• Breakfast,  Desserts,  Egg dishes,  Pancakes,  Pastries

    Jennifer’s Dutch Babies

    If you like popovers, you’ll love these babies. These eggy, pie-shaped puffs need only a squirt of lemon juice, a shake of confectioner’s sugar, and some fresh fruit or jam to make a dramatic breakfast entrance. But “Dutch” Babies? Some say the name came from a corruption of “Deutsch,” since they resemble German pancakes. The Dutch also make Pannenkoeken with a similar batter, although they look more like crepes. Frankly, these are likely neither German nor Dutch. We contend that Dutch Babies are really Yorkshire Pudding in disguise. They’re sizzled in butter instead of meat drippings, and served for breakfast instead of with meat and gravy for dinner. If you wonder how a puffy…

  • Appetizers,  Biscuits,  Crackers,  Pastries,  Snacks

    “Aunt Sammy’s Radio Recipes Revised” Cheese Straws

    I owe Aunt Sammy an apology. She’s not just my Aunt Sammy, but yours, too—the wife of our Uncle Sam. She starred in a popular radio show way back when, as radio had just begun making waves. The US Department of Agriculture, big into radio programming for farmers, dreamt her up in 1926 to give farmers’ wives a view of the world beyond their fences. As radio stations sprang up everywhere, more than just farmers tuned in to hear the charming Aunt Sammy chat about recipes and household tips. So what if she wasn’t real? It was before networks, so an actress at each local station played Aunt Sammy according to a script. With…

  • Ingredient,  Pastries,  Pies,  Technique

    Screwdriver Pie Crust

    Somewhere along the line, we came to treat pie crust like a prima donna. Handle it gingerly, they say, or it will toughen and refuse to cooperate. Use your best butter, make sure to chill the dough, yada yada yada. Happily, for decades our Orange Juice Pastry has worked yeoman’s duty without complaint. What makes it so agreeable? First, the shortening (yes, Crisco, thankfully now transfat-free) enjoys being handled at room temperature. And the orange juice—cold and a tad acidic—plays well with the shortening. One sticking point, though. How much OJ is just right? Too little and the dough gets dry and hard to roll. Too much liquid might develop the gluten in the…

  • Appetizers,  Breads,  Crackers,  Pastries,  Side Dishes,  Snacks,  Techniques & Ingredients

    Puffy Cheese Sticks

    As we dip our toes back into the sea of socializing, we need PPEs—Prepared Party Edibles—snacks that are ready to serve the moment the stars align. These flaky, cheddar-laced sticks make the perfect nibble—they are simple to prep and freeze, and then quickly bake into puffy little wands of cheesy goodness. Before snack scientists created vacuum-packed rods of mozzarella so parents could dole out string cheese to kids, “cheese sticks” referred to these savory pastry hors d’oeuvres. Also known as cheese straws, they go back to the kitchens of the 1860s, with notable recipes in UK’s famed Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1861) and in Godey’s Magazine (October 1865) in the US. The…

  • Breads,  Desserts,  Egg dishes,  Muffins,  Passover,  Pastries,  Snacks

    Whose Passover Popovers Win You Over?

    Before Passover is over, treat yourself to some popovers. Judy Geller, a dream client and the mastermind behind many industry-leading conferences and events, introduced me to these years ago. We would meet at a cafe where I could spread out advertising concepts and layouts for her to review. Then we’d linger and talk about family, holidays, and her family’s Passover Popover recipe. These popovers are so delicious, so un-Passover-ish, we might as well just call them “bread” and be done with the pretense. The other day when I called to ask if I could post the recipe, Judy asked, “Which one?” To my surprise, she has not one, but two family recipes for Passover…

  • Cookies,  Desserts,  Pastries,  Snacks

    Palmiers in a Pinch

    Need a quick yet impressive holiday cookie? Roll puff pastry dough in sugar and cinnamon, fold, cut, and voilà! Palmiers (aka elephant ears). I made a batch today from puff pastry dough I rescued from the dark recesses of my freezer. Last winter I mixed a lot of Joanne Chang’s easy Quick Puff Pastry from Flour for whatever might arise. Chang says you can freeze it for up to a month, but c’mon, you can even freeze fish for longer than that. Here it is almost a year later and the silky dough rolled out as smoothly as if it were fresh. Today I lost track of my folds and they came out more…

  • Breads,  Breakfast,  Desserts,  Pastries,  Snacks,  Technique

    Last Gasp of Summer: Blueberry Whole-Wheat Scones

    As part of September denial, I’ve been manically buying up fresh blueberries. The season is fast slipping away, and before you know it, blueberries will cost a dime apiece again. I’ve been making these sunny whole-grain blueberry scones for the past two weeks. They’re buttery, pastry-like and tender, with tangy berries that melt on the tongue and make me wonder what I ever saw in chewy raisins. While this is an amalgam of recipes, it is mostly a repurposing of Liz’s Whole-Wheat Oatmeal Buttermilk Blueberry Pancake recipephany. I’ve borrowed the key ingredients, the spices, and the technique of soaking oats in buttermilk to create a sweet mush without any hint of roughage (or as…

  • Breads,  Breakfast,  Desserts,  Pastries,  Technique

    Croissant Crazy

    I just tried this recipe and was thunderstruck. Here were high, flaky croissants, the kind I’d expect to pull out of a butter-stained bakery bag rather than right out of my oven. The French call it un coup de foudre—love at first sight—and I’ve fallen hard for this recipephany. My dreams of baking authentic croissants go way back to my advertising copywriting days at “The Pit.” (See “How to Fowl-Up a Chicken.”) In a desperate attempt to escape that basement sweatshop, I came within a gluten-strand of opening a bakery with a “Best-in-Boston” croissant baker who happened to live downstairs from us. In a moment of over-caffeinated inspiration, I named the prospective bakery Croissant…