I have been on a mission to come up with the perfect combination of crunchy edges and chewy centers. Finally, SUCCESS! If you want more crunch, use the flat bottom of a cup and gently press down before baking. If you want more chew, don’t flatten before putting in the oven. Both versions are a home-run and I think it’s safe to say my search for the perfect oatmeal chocolate chip cookie is over.
1 ¼ c. all-purpose flour 3 cups rolled oats 1 t. kosher salt 1 t. baking soda 1 t. ground cinnamon 1 c. butter, softened ¾ c. packed brown sugar ½ c. granulated sugar ¼ c. maple syrup 1 large egg 1 t. vanilla extract or paste 1 c. semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
Preheat oven to 375 f.
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, oats, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. (If you are using unsalted butter, add a generous pinch of kosher salt to the bowl.)
In a large bowl cream together butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, maple syrup, egg and vanilla until thoroughly combined and smooth.
Fold in the dry ingredients until combined well.
Fold in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
Scoop cookie dough onto parchment paper or silpat lined cookie sheet and flatten gently with the back of a spoon or flat bottomed cup. leave about 2” between each cookie. (you can make these whatever size you like)
Bake on a parchment paper or silpat lined cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes or until the edges start to look golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let cool for a couple minutes, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to complete cooling. Enjoy warm or let cool completely before transferring to an airtight container.
Component in Action
-make ice cream sandwiches!
-add 1 cup of your favorite nuts (chopped)
I remember it like it was yesterday. I had been on hold for almost twenty minutes with a certain shipping company who will remain nameless. At the exact moment the agent came on the line, my two year old stood up and started the show that only occurs when I talk on the phone. He started shaking the maraca, jumping up and down singing Jingle Bells at the top of his lungs. I didn’t even know he had heard the song, let alone memorized it.
A couple days later, he informed me it was Christmas day. It was still November, and it occurred to me that if he was already anticipating the holidays at two years old, then he was certainly old enough to get in on a bit of holiday cooking action. So in the hustle and bustle, pull the kids into the kitchen. Give them an apron, a hand wash, and one more reason to love the holidays. Depending on the age of the kids in your life, some might need more help than others, so I’ll leave that up to you.
It’s the time of the year to pull out all the stops when it comes to finding ways to boost our immunity. I just recently learned the hard way about the joys, oh wait I mean germs that come along with the 12 little preschoolers my son is hanging out with in the mornings. Little. Germ. Spitting. Sponges. Good thing they’re so dang cute.
Then thankfully my friend Lisa Jane introduced me to a recipe for Elderberry Syrup. Elderberries are known for their immune boosting properties. The syrup can be slurped from a spoon, drizzled on yogurt, pancakes, waffles, ice cream, made into gummy bears (still on my to-do list), or added to popsicles or smoothies.
There has been lots of studies on the health benefits of elderberries. Aside from being full of minerals, vitamin C and antioxidants, it has also been found to inhibit certain strains of influenza. I have heard 1-2 teaspoons a day is a good amount for prevention. The general consensus is to 3 teaspoons, 4x a day is a good amount if you are sick.
The syrup will stay good for months in the fridge. May you and yours enjoy this in good health.
3 c. filtered water
1 c. dried elderberries
1-2 inch piece of ginger, chopped
3/4 c. raw honey (local if possible)
1.) In a small saucepan bring water, elderberries and ginger to a boil.
2.) Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by about half.
3.) Strain elderberry mixture through a fine mesh strainer or through a strainer lined with cheesecloth.
4.) Let cool to room temperature.
5.) Stir in raw honey.
6.) Store in the refrigerator.
Conponent in action
-spoon over yogurt or ice cream
-drizzle over waffles and pancakes
-add to smoothies and homemade popsicles
It is so hard to choose what to publish during summer. There is so much to cook and so little time before the tomatoes, berries, eggplant, sweet corn, peaches and cherries fade into a luscious memory until next year. Can you tell I’m a bit hungry as I write this?! This week an unexpected surprise, our peach tree with little green peaches that I thought might be little and green forever, has sprung to life growing big peachy peaches in our little wild yard. I say wild because before we moved to Santa Fe…i think it’s safe to say I would describe us as city folk with a dream.
And now this dream is real life and in our yard lives a array of plant and animal characters that are keeping us in a steady state of wonder and curiosity along with a generous pinch of bewilderment. We have met many a lizard, a few black widow spiders, prairie dogs, gophers, hummingbirds, snails that suddenly appear on the stone patio in the back any time it rains, frogs, a snake who lives right outside our side door and sleeps in a little hole in the side of the house (deep breaths, deep breaths, oohhhmmmmmm) and certainly not least is the little skunk who visits our yard after dark and occasionally brushes its straggly white tail across the outside living room window, usually while we’re watching a movie so then we jump with the heebie-jeebies and then scramble to the window to get a closer look before it disappears under the fence.
We have a peach tree, two big lavender bushes, honeysuckle, mint and blackberries all which we discovered after moving here. Each new discovery felt like finding buried treasure. Then we built a raised bed and have been trying (trying is seriously the operative word here) to grow herbs, onions, eggplant, beets, tomatoes, peppers, kale and corn. The kale and onions are showing the most only promise, especially with all the rain we’ve been getting the past few weeks, but the rest, well, let’s just say there’s always next year.
So now that there are a lot of peaches in my future, I have pie on my mind. And not just any old pie, but the best pie I can possibly make. So for that, I’m going straight to the source of where I first experienced the best pie I had ever had and that was from Hoosier Mama Pie Shop in Chicago, IL.
This is closely adapted recipe from The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie. I feel like I should probably be punished and sent to the corner by a bunch of pastry chefs, but I always use salted butter when making this pie dough and I have never once felt sad about it. I also increase the sugar from 1/2 T. to 1 T. because for some reason on the day that I made the blueberry tart pictured above, it just seemed like the right thing to do. So cheers! I am fairly confident this is the best all butter pie dough you will ever stumble across. Haha. I have been trying to stay disciplined and write shorter blog posts getting to the recipe faster. I guess just like my little grumpy garden, there’s always next time <3.
And if you’d like to watch the master, Hoosier Mama’s own Paula Haney walk you through a step by step pie dough session, you can find that here.
1 3/4 (196 grams) sticks unsalted butter, divided 1 T. (12 grams) sherry, apple cider, white wine or red wine vinegar 1/2 cup (118 grams) cold water 2 1/4 cups (333 grams) all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons (12 grams) kosher salt 1 Tablespoon (12 grams) granulated sugar
Cut butter into small cubes and put in freezer.
In a cup mix the cold water and vinegar and set aside.(to keep the water cold sometimes I throw in an ice cube if my kitchen is hot)
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt and sugar.
At this point the butter should be super cold but not frozen. Remove butter from the freezer and add to your flour mixture.
Using your fingers (or a food processor if you have one as this produces the best pea size butter pieces) squeeze the butter pieces into the flour until the butter is blended into the flour and resembles small peas.*
Add 6 T. of the vinegar and water mixture. Stir with your hands or a wooden spoon. At this point the dough will probably be crumbly. Continue adding and stirring in 1 T. of vinegar-water at a time until dough comes together into a ball.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and cut in two pieces if you’re making a pie or just leave whole if you’re making a big rustic tart.
Wrap in plastic wrap or parchment paper and cool in the fridge for at least 1 hour or up to 3 days. If you want to keep longer, freeze and thaw the day before you want to use it.
Component in Action
-make big rustic tart with your favorite fruit filling
-make a two crust pie
-bake little tart shells and fill with whipped cream and fresh fruit
-make little pie pockets with circles of dough that you fill, fold over and then crimp with a fork before baking.
There is no question, rhubarb is my favorite fruit of early summer. It begins raw and inedible, streaky red and green stalks that are usually in need of a good scrub when I lug them home, sticking this way and that out of the bag, already tart and sassy before I even get them home. All that’s needed is care and a bit of time, to coax out their bright flavor and luscious texture. With a bit of sugar to balance out their natural acidity, this humble fruit transcends to its full potential and is always the highlight of the season.
A few weeks ago my husband was making his famous Swedish pancakes for brunch. At the store I was looking for a jar of lingonberry jam (if only we lived near Ikea!) and couldn’t find any, so instead I picked up a few stalks of rhubarb. I ended up making this coulis and to everyone’s surprise, even the Swede in the group, it was a perfect match for the light and airy pancakes. The next day I served the left over coulis with some soft cheese and that awesome. The next morning, we drizzled it on plain greek yogurt for a delightful breakfast treat. I’m only sad we used it all up before I could spoon it on ice cream, but hey, I still have a little time before the rhubarb harvest is over.
A coulis is a French sauce, thick and velvety smooth, made with vegetables or fruit. I could have just cooked the rhubarb and not blended the mixture. This would have been called a compote. Enough cooking vocab, let’s get to the sauce of the season<3.
1.5# rhubarb (washed, trimmed and sliced)
1 c. sugar (granulated or raw)
2-4″ strip of orange peel (or lemon..or both<3)
1 c. water
1.) Bring everything to a boil.
2.) Simmer for 20 minutes.
3.) Turn off the heat and let the fruit steep (just sit around like you’re making a cup of tea) for 30 minutes.
4.) Blend until smooth.
5.) Taste. If is tastes too sweet, add some fresh squeezed lemon juice.
Component in Action
-drizzle over pancakes, french toast, crepes
-spoon over ice cream
-serve with goat and soft cheeses
-use to flavor your own yogurt
-use as a jam substitute (think toast & biscuits)
-make with other fruits too! blueberries, strawberries, cherries, plums, peaches…
I first made a version of this for a dinner I catered for good friends who were celebrating their health and wellness coaching company. At first when tasked with coming up with five dairy and gluten free courses I was just the tiniest bit apprehensive. Of course I could do it, but would it be less fun of a meal? Would I be able to pull off a menu that stayed within the no dairy/no gluten perimeters, but didn’t taste like sawdust? I wanted all forty guests to feel as though the entire evening was a treat. As I thought about all these things, the more it started to feel like a big, beautiful challenge.
A trip to meet the farm we partnered with added another layer of limitations, because I wanted to create the menu based on what they were harvesting that last week of July. And that’s kind of where the magic happened. The “dragon’s tongue” flat beans were gorgeous cream beans with bright purple stripes. Every time I see this bean, I think of Jack and the beanstalk and hope Jack’s beans were as stunning as these. They had just picked dark green bunches of kale, pink, purple and white Easter egg radishes, amaranth greens and mint. There were ripe heirloom tomatoes, bursting with a delicate juice just begging to be made into a basil infused consomme. I quickly scribbled on a piece of paper the vegetables, herbs and legumes I would have to work with, and as the wheels started turning, the pieces started to come together:
main braised hawks hill elk, quinoa, coconut milk curry, fat blossom farm vegetables
Savory always comes to me first when planning a menu, and I end up wrangling together a dessert, sticking close to the fruits of the season or a sure winner like the decadent flourless chocolate torte. So here I was, boxed into a corner with nowhere to look but up and outside my habitual go-to’s. It really is a gift of circumstance, to be forced to get creative, especially with food. It might not feel great at the start, but rarely disappoints in the end. Time and time again that’s how some of my most creative moments have come about in the kitchen. With odds and ends from the pantry and fridge, and a half hour to make dinner. Or in this case, a dessert with dietary restrictions and a creamy little vegan delight I had heard of called Cashew Cream.
I got to experimenting and soaking, adding vanilla bean and maple syrup, and before long had put together a dessert so simple I almost felt guilty, but it was a home run at the dinner so any guilty feelings dissipated pretty quickly once I saw a room of delighted faces:
dessert stewed cherries, cashew cream, toasted coconut, dark chocolate
I filled a cocktail glass with cashew cream, added a spoon of stewed Michigan cherries that had been steeped with black peppercorn and rose petals, and sprinkled each glass with toasted coconut and dark chocolate shavings. I opted for a texture right in the middle, with the mouthfeel (almost) of whipped cream. You could also add more liquid to end up with a saucy texture like creme anglaise, or add less for a custard feel. If you are feeling feisty you can freeze it which results in a rich cheesecake-esque, ice-creamy goodness which I also highly recommend with some blueberries swirled in.
2 c. raw cashews
1 c. coconut milk (or water)
4 T. real maple syrup
1 vanilla bean (scraped) or 1 t. vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1.) Soak raw cashews in cold water overnight in the fridge or in hot water for 1 hour.
2.) Strain and discard water.
3.) Add soaked cashews, 1 c. water, maple syrup, vanilla and salt to a blender. Blend until smooth.
4.) Refrigerate until ready to use.
Component in Action
-Freeze for an ice cream treat
-Add more liquid to use as sauce
-Add less liquid to enjoy as a “custard”
-spoon cashew cream between layers of berries and dark chocolate
-a thicker version on pancakes or toast
-drizzle a thin version on spiced baked apples
for the dough
1 c. water
1 stick of unsalted butter (4 oz)
pinch of salt
1 T. sugar
1 c. bread flour (AP flour works also)
for the chocolate glaze
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1 stick of unsalted butter (4 oz. at room temp.)
for the whipped cream
1 c. heavy cream (cold)
2 T. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Make the glaze: melt chocolate and butter in the microwave or over a double boiler to melt. Let cool at room temperature until you are ready to glaze.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium saucepan bring water, butter, and salt to a boil over medium heat.
Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon until dough comes away from the sides of the pan, about 30 seconds.
Take the pan off of heat and add eggs one at a time, stirring until each egg is completely incorporated into the dough before adding the next one. This is when you will notice the dough will appear to “break”. Just keep stirring and before you know it, all will be well again and you will be ready to add the next egg.
Use a spatula to transfer the dough to a piping bag and let rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
Once the dough is rested, snip off the tip of your pastry bag (You are looking for about a ½” tip or opening).
Ok, let’s have a quick pep talk: Next is piping the dough onto the parchment parchment paper (or silpat) lined baking sheet. It’s just one of those things that you have to believe you can do (with gusto!) before you do it for the first time (kind of like much of life, huh?). It’s actually very straightforward (wow, no pun intended I swear!). Sure, the finished product looks like you’ve just been to a Parisian pastry shop, but there is no doubt in my mind that with a small amount of practice, these will soon be a snap for you to make.
For Eclairs, you are looking to pipe a straight line of dough (about 5″x 1″). Take a minute to visualize how many rows you want to make. A typical baking sheet will usually be big enough to make 3 rows of 4 (12). Take a few deep breaths and rest the tip of your piping bag on the sheet tray where you want to start. Piping from the back of the bag and your palm, squeeze the dough out relatively slowly and as you see a 1″ thickness form, keep piping and pull your hand back until you’ve reached around 5″ long. The key is to not be afraid of the moving dough and piping bag. You are in control of the dough, the speed and the movement!
For profiteroles, you are looking to pipe tablespoon size rounds (think 1”x 1”) onto the sheet tray about 2 inches apart. Check out the photo’s in the gourgeres post to get an idea for size.
For both the eclairs and profiteroles, there comes a time when you want to end the piping and move on to the next one. There is a little bit of technique to do it and I have a few tips for this:
keep your pastry bag still when piping out the dough and keep the tip almost touching the sheet tray for each one.
to make a clean break between the pastry bag and your piped eclair or profiterole, instead of pulling up, make a quick and confident swipe to the side. This will leave a little mountain looking peak.
After you’ve piped the entire tray, dip your finger in a little water and gently pat down the peak of each one.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until they are a deep golden brown and nicely puffed up. Remove from the oven, and make a tiny slit in the side with the tip of a sharp knife to allow the steam to escape. This is how they will stay crispy. Let cool completely.
Make the whipped cream and use a spatula to transfer to a piping bag.
Wait to fill the eclairs until you are ready to serve them. The last thing you want is a soggy eclair. The same is true for cannolis (I wish I could scream that from a mountain top but that’s for a different time). Oh, it should also be said that classically eclairs are filled with pastry cream, I just love the light texture of fresh whipped cream with the pastry and glaze. Snip the tip (1/4″) and fill the pastry in the side where you slit the side for the steam to escape.
Once the eclairs are filled, dip the top half into the glaze which by now should be nice and cool. Place chocolate side up on a baking sheet and you are ready to serve.
**If you want to really dig into the depths of eclair making, I would highly recommend checking out Ironwhisks’ tutorial on the subject. Talk about a labor of eclair love!
Component in Action
fill with pastry cream, whipped cream or combinations of both.
incorporate various flavors/fruits into the filling (raspberries, strawberries, chocolate, spices)
play around with the glaze incorporating liquor or spices like cinnamon.
you could get wild and top the glaze with something crunch like candied nuts.