Monday, April 30, 2012


The Daring Bakers’ April 2012 challenge, hosted by Jason at Daily Candor, were two Armenian standards: nazook and nutmeg cake. Nazook is a layered yeasted dough pastry with a sweet filling, and nutmeg cake is a fragrant, nutty coffee-style cake. Like most hosts, Jason provided background on the recipes and detailed step by step instructions. He also went above and beyond to make instructional videos as well.

I chose to make nazook as it sounded more challenging, I am not crazy about nutmeg and it was Jason's Aunt Aida's recipe. Since, God knows, I didn't need 40 pieces of pastry I halved the recipe. Then I split the filling to make two versions so I could try the traditional vanilla-scented filling and experiment with a brown sugar cinnamon filling inspired by my Mom's favorite Pop-Tarts

I was a bit nervous making it. Nazook was unlike any pastry or yeast recipe I previously made. It had yeast but didn't require proofing, the addition of warm liquid or rising time. The filling involved flour as well as the standard butter/sugar/flavoring combination. But I shouldn't have worried! The resulting pasty had an irresistible buttery, flaky crust with a scent that made me heady.

As for the fillings, I can't tell you which version was better in spite of many side by side tastings... Maybe I'll to decide next time. ;) If you have any suggestions for avoiding the semi-exploded appearance below in the future, please leave them in the comments. 

Yields approximately 20 pieces

Pastry dough
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose (Plain) Flour, sifted
1 1/4 teaspoons Active Dry Yeast
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) Softened, Unsalted Butter (room temperature)

Vanilla Filling
1/3 cup All-Purpose (Plain) Flour, sifted
1/3 cup Sugar
6 tablespoons Softened, Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Filling
1/3 cup All-Purpose (Plain) Flour, sifted
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
6 tablespoons Softened, Unsalted Butter (room temperature)
1 teaspoon Cinnamon

Wash: 1 Egg Yolk


Make the Pastry Dough
1. Place the sifted flour into a large bowl.
2. Add the dry yeast, and mix it in.
3. Add the sour cream, and the softened butter.
4. Use your hands, or a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, to work it into a dough.
5. If using a standing mixer, switch to a dough hook. If making manually, continue to knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl or your hands. If it remains very sticky, add some flour, a little at a time.
6. Cover the dough and refrigerate for 3-5 hours, or overnight if you like.

Make the fillings
7. Mix the flour, brown or white sugar, and the softened butter in a medium bowl.
8. Add the vanilla extract or cinnamon as appropriate.
9. Mix the fillings until they looks like clumpy, damp sand. It should not take long. Set aside.

Make the nazook
10. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
11. Cut the refrigerated dough into two halves.
12. Form one into a ball. Dust your working surface with a little flour.
13. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle or oval. The dough should be thin, but not transparent. I find it helpful to cover the dough with plastic wrap while rolling to prevent it from sticking the rolling pin.
14. Spread one of the filling mixtures across the rolled-out dough in an even layer. To get it started I rolled the filling out on top of the dough and then spread it with my fingers to get it close to the edges on the short sides while keeping about 1 inch of the pastry dough uncovered along the long edges.
15. From one of the long sides, start slowly rolling the dough across. Be careful to make sure the filling stays evenly distributed. Roll all the way across until you have a long, thin loaf.
16. Pat down the loaf with your palm and fingers so that it flattens out a bit (just a bit).
17. Apply your egg yolk wash with a pastry brush.
18. Use your crinkle cutter (or knife) to cut the loaf into 10 equally-sized pieces. Put onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I used a silipat!)
19. Repeat with the other variation or additional portion of the dough and filling. 
19. Place in a preheated moderate oven for about 30 minutes, until the tops are a rich, golden brown.
20. Allow to cool and enjoy.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat, and a picture.   

Getting your first pointe shoes is a very big deal! I'm amazed at the customization for the shoes highlighted in New York City Ballet's "Pointe Shoes." (via Victoria)

"Self-compassion and self-esteem both involve positive emotions toward the self. But self-esteem is about judging yourself positively: I am good. Or, unfortunately, if you can’t keep up that self-definition: I am bad. Self-compassion does not involve judgment or evaluation. It’s not about, “What type of person am I?” It’s just about: I’m suffering—can I respond to my suffering with kindness, understanding, caring, and concern?" from The Power of Self-Compassion

Elizabeth Taylor's diet is more interesting than many of the New York Diet's profiled in  NY Mag. It turns out she ate (and drank). (via Alejandra)

Interesting... ElliptiGo, an outdoor elliptical trainer, looks like a standup, seatless bicycle.

"If you, too, were fooled into thinking that sweet, chocolatey, hazelnut goop was actually good for you, visit for more information." People actually fell for Nutella being healthy? This makes me sad. Read your labels! (From here.)

Recipes Bookmarked
Chocolate Flourless Cake (health-ified) at Andrew Weil, M.D.
Ground Beef Gyro Meatball Lettuce Wraps with Tzatziki and Tomatoes at Kalyn's Kitchen
Rhubarb Compote at Culinate

Mountain Goats, Glacier National Park, August 2010

I'm psyched to see the Dum Dum Girls, or at least hear them, while working at the Shadrock Music Fest tomorrow!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

This was ready and scheduled for Friday, but didn't post. Hope your weekends are off to a great start! I bought rhubarb at the Farmer's Market this morning and I can't wait to braise it.

Ready for the weekend? To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat, and a picture.   

Oh no! An eel shortage? Dragon Rolls are my favorite sushi roll. This could be sad.

Kathy Martin started running at 30 and now "has set nine American and two world records." She's proof that it is never too late to find your passion and succeed. Here's her profile in the NY Times: After Late Start, Runner Is Speeding Through Records.

Matilda, a 94 year old, is still performing the quickstep. She could teach those young-ins on So You Think You Can Dance some moves. Watch the video if only the few seconds around 3:32 where the fringe on her dress begins swirling in a hypnotic manner. 

"And there is no relationship between the type of food being sold in a neighborhood and obesity among its children and adolescents." I never expected to read that quote. Studies Question the Pairing of Food Deserts and Obesity

Spice things up for better heath

Recipes Bookmarked
The prettiest S'mores Cupcakes I've ever seen at Pastry Affair
Homemade Jelly Beans at The Cupcake Project
Seaweed Salad at NY Times

Bright Flowers, April 2012, Red Dog Farm, Old Church, VA 

Chairlift's 'Met Before' is a choose your own adventure music video. Awesome. (via Frontier Psychiatrist)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat, and a picture.  

Dream Conference: Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives (via To Heal, First Eat Doctors Learn to Cook Healthy, ‘Crave-able’ Foods)

Love Padlocks! The concept is so sweet, though I must admit on some level it reminds me of the lock and key best friend jewelry of my childhood. Hopefully one day I'll get to check them out in person.

['Feeding a child is not charity,' says Shridhar Venkat, who directs the lunch program through the Akshaya Patra Foundation. ... To him, a child like Suchitra is not a hungry 13-year-old girl in poverty. She's an opportunity, and giving her lunch is an investment. Tomorrow, an educated Suchitra could produce a huge return on that investment to her community]." Indian Engineers Build A Stronger Society With School Lunch Program. I really enjoy his spin on the program's value and am glad India is having such success with their school lunch program.

Stop Being Full of Shit When You Celebrate Strong. (via Coach Jason)

"We’re all on different time lines and need to realize that life isn’t a race. It’s more like one of those huge charity walkathons, where everyone’s ambling along at her own pace, wearing a really dorky hat and lots of sunblock." Turning 30: On Your Thirtieth Birthday, You Suddenly Become An Old Person, Right? Wrong. (via Elizabeth Rincon)

Recipes Bookmarked
Party in a Glass at Eat Make Read
Raspberry Coconut Macaroons at Smitten Kitchen
Whoopie Pies (& more) at NPR's Kitchen Window

 Williamsburg Waterfront, NYC, July 2009

Friday, April 6, 2012

Friday Distractions -- Random Links & Recipes Bookmarked

Ready for the weekend? To help you pass your Friday here are the highlights of what distracted me this week online, what I bookmarked that I hope to one day eat, and a picture.    

"Clothes invade the body and brain, putting the wearer into a different psychological state." Mind Games: Sometimes a White Coat Isn’t Just a White Coat

I hope to visit the Jelly Belly factory one day. In the meantime 10 Questions for Jelly Belly's Lisa Brasher had some interesting facts about Jelly Bellys. I'm not surprised that Buttered Popcorn is their most divisive flavor. I can't stand it; Mom loves it.

The disease called 'Perfection' was bittersweet to read. (via Emily Miller)

"Procrastinators often follow exactly the wrong tack. They try to minimize their commitments, assuming that if they have only a few things to do, they will quit procrastinating and get them done. But this approach ignores the basic nature of the procrastinator and destroys his most important source of motivation. The few tasks on his list will be, by definition, the most important. And the only way to avoid doing them will be to do nothing. This is the way to become a couch potato, not an effective human being." How to Procrastinate and Still Get Things Done 

I had no idea that there was a controversy regarding what can be called a Community Supported Agriculture program. Thanks, NPR. If it is more efficient for local/regional farms to bond together and sell their goods while staying transparent with their supporters, then that is fine with me.

Recipes Bookmarked
Akoori (Indian Scrambled Eggs) at Food Republic
Cream Cheese Pancakes at I Breathe...I'm Hungry...
Lamb Tagine with Chickpeas and Apricots at Epicurious via Meg
Shrimp, Mango, and Avocado Salad with Sweet Chili-Ginger Vinaigrette at Epicurious via Meg

 Belle Isle, Richmond, VA, March 2012

Halcyon (And On And On) is still good 12 years later. I can't believe it has been that long!