Category Archives: Dairy

Just in time for National Coffee Day… I present to you an Amazing and Delicious New York Crumb Cake

Usually I miss a big national food holiday, but not this time! Just in time for National Coffee Day…. I present to you an Amazing and Delicious New York Crumb Cake. Let’s face it, coffee is great on its own, but who can pass up a good piece of coffee cake? Not this Jewish girl from Brooklyn! Plus, all of you will need something to go with the free coffee you’re going to score today – Am I Right?

You all know by now how much I love my iced coffee, but did you also know how much I love my crumb cake – or any coffee cake for that matter? Let’s just say my husband doesn’t call me his little coffee cake for nothing! The love runs deep, both for the husband, and the coffee cake!

A quick coffee cake lesson because you may have noticed I’ve been using the term coffee cake interchangeably with the term crumb cake…

Coffee cake is quite literally cake you have with coffee. Crumb cake falls under that umbrella just like it’s cousins the sour cream walnut cake, streusel squares, or marble cake. Crumb cake is a type coffee cake, and no two coffee cakes are alike – but are similar if that makes sense. Crumb cake implies a crumb or streusel topping. All coffee cakes may or may not have a crumb topping, but all go well with coffee. Most people use the term crumb and streusel interchangeably, however, the sugar/butter/flour ratio is a little different. A real crumb cake will be about a 50/50 crumb to cake ratio. A streusel cake will have less and a lighter sprinkling on top. One more quick note, sometimes you have cake with coffee, but that doesn’t automatically make it a “coffee cake” take for example birthday cake – this is not coffee cake. There you have it, everything you wanted to know about coffee cakes but were afraid to ask! However, if you do have more questions, just ask and I’ll get back to you in-between bites!

So now on to the recipe… I’ve tried my fair share of crumb cake recipes and while I have loved them all, this one is by far the best I have found. I think it’s the crumb to cake ratio which really hits the mark for me. I adapted it from Johnny Iuzzini’s cookbook Sugar Rush. If you have a chance, you have to check it out – it’s just beautiful, informative, and with clear instructions for the home baker to follow. Oddly enough, he got the recipe from a home baker who was one of his interns. I think all home bakers should have a good coffee cake in their repertoire – you’ll be an instant hero to all of your friends! This recipe could not be easier, the cake is moist and tender and the buttery, cinnamon crumb does not disappoint. Coming from this New York Girl, this is quite an endorsement! Of course, I did change a couple of things, but not much. A little extra salt here, a little less fat there and voilà my splash is added. I used low-fat milk and low-fat sour cream but feel free to use whole if you’d like. I made the recipe both ways and didn’t notice that much difference, so I might as well save the calories, and then maybe enjoy a second piece!

Just remember, I said this is a crumb cake (50/50 topping to cake). It will look like you don’t have enough batter, but you will. It is a very thin layer that when baked, puffs up. You will also think you have way too much crumb topping… nonsense! You can never have enough! What happens is the cake rises because of the baking powder/sour cream reaction and the crumb, not so much so even Steven.

One more last thing, before you get started baking, here are a couple of National coffee day links to find free or discounted coffee near you. Enjoy!

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon of kosher salt
5½ tablespoons (1/3 cup) unsalted butter
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup low fat sour cream, at room temperature
⅔ cup 1% milk, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature (I used extra-large it’s all I ever bake with)
1 tablespoon good vanilla extract

Crumb Topping:
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1¼ cups packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (I use Vietnamese cinnamon)
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Makes one 9 x 13 inch cake and serves 12 to 16 people. I guess that depends if you are New Yorker or not!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and set your rack in the center of the oven. Spray a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray, dust it lightly with flour and invert it over the kitchen sink to tap out the excess. Set aside.

I like to start with the crumb topping and then set it aside until the batter is done. Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt until combined. Add the melted butter and stir until the dry ingredients have absorbed the butter. With your hands, gently mix the crumb mixture and roll it in-between your palms and fingers to create the crumbs. Set aside.

For the cake… In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer set to medium, use the paddle attachment and mix together the butter and sugar until light in color. Add in the egg and sour cream blending until it is mixed well.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk and vanilla. With the mixer on low, alternate the wet and dry ingredients starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Don’t forget to scrape don’t the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Mix until just combined – do not over mix.

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. It’s a thick batter; you can use an offset spatula to spread it as evenly as you can. Using your hands, scatter the topping evenly over the cake batter.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until the center of the cake is firm to the touch and springs back lightly. If the cake is not baked through, reduce the temperature to 325 degrees and continue baking in 5 minute increments until it is set in the center making sure the topping doesn’t get too brown. If this happens, you can lightly cover it with foil.

Let the cake cool completely then dust it with the Confectioners’ sugar. While it’s cooling, go put on a pot of coffee!

In Honor of Sunday… May I Present to you – The Bagel, with Vegetable Cream Cheese!

In honor of Sunday morning …. May I present to you – the bagel with vegetable cream cheese!

It’s 11am on Sunday morning and if I was back in New York right now, I would be standing on line at a bagel place. I’d be standing behind someone drinking coffee, maybe texting or talking on their cell phone, hair unkempt (lots of hats on Sunday mornings!) reading the Post patiently (or maybe not so patiently – it is after all NY). Standing there in the warmth of the store I would inhale the aroma of Sunday.

Chances are if you are one of my neighbors in Columbus, Ohio – you are not having this kind of experience today. It’s challenging to say the least to get a good bagel here. Northeast friends, brace yourself and take a deep breathe… we don’t have bagel places like you do! The closest we have to a NY bagel is Bruegger’s Bagels (a 25 minute drive from my house) or our favorite, Sammy’s Bagels

So today instead of standing “on line” –  yesterday I went “online” and placed my order for a dozen bagels which were then delivered to my doorstep at 4am this morning. I have to admit, the experience isn’t the same. However, it must be similar to how children feel on Christmas morning when they run down to open presents. When I order bagels, which is probably a couple times a month, I run downstairs like a little kid and open the front door to my house, only to find a big brown bag filled with bagels! I open the bag and breathe in… Sunday has arrived!

The fun of this also brings me back to my childhood for a 3 reasons. One, my dad was a milkman. Two, we always had seltzer delivered. And three, Charles Chips – enough said!

So after all of this, you are probably wondering if there a recipe somewhere in here? Yes! I like to eat my bagel with vegetable cream cheese – which is even more challenging to find here than a good bagel! So yesterday, I made it myself.  If you have never had vegetable cream cheese before it’s a must. It’s creamy and has crunchy little gems of flavor. It’s so easy to whip up and to adapt to your liking! Enjoy your lazy Sunday, I certainly am!

This recipe is open for adaption. If you don’t like carrots, skip it or add red or green pepper instead. The same goes for all the other ingredients. Listed are what is traditionally found in vegetable cream cheese and how I like it. Recipe fills a a little bit more than a 16 ounce container. In my house, that’s enough for one breakfast!

2 packages of 1/3 reduced fat Philadelphia cream cheese close to room temperature
6 tablespoons finely sliced green onions (scallions)
4 tablespoons finely diced carrots
4 tablespoons finely diced radish
3 tablespoons finely diced celery (place on a paper towel after dicing and pat it dry)

Dice all of the vegetables very finely. I have seen some recipes suggest grating the vegetables. I don’t recommend that. It makes for a very different texture and flavor.

With a hand mixer, cream the 2 packages of cream cheese until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the vegetables and blend just to incorporate. That’s it! If you don’t have a mixer, you can use a food processor to whip the cream cheese, then fold the vegetables in by hand. Enjoy!


Tomato Soup and Roasted Garlic Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Surprise Croutons


Is there anything more comforting then a warm bowl of soup on a cold winter day? Apparently, a warm bowl of soup on a cold spring day! This winter seems to be cutting into spring big time and quite frankly I’m getting a little tired of it, as are most people. The only good thing about it is that it lengthens the time we can enjoy a nice hot bowl of soup. And, since it rains in Ohio 10 to 14 days a month on average, soup is a big go-to for me. I will probably add a subtitle “soups” at some point because I do make quite a few of them. Throughout the fall and winter I make chicken soup almost every week. Then there is vegetable soup, carrot and parsnip soup, butternut squash soup, lentil soup, split pea soup, potato leek, onion soup, hot and sour soup (shout out to my sister-in-law Barbara for that one), velvet chicken and corn soup, mushroom barley soup, and in the summer, gazpacho and chilled fruit soups! Tonight it was so cold, it felt like a tomato soup kind of night. Since I had a loaf of roasted garlic bread in the house, what better to go along side than a delicious gooey grilled cheese? This recipe is loosely based on Barefoot Contessa’s easy tomato soup & grilled cheese croutons (how clever is that?) but with a Splash of Sherri and much less fat! This recipe makes 4 to 6 servings.


2 sweet onions diced
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
6 cloves of garlic peeled and minced
4 cups vegetable stock (store bought is fine for this)
2 (28 ounce) cans San Marzano tomatoes
1 pint cherry tomatoes or any mix of fresh tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons sea salt (season to taste)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon black pepper (season to taste)

Grilled cheese recipe follows at the end

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Wash a pint of tomatoes, core and cut in half. Place on a small baking sheet and drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt, toss to coat. Roast in the oven for about 20 minute or until the tomatoes start to have a nice light charred look to them. I roasted a pint of mini heirloom tomatoes in my toaster oven. They added such a wonderful flavor to the soup. If you can find them, I highly recommend them.

Meanwhile, in a large pot heat 2 tbs. olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook over medium to low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes until they are nice and caramelized.* Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, stir in the vegetable stock, can of tomatoes, roasted tomatoes, bay leaf, sugar, salt and pepper.. Bring the soup to a light boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. Use and immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth.

* I use the Arthur Schwartz method of caramelizing onions. After you place them in the pot, cover them for 10 minutes stirring every 3 minutes or so. Then uncover them and cook another 10 to 15 minutes stirring occasionally, until they become nice and golden brown. See my post on how to caramelize onions in my favorite things category.


Grilled cheese sandwiches for 3 people plus one extra to cut into croutons:

8 slices Roasted garlic bread sliced into 1/2 inch slices (or the bread of your choice)
1 cup good quality lowfat cheddar cheese shredded
olive oil to brush the bread

Heat a griddle or panini pan. Place 4 slices of bread on a cutting board and lightly brush with olive oil. Usually grilled cheese is made by buttering the bread but I prefer the taste of olive oil and it’s healthier. Place them oiled side down in the pan. Top each slice with 1/4 cup of cheese. Place remaining slices of bread on top and lightly brush with olive oil.

Grill the sandwiches for about 4 minutes a side, or until nicely browned. Place on a cutting board and allow them to rest for about a minute before slicing in half. Slice 3 of the sandwiches in half. The extra sandwich, cut into 1 inch cubes and place in a bowl  to be used as croutons. Enjoy!