A Druckin Salad Sojourn

Yes, I said salad. I know this normally a safe haven for all things sweet and sinful, but hey — salad starts with an ‘s’ too. I saw these gorgeous salads in the LA Times food section, and noticed that one of them particularly made a splash in the world of food bloggery.

Click for handy instructional video!

Nancy Silverton, thank you for explaining how to do this! Assemble a salad in layers?! GENIUS. I’m always so annoyed at how the good stuff ends up at the bottom. Nancy makes it easy to assemble the perfect bite! I also want to make her olive and rosemary focaccia someday. You know, when I fulfill my true destiny as a lady of leisure. And I haven’t been to the Grove in awhile, but apparently this is happening. Very exciting for burger-lovin’ Angelenos!

And then there’s this, courtesy of BLD in LA:

Click this gorgeous picture for the recipe.

I just think this is a brilliant collaboration of flavors — ginger, soy sauce, sweet rice vinegar, honey and lemon juice, with sweet corn, creamy avocado, crunchy French beans and salty cashews. (I have an aversion to sprouts, so I would omit those.)

These ragged little newspaper clippings have been haunting my daybook for weeks, so it’s a huge relief to finally get them up here and make room for that Bar Method coupon that’s about to expire, my gas bill and my flight info for Thanksgiving. What an exciting life I do lead.

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Pumpkin Mess is Actually Druckin Tasty

Because it’s fall in some parts of the world (it’s supposed to be 86° in LA this weekend!), people are thinkin’ pumpkin. Especially this easy Pumpkin Bread Pudding recipe from Gourmet, 10/07. After reading about it here and here, I just had to try it, even though the boyfriend promptly re-named it ‘Pumpkin Mess’ and refused to eat even the tiniest bite.

This picture makes it look so pretty... In the pan, not so much.

The top baked up golden, crisp and slightly salty from the butter, while the soft custard underneath was just dishy –the kind of thing that gives to the gentle pressure of your spoon in the most satisfying way. It’s the love child of pumpkin pie and French toast, and it would be just as at home on a brunch table as it would be at a fall dinner party, served warm in white ramekins with creme anglaise or softened ice cream.

It's deliciousness, cubed.

Or the way I ate it, scooped straight from the oven into a waiting bowl, and consumed while snuggling on my boyfriend’s couch, watching Arrested Development. (Yay, movie!)

Tip: The recipe calls for 5 cups of day-old baguette, cubed, and I had no idea how much baguette that was, so I bought two. Turns out, I only needed 3/4 of one standard-length baguette. But if you simply love baguettes, by all means, buy two.

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Honey Challah is Druckin Delicious

Sometimes (and I know this is hard to believe) I amaze myself. Like when I pulled this gorgeous, professional-looking challah out of the oven. Then I dip my white sleeve in beet juice, or absentmindedly get into the wrong car, and remember what I’m working with here.

Mine looked just like this!

I used this awesome recipe from the uber-blogger at Smitten Kitchen, and it wasn’t even that hard! I felt vurry fancy as I kneaded my shiny, elastic dough that came together beautifully and didn’t even stick to the counter. Then came the fun science experiment of watching it double in size. All I wanted to do was punch that smooth, puffy mound of dough right in it’s soft belly, and guess what step just happens to come next?! Yay! Punching!

Take that, you stupid dough.

The boyfriend swanned in for the fun part (as men are wont to do, am I right ladies?) and braided this loaf for me, per the VERY helpful step-by-step instructions.

Good job, Jared!

I omitted the apples, but otherwise made this exact recipe, right down to baking it on a parchment-covered baking sheet. Hot out of the oven and slathered with salty butter, it was nearly impossible not to eat the entire loaf of this golden egg bread with its delicate, slightly-crumblier-than-brioche texture. I ate the last of it standing in front of my toaster the next day, with softly melting butter and lavish swipes of strawberry-rhubarb jam.

Jam = Joy.

I used to make challahs in high school fairly regularly, and that fabulous recipe, handed down from a nice synagogue lady, is gone. But this one is close enough. My mom would add a pinch of saffron for Middle-Eastern authenticity, color and its unmistakably heady scent, but I think it works without it. Maybe even better. And that’s what I call progress. Challah back, everyone!

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Druckin Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was skeptical about how well this would work, but I should’ve known better. This recipe for Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies got a lot of love on the interwebs for a REASON. They’re over the top and awesome.

Shocking and delicious. Shockingly delicious.

Now I really want to try this same blogger’s recipe for S’mores Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies. Behold:

Hey, good-lookin'.

I think it adheres to one of my favorite sayings/ideas — too much of a good thing is even better. Next up, squirrel-stuffed chocolate chip cookies! A little furry tail in every bite! Forgive me, I’m tired.

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Another Druckin PB Cookie Recipe

This peanut butter cookie recipe comes courtesy of the good people at Land O’Lakes. These were a little more crumbly than the Skippy version, but all in all, I liked the texture a lot. I’m still searching for the perfect, peanut-buttery, crisp-chewy recipe. If you have it, please share it with me! Until then, these are more than good enough to share.

When you make those criss-crosses, press HARD!

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Coconut Cream Pie, Druck Two

Hey y’all. How’ve you been? Kick ASS, I hope. I have been doing some serious baking and fear that I may lose these fabulous recipes that I’ve already kitchen-tested, the way my mom lost our treasured family recipe for nice synagogue lady Phoebe’s melt-in-your-mouth, honey and saffron-scented challah bread. (Ahem.)

So I made my annual coconut cream pie for awesome pal Anspaugh’s birthday again this year, and everyone (including me) seems to agree that I outdid myself. I used an easy Emeril recipe (even easier than last year, yay!) and it turned out really well — even without the use of coconut milk or cream. I find the taste of coconut milk so subtle that I can’t really tell it’s in there, so why bother?

In researching this recipe, I found out that there’s a big difference between coconut cream pie and coconut custard pie. I also learned that for a light, fluffy pie, you need to use gelatin, like this recipe does. I may try that next time but it would be hard to improve on this one. BAM! Thanks, Emeril.

Pretty pretty pie.

Freshly whipped cream is just heaven, isn’t it? I added a few drops of coconut extract to it this time and it made a lovely, subtle difference.

Coconut Cream Pie

  • 1 blind-baked 9-inch pastry shell (I used a Pillsbury one and weighed it down with a piece of foil covered in dried beans)
  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract (mine was imitation, sorry but it’s true), plus 1/8 tsp (or more) for whipped cream
  • 1 3/4 cups coconut, plus 1/2 cup for toasting
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 8 oz. (half pint) heavy whipping cream or 12 oz if you like it super thick, sugar to taste

Toast 1/2 cup coconut in a single layer on a parchment-covered cookie sheet at 375• for 7-10 minutes, turning it to brown evenly and watching so it doesn’t burn. Cool, then set aside in air-tight container.

In a saucepan, whisk the 2 cups of the milk and 3/4 cup sugar together. Place the pan over medium heat and bring the liquid up to a simmer. Whisk the egg yolks together. Temper the hot milk into the egg yolks. Whisk the egg mixture into the hot milk mixture. In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining milk, making a slurry. Whisk the slurry into the hot milk mixture. Bring the liquid up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until the filling is thick, about 4 to 6 minutes. Fold in the vanilla, coconut extract, coconut, and butter. Mix well. Pour the filling into the prepared pan and cool the pie completely; chill.

Using a chilled bowl and beaters, whip heavy whipping cream to fairly stiff peaks with sugar and coconut extract to taste. Pile whipped cream upon chilled pie. I find that if I chill it again at this stage, it really sets the cream. Sprinkle toasted coconut on top just before serving so it doesn’t get soggy.

Tip: The awesome blogger from whom I pilfered my pretty pie picture made HER whipped cream like this:  1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) heavy cream, 1 packet Whip it, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 3 Tablespoons sugar. I’ve never used a whipped cream stabilizer before but if it doesn’t change the flavor, why the heck not? I see Whip it on the baking aisle at my local supermarket, so maybe you can find it there, too.

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Never Take Homemade Snickers Bars to the Druckin Beach

OMG. Crunchy, salty peanuts in softly flowing caramel, creamy milk chocolate and a buttery-rich peanut butter cookie on the bottom. I venture to say these are BETTER than actual Snickers bars. They are Super Snickers!

I got this recipe from my Betty Crocker newsletter, so please don’t expect a fancy ‘five-star’ dessert. That said, I give these sticky suckers five double-wides and a PBR, y’all!

Even better than the real thing, baby!

I have explained that I am a dessert pusher. I guilt people with perfect beach-bodies who would normally splurge on strawberries into devouring sinful snackage of the sweetest kind. (Mwahhahaha.) Our poor friend Tony was just such an unwitting victim. After a long day of volleyball, he finally accepted a warm, melty Super Snickers bar. In fairness, I’d cut them too big. They were MONSTER sized.

Theme from 'Jaws', play now.

After one bite, Tony was done. But the bar was still there, stuck stubbornly to his fingers, like a chocolatey man-mitten. He couldn’t hide it. He couldn’t lick it off. All he could do was feebly wave it around, trying not to draw attention to it, which naturally had the opposite affect.

The tension grew. We knew he didn’t want it. He knew he didn’t want it. You’ve heard of the elephant in the room. This was the cookie bar on the beach.

Finally, we threw him a lifeline and he wisely took it, wiping an entire peanutty brown dessert bar on a white promo towel with the sexy cast of ABC’s  ‘Revenge’ on it. (You could almost hear them squealing, “EWWWWWW!!”)

You can tell she doesn't approve of snacks on the beach. Sex, however...

I went home, lesson learned, and cut these rich & sticky bars into dainty 1-inch-by-1-inch squares. Then, I brought them to a party and people went NUTS for them. In a nutshell, (stop me, please) I am saving this recipe and you should, too.

Peanut Butter Cookie Candy Bars

(modified slightly from Betty Crocker’s recipe)
Cookie Base
1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® peanut butter cookie mix
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon water
1 egg

Filling
1/3 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1/4 cup peanut butter (I increased from 3 T)
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons water
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
Dash salt
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar (I would cut this down to 2.5 cups at most, but keep tasting it)

Caramel Layer
1 bag (14 oz) caramels, unwrapped
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 cups salted/lightly salted dry-roasted peanuts

Topping
1 bag (11.5 oz) milk chocolate chips (2 cups)

Heat oven to 350°F. Use butter to grease the bottom only of 13×9-inch pan. In large bowl, stir cookie base ingredients until soft dough forms. Press dough in bottom of pan. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

In large bowl, beat all filling ingredients except powdered sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until creamy and smooth. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until well blended (filling will be thick). Press filling over cookie base. Refrigerate while preparing caramel layer.

In 2-quart saucepan, heat caramels and 2 tablespoons water over low heat, stirring constantly, until caramels are melted. Stir in peanuts. Spread evenly over filling. Refrigerate about 15 minutes or until caramel layer is firm.

In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips uncovered on High 1 to 2 minutes, stirring once, until melted. Spread evenly over caramel layer. Refrigerate about 1 hour or until chocolate is set. Cut into 1-inch squares. Store covered at room temperature.

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