Warm up 2014 with Mark Bittman’s Chili non Carne

Happy 2014, everyone!

We’re off to a bitterly cold start here on the East Coast, and I’m just starting to get back into my normal routine after a busy holiday season. We’re thawing out from our -3 degree, 25-minute walk, which required layers upon layers to protect my body. Pup didn’t mind, of course. But frostbite isn’t a joke, I read multiple places! For my legs, two pairs of socks, running leggings layered under lounge pants with thick JMU sweatpants worn on top; to warm my core, a long sleeve shirt, fleece, sweatshirt and winter coat; thick gloves on my hands; a knitted scarf around my neck, with a running headband over my ears, a fleece hat, my coat’s hood pulled up and another wide scarf wrapped across my face.


The next few weeks will be just as hectic as the last three, so I’m thankful to have this morning to slow down, cuddled in a blanket, Rachel nesting in the rug nearby.

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TWD: Double Chocolate Cookies


This cookie dough is practically fudge, and the resulting cookies like the richest brownie you’ve ever bitten into, a cakey version of your favorite holiday chocolate truffle, or bite-size overwhelmingly chocolate tartlets. They’re a cookie solely in name and shape.

The double chocolate cookies from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking with Julia are likely some of the most decadent you’ll ever bake. With more than one pound of chocolate in the batter, these cookies could make a bad day awesome with just one bite.

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TWD: Danish Braid

First, go get some protein into your body. Some whole grains, fruits and vegetables too. You’ll need them in a few hours.

A recent Sunday started off with a bowl of steel cut oatmeal. And then my mom and I got to work on a pastry that would send my whole family into sugar-and-butter induced naps soon after. Even the barky old dog and energetic new dog crashed (after a dog park visit), and all was calm and quiet in the Roanoke household for an hour. Upon waking, my body craved an egg to put everything back in balance. Be prepared before you indulge, but either way, you’ll certainly enjoy these Danishes. Continue reading “TWD: Danish Braid”

TWD: Savarin

This yeasted cake topped with whipped cream and warmed berries may have looked gorgeous, but it didn’t taste it. Unfortunately, it landed in the trash.


Lacking any flavor, this Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was unfortunate. It had such promise, especially when watching the cute pastry chef showing Julia Child how to fill the assorted sized and shaped cakes with different creams and fruits and glazes. But the problem seemed to be the recipe was solely an egg, flour and a tiny bit of butter, then doused in a very simple syrup. Had it been a little more complex–like the one my mom created with orange juice, zest and Cointreau–maybe we would have had seconds and thirds of this cake. The spongy texture was also a little off putting.

Pure sugar water isn’t actually the most delicious topping for cake.

At least the new graduate and I had fun before eating the cake.


On our recent sister Saturday, we mixed a pink spring cocktail (rhubarb simple syrup, strawberry-infused rum and fresh lemon juice) and then drank some more. We cooked, and ate, and cooked some more. Peanut butter soba noodles and a dutch baby pancake.

A flight at Blue & Gray Brewery

Even without cake, I think our calorie intake was satisfactory this weekend.

TWD: Fresh Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

When I made Sunday dinner for Tom and his parents, I completely overlooked taking any photos of the meal. Beeping timers and a barking dog kind of got in the way, along with the last touches of the meal. Our dinner and dessert was beautiful, if I do say so myself, but you’ll have to

But here’s what we enjoyed:

-Savory brioche pockets – the next TWD recipe! Stay tuned!

-Green salad, with a springtime herb vinaigrette

-Fruit salad (no bananas–you’re welcome, Tom)

And finally, fresh rhubarb upside down cake, from Baking with Julia, with a small scoop of the vanilla ice cream I made last week specifically to accompany our fresh picked strawberries. 

Find the recipe here. 

Instead of purchasing four baby cake pans, I split the thick butter cake batter and the caramel-pecan-bourbon-rhubarb topping between two pans: a regular 8-inch pan, and a 7-inch (I think?) cast-iron skillet. Both cooked evenly and beautifully, but also took longer in the oven than what the recipe indicated for the little cakes. After turning them over onto two plates, I let the cakes cool slightly as we ate dinner.

Tom played fetch with the annoying pup (who has been eating EVERYTHING she can off the counters lately, more to come on that) as we cleaned up. Then time for slices of the cake — moist but dense, and not overwhelmingly sweet. I believe I’d make the recipe again, varying the topping seasonally.

A lovely Sunday meal, indeed. Even if there’s no photographic proof.

TWD: Madeleines

For such a small, delicate cookies, madeleines sure have a lot of controversy around them.


The question for many cooks is: what recipe were Proust’s madeleines from? I’d honestly never heard of the French author’s passage from In Search of Lost Time, which is apparently how the shell-shaped French cookies got their notoriety. But read anything about madeleines, and it’ll likely mention Marcel Proust and how the cookie’s crumbs in a cup of tea bring up involuntary memories.

At first, I didn’t think any of that related to why I was looking forward to making the French cookies with my mom for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie project. No, madeleines were always one of the cookies that my grandfather made for our annual Christmas cookie exchange. Standing apart by their shell shape, the cookies were often half-dipped in a chocolate glaze. We’ve always wanted to get the special pan to make madeleines, but never had a real reason to, until it was time for this Baking with Julia recipe.

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TWD: Boca Negra

Nothing like the Norovirus to keep you on a diet of peanut butter toast, bananas and buttered noodles. This weekend’s somber gathering was overshadowed by my lovely sister and her boyfriend, and their generous sharing of the nasty stomach bug. Hopefully, it won’t ruin my taste of cheesecake, my Grandma’s wonderful lemony recipe that I’ll share with you another day. My mom made two! But with 20-some people and three days together, both disappeared.

Fortunately, my mom and I had actually made today’s super chocolatey and decadent Tuesdays with Dorie project earlier this month, over the Super Bowl weekend, when I had been in town for fun and shopping with a girlfriend. For the game, we took the Boca Negra with us to my parents’ supper club friends. It was a hit long before we left our home though.

Boca Negra
Could have used a few more minutes in the oven!

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