.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Not As Good As Pork Cracklins

misadventures in cooking

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Rosemary Focaccia

We're going to a party this afternoon, and when I looked at the invitation again to get the address, I realized it's a potluck. Oops. What to take, what to take? This focaccia is a stand-by. I always have the ingredients on hand, it's fast, and everyone loves it.

By the way, if want to try baking bread, but you're scared, this is the recipe for you. I posted it the first time I made it, which made me think: Wow! I've had Not As Good As Pork Cracklins for a long time! Since October 2004!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cheddar & Chile Bread

This is another recipe that I am testing from Kneadlessly Simple, before I plunk down my money. Last week when I originally contemplated baking this, the weather was rainy, wet & cold, and I thought, "This would be good with homemade tomato soup!"

Today it decidedly not rainy, not wet, not cold, and my bread has a sunken middle. And in spite of all that, we're having it for dinner tonight.

Monday, March 16, 2009

German Chocolate Cake

Happy birthday, baby!

German Chocolate Cake
, with slide-y icing. This particular recipe courtesy of David Lebovitz.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Everyday Whole-Wheat Bread

Nancy Baggett's new book, Kneadlessly Simple, is getting a lot of attention right now.

Eating Well Magazine featured entire article, including the recipe for this Everyday Whole-Wheat Bread.

It's very easy. Yesterday afternoon, I stirred the ingredients together using my very sturdy dough whisk. I covered the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in the counter overnight. This morning, I scraped it into a loaf pan, patted the top to be more-or-less smooth and let it rise until it came just above the edge of the pan. It baked for a little over an hour, while I tried to be patient and not eat breakfast.

It was worth the wait. It's quite good. I'll definitely make it again and again. I'm also going to try at least one other recipe from the Eating Well article, and a couple that are on Serious Eats.

I'm sure some people wouldn't buy a cookbook when so many of the recipes are available online. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Wait. Maybe that's different. Anyhow, for me, testing the recipes and knowing how good they are only makes me want it more.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Toffee Chocolate Nut Wedges

In most homes, leftovers are re-runs of dinner meals. But I'm constantly putting a third of a cake, the odd number of cupcakes or cookies, or a hunk of banana bread into the freezer. When I pull them out at some later date, it's like having a magic treat. There's also usually a stash of nuts in the freezer and odds & ends of buttercream or other frosting that didn't get used but that I can't bear to throw away.

I woke up this morning wanting to bake. I flipped through several books, looking at pages I'd marked. I came across this recipe, next to which I'd noted that it would be a good use for some leftover hazelnuts and a tub of ganache (what, have there been no spoons in this house all these long months?). Ok, both of those needed to get used. Soon. As in, today.

This is a basic shortbread made with brown sugar, easy-peasy as shortbread generally is. You could use a regular baking pan and cut it into little squares like a normal bar cookie. Or, you could dress it up in Sunday clothes - ruffled on the edges from a fluted tart pan, glazed with chocolate, decorated with nuts - and cut it into wedges.

Toffee Chocolate-Nut Bars from The Weekend Baker by Abigail Johnson Dodge

Monday, March 02, 2009


I received a copy of The Modern Baker, and it's one of those gifts that I'll always remember the when & why and have fond memories. Seeing it on my kitchen bookshelf makes me happy.

I first remember Nick Malgeri from when he was a regular guest on Cooking Live! I miss that show. He has a comforting aura about him. His book has that same tone of voice. And something I truly appreciate about this book is that each recipe is either on one page, or on two facing pages. It may sound like a silly quibble, but it can be extremely aggravating to have to constantly flip pages, and with The Modern Baker, you don't have to.

Today I made fougasse (pierced French flatbread) to go with my lunch.
It's a little bit chilly in my house today, so I heated a cup of water in the microwave, and put the dough in there so that it could rise in a nice, warm, safe, enclosed environment. I guess a lot of experienced bakers already know that trick, but if you didn't, there ya go.

Another little trick is that we live in a two-story home, and it's often several degrees warmer upstairs than down. So sometimes my bread rises better on the second floor. Today it got its second rise there, because the half-sheet pan is too big for the microwave. Though now that I think about it, I wonder why this book doesn't call for the bread to bake directly on the stone?

Ummm... my slashing and stretching was not particularly elegant; surely it gets better with practice? Then again, not too long ago I got a list of words that describe me, and "elegant" certainly was not among them, so perhaps not.

The recipe didn't say to sprinkle with salt after brushing with olive oil, but I crave salt and I happen to have some very nice cyprus flake sea salt, so I used it. The perfect touch, if I do say so.