Growing up in Massachusetts with a mother forced to flee war in both Gaza and Lebanon, Reem Assil not only wears her fierce Palestinian and Syrian pride on her sleeve, but profoundly infuses it into her cooking and baking.
That’s why her new cookbook “Arabiyya” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy, is not merely a collection of more than 100 recipes that dive deeply into her Arab roots, but a testament to her hard-won battle to bring them to the forefront in all that she does.
The book’s title means “Arab woman.” And Assil exemplifies that inherent strength, never afraid to champion her Arab community at-large, starting in college, when she idealistically thought she could solve the issue of peace in the Middle East. When she realized that futility, she dropped out of school, and headed west to the Bay Area, were she became enthralled with its diversity and social consciousness.
It was here that she got the notion to start her own bakery, having grown up breaking bread at the table communally as the ultimate way to bring people together.
The ones who sometimes neglect to add that vanilla extract to a batch of cookies, the ones who somehow didn’t grease a pan before adding the batter, or have hurriedly mixed in an ingredient at the very last second when it should have been stirred in at the start.
Yes, folks maybe like you and surely like me, as I’ve been guilty at least once of all of those things.
Ever forgotten to preheat the oven before sticking a cake in to bake?
No fretting about that with this recipe. That’s because “Cold-Oven Pound Cake” indeed gets slid into the oven before it is turned on. And boy, does this technique lead to one sensational cake.
The minute you walk through the doors, you’ll be offered a sample of Portuguese sweet bread, and asked if you’d like a cup of coffee on the house to go with it.
This is a family-owned operation that first started when the original owners had a bakery in what is now the Santa Clara Town Center. As they neared retirement, they sold it. Those subsequent owners ran it for a good stretch, before eventually closing it. When they did, Teresa Defreitas, the daughter of the original owners, decided seven months ago that the time was finally right to open up her own Portuguese bakery at this site.
If you love sweet, fluffy, squishy, buttery-tasting bread, you need to pick up a loaf immediately. You can get a round, a square, a mini or my choice, a cinnamon version ($9.50). The cinnamon here is subtle, owing to the fact that it’s a mere single ribbon of cinnamon-sugar in the loaf, not a big spiral like you expect. It’s also a little haphazard, as mine was located at the very top of the loaf. Even so, it was delightful, with a taste reminiscent of Hawaiian sweet bread, but with a subtle hint of cinnamon.
Inside were: artisan-made sourdough bread, pastries and pasta — all that just needed to be finished baking or cooking before devouring.
Meet Wildgrain, which bills itself as the first membership box that ships bake-from-frozen products to your home each month.
Think of it like a CSA — but for baked goods.
Made by a small team of bakers in Boston, the contents of the box vary each month. You can suspend or stop anytime you wish. But unfortunately, you can’t necessarily request certain items be included in your box or purchase favorites separately.
Nothing takes more than 25 minutes to prepare, though, you will have to let the bread cool for about half an hour after baking.
If you adore fruit baked into your biscuits or even biscuits slathered with fruity jam, then you will go bonkers for “Biscuit Berry Nests.”
Because a jumble of fresh berries is baked into an actual hole punched into each biscuit. Not only that, but those “holes” are also baked, creating regular biscuits, too.
It’s like donuts plus donut holes — but in biscuit form.
This fun little recipe is from “Hot Little Suppers” (Harper Horizon, 2021), of which I received a review copy.
It was written by Carrie Morey, founder of Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, a South Carolina business based on her mom’s from-scratch biscuits that has now grown to encompass eateries, a food truck, and mail-order items.
Of course, you’ll find biscuit recipes galore inside, including “Cinnamon Biscuits” and “Whipping Cream Biscuits,” plus accompaniments such as “Savory Thyme Butter,” along with clever ways to use up leftover biscuits (does that ever happen?) in dishes such as “Toasted Maple Biscuit Casserole.” Since one can’t live on biscuits alone, there are also entree recipes such as “Lemony Crab Pasta” and “Salty Sticky Sweet Pot Roast.”
When I saw the photo of these clever biscuit nests in the book, I knew I had to make them. They didn’t disappoint, though, I did have to tweak the recipe in a number of areas.