Friday, December 24, 2010

Banana Crumb Muffins

Tender muffins made with bananas. A sweet crumb top. I want to take these muffins on a picnic. I want to alternate taking bites of muffin and taking sips of black coffee.

Bananas, why are you so yummy? Why are you so yummy in baked goods, in smoothies, in pancakes, with peanut butter?

Bananas, why do you sometimes attract little fruit flies? Why do the flies love you so?

Banana Crumb Muffins
from pipandebby

serves 12


1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 large ripened bananas, mashed
3⁄4 cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted

Crumb top:
2/3 cup packed (light or golden) brown sugar
4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.

2. In a large bowl, mix together 11⁄2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and 1/3 cup melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

3. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 4 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Pour in the butter, one tablespoon at a time, just until moistened. It will resemble coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Chocolate Truffles: 5th Avenue Chocolatiere New York


5th Avenue Chocolatiere

693 Third Avenue at 43rd Street
New York, NY 10017
(212) 935-5454

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Oh Cappuccino, You Have My Heart

I'm in bed at 10pm on a rainy Tuesday night.
I'm already fantasizing about waking up tomorrow.
I'm fantasizing about sipping my morning cup of coffee.

I like strong coffee. I like Americanos. But on a day when I need a little extra love and joy, I go for a cappuccino. Oh cappuccino, you have my heart.

Caffe Strada
2300 College Ave
(between Bancroft Way & Durant Ave)
Berkeley, CA 94704

Saturday, December 18, 2010

R.I.P. Purple Pumpkin, HELLO Pumpkin Mac n' Cheese

So we've had this ridged purple pumpkin living with us since October. Today was the day that I transformed our dear purple pumpkin into some precious puree.



This dear purple pumpkin made a TON of puree.

The 1/2 cup of puree that I used tonight in my pumpkin mac n' cheese barely made a dent in the sea of puree that is left.

But the mac n' cheese sure was thick, creamy, and...bright orange!

Pumpkin Mac n' Cheese


What you'll need . . .
  • 1-1/2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon flour (any kind will work, I used all-purpose)
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (unsweetened)
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup pureed garbanzo beans (or hummus, or cream cheese...I used cream cheese)
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • OPTIONAL: flaky sea salt, breadcrumbs, fried sage/rosemary
Method . . .
  1. Cook the pasta to the package directions.
  2. While you wait for it to finish: Spray the inside of a large sauce-pot with the cooking spray. Pour the olive oil into a large sauce-pot and cook over medium heat. Then stir in the flour and keep stirring until the mixture is thick -- but not browned. (About 1 minute)
  3. Add the milk and stir constantly for about 3 minutes or so. Until thick.
  4. Add the pumpkin puree, cheese, and pureed garbanzo beans (or hummus, or cream cheese)(to puree the garbanzos, just rise a can of beans, put in a food processor with a couple tablespoons water, pulse until smooth -- like hummus), paprika, and pepper. Stir until everything is melted. Add more seasonings to taste.
  5. When you pasta is done, just drain and add to the cheese mixture. Stir for a minute or two, then turn off the heat and serve.
  6. Adding some flaky sea salt, breadcrumbs and/or fried sage or rosemary gives this dish a leg up.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Toast and Coffee: Ahh, the Simple Enjoyment of Eating

Toast. Butter. Nectarine Jam.

A strong smooth Americano.

The simple enjoyment of eating.

It feels great to start the morning off on the right foot.

Pizzaiolo Oakland

5008 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609
Tel: (510) 652-4888

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cheesy-Veggie Pie, with Salami, held together by Eggs and a Splash of Milk

Quiche? Frittata? Cheesy-veggie pie, with salami, held together by eggs and a splash of milk.

Whatever its called, its easy, I made it up, its healthy, its got pie crust.

And it's great leftover the next day.

Cheesy-Veggie Pie, with Salami, held together by Eggs and a Splash of Milk

1 recipe for pie crust
1 head of broccoli, cut into tiny bites
1 zucchini, sliced thin
8 slices salami
Cheddar cheese + this other amazing Spanish cheese that I had, too
6 eggs
splash of milk
salt and pepper

1. Make you crust. Refrigerate. Roll it out. Place into a pie plate or tart pan lined with parchment. Pre-bake your crust in a 400 degree F oven until just lightly colored, about 15-20 min.

2. Take your zucchini and salami and place along the bottom of the tart pan. Whisk together your broccoli, cheeses, and eggs with a splash of milk and salt and pepper. Pour into the tart pan over the salami and zucchini. Bake until done, about 30 min.

3. Let cool for about 5 minutes. Serve.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Minestrone Soup

Yesterday I bawled my eyes out.

Amongst many other pressing stress issues going on in my life, one of the reasons I was crying was due to a lack of vegetables.

No joke and this is not pathetic; eating my vegetable variety is integral to my sanity.

I was unsatisfied with my eating habits for the week and it really hit me hard.

All week I was imagining a huge box of fresh vegetables just somehow appearing on my counter top so that I could make bounties of veggie stir-fries and veggie roasts and veggie soups. Unfortunately the vegetable gods did not hear my today I sucked it up and went to the store (aka today I made the time to go to the store).

I cooked up a HUGE pot of minestrone soup so that I could be eating leftovers for days. Take that, tears.

Break some bread, grate some Parm, and slurp some soup. It'll calm you down.

Minestrone Soup

10 servings
from Cooking on the Side

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced on the bias
2 small zucchini, trimmed and sliced into rounds
32 oz broth
2 cans (14.5 oz each) petite diced tomatoes, with juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
freshly ground black pepper
10-12 oz macaroni, uncooked
1 can (15.8 oz) white beans, rinsed and drained

1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrots, and zucchini and cook for 4-5 minutes, until veggies are soft-ish.

2. Add broth, tomatoes, oregano, basil, and pepper. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook for 8-10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in the white beans until heated through.

3. Ladle into bowls and serve with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and rustic bread.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pear and Cranberry Holiday Spice Cake

Studded with pears and dotted with cranberries, freshly grated nutmeg and sweet powdery cinnamon, beautiful bundt lines and a dusty sugar top. If that doesn't scream cozy fall cake then...well...then I don't know.

Then go for a walk in New York's Central Park...

...and when you are done with your walk, come eat my cake. Maybe then the cake will scream "cozy fall day on a plate".

This cake is dairy-free (it uses oil instead of butter). This cake is not non-fat. This cake is moist and satisfying and just flat-out cozy. Lately I have been craving cozy. A lot. For now, this cake helps fill my cozy void.

30 minutes after the cake came out of the oven, it slipped right out of the pan. It slipped right out of the pan and then I flipped it out onto a platter to cool. It slipped right out of the pan, flipped onto the platter, and later that night and for the last few days, I dipped it into my coffee and popped it right into my mouth.

Thanks for the great recipe, Joy!

Pear and Cranberry Holiday Spice Cake

recipe from

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 Tablespoon dark Rum (or Bourbon or orange juice)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 pears, peeled, cored and cut into a 1/4 inch dice (you can make the pear slices slightly bigger if you like a chunkier cake)

1/2 cup fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped (or raisins or dried cranberries or dried apricots diced or chopped walnuts maybe even chocolate chips)


Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan, knocking out excess flour.

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.

Whisk together oil, eggs, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, rum or bourbon and vanilla in a large bowl until just combined. Fold in flour mixture until just combined, then fold in apples and cranberries. The batter will feel thick and heavy. Spoon the batter into pan.

Bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack for 30 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Rewind...

2 years ago. I tackled the entire bird for the first time.

I was a skinny little twerp taking the guts out of a big ol' turkey. But I did it. I won the battle. I successfully baked my spice-rubbed turkey to a lovely golden brown. At least the oven didn't light on fire (yes, that did happen one year).

Fast forward 2 years. My mother thought it would be simpler to just by a netted breast and thigh rather than deal with the bird as a whole. We nestled the meat atop an aromatic bed of onions, carrots, and fennel. Then mama had this crazy good idea to pour an entire bottle of white wine over the whole darn thing. Crazy good.

Whoa Nelly! That's one glistening bird. The tough part is keeping it nice and juicy, a rare occurrence in my family's home (let's just say we have been known to make dry dry dry and did I say dry poultry). My mom does know how to cook up some real good red meat, but I will save those stories for another day...

Happy Turkey Day everyone!

Oh, and here's a little snippet of some of this year's "sides" (sides in "" because I usually consider them my "mains"...the sides are always my fav.!) :

Friday, November 19, 2010

Nick Malgieri's Supernatural Brownies

Ok so I'm clumsy. You don't even want to know how many of my shirts have food stains on them. Most of them aren't even from baking/cooking, they are from my sloppy eating habits...I really need to start carrying my tide-to-go pen on me at all times. It's really the only way.

Ok so I made a whole pan of brownies. There was no way that I wasn't going to nibble on one hot out of the oven, how could anyone possibly wait until they are cool?

Ok so this was a very crazy week and I began many a morning with a comforting cappuccino and ended many nights chowing down on chocolate covered cranberries. That's just how it goes.

Chocolate + Butter
Melted Chocolate + Butter

A week ago I spent the afternoon procrastinating studying "diseases of the liver." I was sitting at a cafe looking up brownie recipes. All I have wanted this entire week was to make brownies. Uber-rich, uber-buttery, uber-fudgey brownies. A week later and I've finally done it. I've made the brownies that I have been dreaming about for 7 days.

Special thanks to Kiri for recommending this recipe to me...

Nick Malgieri's Supernatural Brownies

recipe from Saveur magazine

makes 24 brownies

16 tablespoons butter
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, cut in 1/4" pieces
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup flour

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 x 13" pan with butter and line with parchment paper. Grease the parchment. Set pan aside.

2. Pour enough water into a 4 quart saucepan that it reaches a depth of 1". Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Combine butter and chocolate in a medium bowl; set bowl over saucepan
(do not let the bottom of the bowl directly touch the water). Cook, stirring until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Whisk together eggs in a large bowl. Add sugars, vanilla, and salt. Stir in chocolate-butter mixture. Fold in the flour. Pour into prepared pan; spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Let cool on a rack. Cut and serve.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lemon Chicken Breast with Pan-Roasted Veggies

Leftovers for lunch. What a rare occasion these days. I mean, I do love making sandwiches, but sometimes I just crave a little variety...

Over the weekend, I attended a cooking class in Napa Valley at Whole Foods Market where we made this totally amazing
Moroccan rack of lamb with couscous and fall vegetable ragu

(complete with harissa (red) and chemoula (green) sauces mmm):

The cooking class was part of Sprouts Cooking Club, a cooking program for children in the Bay Area. This class, however, was part of an ADULT series. (Check out their website for more info:

After the class, there were a ton of leftover vegetables and so I took a few home to use for my own pan-roasted vegetable recipe: fennel, beautiful green top carrots, broccoli, and turnip.

The pan-roasted veggie recipe is so simple and any vegetables can be used. I love all the colors-orange, green, yellow, white...

Pan-Roasted Veggies

Adapted from Barefoot Contessa's Back to Basics

serves 4

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 white turnip, 1-inch dice
2 carrots, 1-inch dice (preferably from carrots with the greens attached)
1 large fennel bulb, diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 head of broccoli, chopped
4 fresh sprigs if your favorite herb (rosemary or thyme are great)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
**I also added a splash of balsamic to my veggies at the very end!!

Melt the butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan that has a tight-fitting lid. When the butter is melted, add everything and toss with the butter. Cover the pan and cook over low-ish heat for 10 minutes. Take the lid off and stir. Cover again and continue to cook for another 5 or so minutes, until all the vegetables are tender. Taste for seasonings and serve hot.

**If you want to double this recipe, make it in 2 batches or use 2 12-inch saute pans. You want to the vegetables to brown on the bottom as well as steam in their own juices.

To go along with my vegetable array, I made a very simple roasted lemon chicken. Saute garlic in olive oil, add some wine, lemon zest and juice, and oregano, plop the chicken over the sauce and roast. Bam.

Leftovers for lunch. Yum yum yum. Aaaannnnd I can take a decent photo of my lunch-leftovers because during the fall/winter, natural lighting is not really feasible for dinner-time photos.

Roasted Lemon Chicken Breast

From Barefoot Contessa

serves 4

1/4 cup good olive oil
3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves (I used rosemary)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts, skin on (roughly 6 oz each)
1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the garlic, and cook for just 1 minute but don’t allow the garlic to turn brown. Off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt and pour into a 9 X 12-inch baking dish.

Pat the chicken breasts dry and place them skin side up over the sauce. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle them liberally with salt and pepper. Cut the lemon in 8 wedges and tuck it among the pieces of chicken.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the chicken is done and the skin is lightly browned. If the chicken isn’t browned enough, put it under the broiler for 2 minutes. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot with the pan juices.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcake Cones...Cuteness Overload

Note to self: Do NOT eat coffee ice cream right before bed. Do NOT eat coffee ice cream right before bed when you have to wake up in the 6 o'clock hour the next morning.

Ok now that we have that taken care of, let's talk ice cream. No, wait, let's talk cupcakes. No, let's talk cupcakes baked in ice cream cones. What? Gah. Help.

Cuties in a cone. Yep. Really cute cupcakes baked in ice cream cones. The perfect birthday gift.

**There is no actual ice cream in these cupcakes

They look like hearts don't they?

The cupcake cone idea came from the KitchyKitchen (she has a really great tutorial video). The frosting recipe was from Annie'sEats and the cake part came from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook

makes about 9 ice cream sugar cones-full

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

2 1/2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

3 Tablespoons red food coloring (I used much less because I ran out; only about 1-1.5 Tbsp.)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Turn mixer to high and add the egg. Scrape down the bowl and beat until well incorporated.

In a separate bowl mix together cocoa, vanilla and red food coloring to make a thick paste (mine did not get to that thick paste consistency because I added much less food still worked fine even if it wasn't a paste). Add to the batter, mixing thoroughly until completely combined. You may need to stop the mixer to scrape the bottom of the bowl, making sure that all the batter gets color.

Turn mixer to low and slowly add half of the buttermilk. Add half of the flour and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl and repeat the process with the remaining milk and flour. Beat on high until smooth.

Turn mixer to low and add baking soda and white vinegar. Turn to high and beat a few more minutes.

Spoon batter into flat-bottomed sugar cones set in a muffin pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center cupcake comes out clean.

Let rest in the pan for 10 minutes, then place them of a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

***NOTE: These are best eaten the day of otherwise the cones will get soggy. Sticking the cupcake cones in the refrigerator helps slow the sogginess slightly...

Cream Cheese Frosting

From Annie's Eats

8 oz. cream cheese
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth. Frost cooled cupcakes as desired. (Like Annie, I used a large, unlabeled star tip to frost these cupcakes.)