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Category Archives: Breads and Baking

Tomato Rubbed Bread/Pa Amb Tomaquet/Pan con Tomato

Prepared Tomato Rubbed Bread

Prepared Tomato Rubbed Bread


1 ciabatta or 8 slices coarse country white bread, preferably sourdough, about ½ pound

4 cloves garlic, halved, optional

4 small, ripe tomatoes, about 1/3 pound

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Coarse salt, such as Kosher or flaked salt

  • Grilling is optional: Prepare a fire in a charcoal grill, preheat a gas grill to high or preheat the broiler. You may prefer to use your toaster or toaster oven.
  • If using ciabatta, slice it crosswise into 4-6 pieces, then cut each piece in half horizontally before toasting
  • Place the bread on the grill rack or on a baking sheet.
  • Grill or broil, turning once, until golden broth on both sides, about 2 minutes per side
  • While the toasts are warm, rub with cut side of the garlic halves.
  • Rub the cut sides of the tomato halves on top of the toasts until only the skins are left, then discard the skins.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt
  • Pile on a platter or in a shallow bowl and serve
  • You and/or your guests may also prepare their own Pa Amb Tomaquet  at the table.
  • This is the first food brought to the table in Catalunya.

Makes 4 servings


Baklava baked and cut in diamond shapes








This is an authentic Greek recipe from Mercin Karris of Midland Michigan. She made this for her family and the annual Greek Festival in Saginaw Michigan. When I made the recipe her husband George would critique it for me. I have enjoyed making this for 30 years with heartfelt appreciation for George and Mercin.

1 lb package frozen phyllo leaves, measuring 14 inches x 18 inches (follow package directions for thawing. If phyllo starts to crack, let thaw  longer at room temperature)

1 lb salted butter or more, melted

2-3 lbs walnuts, chopped coarsely, or as desired

3 tablespoons cinnamon


4 cups sugar

3 cups water

1/2 lemon

2-3 inch cinnamon sticks

1/2 cup honey

In a large saucepan combine the sugar, water, lemon and cinnamon sticks. Whisk together and heat to a simmer. Continue simmering uncovered. Keep an eye on this as you proceed with the baklava. The goal is to have room temperature syrup that is the consistancy of Karo syrup. As you complete the baklava, cool a tiny amount in the freezer. Then place a drop on your thumb nail. This drop should not roll off.

Add the ground cinnamon to the chopped walnuts and mix.

Use a shallow baking sheet measuring about 14 inches x 18 inches x 1 1/2 inches. Brush the bottom and sides with butter.

  • Compiling the baklava involves layering the leaves of phyllo and brushing each layer with melted butter.
  • You should use at least 1 pound of butter, but not over 1 1/4 pounds.
  • For the bottom layers, place 6 leaves of phyllo brushing each layer with butter.
  • If the leaves are too large for the pan, fold the excess towards the center. Switch sides of the folds to make an even pastry. The center layers continue with phyllo and butter with the addition of 2 or 3 handfuls of walnuts sprinkled on top.
  • As you make several layers with nuts, count out the last 6 layers of phyllo. These are the top layers and should be phyllo and butter only as the bottom layers without the nuts.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Before baking, cut the baklava. Your skills for cutting and visualizing even measurements determines how you go about this. You can use a ruler if you want.
  • I use dental floss to mark out 6 lengthwise strips. Then I use a sharp paring knife to cut these strips.
  • Then I use the dental floss to mark out the diagonal corners across the baklava. Cut through this center diagonal line with the knife.
  • At this point I use my eye to cut the remaining strips in parallel to the center diagonal.
  • The end products are diamond shape baklava measuring about 4 inches by 1 1/5 inches. If you want smaller pieces, start out with 7 or 8 lengthwise strips.
  • Before baking, check your syrup. If it is ready, pour into a ceramic bowl and add honey. Cool quickly  to room temperature over ice. The goal is to pour cold syrup over hot baklava. Set the syrup aside to cool.
  • Place the baklava in the hot oven. Sprinkle a wet hand of water over the baklava to promote a crisp crust. Bake about 30 minutes or until just starting to turn a light toasted color.  Do not overbake.
  • Remove from the oven and recut with a sharp knife.
  • Pour the cold syrup over the hot baklava. Cool overnight before serving. Syrup absorbs into pastry as it cools. Wait to  serve until there is no more syrup pooling in the baking pan.
  • You can make this large quantity and freeze part for another time.  When ready to serve I like to use a paper cupcake liner for each piece
  •  You can use pistachios instead of walnuts. Another flavor to sprinkle on is rose water just before and/or after baking.

Banana Crunch Muffins

These muffins turn out perfectly every time.  Make sure not to over bake them! Remove them from the oven just as they begin to lightly darken! Another recipe from The Barefoot Contessa by Ina Garten. Makes about 34 standard size muffins. For the crunch, I use my Toasted Barley & Berry Granola recipe found on this site.

3 cups all purpose flour

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 pound unsalted butter, melted

2 extra-large eggs

3/4 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup mashed very ripe banana (2 bananas)

1 cup diced ripe banana (1 banana)

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup granola (Barley & Berry Granola recipe found on this site)

1 cup flaked unsweetened coconut (large flake style found at health food stores)

Optional: dried banana chips, granola or coconut

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
  • In a large bowl of an electric mixer whisk or sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, & salt.
  • Add the melted butter and combine with paddle attachment. Do not over mix. This toughens the dough.
  • In a medium bowl combine eggs, milk, vanilla & mashed bananas. Add to the dough and do not overmix.
  • Fold in the diced bananas, walnuts, granola & coconut.
  • Spoon batter into paper liners, filling 3/4 full.
  • Top with dried banana chips, granola or coconut if desired.
  • Bake 15-20 minutes or until tops just begin to darken and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool!