Friday, February 27, 2009


I say "Seattle" and what do you think? Space Needle, Safeco Field? Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon, Nordstrom? Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Death Can for Cutie? Mountains, Water, Trees? Nope. You probably think "rain".

And you would be right. It does rain here although you may be surprised to know that, in terms of inches, we get less than New York, Boston, or even Miami. What we get is days and days (or weeks and weeks) of gray skies with little spits of rain. We don't get the cold that strikes much of the nation in winter and we usually don't get snow - this year has been an exception. But we don't get much sun and that can be hard to take. I went to college in Connecticut and my first winter I was blown away by how cold it was and by how much sun there was. "What is up with sun in winter?", I remember asking my college roommate.

So to live in Seattle, and keep your sanity, it is important to get out of town in the winter if at all possible. My parents are big skiers and so when I was growing up, we always went skiing. I am not a big skier, although I am a decent one, so I always begged them to go somewhere warm. They did not listen to me and so each February, we were off to Sun Valley, Deer Valley, or Vail. (Cue the violins.)

I married a big skier and resigned myself to future Februarys in snowy locales. But the most amazing thing happened. Last year we went to Kauai on a deal we could not refuse. Neither of us had ever been to that island and we both fell in love with it. Randy finally understood my desire for sun - and warmth - in the midst of our gray winters. He isn't ready to give up the idea of ski vacations as our boys get older and truthfully, neither am I. I love the idea of putting them in ski school and taking to the slopes with my husband just like the old days. But for now I can look forward to a little sun and warmth each winter.

We leave tomorrow so I will be absent from this blog for a week. I wish you all happy cooking! Before I sign off, I thought I would share my 2 year old's favorite place to play these days.

This is my spice cabinet. I have two of these wonderful drawers on either side of my oven. The one on the right side houses extra oils and vinegars and this one houses all my lesser used spices and random jars and bottles.

I have a lot of spices. These are the heavy rotation ones.

Anyway, I made the mistake of opening this cabinet one day when my two year old was in the kitchen with me and now he loves taking things out and putting them back and hiding them in all different parts of the house. I used to keep it organized but now, why bother?

The bottom shelf has airplane sized liquor bottles of things that I use in baking (really!) and those, of course, are his favorite things to play with. The other day, this is what was on his highchair tray.

Yes, that would be Pear Brandy, Grand Marnier, and his water cup. Please don't call CPS on me.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Goodbye to Butternut Squash

Belltown is a neighborhood in Seattle where it once was not safe to go. It is north of the famous Pike Place Market and, seriously, when I was a kid you steered clear of that part of town. Now it is known for having super-hip restaurants, pricey shops, and multi-million dollar condos. One of the people who is credited for beginning this change is Leslie Mackie. She opened a bakery and a few years later, a neighborhood was gentrified. Build it and they will come applies to bakeries too!

But this isn't just any bakery. It's really quite a special spot. In terms of the bread and baked goods, I have to honestly say that I think the quality has gone downhill. You can buy their bread almost everywhere in town now and I wonder if that diversification has hurt them. Still, whenever I walk into their original location in Belltown (there are now two others), I immediately want to start baking. Everything look so

For me, the best thing about Macrina is eating lunch there. They have about 8 small tables so it can be kind of tricky to snag one, but if you do you are in for a treat. Everyday, in addition to salads and sandwiches, they offer a meze plate. You get to choose three things from a list of five and your choices go something like this. Savory galette, some kind of grain or pasta salad, a large piece of crostini which in itself has three choices, soup, and green salad. The green salad stays the same, the rest change daily. I have never had anything there that wasn't lip-smackingly delicious - down the roasted onions, olives, and almonds they put on every plate.

Several years ago, Mackie came out with a cookbook called Macrina Bakery & Cafe Cookbook. I bought it right after it came out and was thrilled to find that there were three savory galette recipes in there. They are all phenomenal and real showstoppers if you want to impress company. This one, because I love squash so much, is my favorite. Although there is snow on the ground here today (again!), I feel that asparagus, peas, and artichokes are on their way. I don't feel like I gave winter squash it's due so last week I made these galettes for my clients.

If you are intimidated by things with crusts, this galette is a great place to start. The dough is incredibly easy to work with - it behaves the best of any I have made. And because the tart is free form, there is no rolling it or worrying about transferring it to a pan. The recipe as written makes one very large galette - I have been happier with it when I make smaller ones. Even if you are serving it for a dinner party, just make two smaller ones. They will look better and be easier to work with. Last week, I made two small ones for my clients and one medium sized one to eat with my parents and brother who came over for dinner.

The crust makes enough for two galettes so you can freeze half of it for up to a month and make another one another day. Or, you can use the dough as a double pie crust. I love versatility!

Butternut Squash and Apple Galette
Adapted from
Macrina Bakery and Cafe Cookbook
Serves 8-10

I have made this tart with the fresh butternut squash and the canned pumpkin and they both taste great. Don't hesitate to take the canned short cut.

2 Granny Smith apples

1/2 tsp. ground allspice

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

2 tbsp. unsalted butter

3 cups Roasted Butternut Squash, or canned pumpkin

2 tbsp. light brown sugar

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage

1/2 recipe Flaky Pie Dough, chilled

Egg wash made with 1 egg and 1 tsp. water

2 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

1 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Core and peel the apples and cut into 1/2 inch wedges. Place wedges in a medium bowl and toss with half of the allspice, half of the cinnamon, and half of the cloves. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, then add the spice apples and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, or until the apples are tender. Set aside to cool.

Combine butternut squash puree with the remaining allspice, cinnamon, and cloves in a large bowl. Add brown sugar, eggs, salt, and sage, and mix with a whisk to fully blend the ingredients.

Form chilled pie dough into a ball and place in on a lightly floured work surface. Cut it in half and reform each half into a ball. Flatten each ball slightly, then working with one ball at a time, roll it into an approximately 8 inch circle, about 1/8 of an inch thick. Carefully lift it onto the preapred baking sheet. Spoon half of squash mixture onto center of circle and spread to within 2 inches of the edge. Place a single layer of apples in concentric circles on top of the squash filling. Lift border over top of the filling, tucking and folding the dough to create a gathered, or pleated, finish. Lift each of the folds up and brush underneath with egg wash to seal the crust. Brush all exposed dough with egg wash then repeat with other half of dough and filling. (You may need to place it on another sheet.) Place the baking sheet(s) in the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove tart from oven and bake on center rack of oven for 30 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with Gorgonzola and parsley, then return to oven to bake another 25-30 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Let cool on baking sheet for 20 minutes. (
DN: I add the cheese and parsley half way through to prevent them from burning. I have found you can bake this tart 4 hours ahead and reheat in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes before serving.)

Flaky Pie Dough

Makes enough for 2 double-crusted (9-inch) pies, or 2 galettes

I always make pie dough in my food processor, but this amount is too much for it, so I do it by hand.

1/4 cups flour
1 tbsp. kosher salt

12 tbsp. (1
1/2 sticks) butter, chilled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3/4 cups solid vegetable shortening, chilled
1 cup ice water

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl and toss together. Add butter and cut it into the flour until the texture is coarse and crumbly. You can use a pastry cutter, two knives, or your fingers. Cut the shortening up and add it in small pieces. Cut in the shortening until the dough is crumbly again. Add ice water and mix just until the dough sticks together when pinched. Pull dough from bowl onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a block. Cut it in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or wrap it again in foil and store in the freezer. One day before you are going to use frozen dough, transfer it to the refrigerator and allow it to thaw there.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Makes about 4 cups of pureed squash

1- 3 lb. butternut squash

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Wash squash, then cut it in half lengthwise and remove the seeds with a spoon. Place squash, cut sides down on a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. Pour 2 cups of water into the baking sheet, surrounding the squash. Bake for about 1 hour, or until the skin is dark brown and flesh is fork tender. Remove from oven and let cool for about 20 minutes. Scoop cooled squash out of its skin and puree in a food processor until smooth. Let the pureed squash cool completely, uncovered, then store it in an air-tight container. The squash will last for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or for up to 1 month in the freezer.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pappa al Pomodoro

I got several questions about how to serve the flatbread. Is it an appetizer? Side dish? Bread? Truthfully, it is whatever you want it to be. The three times I have made it, I have served it as a sort of side. There were substantial other things to eat - like this soup. More on that in a minute. But I can also see it sliced into thin pieces and served as an easy-to-pick-up appetizer. I can see it as a main course served with a nice savory salad. You could even serve it as a pre-dessert course instead of a cheese plate. The possibilities are endless.

I chose to make this soup simply because it was a cold day and it caught my eye. I have made one other version of Pappa al Pomodoro which I found incredibly delicious but this one was even better. I assume that the "real" version of this soup is much more simple - that's the beauty of Italian home cooking, right? But I have to say that I loved the boost of flavor that carrot and fennel added here, and I loved the textural contrast of the croutons and crispy basil on top.

I served big bowls of the soup, the flatbread, and a big salad with lots of yummy things in it (avacado, mushrooms, tomatoes, hearts of palm, etc.) For dessert, a three layer cake with Kahlua in the cake, the custard in between the layers and in the frosting. I did not take a picture of it because, in spite of taking a cake decorating class last weekend, it was crooked and had lots of crumbs in the frosting!

Other vegan soup recipes on DanaTreat:
Tome Yum Soup with Tofu and Mushrooms
Orange Pepper Soup
Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

Pappa al Pomodoro

Adapted from
Barefoot Contessa's Back to Basics
Serves 6-8

I intended to vegetarian-ize this recipe by substituting vegetable stock for the chicken stock, and by leaving out the pancetta called for in the garnish. I unintentionally vegan-ized it by forgetting to add Parmesan cheese right before serving. If you want the cheese, add 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan either to the whole pot right before serving, or add it to the individual bowls.

Olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup medium diced carrots

1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and medium-diced

4 tsp. minced garlic

3 cups (1 inch) diced ciabatta bread

2 (28 ounce) cans good quality Italian plum tomatoes

4 cups vegetable stock

1/2 dry red wine

1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the topping
3 cups (1 inch) diced ciabatta bread

30 whole fresh basil leaves

Olive oil

Heat a large stockpot over medium heat. Add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom, then add the onions, carrots, and fennel. Cook for 7 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Add the ciabatta cubes and cook for 5 more minutes.

Place the tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process just until coarsely chopped. (
DN: I just stuck my immersion blender directly into the can to save washing the food processor.) Add the tomatoes to the pot along with the vegetable stock, red wine, basil, 1 tbsp. salt, and 1 1/2 tsp. pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and allow to simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. For the topping, place the ciabatta and basil on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20-25 minutes, until all the ingredients are crisp. The basil leaves will turn dark and crisp, which is perfectly fine.

Reheat the soup, if necessary, and beat with a wire whisk until the bread is broken up. (
DN: I used my immersion blender again here.) Serve hot sprinkled with topping.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Smoky Cashews

Whenever I plan a dinner party, I put a lot of thought into the menu. Because I like to bake and so many of our friends do not, I usually start with dessert. Based on how rich or light that is, I plan the rest of the menu. It is only when I am writing up my shopping list that I realize that I had better have something for people to munch on before we sit down at the table.

Because appetizers are kind of after-thought for me (not that they are not important), I like to have a few go-to recipes that are winners and not too filling. I usually plan a big dinner, so I like to have something light to nibble on - cheese plates are not usually found at my house. Olives seem obvious but I love that they are a quick salty bite that is very satisfying.

To along with olives, these cashews are great for many reasons. They are salty and sweet, but also smoky (from
pimenton) and piney (from rosemary). They are quick and I have yet to meet a person who doesn't like cashews. And, if you have raw cashews in your freezer (where you should store your nuts), smoked paprika in your spice cabinet, and a (in my case, half-dead) rosemary bush in your yard, you always have the ingredients on hand.

Other quick appetizers found at DanaTreat:

Spinach and Lemon Stuffed Mushrooms

Parmesan and Thyme Crackers

Deviled Eggs

Smoky Cashews

Adapted from Martha Stewart's The New Classics

Makes 2 cups

2 cups raw, unsalted cashews (about 9 ounces)
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp. smoked hot paprika (
DN: I used smoked sweet)
2 tbsp. light brown sugar

2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tbsp. unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the cashews in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven, stirring once or twice, until golden, 10-12 minutes. Place remaining ingredients in a medium heat-proof bowl. Remove the cashews from the oven and immediately place them in the bowl and stir them continuously until the butter melts and the cashews are coated with the the other flavors.

One of the Best Things I Have Made

I love when people tell me I am a good cook. It is so nice to be complimented about something that is really important to me, and that is such a big part of who I am. I have to admit though, there is a part of me that feels not quite right taking the compliment. 90% of what I cook comes from recipes that others have written. Yes I found a good recipe, yes I actually cooked it, yes I put together a menu that worked well. But I didn't write the recipes. Is that a glimmer of over-achiever in me? I don't know, the over-achievers out there would have to let me know as I am certainly not one.

Last summer, while I was looking through a Food and Wine issue, this flatbread recipe jumped out at me. It seemed so different and I was intrigued by the play of salty and sweet. (I know that I've said I don't like those two tastes to mingle, but I think I was lying.) I showed the picture to Randy, told him what was in it, and he said it sounded weird. I told him I really thought it would be great. No, I didn't write the recipe, but I could tell a good one when I read it.

So, I made it and it was, without question, one of the best things I made in 2008. Everyone at the table
raved about it and all were sorry that there was not a sliver of it left. It was so good that I made it again the next week. Then I promptly misplaced the recipe and forgot about it. When I found it early last week, I knew I had to make it for a special group of women I invited over for dinner last night.

There is nothing hard about this recipe, but it does require last minute cooking - something I usually insist on
not doing for a party. Once it cools, it is still delicious but it loses some of its charm so I would suggest eating it right out the oven. The recipe tells you to use a pizza peel and stone, but if you don't have one, don't let that stop you from making it. You can just put in on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Your crust won't be as crisp but the flavors will still shine.

Rosemary Flatbread with Blue Cheese, Grapes, and Honey
Adapted from
Food and Wine
Makes one 13-inch flatbread

1 envelope active dry yeast

2 tbsp. sugar

2 cups bread flour

cup warm water
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

tsp. fine salt
tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound red grapes (1
1/2 cups)
Coarse sea salt

3 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (
1/2 cup)
1 tbsp. honey

1 tbsp. snipped chives

1. In a large bowl, whisk the yeast and sugar with
1/4 cup of the flour. Stir in 1/4 cup of the warm water and let stand until slightly foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the rosemary, fine salt, pepper, and the remaining 1 3/4 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of water; stir until a dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a draft-free spot until billowy and doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, place a pizza stone in the bottom of the oven, and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Make sure the oven has preheated for at least 30 minutes.

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle a little cornmeal on the pizza peel. Press and stretch the dough into a 13-inch round, then transfer the dough to the pizza peel. Make sure the dough is not stuck anywhere on the peel. Press the grapes into the dough and sprinkle with sea salt.

4. Slide the flatbread onto the hot stone and bake for 12 minutes, until the crust is golden and the grapes have begun to release some of their juices. Sprinkle the blue cheese on top and bake for about 2 minutes longer, until the cheese melts. Slide the flatbread onto a work surface and drizzle with honey and sprinkle with chives. Cut into wedges and serve.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cookies for Michael

My brother Michael is 8 years younger than I am. I remember being kind of pissed off when my parents told me they were going to have another baby, being perplexed when they woke me in the middle of the night to tell me that this baby was coming 6 weeks ahead of schedule, and being disappointed to find out he was a boy (I already had a brother.) But as soon as I saw him, I fell in love. Being the oldest child and a baby lover, Michael became my baby.

Soon after he was born, my mom went back to school to earn her nursing degree. I did a lot of caregiving for Michael and it brought us very close together. We are similar in a lot of ways and as we have become adults, our bond remains strong. At the end of this past summer, he decided to move back to Seattle after having not lived here since high school. I am delighted to have him back. My boys adore him and I love being able to spend some quality time with him.

One of my favorite things to do with Michael is feed him. He is an incredibly enthusiastic eater. He is a hard core carnivore, but at the root of it all, he just loves good food. He is happy to eat vegetarian at my house and has even said that he could eat that way all the time if I was cooking for him. He is not a big sweets person but he absolutely LOVES cookies. The other night he and my parents came over for dinner and I realized that I had only one palmier left. Being the person I am, I can't know someone loves something and not be able to offer it to them.

So, I pulled out a special recipe. I made these about a year ago for my clients and they prompted a special note from one of them. She said they were the best cookies she had ever had. I do have to say there is something special about these. The oats make them soft and the coconut adds a new dimension of flavor - don't skip it even if you think you don't like coconut. There is no white sugar in these, only brown, so they bake up nice and golden and have that cararmel-y taste. Plus, I like oatmeal raisin cookies as much as the next person, but I would really prefer chocolate chip. I gave Michael a big bag to take home with him and yet he dipped into my cookie jar for a "few for the road". Guess they were a hit.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Adapted from
The Greyston Bakery Cookbook
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 cups old-fashioned rolled ats

3/4 cup shredded coconut (
DN: I used unsweetened.)
7 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped into small chunks (
DN: I used chocolate

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt to blend. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer set on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar together for 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and continue beating until well combined, scraping down the sides as necessary.

With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined. With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, fold in the oats, coconut, and chocolate.

Drop the batter in rounded tablespoons, 2" apart, onto baking sheets. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Filo, Part Deux

I have written here before about working with filo dough. In my experience it is one of those things that sometimes goes well and sometimes does not. I would like to blame it on the condition of the filo but really, it has nothing to do with the dough and has everything to do with me. If I am in a hurry, things do not go well. I try to rush a process that should not be rushed or I get bored and just stop half way through. The best time to work with filo is when you have the time and want to take on a project. If you slow down and relax and enjoy the process, the rewards can be great.

I made Ina Garten's Spanakopita recipe the other night for my clients and I was very happy with how they turned out, both in the looks and taste departments. The filling was very flavorful and not too tangy (using a really good feta cheese helps), plus they baked up incredibly crispy. I think this was due to a fine dusting of bread crumbs in between each of the four filo layers, and also due to my light hand with the olive oil when brushing the layers.

Ina suggests making very large triangles, but I couldn't enclose the filling with her dimensions, so I changed that in the recipe below. You can, of course, make these much smaller and serve them as appetizers. You can also get them ready to the point of baking them, put them on a baking sheet and into the freezer. Once they are frozen, you can put them in a plastic bag (the initial freeze on the sheet insures they won't stick together once in the bag), and store them in the freezer for next time.

Here are my filo tips from the previous post:

First, the day before you are going to use your filo dough, remove it from the freezer and put it in the fridge to let it thaw overnight. Then use it directly from the fridge.

Second, filo does dry out quickly but not that quickly, so try and relax as you are working with it. Once it does dry out, the corners start to crack and it can be a little hard to separate the layers. The best way to keep it moist is to just cover the portion you are not working with with a clean kitchen towel. Don't bother with plastic wrap or a damp towel, just a clean dry towel.

Third, use olive oil to brush the layers. Your choices are usually butter or olive oil, but when I use butter I have to keep rewarming it to keep it liquid so I just stick with oil. This is true even for sweet things (like baklava) because the oil doesn't really add much flavor, it's just there to keep everything moist and to give you a nice crisp crust on the outside.

Fourth, if it does tear - don't worry about it. Almost anything you make with filo will have many sheets of it layered on top of each other so any tear will be invisible and insignificant. If your top layer tears, just brush it with oil and add one more layer to the top.

Dinner Spanakopita

Adapted from
Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics
Makes approximately 15 strudels

Olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped

2 (10 ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted

4 eggs, lightly beaten

3 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Plain dry bread crumbs

1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 cups small-diced feta cheese (12 oz.)

3 tbsp. toasted pine nuts

24 sheets frozen filo dough, defrosted

Flaked sea salt, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat a medium saute pan over medium heat and add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add the scallions and cook for another 2 minutes until the scallions are wilted but still green. Meanwhile, gently squeeze most of the water out of the spinach and place it in a large bowl.

When the onion and scallions are done, add them to the spinach. Mix in the eggs, Parmesan cheese, 3 tbsp. bread crumbs, the nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Gently fold in the feta and pine nuts.

Place on sheet of filo dough flat on a work surface with the long end in front of you. Brush the dough lightly with olive oil and sprinkle it with a teaspoon of bread crumbs. Working quickly, slide another sheet of filo dough on top of the first, brush with olive oil, and sprinkle lightly with bread crumbs. (Use just enough bread crumbs so the layers of filo don't stick together.) Pile 4 layers on top of each other this way brushing each with olive oil and sprinkling each with bread crumbs.

Cut the sheets of filo in thirds lengthwise. Place
1/3 cup spinach filling on the shorter end and roll the filo up diagonally as if folding a flag. They fold the triangle of filo over straight and then diagonally again. Continue folding first diagonally and then straight until you reach the end of the sheet. The filling should be totally enclosed. Place each finished strudel, seam side down, on a baking sheet and brush lightly with olive oil.

Continue assembling filo layers and folding the filling until all of the filling or all of the sheets have been used. Sprinkle sea salt over the finished strudels and bake for 30-35 minutes until the filo is browned and crisp. Serve hot.

DN: These can be made 6 hours ahead and reheated in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Two Ingredients

I have lived in France twice for short periods of time. The first time was for three months on a bike, and the second was for a semester in Paris during my junior year of college. The first time I gained 15 pounds because I simply could not get over how delicious the pastries were (or the bread, or the cheese, or the chocolate, etc.) The second time I was much more careful and tried to stick only to the bread and a little cheese. Once in a while, I would allow myself a treat and there was never a question of what that would be.

I discovered
Palmiers in a small town in Normandy about 1/3 of the way into the bike trip. I was 16, homesick, freezing and wet. The first month of our trip was spent in the Loire Valley and Normandy which, in case you are wondering, is not a good place to be biking in late March and early April. We got rained on, snowed on, and hailed on. We did not see the sun once during the entire month. We were sleeping in tents and biking all day. I only took comfort from my friend Jen, the hope of mail at the next homestay, and bakeries.

By this point in the trip, I had established my favorites in the boulangerie.
Pain au chocolat was a given, brioche was always welcome when I wanted something more bread-like, a croissant when I wanted something less sweet. Seeing a Normandy is apple country in France, a whole new world of apple pastries opened up to me and I tried every one of them. One day, when I was feeling particularly homesick and wanting a cookie, I opted for a palmier. The charming butterfly shape disguised what a sophisticated treat this was. They are made from puff pastry so the layers upon layers of butter worked into the dough make each bite shatter under your teeth as you enjoy the flakiness of a croissant and the honey sweetness of lots of sugar. They became a true favorite of mine and I asked for them repeatedly during the rest of that bike trip (this contributed to the 15 pounds I gained, in spite of biking 1500 miles).

When I returned to France 3 years later, I asked for them in boulangeries all over Paris. I have gotten them for my boys here in Seattle whenever I see them. And I've made them a few times which I highly encourage you to do.
You see, there are two ingredients in this recipe. Puff pastry and sugar. That's it. Of course you can make your own puff pastry but why? Why when there is DuFour out there? Yes, it's expensive (about $13 for 14 oz.), but when there are only two ingredients, you need to use the very best. I have no problem using Pepperidge Farm (about $4 for 14 oz.) when I am making something savory - when I know the flavor of the pastry is not the star. But if you are going to make these cookies, and you should, use the best. (Update: Thanks to two helpful comments, I can tell you that both Trader Joe's and Whole Foods carry all-butter puff pastry for less than the DuFour. I will be sure to look for those!)


Adapted from The Martha Steward Living Cookbook - The New Classics
Makes about 20

The only real change I made here is an added step of coating each side of the palmiers in more sugar. Yum!

cup sugar, plus extra for dipping
14 oz. all butter Puff Pastry

1. Sprink half the sugar on a clean work surface. Place the dough on top, and sprinkle evenly with the remaining sugar.

2. Using a rolling pin, gently roll out the dough into a 9 x 15-inch rectangle
1/8 inch thick, being careful not to press too hard around the edges. Continually coat both sides with sugar.

3. Place the dough so one of the long sides is closest to you. Using your fingers, roll the dough length-wise into a long cylinder, as tightly as possible without stretching it, as you would a roll of wrapping papers, stopping when you reach the middle. Repeat the same rolling procedure with the other long side until you have 2 tight cylinders that meet in the middle. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap; place in the refrigerator to chill at least 1 hour.

4. Unwrap the dough; using a sharp knife, cut the dough crosswise into
3/8-inch-thick slices. Dip each side of each slice into a shallow bowl of sugar. Place the palmiers on an ungreased baking sheet, and firmly flatten with the palm of your hand. Cover with platic wrap; place in the refrigerator 1 hour.

5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the palmiers in the oven and bake 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees; continue baking until the pastry is golden brown and well caramelized, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven; using a thin spatula, immediately transfer the palmiers to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve shiny side up.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ooey and Gooey

We had a kind of impromptu dinner party last night. By "impromptu" I mean I only had 24 hours notice. Usually if we are going to entertain, I like to have lots of time to mull over menus and to plan my time. I also like to have the option to make things in advance so I am not madly cooking when the guests arrive. Does this make me sound like a control freak? I'm really not. Cooking is important to me and I know our friends expect something delicious when they come to eat with us.

And besides, this wasn't really a dinner party per se - just two very good friends coming to dinner. But these guys are so awesome, they have even babysat our two boys so we could go see a movie and have offered to do it again. I knew we could do something more simple for dinner, but they are both dessert lovers and I really wanted to make a special dessert.

Because I didn't have a lot of time, I thought of nothing else but this cake. If you are a chocolate lover, you probably have the ingredients on hand. Here is the gist of it. You make a flourless chocolate cake batter. You hold 2 cups of said batter back and put them in the refrigerator, then you put the rest into a springform pan and bake it until it's just barely cooked through.

You allow the cake to cool, then you spread the uncooked batter on top.

The whole thing goes back into the fridge for at least one hour and up to 2 days, and then, when you are ready for chocolate nirvana, you put the cake in the oven for 10 minutes. What comes out is multi-textured. The bottom part is baked through but the top,
oh the top!, is gooey and pudding like.

I have one quibble with this recipe. Each time I make it, I remember that the edges of the cooked part of the cake get a little black in the final baking. (Note to self:
Make a note in the actual recipe!) I think dialing the temperature down a bit from 425 to 400 (with perhaps a few extra minutes for the top to bake off a bit) would fix that. Last night I just carefully cut off the offending bits and no one was the wiser.

Double-Baked Chocolate Cake
Adapted from
Food and Wine
Makes one 9-inch cake (
DN: Serves about 8)

pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 sticks (
1/2 pound) unsalted butter
cup unsweetened cocoa powder
7 large eggs, separated

1/3 cups sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the paper.

2. In a large saucepan, melt the chopped chocolate with the butter over moderately low heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth.

3. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with
2/3 cup of the sugar until pale and light, about 3 minutes. In a large bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 2/3 cup of sugar and beat until the whites are firm and glossy.

4. Fold the chocolate into the egg yolk mixture until barely combined. Fold in the egg whites just until no white streaks remain. Spoon 2 cups of the batter into a medium bowl and refrigerate. Scrape the remaining batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the cake is puffed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake completely on a wire rack.

5. Remove the side from the springform pan and spread the reserved cake batter over the top of the cake, leaving a 1 inch border around the edge. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour.

6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the cake for 10-15 minutes, or until a thin crust forms on top and the batter is soft and creamy beneath the crust. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then cut into wedges and serve warm.

Make ahead: The cake can be prepared through step 4 and refrigerated, covered, for up to 2 days.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hot and Spicy Soup for a Cold Night

One of the tricky things about my business is coming up with a full menu. When I am cooking for my own family, I usually just plan the main course, perhaps a side of steamed broccoli (my favorite vegetable), and a simple salad. On rare occasions, it's just a main. Or a very simple side. For example, one night this coming week we are going to have Mixed Bell Pepper Quesadillas. I will most likely make guacamole, but other than that will just probably heat up some re-fried beans and make sure there is plenty of salsa.

For my paying clients though, I need to make more of an effort. I charge them for each component of the meal, so I can't in good conscience give them steamed broccoli. Sometimes the three courses just come to me and sometimes I have to scramble to put a menu together that works. This doesn't mean that each course is a show-stopper - I do have time constraints - but I would like to think that each one is something that they wouldn't necessarily make for themselves.

Before I started cooking for clients, I always thought of soup as more a main course dish. But as I saw the need to vary my menus, and to come up with interesting and innovative side dishes, I started making many more soups. If they are not a main course, I tend to keep them relatively simple. I feature one vegetable, or make them nice and light, or - as in the case with this soup - nice and brothy. I was looking for something flavorful, hot, and spicy to serve with the Red Curry last week. I remembered that I had made this soup once before and was very pleased with it. It turned out to be a great choice for a cold night.

Tome Yum Soup with Mushrooms and Tofu

Adapted from
Real Vegetarian Thai
Serves 4-6

You can make this soup much more substantial by adding rice or rice noodles to individual portions.

6 cups vegetable stock

3 large stalks lemongrass

Zest and juice of 2 limes

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1 fresh jalapeno chili, diced

8 ounces extra firm tofu, cut into 1 inch chunks

8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced

2 tbsp. roasted chili paste

2 tsp. sugar

1 tsp. soy sauce

1/2 tsp. salt

Zest the limes and set aside the zest. Place the jalapeno and green onions in a small bowl and squeeze the juice of the limes over. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, bring the vegetable stock to a boil. Meanwhile, trip the lemongrass stalks. Cut away and discard any hard, dried root portions, leaving a smooth, flat base just below the bulb. Trim away the tops so the stalks are about 6 inches in length. Using the blunt edge of a knife, bruise each stalk, whacking it firmly at 2 inch intervals and rolling it over to bruise on all sides. Cut into 2 inch lengths.

When the stock is boiling, add the lemongrass and the lime zest and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the stock is fragrant, about 5 minutes. Scoop out the lemongrass from the stock and discard it (it's ok if some of the zest comes along for the ride). Raise the heat to high and add the tofu, mushrooms, chili paste, sugar, soy sauce, and salt and stir well. When the soup boils again, turn the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook for another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the cover and add the green onion mixture. Taste and adjust the flavors with more lime juice, soy, or sugar as needed.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Winter Vegetable Thai Curry

The year we lived in London, we ate in some really fantastic restaurants. We also explored cuisines that are not all that available to us here in Seattle. I always knew that I liked Indian food but fell head over heels in love with it while living there. Middle Eastern food too. I can't tell you how much I miss the multitude of places where I could eat dips, felafel, fantastic breads, and vegetable dishes to my heart's content. The one thing we missed while living there was Thai food. I tried it a few different places in London, some of them very fancy, and it never was very good.

We are fortunate to have a plethra of great Thai places in Seattle. In an approximate one mile radius of our house, there are no fewer than 8 Thai restaurants, some pretty good and some
really good. It is our go-to meal for Friday night take-out and I crave it on an even more regular basis. Because my Asian food-hating clients (who are the same as my mushroom-hating clients) are out of town again tonight, I thought I would make it for the others.

For this dinner, I turned to the sweetest little cookbook.
Real Vegetarian Thai was written by a woman who spent two years in Thailand in the Peace Corps. She includes copious notes with each recipe telling you how the Thais would serve it and substitutions that can be made. She also tells you what can be done in advance which always wins extra points with me. All of this is done in a un-pretentious friendly voice that is a joy to read. The recipes I have made (and there have been many of them) have turned out great. Tonight's menu included Tome Yum Soup with Mushrooms and Tofu, Red Curry with Winter Vegetables and Cashews, Coconut Rice, and Cucumber Salad.

For the curry recipe, you actually make your own curry paste. In a pinch you can, of course, substitute store-bought, but if you are a vegetarian, read the label carefully. Many of them contain dried shrimp. Making the paste really doesn't take all that much time and it makes a healthy amount. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month. Perfect for the next time you want red curry! I followed the paste recipe quite closely but with the finished dish, I made a lot of changes.

Red Curry with Winter Vegetables and Cashews

Adapted from
Real Vegetarian Thai
Serves 4 generously

1 can unsweetened coconut milk (
DN: I used reduced fat)
2 or 3 tbsp. red curry paste (recipe follows)

Vegetable oil

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

Kosher salt

8 oz. extra firm tofu, drained, patted dry, and cut into 1 inch cubes

1 cup vegetable stock

1/2 pounds assorted winter vegetables such as squash, sweet potatoes, carrots and/or
parsnips, everything cut into 1-2 inch pieces

1 tbsp. light brown sugar

1 tsp. soy sauce

cup salted, dry-roasted cashews
cup chopped cilantro

Shake the coconut milk can well. Spoon out 1/3 cup into a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to release its fragrance. Add the curry paste and cook for about 3 more minutes, mashing the paste into the coconut milk

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add enough vegetable oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan, then add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened, about 8 minutes.

Add the chopped winter vegetables and saute for another 5 minutes. Add the curry mixture, the rest of the coconut milk, the stock, soy sauce, and sugar and bring to a boil. Give it a good stir, then reduce the heat to simmer and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.

Just before serving, add the cashews and cilantro. Serve over rice.

Red Curry Paste

Adapted from
Real Vegetarian Thai
Makes about 1 cup

McDermott suggests using chilies de arbol here which are finger-length and quite spicy. I didn't have any on hand so I used Guajillo chiles which are much less spicy.

20 dried chilies de arbol

1 tbsp. whole coriander seeds

1 tsp. whole cumin seeds

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

3 stalks lemongrass

cup chopped fresh cilantro
cup coarsely chopped shallots
2 tbsp. coarsely chopped garlic

1 tbsp. coarsely chopped peeled fresh ginger

Zest of 1 small lime

1 tsp. salt

Stem the chilies and shake out and discard the seeds. Break into large pieces. Place the chilies in a small bowl, add warm water to cover, and set aside to soften for about 20 minutes.

In a small skillet over medium heat, dry-fry the coriander and cumin seeds until they are fragrant, about 3 minutes. Allow to cool, then grind in a coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle.

To prepare the lemongrass, trim away and discard any root section below the bulb base, and cut away the top portion, leaving a stalk about 6 inches long, including the base. Remove the outer layer of "skin", then finely chop the stalks.

Drain the chilies and combine them with the lemongrass, ground spices, and the remaining ingredients in a mini food processor or a blender. Pour in 2 tbsp. of water and combine to a fairly smooth puree. You may need to add more water to keep the blades moving. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to one month.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sometimes You Don't Want to Know

There are certain places where it is good be a vegetarian. Large cosmopolitan cities or college towns, for example. But even in those places, it can be tricky to eat out. Even in our fair city, where Patagonia outnumbers Prada by 20:1 and farmers markets abound, it can be difficult to stick to plant based food in restaurants.

Once in a while, I find myself starving and faced with only a soup or Caesar salad as an option. The soup looks vegetarian, sounds vegetarian but I just bet it has chicken stock. The Caesar almost certainly has anchovies but even if it doesn't, it most likely has Worcestershire sauce which contains anchovies and therefore, isn't veg. But sometimes you are starving and there is no other option. So you just don't ask the questions you know will harm you and you don't think about what you might be eating.

I love Caesar salad. For me, Caesar is an excuse to eat croutons and Parmesan cheese along with some lettuce and what is usually a gloppy dressing. The non-veg and gloppy factors are why I really just prefer to make it myself at home. I can't remember where I first got the recipe for this dressing - it is in a notebook of mine in my handwriting and I have tweaked even that over the years. It is different than what you might be used to, but the flavor is spot on. The consistency is more like a vinaigrette but you can certainly add more mayo if you like it thicker. You can find vegetarian Worcestershire sauce in places like Whole Foods. I also use it in a Baked Artichoke Dip recipe and for Bloody Marys.

Do yourself a favor. When you are making the croutons, make more than you will need for the salad. They are an awesome garnish for soup (hot or
cold), and not too shabby as a snack. One final note. Traditionally, salad dressings are made with a 3:1 ratio of oil to acid. I find those proportions way too oily for my taste so I do more of a 2:1 ratio. You should feel free to add more olive oil to this if that suits your taste. The most important thing when making dressing is to taste as you go and adjust the flavors until they taste right to you.

Vegetarian Caesar Salad

Serves 6

For the Dressing:

2 tbsp. cider vinegar

2 tbsp. mayonnaise (low fat is fine here)

1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

In a medium bowl, whisk together the first six ingredients until smooth. Add black pepper to taste. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking constantly, until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

For the Croutons:

1 small loaf dense country bread

Olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

I don't like too much olive oil on my croutons so I use a light hand with the olive oil, but feel free to use more. I like mine crunchy on the outside and still chewy on the inside so I watch them pretty carefully and take them out when they are just starting to brown. If you want them really crunchy, leave them in until they are brown. You can always taste to make sure!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees with rack in the middle of the oven. Cut the each end off the bread and the carefully slice the crust off. Cut the bread into 1 inch cubes and put onto a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle lightly with oil and sprinkle with a healthy pinch of salt and pepper. Bake for 10-20 minutes, depending on how crunchy you like them. Remove from oven and let cool.

To finish the salad:

3 hearts of romaine


Parmesan cheese (either grated or shaved)


Cut the hearts of romaine into bite size pieces. Toss lettuce and dressing together in a large bowl. Right before serving, toss in the croutons. Garnish each plate with Parmesan cheese and a slice of lemon.

Dessert Lovers

I am continually amazed by how much people like dessert. We tease kids for being so sugar focused, but the truth is that adults can be just as obsessed. Ten years ago, cupcakes were thought of as something you serve at a kids birthday party. These days, you had better have enough for all the kids and the moms and dads.

How about birthday cake? My older son turned four just after Thanksgiving and because we hosted and
I cooked my brains out, I decided to order a cake instead of making one. I have never been a fan of that type of cake - you know, decorated well, but frosted way too thickly with something shortening based. Give me a plain piece of pound cake any day. But what do you know, the adults inhaled the cake almost as fast as the kids. People just love cake.

For my baby's birthday party, I decided to make the ice cream cake found in the
Sky High book. I love that she specifically says it's great for a kid's birthday party, but I would not hesitate to make this for anyone's birthday party! It was really special and can be made in advance. The cake has two thin layers of chocolate cake sandwiching a full half gallon of ice cream (I used cookies and cream mixed in with homemade chocolate sauce). The whole thing is covered with a chocolate ganache and returned to the freezer to set up.

Putting the finishing touches on the cake.


I love how he is looking at me like, "Is this for me?"

Turns out he liked it.

So did his big brother.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Real Stuff

Do you know what is lurking under there? Yes, it looks like an incredibly delicious crunchy topping and yes, that is what it is. But can just barely see it.... Mac and cheese.

This is relatively new territory for me. I have been making Annie's mac and cheese for my kids since they started eating solid food, and of course I ate Kraft mac and cheese as a child myself. But last January I catered a party for 60 people and they wanted to do a Southern theme. Literally the first thing that popped into my head was mac and cheese even though I had never made the "real" stuff before. The client was more excited about it than any other thing I mentioned, so I got to work on what would be the best recipe.

I ended up trying debating between two Martha Stewart recipes and was totally stumped as to which one make people swoon. We had a New Year's Day party last year and, seeing as we were expecting about 20 people, I made both and asked people to vote for their favorite. One had a crumb topping with cheddar and Gruyere cheeses, the other had scallions mixed in along with goat cheese. The former won hands down and that is the one I made for the party to rave reviews. I even made it for the party I catered this past December, so sure I was of it's deliciousness.

So when we decided to host a little party for my baby's second birthday, I knew what to make. It's winter, a lot of people with healthy appetites were coming - how else to feed them? I decided to revisit Martha but to make a slightly different recipe and I think it's the best of them all. This one adds some tomatoes to the mix and I think that little burst of acidity and freshness adds so much. Macaroni and cheese is an incredibly rich dish. People love it but it is hard to eat too much without feeling a little sick. Although this does not skimp on the richness, the tomatoes mix it up a little bit and give your mouth a break. Another thing I like about it is that the recipe incorporates fresh thyme which also adds a nice flavor dimension.

This is not a quick dish. There are several steps and a lot of stirring over a hot stove. Nothing is difficult, just time consuming. But if you have never made "real" mac and cheese, your efforts will be well rewarded. It is one of the best comfort foods around.

Gratineed Macaroni and Cheese with Tomatoes
Adapted from
The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook
Serves 6-8

For this particular recipe, Stewart recommends sharp white Cheddar cheese only. I think Gruyere adds a nice nuttiness, so I did half and half. I was feeding about 14 adults so I doubled the below recipe. If you do so, make sure you have a very large bowl to mix it all together!

7 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
1 1/4 cup homemade bread crumbs
1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound elbow macaroni or other short, tubular pasta

1 quart whole milk

5 tbsp. flour

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

4 cups grated cheese, about 1 pound (see my note above)
1 pound red and yellow tomatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish or a 3 quart casserole dish; set aside. Melt 2 tbsp. butter and pour over the bread in a medium bowl; toss. Add 1 tsp. thyme,
1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 pepper; toss.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add a small handful of salt. Cook the pasta until just beginning to soften, 2-3 minutes (it will not be fully cooked). Drain and rinse.

3. Warm the milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Heat the remaining 5 tbsp. butter in a high sided skillet (or a pot) over medium until foaming. Add the flour; whisk 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the warm milk. Cook, whisking, until bubbling and thickened, 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat.

4. Add 2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, the remaining 2 tsp. thyme, the nutmeg, and the cheese to pan; stir until the cheese is melted.

5. Stir the pasta and tomatoes into the cheese sauce. Pour into the buttered dish; sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Bake until bubbling and golden, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Pre-Op Cupcakes

We had a weird day yesterday. My older son was recently diagnosed with a hernia and his surgery was scheduled for yesterday. He has also had a herniated belly button for two years now and the surgeon figured it would be best to fix it at the same time since it would need fixing eventually anyway.

Before they took him back to the OR, the doctor examined him one more time and was having trouble feeling the hernia. He decided that since he was going to be operating on the belly button anyway, they would send a scope in through the navel to take a look and see if there was, in fact, a hernia. When all was said and done, the surgeon said he was 99% sure there was no hernia and just fixed the belly button.

I feel relieved and also somewhat puzzled. My son has been complaining of pain and I and all the medical people involved thought a hernia made sense. Now that that is not what it is, I wonder and worry about what it is that is causing him pain. But on the bright side, the surgery is over and he was a total trooper. He is a little weepy and sleepy today but seems just fine. Watching him walk back to the OR with the anesthesiologist made me burst into tears - after he had rounded the corner of course.

Cupcakes? Oh yes, the cupcakes. Well, if you or anyone you know has had surgery, you know that you are not allowed to eat or drink after a certain time. You also don't really feel much like eating after the surgery, even if you are allowed to. I knew his last good meal for a while was going to be dinner the night before the operation and I also know that my son LOVES cupcakes. So I made him chocolate chip cupcakes with a chocolate glaze. These little beauties come from a simple little cookbook called
Cupcakes! which I kind of scoffed at at first. But I have made quite a few recipes from the book and they all have been delicious. My husband said he liked these best of all. My son was too busy eating to give his opinion.

The cake part of these cupcakes has the flavor of a chocolate chip cookie but the texture of a brownie - nice and dense. I actually made these a few weeks ago, allowed them to cool completely, wrapped them well in foil, and froze them. They didn't suffer one bit from their time in the cold. When I thawed them, I made sure to lay them out so that they didn't stick together. The glaze is quite thin so I just put a little dollop on top and allowed it to harden at room temperature for an hour or so. If you follow the recipe as written, you will have more glaze than you need for the cupcakes, but you can refrigerate any extra for 2 weeks in a covered container and just reheat portions of it as needed.

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Adapted from
Makes 18 regular cupcakes

I didn't have cupcake liners on hand so I just sprayed my muffin tins really well. They came out of the pan just fine. I think if you plan to freeze them, I would skip the liners anyway. If you plan to freeze them, do not glaze them - do it after they have thawed.

2 cups flour

2 cups packed light brown sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup sour cream

1/4 cup whole milk

2 cups (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips

Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 18 muffin tin cups with paper cupcake liners.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on low speed, mix the flour, brown sugar, and baking soda to blend them. Add the butter and mix until the butter pieces are the size of peas, about 2 minutes. You will still seem some loose flour. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bow as needed during mixing. Mix in the egg and vanilla. The batter will still look dry. Mix in the sour cream and milk until the batter looks evenly moistened; you may still seem some lumps of butter. Mix in the chocolate chips.

Fill each paper liner with a generous
1/4 cup of batter, to about 1/3 inch from the top of the liner. Bake just until the tops feel firm and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool the cupcakes for 10 minutes in the pans on wire racks.

Carefully turn out the cupcakes on to the wire racks and turn right side up to cool completely. Add the chocolate glaze either by drizzling with a fork or by spooning a bit on top of each cupcake. Allow to sit until glaze is firm. The cupcakes can be covered and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Chocolate Glaze

Makes 2 cups

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces

3 tbsp. light corn syrup

9 oz. (1
1/2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
tsp. vanilla

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream, butter, and corn syrup over low heat until the cream is hot and the butter has melted. The mixture should form tiny bubbles - do not let it boil. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate chips, cover, and let them sit for about 30 seconds to soften. Add the vanilla and whisk the sauce until it is smooth and the chocolate has melted. Allow to cool slightly.