Buttery Pear Dutch Baby

This beautiful Dutch Baby was extra special for my pear-loving family. Including pears made it taste similar to a clafoutis. I served it dusted with powdered sugar but others drizzled it with maple syrup as well. 🙂

The recipe was adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book: Recipes for Irresistible Everyday Favorites and Reinvented Classics by Sarah Kieffer. I used sea salt and whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose. Easy and delicious.

Yield: Serves 3 to 4 (one 10-inch Dutch Baby)

  • 1 cup (120g) whole wheat pastry flour (or 1 cup (142g) all-purpose flour)
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 4 large or extra-large eggs
  • 1 cup milk, preferably whole
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 4 T (57g) unsalted butter, cold
  • 1 large pear, optional, peeled and cored, cut into 1/4-inch slices (I used an Anjou)
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
  • pure maple syrup, for serving, optional
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt.
  3. In a medium bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk the eggs, milk, and vanilla until incorporated.
  4. Whisk one-third of the wet ingredients into the flour mixture until no lumps remain, then slowly add the remaining wet ingredients, whisking until smooth.
  5. Place the butter into a 10-inch cast-iron skillet and put it in the oven to preheat for 3 to 4 minutes, until the butter melts and starts to sizzle in the pan.
  6. Using an oven mitt, carefully remove the skillet from the oven. If using pear slices, sauté in the hot butter for 1 minute.
  7. Pour the batter in and immediately return the skillet to the oven.
  8. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes, until the edges are golden brown and crisp and the pancake has risen and puffed. (I baked mine for 18 minutes on convection.)
  9. Transfer the skillet to a wire rack and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.
  10. Cut into wedges and serve with maple syrup, if desired.

One-Pot Creamy Pasta & Greens

This dish makes creamed spinach the main event rather than a decadent side. This version is actually less indulgent as well. It incorporates milk instead of cream and uses pasta and its starch as a thickener.

The original article actually states that classic creamed spinach isn’t that good. :/ I love creamed spinach! For years, my husband and I used to celebrate his birthday at a steakhouse- the creamed spinach saved me. (I’m not a steak fan!)

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Ali Slagle. I used loads of fresh greens from my CSA share rather than frozen chopped spinach. We ate it as a vegetarian main dish (with roasted CSA veggies on the side) but it could also be served as a hearty side, of course. Creamy and filling.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as a main dish

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 7 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 5 cups whole milk, plus more as needed (I added an additional cup of 1% milk)
  • 1 pound stemmed and sliced fresh greens (I used a combination of kale, collard and cauliflower greens) OR 10 ounces frozen chopped spinach
  • 2 wide lemon peel strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • dash of red pepper flakes, optional
  • 10 to 12 ounces ditalini, orzo or pearl couscous
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  1. If using fresh greens, stem, slice, and wash them.
  2. Place the greens in a steamer basket in a large pot (I used a pasta pot); cook until wilted, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Strain the steamed greens to drain as much excess liquid as possible. (I used a ricer for this task.)
  4. Chop the steamed and strained greens; set aside.
  5. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and shallot, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until softened, 2 to 4 minutes.
  6. Add the 5 cups milk, chopped greens (or spinach), lemon peel, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, if using, freshly ground black pepper, and 2 teaspoons salt. Cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the greens (or frozen spinach) with your spoon, until the greens have softened and the milk is just simmering, 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. Add the pasta and cook, stirring often and vigorously, until the pasta is al dente, 20 to 25 minutes, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer. If it looks dry at any point, add more milk. (I ultimately added an additional cup of milk.) The mixture will continue to thicken as it sits, so it’s okay if the sauce looks a little soupy.
  8. Once the pasta is cooked, turn off the heat, discard the lemon peels, and stir in the Parmesan until melted.
  9. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with more Parmesan.

Stuffed Peppers with Thai Curry Rice & Mushrooms

My friend who shared her bounty of homegrown eggplant also shared mini bell peppers from her garden. Loved it! Lucky me. 🙂 I searched for a special way to use them. These stuffed peppers were a complete success- everyone in my family enjoyed them.

This recipe was originally intended to be a vegetarian main dish using full-size red bell peppers. I used these mini peppers instead and served them as a side dish with sautéed kabocha squash and rotisserie chicken.

This dish was full-flavored and delicious. The recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Emilee and Jere Gettle. Absolutely wonderful.

Yield: approximately 10 mini bell peppers or 4 full-size bell peppers

  • 10 mini bell peppers or 4 large bell peppers (any color)
  • 2 T unsalted butter or grapeseed oil 
  • 2 medium shallots, minced 
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced 
  • coarse salt 
  • 3/4 cup long-grain white rice (I used Basmati) 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk 
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger 
  • 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste 
  • 1 large jalapeño, finely chopped with or without seeds, as desired (I ribbed and seeded the chile)
  • 8 oz cremini or oyster mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 cups chopped spinach (I used baby spinach)
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil, preferably Thai, plus more for garnish (I used Italian basil)
  • freshly squeezed juice from half of a large lemon
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  2. Slice the tops off the peppers and cut the tops into 1/4-inch dice; discard the cores and stems.
  3. Boil the hollowed out peppers until just tender, about 3 minutes for mini peppers or 4 minutes for full size peppers. Using tongs, carefully transfer the peppers to paper towels to drain, cut side down. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the cooking water.
  4. Mince the shallots and garlic in a mini food processor, if desired; remove and set aside.
  5. Dice the jalapeno and pepper tops in the food processor. Set aside.
  6. In a saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the shallots and garlic, season with salt and cook over moderate heat until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until toasted, 2 to 4 minutes.
  8. Stir in the coconut milk, ginger, curry paste and the 1 1/2 cups of reserved pepper water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until the liquid is absorbed, 25 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°, preferably on convection.
  10. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the diced bell pepper tops and the jalapeño and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until tender, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Add the mushrooms, cover and cook, stirring a few times, until tender, 5 minutes.
  12. Uncover and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are browned, 4 minutes longer.
  13. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted, 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
  14. Add the vegetable mixture to the rice and stir in the basil and lemon juice. Season with salt to taste.
  15. Fill the peppers with the rice mixture and set them in a shallow glass, ceramic baking dish, or rimmed baking sheet. (I used a cookie scoop.)
  16. Tent with foil and bake for about 22 to 25 minutes for mini peppers or up to 45 minutes for full size peppers, until the rice filling is steaming and heated through.
  17. Garnish with basil leaves and serve.

Roasted Eggplant & Lentil Soup with Fried Sage

I made this healthy and hearty soup with beautiful eggplant from a friend’s garden. I was also able to make one of my favorite eggplant dishes with her amazing harvest, Eggplant and Wild Mushroom “Meatballs.”

The soup was initially more fluid, but I preferred it re-heated and cooked down, as pictured. We scooped it up with fresh Portuguese Rolls. Perfect.

The recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier.

Yield: Serves 4

  • one 1 1/4-pound eggplant, quartered lengthwise (I used 2 small)
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 cup French green lentils (5 1/2 ounces) 
  • 14 large sage leaves, divided, plus more, as desired, for garnish
  • 2 cups chicken stock (can substitute vegetable stock for a vegetarian version)
  • 1 cup 1% milk 
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  2. Place the eggplant quarters on a rimmed baking sheet, skin side down. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until the eggplant is very tender, about 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cover the lentils with 2 inches of water. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 2 sage leaves and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the lentils in a colander and discard the sage leaves.
  4. Scrape the eggplant flesh into a blender; discard the skin. Add 1 cup of the stock and puree until smooth; transfer to a clean saucepan. (I used a Vitamix.)
  5. Add the lentils and the remaining 1 cup of stock to the blender and puree until smooth. Add the lentil puree to the eggplant puree in the saucepan.
  6. Stir the milk and lemon juice into the soup and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper; keep the soup hot over low heat, stirring occasionally.
  7. In a small skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the remaining 12 sage leaves and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 20 seconds per side.
  8. Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with the fried sage leaves and serve.

The soup can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently.

One-Bowl Crispies

These cookies were simple and sensational. The original recipe named them “Brown-Edge Cookies” which didn’t seem fabulous enough! They were named for a similar crispy cookie sold by Nabisco prior to 1996 called Brown-Edge Wafers.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Mille Shea and Liz Laskey, adapted by Margaux Laskey. Millie Shea learned this all-butter recipe from her mother in the 1930’s.

The authors described them as “buttery like the Danish cookies in blue tins, tender in the middle like snickerdoodles and snappy like Scottish shortbread.” The article also stated that they would be placed in the intersection of a Christmas sugar cookie, vanilla wafer, and French tuile. Wow. That is a combination of quite a few favorites!

I made half of the recipe below, yielding about 32 cookies. The recipe (even half of the recipe!) definitely makes enough to share.

Yield: about 5 dozen

  • 1 pound/453 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 pound/453 grams granulated sugar (2 1/4 cups)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups/384 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  1. Arrange two racks around the middle of the oven and heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add egg and vanilla. Beat on medium until incorporated, about 1 minute. 
  4. Add 1 cup flour and the salt and beat on low to just combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Add the remaining 2 cups flour and beat on low until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl, then beat on medium for 30 seconds just until no flour streaks remain. 
  6. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 3 inches apart as the cookies spread quite a bit while baking. (I used a 1 T cookie scoop, leveled, and placed 8 cookies per sheet.)
  7. Bake 2 sheets at a time, rotating the pans halfway through, until the edges are lightly browned and the centers are slightly puffed, 8 to 9 minutes on convection or up to 10 to 12 minutes in a standard oven. Be careful not to overbake.
  8. Repeat with the rest of the dough. 
  9. Cool on the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then transfer cookies to the rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

BraveTart’s Lofthouse-Style Cookies

My daughter and her friends are in love with grocery store Lofthouse cookies. We recently made this upgraded homemade version as our celebratory New Year’s Eve dessert. She and a friend had the honor of icing and decorating them with sprinkles. 🙂

The recipe is from the award winning baking book, BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts by Stella Parks, which I received as a holiday gift. Yay! (much more to come from this book, of course) We have tried other homemade versions but agree that this is the best one yet.

The original recipe notes that these “cookies” are really pillowy, soft and tender cupcake tops coated with creamy frosting. In my opinion, calling them cookies adds to their appeal. I made half of the recipe (noted below)- perfect.

Yield: about 12 to 14 3-inch cookies (this recipe can be doubled easily)

For the Frosting:

  • 5 oz (1 3/4 cups) confectioners’ sugar
  • pinch of Morton’s coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 T (1 1/4 oz) heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the Cookies:

  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces; firm but pliable (about 60 degrees F)
  • 1/2 cup (3.5 oz) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • scant 1/2 tsp Morton’s coarse salt
  • 1 large egg white (about 2 T or 1 oz)
  • 1 T (1/2 oz) heavy cream
  • 1/2 T pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups (5.5 oz) bleached cake flour
  • rainbow sprinkles, for decoration

To Make the Frosting:

  1. Combine the confectioners’ sugar, salt, cream, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
  2. Mix on low to moisten, increase to medium, then beat until airy and smooth, about 3 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a zip-top bag, scraping the bowl as cleanly as you can. (I used a sandwich size bag.) Set aside.
  4. Wipe any excess frosting from the bowl and beater with a paper towel.

To Make the Cookies:

  1. Adjust the oven racks to the center of the oven. (I used the 3rd and 5th position.) Preheat to 350 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  2. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. Combine butter, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the prepared bowl.
  4. Mix on low with the paddle attachment, then increase to medium and beat until creamy, about 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk egg white, cream, and vanilla together in a glass measuring cup.
  6. Add the egg white mixture to the butter in four or five additions and beat until smooth.
  7. Scrape bowl and beater with a flexible spatula, then resume on low.
  8. Sprinkle in the cake flour, mixing to form a soft dough.
  9. Fold once or twice from the bottom up to ensure it’s well mixed.
  10. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip.
  11. Pipe 6 to 7 1-ounce to 1 1/4-ounce portions onto each baking sheet, leaving 2 1/2 inches between them. (I piped a test portion onto a kitchen scale to eyeball the amount. The swirl was about 2 1/2-inches in diameter.)
  12. Bake until puffed and pale gold around the edges, about 12 minutes on convection or up to 15 minutes in a standard oven, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time.
  13. Cool until no trace of warmth remains, at least 20 minutes.

To Decorate:

  1. When the cookies are completely cool, snip off a corner of the frosting bag.
  2. Working with 2 or 3 cookies at a time, squeeze a scant tablespoon of frosting over each cookie.
  3. Spread icing into an even layer with an offset spatula or knife. Top with sprinkles, as desired.
  4. Repeat with remaining cookies.

Note: Cookies are best eaten right away but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

It seems like a good time to share more cookie recipes. 😉

Before the holidays, I started receiving weekly cookie emails (I subscribed :/ ) from The New York Times- a pretty dangerous and crazy idea! This “pantry cookie” recipe caught my eye right away. A crowd-pleaser for sure.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Jerrelle Guy. The recipe starts by creaming the sugar with eggs rather than butter. The end result is a cookie with a crusty exterior and chewy interior. Cracks also form on the surface which are highlighted by the essential glaze. Great.

Yield: 15 to 16 cookies

  • 1 cup/95 grams old-fashioned rolled oats 
  • 1 cup/128 grams all-purpose flour 
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup/100 grams granulated sugar 
  • 1/4 packed cup/55 grams light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 4 T/57 grams unsalted butter, melted 
  • 3/4 cup/92 grams confectioners’ sugar 
  • 5 teaspoons whole or oat milk, plus more as needed 
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, and line two large rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, combine the oats, flour and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat both sugars with the egg, cinnamon, vanilla and baking soda on high speed, scraping the bowl as needed, until glossy, pale and thick, a full 2 minutes.
  4. Reduce the speed to medium. Very slowly drizzle in the melted butter and whisk until thoroughly incorporated.
  5. Add the oat mixture and gently fold by hand using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula just until incorporated, being careful not to over mix.
  6. Using a small cookie scoop or two spoons, drop 15 golf ball-size mounds of dough onto the sheet pan, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. (I used a 1 1/2 T cookie scoop.)
  7. Bake until the edges and surface are set and lightly golden brown, but the center is still gooey, 10 to 11 minutes on convection or up to 12 to 14 minutes in a standard oven.
  8. Remove from the oven and immediately rap the cookie sheet on the counter or stovetop a couple of times to help the cookies flatten a little more, and cool on the sheet for 5 minutes.
  9. In a small bowl, mix the confectioners’ sugar and milk using a small whisk or fork until the icing is completely smooth and very thick but still moves if you tilt the bowl. Add more milk in small increments as needed. (I add the milk 1 teaspoon at a time to make sure the consistency is not too thin.)
  10. Dip only the very tops of the cookies into the bowl of icing, leaving the deeper cracks in the cookies uncoated and allowing any excess icing to drip back into the bowl.
  11. Flip the cookies over and return them to the cookie sheet to allow the icing to harden, 10 to 15 minutes. The iced cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

One additional note about special cookies….

My oldest just had his 17th birthday! He is DRIVING. We celebrated with several family favorites- enjoying Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano Tacos (first celebration), Thai One Pot (second!), a Maple Layer Cake, and, most importantly, with our traditional Number Cookies– two versions, Roman numerals are his preference. 🙂

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