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Oct 27, 2016
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Baked: Chocolate Chip-Orange Muffins

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016



I never know what to do with an abundance of buttermilk. I can’t stomach drinking it straight – it tastes too much like spoiled milk to me. But when added to baked goods, buttermilk produces the most delectable crumb, making it perfect for morning muffins. This chocolate chip-orange version is heavenly: light and moist with plenty of chocolate and orange zest to go around. They’re big, puffy and delicate, and they pair perfectly with tea or coffee.


Chocolate Chip-Orange Muffins
Adapted from a recipe at Little Sweet Baker 
14 servings

2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp. orange zest
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. turbinado sugar (or any coarse sugar)

• Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line 2 muffin pans with paper liners.
• In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the buttermilk, granulated sugar, eggs, orange zest and vanilla until combined.
• Use a spatula to gently fold in the melted butter, then fold in the chocolate chips until just combined, scraping from the bottom to make sure there are no streaks of flour in the batter.
• Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups, then sprinkle the turbiando sugar over the tops of each muffin.
• Bake 5 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until the tops begin to brown and bounce back when touched. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Baked: Chai-Chocolate Chip Scones

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016



Chai and chocolate is an underrated combination. Aromatic spices like cinnamon, cardamom and clove enhance chocolate’s rich flavor. These scones have a crusty, crispy edge and a soft, delicate crumb inside, with a hint of spice at the end of every bite. They’re best on a Sunday morning for family or friends visiting. It’s hard to eat just one.


Chai-Chocolate Chip Scones
Adapted from a recipe at Sally’s Baking Addiction 
6 scones

2 cups (250 g.) all-purpose flour*, plus more for dusting
2½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ cup (1 stick) cold butter, grated or cubed
½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. buttermilk, divided
½ cup (100 g.) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. chai spice mix (recipe follows)
1¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp. coarse sugar

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
• In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the butter, then use your fingers to rub the butter into the ingredients until the mixture is coarsely combined.
• Add ½ cup buttermilk, sugar, egg, chai spice mix and vanilla extract, then use a spatula or your hand to almost bring the mixture together. Add the chocolate chips and gently mix to combine, taking care not to overwork the dough.
• Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour and turn the dough out on it. Use your hands to forma 6-inch disk, then use a sharp knife to divide into 6 equal wedges.
• Place scones on the baking sheet with room between them to spread. Brush the scones with the remaining 1 tablespoon buttermilk and sprinkle with the coarse sugar.
• Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly golden and cooked through. Let cool about 10 minutes before serving.

*For the best texture, I recommend weighing the flour. 


Chai Spice Mix

In a small bowl, combine ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon, 1¼ teaspoons ground cardamom, ¾ teaspoon ground ginger, ½ teaspoon ground allspice, ½ teaspoon ground cloves and ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg. Store covered in an airtight container.


Amrita Song is the owner and baker at Mila Sweets and blogs at Chai & Dumplings

Baked: Oatmeal-Flaxseed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016



It’s hard to make a chocolate chip cookie healthy, but this recipe comes close. I stumbled across versions of this while searching for a lactation cookie recipe for a friend. Lactation cookies are meant to help nursing mothers increase milk production through the addition of brewer’s yeast. This chocolate chip cookie recipe omits the yeast, but it does add old-fashioned oats and flaxseed, providing a healthy dose of fiber for anyone. If you do add brewer’s yeast, you’ll find provides a slightly bitter, umami note that pairs well with chocolate. With or without yeast, it’s difficult for anyone to stop eating these chewy sweet treats. Enjoy and happy baking!


Oatmeal-Flaxseed Chocolate Chip Cookies
About 2 dozen

¾ cup (1½ sticks) room-temperature butter
4 Tbsp. coconut oil
1¼ cups sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1½ cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1¼ cups chocolate chips

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.
• In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter, coconut oil and sugar on high speed until the mixture is fluffy and light, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and beat on medium speed until combined.
• Use a rubber spatula to mix in the oats, flour, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt until there are no streaks of flour left and a thick dough forms. Fold in the chocolate chips.
• Use a spoon or your hands to scoop about 2 tablespoons dough. Roll into a ball and place on the baking sheet. Repeat until all dough is used, leaving some space between the dough in case the cookies spread.
• Bake 12 to 14 minutes, until the edges are golden. Let cool completely before removing them from the pan.

*To make lactation cookies, add 1/3 cup brewer’s yeast when mixing in the dry ingredients.

Amrita Song is the owner and baker at Mila Sweets and blogs at Chai & Dumplings

Baked: Beef and Cheddar Hand Pies

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016



I made these hand pies for fun one day, when I wanted to bring something tasty to a picnic but without the fuss of plates and utensils. Working with pie dough can sometimes be frustrating, it’s worth it. The end result is a buttery, flaky crust with a savory, meaty filling on the inside. Since the filling is precooked, you can sample and adjust it to your preferences. Enjoy and happy baking!


Beef and Cheddar Hand Pies
Adapted from a recipe by Martha Stewart
4 servings

½ lb. 80-20 ground beef
½ white onion, thinly sliced
½ Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper or red chili flakes to taste
1½ cups shredded cheddar
1 batch pie dough, thawed (Recipe here.)
Flour, for dusting
1 large egg, lightly beaten

• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
• In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the beef with onions and garlic, breaking up the meat until it begins to brown and the onion soften, 7 to 10 minutes. Drain some of the fat from the skillet.
• Stir in the Worcestershire, mustard, salt and pepper. Remove from heat, stir in the cheese and set aside.
• Sprinkle a large flat work surface with flour and roll out the pie dough to ¼-inch thick. Use a 4½-inch round cookie cutter to cut 16 circles from the dough, rolling the dough out as needed.
• Place 8 dough circles onto the baking sheet. Place 1½ tablespoons beef filling in the middle of the circles, leaving a ½ inch of dough clear around the edges. Cover each with the remaining 8 dough circles, pressing around the edges of each with a fork to seal. Use the fork to poke a few holes in the top of each hand pie to vent.
• Brush the beaten egg over the tops of each hand pie.
• Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until the edges are browned. Let cool a few minutes before eating.

Baked: Ginger Peach Tarte Tatin

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016



The Song household is still peach crazy. Today, I opted for a simple tarte Tatin, swapping apples for peaches. A classic tarte Tatin covers caramelized apples with puff pastry. It is baked and then flipped onto a serving dish to reveal a wonderfully simple and delicious dessert akin to a pie but even easier to put together.

In this version, buttery, flaky pastry cushions warm peaches punched up with fresh ginger for a zippy finish. I used a heavenly European-style cultured salted butter I found at Trader Joe’s that tempered the sweetness and added a lovely tang. Serve a slice of this decadent treat plain or with whipped cream or ice cream. Either way, it’ll disappear in a day. Enjoy and happy baking!


Ginger Peach Tarte Tatin
Adapted from a recipe at Port and Fin
1 9-inch tarte

3 large peaches, peeled and pitted
1/3 cup cultured salted butter (or regular salted butter)
¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
½ Tbsp. freshly grated ginger
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
Fresh whipped cream or ice cream for serving

• Cut each peach into 6 wedges and set aside.
• In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the sugar, swirling the pan every so often until the sugar caramelizes to a light brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
• Remove from heat and add the ginger, then the peaches in a tight, even layer, making sure each wedge touches the bottom of the pan.
• Return the pan to the stove over medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes, until the peaches have softened and the caramel is thick and syrupy.
• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan or pie pan with nonstick spray.
• Pour the peaches into the pan and spread into an even layer. Cover with the puff pastry, then use a sharp knife to trim any overhanging dough so it fits inside the pan. Cut several small slits in the top to release moisture during baking. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until puffed and golden brown.
• Let cool 10 minutes. Use a sharp knife to run it along the edge of the pastry so nothing sticks. Place the serving dish on top of the tarte, then quickly invert the cake pan, flipping the tart onto the serving dish. (Tap a bit if the tart sticks.) Slice and serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Baked: Broccolini Melt

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016



These broccolini melts are perfect for any meal or cut into smaller pieces for appetizers. Broccolini is similar to its cousin broccoli, but it has longer, thinner stems and a subtler flavor. Imagine gently sauteed, crunchy broccolini with garlic, onions and copious amounts of cheese, all atop a lovely piece of toast. It’s like a healthier version of grilled cheese. Customize with different types of bread and cheese, or make it extra decadent with an egg on top. Enjoy and happy baking!


Broccolini Melt
Adapted from a recipe at Smitten Kitchen
4 servings

1 lb. broccolini, chopped into 2-inch pieces
1 Tbsp. water
Kosher salt to taste
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 small or medium shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, plus more to taste
⅓ cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
8 thin slices cheddar cheese
8 slices sturdy bread, toasted

• Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
• In a medium microwave-safe bowl, add the broccolini and water and season with salt. Cover with a lid or damp paper towel and microwave 2 to 3 minutes, until the broccolini is tender but crunchy. Drain well and pat dry, then chop into ½-inch pieces.
• In a saute pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook 1 to 2 minutes, until the garlic begins to brown. Add the broccolini and cook 2 minutes, seasoning with additional salt.
• Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add the balsamic vinegar, pecorino and red pepper flakes, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
• Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then arrange the bread. Evenly divide the broccolini mixture among the bread, the top each with a slice of cheddar. Bake 8 minutes, until the cheese melts and bubbles on top.

Baked: Peaches and Cream Popsicles

Thursday, July 21st, 2016




The Song household has gone peach crazy. We recently went peach picking at Eckert’s Farm, and my overzealous husband came home with 11 pounds of this summer stunner. Of course, peaches are juicy and tasty as is, but I wanted to toss them in fresh fruity desserts.

Peach popsicles are incredibly easy and fun to make. Freshly roasted peaches and gently sweetened vanilla yogurt make for a wonderful combination. It’s light, refreshing and healthier than a scoop of peach pie a la mode. These are perfect for summer – the oven sees minimal use, and cold treats are the perfect antidote to this blistering heat wave. Enjoy and happy baking!


Peaches and Cream Popsicles
Adapted from a recipe by What’s Gaby Cooking 
6 servings

4 large peaches, pitted and chopped
½ cup honey, divided
½ cup Greek yogurt
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, scraped
Small pinch of sea salt

• Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
• Toss the peaches in a bowl with ¼ cup honey, then spread the peaches out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast until the peaches are soft and fragrant, about 20 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then remove and let cool to room temperature.
• In the bowl of a food processor or blender, pulse the peaches once or twice to create a chunky mix. Set aside.
• In a separate bowl, whisk together the Greek yogurt, milk and the remaining ¼ cup honey. Stir in the vanilla and sea salt until smooth.
• Alternate spoonfuls of the peach mixture and yogurt mixtures in the ice pop molds until they are filled. Add sticks in the center of each ice pop and freeze until set, 4 to 5 hours.
• To remove, run the mold under warm water  15 seconds, then pull gently until the popsicle release.


Baked: Pistachio Raspberry Muffins

Thursday, July 7th, 2016



I was devastated when my doctor recently informed me that I must switch to a gluten-free diet, likely for the rest of my life. While I no longer partake of flour-based goodies (I do still bake them for my job and for friends.), I’m learning to adapt and develop naturally gluten-free treats that don’t use highly processed gluten-free flour blends.

I was craving one of my pistachio raspberry muffins, so I swapped the traditional all-purpose flour for nut flours instead. Finely ground almonds can do wonders as a replacement for AP flour, and rice flour just adds a bit more texture. Finally, pistachios and raspberries balance each other with tartness and nuttiness. Enjoy and happy baking!


Gluten-free Pistachio Raspberry Muffins
Adapted from a recipe in The Afternoon Tea Collection by Pamela Clark
1 dozen

4 oz. (½ stick) butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs
2 cups almond flour*
½ cup pistachio flour*
½ cup rice flour
1 tsp. baking soda
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup raspberries
2 Tbsp. coarse sugar

• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
• In a large mixing bowl, use an electric hand mixer on high speed, beat the butter and granulated sugar together until soft and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low and add the vanilla and the eggs 1 at a time until combined.
• And the almond flour, pistachio flour, rice flour, baking soda and salt. Use a spatula to combine, than gently fold almost all the raspberries, reserving a few to top the muffins.
• Evenly divide the batter among the muffin cups. Top each with the remaining raspberries and sprinkle with the coarse sugar.
• Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached. Let cool completely before eating.

*Almond flour and pistachio flour are available at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

Baked: Chicken Biryani

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016



Biryani is a spiced rice dish with roots in countries across the Middle East and South Asia. It is essentially a layered baked dish that alternates spiced rice and marinated meat. My sister came up with this recipe and after she shared it with me, I wanted to share it with you.

Though biryani can be spicy, I’ve kept it minimal here, but feel free to add more to your taste. Shan brand spice packets can be found at Global Foods Market and Indian specialty markets. Serve this dish with a side of raita, a cooling Indian yogurt side that will calm the spice. Enjoy and happy baking!

Chicken Biryani
4 to 6 servings

½ cup milk
1 tsp. saffron
2 cups basmati rice
4 peppercorns
2 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp. vegetable or canola oil, plus more for frying
½ large onion, thinly sliced
4 roma tomatoes, quartered
¼ cup European-style plain yogurt
6 cloves garlic
2 to 3 Tbsp. Shan Spice Mix for Special Bombay Biryani*, cardamom seeds removed, plus more to taste
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 Tbsp. (½ stick) butter, thinly sliced and divided
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh mint
Raita for serving (recipe follows)

• Warm the milk in a small pot over medium heat. Remove from heat, pour into a small bowl and soak the saffron in the milk. Set aside.
• Cook the rice according to package directions, adding the peppercorns, cloves and cinnamon stick before cooking. Let cool completely. Remove the aromatics, if desired.
• Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
• In a large pan with high sides, warm 1 inch oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and fry until medium to dark brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the onions and place on a paper towel-lined plate and let cool. Set aside.
• In a blender, puree the tomatoes, yogurt, garlic and spice mix together in a blender until smooth. Set aside.
• In a clean nonstick skillet, warm 1 teaspoon vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on all sides, then stir in the yogurt mixture. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
• In an 8-by-10-inch baking dish, spread half the rice in an even layer, followed by ¼ cup of the milk and 2 tablespoons butter. Add the chicken and cover with the remaining rice, ¼ cup milk and butter. Sprinkle with mint.
• Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes. Garnish with the fried onions and serve with raita on the side.

1½ cup

½ cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 cup European-style plain yogurt
3 Tbsp. water, plus more to taste
2 Tbsp. sugar, plus more to taste
2 tsp. chaat masala*

• In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Season to taste with sugar or water

*Shan spice mixes and chaat masala are available at Global Foods Market in Kirkwood or Indian specialty markets.

Baked: Leftover Cake Trifle

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016



I never like to throw anything away, so when I came across these unfrosted white chocolate-vanilla cupcakes taking up space in my freezer, I decided to put together quick individual trifles for a dinner party. After all, cake, custard, spring berries and freshly whipped cream is a winning combination.

I’ve actually shared part of this recipe with you before. The cupcakes are a simple, plain vanilla cake with white chocolate chunks stirred in. They’re moist, lovely and pair well with fresh fruit and cream. Serve it in glass cups, so people can see the layers and feel free to experiment with other cake flavors, flavored creams or different fruits. Enjoy and happy baking!


Leftover Cake Trifle
Adapted from a recipe at Smitten Kitchen 
8 to 12 servings

2 cups whole milk
6 large egg yolks
½ cup granulated sugar
4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups heavy whipping cream
6 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1 batch White Chocolate-Vanilla Cupcakes (recipe here), cubed
1 cup sliced strawberries and raspberries

• Make a vanilla custard by heating the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until very warm but not boiling. Keep warm and set aside.
• In a medium bowl, vigorously whisk together the egg yolks and sugar it pales in color. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Slowly drizzle in the warm milk, whisking until it comes together.
• Return the liquid to the saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly until it bubbles and thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Immediately add the vanilla and the butter and whisk until the butter is melted. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
• Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the cream and powdered sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
• To assemble the trifles, evenly divide the cake cubes between 8 to 12 glass cups. Evenly divide ½ cup strawberries and raspberries among the cups, then top each with a generous dollop of vanilla custard followed by a dollop of whipped cream. Top each with the remaining ½ cup strawberries and raspberries. Refrigerate until chilled; serve within 1 hour to prevent the cake from getting soggy.


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