Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Cake

Here’s another great thing about living in California: Coworkers who have an overabundance of fruit from their Meyer lemon trees bring the excess to the office to get rid of them. And when work hands me Meyer lemons, I make Meyer lemon cake. BUT…  if you don’t know what a Meyer lemon is, you’re not…

A Taste of New Orleans: Muffaletta

We’re just a few weeks away from Mardi Gras and I had grand ambitions of making something to celebrate from La Cuisine Creole — it’s basically a New Orleans cook’s bible. It was first published in 1885 and it is amazing. It’s written earnestly with phrases and ideas that date itself… some need translation and…

Reinventing Rugelach

Rugelach (not to be mistaken for arugula — but they’re pronounced very similarly) is a pastry with a murky history, but it is known as a Jewish pastry and among the most popular pastries (if not the most popular) in American-Jewish communities in Israel. It’s also a New York City bakery staple (though Zabar’s allegedly…

Shanghai Surprise: Soup Dumplings

I stole that title; if you’re old enough to remember Madonna and Sean Penn were once married, you might remember they were in a movie together called Shanghai Surprise. I never saw it, but I heard it was terrible.  But I think soup dumplings can restore the title’s virtue.  They originated in Shanghai and if you’ve…

Autumn Indulgence: Pumpkin Babka

Fall in Northern California… is not quite fall. In San Francisco, there are no leaves crunching under foot and the temperature is more or less the same on October 15th as it is on July 15th. In the Midwest it’s an all-sensory experience that makes death pretty appealing: you can see the leaves transforming from…

Keep It Simple: (Almost) Butterless Biscuits

Three months and three days ago I blew up my life: sold most of my belongings, packed up the rest and dragged my cat with me to San Francisco to be closer to family. There’s nothing like a 2,000 mile move to make you appreciate the value of simplicity. And simple I must be. After…

The Tart Keith Richards Won’t Touch

“It wasn’t my idea of a dessert, and they tried to force me to eat it, threatening me with punishment or a fine. It was very Dickensian. I had to write out ‘I will not refuse food’ three hundred times in my infantile hand.” That was Keith Richards’ reaction to the Gypsy tart they served…

Lila Clementine Cookies

I am a notoriously bad gift giver. There’s no excuse for it; I am just not gifted at giving gifts. My dad is probably the biggest victim of my bad gifts. One year for his birthday I picked up a book for him at KMart simply titled “Running.” Basically, it was a guide filled with…

WTF Is Yorkshire Pudding?

If ever I were to go back to culinary graduate school and had to write a thesis, it would be about PUDDING. To the passing (American) Internet user, this seems a boring subject because what comes to mind is the gelatinous goo you can find in plastic cups in the refrigerator aisle of your local…

Black & White Cookies: An Exercise in Self Defeat

If you’ve never had a black and white cookie, they’re not really cookies at all, nor are they black and white. They are not crunchy and crumbly the way you expect cookies to be, rather they are soft and supple cakes hidden beneath a thin layer of half vanilla and half chocolate fondant (hardened icing)….

Pralines And Cream: Cure for Indian Summer

October isn’t the time to eat ice cream — at least it’s not expected. However, today in Chicago, temperatures are expected to reach 79℉. I’ve seen the words “Indian summer” floating around social media, but that doesn’t seem quite right. Indian summer just means unseasonably warm. But I think it’s losing its meaning — I…