Pumpkin Pie French Toast

Posted by on Oct 11, 2012 in Breakfast, Brunch | 3 Comments



“C’mon, buddy. Open the door. It’s okay.”


“No one’s going to yell at you. For, you know, locking yourself in the bathroom. With my purse. And my car keys. And my phone.”


“That’s very sweet, Ty, but I have to go home, okay buddy? Mom’s home now. And I really, really need to get home.”




“TYLER. I will give you a cookie.”

“Five cookies, Ty. You can have five whole cookies.”


“It’s practically dinner time, Tyler! I think your mom is making broccoli! TAKE THE DEAL.”



“Make it ten.”

It’s been that kind of week, am I right, world? Right now I am facing a To-Do list that’s threatening to come down on me like an avalanche. I am wearing new jeans and they are too tight. Like, not this tight, but jussssst tight enough so that I feel a little bit like I’m dying all day and also can tight pants give you a headache? (and also, what was I thinking? Send the pants back! SEND BACK ALL THE PANTS). It’s been raining in fits and spurts for what feels like weeks. Plus, I keep waking up and thinking it’s Friday which is the worst on every day that it is not remotely true, not even close, sorry. And I know I’m not alone because Nicole sent me these pictures with a similarly hysterical “There’s too much to do, ahhhh!” undertone.

And you know what, I’m not going to apologize for complaining. No. I’m not going to make that prerequisite “I know, I know, there are real problems going on in the world and here’s where I’ll list them and pull myself out of my whining with a few sentences oh look, it worked.” Nope. Sometimes weeks are hard. Sometimes it’s colder than you thought it would be and you are tired. Sometimes you need ten cookies to be lured out of your room. Sometimes you need breakfast for dinner.

Sometimes you need pumpkin pie french toast for dinner. These are those times, my friends. Enjoy.

Pumpkin Pie French Toast

Source: closetcooking.com | Makes 4 Servings | Print Recipe


2 Eggs
1/4 Cup of milk
1/4 Cup of pumpkin puree
1/4 Teaspoon vanilla
1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon ginger
1/8 Teaspoon cloves
1/8 Teaspoon nutmeg
2 TBsp of brown sugar
8 Slices of bread


1. In a low, flat bowl, mix the eggs, milk, pumpkin puree, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and brown sugar. (I like a casserole dish, personally. – JC)

2. Heat your preferred French Toast frying pan over medium heat. (Tip: Drizzle a little bit of egg mixture on the skillet. If it sizzles a bit, it’s ready. If it burns, the pan is too hot.)

3. Dip the bread into the egg mixture on both sides and grill in a pan until lightly golden brown, about 2-3 minute per side.

Caramelized Banana Bread with Browned Butter Glaze

Posted by on Sep 26, 2012 in Breads, Breakfast, Brunch, Desserts | 4 Comments


At some point, there were no more tears to be shed. Polly wasn’t sure when it happened exactly but she caught herself mid-laugh and clapped a hand over her mouth. 

Her friend Anna smiled from her place on the floor. They were sitting cross-legged across from each other, the tin of swiped bread between them, the two forks sticking out of it like a pair of rogue antenna. A good portion of the sticky, sweet banana bread now resided in Polly’s stomach. She could practically feel it soaking up the homesickness she felt there- or she had felt, anyway, before Anna had appeared in the doorway of the cabin, stolen treats in hand and with understanding smile.


A lot of my stories lately seem to be about kind-hearted strangers bringing baked goods to people in distress. Have you noticed that? You haven’t? Well, you probably notice now that I’ve said it.

I don’t plan these things- I write what I want to write. And obviously I’m either feeling extremely charitable lately or I’m passive-aggressively trying to force you to bake me something and bring it to me so that I may eat it. If I were still in Chicago, I could just show up at Nicole’s house and demand that she hand it over. Alas, this is not to be. I have to make this Caramelized Banana Bread with Browned Butter Glaze myself, oh poor Judi with all the bread to eat.

Or maybe I’m just trying to reinforce an idea here. This notion of spontaneous kindness. Of the comfort you can bring someone just by caring a little bit more than expected of you. Of how much love is available to you and how much you have within you to give away to someone else. Maybe that’s it.

Maybe it just needed overstating.


Caramelized Banana Bread with Browned Butter Glaze

Source: Cooking Light | Makes one 9×5” loaf pan | Print Recipe



4 TBSPs of butter, softened and divided
3/4 Cup of packed dark brown sugar
3 Medium-sized, ripe bananas, sliced
1/2 Cup of fat free buttermilk
3 TBSPs of canola oil
2 TBSPS of amber or gold rum
2 Large eggs
9 Ounces of all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
3/4 Teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 Teaspoon of salt
Baking spray with flour (such as Baker’s Joy)


1/3 Cup of powdered sugar
2 Teaspoons of Half and Half


Make bread:

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

3. Add brown sugar and bananas; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Remove from heat; cool 10 minutes.

5. Place banana mixture in a large bowl.

6. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth.

7. Combine buttermilk and next 3 ingredients (through eggs).

8. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt.

9. Add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately to banana mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat at low speed just until combined.

10. Scrape batter into a 9 x 5-inch metal loaf pan coated with baking spray.

11. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging.

12. Cool for 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack.

13. Remove bread from pan, and cool on wire rack.

Make glaze:

1. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a small, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat.

2. Cook 3 minutes or until butter begins to brown; remove from heat.

3. Add powdered sugar and half-and-half, stirring with a whisk until smooth.

4. Drizzle glaze over bread.

5. Let stand until glaze sets.

Beggins Crumb Cake

Posted by on Sep 12, 2012 in Breakfast, Brunch, Desserts | 3 Comments

Oh, my bad. I think we’re supposed to be writing about fruit.

Delicious, in-season, late summer fruit. Surely this cake can wait until it’s February and we are drowning in root vegetables. Right?

Peaches and blueberries and apricots, oh my! And instead, we made you a crumb cake. A crumb cake that’s not really technically a crumb cake (it’s probably closer to a cake with crumbly shortbread on top). A crumb cake that I have eaten, at least a few times a year, for almost thirty years.

When Nicole asked if I had a recipe for crumb cake handy, I could practically smell this cake. There are certain dishes that provide a rush of sensory memory and this is definitely one of them for me. The kitchen and the oven and the very homes where both resided may have changed many, many times over the last thirty years but come by for a special occasion and chances are very good that this cake was cooling on the table; big, fat, buttery crumbs sinking into pliable yellow cake and a Cutrone child sneaking up to steal a bite. This is my mother’s cake.

Okay, really, it’s Mr. Beggins’ cake. Here are the exact notes from my sister Melissa when I asked for the recipe:

Mom got this recipe from Mr. and Mrs. Beggins (Jenn and my 3rd grade teacher).  It’s always been a crowd favorite.

My sister Jenn, incidentally, is practically a professional Crumb Picker. She can swipe a giant chunk of crumb from the top and make it look like no crime has been committed. Such is her gift (second only to her uncanny ability to be missing when it’s time to clear the table after dinner). Such is the beauty of this cake. Instead of those shaky, trembly crumbs from most crumb cakes, this topping will come off in giant nugget-form. You won’t be able to resist them. Just try it, I dare you.

Nicole, poor soul, came to this recipe with a little trepidation. “THREE STICKS OF BUTTER?!” she emailed back. “Um, are you sure that’s right? Most crumb cake recipes only call for a stick, maybe a stick and a half.” I assured her it was right.

When it came time to take the pan out of the oven, she IMed me. “The top is sinking,” she wrote. “Did I do something wrong?” I asked her to snap a photo and send it to me. What I saw made me grin. (Like in the last episode of Sex and the City when Charlotte sees a picture of her baby.)  I wiped a stray tear from my eye. That’s it. That’s the cake.

Crumb Cake

Source: Mr. and Mrs. Beggins | Makes one 9 x 13 inch cake or two 8×8 inch cakes


For the cake:

1 box of yellow cake mix (plus ingredients required on box)

For the topping:

2 Cups of flour
1 Cup of sugar
3 Sticks of butter (soft but not melted)


1. Prepare box cake mix as directed.

2. Cook cake until ALMOST done (top of the cake should be firm but the filling a bit wobbly).

3. To make the crumb topping, combine the flour, sugar and butter and using a fork or fingers mix together.

4. Sprinkle on almost-finished cake and continue to bake until crumb topping turns brownish gold.

Bacon, Egg & Toast Cuplets

Posted by on Jun 15, 2012 in Breakfast, Brunch | One Comment

Act IV. Scene III.

Enter Octavia and her maid Palermo.


Do not try to console me! I am beyond your council!


My lady. Here. Rest thy head on thee’s pet lamb Rosalinda.


Nay! Get thee Rosalinda from my sight! [Lamb scurries, squealing]


I swear to thee, youth. Rest thy head and be silent but for a moment! All will be well.


Palermo, get thee from my sight also!


If thist pleases you, my lady. I shall take the cheese tray down, for you have no appetite to share your misery.




My lady? Have you rescinded? Shall I fetch Rosalinda for thy cheek?


Leave the tray. Leave me with the cheese and be of thanks that you are but a maid and share none of my troubles. 


There’s a book out there, in the world, maybe you’ve seen it: My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals by Melanie Dunea. It’s pretty self-explanatory. In portraits, recipes and interviews, chefs like Ferran Adria, Jacques Pepin, and Suzanne Goin share their ideal last meal. The clock is about to strike midnight, everything’s about to go dark and someone arrives with a tray- what’s on the tray? What do you reach for?

Mine resembles the recipe we’re featuring this week, although not nearly as precious and brunch-ready. A slab of freshly baked white bread, a farm-fresh egg or two fried in butter, a sprinkle of sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, thick slabs of crispy bacon and a slice of ripe avocado. This is enough to make me purely, perfectly happy and it does not escape me that if I fall into a time machine and literally arrive in any other time in history, I can basically be assured of getting roughly this meal if there’s a farm or some peasants nearby. I like to be prepared for all hypotheticals, really.

So. The clock is about to strike midnight, everything’s about to go dark and someone arrives with a tray- what’s on the tray? What do you reach for?

Bacon, Egg, and Toast Cuplets

Source: Martha Stewart | Makes 6 | Print Recipe


3 TBsps of unsalted butter, melted
8 Slices of white or whole-wheat sandwich bread
6 Slices of bacon
6 Large eggs
Coarse salt and ground pepper


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Lightly butter 6 standard muffin cups.

3. With a rolling pin, flatten bread slices slightly and, with a 4 and 1/4-inch cookie cutter, cut into 8 rounds.

4. Cut each round in half, then press 2 halves into each muffin cup, overlapping slightly and making sure bread comes up to edge of cup.

5. Use extra bread to patch any gaps. Brush bread with remaining butter.

6. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium, until almost crisp, 4 minutes, flipping once. (It will continue to cook in the oven.)

7. Lay 1 bacon slice in each bread cup and crack an egg over each.

8. Season with salt and pepper.

9. Bake until egg whites are just set, 20 to 25 minutes.

10. Run a small knife around cups to loosen toasts. Serve immediately. Nom.


Rosemary Buttermilk Pound Cake

Posted by on May 9, 2012 in Breads, Brunch, Desserts | 10 Comments

Something inside her struggled against her mother’s words, a long burrowed instinct that wanted to rebel, to kick out against them. And suddenly there was a memory in the place where her mother’s voice had been, something long forgotten. She was at a neighbor’s house. She was small, incredibly young, maybe three years old. She slipped and fell in the pool in the backyard and her mother jumped into the pool. Constance heard the splash, could feel the cold chill of the water enveloping her, the wave her mother created.

Constance was small and the pool deep but she was not afraid. Her falling into the pool was a slip of a moment in Constance’s life, nothing more than passing the ketchup at dinner or slamming her bedroom door as a teenager. Her mother had grabbed hold of her so fast, had pulled her up and into her arms and held her there, her head and face high above the line of water. Constance had laughed.

That is an excerpt from my book.

A book I would not have without my mother.

I say that for the obvious reasons- for one thing, I clearly would not exist without her. Clearly.

For another, I would not love books without her. My mother had four children, I’m the third, and the majority of the pictures around when I was small consist of her gazing into the camera with half-closed eyes. Don’t get me wrong- she is as beautiful then as she is now but nobody could look at those pictures and not think, “Wow, she looks exhausted.” Four children will do that to a person. I can only imagine. And yet she read to me. A lot.

Even she admits that she does not how she was able to do this. It’s like those moments of her and me, a book between us, were strangely apart from the rest of her busy day, like the hour before and the hour after just kind of pulled until there was this extra time, this nowhere time. I learned to love stories there, in her lap. That’s important.

When I told her I wanted to write, she didn’t laugh. She didn’t fret. She honestly didn’t look too surprised.

If, over the years, my transient adventures made her increasingly nervous, she would share her fears that I wouldn’t make it, that it would never happen for me, that it was too tough out there, in private, to my father, behind closed doors. All she would say to me is that she was happy if I was happy. Which I was. Which I am.

When I sat down to write my first book, it seemed natural to make it about a mother’s love. And then, the second book turned out to be about that too. Isn’t that funny?

Thank you, Mama.

What do you want to thank your mom for? Share it with us.

You’ll be happy you did. Promise.

Buttermilk Rosemary Pound Cake

Source: Adapted from allrecipes.com | Total Time: 1 hr 45 min. | Makes 1 9-inch or 10-inch tube pan | Print Recipe


3 Cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 Teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 Teaspoon of salt
1 Cup of butter
3 Cups of white sugar
6 Eggs
3 Teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
1 TBSP of fresh rosemary, chopped
1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 Cup of buttermilk


1. Preheat oven to 325° F.

2. Butter 1 9-inch or 10-inch loaf pan.

3. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

4. In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar.

5. Mix in the eggs, one at time, beating well after each addition.

6. Stir in the lemon juice, vanilla extract and chopped rosemary.

7. Gently mix in flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Do not overmix.

8. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

9. Bake in preheated oven for 90 minutes. Do not open oven door until after one hour. When cake begins to pull away from the side of the pan, it is done.

10. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Serve warm with honey.

Americano Cupcakes

Posted by on May 1, 2012 in Brunch, Desserts | 9 Comments

It was just a game really. Or at least, that’s how it started. Actually, it started because he was bored. 

After all, how many times could he write names on cups, name after name after name, cup after cup after cup, without going just the tiniest bit stir-crazy? One day, he just did it. Under Sally’s name, he scribbled, “Has a pretty smile.” He slipped the cup down the line and the others picked it up, filled it, cleaned up the sides, slapped on a lid, slid it down the counter and Jas called out, “Sally!” and when Sally walked up for her coffee and took it, Sammy was paying attention.

He watched her take the cup and glance down at the side, to make sure it was really hers, and when she spotted her name and the handwritten scrawl underneath, Sammy watched her pause in mid-step. He was supposed to be writing on cups, keep writing on the cups, but instead he stopped too. He watched as her face changed. Gone was the empty scowl of her rushed morning, if just for a moment. It slipped off her face like a mask.

 Carol Ann… has nice eyes.

Kelly… seems sweet to me.

Patsie… looks like she’s a good friend.

Lindzey… has a great laugh.


Florence… sounds like spring

Maddie… this is a hug.

Liz… this is a smile.

Stella Marie… thanks for all you do.

Pamela… please have a good day. For me.

Here’s how this all went down:

– Spent way too much time on Fatties Delight (as usual)

– Locked eyes with I Am Baker’s snaps of the Coffee Cream Cake from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier. Cake and I started dancing edgily towards one another, Liz Lemon-style. That coffee-flavored icing did a shimmy, tried to cut in, we sent it to the bar to get us drinks.

– Sent it to my cupcake-crazy friend Katie who had, oh, such an unusual suggestion (“Let’s turn them into cupcakes!”) So unlike her.

– (Me: And we’ll fill them!)

– (Her: With whipped cream! They’ll be like little Americano cupcakes!)

– (Me: And chocolate! And ganache! And coffee! Ina! Ganache! AND AND-)

– (Her: Calm down.)


– (Her: Maybe more caffeine is a bad idea.)

These cupcakes are… not a bad idea. They are a good idea.

The batter is thin which might frighten you at first, but they gave the tops such a wonderful, caramel-like crackle. Good crisp, tender crumb.

And lest you hear “coffee cake” and think cinnamon-streusel breakfast food, this is closer to coffee-flavored ice cream. As in, let’s try to make this cake taste like my coffee, instead of merely resting it beside my coffee.

All such good ideas.

Americano Cupcakes

Sources: I Am Baker, Ree Drummond and Ina Garten | Prep Time: 20 min | Cook Time: 13-16 min | Makes about 24 cupcakes | Print Recipe



1 Cup of butter
2 TBsps of instant coffee
1 Cup of boiling water
2 Cups of all-purpose flour
2 Cups of sugar
1/4 Teaspoon of salt
1/2 Cup of buttermilk
2 Eggs
2 Teaspoons of baking soda
1 TBsp of vanilla


1 Cup of whipping cream
1 Teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1 TBsp of powdered sugar


1/2 Cup of whipping cream
8 Ounces of good semisweet chocolate chips
2 Teaspoons of instant coffee granules


1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Melt the butter in a saucepan on the stove. Once the butter is melted, add in the instant coffee. Pour in boiling water and remove from heat. Whisk until fully combined and then set aside.

3. In a large bowl, add flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Pour butter mixture over dry mixture and whisk together. Do not overmix.

4. In separate bowl (or a measuring cup), mix buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. Pour over batter and whisk until fully combined.

5. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

6. Pour batter into cups about 3/4 the way up and cook for 13-16 minutes or until an inserted toothpick is removed clean.

7. Let the cupcakes cool to room temperature.

8. Make the whipped cream by combining whipping cream, vanilla and powdered sugar in mixer and whip until almost stiff.

9. Using a sharp knife, cut into the top of the cupcake (you should pull out a cone-shaped piece of cake).

10. Insert a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

11. Slice bottom part of cone-cupcake piece so that just a cute top remains. Pop back on top of cupcake.

12. Make the ganache by setting a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Add cream, chocolate and instant coffee. Stir until smooth and warm.

13. Spoon some ganache on top of each cupcake and serve to standing ovation.

Honey Butter

Posted by on Nov 23, 2011 in Breakfast, Brunch, Side Dishes | 2 Comments



“Yes, sugar?”

“I just love you so, so much.”

“I love you too, Sug.”

“I’m so glad, Honey. One more thing though, if I may.”

“Yes, Love Muffin?”

“Now, you know I love you, right?”


“Well, you’ve got about a half a pound of butter on your face right now. Puddin’ Pop.”

I will admit, I’m feeling a little cracked out right now.

For one thing, I am old. For another, I went to a midnight showing of The Muppets movie last night. I got home late, crawled into bed, woke up to a sick dog and I’ve been in the kitchen ever since. I’m not going to lie- if you told me tomorrow was St. Patrick’s Day, I very well may believe you.

A quickie recipe for you today as you’re scrambling around for last-minute touches to your fantastic Thanksgiving feast (unless you’re not in America and tomorrow is, simply, Thursday. This recipe still works.) Two things you’re likely to have on hand- butter and honey. Combine them, spoon the lot into a little mason jar or shiny bowl, and serve them with your biscuits, your cornbread or a leftover crescent roll. It’s little touches like these that let the people you love know that you love them- that you think they’re special and deserving of these little moments of surprising sweetness. Love is in the details.

We’re thankful for you this year.

Happy Thanksgiving from Some Kitchen Stories.

Honey Butter

from Allrecipes.com


3/4 Cup of butter, room temperature
1/4 Cup of honey


1. Mix butter and honey in a small bowl until smooth.

2. Store in refrigerator. Or drop onto a piece of plastic wrap, roll up and store cold for a few days until chilled. Slice into patties.

Sticky, Sweet & Spiced Cinnamon Rolls

Posted by on Nov 21, 2011 in Breads, Breakfast, Brunch | 5 Comments

No story today. Because, you guys, Thanksgiving is almost here. How did this happen? Is anyone else wondering how this happened? Am I the only one who looked at the calendar this weekend and did a comical double-take?

I don’t mean to be competitive about this but Nicole’s cinnamon rolls came out better looking than mine. Which I suppose is fine considering she’s the photographer but still. STILL. I was the one who wanted to eat them the MOST. That should count for something. Also, I’m concerned that, after this recipe, you’re going to think that we have an addiction to maple glaze.

Also, when did I start sounding like Joy the Baker? Also, why do you think that’s a bad thing? Are you trying to start something with me, huh? Thanksgiving is in 3 days.

I’m going to go ahead and say “Screw wine” because showing up with a tray of homemade cinnamon rolls has to be the world’s best hostess gift. I’m not suggesting you make this for your family as you’re wrestling a 22 pound turkey into the oven (please stop crying) but I think it’s a lovely idea to make a tray for your host family, if you’re spending the holiday outside your own kitchen.

Think of it- they’ll wake up Friday morning and just pop these bad boys in the oven or in the microwave. And then the house will smell like nutmeg and cinnamon and cloaked maple syrup. Or they can wrap them up in foil and munch on them while on line at Best Buy at 4am (do you do that? I don’t do that.) Maybe they could even trade some for a better spot in line! And they’ll be so excited that they’ll buy a big screen TV that cost .48 cents and give it to YOU along with the free gift bag they received at the store? (I don’t know how Black Friday works).

These rolls take some time and attention and care but they’re light! And they have squash in them (squash!) so basically Congress will declare them a vegetable soon, that’s how healthy they are. Scant butter, loads of spice, flaky homemade bread. Put on some Lite FM, sing into some spoons and just devote your afternoon to them.

Cinnamon Rolls

Recipe from Cooking Light

Makes: 16 rolls | 5 pts. each (Weight Watchers) | Total Time: 2.5 Hours

Ingredients for Rolls

1 Cup of warm water (100° to 110° – test with a thermometer if you’re like me and you tend to panic over proofing yeast)
1 TBsp of granulated sugar
1 package of active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
About 2 and 1/2 cups of bread flour
About 1 and 1/4 cups plus 3 TBsp of all-purpose flour, divided
1 tsp of salt
1 and 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon, divided
1/4 tsp of ground nutmeg
Dash of ground cloves
1 Cup of mashed cooked delicata squash (about 1 [1-pound] squash)
1 TBsp of canola oil
Cooking spray
1/2 Cup of packed brown sugar
2 TBsp of butter, melted
2 tsp of water
3 TBsp of finely chopped walnuts, toasted

Ingredients for Glaze

1/3 cup water
1/2 cup maple sugar or light brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

*Note: Nicole had leftover maple glaze so she used that. The glaze in this recipe is delicious as well- it won’t be white but clear, in case you’re comparing to her photos.


1. Roast the squash. (Grievance: Cooking Light didn’t include this little instruction, which drives me crazy because I then had to some Internet searching, adding to an already lengthy prep session.) So, preheat oven to 375°F. Slice squash in half, length-wise, and scoop out seeds. Lay in baking dish, skin side down, with about 1/4 inch of water in the dish. Cover with foil and bake for 30 to 45 minutes. Let squash cool and then scoop out flesh into a bowl and mash with a fork.

2. Prepare the yeast. Combine first three roll ingredients and let stand for 10 minutes. If yeast doesn’t bubble (it’s more like a dense foam top), toss it and get fresher yeast.

3. Get your flour. Bread making is exact so use the “spoon and level” method with your flour. Get your large bowl or stand mixer. Combine 2 and 1/2 cups of bread flour, 1 and 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour, salt, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, nutmeg, and dash of cloves in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.

4. Add your wet ingredients. Add yeast mixture, mashed and cooled squash and oil and stir until just moist. Do not overstir or the dough could get tough.

5. Knead, baby. Use the dough hook on your machine or turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. Add 1 TBsp of flour at a time if you need it, to prevent dough from sticking to bowl/hands. After 6 minutes, dough should feel tacky.

6. Let is rise. Roll dough into a large bowl that’s coated with cooking spray, give the top a light spray too. Cover and let rise in a warm place (about 85%), free from drafts until doubled in size, at least 45 minutes. *Note: I put the bowl in the turned-off oven that was still slightly warm from cooking the squash. This worked well.

7. Preheat oven to 375°F.

8. Poke it and punch it. How do you know if the dough is ready? Poke it- if an indentation remains, the dough has risen enough and you may proceed. Punch dough in the face; cover and let rest for 5 minutes.

9. Make your filling & prep your dish. In a small bowl, combine remaining cinnamon, brown sugar, 2 TBsp of melted butter and 2 tsp of water. Take a 13 x 9 baking dish and coat with cooking spray.

10. Roll dough out. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 20 x 12 rectangle.

11. Smear. Spread mixture evenly over dough and leave a border of 1/4 inch along each side. Sprinkle evenly with nuts.

12. Roll dough up. Take the bottom, long side of the dough and roll up.

13. Cut. Cut the roll into 16 equal slices.

14. Arrange rolls, cut sides up, in your baking dish.

15. Bake for 33 minutes or until brown.

16. Cool rolls on a wire rack.

17. Make the glaze. Combine 1/3 cup of water and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir so sugar dissolves. Remove heat and stir in 1 TBsp of butter, the half-and-half and vanilla. Cool for 5 minutes.

18. Drizzle over rolls.

Smitty & The Tart (Ep. 1)

Posted by on Apr 22, 2011 in *Smitty & The Girl Series*, Brunch, Entrees, Pastry | One Comment

Smitty & The Girl (A Blog Novel)

Cliffwood Present Day

Elvira Toolidge put the coffee down with something like a slap. The coffee splashed up and over the sides. “Shoot,” Elvira muttered. She grabbed a napkin off the table, the one the man wasn’t using and wiped it all up. “Sorry about that.”

She was off before he could answer, before she could even see what he looked like or how he felt about her getting stale coffee all over the edges of his breakfast. She wouldn’t think of him at all, truthfully, until she collected the bill and found a pathetic quarter inside for a tip. A quarter. She was off her game that morning but was any service worthy of a measly, greasy quarter?

“Shoot,” she said again and this time, she pocketed the sad change and stole a few minutes in the hallway off the kitchen, the one opposite the hallway with the bathrooms. It was barely a hall, in truth, and only about a foot deep but it was the ideal place to lean up against the wall and catch your breath.

One of the girls a few years back had stuck a mirror up on the wall. It was too dark for them to do any good repair work on their makeup but suited their purposes all right. Elvira took her position against the wall and took stock of herself.

She was zeroing in on fifty. Some days, when sleep was decent and the weather was nice, she looked closer to forty. Today, she looked and felt about a hundred. Her brown hair, barely gray at the ears, was cricked at the top which is what happens, she thought with a scowl, when you fall asleep with wet hair and a strappy headband on. She tried, once more, to smooth down the strands but the little poof just popped right back up.

Her brown eyes were cracked with red and she’d been sloppy with her foundation that morning. The beauty mark over her eyebrow held no appeal in the mess that had become her face. And she’d gotten makeup on the collar of her white collared shirt. Hell.

She leaned her head back, reveling in the silence of the early morning shift. Smitty’s on a Monday morning, especially, was a breeze. It was only seven and the rush, if you could call it a rush on a Monday, wouldn’t shuffle in for another two hours.

Elvira felt her hand rest lightly against the tan wallpaper. Syl had insisted on texture the last time she’d went on a redecorating kick and the whole of the place was wrapped up in a series of lightly embossed circles. They complemented the new, globe-like light fixtures she had suspended over the mahogany tables, she’d explained at the time to no one.

Personally, Elvira thought she wasn’t being as subtle as she thought she was. Everything in the place was round now. The salt and pepper shakers were even globe-like- where she’d found them, God only knew. They were ugly as sin, a strange bluish marble and a pain to refill.

“Order up!” came the bark from behind her. The kitchen stood between the mini-hallway and the long one, with a big cut out window space for Manny and Fred to slide plates out to the staff. Elvira sighed and pushed herself up. She grabbed the plate, the piece of pie that sat on it looking so delicate and tall like it was about to crumble any second, and noted the remainder of it sitting in a wide pie plate on the counter in the kitchen, just as perfectly round as everything else in Elvira’s decidedly pear-shaped life.

She took it to the table up front, the good one that sat by the big picture window and mustered up a grin for Old Hat, whose ancient face lit up at the sight of her. “Enjoy, Hat,” Elvira said, finding it easier to smile suddenly.

“Looks delicious,” Hat mumbled and Elvira felt her smile wobble when she realized the old man had forgotten his teeth again. She made a mental note to check any juice glasses lying around. And the bathroom too. Still, he lifted his eyes to Elvira’s and shook his head. “That Manny knows his tarts.”

“Good thing too, otherwise he’d be out on the street.” She dropped an extra stack of napkins for him and patted him on the shoulder. “Holler if you need anything, Hat.” She was about to step away when the front door opened with a jingle and an unfamiliar face walked through it.

Was it raining outside? The girl was barely twenty, in a slouchy sweatshirt and jeans and looked like she’d just been caught in a downpour. Her hair was a light red and soaked against her thin shoulders. She wore no makeup that Elvira could see and had no purse either. Trouble. Since Letta was decidedly not manning the front counter, the girl looked around, a bit lost and uncertain.

“Welcome to Smitty’s,” Elvira said, trying to clear the judgment from her expression and her voice. “Can I get you a table?”

The girl met her eyes and for a second, couldn’t seem to find her voice. “Uh. Yes. No.” She blinked. “I need to talk t-to Sylvia Mathers, p-please.”

Elvira raised her eyebrows at her boss’s name. “She’s not here right now. She only comes in during dinner. And never on Monday.”

The girl swallowed visibly and swayed. “I need,” she said through gritted teeth. “I need to talk to Sylvia Mathers.”

“Ok. All right.” Tougher than she looks.  “Why don’t you take a seat before you fall over? I’ll give her a ring. What’s your name?” she asked and led her to one of the many empty booths that lined the far right wall.


“Why?” Elvira sighed, her patience wearing as thin as their cocktail napkins. “Because I’m about to call my boss into work on a peaceful morning and I want to give her the reason why. That’s why. Can you tell me your name?”

The redhead frowned and kept her light blue eyes on Elvira’s for a long time, just long enough to unsettle her. “P-Petula.” She took a deep breath and said the rest in one breath. “Petula Jerome Mathers.”

Recipe: Quick Rosemary, Fig and Goat Cheese Tart

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