Sunday, May 27, 2012

Wanted: Cookbooks Focused on Sweets

Craving something sweet like cookies, I headed to my bookshelf to see what new recipe I could find that used one stick of softened butter (which I had wisely pulled out a bit earlier) and preferably, chocolate.

Yes, there are go-to recipes in my repertoire that fit that bill, but I was looking for something new.

And then it hit me. I have many more cookbooks that focus on meals than ones that focus on just desserts. (As you can see from the picture.)

Something's gotta give.

Here's where I'd like to ask for your suggestions. What cookbooks do you use that focus on baked goods and why do you like them?

Please help!

The Clarendon Cook

P.S. I found a recipe for a cake that uses butter and chocolate and it's currently in the oven. If it's good ( can it not be?) I'll post the recipe later.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A great way to begin the day...

When the sun starts peeking through the shades, one sometimes really needs to have a good reason to get out of bed. After an exhausting week, I wanted to make sure that at a certain someone would have enough energy to begin what will hopefully be a less-stressful Memorial Day weekend.

After being awoken at 5:30am by the smallest member of my family, who eventually fell back asleep, I (not as fortunate) decided to stay up and try out a recipe for Dutch Crumb Cake that's served at Clarendon's Liberty Tavern for brunch. (What else is there to do at that hour but bake?)

The fragrant aroma of cinnamon, butter and brown sugar baking in the oven filled every corner of our house, giving that someone the promise of a good start to the day, and he easily got out of bed this morning and made a quick beeline for the breakfast table.

Of course, adding a side of applewood smoked bacon to the crumb cake didn't hurt either. Everything's better with bacon, right?

Whether or not you have bacon, definitely give this recipe a whirl this weekend, especially if you need some coaxing to begin the day.

Dutch Crumb Cake
(Courtesy Liam Lacivita/The Liberty Tavern)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup butter or shortening, diced
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8-inch round cake pan or similarly sized rectangle pan or baking dish.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and cinnamon. With the tips of your fingers, work fat into mixture until completely integrated. It's ok to see flakes of fat. Reserve 1/2 cup of this mixture for the topping, to be used later.

In a separate mixing bowl, combine egg, buttermilk, and baking soda. If using vanilla, add now.

Using a rubber spatula, fold wet ingredients into dry until well combined.

In a small bowl, combine brown sugar with the reserved flour mixture. Pour batter into pan. Top with crumb mixture and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out almost clean.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Some Food for Comfort

Although it's been a little while since I've last written here, I have been busy in the kitchen trying different recipes like usual, and finding myself busy with some other little things.

Like entertaining out-of-town guests. Running after my almost two-year-old. Buying a house. Planning to sell our condo. Announcing to the world that Baby #2 is on the way come October. You know, just some little things.


I love sharing recipes on this blog but when push comes to shove, the blog gets short shrift. Apologies to all.

That said, I found an absolutely fantastic recipe that I had to share. It's comfort soup, and you must make this soon. You'll feel better about everything in life. At least it did that for me. Although in the midst of all the chaos in my world these days, that might not take a lot. But really, you should try this soup. Let me know if it takes your stress away. Enjoy!

Baked Potato Soup
(Courtesy of

3 bacon strips, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 cups chicken broth
2 large baked potatoes, peeled and cubed (Don't forget to pre-bake your potatoes!)
1 cup half-and-half cream
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
Shredded Cheddar cheese
Minced fresh parsley

In a large saucepan, cook bacon until crisp. Drain, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings. Set bacon aside. Saute onion and garlic in the drippings until tender. Stir in flour, salt, basil and pepper; mix well. Gradually add broth. Bring to boil; boil and stir for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, cream and hot pepper sauce; heat through but do not boil. Garnish with bacon, cheese and parsley.