25 Feb

Parmesan Pull-Aparts – Let Us Eat Bread!

So, things have been a bit busy and I’m behind on the challenge.  Actually I did make these in week three – on Sunday, for a goodbye party for a friend of mine who was heading off to join the Foreign Service.  I figured that deserved a batch of fresh rolls!

These are as tasty as they are elegant – soft and chewy, delicately crusted and filled with the taste of cheese.  I used a romano rather than parmesan, simply because it was what I had in the fridge, but I also prefer it’s slightly nuttier taste, and I think it worked perfectly with these rolls.

If I had had time, I would have also whipped up a garlic compound butter to go with them – so simple, but a really nice touch for a dinner party or event – that recipe is below as well.

The only bad thing about these was that my apartment still smelled of them when I woke up the next morning, but they had all been eaten.  It was tragic.

Read on for the recipe »

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16 Feb

Buttermilk Fantail Rolls – Let Us Eat Bread!

For week 2 of our Let Us Eat Bread challenge, I chose something equally sculptural – these lovely Buttermilk Fantails. Each flaky layer separates easily, and tastes fantastic spread with butter or jam. They were better day one than leftover, but I found they revived nicely when sliced in half and toasted.

These came together easily, and though the assembly looks complicated, it’s really quite simple – just layer and cut, and a muffin tin does the rest.


Read on for the recipe »

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7 Feb

Gourmet Cornstalk Rolls – Let Us Eat Bread!

I’m in the process of trying to lose some weight – reading diet books, including those on (horrors-of-horrors)  low-carb diets.  Then came the Februrary issue of Gourmet, and any hope of that happening went right out of the window.

To add to the futility of me ever giving up bread, along comes the lovely Sandy of At The Baker’s Bench to suggest a re-coneving of our cookie baking group to tackle the beautiful roll recipes from this month. So out went the South Beach, and hellooooo yeast.

The first recipe I chose was the Crusty Cornstalk Rolls – a baguette like loaf that’s cut before baking to make little rolls that can be torn from the main stalk.  It includes cornmeal in the dough, giving it a slightly denser texture and sweeter taste. Read on for the recipe »

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3 Feb

Game Day Pierogi

As a Pittsburgher, I was issued a terrible towel at birth, so this past Super Bowl was one I actually cared enough to watch!  But more importantly, I cared enough to make a Pittsburgh classic – the Pierogi.

Essentially a mashed potato ravioli (my Italian grandmother smiles, my Polish ones turn in her grave), these little dumplings are rich and delicious, smothered in butter and onions.  I love them best when they’ve been boiled, but then given a spell under the broiler to crisp up the dough before serving.

Definitely a labor of love, the comforting weight of the dumplings in my stomach made me almost as warm as the spectacular win.

Check out the recipe after the break!

Read on for the recipe »

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29 Jan

Daring Bakers: Tuile Challenge

Since this season usually makes me crave things that sit in the stomach like a hibernating bear, it was actually a refreshing change to try baking these lighter-than-air tuile cookies for the Daring Bakers Challenge.  Even better, I got to dust off the old ice cream machine to pair them with a sweet and summery sorbet, blocking out all thoughts of the nasty snow right outside my windows.

With tuile, it seems that the challenge is both in the baking, and the forming.  The thin batter can be spread through a stencil to create the outline, and then the cookies are bent over a round surface to give them some shape.  I based my stencils on my favorite pair of earrings, these little flying sparrows. Laying them out over a rolling pin gave them a vaguely flying shape that I loved.

I tried to come up with something vaguely sky-like to pair them with, and found a bag of frozen blueberries in the back of the freezer.  The deep purple is more night than daytime, but a quick hit of limoncello still gave me the feeling of the sun.

Though the tuiles did turn out crispy and a nice pairing for the tart-sweet of the sorbet, it would have to be quite the grand occasion for me to attempt them again – perhaps for my next garden-party soiree.  The sorbet, however, is going into permanent freezer rotation.

This month’s challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux. Read the recipes after the break!

Read on for the recipe »

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22 Jan

Mini Mushroom Meatball Casserole

meatball mushroom casserole recipe

I’m cooking for one a lot more often these days, and given my love-hate relationship with leftovers (I love the convenience, but I hate that warmed-over taste), I’ve started trying to make things that can be remade, rather than warmed up.  The Turkey Meatballs were crying out for a makeover, especially given how many I had from the first batch.

I took some of the meatballs, sauteed up some mushrooms and shallots, and layered it with tomato sauce, spinach and cheese in one of my favorite kitchen objects – single serving gratin pans.  Mine are nonstick, and slide straight under the broiler for a toasty melty finish.

This could easily be sized up for two or four, and made in a regular sized baking dish.

Continue reading Mini Mushroom Meatball Casserole…

Read on for the recipe »

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21 Jan

Tasty Turkey Spinach Meatballs – Following the Food Meme

When I ran across Turkey Meatballs on Kalyn’s Kitchen, I knew exactly what I was making for dinner.  The crispy outside and lightly spiced interior called to my need for comfort food in this cold, cold weather.

I took my inspiration from her work, and her inspiration (a recipe from Sarah’s Cucina Bella), and gave it my own twist.  I combined a grated pecorino romano with a little bit of panko to bind the meaballs together, and added a cup of chopped spinach to give it a little bit more green.  I’m really happy with the result – a simple and tasty dish that would work great as an appetizer at a party or on a plate of pasta.

Turkey Spinach Mini Meatballs
makes about 30 meatballs

prep: 10 minutes
total: 35 minutes


1 – 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated romano cheese
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon thyme
1 packed cup of baby spinach, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup milk (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

olive oil, for frying

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the turkey, breadcrumbs, cheese, minced garlic, minced shallot, thyme, spinach, egg and Worcestershire. Stir just to combine, trying not to overmix. If the mixture still seems a little dry, add milk 1 tablespoon at a time. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Heat a 1/4 inch deep layer of olive oil in a large, preferably nonstick skillet. While the oil heats, form the meat mixture into 1-2 inch balls. When the oil shimmers, cook the meatballs until they are browned on one side, 4-5 minutes. Turn gently to finish cooking on remaining sides until cooked through, about 10 minutes total. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Depending on the size of the pan the meatballs may be cooked in batches, as there should be a little space between each meatball in the pan.

Got Leftovers?
These work wonderfully all on their own, dipped in any number of sauces, or as part of another dish. They also freeze perfectly – just put them on a parchment lined baking sheet and put them in the freezer for 1-2 hours. Then they can be dropped into a freezer bag, and kept for several months.

Check back tomorrow for my leftover use – a mini meatball mushroom casserole!

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30 Dec

Wine improves brain performance? Who knew?

My fun news of the morning: researchers have discovered that wine, tea, and chocolate can improve brain function. Of course, too much alcohol won’t exactly get you into mensa, but its good to know that a little indulgence can do you good:

Chocolate, Wine And Tea Improve Brain Performance (Science Daily – Dec 24th 2008)

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26 Dec

My New Happy Home

I’m back! Booyah!

After a few days of spam, installations and issues of all varieties, the Barefoot Kitchen is finally back, and happy in it’s new home.  The look will change, of course, but I’m happy so far.  

More goodies to come in the new year!

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12 Dec

Speculaas (Saint Nicholas Cookies) – 12 Days of Cookies

On the 12th day of cookies, my oven gave to me… Saint Nicholas Cookies!

And Sugar Shuttles, Pecan Tassies, Strawberry Thumbprint Cookies, Honey Walnut Cookies and Chocolate Wafers, Fig Swirls, Brown Sugar Crispies, Brides Cookies, Pistachio Cranberry Icebox Cookies, Dutch Cashew Caramel Cookies, Cottage Cheese Cookies, and a partridge in a pear tree (and new baking sheets)!

It’s been a wild ride! But this is my last batch, named for Saint Nick himself, and a delightful closer. They’re a crisp thick cookie, like a biscuit, laced with strong spices and topped with slices of almond for color. They feel homey and old-fashioned, with a simple elegance next to coffee or tea.

I’d like to thank my fellow bakers for joining me in this adventure: Jerry at Cooking by the Seat of my Pants, Judy at No Fear Entertaining, Sandy at At the Baker’s Bench, Courtney at Coco Cooks, Kelly at Sass and Veracity, and most of all Andrea at Andrea’s Recipes for getting the whole thing together.

And what you’ve all been waiting for: The Best cookie Award!

I had a hard time choosing, but across the categories of ease, attractiveness, giftability and most importantly taste, the winner is….

Brides Cookies!

I loved these with a passion. Off to make more!

But first, the cookie of the hour:
Speculaas (Saint Nicholas Cookies)
Adapted from Gourmet, December 1971
makes about 2 dozen cookies

(recipe after the break) Read on for the recipe »

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