My daughter has been after me to buy an Air Fryer. I did look at a few of them, but when I started asking how they work, it sounded suspiciously like convection ovens. Turns our I was almost right.
Both ovens use fans to circulate hot air around the food. Both ovens cook faster than a conventional oven. The one main difference is that the air fryer keeps the food in a smaller space. SO I started to look around my kitchen to see if there was a way I could create that small space when my eye was drawn to my Cuisinart Toaster/Convection Oven. That’s a small space. That’s a convection oven. Hmm…?
There are these pita chips at my local Farmer’s Market. I love them. They are deep-fried and seasoned with a yummy lemon pepper seasoned salt. I wanted to re-create them.
When you use an air fryer it advises you set the fryer to 360°. So I set the oven to convection at 350° (there wasn’t a 360°). I let the oven preheat with my pan in there.
While the oven was preheating, I cut a whole pita into 8 wedges. I brushed each wedge, on both sides, lightly with olive oil. I also sprinkled each wedge with lemon pepper and salt.
I baked the wedges for 5 minutes and then turned them over and baked for another 5 minutes. Watch them closely. Temperatures vary by oven.
I love them!! they are crispy and that little brush of olive oil is all I needed to get that “fried” flavor. I finished the chips with another quick sprinkle of salt.
The verdict is, you can buy an air fryer, if you’d like. But if you don’t want to buy another small electronic or your counter space is almost full, this is a great option.
Have fun! enjoy!
I recently came across a small blurb about buying fresh bay leaves from a French purveyor. It caught my eye because the photo made it appear that you could tie some kitchen twine around the stems and hang this aromatic in your kitchen. I wanted to learn more about this ubiquitous herb, that I use but don’t much about. Here’s what I learned.
Apparently there is “good” bay laurel from Turkey and Central America and then there is the bay laurel from California. The California version is more minty, a little oilier and can be bitter. If you are allergic to bay leaves, or have had allergic like symptoms, it is the California version. Bay Leaves are native to the Mediterranean and have a natural oil that has a similar nose to eucalyptus or clove but a lot more mellow. When you do start to cook with either the fresh or dried versions, remember you don’t need much to reap all the benefits.
Typically, bay leaves are used in vegetarian stocks, brines, and longer cooking dishes like soups and stews. I was intrigued with the idea of adding them to your coals for barbecue like you mesquite wood chips. You can also light a couple on fire and toss them into a covered dish, right before serving, to impart a smoky, aromatic flavor. Bay leaves pair well with anise, lemon, onion, oregano and white pepper. As a matter of fact you can grind dried bay leaves with any of these and make your own spice blend. Stay tuned. When I try this I will let you know.
Fresh bay leaves are usually available in the produce section of your local market or can be found at your farmer’s market. I even found a link to buy them from Amazon, of course. When buying fresh make sure they are Laurel.
Here’s a couple of fun facts about bay leaves. They are a good source of magnesium, potassium, calcium, Vitamin A, C and iron. They are great for digestion and are a natural anti-inflammatory. Food with benefits. I love it!
Here are a few recipes that use bay leaves in a more forward way.
You can serve these together. I think the bay leaf flavors show up very differently. But you can also dip your toe in slowly with one or the other. As always please let me know what you think of these recipes or how you are using bay leaves other than in soups and stews.
I had never had it, Blum’s Crunch Coffee Cake, but it appeared in my feed in December 2017 and then appeared in Sunset Magazine in December 2018. What is this cake that everyone seems to craving?
Blum’s was a pastry shop located in the Bay Area. Most notably its flagship was situated in Union Square, in the days when a shopping trip was special. It usually meant getting dressed up and was finished with a treat in the form of a special luncheon place.
Blum’s started as candy shop and was passed down through a couple of generations until Jack Levy was at the helm. He realized that they were selling “the same old candy” they had for decades. He challenged his candy makers to make a new candy every day to find “the next great thing.”. One day a candy maker over boiled what was to be a soft coffee candy, like a taffy, and it was too hard. Rather than throw it away, the baker crushed the “useless” candy and used it to decorate a chiffon cake. An icon was born!
Since then people have been clamoring to get the recipe; the flavor and textures evoke memories for so many. Martha Stewart published a well respected version on her website and Valerie Gordon, of Valerie’s Confections, has a very popular version on her menus in Los Angeles.
As I said above, I have never had the cake. Here is my adapted version of a recipe that was published on Tasting Table in December 2017.
I made a few adjustments, with all respect, to the recipe.
1- I didn’t have Cream of Tartar, so I added 1 Tbs. vinegar instead.
2-While I did use light corn syrup, in this recipe. I prefer not to. An easy substitution is dissolve 1 1/2 cups sugar in 1/4 cup hot water. and then measure out what you need accordingly. Please remember this is now almost 4 cups of sugar in just the candy. You can also use Lyle’s Golden Syrup (Treacle). I found it on Amazon very easily.
3- When preparing your pan, I suggest make an elevated rim with parchment paper. The cake batter rises quite nicely and this will help keep that height.
4- Once you pour the batter into your prepared pan, gently run a sharp knife through it to remove any large air pockets.
5- When making the candy, if you have them wear oven mitts. The mixture gets quite hot. Remember the temperatures in the recipe matter.
I hope it brings back great memories for you. Please share your comments below when you make it!
Happy New Year! I’ve been absent for awhile and let me just say “The last half 2018 is not a time I will look back on fondly.” But onward and upward!
2019 will be very exciting . I truly believe that my book, CAKE FOR BREAKFAST will be sold. I am also hoping to be making more personal appearances and teaching more classes. I promise to be more consistent here, on this blog, so please invite your friends to subscribe. I also encourage you to interact with me. Please send me your comments and suggestions. What do you want to see or learn here?
So here we go…
I always preach to read your recipe all the way through before you start cooking.That way you will have all your equipment and ingredients out and ready to go. I always do this. That doesn’t mean that the most seasoned of cooks/chefs can make a mistake. I recently made Pimento Cheese Crackers, from Bon Appetit magazine, and the recipe said “line baking sheet with parchment paper.”. I’m so clever that I decided to use my silpats. Because of the amount of fat in the recipe, the silpats did not allow the crackers to crisp up. Lesson learned!
Let me tell you a little about pimento cheese, or as some call it “southern peanut butter”, “pate of the south”. Well the south has definitely claimed pimento cheese as it’s own, but it actually started in New York! Pimento Cheese is actually the result of food culture starting to extend beyond state and international borders. This gave us the opportunity to have pimiento from Spain and Cream Cheese from Philly by way of New York.
The South was smart and claimed Pimento Cheese as its own and mainstreamed the recipe. I’ve seen a lot of recipes for Pimento Cheese but the most common reads something like:
1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated, a 4 ounce jar of pimentos, chopped, a couple of garlic cloves, minced, plenty of fresh ground pepper, a dash of salt and enough mayo (3Tbs) to form a stiff, chunky paste.
The Pimento Cheese could be stored in a jar in the refrigerator of rolled in a tube shape and wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge. You could almost just use this mixture and a little flour to make the crackers. I haven’t tried that yet, so I don’t recommend it. This incarnation is best served on some good white bread as a sandwich.
You’ve probably heard of cheese straws and these pimento cheese crackers are similar. They are more cracker than shortbread though. You can add more cayenne if you want a little more heat. My other piece of advice is to know your oven well, before you bake. My oven takes along time to reach proper heat and I keep an oven thermometer in it to check temp. The cookies continue to cook and crisp up after they are out of the oven, so do not overcook.
Well happy New Year and I hope you enjoy this recipe.
The Jewish Holidays are
approaching here. Each year I am faced with the challenge of the menu. Of course there are traditional foods that if they weren’t on the menu my friends and family would think I had lost my mind. But as a woman that reads cookbooks like they are novels, I always strive to keep it fresh.
You will always find brisket on my holiday table. It’s a standard and everyone seems to have their own great recipe.It took me quite a while to perfect my brisket and I finally love it. I also have a chicken dish for those that prefer to not eat red meat. The past few years my chicken dish has been either a citrus honey roasted whole chicken or lemon chicken thighs with a really crispy skin. I love the idea of incorporating traditions into recipes so for Rosh Hashanah I try to work in apples and honey. These recipes always seem to spill over nicely into break fast too.
I came across a recipe for chicken encrusted in horseradish that was really interesting and thought I could make it my own and serve for the New Year. The combination of horseradish, honey and apples is great. Be sure to let the chicken get really dry and to room temperature so that you get that nice crispy skin too.
I also tried a new cake and am passing on my adjusted recipe. Carrot Cake is always a good thing and so is the sweet potato pie my family has been making for years. Since these two ingredients are also traditional fall fare let’s put them together in a new modern Carrot/Sweet Potato Cake. I promise both recipes will be great on your table.
I am actually making these recipes for Rosh Hashanah so no pics yet. I promise to post pics on Sunday. Better yet, send me pictures of your versions.
I wish you and your family a sweet, happy and healthy New Year!
Ever since I wrote about S’mores, a few weeks ago, I can’t stop thinking about marshmallows.
We seem to have them in the house all the time. My younger daughter likes to freeze them and change the texture. I’ve been known to walk by the pantry and pop one in my mouth. And of course, they are standard fare for hot cocoa. We accept any excuse to put them into a recipe. I mean what would Thanksgiving be without sweet potatoes topped with marshmallow.
I was curious where these delicious little puffs come from. They were actually plant-based and used as medicine, by Egyptian royalty, to help with coughs, sore throats and wounds. If children these days knew that, can you imagine the illnesses they could come up with. In the 1800’s they discovered they could use gelatin to get the same fluffy gesture and it would cost less and use less manpower.
There are so many ways we use marshmallows all the time; s’mores, rice crisp treats, fluffernutter sandwiches, toppings for ice cream and yogurt and lots of holiday treats. A couple of years ago I shared with you how to make your own graham crackers and that was a big success. So today I thought we’d make our own marshmallows! I love that you can make a good old-fashioned white (vanilla) marshmallow or with a little creativity you can flavor them with so many fun flavors. I love chocolate or coffee flavoring but you can go to town with whatever your treat calls for or wherever your mind go.
They are actually very easy to make, but because of the setting time, you have to plan ahead. You need at least 8 hours for them to set, and you really need a good candy thermometer. The recipe given is for vanilla marshmallows, and I used two tablespoons of vanilla. If you want a different flavor I would still start with vanilla and add. There is something about the back flavor of vanilla with the gelatin that you need. Instead of 2 tablespoons of vanilla, start with 2 teaspoons and then add your other flavor. I also used honey instead of the tradition al corn syrup. I love the flavor and feel good about not using corn syrup. You could use maple syrup too, but adjust your flavoring accordingly.
If you want to make these vegetarian or vegan you can sub out the gelatin for agar agar. You can find agar agar powder in the Asian food section of most markets, specialty baking stores or online If you can only find the flakes not the powder that’s okay. Agar agar powder measures exactly the same as gelatin. Agar agar flakes – 1 Tablespoon flakes equals 1 teaspoon powder.
The best part is you can use a kitchen torch and make these toasty just on top or you can skewer them and make traditional scores. Just remember because they are coated in powdered sugar they will caramelize really fat and there is really no way of avoiding the almost burnt marshmallow look.
Friday was National Waffle Day. For me waffles always seem to evoke an occasion. Most of us don’t make them at home because you need special equipment. At most restaurants waffles are “dressed up”. They are decorated in layers of whipped cream and strawberries. There are drizzles of caramel or chocolate sauce. My personal favorite is chocolate chips and whipped cream.
My family loves waffles so I did buy a waffle maker and away we went. The batter is slightly different from pancake batter because it has a little more fat in it. Think about those fluffy yet crispy waffles, that’s because of the fat. When we first got it I made waffles often. That waned not too long later because it does take some extra effort to clean. Remember, waffles mean celebration.
When I started writing Cake for Breakfast, I knew I had to honor waffles somehow. Introducing Waffle Cake with Maple Syrup Glaze. This cake is all the things you love in a waffle and is a stacked cake which means you get more waffle and maple glaze for your fork. My secret flavor is Malted Milk Powder. Its one of those flavors that people can’t pinpoint but makes it tastes sooo good.
I made this cake in my standard waffle maker. It is really better made in a Belgian waffle or larger thicker waffle maker. My layers were a little too thin for a dramatic effect. The flavor and crispy fluffiness is all there, I just think it looks prettier with thick layers and sitting taller. The maple syrup glaze is out of this world! Have you ever had that whipped honey? Well that’s kind of what this is like. I like to make extra and keep the rest to schmear on toast or pound cake.
If you don’t have a large waffle maker, you can make this in cake pans. Use 9″ round pans and be sure line them with parchment and prepare with butter and flour. I hope you enjoy this sneak peek from my book.
I have always wanted to cook with roses. For me, it started with the book “Like Water for Chocolate”, by Lara Esquivel. Definitely the book, not the movie. The part in the book when the main character is making the Quail in Rose Sauce, in my mind, I could taste every salty tear. I could smell the roses as she plucked the petals. The fragrance getting stronger with each touch of human hands. I imagined the slightly bitter taste that each diner experienced as they bit into their meal.
Ever since, I’ve tried to work with roses. I’ve tried rose-water, rose jelly and even real rose petals. I always seemed to be heavy-handed and believe m, you can have too many roses!
Whenever I have the chance I try rose flavored foods. The flavor, when done right, is so delicate. I love just the hint of floral sweetness. Too much and it can be bitter, or taste like someones perfume. Yuck! Too little and you don’t know it’s there.
I have friends that learned to cook, growing up in Iran. Their ability to balance flavors, seems to be in their DNA. When I studied writing and cooking, in France; I could sense that years of study and apprentice were responsible for their balance.
Recently, while purging my pantry, I came across rose-water and rose jelly. I remembered enthusiastically purchasing them and I was going to use them right then. Ha! The other day I was t my local farmer’s market and overheard a woman buying rose petals to decorate a cake. These all conspired to make me want to try to cook with roses, again. So today I present to you a rose scented Pavlova!
Pavlovas are relatively easy to prepare and I like the wow factor the serving. Because of the color of this recipe it is ideal for Christmas or Valentines Day. It is so good, though, you should serve it today!