Saturday, February 25, 2012

Random snapshots from the Hungry Dog

Once again, this blog is dwindling in all ways (number of posts, quality of posts, clever insights, readership, comments) but with a few moments to spare on this lovely sunny Saturday (60 degrees in February!) I thought I'd jot a few random things down for you.

Espresso-Chocolate Shortbreads

These are pretty much ridiculous. I have made them twice in the last few weeks, given away a bunch, eaten even more of them, and thought of them nearly non-stop. They are super buttery, barely sweet, and laced with smokey espresso and hunks of bittersweet chocolate. I. Love. Them.

Also, as with so many Dorie Greenspan recipes, she gives up this fantastic method so brilliant I feel like a moron for not thinking of it myself. Here is it: make the dough. Dump it into a large ziploc bag (but don't seal). Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough so it forms an even layer and fills up the bag. Chill for a few hours. Then, cut the plastic away, cut out the cookies, and ta-da! Easy as...shortbread.

The best thing to do would be to buy Dorie's book but in the meantime you can also find the recipe here.


Happy belated birthday, pretty lady! In early February, we squeezed in a quick getaway to Sonoma where we toasted my mother's 75th birthday at the stunning Gloria Ferrer vineyard.

We stayed here, ate here, and drank wine here, here, and here. Great weather, food, and company. Not a bad way to mark a milestone!

I didn't take any food photos except for this one of my simple breakfast at the hotel cafe the morning we left:

Lox, cream cheese, baby arugula, capers, and red onion on a soft little brioche. I had to peel off nearly all the onions (too many for the morning), but other than that it was perfect.

 Channeling Cheryl Tiegs

Me, circa 1979. Where to start?

For one thing, what's with the pose? For another, you may not be able to tell, but that is a jumpsuit, not a dress. Finally, yes, it is paired with a white turtleneck. Ah, the 70's!

Happy weekend to you all!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ina's lemon bars (by way of Smitten Kitchen)

Don't you love it when someone else does the work for you?

Take these lemon bars, based on an Ina Garten recipe, no doubt delicious in its original form, but tweaked to perfection by the inimitable Deb at Smitten Kitchen. She always gets it right, doesn't she? I don't read many of the superblogs, like the Pioneer Woman or Orangette, but I do sometimes look at Smitten Kitchen. While she may not need me as a reader, I need her expertise now and then--and her thoughtful revisions to recipes.

For Ina's lemon bars, she reduced the sugar and came up with proportions that evened out the lemon-to-crust ratio. I split the recipe in half and baked it in an eight-inch glass pan. I had to bake the crust a bit longer than the recipe said, about 22 minutes. Once the lemony layer (I used Deb's thinner version) was spread over the baked crust, the bars went in for an additional 25 minutes. You can find the recipe and variations here.

These were the perfect combination of sweet and tangy, held up by a buttery, crumbly (but not too crumbly) shortbread crust. I used meyer lemons, of which I happen to be inordinately fond. But plain lemons would be more than fine. 

These just might give your old stand-by lemon bar recipe a run for its money.