Tag Archives: layered

Strawberry Choux Cake

<alt img="Strawberry Choux Cake"/>

I actually did it.

I baked something recently just for the sake of it and enjoyed every minute of the experience–almost. Kitchen solitude for an entire day, going through the motions, cleaning as I worked–it was lovely. This confirms that starting a baking group and looking forward to baking at least once a month was a perfect decision. Ah, but then there’s the writing that accompanies it.

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Pierre Hermé’s Traveling “Tango”

<img alt="Pierre Herme Pastry"/>

I thought I’d take a break from posting photos of our trip to Paris to give those who would rather look at food a break.  It’s only fair, I guess, after holding everyone captive with my vacation photos. But I will warn you this is still connected to Paris in a six degrees of separation sort of way.  It’s about dessert, and it’s about French dessert in particular.  French pastry from the French “Picasso of Pastry,” Pierre Hermé.  I thought my sampling of beautiful pastry in Paris was lacking so ordered his book, Pastries  as soon as we arrived home.

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Strawberry Jam Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

<img alt="Strawberry Jam Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies"/>

After swearing off most things sweet for the first six months of the year,  I did make a few desserts this summer for holidays, birthdays, and a get together or two, and these Strawberry Jam Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies were a perfect choice.  Go ahead.  Just try and say that three times fast.  I dare you. I dare you while you’ve got a bite of one in your mouth.

I love the bit of sweet tartness that either raspberries or strawberries add to any chocolate dessert so have always wondered about how that would work in brownie.  If you’ve known me for a while, then you know I feel I’m brownie challenged.  I have been known to make Blondies, or Salted Fudge Brownies with some success, however.  But I have to say, these swirly, jammy wonders were a success.  Or should I say I succeeded in making a recipe that didn’t turn out brownies hard as a rock or worse, raw in the middle.  Perhaps I’m not giving myself enough credit!

They’re moist, full of flavor that will have your taste buds squelching, and best of all, satisfy a sweet tooth with just a smidgen of a sliver of one.

I only had one.  I promise.

A very small one.

Make a batch and send it to your kids’ teacher — or the hubster’s work — after you sample one.

(Insert evil laughter here.)

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Pan Bagnat

The last few days of our recent vacation, we stayed at Bay Cottage, a lovely retreat located on the shore of Discovery Bay near Port Townsend, Washington.  It seems like I’ve wanted to stay in a place like that forever — somehow making up for the lack of a family summer vacation rental that so many others seem to have had.  If I think about it, the others I’m thinking of were most likely characters in summer reads, or old movies which makes me idealistic, I guess.  No matter, because it was beautiful there and we enjoyed sitting in the old Adirondack chairs in the evening marveling over how long the daylight lasts at this time of year, or watching the fog slowly burn off the still water each morning.  Large blue herons  stand in the shallow water at low tide like statues, patiently waiting for a fish.  It was so peaceful.

We’ve enjoyed a variety of vacation rentals in our travels.  They’re much more relaxing than staying in a hotel because a television is usually absent, there’s a living room to sprawl out in just like home, and after the daylight is gone, we go through the cards and games usually stashed away in a cupboard somewhere to enjoy a few rounds of Rummy or Trivial Pursuit.  We also take the time to read for extended periods of time, enjoying the stillness.  Outside of the water lapping against the shore, not much else broke the quiet in the evenings, which is a rare thing to enjoy.

Having a kitchen available is another vacation rental perk.  It’s usually stocked with a variety of pots, pans, and utensils and even some pantry basics to add to the groceries we shop for soon after arriving.  I know that others often question cooking on a vacation, but honestly, it’s far less trouble at times than deciding where to eat — especially when money can be saved cooking for ourselves.  It also makes packing a picnic easier when planning a day trip because if you plan with that in mind as you hit the market, then you can enjoy some pretty tasty treats on your outings.

Pan Bagnat (pahn-bahn-yah) is the perfect make ahead picnic food because other than needing to boil a few eggs, open a can of good tuna, slice vegetables, and prepare a simple vinaigrette, all you need is bread and some bricks — or in my case, weights.  On the other hand, if you’ve got children, you might consider using the weighting technique mentioned in this version of Pan Bagnat published in the New York Times.

Each bite of this wonderful sandwich is a treat whether you’re enjoying it at home or otherwise — and it’s fun to make.  Have you had Pan Bagnat before?

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