Wednesday, January 13, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things...

There are a few things in life that are simply better then the rest. I am one of them, and the following foods are also on the list. I am a snob with it comes to a few foods. I am so brand loyal to these companies that if the market ever catches up with them and starts producing equally as good products, I will probably still swear by these brands alone. They are consistent. Shockingly, not always the best. Sometimes another will come along for a one time showing or a brief novelty... but my favorites are the ones that have proven themselves; that have made the cut; that are THE BEST.

In no particular order, here they are:

Heinz Ketchup:
John Kerry knew what he was doing. Other ketchup tastes like plastic & yes, I know what plastic tastes like. The only exception here is McDonalds ketchup, and it probably is Heinz, I just don't want to look it up and find out.

Savannah Bee Company Honey:
I really love honey and all the different flavors it can be. I love the concept that different flower/bee combinations produce completely different outcomes. I love that some honey is rare and that it is a regional food. I also love to collect honey from my world travels; I am a connoisseur of sorts. And I tell you, Savannah makes the best honey. My favorite right now is Winter White. But they are all drool worthy.

Dietz and Watson Whole Grain Dijon Mustard:
Spicy, crunchy, bold. Whats not to love?

Now, dang, who knew that condiments were really an issue for me? Anyway, moving on to other foods:

Grown Up Cereal:
I hate kid cereal. Even when I was a kid, I hated it. Here are my favorites, they are the only ones I will buy and I will NEVER buy the store brand, unless its trader joes, otherwise store brands are yucky.

And, will you look at that, they are all Post Cereals, really, I had no idea they were all the same maker. Apparently I hate General Mills, who knew? Ok next...

King Arthur Flour:
It really makes a massive difference when baking. Its a couple bucks more per bag, so really the one time use cost difference is nominal. Another thing I like about this brand is they publish recipes on their site and blog that don't disappoint.

Thats all for now, perhaps another installment will come soon enough, but for now I ask: what are your loyal products?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Loaf Plus+

I got this book (Baked: New Frontiers in Baking) and that says a lot since I rarely (almost never) buy cook books... there is a WEALTH of recipes online and among friends, why spend money for these recipes? Well, I am so glad I bought this book. 1.) Its beautiful 2.) It inspires 3.) It is creative and you actually can't find these recipes online 4.) There are fun little bio's of the recipes, like where they came from and how they came about 5.) It gives small quick tips on baking throughout.

I adapted a quick bread recipe in the book, here is my version:

Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients in different bowls:

DRY, combine the following:
3 1/4 c. flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ginger
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt

WET, whisk in this order adding things one at a time:
15 oz. pumpkin puree
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. apple sauce
3 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. cinnamon chips
1/2 c. grated apple w/ skin

Fold dry bowl into the wet bowl. Do not over mix.

Bake in two greased/floured loaf pans in pre-heated oven on 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 min (or until toothpick comes out clean). I like to lightly sprinkle the tops of my sweet breads with pure white sugar before baking.

NOTE: This bread is not overly sweet. This bread is not the usual powerful pumpkin flavor you might be used to. The flavors are subtle. It would go great with many different flavors of honey, jams, hot coco, or mulled cider.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Martha Stewart Chocolate Pistachio Torte

I made this for Christmas. It was scrumptious. Enjoy!

Here is the recipe:

Serves 10

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for pan
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped


  1. Make cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan; line bottom with parchment or waxed paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
  2. In a large heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water, melt butter and chocolate, stirring frequently, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove bowl from pan. Whisk in sugar and vanilla, then eggs, buttermilk, and pistachios. Fold in flour mixture just until combined.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 60 to 70 minutes. Let cool in pan 5 minutes; run a knife around edge, and invert onto a wire rack. Remove paper, and let cool completely, about 3 hours. (To store, wrap in plastic, and keep at room temperature, up to 3 days).
  4. Make ganache: In a small saucepan, bring cream to a simmer; remove from heat. Add chocolate, and let stand 5 minutes; whisk until smooth. Let cool until mixture falls back in ribbons when lifted with a spoon, 2 to 6 minutes.
  5. Set cake on a serving platter; tuck strips of parchment paper under edge of cake to prevent ganache from dripping on platter. Pour ganache onto center of cake; using a table knife, spread evenly over the top and down the sides. Let set, about 30 minutes. Remove paper from under cake; sprinkle top with pistachios.
Here is the link to the original recipe: