Category Archives: Recipes (Sweet)

Christmas Biscuits? Why Not!

Merry Christmas with out-of-the-oven, homemade biscuits!

Merry Christmas with out-of-the-oven, homemade biscuits!

 

As you ready to open presents this Christmas morning or prepare for the big holiday feast to come tonight, wouldn’t a pan of fresh, warm biscuits hit the spot?

Imagine them slathered with sweet butter and marmalade for breakfast today or alongside glazed ham tonight.

Is your mouth watering yet? I know mine sure is.

Biscuits don’t get any easier or more irresistible than these from Howard Bulka, chef-owner of Howie’s Artisan Pizzeria in Palo Alto and Redwood City.

The Palo Alto location is all about pizza. The Redwood City one, with its much larger and fully equipped kitchen, goes beyond the charred, flavorful pies to include everything from house-made pasta to classic burgers, too.

What’s more, the Redwood City one also offers weekend brunch, which includes an astonishingly great array of baked goods. This is where you’ll often find these heavenly biscuits offered.

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Take A Whiff and A Taste of The Violet Bakery’s Ginger Molasses Cake

A cake that smells of Christmas.

A cake that smells of Christmas.

 

For some people, their favorite kitchen scent is onions and garlic sauteing in a hot pan.

For others, it’s that yeasty smell of fresh bread baking in the oven.

For me? It’s that intoxicating fragrance of warm winter spices — cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Loads of ginger.

That’s why this cake had me at first smell and at first bite.

“Ginger Molasses Cake” is from the new “The Violet Bakery Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy. It’s written by Claire Ptak, a former pastry chef at Chez Panisse, who moved to London to open her Violet Bakery in 2010. Jamie Oliver has called her “my favourite cake maker in the whole world.” So you know she has it going on.

VioletBakeryCookbook

The recipes in this lovely cookbook are arranged by time of day with treats such as “Yellow Peach Crumb Bun” for morning, “Olive Oil Sweet Wine Cake” for the afternoon, and “Chocolate, Prune, and Whiskey Cake” for the evening.

As you can tell, these are baked goods that don’t try too hard. They aren’t complicated with loads of unusual ingredients. They don’t take and arm and a leg, and a whole day to make. Instead, they tantalize with their homespun yet precise character.

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Rosemary Pear Pie (And It’s Gluten-Free)

Poached pears worthy of your holiday table.

Poached pears worthy of your holiday table.

 

A friend of mine once rolled her eyes at her then-boyfriend for ordering poached pears for dessert at a restaurant.

In her mind, she couldn’t fathom why one would waste perfectly good dessert calories on simple, cooked pears, of all things.

I can see her point. After all, if you’re going to venture out to a white-tablecloth restaurant for dinner, you want to live it up. You want to eat with abandon, and finish it off with decadence. You want chocolate. You want butter. You want fluffs of cream, ganache and mousse — preferably in a take-your-breath-away form.

Pears don’t immediately muster that kind of response.

But transfer them to the finale of a comforting, home-cooked dinner, and I think even my friend would have a hard time passing them up.

Juicy, sweet, wine-y pears fanned out across a rustic tart that’s put out in the center of the table is just the type of dessert made for entertaining at home.

That’s what you’ll get with “Rosemary Pear Pie” from the new cookbook, “Home Baked” (Abrams), of which I received a review copy. It’s by Yvette Van Boven, a food stylist and recipe writer in Amsterdam.

Home Baked Book

The book is filled with more than 150 recipes for sweet and savory goodies such as “Poppy Seed Popovers,” “Verbena Cake with Fresh Fruit & Verbena Gin Syrup,” and “My Favorite Chili with A Thousand Beans, Chorizo, Chocolate, and Corn Bread.”

One glance at this pear pie in the book and I was enthralled. Who wouldn’t be with the pears arranged just so prettily atop a simple, smooth, custardy filling?

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Sugar and Spice, And Apricot-Ginger Cookies That Are Oh-So-Nice

Start your ovens, people. It's cookie time.

Start your ovens, people. It’s cookie time.

 

Say good-bye to turkey, and hello to cookies.

With Thanksgiving over, it’s now the serious start of cookie baking season.

What better treat to get you in the mood, too, than “Big Chewy Apricot and Ginger Cookies”?

Nothing says winter holidays quite like the fragrance of cinnamon, ginger and molasses wafting from the kitchen. And this cookie has ginger in spades. Three kinds: ground, fresh, and crystallized. It’s ideal for a ginger fanatic like myself.

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Honey Pie For the Holidays

Imagine this on the Thanksgiving table.

Imagine this on the Thanksgiving table.

 

Call this the antidote to pecan pie.

Or at the very least, a most worthy alternative.

“Olivia’s Honey Pie” is plenty sweet and nutty. But not as dense and heavy as pecan pie. It also the added bonus of tasting gloriously of buttery, caramelized honey.

The recipe is from the new “The Beetlebung Farm Cookbook” (Little, Brown and Company) by Chris Fischer, of which I received a review copy.

Spanning five acres on Martha’s Vineyard, Beetlebung Farm is run by Fischer, who took it over when his grandfather passed away.

BeetlebungCookbook

Fischer is both a farmer and a cook. And what a cook, indeed. He was a sous chef at Mario Batali’s Babbo in New York City, and previously had stints at Fergus Henderson’s St. John Bread & Wine, and at the River Cafe in London. Fischer hosted dinners cooked over an open-fire at the farm before becoming head chef at Beach Plum Inn & Restaurant.

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