Dog Days

I know what you are thinking.  You think I’ve been slacking off all summer, what with the post here, another there and multiple weeks in between.

Actually, the opposite is true.

The last couple of summers I found myself teaching a pretty intense graduate course.  As much fun as it was (really, it was), come September I found myself exhausted and not really ready to start the academic year.

So this year I said no to teaching and instead became the student.

Of baked goods.  I just finished up a phenomenal 10 week baking course through the New School of Cooking in Culver City, CA.  Every Monday night the class convened for lecture and hands-on practice. The instructor, Chef May Hennemann was fantastic: incredibly accomplished, knowledgable and patient.   I’m not exaggerating when I say I think I smiled the entire 40 hours.  We covered everything from quick breads to laminates and I feel like my technical skills have greatly improved.

As an adult so many things I do are driven by need or purpose–means to an ends.  It was an incredible luxury to do something with the sole aim of enjoyment.

In fact, I enjoyed myself so much that I working on negotiating additional coursework.

But here is the rub.  Each weekend following the Monday night class I would practice the previous week’s lessons.  This hasn’t left me with much time or motivation for blog posts.

But, I do have lots of stuff to share.  Some is directly from the class but most of it derivative from the concepts I’ve learned and played with on my practice days.

I many even have to double up some weeks.


We didn’t actually make ice cream in class.  But, the base of ice cream is very similar to creme anglaise, custard and pastry cream.  Like I said, derivative.  My very favorite chocolate cake includes a healthy dose of stout beer in the ingredient list.  So, when a friend brought us a Tabasco sauce meant for serving over ice cream I immediately thought of this combination.  It’s a good one!

Stout and Bittersweet Chocolate Ice Cream

adapted ever so slightly from David Lebovitz

makes about one quart


  • 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 C whole milk
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 3/4 C stout beer (Guinness or another favorite)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Put the chocolate pieces in a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top.
  2. Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks (you don’t want to scramble your eggs), whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
  4. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.
  5. Pour the custard through the strainer over the milk chocolate, then stir until the chocolate is melted.
  6. Once the mixture is smooth, whisk in the cream, then the Guinness and vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.
  7. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Summer in a cookie

I meant to make these last summer.

However in that lesson of detail that I seem to learn over and over again, I learned that dried corn and dehydrated/freeze-dried corn are definitely NOT the same thing.

And then I got distracted by something shiny and what are decidedly summer cookies (in my head at least) didn’t seem appropriate when I remembered again in winter.  Luckily, I’d bookmarked this wonderful creation of Christina Tosi’s and, when reorganizing cookbooks, found it again.  In the introduction to the recipe in her book, Milk Momofuko Milk Bar, Ms Tosi explains that she hoarded this recipe for years.

And I totally understand why.  Go ahead and leave your political viewpoints about corn at the door on this one and just give in to the simple deliciousness.

Because I can’t ever seem to leave well-enough alone and my stalking  research on Ms Tosi suggests she’d support some tweaks, I adapted these cheery cookies ever so slightly by adding lemon zest and dried blueberries.  I also scaled them down quite a bit.

They’re soft, chewy and slight crispy  and remind me of sunny summer afternoons after a day spent at the beach or pool.  I think they’d be even more delicious with a scoop of blueberry ice cream or Milkbar’s own sweet corn cereal milk ice cream sandwiched in between a couple.

Corn Cookies

adapted from Christina Tosi, Milk Momofuko Milk Bar


Makes about 2 dozen smaller or 1 dozen large cookies

Note–I use the weight not volume measurements for this recipe.

  • 16 TBS, 2 sticks, 225g room temp butter
  • 1 1/2 C, 300 g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/3 C, 225 g flour
  • 1/4 C, 45 g corn flour
  • 2/3 C, 65 g freeze-dried corn powder (I found freeze dried corn on Amazon but later saw it at Bristol Farms and used a coffee grinder to make the powder)
  • 3/4 tsp, 3 g baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp, 1.5 g baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp, 6 g kosher salt
  • zest from large lemon (or 2 small)
  • 1/2-1 C dried blueberries (depending on taste)


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, corn flour, corn powder, baking powder, soda and salt.  Set aside.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar using the paddle attachment of a standing mixer or an electric mixer on high for 3 minutes.
  3. Scrape-down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and beat for 7-8 minutes.
  4. Reduced the mixer speed to low and add the zest.  Then add the flour mixture, combining until the dough just comes together (no more than a minute).  Fold in the dried blueberries by hand.
  5. For smaller cookies, use about a one ounce scoop (the original recipe calls for a 2  3/4 ounce scoop) and scoop dough out, placing on to a cookies sheet lined with parchment.  Leave a couple inches between each dough mound.
  6. Either pat, or use the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar to flatten-out the dough.  Wrap tightly and cool in fridge for a minimum of  an hour, but up to a week.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  8. Arrange chilled dough on parchment-lined baking sheets (they’ll need more room between them then when you put them in the fridge).  Leave 2 inches in between each.
  9. Bake for 18 minutes.  Cookies will puff, crackles and spread.  Done cookies will be faintly browned on the edges but bright yellow in the middle.
  10. Cool completely on sheets before transferring to a plate, storage container or your mouth.

See ya later summer!

I could wax poetic about the final days of summer slipping into the horizon like grains of stand through an hourglass.  But. Whatever.

For me, Labor Day Weekend is the signal of something new, not the symbol of something lost.  And while I try not to ever wish away time,  I am always glad to see September.

In our neck of the woods, probably like yours, Labor Day weekend is about BBQs, pool parties and trips to the beach.  So, here is a nice accompaniment that’s easy to put together and travels well.

This slightly sweet cornbread calls for three flours: all purpose, corn meal and corn flour.  Okay, to be honest, the original recipe called for masa harina.  I didn’t have it on-hand and  knowingly swapped-in the corn flour (even though one isn’t a substitute for the other).  If you are a purist, find masa harina.  If not, corn flour will do.

My twist includes lemon zest and sliced almonds.  I think the different textures make this simple corn bread interesting.

Adieu summer!  Bring on the Autumn!

If you like this, you might like these

Blueberries and Cream Cookies

Baluberry Muffins

Blueberry Scones

Blueberry Cornbread

adapted from the Sunset Cookbook credited to Doug Case


  • 1 C fresh blueberries
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 1/4 C butter, melted
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2/3 + 2 TBS C all purpose flour
  • 2/3 C yellow cornmeal
  • 2/3 C masa harina (corn flour)
  • 1/4 C sugar + additional for sprinkling on top if desired
  • 1  1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2/3 C slivered or sliced toasted almonds


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter and line with parchment an 8X8 paking pan.
  2. Place clean, dry blueberries in a fine-meshed sieve placed over a bowl.  Sprinkle 2 TBS all purpose flour over the berries.  Gently toss in the sieve to release extra flour into the bowl.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs, buttermilk and butter to blend.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together all purpose flour, corn meal, masa harina, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  5. Stir flour mixture into egg mixture, fold until all ingredients are just combined.
  6. Gently stir-in berries and lemon zest.
  7. Scrape batter into pan; spread level.  Sprinkle almonds and sugar over the top.
  8. Bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 20 minutes.  Allow to cool 10 minutes before cutting.


Ridiculous Salad

I know, I missed last week’s post.  Would you believe I’m still working on it?

In the meantime, I’d like to share something ridiculously delicious.  TD and I have been experimenting with the bounty of summer fruits and vegetables available this time of year.  The following came out of a trip to the farmer’s market and a lazy Sunday evening.

We started with a base of white balsamic and olive oil (we use a basil infused olive oil available in bulk at Whole Foods).  Next, one large tomato chopped into 1/2 inch chunks.  Allow it to drain in a colander with the help of a sprinkle of sea or kosher salt.  Give the whole thing a shake every few minutes to release the tomato juices (into the sink).

The next two piece can be done on the grill or stove-top.  Boil some corn and sear some stone fruit.  Here we’ve used yellow peaches but white peaches, nectarines, plumbs or a combination would fit the bill.  To sear, I gave each half a light coating of olive oil and dropped it into a hot pan for about 90 seconds.

Basil is absolutely necessary here.  Trust me.  We’ve tried the cheese two ways.  Below, we’ve used fresh baby mozzarella.  It works really well.  But, if you want to take things to the next level, use burrata. Burrata cheese and stone fruit together will change you life.

If using the burrata, don’t mix it into the salad.  Plate the salad and then let people dribble their own over the top.  Finally, if you dare, cook up a couple of pieces of super thin prosciutto.   Let it get nice and crispy, then give it a fine chop.  Set aside to sprinkle over the salad right before serving.

Salt and (liberal) fresh cracked pepper to taste.

This can be served as a colorful side or add-in grilled shrimp or chicken for a main dish.

This stuff is ridiculous I tell you.  And, the variations are endless.

If you like this, you might like these

Panzanellaish Salad

Ridiculous Salad

(serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side)


  • 3 TBS white balsamic vinegar
  • 3 TBS olive oil (use the good stuff)
  • 1 large tomato
  • 2 ears of corn, boiled or grilled
  • 3 peaches or nectarines (if using plumbs, use two 5-6)
  • 1/4 C chopped basil
  • Fresh mozzarella or burrata (2-3 ounces per person)
  • 2 slices prosciutto, cooked until crispy and chopped
  • freshly ground salt and pepper to taste


  1. If boiling corn, set ears in a larger saucepan filled with cold water over high heat.  Allow it to come to boil.  Drain immediately and set aside for a few minutes.
  2. While corn is cooking, chop tomato.  Sprinkle with sea or kosher salt and allow to drain in a colander over the sink.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar and oil.
  4. Halve peaches and brush with olive oil.  Heat a large pan over medium high heat, sear, cut side down for 90 seconds.
  5. Chop basil, set aside.
  6. While corn is still warm, cut off-of the ear and add into bowl with oil and vinegar.  Add in tomatoes (use a slotted spoon so that the seeds at the bottom of the colander don’t come along for the ride). Gently toss to coat.  Gently add-in peaches and basil.
  7. Salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Cook prosciutto chop and set aside until just before serving.
  9. Prepare cheese (when using mozzarella, we cut the little balls into wedges slightly smaller than the tomatoes and peaches).
  10. When ready to serve, sprinkle with prosciutto and add cheese.
  11. Note, the peaches and tomato will continue to give-off juices.  If made more than an hour in advance, be sure to drain-off some of the juices before serving.




Early in our relationship, TD and I established the sanctity of Sunday Supper.  I don’t recall us ever doing this with intention.  I suspect it was the product of a cross-town relationship (code for we rarely saw each other during the week) and really good Sunday night television (Sex and the City, The Sopranos etc.). Twelves years later and Monday dinner may be a scrounged peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but Sunday supper is always special.  It’s never elaborate and cooking with fire is usually involved.

One of our favorite Sunday Supper dishes has kind of evolved into being over the years.  The ingredients change depending on the season and what happens to look good a the market.  Sometimes it leans toward the Italian pursuasion.  Others more Greek.  And still others it just does its own thing. It’s an easygoing dish with little in the way of rule following.  We call it panzanella-ish.

Every culture seems to have its way of economizing resources and utilizing leftover starch products in interesting ways.  Panzanella is Tuscany’s.

Let’s start with the tomatoes.  In the heat of summer when it seems like the markets are giving away tomatoes, I like to use beautifully colored heirlooms.  During the off-season, I stick to smaller varieties like grape, cupid or cherry because they pack a little more punch in the way of flavor than the larger, anemic, hothouse varieties.  For panzanella, you want some juice (I don’t seed), but not a ton.  To get to the optimum tomato juice ratio, I cut the tomatoes into bit-sized chunks, set them in a strainer and salt them. Then, I let them sit for about 20 minutes, gently tossing the strainer every five minutes or so to release the juices.  While they are resting, I usually melt in a clove or so of garlic like with my pico recipe.

Oh wait, if you are patient, there is a step before the tomatoes.  My bad.

If you remember to, pour between 1/4 and 1/2 cup  of extra-virgin olive oil in a bowl.  To it, add on large, smashed clove of garlic and desired seasoning (fresh herbs etc).  Let steep for a couple of hours.  This the oil you’ll use to toast your bread cubes.

Back on track.  While the tomatoes are sweating it out, I cut up my sort-of stale bread.  I usually don’t go whole-hog-Thanksgiving-stuffing-stale for panzanellaish.  It’s a personal preference, but we like a little give in the bread.

Also a personal preference, I like to toast the bread on the stove-top.  We aren’t making croutons here and for whatever reason, I tend to forget the bread when I attempt to toast it in the oven.  So, in goes the garlic oil, then the cubes.  Toss to coat and let toast on a couple of sides.

See what I mean?

No matter the persuasion, we always use cucumbers.  Sometimes persian (as I’ve done here), sometimes English, sometimes normal.  Seed them if you want.  We don’t.

This salad needs a little bite to it.  Diced shallot or red onion will do the trick.  Just a little kick.

Herbs are also important.  Remember the Strawberry Shortcake dolls that smelled like their namesakes?  Well, if it was the 80s and I was a strawberry shortcake doll, I’d be Basil Bottechelli.  Mint is lovely too or whatever your favorite combo might be.  When fresh herbs aren’t in season, we toss in some Herbs de Provence (our household’s version of Windex.  Have an issue?  Throw on some Herbs de Provence).

Okay, it’s time to man-up and buy a good hunk of parmesan reggiano.  I’m talking aged at least 18 months (though 24 is better).  It’ll be tough to throw-down upwards of $25 a pound the first time.  But, it will last much longer than you’d expect (even if you are prone to breaking-off hunks with your fork and eating it straight-out as TD and I have become)  And bonus?  The rind is an excellent addition to a soup or tomato sauce recipe.  It’ll change your life.  I swear.  Feta, goat or buffalo mozzarella (think caprese inspired) are genuis in this salad as well.

We microplane.  You could shave with a veggie peeler or grate.  Up to you.

Finish off the salad with some acid, really nice cold-pressed olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  My favorite acid for this is fresh lemon juice.

Toss everything together and then give it about 15 minutes for the bread to soften just a tad.  Pair it with a protein and beautiful wine and, no matter where you happen to be for reals, you’ll swear you’re in Tuscany.


TMH’s Endless Summer playlist.  Beach boys, 2 Wicky, Norah Jones, Karmin, Frank Sinatra, Grouplove, Foster the People, The Black Keys…to name a few.

Misanthropic Hostess Panzanellaish

In lieu of an actual recipe, I submit this diagram for consideration.  Mix and match as desired, adjust ingredient volume to number of people you are feeding (and then, double to be safe, there will never, ever be leftovers).

You should be able to click on the image for full-page display.


This will show those berry-American flag cakes who’s boss

So, did you volunteer to bring dessert to the annual fourth of July [insert you choice of event here]?  Did you maybe slack a little with the sign-up?  Maybe you were distracted by the return of True Blood or the College World Series.  And, in your distraction, did your next-door-neighbor or maybe your Aunt Janet steal the decorated-by-berries-to-look-like-an-American-flag cake, pie or tart slot?

Well then, I have a party cake for you.  Five words: pistachios, limes, angel food cake.

Still with me? If you’ve never made angel food cake, you need to try.  It’s really fun.  And this one starts with 10 egg whites (Hint: use the yolks to make ice cream).

A little cream of tarter will help to stabilize the meringue.

As will a little sugar.  Follow the instructions and repeat after me: one tablespoon at-a-time.

As you may have guessed at this point.  Or maybe you already knew.  Angel food cake gets its light and airy texture from a volumous and glossy meringue.  And this meringue?  Is decorated with lime zest.

The tenatious texture of the batter and the need to be really careful when transferring to your tube pan (so as not to deflate the whole mess) may have you momentarily wonder what you’ve gotten yourself into.  Not to worry.  You’ll see.

See, I told you the cake would turn out.

And here is the fun part–the cake cools…inverted.  If you are using a tube pan like I did, it probably has some handy little spikes that allow you to invert.  If not,  a bottle should work.

While the cake hangs-out, it’s time to attend to the pistachios.  I hand-shelled the ones in this recipe.  It took a long time. Then I learned that you can buy pistachio “meat” at specialty and health food stores.  I found them at Sprouts.  So, pistachios get a nice fine chop.

And then those zested limes?  The juice is made into a syrup.

And this is when the angel food cake gets dressed to party.  Paint on the syrup, smush-in chopped pistachios.  They’ll stick, I swear!

The original recipe calls for a little simple glaze, but, I love the green of the pistachios and didn’t think this cake needed anything more.

Light and refreshing with just enough zing from the lime to make you pucker a little and enough crunch from the pistachios to add intrigue.  Now, whose having us over for the fourth?


Did you know that Pandora has a Kate Spade channel?

4th of July Partay Cake

aka Lime Angel Food Cake with Lime Glaze and Pistachios, yawn

Bon Apetit, April 2010



  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 1/2 cups superfine sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lime peel
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Lime syrup and lime glaze:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
  • 1/2 cup unsalted raw pistachios (about 2 ounces), finely chopped in processor
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Special equipment: 10-inch-diameter angel food cake pan with 4-inch-high sides and removable bottom (do not use nonstick pan)

For cake: 
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Sift flour, 1/2 cup superfine sugar, and salt into medium bowl; repeat sifting 3 times. Using electric mixer, beat egg whites, lime peel, and vanilla on medium speed in large bowl until frothy (mixture may turn neon green but color will change when remaining ingredients are added). Add cream of tartar; increase speed to high and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Sprinkle 1/3 of flour mixture over whites and gently fold in until incorporated. Fold in remaining flour mixture in 2 more additions just until incorporated. Transfer to ungreased 10-inch angel food cake pan with 4-inch-high sides and removable bottom (do not use nonstick pan); smooth top.

Bake cake until pale golden and tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 38 minutes. Immediately invert cake onto work surface if pan has feet, or invert center tube of pan onto neck of bottle or metal funnel and cool cake completely.

Using long thin knife, cut around cake sides and center tube to loosen. Lift out center tube with cake still attached; run knife between cake and bottom of pan to loosen. Invert cake onto rack, then turn cake over, rounded side up. Set rack with cake atop rimmed baking sheet.

For lime syrup and lime glaze: 
Combine sugar and 3 tablespoons lime juice in small saucepan; stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Brush syrup all over top and sides of cake. Immediately press pistachios onto top and sides of cake, pressing to adhere.

Stir powdered sugar with remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice in small bowl until smooth. Drizzle glaze over top of cake. Let stand until glaze sets, about 10 minutes. DO AHEAD: Cake can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and store at room temperature.

Transfer cake to platter; cut into wedges and serve.


Because summer is for loafing

Due to a leap year and some unusual academic scheduling, it just happens to be summer in my world.  Of course no one told that to the intermidable marine layer that hangs around my little neck of the woods (to be fair, it does disapate at around 2:00 each afternoon.  Of course it returns again at 3:00).  But still, it’s summer.  Even if it doesn’t feel like it.  So, I’m celebrating now because by the time real summer rolls around in the lovely South Bay, students will be once again moving into the residence halls.

So then, let’s start the summer with a little loafing.  I came across this recipe for a cream cheese butter cake while researching another recipe.  Now, I know I have at least one other butter cake recipe on this blog but this one had to be made.  I simply couldn’t imagine what cake with not only butter but cream cheese would taste like.  Heaven?  Nirvana?  Paula Dean if you licked her arm?

True to its name, this loaf recipe starts with about 1 1/2 cups of butter and another cup of cream cheese.

If it makes you feel any better, all that dairy does go into two loaves.

And what comes out of the oven is beautifully buttery golden.

I knew that if the cake tasted anything like I’d imagined, we were going to need a acidy to counterbalance the heft of the crumb.  Enter fresh strawberries, some lemon juice,  a little sugar and some heat.

This recipe is solid and would stand up well to whatever summer fruit you’d like to throw at it.


I can’t stop listening to the Glee version of Shake it Out.  Don’t really understand it myself.

Cream Cheese Butter Loaf


  • 3 C all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 C butter, softened
  • 1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs


  1. Preheat oven to 325.  Grease and line with parchment, two loaf pans.
  2. Sift together flour and baking powder, set aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer, cream together butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add-in sugar and beat an additional 3-5 minutes.
  4. Beat-in eggs one-at-a-time.
  5. Gently fold-in flour until just combined.  Divide batter between pans.  Place pans on a jelly roll pan.
  6. Bake until inserted toothpick comes-out with crumbs.
  7. Allow to cool on racks for 10 minutes.  Run a butter or table knife around the edges of each cake.  Gently remove and allow to cool completely on wire baking racks.

Strawberry-Citrus Sauce


  • 1 1 /2 lbs strawberries, cleaned and halved.
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 2 TBS lemon or orange juice
  • zest of 1 lemon (or half a navel orange)


  • Combine all ingredients into a heavy-bottom sauce pan.  Simmer strawberries over medium heat until sauce reduces and becomes thick, 5-10 minutes.  Allow sauce to cool.  If desired, blend some of the sauce, leaving some strawberry chunks for texture.  Store in sealed container in the fridge.