TWD: Focaccia

Aside from poor Jill (my family’s 12-year-old lab/collie mix) hiding behind lamp poles to escape the crazy puppy who just wants to play (I can’t make up something like that), and Rachel getting caught in a small fence in our backyard and letting out the most pathetic crying noise you’ve ever heard (she seems fine now), my weekend trip to Roanoke was overall quite successful. A shopping trip with Katie G. means I have a few more outfits in my closet, and our family shared a wonderful meal with Sarah’s family at Rockfish Food & Wine on Grandin.

But perhaps the best part was getting to cook bread, soup and cake with my mom.

When we get together these days, our kitchen is put to good use. She teaches me things (weighing flour on a kitchen scale is faster and more accurate), we get to work on our cookbook challenge together, and most important–we both get someone to share our delicious food with. And my poor dad has a never-ending sink full of dishes that he diligently washes.


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TWD: Pizza with Onion Confit AND French Apple Tart

At least my mom is on the ball.

Meanwhile, I’m so, so behind in Tuesdays with Dorie. I haven’t had the chance to make either of January’s recipes!

Fortunately, my mom was quite the baker with her snow day and resulting long weekend.

Isn’t her French Apple Tart just beautiful! She said it was delicious, definitely a keeper. Beneath the layer of sliced apples is a filling of cooked apples. Her friend recommended to next time add apple brandy to the filling, and to brush strained apricot jam on top.


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TWD: Finnish Pulla and a New Year

Happy 2013!

It’s already the 7th of January and I have yet to reflect on the past year or the one that’s already flying by. Had I not been hiding under my covers obsessing over the first season of “Downton Abbey” while fighting a cold with lots and lots of tea (please, please, please don’t be anything more than a simple cold), this weekend would have been perfect for pondering 2013: For thinking about a great full year at the newspaper, adopting an energetic puppy (and thus, staying healthy), traveling to San Diego and up the Pacific Coast Highway with Tom, celebrating at three weddings over the summer, trying (and failing) at gardening, baking plenty of new things, and so, so much more that my stuffed up head can remember.

Instead, my sinsuses prevented any deep thoughts (aside from wondering if Lady Mary will ever find someone to marry? Don’t ruin it for me yet!), and encouraged tea-drinking and bread-eating.

Do you see that silver thing in the background? Thanks, Mom and Dad, for the new Macbook for Christmas!!

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TWD: Buttermilk Crumb Muffins

Sometimes, my housemates and I just want to eat a lot of carbs. Lots and lots of carbs.

OK, not just sometimes. Pretty much all of the time.

Loaves of Irish soda bread disappeared much faster than expected this week. Cookies don’t last long on the counter–I usually have to take half the batch into the newsroom so that our health-conscious house doesn’t pack on the unwanted pounds. Carbs and sweets are just hard to resist.

Buttermilk Crumb Muffins

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TWD: Cranberry walnut pumpkin loaf

Let’s start the day off with some puppy kisses. Whenever I sit on the floor with Rachel, she gets super cuddly, especially when I pull a fleece blanket around us. Walking/running/hiking with her so much has left me exhausted, so I needed some time to relax before heading to work. A little “Veronica Mars” and puppy cuddles — and a slice of toasted Cranberry Walnut Pumpkin Loaf — made for a great morning.


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TWD: Popovers

These popovers are likely the easiest recipe from Baking with Julia. Unlike some of the recipes that are pages and pages long with ingredient lists that empty my checking account, this one was simple enough to make for breakfast on Sunday.

(I’ve been bad lately about posting our TWD on time. Even though my mom and I made the incredible berry galette two weeks ago while at Folly Beach, SC, I still haven’t had the chance to write it up. As a journalist, I should supposedly thrive on deadlines … but apparently, not always. At least I’m able to at work, though not at home! )

So anyways, I was reading the paper and considering my breakfast options. I opened up my cookbook and decided that popovers would be perfect. Being that I didn’t need 10 huge popovers that are only good right out of the oven, I halved the recipe.

In the blender, I mixed flour, butter, eggs, milk and salt. Pour it into muffin cups, bake and that’s it. Seriously.

I wished that the popovers had some other type of flavors though. I think cheese or herbs would be a good addition, or perhaps some type of sweetener. I ate them with homemade peach jam and butter. I’m not ashamed to say, I ate three for breakfast, because really, is there anything bad about them? And they’re essentially empty on the insides.

Find the recipe at Bake with Amy and Vintage Kitchen Notes.

If you’re wondering why I haven’t been cooking as much as I used to, here you go: Rachel. We spend so much time at the dog park in the mornings and evenings! Finding sticks to chew while simultaneously being petted is her favorite.

Though we’ve been busy, I haven’t sacrificed my meals. Here’s an extremely simple dinner I made after our first evening at puppy school: tiny tomatoes with olive oil and basil, alongside extremely creamy burrata and garlic bread (toast slices of bread and then rub a clove of garlic on top. Add butter or oil if you want!) Yum! I’m going to be so devastated when summer ends and tomatoes are gone, because they form some of the most rewarding summer meals.

TWD: Blueberry Nectarine Pie

My parents have always told my sister and I that knowing how to make a good pie is a critical skill. And with boyfriends that both appreciate a good pie, we have to agree.

That’s why I was excited to make this blueberry nectarine pie while Tom was home earlier in July. Though it wasn’t due til now, I figured that making a pie together would be great fun–and maybe convince him to come back? Okay, it ended up unfortunately not having that magical power (nothing seems to!), but it still was absolutely delicious. And one day, he’ll hopefully really appreciate my pie-making ability.

Though she didn’t get the final pie, Rachel agreed that the nectarines were tasty. She just chased the blueberries around on the floor, but she loved eating the juicy stone fruit.

The top crust wasn’t the prettiest, because I didn’t chill the shortening. It still worked, though the dough fell apart and was difficult to piece back together. But Tom said the crust was his favorite part, because it was buttery and flaky. I loved the filling, which was partially cooked before baking with lemon zest to brighten up the flavors.

We ate this pie for dessert, and breakfast in the car, and after a wedding in Norfolk, and back home in Fredericksburg after a day at the beach. Emma spent the night at my house to watch Rachel while we were gone, and I bribed her with a full fridge, including the pie.

On Sunday, she stayed much later than either of us intended. Why? “I’d be doing the same thing at my apartment, but you have internet and cable. And pie.” Good choice. Pie is always an important factor.

My mom made the pie the same day as the biscotti. She and my dad also agreed that this pie was fantastic — and deserved to be baked again.

See the recipe at Manchego’s Kitchen and That Skinny Bitch Can Bake. See what other bloggers said at Tuesdays with Dorie.

TWD: Semolina Bread

Not going to the grocery store for a few weeks when I needed yeast and semolina flour kind of affected the plan to make this semolina bread. And I still haven’t been. Being gone the past two weekends and with Tom visiting, I just didn’t have time to make bread either! We did make the blueberry-nectarine pie, and once he left, I made the biscotti. Fortunately, my mom made the semolina bread for TWD this week.

Look how pretty is is! Here’s what my mom said:

The bread was really easy to make. The starter came together nicely and it worked really well in the food processor. I wish I had let it rise a little longer in the loaf stage — it seemed a little heavy to me but it did taste good. Nice and crusty! I would reduce the salt in half to a teaspoon. I used 1 1/2 tsp as suggested by other bloggers but I still think that was a little salty. Most of my recipes use 2 teaspoons for 6 cups or so of flour and this recipe was half the size.

Find the recipe and other blog posts here.