Lemon Meltaways

Lemon Meltaways

Lemon meltaways are a tender cookie made from a shortbread base. They’re coated in powdered sugar, crumble easily, and are designed, as the name suggests, to melt in your mouth. Lemon meltaways can be sweet or tart– this version stays on the sweet side, getting its lemon flavor from zest, and just a teaspoonful of juice. 

Lemon Meltaways

I based my recipe on this one from Stella Parks of Serious Eats. The Serious Eats version calls for tapioca starch instead of corn starch, for a more delicate, meltier cookie. I used corn starch, which is more of a pantry staple for me than tapioca. The cookies still tasted great to me, and I didn’t notice any missing melty qualities. However, if you do have tapioca starch on hand, I’d go with the Serious Eats recipe for something more tender. 

Lemon Meltaways

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Classic Shortbread Cookies

Classic Shortbread Cookies | Kitchen in the Hills

Shortbread cookies are a favorite of mine because they are so simple to make. Classic shortbread recipes contain only three ingredients– butter, sugar, and flour.

Of course, the variations are endless. You can swap the white sugar out for powdered sugar, for a finer crumb. This seems to be the standard in most modern shortbread recipes, and this is the version you’ll find in this blog post. Some recipes will use lower-gluten cake flour, or swap a little bit of flour for cornstarch or tapioca starch, which results in a crumblier, melt-in-your-mouth texture. Flavorings include vanilla extract, almond extract, lemon or orange zest, chopped nuts and even dried lavender flowers. 

Classic Shortbread Cookies | Kitchen in the Hills

Shortbreads tend to be a holiday cookie in the US, but they also pair well with an afternoon cup of tea or coffee. 

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Old Fashioned Peach Cobbler + Finding Your True Style

Old Fashioned Peach Cobbler from Kitchen in the Hills. This is a classic southern recipe that's simple to make and perfectly delicious! #peachcobbler #summer #dessert #baking

Old Fashioned Peach Cobbler from Kitchen in the Hills. This is a classic southern recipe that's simple to make and perfectly delicious!

Note: This is a recipe post, but it’s also a personal post. If you’re just looking for the recipe, you’ll find it at the bottom of the page.

For the first two years of this blog, I wrote cheerfully about healthy recipes with trendy ingredients. I tried to muster up enthusiasm for things I wasn’t really excited about making, but had convinced myself food blogging was all about. I tried very hard, but it didn’t always feel right.

I’ve done the quick-and-easy recipes. I’ve done the health-conscious recipes. But at heart, I’m all about old-fashioned comfort foods, homey recipes, bits of nostalgia we all grew up with. 

Old Fashioned Peach Cobbler from Kitchen in the Hills. This is a classic southern recipe that's simple to make and perfectly delicious!

It’s the most down-home Southern food that makes my heart leap in my chest, that has me rushing to the kitchen to make it. It’s spicy Indian stews and curries, particularly South Indian, that bring back fond memories of childhood. It’s the sweet treat or the lovingly baked yeast bread that soothes me when I’m frustrated or flustered. 

Patience. Time moves more slowly in the South, and the food takes a little longer to prepare. I grew up in Florida around a lot of good food, with a family that ate home-cooked meals, together at the table, every single night. I grew up eating a lot of Indian food lovingly cooked by my Mom. I also ate a ton of hearty American fare, the stuff most American childhoods are filled with. Watermelon and french fries and Tostitos pizza rolls. And these foods I grew up eating are the ones that inspire what I cook today. Occasionally I’ll put a tropical twist on something, and that’s also deeply me– my childhood in Florida or trips overseas to visit my grandparents in the Indian tropics.  

Time to reclaim my roots. 

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Simple Frosted Cocoa Brownies

Simple Frosted Cocoa Brownies | Kitchen in the Hills | These simple cocoa brownies are a snap to make! They come together in under an hour, with 10 ingredients you probably already have. They're fudgy with rich chocolate flavor. #kitcheninthehills #brownies

Simple Frosted Cocoa Brownies | Kitchen in the Hills | These simple cocoa brownies are a snap to make! They come together in under an hour, with 10 ingredients you probably already have. They're fudgy with rich chocolate flavor. #kitcheninthehills #brownies

The solstice and the 4th of July are the two big days that mark the beginning of summer.

Now we are in the thick of it. Expect barbecues, picnics, and day trips to the beach. Pool parties if you’re lucky. 

These brownies are easy to pull together and they’re great for events. Take them anywhere. They’re delicious. They’re chocolatey from the cocoa, but they are also light enough that they won’t overwhelm everything else on the table. The frosting is thick enough that it won’t melt in the heat. I never thought I’d say that I liked a cakey brownie, but these have a lighter texture and I love them– something about them reminds me of childhood.

So bake these, share them, take them with you. 

This is definitely going to one of my go-to recipes this summer. I’ve made it once, and I can tell already.

Simple Frosted Cocoa Brownies | Kitchen in the Hills | These simple cocoa brownies are a snap to make! They come together in under an hour, with 10 ingredients you probably already have. They're fudgy with rich chocolate flavor. #kitcheninthehills #brownies

Our key ingredients. Flour, sugar, cocoa.

Would you believe me if I told you this recipe only uses 10 ingredients? It’s true.

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Lemon Bars

 
lemon bars
It’s the tail end of winter and the lemons are everywhere. I live in an adorable neighborhood where people fill their yards with fruit trees, flowers, and crazy-looking succulents. One house a block and a half down from me has a lemon tree out front, brimming with fruit every year in late winter. Right now there are a hundred, maybe two hundred, fruits on their tree. Every time I walk by, I consider knocking on their door and asking if I can buy a bucketful. To turn into lemon bars, lemon tarts, lemon meringue pies, lemonades. 
 
I haven’t worked up that much neighborly courage yet. The lemons in today’s recipe aren’t from my neighbor’s tree, but even the ones from the market are amazing this time of year.
 
lemons
 
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Mini Blueberry Cream Scones

These mini blueberry cream scones are simple, easy, and an instant hit.

Hello August.

Hello birthday. Hello to the last lazy afternoons and plane rides. Hello golden afternoons and ever-so-slightly-earlier sunsets. 

To be perfectly honest, this new month snuck up on me. 

Here I was thinking that summer was just beginning– I had finally learned to take advantage of my weekends and enjoy the season. I learned that I could make it to the pool for an hour after work, or hike in the hills in the afternoon sun. Take a picnic to the local park and enjoy the sunshine and warmth. Have lunch on the lawn. Count on it being light outside until nearly 9 PM. Eat tomatoes and corn and berries for an afternoon snack, because all of the produce is perfectly ripe and sweet this time of year.

And suddenly, it’s August. Back-to-school season, and nearly Fall semester. 

I’m going spend another month or two pretending that summer will never end. 

One thing you should definitely do this month, before berry season is over?

Make these scones. Make these scones, a blackberry pie or two, strawberry shortcakes, and peach-berry-basil cobblers. But begin with these scones.

These mini blueberry cream scones will be an instant hit at brunch!

These tiny cream scones are incredibly easy to make. You just whisk together your dry ingredients, stir in your cream, and add the best blueberries you can find. There’s not much more to it.

And, especially for being one of the simplest things to come out of your oven, these little scones are delightful. Light, tender, just dense enough. Bite-sized. Bursting with berry flavor, the baked and concentrated juice sometimes running down the sides, sticky and sweet. Golden brown on top and just a little crisp around the edges.

Eat these straight out of the oven or on the same day as you bake them for the best texture. If you need to store these overnight, an airtight container at room temperature will do. But if you can? Always go for fresh scones. 

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Restaurant-Style Thin Crust Pizza

Thin Crust Pizza

Just about anyone will tell you that you can make perfectly good pizza at home. Go to the store, pick up some pizza dough, roll it out into a big circle, throw on some toppings. Then stick it in the oven for, Oh, I don’t know, 30-45 minutes at 375 degrees?

But those of us who really know pizza? Who love it? We know that just isn’t true. You might be able to make a pizza-like object by following those instructions. But real pizza, it is not. 

Thin Crust Margherita Pizza

Good pizza takes time, dedication, and a tremendous amount of skill. We’re talking New York- or Neapolitan-style pies with maybe little riffs to turn them into something special. Pies that never stray too far from tradition. And pies that most definitely, always have perfectly crisp, slightly blackened crusts. Topped, but not too heavily. Tomato sauce that is bright-tart but also smooth and rich. Melty cheese, slightly bubbly and browned in places. 

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Banana Chocolate Chip Crumb Cake

This recipe feels strange and out-of-place on my blog in the middle of summer. This recipe does not feel summery at all. It feels like something you bake up in October, when the air turns crisp. Or in December, for an office holiday party. Or maybe in late February, with the first snow melts.  

But there have been summer cold snaps in the East Bay, and I feel like they perfectly justify this banana chocolate crumb cake in the middle of July. The longest day of the year has come and gone, and I feel like this city still hasn’t made up its mind about the weather.

I spent the summer solstice wandering city sidewalks, blocks of shops and houses in full afternoon sun. It was Father’s Day, so I painted a mug at the ceramics studio for my dad. I ran a few errands. I went to the market for fresh produce. Filled my bag with corn, peppers, shallots, lemons, apricots, apples, mangoes, and plums. 

I had dinner at a West Berkeley comida under string lights and a crescent moon. 

It was so hot outside, and the warm weather continued for a week and a half.

Less than a week later, the weather turned cold and foggy. I found myself in the kitchen with a mug of hot chocolate and craving this banana chocolate crumb cake. Sweltering hot days turned into a streak of chilly nights. 

The weather is back to normal over here, blazing hot and constantly sunny… But I’m still eating slices of this cake out of the freezer. 

Here’s how we make it. 

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Challah

Challah | Kitchen in the Hills

Challah has long been one of my favorite breads. I first tried it after baking a loaf with a good friend several years ago. It was soft, springy, eggy, tender, and sweet. 

Challah | Kitchen in the Hills

This loaf is from Kamren Siddiqui’s Hand Made Baking. It’s a little less sweet, and a little more sturdy than your typical loaf of challah. It’s wonderful served plain with butter, but you can also toast it up and top it with an avocado or fried egg.

My current favorite topping is nutella. Can we talk about how freakin’ adorable these mini nutella cups are? 

Also, can we talk about how delightful Kamren’s writing is? I read his book cover-to-cover for the recipe descriptions and stories alone. Kamren effortlessly links food to memories, stories and emotions. You can read some of his writing on his blog, Sophisticated Gourmet. He’s a skilled baker, but he also has a knack for compelling storytelling. Go check it out.

On to the challah!

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Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies | Kitchen in the Hills

So. I promised you a blog post on Sunday, and here it is five days later. Not the greatest. I go through ups and downs with this blog, and while I love posting regularly, there are definitely more weeks than I like where it seems I’m just too busy or too stressed to make a post. This last week wasn’t bad, but I definitely didn’t put in the hours to make, photograph, write and edit a full recipe post.

This isn’t a full blog post, really. It’s more of an update, with recipe attached. A recipe that was too good not to share. I was reading smitten kitchen last week, and Deb mentioned a chocolate chip cookie that she made and liked. Specifically, this salted chocolate chunk cookie from Ashley Rodriguez’s Date Night In cookbook. 

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies | Kitchen in the Hills

The book, which features a bunch of simple, make-it-in-an-evening meals for two, had been on my cookbook wishlist for weeks. (You’ve got to check out Ashley’s website, Not Without Salt. Amazing.) I knew when I saw the cookie recipe that I had to make it. I made a batch for a dinner with friends. 

These cookies far exceeded my expectations. They were better than good. There are a lot of good cookie recipes out there, but this one made for big, crispy-edged, soft-centered packages of goodness. Not too sweet, but not too salty, either. These cookies were the first salted chocolate chip cookies that I actually liked— not bland, not too heavily salted, and definitely chocolate-forward. These are probably my second favorite chocolate chip cookies of all time, with ATK’s cookies taking first place. 

You should totally make these cookies this weekend. They are so good. 

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