Sarabeth Levine - Goddess of Bakedom
 
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CATEGORY: Recipes

 

HOLIDAY CRANBERRY-APPLE PIE

 

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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. 

                                                                                               


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HAMANTASCHEN- REVISITED

 

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. 

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 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 moneswhich 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, SammijoLilli 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.


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SUPER BOWL BREAD PUDDING

 

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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.

  


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APPLE BRETONNE TARTLETS RECIPE FOR A HAPPY NEW YEAR

 

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APPLE BRETONNE TARTLETS

This could be one of my all time favorite desserts. What I love about these tartles are the multiple flavors and textures that you can experience in just one bite.  First, comes the crunchy almond topping on the roof of your mouth and then the buttery flavor of the crisp crust crunching between your teeth. Next, so smooth and tasty, is the unexpected almond cream surrounding the slightly tart apples. Last, but not least, is the intense flavor of the fresh vanilla bean. The tart shell is very special—the texture and flavor are exactly what you would expect to  find at the best bakeries in Paris. I have been using this particular dough recipe for all of our tarts at Sarabeth's for over 30 years. For this reason alone, you must give them a try. This special occasion dessert is definitely worth the extra time it takes to make. Wishing you a Happy New Year filled with good health, happiness and many new delicious things to eat—Sarabeth


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FRENCH SHEEP'S MILK FETA + A FALL RECIPE

 

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Last week I discovered French Sheep's Milk Feta Cheese. It was quite a revelation. Not only have I never eaten it before, but I didn't even know it existed. (What rock have I been hiding under?) I was smitten with its smooth and yet slightly crumbly texture. It had the distinctive tang of sheep's milk, a wonderful creaminess—and much less salt than traditional Goat Greek Feta. The cheese comes packed in brine to maintain its moisture and freshness. I crumbled it on baked Spaghetti Squash that had been tossed in butter and seasoned with freshly grated nutmeg, salt and pepper— it was pretty yummy!


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APPLE PIE

 

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These could be the most beautiful and delicious apples I have seen or eaten in a long time. These Macouns are just huge and I couldn't wait to bring them to the bakery to make my first apple pie of the season. They are crisp and juicy, not too sweet —great for eating as well as baking. The visit to the local farm out East was a family affair. My daughter Tina and my three granddaughters, Sammijo, Lilli and Chloe where there to help choose our favorite variety. It was an easy decision because we sampled right from the trees before we made our final decision—these were the winners across the board.


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RESTAURANT PARTNERS, CUPCAKES, AND ME

 

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I have been fighting the cupcake fad for a long time and was desperately hoping it would go away. Then one of our restaurant partners began asking me to make them, I responded with, " Oh , Steve, cupcakes are silly, it's a temporary craze—please leave me alone, I have more important things to bake than cupcakes. The request continued to fall on my deaf ears and finally the begging ceased. Whew, I was glad that was over with— boy was I wrong!  A few weeks before the opening of our new Sarabeth's restaurant in Tribeca, the pleading began again—it was daily. This time it was our partner Stewart. "Sarabeth, you have to make us cupcakes! Must we beg you? If so, we are begging!" Needless to say, I reluctantly gave in to the nagging and began preparing for their debut. I knew that if I thought of them as mini- birthday cakes, half the the battle would be over, as I love making party cakes. I am ashamed to admit that I have become obsessed with the idea of the little cakes. With my new found mission, I immediately began to research and experiment. It had to be a great cupcake and the frosting had to be perfect. I tried several recipes before I stumbled upon Martha's cupcake cookbook in my library. There they were, buttermilk cupcakes, I whipped out my small mixer and I was off and running. The batter was lush and creamy and the little cakes turned out tender and light. The cake (or pastry) flour is the secret to creating a light, delicate crumb. They were everything I expected from a perfect cupcake. In fact, the Yellow Buttermilk Cupcakes are so terrific that I have made only one change, I substituted the seeds from 1 vanilla bean for the vanilla extract, which the recipe called for. And of course, I use my own recipe for the Lemony-Vanilla Bean Frosting. Thank you Martha! Everyone is very happy. You will be too!


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PECAN MOONS AND MY BELOVED "COOKIE"

 

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My mother, Dore Blume, was not only beautiful, but she was smart. She was a trendsetter, a fashion plate and could add  4-digit ledger columns in her head. She raised five children, owned a retail fur shop and later became the buyer/manager of Macy's fur department for 25 years. Shortly after her retirement in 1983 (age 67), our eastside restaurant had only been opened a few months, when our manager decided to relocate without any notice. I called her that morning. "Mother, the manager just quit and you have to come and help me at the restaurant for two weeks. Only two, just until I find a new manager. I have too much to take care of and your the only one who can handle the restaurant." Two weeks turned into ten years. Still not ready to retire, we transferred her to our restaurant at the Whitney Museum to handle the bookkeeping, and finally to our bakery at the Chelsea Market, where she retired at the age of 87— twenty years later. Mother died this past October at the age of 94. 

There isn't an item in our bakery that Dore didn't love— and she could tell you every ingredient in each, as well as how much she liked it. These Pecan Moon cookies were her favorite and she ate one or two every day, always with a comment. "These are delicious", sometimes followed by, "it's going to rain today and the cookies are not crisp". This post is a tribute to her, my beloved "cookie", an amazing human being.


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A TURKEY BURGER WITH AN ARUGULA AND HERB SALAD

 

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Never thought I would admit how much I enjoy a good turkey burger. Yes, it is true, and the ones at Citarella are the best. They are made from freshly ground white and dark meat turkey, studded with diced red and yellow peppers, onions and herbs— and you can actually order them on line! The flavorful dark meat keeps them juicy and they are are not over handled when shaped. Bill was in Chicago this past weekend for the Kehe Holiday Food Show. Opting for a quick and easy dinner, I jumped in the car and drove over to Citarella's. The man behind the meat counter knew us from previous visits and commented on my single burger purchase. "Eating alone?" Not surprised by his question, I responded with a nod. Cooking for one can be a drag, but if you make it easy on yourself, it can be fast, fun and delicious. The rainy weekend forced me to cook the burger inside and I must say I was pleasantly surprised.


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PASSOVER MACAROONS

 

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To My New Baking Friends and Family,

Wishing you a Happy Passover filled with chocolate macaroons and candied lemons. Please come and visit the bakery for your holiday sweets. If you see me through the window, come in and say hello. 
Now join me in the kitchen and lets make macaroons...


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STRAWBERRY-RHUBARB PRESERVES

 

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This preserve of strawberries and rhubarb is as vibrant and crimson in color as the images you see on the pages that follow. I made six jars two days ago and they are history. The bakery staff fell in love at first bite and the slightly warm jars went home to their families that afternoon. I will be making more tomorrow and this time I will triple the batch because this recipe is a keeper. 


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HOW TO MAKE PERFECT MERINGUE

 

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Making perfect meringue for lemon tartlets or a pie is like winning the Oscar. For years I struggled each time I tried to make meringue, always experiencing disappointment. I would make this gorgeous pie, prepare the meringue, pipe it on and admire the results. Immediately, after removing it from the oven it would start to deflate and within two hours weep— ruining my beautiful flaky crust. Fellow bakers would tell me, "It doesn't keep well and so you have to serve it right away". I couldn't accept that kind of thinking and decided to do my own research and experimentation. I knew most recipes specify cream of tartar to stabilize the whites (ugh, I hate that awful taste), and others suggest a dash of lemon juice or a pinch of salt (not much better). You can always heat the sugar and water to 236°F. and carefully add it to the beaten whites in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer using the whisk attachment. This method is successful but you have to be very careful handling the hot syrup. It is important to make sure the egg whites are cooked to 160°F (according to recommended food safety regulations). Using the following method will assure you completely cooked egg whites that are safe to eat, and retain their beautiful shape when beaten into a meringue.


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SUN-DRIED TOMATO PESTO

 

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I first encountered this wonderful sun-dried tomato pesto twenty-five ago and was smitten the moment I tasted it. Definitely a time to bring it back, not because of nostalgia, but because it really tastes good. Our chef at the time, Steven Picker, prepared it for me and immediately we began serving it with the grissini (breadsticks) that I had been making for the bread basket at the restaurants. I intended it to be what we see a lot in restaurants today—the amuse-bouche, a small taste, something to excite the palate. We used to make it every night. The problem was our customers felt the amount we served was not enough and not wanting to be impolite, we would bring them more. It turned into a meal. I remember my father used to call such things, a forspeis, Yiddish for (a taste of what is to come), a special little appetizer. Mother used to call such things “appetite spoilers”. Needless to say, she was right, and that was exactly what they became, and the production was too much, and the pesto was too expensive, and our customers began ordering less appetizers, and this amuse-bouche became a meal, and then history.

Watch for the opening of our new Sarabeth's restaurant  in New York City's Tribeca district early this summer — don't be surprised if you find this pesto on our opening menu.

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GRISSINI-ITALIAN BREADSTICKS

 

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Breadsticks can be found in most supermarkets and specialty food stores. Most are very dry and have little or no taste— none can compare to the flavor and texture of hand-made grissini. When I discovered how easy they were to make, these "beauties" became the sought after treasure in the dinner bread basket at Sarabeth's. Unfortunately, keeping up with production became impossible and sadly, I had to say goodbye. I still make them at the bakery when the mood strikes—and I guess that moment is right now. 


The narrow section of these grissini are crispy-crunchy and the ends are slightly chewy—you can actually break the slightly soft ends off and dip them in a little olive oil, or poke the crispy part into a sun-dried tomato pesto. Impressive with their rosemary and sea salt flavor, these grissini will spark praises at your dinner table and I guarantee there won't be any leftovers. I have to confess that three of them made their way into my mouth before they had cooled— via a quick dip in our softened butter pan in the bakery. 


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ORANGE-TOMATO JAM + HOW TO SEGMENT AN ORANGE

 

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 I adore cooking for my grandchildren and often try to feed them fresh fruit for dessert when possible. There is always an expectation that Bubbe (aka Sarabeth) will bake their favorite dessert. Last Saturday's dessert included some succulent Cara Cara navel oranges. The interior fruit is a vibrant deep rosy- orange, especially sweet and low in acidity. They are considered by many to be the best of the navel family—I  buy them whenever available. I segmented three and chilled them for the dessert— having planned to serve the oranges with 2% low-fat Greek yogurt and a touch of orange blossom honey. 

Later that evening, after returning from driving the boys home, I went to the refrigerator for some chilled water, there was the bowl with the ORANGE SEGMENTS— they never made it to the table! Jack and Drew had opted for ice cream cones with Oreo-vanilla ice cream and sprinkles—there went my healthy dessert. How could I leave them overnight to lose their flavor and freshness? Sitting on the counter were some beautiful ripe cherry tomatoes— could work nicely with the oranges. I have never combined tomatoes with any fruits to make a jam or preserve before. Thinking this might be something really good, out came a saucepan, the sugar and a vanilla bean. I was very surprised with the results. It was delicious and the color was pretty amazing. Cooled and covered, I popped the bowl in the refrigerator— Bill (aka Mr. Sarabeth) and I would have it with our breakfast in the morning. I had all night to dream about what would accompany my new treat.


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