Tis the season of eating and feasting. I don’t what it’s like at your office but the closer it gets to Christmas, the harder it become to walk by a workspace without some kind of tantalizing homemade goody calling my name. Here’s a way to feel slightly better about your sweet baking this holiday season: Win your very own copy of Sweet & Easy Vegan by the incomparable Robin Asbell. (I swear by her cookbook, New Vegetarian. You can read my ode to that and get a recipe here.)
Anyway she has partnered with the fabulous Chronicle Books to make this vegan wonder that features treats made with whole grains and natural sweetners. I’m not say they’re non-caloric. I’m just saying they’re better for you in general for obvious reasons. The book helps show you that going vegan, even a few days a week, does not mean going without interesting food, specifically desserts and goodies in this particular book. Take these incredible pistachio crusted brownies ganache topping…..yeah, the book has those kind of recipes.
Need more convincing? Here’s the cover with some olive oil cupcakes with hazlenuts and gianduja cream. (I don’t know what that cream is but I want some right now!
Anyway, you can win this cookbook, either for yourself or some vegan you love. Just leave a comment and tell us about your sweet tooth. How sweet is it? We will pick a random winner on Sunday night and announce the winner on Monday. Good luck! And happy baking?
The weekend’s here and we want to send you some Table 1095 love with a cookbook giveaway. This one is for all you food truck lovers out there. When I’m having a bad day at work, shucking it all for a food truck is one of the fantasies I have. Rachel and I have even gone so far as to toss around a few names and ideas.
You can make these yourself. Just tell us why you want the book. We’ll pick two lucky winners and announce them Monday! Happy baking!
True statement: I will follow the Sedaris siblings (ok, at least David and Amy) anywhere they lead me. David decides to stop using human characters and to form his tales as animal fables? I mean, I’ll miss the family dirt, but I’m game. Dude could write the alphabet and I’d read it cover to cover. His sister, Amy, decides to shed her fat suit (you’ve seen “Strangers with Candy,” right? RIGHT?) and transform into the hostess with the mostess? Then I guess it’s time to throw a party. There are few people I think could actually take Martha Stewart down, and Amy Sedaris is one of them. And yes, I’d pay to see that fight.
I don’t know how chocolate turtles got their name or what — if anything — they have to do with the four-legged reptile with a shell, but I’ve been a fan since my first bite. That delicious combination of chocolate and caramel with a little salt thrown in for good measure is one of life’s little culinary wonders.
I decided to tackle making turtle brownies for our first official post on the new Table 1095 because one thing Rachel and I have noticed in the three years we’ve been blogging together: Our readers like desserts. (Oh, and so do we )
So mostly Rachel and I are about cooking from scratch and all that. But let’s get real: Sometimes you’re pressed for time and guess what? You need a little help. Well, here is a dessert that is going to earn you KUDOS from anyone who eats it and how you made it is your little secret.
This comes compliments of the Intern of Wonder at my day job — Rebecca. We would hire her every summer because she’s an amazing intern and because she finishes every job we give her in about five minutes when we think it’s going to take most of the summer. BUT she also always makes some fantastic sweet goodie at the end of her time with us so, yeah, she basically has an internship for life as far as I’m concerned.
Last year, she made lemon squares that were AWESOME. This summer she made peppermint brownies that were to die for. (People in another department who were lucky enough to have them called them crack brownies.) So I asked her for the recipe assuming — incorrectly — that is was made from scratch. Instead, it involves a packaged brownie bit. I’m not saying this is a problem. I’m just warning you in case you’re a purist or something.
Having eaten these, I am not.
Rebecca made hers with Peppermint Patties. They were fabulous. I went the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup route. I’m not bragging here but they were equally fabulous. Next up could be Heath Bars…or what do you think? Let your imagination go wild.
Peppermint — or Fill in the Fabulous Filling Blank — Brownies
2 Family-sized boxes fudge brownie mix
1 large bag York Peppermint Patties or enough Reese’s Peanut Butter cups to fill the space or whatever is your particular sweet delight
Other ingredients listed on the brownie box (eggs, oil etc.)
Prepare one box of family-sized brownie mix as you would for normal brownies. Grease a 9×13 in. pan and pour the mix in to make a thin bottom layer.
Place unwrapped patties (or your filling of amazingness) about 1/2 in. away from the edge of the pan and each other, making a layer of peppermint(or whatever). Don’t crush or cut the patties, and don’t push them to the bottom of the pan; just set them down lightly.
Prepare the second box as you normally would and pour it evenly over the top of the patties.
Bake according to the directions on the box for the “thickest” brownies. The ones I made took about 50 minutes.
Let cool, cut, and serve… then try not to go back for seconds!
Janet here: I’m not sure why I never made whoopie pies when our kids were little. I mean it seems like a no-brainer for someone who likes to bake, has a bit of a cupcake fetish, and who was a major Ring Ding, Yodels kind of gal as a child. But I didn’t. In fact I’m not sure I even knew they existed until fairly recently.
At any rate, I’ve had kind of a fixation about them ever since learning about them. I even went out and bought a whoopie pie baking tin, whose holes are decidedly thinner than traditional cupcake baking tins — this from the woman who doesn’t own a food processor. Maybe it’s a mid-life thing.
Janet here: I had never made a key lime pie before but have always loved them in restaurants. They’re a great cheesecake substitute when you want something creamy but a little less dense. (Those moments are rare I admit, but when the craving is there you have to go with it — at least that’s my philosophy.) Anyway, key lime pie is also a little bit of a rebel I think, the way it mixes its sweetness with a kick of tart. I love that about it.
This key lime pie is from one of my fav cooks, the Barefoot Contessa, and was ridiculously easy to make. I made it one day when my father-in-law was coming for dinner. It’s a favorite of his and I thought it might cheer him up a bit after the death of his wife. Not sure the effects were long lasting but for just one little moment, he was one happy man.
Janet here: I have drooled over the picture of the summer fruit crostata in The Barefoot Contessa at Home for years. For some reason, a crostata looks so sophisticated, so elegant, so European, that I assumed it was just something impossible to make. This past week I finally got up the courage to try it, and I am happy to report a success even though I will admit that I began fantasizing about how much easier this would likely be if I actually owned a food processor. (Yes, it’s true, I am a culinary Luddite when it comes to certain equipment, but that’s a story for another day.)
Anyway with fresh peaches and blueberries at just about every farmstand I pass these days, this is the perfect time to make this summery dessert. Serve it warm or room temperature, maybe with a little ice cream and voila! you’re transported to a little cafe in Paris.
Summer Fruit Crostata
for the pastry
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
6 tablespoons iced water
for the filling (makes 1 crostata)
1 pound firm, ripe peaches, peeled
1 pint blueberries
1 tablespoon flour plus 1/4 cup
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoon orange juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
for the pastry
Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and toss quickly with your fingers to coat each cube of butter with flour. (I don’t have a food processor so I just did this all by hand, dicing up the butter and then “pulsing” with my fingers. Not ideal I know but it worked.) Pulse 12-15 times until the butter is the size of peas. With the motor running, add the iced water all at once through the feed tube. Keep hitting the pulse button to combine but stop the machine just before the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board, roll into a ball, cut in half and form into 2 flat disks. Wrap them in plastic and refrigerate for at least one hour. If you only need one crostata, freeze the other one at this point.
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Roll the pastry into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper.
For the filling cut the peaches into wedges and place them in a bowl with the blueberries. Toss with 1 tablespoon of flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar, orange zest and orange juice. Place the mixed fruit on the dough, leaving a 1-inch border.
Combine the 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup sugar and salt in the bowl of the food processor with a steel blade. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Pour into a bowl and rub with your fingers until it starts to hold together. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Gently fold the border of the pastry over the fruit, pleating it to make an edge.
Bake 20-25 minutes until the crust is golden and the fruit is tender. Let cool for five minutes and then use 2 large spatulas to transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Janet here: I fell in love with this delicious blueberry dessert the first time my mother-in-law served it. But when I heard it had bread in it — white bread no less — I was amazed. It just seemed so wrong to make a dessert with white bread as a main ingredient, sort of like cheating.
Anyway I quickly got over it and as you can tell from Rachel’s comment, this has been a family favorite. It’s like a little visit from Jan every time we serve it.
Rachel here: I love this dessert. I had no idea that my mom had the recipe (and now, of course, I do, too!) and was ecstatic when she mentioned that she did. This is seriously, seriously delicious AND it seems easy. Perhaps I’ll bake this once I get back into the kitchen…someday.
Blueberry Bread Pudding
6-8 slices of bread, crusts cut off
1 pint blueberries
2/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
cinnamon to taste
Simmer the blueberries, sugar and water for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Line a shallow bowl (try to do clear if you can because the pudding is so pretty so look at) with one layer of bread. Sprinkle with cinnamon
Pour half the blueberry mix over the bread. Line the bowl with the rest of the bread and pour the rest of the blueberry mixture over that layer. Chill for several hours.