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The Best All Butter Pie Crust Recipe

The Best All Butter Pie Crust
Here is a recipe I've been working on for a while now, The Best All Butter Pie Crust Recipe - This is the best tasting pie crust I've ever had, it's delicious. I wanted to really master pie making for the holidays and find a recipe I really loved and was excited about. Here it is! Along with lots of great pie making tips and lots more photos. At The Alchemist.           
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Crustless almond melon tarts

These almond tarts hardly take over half an hour to make because they are crustless. I suddenly found that this way I like them way more that the classic version in short pastry shells. You can use more traditional apples, pears or cherries instead of melon. I never thought about using melon here before a month ago. Turned out that it does a great job here, everybody seems to love the dessert, but I'll better tell you the whole story.
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I love lamb overall and this particular way to cook it just became my absolute first choice. I first tried the dish couple of months ago at Hünkar restaurant in Istanbul. Simple and intense melt in your mouth lamb stew with smoky and creamy eggplant mash made a truly perfect combination. I started researching and it turned out that Hünkar Beğendi was a well known dish. There were many recipes around, but none really resembled the version I had at Hünkar. It took quite some time to replicate it, but finally it worked. Now it seems that at home it comes out even better.
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Khachapuri (Georgian cheese pastry)


I always loved khachapuri, this incredibly Georgian pastry filled with cheese. Especially the Adjarian version, which is shaped as a boat and holds a gently cooked egg over the melted cheese. Khachapuri cafe is one of my favorite Georgian places in Moscow and a couple of days ago I got lucky to learn to make khachapuri from their chefs. It turned our absolutely doable at home, which felt like magic.
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I made cookies out of cookie butter (which is, essentially, ground up cookies) and then put flavored butter on top of them. Are you confused? Me too. SO many cookies, so much butter.

But they are delicious. I topped half of the cookie butter cookies with coffee butter and half with salted caramel butter.

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To get the recipes for the salted caramel and coffee butter, read my review of the cookbook Flavored Butters, see my comparison of Biscoff Spread and Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter, or enter to nab a jar of Biscoff Spread, please head over to Willow Bird Baking!

x-posted to food_porn, picturing_food, cooking, bakebakebake

Kulichi (Russian Easter cakes)


I rarely go into baking yeast cakes or bread, but sometimes there is definitely room for that in life. Exactly like I do enjoy making my own cakes for Christmas, some years I do like baking my own kulichi for Easter. They are not really labor intensive, but they certainly are time consuming. However there are times when spending a thoughtless half a day around the kitchen making something homey the same as times and times before feels just right. Especially given that proper home made kulichi are incredibly good. None of the bought counterparts will ever get close to them.
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Turkish baked halva (sicak helva)

Before I came to Istanbul I heard about sicak helva - a kind of custard made of crushed tahini halva mixed with cream and baked. The dessert is traditionally eaten after a fish main as it removes fish aftertaste completely. The idea really resonated with me, so the evening we did visit a fish restaurant I was more concerned about my dessert than about my fish main. I ended up loving it and cooking it at home. It turned out to be very practical in Moscow, as tahini halva is very common around here.
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lemon cupcake

These cupcakes are super moist and full of fresh lemon flavor! Perfect for lemon lovers

Lots more pictures and more, over at The Alchemist.

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Who says you can't have stuffed mushrooms for breakfast? These giant portobello mushroom caps are stuffed with a caramelized leek scramble and topped with melty Gruyère cheese. They’re luxurious, indulgent, and altogether such a delicious, hearty way to start the day. The two forks may suggest that someone shared these with me, but I’m going to admit that I ate them both myself and was not sorry.

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To read the story I wrote when all my real stories seemed unacceptable, hear more about my amazing students, and see more photos, please head over to Willow Bird Baking!

x-posted to food_porn, picturing_food, cooking, bakebakebake

Christmas Black cake (Rum cake)


Late in November I felt like being sad and doing nothing, so I set down with a random cookbook from my bookshelf and it randomly opened on Christmas chapter. It was saying that late November is exactly when one is supposed to make English Christmas cakes, so that they have time to mature before the big day. That's how I came to making those for the first time. That felt somehow proud to undertake this kind of month long baking venture. It turned out to very enjoyable and rewarding too, so I well might continue with it next year.

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Schnecken (German sticky cinnamon buns)


I remember saying something about baklava just recently. Forget. These sticky cinnamon buns are the most powerful piece of anti stress baking (and eating) I ever tried. They might well be the best piece of pastry I ever produced. You will smell the nuts bubbling in sticky maple syrup and all the sweet cinnamon richness, while watching how the spiral buns puff out of their cases, catching each others' sides and crisping up on top. Twenty minutes later that one of them looking right at you will be just yours. And so will be the maple nutty goo left over at the bottom of the baking dish (which is, as often happens in life, the best part of the exercise).

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White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread

White Chocolate Cherry Shortbread

These cookies have 3 of my favorite flavors: white chocolate, shortbread and maraschino cherries! Oh my goodness, these cookies are so delicious I can't stop eating them! They would steal the show at a cookie party for sure.

Lots more pictures and info at The Alchemist.

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If you love Gooey Butter Cake, here's a delicious holiday adaptation (with apologies to St. Louis). This Gooey Butter SPICE cake has the wonderful, warm flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, brown butter, dates, and toasted pecans. It's adorned with spiked cream and pretty sparkling cranberries. Enjoy it straight out of the skillet by a big fire, please!

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To see my response -- the only one I could muster, because what can you say? -- to last week's events, hear about my very first class of students, or see more Gooey Butter Spice Cake photos, please head over to Willow Bird Baking!

x-posted to food_porn, picturing_food, bakebakebake, cooking

Hot Buttered Rum

Hot Buttered Rum

Hot Buttered Rum - Warm and sweet with a little spice, this drink is sure to warm you up this holiday season. Easy to make too!

Lots more pictures and info at  The Alchemist.

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I'm giving up my attempts to make this pasta look attractive in the picture, but I have to say: from all the pasta I got to try in Rome cacio e pepe was definitely the best. Now (five minutes after eating it) it actually feels like the best pasta in the world. All in all Rome has three 'big' pastas: carbonara, amatriciana and cacio e pepe. Cacio e pepe is tagliolini dressed with only pecorino cheese and black pepper. You can throw it together in a matter of minutes. So to add to its beauty it is incredibly simple. You just need to get your tree ingredients right.
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Chocolate fondant

It's been so long since I said something here... I can't tell you how much I missed it. Somehow Christmas hustle started early for me this year and I was to busy and tired to produce any kind of warm and positive content. Now finally I have a lot to say and chocolate fondant will be good to start with. This little chocolate cake which oozes out melting chocolate as you break it with your teaspoon contains highest quality happiness in incredible intensity. Especially if it is served with a melting scoop of vanilla ice-cream on top. Approaching Christmas is perfect timing for it.

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This is Not Your Nanay's Beef Salpicao

Hello! It's finally my semestral break and I'm back from a long hiatus of not posting anything :) It wasn't like I did not cook at all, I had photos and blog drafts waiting to be posted. I suppose, my school took a bit of a toll on my literary creativity that I'm currently suffering from writer's block. So, forgive my babbling in this latest blog post. To kick off my come back, I posted something savory instead of the usual dessert.

This is one of my favorite food combinations: some dish of meat eaten with a heaping serving of mashed potato :) Last time I had some form of meat and mash was way back in August or July when my friend Cheska and I cooked chili con carne and mashed potato for lunch. This time, it's a Filipino dish called beef salpicao.

"Nanay" is the Filipino word for "Mother", although in the city Filipino children mostly use 'mama' or 'mommy'. Nanay is not just limited to referring to one's own mother, but could also be used to refer to any lady-relative or house help to whom one is close with and is also of old age (like, 50-70+ years old). I saw it fit to have it on my title because my version is a bit more colorful and way different from the salpicao that my own Nanay usually makes, but it tastes just as lovely :) I encourage fellow cooks in this comm to try it out~ :)

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What can I do with melted butter?

My son is doing his science fair project on melted butter.  Don't ask. Sixth grade science fair is crazy, that's all I can say.  Anyway, he's looking at whether different types of butter melt at different speeds and is looking at four types of butter - regular salted, regular unsalted, organic salted, and organic unsalted.  He'll be melting four sticks of each.  We're going to do one stick each day after school - that way the pot and stove will cool down and be at the same temperature for each one.  But this means that we'll be melting SIXTEEN STICKS OF BUTTER!

What the heck am I supposed to do with all this butter after it's melted???  Can I just pour it into a container and put it in the fridge to resolidify?  Can I mix the different types into the same container??  Can I freeze it?  I hate the idea of just throwing it all away but what am I going to do with 16 sticks worth of melted butter anyway?

Help?  Please? 


It seems that I found something strong enough to heal a broken heart, which is almost magic. I only made baklava a couple of times and I'm not going to pretend I know everything about it. There are people who learn to make baklava throughout their lives and hopefully I'll once have good talk with one of them. But right now I can say for sure that you can make it very well from the very first attempt and enjoy both the making and the eating just extremely.

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The Best Moist Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

The Best Moist Chocolate Cupcake Recipe

These are the absolute best chocolate cupcakes! Super moist while being light and fluffy at the same time. The texture is absolutely perfect with a great chocolate flavor. Topped with a silky chocolate buttercream. I've been making these to rave reviews for years and finally sharing the recipe now!

Recipe and more at The Alchemist.

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Easy Cream Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy

Easy Cream Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy

These biscuits are light and tender, and only take minutes to make! Topped with the Southern delicacy Chocolate Gravy.

More at my blog, The Alchemist.

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Jul. 8th, 2012

We finally got a Trader Joe's here in Texas! Checking it out, I found some really good prices... Like Kerrygold Irish butter. They had it for 2.99 for 8 oz, which is about half the price I've seen it for in other places. My question is, I know it's different from regular butter, but how exactly? Is it ok for buttering toast, or should I save it for something special, like shortbread or something? I will, of course, taste it and think about it. But I wanted to know, what is your favorite use for this butter, or do you just use it the same as you would, say Land o Lakes?


Apple cobbler with Cheddar cheese


I know it's not the season for apples, but what can I do? I have a favorite apple dessert. I first tried it at Coffee Bean cafe no less than 5 years ago and since than I kept coming back there for it. In parallel I made several attempts to to recreate it at home from time to time and this time it really worked. Not that it tastes the same, but it is equally good. It would make me stay at home.

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We came back from Kiev right when the fresh cherries started actively selling at our nearby market. So we made our beloved vareniki with cherries, that we didn't do for many years. In the process the venture extended to also include cottage cheese vareniki. I'll never be able to tell which one of these two sweet vareniki versions is better. It is not like with savory vareniki, where mashed potato is my absolute first choice.

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Palak paneer (Indian spinach and cheese)

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That day I woke up thinking about palak paneer, because, please don't laugh, I dreamed about it at night. Of course I had no spinach in my freezer, so I went out almost in my slippers to get some at a store nearby. Guess what, they didn't have it either. But I wanted it badly, so that didn't stop me.

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Aidina's carrot cake for my granny

I happen to love carrot cake. From American style cakes this one is my favorite. For a long time I kept trying it in Moscow bakeries and I have to say I do like it almost everywhere. I figured out what an ideal carrot cake for me would taste like though. I love when the cake itself is very moist. It easily crumbles and I can recognize coarsely chopped crunchy walnuts. The cream cheese frosting tastes strongly of cheese and is even a little salty. And now, thanks to my beautiful friend Aidina I can make it at home.


This dish might truly surprise you. I never thought that one could get such a bursting flavor and such a lovely texture from pearl barley. The idea came from a British cooking class I took in London couple of weeks ago. I'm saying "risotto" here to refer to the technology of cooking a grain, which makes it creamy, and I don't mean to heart anyone. Anyhow my risotto loving family said this one totally counts.

Mars Bar Slice

Mars Bar Slice is pretty much a childhood staple where I’m from, and there’s no question why. It’s gooey, crunchy and chocolatey, with just a hint of caramel flavour from the Mars Bars. It’s incredibly fast to make, there’s no oven baking time, and it’s deliciously, unapologetically calorific. It was one of the first things I ever made with my grandmother when I was a very small girl, and it immediately takes me back to sunny afternoons in her garden, drinking lemonade and eating home made picnic fare on a blanket under the lemon tree.


For lots and lots of step by step pictures and the recipe, please go to my blog, Cloudberry Dreams.

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x-posted to food_porn & picturing_food

Hot Cross Buns

Good Friday wouldn't be Good Friday without Hot Cross Buns - at least, not where I come from.
Whether you like the fruity traditionals or a new, decadent chocolate variation, these fresh, fluffy buns will kick off your Easter weekend in style.


The recipes and lots and lots of step-by-step pictures can be found on my blog, Cloudberry Dreams.

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x-posted to bakebakebake & food_porn

Dal Makhani to die for


Just for you to know, I've been saying that I should start cooking Indian food at home since last January. Only a year and a bit and there you go, I made my first dal. I've never been to India and all my love to the food comes from my Indian friend from Insead. From the dal he made for himself and let me taste at our mutual home in Fontainebleau.

The Ultimate Chocolate Raspberry Cake

This moist, thick, two layer bittersweet chocolate cake is filled and topped with tart raspberries, ganache and even more chocolate. The perfect cake for birthdays, afternoon tea, dessert...or a night at home, gorging on comfort food. All boxes ticked!


For the recipe, lots and lots of photos and a sneaky peek at the award this cake won last weekend, go to my blog: Cloudberry Dreams.

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x-posted to bakebakebake & food_porn
Fluffy, rich chocolate cupcakes topped with real raspberry buttercream. The perfect way to celebrate the end of the northern winter!


Lots and lots of photos and step-by-step pictures on my blog, Cloudberry Dreams.

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x-posted to bakebakebake & food_porn

Sticky toffee pudding


Couple of weeks ago I entered a phase of heavy craving for dates. It's hard to explain, but I just can't help eating them. Some days - for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Weird, but those dates which look the most messy and jammed, as if a bear stepped on them, seem to be the tastiest. Anyhow, that day I woke up determined to make a proper sticky toffee pudding - soft and moist with gooey butterscotch sauce and melting ice-cream on top. Another idea was to give a class at Pinch about it, it didn't work. But the pudding itself! I can't find words strong enough to describe its beauty.

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Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream

These cupcakes are light, fluffy and packed with vanilla, while the frosting is smooth, creamy and bursting with strawberry flavour. The perfect Valentine’s Day treat! Happy baking!

Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream

Lots and lots of step-by-step pictures and the recipe are on my blog, Cloudberry Dreams.

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x-posted to bakebakebake & food_porn

Choc-Orange Cupcakes

My husband and I have just moved to England from Australia, and I've been feeling a little lost - we're living with my in-laws while we're finding jobs and getting our own place, and it's taking me a lot of time to get used to not having all my baking equipment at my disposal. I got to the point where I was desperate to bake, though, so these are the result of my first UK baking session: Choc-Orange Cupcakes.

I'm really pleased with the result - I've never attempted choc-orange before (they were requested by a friend's boyfriend) and pretty much made them up as I went along. Think Terry’s Chocolate Orange/Jaffas/any other choc-orange flavoured treat you like, and you’ve basically hit the flavour nail on the head. The cupcakes themselves are lovely and moist, the ganache centre is oozy and packed with rich chocolate and orange, and the buttercream is silky and packed with chocolate-orangey deliciousness with real flecks of orange zest. Yum!

Choc-Orange Cupcakes

Recipe and lots and lots of pictures on my blog (including my first-ever cupcake packaging!): Cloudberry Dreams.

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x-posted to bakebakebake & food_porn

Gooey deep-dish choc chip cookie bakes

I implore every one of you to make this recipe! These gooey cookie bakes are insanely indulgent, but also insanely delicious. I don't even know what more to say other than you must make these! You won't regret it!

Check out my blog post about these amazing cookie bakes here :)

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Oily butter

I've been noticing in my cooking that when I reheat my food, there's this little pool of oil in the bottom. This happens a lot with my alfredo or roux sauces and even with some Pasta Roni I threw together. Is there a certain brand of butter I should be buying so I don't get this problem? Not hugely appetizing to see all that oil lol.


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