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Desserts

Baking for comfort, baking for memories: Why these cranberry cookies remind me of my mom

Can you smell the cookies? Yes, it’s happening: I’m baking! It’s 86 degrees in here, very humid, and the air conditioning is on. The noise of the hood is cutting through the heat, yet – thankfully! – the little one is sound asleep on the silky brown carpet. I’m baking not because I’ve been craving cookies, nor because I enjoy sweating next to the hot oven, but because I need to feel that, somehow, my mom isΒ  still with me.

My mom went back to Europe last month, and we did several rounds of baking just before she left. We looked through her old recipe notebook – a bunch of butter-smeared and cocoa-dusted pages barely hanging in there – and found culinary gems we had long forgotten. We shared memories about the loved ones who are no longer with us, and my mom’s eyes often grew sad as her mind revisited the past. We spoke, baked and remembered, and traveling through time provided comfort and a bitter-sweet, almondy sense of happiness. Isn’t this what baking is all about? That’s what I think, anyway πŸ™‚

This is one of the recipes we revisited before my mom left for Europe. Keep Reading

What to make in my new cast iron skillet? An upside-down pineapple cake will do :-)

I can’t remember how many times I ate my aunt’s upside-down cake as a child, but one thing is for sure: I ate it a lot! This is a modified version of her 40+ year-old recipe. The original version uses apples, and its deep caramel flavor coupled with the refreshing lemon undertones makes it simply unbeatable as a dessert.

I recently went back in time and rediscovered this cake. I had bought several pineapples from the local grocery store and was tempted to use them in a cake, which would have made a nice change from our usual way of eating pineapple (fresh, on its own). I fondly remembered how my aunt sliced apples picked fresh from her countryside orchard to use them in this dessert. And then, the penny dropped: Why not recreate my aunt’s upside-down cake with pineapple instead of apples? With my cooking dilemma solved, I went straight into the kitchen. πŸ™‚

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Our Flag Day dessert: an ode to summer featuring strawberries and cream – and more!

It’s summer, and the floodgates of produce have opened! Who can resist the sweetness and freshness of berries, which are now at their peak of perfection? We for sure cannot. Thankfully, berries have been on sale these past few weeks, which means that we’ve been eating berries – lots and lots of them. I’ve also made two batches of raspberry jam (the recipe can be found here) and I am about to make a third. The abundance of fresh berries is one of the reasons I love summer so much. If only I had more time to cook, bake and generally experiment in the kitchen…

In this dessert I’ve used my beloved berries to visually pay homage to Flag Day, which is today. This sweet dish requires little preparation, and the result is deliciously simple and likely to satisfy the expectations of both adults and children. By the way, ricotta cheese is one of our daughter’s favorite cheeses (she’s a cheeseaholic, just like her mom πŸ™‚ ).

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My review of the Lovely: a bake shop holiday menu: Sweetness has never tasted better!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been eating a lot of sweets lately. I don’t think it’s just my body’s response to the stress and exhaustion of these past few weeks – I also believe it’s got something to do with the season. Between my mother-in-law’s baking at home and numerous lunches and potlucks at work, the sweet tooth, pie & coffee cake aficionada in me has never felt happier!

For me, now is the perfect time to indulge and to try to put the worries and challenges of this past year behind me. Lovely: a bake shop provided the perfect opportunity for me to do just that, when they recently invited me to sample their holiday sweets menu. I happily obliged – and off I went πŸ™‚

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Happy Thanksgiving! Our vegan pumpkin strudel – at least as good as pumpkin pie :-)

Have you ever been afraid to make pastry dough? I have – and I still am! Luckily, my mother-in-law has recently given me the recipe below, which is an easy to make, but also economical (no eggs, no butter!) strudel-type pastry.

I am a big fan of strudel, that Austrian multi-layered pastry which is not just delicious, but also versatile. I literally grew up eating apple strudels, lol Meanwhile, my husband loves ricotta&raisinΒ  strudel, and always wants me to make more. As a matter of fact, yesterday I brought ricotta strudel to a pre-Thanksgiving party at work, and everybody loved it – and how couldn’t they? Light as a feather and delicately powdered with sugar, this dessert can brighten up any meal, and any occasion, Thanksgiving included. I made it for Halloween last month, and I’m making it again for Thanksgiving. We just can’t seem to get enough of it πŸ™‚
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I made “Little Lies” cookies: a story of sweetness and… lies?

“Tell me lies/Tell me sweet little lies” – this is how Fleetwood Mac’s song goes. I love this song – and I also love the cookies I am going to write about today. πŸ™‚

This is a traditional fried cookie recipe I have from my mother, and intriguingly enough, the name of these cookies can be translated as “little lies.” You can find them in the Polish cuisine too, where they are called “angel wings.” To us though, they are “little lies.” I have been wondering why they bear this name in our cuisine. Is it because the exterior fools you into thinking they are crispy like cannoli or like the angel wings (their Polish counterpart), when in fact they are soft and light as a feather? Or is it because they trick you by appearing complicated, when in fact they couldn’t be easier to make? Questions and assumptions aside, these are delicious, quick to prepare, and very economical – you’ll get a lot of cookies if you use the quantities below.

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Raspberries and cream: a chilled dessert for overly hot weather!

The other day I checked out one of my dessert posts from last year, and I became nostalgic: So much has happened in my life since I wrote this post! I had a great vacation, a very busy fall semester – and then I became a parent! Being a first-time parent has definitely altered my priorities, and has given my life a new meaning and impetus. I am different, older and wiser – or so I think πŸ™‚

I checked out this dessert because I needed a quick and easy dish to satisfy my family’s sweet cravings. I had planned to do some baking, but the weather was too hot to turn on the oven. Cooking on the stovetop was too challenging too, so in the end I made a very simple raspberries& cream dessert. After all, with the raspberry season upon us, now is the perfect time to eat raspberries on their own or to use them in a variety of dishes. Keep Reading