and Seed Biscotti...