Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Doggone Good: Homemade Dog Biscuits

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for dog biscuits for ages. I first made it a couple years ago with the kids at the Alexandria House After School program. Once a month we try out a new recipe, and this (along with salsa and fried rice) is still a favorite. I’m sure its popularity was boosted by the fact that after we made the biscuits, the kids packaged them in colorful boxes and gave them to a trainer who trains assistance dogs in a women’s prison, and she brought her German Shepherd for the kids to meet.

Because this recipe is so easy, it’s a great one for children. And as for all the dogs I’ve made these biscuits for, they love them. Birdie is particularly fond of a variation with grated carrots in it.

Dog Biscuits
from the Peninsula Humane Society in San Mateo


· ½ cup cornmeal
· 6 Tbsp olive oil
· 2 cups whole wheat flour
· 2/3 cup water or broth
· Cookie cutters


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Mix all ingredients together well.

3) Roll out to ½ inch thick.

4) Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutter.

5) Bake 25 minutes.

Note on cookie cutters:
The smaller the better for small dogs.

Note on ingredients:
Because Birdie loves carrots, I sometimes cook some up and mash them into the batter, or grate some raw and mix those in before cooking.
Birdie after too many biscuits!
Pictures of Birdie by Julie Fay. Check out more at Julie’s website.
Alexandria House is a true grass roots success story. I’m proud to have been involved for more than 5 years. If you live in L.A. and are interested in volunteering your time, please check it out.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Blue Cheese & Wild Mushroom Crackers

Although the holidays are well over, the gifts I received just keep on giving. My mom went crazy picking out kitchen goodies: a sharp and shiny mandoline, a crock pot (which I have already made pulled pork in), canning tools (more pear & jasmine tea jam + new varieties on the way), countless ceramic baking dishes and even a cheese making kit: about two years from now, I will post the results of my cheddar cheese making efforts. And with the little bit of Christmas moolah I got, I bought a beautiful, cobalt, 3-1/2 quart, Le Crueset wide French oven that I found at less than half price at Marshalls—it definitely goes down as the deal of 2006.

As well, many of the recipes I made for holiday parties have lingered on, sneaking into my pre-spring repertoire. I’m over the cookies for a while, but the crackers continue to be perfect for parties and gifts. The cracker recipe I like most came from Martha Stewart Living. I can't say that I'm a regular Martha reader. No matter how beautiful all of her projects are, they usually seem unrealistic to me: no one has that much time to stencil and make candles. But I have to give Martha credit. Every time I read a copy, I always find at least one great recipe that becomes a staple. Blue Cheese & Wild Mushroom Crackers are the latest.

Blue Cheese & Wild Mushroom Crackers
adapted from Martha Stewart Living, December 2006


- ¼ oz (about ½ cup) dried wild mushrooms, such as chanterelle or porcini
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 8 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 1-¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
- ¼ cup whole milk
- coarse salt


1) Preheat oven to 350.

2) Finely grind dried mushrooms in a spice grinder.

3) Toss butter and cheese into the food processor and mix until smooth.

4) Add flour, mushroom powder, and pepper, and mix until just combined.

5) Add milk, and mix just until mixture comes together. The dough will be stiff.

6) Divide dough into 3 discs. Make 3 rolls, 1 to 1-½ inches wide, wrap in parchment paper, and put in fridge for 1-2 hours.

7) Take from fridge. Cut thin, 1/16 inch crackers. Spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gently pierce with a fork 2 times. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

8) Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.

A note on dried mushrooms:
I picked up a nice, inexpensive blend from Cost Plus/World Market. Trader Joes is another good place to stock up on little packets of dried mushrooms.

A note on grinding mushrooms:
Speaking from experience: do not use your flour sifter. It worked (kinda) but it is now my mushroom sifter, not my flour sifter anymore.

A note on cutting the dough:
After taking the dough from the fridge, cut as soon as possible and cut as quickly as possible.

Check out my friend Ann Le’s fabulous new website: L.A. Lunchbox.

And don’t forget that it’s time to make your limoncello if you’re going to have it ready for summer sipping!