Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Yam it!

You know it's fall when piles of sweet potatoes take over the produce section at the grocery store. I never actually had a real sweet potato until I was an adult. Oh sure, we had those marshmallow topped candied yams at Thanksgiving when I was a kid, but those orange chunks came from a can (though technically yams and sweet potatoes aren't the same thing). Yuck. And marshmallows? Who came up with that idea? Ugh. I'm feeling sick just thinking about it. (Sorry to all of those who think it's the greatest dish ever. Who are you?)

Usually when people don't like sweet potatoes it's because they find them too sweet. I think they just find them covered with corn syrup, corn starch, sugar, dextrose, and gelatin. Mmmm good! (OK, maybe toasted between some chocolate and graham crackers...) But if you roast a sweet potato and remember to balance it's natural flavor with some savory components, you've got something completely different. Enter: my roasted sweet potato fries.

Since I'm basically too scared to heat a pot of oil to 325˚F, convinced that it will somehow jump off the stove top and cover me with 3rd degree burns (remind me to tell you about the burn I got on my foot while baking a pie for Thanksgiving), the oven (or toaster oven) comes in very handy when trying to fake some fries. And this particular tuber is filled with Vitamin A and beta-carotene, so you've got that healthy thing working for you. They might not crisp up quite as much as a regular fry, but they also won't be a cloying pile of unidentifiable orange objects.

Roasted Sweet Potato Fries

1 pound sweet potatoes (about 2 medium)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dijon mustard, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the potatoes in half crosswise and then into 1/2 inch wedges. In a large bowl toss the sweet potatoes, oil, salt, chili powder, and pepper to coat.

2. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 25 - 30 minutes, turning the potatoes over midway through cooking. Serve immediately with Dijon mustard, if desired. Makes 2 - 3 servings.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Incredibly Edible

Yes. I'm eating eggs for dinner. I got home late and didn't have any other ideas! But you wanna know the key to amping up a plain eggs? Truffle salt. Sprinkle a little of it on top of an omelette along with a little Parmesan cheese and...voila! Dinner is served!

NEWSFLASH: You can purchase the truffle salt below, here, or at other well stocked gourmet grocery stores.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pasta Bellini

I think that eggplant is something you either love or hate. The texture is a little weird and can easily turn people off to it, and I totally get that. Don't get me started on the things that I hate simply because of the texture. (Mayo, bananas, pudding, tomato juice...)

I've been seeing a bunch of white and purple eggplants all over my local farmers' market lately, so had been thinking about what I would do with them once I finally got around to buying some. I checked out the Recipes for Health column in The New York Times and considered making some baba ganoush (and I probably still will), but saw a tomato-eggplant pasta recipe that sounded perfect for a chilly fall weekend.

After I read through the recipe a few times, it felt familiar. I finally realized that it was essentially a version of Pasta alla Norma, one of my favorite pasta dishes, probably because I remember eating it in an outdoor cafe in Sicily, which is WAY better than eating it in my tiny apartment, with the scent of my neighbor's cigarette smoking wafting through the window. (Random fact: It is supposedly named after Bellini's opera, Norma.) I had never tried making it...until now. And I'm glad I did!

This recipe calls for a cooked tomato sauce as one of the components. I did actually make my own sauce, mostly because I like to make a bunch and then freeze the leftovers, but I guess you could buy a jarred sauce instead, but ONLY if you recognize all of the ingredients and there is no added sugar. Also, if you are good at improvising, you could make a quick sauce on the fly. I recommend the recipe the way I've written it simply because it was SO GOOD. Guess I know what I'll be eating for lunch tomorrow...

Pasta alla Norma
(adapted from Martha Rose Shulman)

1 pound small eggplants (white and/or purple)
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose tomato sauce*(see note below)
3/4 to 1 pound dried pasta (penne or rigatoni)
Fresh basil, optional
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino (or Parmesan, ricotta salata is traditional)

1. If you are working with small eggplants, not more than 3 inches long, trim the ends and cut them into 1/2-inch thick wedges. If the eggplants are bigger than that, cut them in half, and then into 3-inch wedges. Place the eggplant in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt, then allow to sit for 30 minutes. Pat dry with paper towels.

2. Heat a large, heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Once it is hot and begins to shimmer, add the eggplant. Cook, stirring often, until the edges are nicely browned, about 10-12 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and tomato sauce and stir together. Cover, turn the heat to medium, and cook for 10 minutes more. Remove from the heat, and keep warm.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously, and add the pasta. Cook until al dente, firm to the bite, following the package instructions for exact cooking times. Stir 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water into the eggplant and tomato mixture, until fully incorporated. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Drain the pasta, and toss with the tomato sauce and eggplant mixture. Stir in the fresh basil if using. Serve, passing the cheese for sprinkling on top if desired. Serves four to six.

*Note: You can either follow the recipe below for the tomato sauce, or substitute a high quality jarred sauce. Alternatively, after the eggplant has been cooked in step 2, remove it to a plate and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, one small onion, chopped, and 2 minced garlic cloves to the skillet. Cook for 3 minutes and then add 1 (14-ounce) can of chopped tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes more. Add the eggplant back into the skillet with the tomato sauce and continue with the rest of the recipe starting with the rest of step 2, adding the red pepper flakes and cooking 10 more minutes.

All-Purpose Tomato Sauce

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
Fresh Basil, chopped, optional

1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the onions and cook until they are soft and translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for 30 seconds, and then add the chopped tomatoes with their juice. Stir in the salt. Bring to a simmer and the reduce the heat the medium-low and continue to cook, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Stir occasionally.

2. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Remove the pot from the heat. If desired, use an immersion blender to puree the sauce. Stir in fresh chopped fresh basil if desired. Makes about 4 cups.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Vino Rosso

The third selection for my wine party was a Montepulciano. This red wine from the area surrounding Montepulciano (south of Siena in Tuscany) is made primarily from the Sangiovese grape (about 70%). This is not to be confused by another familiar Italian red wine, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, which is made from the Montepulciano grape (at least 85%) in the Abruzzo region of Italy (east of Rome). I never realized that there was this distinction! Anyway, this Canneto is an easy to drink, fruit forward, medium bodied red, and is meant to be drunk young (the wine, not the drinker).

Typically one would pair hearty dishes (meats, rich tomato based pastas) with an old world red wine, but since we were just snacking, I offered a few aged cheeses. If you look in the lower right had corner of my table photo, you will see a Valdeon (a terrific blue from Spain) and an aged Gouda (mine was three years old). If you haven't tried an aged Gouda, well...you should! It has this amazing nutty, caramel flavor that is addictive. I also made some of my Pan con Tomate just to have a little bread to chow on after all of the vino.

I'm starting an intensive wine class soon, so I plan to have another mini-wine party in a month or so, after my brain is jam packed with lots of new wine info (first come, first served!). Hopefully my wine knowledge and food pairings will be much more advanced and nuanced than what I've shared in that past few days. But that's just me and my crazy interest. Really, who cares? Drink and eat what you want! And if you don't feel like hosting your own party, hit up one of the million wine bars that have recently sprouted all over the place. It's a great way to sample new wines without committing to a whole bottle...or drink a few glasses AND a whole bottle. I don't judge.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Vino Blanco

After serving Prosecco at my little wine party, I moved on to a Sauvignon Blanc that I first tried in a restaurant while eating a vat of steamed mussels (Sauvignon Blanc and shellfish is a common pairing). I liked it so much that I wrote down the name so that I could check it out later. (I usually don't do that because I forget to look at my list anyway. Having an iPhone makes those little notes more accessible.) Plus, I figured that a $45 bottle of wine in a restaurant couldn't be more than $20 in a wine store.

I was right! The 2007 Domaine Mardon Quincy is about $15.99 in most stores. And it's delicious. I did a little research and found out that Quincy lies approximately 50 miles west of Sancerre in the Loire Valley, arguably the most notable region for Sauvignon Blanc. (No wonder it's tasty!) It has a crisp minerality with citrus notes, and although I didn't have any shellfish on hand, I got lucky with some goat cheese, another common pairing with Sauvignon Blanc. I served the goat cheese on dried apricots drizzled with a touch of honey then sprinkled with toasted pine nuts and fresh thyme leaves. I made sure to top the apricot with plenty of goat cheese so that the acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc had something to complement (you wouldn't want to pair anything overly sweet with it). I've served this little nosh at parties before and it's always a big hit. And I'm not even going to write it up as a proper recipe. It's more of an assemblage. Think of the photo below as my own personal Ikea assembly instructions. Just follow the picture.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'm baaaack!

OK. I'm back from vacation, extremely well rested, slightly tanned, and moderately well read (completing Twilight and New Moon in one vacay may be a lot of reading, but not particularly challenging). There's nothing like a little tropical beach time to help you forget the daily doldrums.

Actually it wasn't that long ago that I took a staycation (just trying to use all of my vacation days by the end of the year!) and spent my days furiously baking as you might recall here, here, and here. I also hosted a mini-wine tasting party with my friends Megan and Bella. I couldn't decide what I was going to make or pour until the last minute, so my pairings were a little off, but it's the thought that counts! (And there were only three of us so it's not like we could taste 6 different 2001 Cabs...only to not finish them all!)

In the end I decided to serve the wine as you might over the course of a dinner. I started with Prosecco, moved on to Sauvignon Blanc, and then ended with a Rosso di Montepulciano (NOT d'Abruzzo...I'll explain the difference later). I also provided food that might work well with each.

Nino Franco Prosecco Rustico Brut NV

I LOVE BUBBLY. Prosecco, Cava, or Champagne hold nearly equal places in my heart, but Prosecco is a favorite for the price, quality, and availability. Generally I buy Prosecco from the Mionetto winery, but I recalled having another that was also very good from the Nino Franco winery so decided to try it again (both are from the Prosecco making region of Veneto called Valdobbiadene). It was delish! With hints of apple, pear, and white peach and a crisp acidity, it's the perfect apertif. Or perfect anytime drink really. And I just learned that Nino Franco is the original Prosecco, first served at Harry's Bar in Venice in the early 20th century. Mix it with white peach juice for an authentic Bellini.

Unlike most people who prefer sweets (or assume that you must serve them) with their bubbles, I prefer salty snacks with mine. (For the record, I can't stand when chocolate covered strawberries are served with Champagne. Just give me the Champagne.) Fortunately, I found a great recipe for spicy almonds that would be a great bar snack anywhere. (I also served cheese straws made from puff pastry, cayenne, and Parmesan - but I forgot to take a proper photo - so just buy them at your local gourmet store :). Cheers!

Roasted Spiced Almonds
(Adapted from Bon Appétit)

2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound whole blanched almonds
Kosher salt

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the crushed red pepper and black pepper and stir to distribute evenly in the skillet. Add the almonds and stir to coat with the oil-pepper mixture.

2. Cook until the almonds begin to darken slightly and the mixture is fragrant, stirring frequently (do not walk away), about 8 minutes. Transfer the mixture to rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle generously with coarse salt. Cool completely. Makes about 3 cups.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ahoy, Matey!

This ain't no Chips Ahoy, though they have their place...like in the cupboards of the families I used to babysit for when I was a kid. Aside from making a whopping $5 an hour, wasn't the only point of babysitting eating the snacks you never had at home? As much as I enjoyed the OreosMunchos, I still really preferred making the classic cookie at home.

Let's be honest, the Toll House version of chocolate chip cookies is a classic for a reason. But recently both The New York Times and Cook's Illustrated decided to see if they could build a better mousetrap (cookie). The point of the NYT effort was to deepen the intensity of flavor by resting the dough up to 36 hours...but you have to wait 36 hours! Fortunately CI decided to forgo the extra waiting time in their quest for a better cookie by melting the butter, increasing the amount of brown sugar, and whisking the sugar so that it thoroughly dissolves. All I know is, if I am going to bake cookies, it's not going to be a 2 day process!

My original plan was to bake the Toll House recipe along side both the NYT and CI recipes, so that I could see and taste the difference for myself, but having several dozen cookies laying around just sounded like a recipe for disaster. (For my waistline!) Maybe next time. (I
and am still curious.) I'll just be sure to get some tasters on standby. Please enjoy these cookies as much as I (and my friends and office mates) did!

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cook's Illustrated)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 3/4 cups (high quality) semisweet chocolate chips or chunks

1. Place an oven rack in the middle position and heat the oven to 375˚F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk the flour and baking soda together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

2. Heat 10 tablespoons of butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling the pan constantly until the butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and and transfer the browned butter to a large heatproof bowl. Stir the remaining 4 tablespoons butter into the hot butter until completely melted.

3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to the bowl with butter and whisk until incorporated. Add the egg and yolk and whisk until the mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let the mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat the process of resting and whisking 2 more times until the mixture is thick, smooth and shiny. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in the flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4. Divide the dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons. Arrange 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet.

5. Bake the cookies one tray at a time until the cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and the edges have begun to set but the centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack. Cool the cookies completely before serving. Makes 16 large cookies.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Rad Rolls

I love bitter greens like endive and radicchio and usually resort to making my standard salad concoctions when I happen to have them on hand. Always trying to break out of my perpetual ruts, I was pretty psyched to find a stuffed radicchio recipe in the Recipes for Health section of the NY Times.

Usually when I think of stuffed vegetables I think of that 70's staple, stuffed peppers. Ugh. First of all, the peppers are usually green peppers which I hate, and they're generally stuffed with some tasteless tomato/meat/rice concoction. Pass!

I'd never thought of stuffing radicchio leaves before, but I guess this is not unlike a stuffed cabbage recipe. In concept ONLY. Cabbage rolls are totally reminiscent of stuffed peppers. (Ack!) Radicchio rolls are infinitely more delicious. I like the original NYT recipe as-is well enough, but really think that the addition of a fresh herb and a touch of sweetness adds alot. It's a great little veg side dish or even main meal if you are looking for something meatless.

Radicchio Rolls
(Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman)

8 radicchio leaves
2/3 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus additional for garnish

1/3 cup chopped walnuts
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, optional
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic glaze, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Oil or butter a two-quart gratin or baking dish, then, fill a bowl with ice water.

2. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. When the water comes to a boil, salt generously and add the radicchio leaves. Blanch for one minute, then transfer to the bowl of ice water. Drain thoroughly and dry on paper towels.

3. In a small bowl stir together the ricotta, egg yolk, and Parmesan. Stir in the chopped walnuts and thyme, if using. Season generously with salt and pepper. Place a heaping tablespoon on a radicchio leaf, tuck the sides of the leaves in over the filling and roll up the leaf (see photo below). Divide the mixture among the remaining radicchio leaves, and repeat. Place in the baking dish, seam side down. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and
bake for 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, (if using) simmer 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan until reduced to a thick syrup, about 4 minutes. Remove the radicchio from the oven, drizzle with the balsamic glaze if desired, sprinkle with additional Parmesan to taste, and serve. Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as an appetizer.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tiny Bubbles

Ta-dah! (Yes, you're in the right place!) In honor of my 100th post, I decided to launch a mini-redesign. Thanks to my great friend, Amani, (she did the heavy lifting...I learned a lot) my ugly blue template has been transformed! (Did you know that there are blogs about how to build a better blogger blog?) I hope to make a few more tweaks here and there (as we figure out how to do them) just to keep things looking fresh, but the overall look will remain as is. I hope you like it!

And, since this is the perfect opportunity for some tiny bubbles, I've included a recipe for a classic Champagne cocktail. Cheers!

Classic Champagne Cocktail

1 sugar cube
3 dashes of Angostura bitters
5 ounces Champagne or brut sparkling wine, chilled
Lemon twist for garnish

1. Drop the sugar cube into a chilled Champagne flute. Add the bitters. Top with the Champagne. Stir gently. Garnish with a strip of lemon peel, first twisting it over the glass to release the oils. Serve immediately!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Toaster Salmon

I don't know how I let the summer escape without mentioning my toaster oven. It's my favorite way to keep from turning on the oven (aside from going out) and just seems exponentially more efficient when you're not making an entire recipe for 8 peeps. It's, like, toaster ovens were made for people cooking for one. Right? That, or inmates. Students in dorms?

Salmon is one of my favorite ingredients because it's easy to portion (or buy portioned in pieces) for one or two people, and cooks super fast. I've been making this particular version of salmon for a few (8?) years, but don't remember where I got the original version of my recipe. That's no surprise. Just remember to add the red pepper flakes to taste. I tend to vary the amount depending on my heat tolerance of the day. Then, when you're done, just leave the toaster on and make a few peanut butter cookies. I'm serious. What's 5 more minutes?

Spicy Soy Salmon

1 tablespoon peanut (or vegetable) oil
2 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon thinly sliced garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
1 tablespoon soy sauce

1. Preheat the oven
(toaster oven if using*) to 400˚F. Place a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the oil and swirl to coat. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and place skin side up in the skillet. Cook until brown, 1 - 2 minutes, turn over and then transfer to the oven.

*Alternatively, for the toaster oven method, skip the skillet step and place the seasoned salmon skin side down on the toaster oven pan (or aluminum foil) and place in the preheated toaster oven until the salmon is medium rare, about 7 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish).

2. Meanwhile, heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the vegetable oil, sesame oil, garlic, and chili flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes then stir in the soy sauce.

3. Remove the cooked salmon to a serving plate and drizzle with the spicy soy sauce. Makes 2 servings.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Chips, Dips, and Sips

Now that my baking frenzy has died down, I’m back to staring at my cupboards, waiting for something to make itself for my dinner. Aside from popcorn, cereal, and frozen yogurt, another one of my low frills (No frills? Lame?) dinners is quesadillas, which I first mentioned here. Honestly, all I do is shred some cheese, throw it on a tortilla, fold it in half, and "cook." When I'm feeling fancy I might add some salsa (and maybe some guac) on the side and call it a day. But if I happen to have another 5 minutes to spare, I could also make a black bean spread that is a really great addition to all of that cheesy goodness, and is also perfect as a dip for tortilla chips.

Yes, my dip might look purple, but it’s made of black beans, I swear! Must be those organic canned beans that provide that aubergine hue. It’s tasty regardless and is way better than any canned bean dip product you might find in the chip aisle (you know what I’m talking about!).
For a more complete meal, add a margarita. Or a Wrinkly Slut.

Black Bean Dip

2 garlic cloves
1 (15-ounce) can of black beans, drained and liquid reserved
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

1. Chop the garlic in a food processor. Add the beans, lime juice, oil, cumin, coriander, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Puree until smooth. Add reserved bean liquid as necessary to reach desired consistency. (Alternatively you can mince the garlic and then mash everything with a fork or potato masher.)

2. Transfer the bean dip to a bowl and stir in the cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips. Makes about 2 cups

Black Bean Quesadillas

8 (8-inch) tortillas
2 cups Black Bean Dip
4 ounces Monterey Jack
(or cheddar) cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)

1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Spread 1/4 cup of the Black Bean Dip on half of each tortilla. Top with the shredded cheese and fold each tortilla over to close. Place the folded tortillas (2 - 3 at a time) in the skillet and cook until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is lightly browned, about 3 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Serve with guacamole and salsa.
Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Killer Cake

Dude. This recipe is a killer. But it's not a killer because it's difficult. It's a killer because it takes almost TWO DAYS to make! And it's literally taken me two days to write this post. I deliberated just skipping this altogether, because, really, who has this much time on their hands? But I did it...so...you never know.

I remember making this about 8 years ago while visiting my good friends Katie and Jon in Philly. I honestly don't remember it taking us two days to make, but I do remember having breakfast then suddenly having drinks and dinner and the cakes still weren't done. We must have baked them the next day. But then again, it was one of those food coma holiday weekends where each meal just blurred with the next. My memory is a little foggy.

Anyway, since I was feeling confident with the little rolls that I had made this week, I decided to tackle this monster.
Here are my tips:

1. Make the dough the day before you plan to bake and serve the cakes (since it needs to rise TWICE).
2. Make all of the toppings the morning of (or even the night before) you plan to bake.
3. Be very organized and just follow the directions!

I think I did a pretty good job and my apartment even smelled like a bakery. But, sadly, there was no one waiting to buy my delicacies so they have been retired to my freezer. So, if you see me bringing a coffee cake to your brunch eight months from now, you'll know where it came from.

Coffee Cake With Sweet Cheese or Berry Filling
(from Cook's Illustrated)

1 recipe Coffee Cake Dough (Make this first!!!)
1 recipe Berry or Sweet Cheese Filling (see below)
1 recipe Egg Wash (see below)
1 recipe Streusel Topping (see below)
1 recipe Coffee Cake Icing (see below)

1. Turn the prepared chilled dough, scraping the container sides with a rubber spatula if necessary, onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough in half and cover one half in plastic wrap and set aside. Using the remaining half recipe of chilled dough, roll into an 8 by 12-inch rectangle (the dough should be about 1/4-inch thick).

2. Place the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and spread a 3-inch wide strip of filling down the center of the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border at each short end.

3. Using a knife, cut a 1 1/2-inch square out of each corner of the dough.

4. Using scissors, cut a triangle in the center of the long side of the dough. Cut two more triangles to the right and two to the left of the center triangle. Repeat with the second long side.

5. Fold the short ends over the filling, pinching the corner edges together to seal.

6. Bring the sections of dough from the long sides together in the center, overlapping the ends and pinching tightly to secure.
Repeat the above steps with the reserved dough.

7. Cover loosely with plastic wrap on the baking sheets and let the cakes rise until slightly puffed, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. (After this final rise, the unbaked cakes can be refrigerated overnight and baked the next morning.)

8. Brush the proofed cakes with the egg wash and sprinkle the streusel topping down the center, leaving a 1-inch border down each side.

9. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Bake the cakes for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through baking, until the coffee cakes are a deep golden brown. Slide the parchment with coffee cakes onto a rack and cool at least 20 minutes. Drizzle with icing and serve. Makes two coffee cakes. Each cake serves 10.

Coffee Cake Dough

2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110 to 115˚F)
1/2 cup sugar
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, slightly softened

1. Sprinkle yeast over warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle. Stir to dissolve. Set the mixer on the lowest speed and mix in the sugar, eggs, milk, and vanilla until well combined. Add 3 1/4 cups flour and the salt, mixing at low speed until the flour is incorporated, about 1 minute. Increase the mixer speed to medium-low and add the butter pieces one at a time, beating until incorporated, about 20 seconds after each addition. Replace the paddle with a dough hook and add the remaining 1 cup flour. Beat at medium-low speed until soft and smooth, about 5 minutes longer. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the dough tightens up slightly, about 2 minutes longer.

2. Scrape the dough (which will be very soft) into a straight sided plastic container or bowl. Cover the container tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at warm room temperature until doubled in size, 3 to 4 hours. Punch the dough down, replace the plastic, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 4 or up to 24 hours. Alternatively, for a quick chill, spread the dough about 1-inch thick on a baking sheet, cover with plastic and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled about 2 hours.

Coffee Cake Toppings

Egg Wash

1 large egg
1 teaspoon heavy cream or whole milk

Beat the egg and cream in a small bowl until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Streusel Topping

1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Mix the sugars, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Add butter and toss to coat. Pinch the butter chunks and the dry mixture between fingertips until the mixture is crumbly. Chill thoroughly before using. (Can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.)


3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
3 1/2 teaspoons milk
1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whisk all ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth. (Can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 week. Thin with a few drops of milk before using, if necessary.)

Berry Filling

12 ounces fresh or frozen raspberries (about 2 1/2 cups)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Pinch salt
Pinch cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water

Bring berries, sugar, lemon juice, salt, cinnamon, and cornstarch mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally, in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue boiling, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick and shiny, 2 - 3 minutes. Scrape the mixture into a small bowl, cover, and chill thoroughly before using. (Can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 days.)

Sweet Cheese Filling

8 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Beat the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt with hand held electric mixer or in the work bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle at high speed until smooth, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the lemon zest, egg, and vanilla. Reduce the beater speed to medium and continue beating, scraping down sides of bowl at least once, until incorporated, about 1 minute. Scrape the mixture into a small bowl and chill thoroughly before using. (Can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 3 days.)