Bread for the Holiday Weekend

Easter sweet bread

The beauty of baking

Easter Sweet Bread

Easter Sweet Bread

April Domestic Bliss 2009 010

Recycled Packaging

Easter Sweet Bread*


6 cups flour (I use 2 cups of whole wheat)

2 packages yeast

1/2 cup sugar

2 t salt

1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk, diluted with 1/2 cup warm water

1 t vanilla

1 t cardamom

1 t cinnamon

zest of 1 lemon

juice of 1 lemon

3 eggs, at room temperature, plus 1 egg, beaten

1 cup dried cranberries

1 stick butter, at room temperature

2 T sugar


Combine three cups flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in bowl. I like to do this in a large bowl with a lid I can seal — you could easily do this in a large Tupperware. Add diluted milk, vanilla, lemon, lemon juice, cinnamon and cardamom.  Add eggs and then work in cranberries.  Beat in butter.  Add additional flour a little at a time. You may need to add a bit more warm water to get the bread the right consistency. It should be sticky when all of the flour is incorporated.  Knead until smooth, using the heel of your hand, about ten minutes.  Place in bowl, cover and let sit for 2 hours. The ball should double in size.

Punch down dough, divide in two,  and let rest for an hour. Brush each ball with a beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar (or more cinnamon).  Bake at 350 degrees on a cookie sheet until golden: about one hour.

*Adapted from Collen’s Portuguese recipe.

This loaf makes for a great slice of bread, or even better French toast. I’m hoping wrapped up it also makes for a nice, while unconventional, Easter basket. Easter is certainly one of my favorite holidays, only behind Thanksgiving. With the lovely and mild spring we’ve had, it seems like an even better reason to be baking, gifting and enjoying the sweet season.


CRAFT-Along: Best Pizza Ever

Dear Fin,

Guess who returned Friday? The Malawian/Aussie golfer roomie — Matt. He’s back to make another go of the professional golfing world in Arizona and now I have someone to cook for on a regular basis. {His family took care of me on the tea estate in Malawi last summer. They are some of the nicest people I’ve met. It is a pleasure to return the favor by hosting their son.}

Imagine my delight when I made our March CRAFT-Along pizza crust project last night and he said, “This is some of the best pizza ever.” Giddyup!

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

I did modify the recipe a bit by making the dough whole wheat. I’d never made pizza dough before, so we also had to take a quick trip through Target to get a pizza tray. With some rosemary from a friend’s garden, chicken and heaps of veggies — we ate like kings. This recipe is just too easy and I’m certain I’ll be making it again this week. I’m thinking artichokes, mushrooms, black olives and spicy red peppers.

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

Whole Wheat Chicken & Veggie Pizza

Great choice Fin! (Although I still need to learn how to throw a pizza crust. Any suggestions?)


Warm Winter Meal


Mmm... leafy greens

In reading The New York Times late yesterday afternoon, I was inspired to hit the market on the way home from work to pick up some kale. I’ve read a bunch lately about this superfood, not to mention all the yummy recipes on Kath’s blog. I wanted something a bit different and am trying to not eat as much meat. Kale is essentially calorie free and has gobs of good stuff in those dark leafy greens. I gave this recipe a whirl.

look gross, taste great


Stewing kale

Drank every drop

While the kale was stewing, I roasted a sweet potato. It was a colorful, nutritious and cheap meal that left me tickled with new-recipe joy. I am looking forward to the leftovers for lunch.

I read a bit of the latest Bon Appetit (thanks again Meggie!) during diner and the April issue is incredibly goood. Foodies — if you don’t subscribe, this is the month to splurge and pick it up at the newsstand. The recipes are seasonal, delicious and the photography would encourage a caveman to fine tune his culinary abilities. In the Editor’s Letter, Barbara Fairchild writes of spring, cooking and the recession:

“My 401(k) may be a shadow of its former self, but spring will return as scheduled: we’ll still have asparagus and rhubarb, artichokes and fresh peas, carrots and ramps, fragrant herbs and spring greens, juicy berries and tangy lemons, chocolate — always chocolate — salmon and lamb and roast chicken and pork, and Easter and Passover, and a whole lot of other delicious things to look forward to cooking and eating.”

Indeed! Give kale a shot, if you don’t love it already. The flavor is rich and creamy. The broth from this recipe was so sweet, I could easily see adapting this to make it  soup with a giant dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream. I will be planting kale in the next winter garden, absoloodle.


The Construction of a Meal

To be: Green Chile Meatloaf

To be: green chili meatloaf — with cilantro from the garden

To be: Sweet Potato Fries

To be: spicy sweet potato fries

To be: Roast Broccoli

To be: roast broccoli

To Be: Red Velvet Cupcakes

To be: red velvet cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes Red Velvet Red Velvet Cupcakes To be: Cream Cheese Frosting

To be: cream cheese frosting

Dinner: 2-2-09

This post also could be titled: Why I’ve been enjoying meatloaf leftovers for the week. If you are looking for a kick-ass, tried and true meatloaf recipe, my mom’s spicy Mexican Meatloaf is really, really good. Have you ever noticed meatloaf is like gumbo — it tastes incredibly better as leftovers?


Garden to Table

I achieved one of my long-time goals yesterday and you’d think I’d won the domestic lottery:



Garden to table

Table set

Food from the garden to the table! Cilantro for the guacamole, to be precise. Yesterday I hosted a small staff happy hour at my house. For social acceptance purposes, I didn’t let anyone know how dang exciting it was that I was in part feeding them out of food I grew myself. Woo hoo!

As for the recipes for the photos I posted yesterday, I have to ask for your patience. I’m working on a new project that’s keeping me from sharing too much, but I hope to have them in your hands soon! Thanks for all the sweet comments. You know if you are ever in Phoenix, you always have a seat at my community dinners.



What’s Cooking?

cooking 008

Roasted butternut squash topped with browned turkey, garlic and veggies with a side of quinoa.

cooking 005

Mmm.. say it with me — “keen wa!” I love this food.

cooking 012

And while I’m trying not to drink much, this decanter is so awesome for impressing a guest. Take a $5 bottle of red wine and decant for 30 minutes before. You wouldn’t believe how much this improves the taste.

Otherwise, I’m not doing much domestic this week. Work is kicking my butt. With hours upon hours at the capitol in a sea of gray cubicles, I am exceptionally happy this is no longer my work environment. I am also over the moon, after spending an hour on the freeway this afternoon, that I don’t have to participate in the concrete jungle regularly either. Both have given me a new dose of perspective and gratitude for my sweet little desk with the pretty window overhead and the fact it is a mile from my home.

Now where did I put the rest of that quinoa…


In the Kitchen

Best cookbook yet!

I’m making my 2009 resolution list, crossing off ideas, writing others in permanent marker and dreaming about the future. While my dream home varies from beach-front to mountain-top, the one constant is a nice kitchen with a giant garden to keep it well-fed. I never expected to love cooking and entertaining as much as I do, but if there were ever a chance to become a professional baker, I’d jump. You can imagine how thrilled I was to receive Alice Water’s “The Art of Simple Food” for Christmas.

Learning new things. Thanks Alice!

My mama, she is a smart cookie. I was on Twitter the other day raving about how much I loved this book when another person commented that if I liked Alice, I should check out her right-hand man, David Tunis. He recently wrote a cookbook called “A Platter of Figs.” Without a moment of guilt for spending yet another $30 on myself during the holidays, I scooped this book up this weekend and have been reading it ever since.

Did you know you can steam fish?

Tunis’ story is funny, honest and simple — like his cooking. He makes mouth-watering meals from basic foods and sticks to seasonal and local eating. He and his partner split their time — 6 months in the Bay area working with Alice Waters at Chez Pannise and 6 months in their European home, where they prepare fabulous meals for friends. Sounds like a dream!

Extras for the halibut dinner

I’ve only cooked one thing so far from either — steamed halibut. I didn’t know how to cook halibut (fish is new to my kitchen), so I pulled out the cookbook and took Alice’s advice. Ten minutes steamed and I had a piece of fish so flaky and tender, it melted. It was wonderful.

Dinner for one

I am looking forward to fewer giant community dinners in 2009 and more intimate meals with a few friends at a time. “A Platter of Figs” is catered to feeding 8 people a three-course meal. This sounds just about right. Tunis is also a fan of using meats not typical in American kitchens, namely rabbit and duck. It is going to take the right group of friends to want to come over for this sort of menu, but I think I’ll be able to round up a few. I intend also to make Ms. Waters and Mr. Tunis great friends of mine in the new year.

And that resolution list will be posted by the end of the week. I’m still editing and dreaming.


Que Viva La Sticky Bun!

Christmas Morning Tradition

While I foolishly poured myself a “healthy” bowl of granola and yogurt, the family prepared to dig into a Christmas morning tradition…

Christmas Morning Tradition

Christmas Morning Tradition

Christmas Morning Tradition

Christmas Morning Tradition

Christmas Morning Tradition

Christmas Morning Tradition

I only ended up eating half a pan…And I wish I could do it again this morning. If there is one thing that signals the holidays in our family, it’s the scent of brown sugar, pecans and doughy white bread baking in the oven. Sweet heaven, these were good.