Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpea Salad

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New year, new salad.  Isn’t that how it usually goes?

I was big into cauliflower in 2013, and even though that’s like, so last year, I’m sticking with the stuff.  I like eating raw florets dipped in Trader Joe’s cilantro & lime yogurt dip (which, for those of you who don’t know, is the bomb dot com), though I also enjoy finding ways to get it all roasty toasty in the oven, too.

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This here is a roasty toasty application.  (That’s a thing.)

I’ve got a lot of big, exciting, scary things on the horizon for 2014.  There will be a 30th birthday.  There will be a cookbook.  There may be a trip or two.  My stomach is flopping and my fingers are crossed for it all.

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But today?  Today, there will be cauliflower and chickpea salad.  It’s a start.

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Posted in Dinner, Recipes, Salads | 12 Comments

Crab & Avocado Toasts, Charcuterie Cones

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Look who’s fancy in 2014!  (We are).

I can’t really believe that another year is wrapping up — it never comes easy, this warp-speed time phenomenon.  Weren’t we just watching my sister get married?  Just brainstorming ideas for Mother’s Day brunch?  Just putting strawberries on sandwiches?

A lot of important things happened to me in 2013.  I bought a  doughnut pan (important).  I had a niece named Matilda!   I tried surfing (and wasn’t immediately attacked by a shark, which I was pretty sure would happen).  I discovered yogurt mousse (yum).  I started getting paid to write!  Not much, mind you, but it’s something and it feels big.  It’s been an important year, I think.

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So.  Let’s send 2013 out with a bang.  With bubbly toasts and other toasts which are golden-edged and topped with avocado and crab.  And charcuterie, too!  Shaped like a cone because that sounds like fun.

In truth, New Years Eve usually feels like an over-hyped affair to me.  There’s a lot of pressure to do something amazing, to have the best (!) night (!) ever (!), usually while out at a bar surrounded by strangers, which I feel like is a tall order.

Let’s ditch the strangers (but keep the booze), and instead surround ourselves with loved ones and appetizers.  Doesn’t that sound better?  Crab toasts, meat cones, fancy outfits, bubbly flutes, and maybe even an overly decadent dessert or two.  Our kind of party, I think.

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Happy New Year, all!  I wish I could give you a hug.  Be safe and content.  Love to you in 2014!

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Posted in Appetizers, Fancy, Snacks | 2 Comments

Cookie Swap!

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We need cookies!  Santa’s coming.  At least, I’m pretty sure.  All signs (read: twinkling lights, stockings by the fire, toffee crunch and cups of peppermint hot chocolate) seem to point to yes, anyway.

So, COOKIES.

We’ve made a fair number of cookies around these parts.  Most recently some chewy gingerbread chocolate chunk ones!  Check those.  Wreck them.

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But there are so many more cookies we can swap!

Since it’s Christmas, we can always go with some classic gingerbread cutouts.  They’re sweet and a little bit spicy and kind of huggable, in a cookie sort of way.  Y’know?

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Christmas cookie hugs.

Speaking of hugs, WORLD PEACE COOKIES.  All caps.  All chocolate.  All kinds of amazing.

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A few years ago I made chewy, holiday-spiced snickerdoodles.  Holiday-spiced!  Yum.  (I don’t think that’s actually a thing, but it was awhile ago and they taste great so what does it even matter?  Santa doesn’t judge.) (He totally does judge — I mean, naughty or nice is his whole schtick.  But I’m trying to make a point here so shhhh.)

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But maybe Santa’s an oatmeal guy?  That’s cool, Santa.  (I realize that I’m talking to Santa like he’s reading this.  Does Santa read blogs?  I don’t know.  I’m not sure where he’d find the time.  Maybe Rudolph can weigh in here.)  At any rate, we can do oatmeal!  With doubly chocolate chips.

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Shortbread is rich and crumbly for the holidays.  And this one is studded with green pistachios for extra Christmas flair!

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I’ve never met Santa, but on the off chance that he is Gluten-free (who’s not, these days?), I want to be ready.  So I might have some of these gluten-free peanut butter chocolate chip cookies on hand come Wednesday.

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My last suggestion are these spicy molasses & brown sugar cookies.  They’ve got that crispy crust and that chewy crumb, all wrapped up with a round, warm, spicy flavor.  To me, these just scream Christmastime.

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CHRISTMASTIME!

…Yes.

So happy holidays, all!  Good tidings (and cookies) to you.  And to all a good night!

Posted in Recipes | 4 Comments

Chewy Gingerbread Chocolate Chunk Cookies

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Gingerbread chocolate chunk cookies!  They’re the tenderest things, with the perfect chew.  The way they yield when you first bite them is an eye-closing thing.  And then the gingery spice hits you and the chocolate chunks put up a fight with some richness and heft.  So good.  I’m pretty sure Santa wants these cookies.  He must!  With a tall glass of milk and extra helpings of coziness and goodwill.

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Well, eff Santa, because I accidentally ate all the cookies and now they’re gone.

…Oops.  I’m sorry, Santa.

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But am I, really?  I mean, I’m a Jew with a Christmas tree, so I’m sort of an expert in sending mixed messages/disappointing my elders, anyway.  Ah, well.

Kids, don’t be like me.  Don’t just eat the cookie chunks out of that pint of ice cream, and then put it back in the freezer.  Don’t accidentally kill all the plants you own.  Do wear real pants instead of leggings sometimes, and please, for the sake of Christmas, save some effing cookies for Santa.

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Posted in Cookies & Bars, Recipes, Snacks | 1 Comment

Chicken Pot Pie

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I feel like I often use the weather to introduce my recipes.  It’s kind of standard protocol.  It’s fretfully hot?  (It’s Not).  Popsicles!  Or hey!  It’s cold!  (It is cold, even in California these days, jeez.)  We need sweaters.  Mugs of tea.  And chicken pot pie!

It makes sense — warm, rib-sticking fare for chillier weather — but really, weather talk?  Has it come to that?  We’re all friends here, after all.  We can talk about our ups and downs, the joys and heartbreaks and embarrassments of it all.  I just read a lovely essay about heartbreak here, actually.  Heartbreak comes in many forms, though, as I’m sure you’re aware.

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Chicken pot pie can help with heartbreaks.

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And embarrassments?  My life is full of them.  I’m really good at tripping in public, over nothing but my own (normal sized, you should know) feet.  In college I majored in American Studies but if you asked me who our 5th President was, I’d have to Google it.  And the other day while clothes shopping I ran into a girl I went to grade school with — I was half-zipped into a too-small dress and had just popped my head out of the fitting room to ask my sister for help, and oh hey!  There she was.  Tall and svelte and beautiful, smiling and ready to catch up on 20 lost years of friendship.  I thought I should hug her but didn’t want to risk ripping the dress/being naked so instead I just took an awkward half-step forward and stood there, grinning dumbly.  She asked me about my life and then I think I asked her if she had checked out the sale section?  Awesome.  Oh and also, last week I forgot to wear deodorant to a group exercise class.

Embarrassments?  Check.

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Joys are better.  My current joys include going on chilly runs with my dad and sister before eating too much cheesecake.  Watching my new niece, Matilda, and hoping she’ll fall asleep on me.  Cozying up with cheeseball Christmas movies on abc family.  Or nailing a cookbook recipe on the first try!  Joy.

Chicken pot pie is a joy, especially one that’s homemade but simplified (rotisserie chicken meat and Pillsbury crust, holler).  I made this for Matilda’s new parents a few weeks ago, and it was so heartwarmingly good that I made it again the very next day.  It makes enough for two medium-sized pans of pot pie, so we ate one and I stashed the other in the freezer, where it will keep for a few months (if it lasts that long), ready to ease the next heartbreak, soothe the inevitable embarrassment, or celebrate the next joy — maybe just a chilly evening with friends and family.

Joy to you, friends!  And chicken pot pie.

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Posted in Dinner, Recipes | 8 Comments

Cran-Raspberry Pie

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More cranberries!  Fresh ones.  Because they’re beautiful gems and they taste good with raspberries in a pie.  Or a tart?  I can’t decide what this is, really.  It’s kind of half and half.  A halfsies situation.

The important question is, do you want to go halves on this thing?

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I think this little number would make a nice addition to our regular line-up of Thanksgiving desserts.  It’s pretty and seasonal and sweet/tart satisfying.  It could go in between pumpkin and pecan, maybe?  Kitty corner from good ol’ apple betty?  We could call it crazzberry pie.  Nice ring to it, eh?  The crazzberries taste like crazzberries!

…Sorry.  I’m excited.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday!  It’s the one time of year that the whole family comes to town and, drinks-wise/food-wise/fun-wise, we go to town.  My family is big and loud and kind of nuts, and on Thanksgiving I just feel the luckiest.  There’s a lot to be thankful for.

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Thank you by the way, for being you.  For stopping by from time to time and getting chatty in the comments.  For you and for so many other things, I am thankful.  I hope your holiday is filled with love and laughs, and plenty of pie, crazzberry or otherwise.

(…Also stretch pants.  She’s a brave yet uncomfortable gal who wears jeans to Thanksgiving dinner.  Just saying.)

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Posted in Crisps, Crumbles & The Like, Fancy, Recipes | 7 Comments

Cranberry Sauce with Orange & Ginger

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Thanks for playing the giveaway game, everyone!  It was fun to hear so many delicious stories about holiday baking — you guys are legit.  I really wish I could gift everyone that fabulous baking book, but that’s not how contests work, apparently, and besides it’s not like I’m made of baking books, and baking books don’t just grow on trees, and I’m pretty sure the Beatles said baking books can’t buy you love, anyway.

As a consolation, today I bring you cranberry sauce.

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Because Thanksgiving is almost upon us?  Yes.  Or maybe because it adds some real pizzaz to a turkey sandwich, leftover or otherwise?  (Sandwiches need pizzaz.  Also some brie, probably.)  Because it’s the prettiest color in the kitchen?  (It is, and I want a manicure to match.)  Or because it’s just so amazingly easy to make?

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All of the above?

Let’s do this cranberry thing.

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Posted in Recipes, Smooth & Creamy, Snacks | Leave a comment

Buttermilk Chess Pie + A Giveaway!

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Pie season is upon us!  It’s all up on us, actually.  Only 2.5 weeks until Thanksgiving!  Crazy talk, I know, because wasn’t it just August?  I swear I was wearing shorts, like, yesterday. (Note: I probably was though, because I live in California and apparently you can wear shorts in November here? It’s the best/weirdest.)

I feel like the older I get, the faster time seems to fly.  Elders/Wisers — is this a thing?  And if so, can we punch this thing in the face?  No?

Well.  At least there’s pie.

Have you ever made pie from scratch?  I highly suggest it.  It’s a bit of work, but just a bit.  Entirely worth it, in the end.  I kind of feel like the ability to make a pie is a worthy and important life skill.  Never done it?  Just take it slow.  Read all the steps.  Chill your dough.  Flour your hands.  Don’t cut corners.  Most importantly, enjoy the process!  Throw on some Christmas carols (it’s November, you’re officially allowed), pour some drinks, and get rolling.  And don’t stress about it, because if you do then you’ll forget to add the sugar, which I can say with some authority is a fantastic way to truly ruin a pie.

I usually stick with a few trusty pie recipes around the holidays — pumpkin and pecan are my go-to guys — but when it comes to pie, the options are boundless.

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See that?  That’s a buttermilk chess pie.  I’ve been reading about chess pie for ages, on other blogs and in magazines, but I’d never seen or tried one in real life.  So when I got a copy of the gorgeous new Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book, I knew exactly what I wanted to try first.

In the book, the recipe for chess pie is actually a variation of a recipe for buttermilk pecan pie with raisins — simply omit the pecans and raisins and HELLO, CHESS PIE!  It’s got a toasty, crackly top shell which gives way to a soft, creamy, sweet custard filling — the buttermilk is there to balance out all of the sugar, although it’s definitely a sweet pie by nature, so next time I’m going to try it with the toasted pecans, too, which I’m sure would help further ground the sweetness.

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The Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book, put out by the incredible food geeks (and I mean that in the best way possible) at America’s Test Kitchen, is nothing short of amazing.  It’s a behemoth of baking intelligence and know-how — over 450 recipes!  Each with extensive headnotes outlining the science behind the pie — or cake, cookie, custard, bread, brownie, pastry… pretty much anything you can bake is covered in this bad boy.  Personally, I’ve got my eye on the recipe for buttermilk doughnuts.  Or maybe the lemon layer cake?  No, wait, first I want to try the chocolate-raspberry rugelach.  …ECLAIRS!  Let’s make eclairs.

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Want a copy of this baker’s bible?  Lucky for us, the generous folks at America’s Test Kitchen have offered to gift one copy to a Dunk & Crumble reader — that’s you!  And all you have to do to win one bona-fide copy of the Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book is leave a comment, below, telling me about your very favorite thing to bake for the holidays (also you have to live in the US, for shipping reasons).  I’ll choose a winner at random on Sunday, November 17th.

Also, in the name of full disclosure, I was given a free copy of the book in exchange for my review, here.  I don’t agree to do these kinds of things unless I fully support the company/product I’m endorsing, and I’ve been an avid reader of all things America’s Test Kitchen for years now (the baking buck stops with them, as far as I’m concerned).  Needless to say, I was thrilled to accept my copy and the chance to gift one to one of you lovelies, too.

Don’t forget, you’ve got until Sunday, November 17th (at noon Pacific time)!  So tell me — what is your favorite thing to bake for the holidays?

THANKS GUYS! THE CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED — CONGRATULATIONS TO SUSAN T!

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Posted in Crisps, Crumbles & The Like, Recipes, Smooth & Creamy | 33 Comments

Pumpkin Mousse

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I often wonder what other people at my coffee shop are doing.  What are you doing over there, guy with the enormous beard?  I see you with your iced green tea, laptop and intense expression.  Me?  I’m editing photos and typing out recipes and looking at babies on Facebook.  Also I’m thinking about if a cookie counts as lunch, and whether or not the Splenda in my daily coffee will one day kill me (yes, I’m cool with cookies for lunch but feel the need to moderate my sugar intake when it comes to coffee consumption — I’m a walking contradiction and I’m fine with it).

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Hey, Lady with the great hair and cool necklace — whatcha doing?  Writing a collection of short stories?  Studying for your botany exam?  Pinning cat photos?  Oh, and Guy in the Steve Jobs uniform — yeah you, Mr. Rolling-Your-Eyes-And-Screaming-Into-Your-Bluetooth — we get it.  You’re important at your important start-up that’s important.  Settle down.

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All these people and me, we share an “office.”  People are always coming and going and going and coming again, and we sometimes smile and nod as we come or go or refill our coffee cups, but we don’t really know each other.  I don’t know about their dissertations or their break-up emails or their rampant online shopping habits, and they don’t know about my pumpkin mousse.  It’s just weird, I guess.  They should know about the mousse.

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Posted in Fancy, Recipes, Smooth & Creamy | 9 Comments

Halloween Time!

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{owl cakes}

We’ve got a week – one week!  Then the little ghosts and witches come a’knockin.  They’re out to steal your Reese’s.  And the princesses and the superheroes and the pumpkins, too.  (Except if you live in a frat house and not a regular house, in which case it’ll be a gaggle of “sexy” cats/nurses/referees… and hamburgers?  I don’t even know anymore.)

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 {brown sugar vanilla bean pudding}

I’m a recent convert to Halloween.  When I was younger and had to run around the neighborhood begging for candy (in a Pillsbury Doughboy suit, one year), Halloween felt sort of like a lot of work.  And when I got older and was introduced to the concept of the high school/college “Halloween party,” the holiday turned stressful — I always found the process of coming up with a costume both clever and sufficiently “sexy” to be anxiety-inducing.  Plus at the end of the night I didn’t even get to go home with a pillow case full of Kit-Kats (no innuendo there, just straight up candy bars), so what was even the point of that?

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{homemade vanilla marshmallows}

Now that I’m an old lady of 29, I can do whatever the hell I want to do on Halloween.  And what I want to do is hand out candy to cute children in ridiculous costumes.  And eat miniature Twix bars and regular-sized Reese’s.  (I don’t even have to beg for them, it’s fantastic.)

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{chocolate peanut butter layer cake}

I also want to celebrate Halloween in my kitchen.  I can’t not decorate stuff with seasonal candy (ahem, brown sugar vanilla bean pudding).  I can’t stop turning cupcakes into owl cakes.

Want to join me?  We’ll turn marshmallows orange and put Reese’s in a layer cake.  We’ll bring out the spider-webby, maple glazed pumpkin bundt!

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{pumpkin ginger cake with salted maple glaze}

I mean.  Talk about sexy.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Posted in Recipes | 1 Comment