Category Archives: Recipes (Sweet)

Greet the Day with A Smile — With Balsamic Strawberry Muffins

A splash of balsamic vinegar hides in these strawberry muffins.

A splash of balsamic vinegar hides in these strawberry muffins.

 

The title of this cookbook represents two of my favorite food groups: “Muffins and Biscuits.”

So how could I not fall for this Chronicle Books cookbook, of which I received a review copy?

It’s by Heidi Gibson, chef and co-owner of The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in San Francisco.

You might think, what does a grilled cheese sandwich maker know about biscuits and muffins? Plenty, it turns out. After all, in addition to those ooey-gooey sandwiches, the restaurant also sells fresh-baked muffins, biscuits and other baked goods.

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Muffins and biscuits are among the easiest things to make. The trick is to use a gentle hand. You don’t want to overmix or overwork either of them, lest they will wind up tough.

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Nancy Silverton’s Polenta Cake with Brutti Ma Buoni Topping

A cake for nut lovers.

A cake for nut lovers.

 

Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don’t.

In my case, I always do. I’m the person who won’t even dive into a box of See’s candies unless it’s “nuts and chews.” For me, it’s M&M’s with nuts all the way. And I can happily munch on almonds by the handful, day or night.

This is a cake that appeals to nutty folks like me.

“Polenta Cake with Brutti Ma Buoni Topping” is from “Mozza At Home” (Knopf), of which I received a review copy. It’s the newest cookbook by Nancy Silverton, the chef who helped kick-start the modern-day artisan bread revolution. She’s also the chef/co-owner of Pizzeria Mozza, Osteria Mozza, and Chi Spacca, all in Los Angeles.

As Silverton writes in the book, this cake is the happy marriage of a classic polenta cake, and a traditional meringue and nut cookie called brutti ma buoni, which means “ugly but good.”

Crunch-a-licious.

Crunch-a-licious.

Personally, I prefer “distinctive” over “ugly” because I think that’s what this bumpy-topped cake is, owing to a profusion of almonds and hazelnuts mixed with egg white, honey, vanilla and orange flower water that’s strewn over the cake before it finishes baking.

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Sweet on Roasted Banana-Peanut Butter Cream Pie

A slice of heaven for Valentine's Day.

A slice of heaven for Valentine’s Day.

 

Chocolate and long-stemmed roses signify Valentine’s Day to many.

For me, though, it’s all about banana cream pie.

You see, when I was dating my husband, he actually took the time and effort to make a banana cream pie for the first time just to surprise me. To understand how out of character that is, just consider that his nickname is Meat Boy, not Pie Boy. Grilling and smoking mega hunks of meat is second nature to him. But making pastries and desserts? Honestly, most times he’d rather eat a second helping of meat than end a meal with a sweet. So, when I saw him turn on the oven and pull out the butter, sugar and flour to mix the dough, it was a shock.

A beaut of a pie.

A beaut of a pie.

What made it even more memorable? He made it and then took the cream pie proudly to my parents’ house to share with them.

Now, that’s love.

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Have a Very Dorie Christmas!

A sophisticated brownie with the intense taste of almonds.

A sophisticated brownie with the intense taste of almonds.

 

Include a little Dorie Greenspan in your Christmas to ensure it’s a sweet one.

Greenspan is a baker extraordinaire who also happens to be great at savory cooking too. She can do it all, and it shows in her many cookbooks, Washington Post column, and her wonderful Everyday Dorie blog that’s followed by legions around the world.

Her newest cookbook, “Dorie’s Cookies” (Houghlin Mifflin Harcourt), of which I received a review copy, is a 518-page comprehensive cookie trove.

Cookie fans are sure to find something to love. Cookie Monsters like myself will be beside themselves trying not to make every single recipe at once.

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There are bar cookies, drop cookies, butter cookies, and even savory cocktail cookies. I’ve bookmarked so many of the recipes, including “Princeton Gingersnaps,” “Devil’s Food Wafflets with Chocolate Sauce,” and “Triscuity Bites” (yes, savory cookies made with cream cheese and crumbled Triscuits).

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Nancy Silverton’s Chai Chocolate Chip Cookies

Not your average chocolate chip cookie.

Not your average chocolate chip cookie.

 

Does the world really need another chocolate chip cookie recipe?

You bet, if it’s by Nancy Silverton.

The renowned pastry chef can do no wrong. At least in my book. Over the years, I’ve made many of her recipes, and none have ever disappointed. She’s also the co-owner of my favorite pizza joint, Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles, as well as nearby sister restaurants Osteria Mozza and Chi Spacca.

“Chai Chocolate Chip Cookies” is from her newest cookbook, “Mozza At Home” (Alfred A. Knopf), of which I received a review copy. It was written with James Beard Award-winning journalist Carolynn Carreno.

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It’s a dirty little secret that most chefs don’t cook much at home. They just don’t have the time. Silverton was the same way for many years, until a trip to Italy reconnected her to the pleasures of cooking for friends, family, and even herself.

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