Made them this morning. Also made them last week.

Recipe coming soon.


Along Came Bialy

As a displaced New Yorker, I am typically disappointed in the bagel offerings of the SF Bay Area. But, I have never been a bagel lover anyway. They are a little too heavy for me (though I will admit to enjoying the occasional bagel hot out of the oven at the store). When I do have bagels here, I usually only have half, and that has to be toasted, plied with some cream cheese and the smoked salmon fixings.

What I really miss is my memory of bialys. When I was little, I would sometimes go with my dad to his office and one of the treats that I remember I would get, perhaps at an old Chock Full O’ Nuts diner, was a toasted, buttered bialy. Part bagel, part English muffin, they tasted warm, comforting, chewy and, relative to their dense bagel bretheren, light. I’ve hunted for the bialy of my past in recent years, but I’ve come up short.

Yesterday, when S left for a business trip, I realized that we didn’t have any “good” breakfast foods in the house. No bagels, leftover french toast or pancakes in the freezer. I usually freeze leftover pancakes and french toast because they are such an easy microwave warm up on a weekday morning. J had an overnight at a friend’s house (she has vacation this week) and L had school. With S away and the girls out of the house, I figured I could sneak in some baking and try something new: bagels. Though, first I made some pancakes just to freeze.

I have been eyeing a recipe for bagels in my new favorite cookbook: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. Most parents don’t think, oh, we are out of bagels, I think I’ll try making them. But I do. Nonetheless, my attempt at bagels was a flop. I am convinced that it was my fault because this cookbook is so good. I think my problem was in the boiling. Maybe I left the bagels in the water too long? Perhaps not long enough? There could be a multitude of reasons that they didn’t work out.

Nonetheless, I was left with a bunch of bagel dough and I didn’t want to try more bagels. The oven was on, the baking stone piping hot. I had to keep going. Then I eyed the Bialy recipe with anticipation. No boiling, looked easier. In fact, much easier. The only changes that I made to the recipe were that I made the indentation for the onion a little bit smaller (that is how I remember them) and I used less oil for frying the onions and cooked them a bit longer. They poofed beautifully in the oven.

OMG!!! These are the bialys of my strangely clear food memories. L informs me that the onion isn’t onion-y enough (she is a bialy lover, too), but it didn’t stop her from polishing off one of these bad-boys for breakfast. I left the cooked bialys out on a cooling rack overnight so they would harden up a bit, without getting overcooked.

Toasted with salted butter. An impromptu trip to the lower east side of Manhattan. Either that, or I’ve died and gone to heaven.

When Life Gives You Oranges

Marmalade on Toast
Living in California, we have the right climate for growing citrus. When we bought our house, we counted up the number of citrus trees and it was an astounding eleven. These aren’t full size commercial production trees, but dwarf trees that reach about 10 feet max. Nonetheless, we have more oranges than we can use and plenty of lemons, too. Some of the fruit is better than others – none are juicing varieties.

So, nine years ago, when we settled into having a “grove”, I looked at the oranges and thought, “Marmalade. I should make marmalade.” I’d never canned anything in my life. I mused, “I can do this.” I looked through my old standby cookbooks, and took the plunge. Ever since then, I have produced at least a dozen jars of marmalade every year – most times it is more like 24 or 36, because I have taught lots of people to make it. And, I give it away as gifts. Either people are being very nice, or there is an unusually large contingent of the population that loves marmalade. Given the plethora of varieties of marmalade at the supermarket, I’m hoping it is the later.

I usually make my marmalade in early February, when the oranges turn orange, but are on still on the sour side. Oranges are green before the rind turns orange – prompting many people to ask if we have lime trees. The sour oranges give the marmalade a nice flavor and combined with the bitterness of the rind, it always turns out pretty well. Since we have multiple varieties of oranges, I use them all: tangelos, navels, valencias, mandarins, calamondins. At least I think those are the varieties that I’m using – our trees aren’t marked.
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Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

Ambrosia. Strawberry rhubarb compote is food for the gods.

I love rhubarb. I love strawberry rhubarb pie.

Rhubarb is such an incongruous plant. It is sometimes called, “pie plant”. The leaves are poisonous. The stems are edible, but very sour and must be cooked with some sugar in order to be palatable. But, not too much sugar, or the vegetable becomes cloying.

Last year, I had a rhubarb tart at a restaurant (Scala’s Bistro in San Francisco) that was so delicious, I still dream about it. In fact, I asked for the recipe the last time we went to the restaurant , and the pastry chef graciously sent the recipe to me. Unfortunately, it makes a little too large a quantity of dough and the filling part is in chef-speak. I think you just have to have a good feel for the ingredient and fillings to know how long to cook it. If I ever attempt the recipe, in a small quantity, I’ll post the result.

Anyway, a couple of years ago, I bought some rhubarb at the market – brilliant crimson and stalky. I had never bought it before, never cooked with it. I thought the girls might like it (a vegetable for dessert) and looked in my trusty Joy of Cooking for a recipe. Not wanting to make a whole pie, I happened upon the compote recipe. I haven’t looked back. Like many recipes in cooking bibles, the ingredient list leaves some room for interpretation – 1/2 to 1 cup sugar. There is a lot of room for defining your own recipe.

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Naked Coffee Cake

I haven’t drizzled the delicious maple icing onto this coffee cake yet, but it still looks great donning just its streusel topping.

Ina Garten’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake is an easy, impressive, rich and delicious cake to serve any time.  I made it on Friday and put it in the freezer for removal for our brunch next weekend.

I don’t change a darned thing with this recipe, except that I don’t keep cake flour in the house – so I always use the Barefoot Contessa’s suggested substitution, which is for each cup of flour, take out 2 tablespoons of the flour and add back in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. In this recipe, actually, she suggests using 2 1/4 cups of flour plus 1/4 cup of cornstarch.
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Bay City Granolas?

After re-living my youth in my last post, I realized that the granola I had in the oven while blogging was first made popular around the same time-frame. I used to call it Super 70’s Granola, but I think I’ll rename it “Bay City Granola” after the Bay City Rollers and San Francisco, where I have tweeked the 70’s version.


My granola recipe is on a stained yellow index card with my tween-age handwriting, in pencil. It has handwriting that, for sure, I was trying to copy from my older sister. And, the recipe was copied from the older daughters of one of my mother’s best friends (we tried to emulate those girls at every opportunity). I have no idea where the recipe originally came from because I think their’s was probably on a notecard or piece of binder paper. College rule, I’m sure. And, if my sisters have been looking for this recipe, the jig is up. I nabbed it from my mother’s recipe file, many moons ago.

This granola is not a particularly sweet variety. It is not one that comes in big sticky clumps. It is very basic and more like a dry cereal. In the 70’s, it may have been a little sweeter, because I’m pretty confident that the original version meant to use sweetened coconut. I doubt that the unsweetened was widely available. So, if you want it to be sweeter, you could substitute angel flake coconut.

I change the way that I make the granola on a regular basis. Lately, I use only whole wheat flour and sprinkle in some flaxseed meal. Tonight, I added a little almond meal, too. And, a few shakes of cinnamon. I don’t usually add whole nuts, like many granola recipes have you add. I think that nuts are a pretty personal taste and I don’t usually like nuts with my yogurt, which is how I typically eat this granola. I’ve made it with some honey and I’ve made it with all maple syrup. It is a pretty flexible formula.
If you store this granola with any dried fruit, it gets soggy pretty quickly. It is a crisp, crumbly, and toasty granola, which is the way I like it. It stays crunchy for a long time, perhaps indefinitely, in an airtight container. Continue reading

Waffles at 6:30 p.m.

Breakfast for Dinner
I think big breakfasts are, as a friend of mine would say, the cat’s meow. But, eating a big breakfast is generally not on the time schedule or on the trying-to-slim-down-by-summer plan. Sometimes on weekends, or when we have friends staying with us, I’ll cook a big lazy breakfast. That is usually around holidays when the food is just flowing and there are tons of, always hungry, adults and kids around. On an ordinary day when a big breakfast is called for, we eat it for dinner. Protein – check. Starch – check. Fruit/Vegetable – check. Dessert – check, check.

Tonight we had Pumpkin (vegetable) Waffles (starch) as our main dish. Our sides were chicken apple sausage (protein/fruit) and raspberries (fruit). Dessert, you could say, was served on top of the waffles: maple syrup and whipped cream. The dairy council would be proud – the girls and I had milk (more protein) as our beverage of choice (good for broken bones, I’m told). I’m having my cup of decaf now, to make the breakfast complete.

Man, it was a good and healthy meal. Great conversation, too.

We discussed the use of curse words, at school and otherwise. J says that the kids in 4th grade are using curse words – and not just saying “F Word”, but using the full word. I said, “J, do you know what the F-word is?”. “Yes, Mommy, isn’t it the word Daddy says when we are in a bad traffic jam?” “That is correct,” I responded. L chimed in to tell us that some words have multiple meanings and aren’t always curses. True, but used in the 4th grade, the tamer meaning is irrelevant. We went over the meanings of the f-word, the s-word, the b-word and the n-word. No other –words are in their vernacular, yet. Excellent. I hope I don’t hear those words out of their mouths for a long time. Wishful thinking.

Holy s-word! They are growing up too fast!

BTW, the waffles were cooked on a waffle iron, but they are not homemade. I use a mix that I found out about through a great hotel that I thought had the best waffles I’d ever tasted. I nicely requested the recipe. When they never got back to me, I kindly inquired again. Then, when I saw one of their chefs at the breakfast buffet one morning, I sweetly asked him. He said, “We don’t make our own batter, we use a mix that is made by the manufacturer of our waffle irons. Pretty much all hotels use this mix.” So, I set about to find the mix. It is sold at Cost Plus World Market out here in California. Here is the name: Carbon’s Golden Malted. I was afraid to look at the ingredient list, but it isn’t too bad. And, you add your own butter, eggs and milk. I do make my own, sometimes, but having these makes me feel like I am at a nice hotel….where I have forgotten my money and have to do the dishes. At least there are fewer dishes with a mix.