Well, friends. It has been a very, very long time since I last unpacked a cookbook with you! It’s time for a catch-up post. (Doing that advent calendar in December really did set my “regular” blogging behind.) When I last wrote about my personal cookbook challenge (right after Halloween, which seems so long ago), I shared that I’d be . . .

Baking with Dorie. Greenspan, that is. I’ve had this cookbook – Baking With Dorie: Sweet, Salty and Simple – for a couple of years (it was published in 2021). I’m a big fan of Dorie Greenspan. Her recipes tend to be . . . kinda lengthy. I used to be intimidated by this, because I thought the amount of words meant . . . complicated and difficult recipes. With Dorie, though, that’s not the case. She just packs a lot of information into her recipes. She wants to be . . . very clear. She also includes a lot of asides, which I’m pretty sure are meant to boost the baker’s confidence. (She says things like, “it’ll look lumpy; that’s okay.” Which DOES boost confidence, y’know?) She also likes to provide options for the baker in her recipes . . . little twists or substitutions or additions that you can make to customize and personalize your baked goods. If you like to riff, Dorie’s a good one to riff with! I have discovered that I can always count on a Dorie Greenspan recipe to be thorough, clear, tasty . . . and interesting.

So. What did I make?

First, I made Whip-It-Up-Quick Cornbread (p 339) to go with a pot of Tom’s chili for a Sunday dinner in early November. My usual go-to cornbread muffin recipe is the one from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa cookbook, but I decided to try Dorie’s recipe for something a little different. This turned out fabulously — deliciously savory, not at all sweet, and perfect with Tom’s chili.

I made the recipe exactly as written, and added in four of the five suggested “optional add-ins.” We gave it high marks, although the next time we had chili, I switched back to making Ina’s cornbread muffins. (I think they “keep” better for leftover use.) (Besides, I’ve been making Ina’s muffins for so long that I can make them on auto-pilot.)

Then, I made Rugelach with Four Fillings (p 189) . . . but I only made them with one filling. (I opted to try the Classic Filling for my “maiden Rugelach voyage.”) These were a little fussy, but so very worth the fuss! I’m pretty sure that with some practice, these will become much quicker and easier to make.

I made my batch with Bonne Mamon raspberry jam, golden raisins, chopped pecans, and a Ghirardelli semi-sweet baking bar.

(You can see the finished cookies in the photo at the top of this page.)

These turned out wonderfully — perfectly tasty, not too sweet. The biggest problem was . . . we ate them like popcorn! Even Brian loved them — and he is not a sweet-eater and doesn’t usually like “hot fruit” (he’s never liked fruit that’s been cooked or heated). This is a definite keeper. I’ll be making them again, for sure.

Next, I made two recipes that I wrote about in my Advent Calendar posts back in December . . . World Peace Cookies 2.0 (p 160) and Swedish Fika Cake (p 120). Since I shared the recipes, and wrote about them so recently, I won’t go through it all again in this post. For details, you can refer back to this post about the World Peace Cookies, and this one about the Swedish Fika Cake.

Both of these bakes were big hits around here. We loved the unique – and rather unexpected – flavor combination in the World Peace cookies. (I made the version with cocoa nibs and freeze-dried raspberries, salt and cayenne.) And I baked the Fika Cake again to serve as one of the dessert offerings at our Winter Solstice party in December. (It was very popular.)

(My “problem” with baking cookbooks . . . is that I just don’t bake all that often, generally, so I don’t use them often. I mean, we love baked goods! But. If they’re in the house, we’ll eat them. And, well . . . they’re not always the healthiest of options. So I tend to bake only for special occasions.)

Which brings me to the last recipe I made from this cookbook, Banana Breakfast Squares (p 84). A couple of weeks ago, I noticed we had several bananas sporting Ready-For-Banana-Bread status. I decided to check and see if Dorie had a banana bread recipe in her cookbook. She does not. But she does have Banana Breakfast Squares – a much less sweet and slightly more healthy kind of banana bread. So I gave it a try. It’s a simple recipe that – in Dorie fashion – has a ton of ingredients and several steps. In other words, it feels “involved” to make, but it’s actually super easy.

It was really good — satisfying, but not sweet. Perfect for a grab-n-go breakfast or a snack with tea. (It’s ideal with a cup of tea, actually.) You make it in a 9 x 13 pan, so you get several squares, and they keep well for several days. (No photos of the actual squares or cake, though. Oh well.)

So. That’s five recipes, all of them winners. I don’t know that I’ll make the cornbread again – just because I have a favorite corn muffin recipe already and how many corn bread options do you really need? I’ll definitely make the rugelach, the world peace cookies, and the banana squares again at some p0int,  and I’ve already baked the fika cake twice! This cookbook . . . is a WIN!

What’s next?

Well . . . I’m actually going to put the cookbook challenge on the back burner for awhile. I started “unpacking my cookbooks” because my personal cooking goal a few years ago was to expand my dinner repertoire using cookbooks I already had on my shelf. Now that I’ve been doing that for awhile . . . well. I’m feeling pretty well set in terms of dinner repertoire.

This year . . . I have a new focus. I’m interested in adding protein to our diets. I’m researching and learning about that, and will start planning meals to maximize our protein intake (always a challenge since we don’t eat a lot of meat). I know I can’t keep up with that AND the cookbook challenge, so I’m letting it go for now.

It’s been fun doing this, and I’m happy to have added a bunch of tasty meals to my dinner repertoire.
As always . . . bon appétit!