diary

Jul 5 2016

olive oil + corn meal = cake

The underpinning of fruity olive oil plus corn meal, buttermilk, and whole eggs fashions a luscious cake.

Cake, you say?

Yes, and I say this resoundingly (exclamation point).

A lightly sweetened wedge of the cake pairs off superbly with all kinds of summer berries or slices of mixed stone fruit, especially peaches (in cooler weather, poached pears), in a composed compote. The absence of a flavoring agent (overt or in the muted background) lets the slightly gritty wedges form a blank canvas for soaking up spoonfuls of the accompaniment. Or have a slice just by itself, with good coffee.

Thinking out-of-the-bread-box (so to speak) is a fine way to plan out a casual dessert.

recipe from the baking kitchen olive oil-corn meal cake
May 30 2016

quick! an earthy bread for summer fare

Summer bread: Quick, grainy, full of character.

For passionate cooks, the challenge in outdoor grilled, salad, and sandwich weather is baking homemade bread that’s not a many-hour labor of love. For some reason, I’m drawn to soda bread right now (and frequently) because the dough, which can sweep up a range of flours, nuts, seeds, and such, comes together quickly and finishes in the oven in under an hour. This one wraps around the idea and won’t disappoint. Before placing on the baking sheet, the round is rolled in oats, producing a rugged surface. And once the bread cools completely–try not to be tempted before!–cut into thin or thick slices, using a serrated knife.

Quick-to-mix. Quick-to-enjoy. Quick-to-leave-just-the-crumbs.

recipe from the baking kitchen rich and wheaty soda bread

sweet and savory baking notes

delicious bites of baking information

Jul 16 -

Freshly-baked! My recipe for (delectable) pistachio butter cookies was published in the food section of the Boston GLOBE. A plate of cookies are an ideal accompaniment to coffee, tea, poached fruit, berries, or ice cream. You can find the recipe here. Enjoy.

Jul 15 -

baking style diary updates on Twitter by following the buttery, vanilla-scented, thickly frosted escapades of Lisa Yockelson @sweetpinkbaker! Follow along about my Adventures in Baking Land, and see what’s on the cooling rack.

Jul 14 -

Baking by Flavor Tracker: The well-loved and repeatedly-baked kitchen sink buttercrunch bars (page 209) from Baking by Flavor have filled cookie tins far and wide–year in, year out. Easy. Rich and chewy. A raging favorite.

i have a baking question

ask Lisa a baking-related question

Q:

The appetizer bread in Baking Style is delicious. If I want to customize it with other items, rather than salami (or pepperoni), what ingredients would you suggest? Even though you say that the bread should be served on baking day, it was also wonderful the next day.

A:

This savory bread (page 440, and following page) from Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes is casual and so good with a glass of wine, or a leafy, herb-flecked salad. The salami (or pepperoni), Provolone, and Pecorino Romano may be replaced by other items, though it is preferable to either use cheese plus a charcuterie ingredient or cheese alone (one or a mix of two or three varieties). Either smoked ham or smoked turkey–cut into cubes–would be a good substitute for the salami; minced fresh herbs can be worked into the dough with the cheese; or diced onions pan-fried until golden in a little olive oil would make a tasty addition. And don’t forget to use the oil and cheese finish–it’s lovely.

Q:

Can you recommend a few recipes to bake from Baking Style to serve at a bridal shower? The only ingredients to be avoided (accounting for personal taste) are peanut butter and ginger. It would be preferable to be able to make the sweets in advance. Thank you!

A:

There are many recipes in Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes that take well to serving in small portions. A rich bar cookie is ideal for serving at a bridal shower as a pickup-style dessert, or cake, plated in slices for offering with a dollop of mousse or scoop of ice cream. In particular, the following can be made in advance and remain fresh when assembled within frilly paper cups (if you like) on doily-lined trays: Little Almond Cakes (page 42, and following page),  a gentle blueberry buckle (page 45), brown sugar-coconut cookies (page 97), banana tea loaf (page 119), exquisite cake (page 140), edge-o-darkness bars (page 176), confection brownies (page 178), chocolate chip sablés (page 249, and following page), lemon melties (page 265), and wildly lush hint-of-salt lavender shortbread, the unrestrained version (page 303, and following page).

about the author

Lisa Yockelson is a baking journalist and three-time award-winning author of Baking by Flavor, ChocolateChocolate, and Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes. Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes received the 2012 IACP cookbook award for the best baking book in New York City on April 2, 2012.


book report

read about noteworthy cookbooks

Cowgirl Creamery Cooks by Sue Conley and Peggy Smith (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2013), $35.00

So you think you know how to make a first-rate grilled cheese sandwich? Do you thoughtfully combine three types of cheese? Choose bread that heightens the cheese? Select the correct weight of pan? Are you, overall, cheese-savvy? For all of that, and more, Cowgirl Creamery Cooks by Sue Conley and Peggy Smith should rest on your cookbook shelf, if only for the full menu of recipes, then to be educated in the art and science of cheese.
Cowgirl Creamery, in the business of producing artisanal cheeses, turns their collective spirit into a stunning volume of recipes: For the record, Cowgirl Creamery Cooks will have you sighing over and bookmarking the “Simple, Classic Grilled Cheese” (made of Fromage Blanc, Cheddar, and Monterey Jack), Mary Loh’s Cheese Wafers (buttery, flavorful), and “Rustic Cheese and Onion Galettes, Two Ways” (pastry cloaked in an oniony tangle of grated cheese)–as well as upping your selection of cheese at home.
The personal history of how Cowgirl Creamery came to be, discovered in “Go West, Young Cowgirls,” will, at the very least, offer insight into the depth, cooking style, and determination of the individuals. The reader/cook will be fully brought into the picture, from the relationship with the dairy farmers and “milk animals” along with a fascinating understanding about seasonal dairy flavors impacting the resulting cheeses.
At first, you might not get drawn into the story of the synergy of cheesemakers and dairy farmers, because, well, the recipes are so resplendent. Then, having devoured “Cantina Salami Sandwich with Sautéed Greens and Aged Gouda,” surely there will be time to dip into such educating text (equally rich, but in information) as “Understanding Butterfat on Labels.”

Clean Slate: A Cookbook and Guide: Reset Your Health, Detox Your Body, and Feel Your Best, by the editors of Martha Stewart Living (New York: Clarkson Potter Publishers, 2014), $26.00

What do the recipes for “Cardamom Quinoa Porridge with Pear,” “Beet, Avocado, and Arugula Salad with Sunflower Seeds,” “Poached Chicken with Bok Choy in Ginger Broth,” and “Citrus Salad with Pomegranate” have in common? Collectively, they represent delicious ways to rethink and recalibrate your meal planning (and market shopping).
Clean Slate: A Cookbook and Guide: Reset Your Health, Detox Your Body, and Feel Your Best is an encouraging, informative volume that will have you fine-tune a food plan–snacks included!–to suit certain goals, whether it is to add more whole grains to your diet, reconfigure or (attempt to) eliminate certain food habits, or add homemade liquids (such as smoothies and juices) to the daily rotation for that feel-good boost.
The recipes, mentioned above, formed the basis for a few of my weekday meals, in addition to “Roasted Edamame and Cranberries” as a snack. All were somewhat spare, in a pleasant way, and simple to execute. The book presents the ideas and concepts, as well as the food, in a clear setting, making it seem approachable and satisfying. The volume is divided into two parts, “Reset” and “Recipes.” The former offers advice for stocking up the pantry with grains, legumes, and such, understanding nutrients, and ways for clearing the body of toxins. The later presents recipes which tie into the premise of the approach.
Clean Slate nudges the reader/cook into thinking about the virtues of eating “clean” and charts its follow-through. The overall plan has options and is fairly preach-free. While I won’t give up a brownie bar or slice of butter cake (not that the book requires that total a commitment), I will continue to add a round-robin of light main courses to the roster of items appearing at my table.