Author Archive

07 Nov 2019 Paddington Cookies (Marmalade Bars)
Marmalade Bars, Paddington Bear’s favorite.

What rock have I been hiding under? Up until a few hours ago, I had no idea that Paddington Bear loves marmalade. A quote from Paddington Bear himself,  “A wise bear always keeps a marmalade sandwich in his hat in case of emergency.”

My enlightenment came when I offered one of these cookies (previously known as “Jam Slices” to my daughter). My daughter took one bite and said, “The kids (my grandkids) will love these.” Whaaa? I gave her my ‘You’re crazy’ look and deadpanned “They have marmalade on them”.  She then gave me her ‘You’re crazy’ look and said, “They love Paddington Bear and Paddington Bear loves marmalade. They’ll love these cookies.”

It was not on my radar that Marmalade might make a comeback by way of the children of Millennials! With high hopes, I quickly renamed these cookies “Paddington Cookies”! I hope that they are a hit with the younger set as well as the older set.

The original recipe is from The Food Network’s “Holiday Cookie Cookbook”. I made two changes to the recipe and refined the method, so the FN’s “Jam Bars” are now much improved and have a much cooler name.

Paddington Cookies (Marmalade Bars)

  • 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 1 ½ sticks (12 tablespoons/6 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Finely grated zest of one orange
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons marmalade
  • A few tablespoons powdered sugar
  1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Beat in the egg, then the vanilla and orange zest.
  5. Reduce the mixer speed to low; add the flour mixture and beat until just combined (the dough will be very soft and a bit hard to work with in the next step).
  6. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and put 2 pieces on each prepared baking sheet. Shape each piece into a 12-by-1-inch log, about 3 inches apart.
  7. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, press a 1/2-inch-deep indentation down the middle of each log. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
  8. Scoop the marmalade into a piping bag or into the corner of a Ziplok bag. Cut the corner of the bag off. Slowly squeeze the marmalade out of the bag, carefully filling the indentations. If you need more marmalade, no problem. Just refill bag and pipe onto cookies as needed.
  9. Place pans in preheated oven and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
  10. Let bars cool completely on the baking sheets, then transfer the logs to a cutting board and slice crosswise into 1-inch-wide cookies.
  11. Dust with powdered sugar

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!

12 Oct 2019 Coconut-Banana Muffins
A whole pan full of Coconut Banana Muffins! What better way to start a day? Leftovers keep well, too!

I love muffins and I love all things coconut. I can’t think of anything better on a cool Sunday morning than a warm coconut muffin, a hot latte, some social media, an old fashioned magazine or newspaper, jammies, fluffy slippers…

This recipe makes 12 delicious muffins. The muffins are dense and sweet, the top is crunchy, the banana and coconut combination is heavenly. These muffins keep well on the counter for a few day. Warm muffins today, room temperature muffins tomorrow. Yes, please.

Coconut-Banana muffin for one.

Coconut-Banana Muffins

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (250g)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (probably about 3 small/2 large bananas)
  • ¾ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon coconut extract (optional, but a nice to have. Rather than running around all over town for coconut extract, I order on-line)
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut (divided use)
  • 1-2 tablespoons granulated or coarse sugar
  1. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper muffin cup liners.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
  4. In another bowl whisk together mashed bananas, melted butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, optional coconut extract, and ¾ cup sweetened flaked coconut.
  5. By hand, fold flour mixture into mashed banana mixture and stir until just combined and all flour has been moistened. Don’t overmix.
  6. Portion batter into the 12 prepared muffin tin.
  7. Sprinkle each muffin with a bit of the remaining ¼ cup coconut and a sprinkle of granulated or coarse sugar.
  8. Bake muffins at 375 degrees until muffins are puffed and golden, about 25 minutes.
  9. Cool slightly before serving.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today. See you again soon!

02 Oct 2019 Fresh Corn Soup
Fresh Corn Soup with Roasted Poblano Chilies, Queso Fresco, and fried corn tortilla strips.

This is such a plain and simple recipe, it’s hard to believe such a good tasting soup comes out of it!

The ingredient list for this soup is so ordinary that it’s hard to imagine how exceptional the soup tastes.  Been there, thought that. I was wrong. This soup is beyond the sum of its parts. Fresh Corn Soup is divine, and creamy and rich, but it’s not a hearty soup so it needs something else to go with it to make a full meal. Soup-and-sandwich anyone or, even better, a soup-and-enchilada combo?

I like to have this Fresh Corn Soup when the seasons are just beginning to change , just when cooler temperatures heighten the desire for soup and when the end-of-the-season corn-on-the-cob is still available. The original recipe said this soup can be made with frozen corn, so score one for simplicity! I always make things hard on myself though. I strip the corn kernels off six ears of fresh corn and then proceed with the recipe.

The toppings make this soup exceptional. Top each bowl of Fresh Corn Soup with a few corn tortillas cut into strips and fried in a little oil until crisp, a few crumbles of Queso Fresco, and a tablespoon or so of charred, peeled and diced poblano chilis.

This soup can be made vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth for the chicken broth, or by not using broth at all and using milk as the liquid ingredient.

Fresh Corn Soup

4 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 6 ears of corn) or 4 cups frozen corn kernels, defrosted.

1 cup water

4 tablespoons butter

2 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, or milk

2 cups of milk

½ teaspoon table salt or 1 teaspoon Kosher salt

  1. Mix corn with water and place in blender, process until the water and corn combine into a smooth paste.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add corn puree and sauté for 5 minutes.
  3. Pour chicken broth (or veggie broth) plus milk into pan with corn mixture and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and gently simmer soup for 15 minutes.
  5. Turn off heat and cool slightly.
  6. Don’t skip this step! I did once and it was not nice. Pour the soup into a fine mesh strainer. Retain the liquid and discard the solids.
  7. When ready to serve, gently reheat and serve with all three of the toppings below.

Makes about 6 cups of soup. Leftover soup freezes well.

Garnishes

2 Poblano Chilies

3 corn tortillas

Queso Fresco

  1. Char the poblano chilies over an open burner. When completely charred and black, place in a brown paper bag to cool. When cool enough to handle, rub the burned skin off with a paper towel, cut away the stem, seeds and membrane and then finely chop the remaining flesh.
  2. Cut the three corn tortillas into thin strips. Heat a thin layer of vegetable oil in a small fraying pan. When hot add some of the strips and fry until light brown. Repeat with remaining tortilla strip.
  3. Open the package of Queso Fresco and crumble the cheese.
  4. Add ½-1 tablespoon of diced chilies into bottom of the bowl along with approx. 1 tablespoon crumbled Queso Fresco.
  5. Ladle hot soup over the chilies and cheese.
  6. Top with crispy fried corn tortillas
Fresh Corn Soup made with white corn, topped with fancy corn tortilla shapes and Queso Fresco. Made and photographed by my daughter, Abby.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.

18 Sep 2019 Cafe Mocha Pinwheels

I love cookies! These are fun, a bit different, striking, and feature grown-up flavors of mocha and espresso. I found the original recipe in the Taste of Home publication, ‘Fall Baking 2019’. After my first try, following the recipe perfectly, I changed the recipe a bit. I added more flour to one portion of dough (after the dough is divided) to make both doughs even (why didn’t TOH do the same?). Also, as the mocha flavor was strong in the original recipe and the espresso was loosing out, which I found to be unacceptable, I upped the espresso! The resulting cookie is crisp, pretty, and full flavored.

Making the pinwheels is the tricky part, so let me help with that a bit. One, don’t stress. Two, on a large piece of parchment paper, roll the first dough out to a rectangle of only the approximate size. Don’t be a slave to the ruler, it doesn’t matter that much! Three, using another piece of parchment paper, roll the second dough into approx the same size as the first rectangle of dough. Four, put one dough on top of the other dough and remove the top piece of parchment paper. Five, now trim and patch and press to fit! If you have extra dark dough, put it where there’s some extra pale dough, and vice-a-versa. Keep working at it until all the dough is used and more-or-less on top of one another. Five, gently roll over the two doughs with a rolling pin to make the doughs stick together and to remove any lumps or air pockets. Six, roll up tightly and slice as per the directions below. You’ll have beautiful pinwheel cookies!

Café Mocha Pinwheels

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (375 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (Hershey’s is fine) (50 grams)
  • Additional 50 grams flour (about 1/3 cup)
  • Additional 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  1. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  3. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and espresso powder to combine. Gradually beat flour mixture into creamed mixture.
  4. Divide dough in half. Beat cocoa into half of dough. Beat additional flour and additional espresso powder into other half of the dough.
  5. Divide each color into 2 portions.
  6. Refrigerate until firm enough to roll out, about 1 hour.
  7. Roll each portion into a 9×7-in. rectangle, approx. (Roll on parchment paper to make the whole job a lot easier.)
  8. Place a chocolate rectangle on top of the coffee rectangle. Fussy cut and finagle to shape dough into rectangles of matching size and shape.
  9. Roll up tightly jelly-roll style, starting with a long side, and using parchment paper to help with the rolling. Mold the dough into a smooth roll. Securely wrap dough in plastic wrap; repeat with remaining dough. Freeze 1 hour or until firm.
  10. Preheat oven to 350°. Unwrap and cut dough crosswise into 1/4-in. slices. Place 2″ apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes or until edges are light brown. Cool on pans 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool. 
  11. Makes 4 dozen large cookies

Freeze option: Place wrapped logs in an airtight container; return to freezer. To use, unwrap frozen logs and cut into slices. If necessary, let dough stand 15 minutes at room temperature before cutting. Bake as directed.

From Taste of Home, ‘Fall Baking, 2019’ (but has been posted elsewhere on the internet since 2016).