Category Archives: Recipes (Sweet)

Festive Cranberry & Pear Tart For the Holidays

Jazz up the Thanksgiving table with this beautiful cranberry-pear frangipane tart.

Jazz up the Thanksgiving table with this beautiful cranberry-pear frangipane tart.

 

You may never spy a partridge in a pear tree.

But in Darina Allen’s newest cookbook, “Grow Cook Nourish: A Kitchen Garden Companion in 500 Recipes” (Kyle), you’ll learn not only how to grow pear trees and how to keep alert to pests and diseases, but how the fruit is a good source of dietary fiber and antioxidants. What’s more, you’ll find a selection of delectable recipes to make the most of your harvest.

Allen, who runs the renowned cooking school at Ballymaloe in County Cork, Ireland that has its own 100-acre farm, offers up similar wisdom for a roster of other fruits, vegetables, herbs, edible flowers, and foraged finds in this 640-page book.

It makes a great resource for anyone who enjoys cooking, gardening or both. You’ll learn about oca, a tender green originally from South America that stars in “Oca, Chorizo, Scallion & Radish Salad.” Everyday potatoes turn special in “Burmese Pork & Potato Curry.” And easy-to-grow thyme gets a sweet turn in “Buttermilk Ice Cream with Olive Oil and Thyme Leaves.”

Add a dollop of whipped cream and you are good to go.

Add a dollop of whipped cream and you are good to go.

With the holidays upon us, I couldn’t resist trying my hand at the “Festive Cranberry & Pear Tart” from the book, of which I received a review copy.

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State Bird Provisions Part I: Persimmons with Kinako Dressing and Black Sesame Seed Salt

Fresh fuyu persimmons accentuated by a roast-toasty sauce.

Fresh fuyu persimmons accentuated by a roast-toasty sauce.

 

It’s a given that “State Bird Provisions: A Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press) is one of the most anticipated cookbooks to arrive this year.

After all, Chef-Owners and husband-and-wife Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski (who wrote the cookbook with J.J. Goode) own one of the hottest restaurants in the country. When State Bird Provisions opened in San Francisco in 2012, it wasn’t long before Bon Appetit magazine named it “Restaurant of the Year.” That was followed by a James Beard Award in 2013 for “Best New Restaurant,” as well as a Michelin star.

The restaurant’s inventive dim sum-like service, where diners choose dishes from cart or trays ferried to their table, proved irresistible, especially because of their array of eclectic, globally-inspired small plates. The place got so mobbed that hackers even broke into the restaurant’s reservations system to try to snag a hard-to-get table.

State_Bird_Provisions_Final_Cover

Even after opening a second restaurant next door, The Progress, State Bird Provisions remains a tough ticket today, with folks still lining up on the sidewalk long before the doors open to try to get a walk-in spot.

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Vineyard Cake

Vineyard Cake, when Napa and Sonoma are on my mind.

Vineyard Cake, when Napa and Sonoma are on my mind.

 

With the searing news footage, the loss of lives, the destruction of homes, and the terrifying speed and ferocity with which this catastrophe all happened, Wine Country weighs heavily on our minds lately.

The series of deadly conflagrations that swept through Napa and Sonoma counties in a flash in the past two weeks left an indelible mark. Lives will be forever changed. Rebuilding will be a long, slow, painful and costly process. The fires of 2017 – and all they wrought — will not soon be erased.

We donate money. We volunteer our help. Still, we feel rather helpless in the face of the enormity of the destruction.

What else to do? In the months, and years to come, simply don’t forget. When the regions are no longer front-page newspaper stories or the lead item on the 6 o’clock news, don’t let Napa and Sonoma fall off your radar. Buy the wines to enjoy this Thanksgiving. Or send a bottle to friends across the country for Christmas. Plan a trip to Wine Country in to support hotels, restaurants, boutiques, and tasting rooms. Moreover, as you get ready to do your annual income taxes, take a deduction and do good at the same time, by making a donation to the Napa Valley Community Foundation or the Community Foundation Sonoma County.

And then bake this cake.

That may sound like a crazy idea, but there is something to be said for really being present in the moment, for taking the time to focus singularly on a place or a thing, that makes us truly appreciate it.

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Butterscotch and Fudge Brownie Bars — For Times When You Can’t Decide

A chocolate brownie and a butterscotch blondie all in one bite.

A chocolate brownie and a butterscotch blondie all in one bite.

 

When it comes to switching jobs, breaking up with a significant other, moving to a new city or other countless life decisions we hesitate to make, how many of us have gotten out pencil and paper to make the proverbial pros and cons list?

Hands, please.

I know I have. Plenty of times.

It always helps. Even if I’m often startled to see how lopsided the count ends up being.

Thankfully, there are times when you don’t have to choose one over another. It’s rare. But occasionally, you can enjoy the best of both worlds without having to wrack your brain to take a side.

“Butterscotch and Fudge Brownie Bars” is just such a case.

Do I want a brownie? Or do I want a butterscotch blondie?

Hmm. Why not indulge in both?

With this recipe, you get exactly that. It’s a fudgy brownie on top of a sweet blondie. It’s two treats in one — in every single bite.

The recipe is from the oldie but goodie cookbook, “The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook” (Chronicle Books, 2008), of which I received a review copy when it was first published, and has since had a prominent place on my bookshelf.

essential chocolate chip cookbook

It’s by longtime food writer and cookbook author Elinor Klivans. And it includes every type of chocolate chip treat under the sun — from “Kitchen-Sink Chocolate Chip Cookies” to “Chocolate Chip Cookie and Cream Tart” to “Hot Chocolate Chip Brownie Sundae Cake.” Is it any wonder that I’ve kept this book so long?

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Delicate Kinako and Black Sesame Cupcakes

These delicate Japanese cakes have a wonderfully nutty taste.

These delicate Japanese cakes have a wonderfully nutty taste.

 

I’ve been intrigued by kinako ever since I first experienced its unique taste.

Take soybeans, roast them, then grind into a fine powder. What you get is this golden Japanese flour that has a roasty-toasty character with a whisper of sweetness. It tastes like a cross between chestnuts, barley tea and maple syrup.

You might blanch at eating flour right out of the bag. But with kinako, you can. In fact, it’s often used to garnish desserts, such as by sprinkling on shave ice or as a coating to roll mochi balls or chocolate truffles in. It also can be incorporated into the batter and dough of cakes, cookies, and another baked goods.

Find it on the shelves in small bags at Japanese markets, then give it a try in these cute little unfrosted cupcakes.

Roasted soy bean flour known as kinako.

Roasted soy bean flour known as kinako.

“Kinako and Black Sesame Cupcakes” is from the new cookbook, “Cook Japanese At Home” (Kyle), of which I received a review copy. It’s by Kyoto-born Kimiko Barber, who teaches Japanese cooking and is the author of a handful of other Japanese cookbooks.

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