Suzi’s Blog

TBT Cookbook Review: The Baker’s Dozen Cookbook editted by Rick Rodgers



We don’t know why the number 13 is feared. Suzi and I were once in Italy about to site for dinner. The hostess counted heads and discovered, in horror, that 13 of were about to sit down. The gardener was summoned so that 13 could be 14.

And we never talk about getting 13 cookies or cupcakes. It’s always a baker’s dozen. That extra one seems a hidden treat with such a hit of risqué culinary excitement.

Almost 20 years ago, a baker’s dozen of supreme bakers in California had an idea for a fun project. They would pool ideas, recipes, time and experimentation on a baking book. They spent a few years find the “best” of many things and let Rick Rodgers edit the results into this wonderful collaboration.

Some of the 13 contributors are famous: Flo Braker, Marion Cunningham, Carol Filed, David Lebovitz Alice Medrich and Peter Reinhart. And the other, less familiar authors here are ones you surely wish to investigate: John Phillip Carroll, Julia B. Cookenboo, Fran Gage, Robert Morocco, Lindsey Remolif Shere, Kathleen Stewart, and Carolyn Beth Weil. The pedigree of this book is unsurpassed.

What do you find here? Chapters are devoted to all the usual and necessary suspects:

  • Cakes
  • Sweet and Savory Pie
  • Tarts
  • Fruit Desserts
  • Cookies
  • Muffins, Popovers, Easy Quick Bread and Doughnuts
  • Yeast Breads and Flatbreads
  • Custard and Other Egg-Based Desserts
  • Frostings, Glazes, and Sauces

In those categories you find a blend of old friends and snappy new ideas. [Well, new in 2001 and probably still new to you!]. There’s a Best Cheesecake and Best Chocolate Chip Cookie. But my eye was caught by those ideas I had not yet tasted:

Blood Orange Chiffon Pie with Chocolate Crum Crust

Espresso Sponge Cake with Caramel Crunch Topping

Creamy Mocha Pie

Heavenly Hazelnut

Cake with Chocolate Rum Glaze

Peanut Butter Layer Cake with Strawberry Jam

The important factor here is that each of these recipes was honed by the team for several months to almost three years. They were baked, tasted, tweaked, tasted again, tweaked again. These are perfected recipes. And, while this book is 15 years old, you’ll enjoy these recipes 15 years from now, or 30 or 45. I think 45 years might be a stretch for me, but I can make 30 more.

You need something to look forward to. For me, it’s the Blood Orange Chiffon Pie with Chocolate Crumb Crust. And tomorrow, you get the recipe!



TBT Recipe: Heirloom Tomato Jam with Lemon from Tomatoes by Miriam Rubin


It's early fall and the days are strange. One day is warm, though not hot. The next day, there is a clipped breeze that sends you back indoors for a light coat. Summer is gone. Yet, yet, we can still find some summer wonders. There are tomatoes out there, freshly plucked, fully packed with sweetness from weeks of intense summer sun. Perfect to eat. Perfect for Jam. This post is from three summer ago. We make the jam every summer. It's perfect for crackers with goat cheese and pairs so very well with bourbon, either by itself or blended into the cocktail of your choice.

I was in an upscale cheese store in Midtown. A great store we know well. A jar labeled “Tomato Jam” caught my eye. I knew that I could convince Suzen to take it home since it said “tomato” and the “jam” part would just slip past her. Particularly if I mumbled over the right syllable. I was home free.

Before I put it into my shopping basket, I was just curious about how much? I turned the jar over. Adjusted my glasses. Then adjusted my jaw. Carefully, oh so carefully, did I rest that $14 bottle of jam back atop the stack. I spend money, but I have limits.

I sought out my wife. Suzen was inspecting a counter of blue cheeses, figuring what to buy. “Something from Oregon?” she asked me.

“Anything, sweetie,” I answered with a pant that caught her eye. “You’re not going to believe what I just saw.”

We fled in shock and awe. We went from that cheese store to a farmers market a few blocks away, bought tomatoes and determinedly bent our way home. We made our own jam: 4 half-pint jars for maybe $12. This jam is beautiful to behold and tangy on the tongue.

We owe this financial relief to our friend Miriam Rubin and her new book Tomatoes. I suppose “heirloom” is one of those trigger words. Is it really “heirloom” or just an adjective put on to pull me in? We know Miriam researched and tested her recipes with laser precision. It’s heirloom and a gem and something you want to try.

The publisher of the book, the University of North Carolina Press, had not expected me to blog this recipe but has kindly allowed me to do so. This book is from their Savor the South series. You can get more information about the book by visiting:

If, if you have that pause about making jam and having to sterilize the lids and what happens if you mess up and … Relax. This jam is made, cooled, and stored in the refrigerator. You can run your jam jars through the dishwasher on the high heat cycle. Or, just do what we do: use a big sauce pan filled with water and boil the jars for 5+ minutes while you are tending to the tomatoes. It’s less angst that you think and you’re going to smile at the first bite.

Heirloom Tomato Jam with Lemon

Yield: 3-4 half-pint jars


  • 4 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes, such as Cherokee Purple, Bandywine, or Delicious, peeled, cored, seeded, and cut into ½ inch pieces [about 5 ½ cups]
  • 2 medium lemons, preferably organic, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise, seeds removed
  • 2 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 3-5 tablespoons lemon juice


Put the tomatoes and lemon slices in a large, heavy, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Stir well and bring to a boil, crushing the tomatoes with a potato masher. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Sir in the sugar, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently and skimming off any foam, until thick, about 30 minutes. Stir in the 3 tablespoons lemon juice and cook until thickened and jamlike, 5-8 more minutes. Taste, and if it’s too sweet, add 1-2 tablespoon more lemon juice and return to a full boil

Spoon immediately into clean, hot half-pint jars and fit the jars with 2-pieced lids. Let cool, then refrigerate the jam until ready to serve.

Source: From TOMATOES: a Savor the South® cookbook by Miriam Rubin. Copyright © 2013 by Miriam Rubin. Used by permission of the University of North Carolina Press:



TBT Cookbook Review Redux: Cooking with David Burke



I first reviewed this wonderful book two years ago. I'm doing it again because, if I were headed to a desert island, I would want this book with me. Along with a lot of chocolate, coffee, crabmeat and chorizo.

Today, David Burke has a restaurant empire. He calls it a group but it is an empire of ten superb dining establishments.

Now “establishment” is a good noun for that business but would be a terrible adjective for David himself. He’s anything but.

Twenty-two years ago he published Cooking with David Burke and you could see then what a remarkable chef he had already become. Suzi and I return to this book over and over. There is a delight in sophisticated comfort food, and this book is replete with dishes you will return to again and again. The Pastrami Salmon is deliciously addictive and, when Suzi and I serve it, every guest won't leave without the recipe. We are happy to share this grand recipe from David, but we always tell people that this book is filled with dozens of other treats. The Pastrami Salmon teaches you what sugar + molasses + paprika + spices can do to ordinary salmon, and you might abandon smoked salmon for a long time. The color of this dish will give you pause. The flavor will amaze.

Cooking has a vast spectrum of recipes, from the most simple to a tad complex. All of the recipes bear his signature imagination and precision. You want to explore the book because there are exceptional ideas here. His Coffee Barbecue Sauce will give you pause. No matter how much ‘cue you have experienced, this recipe is exceptional. There are simple things, like his Horseradish Mousse or the Mint Oil.

Oh, the oils. There is a whole section on oils with ideas that you have never seen in print, but you may well have tasted in restaurants. Certainly David’s. That mint oil can be applied to fish or of course lamb. But he suggests a drizzle on top of a soup. Mint oil in gazpacho is something to consider for next summer’s ripe tomato season.

This is cookbook with a culinary philosophy, David's very evolved philosophy. David believes in "constructing" each dish. So there is no vegetable chapter in Cooking. Instead, veggies and other ingredients appear in their role as elements of a total dish. You'll find:

  • Gazpacho with Crabmeat Salad and Cumin Mousse
  • Roast Cornish Hens with Saffron Potatoes and Chorizo Sausages
  • Pan-Roasted Monkfish with Green-Onion Sauce and Ziti and Eggplant Bouquet

His over-the-top extravaganzas extend to dessert:

  • Chocolate Whiskey Torte with Chocolate Sauce and Caramel Ice Cream
  • Chocolate Crepes with Rum Raisin Anglaise and Chocolate Sorbet
  • Milk Chocolate Banana Terrine with Banana Caramel Sauce and Maple Crisp Cookies

The man loves chocolate.

David was at the forefront of chefs creating “complicated” multi-syllable recipes. These recipes may be twenty plus years old, but equally they are timeless. These are combinations that deserve your attention and your tasting.