Pear Pancake

red pears

 

Pancakes seem like such a quick, easy meal. And they are, except for the mess. All those little batter drips that get cooked onto the stove top..ggrr.

and waiting for pancakes to cook – it’s like watching paint dry!

I’d rather just pour the whole thing into one big pan and cook it.

Like I did here.

No drips, no mess. And with the addition of sautéed pears and walnuts, this is looking  a smidge healthier than plain old pancakes.

red pear pancake

pear walnut pancake

pear walnut pancake

 

(recipe to follow)

pavlova cookies

It was my first attempt at meringue.

meringue cookies

And they flopped. They flopped the second and third time, too.

So I can’t sit here and tell you how to make meringue.

But I can tell you that even if you mess up, you can still make it look so pretty that no one will ever know.

meringue cookies

Just call them Pavlova cookies, a sweet wafer like crust destined to be piled with roasted almonds, dark chocolate and fresh strawberries.

cream of tartar, vintage

Send your meringue making tips my way!!

 

the cutest cupcake ever

Ok, maybe not ever. But as far as baked goods in pots go, it’s pretty cute.

flower pot cupcakes

Here are the directions for making the cupcake segment.

All you need after that is one  mammoth bag of butter cream frosting and a few skewers with tiny paper flowers attached.

flower pot cupcakes

Happy Mother’s Day!!

Chocolate Flower Pot Cakes

I grant you full permission to eat one of these healthy chocolate cakes for breakfast on the grounds that…

 

chocolate flower pot cakes

most of the butter and sugar were replaced with a heaping scoop of speckled mashed bananas.

flower pot cakes

Leaving a perfectly balanced and perfectly cute partner to your morning coffee or afternoon tea.

coffee

And wouldn’t they make a totally awesome gift or spring party favor?

flower pot cakes

Chocolate Banana Cake Pots

Recipe adapted from Betty Groff’s Chocolate Cake Recipe

Ingredients

1 cup granulated sugar

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 eggs

1 cup plain yogurt

1 cup mashed banana

1 tsp. salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup brewed coffee

2 tsp. vanilla extract

Before you start baking, wash and dry the terra-cotta planters and be sure to remove any stickers. Line the pots with parchment paper or lotus cup liners. The 3 1/2 inch planters are the closest size to standard cupcakes, but larger ones can be used, too.

Directions

Preheat over to 350 degrees.

1.Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl. Add in the eggs, one at a time until smooth and fluffy.Beat in the yogurt and bananas.

2.In a separate bowl,  blend together the salt, flours, baking soda and cocoa powder.

3.Pour the butter-sugar mixture into the dry ingredients and beat well.

4.Beat in the coffee.

5. Pour the batter into terra cotta planters no more than 2/3rds full.

6. For 3 inch pots, bake 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. ( increase baking times for larger pots)

flower pot cakes

 

 

 

 

cheese babka with raspberry sauce; polish easter bread

cheese babka with raspberry sauce

Babka floods my polish arteries but once a year, every Easter since birth.  There will never be a bread to match my beloved babka on Easter morning.

The chrusciki? Way too crunchy.

The Polish poppyseed  bread? Too much like bird food mixed with butter.

As a kid, I would sneak slices from the babka bread basket and eat it while nestled under the dining room table or while jumping on my grandmother’s bed. Later, my teenage angst led me to rebel against my parents,all traffic laws and polish food- laughing in the face of stop signs and sticking my nose up at anything containing meat or cabbage.

babka 4 (2 of 1)

But I always ate the babka. While everyone else was swooping down like vultures on piles of smoked kielbasa and pools of polish mustards, I was munching on my third slice of babka.

cheese babka

Although our traditional Polish meal was enthusiastically shared with friends, neighbors and passersby, only the traditional polish food was welcome at this table and any creative culinary variations were scorned as sacrilege.

I just hope my late grandfather never finds out that my dad grills the polish kielbasa instead of boiling it and may he never know that I infused a homemade cheese babka with (sssshhhh…) raspberry sauce.

 

Babka, Polish Easter Bread

Cheese babka is traditionally speckled with lemon peel and raisins, but this one has soft scented raspberry preserves swirled through the center.

Ingredients:

21/2 tsp. active dry yeast (equal to one packet)

¼ cup water (use a thermometer to get it around 110 degrees)

½ cup sugar

5 eggs yolks (or 3 whole eggs)

½ tsp. salt

2 Tablespoons vanilla extract

½ cup melted butter

¾ cup warm milk, using more if needed

1 pound of flour (approximately 4 cups sifted flour)

Raspberry Cheese Swirl

2 Tablespoons melted butter

1 ½ cups farmers cheese (or ricotta or cream cheese)

¼ cup confectioner sugar

¼ cup of raspberry preserves

 

Start by proofing the yeast. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar in the warm water. The temperature is important here, because the yeast cannot grow correctly if the water is too hot or too cold. Give a little stir and let sit for about 10 minutes, until it’s smelly and bubbly.

While the yeast is proofing, beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Add in the sugar, salt and vanilla, beating until smooth. Slowly pour in the melted butter while continuously whisking until smooth. Pour in the yeast mixture and beat.  Add one cup of flour, then a splash of milk, alternating with each for the remaining milk and flour. If the dough is too sticky and wet, add more flour until it is firm enough to knead on a counter top.

On a floured work surface, knead the dough a few times until smooth. Place the dough in a clean, buttered bowl. Cover bowl with a damp cloth and set in a warm place for about an hour, until is doubles in size.

Prepare the filling. Mix the cheese with the confectioner sugar and vanilla. Gently heat the raspberry sauce in the microwave or a small pot until it loosens up a bit.

Prepare the bundt pan. Generously grease the pan with melted butter and a dusting of flour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

When the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a floured work surface and shape into a 10 x 15 rectangle.  Brush the dough with the melted butter and then layer on the cheese filling. Spoon the raspberry sauce on top of the cheese filling, adding more if needed.

Begin rolling the dough into a log shape. Gently lift the log and place it in the greased bundt pan. Seal the ends shut and let rise another hour, until doubled in size.

Bake the babka for 40 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before inverting on a plate.

pizza napoletana with fresh arugula

pizza napoletana with fresh arugula

pizza napolentana with arugula

pizza napolentana with arugula

 

This is the real deal. Pizza Napolentana is the holy grail of pizza; the purest, most celebrated pizza in the world. Pizza tends to get lumped into the junk-food/ take out category, and most of it deserves to be there, but not this one. And although the ingredients seem like a bit of a splurge, with the San Marzano tomatoes weighing it at almost 4 dollars a can, you can make this up for not much more than you would spend on your take out order.

dough (1 of 1)

I do recommend patience and a glass of wine. Especially if you are like me and you let your kid’s help you make it. You know, in case a handful of flour ends up on the floor or dough ends up in someone’s hair.

making pizza with kids

Which it inevitably will.

But you won’t care because you’re drinking wine and eating great pizza!!

pizza (1 of 1)

Pizza Napolentana with Fresh Arugula

True Nepalese pizza has a thin, crispy exterior with a light but chewy interior, all while maintaining enough crust strength to hold the medley of rich creamy buffalo mozzarella and bittersweet San Marzano tomatoes.

You can sub in cow’s milk if you can’t find buffalo mozzarella, but the San Marzano tomatoes are what make this really great, and without them you just have ordinary pizza. I sprinkle a few handfuls of this casually dressed arugula salad on top instead of the traditional fresh basil because my kids love it.

If a kid asks for salad on top of their pizza, who am I to say no?

Ingredients

1 pound of pizza dough

8 oz. of fresh mozzarella

1 16 oz. can of San Marzano tomatoes (you will only need about half of the can)

Arugula Salad

5 oz. arugula, washed and dried

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1/8 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

3 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, shaved

Salt and pepper

Whisk olive oil into lemon juice until emulsified. Add parmesan cheese and toss with arugula. Set aside.

Directions for the Pizza

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Bring the dough to room temp. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out thin as thin as you can and lay it out on a pizza stone. Using your hands or a pastry brush, brush a thin coating of olive oil on the surface of the dough. Bake for 3-4 minutes, until the dough has set, but not browned at all.

Remove the crust and switch the oven to the broil setting.

On the hot crust, add the tomatoes and then layer on a few slices of mozzarella. Broil until the cheese becomes slightly golden and begins to bubble, about 4 minutes (Watch very carefully, as oven temps vary greatly) Remove from oven and finish with salt, pepper and brush the crust with olive oil. Top with a handful of arugula salad.

Remember to turn the oven back to the 450 degree bake setting to make the next pizza.

 

 

 

Raspberry Tarts

tarts. milk2 (1 of 1)

Raspberry Tarts

Do my pastry shells look too puffy?”

Is my equivalent to “Does my butt look fat?”

In both cases the response “It looks fine!” is completely wrong and unacceptable.

I don’t even know why I bother asking adults questions when I want an honest opinion.  An adult hears the word puffy or fat, and they go on some auto pilot protection mode. When you ask a kid,  they assess the situation and tell you what they really think in their teeny tiny little voices while staring at you straight in the eye.

“Well, mom, they may not look perfect, but they sure will taste good!”

And with that, I smile at my imperfect pastry shells and we sit down to eat raspberry tarts and a glass of cold milk with pink paper straws.heart tarts 3 (1 of 1)

Raspberry Tarts

Adapted from the Frog Commissionary Cookbook

My mom used to make us these when we were kids for Valentine’s Day. It’s like a chocolate covered raspberry, if there ever was such a thing, dipped in a cloud of whipped cream and mounded on a giant butter cookie.

melted chocolate (1 of 1)

melting chocolate

tart shells

jam on tart shells

Tart Shells

1 ½ cups flour

2 Tablespoons sugar

8 Tablespoons butter (original recipe calls for 6 Tablespoons butter, 2 Tablespoons shortening)

3 Tablespoons cold water

Vanilla Pastry Cream

8 oz. heavy cream

3 Tablespoons confectioner sugar

1 Tablespoon whiskey

½ tsp. vanilla extract

About 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

2 pints of raspberries

1/3 cup raspberry jam

Directions

Combine flour, sugar and butter in the bowl of a food processor and blend until crumbly. Pour in the cold water and blend until the dough forms a ball. Mold the dough into a ball and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a hand mixer, whip the heavy cream, sugar, whiskey and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Lightly flour a work surface and cut the dough ball into 6 equal parts. Roll each ball out and place in a tart mold with a removable bottom. Trim the edges and prick the dough with a fork several times. Repeat for the 6 molds and line them up on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Once cooled, remove the shells from the mold. Melt the chocolate in a small pan and spread or pour evenly over the 6 tart shells. Put the tray of tart shells in the freezer for a few minutes to allow the chocolate to harden. Spread a thin layer of raspberry jam on top of the chocolate layer. Next, scoop the whipped cream into a pastry bag (or a ziplock bag with one end snipped off) and pipe the whipped cream onto the tart shells. Top with berries.

straws and berries (1 of 1)