June 2008 Baker's Stash Sex in the City Issue
Sex in the City
New York State of the Bakery
Don’t forget, this is a sign on month (Subscriptions cover June, July and August).
Please check the To Subscribe Page. Because of my over-the-top ways, it is also a double-issue (not available on the stands, only online) of BB. Enjoy!
Sex in the City…..
New York State of the Bakery
Dear Friends and Fellow Bakers ,
I can hear it now – the baker sold out. She is doing a shameless homage to New York cooking and baking, a la Sex in the City New York recipes.
Who doesn’t like New York Bagels, David’s Cookies, New York Style Cheesecake along with hotdogs from Gray’s Papaya, Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes, Levain Bakery Cookies and a few other New York treats? Woody Allen once wrote, New York is not Mecca; it only smells like it. I beg to differ. Maybe if Mecca had a taste, New York would be it.
As for this June issue, you should know was that until three frantic days ago, the June Issue of the Baker’s Stash was moving along sedately – you know – salute-to-dad at the grill, a scone, a cookie, some incredible new cakes and this gorgeous Portuguese chicken thing. My only hold-up was the cover shot. What to shoot and when? Somewhere between tango classes, end-of-year-school concerts, baseball sons, and a wedding, I had to find a moment to food style a perfect cover shot. Did I mention I was also baking 14 versions of the Great American Yellow Layer Cake with Fudge icing?
And then I happened to accidentally tune into a local talk radio station the radio hosts were waxing lyrical about the Sex in the City movie opening. How I dislike talk radio, I thought; how I dislike Hollywood gossip! But then it hit me! I must have been asleep all week. It’s a sign! Why not Sex in the City/New York foods?
I love New York! Who doesn’t? I”ve been to H&H Bagels, to Zabar’s, and Pastis and eaten street pretzels and hot-dogs at Gray’s Papaya. I’ve fiddled with David’s and Levain’s Cookie recipes for years, and covet my Magnolia Street Bakery and Serendipity and Baltazar cookbooks.
But there’s another sidelight. I owe the success to my latest cookbook, A Passion for Baking to Sex in the City, the HBO series. Those DVD’s were my veg-out hour, each day, while I worked on the manuscript of A Passion for Baking.
What I liked about Sex in the City, the series, is the continuity it gave my life. As I worked with feverish intensity on my book, SITC offered a certain structure. After a day of writing and baking, the constancy of four fictional characters, who kept evolving, was a comforting parameter outside the pace and focus of my own mandate and deadline. It also awakened me to a better clothes style (I dress in far better vintage clothing than I used to), adding color to my life. I look back at that special time of 1 am SITC viewings, Perrier water and popcorn, and falling asleep, with flour in my hair. The bonus was, when I finished all six seasons, I also had created something pretty special of my own in this unique time.
I know the movie might not reflect the series but I still feel fondly about it. As for which SITC character I am? When I started watching, I would have said: Carrie – for obvious reasons – mostly because I write, have had difficult editors, and question everything in that “I could not help but wonder’ sort of way.
Then I became a bit Miranda (according to friends although I beg to differ). Nowadays, I feel very Charlotte, with but a smidgen of Miranda. I don’t much identify with Carrie – even though she and I, are both writers, and her desk from the series, and my Matzoh Buttercrunch had both had sojourns at the Smithsonian. Carrie also struggled to bake apple pie for Aiden (pre-baking the whole pie crust before putting in the apples? What were the writers thinking of?). In real life, I’ve had my own Mr. Big and finally bid him good-bye and I don’t analyze anywhere near as much as Carrie does. I’m also reasonable about shoes (I have weaknesses – but shoes are not one of them). That’s the thing about being a girl versus becoming a woman. You stop sweating the small stuff and set your sets on bigger issues like a perfect cupcake.
In addition to New York recipes, there’s some BB Test Kitchen specialties such as the dynamite Four Layer Chocolate and recipes (with photos) of some of the cakes I made for the Montreal Tango Festival. There’s also some rib-sticking ribs for Father’s Day. There’s also a unique recipe I am always working but now seems ready to share – a Portuguese Chicken, vinegar marinated, roasted, zesty chicken that is only as tasty as it is easy. movie opening. Granted, the flick is getting tepid reviews but who cares? I’ve put in enough hours in the pastry kitchen to earn some eye candy on the screen. For me, Sex in the City is just a patent ploy to showcase some of my favorite
Last, and not for the first time, I thank you all for visiting. BB visitors continue to amaze me. Some very intriguing emails cross my desk and test kitchen. It’s incredibly heartwarming to see emails from Alaska, to Maine, Madrid, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, the Philippines, the U.K., displaced (still) New Orlean folks, and countless armed forces personnel of countless countries, sports celebrities (they bake too), other authors, jazz musicians, restauranteurs, bakery owners, and editors from many other publishers and magazines – who converge on this site to bake and cook with me. I’ve helped tearful chef-wanna-bee’s who are stuck in dentistry school into culinary college, given recipes for Irish wakes, formulas for baking entrepreneurs, lent a few biscotti recipes on-the-house to a pining woman who. wooing an errant suitor, and helped a kosher baker, in a tiny town in Pakistan, re-configure an outdoor tandoor so she could make Friday night challah.
What is interesting is that people write exactly where they are –not geographically but in terms of ‘where’ they are in life. We all find each other – where we find each other. It is as if a fascinating conversation began in another time and place and just continues. And it’s all part of the mandate of being the global village baker. More importantly, it’s all of you who are the quiet voices and real people that meet up in this invisible, evolving kitchen adventure. I wish I could convey to you, the collective warmth that comes to me, via the click of your keyboards and eloquent comments. It is enough energy to light up the world. It convinces me that peace emanates from the heart, is carried along by music and converges with the scent of warm bread.
Warm wishes from Montreal, Canada, to all of you – near and far, to: Arwa in Kuwait, who writes of dates baked with a buttery golden dough, to Marcus in Oklahoma who is launching his first bakery, to Alison and Tonya, respectively (I recall) in parts West and Central, who already have wonderful bakeries and write in the wee, small hours of their bakers’ morning, to Caryn, somewhere in New Jersey, who now knows the secret of pumpkin pie biscotti and romance, and the what-will-I-do-with-for money-if-I-choose-a-career-in-arts, Rachel of Chapters cookbook section in Montreal, to Enid, in Bath, England, who caters teas, to Diane, out in Idaho, with 12 children, 12 careers, and a baking/cooking husband, to Richard Bertinet, professional baker whose book Crust has the most gorgeous DVD that comes with it (it is like Jane Austen does Sourdough; just the music alone…..!), to Rose Levy Bernabaum, author/fellow baker, who keeps me pepped up with perky notes and links to live opera, to Mrs. O’Sullivan in Texas who shared her secret pub recipe for Guinness-soaked Corned Beef, to my friend somewhere in the Atlanta Braves organization who loves to bake and hates to cook and is rebuilding her life, cookie by cookie, and to Bruce, stationed in Afghanistan who just wants to come home and build an outdoor brick bread oven. I dedicate this issue to all of them and all of you.
Warm wishes and sweet times in the kitchen,
Recipe Collection, including free recipes of the month are at
Classic New York Style Strawberry Cheesecake
A high and creamy, dense cheesecake for big, festive gatherings. Creamy but not cloying. This is a classic that takes well to many variations. You can also use a half batch of sugar cookies or shortbread, or Hungarian Pastry dough as the bottom crust for an alternate rendition.
New York Corn Bread This corn bread is hardly corny at all. It is sprinkled with corn meal as per bakery-style but it is actually the quintessential New York sour dough rye, a light, but deeply flavored round rye loaf that is slightly sour with a sourdough base. It is fabulous, easy, authentic, robust and rustic. Everything bread should be -and that's saying alot. This is great fresh or toasted and is a good keeper. Dark rye flour is also called pumpernickel flour - it is the most flavorful of rye flours (vs. light rye).
H&H Style New York Bagels In the HBO series of Sex in the City, Carrie brings ‘apology’ bagels to Miranda for having sent over her boyfriend to do a best friend errand. She forgot the cream cheese but she brought H&H bagels. Make your own rustic, chewy, puffy but dense - it's all here and as authentic a bagel as you can find outside H&H Bagels in New York City - minus the cab or plane fare. Just cue cream cheese and pour the coffee. Pure heaven. You will be amazed at what real bagels your home oven (and this recipe) can produce. H&H Bagels are also called water bagels - they are big, bulbous, and satisfying. There are also Montreal Bagels and frankly? I like them both. Bread machines are terrific for making slick, tight, bagel dough. Handle one batch of bagels (forming, boiling, baking) while you have the bread machine whipping up another batch of dough. They also freeze really well. Malt syrup or powder is optional and available at health food stores (or check out our Ingredients Section of product reviews; we have a malt company you can order from, or King Arthur's Baker's Catalogue). Try these plain or seeded or any of the topping suggestions in the recipe itself.
Classic Soft Pretzels Remember the SITC episode where Carrie meets a new Yankee? I am sure soft pretzels figured in there somewhere. Yes, soft pretzels are just as good at home and you can tune in the game and cheer for who you like. Nothing beats a big, fat, soft, crusty pretzel and a dish of yellow mustard to dunk it in. Use coarse sea salt or coarse kosher salt (the white type vs. the clear type) or even large grain, fleur de sels. These are, like bagels, easily done in a bread machine. These can be baked or boiled or try some one way and some, the other. Offer in squares of wax paper for that street vendor/stadium feel.
Old Fashioned New York Styled Potato Knishes
There are many versions of this standard pastry wrapped mashed potato entrée. This is pretty traditional and as good as any knishes off a New York street vendor. If your kids or anyone else doesn’t like onions or a pronounced onion taste, omit the sautéed onions and use the onion powder called for. This makes tons of little knishes or about 2 dozen hefty, grandma styled knishes. If you were really busy, you could even use boxed mashed potatoes for a shortcut and still have amazing knishes. You can also use storebought puff pastry or Sour Cream Mock Puff
This landmark New York snack bar, known for its fruit juices and hotdogs, has been bit by the film lens in Sex in the City but also, in an all-time great scene, in Crossing Delancy, a DVD you must rent. No recipe here – hotdogs, for which Gray’s is renown, are best had on location.
New York's Finest Black and White Cookies
I like the Black and White Cookie concept but I am not fond of soft cookies – which classic black and white cookies are. My version is a crisper, butter cookie – not quite as sandy as shortbread but crisp, crunchy and dense. In honor of Sex in the City, they are half black and half….pink. But make them black and white of course – for the real deal. Or a variety of half this and half that. Orange tinted, orange flavoured fondant alongside chocolate would be terrific.
Classic New York City Black and White Cookies
A classic New York cookie made better with real vanilla and pure butter (no shortening in these!). Real Black and White cookies, which I've had are not quite as tasty as they look on screen (Seinfeld episodes, or Sex in the City - both have characters munching on Black and White cookies). But the concept of a giant, buttery cookies, smeared half with vanilla and half with chocolate fondant, if made well, is riveting stuff. I love this cookie and sometimes make it half chocolate and half orange (flavor the fondant with orange oil or extract and a touch of orange food coloring). The size is what draws you; the taste is what keeps you in a New York frame of mind.
Zabar's Style Sour Cream Coffee Cake Zabar’s Style Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Charlotte shops at Zabar’s, in her new incarnation as a good Jewish girl-cum-kitchen maven. After Zabar’s, the kitchen scene has the Sex quartet making an army of matzoh balls and braiding challah but where was dessert? This sour cream coffee cake would have done the trick. Visit www.zabars.com
!!FREE!! Russian Tea from Serendipity
This from the Serendipity Parties cookbook, Stephen Bruce, 2008 Rizzoli, Universe Publishing. Russian Tea is a recipe you see around and no one knows where it comes from. It is a lovely spiced, orange and black tea brew. Serendipity, the Place and the Books…and Russian Tea
Another New York landmark that somehow, Sex in the City overlooked but I can’t. This delightful café was featured in You Have Mail as well as Serendipity, the movie with John Cuzack. Any of the Serendipity cookbooks are keepers as is this newest book of special party themed recipes and drink concoctions – as is their newest book, Serendipity Parties, by Stephen Bruce, Rizzoli, Universe Publishing, 2008.
Similar To, But Not Quite, But Inspired by Levain Bakery Oatmeal Cookies
These are extraordinary, large, chewy, crisp, magnificent oatmeal cookies, similar to the grandeur of a Levain Bakery of New York, great oatmeal cookies. The flavor rocks but the size? Total Big Apple appeal. Use two hands to hold one, break in two and share! You have to weigh out the batter to get just the right size on these babies. Raisins and walnuts have a feature roll but you can add Heath Bar chips, cranberries, chocolate, or coconut. The recipe is the main 'trick' but there is one other secret to making these fabulous cookies - it's all in the special technique. To order Levain’s original cookies, visit www.LevainBakery.com. Their cookies are fantastic and I am a big believer in tasting other people’s baking (and supporting other bakers). In fact, their chocolate chunk cookie is the delicious inspiration behind my own Legendary Chocolate Chip Cookies in my last cookbook, A Passion for Baking (Oxmoor
Pastis Bistro Inspired Recipes - !! Free!!
French Bistro 5-Star French Pepper Steak
Not to be confused with steak and green peppers, this classic French bistro is beef at its finest. It features a pan-saute rib eye steak (or any prime, thick cut, boneless steak you prefer) with a brandy and red wine sauce, garnered by deglazing the pan. It is absolutely mouth watering and as good, if not better, than any restaurant could do. Use the best peppercorns you can find and a good pepper mill as well as a mortar and pestle. Invest in a great, tender, properly aged cut of steak. Serve this with classic double fried French fries, asparagus or green beans and a tossed baby greens salad, with balsamic vinaigrette, fresh garlic croutons and slivers of goat cheese.
!!Free!! Granary Malt Loaf
The best fries are fried twice. There is a special method here that is the trade secret of bistro chefs and any French fry outlet in Montreal (did you know Montreal has the best frites outside of Europe?). Just follow the recipe. Match these up with a burger of Bistro Style French Pepper Steak, a salad of baby greens and balsamic vinegar and a warm sourdough baguette for a feast. A dusting of Fleurs de Sel (imported salt) would make this dish a banquet on its own.
Our Usual Programming
This was the original recipe collection for the June Baker’s Stash.
I could have saved it for another issue but great baking is best served fresh. These are stellar recipes.
Chocolate Bread Pudding Muffins
These are deep chocolate pastry/cake/muffins – made with leftover challah, brioche, white bread or even croissants. They puff up into mounds of chocolate and are lunch-bag perfect or coffee time friendly. They are luxurious made large, or decadent little treats, if you make miniatures. They also freeze well. If I had more time, I would invent a brownie streusel topping. Ah well, next time….
Chocolate Cream Cheese-in-Middle Bundt Cake !!! FREE !!!
A sweet cheesecake tunnel, studded with chocolate chips, makes this cake a winner with kids and adults alike.
Roast this in a hot oven or grill it on the BBQ, you won’t find a finer bird.
Portuguese snack bars in Montreal served this vinegar infused chicken on every other street corner, on St. Laurent (aka St. Lawrence or the Main). An overnight marinade is important but even 8 hours ahead is fine. There are many versions of Portuguese chicken – some call for three separate marinades and one – almost entirely all –oil –something I could not do. This makes an incredibly succulent chicken that is as good cold as it is fresh off the grill. Best to make at least two birds – one to eat ASAP and one for great chicken sandwiches .There is flavor in every bite of this chicken! To grill, split in half. For roasting – a hot oven is all you need. Serve with slow-fried in olive oil potatoes (diced or quartered), tossed with fresh herbs, salt and pepper.
Root Beer or Cola Ribs with Sticky Mop Sauce
For Father’s Day – something from the grill. Simple, good, restaurant-quality (but home-priced) sumptuous ribs. Thanks to James from Vermont who bought my BBQ off Craigslist and also helped me fine tune the dry rub. (P.S. James is a BBQ judge so he should know)
Chocolate Bread and Brownie Pudding
This is superb for a party or brunch. It is different and satisfying – not quite a chocolate soufflé cake and not a cheesecake in taste, but somewhere in-between. This is good served chilled in wedges with warm white chocolate sauce or with caramel sauce, whipped cream or even a scoop of softened vanilla ice-cream. Use leftover chocolate cake such as Classic Dark Chocolate Layer Cake and leftover Notting Hill Brownies (minus the nuts) or your own. If you are really time-pressed, leftover store-bought cake or a mix is fine. I give you permission for the final results of this cake are more than the sum of the parts. If you don’t have enough leftover cake - use more brownies; or vice versa or make up the difference with the bread chunks. It is a flexible recipe. Chocolate extract is optional but a nice touch. Nielsen Massey makes it and can advise you where to find it online or in stores. Mini versions of this in custard molds, with crème brulee would be sublime (they also freeze well).
Old Fashioned Chocolate Four Layer Cake
Root Beer or Cola Ribs with Sticky Mop Sauce Best Ever Smokey Ribs with Sticky Cola Mop
This recipe is outstanding with either long, beef ribs or baby back ribs. You can oven roast these (using the liquid smoke in the ‘mop/glaze' or omit it, if you are grill finishing the ribs). Slow cooking makes these fall-off-the-bone tender.
From the Montreal Tango Festival
These are two of the cakes (I made 5) that were served and duly devoured at 6 am, after a night of tango.
Ode to Buenos Aires Chocolate “Last Tango’ Cake
Dark 'N Dramatic Last Tango Chocolate Cream Cake
My ode to Buenos Aires …
We’ve all had that perfect tango with the perfect partner who has an embrace like silk, and a pulse and pace like someone enchanted. It is always the last tango. The music fades and the memory of that divine dance with the ultimate stranger, drifts away, as bittersweet as a Buenos Aires sigh. But then, at least we’ll always have this amazing cake. This is a cake worth 100 such tangos. It is a decadent chocolate extravaganza that sandwiches layers of whipped cream, hazelnut paste, chocolate buttercream and a sultry bittersweet glaze. The rose is optional. This cake is shown 3 times its original size and bake in two 12 inch round layers. This version is for a home-sized cake. Remember this essentially a chocolate cake with different fillings. It’s not hard at all. You can make everything a day before and assemble, at your leisure a day or two afterwards. Most pastry chefs would do exactly that.
This photo shows the oversized cake. The original (your size) is a fantasy of slick, dark, chocolate cake, with hazelnut cream, fresh raspberries, chocolate buttercream and a final chocolate ganache glaze. Oucho!
(that’s actually a tango step!)
Underground Baker's Secret Carrot Cake Recipe
A great, moist classic carrot cake. The lemon-scented cream cheese icing covers a tall carrot layer cake that is still spectacular, after all these years. In my heyday as an underground baker supplying restaurants all over the city with this famed cake, I tinted extra cream cheese icing with enough cinnamon to make a cinnamon-hued decorator icing. Very fetching. Very trademark.