Homemade Wheat Thins

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I am extremely close to getting banished from the kitchen. It isn't really the constant mess or flour, butter, and sugar's daily appearance on the grocery list. Its more my mom's (me too! me too!) sugar addiction. I'm not sure one would actually qualify it as a problem, per se, but we...

1) would gladly swap most main courses (steaks, caviars, cheese, etc etc) for a 50 cent Reese's or any type of cookie
2) cant say no. I mean, we can... but we're really not that into it.

So, to keep myself sane (and my poor mother that wakes every morning saying "Arghhh... I don't feeeeeel good. You have to stop this") I just needed to re-evaluate my approach to baking. Do I always have to bake a cake, double chocolate tarte, or cookies? Well, I will ignore my instinctual answer and give a more sanity based: no. So, as I wanted to bake the other day I came across a recipe for wheat thins. I love wheat thins! So I swapped the butter and sugar for some salt and whole wheat flour and got to business rolling out these cute and salty crackas.

Whole Wheat Thins (Homemade!)
Makes a whole-lotta
The idea of making a cracker and then storing them in old Lipton boxes, thankfully not occupied by those sad tea bags any longer, was really fun and exciting. The first go around, I didn't roll the crackers thin enough and I made them too large, so they weren't as snappy as the original. But by golly, the second time, they turned out just like the Nabisco boxed version... except better. Well at least that's what my mom said, but I'm sure shes just encouraging my new direction of butter-less baking. But I really must say, the wheat thins, well, they tasted like wheat thins. Quelle surprise I say! Lets roll....

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar (I like turbinado/sugar in the raw)
2 tsp salt (plus more for tops)
3 TB olive oil (et plus pour les tops)
3/4 cup milk
And let us begin. Take your white whole wheat and white flour and sift them together into a rather large bowl.
(this is the flour. and the bowl.)
Add the salt et sugar and remix.
Add a little of this (the olive oil). Combine oil and dry mixture with fork until it resembles tiny pebbles.

Then add a little of that (the milk). Mix together so it forms a ball. And there is your dough. Now how easy was that? Well, I don't think I forgot anything...
Take your dough and roll it out on a floured surface until it is fairly thin.... let's say about the size of a wheat thin or your favorite snappy cracker. The thinner the dough, the crispier it will be.

I used a pizza cutter and a straight edge to get these squares. Then I brushed the tops with olive oil and sprinkled them with salt .... the signature of the wheat thin. (Tip: It is easier to brush the dough with oil before you cut them, but be careful not to brush the sections that are leftover from the squares as you gather the misfits and roll those again to make even more)

I forgot to tell you earlier, but set the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange the squares on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes... although I check mine about every 10 minutes or so. They are done when they are golden brown.

Let crackas cool on a rack and Enjoy! Take that Nabisco.

Music Pairing

"Gone, Gone, Gone" from the soundtrack Crazy Heart. Because these thins aren't hanging around the kitchen for too long (forgive the corniness s.v.p.)... and like all the other music pairings... its just an excuse to post some more great music....or crappy stuff that I just like.

Blueberry Oat Pan-a-cakes

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Far from the perfect (looking) pancake. But hell, I think they're charming. The taste, on the other hand, glory god (or whatever they say) is definitely there.

So if you hadn't noticed already I love experimenting with what "normal" people might dub as peculiar ingredients. Teff? Whats that? Ill take it please. Quinoa Flour? Next cake thank you very much. Once you have baked for a while, the white flour/sugar thing becomes a little boring... or at least to me. There are endless amount of kooky concoctions waiting to be found out there... the sweetness of oat flour pairs really nicely with its opponent the sour lemon, buckwheat's nuttiness with strawberry I particularly like, and well, I still have yet to try the quinoa flour.... but I promise to have something for you soon enough. Hanging out in the bookstore yesterday, I came across Good to the Grain by Kimberley Boyce, a great book if you are thinking of expanding your pantry to include more complex flavors when it comes to grains. So many people hastily characterize whole grains as heavy and strange tasting, but when done right they can actually make a more complex and often times lighter and more delicious end result. Et plus, its really fun. Its sort of like experimenting in the science lab.... but you can eat the result without calling poison control.

Anywho, I am always looking for a reason to make something, so this morning I decided to make some pancakes. I originally wanted oatmeal, but then i became bored with my lack of imagination. Plus, its spring, and although I adore oatmeal... please! Lets break out with something new. I still wanted my oats, so I pulsed them in the food processor to make a course oat flour and combined it with some white-whole wheat flour (a milder grain is used to make this flour, but its still 100% whole grain) so I wouldn't loose the flavor of the oats yet still have a partner that is a little more exciting than just your plain white stuff. Blueberries, yogurt, milk, and some other stuff later.... viola! The french would hate me, then love me after when they were caught swiping up the last bit of syrup with their cakes. C'est pas chic but oh so fun.

Blueberry Oat Pan-a-Cakes

inspired by 101 Cookbooks' recette
makes about 9 medium sized pancakes

I have been quite out of pancake practice, so my #1 mistake (in cooking et plus) is always being too impatient. When pouring the dough onto the hot pan, relax a bit until the top bubbles, then flip and let cook until the cake is done entirely through. The more patient... thus only flipping one time (it took me a couple tries to calm down a bit in anticipation) the more fluffy and airy. Happy Flippin.

1 TB ground flax seed
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup roughly ground oats (oat flour works too)
1/8 cup turbinado (cane) sugar*
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 pinches of salt
1/2 cup whole yogurt
3/4 cup reduced fat milk
1 egg
1 TB melted butter (plus more for pan)
Handful of blueberries (fresh or frozen...plus more for topping pancakes)
maple syrup for serving
and if you are feeling really fancy....whipped cream

First prepare the oat flour if you are making the flour from rolled oats. Take a generous 1/4 cup full of rolled oats and pulse them in a food processor until the consistency resembles a slightly clumpy flour. Take the oat flour and mix in with the other dry ingredients... flax seed, white whole wheat flour, sugar, baking soda + powder, and saltiness. In a separate bowl mix the yogurt, milk, butter, and egg. Beat together and then mix with the dry ingredients. Finally, stir in the blueberries verrry carefully. Wouldn't want to upset them.

Take a large cast iron or non-stick pan and turn the heat to medium. Place a bit of butter in the pan and when it has melted and seems a little steamy pour your batter onto the pan in whatever size or shape you want. I only know of two: 1) the circle or 2) the three circles combined to make le Mickey Mouse. When the batter starts getting bubbles (remember be patient!) all over the place, wait a bit more and flip. You get just one flip! Cook until both sides are browned but not burned. It might take a couple to get it just right. Enjoy with maple syrup, more blueberries, and if you love colored sprinkles, then that's okay too.

wait for it mr...... a tad longer...

Music Pairing
"At the beach" by the Avett Brothers
Blueberries and Oats make me whistle and smile. Listen and you'll understand.

*note. If you find it, for some strange reason, unnecessary to buy minimally processed sugar, start out swiping "Sugar in the Raw" from your local cafes and restaurants. Many US establishments have them, and once you have collected enough (I would say around 10 or 15 packets) you can start experimenting in this recipe and you will be won over for sure. Its so much better than its bleached distant cousin. Unless you try a souffle. That's for another time. I'm out... a la prochaine.

Le shortcake aux Fraises

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Um. I highly doubt this.

Mostly because that involves some sort of censoring/curtailing of actions and/or mouth that I am just really not that in to. I saw this book today while I was just screwing around like I normally do in the mornings, and it inspired this post. I mean, manners are really not fun, and I this was especially prevalent considering the happenings of last night.

I, Stephanie Stein, do love a dinner party. Or so it has been said.
What I do not love, are guests that are obxnious, too loud for their own good, and/or phony.

I knew I was in trouble last night when this incredibly annoying man that I will call by his actual name, Incredibly Annoying Man, arrived at our doorstep with two bottles of wine and a lecture starting immediately with how gracious he is. To continue, Incredibly Annoying Man talked about how wonderful my mom and I were before we could make it past the door mat. He then continued to make "joke" after "joke" about how my mother looks like my sister... and it just never recovered from there. After we talked about I.A.M and his virtues through the rest of dinner I chimed my glass with my fork and ceremoniously re-dubbed him I.A.S.R.M. or rather, Incredibly Annoying and Self-Righteous Man. If there is anything that makes a dinner party go south real quick its a phony. And babies.... but thats a whole different story. But, I managed... because I got to make dessert. And there wasn't anything fake about it. Introduce le strawberry shortcake. And I wouldn't have minded throwing it in this guy's face. And I don't care what that manner book says...that would have been fun.

Recette: le Shortcake aux Fraises
Adapted from Mlle. Martha Stewart

serves 6

3 pints of strawberries
juice of one lemon, preferably picked off/stolen from your neighbor's tree
1/2 cup turbinado sugar
1 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1 heaping TB baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 TB cold unsalted butta
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1 TB powdered sugar
1 1/4 cup plus 3 TB heavy cream
1/4 cup milk

Ok, so here we go. Wash off your strawberries and cut off the cute tops and slice them in half. Throw or place them in a bowl with the juice of a lemon... minus the seeds please. They no taste so good. (If unable to steal from your neighbor's tree, you may steal one from the supermarket... but please buy it from the farmer's market) Mix together with a 1/4 cup of your very natural sugar on let sit for about an hour. It should be a little saucy.

Now for ze cake. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. And yes you may bake it and eat it too. In fact, since you baked them you may have double. Anywho, whisk together the flour, baking powder, remaining sugar and salt in a medium size bowl. Cut up the chilled(very important!) butter and add it to the mix. Then take a fork or a pastry cutter and work the butter until the mix resembles a course meal. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and 1/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup plus 2 TB cream. Add the wet to the dry, slowly, and mix gently with a fork until it is just combined. The goal is to handle the dough as little as possible.

Transfer the goodness to a floured, flat surface of choice and roll out the dough until it is about one inch thick. This is so much fun... flour in your hair, the air, everywhere really... Once you have it all nice and rolled then dip your circular cookie cutter (mostly any moderate size will do) in flour and cut up your lil cakes. Make sure when you press out the cakes that you press, then twist the cutter. This will give the cakes little ripples that will help it aerate and rise.

The oven should be ready by now, and if its not, its broken and you should call someone, so line your baking sheets with parchment and plop the cakes on there. Beat egg yolk and TB of cream together and brush on top of the cakes. They should bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden.

Have I ever mentioned how much I adore parchment paper? I don't know what it is... maybe the easy, the old-fashiony look, or the diffused light it encourages.... but simply put, it just rocks. I love it so much I'm thinking about wallpapering my room with it.

Right before serving place the remaining cream in a bowl with vanilla and powdered sugar. Beat on high until cream is whipped and makes soft peaks. Serve with cakes and strawberries.

Et viola... le shortcake aux fraises:

Bon Appetit!

Music Pairing: "I Tought I Saw Your Face Today" by She & Him. Even though I sometimes think I am the only person on the planet that can be slightly irked by Zooey Deschanel, there is no arguing she is the cutest thing dans le monde. And you have to have cute music when eating shortcake and drinking tea. I tink it just goes.

A la prochaine.

Steph talks: le Brunch

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le Brunch.

(my take)

The best ones often happen when you arrive via bikes

...or bobsled....

and happen before, during, or after you are up to no good.

So I just thought I would post something on Brunch... I mean, we are afterall le Brunch Club. Its definitely my favorite excuse to get together with people. You can feel pretty fancy with a mimosa if you so please....re-hash the previous night's happenings with really large sunglasses in tow.... and order whatever the hell you want. Pancakes? you got it. Double Bacon Cheeseburger? Totally normal. And plus.... its just really fun.

In Paris, le Brunch began when the Frenchies tried to strengthen their ever persistent effort to be American by stealing our words and putting a their article in front of it. Debate topic: They hate us? They love us? And go....

Brunch a Paris... Oh la la says les filles

Americans use this feast as another excuse to eat whatever and whenever the hell they feel like it . They try and fool you by merging the words breakfast and lunch as to indicate some sort of appropriate time and menu. But this means nothing to "le Brunch." First, it almost never takes place between the hours of normal breakfast and lunch. Often times, you are much too hungover to make the walk of shame or to take out your contacts you forgot to take out 8 hours ago to make it anywhere before 1pm. So, en fait, le Brunch may happen as late at 5... I've even heard stories of brunch happening as late as 7 pm... gasp! And as far as edibles go, Brunch doesn't really fuse the two meals either. Enter: le Mimosa. I rest my case.

A pretty clever excuse to drink orange juice with champagne.... we see you! Even through the pulp...

This is also possibly what I miss most about New York. Over my five years there, I had some of my favorite times spent over brunch... and they almost always warranted really really large sunglasses to hide dark circles and/or bruises. Some of the places were holes, others were fancy (even though we weren't), and most were somewhere in between. But, they were always fun... a necessarily element for me et mon brunch. Some of my faves for your next hangover in this crazy town:

Jane: Its worth the wait. From the outside it seems over the top super crowded, but the staff is super nice, and that's an unexpected twist in NYC when the whole city is hungover as shit. They bring you biscuits straight away, make you feel fancy with awesome bubbly cocktails surrounded by fancy yet light decor, and oh yeah, the food rocks too. I think I had the most fun brunch here. Mostly because I like classy places filled with people who think they are classy, but actually are just stumbling around in their polos on the re-drunk...

Bagel Zone (now, unfortunately and preposterously renamed Native Bean): I have eaten approximately 3.4 tons of oatmeal and 453 bagels from this east Village spot. This was a huge part of what my wife and I dubbed church on Sundays: Bagel Zone, Thompson Square Park, Farmers Market, Thompson Square Dog Park, nap, TV... God, that was good. The guys that run bagel zone are always smiling, and not in that NYC creepy way, which is not surprising since they get their energy from a constant IV of bagel. Luckily you can go here any day of the week... not just for Sunday Brunch... and believe me, I did.

Friend of a Farmer: Lots of character, pretty low key for Manhattan.... great for sunny afternoons, dining outside, and some after brunch strolling/shopping/people watching around Union Square. Suggestions? Eggs. They have them good. Shout out to Sammy Rode for this awesome and chill find.

Sunburnt Cow: If you are looking to get crazy the morning after you got crazy, this is the place to do it. I unfortunately never made it, mostly because I get wasted at brunch after one drink, and because I am afraid of myself and others dining over all-you-can-drink Sunday mornings stretched into late afternoons. But I have heard great things... awesome things actually.... just make a reservation and put on your drinking pants. Christians, Recovering Alcoholics, and Strict no-fun-ians BEWARE.

Best Place to Brunch when your parents and/or older man friend is picking up the tab:

Best Place to Brunch if you're a lady... or try to act like one
Alice's Tea Cup

Best places Ive always wanted to be a brunchie
Pastis, Blue Ribbon Cafe and Bakery

Supposed Best Brunch Places that I have zero interest in
Clinton Street Baking Company (I have zero tolerance for waiting more than 1 hour for pancakes)
The Stanton Social (assholes)
egg (I cant wait till Brooklyn to Brunch)

Best Vague Brunch Idea
Chelsea Market.
Endless possibilities. But Seriously.


Song: "Brand New Start" by Little Joy
I just see myself strutting down the street to this, knowingly making my way to an awesome brunch. True, the tune is probably a little perky considering the toll of the previous nights happenings, but I just like it. Okay?

Tip: replace lover with le Brunch

A la prochain.

Chez les boulanger(e)s

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So Sydney had this great idea to bake some baguettes. Now, I love baguettes, but my only experience beyond pouring some eggs into a Duncan Hines mix and tossing it into the oven was making some 'made from scratch' cookies last summer...and you should ask my mother if she's managed to clean the flour out of the grout on the kitchen counters yet. In any case, I said, 'what the hey, sounds like a good experiment,' and here we are. It's 4:11PM on a Friday afternoon, and the dough is rising.

Question number one: When they ask you to fold the dough every twenty minutes, what does that mean, exactly? I've done a bit of origami, but I have a feeling those skills don't quite add up here...

Fact number one: Baking is fun when it is combined with any or all of the following: Pierre Hermé macarons (huile d'olive et vanille, fraises et wasabi, caramel et beurre and the new taste sensation, abricot peche et saffron - I'm thinking of you, Steph!), a bottle of rose (this one's a Bordeaux Rose, 'Blaissac' 2009), and a couple of episodes of Blackadder...

Baguette de Tradition
Recipe courtesy of Le Pétrin, translation (and quips) by Sydney.

4 cups (500g) of flour
1 1/2 cups (350g) of water
1 tbsp (12 g) of salt
1/2 tbsp (7g) of yeast

1. Mix the yeast in the water (make sure it fizzes). Mix well-sifted and flour and salt in a big mixing bowl, add the yeast and water mixture and mix carefully to blend well with the flour. You'll get a sticky dough. (It's what's supposed to happen, don't add flour!)

2. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for 1 hour and 20 minutes with one fold every 20 minutes. This gives you:
  • First check: 20 minutes, followed by a fold (we flipped the dough over and got sticky hands - make sure you flour your hands!!)
  • Second check: 20 minutes, 2nd fold
  • Third check: 20 minutes, 3rd fold
  • Fourth check: 20 minutes, 4th fold
3. Then cover and let rise for 1 - 1 1/2 hours. We split the difference and let it rise 1:15.

4. Gently pour the dough onto a well-floured surface. Lightly flour the top of the dough then fold it in half, then in half again. (Hot dog, then hamburger.) Cover with a towel and let the dough rest 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, repeat hot dog-hamburger fold. Repeat once more. That's a total of 40 minutes more of rising and 3 folds.

5. After the last fold, weigh the dough and split it into three equal pieces (approx 285g each) and gently form balls (Balls!). Cover the dough and let it rest 20 minutes.

6. Gently roll the balls (Balls!) into baguettes. It's full of bubbles! Don't press too hard! (That's what she said...) Cover and let rest 20 minutes. Go do some chores.

7. While the bread is resting heat the oven to 445F (230C). Put some water onto the baking tray.

8. Powder the baguettes with flour, slice the baguettes diagonally (not all the way through) and put them in the oven. Lower the heat to 430F (220C) and cook 15-20 minutes.

9. Eat with cheese.

(Accidental) Tarte aux Pommes

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I am a kitchen novice. I have to start this post with that. When I saw Steph’s delicious-looking strawberry-raspberry tart I thought , “A hah! Something that I can make for my teachers as a thank you!” Should have gone with something like banana bread. Or a box of Petit Ecolier cookies.

The pie crust turned out fine, I had to add a bit more to the recipe because my pie pan is a little bigger, but for someone who’s never made pie crust, I was pretty pleased.

The custard, on the other hand, was another story. I don’t think I gave myself enough time. Patience is a virtue I do not possess. It thickened unevenly, the bottom of the custard getting a pudding-like texture and the top remaining liquid. “Perhaps this is normal,” I thought to myself. I put it in a dish, covered it with plastic wrap and stuck it in the fridge and I left for brunch. (First mistake, giving myself only 30 minutes for the custard.) When I came home, it was still liquid. I put it back on the stove, added some flour and stirred. No luck. I think that made it worse.

Fortunately, on my way home from brunch, I thought of a contingency plan: Tarte aux pommes! I had seen it made before, with a sauce similar to the sauce I had created poured in between the apples. So, I bought four enormous golden delicious apples, sliced up two, put them into the pie crust, preheat the oven to 180C (355F) and popped it in for 20 minutes. And voila! It looks as good as it tasted.

Tarte aux Pommes with Buckweat Oat Crust


From Steph’s entry

3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
Handful of old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of honey
splash of water

Take all the dry ingredients and mix well in a bowl. Then grab the last 3 ingredients and heat them in a medium skillet over medium heat.
Set the oven to 350 degrees and press your dough onto a 10 inch tart pan. Jab the bottom of the crust a few times with a fork and stick it in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.


Two large, golden delicious apples, peeled, and cut into thin slices

Juice of ½ of a lemon


Custard (also from Steph's recipe)

2 egg yolks

3 tbsp sugar

3 tbsp flour

1 cup of milk

2 tbsp cream

Dash of salt

Capful of vanilla

For the cream, whisk yolks, sugar, flour, vanilla, and salt in a pan until smooth. Heat milk until it simmers. Whisk milk into egg mixture bit by bit, whisking over low heat. Stir in cream when mixture begins to thicken (but doesn’t resemble pudding, then it’s actually custard.) Let cool and refridgerate a few hours.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Peel and core the apples, then slice them thinly. Sprinkle them with a bit of lemon juice so they don’t brown.

Fill the pie crust with the apple slices in a circular pattern, covering the visible pie crust. Pour the cream over the apples and sprinkle with cinnamon. Rotate the pan to evenly distribute the cream. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Put the pie into the preheated oven and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the apples are golden.


Anchovy and (mostly) Kale Pasta

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Ok. Yes, its me again. You may be asking yourself why some of my blog-mates have not posted yet, but yet this is my 3rd recipe. Well, this is very simple, they have lives. And I have my parent's kitchen. So.... there you go.

This morning I woke up and had an intense craving for kale. Yes, I realize this is not your typical early morning reaction, but I went with it. I picked up some of the gorgeous dark stuff from the market, local to boot.... and decided to pair it with some of my favorite kale accompaniments (le tomate et les anchois) and threw in some pasta and parm to lighten the color and make it my own idea of happiness.

Italian pasta my sis brought back from Italy....

that somehow was knocked over and sprawled across the floor. This recipe screams me: kale et klutz. That's more accurate than you know.

My dad was equally as excited with his dinner... although slightly different from mine. The newest edition of the vegan, organic, and local hebrew national hot dog. (minus the vegan, organic, and local) But hey, he was happy....

Anchovy & (mostly) Kale Pasta

Serves one hungry gal who just finished 1.5 hours of yoga and constantly craves dark leafy greens. So that means roughly 42 normal people.*

1 TB olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped white onion
2 anchovies
1/2 bunch of kale, or about 2 cups, chopped
handful of previously soaked and cooked white beans
5 cherry tomatoes

salt to season
1 handful of pasta
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese

In a medium skillet... well I love cast iron, but comme vous voulais.... heat up the olive oil for a minute or so. Then drop in your onion and saute for a couple minutes. Then drop in the garlic. Be careful not to burn it... that est no good. After the onions are translucent, add in the anchovies, beans, and cherry tomatoes. Let that cook down a bit and then throw in the kale. reduce heat to low, cover with a top while it reduces to goodness. After about 8-10 minutes uncover and cook off as much liquid as desired.
While that is cooking, go ahead and heat up a pan of water for your pasta. Cook it... put it in a bowl and throw in the veggie mix. Season with salt and top off with parm. If you are me, or have low blood pressure, season with salt again.

Recipe/Song Pairing: I found Son of a Preacher man particularly helpful when making this dish. If you substitute collard greens for the kale... even better.

* 42 is a completely made up number that has no mathematical basis. Just so ya know.

ORE-Oh My! Truffles....

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I had been warned, before coming to Paris, that after a few months of living abroad, I would start craving typical American food - peanut butter, hot dogs that didn't come inside a baguette, nachos oozing with processed cheddar...and as my American friends slowly started to succumb to their cravings, I stood firm in my lack of cravings for American cuisine. Until, until, until - until one March afternoon, when I saw a six-pack of OREOs beckoning me to come release it from its vending machine prison. And how was I to resist?

I hadn't eaten an OREO cookie in six months, or more. It seemed like every pain au chocolat, every strawberry-wasabi macaron, every bottle of Saumur, would never be as tasty as that first OREO cookie. And then, I couldn't stop - I saw cookies everywhere, every train station had a vending machine, every shop had a pack. It took every ounce of restraint to resist their siren song - Six OrEOs! One Euro only! Prix fou!

So when trying to decide what to get my coworkers as a 'very American' going away present, I decided to rid myself of the OREO-craving for once and for all, with this recipe from allrecipes.com.

As promised, the recipe is easy, and I think even I, the complete kitchen-n00b did okay. It's also fairly cheap - if you live in America. In France, however, a pack of 16 OREO cookies costs 3 Euros. And don't get me started on the cost of Philadelphia cream cheese. Just saying.

But it does the trick - lots of gooey OREO-cream cheese to nibble on while prepping...and chocolate-y goodness at the end!

Easy OREO Truffles

(Recipe slightly modified from allrecipes.com)

40-ish OREO cookies
8 oz Philadelphia cream cheese (I used Light to reduce the guilt factor)
16 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate (I used Hershey's, for that extra-American kick)

1. Crush 8 cookies (or fewer - you could do with 6) into fine crumbs using a food processor - or, if you're me and working in a ghetto kitchen, shove them into a plastic bag and smash them to smithereens using a wine bottle (because your landlady doesn't have a rolling pin, much less zip-lock bags). Set these guys aside, they're going to be the topping.
2. Crush the rest of the cookies into crumbs (hmm..this recipe is quite therapeutic...) and mix the crumbs into softened cream cheese. I added a bit at a time, and blended using a wooden spoon (because again, I'm in a ghetto kitchen that doesn't have a silicon spatula or an electric blender).
3. Roll this mixture into little balls. The allrecipes.com recipe calls for 1" balls, which is what I did, but next time I'd make them smaller - maybe 1/2-3/4", so they're even cuter. Set them aside.
4. Melt chocolate! No microwave in this apartment, nor double boiler, so I did it old school - metal bowl over saucepan of water. I tried very hard not to dip my fingers into the liquidy goodness...I did not succeed. Some chocolate may disappear during this step.
5. Dip the balls in chocolate and place them on a wax-covered baking sheet, tray, plate, etc.
6. Sprinkle chocolate-coated truffles with the crushed cookies you'd set aside earlier, and pop the trays into the fridge.
7. Let truffles set for about one hour, then try not to eat them all in one go.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Chill time: 1 hour (enough to get in an episode of LOST)
Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Lessons learned: Cooking can make your right arm very strong. Need to discover a hobby to engage my left arm...or become an ambidextrous stirrer-blender.


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So, I love sweets. I admit it. More than most foodstuffs. There was even a time in college where I unsuccessfully tried to survive off of this tiny part of the food pyramid.. and nothing else. Yeah, that didn't go over so great. But really, I love grains too.... so the perfect combination and excuse to eat the two as soon as possible in the day is always a great granola recipe. Each batch comes out a bit differently, depending what types of nuts, dried fruits, etc. etc. I have on hand... so have fun altering this recipe as you see fit. I'll give you my most recent success, but I always find granola a good place to utilize a lots of back of the cupboard items that are close to being lost in the black culinary hole. Sometimes it works (cashews, pine nuts, dried pineapple) and sometimes, well, those items are still in the back for a reason (dented can of salmon, Crisco from the 80s, saltines from your last stomach ache). Anywho, let the crispy morning goodness soak for 15 or 20 with some milk or soy milk, accompanying it with yogurt and fruit isn't a bad call either, or sprinkle over some ice cream for added deliciousness.


4 cups of old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup of sunflower seeds (other ideas: sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, pine nuts)
1/4 ground flax seed (wheat germ works too)
3/4 cup of mixture of halved cashews and almonds (alternatives: pistachios, Brazil nuts, peanuts, walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, the list goes on et on)
Big handful of shredded unsweetened coconut
1 cup dried dates and raisin mixture (dried pineapple, apple, cranberries, figs, cherries, kiwi...)
zest of one orange
3/4 cup honey, agave, or other liquid sweetener
splash of water
1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together the oats, flax seed, nuts, pumpkin seeds, coconut, and orange zest in a large bowl and set aside. In a pan over medium heat bring honey, water, and oil to a light simmer on the stove. Mix the dry and liquid mixture together and spread evenly onto 2 baking sheets. Pop in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. I stir the mixture about every 10 minutes for even cooking. I like to add the dried fruit in the last five or ten minutes so it isn't rock hard when it cools. You may also add the dried fruit after baking too! Comme vous voulais! (As you wish) When you take the sheets out of the oven to cool, dont mix or touch, because the mixture will set a bit and create that great grandola clumpiness. Enjoy!
Reminder: Every oven requires different cooking times, so hang out in the kitchen with a book and tea as to keep an eye on the goodness.

Recipe/Song Pairing: Mamas and the Papas or the Zombies. I'm pretty sure they were into granola.

Tarte aux Fraises with Buckwheat-Oat Crust

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O, Easter. One of my favorite holidays I think. First of all it often mandates a Brunch. Second, let's face it, I generally am all in for any sort of holiday that involves an excuse to get a bunch of family and friends to eat together and take an extra day off from the job that, o wait, I don't have.... still, Good Friday is pretty great. Especially if you aren't a churchgoer. Back in France, my ex-roomies are celebrating Paques at their chateau in Brittany, enjoying church and family probably much like typical Americans do, besides a couple minor exceptions. First, they laze around their family house, which en fait is a stone castle whose front yard might parallel the Rodin Museum more than anything . Second, while the kiddies at my parents house are hunting for eggs with Easter baskets, my roomies are probably hunting for a wild boar with their rifles. Gotta love the Frenchies.

Don't forget Passover... where lox and bagels make their Stein household brunch debut each year. Yep, thats about as Jewish as we get.

But, I'm sure we all ate well on Sunday, and while others were praying, I baked a new recette. Upon return to California, my first stop was the nearest co-op to Stockton, in Sacramento. I loaded up on all types of fun new flours and bulk items, including some buckwheat flour. I was baking with the stuff in Paris, using it in scones et plus, trying to take on some of my roomies Breton-ness. (Buckwheat flour is heavily used in galettes, or savory crepes, in the region of Brittany) So, still going through my Frenchie withdrawal I decided to combine the first pickings of California strawberries with a little twist as une petite homage for my favorite ladies back in France.

Tarte aux Fraises with Buckwheat-Oat Crust

So welcome to my first recipe. I don't like to complicate things too much, so if there are any questions for clarification... just holla.


3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
Handful of old-fashioned oats
1/3 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons of honey
splash of water

Take all the dry ingredients and mix well in a bowl. Then grab the last 3 ingredients and heat them in a medium skillet over medium heat. Dance around the kitchen while it all melts and begins to simmer. If you are not a dancer, you may insert alcoholic beverage of choice here. For Easter I find selected tracks dubbed "Jesus" on the Mariah Carey Christmas Album very helpful. Mix the wet with the dry and knead until all is incorporated together.

Set the oven to 350 degrees and press your dough onto a 10 inch tart pan. Jab the bottom of the crust a few times with a fork and stick it in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.... et viola! We are ready for our custard....


2 egg yolks
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
cap full of vanilla extract
dash of salt
2 tablespoons of cream
Strawberries and raspberries

Whisk the yolks, sugar, flour, vanilla, et salt in a pan until it is a smooth as you can manage. Puis, heat up the milk in a separate pan until it simmers. Bit by bit whisk the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking continuously over low heat. It should thicken rather fast so it resembles puddin'. Then stir in the cream. Let it cool and then refrigerate for a couple of hours. You may want to potect the mix with plastic wrap directly making contact with it, as to prevent it from forming a film.

Scoop custard mixture onto the crust and top with rasberries and strawberries. I cut the strawberries in half, but you can arrange them whole or even cut into smaller pieces. Comme vous voulais! Bon appetit et Joyeuses Paques...
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