May 15, 2010

Hello all Sweet and Savory fans! Suzy and Margaux have moved to Sweet and Savory Kitchens.  Please visit that site to see our most recent posts, and to sign up to stay up-to-date on all the latest goodies we’re cooking and baking.  Sorry for the inconvenience!


Aunt Suzy and Margaux


Tuna Pasta with Garlic, Capers and Lemon

May 5, 2010

Margaux Says…
This is a recipe that was given to me by Aunt Suzy years ago in one of my “dinner in a box” gifts. We love it so much that its become a staple in our household! Its very cheap, and I usually make it when its about time to go shopping because we almost always have the ingredients on hand. It also takes only about 30 minutes to make.

Aunt Suzy says . . .
I’m not sure where I got this recipe – Cook’s Illustrated perhaps – but it is a winner in many ways. Not only is in inexpensive and made from things you’re likely to have on hand, but the fact that you can throw this together in about 30 minutes is great! I usually make it when I’m at my wit’s end about what to cook on a weeknight. I almost always make this with whole wheat fusilli/pasta spirals and tuna from Italy packed in olive oil (available at Trader Joe’s). Enjoy!

Tuna Pasta with Garlic, Capers and Lemon

Heat in skillet:
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I make this a heaping 1/2 tsp)
3 Tbsp capers
Over medium high heat for 1-2 minutes until sizzling but not browned.

1/2 cup dry white wine
Bring to simmer and simmer until there is no trace of alcohol-about a minute.

2 cans drained tuna
2 tsp salt (I only add 1 tsp salt)
Cook 1-2 minutes, stirring, until tuna is heated through.

Meanwhile, Cook:
1 lb. pasta pieces, like fusilli or rigatoni, al dente.
Drain, reserving 1/4 cup pasta water.

Tuna, pasta, pasta water PLUS
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 Tbsp butter

Serve immediately, with a crisp Italian white wine and a green salad.

Margaux’s version:

Suzy’s version:

Baked Feta

April 24, 2010

Aunt Suzy says . . . .
A few years ago, I saw this recipe for an appetizer of baked feta cheese in Food & Wine Magazine. I had never heard of baking feta cheese before, but it looked delicious. It turns out it IS delicious!! It’s super easy to make and a hit when served with baguette, crackers and an assortment of olives. Several types of feta are available in solid blocks vs. crumbles, which is what you will need for this dish. For friends who live in Minneapolis, Bill’s on Lake & Aldrich is the place to get it. For those of you who live near a Trader Joe’s, they carry Greek feta in a block. I prefer French sheep’s milk feta when I can find it. Enjoy this beautiful and tasty dish with a Sauvignon Blanc or a French Pinot Noir.

Margaux Says…
Aunt Suzy actually gave me this recipe years back with her “Dinner in a Box” gift that she gave my husband and I as a wedding gift. It was a really fun gift that I will probably do for someone someday: in the year after we were married, four times we received a box from her that contained a menu with recipes, some ingredients and a few cooking implements to go with that we didn’t have yet. One of the menus contained a recipe for roasted beets, and as a side note she included this recipe, as a way to use the beet tops at another meal (you serve the feta on sauteed beet tops). I’ve used it several times now, and I LOVE it! We’ve even served it at a cocktail party, with slices of crusty bread, and it was a hit.

Serves 4

½ pound feta cheese cut in a ¾-inch slab
2 tablespoons olive oil 2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves
¼- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper 1-2 teaspoons lemon zest
1-2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Cut the feta into 4 triangles and place in a glass baking dish. Place the pepper, garlic slices, oregano leaves and lemon zest on top of the cheese. You can vary the quantities of these ingredients to your taste. Pour the olive oil over the cheese carefully so as not to disturb the other ingredients. Marinate 5 minutes to 1 hour. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes till custard-like, but not browned. Lift cheese sections onto a serving plate (or individual plates) with a spatula and pour hot olive oil over all.

To serve with beet greens:

one to two bunches beet tops, stems trimmed and chopped into 1″ strips
2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic for about a minute, then add greens in bunches and saute until just wilted. Transfer to serving platter, then arrange cheese pieces over top. Pour hot olive oil over all.

Lemon Layer Cake

April 10, 2010

A few weeks ago, we hosted my mom’s retirement party, which of course is a reason to make a cake! I’ve been wanting to make this cake for years, but haven’t due to the numerous steps and seemingly complicated instructions. But I knew my mom was going to come up a day early for the party, which would mean I had someone to watch the little munchkin while I baked! And its spring, which is the perfect time for a lemon cake.

This cake was particularly appealing to me because of the lemon curd and the 7 minute frosting. My grandma Major used to make cakes with 7 minute frosting, and they were always so lovely. Yet the icing was always kind of sickingly-sweet, and wasn’t so lovely the next day. The article that went with this recipe advertised an icing not like the old-fashioned version, and my curiosity was piqued. I wanted the cake to be pretty like my grandma’s, but taste better. This definitely was the best 7 minute frosting I’ve ever had…it was sweet, light, and slightly lemony. It stayed beautiful for DAYS afterwords. And it was a perfect balance with the tart lemon curd filling. The cake was really delicious as well, and I think I’ll use this cake recipe again for vanilla cake lovers, and frost with a plain vanilla buttercream.

I made this cake the day before, and refrigerated it over night. If possible, I will make it the same day I served it when I make this cake again. The frosting and lemon curd were still perfect, but I’m not a huge fan of refrigerated cake…it wasn’t as light and fluffy as it was when I put the cake together.

Oh, and it wasn’t as complicated as it looked. 🙂

Lemon Layer Cake
(from Cook’s Illustrated, March 2007)

Lemon Curd Filling
1 cup fresh lemon juice from about 6 lemons
1 teaspoon gelatin (powdered)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (10 1/2 ounces)
1/8 teaspoon table salt
4 large eggs
6 large egg yolks (reserve egg whites for cake)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 1/2-inch cubes and frozen

2 1/4 cups cake flour (9 ounces), plus extra for pans
1 cup whole milk , room temperature
6 large egg whites , room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 12 pieces, softened but still cool

Fluffy White Icing
2 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar (7 ounces)
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1 tablespoon corn syrup

1. FOR THE FILLING: Measure 1 tablespoon lemon juice into small bowl; sprinkle gelatin over top. Heat remaining lemon juice, sugar, and salt in medium nonreactive saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot but not boiling. Whisk eggs and yolks in large nonreactive bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot lemon-sugar mixture into eggs, then return mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with heatproof spatula, until mixture registers 170 degrees on instant-read thermometer and is thick enough to leave trail when spatula is scraped along pan bottom, 4 to 6 minutes. Immediately remove pan from heat and stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Stir in frozen butter until incorporated. Pour filling through fine-mesh strainer into nonreactive bowl (you should have 3 cups). Cover surface directly with plastic wrap; refrigerate until firm enough to spread, at least 4 hours.

2. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch-wide by 2-inch-high round cake pans and line with parchment paper. In 2-cup liquid measure or medium bowl, whisk together milk, egg whites, and vanilla.

3. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt at low speed. With mixer running at low speed, add butter one piece at a time; continue beating until mixture resembles moist crumbs with no visible butter chunks. Add all but 1/2 cup milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed until mixture is pale and fluffy, about 1 1/2 minutes. With mixer running at low speed, add remaining 1/2 cup milk mixture; increase speed to medium and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium speed and beat 20 seconds longer. Divide batter evenly between cake pans; using rubber spatula, spread batter to pan walls and smooth tops.

4. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes. Loosen cakes from sides of pans with small knife, cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert onto greased wire rack; peel off parchment. Invert cakes again; cool completely on rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

5. TO ASSEMBLE: Following illustrations below, use serrated knife to cut each cake into 2 even layers. Place bottom layer of 1 cake on cardboard round or cake plate. Using icing spatula, spread 1 cup lemon filling evenly on cake, leaving 1/2-inch border around edge; using cardboard round, gently replace top layer. Spread 1 cup filling on top. Using cardboard round, gently slide bottom half of second cake into place. Spread remaining cup filling on top. Using cardboard round, place top layer of second cake. Smooth out any filling that has leaked from sides of cake; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while making icing.

6. FOR THE ICING: Combine all ingredients in bowl of standing mixer or large heatproof bowl and set over medium saucepan filled with 1 inch of barely simmering water (do not let bowl touch water). Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture registers 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and transfer mixture to standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and continue to beat until mixture has cooled to room temperature and stiff peaks form, 5 minutes longer. Using icing spatula, spread frosting on cake. Serve. (Cake can be refrigerated for up to 1 day before serving.)

The filling can be made a day ahead and refrigerated, but it will become quite stiff; fold it with a rubber spatula to loosen it before spreading onto the cake. For neater slices, dip a knife into hot water before cutting the cake. Leftovers can be stored covered in the refrigerator, with the cut side of the cake covered tightly with plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.

Bean-Barley Soup

April 4, 2010

My Aunt Suzy and I have decided to do this blog together! We both love to cook and bake (she more cooking, me more baking), and thought it would be fun and make for a more interesting blog. And of course, it means MORE RECIPES!! 🙂 This is our first joint post. Some of our posts will be joint like this, because many times we end up cooking the same things due to recipe sharing. Other posts will be independent, and I’m guessing that most of hers will be cooking and most of mine will continue to be baking.

I’ve been wanting to cook more vegetarian dishes and when Suzy was down in mid-February I suggested that we make this soup from savvyvegetarian.com. We had a lot of fun cooking together and as we usually do, we made some adaptations to the recipe.

Aunt Suzy says . . .
I think cooking more vegetarian is a great idea for both health and the pocketbook. And I loved this soup – the unusual flavor, the creaminess of the beans and the unique mix of vegetables. It’s different in a number of ways from most vegetable soups. It doesn’t start with the usual vegetable soup base of mirepoix, instead using ginger as one of the base ingredients. Whoever made this up also took a different approach to the herbs. This adds up to a delicious soup that’s easy, especially if you use canned beans. It was lots of fun to cook this with Margaux while Desi floated around our ankles and generally entertained us.

Just coincidentally, Margaux and I both cooked this soup a second time last week! I made a few more adaptations from the first time we cooked it, the biggest one was I used Trader Joe’s 17-bean+barley soup mix (dried) – thanks Aunt Cindy for the suggestion. At $1.69 for the 1-lb package, I thought it worth a try. I used the entire package of beans after cooking, which was twice the amount of beans called for, so I cut back on the potatoes. It was delicious, but I think I like the original chickpea/kidney bean combo slightly better. Probably the most work of this recipe is chopping the ingredients.

I really like how all the vegetables and then herbs are sauteed together before adding the liquid and beans. Really makes for a great flavor base.

I think this is the kind of recipe that you can play around with and adjust to your taste. It can be more brothy or thicker and you can adjust quantities and types of veggies. I’ve thought cauliflower might be an interesting addition!

Margaux says . . .
The second time I made it, I used a crock pot, which is what the recipe was actually developed for. I didn’t even saute any of the veggies prior to putting it all together in the crock pot. I was very pressed for time (as usual, with a one-year-old), and so I threw it all in and let it cook for 6 hours while I was at work. It definitely wasn’t as flavorful, and I think that if I were going to do it in the slow cooker again, I would take the time to saute the veggies first.

I did put in the soy sauce, this time, and I don’t really think that it made much of a difference. I don’t know that I would bother again.

Barley Bean Vegetable Soup
Makes 8-10 servings

1 ½ cups cooked garbanzo beans (or 1-16 oz. can, drained & rinsed)
1 ½ cups cooked kidney beans (or 1-16 oz. can, drained & rinsed)
½ cup dried pearl barley, cooked according to package directions
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
½ lb green beans, sliced in 1-inch sections (or 1-10 oz package frozen cut green beans)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
½-1 jalapeno pepper seeded and minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon each basil, thyme, marjoram and paprika
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds, crushed slightly in a mortar and pessel
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
3 tablespoons tomato paste
6-8 cups total liquid – can be a combo of water and bean cooking broth if you cooked dried beans
1 tablespoon Bragg’s Amino Acids or soy sauce (optional)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (optional)

Stovetop Instructions:
In a large soup pot or dutch oven, heat the oil on medium heat until shimmering.
Add the carrots, celery, green beans (if using fresh), bell pepper, jalapeno and ginger. Increase heat a bit and saute for 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add all herbs except the bay leaf and saute for 1-2 minutes more.

Add a little of the liquid and then the tomoto paste. Stir until blended and then add the rest of the liquid along with the beans – more liquid for a brothier soup and less for a thicker soup. Add the bay leaf. (If using frozen green beans, add here.) Bring to a boil, turn down heat and then simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Slow Cooker instructions:
1. Slow Slow Cooking: You can either sauté the veggies and spices first, then add to the crockpot, or just throw everything in cold, set the crockpot on low, cover and cook for 6 hours.

2. Quick Slow Cooking: Sauté veggies & spices as above, transfer to preheated Crockpot with hot beans, barley & liquid. Simmer 2 – 3 hours on low. Keep your eye on it for the first time, as cooking times vary with crockpot size and make.

To Serve:
Before serving stir in the Bragg’s or soy sauce and the parsley. Serve in your favorite soup bowls along with a crusty bread. A not too tart Sauvignon Blanc pairs nicely with this soup.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

March 29, 2010

So I have to admit, I subscribe to Martha Stewart Living. It’s ideal for me, because I like crafty stuff, as well as liking to cook and bake. So it saves me from having to subscribe to multiple magazines, since I barely have time to read just the one. Plus, its really, really good. This month’s Martha had a chocolate chip recipe that was supposedly for everyone: people who like chewy cookies, and people who like crispy cookies. My husbands favorite cookies are chocolate chip, so I thought I have to try this one, since its claiming to be the best. I seem to be on a cookie kick lately, which is kind of weird…I’m usually more of a cake/pie baker. But I’m finding that its easier to throw together a batch of cookies with a one-year-old running around my feet than anything else. I can also just bake one or two sheets, then save the dough for later when I have more time.

This chocolate chip recipe is only slightly different from the one on the back of the Toll House chip bag, which is what I usually use. I like using the dark brown sugar…it gave them a little more flavor. These definitely lived up to Martha’s testimonial of being the best! They didn’t fall flat like every other recipe that I’ve used do, and they have a chewy center with a nice crispy edge. Just make sure that you don’t over-do them…they need to be just turning golden brown, and still just slightly underdone in the middle. I over-did a few batches, and they weren’t as good.

Crisp and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
(from Martha Stewart Living, April 2010)

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
2. Preheat oven to 350. Beat butter and sugars winutes. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture, beat until combined. Mix in chocolate chips (I did this by hand).ith a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 m
3. Using a 2 1/4 inch ice cream scoop (about 3 tbsp), drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake until golden around edges but soft in the middle, about 15 minutes. (That was too long for me…check after 13 minutes to be sure). Let cool for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack, and let cool completely.

Finished Dough

Finished Cookies

Gingerbread Pear Upside-down Cake

March 25, 2010

This recipe was recently given to me in a cookbook that my Aunt Suzy made for me for my birthday. The cookbook is called “Three Aunts and a Mom,” and is a compilation of recipes from-you guessed it-three of my aunts and my mom. It’s all sweets (of course, it was made for me!), and they are tried-and-true favorites. Most of them I grew up with, but some are favorites of theirs that I have never had. This particular recipe is a favorite of my mom’s friend Val, and it is Dee-Lish! And beautiful, too.

Pear Upside-Down Gingerbread Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray.

3 peeled small pears, cored and cut lengthwise into 1/4″ thick slices (about 1 lb.)
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger, divided in half
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 lg egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp powdered sugar

Combine pears, 1 tbsp ginger and lemon juice. sprinkle the pan with 2 tbsp granulated sugar. Arrange pears in bottom of pan in circular pattern.

Cream brown sugar and butter in a large bowl. Beat in eggs. Add buttermilk, molasses and 1 tbsp of the ginger and beat until well blended.

Lightly spoon the flour into a measuring cup and level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (I whisked them together). Add flour mixture to batter and stir until well blended. Pour over pears. Bake for 40 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool in pan on wire rack for 2 minutes.

Place a plate sprinkled with powdered sugar upside down on top of cake pan and invert. (you may need to tap it a few times)

Brown Sugar Cookies

March 14, 2010

These are the BEST cookies I have ever made.  Hands down.  It helps that the recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated because they make things pretty much foolproof, they have such detailed instructions.  As boring and mundane as the recipe sounds, its not…these cookies are rich and buttery, with a crispy outside and a chewy inside, slightly salty and perfectly sweet.  Plus, they’re very easy and require just a few standard ingredients: a plus for a mom on a budget!!

14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (about 1 3/4 ounces)
2 cups packed brown sugar (14 ounces)
2 cups unbleached flour plus 2 tablespoons (about 10 1/2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


  1. 1. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue to cook, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter to melt; set aside for 15 minutes.
  2. 2. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large (18 by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. In shallow baking dish or pie plate, mix granulated sugar and 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, rubbing between fingers, until well combined; set aside. Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder together in medium bowl; set aside.
  3. 3. Add remaining 1 3/4 cups brown sugar and salt to bowl with cooled butter; mix until no sugar lumps remain, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula; add egg, yolk, and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 1 minute. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed.
  4. 4. Divide dough into 24 portions, each about 2 tablespoons, rolling between hands into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Working in batches, toss balls in reserved sugar mixture to coat and set on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart, 12 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but it will take 3 batches.)
  5. 5. Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are browned and still puffy and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone; see photo below), 12 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Do not overbake.
  6. 6. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes; using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.

Checking Doneness:

Achieving the proper texture—crisp at the edges and chewy in the middle—is critical to this recipe. Because the cookies are so dark, it’s hard to judge doneness by color. Instead, gently press halfway between the edge and center of the cookie. When it’s done, it will form an indent with slight resistance. Check early and err on the side of underdone.