New York-Style Crumb Cake Muffins

DSCN0760_750x563.shklHere’s a recipe that is German in origin but perfected in New York City, one of my favorite cities.   Although these are called Muffins, these are more like miniature crumb cakes.   They are made with cake flour so they are quite tender like a cupcake.

New York-Style Crumb Cake Muffins

Adapted from

If you can’t find buttermilk, you can substitute an equal amount of plain, low-fat yogurt. When topping the muffins, take care to not push the crumbs into the batter. Cooled leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

12 muffins

Crumb Topping

– 1/3     cup granulated sugar (2 1/3 ounces)

– 1/3     cup dark brown sugar (2 1/3 ounces)

– 3/4    teaspoon ground cinnamon

– 1/8     teaspoon table salt

– 8        tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and still warm

– 1 3/4    cups cake flour (7 ounces)


– 1 1/4   cups cake flour (5 ounces)

– 1/2      cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)

– 1/4      teaspoon baking soda

– 1/4      teaspoon table salt

– 6          tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into 6 pieces, softened but still cool

– 1           large egg

– 1           large egg yolk

– 1           teaspoon vanilla extract

– 1/3       cup buttermilk

Powdered sugar for dusting

1.  FOR THE TOPPING: Whisk sugars, cinnamon, salt, and butter in medium bowl to combine. Add flour and stir with rubber spatula or wooden spoon until mixture resembles thick, cohesive dough; set aside to cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

2.  FOR THE MUFFINS: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard-sized muffin pan (cups have 1/2 cup capacity) with baking-cup liners.

3.   In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt on low speed to combine. 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 remaining, 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg, yolk, vanilla, and buttermilk; beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping once if necessary.

4.   Using 1/4-cup measure or ice cream scoop, divide batter evenly among muffin cups; using small rubber spatula, spread batter into even layer. Break apart crumb topping into large pea-sized pieces and spread in even layer over batter (about 1/4 cup of crumbs per muffin), beginning with edges and then working toward center. Bake until crumbs are golden and wooden skewer inserted into center of muffin comes out clean, about 18 to 21 minutes. Cool muffins in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack at least 20 minutes. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.



German Apple Pancake

DSCN0751There are occasions that I make certain recipes just for my son and husband.  This was one of them.  I’m not a fan of cooked fruit…never have been.    Fresh fruit I like.  The crispness, juiciness and sweetness of an apple that’s cool from the fridge is what I prefer.  Once it’s cooked, it completely loses its appeal with me.  It can smell great but there’s something about the texture and the warmth of cooked fruit that doesn’t compute with me.  My boys like it though so I found this recipe for a German Apple Pancake in my favorite baking book and used up some apples that weren’t getting any younger in the fridge.  They both loved this pancake.  It’s a fairly quick and easy dessert or great as part of a brunch.  It was fun for me to make because I liked watching it puff up in the oven.

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Chocolate Roll Cake

Delicious chocolate roll cake

Delicious chocolate roll cake

Oh those chocolate cake cravings!  They will not relent until they are satisfied with the real thing.  I’ve tried eating a piece of candy or cocoa-covered almonds but to no avail….a chocolate cake craving must be met with the real thing and quickly too.  No store-bought cake will do and there are no decent bakeries or pastry shops in this city so I needed a recipe that was fairly quick to make but rich in taste.  My favorite baking book came through once again but with a few adjustments.  The roll cake recipe in the book calls for marshmallow creme in the filling but since I didn’t have enough left in the cupboard and I certainly didn’t want to waste time running to the store, I decided on something even better…a whipped ganache filling.   I’ve made ganache in the past but only the type used to pour over a cake or pastry so whipped ganache was new to me.  This baking book did not have a whipped ganache recipe so in my hurry to get this cake made and silence those chocolate demons, I failed to thoroughly research whipped ganache and used a faulty recipe from  Ganache must NOT be overwhipped.  The recipe I used failed to mention this so mine turned out a bit grainy……I tried fixing it by cooling it and re-whipping….Fail.  I tried to warm the ganache and re-whip it…..Fail.  Lessons learned: there is no way to rescue over-whipped ganache and always take the time to do the proper research when it comes to making something new.  So the filling was darker than what it should have been and not so smooth but it tasted so good.

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Petulla – Albanian Fried Dough


Deep-fried alien-looking dough

Yeah, yeah I know….. fried dough doesn’t sound all that inviting…it’s not as pleasant-sounding as doughnut or as exotic as beignet but trust me, Petulla are fried pieces of heaven to our family.  There are many variations in the world when it comes to fried dough.  These petulla can be eaten alone (the way I like them) or with feta cheese or with honey or both as my husband and son like them.  They can also be covered with powdered sugar…to do this I place some powdered sugar in a clean paper lunch bag….toss in a couple of petulla and shake until they are coated with the sugar.   My son and I like to look at the odd shapes and see if we can identify objects in the shapes just like you would do with clouds in the sky.

Three petulla

Three petulla

I grew up on these but my mother didn’t teach me the recipe.  She is old school so she doesn’t measure her ingredients with measuring cups and spoons and I don’t like to cook or bake without those measuring devices.  I came across my recipe in the most unexpected of places….The Sopranos Family Cookbook.  I bought the cookbook because I loved the TV show and I love Italian food….but the recipe I’ve used the most in this book was the Zeppole recipe.   I was floored when I saw the Zeppole picture….they looked exactly like Petulla!  So I tried the recipe but I was slightly disappointed…it was close to my mom’s petulla but something was missing.  I thought back to the way my mom made it and I realized that she put eggs into her batter.  I tried the altered recipe and SUCCESS!  I turned an Italian zeppole recipe into an authentic Albanian petulla recipe.

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How I Sabotaged my Husband’s Diet AKA my Pecan Pie

DSCN0685To help celebrate my husband’s safe return, I made his favorite pie as a surprise.  He was happy and a little upset at the same time.  He loves this pie but he had worked hard over the past year and lost 34 pounds.  I kinda sorta sabotaged his hard work.  Oops!  😉 This pie is great but it uses a homemade crust which means it’s bit more complicated to make.  Yes, I suppose you can buy a pre-made pie crust but I don’t care for them much.  Those refrigerated pie crusts are usually made with lard which is a big no-no for me and the frozen crusts don’t have any butter in the crust which means they lack flavor.  So I make my own….it’s not too too hard…my biggest problem right now is that it’s crazy hot here and my pie dough can melt right before my eyes as I am rolling it.  That’s just what happened to me and that is why you don’t see the pretty, fluted crust I normally make in the picture above.  I wish I could have shared step-by-step photos with you but unfortunately my kitchen has no windows so that means no natural light to take decent pictures.  I found some videos that might help if you are unsure about making your own pie dough.

A video on how to roll out pie dough.

A video on how to move pie dough into a pie plate.

A video on how to crimp the edges.

A video on how to bake blind…pre-bake a pie crust.

Here is the recipe for the pie dough followed by the pecan pie recipe.

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Although I have posted this recipe in my blog before , it seems lost because it shares a post with other recipes.  This Hummus is so good that it deserves a post of its own.


Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

The hummus can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 5 days. If you do not plan on serving it immediately, refrigerate the hummus and garnishes separately. When ready to serve, stir in approximately 1 tablespoon of warm water if the texture is too thick.

Makes about 2 cups

3             tablespoons juice from 1 to 2 lemons

1/4             cup water

6             tablespoons sesame tahini , stirred well

2             tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil , plus extra for drizzling

1             (14-ounce) can chickpeas , drained and rinsed

2             garlic cloves , minced or pressed through garlic press

1/2             teaspoon table salt

1/4             teaspoon ground cumin

Pinch of cayenne

1             tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves

1. Combine lemon juice and water in small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk together tahini and 2 tablespoons oil in second small bowl or measuring cup. Set aside 2 tablespoons chickpeas for garnish.

2. Process remaining chickpeas, garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne in food processor until almost fully ground, about 15 seconds.

Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula.

With machine running, add lemon juice-water mixture in steady stream through feed tube.

Scrape down bowl and continue to process for 1 minute.

With machine running, add oil-tahini mixture in steady stream through feed tube; continue to process until hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.

3. Transfer hummus to serving bowl, sprinkle reserved chickpeas and parsley over surface, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand until flavors meld, at least 30 minutes. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.


Fattoush – Lebanese Bread Salad


with a slice of Feta


My favorite salad

I was lucky enough to grow up in the Metro Detroit area… area rich with cultural diversity.  In school, there were kids of Italian, Polish, German, Hungarian, Asian, Middle Eastern, African, and Balkan descent.  There were more but I can’t even name all of the backgrounds…there were so many.  For me, it was the best of America……a true melting pot.  One thing I really miss is all the wonderful and delicious Lebanese food that can be found there.  It’s colorful and healthy.  Lots of salads and vegetables.  Just before my husband arrived this weekend, I talked to him on the phone and I asked him what he wanted to eat first when he came back…”Fattoush,” he said, “I miss your awesome Fattoush.”  I had not made Fattoush in awhile because it can be a bit time consuming……not complicated but there is a bit of prep work.  What I do to make it more worth my while is make enough to last for several days.  I clean and cut all of the vegetables, mix them together but without the dressing and then store this salad mixture in zippered plastic bags in the refrigerator.  This way the salad mixture will last much of the week.  I toss in the chopped parsley, pita bread and dressing just before serving.  This salad mixture is adaptable….instead of Fattoush you can make a tasty Greek salad by adding feta cheese, olives and Greek dressing instead of the pita, parsley and Fattoush dressing.  Or you can leave it as is and use it with your favorite dressing.  I don’t have precise measurements for this recipe because it should be to your taste, so you may add or remove as much of each item as you like.  A tip for the moms out there:  When my son was younger and would not eat spinach, I would sneak it into this salad by chopping it up….he didn’t know it was in there for the longest time and ate this salad blissfully unaware.

Fattoush & Feta

Fattoush & Feta

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