Thursday, May 19, 2016

Sasha's Cookies

NICU nurses are the absolute best!

How do you say thank you to some of the most special people on the planet?  I don't know but I do know that food is love and so as a family we poured all our love into trays of cookies for the NICU staff at our local hospital.  I am happy to say, they liked it. 

Linzer Bars


  • 3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (6 ounces) firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts

  • 4 cups (1 pound) raspberries, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup (3 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 5 tablespoons (3 ounces) heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or two 8-inch baking dishes with parchment paper.

  • In a bowl, combine the flour, granulated and brown sugars, salt, and lemon zest. Add the butter and, using a food processor, quickly cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is the size of small peas.  Add hazelnuts and pulse 5-10 times.
  • Press about 3/4 of the crust mixture over the bottom and slightly up the sides of the prepared pans, pressing firmly to make an even layer. Bake until the crust is pale golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Cover the remaining 1/4 crust mixture remaining in the bowl and refrigerate it.
  • Set the crust aside to cool while you make the filling.
Filling and Assembly
  • In a saucepan, stir together the raspberries, granulated sugar, and cornstarch. Simmer over medium heat, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves and the berries are juicy but not completely broken down, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  • Spread the filling over the partially baked crust. Crumble the remaining chilled crust mixture over the filling. Bake until pale golden and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
  • In a bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, cream, and vanilla extract. Whisk the ingredients together until combined. Fit a piping bag with a small, plain tip, and fill it with the glaze or pour the glaze into a large resealable plastic bag and snip off the tip of one of the bottom corners. Pipe or drizzle the glaze over the linzer bars in a crisscross pattern. Refrigerate until chilled through, at least 1 hour. Cut into bars.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Homemade Box Cake

Happy Birthday Sister!!!

  I made this cake because I love my sister.  It is not for the faint of heart.  Altogether it took two and a half days to prepare.  Now, all that being said, it was delicious and quite a showpiece.  The original recipe requires glucose and artificial vanilla.  The glucose I could not find and the artificial vanilla I found revolting.  So... if you want to take on this beast, use real vanilla and forget the glucose.  The citric acid can be found at Whole Foods and really does add flavors that you would find in a funfetti cake.  Happy Baking!

Birthday cake crumbs
  • 100 grams granulated sugar
  • 25 grams light brown sugar
  • 90 grams cake and pastry flour
  • 2 grams baking powder
  • 2 grams salt
  • 20 grams rainbow sprinkles
  • 40 grams grapeseed oil
  • 12 grams vanilla extract  
  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or a piece of parchment.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles and mix them on low speed until they are evenly mixed.
  3. Add the oil and the vanilla and continue beating the mixture until the ingredients clump and form small clusters.
  4. Carefully spread the delicate clusters in a thin layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake them for about 20 minutes. They dry and harden as the cool into crispy crumbs. Let them cool completely before using them. By the time you've made the cake and frosting, they will be ready to be used anyways.
Birthday cake
  • Pam or vegetable oil for preparing the pan
  • 245 grams cake and pastry flour
  • 6 grams baking powder
  • 3 grams salt
  • 50 grams rainbow sprinkles
  • 55 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 60 grams vegetable shortening
  • 250 grams granulated sugar
  • 50 grams light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 110 grams buttermilk (made from skim milk and white vinegar)
  • 65 grams grapeseed oil
  • 8 grams vanilla extract
  • 25 grams rainbow sprinkles 
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (use an oven thermometer to verify the temperature). Prepare a rimmed quarter sheet pan (mine is a 10-x15-inch pan with a 1-inch rim) by spraying it all over with Pam and then covering the base with a sheet of parchment. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and 50 grams of sprinkles in a small bowl. Set the dry ingredients aside for later.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, shortening, and the sugars on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  4. Add the eggs (all at once) and then beat again on medium-high for another 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl.
  5. In a 1-cup measurer, weigh out the buttermilk, grapeseed oil, and vanilla. With the mixer on low, add the wet ingredients in a steady stream. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and beat for another 4 to 6 minutes. The mixture will double in size almost, and will appear light and fluffy. There will be no trace of oil left.
  6. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients, and mix for another minute or so until the ingredients are all combined.
  7. Pour out the batter into the prepared sheet pan, spreading it out into an even layer. Sprinkle with the remaining 25 grams of rainbow sprinkles.
  8. Bake for 30–35 minutes until the cake bounces back slightly when gently pressed in the corner. The center of the cake should no longer jiggle when the pan is shook. Cool the cake completely in the pan on a wire rack.
Birthday cake soak
  • 55 grams milk (I used whole milk—3.25% fat)
  • 4 grams vanilla extract  
  1. Whisk together the milk and vanilla in a small cup or bowl. Set aside for later.
Birthday cake frosting
  • 200 grams powdered sugar
  • 2 grams salt
  • Pinch baking powder
  • Pinch citric acid
  • 115 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 50 grams vegetable shortening
  • 55 grams cream cheese
  • 18 grams clear corn syrup
  • 12 grams vanilla extract  
  1. Whisk together the powdered sugar, salt, baking powder, and citric acid in a medium bowl. Set aside for later.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, shortening, and the cream cheese for 2 to 3 minutes on medium-high until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Be sure to scrape down the bowl periodically.
  3. Add the glucose, corn syrup, and vanilla, and beat the mixture on medium-high again, for 2 to 3 minutes until it is silky smooth and a little glossy. Scrape down the bowl a few times.
  4. Now add the whisked dry ingredients and incorporate them on low speed. Increase the mixer speed to medium–high and beat the frosting until it is creamy and fluffy, just like the kind that comes in a can.
Birthday cake assembly
  • 1 batch birthday cake
  • 1 batch birthday cake soak
  • 1 batch birthday cake frosting
  • 1 batch birthday cake crumbs
  • 4 8-x3-inch strips of acetate
  • 1 6-inch cake ring that is 3 inches high (or a springform ring)
  • 1 8-inch square of parchment  
  1. Cut the sheet cake into two 6-inch circles plus two half-circles using your cake ring as a template. Use a spatula to gently loosen and lift (carefully!) the circles and set them aside.
  2. Place the cake ring on a baking sheet lined with the 8-inch square of parchment. Line the inner rim of the ring with two pieces of acetate so that they overlap a little.
  3. Fill the bottom of the ring with the two half circles of cake. Press them slightly so that they are even. If there are any holes, fill them with the rest of the cake scraps.
  4. Brush half the birthday cake soak over the base of cake.
  5. Spread about 100 mL (one-fifth) of the birthday cake frosting over the base layer. Then sprinkle with one-third of the birthday cake crumbs, pressing them gently into the frosting. Top with another 100 mL (another fifth) of the birthday cake frosting, carefully spreading it so that it is even, but without disturbing the crumbs.
  6. Top with a full circle of cake, brush the rest of the cake soak over this layer, top with more frosting, cake crumbs, and another layer of frosting.
  7. Squeeze in the other two strips of acetate between the inner rim of the ring and the first acetate strips (you are essentially making your cake ring taller at this point). Top with the last circle of cake. and the remaining frosting, spread evenly. Top with the remaining cake crumbs.
  8. Freeze the cake as is for at least 12 hours to set everything and making the unmolding process much easier.
  9. Three hours before serving, retrieve the pan from the freezer, and gently push the cake through the ring. Place it on a cake stand or cake plate. Now gently pull off the acetate ribbons.
  10. Let the cake defrost in the fridge before serving. Cut neatly with a large chef's knife.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Food of My People

My mouth is watering as I write this post!  Last week my cousin posted this link on facebook and let me tell you it is a real treat!  I grew up eating the delicious food of Serbia and this video captures the real essence of Serbian cooking.  Take a look and tell me what you think.  Also, I am so curious to know the food my readers grew up eating.  If you please, leave me a comment and let me know. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Life is Full of Gambles

During the last few months I have developed the habit of making my own bread.  I don't know why but it's what I have been doing.  A friend of mine gave me a bread maker and I usually have the bread maker make the dough and then I divide the dough in two 1 lb loaves and bake then in the oven.  Some may ask why I bake my bread in the oven.  The answer is simple, I don't like the shape of the loaf in the bread maker.  I find it awkward.   So far I have made, whole wheat honey, white, honey white and cinnamon raisin bread.  Next on the agenda is oatmeal honey.
I am sure that many of you that bake regularly know that baking has a certain element of surprise to it.  A recipe that you have made multiple times can turn out totally different for no apparent reason.  On the other hand, a significant alteration can yield no difference at all.  Well, yesterday my sister commissioned me to make her a loaf of bread and since I was running low in yeast, I decided to make a 1 1/2 lb loaf of honey white for her.  As I said earlier, I generally make two pounds of dough to yield 2 loaves.  This generally gives me two smaller loaves that are about 3 inches tall.  WELL.... yesterday i thought that I would make a slightly larger loaf by using 1 1/2 lbs of dough.  I was expecting a loaf that was about 4 - 4 1/2 inches tall.  Boy was I wrong!  This is what came of my endeavour:

What can I say besides what the buns people, what the buns!?!?!

Magically growing bread (1 1/2 lb loaf)

1 cup cold water
2 T oil
2 T honey
1 t salt
3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp. yeast

Place all ingredients in bread maker in order listed.  Set bread maker to dough setting.  When dough is finished, remove from bread maker and roll dough to make a loaf shape.  Place in greased loaf pan.  Spray with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise for 45 minutes.  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.  Open oven door and be surprised!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Beef and Broccoli

I am a big fan of Beef and Broccoli but not the nasty, soggy, goopy stuff that most Chinese take-out places serve.  I like crispy broccoli and beef in a salty sauce that doesn't turn into a gelatinous mess.  So anyway, I was in the mood for some yumminess last night and this is what I made.  Unfortunately I didn't have time to photography anything (because I ate it to quickly) but I will share the recipe with all of you anyway.  Do yourself a favor and make this...soon.  I am sure you will love it and your family will not know what hit them.


2 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch, divided
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 lbs. lean sirloin beef, trimmed, thinly sliced
2 tsp. oil
1 c. chicken broth, divided
5 c. broccoli, florets
1 onion, cut into wedges
1 Tbsp. ginger, minced
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 c. low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 c. water

On a plate, combine 2 Tbsp. cornstarch and salt; add beef and toss to coat.

Heat oil in a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat.  Add beef and stir-fry until lightly browned, about 4 minutes; transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon.

Add 1/2 cup broth to same pan; stir to loosen any bits on food on bottom of pan.  Add broccoli and onion; cover and cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.  Uncover pan and add ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes; stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minutes.

In a cup, stir together soy sauce, remaining 1/2 cup broth, remaining 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch and water until blended; stir into pan.  Reduce heat to medium low and bring to a simmer; simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. 

Return beef and accumulated juices to pan; toss to coat.  Serve with rice or noodles (or eat it plain like i do).

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Peanut Butter Brownies

A few weeks ago my sister and I went to What's Cooking Detroit to see Anne Thornton do a cooking demo.  I hadn't hear of her before that show but she was great.  She made Fudgy Salty Peanut Butter Brownies for us.  The demo was live (obviously) and while things didn't go perfect for her (missing bowls, fussy stoves, etc.) I found her to be real, charming and a really good cook.  This weekend I had the perfect opportunity for some baking and so I made the Brownies and Coconut Cream Cake.  The brownies were a hit and while the cake didn't go as fast as I thought it would, I thought it was super tasty, moist and delicious.  The one change I made was to the Coconut Cream Cake.  Rather then adding Coco Lopez to the frosting, I pierced the cake many times and poured it on the layers.  The cake soaked it right up and added more moisture to the cake.  The frosting was the perfect consistency.  I will definitely make this cake again and make the same change.  
Sorry for the gross picture.

So Food Network fans, if you haven't seen Anne in action yet, check her out.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Friday, August 26, 2011

NYT's Original Plum (or Blackberry) Cake

Last year I subscribed to the New York Times weekend paper just to be able to read the world renown food columns.  Well, I never found the section or many recipes for that matter so I canceled my subscription within two months time.  I was however introduced to Mark Bittman, Amanda Hesser, and Melissa Clark.  These people know food.  As it turns out, Amanda Hesser released a cookbook that compiled recipes printed in the NYT's for the past 150 years.  In this book, one recipe really stands out.  It is the most requested recipe to date and it is so easy and taste-y.  I really think all of you will love it.  I made this one with blackberries because of my sister's allergy to plums but plums rock this cake.  You can substitute any fruit and I also like to sprinkle the top with sliced or slivered almonds.  ENJOY!!

  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 or 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup unbleached flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • Pinch salt
  • 24 halves pitted Italian (prune or purple) plums
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon or more, to taste
1. Arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream the butter and the 3/4 cup of sugar. Add the flour, baking powder, eggs, and salt and beat to mix well. Spoon the batter into an ungreased 9- or 10-inch springform pan. Cover the top with the plums, skin sides down. Mix the cinnamon with the remaining 1 or 2 tablespoons of sugar and sprinkle over the top.
3. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired.
4. To serve, let the torte return to room temperature and reheat at 300 degrees until warm, if desired. Serve plain or with vanilla ice cream.