Category Archives: Baking

Pear Muffins with Cardamom and Vanilla

The ways of the fruit trees are mysterious to me.  One year it’s a bumper crop of plums, this year just enough for one indulgent afternoon.  The apple trees are staggering under the weight of their fruit, but we only got one apricot.  And the pear tree, espaliered out of the way on our small city lot, produced its customary dozen pears.  Which yielded, after a little bit of cleanup and a lot of simmering down, one and a half cups of chunky pear sauce.

We made the most of it with these muffins.

Let me just admit up front that they’re more cake than breakfast, unless you can see your way to combining the two–in which case, I assure you, you won’t be alone.  The crumb is tender, the tops are crisp with sugar, and the muffins are fragrant with the heady scents of cardamom and vanilla. Continue reading

Healthy Cookies

Welcome to Emmy Cooks! You can see some of my favorite recent recipes by clicking the “My Favorite Recipes” category on the sidebar (here are June, July, and August). If you like what you see here, you can sign up on the sidebar to receive a daily recipe by email, or follow Emmy Cooks on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Yes, I like vegetables, but I also like cookies.  And let me tell you, having three little girls is a good excuse to make cookies.  Lots of cookies. Chocolate Chocolate CookiesWhole Wheat Chocolate Chip CookiesBittersweet Chocolate Dried Apricot CookiesHazelnut Tea CookiesSavory Oatmeal Cookies with Rosemary and Black PepperButterscotch cookies (go ahead, sandwich them with Nutella).

Those cookies above, as you may notice, do not fall into the health food category.  And that’s ok.  But these cookies below?  They come awfully close.  And they’re lovely.  And I will be making them often.  And I will let my kids eat them for breakfast.

The original recipe comes from Hannah, a fellow Seattleite, chef, and writer of Blue Kale Road.  You should go read her post, a sweet reflection on enjoying the ordinary moments in life, and then you should go to the kitchen and make these cookies.

It’s almost a granola recipe, maple-sweetened with oats and salt and cinnamon.  And since I love my olive-oil granola so much, I figured that olive oil would work perfectly here as well.  And it does.  Did I mention that these cookies are vegan?This batch was filled with fig jam, since I had two open jars in the fridge.  (How does that happen?)  Tomorrow maybe I’ll try raspberry.  Hannah says the cookies freeze nicely, assuming you have any left over for long enough to freeze.  We didn’t. Continue reading

Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Tart

Still wondering what to bring to that Labor Day picnic?  Not only is this tart flavorful and attractive, it also hides a pound of eggplant.  And who doesn’t have a pound of eggplant to hide at this time of year?I mean, I’ll just go ahead and admit it: sometimes the most popular way to serve eggplant is hidden.  Eggplant?  What eggplant?  My oldest daughter gave this dish an enthusiastic review and said it tasted like pizza.  Continue reading

Zucchini Bread with Rye, Basil, and Mint

Welcome to Emmy Cooks!  You can see some of my favorite recent recipes by clicking the “My Favorite Recipes” category on the sidebar (here are June, July, and August).  If you like what you see here, you can sign up on the sidebar to receive a daily recipe by email, or follow Emmy Cooks on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

It took me all summer to get around to making zucchini bread.  I don’t have a go-to recipe, and I wasn’t feeling inspired.  I didn’t want spices.  I didn’t want nuts.  I didn’t want chocolate.

I wanted this, although I didn’t know it yet.  Butter, infused with basil and mint, so flavorful and delicious that I almost canned the baking idea in favor of just tossing that butter with shredded zucchini.  (I’ll be doing that too, you can be sure.)  The subtle tang of rye.  A little sugar, but not so much that you couldn’t still slather a slice in raspberry jam.  And we have.  Oh, we have. Continue reading

Peach and Blueberry Crisp

It’s the time of year when peaches are piled so high on the counter that we hardly make a dent in them as we eat one after another, on the back porch or leaning over the sink, juice running down our wrists.  The baby reaches for them: “apple! Apple!”  (All fruit is “apple” in her lexicon.)  We get peaches in our CSA box every week, and buy more, and then our neighbors came over with a heaping bowl, sharing the bounty of a box they brought home from some warmer, peach-growing place.

Time to make a crisp. Continue reading

Maple Granola with Almonds and Coconut

Happy weekend! It’s felt like the weekend here for a few days, honestly, with family in town and a bonus baby in the house (my nephew!) and the kind of lazy schedule that made me feel accomplished the day we all got out on our bikes/scooters/strollers and rode two whole blocks.  (Not impressed?  You try getting out of the house with four kids when the oldest is five.)

And now we get to cap that off with the real weekend.  I, for one, am celebrating with one more foray in my effort to become the web’s preeminent source of granola recipes.  (Ok, not really, but there are a lot of granola recipes on this website: that deliciously sugary olive oil granola, Heidi Swanson’s delicate and buttery granola with orange zest, currants, and walnuts, an oil-free crunchy hippie orange and almond granola, and my old standby with dried cherries).  And now, maybe, my new standby–this weekend, anyway–a nearly equal proportion of oats to seeds and nuts, maple syrup and olive oil for sweet and crunch, and a serious spoonful of salt that makes it all just right.

This recipe roughly follows the Seattle-based Marge Granola formula as it appeared on The Kitchn’s website, so if you lack the time or inclination to make your own granola you can just click that link above to order some seriously tasty granola from Megan (who also, by the way, writes the lovely blog A Sweet Spoonful–see you over there!).  But I imagine that if you are reading this blog you are, or aspire to be, a granola-making type, so let’s do it.  Continue reading Maple Granola with Almonds and Coconut (click for recipe)

Peach and Tayberry Upside-Down Pie

What?  It’s been four days since I posted the recipe for the Easiest Pie Crust Ever and you still haven’t made a pie?  What are you waiting for?

Ok, ok, here’s a recipe that’s even easier than pie.  I’m calling it an upside-down pie, because it’s a single-crust pie with the crust, get this, on top.  Isn’t that smart?  So you get a scoop of juicy fruit and a crisp, buttery top crust.  That’s it.  The Rustic Fruit Desserts people (I told you you’d be hearing hearing more about them) refer to this dessert by the funny name “pandowdy,” and indeed it was their Gingered Peach and Blackberry Pandowdy that inspired mine.

This dessert was especially sweet because I made it with the last of the peaches we brought home from California and tayberries from our Tonnemaker’s fruit CSA.   (You can substitute raspberries or blackberries or both; tayberries are a cross of the two.)  I personally wouldn’t usually put peaches into a pie–I know, other people do it successfully!–because I think they give up too much juice, resulting in a too-liquid filling and a soggy bottom pie crust.  Both problems are solved by this recipe: the bottom crust has vanished and the filling is thickened to a luscious consistency by macerating the peaches and then simmering the juice to thicken it.

Continue reading Peach and Tayberry Upside-Down Pie (click for recipe)

Easy Perfect All-Butter Pie Crust

Is it too presumptuous to call this the “perfect” pie crust?  Especially since I’m not a baker who’s tried a great many of them?  It’s perfect for me, anyway, because it’s so easy, so sweet-salt-buttery-flaky, and because it uses all butter instead of shortening.  And although it’s a fairly standard recipe, I found it via Martha Stewart many years ago, and everything she does is perfect, right?

How do you make your pie crusts?  If you have a different perfect method, I definitely want to know.Yesterday, July 5, marked Seattle’s traditional first day of summer, and it arrived right on schedule.  (Apparently the “meteorological cognoscenti” pin the date as July 12, but this year it was indeed July 5.  Note also in that article that it is expected to last through August 15.  Yay?)  My sister and I celebrated by taking the girls to Molly Moons for ice cream, then swinging in the park, then to the local wading pool.

We were on summer slow time, little kid time, and walking a little less than a mile and a half took us more than an hour, even with the incentive of ice cream cones moving us along.  Look, bumblebees!  Leaves with holes!  A leaf in the shape of a magic (better still, say it like my just-now-four-year-old: “magict”) key!  The girls squatted on the sidewalk to peer into cracks, point, and consult.  You cannot rush past any of those things.  We did not rush past any of them.

Here’s where you want to rush in the summertime: in the kitchen.  And so now that it’s summer, to return to my original point, you’ll be needing an easy pie crust.  This is mine.  I make it using a food processor.  If you don’t have a food processor, I recommend following this method where you grate frozen butter directly into your flour mixture.  (I have never, ever understood the directions for using two knives to make a pie crust.)  If it gets too warm/soft/sticky at any point, just pop the dough in the fridge for a few minutes before continuing.  Easy peasy. Continue reading Easy Perfect All-Butter Pie Crust (click for recipe)

Whole Wheat Pancakes with Sweet Cherries and Pecans

We picked up our first box from Tonnemaker’s fruit CSA this week and–I’m almost sorry to say, for those of you where cherries are already over or not happening at all this summer–I have remembered how good a cherry can be.  We got three varieties this week, each better than the last, each cherry firm and impossibly sweet and dripping juice.  The kids’ hands have been purple since Tuesday.

It was J’s stroke of genius to slice some of the cherries into pancakes, which he did with the girls on the 4th of July.  It’s a weekend and holiday tradition of theirs, making pancakes or waffles for breakfast.  J seems to have inherited this sweet habit from his own pancake-making dad, which makes it doubly sweet.  The cherry on top, so to speak, is that I usually wake up just in time for breakfast (or just leftovers, if I’m really lucky). 

This recipe is J’s standard buttermilk pancake recipe (from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone), which he made on this occasion with 2/3 whole wheat flour, those outstanding cherries, and some rosemary candied pecans we had lying around.  The result was so good that we ate them plain; the cherries were like built-in jam.  You could also serve them with butter and maple syrup, of course.  You won’t be sorry either way. Continue reading Whole Wheat Pancakes with Sweet Cherries and Pecans (click for recipe)

Apricot and Blackberry Cobbler

Here’s what we brought back from California: a huge jug of olive oil, grown and pressed a few miles from where I grew up.  Bags and bags of almonds and walnuts from the nut orchards we drove through to get to my parents’ house.  And a 20 lb. box of peaches, nectarines, and plums, so that we can go on pretending that it’s summer even though it appears to have skipped straight from spring to fall in Seattle.

Mostly we eat ripe fruit alone, which is really its highest and best use, but last week this cobbler recipe appeared on Dinner: A Love Story and it sounded so simple and good that it was in the oven almost before I knew it.  Luckily we had lots of people hanging around that day, and it was gone within hours.

Continue reading Apricot and Blackberry Cobbler (click for recipe)