by Heather Harris Brady

With a couple ripe pears and a nice bottle of Chardonnay on hand, I threw this together one night when I got home from work. It has an olive oil crust, adapted from a recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini.

I like to use Bartlett pears because they’re so flavorful but d’Anjou work too and they’re not as juicy. Right when the tart came out of the oven I drizzled it with some local honey and a few sage leaves from my garden. It a nice versatile tart, and it would make a pretty little starter as minis too.

Pear Goat Cheese Savory Tart, Makes one 9″ freeform tart

Olive Oil Crust

  • 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. semolina pastry flour
  • 1/4 c. light whole wheat flour
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • 1 t. Herbs de Provence
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. cold water

Three ripe pears, cleaned and sliced

4 oz. soft goat cheese

Honey for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 400. Combine the first six crust ingredients in a bowl.


Work in the oil to crumbles.


Stir in the water and gently knead a few times a soft dough. Don’t overwork it.


Dust the counter and roll out the dough like you mean it, with a few broad strokes.


Lift the dough onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Pile the pears in the middle, leaving a few inches of clearance all around. Then add dollops of goat cheese on top. Bring the sides of the crust up over, and arrange them to show the filling.


Bake for about 25 minutes, until the edges are a deep golden brown. Right when the tart comes out of the oven drizzle it with honey and some fresh herbs for color.


Serve hot or warm. Cut into fourths for a generous appetizer.


Four years ago: Apple Crisp
Three years ago: Malakoff Torte
Two years ago: Cinnamon Bread
One year ago: Brownie Cookies


by Heather Harris Brady

Now I like a good four-page recipe probably more than the next girl, but there are times when you have to come up with something FAST. You found a slip at the bottom of the school backpack asking you to bring in something for the bake sale/party, you’ve been invited to a tailgate, or you just need cake like NOW.

This recipe is for those times. If you can stir you can make it. I promise. If you’re an experienced baker it’s still a lovely thing to throw together for a treat after working all day. It keeps well, it’s moist and velvety and it has that irreplaceable homemade thing going. It would also make a great Halloween dessert, just bake it in a round and drizzle a spider web-ish design in chocolate over the top. Boom.

Pumpkin Cake, Makes one 8″ cake or about 12 cupcakes

  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c. flour
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. oil
  • 1 t. fresh ground ginger
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda


  • 4 oz 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 3 T. soft butter
  • 1 t. milk
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 c. powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the pumpkin, eggs, sugar and oil. Stir together well.


Stir in the spices.


Then the flour, baking soda and baking powder.


Spread it evenly in a greased baking dish.


Bake for about 25 minutes, until the center springs back to the touch. Set it aside to cool to room temperature.


While the cake is cooling make the frosting. Combine the powdered sugar, butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl.


Beat in the vanilla and the milk. Add a little milk if you need it to reach the desired consistency. Beat for two minutes.


Spread the icing on the cooled cake.


Refrigerate until ready to serve.


I sprinkled some candied nuts on top.



Keep leftovers refrigerated, and lightly covered.

Four years ago: Farmhouse Cornbread
Three years ago: Cheese Fondue
Two years ago: Brioche Coffeecake
One year ago: Apple Dumplings


by Heather Harris Brady

Believe it or not, I woke up a few days ago thinking about coconut snowballs. Now mind you, the last time I actually had a Hostess snoball I was probably also gazing dreamily at my Duran Duran poster and Nick’s purple eyeshadow. I knew I wasn’t after an actual duplicate, but rather the experience of cutting down through that pristine exterior to find amazing chocolate cake underneath.

Dorie Greenspan, because she is my spirit baker (like a spirit animal, but you know, a baker), understands such things. So much so that she has almost exactly that on the cover of her Baking cookbook. I’ve adapted her cake recipe here, covered it in an old-fashioned seven-minute frosting, and then coating the whole thing in coconut.

Unlike their inspirational counterparts these aren’t for keeping, you have to make them and eat them up shortly thereafter because the icing can get sticky in humidity. You’ll want to eat them right away anyway, the chocolate cake is meltingly delicious inside the fluffy frosting.

Coconut Snowballs, Makes six individual desserts

  • 3/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c. unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. baking powder
  • 5 T. butter, softened
  • 1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 c. buttermilk
  • 1/4 c. hot strong coffee
  • 1/3 c. mini chips
  • Frosting (recipe below)
  • 2-1/2 c. fine shredded coconut

Combine the first four ingredients together and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350. Put the sugars and butter in a mixing bowl, cream well.


Add the egg and beat well, until very light and fluffy, about three minutes.


Beat in the melted chocolate, then add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk. Beating well after each addition.


Lastly, fold in the coffee, followed by the mini chips.


Spoon the batter into six ramekins. (I had to bake mine in two batches.)


Bake for about 10 minutes, until puffed and just firm to the touch in the center.


Turn them out to cool. They will fall slightly but that’s okay!



While the cakes are cooling make the icing.

Frosting (from King Arthur Flour)

  • 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c. cold water
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 t. light corn syrup or 1/4 t. cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In the top of a double boiler, combine the sugar, water, egg whites, corn syrup or cream of tartar, and the pinch of salt. Beat with an electric mixer set at low speed for 30 seconds, then set the pan over boiling water (the pan shouldn’t touch the water).



Beating at high speed, cook the frosting for about 7 minutes, or until it’s stiff and glossy. Remove it from the heat, add the vanilla, and beat an additional 2 minutes.


Put each cake right side up on a plate and cover it with frosting, mounding it on top to get a half-spherical shape.


Sprinkle coconut on to cover and put the finished cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.




Three years ago: Hot Fudge Pudding Cake
Two years ago: Cream Cheese Coffeecake
One year ago: Sandwich Bread


by Heather Harris-Brady

Local apples are starting to come in and I made this cake as a way to use up some of the beautiful Gingergolds I picked up.  Gingergolds are a cross between Golden Delicious and Newton Pippins. They are a lovely golden green:


with a gorgeous sweet-tart flavor and crisp bite. These apples are not built for long-term storage, so you have to enjoy them early in the season. I decided to pair them with a mix of spices, sugar and local honey. The recipe below is based on Eliza Acton’s classic gingerbread recipe from the 1800s, with a few tweaks of my own.

Gingergold Cake, Makes one 9″ cake

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 c. molasses
  • 3/4 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 c. honey
  • 2 T. ground ginger (Not powdered, actual ground gingerroot)
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. allspice
  • Zest of one lemon (important!)
  • 2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. light wholewheat flour
  • 6 T. butter, melted
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • Four Gingergold apples, cleaned and chopped in a fine dice, set aside in acidulated water
  • Whipped cream or ice cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 and put the eggs in a mixing bowl. Beat them until light and frothy.


Beat in the sugars.


Then beat in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and butter. Beat until well-combined, then beat in the buttermilk. Lastly, beat in the wholewheat flour.


You should have a thick, creamy batter.


Fold in the apples and pour the batter into a greased 9″ cake pan.


Bake for about 35 minutes, until golden brown. The center should spring back when touched lightly.



Serve warm or at room temperature, plain or dressed up. This cake is a good keeper, and I think it’s actually better on the second day. Store any leftovers wrapped, freeze for storage longer than a few days.


Three years ago: Berry Crumb Cake
Two years ago: Icelandic Almond Rolls
One year ago: Fried Rice


by Heather Harris Brady

You might think that you need a special pan or one of those spectacular large griddles to make crepes – you don’t. You just need a really good non-stick pan with rounded sides and flat bottom – and some patience. Because no matter what, the first few crepes are going to be something less than perfect.

But keep going! A couple crepes in, things will get better. By the end you’ll feel like a pro. In my experience it’s the same story, every time. The good news is, even the ones that aren’t as pretty are still delicious. Just roll them up, cover them in fruit and add a dollop of cream if you feel fancy.

This recipe (my stand-by from The Joy of Cooking 1975 Ed.) doubles easily, and while I used peaches because they are in-season and gorgeous, any fruit will work. If you can start this batter three hours ahead and let it sit in the fridge, so much the better – but in the pics below I only let it side for 30 minutes.

Peach Crepes, Makes four servings

  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. double acting baking powder
  • 2 T. powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 c. milk
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1/2 t. vanilla or 1/2 t. grated lemon rind
  • 4 c. chopped sugared fruit
  • Cream topping
    • 1 pint heavy cream
    • 1 T. sugar
    • 2 T. 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
    • 1 t. vanilla

Break the eggs in a bowl and beat well. Beat in the milk, water, and vanilla.


Add the dry ingredients and beat. If there are lumps just leave them be. Set the batter aside. (Refrigerate if you’re going to let it sit for longer than 30 minutes.)


While you’re waiting you can prep the cream topping. (I forgot to take pictures of this part.) Beat the heavy cream to soft peaks, beat in the sugar, vanilla, and cream cheese until smooth and whipped. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to plate.

When you’re ready to cook the crepes put your pan on to medium heat and lightly grease it with olive oil. Measure out 1/4 c. of batter.


Pour it in the pan and quickly swirl it around to cover the bottom in a very thin layer.


When the edges start too look dry flip it over.


Stack the cooked crepes on a plate as you go.



To plate, roll two crepes up on each plate.


Top each set with a cup of fruit and a nice dollop of the cream.


These are nice for brunch or dessert. If you make the crepes ahead of time it would only take a few minutes to plate it all up.


Three years ago: Fresh Peach Pie
Two years ago: Apricot Crostata
One year ago: No-Bake Chocolate Torte


by Heather Harris Brady

I came home from a weekend away to a large container of cottage cheese VERY close to its expiration date. It was too much for bread or other uses but just enough for a cheesecake. This makes a nice, different cheesecake with the added bonus of less fat and a lot more protein.

Cottage Cheesecake, Makes on 8″ round cheesecake

  • 1 large 14 oz. container low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 sm. pkt. instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 c. graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 T. melted butter
  • 3/4 c. milk

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the cottage cheese and pudding mix in a food processor.


Blend until smooth.


Add the milk and eggs, blend until smooth.


Add the flour and baking powder.


Blend smooth once more.


Combine the crumbs and butter in a 8″ springform pan. Press them over the bottom and spoon the batter over the top.


Bake for about 40 minutes, until lightly browned. It will still jiggle a bit. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least three hours and preferably overnight.


Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.


Store all leftovers covered and refrigerated. This best eaten within two-three days.


Three years ago: Chocolate Zucchini Snack Cake
Two years ago: Badabing Chewy Cherry Bars
One year ago: Peach Crumb Pie


by Heather Harris Brady

I was downstate last week for my son’s college orientation and it reminded me how much I miss the coney islands that are on nearly every corner around the Detroit metro area. When we lived there the coneys were our go-to, the best ones serve breakfast all day every day, so even the little people could always find something on the menu. They also have amazing greek salads, gyros and – yes, coney dogs.

I’m not enough of an authority to fine-slice the differences between the Flint and Detroit-style coney sauce, to me they are equally delicious. And if you order a proper Michigan coney it will arrive on a snappy Koegel dog with a soft bun.

This recipe is based on a post by goldendog in the Chowhound forum, and I’ve adjusted it a little bit. It may look red to you if you’re used to the brown stuff out of a can, but it’s got a nice balance of tomato, spice and kick. If you want more chili and less tomato use tomato juice instead. This would be a good crockpot sauce.

Coney Sauce, Michigan Style Makes about 1-1/3 c. sauce (enough for 6-8 coney dogs)

  • 1 small white onion
  • 1/2 lb. ground chuck
  • 3 T. chili powder
  • 1-1/2 t. garlic powder
  • 1 t. Frank’s Red Hot
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • 1-1/2 t. salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 14-oz can tomato sauce

Peel and chop the onion, put it in a food processor bowl.


Pulse the onion until it’s finely chopped. Add the ground chuck.


Pulse again to a fine homogenous mixture.


Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add the meat and stir until browned.



Add all the rest of the ingredients.


Cook on a low simmer for about two hours. The sauce will get very thick. Remove the bay leaf.


Serve the coney sauce on a freshly grilled dog. If you want a ballpark feel wrap it up in a piece of aluminum foil.


The sauce will keep, refrigerated, for about three days. Freeze in a ziplock for longer storage.


Three years ago: Hamburger & Hot Dog Buns
Two years ago: Pork Tacos with Mango Salsa
One year ago: Double Berry Cookies


by Heather Harris Brady

The sweet cherries were just in season here. I was thinking about making a black forest cake, but often those can be disappointing with dry cake and not a good ratio of cake to filling. What I was going for was a moister cake, more of a brownie texture. I found what I was looking for in Baking with Jim Dodge. His recipe, which I’ve tinkered with slightly below, uses brandied cherries (which would be delicious) but I was under a time crunch so I used fresh cherries.

Chocolate Cherry Cake, Makes one 8″ cake

For the cake:

  • 1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60%)
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 c. milk (or 1/2 c. strong coffee)
  • 1/3 c. cocoa
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt

For the filling:

  • 1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60%)
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 T. softened butter

2 c. stabilized whipped cream

1 lb. Bing cherries (or another sweet black cherry)

Preheat the oven to 375. To make the cake: combine the chocolate chips and butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until melted.


Set it aside to cool slightly, then beat in the eggs, one at a time.


Beat in the rest of the dry ingredients.



Then add the milk. You should have a thick creamy batter.


Spread the batter in a well-greased 8″ pan. I also dusted mine with cocoa powder before adding the batter, just to be sure it would come out.


While the cake is baking make the chocolate filling. Combine the chips and cream over medium heat, stir to melted. Then stir in the butter and set it aside to cool (you can speed it up by putting it in the freezer).


Whip the ganache until it’s light and fluffy.


Let the cake cool thoroughly. If you have some Kirsch now would be a good time for a sprinkle.


Wash the cherries, pit and halve them. It’s a messy job, there’s no getting around it.


Split the cooled cake in two and put it on your serving dish. Arrange the halved cherries on the bottom layer.


Top the cherries with the ganache and then add the second layer of cake.


Top that with the stabilized whipped cream. Chill thoroughly before serving.


Even fresh the cake will cut neatly.


Store leftovers lightly covered in the refrigerator.


Three years ago: Cheesecake Ice Cream
Two years ago: Gooseberry-Raspberry Pie
One year ago: Sunday Night Cake with Chocolate Sauce


by Heather Harris Brady

This cake got its name from its strong clear lemon flavor, which reminds me of the lemonade you can buy from fair vendors – the kind they make to order with a whole lemon per glass. Because it’s been so hot I baked them in a small size to cut down on the oven time, but you could bake it as a traditional loaf – just adjust the baking time up.

I based this recipe on one for traditional pound cake from Carole Walter’s Great Cakes, another one of my favorite cookbooks.

Country Fair Lemon Pound Cakes, Makes about 24 mini bundt cakes or one loaf cake

  • 1 c. softened butter
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 Meyer lemon
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 2-1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 2 c. powdered sugar

Measure the sugar into a bowl and zest the lemon into it. Work the rind into the sugar with your fingers until it’s well combined. Preheat the oven to 325.


Put the butter into a mixing bowl and beat until light. Gradually beat in the sugar.


Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Beating well after each addition. Stir in the extract.


Add the flour and baking powder. Beat well.


You should have a thick creamy batter.


Grease your pan(s) and fill them.


Bake small cakes about 20 minutes. Loaves may need 45 minutes or more.


While the cakes are baking make the glaze. Measure the powdered sugar into a bowl. Juice the lemon into the sugar and stir it into a glaze. Depending on how much juice is in the lemon, you may need to adjust the thickness of the glaze with a little more powdered sugar.


Turn the cakes out onto a rack.


Drizzle them with the glaze while they are still warm.


You can serve these at any temperature.


They’re especially nice with fresh berries and coriander flowers.


Store leftovers lightly covered at room temperature for up to two days. Freeze for longer storage.


Three years ago: Strawberry Frozen Custard
Two years ago: Traverse Cherry Pie
One year ago: Strawberry Lemon Torte



by Heather Harris Brady

Most of the time I think pie crust is just okay, it’s mostly just a vehicle for the filling, so when I get a chance to try something new with it I like to give it a go. I was going through some old Farm Journal cookbooks and they talked about pie crusts made with soda crackers and meringue.

This sounded strangely delicious to me, because when I was little and we were snowed in (which could be for a week at a stretch sometimes) my grandma would make a treat with crackers and marshmallows. She’d lay the crackers out on a baking sheet, put a marshmallow on each one and put them in the oven until the marshmallows were toasted. There was something about the sugary salty crunch that I loved.

With this crust you make a meringue, fold in the crumbs and prebake it. I made a silky chocolate bavarian cream to use up the leftover egg yolks.

Chocolate Pie with Meringue Crust, Makes one 9″ deep dish pie

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 12 crushed soda crackers
  • 1/2 c. almond flour
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. vanilla

For the filling:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 pkt. unflavored gelatin softened in 1/4 c. cold water
  • 2 c. whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 375 and whip the egg whites to soft peaks.


Beat in the sugar, a few tablespoons at at time, and whip to stiff peaks.


Crush the crackers to fine crumbs.


Fold the crumbs, almond flour, baking powder, and vanilla into the meringue.



Spread it into a greased 9″ pie dish.


Bake for about 30 minutes, until lightly golden brown. Set it aside to cool. It will fall and shrink slightly.


Combine the egg yolks, sugar, chocolate and milk in a pan. Mix well.


Heat, over medium, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. Stir in the gelatin and cool to room temperature.


Whip the cream.


Fold it into the chocolate.


Pile the filling in the shell and chill, lightly covered, for at least two hours. You can also freeze the pie at this point. (I did.)


Garnish with chocolate shavings and serve. I served mine frozen, because it was a really hot day. But if you want to enjoy the silkiness of the filling you’ll want to serve it out of the refrigerator instead.





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