With the food holidays upon us, the memories of home and homecomings always include arriving to the smells of something delicious coming from the oven. I was particularly blessed because my mother made a career out of food.
A waitress from the age of 14, Mom made it her life’s work to feed people. I think I can safely say she worked at every diner and eatery in Pasadena, from the lunch counter at Woolworth’s in the early 70’s to owning the Putter Inn at the Altadena Golf Course in the early 80’s.
What I’m saying is Mom knows food. Some local residents who frequented the Putter Inn back in the day might remember her five-way chili, her incredible potato salad, or her delicious salsa. Mom has since retired, but her recipes are still around, still delighting her children, grandchildren, and now, great-grandchildren.
As we prepare for the holidays, it is these and other memories that bring me back to the smells of home and homecomings. My editor has been kind enough to give space here for two of my favorite Pillsbury holiday recipes. If your cooking talents and time constraints have you running to the freezer or the drive through more often than not, not to worry. I have sampled the bakeries of the Pasadena area to help bring the yummy deliciousness of ‘home’ baked goodness to your holiday table.
The first in my list of Pasadena bakeries worth a visit during the holidays or any day, for that matter, is FrenchiFornia (247 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 319-3031, firstname.lastname@example.org). As the name suggests, it is a California bakery with a penchant for French pastries and delectables. Their Napoléon cakes are a custard crème delight. the galette des roiss, a French “pancake” traditionally served on Epiphany Eve, or the Twelfth Day of Christmas (Jan. 5) features an almond flour and butter interior worth every calorie. Finally, between Thanksgiving and the New Year they will feature a bûche de Noël, or Christmas cake.
Next up is Euro Pane Bakery (950 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 577-1828), a favorite stop for fresh breads, dinner rolls and pies for the holidays. They will be open from 7a.m. to noon on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. They are featuring a pumpkin cheesecake for the holidays and a wide variety of holiday baked goods.
Oh My Pan Bakery & Tea (238 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena; (626) 683-1228) will be open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. They will be open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on New Year’s Day. Their caramel apple mini tart with a crème brûlée top is heaven with a cup of espresso.
The bakers at gluten-free Katie’s Bakery (11 W. Dayton St., Pasadena; (626) 714-7400) have pioneered gluten free, dairy free, vegan products and baked goods for the holiday season. Among their low sugar, allergen friendly, animal loving products are a variety of pre-made frozen items, as well as take and bake mixes that allow conscious eaters to share treats with the whole family. Katie’s Bakery is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. They will be closed on Thanksgiving.
The Old Sasoon Bakery (1132 N. Allen Ave., Pasadena; (626) 791-3280) features traditional Armenian breads and baked goods, including baklava. They will be closed on Thanksgiving, but are generally open from 7a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
The baker at Seed Bakery (942 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 486-2115) reminded me of Mom when she proudly declared that their pies and breads are the best because they use only good quality butter and cage-free organic eggs. If you’re interested in checking out their holiday offerings search “seed bakery Pasadena” on Facebook.
85°C Bakery Café (61 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena; (626) 792-8585, 85cbakerycafe.com) will be open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. They have holiday specials on a variety of individual serving tarts (buy 3 get one free, or buy 9 get 3 free). At $1.85 each, that is a very good way to impress the in-laws. Their cakes, brioches, and marbled taro are local favorites. I can almost taste the mango crème brulee.
Federico’s Italian Bakery (1810 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 795-4484) has been a favorite of mine for years. They will be open from 7 a.m. To 10:30 a.m. Thanksgiving to fill holiday orders and accommodate walk-in customers. They will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday. In addition to their specialty pumpkin sheet cake for the holidays, they have a couple of discount price deals on their Deluxe Italian Assortment and Fancy Butter Cookies. It’s worth a look.
PUMPKIN PIE BARS
1 can Pillsbury™ refrigerated crescent dough sheet
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix) or homemade pumpkin puree
1 cup whipping cream
½ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup corn syrup
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon salt
Sweetened whipped cream or additional pumpkin pie spice for garnish
Heat oven to 350°F. Line 11×7-inch pan with cooking parchment paper, leaving about 1 to 2 inches paper hanging over sides of pan.
Unroll 1 can Pillsbury™ refrigerated crescent dough sheet in bottom of pan; press with fingers in bottom and up sides. Set aside.
In large bowl, beat 2 eggs, 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix), 1 cup whipping cream, 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup corn syrup, 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice and 1/2 teaspoon salt with whisk until smooth and well blended. Pour mixture into pan over dough.
Bake on middle oven rack 45 to 50 minutes or until center is set. Remove from oven to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
Using hanging paper, lift from pan. Cut into 4 rows by 3 rows to make 12 bars or 4 rows by 4 rows to make 16 bars. Garnish each bar with whipped cream or a dusting of pumpkin pie spice. Store in refrigerator.
Recipe from: pillsbury.com/holidays-celebrations/thanksgiving#
MINI PECAN PIES
1 box Pillsbury™ refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box
1 cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
1 ¼ cups water
1 tablespoon salted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups pecan halves, chopped
16 pecan halves
Heat oven to 425°F. From 1 box Pillsbury™ refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box, unroll 1 crust on work surface. Use 3-inch round cutter to cut 8 rounds, and place on outsides of cups of upside-down nonstick mini muffin pan, skipping every other one. Repeat with second crust.
Bake about 8 minutes or until golden. Cool 5 minutes; remove shells from pan to cooling rack to cool completely.
In 2-quart saucepan, mix 1 cup packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup cornstarch and 1 1/4 cups water. Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute; remove from heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon salted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 1/2 cups pecan halves, chopped. Cool 10 minutes.
Fill each shell with cooled pecan mixture; top each with pecan half. Serve immediately, or refrigerate and serve within 3 days.
Recipe from: pillsbury.com/holidays-celebrations/thanksgiving#