November 17, 2011

Triple X Chocolate Cookies

Hello, I'm Liza and I am a chocoholic.

Now you.

I'll wait.

I have a cookie recipe for you, fellow chocolate lovers. It's December. Winter is in the air and the ovens are warming up for the holiday cookie rush. Now, I don't think this is a good recipe to give away as a present. Firstly because then you don't get to eat them. But also because this recipe takes a lot of time to prepare and the cookies taste best fresh. I recommend bar cookies as gifts instead, like these lovelies.

The best part is that the dough can be frozen, so you can bake a few cookies whenever you get a craving.  Thaw your frozen toes in front of the oven, while you wait for them to bake. Maybe even burning your fingertips on slightly too hot cookies you can't keep your hands off of. No judging.

I had so much fun making these. I felt like a chocolatier.

Not only will you use three types of chocolate making this, but it feels like you're making three different kinds of desserts.

Dessert 1: Hot Fudge, Dessert 2: Truffle Filling, Dessert 3: Cookies.

They're soft and sort of fold into themselves in your mouth. The nuts add a bit of crunch. Keep a shot of milk nearby. You'll need it. Trust me.

Triple X Chocolate Cookies
(Recipe from Dishing Divine via The Pastry Affair Cookbook)


1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped walnuts
6 tablespoon unsalted butter
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
flaked sea salt(omitted)

Toast the nuts in the oven or in a pan until you can smell the nutty flavor. They should be lightly browned, not burnt.

Step 1: Hot Fudge

Coarsely chop the bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate. Separated the butter by tablespoons.

Melt the two chocolates and butter together in a double boiler, mixing to keep from burning. Let the mixture cool to room temperature before starting the next step.

Step 2: Truffle Filling

Beat the eggs and sugar together on medium speed for three minutes. Add vanilla and "hot fudge". Beat on medium for two minutes. Mix in the dry ingredients: the flour, baking powder and salt, leaving a few white streaks.

Take a large spoon and mix in the nuts and chocolate chips. It is important not to over mix the batter.

Pop the mixing bowl into the fridge for ten minutes or until the batter is firm enough to scoop.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Take another baking sheet out. Scoop out two-inch wide "chocolate truffles" making sure they do not touch. Freeze the entire tray. It should take about twenty minutes or so for the batter to firm. If you have a lot of freezer space and an extra tray, freeze more at this time.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Step 3: Cookies.

Now it's time to bake. If you just want a few for yourself, that's just fine. Take the amount you want out of the freezer, place on the parchment papered baking sheet and bake. After eight minutes, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another six to eight minutes or until the cookies have a slight resistance when you press lightly on the tops. Let cool on the baking sheet for five to ten minutes.

The original recipe called for sea salt to be sprinkled on top, so add if desired. I did not and my cookies still turned out wonderfully.

If you want to make the whole batch at once, scoop and freeze another tray of batter immediately.

Freeze any remaining the cookie dough in cookie shape and store for a snowy day.

Repeat Step 3 as needed.

October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween: 5 Recipes to Get Into Character

For those who want to go the extra mile to get into the role, or who just like interesting foods, here are:
5 Recipes to Help You Get Into Character.

1. Firefly 
Ice Planets

Because you've eaten ice cream off of a stick before and a string was the next logical step. Check out the eating tips from Tasty, otherwise your food could become problematic.

2. Doctor Who
Fish Fingers and Custard (Lemon Fritter sticks and Nutmeg Pudding)

Oh, sure you could make the real thing. But would you want to? Maybe. I've never tried, but I've heard  it's not too bad at first, but then it becomes quite odd. Shocking.

Recipe by Desserts For Breakfast:

Charlieissocoollike- Eats Fish Fingers and Custard:

3. Harry Potter
Fever Fudge

Mugglenet has a ton of Harry Potter related recipes, but I was most impressed by this one's creativity. Not only does it look like the sweets from the movie, but it is made the Weasley's Wizard Wheezes way- double-sided. One makes you seem hot to the touch, the other makes you well again.

4. Alice in Wonderland
Eat Me! Cupcakes

Sliceofcake on Deviantart created some of the best Alice in Wonderland cupcake designs I've ever seen. The artist liked the design so much, he redid the design a year later. I'm sharing both versions with you, as I am particularly fond of the Cheshire Cat Cupcake in version two and the tower of tea cups and pots in the first.

Make your own simpler version by baking basic cupcakes and adding your favorite frosting. Pipe "Eat Me" on each cake.

Also, check out this Tokyo Restaurant designed to look like Wonderland from

5. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Sentient Sandwich

As it's a vegetarian sandwich, I'm going to have to argue that it's more of a Not-So-Sentient-Sandwich, but who am I to disagree with its creator, The Meaning of Pie?

What are you doing for Halloween?

October 28, 2011

Announcing Two Battered Women!

Introducing Two Battered Women! A humorous food and literature blog co-authored by myself and Brittany, a real life friend of mine. Together we share our adventures in reading and in eating. Our recipes are inspired by books that we have enjoyed at all ages, so expect recipes from children's books to Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, and everything in between.

Naturally I will continue to write posts specifically for this blog, but I wanted to let you guys know what else I'm up to at the moment and to encourage you to check it out! Brittany and I are having a lot of fun writing for it and we want you to join in too! Let us know your favorite food scenes from literature or just your favorite books. We want to hear from you, so come join the conversation!

Follow us on Twitter for updates at  

Check out 2BW on Facebook at Two Battered Women

Also, check out Brittany's work at

October 26, 2011

Old-Fashioned Red Velvet Cake w/ Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting


That's my response to this cake.


Cream cheese frosting is, on it's own, fantastic. The sweet tangy flavor with such a richness to it- perfection. Of course chocolate is equally wonderful. Therefore the two together are a perfect match. And that's just the frosting.

This cake is amazing. There's no other word for it. But before I go on too far, I just want to add a disclaimer here and say that it's not a chocolatey cake. Not at all. Not even by red velvet standards. It's really more of a yellow butter cake in taste.

But oh my.

It's rich. It's buttery and intense and every bite is a perfect bite.

Normally I try to stick with healthier recipes, but with this one- you just have to commit. It's worth every bite. I swear.

This was also a special cake. It was a birthday cake. In my family, we always bake a cake from scratch for the other person. Nobody is allowed to bake their own cake. We all have favorites, but sometimes we like to mix things up a little. Hence this cake.

This is a Birthday cake with a capital B. It is also a Valentine's Day cake, an Anniversary cake, a New Year's cake, an I-was-just-in-the-neighberhood-and-thought-I'd-say-hey cake. It's a my-team-just-won-the-superbowl cake, an I-just-reorganized-my-desktop cake, and of the course a Just-had-a-slice-ten-minutes-ago-but-who-cares cake.

Yeaaaaah. Get serious.

Red Velvet Cake
(from Joy of Cooking)

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons red food dye

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Assemble all the ingredients and leave them out so all ingredients are room temperature. Take two 9 or 8 inch pans. Cut out circles in wax paper and attach the circles using Crisco as a glue. Grease the top of the wax paper and flour.

Take a bowl and whisk together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Beat the butter until creamy. Gradually add the sugar to the mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. This should take 3 to 5 minutes.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and vanilla. Beat in the egg mixture into the butter for around 2 minutes.

Take the flour mixture and buttermilk and add alternately to the batter on slow speed- 3 parts flour, 2 parts buttermilk. Scrap down the sides, if necessary. Beat until smooth.

Fill the two prepared pans.

Bake for 25-30 minutes for the 9 inch pan. Bake 30-35 minutes in the 8-inch pan.

Check cake with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, remove pans from the oven and cool on a rack.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
(from Joy of Cooking)

8 ounces cold cream cheese
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
5 ounces semisweet/bittersweet chocolate, melted
3 tablespoons coffee or water

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth and creamy. Don't over work the mixture.

Melt the chocolate and mix with the coffee or water mixture. Cool to lukewarm, then stir into the frosting.

If the mixture is too thin, chill in the refrigerator for ten minutes before spreading.

October 16, 2011

Peanut Butter Banana Ice "Cream" Sundae Sandwich

Have you gotten in on the frozen banana ice cream train? The idea is simple, yet brilliant. Take a banana. Freeze it, then give it a whirl in the blender, with a splash of vanilla. If you haven't tried it yet, I highly recommend it. It's a satisfying and wicked healthy ice cream replacement.

I'm one of those people who are committed to their ice cream. I will eat it year round, regardless of the outside or inside temperature. In the dead of winter, I walk downstairs, complaining bitterly of the chill, wrapped in a scarf, my fingerless gloves on. I will pad into the kitchen, my heavy duty socks acting like slippers. Staring at my hand, I will wonder if my fingers have frozen solid? No, still usable? Good. I open up the freezer, take out an ice cream container, scoop frozen goodness into a bowl. And later I will wonder why it's suddenly gotten colder.

I've made banana ice cream for breakfast before. I've eaten ice cream instead of dinner.

I know I'm not the only one.

But, sometimes we need to eat "real" food. Not a creamy frozen dessert.

So what to do if it's lunchtime, you don't know what to make and you've got a banana frozen in the freezer? Make an ice cream sundae sandwich of course!

Oddly healthy, this sandwich concoction will surely satisfy the child within.

Peanut Butter Banana Sundae Sandwich
2 slices of challah OR white bread
1-2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 large square of dark chocolate (70% of higher) OR 1 tablespoon Nutella
1 pre-sliced frozen banana

Chopped Nuts
Mini Chocolate Chips
Shredded Coconut

At least two hours prior, slice a banana and freeze. If you already have a whole frozen banana, you can use this as well, but it will defrost faster, and give your sandwich a stronger banana taste.

Take the bread and cover one piece with peanut butter and the other with chocolate. Using a toaster oven or a pan heat the slices, until lightly toasty and the chocolate melts.

Add desired toppings. Take the banana chips out of the freezer. Spread frozen slices on the bread.

Put together the sandwich and consume immediately.

October 10, 2011

Veggie Burgers

A veggie burger is a interesting kind of food. I choose to view at more as a portable casserole than a meat substitute. There are so many different kinds of veggie burgers, made of different types of vegetables, grains, and protein. Generally, they don't taste like beef, because they are not beef. But they are as deeply satisfying and comforting as bitting into any piece of meat.

Here are some of my favorites.

1. The Peter Rabbit from The Peter Christian Tavern in New London, NH.

A homemade burger topped with a sundried tomato hummus and sprouts. Delicious, delicious, delicious. I only wish two things were different: that I knew how it was made, and that I lived within driving distance. If I had to guess, I'd say it was made with pinto beans and cooked carrots, but don't quote me on that. It could be the rabbit talking.

2. Portobello Mushroom Burgers.

Nature's veggie burger. 'nuff said. Juicy and satisfying- there are endless topping possibilities. Try with basil, roasted red peppers and mozzarella, for an Italian twist.

3. Not Your Average Joe's a chain restaurant located in Virginia and Massachusetts.

Whoa. Black bean burger made with caramelized onions, brown rice and barbecue sauce. Tasted like a meat burger, I swear. All the best parts. Charred to perfection, the sauce was amazing. It didn't taste like rice at all or have a bean paste texture. Crave meat, no more.

4. Pumpkin Burgers from Eating Well.

Spicy and hearty. I've made my own adjustments to this recipe which I'll be sure to post about soon. But there's nothing wrong with the original. Make a double batch, they freeze fantastically. Defrost, crumble and add to a vegetable stir fry for a quick meal.

What's your favorite veggie burger?

September 18, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

What can I say? These cookies are my childhood.

These cookies were one of the first things I ever learned how to bake. My mother used to whip up the dough, measure out the chocolate chips, hand me a metal spoon, and let me mix them in. The best part of the whole process. There's nothing quite like pouring in handfuls of chocolate, slowly mixing them in, watching the buttery dough coat the chips so they start to shine. All the while the oven is warming your back and you just know that you are nine minutes away from the most important bit of all- the test cookie.

Sometimes a kid's gotta do, what a kid's gotta do.

September 16, 2011

Montreal: Hot Chocolate and Bakery Windows Pt. 2

Bringing my food tour of Montreal to a close, I will continue discussing the many delicious foods and attempt to move beyond Old Montreal. But first, let me share a quick pic I snapped while walking through the cobblestone streets.

Not much can compare to fresh french bread. The yeasty smell that fills the air when the oven is opened, the crunch when you bite down, the sweetness of the bread...

Perhaps chocolate. Perhaps.

Moving on... Let's talk hot chocolate-

The difference between American hot chocolate and Montreal is night and day.

While hot chocolate is traditionally made with cocoa powder in the USA, in Montreal they use melted chocolate. Stirring is often required to get to the near-solid layer of warm chocolate that rests on the bottom of the glass.

The drink pictured here was from a chain near the hotel, Java U. Looking at it makes me think of a chocolate milkshake, the way they served it in a tall glass and handed you a long handled spoon. It was the largest amount of hot chocolate I was served at one time and ironically the least chocolatey.

The other hot chocolates were in small coffee cups, including ones that looked better fit to hold an expresso shot. And they were more intense then the milkshake chocolate.

Let that sink in.

The molten chocolate to milk ratio can be overwhelming the first time you experience it.


Tiny cups of chocolatey goodness-

What could be better?

The best hot chocolate was from Cafe Myriade. We had to walk two miles from our hotel to get there, but it was worth it. And more importantly, we needed to work up an appetite. Cafe Myriade had a machine that mixed the molten chocolate as you watched. Intense. My companions had their cappuccino and pastries.

Check out the intricateness of the leaf design on the cappuccino. Gorgeous.

I drank my melted chocolate with milk and ate a chocolate croissant.

Sometimes mornings are stressful.

Sometimes not.

Later that day, while wandering the streets, we came across a beautiful cupcake window display.

Cupcakes in martini glasses, what could go wrong?

I think my favorite meal had to be fondue at Founduementale. Gorgeous bubbly cheese mixed with basil and garlic. Endless pieces of bread to dip. My only regret was that it was so large, I couldn't finish it. And sadly, they have not yet invented a way to sensibly take fondue leftovers with you. The meal was rounded off with a chocolate fondue served with bananas, apples, marshmallows and of course, strawberries, which we dipped to our hearts content.

And those are some of my favorite places to visit in Montreal.

If you feel cheated by the lack of chocolate and/or fondue based photographs from this post, or simply want to learn about more Montreal restaurants, check out how to get chocolate poisoning (or how not) in Montreal at The Personal Autopsy, a hysterical blog written by Brittany, the self proclaimed goddess of cats, squirrels and chocolate. Check her out!

August 31, 2011

Olive et Gourmando: Chocolate and a Salad in Montreal

For my next few posts, I will be doing a brief series on Montreal, as I just returned there from a week-long vacation.

To begin, I want to talk chocolate.

This is not an idle conversation. Chocolate is an important part of my life. I consider it to be a minor obsession.

I'm well aware of the health benefits of chocolate- that the flavonoids are good for your heart and that there's even some evidence that eating a little chocolate everyday can help depression.

But none of those things matter. Not really. I'd eat it anyway. 

So it should come to no surprise, that last week while vacationing in Montreal, I had my fair share of the sweet stuff. Largely, I enjoyed hot chocolates and chocolate pastries, often at the same time.

I roamed the streets of Old Montreal, taking in the cobblestones and old buildings. I had my fair share of food at various restaurants and cafes. My favorite meal however, was at Olive et Gourmando.

I could have eaten there every day and been satisfied. How satisfied? To get back to the hotel on day five, all I would have needed would have been a really good push.

Their most outrageous chocolatey pastry is their Valhrona Chocolate Brioche. It's the type of pastry that's probably meant to be split, but you won't want too share. The outside is flaky, but the inside is as moist as a muffin. Rich veins of chocolate run throughout. It is well worth sinking your teeth into.

To really go overboard, pair with their hot chocolate. Be sure to mix well, the bottom of the cup is where most of the chocolate is hiding.

Olive et Gourmando is a stylish and trendy sort of place. It's always bustling with people, whether they are standing in line for one of the two counters or enjoying their meal. At one point, I ate a late lunch at two in the afternoon and it was still as busy as ever. When you walk into the cafe, you can immediately see the first line of people waiting for their coffee and pastry. The second counter is in the back and has a large chalkboard, listing the many sandwiches available. Not-so-visible is the inside of the counter, where more food options are often hidden by people waiting to order them. 

The one thing to be aware of before you visit is the menu. Simply put, they don't have one. At least not in the normal sense. Instead, the staff will direct you to the many chalkboards that are scattered about the restaurant. The pastries are all labeled by tiny white markers and lunch options are showcased similarly in the back counter. Tea, coffee, and hot chocolate options are tightly squeezed on a long chalkboard located in a tiny corner, right next to the pastry line.
As busy as this place is and as diverse are their options, I highly recommend that you check out their website at for the extensive list of pastries, sandwiches, salads and more, before visiting. It's easy to miss food options that are hidden behind customers otherwise.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the chocolate? Quick! Stare at this kale.


Olive et Gourmando also has the best vegetarian/vegan fare for breakfast and lunch. I ate The Herbivore as my next meal after my chocolate overdose. It's a monstrous dish made for a veggie lover with an appetite.

The Herbivore is a delicious and healthy salad, full of shredded and chopped vegetables, such as kale, carrots and radishes, mixed with different kinds of seeds and nuts. The whole thing rests on a pile of Soba noodles. The plate is topped off with sprouts and your choice of dressing. I went with a spicy peanut sauce. Fabulous.

Olive et Gourmando was one of the most pleasant places I ate at while in Montreal and I highly recommend you check it out if you are ever in town, whether it be for a meal or a pastry to go.

August 27, 2011

Spinach Pesto Pasta

Quinoa. The love of my vegetarian life. 

It has everything a woman could ever want. Protein and high fiber, the grain is more than just a pretty face. And since it comes in three color choices, tan, red and black, it can go with just about any meal.

I'd like to say that this dish is the culmination of everything I've been working toward. A masterful work of culinary art born of genius. Each ingredient the natural partner of the previous flavor inserted.

I'd like to say that, but really I got bored. And this consisted mostly of leftovers I had laying about the kitchen. 

The macaroni noodles from the box of Annie's Mac and Cheese that never saw the cheese sauce-

The fresh pesto that had been made the day before from the basil plants outside-

Extra spinach that didn't make it into the lasagna-

Sometimes things happen for a reason. Just go with it.

The ricotta cheese adds a richness to the whole meal. Basil and garlic prevails over the taste buds. The spinach gives an italian flair. And the peas? Well, you can never have too many peas.

Any type of quinoa will do. There isn't a large difference in the flavors of each kind. But the red gives the plate a lovely color.

Mix in that quinoa. It's crunchy and delicious and adds great texture.

And while I'm in the confessing mood, I'd also like to say that before this lovely creation come into existence, I utterly failed to make pumpkin soup. Oops.

Spinach Pesto Pasta

olive oil(for pan)
1 cup spinach
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup pre-cooked macaroni
dollap of fat free ricotta cheese
basil pesto
1/4 cup cooked quinoa

Saute spinach and peas in olive oil in a medium sized pan on medium low heat. Continue until peas are thawed and spinach has wilted. Turn heat down to low. Add cheese, mixing well until vegetables are coated. Add the cooked pasta to the pan. Mix and let sit for 30 seconds.

Take pan off of the heat. Add pesto to mixture. Serve. Sprinkle heavily with quinoa to add extra crunch.

July 4, 2011

Red, White and Blue- Ice Cream Sponge Cake Roll w/Blueberry Sauce

This July 4th, I was in a pie eating contest. A mini-pie eating contest where you had to finish a single pie. I lost. Little children beat me. Adults beat me. I ended up throwing the pie away, not finishing it even afterwards. But it was good fun and I got to try to eat out of a tin with my hands behind my back. I even managed to gleam a little pie-eating wisdom from the guy sitting next to me. The secret is to tip the pie out of the pan onto the picnic table. Then you can actually get to the entirety of the pie. I had only managed to eat the upper crust. Couldn't get into the filling, the dish was too shallow.

Beware mini-pie eating contestants. Next 4th of July, I'm coming for you.

To celebrate family and friends gathered together for a 4th BBQ. My mother set up the dining room with special paper plates and napkins. She is the queen of themes, so her table went as Red, White and Blue as possible-

Flag patterned napkins, red plates, and blue tablecloths. A white candle in a hurricane lamp as the centerpiece filled with blue marbles, sitting on a red base.

Being my responsibility to make dessert this year, I had to follow along.

The end result- a yellow sponge cake, filled with vanilla ice cream and chopped strawberries with a blueberry sauce drizzle on top. Yum.

Ice Cream Sponge Cake
(from the Joy of Cooking)
Sponge Cake

vanilla ice cream
1 cup (chopped) strawberries

Blueberry Sauce
(Cooking Light)

Make sponge cake to directions. Place the cake on a sheet of aluminum foil. Spread softened ice cream across cake, just enough to cover. Top with strawberries. Roll cake slowly and tightly. Cracking will lessen the more the roll progresses. Remove any excess filling. Move cake to the center of the foil. Wrap the aluminum around the roll to help the cake keep shape. Freeze.

To Serve:
Let soften 2-3 minutes. Cut individual slices and top with blueberry sauce.

June 27, 2011

Berry Yummy, Angel Food Cake

It's berry picking season. Time to look up local farms and see if they offer pick your own. There's nothing quite like being out in the sun, plucking ripe berries right from the vine with a basket swung over your shoulder, as you shovel strawberries directly into your mouth. Not that I'm speaking from personal experience or anything. Because that would be wrong...

Eating fresh berries that you've just picked is like nothing else. You can almost taste the warmth of the sun in every berry. Fresh, fresh, fresh.

Before you know it you have an entire basket full of berries to bring home. That you have to eat up in a week. Hmmm...

Berries are excellent on cake. Angel food cake with fresh fruit and maybe a dash of vanilla ice cream would be a perfect solution, no?

If you don't have berries, you could spread high quality jam on each slice and cover in whipped cream.

Angel food cake is a soft sponge. It's light and airy texture makes it a delightful summer treat when heavier desserts just aren't as appealing.

Angel Food Cake
Recipe from the Betty Crocker Cookbook
(serves 12)

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups large egg whites (roughly 12 eggs worth)
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place the oven rack in the lowest position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together the powdered sugar and flour. In another bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar. The eggs should become foamy. Add the granulated sugar a few tablespoons at a time, beating the mixture constantly on high speed. With the last few tablespoons of sugar, add the almond and vanilla extracts with the salt.

Continue beating the mixture until stiff peaks form. The mixture will be glossy. It is very important to not underbeat. Stiff peaks can be tested by gently dipping the head of the mixer into the egg whites. Pull the beaters out. Check the shape of the mixture clinging to the beaters, which should be similar to the shape of a mountain peak. If the whites hold their shape firmly even if you gently rotate the beaters back and forth manually, then you have stiff peaks and can move on to the next step.

Bring back the powdered sugar mixture and sprinkle small amounts over the egg mixture, about 1/4 of a cup at a time. Fold into the egg whites with a spatula until combined. It is important to be gentle and to only mix until the mixture is absorbed, as to not deflate the egg whites.

Scrape the batter into a 10 x 4 inch tube pan. Cut once through the batter with a knife or metal spatula to break any possible air pockets.

Bake 30-35 minutes. The cracks on top of the cake should feel dry and should spring back when touched gently.

Cooling the cake is important to do correctly. Angel food cake cools upside-down. If your foam cake pan has feet to allow the top, simply flip the cake over and let cool on your countertop. Otherwise use a heat proof bottle or funnel. Insert the bottle through the hole in the cake. It seems like a small thing, but it is important to test that the bottle will fit and balance the pan correctly before baking. Otherwise you may find yourself trying and failing to hold onto an extremely hot pan, while you search through your cabinet for bottles that are strong enough to hold up a cake. Ouch.

Let the cake cool for 2 hours or so until completely cooled. Flip the pan upright. Using a plastic knife loosen the edges of the cake from the pan. Remove cake. Serve.

June 16, 2011

Toffee Bars

Start with a buttery cookie base- followed with a layer of melted milk chocolate with chopped walnuts sprinkled on top. And what do you get? Toffee bars.

The sweetest kindest bar cookie on the block.

This is the cookie to make for friends, neighbors, new roommates or just people you want to impress the heck out of for minimum effort.

Why is it an impressive cookie?

1. It's easy to make, because it's not a drop cookie that is baked individually, but a bar cookie. You plop all the dough in on pan and bake it like a cake.

2. It has "layers", but isn't as complex as say-- a 7-layer bar recipe. Again, Easy-Bake Oven easy.

3. A toffee bar is not a chocolate chip cookie. Nor does it contain chocolate chips in any form. This automatically makes it an interesting alternative to the norm. And if you bring it to a block party, you avoid that awkward moment that comes from realizing you brought the same dessert as someone else. Oooh, burn.

4. Each cookie comes with a list of references, witty conversation starters and is bilingual.

5. It is composed of simple flavors that everyone enjoys, so it's bound to be a hit among all ages.

6. If you make an angel food cake or meringues with it, you can use up an excess egg yolk. Yeah. It is that awesome.

7. It's something to do during the summer with excess chocolate, (if there is indeed such a thing), besides making s'mores. Mmm...s'mores.

Toffee Bars
(makes 32 cookies)
From the Betty Crocker Cookbook
1 cup butter (softened)
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg yolk
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk chocolate chips/bar
1/2 chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the butter, brown sugar, vanilla and egg yolk in a large bowl or mixer. Add flour and salt slowly to the mixture, stirring until combined.

Scrape into an 13x9x2 inch pan. Press down on dough gently to create an even surface. Take care that the edges are level as well.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. The bars should be a light brown and will still be soft.

Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkled the chocolate pieces evenly over the crust. As the heat begins to melt the chocolate spread evenly over the cookies. Add nuts to the warm chocolate.

Let bars cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 32 pieces.

Tip: If you over bake the crust, pop the cookies into an airtight container with a lid. Add a slice of bread and seal the container. Leave overnight. The toffee bars will soften.
The bread will be hard as a rock. You won't be able to save it. Sorry.
Nab a free slice of bread from your dining hall if you can. Just make sure it isn't already stale.

June 14, 2011

Matzah Brei

The school year is winding down, homework is grinding to a halt and suddenly you have more projects and finals than you know what to do with. Another thing winding down? Your meal plan. Suddenly your social life increases as you cling like a sea lichen to various people you sat next to that one time in college writing, because they happen to have some extra points on their meal card. This makes for some awkward conversations as you attempt to bum your way through the next few weeks.

But, fortunately you are one of the lucky ones! You have access to a kitchen. And this kitchen has working appliances, like a stove and an oven. Yay!

Unfortunately, you're just about broke. So, retract that last yay.

What to do?

Hey, remember those Jewish friends you have? The ones who celebrate Passover? I bet they have a ton of leftover food you could have. Probably several boxes of matzah under the sink. And trust me, they won't be touching that stuff for another year anyway. It's a Jew thing.

Don't know anybody who has extra matzah? Time to check out that discounted aisle at the supermarket.

So now you and your several boxes of life-giving matzah are in the kitchen. You've had matzah toast with jam, matzah crackers in your chicken noodle soup and matzah sandwiches that have crumbled onto your lap, and you're feeling a little iffy about my advice.

Sorry about that. You have tons of eggs, right? Here, have a recipe. It's like making french toast and a large omelette at the same time. It's fantastic.

Matzah Brei
(Recipe from The Jewish Holiday Kitchen by Joan Nathan)
serves 3-4 people

Boiling Water
3 sheets of Matzah
2 eggs
salt and pepper (to taste)
butter (for frying)

Boil and pour the hot water into a large heat resistant bowl. Take the matzah and break into pieces, dropping them into the bowl.  Allow the matzah to soak for 15 minutes. Drain. Gently squeeze the excess moisture from the matzot.

Place the matzah back into the bowl.
Crack the two eggs into a small dish. Gently beat the eggs with a folk, just enough to separate the yolk. Add salt and pepper. Pour mixture over the matzah.

Butter your skillet or just a flat frying pan.You shouldn't need more than a tablespoon of butter at a time if you're making in two batches, but feel free to use less if you are making smaller portions. If you have a large pan, you can pour the entire mixture into the pan at once. Allow it to cook for 3-4 minutes or until it is brown on one side.

Flip and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.

Serve warm.

Drizzle maple syrup or honey on top. Add cinnamon if desired.

May 22, 2011

Welcome Summer- Let's Get Cooking...

Well, you know how sometimes life get's in the way of other plans? Like this blog for example. I wanted to update on time, I really did, but I had some personal matters to attend too that kept me from doing so. During my brief hiatus I have been cooking and baking away, taking plenty of pictures for you to enjoy. Now that it's summer, I will be able to update this blog more frequently.

Food to look forward to includes out-of-season classics like pumpkin pie --- matzah brei--- crispy panfried polenta --- and spicy pumpkin soup.

Because, why should the time of year control what you eat?

Okay, I'll have ice cream sandwiches for you too. Fine...

What's your favorite summer food that's out of season (or not)?

As always, feel free to comment or to email me directly at if you have any comments, questions or suggestions. Happy munching! - Liza.

April 4, 2011

White Chocolate Brownies

Mmm.... my feeling about baking is, when you've mixed all the ingredients together and are just about ready to pour the mixture into the pan, if you look down and go- OH MY, WHAT IS THAT THING, then perhaps it hasn't been a worthwhile endeavor.  But, if as you mix, you look down and lick your lips because it looks so scrumptious, that your tempted to stick your hands in the batter before it's even ready to pop into the oven-

-all the better.

These are extremely sugary brownies.

A square is like biting into an amazingly rich piece of yellow cake.

I recommend having a glass of milk at hand at all times in case of an emergency.

The top makes me think of roasting marshmallows.

Here, let me cut you a slice...

White Chocolate Brownies
(Recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod, adapted from Tartelette)
Makes 24 small squares

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces white chocolate/chips
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips/dark chocolate chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour an 8-inch baking pan, then set aside. Using a double boiler (can be made with two pots, one filled with boiling water) melt 4 ounces of the white chocolate together with the butter. Stir occasionally as it melts. Remove mixture from heat and add the remaining chocolate. Mixing it together should melt the rest of the white chocolate.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until pale and thick. Add the butter mixture to the egg mixture with the vanilla and flour. Beat until smooth, being careful not to over mix.

Add the chocolate chips and stir in by hand.

Pour into pan. Bake 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pan, on wire rack. Cut into squares. Serve.

March 29, 2011

Hamantaschen Part 2

Once you've made the dough and let it rest for several hours it's time to make your hamantaschen. Roll out part of the dough on a lightly floured surface, until it is about 1/8 of an inch thick. You don't want it so thin that it is slightly transparent, but a little thicker is fine. If you don't have a rolling pin, try using a thick glass, making sure to press down gently as you roll.

Using a glass/ measuring cup/two-inch circular object of your choice, cut out circles from the dough and set aside. Make the circles as close to each other as you can without overlapping to save time. Any remaining dough can be rerolled.

Take a small custard dish or bowl and fill it with water.

Take out desired filling(s).

Dip your index finger in the water and draw a circle around the top edges of a hamanataschen. Immediately add about a teaspoon or two of filling. If you add too much filling, you will be able to tell, because the hamantaschen will not close easily. Simply remove excess filling.

Essentially, what you will be doing is folding the edges of a circle into thirds.

Fold the top edge of the circle so that it covers the edge of the filling. Take more water and gently rub down the edges of the fold. The edges should nearly disappear into the cookie. Turn and fold remaining edges of the hamantaschen similarly two more times so that they overlap, making sure to use water to bind them together. There should be a well defined triangle of filling visible.

Move completed hamantaschen to a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes until tops begin to turn brown. Cool on a baking rack.

Traditional fillings include poppy seed and other fruit fillings including prunes.

Jam Filling
jam of your choice
chopped nuts

These fruit fillings can be easily made using different kind of jams. Be warned that the jam may bubble out of your hamantaschen, however. To keep this from happening, simply add a few finely chopped nuts to your jam in a small custard dish.

Poppy seed filling is a bit more complex. It is also my favorite kind of hamantaschen filling. This recipe does make a lot of it, however, so it should be made for a large party or if you only make one kind of filling, otherwise you may have a lot leftover. Poppy seed filling can also be bought at some supermarkets in the baking section, next to other canned pie fillings.

Poppy Seed Filling
(adapted from Jewish Holiday Kitchen )
1/4 pound sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 pound poppy seeds
1/2 egg white
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
rind and juice of 1/2 lemon or orange
1 oz raisins
1/2 oz figs or dates or additional raisins
cinnamon to taste
1/2 cup raspberry jam
2 tablespoon butter

Combine the sugar and water in a pot. Simmer mixture over low heat.
Grind the poppy seeds in a food processor or blender.  Add to sugar mixture.

Add egg white, vanilla, lemon or orange rind and juice, raisins, figs, and cinnamon.  Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.  

Add jam and butter and continue simmering until butter is melted and all ingredients are combined.  You can use the filling then or let it chill in refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes until the filling becomes a bit firmer.

Now you're ready for the nontraditional fillings. Basically, the sky's the limit.

One of the interesting things about baking hamantaschen with friends who didn't grow up eating the traditional flavors is that they come up with something so blasphemous- like pumpkin pie hamantaschen- that you have to stare at them in shock and horror for several minutes.... Then totally do it.

And it turned out awesome.

Non-traditional Fillings:

Chocolate Options


Chocolate Chips

They both melt beautifully. Apply peanut butter when necessary. 
Chopped nuts as well.

Lemon Curd
Lemon Curd Jar

Doesn't burn. Thank goodness. Add white chocolate chips for extra sweetness.

Pumpkin Pie Filling
about 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
skim milk
dash or two of bootstrap molasses
generous pinch of cinnamon and ginger
dash of nutmeg 
(pumpkin pie spice works as well)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix. You want to use just enough milk to wet the mixture without it becoming watery. 

This only makes enough for 3-4 hamantaschen, which if you've made it this far, you may find relieving, as you probably have started to wonder just how many batches of dough you'll need for all these fillings. 
If you want to make a larger batch of pumpkin filling, simply increase the amount of pumpkin and add a little extra of everything else.

Pop those hamantaschen in the oven for 10-15 minutes, at 375 degrees. Let cool 3-4 minutes.

Bite.  Chew.  


March 23, 2011

Hamantaschen- Part 1

Hamantaschen. Traditional Purim cookies. I could go on about them for hours.

If the only hamantaschen you have ever consumed came from a grocery store, drop everything and get your apron ready. It's time to make the real stuff.

Normally, what you can find in the bakery section of your local supermarket is in reality a jam cookie with a basic sugar cookie base. This is not what hamantaschen are supposed to taste like. They are actually made from a thin, flaky, slightly sweetened dough. There is a wide range of filling options, from traditional to non-traditional. And furthermore, hamantaschen are meant to be shared and enjoyed by family and friends.

Every year, my parents and I would go to a hamantaschen making party. For me, this was the highlight of Purim and an essential part of the holiday. We would walk into the house, where the dough would be sitting out on long wooden tables. The adults would roll out the dough, which had been prepared by the host, while the children ran about, impatiently waiting with glass cups to cut the circles.

When the dough was prepared, we would then busy ourselves filling as many hamantaschen as we could, with as many different flavors as possible. Chocolate would always a favorite around the younger set, as well as peanut butter, and we were determined to make as many of our favorites as possible, knowing that they could very well be eaten as soon as we turned our backs.

Our hosts and some of the adults would whisk in and out of the rooms with large baking sheets. We would fill them up quickly with cookies and pop them into several ovens. As soon as they were done, they would be placed onto cooling racks, where they would inevibly be found and devoured, warm and delicious. As many hamantaschen as we ate, there were always more.

Eventually, the remainder would be packed up and we would take our spoils home.

So many different types of hamantashen fillings. Endless possibilities. Let's get started.

Hamantashen Dough
from Jewish Holiday Kitchen
(makes enough for 24-36 depending on size)

2/3 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk or water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 to 3 cups sifted all-purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar. Add the egg and continue mixing until smooth. Add milk and vanilla. Stir in the shifted flour until a ball of dough is formed. 

If you do not have a dough hook or a food processor to help mix the dough, roll up your sleeves and wash your hands. Add the flour a little at a time, mixing with a spoon, scraping down the sides and making sure to incorporate all the flour from the bottom of the bowl. Continue adding flour, until mixture becomes harder to work with and stick your hands right in, adding more flour until it becomes a workable dough.

Once your dough is formed chill dough 2-3 hours or overnight.

The cookies will need to bake in the oven at 375 degrees. 

Proper folding technique will be discussed in a later post, as well as different kinds of fillings, both traditional and nontraditional.

Happy Purim Everyone!

March 21, 2011

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ah, vegetables, what can't you make sound healthier?

This isn't the prettiest cookie in existence, although it's certainly not the ugliest. It's slightly lumpy looking and you can see flecks of a green vegetable of some sort if you stare really hard at it.

It's also soft.

And cakey.

And melts in your mouth, leaving no zucchini aftertaste whatsoever...just a strong desire for a cold glass of milk.

There are other cookies that as you chew you are able to contemplating life, the universe and all other such matters. Then you swallow, say, gosh-darn-gee-whiz, that was one decent cookie. And then you go on with your day, desire for cookie sated, not one thought of the remaining cookies wrapped in foil in your pantry in your mind, because they were "just okay".

Not these cookies my friend. Not these.

Please enjoy responsibly.

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies
recipe adapted from
(makes 24 cookies)

1 egg
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup finely shredded zucchini
12 oz chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Shred one cup of zucchini. Set aside.

Combine flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl.

Beat egg lightly in a small custard cup. In a separate bowl, mix together egg, butter, sugar, honey, and vanilla until a well combined liquid mixture forms.

Add wet ingredients to flour mixture. Mix. Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips.

Bake cookies on a cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes.