Category Archives: Recipes (Sweet)

Of Moms — And Cranberry Roly Poly

The personality of moms encapsulated  in a baked treat.

The personality of moms encapsulated in a baked treat.

 

It’s been an unbelievable 11 years now since my Mom passed away. I still think about her nearly every day, too.

I’m sure all daughters brag about their mother being incredibly kind, thoughtful and gracious. But mine definitely was.

Still, there were moments that she offered up an opinion that I could have done without at the time, but now leaves me in stitches in hindsight.

When I was a teenager, I once came slinking into the kitchen, feeling thoroughly self-conscious after looking in the mirror that morning, only to have my Mom proclaim loudly, “You know you have a big pimple THERE.” Uh, yes, I do know, Mom. Thanks A LOT, A WHOLE LOT.

There was the time in my 20s when I came home for a visit, and the first thing my Mom said was, “Those pants make you look fat.” Oh, great.

And of course there was the long ago time that I brought a boyfriend over for her to meet, whom I thought she would adore, only to have her tell me afterward, “I don’t like him. He doesn’t put you first.” But Mom, you just don’t know him well enough yet

She may have been blunt, as only an Asian mom can be. But darned if she wasn’t right in every one of those cases — and so many more.

If she were still here this Mother’s Day, I would bake her these “Cranberry Roly Poly” treats. Because she always loved to see the joy I got from cooking and baking. Because cranberries offer up both sweetness and tartness. Because every mother-daughter relationship has moments of both those extremes. And because if you’re lucky, as I was, they will balance each other out in the end, leaving you both with an honest and respectful love.

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Carrot Cake Perfection By The Artful Baker

A carrot cake recipe that will replace any other you used to use.

A carrot cake recipe that will replace any other you used to use.

 

Simply put, “Carrot Cake with Blond Chocolate Frosting” is perfection personified in every single forkful.

Like the creator of this recipe, the uber talented baker Cenk Sonmezsoy, I, too, was skeptical that a carrot cake made without walnuts would prove completely satisfying. After all, I love nuts in almost anything for their added texture, richness and flavor.

But in his cake, you don’t miss the walnuts at all. That’s because browned butter takes its place, getting incorporated into the batter to add a divine nutty aroma and taste all its own. Moreover, the frosted cake gets ringed with toasted pumpkin seeds, which add a big dose of toastiness and crunch.

Artful-Baker-Cover

This dynamite recipe is from “The Artful Baker: Extraordinary Desserts From An Obsessive Home Baker” (Abrams, 2017), of which I received a review copy.

You may already know Sonmezsoy for his award-winning food blog, Cafe Fernando. If you don’t, it’s high time you got to know this Instanbul-based writer, photographer and food stylist, who received his MBA from the University of San Francisco before going to work for a high-tech PR firm.

Ironically, during his time in San Francisco, Sonmezsoy lived in an apartment so small that he never cooked or baked. It was only when he returned to Istanbul that found himself longing for the food he left behind in San Francisco. So, he began baking like crazy, starting with brownies. He started his food blog in 2006, which took off like mad, capturing the fancy of so many influential bakers and publishers that he quit his corporate job in 2010 to devote full-time to blogging.

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Mushroom Cookies

Yup, those are little bits of mushroom on those cookies.

Yup, those are little bits of mushroom on those cookies.

 

Yes, mushrooms in cookies.

Not those kind of mushrooms, people. But Candy Cap mushrooms.

If you’ve never had Candy Cap mushrooms, you are missing out on one of the most captivating ingredients around.

Elusive Candy Caps grow in the wilds in the Bay Area. But their growing season is so short, and the mushrooms so perishable, that you find them mostly sold in dried form.

What makes them so prized is their fragrance and flavor. Think maple syrup on steroids — with a hint of curry on the finish that lingers on and on. In fact, bake with them and your kitchen will smell enticingly of maple for days. Eat an ample enough of them in a dish or baked good, and you will have the scent of maple syrup even exuding from your pores, which, heck, is way better than garlic, right?

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Go On, Have A Little Beer In That Cake

A beer-y delicious cake.

A beer-y delicious cake.

 

Yes, this cake is two treats in one.

It’s not just brewski with cake; it’s beer in the cake.

“Big Honey Hefeweizen Spice Cake” is from the adorable cookbook, “Cake, I Love You” (Chronicle Books, 2017) by Jill O’Connor, of which I received a review copy.

O’Connor is a veteran cookbook author, as well as a food columnist for the San Diego Union-Tribune. And she obviously knows her cakes, as evidenced by the 60 recipes in this book.

CakeILoveYou

Whether you like to bake cakes that are no-nonsense or like to spend hours decorating them to the hilt, you’re sure to find a cake in here to please.

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Juhu Beach Club’s Desi Jacks

Sweet, savory, and spicy -- these aren't your childhood Cracker Jacks by any stretch.

Sweet, savory, and spicy — these aren’t your childhood Cracker Jacks by any stretch.

 

Juhu Beach Club in Oakland may be shuttered now, but its spirit lives on in “The Juhu Beach Club Cookbook”
(Running Press) by Preeti Mistry with East Bay food writer Sarah Henry, of which I received a review copy.

Mistry has vowed that Juhu Beach Club, which she ran with her business partner and wife Ann Nadeau, will rise again in some form, though details are scarce at the moment.

In any event, you can still enjoy her cooking at her very fun Navi in Emeryville with its unique pizzas, toasts and cocktails.

Born in London and raised in suburban Ohio, Mistry, a former “Top Chef” contestant, is an inventive, inspired cook who is adept at remastering comfort food with bold Indian flavors and flair. On her trips to her ancestral country of India, she fell in love with street food. There’s a playfulness in her food that reflects that.

JuhuBeachClubbook

That’s evident in recipes such as “Shrimp Po’Bhai,” “JBC Fried Chicken & Doswaffle,” “Chai-Spiced Bacon,” and “Bloody Meera.”

Take her “Desi Jacks.” This revved up version of caramel corn is featured at Navi. It’s even free during the daily Happy Hour, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

This is a snack that’s sure to get the party started.

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