I made that!

An “I miss the south already” lunch

Posted in I Like Salt Too, Southernness by brandi on May 29, 2009

I’m back from 8 days of southern goodness: sleeping, swimming in the gulf, playing wii bowling, and most importantly eating. This time of year the peas are just showing up in the farmer’s markets, and I went on a mad spree snapping them up. I bought several different kinds, and brought back a bunch of these cream peas to keep in my freezer, to remind me of home. Though at the rate I’m going they won’t last long. I was home less than 24 hours before I was missing southern cooking and broke into them.


Peas are so perfect, that you hardly need to do anything to them. I started by cooking some chopped bacon and onion.


Then I added my peas, salt, lots of black pepper and enough water to cover them by about 1/2 of an inch.


I let those simmer for about 40 minutes, while I entertained myself ith some biscuits. Because one cannot have peas without either biscuits or cornbread. Rules are rules…


Everybody has their own biscuit technique. I like to rub in with my fingers a mixture of cold butter & lard. Then I stir in some buttermilk until it just holds together.


I stamp them out, the size always changes with my mood… today I was feeling medium biscuit sized.


Then I bake them until they have a nice crispy crust!


And by that time my peas are ready! There are few things better than a biscuit soggy with peas…yummmmm.



Orange Pound Cake

Posted in All Sugar All The Time by brandi on May 18, 2009

It seems the more I learn about baking, the more I appreciate the classics. Lately, I just can’t stop thinking about pound cake. I needed to make some cakes for the cafe, and had some oranges in the fridge, so orange flavored pound cakes it is! I really wanted to taste the orange, so I decided to use both the juice and the zest in my batter.

orange and pans

I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to pound cake. I believe in going sans leavening, letting the hyper-creamed butter and eggs do all the heavy lifting. I’ve been using the recipe my teacher gave my in pastry school, and have found it a great base to add other flavors into. So first step, I creamed my butter and sugar for about 8 minutes, until it was super white and fluffy. Since there is no baking powder or baking soda, it’s important to keep a strong emulsification in the butter, so the batter is strong and gets a lot of height. This makes temperature really important. I try to have every ingredient at room temperature, since things emulsify better when they’re not cold.

creamed butter

Then I slowly drizzled in my eggs and kept beating until it was all smooth.

creamed eggs

Then I beat in the orange juice and zest, and finish by sifting in the flour, vanilla bean seeds and salt.


I poured the batter into a lined and buttered loaf pan, slicing down the middle with a spatula to reign in the future hump.

batter in pan

I baked it for about an hour and let it cool.


Then I made a glaze out of the orange juice and powdered sugar. I poured that over the top and let it drip down the sides.


Stop by Etiquette Lounge and have a slice!


3 eggs

3 egg yolks

2 tsp vanilla extract

8 oz butter, room temperature

8 ¾ oz sugar

7 oz cake flour

½ tsp salt

1 ½ TBSP orange zest

3 TBSP orange juice


– Butter and parchment line loaf pan.

– Cream butter and sugar for 8 minutes.

– Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each.

– Continue to beat for 1 minute.

– Add zest and juice.

– Continue to beat for 1 minute.

– Sift in the dries in 3 additions.

– Spoon batter into pan, smoothing top.

– Bake at 325 F for 50 – 80 minutes, or until baked through.

Lemon Pistachio Biscotti

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Don't BUY it, MAKE it! by brandi on May 16, 2009

It’s been 2 weeks and Matt at Etiquette Lounge is ready for my second batch of biscotti. After only 2 rounds with this crispy little dunker I have decided that biscotti is super fun. Once you find a dough you like, the flavor options are endless! Today I wanted something bright and springy, so I made a batch with meyer lemons, pistachios and anise seeds. I like to work in pistachios whenever possible, I have a thing for that shade of green.

First I made a dough. Traditionally biscotti is made without butter, but I like a little in mine. Call me a fatty…I like fat.

lp biscotti dough

Then I formed the dough into 2 loaves and baked them.


I let the loaves cool for 10 minutes, and then sliced them into  cookies.


Then I baked them some more, to dry them out and caramelize the sugar.


The crisp that changed the way I think about crisps.

Posted in All Sugar All The Time by brandi on May 13, 2009

Strawberry rhubarb.

I know it’s totally obvious, but I hadn’t made a strawberry rhubarb crisp before. I’ve never thought of myself as boring, I just generally assumed that apples and pears were what went under a crispy topping. I doubt I really ever “got” rhubarb before. Now I understand. I made a strawberry rhubarb crisp last night, but of course there wasn’t enough (Is there ever?). So I made another one today. I’ll probably make another one tomorrow. It’s THAT good.

Strawberries and rhubarb make big puddles when baked, so I started by chopping them up and macerating them for 30 minutes. I strained out the liquid and tossed the fruit with sugar, cornstarch and the seeds from a vanilla bean.


As I’ve mentioned before, I keep crisp topping in the freezer. So on days when there’s a dessert emergency, or when I’m too lazy to make a pie, I make a crisp. I tossed frozen topping all over my fruit and popped it in the oven.


I baked it until the top was nice and browned. As you can see, the puddles were unavoidable. Totally worth it.


A Strawberry Buckle!

Posted in All Sugar All The Time by brandi on May 11, 2009

I don’t know about you, but I just learned what a buckle was like 12 hours ago. Once told, I needed to make one immediately. That would be now. It’s Monday, time for me to deliver some baked goodness to Etiquette Lounge. What better cake to go with coffee than one literally “buckling” under the weight of fresh fruit and streusel. I mean, what’s not to love?

First I needed to get my strawberries ready. I chopped them up and placed them in the freezer. Freezing them will help me later on, so that when I mix them into the batter, they won’t fall apart and turn everything pink.


Once my strawberries were tucked away in the freezer, I made my streusel topping. This one was really simple, I just mixed flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt with melted butter and stirred until it clumped together.


I set that aside while I made the batter. I creamed together butter, sugar and lemon zest. Then mixed in flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and the seeds from a vanilla bean.


I stirred in the strawberries and poured the batter into my pan.


I topped it off with my streusel and popped the cake into the oven.


Oh yes.


Luckily I now have a cafe to drop off my experiments, so John and I won’t be forced to devour this cake piece by piece throughout the day. Then again we should have a taste.


RECIPE (adapted from Carole Walter):


6 tablespoons butter

¾ cup all-purpose flour

⅓ cup sugar

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

⅛ teaspoon salt


1 ¾ cups sifted all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

½ teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

¾ cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

¼ cup milk

2 cups berries, washed and well-dried


– Heat the oven to 350º F.  Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with a parchment circle.

– Prepare the streusel:  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.  Remove from the heat and cool to tepid.  In a small bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, and cinnamon, and salt and add it to the melted butter.  Stir the mixture with a fork and set aside.

– Make the Batter:  In a large bowl, thoroughly whisk together the flour, baking powder, vanilla bean seeds and salt.  Set aside.

– Cut the butter into 1-inch pieces and place it in the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the lemon zest, and mix on medium speed until smooth and lightened in color, 1 ½ to 2 minutes.

– Add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, taking 5 to 6 minutes to blend it in well. Scrape the side of the bowl occasionally. Add the eggs, one at a time, 1 minute apart. Beat for 1 minute longer, scraping the side of bowl as necessary.

– Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, dividing the dry ingredients into 3 parts and the liquid into 2 parts, starting and ending with the flour. Beat just until incorporated after each addition. Scrape the side of the bowl and mix for 10 seconds longer.

– Carefully fold the berries into the batter using a rubber spatula, then empty the mixture into the pan. (Note: This is a very thick batter.) Spread the batter evenly, leveling the surface as best you can.   

– Take a handful of the crumb mixture and make a fist to form a large clump.  Then break the clump into coarse crumbs and sprinkle them evenly over the filling.  Repeat until all of the crumbs have been used and the batter is completely covered.  Pat the streusel gently into the batter.

– Bake for 50-55 minutes.  The cake is done when the streusel topping is golden brown and the cake begins to pull away from the side of the pan.  A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.

– Remove the cake from the oven and let stand on a cooling rack for 20 minutes. Remove the side of the pan and let cool for 30 minutes longer.

Browned Butter Almond Cake

Posted in All Sugar All The Time by brandi on May 8, 2009

Today I’m craving cake. So I made one!

First I browned some butter.


Then I whipped some eggs and sugar until they were nice and fluffy. I whipped the browned butter into my fluffy egg mixture.


Then I folded in flour, almond meal, powdered sugar, baking powder and the seeds of a vanilla bean.


I poured that into my pan and tossed on some sliced almonds.


I baked it, cooled it, and sprinkled some powdered sugar on top.


But then I wanted something bright. So I stuffed it with some raspberry jam.


Happy happy cake day!

RECIPE (adapted from Carole Walter):

6 oz butter

1 vanilla bean

1 ½ cups sifted powdered sugar

4 oz almond meal

1 cup flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

6 egg whites (3/4 cup)

2 eggs

¼ tsp salt

½ cup sugar

2 tbsp sliced almonds

– Place butter in pan and brown.

– Heat oven to 350.

– Butter 10” springform pan.

– Mix powdered sugar, flour, almond meal and baking powder.

– Scrape out the seeds from a vanilla bean and rub into dry mixture.

– Place eggs, egg whites and salt in mixer and whip on medium speed until frothy.

– Increase speed and slowly whisk in sugar.

– Continue whisking until thick and fluffy.

– Reduce speed to medium and pour in browned butter in a slow stream, scraping in browned bits.

– Fold in dry mixture.

– Pour into pan and sprinkle with sliced almonds.

– Bake 35-40 minutes.

– Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes before unmolding.

Best Brownies EVER…unless you’re allergic to peanuts.

Posted in All Sugar All The Time by brandi on May 4, 2009

I’m still on my run of cafe friendly snacks for my friend Matt’s cafe/bar. After a successful batch of biscotti, I was thinking that something super sweet was in order. And what better sweet snack than a brownie? I found this recipe a few years ago, and it has been a picnic/camping staple since then. Think: chocolate + peanut butter + sea salt. I swear these brownies bring out the kid in all who taste them. It’s been a while since I made a batch, so I’m excited to get to know these little guys again.

Since my brownies require a bit of layering, I completely wrap my pan in foil, so I can just lift them out when they’re finished.


I start by melting some chocolate and butter. The safest way to do this is to put them in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. The heat slowly melts them as you stir, but helps prevent you from scorching the chocolate.


Once melted, I pour the chocolate into a mixing bowl and beat in eggs and vanilla extract. Then I stir in flour and salt. Notice a lack of leavening, these are super fudgy brownies.


I poured the batter into my prepared pan and baked them for about 30 minutes.


Once baked and cooled, I whipped together peanut butter, powdered sugar, nutmeg, milk and vanilla to make a fluffy peanut butter frosting. I spread that on top, trying to get an even a layer as possible.


Then I melted some more chocolate and butter, and topped the peanut butter. Once it cooled just a tad, I sprinkled on some chunky sea salt.


I let the brownies chill in the frdge for about 2 hours, and then sliced them into cute little squares! YUMMMM…


Feel free to swing by Etiquette Lounge during the day to try one with some of Matt’s tasty house roasted coffee!



6 oz unsalted butter

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

1 cup all purpose flour
– Preheat oven to 325°F.

– Line 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with foil, leaving long overhang.

– Butter foil.

– Place 3/4 cup butter in heavy large saucepan.

– Add chocolate. Stir over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat.

– Whisk in sugar, vanilla, and salt, then eggs, 1 at a time.

– Fold in flour.

– Spread in prepared pan.

– Bake until tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 30 minutes.

– Place pan on rack and cool.
Frosting and ganache

1 cup smooth peanut butter (do not use natural or old-fashioned)

4 oz unsalted butter, divided in half, at room temperature

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
– Beat peanut butter and 2 oz butter to blend.

– Beat in powdered sugar, salt, and nutmeg,

– Beat in milk and vanilla.

– Spread frosting over brownies.

– Stir chocolate and 2 oz butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until smooth.

– Drop ganache all over frosting; spread to cover.

– Chill until set, at least 1 1/2 hours.

– Using foil as aid, transfer brownie cake to work surface & cut into squares.

Orange Almond Biscotti

Posted in All Sugar All The Time by brandi on May 2, 2009

I have some news! After a stint in Panama, chilling in the rain forest, my friend Matthew McKee has returned. He was inspired by the farms, and has starting roasting his own coffee. He’s brewing and selling it during the day at his brother’s bar “Etiquette Lounge” on Market Street in San Francisco. He’s basically turned it into a makeshift cafe during the day. Business is picking up, and people have been requesting nibbles. And that’s where I step in – I’m going to making little snacks to go with his delicious coffee!

First, I’m gonna make some biscotti. A biscotti flavored with orange zest and almonds.


I creamed some butter and sugar, then beat in some eggs, vanilla extract and almond extract. Once blended, I mixed in some lightly toasted almonds and orange zest.


I added flour, baking powder and salt until it formed a dough.


I shaped the dough into a log and baked it until it was lightly browned and just cooked through.


After the loaf cooled, I sliced it into little strips and popped them back into the oven to dry out.


And I have biscotti!


Come by Etiquette Lounge during the day if you want to dip one of these guys in some yummy coffee!

RECIPE (Cook’s Illustrated):

2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

4 tbs unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 lg eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

3/4 cup whole almonds with skins, toasted, cooled and chopped coarse

2 tbs minced zest from 1 orange

– Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350. Whisk flour, baking powder & salt together in medium bowl; set aside.

– Either by hand or with electric mixer, cream butter & sugar together until light and smooth, about 2 min with mixer set at med speed. Beat in eggs one at a time, then extracts. Stir in almonds and zest. Sprinkle dry ingredients over egg mixture, then fold in until dough is just mixed.

– Halve dougn & turn each portion onto an oiled cookie sheet covered with parchment. Using floured hands, quickly stretch each portion of dough into rough 13×2 inch log, placing them about 3 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Pat each dough shape to smooth it. Bake, turning pan once until loaves are golden and jus beginning to crack on top, about 35 min.

– Cool the loaves for about 10 min; lower oven temp to 325. Cut each loaf diagonally into 3/8 inch slices with a serrated knife. Lay the slices flat, about 1/2 inch apart, on the cookie sheet and return to oven. Bake, turning each cookie over halfway through baking, until crisp and golden brown on both sides, about 15 min. Transfer biscotti to wire rack and cool completely.

Strawberry Jam

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Yes We Can! by brandi on May 1, 2009

Aaaaah…my favorite part about summer fruit begins…jam. I was at the store to buy a pint of strawberries for my ice cream, and they had a whole flat for $3! So I couldn’t resist, since I’ve decided this summer I WILL conquer jam making. I know it’s not that hard, but I’ve only made a few jams that I’ve thought were truly fabulous. And strawberry jam has been a tough one for me. Cook it too much and I swear it tastes like cough syrup.

I started this batch by chopping up 3 1/2 lbs of berries and letting them macerate with an equal amount of sugar and the juice from 3 lemons. I let that sit in the fridge, covered, for 24 hours.


The next day I boiled the mixture for about 25 minutes, until it seemed “set”. This part is the hardest for me. Since I’m fairly new to the jam making process, I haven’t gotten the feel for exactly when it’s ready. I just have to go with it and hope my jam isn’t just strawberry sauce.


I ladled the jam into hot jars that I had just sterilized. I sealed them up and waited for the most satisfying sound of home canning – the “pop” of the lid sealing. I did manage to dip my finger in for a taste, and I’m feeling pretty good about it.


Now I’ll let them chill in the fridge until I’m ready for them – more later on how smearable they turn out!