James Beard Pound Cake with Brandy Glaze

Drizzled Pound Cake

Pound cake sometimes gets a bad rap…which, honestly, I could never understand.

I grew up on church potlucks and friendship loaves. Pound cake was always prominently featured, and I looked forward to every dense bite!

The pound cakes of my childhood memories were never dry or boring. They were the reliable staples amid a table of lackluster mousse-topped cakes and overbaked brownies!

But as I’m thinking about it now, I wonder…if I ate those pound cakes today, would the chocolate marble not be chocolatey enough? The ubiquitous “pound cake flavor” both too sweet and too bland? The crumb too dense and too dry?

As someone who always likes to bake it better, I have certainly done my fair share of reading about pound cakes. They are no longer made with a pound each of butter, sugar, flour, and eggs, oh no! (Bad baking math!) Modern versions feature sugar syrups and whipped cream and liquor. And also, incidentally, a lot of work.

This pound cake is very delicious. But you do have to separate some eggs. And sift things. But it’s James Beard, folks. We trust him with our whisks and our cake pans, right? Plus, you get to break out the brandy! So there’s that.

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Margherita Pizza

Margherita Pizza

The first time I ever heard of margherita pizza, it was in my high school Italian class.

I distinctly remember thinking that margherita pizza sounded just exactly like cheese pizza…and wondering why it deserved its own special name.

Well, if you have never had margherita pizza, let me just set the record straight. It’s not a cheese pizza. It’s a delightfully rustic pizza that honors the best Italian ingredients: tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and olive oil. It’s homage to simplicity, and flavor, and freshness.

(And so easy to make!)

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Classic Pizza Crust

Classic Pizza Crust

Crusts.

They just taste better when they are homemade. It’s not a judgment, just a fact.

I get a lot of raised eyebrows, sighs, smirks, and shrugs thrown my way when it comes out that I make my own pizza crust (and pie crust).

But here’s the thing. It’s really not hard! I don’t know what you’ve heard, but it takes about 10 minutes of actual effort to make bread—or pizza crust. Kneading isn’t a big deal, and you can often let your stand mixer do the work. Then you just ignore it for about 2 hours to rise (rising time, that’s what the 5-minute-artisan-bread folks don’t mention…) before tossing it in the oven.

If you make your own pizza crust, in addition to having something delicious to eat and feeling totally accomplished and proud of yourself, you have the added benefit of knowing exactly what you’re eating: no unpronounceable additives or preservatives! I think it’s fun to save a few pennies and do it yourself.

Let me convince you. This pizza crust is thick and bready, just perfect!

Abandon the store crust. You should definitely whip up your own pizza dough! This recipe makes enough for two pizzas, and you can even freeze it to bake later, if that’s your thing.

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Panko Lentil Burgers with Fried Eggs

Panko Lentil Burger with Fried Egg

It’s Spring. And Spring is the only sane time to be grilling (because Summer…so hot!).

This year, I swore I would make sure our grill got cleaned and actually learn how to use a charcoal chimney so I could make you some delicious burgers and kebabs. But…I haven’t done it yet. I’ve been a little too busy planting tomatoes and peonies and peppers and rhubarbs.

So instead, I am making lentil burgers for Memorial Day, which you should definitely make, too, but on your stovetop (because…too soft for the grill grate). We can still have burgers! Grill be darned!

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Baking with Whey: Dutch Baby with Lemon Butter

Dutch Baby with Lemon Butter

It was Mother’s Day a few weeks ago. Not to brag, but I had a pretty stupendous day!

I should probably backtrack and mention that my husband isn’t big into celebrating special occasions and events, or at least that he doesn’t care whether holidays are celebrated on time. He is more of the mind that a birthday is just a day, Christmas is just a day, Mother’s Day is just a day… And in a way, he is totally right—but I do love celebrations. I love the magical feeling and the pageantry. I love thinking about how all the prep is going to turn into something memorable. I love the memorable moments.

So. Guess how Dave decided we would celebrate Mother’s Day? He got up early and made me breakfast! In fact, he made me two breakfasts, because he did a trial run a few days earlier to make sure that Mother’s Day would be perfect.

(I’ll wait. While you say, “Awwwwww!”)

I got to choose the meal, and I racked my brain for something delicious but not too indulgent, simple but not boring. And I came up with a Dutch Baby!

A Dutch Baby is like a cross between a pancake and a popover. Topped off with lemon butter and powdered sugar, it is tart and sweet and a little doughy and, really, just everything a mom could hope for on Mother’s Day. We liked it so much that I made it again a few days later, just so I could share it with you!

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Homemade Mozzarella

Homemade Mozzarella

A few weeks ago, Sarah and I decided that the next logical step in our cooking adventures was making our own cheese. She promptly sent away for a cheese making kit and we geared up to eat some very fresh mozzarella!

Okay, before I lose you (geez, crazy lady always making things that are readily available in any grocery store…), let me just say that making cheese is a fun adventure, and it really is a lot easier than it sounds! If you’re really doubtful, you should try your hand at fresh ricotta first, because it is the simplest cheese of all. But if you are willing to be brave and have 30–45 minutes to spare, you won’t be sorry!

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Alsace Onion Tart

Alsace Onion Tart

I am not sure how I got it in my head that I just had to make an onion tart…but suddenly, one day, it was all I could think about.

This tart is amazingly delicious, a little like French onion soup with a crust. It’s got deep brown, caramelized onions, a small mountain of shredded Gruyère cheese, freshly grated nutmeg, and fresh thyme. It’s like a dance in your mouth.

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Truly Addictive Chocolate Chip Cookies

Truly Addictive Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today is National Chocolate Chip Day!

As you may or may not know, I have been searching high and low for the absolute best chocolate chip cookie recipe in the whole wide world. I have baked and eaten my fair share of delicious cookies in my life, but I honestly had come to believe that there was no such thing as a perfect chocolate chip cookie.

You guys…I was wrong!

I mean sure, brown butter is fantastic, and oatmeal cookies deserve a special place in our hearts. Nuts are fine, bourbon is tasty, and a little tinge of espresso powder can’t go wrong.

But seriously. These are the best chocolate chip cookies ever. Why are they so perfect, you ask? Well. They are crisp on the edges and soft in the center (something for everyone!). They are absolutely full of chocolate—two kinds! And they are huge!

But nevermind that. You should just make them for yourself. And trust me when I say that these cookies are addictive. I mean, despite the best of intentions you may find yourself sneaking an extra cookie three or four times. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

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Pasta Puttanesca

Pasta Puttanesca

Every time I hear the word puttanesca I think of Lemony Snicket.

There is a rather fantastic scene in the first book of the series (okay, and also in the movie) in which the three Baudelaire orphans must make a meal for a horrible uncle whose kitchen is mainly full of old tools, dust, and bugs. The resourceful kids manage to gather just enough actual food to cobble together a pasta dish—puttanesca, which apparently means “very few ingredients.” (Okay, it doesn’t really mean that. But it sounds better than the real meaning, so I am running with it.)

I had never had pasta puttanesca before. I had never heard of it before. And after reading the ingredients Lemony Snicket listed out, I pretty much vowed I would never try it. College me…not such a big fan of anchovies and olives.

But look! I have grown! As have my taste buds! Which is why I was so excited to come across a recipe for puttanesca on Mostly Food and Crafts, my Secret Recipe Club blog for May. I haven’t made pasta in a looong time. But since Dave asks for spaghetti almost every time I consult him on what to eat for dinner, I figured this was the perfect opportunity to tune in to his suggestion!

Secret Recipe Club

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Olive Oil-Braised Spring Veggies

Olive Oil-Braised Spring Vegetables

Recently a few good friends pointed out a personal flaw to me. (Don’t you love how friends can tell you the real truth?)

As we sat around a huge table, stuffing waffles and frittatas into our mouths and rocking with cuddly babies, they gently informed me that although they like reading about food, they don’t often try the recipes I post here because they are, in fact, too complicated.

They told me (with great glee…although that may have been the mimosas) that I really should stop saying every recipe is “so easy, but…”

Hm. I take your point, MGs.

But listen. This recipe really is easy. And quick! I mean seriously. It has three steps: cut veggies, toss into skillet, cover and walk away. You can change up the veggies if you want. You can read a magazine while everything cooks. You can have your cake and eat it, too.

You should definitely make this side dish! It’s the right thing to do. And I will work on being more realistic and truthful. Because that, too, is the right thing to do.

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