Cornbread Muffins with Bacon and Scallions

Cornbread Muffins with Bacon and Scallions

Lately, I’ve been mesmerized with steam and how it wafts in waves that can change depending on many factors such as temperature or the size and shape of the food item.

Watching steam is one thing but photographing steam and food is tricky. You have to have the right lighting, an object that is fresh from the heat source, and the ability to work quickly. I’ve been fascinated with photographing steam for quite some time some time now, and decided that it will be my food photography theme of this year. Sadly, this means that sweet baked goods that are eaten at room temperature are going to be out of the picture (pun intended!) so I will have to be creative in finding some recipes that make for good food photography steam photos.

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Peppermint Bark Cookies

Peppermint Bark Cookies

I’ll keep this one short as I know everyone is in the last-week-before-Christmas craze.

At this point in December, you might find yourself with a box of peppermint bark laying around. Maybe you have already eaten it and maybe it won’t go eaten for another few days.

When I find myself with Halloween and/or holiday candy, I usually can’t help but put it in some sort of baked good. When applicable, of course! Nothing of the gummy variety will ever find itself in any baked good of mine.

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Za'atar Pumpkin Seeds

Za'atar Pumpkin Seeds

Just popping in briefly with a little recipe for pumpkin seeds.

Since the Camp Fire started it’s been severely smoky with horrible air quality, trapping everyone inside. If it was a rainy week, I wouldn’t mind as rain is one of my favorite things and you can at least go outside to enjoy the rain. But it’s been many days since anyone in the Sacramento Valley/Bay Area has had fresh air, and I am starting to feel the effects of cabin fever. With Hapkido canceled all last week and this week, I’m itching to do something active, breathe deeply and see the sky. Instead, we wait and hope that next week brings better weather and air.

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Lemon Shortbread with Edible Flowers

Lemon Shortbread with Edible Flowers

Baking with edible flowers is not something I had ever tried before so when Betany from Chloris Floral reached out to me, I jumped at the opportunity to collaborate.

As we were both unfamiliar with this type of baking/floral preparation, it was a fun experience to try something new together. Betany is a floral designer from Sonoma County who uses seasonal, organic, local and sustainably grown flowers in her gorgeous bouquets and floral arrangements. She is also a Julliard-trained professional opera singer, and music is a great inspiration for many of her arrangements. I love music and flowers as well so it was enjoyable to spend time with someone who also shares these interests. Betany supplied the edible flowers while I figured out a tasty shortbread to accompany them.

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Earl Grey Macarons with Lemon Curd

Earl Grey Macarons with Lemon Curd

It’s almost mid-October and I haven’t made anything with pumpkin yet.

I already have made two apple pies (one was a test, the other a burnt mishap) but pumpkin has yet to grace my kitchen this fall. Maybe it’s because with weather in the 80s it still feels like summer, but I’m not quite ready to dive into pumpkin just yet.

So here we are with some non-fall-flavored macarons instead. These cookies are the result of merging two recipes on this blog—Earl Grey Macarons with Chocolate Ganache + Poppy Seed Linzer Cookies.

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Alison Roman’s Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread

Alison Roman’s Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread

When it comes to food trends, fads and things that are "breaking the Internet", I tend to raise my eyebrows and, keep an eye out but not participate until I'm really ready to.

Often times, this is after the hype is over. I didn't try kale until years after it started being a big thing. 

In general, I am not a quick decision maker. I mull, I overthink and convince myself in the opposite direction in as many ways as I can before coming to a final, final, final decision. It took me a while to decide to try these cookies and even longer to write about them.

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Peach Cake with Caramel Frosting

Peach Cake with Caramel Frosting

Like fruits, vegetables, holidays and clothing, I think baked goods also have seasons. 

Bread-baking is definitely a winter and fall season activity. Kneading becomes a way to warm up rather than a vigorous, sweaty exercise, and the temperature is cool enough that the dough won't rise too rapidly, or turn sour and ferment (unless on purpose!). One of the most wonderful things during the colder months is turning on the oven knowing that you’ll soon have a fresh, piping hot loaf of bread. Pair it with a soup or stew and it's the perfect winter's night meal. 

Whereas I will rarely turn on my oven to bake bread in the summer, I will for pies. As you may have noticed around here, summer is for pies and all of the things in the pie family—galettes, cobblers, crisps, pandowdies etc... This does seem counterintuitive because you are turning on your oven and crusts and toppings are in danger of melting during preparation, but this is the season when summer produce is at its peak. What better way to use it up than in a baked full-to-the-brim with the best fruit. I will, of course, bake pies all year round, but tend to make them more in the summer. 

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