Thursday, November 8, 2012


Apparently I missed this trend on the blogosphere.  Being sans-stand mixer, the thought of baking bread hasn't even crossed my mind; my forearms can't handle ten minutes of kneading.  But after a co-worker opened my eyes to this hassle-free recipe, I may become an avid bread baker!  This no-knead, make-it and leave it style bread is remarkably similar to a crusty ciabatta.  The dough is pulled together the day before and left to rise for at least ten hours.  No need to punch it down after two hours or worry about over-proofing.  When it's time for dinner just shape into a boule, wrap in a tea towel and wait for the final rise while the oven comes to temp.  Pop it in a pre-heated casserole, bake covered for thirty minutes, then remove the lid and let it crisp for a final fifteen.  Looks pretty impressive for such little hands on time... and for using expired yeast.  Excellent for sopping up leftover tomato sauce or a heartt soup/stew.

There are plenty of versions online for Jim Lahey's no-knead bread.  I used this one.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


What to do with leftover chopped peanuts?  Well, make peanut butter cookies of course. This version from Dorie Greenspan has the perfect consistency: crisp, light and tender, not overly crunchy or sandy. One thing I've learned by baking entirely too much, is that the key to a fantastic cookie is making sure you thoroughly cream your butter and sugar.  I'm not talking one minute with a hand mixer.  It's more like three minutes of beating until the mixture is light and smooth.
Tailoring the recipe to my own taste, I chopped up and tossed in semi-sweet morsels and peanut butter chips.  They add the perfect contrast in texture without being too large that the classic crisscross adornment is indistinguishable.  Definitely a cookie jar staple.

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup smooth peanut butter (I use Skippy)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup finely chopped salted peanuts
1/2 cup finely chopped semi-sweet morsels
1/2 cup finely chopped peanut butter morsels (I use Reese's)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Working with a stand-mixer or hand mixer, beat butter on medium speed for one to two minutes until creamy.  Add peanut butter and beat for another minute.  Add sugars and beat for three minutes more. Add eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl and, on low speed, add the dry ingredients, mixing until just incorporated.  Mix in the chopped nuts and morsels. The dough should be light, soft and easily mush-able.

Working with approximately a tablespoon of dough, roll into a ball and drop into a bowl with approximately 1/2 cup of sugar.  Roll balls around in the sugar to coat, then place on cookie sheet two inches apart.  Flatten slightly with your palm, then create the crisscross indentation with the tines of a fork dipped in sugar to prevent sticking.

Bake for 12 minutes, roatating sheet half way, until the cookies lightly colored and still a little soft.  Let cool for five minutes then transfer to a wire rack for to cool to room temperature.  Makes about 40 cookies

Monday, November 5, 2012


Since retail therapy is out of the question, lets play pretend.  Zara Home has officially opened up shop in the US; my hypothetical abode will be getting a european face lift.  Overall I was impressed with the offerings.  The affordable home accrssories and housewares had clean lines and classic finishes.  Being a sucker for natural textures and materials, their glass, wood, wool and metallic products really stood out.  Their more colorful and patterned offerings were not really in my preferred palate, so I'd pass on the Union Jack plates and fuchsia pillows.  Similarly, their Holiday line lacked the sophistication that the balance of their products had.  But back to the pretty picks; here are the beauties I'm buying for my faux home:

 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 15