cherry clafoutis

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Cherry season is in full swing and we take advantage of these few short weeks be packing our refrigerator full of cherries – both red and rainier. We generally eat them plain, enjoying the sweet, firm fruit as an after-dinner or mid-day snack. However, I wanted to get a little creative to see what else I could do with these guys.

Clafoutis is something that I have been meaning to make for awhile now, not quite understanding what it was. Is it cake? Custard? What does it taste like? Where does it come from?   Continue reading

thursday things and an easter brunch roundup

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I caught that pic while the BF and I were driving to the store.  Not too shabby for a weeknight sunset in the city, eh?

It’s the last Thursday Things for the month of March, and this weekend will be the last March (Cake) Madness recipe (although, not the last cake recipe by far).  I seriously can’t wait to share it with you.  As soon as I bit into it I was like, “Aw crap…”  Which doesn’t SOUND like a good thing, but it was just because after overdosing on confetti cake, and then making Oreo cupcakes, the last thing I wanted to know was that I had made another delicious cake.

To refresh our memories, here is March (Cake) Madness so far:

instagram confetti cake red velvet poke 8448 brownie swirl cake 8362

ding dong 3 oreo cupcake 8496 instagram reeses

Oh yeah, that last one… that one is for this weekend.  Trust me, it’s worth the wait.

I’m salivating just thinking about it… I don’t know why I just told you that.

Don’t mind me…

Here’s what you missed this week, BF and I made some delicious pizzas on the grill for dinner on Sunday.  Mine was pepperoni, pepperoncini, and like a bajillion types of cheese.  Oh, and wanna know my secret ingredient?  Bolognese for the sauce.  Yup.  Delicious.

I have a post here about how to make your very own delicious pizza from the comfort of your home.

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I know I’ve been slacking on adorable kitties lately, but here is one heck of a gif that is bound to make you smile.  And laugh.  And make it painfully obvious that you’re not doing work-related things while you’re at your computer.

This one is not a kitty, but it’s still hilarious.

Oh, and if you’re still hunting for the perfect Easter basket… I saw the cutest candy-holders ever at Walgreens (I swear, that place has everything).

owl easter box

I kinda just want to buy like 100 of them and put them all over the house as “decoration”…

I can’t think of a single reason why that would be a bad idea.

This weekend the BF and I are packing our bags and heading on our first vacay (of 2013) – hittin’ the road to Cali!  Neither of us has ever been to California and I CAN’T WAIT TO GO!

That being said, things may get a little quiet around here next week.  If you start to miss me too much, you can always check in on me via Instagram or Facebook to see what I’m up to.  😉

Although I’ll be eating out this Sunday, if you’re hosting Easter brunch this weekend, here are some ideas for your party… And now, I present to you

2013 Easter Brunch Roundup

Cinnamon Sugar Popovers

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Easter Deviled Eggs

Fresh Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tart

Maple Candied Bacon

Egg and Bacon Toast Cups

Ham & Cheese Waffles 

Homemade Holiday Ham

 Teeny Tiny BLTs

Caramelized Apple and Goat Cheese Crostini

Arugula and Apple Salad

 

Asparagus with Easy Hollandaise Sauce

Lemon Loaf Cake

lemon loaf 2

 

Clementine Cocktail

Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade

 

 

Sunday Brunch: Bouchon Bakery’s Blueberry Muffins

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These muffins will change your life.  They are so light and moist that you will forget all about those dense, dry, or gummy things from the bakery case at the grocery store.  These particular muffins have juicy berries, a hint of lemon, and crunchy almond streusel.  It’s everything you could possibly ask for in a muffin (and maybe even a little more).

The magic takes place overnight.  Now I know muffins are usually in the family of instant gratification, but Thomas Keller insists that the overnight rest to allows the flour to fully hydrate and gives the flavors time to marry.

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Is it really worth it? All that t extra time between mixing and eating just so it can hang out in the fridge?

In a word: Yep.

I was positive I overbaked these muffins.  Positive.  I spent all this extra time waiting for them to cook to a perfect golden-brown, so by the time they reached that color, I did my toothpick test and it came out dry as a bone.  Now, with the the toothpick test I usually looks for a few crumbs to show there is still some moisture in there, so of course I was devastated.  After the overnight rest, I was going to have to start all over again.  I took a bite anyway, just to see how they were.

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They were perfect.  They had a perfect tender crumb and bright, blueberry flavor, with just a subtle almondy sweetness from the streusel.  If I were to do it over again, I would probably add some brown sugar to the streusel to make it more streusely (totally a word).

I adapted this muffin recipe from Shannon at A Periodic Table, who makes it a little more user-friendly for the average home cook, who may not want to measure 72 grams of eggs.  Since I was using her recipe, I didn’t even realize that I was leaving out the molasses called for in the book (which may lend a darker hue to these pale muffins) but, to be honest, I didn’t miss it one bit, and her addition of lemon helps to brighten up the flavor of these beautiful muffins.

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You can find the original recipe on page 76 of the Bouchon Bakery Cookbok, and if you don’t have molasses in your pantry, don’t fret, your muffins will survive just fine without it.  I added the almond streusel from the book, but it really wasn’t necessary, the muffins would’ve been just as delicious without it.

Bouchon Bakery’s Blueberry Muffins

Yields 1 dozen muffins

Printable Recipe

For batter:

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup + 1 ½ Tablespoons cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 7 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons unsulfured blackstrap molasses* (I left this out)
  • 3 Tablespoons clover honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½  teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼  cup buttermilk + 2 Tablespoons (reserved for post-batter rest)

For berries:

  • Scant 1 cup of frozen berries
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour

For streusel:

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar* (Optional: use ¼ cup granulated sugar and ¼ cup brown sugar, or replace all of the granulated sugar with brown sugar)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter

 

  1. Toss berries with 1 Tablespoon of flour and return to the freezer.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and kosher salt; set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until pale.  Scrape down the sides and add the sugar, continue beating until light and fluffy; about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl (again) and add the lemon juice, zest, and honey (molasses too, if using) and continue beating to incorporate.  Scrape down the bowl, and add the eggs and vanilla, mix on low speed until combined; about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the flour mixture and buttermilk in 2 additions (flour-buttermilk-flour-buttermilk) mixing on low just until incorporated. Be extremely careful not to over-mix the batter. Scrape down the bottoms and sides of the bowl one last time, and then either transfer to a new bowl or leave in that one, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or up to 36 hours.
  5. While that is doing its thing, you might as well make the streusel.  Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl, melt the butter in the microwave and stir into the dry ingredients with a fork until completely mixed.  Cover and refrigerate until show time.
  6. When ready to make the muffins, take the batter out of the fridge and set on the counter to come to take the chill off.   Preheat the oven to 425˚F and line a muffin tin with paper cups.
  7. Once the oven is preheated, add the reserved 2 tablespoons of buttermilk to your batter and gently fold into the batter to loosen it.  The batter will be very thick (and conveniently scoopable).  Sprinkle the berries over the top of your batter and gently fold into batter, using as few strokes as possible.
  8. Scoop batter into muffin cups, and sprinkle with up to 3 tablespoons of streusel, lightly pressing the streusel into the muffin batter.
  9. Place the pan in the oven and lower the temperature to 325˚F.  Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack.
  10. These muffins are best served fresh, but can be stored in an airtight container up to 3 days, or individually wrapped and frozen once cooled.  Set out overnight to thaw or reheat, wrapped in foil, in a 325˚F oven for 20-30 minutes until heated through.

 

 Adapted from A Periodic Table & The Bouchon Bakery Cookbok

Sunday Brunch: Meyer Lemon Cake

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Two things:

1.  This cake is filled TO THE TOP with lemon flavor.

2.  It is probably the best lemon cake known to man.

Maybe not, but it might be.  I haven’t tried every lemon cake on the planet (yet). It has  a bright citrus flavor with a light and airy crumb… I don’t know how it happens, but it does.  And it’s magical.  Even though it’s no secret that I’m a chocolate girl at heart, every once in a while I crave something a little more… refreshing.  Plus, it’s not really acceptable to eat chocolate cake for breakfast.

Lemon cake, on the other hand, is totally legit.

Replacing the lemons called for in the recipe with meyer lemons allows the ctirus flavor to really shine and keeps it light and refreshing instead of having the citrus flavor assault your tongue.

Like, I love lemons, but if you give me a lemony treat I can usually only eat so much of it before my mouth is just tired of the lemon flavor.    It’s all “HEY I’M LEMON AND I’M HERE IN YO FACE,” where meyer lemon is like the regular lemon’s sweeter, more laid back cousin who is just like “Hey, what’s up? I’m kinda lemony and kinda sweet… whatevs.”

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That being said, if regular lemons are your thing (ahem, BFF), go with that.  I will happily use regular lemons later in the year when my darling meyer lemons are nowhere to be seen.

But, if you do get happen to find some meyer lemons in your basket at the store, bring them home and make this amazing sweet, citrusy cake.  You will not be sorry.  A little guilty, maybe, but not sorry.  Not too guilty though, this cake has yogurt so it’s good for you!  (Something like that)

Meyer Lemon Cake

Makes: 1 loaf

[ Printable Recipe ]

For the Cake:

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt*
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • ½ cup vegetable oil

For the Soak:

  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease or line a 8 x 5 inch loaf pan

2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.  In a large bowl whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, eggs, and lemon zest.

3. Slowly whisk dry ingredients into wet ingredients just until mixed.  Gently fold in the vegetable oil until incorporated.  Pour into prepared pan and bake about 50 minutes or until done.

4. While the loaf bakes, make your lemon soak by heating ⅓ cup lemon juice and ⅓ cup sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved.  Set aside while loaf finishes baking.

5. When loaf is done baking, cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack placed over a baking sheet.  (To make clean-up easier, line the baking sheet with foil).  Pour the lemon soak over the loaf and allow it to soak in while the loaf continues to cool.

6. Once the loaf is completely cooled, make your lemon glaze by mixing the powdered sugar and lemon juice.  Drizzle over cake to your liking.  Honestly, I think the cake was just perfect even WITHOUT the glaze, so if you want to skip this step, be my guest!

* Alternatively, you can use 1 cup of plain yogurt + 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

[ Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home ]

Sunday Brunch: German Pancake

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What’s better than a nice puffy pancake on a cold Sunday morning?

Nothing. That’s what.

I don’t remember exactly how the dutch pancake was introduced to our family, but I remember that I was young, and it involved a lot of melted butter, powdered sugar, and a 9×13 cake pan full of delicious.The huge, browned air bubbles were the best part.  The family would grab at it from around the table and despite the huge breakfast dish served before us (did I mention mom made it in a 9-BY-13 pan!?), there was never once a single bit left over.

Not even a bite.

Back then mom called it a “German” pancake, but since then I’ve also heard it called a “dutch baby” or “dutch pancake” as well.  I’m not sure which is correct.  I suppose you can call it whatever you like, after all, “A rose by any other name…” right?

Something like that.

I’ve made mine a bit fancier than mom’s by cooking and serving it in a pretty skillet and sprinkling it with fresh berries.  I’d love to say that it’s my favorite skillet because it cooks the best, or has some sort of magical powers of deliciousness, but really it’s just because it’s purple (what more reason do I need?)

Oh, and I give it a nice, healthy drizzle of my favorite top-secret 2-minute-berry-syrup… which will no longer be a secret by the end of this post (Lucky you).

I usually give it a dusting of powdered sugar too, but I had already made enough of a mess that morning and I didn’t want to tempt fate by carting out the powdered sugar.

sugar

Yes, that is my entire container of sugar that exploded onto the floor, in hopes of attracting every bug within a 10-mile radius.  Yes, I was annoyed.  Usually this would be the part where I would decide it “wasn’t meant to be” and call it a day.

But I didn’t.  I trudged on.

Only to be defeated yet again when I put the pancake in the oven and thought, “Hm, that’s not really poofing much…”

And then I realized I forgot the milk, which is basically half of the batter.  HALF OF THE BATTER!  The batter that is basically only 3 ingredients, and I forgot one.

Clearly, I was having one of “those” days.  How do I mess up the easiest recipe known to man?  Who knows, but after I cleaned up my sugary mess, threw my disgrace of a “pancake” into the disposal, and debated giving up on life a second time… I went full speed ahead for round two… and succeeded.

The “pancake” itself is rather neutral in flavor, I sweetened it just a bit with a dash of vanilla and a bit of sugar, but you can add whatever you like.  Though I serve mine with berries, mom always served it with  a stick-or-two “drizzle” of melted butter and powdered sugar.

No judgment.

This is the perfect recipe for your next breakfast or brunch, or a day when you have the house all to yourself and want to make something fast, then eat it just as quickly and pretend it never existed, leaving only a blog post as evidence.

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Did I mention I made this on a day when the only person in the house to eat it was me, myself, and I?

Oops…

To be fair, I think I earned it after all that work.

German Pancake

[ Printable Recipe ]

For the Pancake:

  • 2 Tablespoon butter
  • 3 eggs
  • ⅔ cups flour
  • ⅔ cups milk
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla

2-minute Berry Syrup:

  • 1 cup berries, fresh or frozen
  • 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • splash of lemon juice

For the pancake:

1. Put two tablespoons of butter in an oven-proof skillet and put it in the oven while it preheats to 400 degrees F

2. Put eggs in a blender and process on low until pale yellow in color. Add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth.

3. Carefully pour the batter into the hot pan and return to the oven.  Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, then reduce the heat to 350 and continue baking another 10 minutes or until golden brown and puffed.

For the “syrup”

1. Measure one cup of berries into a two-cup measuring cup or a bowl and toss with the powdered sugar.  If using fresh berries add about a tablespoon of water.

2. Microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes until the berries are popped and the liquid has leaked out.  (Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t bubble over the container).  Stir and allow to cool slightly before using.

* To make in a 9-x-13 pan, double the recipe