Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Armchair Novel Review: Now You See Her by Joy Fielding

Now You See Her
 by Joy Fielding

Trade Paperback, 384 pages
Also available as an eBook and a hardcover 

Joy Fielding is a New York Times bestselling author and a master of suspense. In her newest book, Now You See Her, we meet a recently divorced middle-aged woman still grieving the drowning death of her daughter two years before.

Still reeling from being left so suddenly by her husband of over twenty-five years, Marcy impulsively decides to go on the vacation that they had been planning for their anniversary. By herself.

While in Cork County, Ireland, Marcy spots her daughter in a crowd. This triggers a fast-paced and pulse-racing journey through Ireland and through the layers of mystery surrounding her daughter's disappearance and presumed death.

Now You See Her deftly explores the inner layers of mystery in the human psyche while delivering a breathless joyride through the Irish countryside.

A great weekend read.

Visit www.joyfielding.com

or browse the book here:

Monday, 30 January 2012

Italian Challah

This is an interesting challah, deemed Italian by virtue of its use of olive oil instead of butter or milk. It is leaner than other challahs but still has that lovely braided shape that we love so much. I tucked my ends under and baked it up in a loaf pan for sandwich making. You could also bake it as a braid on a sheetpan.

A simple but fun loaf that you could get the kids to help you with. ☺

January BOM: 
Italian Challah
recipe and notes from Anthony Cuttitta Jr., my changes in red.

500g all-purpose, unbleached flour
215g warm water
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
15g white sugar
15g extra virgin olive oil
11g kosher salt
10g active dry yeast (instant, for easier blending)
1 large egg (for egg wash)
A 9"x5" bread pan (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS (alter this as need be for those old-school hand kneaders; I've done it, but I'm young enough to be lazy to ♥ my mixer more)

1. Scale out your flour, salt, yeast, olive oil, and sugar into the bowl.

2. Crack the eggs (separating the one) and add to bowl.

3. Scale out your water (separately in case you mess up), and then add it to the bowl.

4. Use the dough hook on your mixer and mix the dough on the lowest setting for 2-3 minutes until everything pulls together.

5. Depending on your mixer, put it up to the typical speed that you're comfortable mixing bread doughs at. Whatever that is, allow the dough hook to knead it for 15 minutes. (5 minutes was fine for me)

6. When done kneading, place it in a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap (sometimes I spray a bit of vegetable cooking spray on it just in case it proofs up and touches the plastic wrap). Allow it to proof until doubled.

7. Once doubled (dimple test it), remove the dough from the bowl for shaping.

8a. You could very easily just shape this as a regular pan loaf by rolling it out (whether with a rolling pin or just by hand) to about 1/2 inch in thickness. The width should be no wider than the bread pan you intend to use. Then, roll up the dough tightly and make sure it seals well at the end.

8b. If you want to do the traditional challah three-strand braid, here's a good video if you don't know how: http://www.ehow.com/video_2341031_baking-three_strand-challah-bread-loaf.html. Even half of her dough is larger than the dough my recipe makes, but you'll at least get an idea of how to braid it.

8c. This dough is AWESOME basis for cinnamon rolls...but that instruction will have to wait for another BOM. :)

9a. If you chose to use a pan, tuck the ends of the challah under if your braid was longer than your pan. Cover again with plastic wrap and allow to double again (should crest nicely above the rim of the pan).

9b. If you chose to have a free-form braid, just cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to double on the sheet pan.

10. While waiting, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

11. Also, whisk the extra egg and add an two to three tablespoons of water to make an egg wash. I typically prefer a thin egg wash, but your mileage may vary. (I added about 1-2 tsp water only)

12. Once doubled, just before placing in the oven, brush on the egg wash. Be sure to get the sides and make sure it's got a nice even coat. (I baked mine in loaf pans, so only egg washed the top)

13. Toss a bit of water (or ice cubes) in the bottom of your oven, placing the loaf inside and bake for 20 minutes, turning half way through baking until it's a rich golden brown. (I don't use steam for enriched breads)

15. Depan it at the end of 20 minutes and see if the lower crust is browned enough. If it is not browned enough, put it back in on a sheet pan or pizza screen for another 5 minutes. (Mine took about 30-35 minutes in the pyrex loaf pans)

16. Allow to cool completely on a rack before slicing. Enjoy!

This bread has been YeastSpotted!

You can also find out more recipes on Reader's Digest BYOB Badge

Sunday, 29 January 2012


I have a confession to make - when I was little I did not like Indian food. I'm not sure why, but I assume it has something to do with the mixing up of foods. I, like other young people, liked my foods separate.

So on the occasions that I found myself accompanying adults to an Indian restaurant - I ordered bread.
Indian breads are vast and diverse and always addictive.

These cute little puris are fried into little puffs that can be used to mop up delicious curries or even stuffed with tasty fillings. And they are quick and easy too. Which is perfect, because I just might eat most of the first batch before anyone else has a chance to try them. ☺

adapted from Simply Indian
Sweet and Spicy Recipes from India, Pakistan and East Africa
by Tahera Rawji and Hamida Suleman
for Cookbook Sundays #8

1 cup flour
¼ tsp salt
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup water

2 cups vegetable oil for frying (med/high)

Mix together the flour, salt and 1 Tbsp vegetable oil and rub together with your fingers to make a breadcrumb-like mixture.
Add in the water and knead to make a soft dough.
Divide into 10 equal pieces
Roll out each piece to about 1½ inches in diameter
Fry in the medium hot vegetable oil until browned on both sides - they will puff up and brown quickly, so keep a close eye on them. 3-4 should fit in the pan at a time.
Drain on racks for a minute before serving.

CookbookSundays BYOB Badge

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Canadian Living: The One-Dish Collection

Canadian Living: 
The One-Dish Collection
All-in-one Dinners that Nourish Body and Soul
Written by Canadian Living Test Kitchen

Trade Paperback, 288 pages

Sure it's cold outside, but the kitchen is nice and warm and these all-in-one dinners will thaw you out in no time.

The Canadian Living Test Kitchen has put together a book of their most delicious one-dish meals that range from easy weeknight fare to slow-cooked special weekend delights.

Each dish combines essential protein, starch and veggies all together in one delicious pot. Or pan. Or casserole. You get the idea.

Every recipe comes with full nutritional data and many have tips for freezing as well as recipe variation ideas. And with over 80 full page colour photos - you are bound to be inspired!

Contents include:
Casseroles & Bakes
Skillets, Simmers & Stir-Fries
Pasta & Risotto

Check out some of these delicious one dish meals below to warm up your weekend!

Chalet Supper Soup
By The Canadian Living Test Kitchen author of Canadian Living: The One Dish Collection

This simple chowder combines everyday cold-weather ingredients to make a satisfying supper. You can use about 8 cups torn Swiss chard leaves instead of the spinach if you like. Serve with crusty country-style bread.

3 carrots
3 leeks (white and light green parts only)
1 thick slice ham (6 oz/170 g)
2 lb small red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed
2 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
3 cups milk
1½ cups wide egg noodles
1 pkg (10 oz/284 g) fresh spinach
1 cup finely shredded Gruyère cheese or extra-old Cheddar cheese
½ tsp pepper
Cut carrots into 1½-inch (4 cm) lengths. Cut leeks lengthwise almost but not all the way to root end; spreading leaves, flush out grit under running water. Cut crosswise into 1½-inch (4 cm) lengths. Cut ham into ¾-inch (2 cm) chunks. Halve or quarter potatoes; set aside.

In large Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat; sauté carrots, leeks, ham and onion until leeks and onion are softened, about 8 minutes.

Add potatoes, 4 cups water and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are just tender, about 20 minutes.

Add milk; bring to simmer. Stir in noodles and spinach; simmer, uncovered, until noodles are tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in cheese and pepper.

Makes 6 to 8 servings. per each of 8 servings: about 303 cal, 16 g pro, 11 g total fat (6 g sat. fat), 37 g carb, 5 g fibre, 48 mg chol, 736 mg sodium. % RDI: 31% calcium, 23% iron, 108% vit A, 32% vit C, 38% folate.

Excerpted from Canadian Living: The One Dish Collection by The Canadian Living Test Kitchen Copyright © 2012 by The Canadian Living Test Kitchen. Excerpted by permission of  Transcontinental. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Beef Stew With Blue Cheese Biscuits
By The Canadian Living Test Kitchen author of Canadian Living: The One Dish Collection

Cooking the shallots until they're caramelized creates the flavour base, and their subtle sweetness naturally balances with the sharp blue cheese. If you’re not a fan of blue, try the same amount of shredded extra-old Cheddar instead.

2 lb (900 g) stewing beef cubes, trimmed
½ tsp each salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bag (8 oz/225 g) shallots, peeled and quartered
3 cups cremini mushrooms, quartered
2 carrots, chopped
1 turnip, cubed
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
½ cup red wine or white wine
¾ cup sodium-reduced beef broth
1 can (28 oz/796 mL) whole tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped

Cheese Biscuits:
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
½ cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup crumbled blue cheese (about 4 oz/115 g)
1 cup buttermilk (approx)

Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. In Dutch oven, heat 2 tsp of the oil over medium-high heat; brown beef, in batches. Transfer to bowl. Add remaining oil to pan; cook shallots over medium heat, stirring, until caramelized, 8 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, carrots, turnip, garlic, thyme and bay leaves; cook for 2 minutes. Sprinkle with flour; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add wine, scraping up brown bits. Add broth and tomatoes. Return beef to pan; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1¼ hours.

Uncover and cook until thickened and beef is tender, about 20 minutes. Discard thyme and bay leaves. Scrape into 13- x 9-inch (3 L) baking dish.

Cheese Biscuits: Meanwhile, in bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Using pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until crumbly; stir in blue cheese. Drizzle with 1 cup buttermilk, stirring, just until soft sticky dough forms. Turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead 6 times or just until smooth. Roll out into 10- x 8-inch (25 x 20 cm) rectangle; cut into 12 biscuits. Arrange over stew; brush biscuits with 1 tbsp more buttermilk. Bake in 375°F (190°C) oven until filling is bubbly and biscuits are golden and no longer doughy underneath, about 35 minutes.

Makes 8 to 10 servings. per each of 10 servings: about 487 cal, 27 g pro, 27 g total fat (13 g sat. fat), 35 g carb, 3 g fibre, 90 mg chol, 705 mg sodium, 730 mg potassium. % RDI: 20% calcium, 31% iron, 40% vit A, 18% vit C, 39% folate.

TO FREEZE: Refrigerate thickened stew for 30 minutes; freeze in airtight container for up to 2 months. Freeze unbaked biscuits on lined baking sheet; transfer to airtight container and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw stew; scrape into baking dish and arrange frozen biscuits over top. Bake as directed, increasing baking time to 45 to 50 minutes and covering with foil if browning too quickly.

Excerpted from Canadian Living: The One Dish Collection by The Canadian Living Test Kitchen Copyright © 2012 by The Canadian Living Test Kitchen. Excerpted by permission of  Transcontinental. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Apricot Almond Couscous With Chicken
By The Canadian Living Test Kitchen author of Canadian Living: The One Dish Collection

Having a selection of ingredients on hand can bring flavours from around the world to your table. For example, this salad features a Moroccan-inspired, pantry-friendly combination of dried fruit, nuts, couscous and spices, plus chicken from the freezer

¼  cup vegetable oil
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric
 ½ tsp salt
¼ tsp each cinnamon and pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 ½  cups couscous
⅔ cup dried apricots, cut in strips
1 tsp grated orange zest
¼  cup orange juice
⅓ cup slivered almonds, toasted
¼  cup chopped fresh parsley
4 each wedges lemon and orange

In bowl, combine 2 tbsp of the oil, cumin, coriander, turmeric, half of the salt, the cinnamon and pepper; set aside 1 tbsp for couscous. Add chicken to remainder; toss to coat.

Grill chicken, covered, on greased grill over medium-high heat, turning once, until no longer pink inside, about 12 minutes. (Make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.)

Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine couscous and apricots; add 1½ cups boiling water. Let stand for 5 minutes; fluff with fork.

Whisk together orange zest and juice, remaining oil and reserved spice mixture. Using fork, mix into couscous along with almonds, parsley and remaining salt. (Make-ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.)

Divide salad among plates. Cut chicken crosswise into thick slices; place on salad. Serve with lemon and orange wedges.

Makes 4 servings. per serving: about 669 cal, 44 g pro, 22 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 73 g carb, 6 g fibre, 84 mg chol, 378 mg sodium. % RDI: 8% calcium, 29% iron, 18% vit A, 37% vit C, 27% folate.

Excerpted from Canadian Living: The One Dish Collection by The Canadian Living Test Kitchen Copyright © 2012 by The Canadian Living Test Kitchen. Excerpted by permission of  Transcontinental. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Cinnamon and Cardamom Rolls

I'm a big fan of tea. Not black tea or even the ever-popular green tea, but herbal teas which apparently are not even called tea but tisane. Hmm. I still call them tea. Peppermint, lemon zinger, raspberry zinger.. (okay, anything with the word zinger in it) that's what I like for my mid afternoon and after dinner sipping.

And a good tea deserves a good nibbly to go with it.

These cinnamon and cardamom rolls are perfect for tea time. They are Scandinavian in origin and are smaller and more biscuit-like than traditional North American cinnamon rolls.

The taste is subtle and delicious, and the diminutive size? Means you can eat more than one at a time. Like three, like me. ☺

Cinnamon and Cardamom Rolls
adapted from Tessa Kiros, Falling Cloudberries
for I♥CC, January Potluck

1 cup lukewarm milk (250 ml)
½ cup white sugar (125 ml)
2¼ tsp dry instant yeast
1 egg
¼ lb plus 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
2 tsp ground cardamom
4½-5 cups AP flour

Butter spread
2 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ cup sugar
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

1 egg, lightly beaten and 1 tsp water added
1-2 Tbsp turbinado sugar

  • Add all the dough ingredients, holding back a little of the flour, into the stand mixer. Mix for 3 minutes, until incorporated. Turn out onto lightly floured board and knead, adding in the remaining flour as needed to form a nice, soft yet firm dough. 
  • Place in a clean bowl and let rise about 2 hours or until doubled in size. 
  • Meanwhile - blend the butter spread ingredients together in a mini food processor or by hand. Set aside. 
  • Divide the risen dough into 4 parts. Roll one out to a 10"x12" rectangle and spread with ¼ of the butter mixture. Roll up from the wider side and cut on angles to make about 8 V-shaped little rolls. 
  • Place rolls on a silpat or parchment-lined half sheet pan. Repeat with the rest of the dough and cinnamon butter. 
  • Brush lightly with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. 
  • Let rest ½ hour while you preheat the oven to 350°F
  • Bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely golden top and bottom. 
  • Let cool a bit and eat warm or room temperature. 
  • Store the remaining rolls in a cake dome or airtight container.
These rolls have been YeastSpotted!

IHCC Tessa Kiros Button IHCC BYOB Badge

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Armchair Book Review: There Are Things I Want You To Know About Stieg Larsson and Me

"There Are Things I Want You to Know" About Stieg Larsson and Me
Written by Eva Gabrielsson
Contribution by Marie-Francoise Colombani

Translated by Linda Coverdale
Trade Paperback, 224 pages
also available as a hardcover and ebook

Millions of us were instant fans of the Millennium Trilogy, Stieg Larsson's three epic crime novels from Sweden; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Many of us also know that Stieg Larsson died soon after delivering his manuscripts to his publisher.

Most of us don't know much more about him than that.

"There Are Things I Want You to Know" About Stieg Larsson and Me is written by his long-term companion and (in North American parlance) common-law wife, Eva Gabrielsson.

Devastated by her partner's sudden death, and delivered a second blow from the Swedish government by not qualifying as legal wife and therefore left penniless by his estate, Eva did what she does best. She fought back.

In this book Eva shares her early life with Stieg, a couple of revolutionaries who wanted to change the world, or at least make it a better place for the oppressed and depressed. They gave all of their time and energy to fighting battles for the marginalized, all over the world. They spent over thirty years together, side by side and relatively poor, but happy. Money was never a big subject as they never had a lot and shared what they did have with those who needed it more. Certainly they never expected to have fortune come their way, and they never prepared for it. Eva faced homelessness when Stieg died, just when his books were at their peak of popularity.

Eva shares her struggles, but she also shares an intimate look into Stieg's early years. She writes about the sources and inspirations for the books, people and places that Stieg had known in his life. A fascinating look at the seeds of the Millennium Trilogy.

At times angry, sentimental, hopeful, and despairing, "There Are Things I Want You to Know" About Stieg Larsson and Me is a raw and intimate look into the life and death of the man behind the books and the woman he left behind.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Pane Siciliano

Where would you like to go?
I'd like to go to Italy. Sure, I might get dumped in the ocean, but I am willing to take that chance.
I like the thought of a floating hotel room, satisfies the hermit in me as well as the wanderlust.
A little place to scurry back to when it all gets to be too much.
Plus -water. I like water. This surprises my family as I am afraid of most things. Heights, depths, crowds, reality television...
But I find the water soothing, and I like being on a boat.
It's been awhile though, and it is likely to continue being awhile.
So for now I will continue to travel in my kitchen. With the pups.
To Sicily! For bread. What else?

Pane Siciliano
adapted from The Italian Baker, Carol Field

2¼ tsp dry instant yeast
1¼ cups lukewarm water
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp barley malt syrup
2½ cups fine semolina or durum flour
1 cup AP flour
1 Tbsp fine sea salt

1 egg, beaten
Handful of sesame seeds

This shaping is called Occhi di Santa Lucia - Santa Lucia was the patron saint of vision.
Everyone into the pool!
Combine all the ingredients in your stand mixer, with the dough hook, and mix for 5 minutes on low.
Empty the bowl out onto a board and knead until you have a smooth ball.
Place the dough into a clean bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled - about 1½ hours.

A fine, dense bread - great for canapés and snacking
Divide dough into two equal pieces.
One piece at a time - roll out into a snake, just like kindergarten, about 20-22 inches long and 1½ inches thick.
Roll up into a tight S on one side and turn around and repeat with the other.
Let rise on a silpat or lined baking sheet that has been sprinkled with a little cornmeal.
Cover and let rise until doubled in size - 1-1½ hours.
Preheat oven with baking stone in it to 400°F
Brush loaves with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
When ready to bake - gently transfer loaves to baking stone and bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden and baked through. Internal temperature should be over 200°F.
Let cool on racks.

This bread has been YeastSpotted!

Bread Baking Day #46 (last day of submission February 1st) BYOB Badge

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Armchair Novel Review: Mr g - A Novel About the Creation

Mr g
A Novel About the Creation
Written by Alan Lightman

Hardcover, 224 pages
Also available as an eBook 

Are you ready for a bedtime story in quantum physics and the creation of the universe?

Alan Lightman, author of the bestseller Einstein's Dreams, is both theoretical physicist and novelist. With Mr g he has given us the science of creation wrapped up in a myth-style presentation.

Mr g (god) has woken up from his nap in the Void and has decided to create.. universes. Time, space, matter, planets, stars, suns, and finally intelligent beings develop in his creation. Mr g is not untouched by his acts, he finds himself changing and changed by the very process of creation as well as challenged by the mysterious Belhor - a seeming consequence of the act of creation.

An interesting parry and thrust develops over the role of the creationist in creation, and with their banter the concepts of good and evil are explored. 

Mr g combines philosophy, astronomy, biology and physics into this fascinating tale. The writing reminds me of Richard Bach (of Jonathan Livingston Seagull and Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah fame).

One thing is certain, you have never read a book like this before.

Click here to read an excerpt from Mr g.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Limoncello Cheesecake Squares

There are two universal facts about cheesecake:
#1 - everybody loves cheesecake
#2 - no matter how much they love it, nobody has enough room for a whole slice of it after a big dinner.

That's why these cheesecake squares are such a great idea! You can have one if your are fairly full, and a few if you are really in the mood for cheesecake. Hey - we're not judging. I myself happen to like these cheesecake squares first thing in the morning, right out of the fridge. They're handy like that.

The cheesecake turned out smooth and perfect, no cracking or sinking or any other potential cheesecake pitfalls. And the limoncello? Inspired! I love the light lemony flavour with the subtle kick of the booziness. Perfect for when you are having friends over.

Limoncello Cheesecake Squares
For Cookbook Sundays #7
Giada De Laurentiis, Giada's Family Dinners
Also available on FoodNetwork.com


    Nonstick cooking spray
    8 ounces purchased biscotti
    6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, melted
    3 tablespoons grated lemon zest
    1 (12-ounce) container fresh whole milk ricotta, drained, at room temperature
    2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
    1¼ cups sugar
    ½ cup limoncello liqueur*, store bought or homemade, recipe follows
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    4 large eggs, at room temperature


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the bottom of a 9 by 9 by 2-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Finely grind the biscotti in a food processor. Add the melted butter and 1 tablespoon of lemon zest, and process until the crumbs are moistened. Press the crumb mixture over the bottom (not the sides) of the prepared pan. Bake until the crust is golden, about 15 minutes. Cool the crust completely on a cooling rack.

Blend the ricotta in a clean food processor until smooth. Add the cream cheese and sugar and blend well, stopping the machine occasionally and scraping down the sides of the work bowl. Blend in the limoncello, vanilla, and remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon zest. Add the eggs one at a time, and pulse just until blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Pour the cheese mixture over the crust in the pan. Place the baking pan in a large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the baking pan. Bake until the cheesecake is golden and the center of the cake moves slightly when the pan is gently shaken, about 1 hour (the cake will become firm when it is cold).

Transfer the cake to a rack; cool 1 hour. Refrigerate until the cheesecake is cold, at least 8 hours and up to 2 days. Cut the cake into squares and serve.

*Limoncello liqueur can be found at most liquor stores and in the liquor department of some specialty markets. If limoncello liqueur is unavailable at stores near you, use the following recipe to make your own limoncello liqueur.


    10 lemons
    1 (750-ml) bottle vodka
    3 1/2 cups water
    2 1/2 cups sugar

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemons in long strips (reserve the lemons for another use). Using a small sharp knife, trim away the white pith from the lemon peels; discard the pith. Place the lemon peels in a 2-quart pitcher. Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with plastic wrap. Steep the lemon peels in the vodka for 4 days at room temperature.

Stir the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Pour the sugar syrup over the vodka mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight.

Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer. Discard the peels. Transfer the limoncello to bottles. Seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 month.

Makes: 7 cups

Friday, 20 January 2012

Chocolate Whoopie Pies!

I know it will surprise a few people that I baked these - but when King Arthur Flour posted the recipe... I couldn't help myself. They are huge. And rich. And decadent. And seriously over the top.

With all the drama over the fate of Twinkies and other creamy-sugary-cakey snack products - rest assured you can make these at home. Just be sure you have a young person or two around to help you eat them. Did I mention how rich they are?

KAF Chocolate Whoopie Pies
shared from King Arthur Flour


    1/2 cup butter
    1 cup brown sugar, packed
    1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 large egg
    1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa
    2 1/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
    1 cup milk


    1 cup vegetable shortening
    1 cup confectioners' sugar or glazing sugar
    1 1/3 cups Marshmallow Fluff or marshmallow creme
    1/4 teaspoon salt dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

2) To make the cakes: In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and vanilla till smooth. Add the egg, again beating till smooth.

3) Add the cocoa, stirring to combine.

4) Add the flour to the batter alternately with the milk, beating till smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, and beat again briefly to soften and combine any chunky scrapings.

5) Drop the dough by the 1/4-cupful onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving plenty of room between the cakes; they'll spread. A muffin scoop works well here.

6) Bake the cakes for 15 to 16 minutes, till they're set and firm to the touch. Remove them from the oven, and cool on the pans. While still lukewarm, use a spatula to separate them from the pan or parchment; then allow to cool completely.

7) To make the filling: Beat together the shortening, sugar, and marshmallow till well combined.

8) Dissolve the salt in the water, and add to the marshmallow mixture. Add the vanilla, and beat till smooth.

9) Spread the flat side of half the cakes with the filling. Top with the remaining cakes, flat side towards the filling. Wrap individually, in plastic wrap, till ready to serve.

10) Yield: 8 large whoopie pies (about 4" dia., about 5 ounces each).To make 16 smaller whoopie pies (about 2 3/4" dia., about 2 1/2 ounces each): drop the dough onto the baking sheets in 30g balls, about the size of a large ping pong ball, or about 1 1/4". Bake for 11 to 12 minutes, till set. Finish as directed in the recipe.