Monday, March 26, 2012

Honey Pecan Sticky Buns

These sticky buns will change your life. Seriously. They are just....the bomb. Yes, I just said that, because they're that good. The pictures don't do them justice. Trust me on this one. The dough— slightly sweet and deliciously buttery—is filled with butter and cinnamon sugar and topped with a honey and brown sugar glaze and pecan halves. Sounds good, right?

This is about the fifth or sixth recipe I've made from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours, which my mom gave me recently (thanks, Mom!), and it's official, she is my new favorite. Every one of her recipes I've tried has been phenomenal. They are super easy to follow and I really enjoy her style of writing (her instructions on how to spot when the buns are done: 'they are puffed and gorgeously golden; the glaze will be bubbling away merrily').

I will say, as much as I am a fan of these sticky buns, they are definitely a labor of love. They take a lot of time and effort. The brioche dough has to be tended to for several hours while it rises and then needs to chill overnight in the fridge. On day two, there's the time that goes into making the glaze and filling (not too bad), assembly time (a little worse), rising time (the worst), and actual baking time. So if you're not an avid baker, I wouldn't attempt these. It's just not worth it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Baking with Julia: Irish Soda Bread

It's Tuesday, which means time for another installment of Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia. This week's assignment was Irish soda bread, in honor of St. Patrick's Day. I made my bread on Sunday, so not quite in time to enjoy for the holiday, but all those carbs certainly helped with my hangover, and for that, I am thankful.

I was crazy busy during the third installment of Baking with Julia and was unable to make the rugelach recipe, so I had to participate in this week's challenge, which I had planned on skipping. Beforehand, I wasn't thrilled at the prospect of making Irish soda bread—it didn't appeal to my inherent love of all things chocolate; however, I was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed the texture of the bread and its crispy exterior. The flavor was solid, but it definitely could have used some dried fruit (cherries would be my first choice), nuts or even cheese thrown in (I sprinkled some trail mix over the top to pretty it up a little). On its own it was a little plain for my taste, but I imagine it would be great topped with some butter or jam and paired with a cup of tea.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spinach Cigars with Tzaziki

Last weekend my sister was in town for a visit, aka a 3-day food fest. She loves food nearly as much as I do, so I relish any chance I get to show her the amazing dining Chicago has to offer. But after two days of eating around the city (reviews to come), we were ready for a night in, and ended up preparing an array of appetizers for some friends. Enter spinach cigars with tzaziki.

A spinach and feta cheese filling is wrapped in phyllo dough, brushed with butter and baked to make the spinach 'cigars,' which are then topped with a cool Greek yogurt sauce. The result is a yummy dish bursting with clean and refreshing flavors.