Thursday, October 08, 2009

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars

White Chocolate Chip Pretzel bars

This bar cookie recipe came from the August 2009 issue of Food and Wine magazine. I actually ended up making two batches, one for friends and one to take with me to work on Monday. Despite needing almost twice the recommended baking time, they were easy and fast to put together. I used white chocolate chips instead of semisweet or bittersweet, and omitted the sprinkles (I didn't think they needed sprinkles), but followed the recipe otherwise.

The cookies are loaded with brown sugar and butter, and are studded with chips and salty pretzel bits... it's a great combination, with that salty-sweet pairing that's so popular. They went over great!


Recipe: Chocolate Chip Pretzel Bars from Food and Wine, August 2009

Space needed: Minimal
I used two mixing bowls: one smaller bowl for the dry ingredients, and a larger one for the wet ingredients. No kneading, no rolling, no cookie cuttering... great for limited counter space!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Armenian "Barbary" Bread

Armenian "Barbary" Bread

This lovely flatbread comes from Nick Malgieri's The Modern Baker. This book incorporates shortcuts into the recipes, for the "modern" baker who may not have time for a bread recipe that requires 3 rises and 12 hours. The book jacket states that the aim was for most of the recipes to have under an hour of prep time. If you're someone who loves baking but has trouble fitting it into your schedule, this is a cookbook you may want to take a look at. Breads, cakes, sweet and savory pies, quick breads... there's a very nice selection here.

Armenian "Barbary" Bread

This came together very easily. A 4-to-1 mix of all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour, plus a couple of teaspoons of salt make up the dry ingredients. Another bowl gets the yeast and warm water, along with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Slowly add the flour mixture into the yeast mixture, give a quick knead, and set aside to rise for 1-2 hours. Divide the dough in 2, shape into long ovals, let it rise for another hour, and then bake for 20 minutes.

The finished bread has a wonderful flavor from the whole wheat flour and the olive oil. The whole wheat flavor isn't overpowering, but adds a nice subtle heartiness to it. We had this with beef stew, and the bread stood up to it nicely.

Armenian "Barbary" Bread


Recipe: Armenian "Barbary" Bread from The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri

Space needed: Moderate
A couple of bowls and enough counter space to be able to work the dough for a few minutes. The shaped loaves rise on the baking sheets for an hour, so you also need room to stash the sheet during the rising time. I was able to fit both of my loaves on one baking sheet, so I needed less room for that.

Cost: Under $5
$3.15 as written for two loaves. The two loaves should serve 7-8 people, so one serving runs about $0.40 to $0.45. The yeast price I have here is for the 3-pack of envelopes; bulk yeast is less expensive, but only worthwhile if you do a lot of baking.

Recipe amounts: AP Flour - $1.00; Whole wheat flour - $0.25; Yeast - $1.25; Olive oil - $0.65

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Turkey Meatball and Farfalle Soup

Lunch on Tuesday:
Turkey Meatball Soup

I adapted this from the Chicken Meatball and Orzo Soup from the April 2009 issue of Food & Wine. It was in a feature called "5 (Almost) Instant Soups", and they weren't kidding. From start to finish, this took me 20 minutes. It's light and fresh, a perfect soup for early summer.

Turkey Meatball Soup

This didn't look like something that would reheat particularly well, so I decided to just make enough for lunch. I used one link of sweet turkey sausage and made 3/4" meatballs from it. I browned the meatballs in a bit of olive oil in my saucepan I was using, then added 1 can of low-sodium chicken broth (no removing the meatballs and then adding them back in). Once it came to a boil, I added 1/2 cup of mini-farfalle pasta. Any small pasta would work for this: shells, orzo, even spaghetti broken into smaller pieces. I set the timer for 2 minutes less than the pasta cooking time, and when it went off, added a handful of chopped spinach. It cooked for another couple of minutes to let the spinach wilt, and then, DONE!

A nice light lunch in no time!


Recipe: Chicken Meatball and Orzo Soup from Food & Wine, April 2009

Space needed: Minimal
A plate for the meatballs. For my single-serving version, I just formed the meatballs and dropped them directly in the pan; no plate needed.

Cost: Under $5 ($4.10/serving)
$16.35 for the full recipe as written, but almost half of that is the chicken sausage. Maybe chicken sausage is cheaper elsewhere in the country, but the packs I looked at here were pricey. I subbed in less-expensive turkey sausage and, had I made the full 4 serving recipe, would have saved $3.50 overall. I also used store brand low-sodium chicken broth instead of brand name, which also saved me some money.

Recipe amounts: Chicken sausage - $7.50; Chicken broth - $4.50; Orzo - $0.75; Garlic - $0.10; Spinach: $3.50

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Brown Butter Blueberry Tart

I posted my results from a food terms quiz on Facebook a few days ago, and one of my friends responded with "Cook me a pie!"

Just to spite him, he's not getting a pie. He's getting a tart. TAKE THAT.

Brown Butter Blueberry Tart

This is going to my gaming group this evening: my adaptation of the Brown Butter Raspberry Tart from Bon Appétit's June 2009 issue. I switched blueberries in for the raspberries, and left out the berries completely in one quarter, using white chocolate chips as the "filling" instead. In case there's anyone who dislikes berries. Which, yes, is probable.

Tarts like this, where the crust is pressed into the pan, are perfect for smaller kitchens. No rolling out the crust! And like all recipes that call for a tart pan, I made this in a springform cake pan. Same removable bottom principle, but the springform is able to multitask a bit better. The tradeoff: it means that my tarts don't have a lovely fluted edge. I haven't had anyone complain yet.

What a great, simple way to let a batch of berries shine!

Brown Butter Blueberry Tart

Recipe: Brown Butter Raspberry Tart from Bon Appétit, June 2009

Space needed: Minimal
A couple of bowls (you could probably get away with one and just reuse the bowl you made the crust in to also make the filling), a saucepan, and a tart pan/other baking pan. I needed very little counter space for this.

Cost: Under $10
For the recipe as written, you'd be looking at about $9.00 for the whole thing. Most of that comes from the berries. Substituting a less expensive berry or finding a deal at a farmers' market would be an easy way to lower the price. Mine using blueberries came out to $5.

Recipe amounts: Butter - $1.25; Sugar - $0.25; Vanilla - $0.80; Flour - $0.30; Eggs - $0.30; Raspberries - $6.00

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dutch Baby with Lemon Sugar

April's issue of Gourmet had a lovely article featuring 5 different dessert recipes made with lemon and eggs. I was faced with the dilemma: which to make first?

The winner ended up being the Dutch Baby with Lemon Sugar. This is basically one huge popover that ends up being shaped like a bowl. Popovers are my weakness, so I'm not sure it was a fair contest for the other recipes.

Anything you would put on pancakes or waffles would work as a Dutch baby topping: fruits, powdered sugar, syrup. The Gourmet recipe uses lemon sugar, made by combining lemon zest with the sugar. I added the zest to the batter instead, and finished it off with a dusting of powdered sugar.

I followed the advice of several reviews and cut the butter back by half. They weren't kidding. Two tablespoons is more than enough butter to generously coat the pan.

Piping hot in the oven. Puffy!
Dutch Baby pancake

The center puff falls almost immediately once it's out of the oven.
Dutch Baby pancake

The crater, still dotted with melted butter from baking.
Dutch Baby pancake

Perfectly browned risen sides.
Dutch Baby pancake

Time for dessert! Or breakfast! Or brunch!
Dutch Baby pancake

I managed not to eat the entire thing in one night, refrigerated my leftovers wrapped in foil, and then reheated the foil-wrapped package in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes for breakfast.


Recipe: Dutch Baby with Lemon Sugar from Gourmet magazine, April 2009

Space needed: Minimal
One bowl and an oven-safe skillet. If you don't have an oven-safe skillet, this would work fine in an 8" or 9" baking dish or cake pan. Baking time might need to be adjusted for a different size pan.

Cost: Under $5
My total came out to $2.52 for the whole dish. This makes 4-6 servings (depending on serving size), so you'd be looking at anywhere between $0.42 and $0.63 per serving.

Recipe amounts: Sugar - $0.15; Lemon - $0.67; Eggs - $0.45; Milk - $0.30 ; Flour - $0.15; Vanilla - $0.20 ; Cinnamon - $0.05; Nutmeg - $0.05 ; Butter - $0.50

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Lemon Pepper Pasta with Capers

To make up for the gravy fries from the last post, let me point you in the direction of a lovely pasta in a light lemony cream sauce: Lemon Pepper Pasta with Capers from The Kitchn. And yes, I mean that. Each serving has a grand total of 1 tablespoon of cream in it, and you can easily nudge that already-pretty-low number down, or even use half-and-half instead.

Lemon Pepper Pasta with Capers

We have Trader Joe's here, so I made sure to pick up a package of the Lemon Pepper Pappardelle the last time I was there. The girl who rang up my purchases told me she'd tried it with tomato sauce and that it just hadn't worked, but she didn't know what sauce to use instead.

This one is a nice simple option. Turns out you don't need a lot of cream for a convincing cream sauce; this one calls for 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) total, and I used even less than that. I added between 2 and 3 tablespoons of cream to mine and it was plenty. I also cut back on the capers and added what looked like a "good amount".

There's a lot of room to play around here. Toss in some veggies, add some chicken (or shrimp or shellfish, if you're someone who can do that without breaking into hives... which I'm not), use regular pasta and add the juice from the lemon to the sauce, etc.

Lemon Pepper Pasta with Capers


Recipe: Lemon Pepper Pasta with Capers from The Kitchn at Apartment Therapy

Space needed: Minimal
Two pans (one for pasta, one for sauce), and enough counter space to chop up the garlic.

Cost: Under $5 per serving
Actually, under $2 per serving. $1.79 to be exact, $7.15 for the full 4-serving recipe, going by what I paid for the ingredients here in Maryland.

Recipe amounts: Pasta - $2.00; Garlic - $0.10; Lemon - $0.50; Butter - $0.10; Olive oil - $0.15; Chicken broth - $0.40; Cream - $0.40; Capers - $3.50) = $7.15

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Gravy Cheese Oven Fries with Roasted Garlic

Today was a yucky, rainy, gray day here in MD.

I wanted warm, carb-filled, unhealthy comfort food. The PERFECT excuse to make the Gravy Cheese Oven Fries with Roasted Garlic that Serious Eats posted a few weeks ago.

Gravy Cheese Oven Fries with Roasted Garlic

Oh, mama.

I feel bad even posting this, but it was so ridiculously easy and SO GOOD. A nice time-saver and space-saver is to use frozen steak fries. That's what I did, so I omitted the olive oil used on the potatoes. I ignored the cooking instruction on the package and followed the recipe: 40 minutes at 400 degrees, turning once. The fries and garlic were done at the same time, ready for the super-simple gravy. Cook flour and butter together for a quick roux, add beef broth, stir like crazy for a minute to get rid of the lumps, then let it simmer for 20-30 minutes.

The roasted garlic is such a great addition to this. The sweet, slightly caramelized flavor sets off all those savory ingredients very nicely.

I am ready for a happy carb nap now. :)


Recipe: Eat for Eight Bucks: Gravy Cheese Oven Fries with Roasted Garlic from Serious Eats

Space needed: Minimal
Space to cut up the fries and slice the top off of the garlic, a saucepan for the gravy, and a baking sheet for the fries and garlic. If you use frozen fries, you barely need any counter space at all.

Cost: Under $5 per serving
This depends heavily on the cost of the cheese. Serious Eats used a Gruyère that was $15.80 per pound, and even theirs came in at $8.02 for 2 servings. I used some Trader Joe's shredded Mexican four-cheese blend that I had on hand, which was something like $4 per pound.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Scottish Baps

Slashfood posted a recipe a couple of weeks ago for Scottish Baps, a flour-dusted yeast roll. It probably won't surprise anyone to hear that I bookmarked the page.

I made these today for a snow day project. The recipe is easy to follow and very accessible. Nothing fussy; I would recommend these to someone as a "first yeast baking project" in a heartbeat. The only possible headscratcher is "caster sugar" in the ingredients. If you don't have caster sugar (a.k.a. superfine sugar), you can substitute regular table sugar.

This dough came together nicely... so nicely that I didn't even have to knead it on a flat surface. I kneaded this in the same bowl that I mixed it in. After about 5 minutes of kneading, I left it to rise for an hour. Then some shaping, and the rolls started to take form:

Baps before baking

A sprinkling of flour gives them a nice dusty look when they're done.

Baps - done!

The finished rolls are light and soft and airy... apparently, one traditional use is to make a sandwich with fried bacon, butter, and a brown sauce. Curse you, my sadly baconless refrigerator!

Scottish Bap

Space needed: Minimal
For mine, I used one mixing bowl, one cookie sheet, and a measuring cup. I heated the milk and proofed the yeast in the measuring cup, then melted the butter in it as well.

Cost: Under $5
Total cost for the recipe is about $2.50 for 12 rolls.

Recipe: Simply Wonderful Scottish Baps from

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Monte Cubano

This is the cover recipe on the March issue of Gourmet: the Monte Cubano sandwich. Take a Cuban sandwich, and instead of pressing it, dip it in egg and fry it like a Monte Cristo.

Flippin' geniuses, those people.

Monte Cubano sandwich

In a (futile) attempt to make it a wee bit healthier, I used wheat bread and left out the mayo. The "dipping in egg and frying in butter" probably negated a lot of that.

Monte Cubano sandwich

The wheat bread probably wasn't firm enough for this, but I was able to de-soggify it with a 15-minute trip to a hot oven.

Monte Cubano sandwich

Space needed: Minimal.
One plate to build the sandwich, one bowl for the egg, and a frying pan on the stovetop.

Cost: Under $5.
The ingredients for one recipe-specific sandwich come out to about $3.50 (to be exact, $3.46 according to prices here in the DC/Baltimore area). I ended up only needing one slice of cheese for full sandwich coverage, so mine came in at $2.86. That was with Boar's Head meats and Alpine Lace swiss; store brand deli products would have easily knocked this down to less than $2.50.

Recipe: Monte Cubano from Gourmet magazine, March 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Buttermilk Quick Bread

I decided today to break the baking lull that's been going on around here. And in honor of health-conscious New Year's resolutions, and the fact that I had buttermilk that I wanted to use up (I'll leave it to you to figure out which one figured in more heavily), I give you the figure-friendly Buttermilk Quick Bread from Cooking Light's January 2009 issue.

Let me tell you, I love baking but I don't always have the best luck with quick breads. I was thrilled to open the oven to find this gorgeously browned loaf waiting.
Buttermilk Quick Bread

After a long 10 minutes, I cut into it, hoping that the exterior wasn't just taunting me. I feared finding an undercooked mess, or a dried-out crumbly loaf, or a brick...

Instead, I got this:
Buttermilk Quick Bread

Lovely, moist bread. There's a nice sweetness to it from the sugar, and the buttermilk really shines here. The sweet/savory aspect reminded me a bit of cornbread.

Big points for easiness. Mix ingredients; bake. In the interests of saving myself a tiny bit of clean up, I melted the butter in the loaf pan in the oven while it was preheating. This gave me the melted butter and the greased pan in one step, and I didn't have to get out another bowl for butter melting purposes. Score!

Buttermilk Quick Bread

Cooking Light's nutritional info says that this has 137 calories and 4.6g of fat in a slice. You'd never guess from eating it. Yum.

Recipe: Buttermilk Quick Bread from Cooking Light magazine, January 2009