Sammi Jo is my granddaughter. Not only is she a connoisseur of great desserts, she is kind, loving, witty, smart—and beautiful. She adores my cupcakes more than anyone else I know and I was not surprised, when she requested them for her special birthday this past weekend. Normally, I just pipe the tops with the icing, but as you can see from the photo below, I popped a small opening in the top so that I could partially fill the centers with a yummy vanilla frosting—that's just the way she likes them!
Here they are with an extra layer of icing—as Sammi Jo says, " There can never be too much!
This pie is one of my favorites. Quintessentially tart, yet perfectly sweet, with just the right balance of spice—andthe ruby like color is spot on for Christmas or New Years. Use your own recipe for a double crust, or try my recipe for Tender Pie Dough. The beauty of this delicious streusel topped pie is that you are going to create a double crusted pie with only one piece of dough. It is a quick and easy technique that I use every time I make a fruit pie. You will love this method and I know you will use it on all of your pies as well. This pie will not disappoint!
Wishing you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Safe New Year.
Summer season is coming to a close and the local berries are at their peak. I cooked this 12 jar batch at my bakery in the Chelsea Market today. Once they cool, I am going to sell them at the counter. If you happen to be lucky enough to snag one, hooray! In preparation for my new book, pub date Fall 2014, I have been making all sorts of "quick jams". This deliciousness is composed of my favorite seasonal fruit— figs (grown in Brooklyn) and local blackberries (from the East End). To those, I added Valencia juice oranges and a touch of fresh pineapple and— there you have it, "End of Summer Fruit Fantasy Marmalade".
I have to share these two beauties with all of you. I have spent many years collecting cookie jars and Lulu was on the top of my search list for many years. Last summer the New York Times ran an article about my collecting vintage jars and mentioned that I was on the hunt for Lulu. As you can see, I finally found my girls, not one but TWO!. What a bonanza. Now I am looking for the last one in the collection. Lulu in a Red Dress. If any of you have seen one, please do write and let me know.
Is this not the most beautiful batch of fig jam you have ever seen?
Arlene Stein is our office manager and she has the most amazing fig tree growing in the backyard of her Brooklyn brownstone. Her husband, Kwame, definitely has a green thumb and every summer I impatiently wait for the tree to bear fruit and be magically cooked into the greatest fig jam ever. The tree is especially abundant with fruit this year, and for the last two weeks Arlene has been cooking up a storm. A couple of years ago she asked me for an easy recipe for preserving the figs. She has been using it ever since.
JAY AND HIS SON JORDAN AND THEIR CAT A-ROD
This is a photo of my beloved brother Jay Shapiro who was suddenly taken from my life on August 30, 2010. I can remember the phone call as if it were yesterday. The shocking unexpected news was such a bullet to my heart. If I hadn't been sitting I probably would have collapsed at the news. It was shortly after his death, that I received a phone call from Annick La Farge, a client of Jay's. Jay was her dogs veterinarian and she had not heard of his passing. When I told her she cried out and burst into tears. How could this be?" We wept together and then we talked for a while and said our goodbyes, agreeing to stay in touch. A few months later she called to tell me she wanted to write an article about Jay for Bark magazine, a tribute to the amazing person she knew him to be. Jay was born on Father's Day, June 17, 1947, and this is one of those years that his birthday lands on Father's Day. This article says it all. Please do read it and when you have finished, send him a wave in the sky. He was truly one fantastic guy.
These Morning Cookies are beautiful and remind me of jewelry designer, Ted Muehling's, Queen Anne's Lace Earrings. If only I could transform them into a pair of his extraordinary baubles. Goddess, where are your powers?
I love the light almost lacy texture of these cookies. They are less fragile than lace cookies and as long as they are kept in an airtight container, will stay crisp and snappy forever—which is exactly how I like them.
Now for some cookie talk and the recipe.
I love these Strawberry Shortcakes and have been serving them in our restaurants for over 20 years. I learned to bake them from a wonderful baker and friend, the late Craig Ruttman, who was inspired by James Beard's recipe. We think of Craig whenever we make them at the bakery— his wonderful nature lives on in these exceptionally light and delicate cakes. Paired with vanilla scented strawberries and vanilla flavor, they are an easy summer dessert and great for brunch as well.
This is perfect cake for the Passover holiday. We sell so many of them at our bakery. This cake has a very small amount of flour in it. During the holiday I omit the flour and the cake still comes out perfectly delicious. If you keep Kosher exchange the butter for a Parve butter substitute and you are home free. Happy Pesach!
Introducing the newest addition to our product line of Spreadable Fruits— Strawberry Kiwi Ginger— it's on the shelves and to say the least, I am thrilled over the taste and color. You all know it takes time to develop good recipes and I am definitely not someone who just pops out a perfect recipe on the first go around. Our kettles are very large and a single product run can range from 600 to 900 jars at a time, depending on the flavor and the types of fruit we are using. Combining fruits is not random, it is a carefully thought out process. It is not just about the taste, its about the chemistry and how fruits interact and react with one another. I do not use pectin to thicken my jams. I depend on the amount of acidity in the fruit combined with the right amount of sugar, as well as the natural pectin present. This varies depending on which fruits your are cooking. When everything is in balance you will get a perfect gel. And believe me, this can be pretty tricky. This combination of strawberries and kiwi is a great marriage—and the crystallized ginger takes it to the next level with its signature little bite. I eat it on our sourdough bread with a smear of soft butter. Come visit me at the bakery and I will give you a taste!
I love this bran muffin and it alarms me that sometimes a great old recipe can unknowingly slip away or be forgotten by the excitement and fickleness of finding a new recipe. Our bran muffin at Sarabeth's has undergone very few changes since its debut in 1981. In fact, every January I review our recipe books and reprint the pages so that we can start the new year with a fresh copy minus the fingerprints of butter and the flour that has found its way between the pages. Sometimes the bakers will make a note or two in the margins; adjustments to the baking time and temperature depending on how large the batches are and how full the oven is. There are also recipe edits that I have made during the year in my own handwriting. These tweaks are subtle—more vanilla, extra lemon zest or a different chocolate.
Last week while working with the evening bakers, I noticed something was not quite right with our bran muffin. (Anyone who has had our muffins knows how particular I am, not only with the taste but with their appearance.) I decided to do the bake off that evening and keep an eye on them myself. I was on a mission and stood in the oven room and watched. To my dismay, the muffins began to spread and they took too long to bake. When they came out of the oven I became impatient—wanting to taste them right away, I restrained myself. You can't judge anything correctly right out of the oven. When I did finally break the muffin opened, I was surprised how overly moist the inside was.—much too wet and although it tasted ok, but it did not have the wow factor of the original muffin.
I opened our recipe book and turned to the recipe. To my surprise I discovered a change in one on the ingredients. It was buttermilk instead of the original whole milk called for in the recipe. How does such a thing happen? Many times the bakers will say" Sarabeth, you made the change", and sometimes they are correct— but not in this instance When one uses buttermilk, there is usually the addition of baking soda to calm the acidity from the cultured milk. That was the tell tale giveaway, there was no baking soda in the recipe. Still puzzled, I turned to my recently published baking book to compare the recipes—as I suspected, whole-milk. As much as I love tweaking and trying to improve recipes— if it's not broken, don't fix it.
Purim will be here in a few days and I have had numerous request for my Hamanaschen recipe. Rather than refer you to search the archives of my blog, I am posting the entry again. No searching necessary will give you no excuses for not trying this classic recipe.
If you are not in the mood to make them, stop by the bakery and pick up a few.
Purim is the springtime Jewish festival celebrating the Jews freedom from persecution. King Ahashuerus was almost tricked by his advisor Haman to annihilate the Jews of Persia. Esther, who became his new queen and her uncle Mordecai, the new advisor, helped the King save their people. Haman and his followers were sent to the gallows. The tradition of making hamantaschen has continued throughout Jewish history and they are meant to be shared with family and friends. They are called shalach mones, which is the Yiddish expression for the giving or sharing of food. Shaped into triangles to signify the hat of Haman, these little cakes or cookies can be stuffed with a poppy seed, prune or fruit filling. I add orange juice for the steaming of the dried prunes and raisins, a touch of cinnamon, and of course vanilla.
My granddaughters, Sammijo, Lilli and Chloe, always remind me when the holiday is coming. I love that they continue the family heritage of their great-grandmother Margaret and me, using the family recipe to bake their hamantaschen at home. They fill them with Sarabeth's Peach-Apricot Spreadable Fruit.
I think my favorite part of our Apple Bretonne Tartlets is the sweet crunchy almond topping. When I was making them the other day, I had some leftover sugar soaked almonds. Bakers never like to waste anything and we also love to reinvent the wheel. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter as a template, I shaped the unbaked almond topping into round cookie shapes and popped them in the oven for 15 minutes. They disappeared quickly like magic. The bakers loved them and insisted we make them part of our cookie collection. The texture is delicately crisp and the taste is not overly sweet—and I love the added dimension of the vanilla. The extra bonus is they are gluten free—perfect for those with a wheat allergy. Now if I can only make them sugar-free for my husband Bill, that would be a miracle. I promised him I would work on it!
Makes 16 3-inch-diameter cookies
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla or the seeds from 1/2 of a vanilla bean
3 cups (12 ounces) sliced almonds with skins, lightly toasted
1 Position racks in the center and top third of the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Line 2-half sheet pans with parchment paper.
2. Using a 3-inch-diameter entremet ring or straight-edged cookie cutter, place 2 rounded tablespoons of the nut mixture in the center of the ring on the sheet pans, about 1 inch apart. Using your fingers, evenly distribute the mixture. Remove the ring. Continue shaping the remaining crisps.
3. Place the trays in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the trays after 10 minutes and bake for an additional 5 minutes, until golden brown. Set the timer—they burn quickly!
THIS IS MY MORNING BOWL OF OATMEAL
I consider myself an expert on hot cereal and I don't feel badly for boasting. If you are going to prepare a whole grain cereal, use McCann's Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal— made from the finest steel cut oats. They take longer to cook than rolled or old-fashioned oats but it is really worth the effort. The key to a hearty, yet tender bowl of oatmeal, is gentle cooking in a double boiler. I like the nutty flavor of these oats. This method of cooking will assure you of perfectly plumped oats, with a lot of flavor.
If you happen to be on Weight Watchers TM, a serving will keep you satisfied until lunch. I have mine with 1/2 cup of 2 % organic milk and half of a medium banana. The best 6 point breakfast ever.
OATMEAL IN A DOUBLE BOILER
Makes 4 servings
4 cups cold water
1 cup McCann's steel cut oats
2 pinches salt
Warm 2 % milk, for serving
2 medium bananas, sliced (one-half per serving)
1. In the top part of a double boiler, combine the water, oats and salt. Place over cold water in the bottom part of the double boiler and cover.
2. Bring the water in the bottom pot to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low so the water maintains a steady, gentle simmer. Cook covered, stirring one or two times, until the oatmeal is plump and tender, about 40 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and let stand 5 minutes. Stir gently. Serve immediately with warm milk and sliced banana.
I love being in our bakery. In fact, I find it difficult to leave at the end of each day, especially when the bread puddings are just out of the oven and cooling on the rack. I think these are the most decadently-delicious, magically- beautiful desserts I have ever eaten. For me, it is all about the crme anglaise— I have been known to sip it straight from the bowl, or seen pouring some over a slice of chocolate cake, and always churning it into my favorite ice cream. What you will need to make this winning dessert, is good quality bread, crème anglaise and some raspberries. Don't think of these as dinner parties desserts only— you can surprise everyone at your Super Bowl Party next week. If you think the ball game will put your friends over the edge—screaming for joy over the score, wait until you hear the wows, groans, and sighs while they devour the 'gold team line-up' in the photo above. You will be the one with the winning score. Here is the recipe from my cookbook, Sarabeth's Bakery: From My Hands to Yours.