Maureen Fraîche

Mixing Business and Pleasure in the Kitchen

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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Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Oh, how I love cinnamon rolls.  Whether it’s Christmas with the family or just a rainy morning, there’s nothing quite as homey as a sweet and gooey roll straight out of the oven.  Of course, everyone’s got an opinion when it comes to the filling.  Raisins.  No raisins.  Nuts.  No nuts.  Glaze.  Cream cheese frosting.  Lucky for me, I’ll take one in just about any way, shape or form.  I’m easy like that.

For awhile now, I’ve wanted to try a cinnamon roll filled with apples.  I mean, how could you go wrong with that?  Seems like a stroke of genius, right?  Spiced Grannies rolled up in a sweet yeast dough and drizzled with glaze?  I drool.

So here’s the recipe I came up with.  I’ll just be straight with you and tell you these were amazing.  So.  Good.  The apples were a fantastic departure from the ubiquitous raisin and they were loved by one and all.  The Grannies really gave these rolls a wonderful flavor and, needless to say, made the entire house smell just heavenly.  Though they take a little work, these apple cinnamon rolls are most definitely worth it.

Oh, and did I mention these have half the calories you’d find in many similar bakery creations?  Nice.

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Spiced Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Pecan Streusel

Pumpkin Bundt

It’s fall!  Huzzah!  While some of you may like your pumpkin fix in a Starbucks beverage, I prefer mine in some sort of baked goodness…bread, penuche cookies, pie, cheesecake–you name it.  As we had guests coming over the other night, I thought it would be nice to make some sort of autumnal bundt cake, and this was the result.

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S’more Cookie Bars

S'mores Cookie Bars

Yeah, so it’s been awhile since I’ve posted.  Though summer fun at the lake has definitely been a deterrent to spending time in front of the laptop, perhaps my biggest distraction has been my crazy nesting instinct.  Yup.  I am now entering the 34th week of my third pregnancy and this time around, my craftiness has known no bounds.  I kid you not–wall murals, various swaddlers and sleep sacks, Halloween costumes for the boys, even a biscuit quilt!–I am out of control.

However!  When I came across this gem of a recipe I thought, what better way to make amends for such neglect?  Don’t these look amazing?  Once again, I have struck gold on Crepes of Wrath.  Our church is having a potluck on Sunday (mmmm….potluuuuuck) and I wanted to bring something worthy of the occasion.  So!  I whipped these up this morning whilst the man was out hunting and they are so. good.

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Grilled Cajun Shrimp

Cajun Shrimp

One of my favorite dishes in the world is New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp.  If you’ve never had it, you should know it isn’t really barbecued at all.  Rather, the shrimp are seasoned with herbs and spices and then cooked in compound butter and beer, amongst other things.  Served in the shell and with crusty bread, you’ll soon lose any sense of shame as you wolf down each spicy shrimp as quickly as you can peel them, no mind the sauce running down your arms (or chin).

These little lovelies are a bit different.  While I didn’t want anything swimming in butter on such a hot summer day, I did want that flavor.  And how can you go wrong with grilled shrimp?  So I tossed together a marinade with many of the star ingredients found in barbecue shrimp, skewered the lot, and then threw them on the grill.  The results, I must say, were delicious.  Though they really can’t be compared to the real thing, these were loaded with flavor and perfect for a hot summer night.  Crack open your favorite beer and enjoy!

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Apple Kuchen

apple kuchen

Sometimes I like to make something special for Saturday mornings.  To me, nothing says nostalgia like the smell of coffee, bacon, and some sort of baked goodness permeating the house.  Though cinnamon rolls and coffee cake are always a wise choice, I was recently inspired to make apple kuchen.  If you’ve not had kuchen before, it is a German yeasted coffee cake that’s often topped with fruit and served either for breakfast or dessert.

Simply put, this apple kuchen was just lovely.  The wonderful aroma of sweet yeasted dough, spiced apples, and toasted almonds was nothing short of cozy and inviting.

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The Spaghetti Sub

Spaghetti Sub

Howdy folks.

So let me tell you about this beast of a sandwich.  You might be thinking to yourself, What sort of crazy person makes a spaghetti sub??  Honestly, I had never even heard of such a thing, though apparently they do exist and even have quite a little following at the restaurants that offer them.  I think the idea actually came to us one night over a spaghetti dinner.  We were sitting there happily slurping our spaghetti and wiping our plates with crusty bread when the husband had a flash of genius.  Why not stuff a loaf of garlic bread with the spaghetti? The conversation then quickly turned to a better garlic bread, great sauce, and–the crowning glory–bubbly mozzarella cheese.

So here it is.

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