The freshest and sweetest of grapefruits will not be in season for a few months more, but the sweltering heat, this heatwave in Southern California, waits for no one. Inconveniently, the heat makes a hobby of presenting itself at your door the morning you forgot your asphalt roads would literally turn to lava. Recover your sanity. Satiate your thirst.
Let's talk chocolate! With Easter upon us you might find yourself with an abundance of chocolate bunnies and mini-candy bars, might I suggest dicing them into small bits and adding them to your next batch of cookie batter? Just imagine these chocolate crackle cookies studded with melty pieces of peanut butter cups
Today we are enjoying another version of no-knead crusty bread: Walnut and Blue Cheese. Toasted walnuts and tangy blue cheese crumbles are dotted throughout this easy to bake, no-knead, artisan-style bread. Tossed into a dutch oven for all of 45 minutes after an overnight rise it adds up to very little work for a very tasty loaf of fresh bread.
Happy Pi Day, my friends! Today we are making meringue topped tartlets with a brown-butter crust rather than typical pie shell. The Brown-Butter crust is first par-baked and then filled with luscious citrus custards which is topped with a heaping mound of fluffy meringue. After a few moments back in the heat we soon have a golden-brown swirls atop the perfect single-serving dessert. We use egg yolks in the curd and egg whites in the meringue. A frugal and practical solution for divided eggs, but more importantly, a tastefully balanced dessert with the bold brightness of winter citrus and the sweetness of vanilla-scented meringue.
Let's talk Pavlovas. Pavlova is a light and crisp meringue cake with a crunchy shell, they are often garnished with whipped cream and fresh fruit. From outwards appearances you may easily mistake Pavlova for Meringue, however, they have vastly different interior textures. A meringue is made from egg white and sugar, they are typically very dry and have crunchy centers. Pavlova have a similar base but also include cornstarch and vinegar which results in a a slightly squishy interior, almost marshmallow-like consistency at their center.
With a wonderfully pillow-soft interior beneath their crunchy shell, pavlova are a multi-textured phenomena. Paired with fresh orange zest, bitter blood orange curd, fresh fruit, and a cool dollop of fresh whipped cream - these are clouds from an orange-scented heaven.
Citrus is at it's finest in the depths of winter, a welcome blast of tart, bright edible sunshine. Here is Southern California we are lucky (ahem, spoiled) to have access to a dizzying variety of locally grown produce throughout the year, but even here in this coastal paradise, we too must follow the seasons when it comes to Meyer Lemons & Blood Oranges. These elusive winter gems seem to pop-up overnight and disappear just as quickly.
Gather a bag (or two) of these fine fruits while they are still abundant and make yourself a winter treat: Meyer Lemon Curd & Blood Orange Curd. Dolloped onto yogurt, spooned directly into happy mouths, baked into bars, meringue pies or tarts, poured over pavlovas... the possibilities go on and on. Point being, you want this, you need this, so let's get cooking shall we?
There is a surprisingly simple lesson to explain the baking process behind a beloved coffee-shop favorite: Biscotti. In Latin, biscotti translates to twice-baked, "bis" means "twice" and "cotto" means "cooked." Twice-Baked! So simple. So good.
Spritzgebäck are a classic butter cookie popular in Germany and Scandinavia. The literal translation of "Spritz" means to "spray" or "squirt" which refers to the fact that these cookies are pressed or piped into elaborate designs. And while they are commonly considered a Christmas confection I would happily accept a plateful of Spritz any day of the year. Buttery golden cookies with a delicate crumb and just the right amount of jammy centers.
Have you made No-Knead Bread? For the unfamiliar, the now famous recipe was published by Mark Bittman in 2006 and was immediately received with great enthusiasm. It has since become a New York Times "classic recipe". It is a simple recipe - just flour, yeast, salt, and water. The only other essentials are a dutch oven and time. Much beloved by bakers everywhere, you can find reproductions and variations all over the internet.
Today I would like to present one of my adaptations featuring a wonderful combination of garden fresh rosemary and soft, creamy baby gouda cheese. Quite literally things found in and around my kitchen! This winning flavor combination may not have been planned in advance but it was immediately a new favorite (really though, isn't any oven-fresh-hot-bread a favorite?) That is the real beauty of this simple artisan bread, it is perfect as-is but takes to additions wonderfully.
Perfect with a cup of coffee and a drizzle of icing, this delicate orange cake is studded with whole cranberries and candied orange peels. A classic winter season combination. Bundt Cake is a easy yet impressive show piece, it looks tricky but the fluted bundt pan does all the hard work. Your biggest challenge is deciding what to do while it bakes, a whopping 70 minutes of baking time. This isn't a fast cake but it is a good one. I suggest making the most of your free time by whipping together a classic white or sweet orange icing (yes, please) and dancing to your favorite kitchen tunes.
If orange-creamsicles dreamed of a winter season reincarnation, they would aspire to be these candied orange peels with creamy vanilla undertones. Make your own summer-sunshine dreams come true with a few Valencia oranges and a double dose of vanilla. While these are delightful to nibble as-is (hello, movie snacks!) you must promise me to add some to one of your favorite baked recipes. Use them anywhere dried fruits are suggested. I've had wonderful results when added to oatmeal cookies, carrot cake, Irish soda bread, cranberry orange bundt cake, and even a savory chicken and sweet potato tagine.