It was only after I’d started making this coffee cake, mixing the butter and sugar, that I realized this wasn’t a round 9-inch cake sort of deal; this was a 13 X 9-inch beast.
Yes, I know, you’re supposed to study a recipe carefully before proceeding; and yes, you’re supposed to butter the pan before you start (I tend to do it right before adding the batter). But the point is: I made a giant coffee cake. And the larger point is: it was so outrageously good, with a chocolate cinnamon swirl inside and pecans on top, that it was gone in a matter of days.
It’s pretty comical to come to Bellingham, Washington for Christmas. Comical because, for this Boca Ratonian Jew, it’s like stepping out of a noisy deli into a Christmas card. I’m writing this right now in a coffee shop with a Yule log burning on the fire and several people sitting around me who look like Santa Claus. Last night, when Craig and I stepped out of the car after driving up here from Seattle, a crowd of people stood around a bonfire singing Christmas carols. He’s not even dead but I’m pretty sure the rabbi who oversaw my Bar Mitzvah is rolling around in his grave.
Let’s say you have a loved one who doesn’t cook (ahem) and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner (ahem) and you’re sick and tired of slaving over a hot stove, day in and day out, and wish that just once (ahem) they’d make you dessert.
Ok, my “ahems” are a bit unfair: that made it sound like I’m complaining about my own domestic situation. I’m not. I don’t want Craig to make me dessert–I like making my own dessert, thank you very much–but you, yes YOU, may wish your loved one to make you dessert this Valentine’s Day. It’s very understandable. Well here’s the solution: open up this post on their computer, leave it open, and maybe they’ll get the hint. This is a pretty foolproof beginner cook dessert option and it’s out-of-this-world good.
What you see here is documentation of a very strange practice, a funny thing I do each time I pull a recipe from the internet. What I do is: instead of printing the recipe out with my printer (which is totally hooked up and ready to use), I grab a piece of paper and write the recipe down off the screen. It occurs to me now that the reason I do this is so that I’m aware of all the steps of the recipe before I go into the kitchen to see the recipe through. Writing it down allows me to synthesize everything–the ingredients I need, the prep I need to do, the oven temp (if the oven has to go on)–and I think that this funny thing I do accounts for the frequent success I have with recipes. By the time I begin the actual cooking, I’m well aware of all the steps and what has to happen to make it all come together. That’s way better than printing the recipe and winging the recipe step by step only to hit a wall when you realize you have no smoked paprika.
The recipe you see above is a New York Times recipe for vanilla bean pudding which you can read by clicking here. The pudding came out great, though the picture didn’t:
Trust me, though, it’s one of the simplest most rewarding things you can do with a vanilla bean. It takes just minutes and after an hour or so in the fridge, dessert is done. So do what I do: click the recipe, write it down off the screen and get to it. You may want to buy a vanilla bean first, though that’ll occur to you once you’re writing it down. You’ll never print a recipe from your printer again.
…and for your entertainment, while you’re eating, a pudding video I suddenly remembered from the TV show The State:
I fully support, endorse and celebrate the spirit with which Nancy Silverton wrote her newest book, A Twist of the Wrist. For a chef as particular as Silverton (and believe me, having made her sourdough bread from scratch, that woman loves detail) it’s refreshing to see her let down her hair, so to speak, with a book that grants the reader permission to skip the farmer’s market in lieu of canned, jarred and boxed foods. For any other chef, it’d be an act of heresy; for Nancy Silverton–of the La Brea Bakery & Pizzeria Mozza, both groundbreaking California institutions–it’s an act of humility. The book seems to say, “Look, home cook, I know you’re busy; so here’s a way to make delicious, restaurant-quality food at home for much less money in much less time.” What could be wrong with that?
Today’s episode of AGTV is the third and final Craig-directed episode that we made a few months ago for Serious Eats (the other two were Eggs Benedict Arnold & Lobster Roll Your Own). I daresay this one’s the weirdest, but it features help from none other than Nancy Silverton, one of our nation’s greatest bakers. And, believe me, that linzertorte was damn good. Hope you’re inspired to make one too! The recipe came from Martha Stewart’s Baking book. [Note: this video was uploaded on Brightcove, so you may need Java to view it. If you think java is coffee, get your children to help you :)]
The internet has changed how we cook. Before the internet, I might’ve gone to the store and seen figs (as I did the other day) and said, “Wow, those look nice, but I have no idea what to do with them.” Now, because of the internet, I bought the figs, brought them home, Googled “fig dessert recipe” and found this one from Kim Goodfriend on KQED. It’s a super easy, super-awesome recipe that takes no time and requires little effort. Sound good? Let’s get figgy wit’ it.
Tiramisu is a dessert I’ve only eaten at restaurants–usually with my family. For some reason, the alchemy of its components always eluded me. It seemed like it might be very tricky to make. And then, for the Sopranos finale, I decided to give it a go. I pushed aside all the more complex recipes that involved egg yolks and heat, and used one right out of the Sopranos cookbook. It took less than ten minutes and the results were pretty dynamite. Here’s how to do it.