Sunday, October 28, 2012

Boston Globe Review: Eggs Benedict Eleven Ways

Nikos Collage
Photos by Shirley Goh/Globe Staff
Clockwise from top left: The Atlantic benedict has poached eggs and smoked salmon on rye with Hollandaise in a twist on the traditional; muffins; blueberry-stuffed pancakes; and bring a big appetite for the Lumberjack omelet.
This was a great place for weekend brunch.  You know how sometimes you regret eating at greasy diners or chains afterwards, thinking you could have made it better, and for less money?  This isn't that place.  Plus there's the 11 varieties of eggs Benedict.  If you're on the South Shore, visit Nikos in Weymouth.

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Friday, October 26, 2012

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

Are you sick of pumpkin recipes yet?  Apparently I'm not.  Right now my friend Jacob must be thinking, "Where's the chocolate?"  I had actually planned a couple of savory, non-pumpkin recipes for this week, but then I wanted to bring a sweet to round out the pizza at an event for journalists I helped organize.  So I went with the seasonal favorite, pumpkin.  And who can say no to caramel cream cheese frosting?  The cupcakes were a big hit, and people asked permission to take home the last few.  Granted, of course.

Pumpkin Cupcakes on pedestal

This recipe from Tracey's Culinary Adventures produces a light and moist cupcake, slightly sweet and nicely spiced.  I thought it needed very little frosting, less than you see here.  The caramel flavor doesn't really come across in the frosting, so I would skip making the caramel and just go with a plain cream cheese frosting recipe.  Now, what should I make with the other half a can of pumpkin?

Reminder: I have a new Facebook page.  Please visit and "Like" it!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pumpkin Waffles with Maple Butter

Pumpkin Waffles

I love homemade waffles.  I grew up eating the kind you buy frozen, but there's no comparison with homemade.  Plus, when you have a little time on the weekends, waffles are really easy to make.  And these are pumpkin waffles.  They're spiced just like pumpkin pie, with cinnamon, ground ginger, and clove, and topped with a scoop of maple butter.

Waffles with Syrup

If you think that's decadent, I should tell you that the original recipe on Foodness Gracious included maple bacon butter.  Despite being a bacon lover, I decided to forgo the meat for breakfast.  And instead of using maple syrup to make the butter, I decided to try maple sugar, figuring the butter wouldn't get loose and runny the way it might when adding liquid.  Now, I actually never put butter on my waffles or pancakes, and I don't think it's needed here -- the maple sugar gets lost in the additional syrup you pour on top.  But I plan to spread this delicious butter on toast and English muffins, and it would be great on biscuits.  My other tweak is one I always use with homemade waffles, and that's to substitute half of the flour with white whole wheat flour.  Tastes just like regular waffles, and they're a little better for you.  Who's ready for brunch?

Handy tip: Freeze leftover waffles wrapped in plastic for a quick breakfast during the week.  Thaw on the counter, then heat in the toaster oven briefly.


I almost forgot: I finally made a Facebook page for my blog.  Visit it and "Like" it?  I don't have any giveaways to entice you with, but I hope to see you on that end anyway.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Maple-Glazed Apple Crostata

Maple-Glazed Apple Crostata

I always look forward to baking an apple pie in the fall.  The oven warms the house, and fills it with the smells of cinnamon and nutmeg.  My favorite is a traditional double-crust apple pie, but it's kind of a production.  So when I don't have all day, I turn to open-faced pies like this crostata.  I had made an apple crostata previously with cranberries, but plain ol' apple is usually what I want.  This version is packed with apples.  The recipe calls for just dumping them all onto the dough, but I wanted a fancier look.  Unfortunately, shingling the apples instead of dumping them into one big mound meant not all of them fit, plus they were so packed in that the slices became vertical instead of slanted.  No matter, still delicious.  My aesthetic quibble was actually the crust edges -- I didn't think the crostata needed a 3-inch border like the recipe called for so I went with 2 inches, and you can see it came up short.  But like I said, still delicious.

Maple Apple Crostata

And it still managed to wow a crowd.  With the leftover apples that didn't fit, I made a halved recipe for the crostata, resulting in this smaller one we ate at home.  I used gala apples, which have great flavor and hold their shape well during baking.  And the bulk bag of organic galas cost the same per pound as the loose galas.  My one disappointment with this recipe was that you don't really taste the maple syrup you brush on the apples at the very end.  I suggest skipping that step, or using more syrup and then telling me how that turned out.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cocoa Brownies

Brownie stack

A while back I read that brownies made with cocoa instead of chocolate were superior, though I can't remember why.  In this recipe, Alice Medrich writes: "Cocoa brownies have the softest center and chewiest candylike top 'crust' of all because all of the fat in the recipe (except for a small amount of cocoa butter in the cocoa) is butter, and all of the sugar is granulated sugar rather than the finely milled sugar used in chocolate." The top wasn't as crackly as promised, but the brownies were wonderfully fudgy.

brownie stack 2

Medrich also notes that any unsweetened Dutch-process or natural cocoa powder works well in the recipe -- natural cocoa (this is the kind you usually find in your supermarket) will produce more flavor complexity while Dutch-process has a mellower, old-fashioned chocolate pudding flavor.  I went with a Ghirardelli natural cocoa powder, which gave the brownies a deep, bittersweet flavor.