Joy the Baker

Whipped Ricotta with lemon and olive oil

September 30, 2013

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I guess some weekends are more about practically understanding the meaning of fun… and then keeping your head down and working your way through.  Like whoa.  That’s ok.  Some Wednesdays are more about doughnuts than emails, so I guess it all evens out down the line.

To ease my worky worky weekend, I made this Whipped Ricotta.  Its simplicity and creaminess surprised me!  Just to be sure I knew what I was getting into… I ate spoonfuls of whipped ricotta on toasted bread for Sunday breakfast and Sunday lunch.  I had to be sure.

I’m sure now.  I worked my way through.  Success!

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79 Comments

Cucumber Gin Salt and Pepper Cups

September 26, 2013

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I’ve been thinking about your weekend.

I actually started thinking about your weekend last Monday… that’s how I operate.

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I was thinking that these Cucumber Gin Salt and Pepper Cups would be an amazing addition to your sleeping in, late breakfasting, and shoe shopping.  That’s totally your weekend right?  Stress-free and shoppy?  I know… me neither.  But at least we can make the weekend gin-y and super fresh!

Happy Weekend to you!

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59 Comments

Baking 101: Must We Sift This Flour?

September 25, 2013

blackberry lavender scones

Question: Do we really need to sift the flour?
Answer:  Nah… it’s cool, why bother?

 

We’re done here, right?  Almost…

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81 Comments

Classic Mac and Cheese with Minty Peas

September 24, 2013

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I would like to feed you this mac and cheese, by the very large spoonful, until we make eye contact for too long and it gets awkward.  That’s a real thing, you know.

homeroom, oakland

This Classic Macaroni and Cheese recipe comes from one my very favorite new books The Mac + Cheese Cookbook!  Seriously.  We’re talking mac and cheese recipes, cool sides, and a peanut butter pie recipe that is just taunting me.

The book is written by two awesome and inspiring ladies, Allison and Erin who own a mac and cheese restaurant called Homeroom in Oakland, CA.  I was lucky enough to visit Homeroom this month and I am all-over smitten.

I made this recipe because I admire and want to support these two ladies, because comfort food is impossible to deny, and because macaroni and cheese is just the thing to break up all of the cookies I’ve baked as of late.

Also… I want to feed you until it gets weird.  It’s already weird.

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80 Comments

Baking A Difference with Salty Pretzel Vanilla Caramel Corn

September 23, 2013

Salty Pretzel Vanilla Caramel Corn

Growing up there was always some sort of magic bubbling away in the kitchen.  It was sometimes my Dad’s spaghetti sauce, maybe a baking fruit pie, or a deep amber caramel sauce.  The caramel days were always my favorite… for obvious reasons.

I remember learning how to make caramel as a kid.  Watching the sugar bubble with butter and corn syrup… it felt like I was learning a special science that would unlock an infinite amount of dessert possibilities.  Um… I was. It also felt like I had super powers.  Um.. I did.

Salty Pretzel Vanilla Caramel Corn

Caramel can lead to so many good things, including (but totally not limited to) caramel corn!

I’ve grown up a bit from my early caramel days.  I now adore a good dose of salt with my sweet caramel desserts. Combining buttery popcorn with salty pretzels feels like the perfect mixture of childhood snack and adult cravings, all wrapped together in the quick golden caramel sauce I’ve been making forever. Now, just extra salty.

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87 Comments

On Brown Butter

September 19, 2013

On Brown Butter

Thank you for indulging me while I wax on about butter this week.  It’s like that time I wouldn’t shut up about toast.

While we’re here with butter on the brain, can we brown it and stir it into flour and sugar?  I mean… might as well.

Now… Brown Butter (which I indiscriminately call Browned Butter sometimes) is this:  butter that is melted in a small pan over low heat until the butterfat and milk solids separate and the milk solids sink to the bottom of the pan and begin to brown to a nutty color, flavor, and fragrance, at which point the butter (brown bits and all) are transferred to a small bow, honored, appreciated, and then stirred into batter.

Try to say that sentence three times fast.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m not just adding more dish and extra stress to your baking process.  Brown butter really is the secret sparkle to so many baked goods.  Brown butter adds a depth, richness, and irresistible nutty flavor to cookies, cakes, and breads.  It’s a simple pleasure that feels like a luxury.  I love when that happens.

Let’s start with a classic:  Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Bring these cookies to a party and I swear you’ll leave with three new friends, like it or not.

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67 Comments

Baking 101: Why We Use Unsalted Butter

September 18, 2013

Let’s talk about butter! It’s my go-to. It’s my boo. It’s my sweetheart.

I’m not shy about sharing my affection for butter, but you may have noticed in the recipes here  that I’m very specific about how I like my butter.  Sometimes melted and browned.  Sometimes cold and cubed.  Sometimes beaten with sugar and egg.  Always though… most almost always.. UNSALTED! Yea, I get opinionated about my butter. We should talk about why.

strawberry raspberry crisp

Butter is my go-to fat in the kitchen.  Olive oil is nice.  Coconut oil is lovely.  Butter gets the job done!

Butter is typically made from cow’s milk and consists of mostly butterfats.  Low-fat buttes are suspicious, at best.  Butter is generally about 80% fat, with the remaining 20% consisting of water and milk solids.

You have a choice when you go to the grocery:  salted or unsalted butter.  If you’re thinking about slathering your butter on a warm baguette, you’ll want to reach for the salted butter.  If you’re baking a cobbler, you’ll most definitely want to reach for the unsalted butter.

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85 Comments

Honey Chai Roasted Almonds

September 15, 2013

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It’s strange finding almonds in the laundry.

What I should say is that it’s strange that I would put almonds in my pocket, carry them around in my pocket all day, disregard my pants (most likely on the floor of my closet), finally wash the pants and find almonds in the washing machine. That’s just an odd thing to have happen.

Instead of washing almonds, I’d recommend roasting them with honey and chai spices.  Be smarter than me.

Oh, also… you know what I’m not going to do today?  I’m not going to hmm and haa over a bunch of pictures of nuts and honey and ground spices.  Welcome to Just Do The Dang Thing Monday.

Love you, byeeeee!

Honey Chai Almonds

makes 3 cups

adapted from Weelicious Lunches

3 cups raw almonds

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 to 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper (depending on how spicy you like your nuts)

3 tablespoons honey

coarse sea salt for topping

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Grease the parchment paper with olive oil or cooking spray.

Place almonds on baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes.

While the almonds are in the oven, in a small bowl, toss together cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, salt, and pepper.

Remove the toasted almonds from the oven.  Drizzle with honey and toss to coat.

Sprinkle with the spice mixture and toss well to ensure that all of the almonds have a bit of spice. Sprinkle generously with coarse sea salt.  And heck.. drizzle with a bit more honey if you’d like.

Return to the oven and toast for 8 minutes.  Remove from the oven and immediately trasnsfer the warm nuts to a plate to cool or jars for storage.  The nuts will begin to harden as they cool and become difficult to remove.

Store almonds in an airtight container for up to two weeks.  

91 Comments

Mashed Potato, Cheddar and Chive Waffles

September 13, 2013

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What am I going to do with all of these leftover mashed potatoes (said no one ever!)?

Make waffles!

How is there a solution to a problem that isn’t really a problem at all? I’d eat mashed potatoes straight out of the fridge with a serving spoon. Maybe I’d put mustard and pickles on the cold mashed potatoes. That either makes me super gross or kinda genius. Most likely somewhere in between.

I’ve been daydreaming this waffle situation for a few weeks now. It’s mostly about the transformation of carbs. There’s a formula:  transform carb, add cheese, melt, sprinkle chives.  This works for any baked potato, nacho, and pizza happening.  Look how smart we are.

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Ps.  I figured out what you’re doing this weekend.  Waffles.

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189 Comments

Baking 101: How To Read A Recipe

September 11, 2013

I don’t know how to break this to you, but… we’re hurtling towards the holiday season.  If that’s too much for you to take (and I totally understand), then maybe I could just tell you that we’re hurtling towards the turn-your-oven-on-and-bake-things season.

Because we’re going to bake it up for the next few months, I’ve come to offer you a toolbox.  You know, some tips and tricks about flour and butter that maybe you don’t already know.  Every week for the next few months, we’re going to talk about why we do the things we do in the kitchen.  Do you really need to sift that flour?  Maybe not.   What do you mean by ‘cream butter and sugar’?  We’ll discuss.

Today, we’re going to start at the very beginning…. with the recipe.  It’s the map and we need to know how to read it!

Baking 101: How To Read A Recipe

It starts with a grumble in the stomach.  It starts with a craving.  It starts with a simple desire to stir together chocolate and walnuts.  Wherever it starts, we always find ourselves flipping through cookbooks looking for it. Our search always ends in a recipe:  the baking guide.

There’s a trick to successfully and correctly read a recipe.  The recipe is rooting for us.  The recipe wants our brownies to be perfect… but it’s written in a specific language.  Let’s go step-by-step.

1.  Read the Dang Recipe.

Believe it or not, reading a recipe from beginning to end is a big deal.  First, review the ingredients list and read through the instructions.  The instructions may have some hidden ingredients (like water), or split the ingredient list in an expected way (like using one egg for a batter and one egg for an egg-wash).  You want to know the lay of the land.  Read the dang recipe.  Trust me.

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193 Comments

Brown Butter Baked Doughnuts

September 8, 2013

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I’m really just thinking about the future.

This weekend I bought a doughnut baking pan.  I’d always thought baking doughnuts was for the birds… literally.  For some reason, lately I’ve been daydreaming about future doughnuts:  pumpkin with maple glaze, chocolate with peppermint frosting, and candy bar cupcakes for Halloween (because yes, I’m that crazy).

It’s just a bit too early to dive into Fall flavors, so I thought I’d break in ye olde doughnut baking pan with some browned butter.  Browned butter is forever in season, as are doughnuts.  We must have a win.

doughnuts

This is the most natural way to make doughnuts… on my desk with boards and napkins, a big camera, a tripod, and sprinkles everywhere.  Not true, but it’s real life anyway.

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206 Comments

Garlic Dill Cucumber Pickles

September 4, 2013

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All that hard work we put in this summer… all the focus, and persistence, imagination, daydreams, lazy chats, and late sunsets…. it’s time to pack all of that up in some vinegar and spices and pickle it for the Fall.  All of that summer goodness doesn’t go away!  It’s just gets salty and tart and puts of a thick scarf for the new season.

I always have a hard time with the transition between Summer and Fall.

Summer is my favorite season, so getting into Fall is always a kicking and screaming endeavor until it’s just cold enough to eat doughnuts and hide in big chunky sweaters.

I’m trying to embrace this farewell to Summer with a little dignity and preservation… ie: pickles.

This is my first time making pickles.  It’s a whole new world!  Veggies in jars with vinegar.  Let’s ease our way in.

Garlic Dill Cucumber Pickles

Even pickles look dreamy in sunlight and Instagram.

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58 Comments

Breakfast Pasta with Bacon and Poached Eggs

September 2, 2013

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You inspire me every day.

You inspire me to turn my lasagna into a sandwich.  You inspire me to turn my bananas into bread.  You inspire me to turn my nachos into breakfast.

As long as we’re eating chips and cheese for breakfast… I mean, come on.  We’re just a step away from pasta.

This pasta feels a bit like a classic Carbonara.  We’re skipping the cream in the pasta and adding it to our coffee.  We’re keeping the egg whites and learning how to poach eggs.  We’re also adding lots of fresh parsley, lemon juice, and too much cheese (as per usual).  Best of all, we’re calling it breakfast (!!), because we can.

breakfast pasta with bacon and poached eggs

If you’re wondering what my past holiday weekend looked like (and you’re probably not), well… you’re looking at most of it.  Not pictured:  the couch, the dishes, and the fact that this photo was styled to look like two servings when, in fact, I ate both plates because whatever.

I’m sure you did more interesting things with your holiday that probably involved boats, and barbecue, and adventures in Big Sur. I congratulate you… and come bearing pasta.

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118 Comments

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