…and I will be making cookie dough.

LOTS of it in fact!

Coconut Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie dough to be mighty exact.

I know you are itching for this recipe – I know I know – you keep asking ….and I am holding out on you.

And I am still holding out on you.


Next best thing – enjoying the cookie goodness I have to share by participating in one of the following events:

If you soooooo happen to live in the San Fran/Bay Area – you are in luck!!! 

On Saturday, April 2nd,from 10am-2pm,  my foodie friend (and yoga buddy) Samin Nosrat is organizing a pop-up bakesale to be held at the following locations:

Oakland–Pizzaiolo (5008 Telegraph Ave.)
Berkeley–Gioia Pizzeria (1586 Hopkins St.)
San Francisco (Mission)–Bi-Rite Market (3639 18th St.)
San Francisco (Fillmore)–coming soon

*The latest – Bakesale For Japan has gone NATIONAL!!!

For more information about Bakesale for Japan (and updates on how to participate in your city!), please check Samin’s blog ciao samin

If you would like to contribute your own baked-homey-goodness, or volunteer at one of the event locations, please send an email to bakesaleforjapan@gmail.com.

In Samin’s words – the event is all about professional and amateur bakers, cooks, artists, artisans, and musicians coming together around food to make something BIG happen.

And last year – Samin’s Bakesale For Haiti raised $23,000!!! …this time – we hope to raise $100,000!!!

You get the idea ….come out and support – and THAT means eating CAKE.

I will be humbly contributing some dozens of my Coconut Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies (and other delights). Hope to see you at my home base location – Pizzaioli in Temescal (or at one of the other locations??)


If you can not make it to Samin’s Bakesale For Japan – Do NOT Despair.

My foodie friend (and Dharma sista), Sabrina Modelle of the Tomato Tart, is organizing an online bakesale – yes, you read that right – an ONLINE BAKESALE.

It is an ‘auction’ really – you can bid to win TWO dozen of my fresh-baked Coconut Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies baked just for YOU – how SWEET is that?!

….and I will mail them to you – who doesn’t LOVE a care package?

Ohhh! and there will be lots of other amazing baked-goodness to bid on toooooo – you can read Sabrina’s blog post about the event here.

The short of it: The auction will take place on March 30, 2011. You will be able to preview the goodies starting a few days before- just like a good silent auction.

All proceeds will go to Second Harvest Japan.

The goal is $2,500.

Interested in contributing to the goody auction? … or, if you’d like to offer a corporate sponsorship, match, or involve your organization, send an email to Sabrina at bakesale@thetomatotart.com.

Thanks for reading y’all – and feel free to post far and wide about these super-sweet community events.



So Soda Bread? …what the heck is it?

In name, ‘soda bread’ is oft tagged with the terms “traditional” and “Irish” …and in essence, associated with famine and saints.

Nothing traditional nor Irish about my recipe …however, I am a starving grad student and this bread sure is heavenly.

This soda bread recipe is something of a cross between a quick bread (but less sweet) and a pancake (same butter-y flavor). Some purists might even dare to argue that it is NOT soda bread at all – it is not made with wheat flour (gluten-free goodness here), and also contains some brown sugar (qualifying it as “cake” by the purist of purists) and raisins (officially making it a “spotted dick”).

But I would argue back. (Of course I would.) It’s made with baking soda. Not yeast. S-O-D-A bread.

A bit of a history lesson for you (and my official rebuttal to the ye olde traditional Irish soda bread purists out there):

When I was working on my undergrad at UC Berkeley, I took a course in Food Anthropology (yes – it was as cool as it sounds) and dipped my spoon in some research on early American cookbooks.

American Cookery (1798), First Edition

American Cookery by Amelia Simmons (1798) is credited as the first American cookbook written by an American for Americans. Embracing new food frontiers, Simmons melds indigenous “American” foods (such as turkey, cranberries, squash and CORN) with old skool English cooking skills, creating a kind of  ‘English-Native American’ fusion cuisine (aka Colonial Cookery).

There is a bit of a back-story of course.

Unfortunately for the English settlers, their new chosen land was not a hospitable ground to grow the precious grain seeds of their fathers, and father’s fathers, that they had carried over from the homeland. There were no mythical amber waves of grain …but there was lots of corn. And lucky for the settlers, the Native Americans were generous with their knowledge of how to grow and prepare corn – their staple food (and now a mainstay for the English settlers, whether they liked it or not).

(And today, corn is still a staple food of many Americans …hello high-fructose corn syrup.)

And Miss Simmons, she certainly loved her corn, especially cornmeal. She was infamous for her “Indian Slapjacks” and “Johnnycake” (aka “Hoe Cake”).

Aside from cornmeal, another notable innovation of American Cookery was the use of ‘pearlash’ (potassium carbonate), the grandmother of today’s baking soda, as a leavening agent. Prior to pearlash, leavening in baked goods was achieved by beating air into eggs, or spiking a batter with yeasty spirits.

The Irish version of soda bread seems to have originated later around the 1840’s and did not become a staple in the Irish diet until the late nineteenth century. The first published Irish soda bread recipe [to date], referencing an Irish newspaper in County Down, was published in the November issue of Farmer’s Magazine in 1836. Flour. Baking soda. Salt. And buttermilk. (No raisins. No sugar.) Irish soda bread tradition first born.

A page from my own recipe journal (2011)

Now for the chronicles of my own soda bread tradition.

I have been making variations of this recipe for weeks now – super simple – modify it. Play. You really can’t make it wrong. One of my favorite batches was made with black sesame and pumpkin seeds.

(Sweet tip on how to survive student famine: trade a friend half the loaf for a mason jar of homemade soup – square meal.)

This batch I baked with a good friend in mind – weary traveler in town from abroad on an eighteen hour layover (yikes), my gift to her was breakfast for the next (jet-lagged) leg of her journey. (Last night we did sushi in the Mission – yay!) I also had a wedge for breakfast – soaked it in a jar of homemade almond milk yogurt.

My Thursday Morning Breakfast

This recipe is a staple. Tack it to the fridge. The optional ingredients I have listed in italics – replace these with whatever you wish – start your own soda bread tradition.

Also note, that you can easily make this vegan – because I have a dairy allergy, I use almond milk and vegan butter …however, I do use eggs. You can substitute one tablespoon of ground flax mixed with three tablespoons of cool H2O for the one egg in this recipe. (I do find the egg lends a lighter texture – but the flax substitution still makes a great soda bread.) Also, feel free to make this with cow milk and butter (and let me know how it turns out?).

Whatever you choose to do, be sure you make your milk into “buttermilk” by adding a teaspoon of white vinegar to it beforehand.

All comes down to baking chemistry friends.

(quick chemistry lesson! – indulge me.)

Baking soda decomposes to sodium carbonate in an oven’s heat – it releases half of its carbonate ion and (poof!) produces carbon dioxide. The other half of the sodium carbonate must be further reacted with an acidic ingredient (like vinegar!) to release its carbon dioxide (even more leavening!). So again, don’t skip the buttermilk – it really builds the bread (and the flavor!).

I will spare you the history lesson on traditional soda bread shaping and embossing – I simply smooth mine into a 9″x5″x3″ loaf pan with a piece of parchment. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 -35 minutes in your pre-heated oven …insert a knife into the center of your bread to check for done-ness (it should come out ‘clean’). I also like to move the oven rack up to the top position for that last 5 mins of baking to brown the top a bit.

Cinnamon Raisin Soda Bread

1 cup sweet white rice flour

3/4 cup teff flour (don’t be afraid of teff – it is AWEsome – gives a spongy lightness)

1/4 cup potato starch

1t baking soda

1t baking powder

1t xanthan gum

1/2t salt

1t ground cinnamon

6T vegan butter (I like earthbalance)

1 cup almond milk (or, your preference of ‘milk’) + 1t white vinegar

1 egg

2T agave nectar

1/2 cup raisins

1T brown sugar mixed with a couple shakes of ground cinnamon (sprinkle on top before baking )

Okay – let’s get started: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F ….

Special Step #1: Mix together the 1 cup of almond milk and 1 teaspoon of white vinegar and set aside for 5-10 minutes. It will curdle – this is a good thing – you just made ‘buttermilk’.

Special Step #2: Next, for the vegan butter part, melt the 6 tablespoons in a small pot on a low flame  – you just want to melt it, nothing more. Great – let’s start mixing things in bowls.

In BOWL #1 – whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum and cinnamon.

In BOWL#2 – beat together the egg, almond ‘buttermilk’, melted vegan butter and agave nectar.

Combine BOWLS. Your batter will be a little on the stiff side. Fold in the raisins. Using a spatula, press it into the loaf pan lined with parchment. Sprinkle some brown sugar and cinnamon on top if you like. (I like.)

Emboss with your family crest (entirely optional).

Again, bake for 30 -35 mins, or until done using the knife test. Cool on a wire rack. Wrap up half and trade for a jug of homemade soup.


Fuji Apple Flax n' Buckwheat Muffins

I said …
It’s gettin’ Hot in here …(so hot)
So take off all your clothes….

I am gettin’ sooooo Hot, I wanna take my clothes off….

Welcome to my hot and steamy kitchen on a Wednesday eve in January where there is NO naked baking happening.

Sorry to disappoint. It’s COLD.

And I hate turning on the heater – the blasts of hot air make my head all congested. NO fun. And after trying all sorts of alternative warm-me-up-smart solutions like – let’s see – sippin’ my (kinda nasty tastin’) Chinese medicinal tea (Si Ni San – aka Frigid Extremities Powder), pullin’ on some stripey knee socks, yummin’ a bowl of hot soup w cock sauce, snuggin’ with a ginormous mug of coffee (oooohhh! and a hot H2O bottle) under a blankie, standin’ on my head ’til I broke a sweat …


See: kneesocks

Yeah. Time for drastic measures.

It was time to bake muffins.

And it’s been one of those days. The ones where way too many well-intentioned folks you cross paths with ask if Everything is Okay …’cause, well – YOU LOOK TIRED.

And you eventually have to say to yourself ……Hmmm. Maybe I am Tired??? (But nonetheless you come home and do things like put air in your bicycle tires just to feel like you accomplished something concrete.)

THOSE days.

And yeah. Maybe I am kinda Tired. (work school work work school school school work everything else blah…)

And with that – be good to me goodness I am taking the night off from All Things I Have-To-Do. (Sweet!)

And baking muffins.

Fuji Apple Flax-Buckwheat Muffins ….with a hip-hop soundtrack. (Heh.)

(If you were my neighbor across the way you mighta caught a glimpse of me through the window whisking my flours [aka, “shakin’ booty”] along with Nelly…but you are [most likely] not my neighbor. Annnnnd there was NO booty shakin’ to even be mentioning here. Just whisking. Lots of whisking….Yup – “whisking.”)

Mix a little bit a ah, ah (gluten-free flour)

With a little bit a ah, ah (applesauce)

Give a little bit a ah, ah (sugar)

With a little bit a ah, ah (honey)

With a little bit a ah, ah (cinnamon and vanilla)

And a sprinkle a that ah, ah … (sugar bits on top)

Get your whisk out friends.

The texture of these muffins is pretty magnificent I gotta say – super soft n’ moist. And Fuji apples are pretty crisp as far as apples go – and they stay kinda crunchy. A nice contrast. And if you prefer your muffins on the sweeter side (see previous posts for the “Muffin or a Cupcake? …it’s a MUFFcake!” discussion) you may wish to sprinkle some sugar bits on top before baking.

Okay- here’s the recipe:

Fuji Apple Flax n’ Bucknakedwheat Muffins

Moist n' Crunchy Texture Goodness

3/4 cup buckwheat flour

3/4 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1 1/2 t  baking soda

1 t baking powder

1/2t salt

1 t xanthan gum

1t ground cinnamon

1/4 cup ground golden flaxseed + 3/4 cup cold H2O

1 cup un-sweetened applesauce

1/2 cup sugar

2 T honey

1/4 cup canola oil

2 t bourbon vanilla

1 1/2 cups Fuji apple, diced  (or, just chop up what you got.)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F …(and hit ‘PLAY” on your Nelly soundtrack! A singer-songwriter friend of mine performs a pretty AWEsome acoustic version of Hot in Here. Good so good. Feel free to make up your own too.)

Special Step: beat together the 1/4 cup of ground flax and 3/4 cup of cold H2O and set aside for 5-10 minutes.

In BOWL #1 – whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, xanthan gum and cinnamon. Whisk whisk whisk. (Shake shake shake.)

In BOWL#2 – mix together flax and H2O mixture, applesauce, sugar, honey, oil and vanilla. Mix mix mix.

Combine BOWLS – mix mix mix. Fold in apples.

Portion into your muffin tin. You should have plenty batter for a dozen. If you are not using paper baking cups, be sure to grease your pan a bit. Bake 30-35 mins. Cool on a rack.

Enjoy with a HOT cup of tea while you write Nelly a fan letter (and assemble him a care package of bucknakedwheat muffins).


Cherry Pistachio Bread w Slice

Gotta say – my flat smells amazing. MMMMM mmmmmm. Like fresh-baked bread. Cherry-Cinnamon Pistachio Bread to be exact. (What a tease! – I know …and oh oh oh I know you want a hunk.)

And you can have a hunk. You can even have a whole loaf.

But you gotta BAKE YOUR OWN.

Call me selfish, but it’s rare I share my bread.*

(*except at Soup Kitchen – come one come all there is a pot of soup on the stove waiting to be shared …and some homemade bread. My one exception!!! and it’s been a while.)

Unlike the Cookie or Brownie, a full-batch baking endeavor that a-l-m-o-s-t requires sharing (unless you can eat two dozen sugar bombs yourself – I sure can’t …or shouldn’t), a loaf of bread is sustaining  ~ a staple food that can be re-invented for days on end, meal after meal. A loaf has a lifespan – First Warm Slice all the way to Bread Pudding – it keeps on giving. Especially …if you love TOAST.

Do I LOVE toast? …well, indeed I do!

I love TOAST so much that I was compelled to do a bit of armchair archeological research while my little Cherry-Cinnamon Pistachio dough bun was in the oven.

Yup – it’s time for TOAST TRIVIA. (Buckle up.)

Soooo. Toast would not be possible without The Toaster – the one kitchen appliance I certainly can not live without. (Not even for a day – any moving day it is the Last Thing Packed.) So how does a TOASTER work? Excellent question.

Modern-day toasters (vs. old skool ‘toasting forks’ that one would dangle over an open flame) work by applying radiant heat directly to a slice of bread. When the surface temperature of your slice reaches 310 degrees F, a chemical reaction called the ‘Maillard Reaction’ occurs. Essentially, sugars and starches caramelize (i.e., turn brown) and take on complex flavors and textures. Yummm. Crunnnch.

This is TOAST.

The first electric, automatic “pop-up” toaster for the home was invented in 1926 in Stillwater, Minnesota by one Charles Strite. It was called the Toastmaster Model 1-A-1, a  ‘single-slicer’ affectionately nicknamed the Bachelor(ette) ~ to quote its tag-line, “…the perfect answer for the small family – the person living alone – and those who appreciate the new and unusual …”

It came in six sleek designs. Here is one that I found at an online Goodwill auction: http://www.shopgoodwill.com/auctions/Vintage-Toastmaster–Circa-1926–Model-1A2-6958487.html

The Toastmaster 1-A-1, 1926 ...uhhhh, 85 years old!

(Pretty RAD! ~ had no idea you could shop REAL thrift stores online! …always the last to know.)

In 1926, this toaster sold for $13.50 – a luxury item in its time. (In 2010, it sold at auction for $5 bucks.) The first two-slice toaster was invented in 1930, but due to prohibitive manufacturing costs, it did not become the American standard until the 1950’s.

Yeah. So TOAST – crusty (trusty!) comfort food that has nursed many a hangover, the cornerstone of any greasy-spoon breakfast, soup’s perfect dinner-date ….here is my recipe (almost there).

Originally, I was thinking of making the Classic Loaf – plain old sandwich bread – but in celebration of  TOAST, something a bit special (okay, extra-special!) seemed more appropriate.

With YOU, I share (the recipe for) my Cherry-Cinnamon Pistachio Bread …the rich cousin (bling!) of cinnamon-raisin bread, it is worth breaking out the almond (not peanut) butter for. I am being serious. I also have a jar of homemade fig jam heaven-sent from a dearest friend in Amsterdam that I have been rationing out – I think I know what I am having for breakfast.

Toast and Jam. (and COFFEE.)

Cherry-Cinnamon Pistachio Bread for Toasting Cherry Pistachio Toast

(I made this in my bread machine.)

1  1/2 cups  brown rice flour

3/4 cup  sorghum flour

3/4 cup  tapioca starch

1 T  xanthan gum

1  1/2 t  fine salt

2 t  ground cinnamon

1 packet dry-active yeast

2 T ground golden flax seed + 6 T H2O

1 T apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup  extra-virgin olive oil

2 T brown sugar

1 cup  warm H2O (around 105 degrees F)

1/3 cup toasted pistachios, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup dried bing cherries, coarsely chopped

You can TRY making this the old-fashioned way ~ without a bread machine ~ but I haven’t. (Let me know how it goes?) When I started baking bread a couple of years ago, I became dependent upon my little easy-bake oven (Breadman PRO). The convenience – almost no-fail bread, once I got the hang of it …though some early loaves (boulders) were nothing to be writing blog posts about. I will say – assembly of ingredients is especially important. (Pay attention! …or no toast for you!)

Special Step: beat together the 2T of ground flax and 6T of cold H2O and set aside for 5-10 minutes. I also recommend proofing your yeast.

BOWL #1 – whisk together flours, xanthan gum, salt and cinnamon.

BOWL #2 – mix together H2O, olive oil, cider vinegar, brown sugar, and the (now sticky) flax-H2O mixture.

Pour the contents of BOWL #2 into the bread pan for your bread machine. Add Bowl #1 on top – but do NOT mix. Sprinkle your yeast packet on top of the dry. Place the pan in your bread machine and START. (Bake according to your bread machine’s 2-pound loaf instructions.)

After the dough has taken ‘form’ in its kneading stage (you want kind of an ‘extra-thick cake batter’ consistency – add more warm water in small amounts, if needed), add in the pistachios and cherries.

Bake bake bake …wait wait wait.

Cool on a cooling rack and continue to wait as long as you possibly can …HARD, I know.

Give up. Slice …and TOAST.




…or, Cupcakes?

This brings up an important question, a bit of an ‘existential baking dilemma’, if you will – what distinguishes a Muffin from a Cupcake?

A few key observations – both are baked goods – squat in form, miniature in size, usually intended for individual delight.

….and now, Differences.

Hmmmmm. Muffins are oft fruit-themed, yes? …and usually have some spice matrix that includes cinnamon, maybe a vanilla twang ? …paper tuxedo (i.e., ‘baking cup’) is wardrobe optional. Oh, and they may contain FIBER. Possibly at medicinal levels.

Sooooooooo. Cupcakes, I guess are more like a “cake” in the traditional sense …chocolate, yellow, carrot ….and oh oh oh! They have sugary FROSTING. Possibly at diabetic levels.

Or maybe it is less their ingredient profile, and more the occasion they are showing up for? …Breakfast! Birthday! YAY!

Ahhhh – but they should never be confused – a Breakfast Muffin, YES! …a Birthday Muffin??? NOOOOOOOO.

A Breakfast Cupcake??!!! ….Okay, MAYBE.

I think my Molasses Ginger Chocolate Muffins may be THEE Breakfast Cupcake. Call it a MUFFCAKE.

It’s WINTER. It’s COLD. My cards ‘n cold ones (Rummy 500!!!)  friend-date canceled on me so I had no palatable excuse to leave the house tonight. At about seven PM cabin-fever set in …and I set to baking.

This is another one of my Random Crap in My Cupboards Recipes. Again, it’s COLD. I’m wearing furry slippers. I’m not riding my bike anywhere I don’t have to. Including a grocery store. And too – I rather fancy the challenge of throwing open my cabinets and seeing what kind of Magic I can conjure. Baking is alchemy after all, and right now (whew!) I got some creative wood to burn.

So I got a melange of flours mason-jarred in my fridge. And an overflowing store of ‘baking-neccesaries’, like sugars and leavening agents in my granny cupboard. Trust me – I am always prepared for nights like these. The real rat-rustle is when it comes to the STUFF – The Flavas.

The first thing I laid my hands on was the blackstrap molasses. Yeah – dark and syrupy, reminiscent of medicine – sounded like an antidote for my mood. Then I found a forgotten knob of fresh ginger in the almost back of my fridge. TREASURE.

I liked where this was going …! I thought cookies. Snaps, perhaps? …Nah. I have been making too many sweet treats lately. (And thank goodness for the neighbors who take them off my hands! We can share the weight gain haha! I trick you!!!)

Hmmmmm….so a healthy baked good. Goodness – what could that be?? Ah-ha!


Back to my scavenge! A lone apple rolling around in the cripser …PERFECT. Add some brown sugar ….and coarse-ground black pepper? A squirt of COCK SAUCE?? (aka, ‘Rooster Sauce’ …Spicy!)

Off-track. Totally off-track. Anyone who knows me knows I have a deep, unrequited love of SAUSAGE. Clearly I was trying to act out Sausage Fantasy. Not tonight, honey …I got Muffins to BAKE.

Okay – I got molasses. I got fresh ginger. Lots of brown sugar …. and I got dark chocolate.

This is the part where the Muffin got confused about its ‘baked-good orientation’ – if I was going to be honest with it, it’s ingredient profile was beginning to read more like ‘dessert’ (i.e., cupcake) than ‘breakfast’ (i.e., muffin). But I did not feeeeeeel like baking Cupcakes. I wanted to bake Muffins – something Healthy!

….and so the MUFFCAKE was made.

Suitable accompaniment to morning coffee black, or your decaf black tea before bed …these Muffcakes will also pair nicely with a ginger beer, or a two-finger pour of whiskey. Ah! You could also try modifying this recipe by adding coffee or whiskey to the batter? (or, BACON?!) …

Try the original recipe first though – you might find that they are already PERFECT. If I had powdered sugar, I mighta made an icing glaze …but alas, this is a Random Crap in My Cupboards Recipe …and these are not Cupcakes.

They are Muffcakes.


Molasses Ginger Chocolate Muffcakes (makes one hel’luv’a dozen)

1 cup sorghum flour

1/2 cup tapioca starch

1/2 cup teff

1 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

1/2 t xanthan gum

1 t ground ginger

1 t cinnamon

1 t fresh ginger, chopped itty-bitty

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 stick of ‘butter’ (I used earthbalance.)

2 eggs

1/2 cup blackstrap molasses

1/2 cup almond milk

1 cup of dark chocolate chips

To begin, pre-heat your oven to 350 F …and Special Step: bury your fresh ginger bits in the brown sugar

In BOWL #1 – whisk together flours, baking soda and salt, xanthan gum and dry spices.

In BOWL#2 – using your hand-mixer (or mix by hand), whip together the ‘butter’ and brown sugar-fresh ginger, then add the eggs one at a time.

Combine BOWLS – add half of your ‘dry’ ingredients to the ‘wet’, mix mix mix …add almond milk, mix mix mix …add the rest of the dry. Fold in the chocolate chips by hand.

I lined my muffcake tin with those paper ‘baking cups’ – I sure hate washing the pan. If you don’t fancy using paper cups, you may wish to grease your tin.

(I sprinkled a little bit of cane sugar on the tops of each muffcake before baking – gives them a marvelous sheen.)

Bake 30-35 mins …cool on a baking rack – but be sure to have one while they are still WARM.