Samoas Cupcakes. Best Songs Of 2015 (So Far).



I love Samoas Girl Scout cookies. Toasted coconut, caramel and chocolate all neatly packaged in cookie form. Yum.

I made Samoas Cupcakes once before and they were divine. Since it has been over 4 years since I made a batch, it seemed like it was high time to make some more.

I cannot give proper credit for today’s recipe since it was from an ancient file I had stored on my computer. It’s a really different version from the Samoas Cupcakes I tried previously. The brown sugar cake is filled with rich caramel, topped with thick chocolate ganache and a gooey, sweet coconut topping. That all gets crowned with a good dose of toasted coconut and some more ganache.

The wow factor is pretty high.

Note: I had enough leftover caramel, coconut topping and ganache for 8 more cupcakes. I made a batch of chocolate chip cupcakes the next day to use everything up.
Samoas Cupcakes


Brown Sugar Butter Cupcakes (recipe follows)
Toasted Coconut Topping (recipe follows)
Caramel (recipe follows)
Chocolate Ganache (recipe follows)


1. Using a small paring knife or cupcake corer, make a small well in each cupcake. Fill each cavity with caramel.

2. Spoon a light coating of chocolate ganache on top of each cupcake.

3. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes to harden the ganache.

4. Spoon a small mound of coconut topping on each cupcake.

5. Press the plain toasted coconut onto the coconut topping.

6. Drizzle the top of each cupcake with lines of ganache. Rewarm the ganache in a double boiler if necessary to get it to a drizzling consistency.

Makes 12 Samoas Cupcakes

Brown Sugar Butter Cupcakes


3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1-1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 350℉. Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners.

2. Beat butter and sugar on high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

3. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 30 seconds after each addition.

4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.

5. Combine milk and vanilla in a measuring cup.

6. Add about a fourth of the flour to the butter mixture and beat to combine.

7. Add about one third the milk/vanilla mixture and beat until combined.

8. Repeat, alternating flour and milk and ending with the flour mixture.

9. Divide batter among cupcake liners.

10. Bake for 20-22 minutes until a tester comes out clean.

Makes 12 cupcakes

Toasted Coconut Topping


2 eggs
10 ounces evaporated milk
1-1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
3 cups shredded, sweet coconut


1. Preheat oven to 350℉.

2. Spread the coconut onto a sheet pan. Toast in oven, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until the coconut is an even brown color, about 10 minutes.

3. Crack the eggs into a small saucepan and beat lightly.

4. Add milk, sugar, and butter to the eggs. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until thick, bubbly, and golden, about 15 minutes.

5. Press milk mixture through a metal sieve and into a bowl to remove any lumps.

6. Add 2 cups of the toasted coconut, reserving the remainder for assembly. Stir to combine and set aside to cool.



1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter


1. Combine the water, sugar, and corn syrup in a deep saucepan and cook over medium heat.

2. Stir sugar mixture with a wooden spoon until the sugar is melted.

3. Cover saucepan and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes.

4. Remove lid, increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Without stirring continue to cook until the caramel becomes amber in color. Remove from heat and let stand for 30 seconds.

5. Very carefully pour the heavy cream into the caramel mixture. The mixture will bubble up violently.

6. Stir the caramel mixture until smooth. Add the butter and stir until combined. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool.

Note: You will have leftover caramel. Store, refrigerated, in an airtight container for one month.

Chocolate Ganache


8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla


1. Chop chocolate and transfer into a heat proof bowl.

2. Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan then pour cream over the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute then stir until combined.

3. Add vanilla and stir until combined. Let cool to room temperature.
And here are some chocolate cupcakes I made to use up the leftover toppings.

The Contrast Podcast is up and running again. This week’s episode highlights its contributors favorite song of 2015, so far.

My pick is ‘Philomena’ from The Decemberists’ January release “What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World”. I went with the song not so much for its brilliance, but because it makes me laugh. I laugh at the lyrics and I laugh at the hokey doo-wop sound. But, most of all, I laugh that my boys (11, 14 and 16) love the song and spontaneously belt it out. I don’t know if they get the racy meaning, but those lines are hilarious coming out of their young mouths.

Be sure to check out the episode here and consider being a contributor for future Contrast Podcast themes. It’s so much fun.

Check out The Decemberists on their Website, where you can learn of upcoming world tour dates and buy the music. I highly recommend trying to see a show if they come nearby to where you live. I’ve seen them 4 times and every concert was excellent. They are so much fun and give each performance everything they’ve got.


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Buttermilk Pancakes With Crispy Bacon, Avocado and Cilantro-Chile Oil. New Music From The Pacers.


This is awesome.

So are these pancakes.

I’ve made pancakes with bacon before like these and these (with chocolate chips!).

But, this is the first time I’ve seen a recipe for pancakes with bacon and avocado and feta.

All together.

With a good ole drizzle of spicy cilantro oil.

We’re talking one mighty fine plate of pancakes that is just as perfect for dinner as it is for breakfast or brunch.

Buttermilk Pancakes With Crispy Bacon, Avocado and Cilantro-Chile Oil


150g/1-1/4 cups self-raising flour
½ tsp cream of tartar
1 Tbs sugar
2 large eggs, separated
285ml buttermilk
16 smoked streaky bacon rashers
1 Tbs butter
2 avocados, sliced and tossed in a little lime juice
200g feta, crumbled
Cilantro-Chile Oil (recipe follows)


1. Mix the flour, cream of tartar and sugar in a bowl with a large pinch of salt. Make a well in the center, add the egg yolks and mix. Slowly pour in the buttermilk, stirring constantly, to create a smooth, thick batter.

2. Heat oven to 200°C/400°F.

3. Put the bacon on a foil-lined baking sheet and cook, turning once, for 15-20 minutes until crisp.

4. Decrease oven temperature to 65°C/150°F or ‘keep warm’ setting.

5. When the bacon is nearly cooked, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks in a mixing bowl.

6. Gently and gradually fold egg whites into the batter to avoid deflating the mixture.

7. Heat a large non-stick frying pan or griddle over medium heat. Brush some of the butter over the pan. Pour tablespoons of the batter into the pan.

8. Cook pancakes for 1-2 minutes, until bubbles appear on surface and underside is golden. Flip them and cook on the other side for 2 minutes.

9. Place pancakes on a plate and keep warm in the oven while using up the batter.

10. Stack the pancakes on serving plates, then top with the bacon, avocado and feta. Spoon over some cilantro-chile oil and serve.

Serves 6 ( recipe makes about 12 pancakes)

Recipe from Delicious Magazine

Cilantro-Chile Oil


1 red chile pepper, finely chopped
Bunch fresh cilantro, leaves roughly chopped, stalks finely chopped
100ml extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lime


1. Put the chile, cilantro and extra-virgin olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until well combined.

2. Season and add the lime juice. If mixture is too thick to drizzle, add a little water.

Don’t think I am crazy, but this song reminds me of ‘I Dream Of Jeannie’, which is probably my favorite TV show from my childhood. That guitar riff makes me think of harems, magic and genies.

Logically though, “Losing Touch,” the new song from London-based band The Pacers, is a well crafted bit of psychedelia. C’mon, get out of your bottle, don your groovy 60s attire and do a slinky dance.

Check out The Pacers on Facebook where you can keep tuned to learn where to buy their music.


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Salmon In Potato Case. Gorgeous New Music From Rob St. John.



When Rob St. John requested some seafood to go along with his new song, ‘Church Bells’, I knew the recipe had to be something that could match up to its elegance.

I went straight away to my stack of Julia Child cookbooks and came upon this recipe for Salmon In Potato Case. It’s a very simple, but beautifully presented dish.

A thin slice of salmon is sandwiched between some potato and dill. This all gets sautéed until the potato turns golden. The crisp potato and moist salmon are served atop a bed of light, lovely tomato coulis.

To round out the dish I served some green beans cooked in miso butter. Try this really good recipe.
Salmon In Potato Case


One center cut salmon fillet (about 5 oz), about 2 inches wide
1/8 tsp salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 large russet potato, peeled
2 tsp chopped dill
2 tsp butter
2 tsp vegetable oil
Tomato Coulis (recipe follows)
Sprigs of fresh dill, to garnish

Serves 1 (recipe doubles or triples, etc, easily)


1. Butterfly the salmon fillet, stopping just short of slicing through entirely. Open the two sides up like a book and flatten the piece out. The butterflied piece should be about 1/2 inch thick. Season both sides of fish with salt and pepper.

2. Use a mandolin, vegetable peeler or a sharp knife to cut thin slices of potato. Lay about 5 or 6 pieces, slightly overlapping, on your work surface and set the salmon on top. You should use just enough potato slices to make a bottom covering for the fish.

3. Heat the butter and oil in a non-stick frying pan. When sizzling, pick up the potato-lined piece of salmon and slide it into the pan. Sprinkle the dill on top and cover the fish with 5 or 6 more slices of potato.

4. Cook salmon over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes, then check to see if the bottom has browned. When well crusted, carefully turn the fish over. Cook the other side, about 4 to 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are browned.

5. Spoon several tablespoons of the coulis onto a serving plate. Use the back of a spoon to clear a place in the center.

6. Carefully lift the potato-encrusted salmon with a spatula and arrange it in the center of the plate with the coulis surrounding it. Garnish with sprigs of dill.

Tomato Coulis


1/4 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp olive oil
1 large tomato, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Makes about 2 cups


1. Sauté onion and garlic clove in olive oil until soft.

2. Add tomato to the onions. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 12 to 15 minutes.

3. For a smoother texture, push the thickened tomatoes through the medium plate of a food mill. (I left mine chunky.) Serve warm.

Recipes from Julia And Jacques Cooking At Home

I mentioned that Rob St. John has a new song out. ‘Church Bells’ is the lead track on “Concrete Antenna”, which is described as “a 12” LP vinyl set of music, art prints, essays and tide table created by Tommy Perman, Simon Kirby and Rob St. John, inspired by their sound installation in the new landmark tower at Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop.”

Sounds pretty cool, right?

Evidently, the installation is interactive with heat and motion sensors that react to the visitors while recorded sounds of the nearby harbor and its environs change based on the tides and the weather.

I want to hop on a plane to Edinburgh right now!

Well, since that isn’t possible, I’m lucky enough to sink my ears into the music. “Concrete Antenna” is a collection of some of the most beautiful instrumental songs I have heard in a long time. They are extremely minimal and, having been to Edinburgh a few times, strangely do elicit a feel for that lovely place.

As the opening track of the album, ‘Church Bells’ sets the tone for the atmospheric journey to come.

And you must have a look at the video for the song. It captures the scenes which inspire the installation in all of their black and white glory. The images change to the music, which is a dramatic touch.

Check out Rob St. John on his Website, Tommy Perman on his Website and Simon Kirby on his Website. You can buy the album on the “Concrete Antenna” Website.


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Short And Sweet. Chocolate Mug Cake.


This Is A Mugging! - Now Fork It Over!

Feel like some chocolate cake? Do you have 5 minutes?

If you answered yes/yes, then I’ve got you covered here.

I’ve read about these mug cakes time after time and finally decided to give it a go.


A cupful of moist, chocolatey cake studded with chocolate chips and nuts. Delicious warm or cold.


Chocolate Mug Cake


1 (14 oz) coffee mug
4 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tablespoons chocolate chips
1/2 tablespoon nuts


1. Add dry ingredients to mug and mix well.

2. Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.

3. Add chocolate chips, nuts and vanilla then stir to mix.

4. Put mug in the microwave (with a paper towel under it) and cook for 3 minutes on high. The cake will rise over the top of the mug but sink back down. Paper towel is there just in case!

5. Allow to cool a little then dig in.

Serves 1

Recipe adapted from Table For Two

A scoop of ice cream melting into the warm cake is definitely cool.

Short and sweet all in one tune.

‘Trash’ is new from Denver-based band Kissing Party. It’s a pure slice of indie pop heaven.

Check out Kissing Party on the band’s Website where you can buy their music.


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Crispy Baked IPA Sriracha Chicken Wings. New Music From Gillbanks.


Chicken wings. Yum.

Sriracha. Double yum.

IPA beer. Triple yum.

Crispy Baked IPA Sriracha Chicken Wings. Home run yum.

A combination of coating the chicken with baking powder and using first low oven temp then very high temp results in crisp wings with tender, moist meat. It’s a really great cooking technique that won’t make you miss deep fried wings. The buttery sauce has a nice kick from the sriracha and beer.

Crispy Baked IPA Sriracha Chicken Wings


2 lbs chicken wings
1 Tbs baking powder
½ tsp salt
¼ cup IPA beer
4 Tbs melted butter
¼ cup sriracha, plus more to drizzle
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs cornstarch


1. Preheat oven to 250℉.

2. Put wings into a large bowl. Sprinkle with baking powder and salt, toss to coat.

3. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet and grease with oil.

4. Place the wings on the wire rack.

5. Bake in the lower section of oven for 30 minutes. Move to the upper 1/3 of the oven, increase oven temperature to 425℉. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown.

6. In a large bowl stir together the beer, melted butter, sriracha, honey and cornstarch.

7. Toss the wings in the sauce, drizzle with a little sriracha and serve warm.

Recipe from The Beeroness

Here’s a little melancholy tune from the upcoming EP ‘Lend Me Your Skin’, by London-based Gillbanks. Calming and satisfying.

Check out Gillbanks on their Website where you can learn of upcoming tour dates in London. You can get the music on Bandcamp.


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Best Cheese Bread. New Music From Passport To Stockholm.


A man just walked up to me and threw a block of cheddar in my face. I thought “that’s mature!”

This is one fantastic loaf of bread. Packed with cheddar and a hint of garlic and dill, it’s moist and delicious. The honey makes it really special.

One note, the fabulous factor for me was only when it was warm. I didn’t associate ‘best’ with the bread the next day. So serve it up right away with some soup or a salad to enjoy the bread at its best.

Best Cheese Bread


3-3/4 cups flour
2-1/2 cups (10 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons honey


1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cheese, baking powder, garlic powder and dill.

2. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, oil and honey. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.

3. Pour batter into a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

4. Bake at 350°F for 55-65 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm. Refrigerate leftovers.

Makes 1 loaf (16 slices)

Recipe from Best of Country Breads

London-based quartet Passport to Stockholm released their EP ‘All At Once’ last month. “Imperfections”, a cello driven indie-pop gem, has nothing cheesy about it whatsoever.

Check out Passport To Stockholm on the band’s Website. You can buy their music here.


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Nectarine-Rosemary Galette With Ricotta and Honey. Listening To Daydream Frenzy.


Newsflash…Rosemary and Ricotta are totally dessert worthy. These two ingredients add sophistication to a simple and rustic nectarine galette. A little honey and vanilla add subtle sweetness.

Nectarine-Rosemary Galette With Ricotta and Honey


1 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 oz cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, plus 1 egg for brushing
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3 ripe nectarines or peaches (about 1 1/4 pounds), pitted and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
2 tablespoons honey, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon roughly chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Fresh ricotta cheese, for serving


1. To make the crust, pulse the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add half of the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the remaining butter and pulse into pea sized pieces. Add 1 egg, the lemon juice and 3 tablespoons ice water and pulse until the dough clumps together but has not yet formed a ball. Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap then press into a disk and wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.

2. Preheat the oven to 400℉. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

3. Roll out the dough into a 12-inch round on a lightly floured surface. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, make the filling. in a large bowl toss nectarines with the honey, flour, vanilla and rosemary.

5. Spoon the nectarine mixture onto the dough, leaving about a 3-inch border. Fold the edge of the dough over the fruit by about 2 inches, pleating as needed.

6. Lightly beat the remaining egg with 1 teaspoon water. Brush the dough with the egg wash. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.

7. Scatter the butter over the fruit. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet. Serve with ricotta and honey.

Serves 8

Recipe from Food Network Magazine


I’ve been singing the chorus to ‘Pride And Wonder’ all day. It crawled into my head on the first listen this morning and is now firmly embedded. I love the stammering drums and anthemic ‘Ohs’.

Check out Daydream Frenzy on Facebook. You can buy their music on Bandcamp.


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