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When it comes down to it, is there anything better than a crispy rice treat?

The archetype is so simple and so satisfying.  Yet the variations are endless.

While it’s probably obvious to you all, it took me a minute to consider adding my new favorite caramelized crispy rice to a rice crispy treat recipe.

I’m very, very glad my slow brain finally showed up to the party.  At first I was worried that it would make for an entirely too sweet situation.  However, a little extra salt balances the who affair out nicely.

I happen to like my crispy rice treats dense and tightly stuck together.  For this reason, I prefer to use corn syrup as the glue for my treats instead of marshmallows.  A long time ago I learned that while this made for my preferred treat structure, you can’t have a crispy rice treat without the marshmallows.  So, I add them in (mini of course) as their own ingredient.

Brown Butter Caramel Crispy Treats

Ingredients

  • 1ish batch Caramelized Crispy Rice
  • 1 C light corn syrup
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 4 TBS brown butter (it’s easy to brown a pound, keep it in the fridge or freezer and use as needed)
  • 1 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1 1/2 C mini marshmallows (more or less to taste)
  • 6 C puffed rice cereal

Directions

  1. Line a 9X13 inch baking pan with parchment and oil lightly.
  2. Add 5 C (note, you’ll still have a cup) of cereal to a large bowl, set aside.
  3. In a medium, heavy bottomed sauce pan, add sugar and corn syrup and heat over medium heat, mixing to combine.  Stir continuously until the mixture begins to bubble.  Allow to boil while stirring for a couple of minutes (don’t bother with a thermometer).
  4. Pull mixture from heat and stir-in butter and salt.
  5. Add liquid sugar mixture to bowl of cereal and mix to combine, adding in marshmallows and caramelized crispy rice.  You can also use that last cup of cereal to if the mixture isn’t holding together tightly.
  6. Add cereal mixture to prepared pan.  Press into pan until even.  Allow to cool before cutting.

 

Why can’t you just be normal?

Sometimes TD will wander into the kitchen when I’m baking, survey the land of often strange ingredients and ask with a sigh, “why can’t you just make chocolate chip cookies?”

He’s basically asking me why I can’t be normal.  We’ve been together for 19 years.  You’d think he would have stopped asking by now.

But. I am sympathetic to his plight.  He’s just looking for a tasty treat while I’m attempting world baking domination with dried hibiscus and tahini.

Earlier this summer, I offered up a peace flag in chocolate chip cookie form.  Recognizable enough that TD wouldn’t have to guess the mystery ingredient but just extra enough to keep with my own baking agenda: brown butter caramel crispy chocolate chip cookies.

I told you I am fixated on these nearly-burned but not quite caramel crispies.  Add in some brown butter and lots of chocolate and you’ve got an impressive Z score.

Because normal is boring.

Brown Butter Caramel Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Note–you could make the dough and bake in the same day.  I happen to like to let my dough marinate over night (or a month in the freezer after I scoop into balls).  I’ve written the recipe for an overnight–but do what you want.

Ingredients

  • 1 C (8 ounces) brown butter at room temp (need the recipe? brown butter)
  • 1 C packed golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2  1/8 C all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 12 ounces (regular sized package) chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 C (or to taste) caramelized crisps (link for recipe)

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, sift together flour and baking soda.  Whisk in salt and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, add butter.  Cream for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add both sugars, cream for another couple of minutes, scraping down the bowl as you go.
  4. Beat-in egg and egg yolk one-at-a-time.  Beat-in vanilla.
  5. Pull bowl from standing mixer and gently fold-in flour mixture until nearly combined.
  6. Fold-in chocolate chips and caramelized rice.
  7. Using a scoop of desired size (I like a #40 or just under 2 TBS scooper) scoop dough into domes.  Line domes onto a baking sheet (separate layers with two parchment sheets), wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.  Once the cookie domes are cold, you can easily transfer them to a freezer ziplock bag and store for one-off baking for up to a month.  Just add a couple of minutes to the cook time.
  8. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line backing sheets with parchment.
  9. Please dough domes on baking sheets leaving a couple of inches between each for spread.
  10. Bake in oven two-sheets at a time, rotating halfway through.  In my ovens, these usually cook in about 10 minutes.

 

 

 

A Swing and a Hit: Home Run Bars

A couple of months ago, I came across a recipe for carmelized crispy rice cereal (I think rice Krispy is trademarked) in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi and it’s like a door opened to a crunchy, sweet but so browned it’s almost bitter land.  The possibilities were so inspiring that the next three weeks of recipes feature this versatile ingredient.

One of the beauties of caramelizing anything is that you get to control how deep you go.  I’ve tried several versions and prefer mine darker but not yet burned.  Think Cracker Jacks.

In fact, Cracker Jacks are what inspired this picnic and BBQ ready dessert bar.

How do you feel about a peanut buttery blondie base polished with a layer of chocolate and topped with crunchy caramelized crispy rice?

Homerun you say?

Exactly!

Homerun Bars

For the Caramelized Crispy Rice

Ingredients

  • 2 C crispy rice cereal (have had good results with both regular and brown rice versions)
  • 3 TBS water
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. In a medium heavy-bottomed sauce pan add sugar.  Then add water and mix until sugar dissolves.  This is the last time you are going to want to touch the mixture until you take it off the heat the first time.
  3. Bring mixture to a boil (don’t stir) and allow to simmer until the syrup just starts to brown.
  4. Remove from heat and mix in cereal (I find a rubber spatula works the best). Gently mix cereal until ever last piece is covered in syrup.  By the time you there, everything will have dried and look like its dusted in snow (and now we know how they make Frosted Flakes).
  5. Return to heat over a medium burned and fold constantly.  The sugar will start to melt and caramelize.  Keep folding until you reach desired depth of caramelization.  I know the version I like is done when the sugar starts to smoke.
  6. Spread cereal on parchment lined baking sheet and allow to cool completely.
  7. From here you can store in an airtight container in big hunks.

For Homerun Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 C peanut butter (crunchy or smooth–I use smooth because I like to add-on whole peanuts)
  • 1/2 C butter, softened
  • 2 C golden brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 TBS vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 C all purpose flour
  • 1 C peanuts (I like slightly salted)
  • 1 TBS vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces chocolate (chips will do fine)
  • 1 batch caramelized crispy rice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line a 9X13 pan with parchment.
  2. In bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and peanut butter until smooth.
  3. Beat brown sugar into butter mixture in three stages, allowing the mixer to run for a couple of minutes after all of the sugar has been added.
  4. Beat-in eggs one-at-a-time, combining completely after each egg.  Beat in vanilla.
  5. Turn off mixer.  Add flour and mix on lowest speed until just combined.  Fold in peanuts by hand.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan using a spatula to level it out.
  7. Bake until a skewer inserted into the center of the dough comes out with small crumbs (about 35 minutes).
  8. Remove from over and allow to cool completely.
  9. Melt chocolate in microwave (30 seconds at a time at 50% heat until all chips melt with mixed).  Stir in oil.
  10. Using an off-set spatula, “frost” cooled blondies with chocolate.
  11. Slightly press caramelized rice into still warm chocolate.
  12. Allow chocolate to set-up.  Cut and enjoy.
  13. Store in an airtight container for up to three days.

Hawaiian Rolls

Have you ever met anyone who doesn’t like Hawaiian bread?

Yeah, me either.  While most than just fine served warm and topped with butter, this enriched and slightly sweet bread is a delicious tableau for a whole host of other concoctions.  Think bread pudding.  Think French toast.

When TD decided to try out pulled pork on his Big Green Egg for Memorial Day Weekend, I knew it was time to try my hand at these Southern California mainstays.  I’ll admit it felt a little like taking on Goliath considering we live in the city that calls itself home to the King’s Hawaiian headquarters.  But as you know, I like to live on the edge.

First things first–can you guess the secret ingredient?  Think Hawaii.

Nope…not coconut but close: pineapple.  Makes perfect  sense.

These rolls are really fun to make (and not because the stand mixer does most of the work) but give them time.  The enriched dough has both eggs and butter in it, meaning the first and second rise will be on island time.

I couldn’t find an original recipe from King’s so used one from King Arthur Flour instead.  The recipe calls for a couple of tablespoons of potato flour.  Despite following my own rules and reading the recipe through days in advance, I forgot to pick up potato flour so I just omitted.  I don’t think it made a noticeable difference but just to be safe, I’ll include next time and report back.

If sliders in any form are on your Fourth of July festivities list, consider trying your hand at a homemade version of these summer icons.  They’ll make your guests feeling like royalty (sorry, I couldn’t help it).

King’s Hawaiian Rolls

from King Arthur Flour

makes 16 buns

Ingredients

Sponge

  • 1/4 C all purpose flour
  • 1 TBS instant yeast
  • 2 TBS water

Dough

  • 1/2 C pineapple juice, canned
  • 1/4 C (4 tablespoons) softened, unsalted butter
  • 1/3 C brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk, white reserved
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 C all purpose flour
  • 2 TBS potato flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt

Directions

  1. For the sponge: In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the sponge ingredients. Allow the sponge to rest for 15 minutes.
  2. Add the pineapple juice, butter, brown sugar, eggs and yolk, and vanilla to the sponge mixing until well combined.
  3. While the wet ingredient mix, in a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining flour, potato flour, and salt before adding to the liquid ingredients.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet dough in stand mixer.
  5. Beat with the flat beater for about 3 minutes at medium-high speed; then scrape the dough into the center of the bowl, switch to the dough hook, and knead for about 5 minutes at medium speed. It may have formed a very soft ball, but will probably still be sticking to the bottom of the bowl.  If the dough isn’t coming together, add a tablespoon or two of flour.
  6. Lightly grease a large bowl; round the dough into a ball, and place it in the bowl. Cover, and let rise until very puffy, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. 
  7. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan.
  8. Gently deflate the dough. Divide it into 16 equal pieces, by dividing in half, then in halves again, etc. Round each piece into a smooth ball. Space the buns in the pan.
  9. Tent the dough gently with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in the pan for 1 hour, until it’s nicely puffy. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
  10. Mix the reserved egg white with 1 tablespoon cold water, and brush some onto the surface of the rolls; this will give them a satiny crust.
  11. Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 190°F on a digital thermometer.
  12. Remove the rolls from the oven, and after a few minutes, turn them out onto a cooling rack.
  13. Serve warm. Store leftovers, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

Browned Butter Coconut Cookies

Nowadays, the recipes I choose to bake generally either center on new ingredients or techniques I’ve yet to master.

However, every once in a while I make something for the singular reason that I want to eat it.

That’s exactly what happened when these browned butter coconut cookies popped up in Smitten Kitchen’s Instagram feed.  There I was, casually scrolling one weekday afternoon and there they were: nutty, coconutty and buttery.  I’m not kidding when I say it took a herculean effort not to grab my car keys and flee my office so that I could go home and start browning butter.

Luckily for my employment status, I held off until the weekend.

They were SO worth the wait: browned butter and coconut were meant to be together.  Even better than peas and carrots.  I’m telling you.  Cripsy on the edges but chewy through the middle, I really can’t think of a more appropriate summer picnic treat.

As if you needed further incentive, in my book, there is nothing that smells better than browning butter.  Forget the potpourri or scented candle.  If you want to sell your house, brown some butter before the open house.

While the original recipe only calls for coconut chips, the first time I made these I added a cup of butterscotch chips.  The second time I used cinnamon chips.  I have big plans for the third batch.

Coconut Brown Butter Cookies

From Smitten Kitchen who got the recipe from The City Bakery by way of The Martha Stewart Show.  Adapted by The Misanthropic Hostess.

Ingredients

  • 1 C (2 sticks or 225 grams) unsalted butter
  • 2 TBS water
  • 1/2 C plus 2 TBS (125 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 C (145 grams) packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 C plus 3 tablespoons (175 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Slightly heaped 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 4 C (240 grams) dried, unsweetened coconut chips
  • 1 C chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter or cinnamon chips (optional)

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do.  Once it is a deeply fragrant, almost nut-brown color, remove from heat and pour butter and all browned bits at the bottom into a measuring cup. Adding 2 tablespoons water should bring the butter amount back up to 1 cup.
  2. Chill browned butter in the fridge until it solidifies, about 1 to 2 hours.
  3. Scrape chilled browned butter and any bits into a large mixing bowl. Add both sugars and beat the mixture together until fluffy.
  4. Add egg and beat until combined, scraping down bowl as needed, then vanilla.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking soda and salt together in a separate bowl. Pour half of flour mixture into butter mixture and mix until combined, then add remaining flour and mix again, scraping down bowl if needed. Add coconut chips in two parts as well.
  6. Fold-in additional chips if using.
  7. Scoop dough into 1 inch balls, flatten each slightly and arrange all onto a baking sheet (separating layers with parchment paper).  Refrigerate for an hour up to over night.
  8. When you are ready to bake, heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
  9. Arrange a few with a lot of room for spreading on the baking sheets.  Bake cookies until golden brown all over, about 10 minutes (rotate halfway through cooking).  Repeat to bake all cookies.
  10. Cool cookies on baking sheets for 1 to 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cookies keep for up to one week at room temperature. Extra dough can be stored in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for a month or more.

Sables Bretons

Butter is my favorite food.  Not kidding.

I don’t think I’ve ever actually eaten it on its own (though I’ve been tempted); but it does make just about anything better.  Especially butter cookies. Especially, especially French butter cookies.

I made my first batch of sables Breton years and year ago after TD and I returned from France.  Brittany the region in the Northwest corner of the country, is famous for its high fat, ultra rich butter.  Enough years have passed since that trip that I am no longer embarrassed by how many of these cookies I ate while there.  These French biscuits are everything I want in a cookie: simple, just barely sweet and sandy in texture.

The sandy element is incredibly important: sable is French for sand.  And, made possible by the letter B for butter.  The first recipe I used was from Martha Stewart.  I made that recipe several times and then drifted away over the years.  As one does.

When I came across David Lebovitz’s recipe, I was reminded of our early fall trip to Bayeux and immediately pulled the butter from the freezer.

These cookies are known for the deep criss-cross pattern on the tops.  I made this batch over the course of a weekend and chilled them after cutting them into circles but before adding the cross hatching.  Cold butter doesn’t make for easy criss crosses and I did not press hard enough.  Do as I say, not as I do.

While butter is the front and center flavor in this cookie, the salt is equally important, so use the good stuff.

The uniformity in shape of these crumbly cookies make them lovely as gifts packaged up in a clear bag with some red and blue ribbon (think Bastille Day or Fourth of July).

Sables Bretons

by David Lebovitz (adapted just slightly by TMH)

Ingredients

  • 2/3 C (5.2 ounces, 150g) high quality high fat butter at room temp (I like Plugra but for best results, David Lebovitz recommends a cultured butter)
  • 2 tsps flaky sea salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 C (200g) sugar
  • 1 3/4 C (210g) all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp water

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and salt together on low speed until smooth (about 30 seconds).
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, gradually adding the sugar while whisking until the yolks are light and fluffy–about a minute.  With the mixer on low, add the egg yolk mixture to the butter, stopping the mixer to scrape down any butter clinging to the sides.  Mix until everything is incorporated.
  3. Sift together the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl.  Stir into creamed butter mixture until it’s just, but completely, incorporated.
  4. Pat the dough into a rectangle about 1-inh thick.  Wrap in plastic and chill for an hour (dough can be made up to five days in advance and stored in the fridge).
  5. Line baking sheet with parchment. Cut the rectangle of chilled dough in half and place the first half between two pieces of parchment.  Roll out the dough to about 1/3 inch thickness.  Using a 2-3 inch cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough.  Place them on the prepared baking sheet.  Set aside scraps and repeat with second half of dough.  Once you have completed the first layer of cut-out circles, top with two sheet of parchment and start with the second. Top circles with another piece of parchment and into the fridge for another 15 minutes.
  6. Gather your scraps.  Roll again between pieces of parchment.  If dough is still cold enough, cut out more circles.  If not, pop in fridge until cold.  Repeat process until all dough is used.
  7. Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Adjust oven rack to middle of the oven. Line baking sheets with parchment.  You want to bake-off cookies one sheet at-a-time.
  8. Beat an egg with 1 tsp water.  Place first round of dough circle on pan leaving a couple of inches in between each.  Brush the tops of the cookies with the egg wash then use a fork to cross hatch a pattern on the top of the cookies.
  9. Bake the cookies until the tops are golden brown, rotating baking sheets halfway through, about 15 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.
  10. Repeat with dough until all cookies are baked.

 

Paprika Peanut Butter Cookies

Move over chocolate, peanut butter has a new love interest and her name is smoked paprika.

You read that right.  Paprika.

When you think about it, pairing peanut butter with earthy, slightly spicy paprika makes a whole lot of sense.  Think of how much better peanut butter is on toast than just plain bread (toasty and smoky are similar…just go with it).  Now, add a little heat.  And to that, think of the sandy, crumbly texture of a perfect peanut butter cookie.  You picking up what I’m putting down here?

This recipe incorporates smoked paprika is both the dough and on top.

The overall effect is pretty perfect.  I found this recipe through David Lebovitz who came across the original recipe in the book Sister Pie: The Recipes and Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit by Lisa Ludwinski.

Since I’ve been baking for a million years and new things are what keep me going, I’m always on the hunt for new flavors.  Sometimes flavor combinations aren’t meant to be (I’m thinking of the holiday 2012 pink peppercorn and white chocolate sables…ew).  Others you think, ‘where have you been all my life?’  These smoked paprika and peanut butter cookies are definitely the latter.

P.S. Lest you feel bad for chocolate’s new rival, I dare you to make these, throw in some dark chocolate chunks and call it a threesome.

Peanut Butter Paprika Cookies

As seen on David Lebovitz’s blog and originated from  Sister Pie: The Recipes & Stories of a Big-Hearted Bakery in Detroit

Ingredients

For the paprika topping
1 TBS turbinado or raw granulated sugar
1 TBS granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
Directions
  1. To make the cookie dough, in a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole wheat flour with the baking powder, baking soda, 1 tsp kosher or salt, and 1/2 tsp smoked paprika.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or by hand, beat the butter, peanut butter, and the light brown and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla extract, stopping the mixer between adding each egg to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Stir in the dry ingredients until completely incorporated, making sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl, as you’ll likely find some unincorporated flour underneath the dough.
  4. Scrape the dough into a shallow bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, or up to 3 days (TMH: I scraped everything into a gallon size freezer ziplock patted into rectangle–evenly distributed, the dough chills more quickly and evenly). (Dough can be frozen for up to three months–scoop into balls first.)
  5. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC.) Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  6. In a small bowl, mix together the turbinado and granulated sugar, paprika, and flaky sea salt.
  7. Scoop the dough into balls about (I like using a 1 1/2 TBS scooper). Roll each ball in the sugar and paprika mixture so it’s evenly coated, and place each on the baking sheet so they’re about 2 inches (5cm) apart.
  8. Bake the cookies, rotating the baking sheets in the oven midway during baking, until they are golden brown across the top, about 8-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and use a spatula to gently tap the tops of each cookie to flatten them slightly, which makes them more attractive, and chewy when cool.

Salted Honey Pie

Spoiler alert–the next few weeks are all David Lebovitz recipes all time.  I’ve probably already talked about how much I enjoy the author, blogger and former Chez Pannise baker.  But have I talked about his Instagram (@davidlebovitz)?  I don’t experience a ton of social media envy but Mr. Lebovitz curates his gram very, very well (and enjoyably).

I can’t remember if I saw this pretzel crust on his instagram or blog but I knew I had to try it out with “why didn’t I think of that” urgency.

He paired it with a salted honey filling.  And since honey pie sounded simultaneously sounded delicious and novel, I followed suit.

A note on honey.  I used what I already had in the pantry–which I think was an everyday clover honey.  Mr. Lebovitz suggests using a darker honey because it is less sweet.  About a week after I made this pie, I was chatting with a former student who had spent some time during her after graduation travels working on  a kibbutz in New Zealand that made manuka honey (produced from the Manuka tree).  Manuka honey is pretty pricey–but also supposed to be medicinally magical. So next time I might spring for some Manuka honey for a salted honey pie…as if pie could get any more transcendental.

While I didn’t find the honey taste to be particularly overt, the combination of salty pretzel and creamy rich filling was incredibly satisfying (at least until I wanted another bite).

Salted Honey Pie with Pretzel Pie Crust

for the crust

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 C (140g) pretzel crumbs (I ground mine in the food processor)
  • 3 TBS sugar
  • 6 TBS (85g) unsalted melter butter plus additional for preparing dish

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC). Lightly butter a pie plate or pan with butter.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the pretzel crumbs, sugar, and melted butter until the crumbs are saturated with the butter and everything is moistened and evenly mixed.
3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pie plate or pan and use the heel of your hand or the bottom of a coffee mug (TMH preferred method) to press the crust mixture across the bottom of the pans and up the sides.
4. Bake the crust for 8 to 10 minutes, until it’s slightly golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack.

for the pie and filling

Ingredients
  • 8 TBS (113g)  unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 C (45g) sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 C (240g) honey
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 C (120g) sour cream, heavy cream, or crème fraîche (TMH: I used heavy cream because I had it in the fridge)
  • 1 TBS apple cider vinegar
  • flaky sea salt, to finish the pie

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC).
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, flour, salt, vanilla, and honey.
  2. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, then mix in the sour cream and vinegar. Scrape the filling into the baked pie shell.
  3. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the edges are golden brown and the center is almost set. It should still jiggle, but not be watery. (If the edges of the crust get too dark during baking, use one of the techniques listed in the headnote to mitigate that.)
  4. Let the pie cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt before serving.
Note: Mr. Lebovitz offers a variation whereby you replace 3 TBS of the dairy (cream/sour cream etc) with bourbon or dark rum.  Someone needs to do this and report back.

Tomato salad, variation one

Every time I eat a tomato I think about how sad it is that Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen don’t.

While eating tomatoes may be keeping TD and I from being professional athletes and/or super models, if shunning night shades is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

In fact, we eat a lot of tomato salads nearly year round.  During the summer we eat the ones we grow and the rest of the year we stick to the smaller grape and cherry varieties because I think they taste better than other store bought offerings.

It should be no surprise then that when I spied a recipe for tomato salad with pine nuts and pomegranate molasses in May’s Bon Appetit I immediately added it to our Sunday dinner plans.

Per the recipe’s author Kamal Mouzawak, apple cider soaked golden raisins make this recipe just a little bit extra.  The pomegranate molasses is a bonus but you could also use that great balsamic molasses you can find at Trader Joe’s.

I diversified the herb select just a little in my version mostly because I can’t resist adding mint to everything.

I also snuck in some avocado.  I’m pretty sure I don’t have to explain why. Really, this is less a recipe and more a set of guidelines to riff on.

Add a grilled protein and dinner is done!

Tomato Salad with Pine Nuts and Pomegranate Molasses

Kamal Mouzawak, Bon Appetit May 2019

Ingredients

  • 1/3 C golden raisins, chopped
  • 1/4 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 C pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 lb small tomatoes, some halved, some left whole
  • 1/2 small red onion or shallot (my preference), very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 1 C basil leaves, torn if large (can sub-in mint and/or Italian parsley)
  • 2 TBS pomegranate molasses

Directions

  1. Combine raisins and vinegar in a large bowl.  Marinate until raisins soften, 15-20 minutes.
  2. Add tomatoes to colander.  Sprinkle about 1 tsp salt over tomatoes and let sit for 5 minutes or so, allowing tomatoes to release and drain some of their juices.
  3. Add pine nuts, tomatoes, red onion and oil to bowl with raisins.  Season with salt and toss gently to combine.  Add basil and toss once more.
  4. Transfer salad to a platter and drizzle pomegranate molasses over it.

Parmesan Swirly Rolls

I’m an unabashed fan of Instagram.  Unsurprisingly, most of the content I consume outside of friends stuff consists of cooking/baking, house design and cats.  Thinking about it, I may follow more cat than human accounts.  If you follow me on the Gram (oh God) [@tmhostess], you’ll know that this basically mirrors the content I produce.

Like the technologically advanced game of telephone that it is, one of my favorite aspects of Instagram is discovering new to me accounts.  One such discovery a couple of years ago was Tiegahn Gerard of Half Baked Harvest.  Her food styling is so good that I enthusiastically followed her account for months just for its gorgeous aesthetic before I realized I could actually make everything she posts.

I know, I’ve never claimed to the be the quickest horse in the race.

I’ve made it a goal to experiment with yeast for the next few months (when my kitchen is finally warm enough to proof dough) and Tiegahn’s cheesy swirly rolls were at the top of my list.

This recipe is rich with possible variations but I went with parmesan and pesto for these Easter dinner rolls.

The dough is supple and incredibly easy to work with (I made some slight tweaks to it in an attempt to develop the dough’s flavor just a snidge).

The second proofing is subtle, but worth the time.

And, before you know it, you’ll have a pan full of cheesy, chewy rolls.

There will be enough to share.

But I wouldn’t blame you a bit (and I definitely wouldn’t tell anyone) if you decided not to.

Make these!

Parmesan Swirly Rolls

adapted ever so slightly from Half Baked Harvest

Ingredients

  • 1 C whole milk
  • 1 packet (about 2 tsp) instant dry yeast
  • 1 TBS honey or sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 TBS butter, melted
  • 3 1/2 to 4 C all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 C shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4-1/2 basil pesto
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, heat milk on low until just warmed.  Remove from heat, add yeast and let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, gently add milk and yeast mixture.  Then add honey/sugar, eggs, butter and 3 1/2 C of flour.  Give it a few rounds on low until things are generally combined.  Add-in salt.  Switch to dough hook and combine on low to medium speed until dough forms (4 to 5 minutes).  If dough is super sticky, add-in remaining 1/2 C flour a couple of tablespoons at a time.
  3. Grease a large bowl with olive oil.  Turn dough into the bowl, shaping into a ball allowing entire surface to be coated in olive oil.  Wrap bowl in with plastic and allow to rise in a warm, dry place (I used the laundry room) about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9X13 inch baking pan with parchment.
  5. Lightly dust work surface with flour.  Turn-out dough and roll into a 10X16 inch rectangle.  Spread a thin, even layer of pesto over surface. Top with even layer of cheese.  Finish with freshly ground pepper to taste.
  6. Starting with the long edge of the dough, roll dough carefully into a log keeping the roll as tight as possible.  When you reach the edge, gently pinch into dough.
  7. Using a sharp knife, cut into twelve piece (cut dough in half, each half into thirds and each remaining piece in half).
  8. Place rolls, spiral side-up into prepared pan (I like three rows of four). Cover pan with plastic wrap and allow to rest and rise for 30 minutes.
  9. Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling.  Serve warm.