Chocolate Almond Ginger Bark

Chocolate Almond Ginger Bark

Chocolate Almond Ginger Bark

I’m brainstorming all sorts of sweet, gifting treats for us to make this month, and lemme tell you… it’s an exercise in self-control.  

Actually… it’s more like observations in my utter lack of self-control.  

This combination of dark chocolate, toasted almonds, and candied ginger makes for an incredibly delicious, mega simple, way decadent holiday gifting treat… or you can personally hoard it for your own cookie jar.  Both make good sense. 

This recipe comes from the Guittard Chocolate Cookbook.  Full of so many delicious things.  I’m making Chocolate Caramels next.  I won’t be stopped.  

Chocolate Almond Ginger Bark

This bark is simple and highlights crisp almond flakes, sweet and spicy ginger, and really great chocolate.  Sea salt, the fancy kind, enhances the sweet.  It’s balance.  Simple, happy balance! 

If you’re looking for other gift-friendly sweets, here are a few delicious ideas:  

•  Peppermint Pretzel Marshmallow Fudge.  If ever fudge could   stop the show… this would be that fudge.  Gifts-on-the-go packed in festive candy boxes!   

•  Milk Chocolate Cookies and Cream Cookies.  Just the best cookies on earth.  Packed sweetly in these scalloped treat boxes.  

•  Chocolate Dipped Potato Chips.  Little bites of salty sweet genius.  Gifted in craft paper bags with a peekaboo window.  

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Let It Be Sunday!

Let It Be Sunday

Let It Be Sunday

Happy Sunday, my friends!  Are you still working on leftover turkey?  We’ve blown through our cranberry sauce and gravy so now… what’s the point of turkey?  

I hope this weekend has been loud and rowdy, with loads of laughter and way too many dirty dishes.  That’s how you know you’re doing it right.  

I spent the holiday in Palm Springs with my family.  This is my grandmother’s kitchen window and giant roses I thought were fake for two days.  They’re real.  Now I’m back in New Orleans YouTubing how to hang shelves and putting up Christmas decorations.  Simple things, but it feels like a very good life.  

Here’s some Internet thoughts and words:  

•  How ‘Treat Yourself’ Became a Capitalist Command.  From indulgent introspection to reflexive consumerism.  Have we been fooled? 

•  7 Habits of people with remarkable mental toughness.  We’re gritty.  We’ve got this.  

•  Is it OK to listen to R Kelly?  The answer is NO. 

 I think these are beautiful images.  The 12 o’clock boys, photos from Baltimore

•  OMG!  The Hyperbole of Internet Speak.  Not literally dying… not even figuratively dying.  ‘Laughed a little on the inside’ is probably most correct.  

 It’s gotten so weird, you guys.  The Five Stages of Ghosting Grief

•  Five more things?  5 Things to learn from Julia Child’s kitchen.  Let’s be kitchen maximalists.  

•  A top NYC street photographer’s five favorite backdrops and tips.  

•  Never too late for this life skill:  How to get the perfect first pie slice.  

•  Mustard Bath… this has got to be good, right?

 I made one of my Instagram prints available as a print:  Macaron wrapped canvas print and Macaron poster (great in 12×12 high-gloss or archival matte).

•  I know a good apron when I tie one around my waste.  I LOVE this LumberJill apron.  Extra long and chic. Plus!  30% off with the code THANKFUL.  

Have a happy day.  Rest and be easy.

xo Joy

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Here’s The Word, Turkey-Bird

jtb thanksgiving

jtb thanksgiving

Listen, I know I can’t compete with your Aunt Martha’s green bean casserole, or your Uncle Steve’s ultra-moist stuffing.  I know.  Thanksgiving is sacred and we shouldn’t be in the business of reinventing the turkey wheel.  No one wants that.  Also… no one wants salad at their Thanksgiving table.  Exactly no one, I took a global survey.  

I’m here with some humble suggestions and humble helpers.  I want our holiday table to be as easy, as delicious, and as wine-filled as it can be.  Let’s do the dang thing.

Here’s the word, turkey-bird:  

•  Don’t but that stupid little jar of pumpkin pie spice.  Just… don’t.  Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

•  Pumpkin Pie Bars, for when pie crust feels like too much.  I do understand.  Also… cream cheese, so… WIN!

•  Actually.  Don’t even make a Pumpkin Pie.  My Dad invented Sweet Potato Pie (not true) and it’s perfect (actually true), and you really must make this.  I’m not often emphatic and unrelenting:  Dad’s Perfect Sweet Potato Pie.  

•  For non-traditional traditionalists:  Apple Cranberry Pie

•  I get a google alert any time anyone buys a pre-made pie crust from the grocery store and every single time it makes me cry.  It’s like an angel losing it’s wings.  Me being the angel.  You catch my drift.  Five Tips To Make The Best All-Butter Pie Crust

•  Thanksgiving is no time for appetizers, but if we’re going to eat before we eat, hows about:  Persimmon Pear Caprese Toast, Extra Special Deviled Eggs, or Whipped Ricotta with lemon and olive oil

•  Also, I mean… this cheese with warm jam is like, bonkers good.  Warm Herb and Jam Goat Cheese Spread

•  Sides be sides.  Don’t let anyone mess with your mashed.  Mushrooms and Mashed (Potatoes)  

•  Leftovers are the best part of Thanksgiving.  Glory be.  That sandwich on Friday is a YEAR-MAKER.  Also consider, waffles:  Mashed Potato Waffles with cheddar and chives.  

•  Leave it to me to make a dang grilled cheese out of and dang thing.  Supreme:  Cranberry and Brie Grilled Cheese

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got my eat-pants folded and ready at the foot of my bed.  It’s about to go down.  

xo Joy

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Let It Be Sunday!

Let It Be Sunday!

Let It Be Sunday!

Hello my friends!  How has your internal dialogue been this week?  All positive?  All complimentary?  All like, you-can-do-it?  Maybe yes.  Maybe mostly.  Maybe nooooo.

It’s cool.  I’m here to tell you something.  You’re great.  Do the very dang best you can do… then try to do just a bit better than that.  There… as long as you’re doing that, that internal voice that might occasionally tell you that you’re not allowed or not enough… that voice is a jerk.  And you know it’s a jerk because you know you’re doing your very best, and then some.  


Let’s talk about what happened on the Internet this week.  A lighter list because we need it:  

•  That voice inside my head that says I’m a baking fraud, a trifling blogging faker, a creative overachiever, undeserving nuisance… that voice has a name.  Learning To Deal With the Imposter Syndrome

•  Inside the world of for-profit snuggling.  I am WAY to specific about how close my body gets to other people’s bodies… there’s just now way.  No way ever. 

•  The most Instagrammed spot in every state. Bourbon Street, et al.  

•  I found this lyrical and poignant, even in my very-not-pregnant state:  The last days of pregnancy.  

•  I mean… this can’t be the answer, right?  I Hired a Millennial Life Coach

•  I’m not going to sit here and boss you about what appears on your Thanksgiving table, but I will say… if you don’t make Dad’s Sweet Potato Pie not really having Thanksgiving at all.  How’s that for passive aggressive?

•  Vogue Says:  Starve Yourself Now, Don’t Wait Until January. Solid Thanksgiving advice, right? 

•  Men Eat Nearly Twice As Much Pizza When They’re Eating With Women, which is the title of an actual article, which you don’t really even need to click through to now.  Let me tell you what it really is, Women Eat Half As Much Pizza As They’d Really Like When Eating With Men.  I mean… perspective, people. 

 My friend Heather Christo has a new line of allergy-aware baked goods at Costco!  Heathermade

•  I’m trying to think about cohesive holiday gifting this year.  Everyone is getting 90’s flannels and burgundy lipstick and Nirvana cds.  We’re taking it back.  

Good day to you and yours.  

xo Joy

Hats above from Goorin Bros.  Winter hat shopping on point. 

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Roasted Vegetable Winter Crumble

Roasted Vegetable Winter Crumble

Roasted Vegetable Winter Crumble

It’s that time of year when we need to draw deeply upon our super powers.  It’s the holidays, there’s no denying it… and all of us are supposed to know how to bake a turkey.  I don’t.  Also I don’t care to know.  I have other super powers.  They have to do with multi-tasking, pie baking, patience (usually), understanding (often), and crumble-making.  

Let’s draw upon those holiday-necessary super powers and leave the turkey roasting to someone else.  Preferably someone we trust.  Preferably someone who values a moist turkey.   

This savory, comforting, vegetable crumble would be a lovely addition to a Thanksgiving table.  Or, you can be like me and eat most of if while watching Season 5 of Grey’s Anatomy in your bed at 10pm on a Tuesday.  I mean… equally festive.  

Roasted Vegetable Winter Crumble

This Winter Crumble is from this book:  Dinner Pies.  Full of satisfying and savory treats that feel extra cozy in these chilly months.  My great hope is that the sequel to Dinner Pies is After-Dinner Pies… because that seems only natural.  

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Cranberry Orange and Cream Clafoutis

Cranberry Orange Clafoutis

Cranberry Orange Clafoutis

Clafoutis  //  noun, super French, [klah-foo-tee]:  An almost breakfast-y tart kind of dessert that’s eggy, custardy, fruit-studded, and somehow cake-like in structure and substance.  Best enjoyed warm, with soft whipped cream, powdered sugar, and your third cup of coffee for the morning.  Fruit is essential.  Cherries are traditional.  Cranberries are happening.  

See also:  firm but still really good flan.  See also:  really eggy cake.  See also:  Stop making poor comparisons when French breakfast dessert is what is, aka DELICIOUS.  

Cranberry Orange Clafoutis

Did that get weird?  (Rhetorical.)

We’re making a French, custardy, I-want-to-call-it-breakfast-cake with fresh cranberries because tis the season.  Here’s where we start!

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Let It Be Monday!

Let It Be Monday

Let It Be Monday

Hello friends! I’m tardy in sharing with my favorite post of the week with you.  Some days are hard to get a hold of.  I thought sharing these gems with you on a Monday would provide you with a sometimes necessary procrastination tool.  

I’ve got fresh cranberries in my refrigerator, an empty suitcase that gets to be packed, and some very fine recipes coming up this week.  

It’s been a foggy week with sadness and light.  Here’s what the Internet has to say about it: 

•  We can be so cruel to one another.   Photographs from the day after attacks in central Paris, and words from last week’s deadly attack in Beirut.  

•  ISIS claimed responsibility for both of last week’s attacks.  I linked to this a few months back, but again… What ISIS Really Wants.  

•  Inspiration.  Amazing youth:  Ashima’s Most Daring Climb.  The Mozart of rock climbing… and she’s 14 years old.  At 14 years old I was doing nothing other than trying to tame my frizzy bangs so.  The Mozart of frizzy bangs?  Not a thing. 

•  Pope Francis doesn’t mind having his picture taken and his life is pretty unique.  This gallery is incredible.  

•  People who live alone have really terrible diets.  Olivia Pope and I resent that (as we enjoy our popcorn and red wine dinner). 

•  To make and drink:  Maple Spiced Almond Milk with a hint of Pumpkin.  

•  Why Writers Love To Run.  I understand the measured breath and metered stride.  I’m working on an article about why bakers love to eat potato chips.  

•  Secrets of a Firefighter.  Full moon craziness is a real thing! 

•  Snooki is done being Snooki and it turns out she’s a business woman and mother on her j.o.b. 

•  Young Women Are Living With Mom and Dad as if it’s the 1940’s.  My parents’ allowance rates haven’t risen since 1999, and the chores are something fierce, so I’m grown and live on my own.

•  Did you know that you can pay a service to break up with your boo for you?  We’re absolutely ridiculous.  

23 Kitchen Hacks You Have To Learn.  I like the milk frothing trick and wonder if my almond milk will cooperate.  

•  Dinner:  One-Pot French Onion Pasta

•  Brainstorming cat-shaped holiday gifts this year.  Join me.  There will be cookies.  

Have a good day.  It’s Monday with a Sunday state of mind.

xo Joy

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Baking Bootcamp: Sourdough Everything Pretzels

Baking Bootcamp- Sourdough Everything Pretzels

Baking Bootcamp- Sourdough Everything Pretzels

We’re making pretzels!  

There’s a chill in the air, likely some sort of football related programming on the television, and it’s time to get more warm and decadent in our snacking.  

Let’s Baking Bootcamp!  We’re making sourdough pretzels.  They’re special… and surprisingly easy to make!  Plus we’ll have sourdough starter in our fridge for future waffles and infinity pretzels.  Our future-selves thank us already.  

Baking Bootcamp- Sourdough Everything Pretzels Do you know about the wonders of sourdough?  

Sourdough is is a fermented leavening mixture that is replenished after each use, making it an infinite source of leavening and flavor.  A sourdough starter kept alive in the refrigerator (I lovingly think of mine like a house plant), can be used to make simple pancakes or waffles, or yeasted breads and loaves.  King Arthur’s Sourdough Guide is inspiring!  There’s so much delicious we can make.  

A few years back I started my own sourdough starter that I think somehow got mixed up with a jar of something rather questionable  in my fridge (it happens) and got tossed in the trash.  

I now have this lovely Sourdough and Crock Set alive in my refrigerator.  It comes in handy for quick weekend breakfasts and irresistible pretzels.  

If you’d like to embark on an sourdough adventure, here’s how to create your own sourdough starter

Baking Bootcamp- Sourdough Everything Pretzels

It’s time!  Join me.  We’ll pretzel well.

Three recipes shared on Instagram #bakingbootcamp + Three awesome sets of prizes!

The idea is simple!

•  Make these Sourdough Everything Pretzels (they’re sooooo good!) and take a picture of your creation!

•  Follow @joythebaker and @kingarthurflour on Instagram

•  Photograph your beautiful pretzels and post them to Instagram with the hashtag #bakingbootcamp

•  When you submit a photo, you’ll be entered to win a 1-year supply of King Arthur Flour and a Baking Essentials box valued at $250!!  Official rules and details can be found here.

Let’s get baking!


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Chili Cheese Dogs

Chili Cheese Dogs

Chili Cheese Dogs

This is an exercise in following your craving.  Actually, this is more of an exercise in dragging you along into following my craving.  (Sorry?)

I do a really good job of eating spinach and quinoa and omega-this and superfood-that.  Essentially, I do a really good job of not eating chili cheese dogs as often as I want to eat chili cheese dogs.

So here we are, and it’s really delicious.  

Also… while we’re chili-cheesing things, may I humbly present these Baked Chili Cheese Fries.  They aren’t chili topped, rather chili flavored… which is pretty dang exciting if you asked me (and I’m pretty sure you asked me).  

Let’s do this.  There’s no turning back now.  Well there is, but would you really want to?  

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Let It Be Sunday!

Let It Be Sunday

Let It Be Sunday

Hello my friends!  It’s Sunday which means we’re entitled to three donuts, two cups of coffee, and one really solid high-five.  

I was in Chicago this week working with KitchenAid and I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that most of me was keeping an eye out for Anthony Edwards, Noah Wylie, and early George Clooney from the 90’s hit medical drama ER.  Do you remember how good that show was?  I mean… Grey’s Anatomy ain’t got nothin’… except that time when Denny died and a little piece of ALL OF US died with him.  

These are things that, if I used Snapchat, I’d discuss ad-nasuem.  

I hope this day allows you some rest and rejuvenation.  Here’s some Internet, if that will help: 

•  Welp.  Here we are.  Stressed, Tired, Rushed: a portrait of the modern American family 

•  The things we carry and the magic words to say when everything is going wrong.

•  Mark Bittman on Why I Quit My Dream Job At The NYT.  More boots on the ground.  

•  We’re in a weird position.  Middle class people have money, but don’t… America is full of high-earning poor people.  Maybe we subscribe to too many music and television streaming services, and boutique coffee delivery services that are secretly depleting all of our dollars.  Or maybe I’m just talking about myself.  Nevermind. Carry on.

•  How one Australian Instagram star is fed up with the facade and became a Social Media Game Changer.  

•  Food 52 has a friend list of Family Food Myths.  The only thing that circulated my family dinner table was ‘you better finish your fish sticks… there are starving children in China’ which may not be a myth, but I never was sure what that had to do with the cold fish on my plate. 

•  Area girlfriend and her blanket.  Highlights of living alone:  Winter thermostat at 78.  (I’m ridiculous.)

•  Our next Baking Bootcamp is coming up at the end of the week.  Here’s what we’ll need:  King Arthur Flour Sourdough Starter

•  A Thanksgiving cacophony I can get behind:  Vegducken.  

•  I’m making this today.  I may or may not take pictures of it.  Lemon-Almond Butter Cake

•  It’s time for very good looking waterproof rain boots, because we’re grown and our feet are important. 

•  As we start to book our holiday travel, let us also consider early holiday gifting:  carry on cocktails.  

I think you’re great.

xo Joy

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Bourbon Pear Crumble Pie

Pear Bourbon Crumble Pie

Pear Bourbon Crumble Pie

The apples on my kitchen counter are looking at me in utter confusion.  They don’t understand how I could make a beautiful pie crust, make a sweet, pecan-studded crumble, bring out the bourbon, and reach for the pears instead of them.  

They can’t understand how I’d have a pie party without them.  Especially this time of year.  

I think I heard them whispering and conspiring with the canned pumpkin to stage some sort of baking coup, but I’ll keep my eye on them.  Frankly, they’re pretty cocky and presumptive.  I can make a delicious Fall pie without them.  

The apples are going to be so mad when I eat them with plain old peanut butter, but really… can we show pears some love?  It’s time.  

Chill out apples. 

Pear Bourbon Crumble Pie

For this lovely Pear Bourbon Crumble pie I used Red Anjou pears because they were beautiful (and totally on sale).  I wanted them ripe, but not mushy-gushy, and getting to that point take great attention to the fruit bowl.  One day pears are perfectly ripe but firm, the next day they’re bruised and molding.  Keep an eye on em.  

(The apples are like… SEEEE, we told you so! And I’m like… hush up, apples.) 

This pie recipe is just slightly adapted from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book.  One of my very favorites.  

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Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sweet Rolls

Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sweet Rolls

Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sweet Rolls

I have a lot of guilty pleasures.  So many, in fact… I think I’ve stopped feeling guilty about them.  What’s the use in that anyway?

One of the many, not Real Housewives of New York City related (guilty) pleasure is, sweet rolls.  Store bought, smashed package, ultra soft, pillows of sweet dough.   Really the best!   

This stuffed sweet dough recipe is inspired by a recipe in Martha Stewart’s Appetizers a new (of course LOVELY) book by the queen.  Turns out she and I have the same sweet dough pleasures.  She prefers to stuff hers with lobster roll filling (because she classy as ever), and I went with a spicy buffalo chicken inspired filling.  I’m classy, too… mostly.  

Essentially we’re making conjoined mini sandwiches.  And we’re feeling like genius winners of success and fortune.  That’s not an overstatement.  We’re talking about sweet roll sandwiches! 

Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sweet Rolls

Let me help you down the road that leads to stuffed sweet buns.

Here’s what you’ll need.  

  •  Hawaiian Sweet Rolls.  Get two packages because you’ll probably eat a third of one package in your car in the parking lot of the grocery store.  You think you won’t but you totally will.  
  • Poached Chicken Breast.  It’s boiled chicken folks.  Boiled and shredded chicken.  Here’s how to poach chicken breast.
  • Celery because we sometimes like vegetables, and this particular vegetable is crunchy and benign and really refreshing with spicy chicken-stuffs.  
  • Mayonnaise and Spicy Wing Sauce.  Both are store-bought because they come from the store delicious.  Wing sauce is essentially hot sauce (the very hot kind) and melted butter.  The store-bough version is much more balanced in seasoning that I can do on my own.  Mayonnaise adds a creamy and cooling element.  If you don’t like mayonnaise… I tell you my thoughts about that here.  
  • Blue cheese for strength and tang and an element of DANG GOOD refinement.  Chives because we’re classy dammit.  

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Let It Be Sunday!

Let It Be Sunday!

Good morning!  Happy day after Halloween!  If you’re waking up in your elephant costume onsie, with emo eye makeup smeared all over your face, or with green body paint all over your sheets… not to worry… I ate my weight in peanut butter m&m’s last night and watched enough scary movies to keep up wide awake through the new year so… we all have our stuff.  

Throw the sheets in the wash, will some coffee into your mug, and spend your daylight savings hour with me.  I’m an internet expert… which isn’t true at all, but I did gather some interesting bits from here and there.  

•  This is why you hate the sound of your own voice on recordings.  But also… what if you don’t hate the sound of your own voice?  What kind of terrible narcissist does that make me?   

•  Why Siri Sounds Like A Lady.  Because we’re just so dang pleasing.  

•  My Dark California Dream.  Is California… over?   Is that even possible? (Not really…)

•  A bread-related weekend read.  Industrial production destroyed both the taste and nutritional value of wheat.  One scientist believes he can undo the damage:  Bread is Broken.  

•  Adele is here, and we’re all ready and listening.  

•  Stop stressing about how much you’re stressing and read about How Stress Makes You Sick.  Yoga helps.

•  If Your Period Was A Person.  It’s all just too too real. 

•  You’re not deathly allergic to garlic… you just don’t like garlic.  Don’t be a dick.  Food Allergy Fakers Need To Stop

•  Vitamin Biscuits from the creator of Blue Print Cleanse.  More reason to eat cookies!  As if we needed them.   

•  In case you’re wondering what to get me for Christmas (I know you’re not…).  It’s THIS KNIFE.  Or THESE KNIVES.  Do not care about designer shoes or good manicures.  Care very very much about good kitchen stuffs. 

•  Bet you didn’t know you couldn’t live without these Pineapple Tumblers.  Sorry. 

•  The Ripped Bodice:  a could-be, would-be, will-be romance bookstore in Los Angeles.  

•  Sometimes when I need a pick-me-up, I watch old Soul Train videos while I’m making my morning coffee.  What I wouldn’t give to work a Soul Train line:  Rock Steady.  So much great knee-work.  

•  The new Polaroid Cube is out and I’m not going to lie:  I WANT ONE.  

•  Stick garlic in the butt and get to roasting:  Engagement Roast Chicken (not your butt).  

Have a very very happy day.  

xo Joy

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The Five Baked Goods I Buy (and totally don’t make at home)

The Five Baked Goods I Buy (and totally don't make at home)

The Five Baked Goods I Buy (and totally don't make at home)

After a good many years working in the food service industry, in the kitchen searing my eyelashes together opening the hot oven, making whipped cream from scratch 12 times a night, smelling like cheese, going home with french fries smashed inside the soles of my non-slip (why and I still slipping?) shoes… I’ve learned a few things.  First, everything on your body will hurt and that’s how you know you’re using all of your body and heart to make food for people to love.  Second, you know it’s going to be a good night when 4:30pm staff meal has steak in it.  Third, the best meal, the very best meal you’ve ever eaten in your life is that grilled cheese that your roommate made you after you get home from a long shift.  While it may be a little burnt on the one side, it’s melty just right, and you’re sitting down and YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO MAKE IT YOURSELF.  

Food service people can be the harshest, most grippy critics, or they can be like… ‘please put mostly fine food on a plate because I don’t have the energy or equipment to sous-vide or saute, rest and rise, pipe, fry or bake… and don’t be too too rude to me but even if you are, I’ll still tip you well because I know that you too have non-slip shoes that still slip, and you’re tired, and you don’t know that I know’.

The food that I didn’t stand, stir, contemplate, and bake is the best food of all.  Even if it’s just a turkey sandwich.  Someone please make me a turkey sandwich.  I’ll take it with as much mayo as you’re giving… but I also won’t be choosy.  

Here are the five things I don’t bake at home because I think they’re best when someone else’s precise and loving hands, their hot hot ovens, and their tender loving care… all that, is there… man-alive it tastes better!  

•  Macarons are delicate almond and egg white sandwich cookies.  They take some determination and patience and a bit of a perfectionist streak.  I think it’s the perfectionism and focus that makes them extra special.  I prefer to splurge by the boxful, very occasionally.  Luxury, for sure.  For the very good among us, a Step-by-step Guide To French Macarons.  

•  Here’s what I’ve found with baking: the fewer the ingredients, the less fat, the more likely I am to fudge up a recipe.  Fat from eggs and butter add a generous amount of forgiveness to a recipe.   Baguettes, beautifully crusty French bread, is made with four simple ingredients:  flour, water, yeast, and salt.  The way to a dreamy baguette is in yeast development, shaping, scoring, aaannndd and extremely hot, steam-capable oven, aka: often best from a bakery.  For the eager and bread among us, Food52 has a 4-Hour Baguette recipe, or… if you’re in New Orleans: Bellegarde Bakery.  

•  In the same way that  baguettes need time, love, and a really hot oven… good thin crust pizza is an elusive animal at home.  I find that the best way to enjoy pizza is sitting on my butt, stating my pizza order to someone kind enough to make one for me, and promptly drinking two glasses of lambrusco.  Or.. grilling a pizza is the at home move, if you have a grill and maybe someone to grill for you (ideal).  (Am I lazy?)  (Rhetorical.) 

•  Have you ever had a perfect canelé?  They’re the ideal amalgamation of caramelization, crunch, chew, and soft custard.  They’re perfect baking science and my eyes go wide at the thought of making them really well.   I think they’re tough!  A few years ago Chez Pim told us all about it here.    The perfect canelé is nearly burnt… so very close to being burnt brown on the outside, while soft, custardy, but not too airy on the inside.  I’ll take mine by the three-ful from a professional baking case, and eat them too fast with too much coffee and pretend I’m in a Maybelline commercial. (Born with it.) 

•  Layers of flakey, airy, buttery crust, filled with dark chocolate, and topped with just too much powdered sugar.  This is the Chocolate Croissants.  Homemade is possible, sure… but ordering a dry cappuccino and eating a chocolate croissant while reading a good book alone on a Saturday morning.  In New Orleans:  Gracious Bakery.  In San Francisco:  Tartine Bakery (Amen!)

What are your must-buy baked goods?  Follow-up:  Are you free this afternoon for a coffee and croissant date? After our turkey sandwich.  

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Flaky Apple Dumplings with Salted Maple Caramel

Fresh Apple Dumplings with Maple Salted Caramel

Fresh Apple Dumplings with Maple Salted Caramel

There’s no denying it, we’re heading straight for the holidays.  Just about the time I bust out my Fall scarves, I find myself wanting to scent my house with cinnamon and spice.  It’s also when the family starts to chatter about who is in charge of what holiday meal, where the ham is coming from, who is making the rolls, and how many pies and peanut butter balls should be made and gifted.   It’s all very serious business. 

It’s exciting, if only for the fact that my mom will soon bring down the Christmas decorations from the garage, my Aunt Judy will light her familiar festive holiday candles, and the holiday china (even if it’s just paper plates sometimes because we’re totally fancy like that) is always on point.  

Fresh Apple Dumplings with Maple Salted Caramel

I’m prepping for the holiday spirit.  Getting my head in the game, my recipes, and plateware in order.  We’re coming in strong this holiday season! 

This post is created in partnership with HomeGoods where I found most of the lovely plateware and bowl featured in this post, as well as fantastic specialty baking ingredients including this incredible muscovado sugar.  Totally reasonably priced.  Loads of good stuff that rotates weekly.  Opinions and dumplings are my own.  

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My Ten Fall Favorites In New Orleans!

Joy the Baker's New Orleans Fall Favorites

Joy the Baker's New Orleans Fall Favorites

You’re cordially invited to visit New Orleans!  The city is calling.  

It’s my favorite time of year in beautiful New Orleans!  The air is markedly less swampy, with just a hint of chill in the night air.  Fall brings a sort of revitalization to the city.  It’s like everyone has come out of their lazy summer slumber, outdoor restaurant seats fill, sunset walk are more neighborly, everyone is less sweaty and heat-frayed.  

New Orleaneans welcomes any and every reason to decorate a porch and wear a wig so the upcoming Halloween holiday is about to turn up the volume in the whole city.  Get here.  Get ready.  

Here are my ten favorite things to do and places to visit in New Orleans this Fall! 

Joy the Baker's New Orleans Fall Favorites

1  •  The Fly  •  A park on the back side of the Audubon Zoo in the Uptown neighborhood of New Orleans.  The Fly is a local’s spot, right along the Mississippi River.  Peaceful and lovely.  The perfect place to enjoy an early dinner / cheese picnic / to-go daiquiri sunset moment.  

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French Toast For One or Two

French Toast for One or Two

French Toast for One or Two

I hated bananas from the tender age of 6 straight through until the ripe old age of 32.5.  I remember it very distinctly.  I was with my parents in the Disneyland parking lot.  I saw a man eating a banana, chewing wide with his mouth open.  I couldn’t take my eyes away because it was 100% disgusting.  Have you ever seen anyone eat a banana, chewing with their mouth open?  Even in my six year old brains I was like… WELP, there goes that fruit.  BANANAS ARE DISGUSTING.  

I had a similar experience in a chain diner with a plate of cold french toast.  It was rubbery, and weird and no amount of powdered sugar or maple syrup could save it.  In my child brains I was like.. WELP, there goes that fine breakfast food.  Until, that is, last Sunday when I was staring down a fine loaf of soft brioche, two eggs, and some heavy cream think… I really should give this another shot.  

I was so wrong.  French Toast, especially when made in very small, personal-sized batches, is DELICIOUS!  Not soggy or rubbery.  Best eaten in silence with hot coffee and weird Internet news (as one does with the weekend).  

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Whipped Ricotta with Honey and Ghost Pepper Salt

Honey Whipped Ricotta with Ghost Pepper Salt

Honey Whipped Ricotta with Ghost Pepper Salt

Here’s how I came to be sitting on my living room floor, in my pajama top, wiping my hands on a ripped pair of house jeans, chew-shoving toasted brioche smothered in spicy honey cheese into my mouth: I went to spin class. 

A few years ago when I lived in Venice (CA, not Italy), I’d go to a quaint little exercise class called Soul Cycle. Actually, Soul Cycle was never quaint, and no workout in Santa Monica is to be taken lightly… those beach people are SERIOUS. But! I’d go to Soul Cycle, it was on the high end of my exercise budget but hey.. I’m a Californian and I’ll splurge to exercise my thighs into submission. The spin classes are essentially super-intense stationary cardio bike rides set to super loud, so so loud club music. Sometimes it’s Mariah Carey and everything is right in the world. 

In New Orleans, no one moves the speed of spin class, and God bless it. It just doesn’t make sense. But when I’m back in California I treat (treat?) myself to a spin, a deafening in-place spin. 

Here are some thoughts:

  • There are two places I want to hear Seal’s Kiss From A Rose. 1. Inside a burgundy Toyota Camry Solara WITH SEAL HIMSELF. 2. In spin class while everyone is setting up their bikes for impeding torture. 
  • The front row of spin class is a big deal. Imagine all of the girls from the movie Mean Girls except in their mid to late twenties, wearing expensive work out clothes, vying for teacher’s attention, in a dark noisy workout room… also they have their butts in your face. They all have good hair, too. And probably a lot of credit card debt (speculation). 
  • The spin instructors thighs will be skinnier than a normal human’s arms. Just know that going in. 
  • The music is so loud, you won’t be able to hear yourself think. That’s perfect. If you were able to think you’d realize that , EVERYTHING HURTS. Just pedal to the beat (or to the fancy pants in front of you) and try not to die.
  • Trying not to die is exactly and all you’re doing in spin class.  The instructors will throw out some encouraging mantras and quotes… essentially all they’re saying is ‘hey, try not to die’.  

So… I went to spin class.  And then I flew back to New Orleans and ate a bunch of cheese.  All is back to normal.  All is well.  

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Let It Be Sunday!

Let It Be Sunday!

Let It Be Sunday!

Hello, friends.  Welcome to another one of those things called Sunday.  Maybe you’re headed out apple picking or going to catch snakes… whatever it is festive people do in the Fall, I hope you’re enthusiastically doing it.  

This week I was in Los Angeles for a few days and several hours working and lunching (like a lady, with wine and pizza), but the days have brought me back to New Orleans where I’m hustling hard and testing poached eggs for the Brunch cookbook like a stone-cold maniac.  If you need any eggs, sorry.  I’ve purchased them all.  Apparently I’m trying to re-invent the wheel (the egg, actually)… so I need all of them.  

The Internet was as full as ever this week.  Here’s the good stuff: 

•  How can we live free lives with all of our information, all of our money, all of our searches, everything ever… online?  If you’re not paranoid, you’re crazy. Please pass the tin foil.  

•  We’re part of the re-thinking and re-writing of recipes.  We’re thinking about recipes differently.  We’re cooking from the Internet.  We’re more flexible and free.  Written Recipes Undergo a Makeover.

•  Why Mom and Dad Sounds So Similar In So Many Different Languages.  Spoiler alert:  because our baby-mouths are shaped the same way, and that’s pretty cool (because we’re fascinated with ourselves).  

•  I started this article thinking… knowing.. absolutely certain that I’d only get through the first paragraph before being mildly irritated enough to click away.  (I realize I sound like a jerk.. the Internet is a fickle place), but I was fascinated beginning to end:  The Curious Afterlife of Terrance Trent D’Arby

•  Danny Meyer and the no tipping restaurant.  Forward thinking for the food industry.  Let’s do it. 

•  Are you watching the baseball playoffs?  They’ve been pretty great.  Here’s a major highlight… in case you want to look sporty when you’re not really very sporty at all.  Here’s something you should know about baseball playoffs.  

•  Miranda July writes about her Very Revealing Conversation with Rhianna.  

•  Listen past the 3-4 cringe-y remarks from Mr Stern to get all of the goodness and amazing vibes from Sia.  Such an incredible interview:  Howard Stern interviews Sia  (thank you Jon!)

•  How To Be Good With Kids.  Other people’s kids.  When you have no kids.  Be prepared to have a shit time.  Because… yea. (Thanks for the link Jessica. I like your children so very much and that’s not even pretend.)

•  You’re not Jennifer Anniston, and 9 other things your hairstylist wants you to know.  

•  A photographer edits out our smart phones to show a strange and lonely new world.  I hate us.  

•  40 Things to do in New Orleans for less than $10.  What we’re trying to tell you is, stay off Bourbon St, ride the street car, and go to the park.  

•  Sausage and Mushroom Risotto because I’m not kidding when I say this is one of the best things I’ve ever made.  

•  Aimee from Simple Bites made Lots of Autumn Pesto.  Hint:  so should we all.  (Similar to Battlestar Galactica’s ‘so say we all’, but this isn’t the apocalypse and we aren’t in space with Edward James Olmos.  Captain Adama!!!!)  (That really got away from me.) 

•  I can’t read just one book at a time.  Here’s what I’m working with:  After a While You Just Get Used to It and Fates and Furies.  

Have a very happy day!  

xo Joy

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