Rhubarb Pie Serving 2Rhubarb is technically a vegetable, but we treat it as a fruit. For many people it’s an acquired taste, and it is only through my wife’s gentle cajoling over many years of recipe trials that finally won me over. Now we grow our own rhubarb and I can barely wait each year for the plant’s red stalks to signal their presence. If you don’t grow your own rhubarb, many farmers and supermarkets offer it through the summer months. One of rhubarb’s best uses is in pies, and in old cookbooks rhubarb is affectionately referred to as “pie plant.” I’ve made many rhubarb pies over the years, and the recipe here is one of the best and easiest I know.
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BrowniesIn Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Cookies (Knopf, 1977), she has a recipe for Greenwich Village Brownies. I was drawn to the recipe not only for the chocolate, but it called for three  sweeteners—white sugar,  brown sugar, and light corn syrup. Maida says the brownies are “moist, fudgy, and extra-chewy—almost like chocolate caramels.” And they are. [...Read More]

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I have a baking pen pal in Nigeria whose name is Olawale Taiwo .We’ve been in touch by email for a few years and I learned he’s an avid baker of specialty cakes. He is also very curious how about how baking works and likes to vary the ingredients in a recipe to see what happens. Wale had tried to get a copy of my book, Baking in America, by mail but the book never arrived. So I offered to send him a copy. But what I found was that the cost of sending the book was much more than the original retail price of the book. What to do? [...Read More]

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BoldogSzulinapotRobertOur dear Hungarian friend, Robert Pal, loves to cook and eat. For his recent birthday, we split the cooking duties for a Chinese dinner, and for dessert, I baked him a classic 7-layer Dobosh Torte. I went online to learn how to write Happy Birthday in Hungarian.

Here’s Robert about to blow out the single candle on his cake.

BirthdayBoyAnd here’s what the inside of the cake looks like.

CutDoboshTorteEach layer (a special sponge cake batter) is baked on a sheet of buttered and floured parchment paper. A luscious chocolate frosting fills and frosts the cake. It is one of the world’s greatest cakes. The recipe I use comes from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts.

And here’s a single serving of the cake. On his Facebook page Robert said: THE BEST DOBOS TORT I EVER HAD!!!!

DoboshServingBoldog szulinapot, Robert!  You’re a wonderful friend.

 

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Choc.ChipCookiesWhat would become America’s favorite cookie—several billion are eaten annually today—owes its very existence to a kitchen crisis at the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts.  Sometime in the early 1930s, owner Ruth Wakefield, finding she was out of nuts for her cookie dough, decided to chop chocolate bars into chunks and add them instead.  She expected the chocolate pieces would melt, but they stayed intact.  Diners at the Inn loved the contrast of the crispness and butteriness of the cookies with the crunchy nuggets of chocolate.  She named her cookies, “Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookies,” and they soon became a nationwide sensation. [...Read More]

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Imagine my surprise when my friend, Julia della Croce, asked if I’d like to attend an international fair in Florence, Italy, featuring artisanal Italian foods. It had been years since I’d been to Italy, and I hoped I’d be selected as one of three American journalists to cover the event. The Mostra Internazionale dell’Artigianato, sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission, is a huge festival that takes place in a centuries-old fortress. This year’s food vendors featured everything from hand-made pastas and salumi (sausages, prosciutto, etc.) to small batch preserves, baked goods, truffle products and lots more. Every place we stopped, we were offered samples, and a couple of purveyors even broke out bottles of wine to go along with the food. [...Read More]

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