Monday, October 27, 2008

Chocolate Babka

This is no ordinary sweet bread. This stuff has it all! You get crumbs, chocolate, nuts, cinnamon and the complexity of yeast. What more could you ask for? Bake it with the windows cracked and the neighbors will find an excuse to visit.

Babka is another thing that there are a million versions out there for. You know those kinds of things, I'm sure. I adore this recipe. The dough is beautiful and perfectly capable of standing alone! You can omit the chocolate and use brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts in its place and you will still have an equally glorious Babka. It may even be more traditional? Here I am out of my element, so I will leave the subject alone and give you the recipe.

Chocolate Babka


1 ½ cup milk

½ oz (2 pks. dry) yeast

1 3/4 cups sugar

2 whole eggs

2 egg yolks

6 cups flour

1 tsp salt

14 oz. butter

1 7/8 lbs. finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate

2 ½ Tbls ground cinnamon

Egg Wash

1 egg
1 Tbls heavy cream


1 2/3 cups powdered sugar

1 1/3 cups flour

sift together sugar and flour

6 oz. butter

cut in room temp. butter with a pastry blender or two knives

Warm the milk to 110 degrees. Proof yeast in milk. Mix ¾ cup sugar, 2 whole eggs and 2 yolks.

Add to yeast mixture.

With paddle, combine flour and salt in mixer. Add liquid mixture. Change to dough hook and add 8 oz. butter and work for 10 minutes. Pull off of hook and rise in a buttered bowl until doubled.

Put chocolate, remaining cup of sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl and combine. Cut in remaining butter. Set aside.

Punch dough down. Roll into a long rectangle, approx. 18 x 24. Brush edges with egg wash and distribute chocolate mixture. Roll jellyroll fashion, seam edges with egg wash and twist the dough and arrange it in a Bundt pan. Egg wash the top and sprinkle/press the streusel crumbs on top. I like to compress them a bit before I put them on top so I have BIG crumbs and not just "sand".

Let set 20-30 minutes and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, lower temperature to 325 degrees and bake an additional 20 minutes.

Let the Babka sit for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan. Now comes the hard part.

Resist the urge to cut for at least another 20 minutes because the chocolate needs a chance to set.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Italian Cooked Water

Last night's was dinner really good.It was soup. I wish that the name was a little bit more creative, but I really liked the soup. The name sounds better in Italian. It is called "Acquacotta". Doesn't that sound better? It could have been worse. Much worse! At least I didn't serve "Strozzapreti". That translates to Priest stranglers! Don't worry, it's only a shape of pasta. Even the food can be dramatic in Italy, with the exception of my poor Cooked Water evidently. Ugh! Now who's being dramatic? (I was born there. I can't help myself.)

Acquacotta is native to the Lazio region of Italy. It is traditional peasant food. It is one of those recipes that you will look at and say "How could this possibly be good? There's hardly anything in it." It is amazing what hungry people created out of nothing. Look to any culture and you will find similar dishes.

feeds 4 generously
(adapted from a recipe by Julia della Croce)

3 qts vegetable broth or water (or chicken broth)

6 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 large handful chives, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped thin (I don't like this so I don't use it)

1 head garlic, cloves peeled and lightly smashed

2 potatoes, diced small

a few sprigs thyme

5 basil leaves

Bring everything to a boil together and lower. Simmer until the potatoes are al dente.


1 endive,chopped

1 bunch arugula, chopped

Cook for another 20 minutes or so. They will become part of the soup instead of floating around like they don't belong.

2 slices peasant bread per person (a few days old)

Fantastic Olive Oil

Romano Cheese

Put 2 slices of the stale bread in the bottom of each bowl and pour a few tablespoonfuls of olive oil over the bread. Ladle on the soup and sprinkle on some Romano.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Please get a Mammogram and do your self-exams monthly!

Pink isn't really my favorite color any more. It was when I was 16 as is true of many 16 year old girls. Then I grew out of it. My blog however, can manage to wear pink for a few weeks in October to honor the fact that on October 21st I will celebrate the 12th anniversary of my Breast Cancer surgery. It also happens to be Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I was one of the lucky ones who caught it early in a self-exam. I was 32 years old.

I did great, and I remain well today.(Knock wood!) I would love for everyone else to have the same opportunity!

If your over 40 or have family history of breast or gynecological cancer, please, with the advice of your doctor,have a mammogram or an ultra sound done. Please do your monthly self exams.

Need a line - American Cancer Society 1-800-ACS-2345 OR