Sunday, January 25, 2009

Soup's On!

You know those ginormous, firelog-sized burritos that are delicious staples of any taqueria in San Francisco's Mission District? Well - those oversized burritos are the inspiration for this soup. I love - underscore love - the burritos, and figured that the flavors would undoubtedly make for a great soup on a cold winter day. Sure enough - this is one soup that will get put in rotation at my house! This recipe is a vegetarian version; you certainly could add chicken, steak or pork to bump up the protein quotient, but it's more than satisfying without.

Black Bean Burrito Soup
  • 6 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
  • 1 cup orange juice, no pulp
  • 2 15-ouce cans of black beans, drained
  • 1 cup long-grained rice (not instant)
  • 1 7-ounce can of diced greed chilies (or equivalent of fresh, fire-roasted green chilies)
  • 2-3 chipotle peppers; more if you like it spicy! (Buy chipotle peppers in the can from the Mexican section of the supermarket; the peppers come in a chipotle sauce, which is crucial to the flavor of this soup.)
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes, diced (or 1 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes)
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Tortilla chips, crumbled
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream (or I like plain Greek yogurt instead)
Combine 4 cups of stock, orange juice, black beans, rice, green chilies and chipotle peppers in a stock pot; bring to a simmer. Cook until rice becomes tender and absorbes the liquid by half, about 25-30 minutes. Add remaining two cups of stock along with the diced tomatoes; return to a fast simmer and reduce until desired soup consistency (rice will continue to absorb liquid and thicken the soup). Serve with your choice of toppings.

Salty and Sweet

I'm such a sucker for salted caramel. A complete and utter sucker. Which is strange - I really can walk away from most sweets, but there's something about the flavor combination of salted caramel that gets me every time. So, I resurrected a super-simple caramel popcorn recipe that I've literally been making since I was a kid, and finished it off with a decidedly 2008 flourish: gray fleur de sel. It's caramel popcorn - all grown up! You can blame me if you get addicted as well, but don't say I didn't warn you!

Salted Caramel Popcorn
  • 1 cube of butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
  • Course gray sea salt (French fleur de sel is my go-to)
Combine all caramel ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring to melt and blend all ingredients together. Reduce heat to low and continue a slow boil; stir constantly to avoid the caramel from burning. Caramel is done when it reaches the soft ball candy stage (approximately 5 minutes at slow boil). While still hot, pour caramel over a big bowl of popcorn, mixing well to coat. Sprinkle liberally with the sea salt, again, mixing well for even coverage throughout the batch.

Muffin Mania

Here's a couple of muffin recipes, submitted by my mom. Actually, one was a banana bread recipe that I made into muffins instead (just my preference, since I can eat one and freeze the others for later... but a loaf of banana bread? No control.). But you - make either of these recipes as you please - loaves, muffins - whatever! For the banana bread recipe, my mom uses the tried-and-true recipe from the 1967 edition of the "Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book" - which she purchased while she was in college simply because it included this "exotic" banana bread recipe ("When I started making it," she said, "bananas were scare in this Utah desert. You actually had to buy and store them on purpose if you were going to make the bread!"). As for the lemon poppy seed muffin recipe, I'm not sure where that recipe originated, but it's a semi-homemade recipe that my mom has perfected. The muffins are delicious and moist and lemony and fantastic. Sorry I don't have a picture, but I'd about had my quota of baking with the banana bread recipe!

Banana Bread Muffins
Submitted by Judy Angell
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Cream together shortening and sugar; add eggs and beat well. Sift together dry ingredients; add to creamed mixture alternately with banana, blending well after each addition. Stir in nuts. Pour into well-buttered loaf pan or lined muffing tins. Bake at 350 degrees; for loaves: 40-45 minutes, for muffins: 15-20 minutes.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Submitted by Judy Angell
  • One pre-packaged lemon poppyseed muffin mix, available in the boxed cake mix section of the supermarket.
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 ounces lemon yogurt
  • Zest of 1 fresh lemon (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
Combine boxed muffin mix with remainder of ingredients; mix well. Batter will be very thick. Spoon into greased or lined muffin tins; bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 18-20 minutes. Once muffins are golden, remove from tins and place on a cooling rack. Drizzle with glaze while muffins are still warm.

Baking Your Breakfast

I love having slow-cooked oatmeal on lazy weekend mornings, but sometimes, I must admit: I don't get it right on the stovetop! I don't know why - but I find oatmeal far from fail-proof: too runny, too bland, too gluey, gloppy or gummy. Sometimes, getting it "just right" proves to be elusive. So, when I've got the time, I like to bake my oatmeal instead! I have much better luck this way. The recipe turns out a rich, dense, flavorful and nutritious warm start to your day.

Oven-Baked Oatmeal
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1/2 cup cream (optional, but if you omit it, add equivalent of milk)
  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled or steel cut oats (not instant)
  • 1-2 cups of fresh fruit (pictured with blackberries and diced apples)
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds or pecans work well)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, plus additional for crumbling on top
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
Combine all ingredients and pour into an oven-safe casserole. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 1 hour, or until oatmeal is cooked through and liquid is absorbed (after 30 minutes, crumble additional brown sugar to taste over the top).

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Make Me a Match

This "matchstick" salad came about in my quest to maintain bright, colorful, fresh flavors in my diet right on through the winter. The ingredients are all in season and even at the peak of their juiciness right about now, and this salad simply explodes with refreshing tastes we more associate with summer. So have a little sunshine on me!

Celery Root, Green Apple and Citrus Matchstick Salad with Champagne/Grapefruit Vinaigrette
  • 1 small celery root bulb
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple
  • 4-6 fresh seedless clementines or seeded honey tangerines, peeled and segmented (canned mandarin oranges would also work)
  • 1 fresh Ruby Red grapefruit, peeled and segmented
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Champagne (Brut style works best; you can also substitute with Champagne vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
  • Kosher salt, to taste
Trim leaves, ends and stems of celery root bulb (keep the leafy greens for your stockpot though!); cut away outer edges to square off the bulb. Chop the bulb into tiny matchsticks. Do the same with the Granny Smith apple. While you are chopping, place the matchsticks as they are created in a bowl of cold water with a tablespoon or two of lemon juice to keep them from browning. Cut the clementine and grapefruit segments into bite-sized chunks; add to the drained matchsticks. Toss all with the vinaigrette and let set in refrigerator for a minimum of 20 minutes to let flavors set. It gets even better the next day!

And speaking of celery root - my friend Aerial sent me this recipe to add after seeing the original blog post above. She said it's an old Jewish recipe, and it sounds delicious!

Celery Root in Mustard Dressing
Contributed by Aerial Gilbert
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup light olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • White pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups celery root (about 1 pound)
In a large bowl whisk together mustard and vinegar. Continue whisking and drizzle the olive oil a little at a time until fully incorporated; season with salt and pepper.

Peel and cut the celery root into julienne strips; toss with the dressing. Serve as a first course or on Boston lettuce as a salad.

Rainbow's End

I try my best to shop at Farmer's Markets and stick to cooking what is seasonal and fresh. This time of year, the pickings at the market are far from slim. My attention is always drawn to the gorgeous rainbow-colored Swiss chard, a cold-weather crop that just declares its deliciousness by its bright jewel-toned stalks. The colors are a welcome splash of brightness in a season largely devoid of the candy-hued market offerings of summer - just buying it makes me happy! It's scrumptious in so many ways - even just sauteed on its own with a glug of olive oil, a sprinkling of salt and a dash of balsamic vinegar at the end. But to me, this fritatta recipe feels just like a warm, comforting hug on a brisk winter morning. Adding in the croutons or day-old bread came about as a tip from my good friend Betsy. Enjoy!

Rainbow Chard Fritatta

  • 1/2 cup onion, finely diced
  • 4 cups rainbow Swiss chard, chopped
  • 8 eggs, whisked (for a more figure-friendly version, use the equivalent in egg whites, about 2 cups; it's my preferred variation!)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup seasoned croutons or crusty day-old bread cubes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Coat the bottom and sides of an oven-safe saute pan with olive oil and sautee diced onions over medium heat until clear. Add the chopped chard to the hot pan and cook until wilted (You can add a tablespoon or two of water to the hot pan to create steam; it helps the chard wilt without burning. Just make sure to cook off or drain all of the water before continuing with recipe.) In a separate bowl, combine eggs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, croutons; mix well. Season egg mixture with salt and pepper. Once chard is wilted, add egg mixture to the saute pan. Stir to combine all ingredients, making sure the chard/onions are well-dispersed throughout. Place entire pan in a preheated 400-degree oven and bake until center is set, about 15-20 minutes (you want the eggs moist, but not runny).

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Gourmet on the Go!

Pistachio Crusted Dayboat Scallops with a Brown Butter/Lemon Sauce, served with Carmelized Lemon Leeks and Oven Roasted Tomatoes - now that's a mouthful, literally! This collection of recipes may look and sound fancy and complicated, but the meal couldn't be simpler. Basic, quality ingredients combine for a scrumptious finish; a meal that takes 30 minutes - 45 tops - from start to finish. It makes for a great weeknight dinner when the last thing you have time for is spending hours in the kitchen. The addition of the arborio rice in the scallop coating is a trick I picked up from my backyard celebrity chef, Michael Chiarello of NapaStyle - it's a good one! Pair it all with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, and voila! Gourmet on the go! The recipes are listed in the order you should prepare them, due to prep/cooking time.

Carmelized Lemon Leeks
  • Leeks (one large leek will serve two people; adjust accordingly)
  • Lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
Slice leeks on the bias; discard ends. Separate into individual rings and rinse well to remove dirt. Soak in a solution of cold water and lemon juice (2:1 ratio); soak for a minimum of ten minutes before draining. Add olive oil to a saute pan, enough to coat the bottom, and heat to medium-high. Add leeks to the hot pan, and saute until leeks are soft and carmelized. Add salt and fresh-squeezed lemon to taste.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes
  • Small, ripe tomatoes of your choosing (plum, cherry, or the small heirloom varieties work and taste best)
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
Slice tomatoes in half lengthwise; toss well with olive oil to coat completely. Place face-up on a baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Roast in a pre-heated 400-degree oven for 20 minutes, or until soft (but not melted completely).

Pistachio Crusted Dayboat Scallops
  • 1 pound Dayboat scallops
  • 1/4 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/4 cup arborio rice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste, depending on if the pistachio meat is salted or plain)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
Combine pistachios and arborio rice in a spice grinder or blender; grind to a fine powder. Transfer to a shallow bowl; add spices and mix well. To coat the scallops, press both sides into the crust mixture so that it adheres. Coat the bottom of an oven-safe saute pan with olive oil and preheat to medium-high. Place coated scallops in the preheated pan and sear 1 minute per side. Transfer pan into a pre-heated 400-degree oven to finish cooking, approximately 5 minutes (any longer, the scallops could get too chewy). Remove from oven and serve on a bed of Lemon Leeks (recipe above); drizzle with Brown Butter/Lemon Sauce (recipe below).

Brown Butter/Lemon Sauce
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Continue to cook until butter foams and turns brown at the edges. Add lemon juice and bring back to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat when browned throughout. Drizzle over scallops.

Feeling Saucy

If you're like me, this time of year just calls for slow-cooked meals. Something warm and comforting, and yet simple to make. This recipe fits the bill perfectly: mix up a few ingredients, throw them all together, then walk away as it cooks itself. In addition to being a stellar pulled pork recipe, you can also use the simmer sauce with regular old pork chops or chicken breasts. And to simplify things even more, you can use the recipe in your Crock Pot instead of on the stove. Whatever the case, it's simple and delicious.

Pulled Pork in a Sweet Heat Simmer Sauce
  • 1 2-pound pork roast (cut into chunks)
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 6-ounce can of tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 7-ounce can of diced green chilies
  • 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning (or more/less to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Combine simmer sauce ingredients in a deep, heavy-bottomed skillet, dutch oven or Crock Pot. Bring to a slow boil (stove top only); add meat, and reduce temperature to a slow simmer. Cover and continue to slowly simmer for approximately 2 hours, stirring occasionally. After about 1-1/2 hours, the pork will be cooked through and tender enough for you to start breaking it up (this may take longer if you are using a Crock Pot). Shred the pork with a fork and coat thoroughly in the sauce; continue to simmer until ready to serve. Serve over rice or in mini "slider" style sandwiches (perfect for Game Day!).

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Let's Get Crabby!

Happy New Year, everybody! Randall and I rang in 2009 with a Bay Area tradition: a meal of fresh Dungeness crab. We're so fortunate to live right here where fishermen pull these tasty crustaceans mere miles from our home. The crab we enjoyed on New Year's Eve was swimming the day before - it just doesn't get any fresher. We laid claim to our crab a few days in advance through our local fish market (it's so popular, you have to reserve your catch because it's a perennial New Year's sell-out) - and we even left the cooking and cracking to them! Makes a festive meal pretty darn easy. We served the crab up with drawn butter and lemon - no fuss no muss. And there wasn't much more to making the meal complete: Caesar salad, roasted asparagas, a loaf of local sourdough bread, and champagne, of course! So, here's a toast to 2009, wishing you all a great year of Fare to Remember!

Christmas Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread cookies and Christmas - the two go together without saying, right? In my family, this recipe has been passed down for generations, via my maternal grandfather's family. It's a recipe that is dear to my mom's heart, because it comes with some special memories of her grandma, Grace Bowen Winger. My mom writes: "For years, Grandma would wrap up 1/2-dozen of these cookies for each of her grandchildren, which numbered about 30. She had no money to buy gifts, and often apologized for that fact when she handed out these cookies and her hugs. I only wish she had known how loved she was and how we’d like to have those hugs again, along with the cookies."

So, these shortbread cookies endure, and always will - even if I have to start baking them myself (the horror!) Thank God my mom has taken that torch and continues to run with it. They're still even made with the very same tin cookie cutter that is older than I am - I don't think I could have them in any other shape (certainly they would taste different!).

Shortbread Cookies
By Grace Bowen Winger
Contributed by Judy Angell
  • 1 rounded cup sugar
  • 1 pound of butter
  • 5 cups flour

Cream butter and sugar. Gradually add flour; the last cup should be worked in by hand. Knead dough until pliable. Roll out using wax paper over the dough; use cookie cutters to cut into shapes. Place on baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees. (Note: my mom, as per the family tradition, makes these cookies anywhere from 2-3 weeks prior to Christmas and stores them in tins lined with wax paper. The extra time ages the cookies and allows the buttery flavor to fully develop.)

Get Your Fill

This is a traditional cookie recipe at our household every Christmas. It came from my maternal grandmother's family, one of dozens of straight-from-England Christmas food traditions that were always front and center as I was growing up. I have vivid pictures in my mind of my grandma and her sisters (my dear great aunts) lined up in various familial kitchens over the years, always hunched over a stove or oven or mixing bowl, apron strings fastened firmly about their plump waists, friendly arguments ensuing over this-or-that. But the copious amounts of English goodies that would result from these diminutive ladies efforts were staggering: mini one-bite tarts filled with fresh lemon cheese, cookies and more cookies, even the vilified English plum pudding with hot rum or vanilla sauce (a favorite of mine to this day - a dish that horrifies me on one hand, but is so delicious I don't care on the other!).

This cookie in particular is my brother's favorite - my mom will triple the batch to ensure there is enough to quell his appetite for a year. Although our tradition calls for filling these cookies with a raisin filling, the not-to-sweet cookie dough lends itself beautifully to being filled with any manner of fruit (jams, compotes, finely-diced pie fillings, etc.). So experiment! And let me know how you make it your own.

Fruit-filled Cookies

Contributed by Judy Angell
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Mix all ingredients and chill one hour. Roll half of the dough and cut with a round cookie-cutter; this half of the dough becomes the bottom pieces of the cookies. Place 1 tablespoon of filling on the bottom pieces. Roll out and cut the second half of the dough, and place rounds on top of the filling, seaming together with water. Flute edges with a fork. Bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.

Raisin Filling
  • 2 cups water
  • 2-3 cups raisins
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoons cornstarch

Boil the water, raisins and sugar in a saucepan for 5 minutes. In a separate dish, combine cornstarch with enough water to thin it out (1/4-1/2 cup); add to the raisin mixture and boil for approximately 3-5 minutes to thicken. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place in a shallow dish to cool completely before using to fill cookies.

Cookies for Breakfast

Here's another Christmas cookie that's required eating at our house over the holidays. Enjoy these dipping cookies for breakfast - dunk in a big cup of joe or a steaming mug of cocoa. Mmm.

Almond Sesame Biscotti
Contributed by Judy Angell
  • 1 cube butter
  • 1 tablespoon shortening
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup almonds (optional)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • Sesame seeds
Cream butter and shortening, add sugar, and then the slightly beaten eggs. Add all dry ingredients and combine well. Divide dough in half and turn out onto a floured surface. Form into two oblong loaves. Roll the top side in sesame seeds. Score the top lightly with a knife to outline 1-inch slices. Place loaves on a baking sheet and bake in a 375-degree oven until brown, approximately 20-22 minutes. Remove from oven and slice along the score marks. Place slices flat on the baking sheet, and return to oven to toast under the broiler, turning once. Remove when both sides are browned; cool on a rack and serve when they have hardened.

It's Greek to Me, #1

Several Greek dishes have been Christmas staples in my family for almost as long as I can remember. But here's the thing: we're not Greek. Not even close. So how did these Mediterranean delights come to be so ingrained in our holiday traditions? I never knew, until this year when I actually thought to ask my mom "Why all the Greek food"? Her answer: "Because I like it." So there you have it. Some traditions don't have to be passed down through the generations, but started simply because you can. My mom's homemade baklava is probably the most anticipated dish of the Christmas season. She doesn't make it any other time of year, and what she does make goes fast (I personally horde my stash, but I never seem to have any past the New Year). Making baklava is not difficult, only time-consuming. But the effort is more than worth it - there's nothing quite as decadent as fresh, homemade baklava... promise.

Contributed by Judy Angell
  • 4 cups walnuts, finely ground
  • 4 cups almonds, finely ground
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 pound phyllo dough
  • 1 pound butter, melted
Honey syrup
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 20 ounces fresh honey
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 teaspoons lemon zest, finely grated

In large bowl, mix nuts, sugar and cinnamon. Brush the bottom of a 12x18-inch lipped baking sheet with melted butter. Start layering the phyllo dough, one sheet at a time, brushing each layer with melted butter until you have six layers of dough. On top of the sixth layer of phyllo, sprinkle a thin layer of nut mixture. Cover with another layer of phyllo; brush with melted butter. Continue layering accordingly (single, thin layer of nuts/single layer of phyllo/melted butter) until all nuts have been used. Finish with another six layers of phyllo, buttering each one.

With a serrated knife, cut baklava in 1-inch strips in each direction to form diamond-shaped pieces. Bake at 275 degrees for 1-1/2 hours.

While baklava is baking prepare the honey syrup. Boil syrup ingredients for 12 minutes on medium heat. When you remove the baklava from the oven, pour the hot honey syrup over the top. Cover lightly with aluminum foil and let rest so the syrup gets absorbed. Let set 6 hours before serving.

It's Greek to Me, #2

Here's another of my mom's famous Greek dishes - buttery, flaky cheese triangles known as Tyropita (or Spanikopita, when you add spinach). Again, a holiday tradition in our family, but delicious any ol' time of the year. And really simple to make, once you get the hang of working with the delicate phyllo dough.

Contributed by Judy Angell
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 16 ounces cottage cheese, large curd
  • 1 pound feta cheese
  • 1 pound phyllo dough
  • For Spanikopita, add 1 cup of frozen chopped spinach that has been thawed and well-drained.
Beat eggs and add to the crumbled feta and cottage cheese. Cut the phyllo dough into long strips (3-5 inches in width, depending on the size of the phyllo sheets and/or your preferences; we usually just halve the phyllo sheets lengthwise). Place a tablespoon of the filing onto the end of a buttered phyllo strip; fold end-over-end as you would fold a flag to form a triangle-shaped package. Seal with butter. Place on a baking sheet and bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes.

Hey Sucker!

The candy-making in my family during the holidays is quite astounding. For generations, the women on my mom's side of the family have been making hard candies, toffee, truffles... the list goes on and on. But these lollipops are so colorful and fun, I just had to include them on this blog. The molds for these suckers were a cherished item of my grandmother's (she even engraved her name into the sides so there was no question as to who they belonged to) - along with her special candy-making pot that has spouts for easy pouring. My mom inherited the gear, and thus the tradition. Of course, you don't need these industrial-grade molds, nor the Christmas spirit to make these suckers - they're a great, fun, easy treat any time of year that's always a big hit with the kids. And - according to my Uncle Randy, a big hit with the ladies, too! (He used to borrow grandma's molds and have sucker-making date nights. Inexpensive, interactive, domestic... according to him, a winner every time!)

Grandma's Suckers
Contributed by Judy Angell
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon artificial flavoring (cinnamon, butterscotch, cherry, grape, etc.)
  • Artificial coloring, to desired amount*
  • 1/8 teaspoon citric acid dissolved in 1 teaspoon water (optional)**
Combine sugar, water and corn syrup in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Cook on medium-high until mixture registers 300 degrees on a candy thermometer (hard crack stage). Remove from heat and let cool to 275 degrees. Add flavoring and coloring. Pour into greased molds, insert lollipop sticks. Set molds on a greased surface in case of overflows. Allow candy to cool and set completely prior to removing from molds.

*To make opaque colors, add 1/2 teaspoon liquid white food coloring.

**Citric acid is added to enhance fruit flavors and give a more tart flavor. Add at the same time as the flavoring.

Dutch Baby

Dutch Babies for breakfast! As odd as it sounds, a Dutch Baby is not a plump, sweet child from The Netherlands, but rather, a dish akin to a German Pancake (or a big pop-over, or a Yorkshire pudding... they're all similar in taste and texture). I'm not sure why I associate a Dutch Baby with the Christmas holidays - we certainly ate them throughout the year when I was growing up - but it's comfort food at its finest, and a holiday treat for me when I'm home in Utah for Christmas. At the root of it, this dish is simply a vehicle for butter consumption. Melted butter pools in the center of the dish as you pull it all puffy from the oven, and the browned butter bits make the top and edges crunchy and savory. The thought of it makes me salivate. Some people like to top their Dutch Babies with powdered sugar and lemon juice; me - I'm a purist. Just the butter, please! So, to hell with the New Year's resolutions - make this dish! You won't regret it.

Dutch Baby
Contributed by Judy Angell
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour (can substitute rice flour for a gluten-free version)
Put butter into a deep 6-inch baking dish and place in a 425-degree oven. Leave in the oven until the butter melts and turns a dark brown (not quite burned, but almost). As the butter browns, put eggs into a blender and blend on high speed. Add milk. Continue to blend and slowly add flour. When butter is nice and browned, remove from oven and let stand for 2-3 minutes to come down in temperature. Pour batter into the butter, but do not mix. Return to oven and bake for 20 minutes. The Baby will puff up while cooking, but deflate as it cools.

My Guilty Pleasure #1: Bi-Rite Creamery Ice Cream

Ice cream? I can take it or leave it. I'm not a big fan of most sweet things, and certainly don't go out of my way to get my hands on a sweet treat. In fact, you could load up a table full of desserts and plant it firmly in my path, and I'd find a way to get around, over, or under it if there was a pie ce of cheese or loaf of bread waiting on the other side. So for me to have an ongoing craving for ice cream is highly out of the ordinary. But the scoops at San Francisco's Bi-Rite Creamery must be loaded with crack, because I just can't get enough. And it's not even necessarily all of their ice cream that gets me - just one flavor in particular: the salted caramel (part the clouds, cue heavenly music, direct sunbeam directly on this heavenly concoction!).

I was in San Francisco a couple days ago, so made the pilgrimage and got myself a little cup of indulgence, pictured here (the salted caramel ice cream topped with Bi-Rite's homemade almond-butter toffee crumbles). It was an awesome capper to a perfect day - I sat and relished my cup-o-goodness in Dolores Park, watching people and dogs go by, and enjoying the 65-degree December day (strange, after having just come from the perma-frost of Utah where I spent Christmas only a few days earlier).

So take it from me, you should absolutely check out Bi-Rite's organic, homemade crack... er, ice cream. With flavors like Lavendar Honey, Creme Fraiche, Coffee Toffee, Brown Butter Almond, and standbys like chocolate and vanilla, there's a drug of choice for everyone.