Category Archives: Uncategorized

The End of Summer

Flashback to the last birthday of my twenties. This is why you purchase a lobster pot folks.

lobsters

Advertisements

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.

stars

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.

IMG_2884

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

Eggplant: I’m So Happy to Meat You

About three months ago, Dave and I decided we needed to eat more vegetables, and less meat. Easier said then done. Many of the chefs I admire make meat a prevalent (and central) part of their recipes. To really eat more vegetables, as said in theater-speak, vegetables must take on the starring role, and not that of a mere extra. This meant turning to vegetarian cookbooks for a change. When I read an article on London’s Ottolenghi, my interest was piqued by the unusual partnership of the chefs: Yotam Ottolenghi was born on the Jewish side of Jerusalem and Sami Tamimi, also from Jerusalem, is Palestinian. The photography of their cookbook, made up of Middle-Eastern influenced vegetarian cuisine, is lovely, and luckily for me, a mysterious happy elf Dave secretly ordered it up.

Eggplant is a very meaty vegetable, which makes it deeply satisfying dish if served with little else. I tried out this recipe from Plenty (as seen on the cover above), and served it with soup. Plenty has a whole section devoted to eggplant, for all the aubergine fans out there…

Slice, score, roast, at 400 for 45 minutes, cool, and then add the buttermilk-yogurt sauce (9 tbsp buttermilk, 1/2 cup greek yogurt, 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, 1 clove crushed garlic). Instead of pomegranate who can stand taking the time to pick all those damn seeds out, I topped the eggplant with diced flat-leaf parsley, and supplemented a tsp of za’tar with 1/2 tsp thyme and 1/2 tsp oregano.