Monday, August 31, 2009

Apple Puff Pastry Tarts

I adapted this recipe from Alton Brown's Good Eats episode "Puff the Magic Pastry." I finally was able to use the apples I bought at the farmers market a good 2 weeks ago. I used a "Prime Red" apple - it's a type that the farmer created though experimentation with cross pollination. I must say... Prime Reds are probably one of my favorite apples now. They are a cross between a jonathan and something else that I forgot. The apples are bright red while having a pure white inside... and they are always crisp but not too tart.

Caroline - I know you are reading this way over in Oregon and your care-package is on the way... complete with some baked good that is posted on my site.

Apple Puff Pastry Tarts
Adapted from Alton Brown


  • puff pastry
  • Sugar, for dusting
  • Prime Red Apples, cored, and quartered
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Apricot jam


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Crimp seams of puff pastry together with fingertips. Dust both sides of pastry with sugar. Using a rolling pin, roll pastry in each direction to close seams. Using a sharp pizza cutter, cut out rectangles. Place pastry circles on a chilled sheet pan and let cool in the refrigerator for a few minutes.
  3. Using a vegetable peeler cut wafer thin apple slices. Put apple slices in lemon-juice-spiked water.
  4. Flip pastry circles over on the sheet pans and poke them with a fork to provide an outlet for steam. Put parchment paper on the pan underneath the pastry circles. Sprinkle pastry with sugar and arrange apple slices on top.
  5. Bake in the middle of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Poke the crust; if it feels soft it needs more time in the oven.
  6. Microwave some apricot jam for 30 seconds. Dab (don't brush) the jam on the tarts. Cool tarts at least 4 hours and seal in a resealable plastic bag. Serve at room temperature.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Zucchini and Tomato Gratin

I made this for my dad the other night while my mom was in Portland moving my younger sister into college. This is a very light dish that makes great use of summer produce. When eating the gratin, I recommend you pour some of the juice from the bottom on the ban overtop served food. Also - the picture isn't so great. We've been getting a lot of rain here and I had to run outside and take a picture once a) the dish was already partially served and b) there was a 5 minute break in the rain.

Zucchini and Tomato Gratin


  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 zucchini, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 pounds tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 10 basil leaves, cut in chiffonade
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 or 3 grinds fresh black pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°
  2. Warm the skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Sauté the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Lightly brush the bottom of the baking dish with olive oil. Arrange zucchini slices around the bottom of the pan, then add a layer of tomatoes. Sprinkle on the chopped parsley. Repeat with another layer of zucchini and another layer of tomatoes, then sprinkle on the basil chiffonade. Add the final layer of zucchini, then the tomatoes.
  4. Arrange the onions and garlic around the top of the casserole. Sprinkle on a pinch or two of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Drizzle the remaining olive oil around the top and sprinkle on the Parmesan cheese.

For your viewing pleasure, here are some pictures that I took today when I went to (and shopped at) the Ann Arbor's Farmers Market. The market was fantastic today; farmers are starting sell pumpkins and more apples are appearing.

Cinnamon Rolls

This is a tried and true favorite from one of my favorite (and most abused/covered in food) cookbook: The Tassajara Bread Book. I made these for a couple of reasons. First, my grandpa really likes cinnamon buns - I dropped them off at my grandparents house Friday afternoon and they loved them! Second, I have to keep my co-workers at Bivoauc fat and happy. Third... does they need to me a third? Who doesn't like cinnamon buns? Most of the cinnamon buns turned out well, but the final pan of buns that I put in the oven kinda were a little over cooked. I fell asleep for a hot second... so those were a little over cooked. Oh well - I'm pretty sure people still ate them. If you did get one of the kinda over cooked ones - I swear I'm usually better than that.

But for the actual cinnamon buns, I used a yeasted Norwegian Coffee Cake recipe for the dough.

Cinnamon Buns
Adapted from the Tassajara Bread Book

For Dough:
  • 2 packages of active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
  • 5/8 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground cinnamon
  • 3 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
For Cinnamon Bun Filling:
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 (ish) tablespoons cinnamon

  1. Dissolve yeast in liquid and stir in the 1 1/2 cups of white flour, adding a couple of tablespoons of the sugar. Beat well, and set aside to rise (I proof mine in an oven heated to 100 degrees and then shut off).
  2. Cream the butter, and then cream in the sugar.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
  4. Fold the butter mixture into the yeast sponge along with the salt and cinnamon. Then fold in the flour, one cup at a time, as necessary to form a soft dough. Knead the dough until smooth, using more flour as needed.
  5. Let the dough rise until doubled in size.
  6. After it has risen, roll it out on a floured board in a rectangle 3/8 inch thick. Brush on melted butter.
  7. Sprinkle on the brown sugar and cinnamon.
  8. Starting at one edge, roll up the dough fairly tight as you would a carpet. Cut the toll in sections about 1/2 inch thick, and place the sections flat on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving space around them to rise and spread out. Let them rise for 20 minutes.
  9. Brush with an egg wash (1 egg beaten together with 2 TBSP of water) and bake at 375 for about 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.
  10. Frost with a powdered sugar glaze (powdered sugar beaten with milk until desired consistency is reached).

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Balsamic Vinegar Pasta with Sautéed Red Onions & "Bacon"

First off, bacon is in quotation marks because I obviously used fake bacon, aka Boca Bacon. But the dish that I was attempting to replicate had real bacon in it. Here is the story behind the dish: When I was in Rome (Italy) about a month and a half ago, my sister had a dish for dinner that she loved, but I wasn't able to try it because it had bacon in it. She thought the combination was so unique and so original... and she begged me to try and replicate it when we got back home. Sadly, I wasn't able/didn't replicate it until the day before she left for college. While I thought the dish was absolutely fantastic, she too thought it was quite good, but not the same as what she ate in Rome. Anyways, here is the recipe, I really recommend you make it, I doubt you've had anything like it before!

Balsamic Vinegar Pasta with Sautéed Red Onions & "Bacon"

  • 2 cups of dry, straight pasta (I had to use penne because that's all I had in my pantry, I wouldn't use it again)
  • 1 small red onion
  • 6 strips of Boca Bacon, broken into pieces
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • Approx 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and put back into pot.
  2. Cut red onion into thin slices then cut those slices in half. Heat up olive oil in a frying pan, add red onions and saute until translucent. At the same time, cook the Boca Bacon in your preferred way. I personally liked cooking it in the skillet.
  3. Break up cooked Boca Bacon pieces and stir in with the red onions. Add about 2 TBSP of balsamic vinegar and minced garlic; cook for about 2 more minutes so the balsamic vinegar's flavor has some time to infuse into the onions. Add kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper to taste.
  4. Stir onion/Boca Bacon mixture into pasta. Stir in the remainder of the balsamic vinegar and serve immediately while it's hot!
  5. Sit outside and Enjoy!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Key Lime CAKE!

Remember those Key Lime Cupcakes I made a few weeks back? Well - I made them into a cake! If you wanted to make the cake, use the first key lime cupcake recipe , but double the recipe. I also used the same frosting recipe, but I used a little more powdered sugar so the frosting would be stiffer. The cake I made was 4 layers (it could/should have been five layers, but I didn't want to stay up any later baking), so I made a batch of "mini-muffin" cupcakes. Here are the pictures of the cake and the reaction from the birthday girl, my grandma! HAPPY BIRTHDAY GRANDMA!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Double Dark Chocolate Walnut Biscotti

I have been challenged... Challenged by Lester Graham to a BISCOTTI BAKE-OFF! Don't know who Lester Graham is? Don't know why I was challenged? Well, I'll tell you. On Wednesday, I had my first day as the Production Assistant/Intern for The Environment Report, a syndicated public radio show that airs on public radio stations (including NPR) daily at 5:45 (I really recommend you tune in). Lester, who is the Host/Senior Editor saw my food blog, saw that I can make biscotti, and said that he is the master of biscotti baking. Never turning down the opportunity for a challenge, I bet Lester that I could bake a better biscotti than him, thus leading to the Environment Report Biscotti Bake-Off of 2009. Tomorrow morning around 10 am, the battle will commence and a winner should be announced by afternoon. Stay tuned for results...

Double Dark Chocolate Walnut Biscotti
Adapted from Gourmet, December 1994

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used dark cocoa powder)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. and butter and flour a large baking sheet.
  2. In a bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until combined well. Stir in flour mixture to form a stiff dough. Fold in/mush in with hands the walnuts and chocolate chips.
  3. On prepared baking sheet with floured hands form dough into two slightly flattened logs, each 12 inches long and 2 inches wide, and sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. Bake logs 35 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch. Cool biscotti on baking sheet 5 minutes.
  4. On a cutting board cut biscotti diagonally into 3/4-inch slices. Arrange biscotti, cut sides down, on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Flip over the biscotti pieces and cook again for 10 minutes, until crispy. Cool biscotti on a rack

Grilled Pizza

Pizza's on the Grill
Pizza's being prepped with toppings
Teaching Caroline how to stretch out pizza dough
Plate of toppings
First go around on the grill

I have been wanting to make grilled pizza for a long time now - whenever I see pictures the pizza just looks so delectable. As my sister is leaving for college on Tuesday (all the way across the country in Oregon), I need to teach her to cook as soon, and as fast as possible. I taught her how to properly stretch out pizza dough (as I will never be graceful enough to throw it in the air) and how to grill it. I must say... I don't think I will ever go back to just plain oven cooked pizza again. This pizza had an amazingly deep flavor and the crust was both crunchy and soft at the same time. My pizza has pesto, fresh tomatoes, onions, pine nuts, mozzarella, and parmesan on it - I recommend this combination, but the addition of blue cheese would also work very well. If you don't feel like cooking on a hot day - just heat up your grill and make some pizza!

(See older post for pesto recipe)

Thin Crust Pizza Dough + Grilling Instructions
Adapted from Frolicking Foodies
  • 500 g strong white flour (I used King Arthur Bread Flour, and must weigh the flour - it really makes a huge difference)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 TBSP sugar
  • 1 package yeast
  • 2 TBSP oil (I try and use oil reserved from sun-dried tomatoes or similar)
  • 300 ml lukewarm water (not too hot or the yeast will not perform - trust me here!)

  1. Mix the sugar, yeast, oil and water together in a small bowl and leave for 5 minutes to bubble up. Weigh out the salt and flour. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt, make a well and then add the watery mixture. Incorporate by bringing the flour into the well of water, gradually. Knead the dough until it is very smooth and very elastic - it will be quite sticky, so I would recommend adding a little flour to your kneading surface.
  2. Oil the same (cleaned) bowl with a little bit of olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and wait until doubled in sized. I personally hot box mine in the oven (aka, I heat the oven up to 100 degrees, turn it off, and place the bowl inside there to rise), it takes a lot less time.
  3. Portion your pizza dough into four (maximum six) even balls. Heat your grill to a medium-high heat, then stretch your dough balls out thin and place them on your grill. Cook on one side until it’s crispy and a little golden, then take off the grill.
  4. Once you’ve done them all, dress the sides that have already touched the grill with your sauce and desired toppings. Place the uncooked side back on the grill and cover for a few minutes, until the bottom is really crispy and your cheese is melted through. Serve immediately, maybe with a beer and a simple green salad.
Pizza Dough on Foodista

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Handmade Soft Pretzels

There is no story behind making pretzels…. I just really wanted to make pretzels. I adapted this recipe from Alton Brown’s “Pretzel Logic” show – but I made a few changes. First of all, I used kosher salt instead of pretzel salt. And I also made a small batch of pretzels with powdered garlic and Parmesan on them. I must say…. these are AMAZING! But sister just had one of the pretzels from the first batch and she exclaimed how she couldn’t believe I made these from scratch and she thought they were better than the ones you can get for a mall. Making the pretzels was very similar to how one makes bagels, so…next up…. BAGELS!

Handmade Soft Pretzels


  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
  • 2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • Vegetable oil, for pan
  • 10 cups water
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Pretzel salt

  1. Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using a spatula, mix until well combined. 
  2. Continue kneading for about 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
  4. Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
  5. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
  6. Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. 
  7. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cucumber and Feta Salad (and too much of it)

First and foremost - sorry for the photo quality. I usually don't have to do food photos shoots at about 9 at night - so I had to shoot inside with my tripod. Second, the pictures should be able to capture the disturbing amount of cucumber and feta salad I had to make. I think the easiest way to explain why I ended up with so many cucumbers (resulting in so much cucumber/feta salad) is to say it was the farmers fault. Well, that's not entirely true and I shouldn't totally blame the farmer. I was at the farmers market on Saturday where I purchased a copious amount of fruit and veggies. One very kind farmer was even nice enough to (essentially) give me a bunch of free apples - so many that I had to go into the Bivouac and pass them out because I wouldn't have room for them in my fridge! Anyways, I wanted to buy some zucchini because I wanted to make a savory Zucchini Ricotta Cheesecake. So I went up to a farmer (who was selling zucchini), asked to buy a basket of zucchini, and I though he sold me a basket of zucchini. Jump to this evening when I started peeling what I thought were zucchini's... and they were cucumbers. A lot of cucumbers. I have no need for this many cucumbers - so I had to improvise. After some browsing on the internet and a quick trip to Kroger later, I give you: Cucumber & Feta Salad!

I am surprised by how good this is! When I take a bite - feel like I am nibbling on Greece. I think I will make some pita chips tomorrow to eat this with... but I will also bring A LOT of this into work tomorrow because there is no way I can (or will) eat all of this. Please see this photo of reference (and note the size my camera lens cap) to see HOW MUCH I have:

I will post the normal, feasible sized recipe. I had to quadruple and a half the recipe just to use up my cucumber stash.

Cucumber and Feta Salad
Adapted from David Lebovitz


  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced into pea-sized pieces (I did small cubes)
  • coarse salt
  • 8 ounces feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and finely-diced
  • 1 tablespoon (each) chopped fresh mint, parsley and fresh dill

  1. Place the cucumber pieces in a colander, mix with a light sprinkling salt, and let drain 30 minutes to an hour, shaking the colander from time to time.
  2. Crumble the feta into a bowl and mash together with the olive oil, lemon juice, water, and a few turns of black pepper.
  3. Mix in the cucumbers, onions, and herbs. Taste, and add more salt if desired.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fresh Homemade Tagliatelle with Pesto

I finally saw Julie & Julia. It was a good movie... but I kept on thinking I was watching two movies at the same time (if that makes any sense). However, two things happened after watching the movie. One, I left the movie feeling famished. Two, I gathered up all my cookbooks and read through them figuring out all the things I can make, photograph, and blog about. I just want to cook and bake as much as possible. After seeing the movie I became incredibly inspired to actually seriously start writing a cookbook. Well - maybe in a year or two - but as of now I will keep on cooking, photographing and blogging. Oh yes, I also felt incredibly inspired to try totally new (and complicated) recipes and be totally ok with messing them up, but being able to say I tried/did it!
But about this recipe - it's fresh, handmade, Tagliatelle with Pesto I made a few days ago. I made it before the movie, realized the movie was starting in 30 minutes, so I heated it up after the movie and ate it for dinner. I must say - for how relatively easy it was to make - I was impressed. Next time I make it though, I will spend more time rolling it out (to get it super thin) and cutting thinner strips of pasta.

  • 1-1/2 cups strong white flour (I just used King Arthur's plain AP flour... it turned out well)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp olive oil (I primarily use olive oil from Crete - I think it tastes better)
  1. Sift the ingredients into a bowl and stir in the salt.
  2. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the eggs and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Use a wooden spoon to stir the eggs while gradually drawing in the flour. After a few minutes the dough will be too stiff to use a spoon and you will need to use your fingers.
  3. Once all of the flour has been incorporated, turn the dough out on to a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (it took me about 5 minutes). Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Roll out out the pasta so its REALLY thin (this is where I kinda messed up) and fold into thirds and cut out long, thin strips, about 1cm wide.
  5. To cook, bring a pan of water to a boil, add 1/2 Tbsp of oil, and the pasta will take about 3 minutes to become al dente (aka fully cooked).
  6. Drain the pasta, place in bowl, mix in pesto, pour a glass of red wine, sit back, & enjoy!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Key Lime Cupcakes Times Two

I need to make Key Lime cake. I can't reveal why yet, but it is for someone and I needed to try out/work on some recipes to find out one that works the best so that when the day comes for me to actually make the cake, I will have the best recipe. When I was making these cupcakes, I halved the recipes so I wouldn't have key limes cupcakes overflowing my house. I had my family and co-workers at the Bivouac taste test the two different cupcakes - and I think the one's with the 'sword on top' (referencing the picture would be key right now) won. This cupcake (recipe #1) has a stronger key lime flavor and has a lot more zing to it. The second cupcake recipe has a stronger coconut flavor with a side note of key lime. I reommend you make them both and choose. But, if you did try both cupcakes at work today, please let me know which one you liked more!

Key Lime Cupcakes #1 (the one with the lime/sword)

  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup fresh or bottled key lime juice
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime zest
  • Key Lime Cream Cheese Glaze:
  • 8 oz cream cheese softened
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 3 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Garnish
  • 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut, toasted

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place liners in muffin tin.
  2. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together into mixing bowl. Add eggs, oil and lime juice mix on medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy. Add sour cream and zest; mix until smooth. Pour cake batter evenly into muffin tins. Bake for 22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  3. Cool in pans for 5 minutes and then turn cakes out onto cooling racks. Cool for 1 hour.
  4. Drizzle frosting over cakes. Spread toasted coconut over top and down sides. I added a garnish of a lime and sword to differentiate between the two different cupcakes - but I like how it looked so I think I will do it again in the future.
  5. Frosting:
  6. In a mixer cream together cream cheese and butter. Add sugar and vanilla, then beat in the lime juice – beating and scraping sides of bowl all the while.
  7. Toasted Coconut: Spread on baking sheet and bake in a pre-heated 375 for about 5-10 minutes. Stir often. Let cool. I like to cook mine until some of the coconut is lightly browned.

Key Lime Coconut Cupcakes #2 (with only toasted coconut on top)

Adapted from Gourmet, March 2009

  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon grated Key lime zest
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups self-rising flour*
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh Key lime juice, divided

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Generously butter an 8- by 8-inch square or 9- by 2-inch round cake pan and line bottom with a round of parchment paper.
  2. Toast coconut in a small baking pan in oven, stirring once or twice, until golden, 8 to 12 minutes. Cool. Leave oven on.
  3. Beat together butter, granulated sugar, and zest with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir together flour and 1/2 cup coconut (reserve remainder for topping). Stir together milk and 2 tablespoons lime juice. At low speed, mix flour and milk mixtures into egg mixture alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour.
  4. Spoon batter into pan and smooth top. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 22 minutes.
  5. Use the same frosting as used in the Cupcake #1 recipe.

* Make your own: For every cup of flour, add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of baking powder, whisk together very well and sift the mixture. Measure your self-rising flour from there

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thai Inspired Stir-Fry

I made this for dinner a few nights ago (and finally finished eating the left overs yesterday night for dinner) and I was very pleased with the results. The 'peanut sauce' for the noodles is a go-to sauce for me and I have used it countless times. Most of the veggies I bought at the Ann Arbor's farmers market and I think that made all the difference for me - the dish tasted so fresh! So, no more boring rambling, here is the (kinda long) recipe!


For Stir-Fry:

  • Onions
  • Potatoes, sliced thinly
  • Celery
  • Carrots, thinly sliced
  • Asparagus (thin stalks)
  • Peppers (orange, yellow, and red), diced
  • Summer (yellow) Squash
  • Chard
  • Scallions
  • Mung Bean Sprouts
  • Tofu (optional)

For Stir Fry Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs. honey
  • 2 tsp. Chinese Sesame Oil
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch

For Noodles:

  • 1 package of Trader Joe's Rice Noodles (I like the width)
  • 2 Tbs. Brown Sugar
  • 5 Tbs. Peanut Butter
  • 1/2 cup (ish...) Soy Sauce
  • Zest and Juice of one lime
  • (side note: I have never measured for this sauce before, every time I make it I 'eyeball' it until it looks/tastes how I want it)


  1. Cook Rice noodles according to package directions. While the noodles are cooking, mash together brown sugar, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, and lime zest until it is a smooth paste. Drain noodles, place back into pot, mix in sauce, and set aside with lid on top to keep it warm.
  2. For stir-Fry sauce: Combine the first 6 ingredients. Place the cornstarch in a bowl & whisk the liquid mixture into it. Set aside and whisk again before you add the sauce into the stir-fry.
  3. Heat the woke alone (for about a minute), then add in a little peanut oil. Add the onions and saute them alone first until transparent. Add potatoes, celery, and carrots and saute until partially done. Add Sauce now. Add in the peppers (all three colors), summer squash, and asparagus - saute until almost done. Finally, add in the chard, scallions, and mung bean sprouts. If you decided to use (pre-cooked and marinated) tofu, add it in now.
  4. Plate the noodles so that they look like a bird nest. Scoop the stir-fried veggies into 'the nest' - serve immediately.


I have so many [and by 'so many' I mean 3] new recipes to post! But now, a public service announcement: Rae has had her last day at the Bivouac. She is moving to China and will be dearly missed. After quizzing her about her favorite baked goods, I decided to make (and bring in to the Biv) some gingersnaps. I must say - using fresh ginger (instead of ground ginger) really made a difference in the SNAP that the cookie had. In fact, there was a man-hunt at the Biv to find the cookies when we thought they were lost! And if this doesn't sing the praise of my gingersnaps - I don't know what else does!

On a side note, please check out my cousin Audrey's blog, she is The Pastry Flower! She just started her food blog and I think you will enjoy checking out her stuff. ALSO, please check out Nicole's blog, Sloe Gin Fizz, she is both my friend and co-worker. I can't believe it took me so long to find out she had this amazing blog! Not only does she have fantastic recipes - she has an adorable Etsy shop!

PS: I might like to add that this is my first posted recipe with ginger in it....and I am The Ginger Cook!


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp freshly ground cloves
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • Sugar for rolling (I like evaporated cane juice or raw sugar)


  1. Peel ginger root and grate. Grind up with fresh whole cloves.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in a medium bowl. In another bowl, combine together the brown sugar, molasses, canola oil, and egg until smooth. Mix the flour mixture into the brown mixture, stirring until dough comes together. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop up bits of dough by the heaping teaspoonful and roll into balls between your palms, about the size of a quarter. Roll the balls in sugar and place on the baking sheets 2 inches apart. Bake for 9 minutes.
  4. Leave on the baking sheet several minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Focaccia (Olive Oil Bread with Fresh Rosemary)

As you can tell, I did a lot of baking/cooking today. In fact, I'm no where near done posting recipes for all the things I made today! It was very very rainy and there were a bunch of recipes I wanted to try out. This recipe comes out of the Tassajara Bread Book (thank you Alex for getting me this a few years back) - it is THE BIBLE FOR BREAD MAKING. I cannot praise this book enough. If you already bake bread, or are considering learning how to, please run out to your nearest local bookstore/Borders and buy this book now. Not available in a brick and mortar store? Order it on Amazon....NOW!

Focaccia Bread

Adapted from the Tassajara Bread Book


  • 2 cups warm water, under 125 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast (3 packets)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unbleached bread flour (I use King Arthur flour)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

  • 3 cups unbleached bread flour
  • olive oil for glazing
  • coarse sea salt


  1. Stir the yeast into the water, then the rosemary, olive oil, and salt. Stir in the one cup of bread flour and the 1 and a half cups of whole wheat flour. Beat about one hundred strokes.
  2. Fold in two cups of bread flour, one-half cup at a time. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for several minutes using up to one more cup of flour to keep the dough from sticking. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic.
  3. Let the dough rise for about an hour until it doubles in size. Punch don and let rise for another 40 minutes.
  4. Divide the dough in half, shape into two loaves.
  5. Place on an oiled pan and brush top with olive oil. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
  6. Let rise for 20 minutes, and then bake at 375 degrees for about 28 minutes until browned, top and bottom.

TIP: place a pie pan of boiling water on the bottom of the oven to help a crust form on the bread.

Farmers Market Zucchini Bread

I went to the A2 Farmers Market last weekend and bought a bunch of Zucchini, in hopes that I'd be able to make a whole bunch of food with zucchini in it. However, life got in the way. My zucchini was beginning to reach the end of its life and I decided I needed to make something ASAP. Having scoured the internet to find a recipe that could use up all my zucchini in one fell swoop, I found 101Cookbook's "Special Zucchini Bread" recipe and I decided I couldn't pass it up! I made a few changes, but here is the recipe! I must say, this is some of the best Zucchini bread that I've had in a long time - the flavors were very rich and deep and it's not too sweet.

Zucchini Bread
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts, plus a few to sprinkle on top
  • 1/3 cup poppy seeds
  • zest of two lemons
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups grated zucchini (about 3 medium), skins on, squeeze some of the moisture out and then fluff it up again before using
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter the two loaf pans, dust them with a bit of flour and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl combine the walnuts, poppy seeds, and lemon zest. Set aside.
  3. In a mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat again until mixture comes together and is no longer crumbly. Add the eggs one at a time mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl between each addition. Stir in the vanilla and then the zucchini.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and curry powder. Add these dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches, stirring between each addition.
  5. Fold in the walnut, poppy seed and lemon zest mixture. Save a bit of this to sprinkle on the tops of the zucchini loaves before baking for a bit of texture.
  6. Divide the batter equally between the two loaf pans. Make sure it is level in the pans, by running a spatula over the top of each loaf. Bake for about 40-45 minutes on a middle oven rack. I like to under bake my zucchini bread ever so slightly to ensure it stays moist. Keep in mind it will continue to cook even after it is removed from the oven as it is cooling. Remove from the oven and cool the zucchini bread in pan for about ten minutes.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Dark Chocolate Almond Biscotti

My mom, dad, and I went to the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market this past weekend and picked up some biscotti when we were there. While the biscotti was good.... it left us wanting more and something a little bit different. So, late last night I decided to make Dark Chocolate Almond Biscotti. I brought it into work today (Bivouac), gave it to a neighbor (Mrs. Michaels), and donated some to my parents and it got rave reviews! So if you have a jones for some biscotti and chocolate... and have a little time on your hands, I recommend you make this! As always, I am available for questions on biscotti making and such.


  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon for the almonds
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp dark cocoa powder
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup raw unsalted almonds, chopped and toasted


  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Chop almonds into small pieces using a chef's knife.
  3. In a saute pan, on medium heat, toast almond pieces in one tablespoon of olive oil for approximately 2 minutes.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together oil and sugar. Mix in the vanilla, melted chocolate, cocoa powder, and eggs.
  5. Add 1 cup of flour, then salt, and baking powder, then final 1/2 cup flour.
  6. Mix the toasted nuts into the batter.
  7. Divide dough in half. Form two logs on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  8. Bake for 35 minutes, or until logs are slightly golden. Remove from oven, cool for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 275 degrees.
  9. Cut logs at a diagonal angle (approximately 30 degrees) into 3/4″ thick slices.
  10. Lay cookies on their sides on parchment cookie sheet. Bake 10 more minutes, flip over and bake for 10 more minutes, remove from oven, cool, and serve.

Makes about 24 biscotti.


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