Chatting with Zander copy My three grandsons are students in Chicago’s Latin School, and I was auctioned off in their recent fundraiser to teach a couple of hands-on cooking classes. Well, to make a long story short, the classes were a great success and the events raised some substantial $$ for the school. Here I am chatting with my oldest grandson, Zander, who came to help out at one of my classes.

Hats off to Nancy Dwyer and Linda Bubala for doing such a great job organizing the event and to the Latin School parents for their wholehearted support. So what did we cook? […Read More]

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Baked PastieraPastiera, the classic Neapolitan ricotta cheese pie enriched with cooked wheat berries, sugar, and eggs, is one of the tastiest desserts I’ve ever eaten. I first enjoyed Pastiera when we were living in Naples, Italy. I had a fellowship at the time to study at the Stazione Zoologica, and at a luncheon a few days before Easter, one of my colleagues brought a Pastiera for dessert. It was huge, about 18 inches in diameter and almost 2 inches thick, with a luscious creamy texture. I tasted hints of cinnamon, lemon, vanilla and orange.

Of course, I asked for the recipe, and the following week my baker friend placed it in my hands. That particular Pastiera called for a dozen egg yolks in the dough and 18 egg yolks in the filling. The recipe here is scaled down considerably. […Read More]

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Yellow Layer Cake Serving 2I find yellow layer cakes filled and frosted with chocolate irresistible. Yet they always seem to take second place to their one hundred percent chocolate bretheren. I am a certified member of the chocolate fanatics club, and I adore chocolate in all its forms, but I think, just maybe, chocolate frosted yellow cakes are a bit more sophisticated than their entirely chocolate siblings. […Read More]

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Date Bars

February 17, 2015

in Bars, Dates, Oatmeal, Recipes

Date Bars 1Crunchy, sweet date bars take me right back to my childhood. A decidedly American treat, I fell in love with them soon after emigrating from Shanghai. There, my Iraqi Granny made all sorts of date goodies. But in San Francisco, our new home, I found a new love at our neighborhood bakery, the Sugar Bowl: Oatmeal Date Bars. The thick date filling sandwiched between layers of butter crunch oatmeal is irresistible. Spending the winter in southern California, where dates and oranges grow, caused me to revisit and re-imagine these old favorites. […Read More]

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Croissants2I’ll be going to Paris this Fall, and the timing could not have been better to read Crisp, tender, old-fashioned croissants, by James MacGuire, in Ed Behr’s outstanding food magazine, The Art of Eating. I am no stranger to croissant-baking, having learned how to make them years ago from Julia Child. But MacGuire’s recipe was different and irresistible, so I rushed into the kitchen to bake a batch of these classic yeasty and buttery rolls. […Read More]

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Frosted CakeI have always loved light and fluffy layer cakes. And this is an especially light and fluffy one. And it’s made in an unusual way: Frosting first, then cake batter. Back in 1951, the Grand Prize Winner at the 3rd Pillsbury Bake-off® did exactly that. The mint-flavored creation, called Starlight Double-Delight Cake, became a sensation. I’ve fiddled with the recipe many times over the years because the cake was far too sweet for me: 6 cups (1 1/2 pounds) of confectioners’ sugar and only 4 ounces of unsweetened chocolate! What to do? […Read More]

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