Maureen Fraîche

Mixing Business and Pleasure in the Kitchen

Archive for the month “February, 2014”

Cherry Almond Breakfast Bars

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I’ve been wanting to make some sort of fruity breakfast bar that could actually pass as part of a balanced breakfast…as opposed to, you know, a dessert hiding beneath a few oats.  To make matters even better, I recently came into a few bags of beautifully frozen sweet red cherries and have been itching to do something yummy with them.  Though March is just around the corner, cherry season is still a ways off and I’m definitely missing summer fruit.

So here’s what I came up with.  The base is a lightly sweetened oat crust that’s quickly made in the food processor and then baked solo while you whip up the cherry filling.  Just toss a few easy ingredients together and you’re practically done.  Dump the filling on your crust, top with some more oat crumb and sliced almonds, and then back in the oven.  Though these take about an hour to make–start to finish–there’s really nothing fussy about them.  The crust is actually an adaptation of a recipe from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking; inspired by their Raspberry Crumb Breakfast Bar, I set to work tweaking the ingredients and swapping out the filling until I came up with the rendition you’ll find below.

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Confetti Cookies

Confetti Cookies

So I pretty much made the Birthday Cake Crumb just so I could make these cookies.  I am always on the lookout for a new cookie to add to the rotation and these looked, how shall I say….nomnomnomnom.  And they are.  If the idea of a Funfetti-inspired cookie brings a smile to your face, you should definitely try them, too.

I don’t know about you, but I had never before made a cookie with milk powder as one of the ingredients.  Yet another stroke of Christina Tosi’s genius.  Also unique, of course, is her use of glucose along with the granulated sugar, but I did not have any (and was too lazy to order it) and so used corn syrup instead.

The resulting cookie is really fantastic.  Buttery, the right amount of sweetness with a touch of saltiness, the occasional crunch from the Birthday Cake Crumb–this cookie is so much better than any store-bought goodie, unless of course you’re at momofuku milk bar.  The exterior is perfectly crisp whilst the center remains wonderfully fudgey.  And the sprinkles?  Well, what’s not to love about sprinkles?

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Birthday Cake Crumb

Birthday Cake Crumb

Well folks, we’ve got some birthdays coming up!  My oldest and I share the same birthday, believe it or not, and instead of doubling up on cakes (as appealing as that sounds), I like to do something that makes both of us happy campers.  This year, he’s asked for a robot cake.  Me?  I want to try something out of a cookbook my parents got me last year–momofuku milk barI love reading cookbooks (I have over 100 of them) and this one is different than any other I’ve yet to peruse.  From ‘cereal milk’ to ‘the crunch,’ Christini Tosi offers up recipes that combine her expertise as a pastry chef with her guiltless love of homey baking.  This is a woman who committed herself to replicating her childhood (and adulthood) love of Funfetti cake mix and frosting from scratch. 

While I don’t plan to construct a layer cake, I did want to try each component of her recipe for Birthday Cake–the Birthday Cake Crumb included.  What is the crumb, you ask?  Think of sandy, sweet, slightly salty, little crunchy bits that could happily find their way on top of all sorts of desserts…or just be eaten shamelessly by the handful.  Though I don’t think I’ll use them on my robot cake, I will be using them to make momofuku’s Confetti Cookies.  Yay for birthdays!

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Pacific Northwest Chopped Salad

Pacific Northwest Chopped Salad

It snowed buckets this morning.  I suppose February has to make amends for the absurdly mild January we had, right?  Well, you probably had one of those record-breaking, freeze-your-buns-off months, but we somehow managed to avoid all of that.  In North Central Washington.  Can you believe that?  Seriously, our high’s were up in the 40’s–even the 50’s for a few days!  Craziness.

I love this little lake town when it’s blanketed in snow.  Some of the most beautiful days are when the surrounding hills and mountains are covered in white and the lake reflects a clear blue sky.  Just gorgeous.  We definitely get all four seasons around here and I love that.

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My view this morning.

But enough about the weather.  Let’s talk food.

It’s hard to beat the Pacific Northwest when it comes to good food and this salad offers a nice little array of some of these local flavors.  From the sweet and crunchy Honeycrisp apple to the handmade Beecher’s Flagship cheese, this salad pays homage to some of our best.  It’s one of my favorites and I hope you like it, too!

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Pepper-Crusted Top Sirloin with Pinot Noir and Dried Cherries

Pepper-Crusted Top Sirloin with Pinot Noir and Dried Cherries

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so I thought it might be fun to post something to impress your sweet darling…or roommate.  Whatever.

Pan sauces are such an easy way to make any ole’ dinner special.  And, though it may seem like a little extra work, that deglazing will actually save you time come clean-up when you don’t have a crusty pan to hack away at.

I served this up to my man and the pack of monkeys just a few nights ago (I skipped the pepper crust for the kiddos’ meat) along with some star pasta (again, because I loves the kiddos) and steamed veggies.  Not a bite was left for breakfast, so I’d consider that a win!

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Caramelized Pears with Brandy and Vanilla

Caramelized Pear with Brandy and Vanilla

I just love pears and I’ll tell you, this has been a good year for pears.  Some have been so ripe they’re downright sloppy and inappropriate for public consumption…but again, oh so good.  Hopefully you’ve been enjoying a few of these yourself!

This simple preparation takes the sweet and juicy Bartlett pear to a whole new level.  Roasted and caramelized with a sweet and complex glaze, these pair beautifully with your favorite vanilla bean ice cream for a deceptively decadent dessert or atop creamy Greek yogurt for a sweet and satisfying breakfast.  Prepped in less than 10 minutes and out of the oven within 30, you’ll find this recipe is as easy as it is delicious!

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