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Archive for October, 2011

Yeast cornbread

I made some killer chili for some chili cheese fries. And I had a lot left over. And eating chili out of a bowl seemed too boring to me, so I did some searching/brainstorming to find something unique. I saw a cornbread panini on Panini Happy, so I thought that would be fun. As I went searching for a new cornbread recipe, I started wondering if the moist, crumbly texture of cornbread would work in a panini. Plus, the shape of the bread posed another problem. So I wondered, are there cornbread recipes that are similar to a sandwich loaf bread in size and texture? Turns out, there are! My main inspirations were from Anecdotes and Apples (the recipe) and The Kitchn (the shaping.) The bread sliced beautifully and the 3:1 ratio of bread flour to cornmeal added just enough corn flavor while still maintaining sandwich slice status. So good!

There was a recipe I almost tried from Taste of Home, but it seemed like it wouldn’t be tall enough and it wouldn’t slice as nice and thin.

Yeasted Corn Bread
1 1/4 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 egg (lightly beaten)
1/4 cup butter (melted and cooled)
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp salt
1 cup cornmeal
3 cups bread flour

1. In a small bowl, combine your warm water, sugar and yeast. Allow to proof for ten minutes.

2. In a large bowl, combine your yeast mixture, egg, honey, butter, salt, cornmeal and flour. Using the dough hook on your stand mixer, mix until combined. Continue to knead with dough hook or remove to a slightly floured surface to knead by hand. Add more water or flour, if necessary. If using a stand mixer, the dough should stick slightly to the bottom of the bowl but not the sides. Knead for 8 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic.

3. Place dough in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

4. Divide dough into eight equal sections and form into rolls (the shape is up to you!). Place rolls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, spray with cooking oil, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for an additional 40-60 minutes.

5. If desired, brush rolls lightly with an egg wash and sprinkle with cornmeal. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool for at least one hour before eating.




THE pizza crust

I have tried many, many pizza crusts. I’ve experimented: honey, sugar, no sweeteners, aged dough, thin crust from Cooks illustrated, olive oil, canola oil, no oil, wine. But this one is the winner! I love to brush the unbaked crust with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan. My biggest secret to rolling out the dough is to split the dough in half (I made half of the recipe) and make two small-medium pizzas. The dough is easier to roll into a circle and easier and transfer to the hot baking stone.

One of my favorite pizzas is the breakfast pizza from Smitten Kitchen. Another fave is buffalo chicken pizza – ranch as the sauce, chicken tossed with Frank’s red hot sauce (try adding butter, brown sugar, and vinegar for a more authentic hot wing sauce), mozzarella and gorgonzola cheeses, and some red onion.

  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F.)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing the pizza crusts
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions for All Purpose Pizza Dough Recipe
  1. Using a stand mixer: Combine the flour and salt and add it to the yeast mixture all at once. Mix it together using the paddle attachment, then change to the dough hook. Knead at low speed for 2 minutes, then turn up to medium speed and knead until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and clusters around the dough hook, about 5 minutes. Hold on to the machine if it bounces around. Turn out onto a clean work surface and knead by hand for 2 or 3 minutes longer. The dough should be smooth and elastic. When you press it with your finger it should slowly spring back, and it should not feel tacky. Kneading the dough by hand: Mix together the yeast, honey, water and olive oil as directed in a medium-size or large bowl. Combine the flour and salt. Fold in the flour a cup at a time using a large wooden spoon. As soon as you can scrape the dough out in one piece, scrape it onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it for 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary until the dough is smooth and elastic. Using a food processor: Mix together the yeast, honey, water and olive oil in a small bowl or measuring cup. Place the flour and salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse once or twice. Then, with the machine running, pour in the yeast mixture. Process until the dough forms a ball on the blades. Remove the dough from the processor and knead it on a lightly floured surface for a couple of minutes, adding flour as necessary, until it is smooth and elastic.
  2. Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl, rounded side down first, then rounded side up. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and leave it in a warm spot to rise for 30 minutes (you can leave it for up to an hour). When it is ready the dough will stretch as it is gently pulled.
  3. Divide the dough into 2 to 4 equal balls, depending on how large you want your pizzas to be. Shape each ball by gently pulling down the sides of the dough and tucking each pull under the bottom of the ball, working round and round the ball 4 or 5 times. Then, on a smooth, unfloured surface, roll the ball around under your palm until the ball feels smooth and firm, about 1 minute. Put the balls on a tray or platter, cover with pan-sprayed plastic wrap or a damp towel, and leave them to rest for at least 30 minutes. At this point, the dough balls can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for 1 to 2 days. You will need to punch them down again when you are ready to roll out the pizzas.
  4. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Place a pizza stone in the oven to heat. In the meantime, press out the dough. Place a ball of dough on a lightly floured surface. While turning the dough, press down on its center with the heel of your hand, gradually spreading it out to a circle 7 to 8 inches in diameter for small pizzas, 12 to 14 for larger pizzas. Alternatively, use a rolling pin to get an even circle. With your fingers, form a slightly thicker raised rim around edge of the circle. Brush everything but the rim with a little olive oil, then top the pizza as you like. You can transfer the pizza to a lightly oiled pizza pan if you like, or bake it directly on the stone.
  5. Depending on your taste, spread the dough with marinara sauce or pesto sauce (about 2 tablespoons for small pizzas, 1/4 to 1/3 cup for larger ones). If you don’t have sauce, a can of tomatoes, drained, chopped, and seasoned with salt and chopped sautéed garlic, will do. Top with the shredded or grated cheeses of your choice (I like a mixture of mozzarella and fontina). Add thinly sliced vegetables such as Roma tomatoes, pitted olives, red peppers, or red onions; sautéed sliced vegetables such as mushrooms, eggplant, zucchini, or artichoke hearts; thinly sliced cured meats such as pepperoni or prosciutto; or small pieces of lightly cooked chicken or shrimp. Add a lightly sprinkling of grated Parmesan or crumbled goat cheese or blue cheese and some minced or julienned fresh herbs such as basil or oregano or dried herbs such as thyme, oregano, or herbes de Provence.
  6. Dust a pizza paddle (also called a baker’s peel) with semolina and slip it under the pizza. Slide the pizza onto the baking stone or into the pizza pan (or place the pizza pan on the stone – the heat from the stone will help it achieve a crisp crust). Bake until the cheese topping is bubbling and the rim of the crust is deep golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  7. Use the pizza paddle to slide the pizza out of the oven and onto a cutting board. Use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife to cut the pizza into slices and serve immediately.
Pizza Dough
  1. 1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large bread bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the honey and stir together. Let sit 2 or 3 minutes or until the water is cloudy. Stir in the olive oil.

Breakfast Pizza
Adapted, barely, from The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook via an earlier version of it

Makes 2 (12-inch) pizzas

When I asked what I would change about this when I make it again, I drew a blank. I actually like it that much the way it is. Nevertheless, the bacon could of course be omitted if you’re bacon-averse, countless toppings could be added from spinach to mushrooms or sausage, you could swap some or all of the mozzarella for goat cheese and you could swap out some of the flour in the crust for whole wheat flour. Although the recipe as is makes two large pizzas, I think it would be fun to make six smaller ones with one egg each in the center — plus, friends could choose their own toppings. So “drew a blank” = okay, I have a few ideas. But I’m pretty sure I’ll be making this exactly as written next time.

1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons bread flour, plus more for dusting
Kosher salt
6 strips bacon
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 cups grated mozzarella
6 large eggs
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons minced chives
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 shallot, minced

The night before, prepare the dough: Place 3/4 cup lukewarm water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Sprinkle in the yeast, stir and let sit for 5 minutes. Add the flour and 1 teaspoon of salt and mix on low for 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes, then increase the speed to high and mix until a smooth dough forms, about 2 minutes more. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, divide into two equal pieces and form each half into a tight ball. Place on a large floured sheet pan, place the pan in a plastic garbage bag, tie the bag loosely and refrigerate overnight.

One to two hours* before baking, place the dough in a warm spot. Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and set a pizza stone on it. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees 30 minutes before you are ready to bake the pizza.

Prepare the dough and toppings: Fry the bacon in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until crisp. Cool on a paper-towel-lined plate; roughly chop.

Dip your hands and a ball of dough into the flour. On a lightly floured countertop, pat the dough into a disc with your fingertips, then drape the dough over your fists and carefully stretch it from beneath to form a 12-inch circle.

Generously dust the surface of a pizza peel or large inverted sheet pan with flour and place the stretched dough on it. Sprinkle the dough with half of the Parmesan, mozzarella and bacon. Crack 3 eggs over the top and season with salt and pepper.

Bake the pizza: Shake the pizza peel slightly to make sure the dough is not sticking. Carefully lift any sections that are sticking and sprinkle a bit more flour underneath, then slide the pizza directly onto the baking stone in one quick forward-and-back motion. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating after 5 minutes. When the crust is golden, the cheese is melted and the egg yolks are cooked, use the peel to transfer the pizza to a cutting board. Sprinkle half of the parsley, chives, scallions and shallot on top. Let cool for 2 minutes, slice and serve immediately. Prepare the second pizza in the same way.

* The original recipe suggests that you take the dough out one hour before baking but I took mine out two hours earlier, because I always find it takes a looong time to get dough back to proofing at room temperature. In this time, you can lazily prepare the toppings and get your oven nice and hot.

Pumpkin cheesecake

So I totally made this last year, but never wrote a post about it. I don’t remember much about it, except that it was freaking delicious and everybody loved it. I drizzled with bottled (?!) caramel sauce and white chocolate chips. Caramelized pecans would have been a great topping.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan-Gingersnap Crust
Recipe by Our Best Bites

1 3/4 C gingersnap crumbs (about 30 small cookies)
6T real butter, melted
3 T brown sugar
3/4 C ground pecans

3 8oz blocks cream cheese
3/4 C canned pumpkin puree
6 oz melted white chocolate (that’s about 1 C white chocolate chips)
1 C sugar
3 eggs
2 t vanilla
1/4 t nutmeg
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/8 t cloves

– 1 C whipping cream, beat with 1/2 tsp vanilla and 4 Tbs powdered sugar until medium peaks form.

– 1/3 C roughly chopped pecans, either toasted or caramelized

– 2 Tablespoons jarred caramel sauce

Preheat oven to 350. Using 2 large pieces of heavy duty foil, securely wrap the bottom and outside of your cheesecake pan. This will prevent leaks when using the water bath.

For Crust:

Use a food processor to crush gingersnaps. Then do pecans. Combine gingersnaps, pecans, brown sugar, and butter and stir well to combine. Press into a 9″ spring form pan. Evenly spread across the bottom of pan and up the sides about 1 inch.

To melt chocolate, place in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until smooth. Set aside.With an electric mixer beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time. Add pumpkin, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves.

With the mixer running, slowly add in white chocolate in a steady stream (or steady blobs).

Pour mixture on top of the crust.

For water bath:

Place cheesecake pan inside of a larger pan. I use a roasting pan, like this. (and by “like this” I mean its appearance, because I most certainly did not pay $270 for mine) Place your cheesecake pan into larger pan. The larger pan should be at least 2-3 inches in depth. Place in pre-heated oven. With a kettle or pitcher filled with hot water, pour water into the larger pan about halfway up, or approximately 1 1/2 to 2 inches.

Bake for 60-75 minutes or until set. The center should be just a tad bit jiggly still. It will finish cooking while cooling.

When it’s done, remove from oven and place on a rack until completely cool. Place in the fridge for at least 12 hours.  This is a very soft cheesecake so sufficient chilling is a must!

When ready to serve spread sweetened whipped cream on top, drizzle caramel sauce over it, and sprinkle with pecans.

Gyro meat

I’ve tried gyro meat recipes before, and they’ve always been tasty, but they lack the distinct texture of an authentic gyro. Since I don’t have a rotisseire, it’s impossible to replicate it exactly, but I’ve found a method that’s pretty dang close! It is from Alton Brown. His oven method is pretty genius. The meat is pureed in a food processor with onions and spices, then packed into a loaf pan. Then once it hits the right temperature, a brick wrapped in foil (or whatever heavy objects you have lying around) compresses the meat while it continues to cook on the counter. I chose to make it ahead of time and then refer to a crisping method from Serious Eats. Once the meat is thinly sliced, it is broiled until the edges get crisp and warm. It is served on pita (or my fav soft wrap bread), with tzatziki, tomatoes, and onions. Wrapped in foil if you prefer. Serious Eats tries a method of pre-salting the meat before the puree, which I would like to try next time.

I used 1/4 lb ground lamb, and 1 lb ground beef. This made several very quick meals. Instead of the spices Alton suggests, I used 1 tbsp of a gyro spice mix my grandparents brought me from Greece. No clue what’s in it, but it’s good!



  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped or shredded
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon dried ground rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Tzatziki Sauce, recipe follows


Process the onion in a food processor for 10 to 15 seconds and turn out into the center of a tea towel. Gather up the ends of the towel and squeeze until almost all of the juice is removed. Discard juice.

Return the onion to the food processor and add the lamb, garlic, marjoram, rosemary, salt, and pepper and process until it is a fine paste, approximately 1 minute. Stop the processor as needed to scrape down sides of bowl.

To cook in the oven as a meatloaf, proceed as follows:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Place the mixture into a loaf pan, making sure to press into the sides of the pan. Place the loaf pan into a water bath and bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the mixture reaches 165 to 170 degrees F. Remove from the oven and drain off any fat. Place the loaf pan on a cooling rack and place a brick wrapped in aluminum foil directly on the surface of the meat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees F. Slice and serve on pita bread with tzatziki sauce, chopped onion, tomatoes and feta cheese.

To cook on a rotisserie, proceed as follows:

Form the meat mixture into a loaf shape and place on top of 2 overlapping pieces of plastic wrap that are at least 18 inches long. Roll the mixture in the plastic wrap tightly, making sure to remove any air pockets. Once the meat is completely rolled in the wrap, twist the ends of the plastic wrap until the surface of the wrap is tight. Store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to overnight, to allow the mixture to firm up.

Preheat the grill to high.

Place the meat onto the rotisserie skewer. Place a double-thick piece of aluminum foil folded into a tray directly under the meat to catch any drippings. Cook on high for 15 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium and continue to cook for another 20 to 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165 degrees F. Turn off the heat and allow to continue to spin for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees. Slice and serve on pita bread with tzatziki sauce, chopped onion, tomatoes, and feta cheese.

Tzatziki Sauce:

16 ounces plain yogurt

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped

Pinch kosher salt

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

5 to 6 mint leaves, finely minced

Place the yogurt in a tea towel, gather up the edges, suspend over a bowl, and drain for 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Place the chopped cucumber in a tea towel and squeeze to remove the liquid; discard liquid. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the drained yogurt, cucumber, salt, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and mint. Serve as a sauce for gyros. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

  • For the meat:
  • 1 pound ground lamb (or ground 85% lean ground beef—see note)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon table salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons picked fresh oregano leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/2 onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 3 ounces slab bacon (or about 5 slices sliced bacon), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • For the yogurt sauce:
  • 3/4 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced on microplane
  • 2 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley or mint
  • To serve:
  • 4 pieces soft, hand-pulled-style pita (not pocket pita)
  • Chopped fresh tomato
  • Finely sliced onion
  • Cubed peeled seeded cucumber
  • Hot sauce


  1. Combine lamb, salt, pepper, and oregano in medium bowl. Mix with hands until homogeneous. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to over night. Meanwhile, place yogurt in fine-mesh strainer set over small bowl. Allow to drain in refrigerator for 1 hour. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 300°F. Place cold mixture in bowl of food processor with onion, garlic, and bacon. Process until smooth puree is formed, about 1 minute total, scraping down sides with rubber spatula as necessary.
  2. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. With moist hands, form meat mixture into rectangle about 1 1/2 inches high, 8-inches long, and 5-inches wide. Bake until center of loaf reads 155°F on an instant read thermometer, about 30 minutes. Allow loaf to rest at room temperature for fifteen minutes (or refrigerate for up to a week—see note)
  3. Meanwhile, make sauce. Combine strained yogurt, mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, and parsley and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.
  4. Adjust broiler rack to highest position (about 1 1/2 to 2 inches from broiler element) and preheat broiler. Slice loaf crosswise into 1/8th to 1/4-inch strips (each strip should be about 5-inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide). Lay strips on rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and broil until edges are brown and crispy, about 2 minutes. Tent with aluminum foil. Warm bread by placing on rimmed baking sheet and broiling until soft and pliant, about 45 seconds per side.
  5. Spread 1/4 cup of sauce over each piece of bread. Divide meat evenly between sandwiches. Top as desired, wrap with foil, and serve.

Pumpkin cake

Pumpkin is ALL over the blog world. Every where I look, there is a new pumpkin recipe. Most commonly I see pumpkin bread, cake, or cupcakes. And I’m starting to notice a lot of similarities between the various recipes. 1 cup oil, 4 eggs, 3 cups flour, etc, etc. I wanted something different. I wanted a cake that less dense and heavy without sacrificing any moisture. I wanted a layer cake so I could experiment with some new frostings. Cream cheese frosting seems to be the way to go, and sometimes I see little additions like cinnamon or maple syrup. I was about to forgo any type of cream cheese frosting because it’s so typical until I found caramel and cream cheese frosting from Epicurious. It is amazing, omg. The cake recipe from that site didn’t get rave reviews so I kept searching. The first cake I made was from Food and Wine. It had oil, and the standard pumpkin bread ingredients and quantities, with the addition of milk. I baked it and it was very good. A lighter, fluffier version of regular old Pumpkin bread. It may not have been that exciting, but I know for sure it’s a crowd pleaser.

The second pumpkin cake was from Annie’s Eats, and it called for creamed butter and buttermilk. The flavor was more interesting, and there was a definite difference in taste. But it would be a lot harder to taste the difference in a finished, final layer cake. The more noticeable difference was the texture. This cake was almost too moist. The first time I made it, it was underbaked. So I remade it, and it was still very very moist. It almost felt underbaked because it was so once I put it in my mouth. But I know it was cooked all of the way. So, if I made it again, I would take out maybe 1/4 cup of wet ingredients and maybe add a few extra minutes of bake time. It’s hard to tell what temperature my oven is really at, I really need a new thermometer. There is a filling and frosting to go with this cake, but I haven’t gotten around to making it.

If I were to use the caramel cream cheese frosting for a layer cake, I would make 1.5 times the recipe because many reviewers thought it wasn’t quite enough.

Both cakes shocked me because they remained moist and delicious for four days in a cake storage container lightly covered with plastic wrap. They probably would have lasted longer but I froze the remainder.


  • 1 1-pound box powdered sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

For frosting: 
Sprinkle 1/2 cup powdered sugar over bottom of small nonstick skillet. Cook over medium heat until sugar melts (do not stir). Continue cooking until sugar turns deep amber, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Carefully stir in 1/2 cup cream, vanilla, and salt (mixture will bubble vigorously). Stir until any caramel bits dissolve. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon cream. Strain into small bowl. Cool caramel to room temperature.

Sift remaining powdered sugar into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Beat in cooled caramel. Cover and chill frosting until firm enough to spread, about 2 hours.

Using long serrated knife, trim rounded tops from cakes. Place 1 cake layer on cake plate, cut side up. Spread 3/4 cup frosting over. Place second cake layer, cut side down, atop frosting. Cover top and sides of cake with remaining frosting, creating smooth surface. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover with cake dome or large bowl and chill. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours before serving.
Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Pumpkin-Spice-Layer-Cake-with-Caramel-and-Cream-Cheese-Frosting-350492#ixzz1brf7jKST

Spice Layer Cake Food and Wine


  1. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  3. 1 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  5. 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  6. 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  7. 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  8. 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  9. 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  10. 4 large eggs
  11. 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  12. One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  13. 1/2 cup whole milk
  1. Transfer the caramel to the large bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk and beat at low speed until the caramel cools slightly and comes together, about 5 minutes. With the machine on, beat in the cream cheese, 1 cube at a time and beating well between additions, until silky. Transfer the frosting to a bowl and refrigerate until very firm, at least 6 hours.
  2. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE CAKE Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter and flour two 8-inch round cake pans. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, nutmeg and cloves.
  3. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the brown sugar and eggs at medium-high speed until fluffy, 3 minutes. Beat in the oil, then beat in the pumpkin puree. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk in 3 batches, beating well between additions.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool on a rack for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edges to loosen the cakes, then invert them onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Place one layer on a plate and spread with 1 cup of the caramel–cream cheese frosting. Top with the second layer and frost the top and side. Refrigerate the cake for 2 hours before serving.
MAKE AHEAD The cake can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Serve cold or at room temperature. NOTES The cake can be garnished with candied nuts.



Pumpkin Cake with Butterscotch Filling and Brown Sugar Icing


For the cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

½ tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp. salt

1 ½ cups pumpkin puree

1 cup buttermilk

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 cup tightly packed light brown sugar

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract


For the filling:

¾ cup heavy cream

¾ cup sugar

¼ tsp. fresh lemon juice

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 4 – 1 oz. pieces

¾ cup chopped nuts, such as pecans or walnuts (optional)


For the icing:

2 cups tightly packed brown sugar

1 cup heavy cream

2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 8 – 1 oz. pieces

¼ tsp. cream of tartar



Line the bottoms of 2 round 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper.  Grease the parchment, as well as the sides of the pans.  Preheat the oven to 325°.  Center a rack in the oven.


To make the cake, combine the flour, baking soda, spices and salt in a medium bowl.  Set aside.  In a small bowl, combine pumpkin puree and buttermilk and mix until smooth.  Set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Increase to high speed and beat for an additional 2 minutes.  Scrape down the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and scraping down the bowl between additions.  Add the vanilla extract and beat on high for 30 seconds.  With the mixer running on low speed, alternate adding the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients.  Mix until just combined.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a rubber spatula to finish mixing the batter, until smooth and thoroughly combined.


Immediately divide the batter between the prepared cake pans, spreading evenly.  Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans 10 minutes.  Invert onto a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely.


To make the filling, heat the cream in a saucepan over medium-low heat until hot (do not allow to boil or simmer).  Combine sugar and lemon juice in a separate saucepan and stir with a whisk to combine (the sugar will resemble moist sand).  Caramelize the sugar for 4-5 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a whisk to break up any lumps.  Remove the saucepan from the heat.  Add the hot cream, one half at a time.  Add the butter, one piece at a time, stirring to incorporate completely before adding the next piece.  Cool in the refrigerator 45 minutes.  Place in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high speed for 2 minutes, until light (but not fluffy).  Add the chopped nuts and stir to incorporate.  Set aside.


To make the icing, heat the brown sugar, heavy cream, 2 – 1 oz. pieces of butter, and cream of tartar in a 2-3 quart saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, while bringing the mixture to a boil.  Allow the mixture to continue boiling while stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.  Transfer the bubbling hot mixture to a stainless steel bowl and allow to stand at room temperature for 1 hour before proceeding.  Place the cooled mixture in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes, adding the 6 remaining pieces of butter one at a time, until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Increase the speed to high and beat for an additional 2 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat on high for an additional 1 minute until light and fluffy.

To assemble the cake, place one of the pumpkin cake layers on a cake platter or a cardboard cake circle.  Spread butterscotch filling evenly on top of cake.  Top with remaining layer of cake, pressing down firmly.  Frost sides and top of cake with brown sugar icing.  Use remaining frosting to pipe decorative accents onto top and bottom edge of the cake.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes before cutting and serving.

Source: adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody





French dip sandwich with onion spread

I was drawn to this recipe because of the onion spread. I’ve made French dip a couple of times, so I wanted something new. The spread had a little too much worschestershire for my taste, and not enough onions. But it was a fun addition to a pretty standard sandwich!

I didn’t use Food Network’s beef recipe because I bought a cut that is more suited to a crock pot. So I used Real Mom Kitchen’s recipe for the Best Ever Beef Dip Sandwich. I used beef broth instead of water. It would be cool to make the sliced beef and the butter/shery sauce according to Food Network’s recipe. Maybe one day! I found the recipe on Pass the Sushi.

French Dip Sandwiches

from Food Network Magazine, April 2011


For the Onion Spread

  • 3 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 medium shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 bunches scallions, chopped (white and green parts separated)
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 2 teas white wine vinegar
  • 2 teas Worcestershire sauce

For the Beef:

  • 6 cloves garlic
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 teas extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teas celery salt
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 3-to-4 lb beef eye round roast
  • 4 cups low-sodium beef broth, divided
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 springs parsley

For the Jus:

  • 2 tbs unsalted butter
  • 2 tbs all-purpose flour
  • 2 teas dry sherry
  • 6 6-inch Italian rolls, split and lightly toasted


For the Onion Spread: Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt; cover and cook, stirring until golden, about 35 minutes. Add the shallots and scallion whites; cover and cook, stirring, until browned about 25 more minutes. Stir in the scallion greens, then remove from heat and let cool.

Chop the onion mixture and transfer to a bowl. Add the sour cream, mayo, vinegar, Worcestershire, and 1 teas salt. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

For the Beef: Mince the garlic, then sprinkle with 1 teas salt and mash into a paste with the flat side of a large knife. Transfer to a bowl; add the oil, celery salt, cayenne, and 1/2 teas black pepper. Cut small slits all over the beef with a knife, then use your fingers to push the garlic paste into the slits. Cover; refrigerate at least 1 hour to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bring the beef to room temperature. Sprinkle with 2 teas salt and 1/2 teas pepper. Place on a rack in a roasting pan; add 1 cup broth, water, the celery, onion and parsley to the pan. Roast 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and roast until a thermometer inserted into the center of the beef registers 115 degrees F, about 45 minutes more. Transfer to a cutting board; let rest 20 minutes. Strain the pan juices, reserve.

For the Jus: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Whisk in the reserved pan juices and the remaining 3 cups broth slowly and bring to a boil, whisking. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sherry.

Assemble the sandwiches: Brush the rolls with some of the onion spread. Thinly slice the beef against the grain. Dunk the slices in the jus, then layer on the rolls. Serve with the remaining jus in small bowls for dipping.

Best Ever Beef Dip Sandwiches

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 6 cups water
  • 3-4 pounds beef chuck roast
  • rolls or buns
  • sliced provolone
  1. Combine garlic, rosemary, bay leaves, soy sauce, and water in a slow cooker.  Stir to combine.
  2. Place the roast in the liquid in the slow cooker.  Cook on low for 6-10 hours.
  3. Remove roast from slow cooker and shred.  Place liquid from slow cooker in another container and remove bay leaf.  Return shredded beef to slow cooker.  Add a small amount to the reserved liquid.  Add just enough to make the beef nice and moist.
  4. Place slice rolls or buns on a baking sheet.  Place one slice of provolone on each roll.  Place on the center rack of an oven under the broiler. (placing it on the center rack prevents burning)  Broil until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown.
  5. Serve meat on the rolls or buns along side reserved liquid for dipping.

Avgolemono soup

Erin really likes this soup, so I thought it would be a fun thing to cook together. I wanted to make it a day ahead so the flavors could develop. It wasn’t my absolute fave, but it was a really good version of avgolemono soup. We made the soup according to the recipe and let it sit on the stove for like 30 minutes at a low heat. Then we refridgerated the soup overnight in a plastic container. We wanted to add our own spin, so we diced and sauteed half of an onion before adding the soup back into the pot. We also added some minced garlic. I was thinking about adding flour to the onions before adding the liquid but I forgot. The soup was smooth and tasty after adding a butt load of smoked salt. The only issue I add was that is was a little too acidic for me. A splash of cream and some butter for the leftovers fixed that problem! Erin really liked it and thought it was better than other ones she’s had, so yay!

I changed the recipe, which I got from Sassy Radish, to the measurements/substitutions I made. It made 3 dinner servings and 2 lunch servings.

Avgolemono Soup


  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup long-grain rice or orzo (I used arborio rice and cooked it with 1/2 cup chicken stock covered for 12 ish minutes)
  • 3 eggs
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 7 oz leftover chicken
  • Pepper to taste
  • 4 tbsp chopped parsley
  • Splash olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Splash cream and/or tbsp butter


1. Cook rice in 1/2 cup chicken stock, covered in a small sauce pan. When cooked (12+ minutes), set aside.

2. Heat chicken stock in stock pot.

3. While chicken stock is heating, whisk together eggs and lemon juice.

4. Pour 1/2 cup of warm chicken stock into egg mixture, whisking continuously so the eggs don’t cook. Pour tempered eggs into soup pot.

5. Add chicken and rice, and let sit on the low or turned off stove for 30+ minutes. Let cool and put in fridge overnight.

6. The next night, dice 1/2 onion and saute in a little bit of olive oil for 8 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for one minute.

7. Add soup to pot and reheat slowly. Cover the pot and don’t touch for 5 or so minutes. Taste and add salt until it tastes delicious.