I’ve decided that every time I don’t fail at baking something, it is a miracle. Hence, I’m starting a new feature called “STILL GOOD!” which will highlight any recipes that I assign my typical half-assed baking attention to and still turn out well. Thank you Lauren’s Latest.com for the first recipe: Gingerbread Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting.
Here’s the recipe, and, in bold, the ways in which I messed it up:
Gingerbread Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves (FORGOT TO BUY THESE)
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda (THOUGHT I HAD THIS, WAS WRONG)
for the frosting-
4 oz. cream cheese, softened (PUT IN WHOLE PACKAGE SO HAD TO DOUBLE RECIPE)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 325. Line 12.25 x 8.75 x 1 jelly roll pan with foil or parchment and spray with nonstick cooking spray. (DID NOT HAVE JELLY ROLL PAN. PUT IN GLASS BAKING DISH INSTEAD.) Set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. (ACCIDENTALLY MELTED BUTTER WHILE TRYING TO SOFTEN. DECIDED TO USE ANYWAY. THEN REALIZED THAT WAS BAD IDEA. PUT MIXTURE IN FREEZER FOR FIVE MINUTES TO TRY TO ERASE MISTAKE.) Stir in egg, vanilla and molasses. Whip 1-2 minutes or until it turns a light brown color. Stir in remaining ingredients and mix until dry ingredients are just combined. (WAS USING BLENDER INSTEAD OF MIXER BECAUSE WAS TOO LAZY TO GET MIXER OUT. BLENDER DIED BECAUSE WAS USING IMPROPERLY. HAD TO FINISH BY HAND.) Press into prepared pan and bake 20-22 minutes or until edges are barely starting to brown. (OVEN TEMP IS STILL WEIRD. THERMOMETER WAS READING 300 WHEN SET TO 325. TURNED OVEN UP TO 350. THERMOMETER STILL READ 300. WHO KNOWS? BAKED UNTIL SEEMED DONE.) Cool completely.
For the frosting- whip all ingredients together until smooth. Spread on bars and cut into squares. Serve immediately or store in air tight container. (EVEN WHEN SORT OF DOUBLED, ICING STILL DELICIOUS. USUALLY THE CASE WITH ICING.)
The way I made these they taste kind of like chewy, gingery hermit cookies, which I like. I wish I’d added some raisins. But if they were on the list I probably would have forgotten to buy them anyway.
I’ve never had anything I didn’t like at Moonakis Cafe. Omelettes are fluffy, not greasy. Pancakes are slender but still meaty. Potatoes and grilled English muffins round out your main dish nicely. But this weekend I had a Portuguese breakfast sandwich that knocked everything else out of contention. Chorizo, cheese, onions, and an egg on a sweet roll. I’d never had one before, and the combination sounded interesting but not necessarily exciting – but now I’d like to recreate this at home. It’s a good size sandwich but not overstuffed, you could have it for breakfast or lunch without feeling like you need a nap afterward. The chorizo and the sweet roll play well off of each other, and Moonakis grills the sweet onions just enough to have a little snap against the melty cheese. Until they put the lemon poppyseed pancakes back on the summer menu, I’ll be eating this as often as I can.
Last Friday, my then almost-husband and I shared a fantastic rehearsal dinner with our family at UpStairs on the Square, a Harvard Square institution for over 30 years and the place where my parents first met my now actual-husband. UpStairs had set up the Soiree Room beautifully, everything they served was delicious, and the staff was extremely helpful and generally fantastic. The woman who helped us plan, Caroline Koelker, was a real pro. We had an amazing time and we were looking forward to going back for years to come.
Until yesterday, when I learned that Upstairs on the Square’s landlord has decided to sell the building, and that they will close in just a few months - after New Years. Heartbreaking! Now instead of showing our future kids the place where we had our rehearsal dinner, we’ll have to say “hey kids, see that dive bar?” or more probably “hey kids, see that Banana Republic?”
I wish the gracious owners and fantastic party throwers, Mary-Catherine Deibel and Deborah Hughes, all the best, and I really hope they make a go of it at another location. Thank you both, as well as Caroline and everyone on staff at our rehearsal dinner, for a beautiful event. You will be missed!
My partner in food-crime and I are lucky enough to be getting married in October. When we chose our venue a year ago, the cuisine was a main concern for both of us, and it didn’t take much convincing to go with the Regattabar in The Charles Hotel – weddings there are catered by Chef Davis of Henrietta’s Table. While I can’t say enough good things about how accommodating and lovely the staff (especially Catherine!) have been during our planning process, they really outdid themselves at our tasting today. I don’t want to give away exactly what we chose, but I am including a few photos that Dave took, showcasing some of the fantastic vegetarian options they have. I am really impressed with how much effort and pride they take with their vegetarian entrees, as well as salads and sides – these courses are so often an afterthought. So happy that is not the case here – I might even get the vegetarian option myself!
Some days the best days are driving around for hours in the backseat of your best friend’s car looking for a beach. Some times the best food is a grilled cheese wrapped in paper with three pickles on the side on a paper plate. To build such a day yourself, grab your friends and head to the snack bar at Stage Fort Park in Gloucester, MA. I can’t promise your friends will be as good as mine, but the grilled cheese is always pretty solid.