Cookies with Peanut Butter Kapow

From, “Perfect Cookies”

mixer

cookies

rack

peanut

Cookies with sharp dark chocolate taste, not excessively sweet.
Makes 48 cookies.

1/2 c vegetable shortening at room temperature
9 tbsp unsalted butter  at room temperature
1 c sugar plus extra
1 large egg
2 tbsp whole milk
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably dutch-process
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c creamy peanut butter (I used crunchy)
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 powdered sugar

Set oven at 350 degrees. Grease 2 cookie sheets. In a large bowl, combine shortening, 6 tbsp of butter, and sugar. Set mixer to high speed, beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and almond extract and beat for 2 more minutes.

Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl. Add this dry ingredient mixture to butter mixture and mix on low speed until blended.

In food processor, combine peanut butter, remaining 3 tbsp butter, and vanilla and process until smooth. Add powdered sugar and blend.

Roll dough into 1 inch ball. Then roll in regular sugar to coat. Continue to do this until you have 48 cookies. Place on cookie sheet, and use thumb to make large indentation in center of ball.

Bake until cookies are puffed and cracked, 12 minutes. Place on cookie sheets and put 1 tsp of filling into indentation (if you have a pastry piping tool, I would recommend using that for a cleaner look).

Let cookies cool completely. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

oscar

Unbelievably Good Norwegian Holiday Tart

The palate was overwhelmed by the incredible nut and spice mixture of this holiday tart! This recipe is a tad time consuming, because the dough has to be refrigerated for a few hours. The filling, ground almonds and spices, including that champion fighter of spice goodness, CARDAMOM, is moist and zingy.

dough

The dough simply is pressed into a fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.

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A separate section of dough is reserved for cookie cutter shapes.

spicefilling

Add the spice and almond filling to the dough.

perfect

Top with the cookie cut out dough. Amazing! Brush cookie cut outs with a light egg wash and we’re ready to go in the oven.

finished

Cook until filling is set and cut outs are golden brown.

husband

How quaint! Someone seems to have moved the tart next to our drafty window in hopes that it will cool faster who would possibly do such a thing! Sprinkle finished tart with powdered sugar. Eat a slice with cider or spicy tea (I recommend ginger).

From Bon Appetit:

Crust Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, preferably freshly ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons whole milk or heavy cream

Filling Ingredients:

  • Unsalted butter (for pan)
  • 2 cups slivered almonds
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoons ground cardamom, preferably freshly ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk

Crust Prep:

  • Whisk flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat 1/2 cup butter and sugar in a medium bowl until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg yolk and milk. With mixer running on low speed, gradually add dry ingredients and beat just until thoroughly combined.
  • Pat dough into a ball; break off one-quarter of dough. Form each piece into a ball. Flatten balls into disks. Cover separately and chill dough disks for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Filling and assembly:

  • Butter tart pan. Break larger dough disk into small pieces and scatter over bottom of tart pan. Using your fingertips, press dough onto bottom and up sides of pan. Use the flat bottom of a measuring cup to smooth the surface and trim the edges. Roll out smaller dough disk to about 1/8 inches thick. Using decorative cookie cutters, cut out shapes and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Cover and chill crust and cutouts for 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350°. Pulse almonds, powdered sugar, cardamom, and nutmeg in a food processor until nuts are finely ground. Transfer dry ingredients to a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and vanilla in a medium bowl until medium peaks form. Gently fold egg whites into dry ingredients.
  • Whisk egg yolk and 2 teaspoons water in a small bowl to blend. Fill chilled crust with almond mixture; smooth top. Arrange cutouts on top and brush cutouts with egg wash.
  • Bake tart until crust and cutouts are golden brown and filling is set, 30-35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool.

Continental Coffee Connection

I discovered these photos today in the old archives. In these December doldrums, they made me long for warm weather. They were taken on a car trip two summer ago, on a route to North Carolina, and to the Outer Banks, then to Kentucky and onto Missouri. Magically that summer, our air conditioning vanished, and we traveled across the burning summer south in a mystical silver sauna. But we had a goal. Coffee. And stop at every much written about coffee den we did.

coffee

Coffee Labs–Tarrytown, New York

hobbs

Hobbs–Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

muddy

moremuddy

Muddy Waters Coffeehouse–Elizabeth City, North Carolina

nags

Glorious Beach Break–Nags Head, North Carolina

common

Common Grounds–Lexington, Kentucky

sunergos

Sunergos–Louisville, Kentucky

Home Cooked Tortillas: Equals Amazing Fajitas

Let me dispel a foolish notion. You do not need a tortilla press to make good tortillas. You need butter, water, flour, and a frying pan. Not only are tortillas simple to make, they will elevate your burrito/taco/fajitas to a new realm of tastiness.

rollingpin

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 c. unsalted butter

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together. Cut little pieces of the butter into the flour. Mix in a blender until resembles cornmeal.

Mix in 2/3 c. warm water with a fork until a workable dough forms.

Turn out onto floured surface and knead 3-4 minutes.

Cut dough into 8 pieces for tacos or 4 pieces for burritos. Roll into a ball. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest 30 minutes.

Roll out each ball to 9 inches (taco) or 11 inches (burrito).

Heat a large cast-iron pan on medium-high. Place tortilla in pan and cook for 20-30 seconds until puffs and brown spots appear on underside.

tortilla

Turn with tongs and cook an additional 20-30 seconds.

puffer
Use the tongs to remove the tortilla from pan, and load the tortilla up! It is best to eat the tortillas right away. The warm tortilla makes the fajita or whatever you make infinitely better.

fajitassss

All You Need is Ramen!

If there is one glorious thing I’ve learned about cooking, it’s that you don’t need to go to a restaurant to eat a dish you crave. No, no. In a world where there are more cookbooks in bookstores than stars in the sky, a reliable purchase will lead the way to complicated cuisine like a trusty atlas. Lucky for me, my husband loves books. This beauty arrived at our doorstep a few weeks ago.

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This cookbook is written by an expatriate married to a Japanese farmer. I tried out the Ramen Noodle Soup recipe.

bowls

Ramen Noodle Soup has all the heartiness of a wintery Chicken Noodle Soup. In a cast iron pan, roast 4 chicken thighs with carrots and 2 tbsp of sesame oil in a 450 degree oven for 45 minutes.

chicken

Remove two chicken thighs, place in a big pot with a large amount of water, chopped onion, the roasted carrots, and bring to a boil. Boil on a low simmer for 2 1/2 hours. Strain, and save the liquid. I wanted to use all the chicken on hand so I used my own previously made turkey stock (which I lacerated my thumb hurt my finger on a turkey skeleton turkey bone making).

Nori, or edible seaweed available in dried sheets, should be cut into thin strips to be tossed into the soup at the final moment.

noriBlanched greens go into the soup at the end as well. I recommend bok choy since mustard greens are horrid. Hold the the greens by the tops and stand in boiling water for 20 seconds so the stems soften.

blanchedDrop greens into boiling water for 1-3 minutes.

blanchedpotSqueeze greens out, chop into smaller pieces, and dress with a tbsp of soy sauce.

dashiDrop some of the remaining carrots into the broth (or chop additional carrots and cook for 10 minutes). Shred the remaining chicken and add to the broth. Heat through.

Noodles: Ramen noodles are delicate, curly noodles that can be prepared from scratch, like any fresh pasta. If you would rather conserve your energy, I pick up fresh Ramen at a Japanese grocery store. I bought fresh Ramen the first time I tried out this recipe and it was delicious. For the second try, I cheated and  bought Korean noodles, equally good, but more akin to Udon noodles than to Ramen. I prepared the noodles separately from the broth.

Add a tbsp of miso to each soup bowl (or 1 tsp of soy sauce).

miso

Add some broth, and muddle the miso. Add more broth with the chicken and carrots. Add the cooked noodles. Top with the blanched greens and nori…

soupiiand for the truly adventurous…

egg

Nutmeg + Black Pepper Popovers

When I was growing up, dinners at my grandparents’ club always started with popovers. Like clockwork, a white-coat waiter would materialize at the table elegantly carrying a basket on his arm. As if pulling a rabbit from a big hat, a golden popover would emerge from the basket. The waiter would plunk the morsel down on the bread plate, and we would tear the pillowy crust open to find air within.

spice

hands

oven

I am convinced there is no way to mess-up a popover. With a little butter, it is an airy, delicate and delicious start to the day. I tried out more of a holiday recipe from Bon Appetit and served it with tea this morning. With its fair share of nutmeg, black pepper, and chopped parsley, it was a nice way to ring in December.

popoers

dave

My warning would be to watch the popovers closely, as they seemed to finish minutes before the suggested time (I cooked them for 24 minutes). I also believe the shape would be more refined with a legitimate popover pan as opposed to a muffin tin.

  • Whisk 2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, 1 tablespoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg in a medium bowl. Whisk 3 large eggs and 2 1/2 cups whole milk in a large bowl until well blended. Gently whisk in flour mixture, followed by 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter (do not overmix). DO AHEAD: Batter can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
  • Preheat oven to 425°. Melt 2 tablespoons unsalted butter; grease 12 standard muffin cups with 1/2 teaspoons melted butter each. Pour batter into prepared muffin tins, filling cups three-quarters full and dividing equally. Bake popovers until puffed, golden brown, and crispy around edges, 30-35 minutes. Using a thin knife or an offset spatula, remove popovers from pan. Serve immediately.