Category Archives: Recipes (Sweet)

The Goodness of Graham Crackers

If all you've had is store-bought, it's high time to try making your own graham crackers.

If all you’ve had is store-bought, it’s high time to try making your own graham crackers.


Sturdy, dependable, and always reliable.

That describes graham crackers. But it could also describe my late-Dad, and probably so many other fathers out there.

Having recently attended my first stadium concert in more than two decades, it got me to remembering how my Dad would drive across the Bridge, ferrying my friends and I to the Oakland Coliseum when we were teens to see this or that concert. He’d drive home, then patiently wait a couple hours before making the drive again to pick us up after the last note was played, weaving his way through traffic and a crowded parking lot to find us.

I took his chauffeuring for granted then. Now, of course, I realize what a royal pain that must have been for him. Yet he never complained or tried to talk us out of going to see our favorite band. He just happily obliged to help make it all happen for his little girl.

If he were still around today, I would thank him for that — and so much more. But since he’s not, I’ll just mix, roll out and bake a batch of these graham crackers that carry a taste of nostalgia with every snappy bite.

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Tartine’s Champagne Gelee With Strawberries

A Jell-O for adults only.

A Jell-O for adults only.


When sommeliers and Champagne producers admonish people to drink bubbly more often rather than just for the most special of occasions, they probably didn’t have this in mind.

In fact, when a publicist sent me a sample of the Taittinger Prestige Rosé, I was almost afraid of telling her how I planned to enjoy it.

Yes, in a grown-up version of Jell-O.

But when I spied the beautiful and super easy recipe in the new “Tartine All Day: Modern Recipes For The Home Cook” (Lorena Jones Books/Ten Speed Press), I couldn’t hep but want to try it.


The cookbook, of which I received a review copy, is by Elisabeth Prueitt, co-founder with her husband Chad Robertson of San Francisco’s beloved Tartine Bakery and Tartine Manufactory.

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A Big Bad Breakfast for Mother’s Day

Fluffy, oat-fortified pancakes to greet the day.

Fluffy, oat-fortified pancakes to greet the day.


When I was growing up, my oldest brother and I would often wake up early on Sundays to stir up a big bowl of batter for waffles for the entire family.

Nowadays, with my husband’s predilection, it’s pancakes all the way.

Are you Team Waffle? Or Team Pancake?

It’s funny how most households seem to favor one or the other.

“Toasted Oatmeal Pancakes” might just satisfy both camps. That’s because of the toasted steel-cut oats that not only fortify the batter, but get sprinkled on as each pancake cooks, lending bits of crunch here and there like the edges of a waffle might.

The recipe is from “Big Bad Breakfast: The Most Important Book of the Day” (Ten Speed Press, 2016) by John Currence, the James Beard Award-winning chef who owns Big Bad Breakfast in Alabama. You might also know him from his appearances on “No Reservations,” “Mind of A Chef,” and “Top Chef Masters.”


Of course in this case, the operative word “bad” really means “good.” This is breakfast done boldly, with plenty of excess. Among Currence’s “Ten Commandments of Breakfast” is “Thou shalt slather with butter,” and “Though shalt hold no meal higher than breakfast.”

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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.


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.”



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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