diary

Mar 1 2015

crunch, crunch, crunch

Do you delight in The Crunch? What about The Crispy? Or The Oaty?

Right now, baking-wise, I’m a very oaty, nutty, seedy, and crunchy person. And, as usual, itching for coconut. So, the decision was made to join it all in caramelly clusters, with one self-imposed critical requirement–that the treat be batter-free, just a happy conspiracy of ingredients stuck together in a vanilla-seasoned mixture.

Inspired by trail mix, the clusters have been on my planning board for longer than a year. Over the last several months, I’ve made many, many types. As I chased my idea of a wonderfully crispy confection housing all kinds of things, a potpourri of results ensued–messy, crumbly lumps; too-sweet or too-bland nuggets; overly sticky clumps; impossible-to-bake-evenly mixtures (don’t ask). Finally, on the edge of the proverbial baking cliff, a midnight kitchen romp rewarded me with a recipe I’ll be making in many more years to come: a beautifully and deeply golden block of stuck-together components, ready to break up into small and rugged pieces. For my winter birthday (in the very recent past), crunch ruled (among other goodies). Politely, of course. (Or, maybe, not quite politely because it’s my day–live with it, people.)

recipe from the baking kitchen oat clusters
Feb 27 2015

a tasty clutter

True confession: Among the prepackaged goods, ultimate boredom comes wrapped up in cellophane bags of bland, generic fruit, nut, and seed mixes.

The answer to this dilemma? You chose the ingredients, mix, and store the largess for snacking. The mélange that’s a current favorite of mine brings together unsweetened wide-flake coconut with pieces of unsweetened dried mango, sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, and goji berries. It’s just a matter of select-and-combine, and it’s all set for immediate enjoyment.

This recipe is a fun assortment of some of my favorite things, but feel free to go right ahead and customize, customize, customize…

recipe from the baking kitchen fruit, nut, and seed jumble

sweet and savory baking notes

delicious bites of baking information

Mar 5 -

My mega-fudgy deep-dish brownies make good use of chocolate. To say the least.

Mar 4 -

I’ll be answering questions about my latest recipe, Rustic Chocolate Chip Tea Bread, appearing in TREATS, during “Free Range on Food,” the Washington Post question-and-answer hour for food-lovers. The bread is the latest offering in my column appearing in the food pages of the newspaper. It’s a moist quick-bread-styled loaf, hand-formed, and simply loaded with chocolate chips (semisweet or bittersweet–your choice). You can access the chat forum early to post questions here, or visit The Rangers live today from 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m. Here’s the recipe. Enjoy!

Mar 3 -

Chocolate chips–not in a cookie dough. Chocolate chips–in a handmade quick bread loaf. How wonderful. Read all about my newest recipe in TREATS, my delicious column in the food section of the Washington Post.

i have a baking question

ask Lisa a baking-related question

Q:

I have made your “forever brownies” many times from Baking Style. If I wanted to make this recipe as a “party cake” how could this be done?

A:

The recipe for forever brownies (page 37) in my new book, Baking Style, Art, Craft, Recipes, is not only one of my favorite recipes, it’s a recipe that seems to have captivated both avocational and professional bakers alike. The brownie batter can be customized to include a generous stir-in of chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans), flaked coconut, chunks of candy, semisweet chocolate chips, bittersweet chocolate chips, or white chocolate chips. My sense is what you mean by “fancy up” the recipe is to offer the confection in an alternate shape other than a bar cookie. To do this, film a 9 to 10-inch round layer cake pan (2 inces deep) with nonstick oil spray, then spoon and scrape the batter into the prepared pan. (Any other single-layer ovenproof cake pan can be used, but be sure to choose one without too much detail otherwise the cake will be challenging to unmold.) Smooth over the top with a narrow offset metal spatula or flexible palette knife. Bake the sweet for 30 to 33 minutes, or until just set, and cool according to the procedure described in the body of the recipe. For serving, cut the dessert into pretty pie-shaped wedges. Serve  quite plain, with a tumble of fresh raspberries, vanilla ice cream, or softly whipped cream.

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.

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

Ciao Biscotti: Sweet and Savory Recipes Celebrating Italy’s Favorite Cookie, by Domenica Marchetti (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2015), $18.95

One afternoon not very long ago, I turned my kitchen into Biscotti Central by dipping into Ciao Biscotti: Sweet and Savory Recipes Celebrating Italy’s Favorite Cookie by Domenica Marchetti. Marchetti, describing the way through her tidy new cookbook, is responsible for a lot of mixing, baking and, finally, crunching going on–not to mention big tins of the cookie logs piled up on the counter top.
The crackle of the twice-baked is, in truth, irresistible.
Throughout each of the recipe chapters in Ciao Biscotti (“Classic Flavors,” “Chocolate and Spice,” “Biscotti with Fruit,” “Fantasy Flavors,” “The Savory Side,” and “Beyond Biscotti”) the author gently steers the reader/baker into learning the skills to prepare a slew of cookies. The recipe for the “Olive Oil and Citrus” version (page 36, and following page) turned out a lightly crispy and aromatic (thanks to the zest of both an orange and a lemon) load of biscotti, with the recommended accompanying beverage of chamomile tea (perfect!). The “Smoky Gouda” biscotti (page 117, and following page), made of a cheese dough tinged with a mix of smoked paprika and sweet Hungarian paprika, were gently zesty–I’m imagining them as a plate-mate to a composed salad in summer and with soup (hot or cold) throughout the year.
Unmistakably, biscotti are both rugged and charming, appealing for their sometimes sturdy, sometimes tender texture. Marchetti presents you with a plateful of ideas and the wise cook should follow her lead to transform basic pantry staples (plus a few specialty items, as needed, depending on the recipe) into a batch of cookies with only the loveliest form of staying power.

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.