Cookbooks: Dessert for Two

cover of Dessert for Two

There is just so much to like about Christina Lane’s new book, Dessert for Two. It’s got page after page of gorgeous photography. The book is hefty and feels good in your hands. And all the recipes it contains for cookies, cakes, tarts, bars are scaled to serve just two or three.

Dessert for Two contents

Released last month and bearing the same name as her very clever blog, Dessert for Two is arranged by kind of treat. There are cookies (never more than a dozen), bars (including, but not limited to several varieties of brownies), cakes (including a petite wedding cake), Southern delights (Christina is from Texas), and candy (because why not!).

, brownies for two

I’ve used her recipe for brownies several times since the book landed on my doorstep and I’m always delighted both by their flavor and the fact that there’s not a whole pan of them hanging around my kitchen. You bake them in a loaf tin and the yield is just two generous brownies (though I often cut them into thirds so that they stretch a little further).

blueberry mason jar lid pies

And then, there’s the novel way that Christina uses mason jar lids. She flips the flat lid upside and turns it into a tiny removable bottom pan. You’ll see her do this for both tarts and pies and the result is both practical and adorable.

chocolate caramel mason jar lid tarts

If you have a small household and you like homemade desserts, this would be a very good book to add to your collection!

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Weekend Giveaway: Push Pins from Lulu The Pickle Queen

pickle push pins 1

Hey canners! I’m breaking out of my self-imposed schedule to throw and extra-special weekend long giveaway into the blog mix.

Lulu The Pickle Queen is an artist who works with polymer clay and makes an array of pickle and vegetable-themed push pins (you can also get them as magnets if you don’t have a spot for pinning things). She has made a special-limited edition Food in Jars set that feature pickles, jams, and even a jar that looks like my logo.

pickle push pins 2

I asked Lulu a couple of questions.

How long have you been making push pins?

I’ve been making push pins for about a year and a half. It started with pickle earrings, because I LOVE pickles, and then I began making more pickle paraphernalia. So I began making pickle push pins.

How did you get started?

I have always been an artist, but didn’t experiment with polymer clay until a couple of years ago. A good friend and I were having an art party and she said I must try polymer clay. The first thing I made was a tiny pickle and was hooked from then on.

Now, I’m trying new techniques and incorporating various mediums. It has been so much fun. Most of the time I have to stop myself from keeping everything I make. As you can imagine, I have a huge jewelry and pushpin collection.

You can find ind Lulu on Etsy and Wanelo.

Now, for the giveaway. I have one set of these push pins to offer up to you guys. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me what you’d hang with one of Lulu’s pins/magnets.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm east coast time on Sunday, March 29, 2015. The winner will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog by Monday, March 30, 2015.
  3. Giveaway is open to US residents
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left on the blog, I cannot accept submissions via email.

Disclosure: Lulu is providing the pins for the giveaway. No other compensation has been provided for this post. 

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Preserves in Action: Simple Peach Cake

peaches in a jar

When I was doing my big jar reorg a few weeks ago, I discovered a small cache of gingery canned peaches from the summer of 2012. The seals were good and the color was unchanged, so I knew they would be fine to eat, but figured it would be a good idea to start using them up before peach season rolls around again.

cake dough and peaches

There’s an Ina Garten recipe I’ve made a couple times during the height of summer that involves layering fresh peaches into cake batter and dusting them with cinnamon and sugar. I decided to take a stab at making it with my canned peaches.

first peach layer

Of course, because I cannot resist these things, I also omitted some of the sugar and swapped in whole wheat pastry flour for the all-purpose in an attempt to make it slightly more virtuous. The end result was a very delicious cake, though if you skip down to the last picture, you’ll see that my perfectly arranged peaches sunk right down to the bottom of the pan.

second peach layer

I think this happened for three reasons. The first is that I used buttermilk in place of the sour cream that the original recipes requests. Sour cream is slightly thicker and so leads to a denser batter (but I had exactly a cup of buttermilk and I so desperately wanted to get that jug out of the fridge).

The second reason is that I omitted the cinnamon and sugar sprinkle between layers in my attempts at virtuosity. Finally, those canned peaches have had the last three years to absorb additional liquid, making them heavier than their fresh counterparts.

finished peach cake

Still, it was entirely edible and the guys Scott had over for a D&D game did not complain about the sunken peaches (and I did not apologize). However, next time I make it, I think I’m just going to arrange all the peaches at the bottom of the pan, pour the batter on top and call it an upside down cake.

If you want to make it as Ina intended, her recipe is here. The recipe with my alterations can be found below.

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Guest Post: Fermenting Hot Sauce in Whiskey Barrels

Barrel-Aged

Hey friends! I have a treat for you today! It’s a guest post about fermenting homemade hot sauce in old whiskey barrels by barrel enthusiast James Dreese. Enjoy! 

Hello, my name is James and I’m a bit of a barrel enthusiast (if there is such a thing). I enjoy aging everything from whiskey, beer, and even hot sauce. I am a father of two, and married. I remember my mother canning when I was younger, little did I know 25 years later I’d be doing the same. I’m a firm believer that everything is better with age, even you.

Aging Hot Sauce

At this point, everyone has heard of aged wine, and most people are aware that you can age beer and bourbon, too. What most people don’t realize is that with the proper infrastructure, you can age hot sauce and the taste is nothing short of mouthwatering.

Now, I realize that this won’t be relevant to everyone. But I know that there are hot sauce enthusiasts out there – those of you who eat it with everything from rice, pizza, popcorn, and steak.

If it sounds like I’m describing you, listen up. We’re going to go over why you’d want to age hot sauce, what to expect, and how to do it step-by-step. It’s easier than you think – read on!

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Giveaway: Moustache Coffee Club + Coffee Syrup Recipe

Mustache Coffee Club bag

I am on-again, off-again coffee drinker. I’ll go through long stints where I am deeply attached to a morning cup, only to suddenly switch to hot black tea with milk and honey. Currently, coffee and I are hot and heavy, so when the folks at Moustache Coffee Club got in touch and asked if I wanted to team up for a giveaway, I said yes.

mustache coffee beans

Based in Los Angeles, Moustache is a coffee subscription club where you can opt to get a bag of gently roasted, single origin beans on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis. They roast and ship on the same day in the hopes of getting you the freshest beans possible.

3 ounces coffee beans

They sent me a 12 ounce bag of their Colombian beans (I was told that these beans were a medium roast, which is a little darker than their norm) and asked if I might like to make something with them. And so, I did.

coffee concentrate set-up

I made a sweetened coffee concentrate to use in making a Thai iced coffee analog (which I will drink sitting on a park bench, if warmer days ever come). I measured out 3 ounces of beans and ground them quite fine (I have this grinder and I love it. It’s pricy, but good for coffee obsessives).

pouring water

I measured 1 cup of organic cane sugar into a pint sized mason jar and set the coffee filter up over it, and brewed a very strong 12 or so ounces of coffee right into the sugar.

making coffee syrup

Once the jar was nearly full with coffee, I removed the coffee filter and used a small whisk to help dissolve the sugar into the coffee. It only took a 30 seconds or so of careful stirring until the sugar and coffee were fully integrated.

full jar

I put a lid on the jar and once it was cool, popped it into the fridge. It’ll keep for a few weeks.

In addition to making a faux Thai iced coffee (traditionally, it’s made with sweetened condensed milk and freshly brewed coffee, but I find that this method makes for a faster cup and I don’t have to deal with sticky containers of sweetened condensed milk), I also occasionally will stir some of the concentrate into fizzy water for a coffee-flavored Italian soda.

whisking sugar into coffee

Now, for the giveaway. The nice folks at Moustache Coffee Club want to give one Food in Jars reader a 12 ounce bag of their coffee. Here’s how to enter:

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me about your favorite warm drink.
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, March 28, 2015. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, March 29, 2015.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

Disclosure: Moustache Coffee Club gave me a 12 ounce bag of their coffee and are providing an additional one for this giveaway. No additional compensation was provided and all opinions expressed were honest and my own.  

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Team Yogurt and Nutmeg Crunch

nutmeg crunch unbaked

My friend Cheryl has a thing for yogurt. She has traveled the world learning about it. She wrote a book about it called Yogurt Culture (which comes out next month!) And when the book wasn’t enough to contain her continuing interest, she created a website called Team Yogurt in order to keep the dairy party going.

nutmeg crunch ingredients

Team Yogurt went live last week and while it’s but a wee fledgling at the moment, it already contains many moments of greatness. One such miraculous recipe is Cheryl’s Nutmeg Crunch.

finished nutmeg crunch

The recipe contains seven ingredients (including the pinch of salt) that you fling into the food processor, pulse for less than a minute, and then spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Baked until brown and cooled until crunchy, it is flavorful, nutty, and a very welcome change from my usual granola.

nutmeg crunch in a jar

In addition to this yogurt topper, you’ll find many more recipes over on Team Yogurt that include, highlight, and enhance the tub of yogurt in your fridge. Get over there and check it out!

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