Archive for the ‘Food’ Category


Coconut-Dark Chocolate (and Date) Truffles

June 30, 2013


I love coconut and chocolate, and I like dates a lot, so when I saw this recipe, I knew it wouldn’t be long before I made it. These truffles, with a filling made of dates, cocoa powder, and coconut flour, are a bit less indulgent than a typical piece of candy. Oh, but they are tasty. The dates and cocoa powder create a soft, sweet filling that’s only better when covered in chocolate and rolled in toasted coconut.


The recipe is from Eating Well, and you can find it here. And if you’re in a truffle kind of mood, Michele made Butterfinger truffles! Go to her site to check them out!

Some notes on coconut flour

These are pretty easy to make, unless you are like me and decide that since you have a bunch of unsweetened coconut, you’ll go ahead and make your own coconut flour. I did it, and it worked out, but it was a long road to get there! I followed these instructions and used option 2, the boiling water method. If you do that, I suggest letting it cool a bit before blending it. My blender was super-full and I ended up getting splattered with some hot liquid.

The coconut flour I ended up with looked like this:


It worked fine in the truffles, but since it wasn’t the consistency of a traditional flour, I don’t know if it would work in other recipes.

As a by-product of making the flour, I had some coconut milk which I used to make this sorbet (I didn’t make the other components of that recipe). It was a delicious, and a nice reward for the unexpected work involved in making the coconut flour.


TwD Baking with Julia: Cheese & Tomato Galette

June 18, 2013

This week’s recipe for the Tuesdays with Dorie group is Cheese and Tomato Galette, a free-form savory pie.


The crust ingredients include butter, flour, cornmeal, and yogurt (or you can use sour cream or buttermilk). I adapted the filling a bit to the ingredients I had: I used mozzarella and parmesan (instead of mozzarella and monterey jack) and I spread a bit of pesto on the bottom because I didn’t have fresh basil.

Served with a green salad, this was a delicious dinner, and I bet would be even better later in the summer when the basil and tomatoes are going in my garden.

This recipe, from Flo Braker, is on page 429 of Baking with Julia. I also found the recipe online here.


TwD Baking with Julia: Savarin

June 4, 2013

I really enjoyed trying to pronounce this French dessert. Sahvahrunh, savarnnnnh…just say it fast with a nasal ending and call it good. But you may not want to listen to me, because 10 out of 10 French people agree that my accent is no good. The dessert, however, was quite good.


What’s in it? A base of yeasted dough that gets a soak with sugar syrup, and then in my case, is drizzled with Grand Marnier and filled with whipped cream and sliced strawberries that were tossed with Grand Marnier and sugar. Tthe recipe calls for a raspberry puree, mixed berries, and pear eau-de-vie.)

I thought this would be a lengthy project, but with quick rising times, it wasn’t too much trouble to make. I made 1/2 recipe and, lacking a ring mold, baked it in a 6-cup bundt pan.

The verdict? Delicious! The cake was light as air, even after being soaked in the sugar syrup. I loved the combination of the orange Grand Marnier with the strawberries. This would be an impressive, not-too-heavy dessert to serve to company.

This recipe, baked by the Tuesdays with Dorie group this week, is on page 416 of Baking with Julia. You can also watch a video from the show here, and you can see the recipe here.


Buttered Popcorn Chocolate Chip Cookies

May 26, 2013

I have a recipe for cookies with potato chips that I’ve been wanting to make for ages, but have never gotten around to. Then I saw this popcorn cookie recipe and decided I needed to make it right away. I don’t know if it’s because I like popcorn more than I like potato chips, or because Michele offered to bake along with me, or if I was just in the mood for popcorn + chocolate + cookies.


Oh, they were good. Chewy cookies with chopped chocolate which would be good if you left them at that, but they’re better with lots of popcorn mixed in. And then there’s the magic of stirring a whole lot of popcorn into not a whole lot of cookie dough, then forming the dough balls and watching with disbelief as it all holds together and then bakes into an actual cookie.

You can find the recipe here on Joy the Baker, who adapted it from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. Michele used the cookbook version of the recipe, and after we made these we discovered that Joy the Baker’s version has chocolate and the cookbook version does not. We weren’t planning on making two different versions, but in the end we did.

Recipe notes

  • Do you see the part in the recipe where she says to sort through the popcorn to remove any unpopped kernels? Don’t skip that step! I didn’t have any unpopped ones, but I had some of those half-popped ones (you know, where it’s half kernel and half popcorn) and I didn’t remove all of them. Next time I’ll be super-picky and will pull out anything that doesn’t look like a perfectly popped piece.
  • I did salt the popcorn but didn’t sprinkle extra salt on top of the cookies.

Be sure to check out how Michele’s cookies turned out!


Crunchy Seed Braid Bread

May 1, 2013


I’m all about a seeded, grainy bread, and this Crunchy Seed Braid from King Arthur fit the bill better than I could have imagined. White whole wheat flour, rolled oats, and King Arthur’s Harvest Grains Blend give this bread lots of taste and texture.

This was another virtual baking session with my friend Michele, who also gets credit for suggesting this recipe. Thanks Michele! This one is a keeper.


Recipe notes:

  • Instead of mixed seeds, I used all sesame seeds on top, because a) That’s what I had on hand and b) I love sesame seeds.
  • I have a bag of King Arthur’s Harvest Grains Blend, but if you don’t want to buy it, take a look at the ingredients – I bet you could mix up your own.
  • Instead of using an egg wash to get the seeds to stick, I followed this method from King Arthur (but I rolled the dough to the length stated in the Crunchy Seed Braid recipe). It worked great!
  • This baked and browned more quickly than the recipe stated. Keep an eye on it, and be ready to top it with a foil tent to keep it from over-browning.

Give the Crunchy Seed Braid a try, and be sure to see how Michele’s turned out.


TwD Baking with Julia: Rustic Potato Loaves

April 2, 2013

I’m always up for a new bread recipe, so this week’s recipe for  the Tuesdays with Dorie group went on my baking schedule.


Cooked, cooled potatoes (I peeled them, but the recipe says to leave the peel on) are mashed and then the rest of the ingredients are added: potato cooking water, yeast, olive oil, salt, and flour. Although the first rise wasn’t as quick as the 20 minutes promised by the recipe, the second rise was quick, and overall, it didn’t take long to make this bread. The reward was a soft, tender bread that’s good with or without butter. In fact, this bread was so soft and tender that I wonder if it could be baked in a loaf pan and used as a sandwich bread. Something to think about for next time.

The recipe for Rustic Potato Loaves is on page 138 of Baking with Julia, or our host Dawn will have the recipe posted at Simply Sweet.


TwD Baking with Julia: Mocha Chocolate Chips

March 19, 2013

In summary, I screwed up these cookies, but they were still really good. Beautiful, no. Good, yes.


I made half the recipe but put in the full amount of granulated sugar. I realized my goof right away, so decided to leave out the dark brown sugar. Then I decided to use chocolate chips (plus a few cappuccino chips) instead of the chopped chocolate called for in the recipe. I didn’t want to waste my good chocolate in case the cookies were a bust. But they weren’t a bust – they were chewy, chocolatey, and coffee-y, and I imagine they’d only be better with dark brown sugar. I purposely omitted the dried apricots, because I cannot get on board with coffee + apricot.

Do you want a jolt of coffee in your chocolate chip cookies? This recipe, baked by the Tuesdays with Dorie group this week, is on page 330 of Baking with Julia, or pop over to Galettista, where Peggy has the recipe posted.


TwD Baking with Julia: French Apple Tart

January 22, 2013

I was all in for the French Apple Tart that the Tuesdays with Dorie group made this week. A few months ago, I saw the episode of Baking with Julia when Leslie Mackie made this tart, and I wrote a note in my book that said “looks really good.” And it was!

French Apple Tart

The apples didn’t get very brown, but they were tender and tasty.

There are a number of components in this recipe, so I split the tasks over two days, starting the crust and making the filling on day one, and finishing it off on day two.

Crust: The crust is a pie dough made with a combination of butter and vegetable shortening. Pie crust makes me nervous! I had no idea if it was any good, so I took the scraps, sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar, and baked them. I took a bite and high-fived myself – the crust was flaky and delicious!

Flaky Pie Crust

Flaky pie crust scrap

Filling: To make the filling, apple slices are tossed with sugar, cinnamon, flour, and lemon juice (the recipe calls for bread crumbs, but I skipped those) and roasted in the oven. After roasting, the apples are mashed into an applesauce.

Topping: Sliced apples are arranged on top of the filling, brushed with melted butter, and sprinkled with sugar.

Put them all together, bake it, and the finished product is delicious!

You can find the recipe on page 379 of Baking with Julia, or click over to Laws of the Kitchen, where Gaye has the recipe posted today. Thank you Gaye for hosting this week!


Hummus Bread (the hummus is IN the bread!)

January 20, 2013

Hummus in bread instead of on bread? I love, love, love hummus, but this was a recipe I wouldn’t have given a second look if it weren’t for sent me several links from King Arthur’s website. I was intrigued by the hummus bread, so I thought what the heck, I’ll bake it with her. And it was awesome! The hummus makes it moist, but it’s not super-heavy. It was delicious served with a bowl of hearty vegetable chowder for dinner, and, oddly enough, it was great topped with hummus. Hummus on hummus bread!

Hummus Bread

There’s hummus in the bread! Sesame seeds too!

Recipe Notes

  • The bread recipe is designed for a bread maker, but I followed the instructions for making it by hand (I used my stand mixer).
  • The recipe includes a hummus recipe. I used one of my favorite hummus recipes instead (this one from Cooking Light). You could use store bought hummus too.
  • One of the recipe’s ingredients is Whole-Grain Bread Improver. I just bought some and this was my first time using it. I can’t say what the bread would be like without the improver (which is primarily vital wheat gluten), but it rose beautifully, and I’ll give some of the credit for that to the improver.
  • I didn’t have garlic oil, and didn’t want to simmer garlic in oil (which I how I assume you’d make garlic oil), so I used olive oil and sprinkled a little garlic powder in it.

This is a great recipe to try if you like hummus or if you have some hummus to use up. Be sure to click over to Michele’s blog to see how hers turned out.


Spicy Mixed Nuts

December 18, 2012


With sweets galore this time of year, how about a savory treat to nibble on? These Spicy Mixed Nuts are great for a party snack or for a homemade gift.

After trying a new recipe for sweet and spicy nuts that didn’t turn out great, I went back to this Martha Stewart recipe that I made years ago, and adapted it for the nuts I had on hand and a combination of spices that sounded good to me (the spices were inspired by the recipe that didn’t turn out so great).  These are full of savory goodness and just a bit of heat, which of course you can control by using more or less cayenne. Get creative and tweak the recipe to use the nuts and spices that you like.

Spicy mixed nuts

adapted from Martha Stewart’s Spiced Nuts

1 large egg white
1/4 cup sugar (I went easy on the sugar and used a little less than 1/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 1/2 cups unsalted nuts (I used pecans, cashews, peanuts)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, beat egg white until soft and foamy. Mix in sugar and spices. Stir in nuts until well coated; spread mixture in single layer onto a 9×13″ baking pan coated with cooking spray.

Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and toss, stir, and separate nuts. Reduce oven to 250 degrees and return nuts to bake until medium brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven; toss, and stir again. Place baking pan on wire rack to cool (they will crisp as they cool). Break up any that stick together.
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