This time of year cries out for gingerbread pancakes.
When it comes to Austin, I can’t help but think barbecue, Tex-Mex and food trucks galore.
Now, it’s become synonymous with gingerbread pancakes, too.
That’s because in “The Austin Cookbook” (Abrams), of which I received a review copy, there is a wonderful recipe for just that from Magnolia Cafe, a beloved institution that’s not only open 24/7, but serves breakfast anytime.
The book, by food writer Paula Forbes, features more than 80 recipes that give a delicious overview of the city’s culinary traditions, from “Green Chile Queso” to “Mustard and Brown Sugar-Crusted Ribeye” to Bootsie’s Buttermilk Pie.”
Being the ginger fanatic that I am, it’s no wonder that “Gingerbread Pancakes” called out to me.
Zest, juice and slices of Meyer lemon flavor this irresistible Meyer lemon coffee cake.
April showers bring May flowers. But last winter’s deluge of rain nearly drowned my poor little Meyer lemon tree.
Usually flush with deep green leaves and bountiful with sunny yellow lemons, it looks more like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree right now. In fact, I managed to pick all of about four decent-sized ripe lemons this year — not nearly enough to make this spectacular “Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake” by Martha Stewart.
But lo and behold, my friend Kiki to the rescue. With her tree overflowing with lemons, she gifted me a big bag of them — plenty to make this cake that requires a load of Meyers.
Thin slices of lemon are layered and baked right into the cake, which has a batter laden with lemon zest, too. Then, a mountain of crunchy streusel goes on top — an amount nearly as deep as the cake, itself. Finally, a Meyer lemon citrus glaze is drizzled over the top.
A most versatile torta filled with eggs, veggies, fresh herbs and nutty farro.
Is it a frittata? Or a quiche?
It’s a hybrid that is definitely authentic.
After all, “Farro Torta” comes from the new cookbook, “Autentico: Cooking Italian, the Authentic Way” (St. Martin’s), of which I received a review copy.
It’s by Rolando Beramendi, founder of Italian fine food importer Manicaretti, who splits his time between San Francisco, New York and Florence. His expertise on all things Italian has been lauded by the likes of Ina Garten, Alice Waters, Thomas Keller, and Nancy Silverton.
As he writes in the intro of the book: “I cook food in its most authentic form. I cook to break preconceived notions of what food should be — no overcrowded plates, no recipes with too many disparate ingredients, no out-of-season ingredients, no need for a lot of equipment. I make no-fuss food for my guests and myself that nourishes both hearts and our stomachs.”
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.
Nothing says “I love you” like a basket of fresh-baked muffins loaded with chocolate.
There are times when I con myself into thinking muffins are just a smidge healthful.
After all, if I choose one with bran or whole wheat or carrots or blueberries, it’s not so very bad, is it?
I mean, it’s not as indulgent as eating actual cake, right?
Yeah, with “Chocolate Chunk Muffins,” I’m not going to attempt to play that game.
That’s because there’s no getting around it. These muffins are rich, tender, and super chocolatey. They are like chocolate-chip cookies in muffin form.
And they’re every bit as good as that sounds.