Category Archives: Recipes (Sweet)

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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Aebleskiver with Lemon Curd, Plus A Food Gal Giveaway

Danish doughnuts to dunk into thick, tangy lemon curd.

Danish doughnuts to dunk into thick, tangy lemon curd.


Keep Portland weird?

I say: “Keep Portland delish, too!”

This Pacific Northwest city is famous for embracing and celebrating the quirky, the off-beat, and the unconventional in everything.

Of course, the most fun way get to know any city is through its food. Whether you’re planning your first trip to Portland or wanting a keepsake that pays tribute to the city’s vast culinary treasures, “Portland Cooks: Recipes From the City’s Best Restaurants & Bars” (Figure 1), of which I received a review copy, is sure to rev the appetite.

The book is by James Beard Award-winning food writer Danielle Centoni, a former colleague of mine who was once the food editor of the Oakland Tribune, and now lives in Portland.


Forty restaurants, bakeries and bars are spotlighted, with each showcasing their distinctiveness in two recipes apiece. Indulge in everything from Ataula’s “Salt Cod Croquetas” to DOC Yakuza’s ” Okonomiyaki with Wild Mushrooms” to Olympia Provisions’ “Pan-Roasted Halibut with Shrimp, Clam, and Andouille Stew” to Salt & Straw Wiz Bang Bar’s “Goat Cheese Ice Cream with Marionberry-Habanero Ribbons.”

“Aebleskiver with Lemon Curd” from Broder restaurant sounded so good that I had to dig out my aebleskiver pan just to make them. The restaurant is famous for its Scandinavian-inspired breakfasts and lunches. And these puffy, doughnut-hole-shaped pancakes are super popular.

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Fruit and Yogurt Granola Tarts

A delicious -- if finicky and fiddly -- little tart.

A delicious — if finicky and fiddly — little tart.


I think of this recipe as Beauty & The Beast.

It’s a beaut because once “Fruit & Yogurt Granola Tarts” get all dressed up with summer berries, peaches, plums and whatnot, they’re not only dazzling but delicious.

But it’s also a beast because even though these are extremely simple little tarts to make, they are a monster to get out of their pans without crumbling.

You’ve heard how the third time is the charm?

Well, not in this case. I actually made this recipe three times — that’s how determined I was to try to solve the problem of getting the tarts out of their mini pans intact. But even tweaking the recipe not once, but twice, still didn’t help.

So why am I still including the original recipe here? Because I love the notion of creating a mini tart crust out of oats, butter, maple syrup and walnuts. It really is like a granola bar with its extremely nutty, oaty taste. And because you are using Greek yogurt and fresh fruit to top it, it’s nearly guilt-free as far as desserts go. Well, at least in my book. In fact, I think it’s as tasty for breakfast as it is for a finale to dinner.

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Time for Fig Tart — Two Helpings At Least

Fresh figs -- in all their glory -- in a perfect tart.

Fresh figs — in all their glory — in a perfect tart.


Figs are a rather stealth fruit.

For those of us not lucky enough to have our own backyard fig trees, we forget the candy-sweet, sticky, plump fruit have two seasonal harvests a year here — in June-July, and September-October.

As such, they rather sneak up on us. There we are, ogling the strawberries, plums and nectarines at the market, when all of a sudden out of the corner of our eye, our attention gets hijacked. “Are those figs?,” we find ourselves asking silently, as we hurry over to investigate. Sure enough, they are baskets bulging with the gorgeous purple or green figs.

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