Menu Banner

Category: way gourmet

  1. Tuesday, July 30

    SoNo Chocolate Ganache Cake…It Just Might Kill You

    I have an incredibly high tolerance for rich chocolate. I may have eaten two lava cakes in one sitting before, but who’s keeping track?

    SoNo Chocolate Ganache Cake, the best chocolate cake in the world on @janemaynard

    When we first moved back to San Diego, my friend Nikki brought us a homemade chocolate ganache cake and it was PERFECTION. I immediately called and begged for the recipe, ’cause that’s what I do.

    SoNo Chocolate Ganache Cake, the best chocolate cake in the world on @janemaynard

    I finally got around to making the cake myself a few weeks ago, for Nate’s birthday. I love this recipe. It worked really well and the ganache was really easy to work with (as long as you follow Nikki’s detailed directions below).

    But here’s the thing with this cake – it seriously might kill you. Remember me? The one who can eat any amount of rich chocolate she wants? Even this cake stops me in my tracks. It is SO RICH. But it is SO GOOD. The cake itself has great texture and the ganache is smooth and wonderful.

    SoNo Chocolate Ganache Cake, the best chocolate cake in the world on @janemaynard

    Quick update as of April 2016: I’ve made this cake a few times and each time I read the recipe I think, “It’s not that hard!” And then each time I make it I go, “Oh yeah, this is a labor of love.” But it is absolutely 100% worth it. It’s not that any one step is all that difficult, and Nikki and I have spelled out each step in great detail to set you up for success. But it does take a little time and patience to get it right. But I know you can do it, and you’ll be happy you did.

    SoNo Chocolate Ganache Cake...It Just Might Kill You
    Recipe type: Dessert
    • 1 pound semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped (for ganache)
    • 1 pound bittersweet chocolate, very finely chopped (for ganache)
    • 4 cups heavy cream (for ganache)
    • ¼ cup good-quality honey (for ganache)
    • ½ teaspoon coarse salt (for ganache)
    • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, or 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (for ganache)
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1⅓ cups good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
    • 2⅔ cups granulated sugar
    • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
    • 2½ teaspoons baking soda
    • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
    • 4 large eggs
    • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    • 11 tablespoons (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
    • 1⅓ cups buttermilk
    • 1⅓ cups brewed American coffee (If you don't drink coffee, get a Tall 12-ounce black coffee at Starbucks)
    1. To make the ganache: Place all the chopped chocolate in a large heatproof bowl (1 pound semisweet, 1 pound bittersweet); set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, honey, and salt. Scrape the tiny black seeds from the vanilla bean pod, if using, into the cream, and add the pod. Bring the cream to a boil, pour over the chocolate, and let stand for 5 minutes to melt the chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Strain through a fine strainer into a bowl. Discard the vanilla bean. Stir in the vanilla extract, if using instead of the vanilla bean. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until the ganache stiffens, at least 6 hours or overnight. Alternatively, place in the refrigerator and chill, stirring every 20 to 30 minutes, until the ganache stiffens. (IMPORTANT NOTE FROM JANE AND NIKKI: Nikki said that the ganache never gets hard enough if you just leave it at room temperature. She recommended making the ganache the day before and refrigerating overnight. This is what I did and it worked perfectly. I refrigerated overnight and then took the ganache out a couple hours before I was going to assemble the cake. It was the PERFECT consistency for spreading at that point and super easy to work with.)
    2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 9 by 2-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with a round of parchment paper and dust with a little bit of cocoa powder, tapping out any excess. (JANE NOTE: I buttered the pan, placed the parchment round and then buttered again. Then I dusted with flour instead of cocoa because it's easier to work with.) (JANE AND NIKKI NOTE: Nikki uses three 8-inch pans and does a 3-layer cake and this works really well. I didn't have 3 8-inch pans, so I did 2 9-inch pans and split them as directed for a 4-layer cake. BE WARNED: The batter will overflow when the cake bakes, it's just a bit too much batter for 2 9-inch pans, so make sure you cook it on a baking sheet as directed in the recipe.)
    3. To make the cake: In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift in the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix on low speed to combine.
    4. Add the eggs, vanilla, melted butter, buttermilk, and coffee. Mix on low speed until fully combined. (JANE AND NIKKI NOTE: I mixed the eggs, vanilla, melted butter, buttermilk and coffee together BEFORE adding to the flour mixture. Also, Nikki said that if you mix just until combined, the cake sometimes falls when baking. She has found the cake doesn't fall when she mixes the batter a bit longer than is called for. I followed her advice and the cake rose beautifully when baking. So, mix until fully combined and then a little bit longer than that.)
    5. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans. Bake on a baking sheet until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Then carefully remove the cakes onto the rack and let cool completely.
    6. Jane note: Freeze your cakes at this point. This will make the cutting and frosting much easier.
    7. Using a long serrated knife, slice the top ⅛ to ¼ inch off each cake to level it, if necessary. Discard the top pieces. (JANE NOTE: If you use cake strips, you won't need to do this!)
    8. Splice each cake horizontally into two layers for a total of four layers. (Jane note: If you use 3 8-inch pans, you will skip the splicing step.) Place the bottom layer on a 9-inch cake round, a turntable, or a platter, and using an offset spatula, spread thickly with about 1½ cups of the ganache. Repeat with the second and third layers, spreading another 1½ cups ganache over each layer. (Jane: Use a bit more for each level if only doing three layers.)
    9. Add the final cake layer and spread it with a very thin layer of ganache (this is your crumb layer). Place the cake in the refrigerator until the crumb layer is set, about 30 minutes.
    10. Original recipe: Remove the cake from the refrigerator and place it on a wire rack set over a sheet pan. In the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, heat the reserved ganache just until liquid. Pour the ganache over the top of the cake, allowing it to run down the sides. Using a large offset spatula, help spread the ganache from the center to the edges so the cake is completely covered. Smooth the top and sides. Refrigerate to set, about 30 minutes.
    11. What I did: Instead of melting the ganache and pouring it over the cake, I spread the ganache with an offset spatula on the tops and sides. As I mentioned earlier, the ganache was a fabulous consistency and really easy to work with. It was no problem spreading it on the cake and making it look beautiful!
    12. Serve at room temperature.
    13. Technique tip: When cutting a cake into horizontal layers, be sure to use a twelve-inch serrated bread knife. To achieve even layers, keep the knife perpendicular to your body, cutting back and forth while rotating the cake plate.
    Click here for an excerpt from the cookbook that tells you a bit about the history of the cake

  2. Tuesday, May 21

    Salted Brown Butter Cookies and The Yummy Mummy Kitchen Cookbook

    Last Christmas a friend gave us some Brown Butter Cookie Company cookies.  Nate and I were both smitten at first bite. Nate is not easily smitten by food. If Nate has a hard time resisting a food, then you know it’s good. The cookies were rich and buttery with a hint of saltiness that was just the right amount. The cookies are also a little expensive and hard to get (they sold out online last Christmas!), so I savored every crumb not knowing when the next box would enter my life.

    brown butter cookie company recipe

    Have you seen the blog Yummy Mummy Kitchen? It’s beautiful and Marina, the blogger, is lovely. I connected with her when I was editing Daily Buzz Moms. (I also connected with her when I discovered that she is good friends with the Strong family, whom I’ve written about before. These are good people, folks. Salt of the earth.) Marina recently published her first book, The Yummy Mummy Kitchen. Marina kindly sent me a copy. Before we get back to the cookies, the book is beautiful. The day I got it I curled up in bed and looked through every page of the book. It transports you to her life in Santa Barbara and the recipes are inspiring. Bravo, Marina! Job well done!

    the yummy mummy kitchen book

    So, as I was thumbing through the book, I immediately noticed a picture of some brown cookies that looked a lot like the Brown Butter Cookie Company cookies. Sure enough, Marina’s intro was all about how much she loves those cookies and how she had to figure out how to make them. I couldn’t believe that recipe literally fell into my lap. Oh, happy day!

    I don’t know how many times I’ve made the brown butter cookies since getting the book. We probably shouldn’t keep track. But they are amazing and completely hit the spot. Buttery with a beautiful crumb, you’re going to become just as addicted as I am. My apologies.

    salted brown butter cookies2 web

    Salted Brown Butter Cookies and The Yummy Mummy Kitchen Cookbook
    From The Yummy Mummy Kitchen with a few of my notes
    Recipe type: Dessert
    • ¾ cup unsalted butter (Jane note: I’ve used salted butter every time and the cookies are still wonderful, not too salty)
    • ½ cup lightly packed brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1⅓ cup all-purpose flour (*see comment #35 below for detail, but when you measure the flour, scoop the cup in and level with a knife, do not lightly spoon the flour into the cup)
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • Coarse-flake sea salt for sprinkling
    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.
    2. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter until it starts to brown. When the butter has browned and is ready, the foam will have subsided and it will have turned a nutty color. Watch closely so as not to burn the butter. (Jane note: Stir regularly throughout the browning process. The butter will start to foam up, back off on the foam a bit, then foam up a lot. Just keep cooking and stirring. After about 10 minutes the foam will start to subside. You’ll still have a bit of foam, but you’ll at least be able to see what color the butter is. It should be browned and you will be able to smell the nuttiness of the butter. At this point remove from the heat.)
    3. Pour the browned butter into a medium bowl and stir in the brown sugar and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder together. With a spoon, stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until combined and uniform in color.
    4. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto the cookie sheet. Marina’s recipe says it yields 13 cookies. I literally do 1 tablespoon per cookie and end up with 18-20 cookies every time. Sprinkle with sea salt and lightly press it into the top of the cookies. Bake for 12 minutes.

    browned butter

    brown butter cookies |

    To purchase Marina’s book, click here. There are tons more recipes where this came from!

  3. Tuesday, March 26

    Cocoa Syrup (aka Homemade Chocolate Syrup)

    Friends. I have quite a find for you today. A delicious, chocolatey find that I should have discovered long before now.

    Years ago Nate and I were addicted to the show Good Eats, something I believe I have confessed before. One of the episodes I clearly remember was about making your own chocolate syrup. I wasn’t interested. I don’t really like chocolate syrup. I’ve never really liked it in chocolate milk (Nate disagrees with me on this count, for the record). I also had no desire to put it on ice cream. I’m a hot fudge girl! So, yeah, I didn’t think much about the recipe.

    But the last few years I’ve been finding that sometimes I do wish I had a bottle of chocolate syrup in the fridge. It just comes in handy sometimes. But I want GOOD chocolate syrup, not the regular stuff you get at the store. I don’t actually hate the regular syrup, but, honestly, I’d just rather go without. To me, the taste isn’t worth the calories.

    WELLLLL…Anna wanted me to figure out how to make a Starbucks drink that she’s obsessed with (recipe to come later this week!) and it involves chocolate syrup. So, remembering that Good Eats episode from long ago, I dug up the recipe and gave the syrup a try.

    I compared a few recipes and decided Alton’s looked the best, so I just followed it verbatim. Heavens, this stuff is good. And the name cocoa syrup is much more fitting than simply chocolate syrup. It is rich and has a depth of flavor you don’t get with the usual “chocolate flavor” syrups out there. The cocoa syrup also has the exact same texture as a regular syrup, so it can serve all of your ‘syruppy’ needs. I have decided we will always have a bottle or two of this delectable stuff in the fridge. It, quite simply, is worth the calories.

    So far we’ve used the syrup in milk and on ice cream. It was delicious both ways. A quick squeeze on the finger ain’t too bad, either.

    When you make your chocolate milk, don’t be stingy with the syrup! The more the better. The chocolate milk reminded me a lot of the Cow Girl Creamery chocolate milk in San Francisco. Yep, it’s that good.

    A note about the cocoa I use: For the last several years I have been using high-quality cocoa powder for baking. Scharffen Berger and Guittard have both been wonderful. Yes, it costs more. But it is WORTH IT. Trust me. I made the same exact chocolate cake for both Owen’s and Cate’s birthdays. Owen’s cake was made with the expensive cocoa while Cate’s used the regular cocoa you get at the store (I had to use it in a pinch). I kid you not, they tasted like I used a different recipe, and I have witnesses to back me up. Owen’s cake was amazing. Cate’s was good but nothing special. It was all about the cocoa.

    Cocoa Syrup (aka Homemade Chocolate Syrup)
    Recipe type: Dessert
    • 1½ cups water
    • 3 cups sugar
    • 1½ cups Dutch-processed cocoa
    • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
    • ¼ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
    • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
    1. In a medium pot, stir together water and sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Whisk in cocoa, vanilla, salt, and corn syrup. (Jane note: I had everything measured and ready to go so I could whisk it all in at once.) Whisk until all of the solids have dissolved. Reduce heat but make sure it’s still simmering and cook sauce until slightly thickened, 5-10 minutes, stirring regularly.
    2. Cool to room temperature and pour into squeeze bottles. (Jane note: I bought Wilton squeeze bottles at Michaels, which work well. This recipe fills two of those bottles. HOWEVER”¦the opening is a bit small, so I’m going to be on the lookout for bottles with a larger hole, like you get for ketchup or mustard. I would just cut the ones I have, but then the caps won’t stay on.)
    3. Refrigerate to store. Makes 24 ounces.

  4. Thursday, December 20

    Dipping Biscotti in Chocolate

    I finally made a ton of cinnamon sugar and chocolate candy cane biscotti for our teacher and friend gifts, thanks to help from my sister Anne. They turned out very cute and, more importantly, very delicious!

    The day before I made the biscotti I was at Cafe Borrone and I noticed that their chocolate-dipped biscotti was dipped lengthwise. When I dipped biscotti with my friends a few weeks ago, we dipped the ends into the chocolate, which looked totally cute. But lengthwise is also cute and, more importantly, more delicious! You get chocolate in every bite. Boo-yah.

    Anna was with me for all the dipping. We kept chanting, “Dip and drip!” It was super cute.

    Happy dipping and dripping!

  5. Friday, December 7

    {Biscotti Week} Cinnamon Sugar Biscotti

    Today we have the last yummy recipe for biscotti week!

    Cinnamon Sugar Biscotti. I must admit, when I walked into our little biscotti class last week and saw all the various biscotti flavors at hand, the cinnamon sugar variety was the one I was least attracted to. I don’t know, I just wasn’t expecting much.

    Well, low expectations served me well this time around because HOLY MOLY this biscotti was good. At first bite I was stunned at how much I loved it, and then proceeded to eat not one, not two, maybe not even three of these delectable goodies. Seriously, I’m not sure how many I ate. Best not to dwell on such things.

    I don’t really have much to add to this recipe. It’s from Joy the Baker (again) and she got it from Epicurious. And it’s fabulous. Enjoy!

    {Biscotti Week} Cinnamon Sugar Biscotti
    From Joy the Baker (originally from Epicurious)
    Recipe type: Dessert
    • 2 cups flour
    • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1 egg
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • For Topping:
    • ¼ cup granulated sugar
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 beaten egg (for brushing biscotti before baking)
    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and arrange two baking racks in the upper portion of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or silpat) and set aside.
    2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
    3. Also whisk together the cinnamon and sugar for the topping and set aside.
    4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fit with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beat in the egg followed by the egg yolk. Beat in the vanilla extract.
    5. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter all at once. With the mixer or just with a spatula, bring all of the ingredients together until a somewhat stiff dough is formed.
    6. Divide the dough in two on the two baking sheets. Shape each half of dough into a 9-inch long and 1½-inch wide log. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle very generously with cinnamon sugar. Bake the two sheets on two different racks in the oven for 20 minutes. Rotate the cookie sheets for even baking and bake for 20-25 more minutes until golden and firm to the touch.
    7. Remove from the oven but keep the oven on. Let biscotti cool until able to handle. Using a serrated knife, cut logs into ½-inch wide diagonal slices. (Click here to see a diagram for how to cut biscotti.) Place biscotti cut side down on baking sheet and sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar. Bake again until pale golden, about 10-15 minutes.
    8. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

  6. Thursday, December 6

    {Biscotti Week} Chocolate Candy Cane Biscotti

    Today I have another awesome biscotti recipe for you. I think this one was my favorite. Actually, the one I’ll share tomorrow might be my favorite. No, this one. No, that one. No, this one…obviously I can’t decide.

    This biscotti is so good because it tastes great but it’s completely, ridiculously adorable and perfect for the holidays.

    Chocolate Candy Cane Biscotti
    Barely adapted from Land O Lakes
    Recipe type: Dessert
    • ½ cup butter, softened
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 3 eggs
    • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
    • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
    • ⅔ cup finely crushed peppermint candy canes
    • ⅔ – 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (if it’s Christmastime, use the red and green chocolate chips that Nestle makes)
    • Dark chocolate for melting and dipping
    • more crushed candy canes (or you can by little candy cane pieces in the bakery section – it’s in a container like sprinkles come in)
    1. Heat oven to 350°F. Combine butter and sugar in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add eggs; continue beating until well mixed. Reduce speed to low. Add flour and baking powder; continue beating until well mixed. Stir in crushed candy and chocolate chips.
    2. Divide dough into fourths on lightly floured surface with lightly floured hands. Shape each into 9×1½-inch logs. Place logs 3 inches apart onto lightly greased large cookie sheet.
    3. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until tops are cracked and ends just start to turn light brown. Remove from oven; reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Cool logs 10 minutes on cookie sheet.
    4. Jane note: this biscotti is kind of fragile, so handle with care, both at this point in the recipe and later when you dip them in chocolate. If you’re careful they will not break”¦and it’s worth it because they taste so darn good!
    5. Carefully remove logs to cutting surface. Cut into ½-inch slices with sharp serrated knife. (Click here to see a diagram showing how to cut biscotti.) Discard or eat ends (I recommend the eating option). Arrange pieces on same cookie sheet, cut-side down. Continue baking for 12 to 14 minutes, turning once, or until cookies are lightly browned and crisp on both sides. Remove to wire cooling rack; cool completely.
    6. Dip each biscotti half way into melted dark chocolate; shake off excess. Or dip the bottoms in so they are dipped lengthwise – click here for a picture. I prefer this way. Place onto waxed paper. Immediately sprinkle with little candy cane pieces. Let set at room temperature until chocolate is hardened (about 1 hour).

  7. Wednesday, December 5

    {Biscotti Week} How to Cut Biscotti

    When my friend Erika was teaching us how to make biscotti last week, a lot of us couldn’t visualize how to cut the biscotti until we actually saw her do it. Someone asked that very question with yesterday’s first biscotti post, so I’m just going to do a little drawing. Hopefully this will help!

    Basically you form a long log. The width sort of depends on how you are going to cut it – straight or angled. Most recipes give you a guide for what size to make the log. The fun thing about biscotti is the world is your oyster! The flavor possibilities are seemingly endless, as are the sizes and way you cut them. I personally like an angled cut, so the biscotti looks a little oblong-angle-ish, if you know what I mean. Square or angled, big or small, it’s delicious any way you cut it!

    More biscotti recipes coming…stay tuned!

    How to Cut Biscotti PDF version of graphic

  8. Tuesday, December 4

    {Biscotti Week} Chocolate Cherry Biscotti

    Every December I’m on the lookout for a holiday treat to give to friends and teachers. It has to be scalable, delicious AND look cute! It’s a tall order but I believe I have found the perfect special something for this year: biscotti.

    I’m not some big biscotti person. I don’t ever buy it and rarely eat it. I mean, it’s good, but I just don’t think about it much. Last week I made biscotti with friends for the first time and have decided that homemade biscotti is a completely different thing. An amazing, crispy but fresh-tasting and wonderful thing. A thing that I can now add to my “can’t resist eating it” list. Because I really needed to add something else to that list.

    Last week my amazing friend Natalee organized a Christmas craft night. She got four of our friends to each take a station and teach us: wreath making, holiday card display wreath, Christmas glitter ornaments and biscotti. I, of course, signed up to make biscotti. If there’s food involved, I am there! My other friend Erika directed our biscotti making efforts and she did a wonderful job. It was delicious, fun and informative (did you know biscotti bakes twice? I had no idea!). It was such a great night!

    Since I loved all of the biscotti we had that night, I thought I would share the recipes with you this week! Perhaps biscotti will make it to your holiday cookie plate this year, too!

    Today’s recipe is Chocolate Cherry Biscotti, which is adapted from Gourmet and Joy the Baker. It is AWESOME. That is all.

    Chocolate Cherry Biscotti
    Adapted from the Gourmet Cookbook and Joy the Baker
    • - 1⅓ cup dried cherries
    • - 2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
    • - 1 cup sugar
    • - 2 tablespoons honey
    • - ½ teaspoon baking soda
    • - ½ teaspoon baking powder
    • - ½ teaspoon salt
    • - 3 large eggs
    • - 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • - 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
    • - 1 large egg beaten with one teaspoon of water, for an egg wash
    • - milk and/or dark chocolate for melting and drizzling
    1. Soak cherries in boiling water to cover in a small bowl until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain, then pat them dry with a paper towel.
    2. Put a rack in the middle of oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour a large baking sheet, knocking off excess flour.
    3. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, vanilla and honey and mix with an electric mixer at medium speed until dough forms. Add cherries and chocolate chips and mix at low speed.
    4. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead several times. Halve dough. Using floured hands, form each half into a slightly flattened 13-by-2-inch log on baking sheet, spacing logs about 3 inches apart. Brush logs with egg wash.
    5. Bake until golden 25 to 30 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheet on a rack for 10 minutes. (Leave oven on.)
    6. Transfer logs to a cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut diagonally into ½-inch thick slices. (Click here to see a diagram for how to cut biscotti.) Arrange slices, cut side down in one layer on a baking sheet (it’s fine if slices touch each other). Bake, turning once, until golden and crisp, 20-25 minutes. Transfer biscotti to racks to cool.
    7. Once cool, drizzle biscotti with milk chocolate, dark chocolate or both! Let sit until chocolate sets, about an hour.
    8. Please note, Joy's recipe for honey pistachio biscotti says 1½ cups of flour, but you need to use 2½. The original Gourmet recipe calls for 2½ cups and Erika said the first time she made it with less flour and the dough didn't work.


  9. Wednesday, November 28

    Holy Long Recipe, Batman! (Confiture de Lait)

    Remember a few years ago when I went to the Fancy Food Show with my lovely French, food-blogging friend Vanessa? And how she introduced me to confiture de lait, a.k.a. milk jam, a caramel sauce made from milk that is a specialty item from Normandy? And how my life was never the same because from that moment on I knew milk jam existed but had no way to actually buy it? You don’t remember? Well, trust me. It’s all true.

    You may be wondering even after my roundabout description above, what the heck is milk jam? It’s just that…a jam of sorts made from milk and sugar. It’s kind of like sophisticated sweetened condensed milk. And it’s heavenly.

    Since you can’t buy it in the States, I decided to make confiture de lait myself once. And I failed. Miserably. This past month, however, I felt like I needed to give it another try, maybe using a slower cooking technique. I followed this recipe for confiture de lait exactly because it looked like it would turn out very nicely. I had a day where I was going to be home all morning and doing a bunch of other cooking anyway, so I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal. If I started cooking the milk around 9 am, it would be done by the time I had to pick kids up at school at 2 pm. No problem. Easy peasy.

    Yeah, not so much.

    ELEVEN hours later I had a small pot of confiture de lait. Yes, you heard me. Eleven. I picked Anna up at school then rushed home to stir. I picked Cate up at school then rushed home to stir. I dropped the girls off at dance then rushed home to stir. I picked up the girls from dance then…you guessed it…rushed home to stir. It was bananas, people. Bananas.

    So, was it worth it? Nope. It wasn’t. My milk jam just wasn’t the same as the stuff from Normandy. Mine is still good, but just not the same. And, to top it all off, once I refrigerated the confiture de lait after it had cooled, I ended up with a giant, hard, sugary lump of milk jam in the center of the container. Only half of the batch ended up being useable. Quel horreur!

    It’s story-sharing time! Tell us about the most time- or work-intensive recipe you’ve ever made. And tell us if it was worth all that time, labor and love. And, if it was worth it, please share the recipe because it must be amazing!

  10. Tuesday, November 20

    {Thanksgiving Prep} Green Bean Casserole from Scratch

    Today’s post might be a little controversial. Maybe even more controversial than the 2012 presidential election. I know. Are you ready?

    I don’t like green bean casserole. You know, the casserole that practically everyone else in America seems to LOVE except me. The casserole that graces many a Thanksgiving table every November. I appreciate that it is a staple and I love that other people love it. But, yeah. I’m just not that into it and always pass when it’s available.

    See. Controversy. I may as well just tell you who I voted for for president. That might actually cause less of a stir! So, I voted for…

    What, did you REALLY think I’d fess up about my secret ballot? Yeah right!

    Back to casserole. I decided to invite green bean casserole into my life this year. But I also decided I wanted it to be made completely from scratch. Fresh green beans and mushrooms, no canned soup, homemade onion rings. The task was daunting, but I have to tell you, I am SOOOOOO glad I tackled this challenge. Because the end result was unbelievably delicious. And I am NOT speaking in hyperbole here.

    Our friend Brandon, a renowned casserole hater, took a bite and said, “Where have you been all my life?”

    Is that enough of a build up for you? Are you ready to cast aside the canned soup and the store-bought french fried onions and throw a little blood, sweat and tears into your green bean casserole? Good. Here you go.

    {Thanksgiving Prep} Green Bean Casserole from Scratch
    Adapted from two recipes, one from Williams Sonoma the other from Cook’s Illustrated
    Recipe type: Side Dish, Thanksgiving
    Cuisine: American
    • 1½ pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 2”³-3”³ pieces
    • 1 cup water and a large bowl of ice water
    • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
    • 3 tablespoon butter
    • 1 small onion or ½ regular-sized onion, chopped
    • ⅓ cup flour
    • 1½ cups chicken or veggie stock/broth
    • 1 cup cream
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon pepper
    • 3 shallots, sliced very thin
    • ¼ cup flour
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
    • ¼ cup canola or vegetable oil
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. In a large skillet with a lid, heat 1 cup water to boiling over medium-high to high heat. Add green beans. Put on lid and cook for three minutes. Remove beens and place in ice water. Set beans aside.
    3. Pour water off of the skillet. Reduce heat to medium and melt butter. Add mushroom and cook for about 5 minutes. Add chopped onion and cook an additional 5+ minutes, until onions are soft and translucent. Sprinkle ⅓ cup flour over the mushrooms and onions and stir well, cooking for a minute or so. Slowly stir in the chicken broth. Slowly stir in the cream. Mix well. Add ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Stir well then mix in green beans. Transfer to 9×13 casserole dish and place in oven. Bake for 30 minutes (you will put fried shallot rings on top for the last 5 minutes of baking”¦see below).
    4. While casserole is baking, heat ¼ cup oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Mix flour, ¼ tsp salt and ⅛ tsp pepper in a medium to large bowl. Mix shallot rings in the flour, coating well. Use your hands to mix the shallots in the flour so you can break the rings up and get them coated really well. Transfer floured shallots with tongs to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until shallots are crisp and golden.
    5. Sprinkle fried shallots over the top of the casserole at the 25 minute baking point. Bake 5 more minutes. Serve hot!
    6. If you want to make this ahead of time, I would do everything except the fried shallot rings and put the casserole in the fridge BEFORE baking. Bake 5-10 minutes longer since the casserole will be going into the oven cold and make the fried shallot rings while the casserole is baking.

    green bean casserole from scratch by @janemaynard from