Monthly Archives: March 2011

Recipe Review: Flour Bakery’s Snickerdoodles

I love sugar cookies. All kinds of sugar cookies. If asked to choose a favorite, I’d flip-flop more times than a Washington politician. (Having worked in Washington D.C. and in Ohio politics, I know a lot about flip-flopping). But if you asked my 3rd grade self about cookies, she would tell you unequivocally that Snickerdoodles were the ONLY cookies. You see, I was the kid that picked all of the chocolate chips out of the Tollhouse cookies, preferring the brown sugar dough to chocolate. I’d turn down brownies. I didn’t even like Oreos. I only had eyes for soft, sugary, cinnamony Snickerdoodles. Enter pastry genius Joanne Chang and her wonderful new cookbook.

Flour Cookbook, in a place of honor in my office.

This recipe from Flour Bakery is a good one, if a little simple.  Snickerdoodles are simple cookies, so I wondered how Joanne Chang would improve a tried and true cookie.  The key to these cookies is the 24 hour rest period. This is a must.  I baked the cookies after a 10 hour rest and after a full day- more like 26 hours of resting- and the cookies with the most rest won. The butter flavor was more pronounced. Completely cool, the rested cookies were chewy around the edges and soft in the middle. They did not turn into rocks the next day.  My suggestion, divide the batch in half. Stick both dough disks in the fridge, one for now(or tomorrow), one for later.

The finished Snickerdoodles

The only alteration that I would suggest is upping the salt, just a touch. Joanne calls for 1/4 teaspoon of Kosher Salt. I obeyed this time, but next time I will use 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Snickerdoodles

Adapted From Flour: Spectacular recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery & Cafe

When I bake, I prefer to use weight measurements instead of volume. I’ve listed both for your convenience.

1 Cup (228 grams) of Unsalted Butter, room temp

1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup (100 grams) for coating

2 eggs, room temp

2 1/2 cups (350 grams) unbleached All-Purpose Flour (I recommend King Arthur or Bob’s Red Mill)

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (I would up this to 1/2 teaspoon)

1/4 cup (60 grams) ground cinnamon for coating

(1) Fit your stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed. Beat for 4-5 minutes, occasionally scraping down the side of the bowl. When the  mixture is very fluffy, slowly add the eggs. Beat in the eggs for 2-3 minutes or until combined.

(2) Sift together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and kosher salt. On low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture a little at a time. Beat until the flour and butter are incorporated and the dough starts to come together. It will not form a ball- the dough is very soft and will stick to the sides of the bowl and paddle.

(3) Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator for a bare minimum of 4 hours. For best results, let rest 24 hours.

(4) When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350.  Mix together the remaining sugar and cinnamon.  Using  a cookie dough scoop,  drop tablespoon sized balls into the cinnamon sugar and roll them to ensure even coating. Place on cookie sheet (I used a silpat, too) and smoosh with the palm of your hand.

(5) Bake for 14-16 minutes (Joanne recommends 15 minutes, but I pulled mine around 13 minutes). The cookies should be slightly brown on the edges but still soft in the center. Let cool for about 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire cooling rack. (I skipped the wire rack- cookies went straight into my mouth!)

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Link Love: Awsomeness Elsewhere

While I’m working away on our new brochures, advertisements, and labels- here are some really awesome links and products elsewhere on the internets.

5. Etsy & NASA Spacecraft Contest
Science and Art? YES! Mr. Radar approves! Check out this awesome celestial wedding band, complete with sun, moon, stars and inner planets. BEYOND AWESOME. Visit Etsy to see the other amazing creations.

Brother Sun Sister Moon Ring by Patrick Burt

Get this amazing ring on Etsy from Patrick Burt’s shop for $825.

4. James Beard Award  Nominations

If you are not obsessed with professionally cookery- ignore this one. JB Award is one of the most sought after and important awards in food service. I’m particularly interested in the Cookbook and pastry categories. Check out the James Beard cookbook wishlist on Amazon.com There are quite a few books on the list that I either (a) own or (b) really, really want.  In the latter category, Kim Boyce’s lovely Good to the Grain.

Good to the Grain

3.  7 Women who Turned Food into a Great Career.

Via Oprah Magazine. Now, I’m not a huge fan of Oprah- but featuring food entrepreneurs, with a focus on organic, local, and health conscience products thrills me! Maybe one day I’ll be like these lovely ladies.

2. Tuscan Fantasy Meals

On Food52.com- delicious Tuscan menu to transport you to Italy.

Fried Baby Artichokes on food52.com

Mr. Radar and I have a love of Lucca, the beautiful walled city. It’s quiet, scenic, and not quite as popular as nearby Sienna. We like that about Lucca. I plan to make a custom Easter menu, an ode to Tuscany. I hope it will remind us of our very favorite place.

1. Hydrangea Cake for the start of Spring!

WOW, RIGHT?

Check it out over at I am Baker !

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More from Thistle’s Photoshoot

I thought I would share a few more pictures from Sunday’s photoshoot.  And tease you a little bit with a preview of Thistle’s new menu. Let me introduce you to a few of my creations:

Vanilla Bean Shortbread

Vanilla Bean Shortbread individually hand cut and stamped with a fuchsia heart design by Robin Rycraft.

Austrian Shortbread Rounds in Raspberry Rhubarb

These cookies are inspired by Dorie Greenspan’s “Jammers” and the flavors of an Austrian shortbread bar. Austrian Shortbread is usually a dense bar with raspberry filling and a streusel topping. My version is airy and buttery, topped with house made jam and a crumbly shortbread topping.

Brown Sugar Buckwheat Shortbread

These little guys are my favorite. Demerara sugar gives the cookies sweetness and depth, enhancing the earthy flavor of Buckwheat.

Mango Madness Granola

Mango, coconut, cashews, almonds & pineapple join forces in this sweet and tangy granola.

Figgy Darlings

Like Fig Newtons, but better. Hand rolled vanilla bean dough and a filling made from Black Mission Figs and Organic Apple juice.

What do you think? Are you hungry yet?

Nicole Hodac did a wonderful job photographing my products. Thank you, Nicole! I’m looking forward to our second shoot!

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Thistle Update!

I think I owe you all an update on Thistle Confections! I’ve gotten a lot of e-mails lately regarding Thistle. Most of them confused. I am sorry that I have confused you.  So I’ll try to answer those questions right now. First, let me say THANK YOU! for supporting me as I open my new business. I have greatly appreciated all of your love and support. I am working hard to get Thistle running 100% and operating to its full potential while maintaining my current client base.

Mango Madness Granola from Sunday's photoshoot

What I’ve Have Been Up To Lately: For the last two weeks, I have been testing new products, slowly upgrading the website, brochures, and ordering information. I have been searching for a commercial kitchen to rent- so that I can continue to expand Thistle’s product line. I have been designing new packaging, researching eco-friendly options for products, and meeting with potential clients. Last week, I was contacted by Fox 45/ABC22. THEY WANT ME TO BE ON TV. So in April, you will see me on TV. More details on that later. Last Sunday, Thistle Confections had its first photo shoot with Hodac Photography. Take a look at some of the shots. Delicious, right?

Figgy Darlings

Questions From You

Q: Where is Thistle?

A: We are a home-based bakery located in the Historic South Park neighborhood of Dayton, OH.  We do not have a store front right now, but we hope to have one in the future! Currently, you can buy our products at Ohio Coffee Company and PRESS Coffee Bar. In late April, we will have retail space at Ghostlight Coffee Shop.

Q: Where is that new brochure you promised us?

A: It is coming! I should have it complete and ready for download by the end of this week.

Q: Do you have an online shop?

A: We will be selling on Etsy very soon. Hopefully within the next two weeks. We hoped that the new logo, graphics, pictures, website, and Etsy shop would all be ready at the same time. But good marketing takes time- so we continue to be a work in progress!

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Scone of Destiny

I went to the market, meaning to get more ingredients to test Irish soda bread recipes. All kinds- the brown kind, sweet kind, Caraway kind, and in between kinds.   But as I was procuring my ingredients, I was approached by an adorable old man.   He sweetly said, meaning to pay me a compliment: “Now you MUST be Irish.”  Well, yes and no, I say. He gave me a puzzled look and walked away. I understand his confusion. We are conditioned to believe that people with red hair (or reddish in my case) are Irish. On St. Patrick’s day, I am nearly always mistaken for an Irish lass. Genetically, I am about a quarter Irish. My paternal grandmother was adopted. She was, in fact, Irish. BUT she was adopted and raised by Dutch immigrants. She disappeared from my father’s life and no proud Irish traditions were ever exalted in my family. In high school, it became a tradition to prepare corned beef and cabbage with my dad. But beyond the food, St. Patrick’s day has always been bittersweet.  I’m always reminded of my grandmother’s legacy, her auburn hair (“redderish” as Mr. Radar calls it), passed on to me. I feel a tinge of sadness when thinking about her. But I always remember the extra time spent with my dad on St. Patrick’s day- preparing the meal together, happily eating good food.

But when it came down to making that Irish Soda bread, I couldn’t.

So I made American (Irish) Soda bread scones instead.  These scones are lovely, and are roughly reminiscent of the Americanized soda bread, full of raisins, currants,  zest, candied orange peel and a tiny bit of sweetness.

Scones of Destiny, costarring Earl Grey Tea

Scone of Destiny

Serves 8 large scones, 12 round scones
  • 2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 3 tablespoons Granulated Sugar, plus more for dusting
  • Zest of One Lemon
  • 1/4 cup Dried Currants
  • 1/4 cup Sultanas (Thompson’s Seedless)
  • 1/2 cup Candied Orange Peel, finely diced
  • 8 tablespoons Butter, chilled
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 cup Buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon Orange Essence

(1) Preheat the oven to 350. Soak the sultanas and currants in hot water or hot apple juice. This will plump them, and make them juicy in the scones.

(2) Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and lemon zest. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk, vanilla, orange essence, and egg.

(3) Cut the butter into the flour mixture, using your fingers or a dough cutter. (I use a cutter). Work the mixture until the butter is about the size of large peas.

(4) Drain the sultanas and currants very well. Add to the dough.

(5) Combine the liquid and dry ingredients, stirring gently with a fork or your fingers. The dough will form a very shaggy ball.

(6) Dump the dough onto a clean work surface. Form into a loose circle. You can cut the dough in eighths, making triangular scones. I like to gently roll out the dough and use a biscuit cutter to make 12 round scones (about the size of a hockey puck).  Top with a sprinkle of sugar, if desired. 

(7) Bake at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes, until the tops are lightly golden. I try to serve these immediately, but they will keep in an airtight container for up to two days.

You can find this recipe on Food52.

Pssst: looking for a recipe for Candied Orange Peel? I used this recipe from Epicurious.

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The Sun is Shining Salad

Alternately, what to eat when you need a little cheering up.

The birds are chirping, the air is fresh, and spring is finally here. But I’ve got a touch of March malaise. My Flyers didn’t make the big dance. Then, at the NIT, they had a meltdown.

Most Flyers fans can handle the roller coaster, but I am made of weaker stuff. I am not a born Flyers fan like Mr. Radar, and I am frequently prone to March Madness malaise. A syndrome that I can trace back to my high school journalism teacher, Mr. George and my time writing for the Forest Edge. (My high school’s austere publication). I was encouraged to go to Dayton by Mr. George, who was also the high school basketball coach. He seamed proud that I chose a “basketball school” as opposed to an athletics farm (his words). After I had officially chosen Dayton over Xavier in early March, Mr. George handed me my very first March Madness bracket and a green pen. Dayton didn’t make the dance that year. But I won the pool anyway.

I have never again won the pool- but I have cheered for the Flyers ever since. So this salad is the sustenance I need to get through my March malaise. This salad is sunny, fluffy, and bright. Little bits of citrus, salty feta, and flecks of olive are little treasures, buried in fluffy, golden grain.

Sunny Quinoa Salad

Adapted from My Pantry Shelf on Food52.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cups shallot, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta (I have tried this with goat cheese, it was good, too).
  • zest from one sweet orange (I went with Cara Cara and Blood Oranges)
  • 3 Sweet Oranges (I used two Cara Cara oranges and one Blood Orange. The original recipe recommends mandarins, which I did not have).
  • 1/2 cup slivered Almonds, toasted

(1) Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the shallots, and cook until the shallots are translucent. Add the Quinoa, and allow the grain to toast in the pan with the shallots for about one minute. Then add the water.

(2) Bring the Quinoa and Water to boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and allow to cook for 7-10 minutes. The quinoa should be soft and squiggly when it is finished.

(3) Meanwhile, segment the oranges, chop the olives, and toast the slivered almonds.

(4)  Allow the finished Quinoa to cool to room temperature. When cool, add the olives, feta, oranges, and almonds.

Serve and Enjoy! Makes 4-6 side dish servings, or 2-3 main servings.

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The Beatles Bash: Devils in Her Heart

For the most part, The Beatles Bash was relatively easy to plan. I planned for a big party and bought loads of decoration, soda, and beer. I cut out some mustaches, some yellow submarines. It had the makings of a simple, effortless party. Until I became singularly obsessed with menu. Every food item had to conform to the theme, and I was throwing out good options that did not fit in the title of a Beatles’ song every day. Some of the food was very easy, albeit with more creative names than usual.  I bought pita bread and humus and declared it “Lovely Pita.”  The “Yellow Submarine Sandwiches” were also simple- a little arugula, prosciutto, basil, and fresh mozzarella.

Other dishes were harder, and I started preparing weeks in advance. Mr. Radar’s chocolate-peanut butter cake, homemade “Cayenne” caramel corn, “Lucy in the Pie” were all planned and started well in advance.  Like a drill sergeant, I had planned the four days leading up to the party down to the minute. I had orchestrated absolutely everything, until a few little devils got in my way and nearly burnt down my kitchen.  Yes, that’s right. I nearly burnt down the house a mere 40 minutes before the guests were to arrive for Mr. Radar’s party.

Why? This recipe. Helenthenanny’s Devils on Hatchback, which I renamed “Devils in her heart.”  I was finishing off the devils in the oven, when I put two other pans (one rigatoni and one baked brie) to bake with the devils. After the application of the honey, grease from the devils started to get out of control. I tried transferring pans, but alas, the grease on the bottom of the oven ignited. The devils made it out unharmed, right before  Mr. Radar let the fire extinguisher rip.

Prepare this recipe with caution, because you will be fanning flames. Perhaps not literal flames, but your friends will want these little devils for every party. And you will be asked to make them over and over.  Learn from my mistake- use a large, sturdy baking pan with sides.

Devils on Hatchback

Adapted from Helenthenanny on Food52

Makes about 40 Poppers

  • 20 Jalapeno Peppers
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 20 slices of bacon, cut in half.
  • 3 tablespoons honey,
  • black pepper

(1) Clean the Jalapenos before roasting them whole. I roasted them under the broiler for about 5 minutes. My broiler is not very powerful, so if you have a *functional* broiler, three minutes might do the trick.  Place the peppers in a large, heat proof bowl with a plate on top. This will steam the jalapenos, and make it easier to remove the skins.

(2) When the peppers have cooled, remove the skins by rubbing them gently with a clean kitchen towel. Slice them in half lengthwise, and remove most of the seeds. (If you are feeling devilish, you can leave the seeds for extra spicy poppers)

(3) Preheat oven to 350. Then, place about 1 teaspoon of cream cheese in each pepper half. Roll up the pepper, so that the cream cheese is covered. Wrap half a slice of bacon around the pepper. Place it seam side down on a baking sheet with a piece of parchment or a Silpat.

(4) Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.  Drizzle with honey and black pepper. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the bacon is crispy and done.

Serve immediately. Consider making a double or triple batch. They go fast.

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