baking Dorie Friday dinner

Tuesdays With Dorie: Applesauce Spice Bars

I made these. I did. I took pictures. And then I worked constantly all weekend and all day Monday and didn’t write the post. I’m putting it up now, without photos, and I’ll update as soon as I can.

UPDATE: Now, with photos and actual content!

This is a funny color; I have no idea why. It wasn’t this color in real life:

applesauce 4

It was Friday night dinner, and #2 Son did the honors. This was his first wholly conceived and executed dinner (although he had a bit of technical assistance from the man of the house). He started with a pound of Trader Joe’s frozen chicken thighs, and from there I’ll turn it over to him:

“I chopped it into little bits, then I stuck it in a pan with 3 tablespoons of butter and sautéed it. While I was sauteeing it I put in three cloves of garlic, crushed into little bits, another half-stick of butter, and a little flour. And I added a generous serving of poultry seasoning and some kosher flake salt. I cooked it for about 8 minutes, till the chicken was brown and fried-ish. It had the outside consistency of the little bits of pork you get in pork fried rice. I served it over jasmine rice cooked with Star bouillon.”

He did. And we ate it. Not bad for 12, I think.

applesauce 5

And then we had the amazing applesauce spice bars, which were even more amazing the next day. And the next day. And the next day, even. (Can you tell the kids were away for most of that time?)

After reading the P&Q on the Tuesdays With Dorie page, I decided to double the glaze recipe, and I’m glad I did; that gave me extra to put on top of the vanilla ice cream I made (thank you yet again, David Lebovitz) to go with the bars.

applesauce 2

The result was perfect.

#1 Son: The cake was delicious and moist, with a nice range of flavors. The ice cream was kind of bland, though, and obliterated the subtlety of the cake when the two were eaten together. [Ignore him.]

#2 Son: The cake was moist; it was tasty. It could have used a little more cinnamon. The glaze was pretty good. The ice cream was awesome. It could have been less crystally, but other than that, delicious. Good with chocolate sauce, too.

Go read all the other TWD blogs, and then try these yourself. Really. Now. Buy the book, or go visit Something Sweet, where Karen will have the recipe for you.

applesauce 3

baking Dorie Friday dinner

Tuesdays With Dorie: Caramel Crunch Bars

We’re back to cookies this time, but cookies of a different flavor. This week’s recipe, chosen for us by Whitney of What’s Left on the Table?, was for Caramel Crunch Bars — essentially chocolate-chip shortbread with chocolate and toffee bits on top.

This was not a big production. I made them fairly late in the day, and (unlike last week) they didn’t keep me up way past my bedtime. Make the dough — in the mixer, not the food processor, which is where I generally make shortbread — and bake the dough. This dough is thick and sticky, and I knew from reading the comments that a lot of people were using a smaller pan, but I’m brave (and I was having a party the next day); I went for the recipe-specified 9×13. But forewarned is fore-utensiled, and I used my offset spatula, sprayed with butter-flavored cooking spray, to spread it around. Easy as shortbread.

I am notoriously bad at knowing when to take things out of the oven; I can never make reality line up with the description in the recipe, and this time was no different. Dorie says the dough will look as if it’s “trying to pull away from the sides” of the pan. Never got that. The edges were browning and the center looked done, so I finally took them out after about 23 minutes. (My oven temperature is fairly random.)

I chopped the chocolate for the top in the food processor, and I made it very fine — almost like commercial breadcrumbs. So when I sprinkled it on top of the hot cookies, I didn’t have to spread it around; it just melted in place. One invariably frustrating step saved. Then I sprinkled on the the toffee bits and pressed them down with the back of my offset spatula. Piece of shortbread.

I liked these a lot. They weren’t World Peace league, but they were good. I’d have liked them better if I’d used milk chocolate on top, but I was pandering to the masses:

Husband: It just tasted like a big Heath bar, nothing particularly special. They were tasty, but I didn’t get the point of them. [Allow me to interject here that the point of them is the same as the point of Heath bars: They’re delicious.]

#1 Son: Pretty damned good. They could have used a little more crunch and a little less sweetness, but I liked them.

#2 Son: The bottom really adds nothing to it but texture — it’s just a Heath bar. But it’s a really good Heath bar. I would eat a billion of these again. And again. And again. [Allow me to interject once again to point out that Husband and #2 Son made these comments in isolation. They are scarily alike.]

There were four extra people at my house when I served these cookies, but there were also two whole cakes, homemade ice cream, and more cookies — not to mention quite a bit of my amazing homemade pizza — and every single cookie was eaten. One guest even asked for the recipe. I guess that means they were a hit.

Oh, and I apologize for the lack of photographs this week. My camera did something odd, and the 30 or so photos I shot seem to have vanished into the mist. My pictures are never all that good anyway, so no big loss!

Lots of other people made these, and I bet there are tons of interesting variations (and lots of photos!). Go check them out. If you’d like to try these for yourself, buy Baking: From My Home to Yours or head on over to What’s Left on the Table?.

Dorie Friday dinner

Tuesdays With Dorie: Floating Islands

I believe this is my first Dorie failure. There have been some recipes we haven’t liked as much as others over my past seven months as part of Tuesdays With Dorie, but this is the first time that what I wound up with looked nothing like the lovely photo in the book.


The crème anglaise was lovely. The meringue tasted great, pre-poaching. Even the caramel was good, and I’ve had less than stellar results in past sugar-boiling efforts. But as a dish, eh.

I made the crème anglaise a day in advance, because the recipe mentioned that the flavor would be better that way. It tasted like a nice, rich vanilla ice cream base — which is, essentially, what it was.

I whipped up the eggs whites just perfectly — I make meringues fairly frequently, so I’m familiar with the process — but when I tried to poach them, it was a disaster. The egg whites just dissolved into the simmering milk.

I tried whipping them some more. Didn’t help. Still disappeared.

I tried using more egg white mixture at a time. This time I got little tiny pillowy things, looking nothing like the photograph. But since I had at least achieved something, I kept using larger and larger amounts.

By the end (I cut the recipe in half, because there were only three of us eating dessert), I had one decent-size island (not nearly as pretty as Dorie’s), one smaller one, and two tiny ones.

I refrigerated them for a couple of hours, as instructed, and then plopped them in the crème anglaise and flicked some caramel on top. That part looked pretty.


But I’ve always been pretty bad at presentation, and I was prepared to like them despite their appearance. But I didn’t. The poached meringues came out like a souffle rather than like meringues, and there just wasn’t anything to them. The family agreed:

Husband: They tasted like little omelets. They were perfectly good little omelets. Just not desserty.

#2 Son: While the ocean was tasty, the rest was pretty bad. The island was too eggy, and the caramel almost cut my gum.

#1 Son has no opinion this week, because he chose to spend the afternoon and evening with his girlfriend rather than at our Friday dinner. No more will be said on the matter.

Look at the pretty one again:


There was a bunch of caramel left over, so I saved the day. David Lebovitz has an amazing candied peanut recipe. I had sugar and water. I made candied peanuts! And they were good.


Go check out what all the other TWD bakers did with the floating islands. There will no doubt be hundreds of better renditions out there. And if you want to try it for yourself (go ahead, make me look bad), Shari will have the recipe over at Whisk: A Food Blog.

Next week is another week!

baking bread Dorie Friday dinner

Tuesdays With Dorie: Savory Corn and Pepper Muffins


This is the first savory Dorie recipe I’ve made, and I welcomed the break from sugar. (I cannot believe I just typed that.)

I made the muffins to accompany a roast chicken; I thought they’d be a nice change from our usual bread or biscuits.

They were easy to put together (although I must confess that I left out the spicier additions) and baked in exactly the amount of time they were supposed to. And they were, in fact, the best corn muffins I’ve had.

Corn muffins are not my favorites, but these were quite good: moist and buttery and flavorful, without that dry coarseness that you so often get. And even with the chili powder, they weren’t too hot for me (and nearly everything that makes any pretense of spiciness is too hot for me!).

The family was split: Husband found them “granular and tasting of baking soda,” but #1 Son loved the cilantro and buttery texture, and pronounced them “stellar.” #2 Son said “I don’t like corn muffins, but these were really good,” and he singled out the corn kernels for praise.

I guess I’d make these again if I needed corn muffins, but that’s not a need that arises often around here.

Go see what the hundreds of other Tuesdays With Dorie bloggers did with these. Rebecca of Ezra Pound Cake chose the recipe for us this week, and she’ll have the recipe at her blog if you want to try these savory little muffins yourself.

bread food Friday dinner meat recipes

Bicultural Friday Dinner

I had some lamb cubes in the freezer — grass-fed, organic, local lamb, straight from the farmers market. What to do with lamb cubes? Around here, there’s really only one answer. Irish stew:


I started with the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated‘s The New Best Recipe, #1 Son’s bible. We gave it to him after his bar mitzvah in 1995, and almost four years later it’s still his go-to cookbook for just about everything. (He made a cheesecake yesterday to take to a gathering of teenage homeschoolers today; he used it for a class on the science of cooking.) But the CI recipe called for shoulder chops, and I, of course, had the aforementioned cubes. So I played around with the proportions, but the technique is basically theirs.

Irish Stew (adapted from The New Best Recipe)

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pound lamb cubes, cut into whatever size you like
2 medium onions, chopped into whatever size you like
a little less than 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
2 cups of water, divided
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon salt
3 medium potatoes (the book recommends Yukon Golds, but you can also use reds)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Sprinkle the lamb cubes with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and brown half the lamb on all sides. Remove to a bowl. Add another tablespoon of oil and brown the other half of the lamb on all sides. Remove to the bowl. Turn the heat down to medium-low, add the last tablespoon of oil, and cook the onions till they’re softened, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir till the onions are coated evenly. Add one cup of water and stir, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the thyme and the salt. Gradually add the other cup of water and continue to stir until the stew begins to simmer. Put the meat back in and bring the stew back to a simmer. Put the stew in a Dutch oven or covered baking dish and bake for one hour. Remove from the oven, add the potatoes to the top of the stew, re-cover, and bake for another hour or so, until the meat is tender. Stir the potatoes into the stew, let it stand for a few minutes (it’s really, really hot), and enjoy.

And if you’re having Irish stew, you must also have Irish soda bread. Again I turned to The New Best Recipe, and again it didn’t let me down.


Irish Soda Bread (adapted from The New Best Recipe)

3 cups (15 ounces) lower-protein (read, not King Arthur) all-purpose flour
1 cup (4 ounces) plain cake flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons cream of tartar
1½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus 1 tablespoon melted butter for the crust
1½ cups buttermilk

Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and preheat the over to 400 degrees. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Work the butter into the dry ingredients (with a fork or your fingers) till the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the buttermilk and stir with a fork just till the dough begins to come together. Turn it out onto a floured work surface and knead just till the dough is cohesive enough that you can form it into a loaf. The less you mess with it, the better. Pat the dough into a round about 6 inches across and 2 inches high; place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. I used a round stoneware pan. Use a serrated knife to cut a cross shape in the top of the dough; each cut should be 5 inches long and ¾ of an inch deep. Bake till the loaf is golden brown and skewer inserted into the center comes out clean (or the internal temperature reaches 180 degrees), about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter. Cool to room temperature before cutting.

I’m not really a big fan of soda bread, but Husband loves it, so I make it several times a year. This is the best recipe I’ve tried — I actually liked the bread. If you like soda bread, you’ll love it.

And for a change, dessert wasn’t a Dorie recipe. (This week it’s pumpkin muffins, and we’re having them for breakfast tomorrow!) #2 Son goes to a secular Jewish Sunday school (and #1 Son works there), where they learn all about the history and culture and traditions of Judaism. And apparently one of those traditions is celebrating the harvest festival of Sukkot by building model sukkahs out of graham crackers, pretzels, and frosting. When they did this at Sunday school they used that nasty frosting in a tub. But I don’t roll that way. So …

This afternoon I bought graham crackers, spice wafers, three different pretzel shapes, a couple of different kinds of candy corn, mini M&Ms, big marhsmallows, mini-marshmallows, and probably some other stuff I’ve forgotten. Then I made vanilla buttercream icing, chocolate buttercream icing, and royal icing (for architectural purposes). After dinner, the boys went at it.

#1 Son went with a traditional sukkah, complete with autumn leaves scattered on the ground:


#2 Son, the someday architect, went for something a bit more modern (and a bit less stable):


bread food Friday dinner

Fishy Friday

This week’s Dorie recipe was a killer nutritionally, and so I went light on dinner. And since I also kept it simple, I can give you recipes!

First, I bought some frozen salmon fillets at Trader Joe’s. We don’t eat nearly enough fish, and I keep trying to slip some into the recipe rotation. And with preparation this simple, there’s no reason not to. It takes almost no time or effort (or skill!), and the fish comes out moist and flavorful.

Baked Salmon

  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1 pound salmon fillets
  • dried dill
  • kosher flake salt

Heat the oven to 475 degrees. Melt the butter (or heat the olive oil) in a baking dish just large enough for your fish. When it’s hot, add the fish, skin side up, and bake for 5 minutes. Flip it over (it will fall apart!) and bake for another four minutes or so, till done. Sprinkle with dill and salt to taste.


For the side, I used one of those rice mixes with brown rice and wild rice and all sorts of other rice. Lundberg makes several varieties, and Trader Joe’s has its own version. While the rice was cooking in chicken broth, I sautéed a couple of stalks of celery, three scallions (including some of the green part), two cloves of garlic, and a shallot I found at the bottom of my onion basket. When it was all soft and yummy, I added a thawed and drained (and squeezed dry) bag of frozen chopped spinach. When the rice was done, I mixed in the vegetables, and voilà. The rice was excellent with the salmon.


And then there was the bread. There’s always bread on Friday. This week, in keeping with the light theme, I went with focaccia. It also had the added benefit of being incredibly easy, and for bread, fairly quick.

Rosemary Focaccia

  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon yeast (active dry or instant, not rapid rise)
  • sprig of fresh rosemary, as large as you like
  • ½ tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2½ to 3 cups bread flour
  • coarse salt

Strip the rosemary leaves off the stem and set aside. Put the water in a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface and let sit for a minute or so, then stir to dissolve. Add the rosemary, the salt, the oil, and 2½ cups of flour and mix well. I used my Kitchenaid mixer and the bread hook. Once all the flour is incorporated, cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 10 or 15 minutes. Then knead for 10 minutes or so, by hand or machine, till the dough is elastic but still sticky. Add more flour a little at a time as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the bowl.

Put the dough in an oiled bowl, turning to oil the top. Cover and let rest for about 45 minutes. Gently deflate and re-cover, then let rest about another 45 minutes, till doubled. Somewhere in the middle there, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, putting an old baking pan or cast iron frying pan on the oven floor.

Shape into a ball and let rest on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes. Then stretch into a random flat shape, about half an inch thick (although it’s not crucial that it be exactly the same thickness overall), and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Let rest for 20 to 30 minutes, then make dimples all over the top with your fingers. Brush with olive oil, letting some pool in the dimples, then sprinkle with coarse salt.

Pour a cup of hot water into the pan on the oven floor (BE CAREFUL — the steam is wickedly painful) and bake the focaccia for about 25 minutes, till it’s nicely browned.

Let cool on a wire rack for a little while, but eat while it’s still warm. This is fabulous bread, better than anything you’ll get from a bakery.


And then there was dessert, but for that, you’ll have to wait till Tuesday!

bread Friday dinner meat

Just Like Friday, but on Saturday!

#1 Son went to a concert last night with a friend, so we shifted Friday dinner to Saturday. Because one consequence of the concert was that the friend had to take a train at 8 this morning, and I had to deliver him to the station, #1 Son and I hit the farmers market early, around 8:30. He’s not usually with me, so he leapt at the opportunity to choose the week’s meat. He went with ground lamb, ground pork, and the old standby, ground beef. We bought a pound of each, then cut the pounds in half. That left me with a pound and a half of a yummy meat mush, which I turned into burgers.

I know I promised that I’d start including recipes here, but I don’t think this counts: I put half a pound of ground beef, ground lamb, and ground pork (all free-range organic, as befits farmers market fare) into a bowl. I sprinkled it with garlic powder, dried thyme leaves, and kosher flake salt. I mixed it together, as little as possible. Then I split it into four 4-ounce burgers (saving the rest for a meal later in the week!) and grilled them on my little panini press. Wait! If I make it look like a recipe, then it must be one!

Mixed Meat Burgers (makes 6)

  • ½ pound ground beef
  • ½ pound ground lamb
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • kosher flake salt (to taste)
  • dried thyme leaves (to taste)
  • garlic powder (to taste)

Put all meat into large bowl and sprinkle with salt, thyme, and garlic powder. Mix to combine, handling the meat as little as possible.

Divide into six 4-ounce patties. Grill indoors or out. Put on toasted homemade rolls.

Oh, did I forget to mention the rolls?

It was Friday/Saturday dinner, so there had to be bread. I made Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Best Buns, so I can’t take credit for that recipe. There was also farmers market corn on the cob, which was absolutely perfect. It’s all downhill from here.


Husband spruced his up a bit:

stacked burger

And the corn:


Dessert was, of course, Dorie’s Granola Grabbers. More on that Tuesday!