Featured Author
Featured Author

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Plum Oat Crisp


1/2 pound plums, chopped (about 1 3/4 cups)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits


In a bowl stir together the plums, the lemon juice, and the granulated sugar and spread the mixture evenly in the bottom of an buttered 8-inch-square pan. In another bowl blend the brown sugar, the flour, the oats, the salt, the cinnamon, the ginger, the walnuts, and the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture evenly over the plum mixture and bake the dessert in the middle of a preheated 375°F. oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until it is crisp. (For a crisper topping, after baking the crisp broil it under a preheated broiler for 2 minutes.) Serve the crisp warm.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Prune Cake


     1 ½ cups Prunes
     1 cup Sugar
     3 Eggs
     1 cup Oil
     1-½ cup Flour, Sifted
     1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
     ¼ teaspoon sale
     1 tablespoon Nutmeg
     1 tablespoon Allspice
     1 tablespoon Cinnamon
     1 cup Buttermilk
     1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
     1 cup chopped walnuts

     1 cup Sugar
     ½ cups Buttermilk
     ½ teaspoons Baking Soda
     1 Tablespoon White Corn Syrup
     ¼ cups Butter
     ½ teaspoons Vanilla

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover prunes with water. Bring to a boil and cook until soft and mashable, about eight minutes. Remove from heat, drain water, and mash on a plate. Set aside.

Mix together oil, sugar, and eggs. In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Combine wet and dry ingredients, add buttermilk and vanilla and stir gently until just combined. Throw in the prunes and walnuts and stir gently to combine. DO NOT OVERMIX!

Pour batter into buttered springform tube pan and bake for 1 hour. DO NOT OVERBAKE

While cake has five minutes remaining, make the icing:
Combine all icing ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a slow boil. Boil without stirring for 5 to 7 minutes, or until icing starts to turn dark. Do NOT allow icing to reach soft ball stage; icing should be caramel in color, but not sticky like caramel. Icing should be easily pourable.

Remove cake from oven and pour on icing immediately.
Let stand overnight. Serve warm.

Adapted from a recipe in Noteworthy: A collection of recipes from the Ravinia Festival

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Pizza Crust - adapted from Julia Child Pita Recipe


• 1 Tablespoon dry active yeast
• 1 1/2 cups tepid water
• 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
• ¾ cup cake flour
• 1 tablespoon salt
• 1 tablespoon olive oil


Stir the yeast and ½ cup water together in a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon and stirring in one direction, stir in the flour and water about a cup at a time ; then stir 100 times or until the mixture look smooth and silky. This is the sponge and it needs to rest, covered with plastic wrap, for at least 30 minutes, although it is best if it can rest for as long as 8 hours in a cool place, a rest that will give fuller flavor. Sprinkle the salt over the sponge and then stir in the olive oil, mixing well, again stirring in the same direction. Add the flour about a cup at a time, mixing until the dough is too stiff to stir with a spoon. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it mixing until it is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. The dough will be moderately firm and have a slight sheen. Clean the mixing bowl, dry it, and coat it lightly with oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl, turn the dough around to oil its surface, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise at room temperature for 2 hours or so, or until it doubles in bulk. Turn the dough onto the work surface.. Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces and, with lightly floured cupped hands, form the pieces into tight balls; keep the balls under plastic as you work on the other.

On a well-floured surface, flatten the dough with you fingertips and then, using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a circle less than 1/4-inch thick. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Cover the dough with desired toppings and bake until edges are brown.


1 package active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F.)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons additional flour for kneading

Onion Filling:
2 pounds (about 5) large yellow onions, peeled, and very thinly sliced to yield 8 cups
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup water
1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon dried)
about 2 dozen flat anchovy fillets, oil drained
3 dozen nicoise olives, pitted and halved lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

In a large mixing bowl, sprinkle yeast over water with the sugar. Let proof and soften for about 5 minutes. With paddle attachment, add oil, and stir to blend. Add 1 cup flour and stir until smooth. With dough hook attachment, add remaining 3/4 cup flour and salt and knead until silky smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.

Place dough in large bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place away from drafts until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

While dough is rising, prepare the filling.

Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet and over medium-low heat saute the onions, garlic and salt until soft and transparent, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir occasionally to prevent onions from browning or scorching. Add the water and thyme, and over high heat cook until the water evaporates. Over low heat, continue sauteing about 20 minutes longer, until onion mixture is very soft and translucent. Transfer to a sieve to drain any excess liquid. (yield at this time is 3 cups). Remove sprig of thyme. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Rub 1 tablespoon olive oil over the bottom of a 16-inch pizza pan or stone.

Punch dough down. With fingertips, press and stretch the dough to fit the pan. If the dough becomes elastic, rest a couple of minutes, then press again. Cover dough loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 30 minutes or until puffy.

Spread onion filling evenly over risen dough. Place anchovies decoratively over top of tart. Bake for 12 minutes. Rotate pan, and bake until crust is cooked through and golden, about 12 minutes more.

Remove from oven, and using a spatula, transfer tart to a wire rack. Arrange olives decoratively on tart.

Serve warm or room temperature.

Whoopie Pies


1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup cocoa
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk


1 cup solid vegetable shortening*
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
14 ounces marshmallow cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease baking sheets.

In a large bowl, cream together shortening, sugar, and egg. In another bowl, combine cocoa, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a small bowl, stir the vanilla extract into the milk. Add the dry ingredients to the shortening mixture, alternating with the milk mixture; beating until smooth.

Drop batter by the 1/4 cup (to make 18 cakes) onto prepared baking sheets. With the back of a spoon spread batter into 4-inch circles, leaving approximately 2 inches between each cake. Bake 15 minutes or until they are firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.


In a medium bow, beat together shortening, sugar, and 14 oz. marshmallow cream ; stir in vanilla extract until well blended.

When the cakes are completely cool, spread the flat side (bottom) of one chocolate cake with a generous amount of filling. Top with another cake, pressing down gently to distribute the filling evenly. Repeat with all cookies to make 9 pies. Wrap pies individually in plastic wrap, or place them in a single layer on a platter (do not stack them, as they tend to stick).


For the prune butter 

3 pounds pitted prunes
Juice of 1 large lemon
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar

For the dough:
4 cups flour
4 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt
1 cup of oil
3 tablespoons of warm water
Zest of 2 lemons
1 cup sugar

For assembly:
4 ounces butter, melted
Extra flour


For the prune butter:
1. Put prunes in large pot. Add lemon juice and sugar.
2. In a separate pot, boil water. Pour boiling water over the prunes.
3. Cook the prunes on medium heat for 20 minutes. Turn heat off, cover, and let them sit overnight
4. The next morning, beat the prunes in a mixer on low until they form a smooth mixture, with no pieces of skin visible. The consistency should be a smooth enough purée that it can drop off a spoon.

For the dough: 5. Make a pile of flour, baking powder and salt. Dig a well into the middle.
6. Put two eggs in the middle with half the oil and water, half the sugar, and half the lemon rind.
7. With a fork, use gentle circular motions to mix flour into the middle from the walls while keeping the walls solid.
8. Gradually, very slowly, add the rest of the eggs, oil, water, sugar and lemon rind until everything is mixed in. Finally, mix in the rest of the walls. Your dough will be very sticky. Use a dough scraper to scrape it up. Knead it with small dustings of flour (not too much extra!) until you get a nice, silky dough. Wrap it up in waxed paper and put it in the fridge overnight.

9. Cut the dough into three segments. On a floured surface, roll out one segment evenly to about 1/8" thick.
10. Melt some butter in a dish and set aside with a pastry brush.
11. Dip 2- or 3-inch-diameter cookie cutter into flour and cut as many circular pieces of dough as possible, re-dipping into flour as needed. Paint an X of melted butter onto the center of each circle with the brush.
12. Using two teaspoons, place a small amount of prune butter in the center of each circle, on top of the butter.
13. Lift up the edges of the circle so they form a triangle. Gently pinch each corner closed.
14. Bake at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes. The corners should be just slightly golden-brown. Watch them near the end because they
go from golden to burnt very easily