baking

Home Baked Comfort Giveaway: Best Cookbook Ever! (she never says that…)

January 12, 2012 at 8:00 am , by

Before you read further—you should post a comment below to enter to win a copy of this super amazing cookbookHome Baked Comfort, by Kim Laidlaw, (we featured it in the February issue of LHJ).

After many years cooking professionally I’m pretty skeptical about cookbook recipes. Sure, I have favorite chefs and authors that I love, but for the most part I rarely find 100 percent success with cookbook recipes. This doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot of cookbooks—truthfully I’m thinking about how my collection is getting unruly (hoarder level perhaps). But when I cook from these lovely books, there’s usually some tweaking I have to do with amounts, flavors or cooking times.

Maybe I’m too much of a perfectionist or have high expectations, but when I try a recipe I want it to work! Call me crazy.

I love Home Baked Comfort, the beautiful images, the variety of baked goodness, the perfection that happens each time you try a recipe…you get the idea.

Oh, I also failed to mention I love pretty much any baked good that’s put in front of me, so again, Home Baked Comfort sort of works for me on that level as well. It’s also fun to see contributors from bakers all across the country. Even bloggers like the talented Smitten Kitchen and the amazing Bakerella (see our Q&A with her here) have tasty treats inside.

I think, of the recipes I’ve tried so far the Lemon-Blueberry Drizzle Bread and the Homemade English Muffins are my favorite. However the Bacon-And-Egg-Breakfast Tarts and the Gooey Cinnamon Rolls (with a touch of orange, mmm) were darn close. And not to be left out, homemade toaster tarts anyone? (Check out the video!)

Even if you don’t win one in our giveaway, you’ll want to own this cookbook.

Love,
Your friendly food editor

Full contest rules.


Dishing It: High-Fiber Peanut Butter Bran Muffins

February 10, 2011 at 12:50 pm , by

High Fiber Muffins

Let me guess. You first saw the word peanut butter in this muffin recipe from our February issue and got all excited to make it. But you then saw that the first ingredient was wheat bran and grumbled. I can just hear you now…

I just know wheat bran will be SO hard to find.
OK, so this is might be true, depending on where you live. I went to my local supermarket only to turn up empty-handed, and even Whole Foods had just one option in their bulk grains aisle (which actually turned out to be quite a find, as you’ll see below). However, our trusty food editor Khalil tells me to look more closely next time among the Bob’s Red Mill grains and head to a health food store like GNC for more options.

Sure, but even when I do find it, I’m sure it will be expensive.
The total for my self-serve bag of wheat bran came to a whopping 32 cents, and I had leftovers! What else, I ask you, can you get for 32 cents these days (besides this cancer-fighting, heart-healthy grain!)? Plus, I guarantee you already have the rest of the muffins’ ingredients in your pantry, so you won’t break the bank.

You’ll never use the leftovers, though! What a waste!
How about stirring some into your morning oatmeal? Or adding it as a healthy boost to pancakes? Or – make more muffins!

But… but… WHEAT BRAN??
Stop right there. Try this recipe and I promise you’ll be singing a different tune, and be well on your way toward getting more of that little powerhouse nutrient we here at LHJ keep reminding you to eat (psst – the correct answer is fiber).

Baking these muffins is a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon, which is exactly what I did. In a nutshell, you put the wet ingredients in one bowl, the dry in another and stir until combined (I also gave the peanuts a quick spin the food processor to chop them up – but don’t go overboard or you’ll end up with mush!). Totally easy for even the baking-phobic.Honey PeanutsPeanut Butter

Click “read more” below to see how they came out!

Read more


Dishing It: White Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

December 2, 2010 at 1:48 pm , by

When I saw this recipe in our December/January issue, I could not wait to make (and scarf down) these cookies. In LHJ food editor Tara‘s beautiful picture (below), they reminded me of the cookies I loved best as a kid (and, let’s be honest, I still mow down innocent bystanders if I happen to spot them): peanut butter cookies with a chocolate kiss in the center. Mmmmmm. I followed Tara’s suggestion and bought high-quality Lindt white chocolate bars, and I had all the rest of the ingredients already at home, which is a great thing about this recipe – all you need is flour, sugar, butter, salt, egg, vanilla and choco.

The one thing I forgot and didn’t have in my many cabinets was parchment paper, a mistake that would come back to haunt my cookies. I also didn’t heat the oven as my first step, as instructed, since the dough has to chill in the fridge for 90 minutes before you can roll it and I didn’t see the sense in leaving my oven on the whole time.

I followed the next steps exactly, stirring and blending and mixing, and my dough came out looking a little . . . crumbly. (See the third picture, below.) Like the topping on a coffee cake. I’m not sure if it was a blending issue or the fact that my ancient hand-mixer really only has one speed (insanely fast), but it wasn’t as smooth as I thought it should be. It looked a bit dry. It came together fine when I wrapped it in plastic, but even after cooling it in the fridge for an hour and a half, it still crumbled a bit when I rolled it into 1-inch balls. I also initially made the balls way too big and was about two dozen shy of what the recipe said I should make from the batter, so I went back and resized some of the behemoths into less gluttonous sizes. Read more


DIY: Ace of Cakes

July 20, 2010 at 10:32 am , by

NicoleDevonDuffNeither Devon nor I had ever made a cake before.  While we were very excited to spend the afternoon learning about Ace of Cakes Chef Duff Goldman’s new baking products, we were a little hesitant to do it ourselves. The Astor Center in New York City was set up like a kitchen with hundreds of personal cakes waiting to be covered in buttercream fondant and frosting.  We were given the choice of chocolate, vanilla or yellow cake, and handed an apron to aide us in our first semi-professional cake decorating pursuit.

DevonCakes

With the Food Network star only a few steps away, we struggled with the first simple step of merely placing the fondant in the microwave to soften it.  Luckily, the cake master himself didn’t see us! Instead of just ten seconds in the microwave, it took about thirty-five, and from there it was a piece of cake!  Rolling fondant is a lot easier than we thought.  After a few attempts, we learned that small imperfections can easily be reversed with a smidge of water, a touch of frosting or Chef Duff’s edible cake tattoos–the kind parents would prefer to the real ink!  We opted for the flower patterns over the animal prints and other graffiti inspired designs.

NicoleDevonCkes

In less than an hour, our finished cakes looked like they could be displayed in a bakery window.  With just one flower-shaped cookie cutter and blue sprinkles, our black and red fondant cakes bloomed to life.  No one would have guessed this was our first time!

For more Ace of Cakes insight, check out Food and Entertaining Editor Tara Bench‘s interview with Duff himself!


Great Kitchen Finds For Mother’s Day

May 4, 2010 at 10:07 am , by

Hmmm… what should I get Mom this year? Check out some of our fave products that are perfect for the kitchen-savvy mama.

* If your mom likes looking good while cooking, a girly, frilly apron is a must-have. Jillie Willie put our favorite apron on sale just for us. The Fancy Up Apron is now only $34.50!

* Does your mom like to bake pies? Help her get prepared with the Kitchen Krafts Pie Essentials Kit for the in-season spring and summer fruits.

* Go with a pretty spring theme and get your mom a Nordicware Floral Cupcake Pan. Don’t forget to bake cupcakes for her after she opens it!

* No kitchen is complete without a heavy-duty baking dish. You can make everything from fillet of sole to brownies in it, so this is a gift Mom can use all year round. Present the sleek and colorful Calphalon Ceramic Baker with her favorite dinner in it!

* Here’s a fun activity for you and Mom to share: home canning and preserving. (Yep, canning is cool again!) Try the new Ball Home Canning Discovery Kit.

* Spring and summer means delicious fresh fruit. Making your own juices is super-quick with the Cuisinart Citrus Juicer. Just present it to Mom with a nice, cold glass of freshly-squeezed OJ.

* Does your mom like a little spice? Organize her dried herbs and spices with the Super SpiceStack. It’s convenient, cute and it doesn’t take up too much space on the counter or in a cabinet.

For more Mother’s Day gift ideas check out our 2010 Mother’s Day Gift Guide!


In Knead Of Daily Bread

March 3, 2010 at 12:30 pm , by

170755_jacket.inddStraight from the workbenches and ovens of Amy’s Bread bakery in New York, authors Amy Sherber and Toy Kim Dupree give us recipes and simple instructions in their book Amy’s Bread Updated and Revised (Wiley, February 2010). You can make your own artisan-style bread, in your home ovens, with the highly informative tips and techniques and beautiful pictures (a must for cookbooks in my opinion).

toy and amy1No doubt you’ve heard of, and probably tried the recipe for no-knead bread, a viral phenomenon. It’s quite tasty, but the no-knead bread lacks the true texture and taste of artesian, kneaded bread—the kind of bread you find in Europe or the great bakeries of New York and San Francisco.

I had the opportunity to attend a demonstration with the lovely ladies at the Chelsea Market bakery location. I learned to make their Rustic Italian Bread tara and amy1using their Wet Dough technique—which allows the dough to develop much of its strength and elasticity while proofing in a bowl after it is mixed.

Yes, it does require kneading (check out the video to see the dough in action!), but the trick is to not continue adding flour—the dough will be sticky and wet throughout the process—but oh, the results! Delicious!!


Cooking with Agave

October 21, 2009 at 1:20 pm , by

CookbookFolks who’ve followed my posts may remember that I discovered agave nectar in my search for sweet things to feed the Jam Man, my family member diagnosed with diabetes two months ago. That’s the sweet syrup of the agave plant (used to make tequila). It has a low glycemic index, which means it’s digested more slowly than many other sweeteners so it’s less likely to spike blood insulin levels. One problem: cooking with agave can be complicated; it’s sweeter than sugar and its insulin fiber means liquids don’t cook away as fast. Here’s how Diabetes Forecast, the magazine of the American Diabetes Association explained baking with it, in a story on sweeteners: “To adjust a recipe, replace each cup of sugar with two-thirds to three-quarters cup of agave nectar, then reduce all other liquids in the recipe by a quarter. Lower your oven temperature by 25 degrees to prevent burning, and shorten the cooking time on cookies by 3 to 5 minutes and cakes by 7 to 10 minutes.” Gulp! I stuck to simple things like using it to sweeten a butternut squash purée I used to make with maple syrup.

Fortunately, a few weeks ago Stephen Richards stopped by the office. He’s the author of Delicious Meets Nutritious, a cookbook where all the sweetening is done with agave. Xagave, to be precise—his company’s blend of blue and white agave nectar. Richards, an amateur cook, created the recipes in his Utah kitchen. Amazingly there’s even a recipe for the Jam Man’s favorite jam—raspberry, which we make every summer (we have a raspberry patch). I may have to indulge in some pricey store-bought berries so we can try it sooner. Meantime, with Thanksgiving coming up, I’m definitely planning to make their cranberry sauce. Do you have any good agave recipes to share?

Categories: Health | Tags: , , , | 112 Comments


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