Have I mentioned that being unemployed and poor sucks? Given the state of the economy, it's entirely too likely that you already know this.
Anyway, here's an overview of what's been slithering out of our kitchen to keep us busy the last couple of weeks:
Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake from Smitten Kitchen that was good. Note that I'm not saying spectacular but good. This is a conscious decision. It was solidly good, the hints of toasted hazelnut blended well with the nuttiness of the browned butter and the lightness of the egg white based batter carried through the cake. The ganache, though, that's where the whole thing kind of fell through for me. Throwing a candy shell on top of something so intentionally airy is a contradiction of intention. Do you want it sugar-drenched and dense or do you want it to float two millimeters above the fork? You don't get it both ways. Hazelnut brown butter cake, you're on notice.
apple pie and some pie crust cookies. You know those, right? They're exactly what they sound like, sure, but the name doesn't really do justice to how much these are a part of my childhood. Every time my Mom has made a pie in my memory, these were the treasured byproduct: the little extra bits of pie crust laid flat and baked with cinnamon sugar or pie spice, quick to brown and easy to eat, like a preview of the pie to come. For someone who is a long-time compulsive pie crust picker (I can't keep my hands off it! I don't care that I'm just stealing from the future pie slice, I have to break off those little browned bits! I have to!), these little confections are heaven sent. Not to mention easy.
In case you haven't put it together or, I don't know, haven't grown up with it for some reason (you poor thing), here's the process: take all the little pie crust bits you have left over after putting together your beautiful delicious pie and roll them out flat. Then just slice them up, egg or milk wash them and sprinkle with sugar and bake with the pie for eight to ten minutes or until browned. Then just try not to eat all of them. Try.
mocha chocolate chip cookies, a decadent almost-disgusting five layer bar (candy, it's just candy, no matter what I call it), I turned out a couple loaves of Julia Child's classic white sandwich bread, quite a few pans of cornbread (to accompany this badass turkey chili we've been perfecting that I'll tell you about later), a few pizzas--we've been stuck on the Cheeseboard recipe so I haven't been posting them lately but I have to say, I'm kind of in love with the breakfast pizza thing. You know, chopped bacon bits, a whole egg, that sort of thing, it's so incredibly delicious I want to make and eat another whole pizza while I'm still eating the first slice.
Tomorrow morning, Dana's off to our sister-in-law's house to join a group of bakers in holiday preparations. We're talking all the classics: gingerbread, sugar cookies, peanut butter balls, butter on a stick, peppermint flamethrowers, chocolate range rovers. Everything.
Lastly, it's not a baked good exactly but I have to mention it anyway. First, allow me to properly emphasize. ahem.
QUESADILLA!also starring black beans and fresh cilantro! Maybe one of the best dishes I have ever cooked. Agonizingly, tortuously good. I hate to torture you with it since it's way way too late for squash blossoms in this hemisphere, but there it is. Definitely look for more of this little champion starting in the spring which, since we're in California, should be any day now. Jealous?