recipes and talk about:
natural foods
whole grains
local foods
the heirloom garden

December 23, 2009 in cookies, vegetarian3 comments

chewy oatmeal cutouts

chewy oatmeal cutout cookies, dusted with cinnamon sugar

Time now to quit with the endless family stories and begin slamming out these cookie recipes. Today I made progress on this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge. It’s a secret, to be revealed on the 27th. Which is a shame, because it’s sort of festive. :p

cutting out some chewy oatmeal cutout cookies!

Also began filling the chocolate mint cookie sandwiches. Damn, those little chocolate disks taste just like Oreos. And I learned why Grandma made them so honkin’ big (I made them about 1-1/2 inches round instead) — the recipe made approximately 270 cookie halves. Yes, that’s 135 sandwiches. I’ll post a final total when I finish and get the recipe up. Of course, it will be a tad off due to shrinkage. Shrinkage in this case being little (and big) hands snatching them up and popping them into mouths during the filling process.

bake, gingerbread man, bake

ohnoes, the gingerbread man in searing 350 degree heat!

And tomorrow evening I’ll be decorating these chewy oatmeal cutouts with Justin and Maggie. What a pleasant surprise these were. Thumbs up from kids and adults alike, and that was just the ones I tossed cinnamon sugar onto. Crispy on the edges, chewy in the middle, easy to roll and a good deal of whole grains inside. Read more on chewy oatmeal cutouts…

January 5, 2011 in cookies5 comments

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies: Not Just for Christmas Anymore

Choco yum yum

I think I just ate the last of these. And boy, do I miss them already.

Some cookies are destined to the holiday ghetto: unique and lovely, yet irretrivably intertwined with Christmas. Cookies like Mexican wedding cakes, or rum balls, or nut cups only make an appearance in December.

These chocolate sandwich cookies with peppermint filling are different. Grandma D. made them every year for Christmas, but their warm chocolate and fresh mint flavors work anytime. They’re made from an easy-to-work-with rich chocolate dough, rolled out and cut out and baked, and then paired to sandwich a peppermint-flavored buttercream frosting filling. Read more on Chocolate Sandwich Cookies: Not Just for Christmas Anymore…

daring bakers: halloween boo-burgers

halloween boo-burgers! that doesn't sound too much like boogers, does it?

okay, fine, “macarons”

Well, en français they’re called macarons. Silly Frenchies. Macarons were October’s Daring Bakers Challenge. I filled them with lime-colored peppermint buttercream, and decided they looked like little hamburgers, and since it’s that time of the year, they’re now officially Halloween Boo-Burgers. Yay!

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

I must be a real hick, because I’ve participated in Daring Bakers challenges two months now, and I’d never heard of either month’s baked good. Vols-au-vent? Macarons? Double-you-tee-eff, mate?

Turns out macarons aren’t those coconut cookie things. They’re simple-looking cookies made of almond flour and powdered sugar folded into egg whites that have been beaten into a meringue and slightly sweetened with granulated sugar. As a result, they’re kind of nutty and kind of sweet, but not overly so. A perfect macaron will have a thin crunchy outside, chewy inside, and crunchy “feet” at the base.

so close...must eat...

It’s quite easy to become obsessed with achieving the perfect feet.

macarons, first try

Word among the Daring Bakers was that this particular macaron recipe was a bit finicky. My first attempt, plain macarons, came out pretty well…. Read more on daring bakers: halloween boo-burgers…

gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

Ignore the “gluten-free” in the title. These are not some saintly cardboardy cookie things.

And I’m really not trying to be All About Baking here. Honestly.

And I’m not trying to be all health nut vegetarian gluten-free, either. FSM knows I’m a crappy vegetarian and an even more piss-poor health nut.

But you know what? These cookies are really good. I don’t even care that as far as cookies go, they are on the saintly side. They’re vegan. They’re whole grain. They even have ground flax seed.

These cookies have no right to be as yummy as they are. They should taste like nice healthy cardboard, but instead they have some kind of awesome nutty oaty crunchy thing going on.

I ran across them a while back when I didn’t have eggs, and I didn’t have the time or the patience to wait for butter to soften, but wanted chocolate chip cookies. You know when that is. At night, in winter, when some horrid wind is howling outside and PMS is prodding you to find something sweet and chocolate now or it’s going to get really cranky and take you along with it.

my little helper and some cookie dough

Oh, look. I had a helper. This is why these cookies happened today. Little voices.

“AUNT AMY, CAN WE MAKE COOKIES? I WANT TO MAKE COOKIES. LET’S MAKE COOKIES. I WANT TO HELP. I CAN HELP. LET ME POUR THAT IN. I DIDN’T SPILL IT ON PURPOSE. I DON’T KNOW HOW THE DOUGH GOT ON THE FLOOR. THIS LOOKS FUNNY. HOW CAN YOU MAKE COOKIES WITHOUT BUTTER?”

Let’s see. These chocolate chip cookies bake pretty flat. They aren’t fluffsters. They are also better crunchy; when you bake them til they are medium brown. They’re good with nuts but I also think they’re good without nuts, which is rare — I tend to prefer nuts in my chocolate chip cookies. The recipe only makes about 18 cookies, so double it up if you want lots.

To be sure about the gluten-free-ness, make sure to use gluten-free vanilla, and check your canola oil and oats. Oats are naturally gluten-free but apparently some cross-contamination can occur or something in processing bla bla. Read more on gluten-free chocolate chip cookies…

mini palmiers: what to do with leftover puff pastry

mini palmiers

Here’s one amazing thing to do with leftover scraps of puff pastry: make mini palmiers. A good idea for snacks for a crowd. They’ll go fast, though!

Warning: drunken post ahead

My cousin Tone is in town, and he brought a big ass RV and several other modes of transportation with him. I countted five: the RV, the pickup, motorcycle, 4-wheeler and…kayak.

He’s set up house across the driveway. Yay.

He’s from Texas, like his mom —my aunt — who paradoxically was originally from right here. Like, right in this house. The oldest of my paternal triumvirant, Geriann, is his mom, and okay, this is getting both involved and a bit pedantic.

obliterating my ass at 500 rummy

He came over tonight and we played 500 rummy. Four times. He completely, totally obliterated my ass the first two times. He played it a bit gin rummy style, holding things back to kick my ass, playing mind games, and so forth.

I fixed that right quick

no, mini palmiers are not eyeglasses

Here, have some Wal-Mart wine, Tone.

Did you know that Wal-Mart, like Trader Joe’s, has a house brand of wine that will blow you away? In fact, I think the Wal-Mart brand is even better. It must be, because I’m having to spell-check this very carefully, and I don’t get this buzzed unless the alcohol is very good.

Wal-Mart markets two (at least) wonderful varieties under the Oak Leaf label: cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc. Since I’m partial to reds, I buy the cabernet quite often. It used to be $2.97, and therefore comparable to two-buck chuck. I think it’s better. They just raised it — today— to $3.49, but I still think it’s a steal.

And I’m not some rube. I’ve had some very good wines in my day. This compares.

The first two games of rummy he smoked my ass. However, he was drinking this lovely cabernet the whole time, and by the third game I was able to smoke him, 605 to 390. Yay! I have to say he was a good foil; I’d never played 500 rummy with someone who played so strategically.

And man that was hard to spell.

Ultimately, we went through 2 and a half bottles of Wal-Mart cabernet. He is going to go buy more tomorrow if he knows what is good for him.

remnants of the pink brandywine

As for snacks, we began by stabbing, literally, at a pink brandywine. My tomatoes just succumbed to late blight, and I’m pulling all the tomatoes off the vines. It is very sad, and let us all share a moment of silence for them. He loved it; it was nearly as flavorful as my previous crop of pink brandywines, which means very smoky and rich.

the mini palmiers are almost gone, AND I'M WINNING

A bit afterwards, in the third game actually — coincidentally, the one where I smoked him — he got peckish again. The cad.

how dare he get peckish

I had a smallish pat of scraps of homemade puff pastry in the fridge, and I whipped it out, sprinkled some cinnamon sugar on it, and made a bit over a dozen mini palmiers from it.

He snarfed them.

Granted, anything puff pastry is going to be melt-in-your-mouth delicious, but include cinnamon sugar and you have little bursts of melty spiciness.

yay, he's totally drunk and snarfing mini palmiers

P.S. Did I mention I won the third game? Yeah, the one where the mini palmiers came out.

Song for this recipe: Carrion by British Sea Power. Read more on mini palmiers: what to do with leftover puff pastry…

December 18, 2009 in cookies, vegetarian2 comments

nutty crescents

nutty crescents

Man, the Christmas cookie recipes and pics are piling up. Hmm, I seem to have developed an obsession with them this year.

see? six inches!

I had some trepidation about posting this particular Christmas cookie. As I wrestled with rolling out endless walnut-sized lumps of dough, making crescents seemed a lot fussier to me than it did last year. I distinctly remember the dough being a joy to work with: smooth and pliable, not like silly putty, but better. Read more on nutty crescents…

December 14, 2009 in cookies, vegetarian11 comments

whole grain mexican wedding cakes

mexican wedding cakes, russian tea cakes, made with whole barley flour

Guess what? I actually got off my arse and did some research for y’all this time.

moops?

See, the cookie we call Mexican wedding cakes, or Russian tea cakes, or polvorones in Spain, or melting moments in Australia actually has a common descendent: the “sandie” type cookie first developed by the Moors in the Middle Ages, medieval Arabs being very fond of sweets.

mexican wedding cakes, russian tea cakes, made with whole barley flour - notice how they're a bit darker than those made with all-purpose flour

Most commonly known as Mexican wedding cakes or Russian tea cakes here in the U.S., they’re a buttery, not-too-sweet cookie made with finely chopped nuts. The cookie is shaped like a ball, and rolled twice in powdered sugar after baking. The first dusting of sugar is done while warm, which allows the sugar to absorb slightly into the cookie and keeps its crust from getting hard. Since the first sugar dusting usually melts into near-invisibility, a second coating of sugar is applied to make the cookies pretty.

ooh, dramatic!

It’s important to note that Mexican wedding cakes are never baked until browned (else they’d be dry and overdone), so one has to trust one’s recipe for the time and one’s nose for clues as to when they’re done. It’s amazing how many things, when cooking, are “done” when you begin to smell them. Read more on whole grain mexican wedding cakes…