I usually eat breakfast alone. If that sounds lonely, a quick peek at Simply Breakfast can teach you that solo breakfasts are an art form- intimate, meditative moments where coffee and toast become the stuff of ceremony. (Sometimes solo breakfast is a floppy packet of microwaveable oatmeal, but i’m not going to go there).
My normal routine is as follows: I turn on the coffee machine and make a cup of coffee, which I drink while making breakfast (oatmeal, rye toast, or yogurt, or a hybrid I like to call “toastmeal” or “toastgurt”). When I sit down to table there’s half a cup of coffee left, and just enough time to enjoy before I make the mad dash to the bus stop.
The other morning, though, I wanted something different. With two stale loaves of Zingerman’s challah on hand, it seemed a crime not to make French toast. But, I wasn’t sure where to begin, because my idea of French toast has evolved considerably since it sprang into existence on a plate in my parents’ kitchen. I didn’t want the kind of French toast that is essentially a piece of bread with an egg fried on the outside- I wanted the creme brulee French toast from my beloved (and now closed :() Cafe Mozart.
Sadly, this French toast is not that French toast*. It is, however, the perfect French toast for me right now. Made with half-and-half, it’s not quite as guilt inducing as the “Bell-less, Whistle-less Damn Good French Toast” from food52, and the recipe has enough (easy) steps that you feel like you’re actually making something special, not just dunking a slice of bread in some egg. Because the toast gets a last-minute bake in the oven, it ends up with crisp edges, which are a lovely contrast to the custardy interior. My first batch came out a little dry, so I recommend taking liberties with the soaking time, and adding plenty of maple syrup or fruit topping.
(*please tell me I did not just reference an Old Spice commercial while discussing French toast…)
Continue reading Perfect (for me) French Toast
I told myself I wasn’t going to make Christmas cookies this year. It’s too hard, I thought. I don’t have enough time. Then, in the middle of thinking about how much I didn’t want to make cookies, I found myself driving to the store to buy decorative tins and ingredients for three kinds of holiday treats. It sortof felt like holiday auto-pilot.
It’s easy to go on baking auto-pilot when you’re using easy, familiar recipes. These Lemon Bars and Ginger Crackles come together in less than half an hour, and the Chocolate Mousse Cookies are much less work than similar sorts of ‘chocolate brownie cookies’ that call for long whipping and dough resting times. In the end, they didn’t take much time at all.
With all three of these recipes, you’ll spend most of your time waiting for things to bake or cool. Two are from Abby Dodge’s website (Dodge’s The Weekend Baker is one of my favorites, and she has a new book in the works!), and the other is one of my family treasures. If you’re struggling to find some last minute Christmas cookie ideas, give one of these a try.
- Lemon Bars
- Ginger Crackles
- Irene Double Chocolate Mousse Cookies
Before Thanksgiving, someone (a non-vegan) asked me what kind of pies I was making. My first response (pumpkin) received an mmm of approval. My second response (vegan apple, with an olive oil crust) was met with a look of disgusted incomprehension.
I was uneasy about the olive oil too. For a long time, I considered both vegan baking and gluten-free baking to be, well, inferior. Now, I think it’s more appropriate to say they are scary, particularly for someone who has never tried.
Now, pretend I had never mentioned olive oil. Does this pie look any different from your average buttery, lardy pie?
Not really. And while the crust certainly tasted differently, it was still a flaky, crisp, complement to the tart apple filling. To my genuine surprise, at a ten-person Thanksgiving dinner with one vegan in attendance, this was the pie everyone wanted, and it was the only dessert to be eaten in its entirety.
If you have never tried vegan baking, I have a few suggestions.
1) Start simple. Don’t pick the strangest, most tricked-out multi-flavor vegan cheesecake you can find.
2) Find a good recipe. Ask your vegan friends for cookbook recommendations, or find a blog/website that seems reputable. Don’t just pick the first thing you found on Google.
3) Don’t get discouraged. Just because one recipe turns out badly doesn’t mean you should forego all vegan baking. Give yourself some time to figure out what you like and how to use potentially unfamiliar ingredients.
I picked this recipe because I’ve had success with Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s recipes, and olive oil is more appetizing to me than vegan shortening and margarine products. I hope you enjoy it!
Continue reading Vegan Apple Pie