|Posted by bibiddream on May 18, 2015 at 4:05 AM||comments (0)|
Adapted from Flavor Flours (Artisan 2014)
Find the Vanilla Rice Flour Pastry Cream recipe here. - Alice Medrich
For the crust:
3/4 cup (75 grams) oat flour
3 tablespoons (30 grams) white rice flour or a scant 1/3 cup (30 grams) Thai white rice flour
1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/16 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons (30 grams) cream cheese, oftened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the filling:
2 teaspoons butter, very soft, to moisture-proof the crust
1 to 2 cups Vanilla Rice Flour Pastry Cream (see headnote), depending on how much custard you like
2 pints ripe, preferably small or medium, strawberries, rinsed and completely dry, hulled
Sugar, for sprinkling
Grease a 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom lightly but thoroughly with butter or vegetable oil spray.
To make the crust, put the oat flour, rice flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl and whisk until thoroughly blended. Add the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla. Use a fork or the back of a large spoon (or your hands) to mash and mix the ingredients together until all are blended into a smooth, soft dough.
Transfer the dough to the tart pan. The dough may seem much softer than other tart doughs. Use the heel of your hand and then your fingers and/or a small offset spatula to spread the dough all over the bottom of the pan. Press it squarely into the corner with the sides of your index finger to prevent extra thickness at the bottom edge, and press it as evenly as possible up the sides of the pan, squaring off along the top edge. Have patience: There is just enough dough (although you may not think so at first). If there is too much dough in one place (or hiding in the corners of the pan), pinch or scrape it off and move it elsewhere. Spread or smear the dough smooth with the spatula.
Here’s a final trick for a perfectly even crust: Press a sheet of plastic wrap against the bottom and up the sides of the pan and lay a paper towel on top. Set a straight-sided, flat-bottomed cup on the towel; press and slide the cup all over the bottom and into the corners to smooth and even the surface.
Remove the paper towel but leave the plastic wrap in place. Refrigerate the pan for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight and up to 3 days.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325° F. Peel the plastic wrap from the crust. Set the pan on the baking sheet and bake the crust for 35 to 40 minutes, checking after about 15 or 20 minutes. If the crust has puffed up on the bottom, press it back down carefully with the back of a fork. Continue baking until the crust is decidedly golden brown (undercooked crusts are neither crunchy nor flavorful) and has slightly pulled away from the sides of the pan. Set the pan on a rack to cool completely before filling.
To assemble the tart, leave the tart shell in the pan for support. If you will not be serving the tart within a couple of hours, moisture-proof the crust by spreading the bottom with the thinnest possible layer of soft butter; use a flexible plastic spreader or even your fingers to smear the butter over the bottom and sides of the crust. Chill the crust to set the butter before adding the pastry cream. (If you will be serving within 2 hours, skip this moisture-proofing step.)
Spread the pastry cream evenly in the crust. If the berries are large, cut them in half. Start arranging the strawberries around the edges of the tart and work toward the middle. Arrange whole berries as close together as possible, or arrange halved berries cut side-up and overlapping. Refrigerate unless serving within 2 hours.
|Posted by bibiddream on December 28, 2014 at 9:20 PM||comments (0)|
Here I am in Torino, or Turin, if you’re familiar with the shroud.
Being on the road means that I’m in unfamiliar hotels with less-than-ideal access. When I attempted to change the thermostat in my hotel room, the digital display read ‘PARTY’. I don’t know what the ‘party’ mode is, but when I pressed the switch again nothing exciting happened.
I’m leading a fabulous chocolate tour as I write. Torino is not on the tourist route. But it should be if you’re into chocolate. Gianduja is the star chocolate attraction here, a blend of milk chocolate and hazelnuts ground until smooth then formed into a paste. Hazelnuts are a specialty of the Piedmonte region and during wartime, cocoa beans were scarce so someone had the great idea to blend them with chocolate, and gianduja was born. (If you’ve had Nutella, you know what a terrific alliance chocolate and hazelnuts can be.)
Once the gianduja paste is made, it’s formed into mounds that are molded into a flat peak, then wrapped in gold foil. I’m not much of a fan of milk chocolate, but when mixed with hazelnuts, it’s dreamy and truly delicious. The best gianduja that I’ve had was at A. Giordano (Piazza Carol Felice, 69.)
The other chocolate treats of Torino are Bicerin and gelato. Bicerin is great, and something that deserves to be better known outside of Torino. It’s a hot drink made with espresso, chocolate, and just enough whipped cream to make is smooth and creamy. It’s a fabulous combination, and each afternoon residents of Torino line up at bars for a warm Bicerin.
The gelato here is thick, gooey, and delicious. Like nothing you’ve had in your life. Flavors include caffe, gianduja (my favorite, of course), pistacio, tangy yogurt, and torrone loaded with almonds and sweetened with honey. Here’s my favorite gelato maker at the Caffe San Carlo (Piazza San Carlo, 156). He is perhaps my new favorite person in the world.
At least in Italy.
Italians in Torino walks down the street eating gelato all hours of the day. Businessmen at lunchtime slurp cones while avoiding dripping on their Armani suits. Afternoons, swarms of teenagers with low-slung jeans send text-messages in between licks, and elderly women wander through the passages and window shop savoring gelato.
So I’m off tomorrow with my group for the mountains of Biella, where we’ll dine at an Agriturismo, a farm that serves meals made from ingredients only grown on the land. Then onward to Genoa, where we’ll stop along the way at Domori chocolate, one of the world’s great chocolate manufacturers.
|Posted by bibiddream on November 3, 2014 at 9:55 PM||comments (0)|
After all of that chocolate for Valentine’s Day, I thought we’d shift gears a bit today. If you’re deeply mired in winter weather like we are, I’m sure you’ll welcome the brightness of lemon in a simple dessert.
Pudding cakes are a lovely combination of, you guessed it, pudding and cake. And, these beauties do all of that with a nice lemon flavor. When you dig your spoon into them past that sugary, br?lée-like top, you first get a light layer of cake. But, keep going and you’ll find a lovely layer of pudding at the bottom.
As you can imagine, this is not the kind of cake you can easily cut into slices and serve. It’s more of a spoonable dessert. I really like to make these in individual-size ramekins to make them simpler to serve. Plus, I’m a bit of a sucker for individual desserts.
These cakes feature Meyer lemons, which are milder and sweeter than traditional lemons. You can, of course, use whichever type of lemon you’d like. I chose Meyer lemons for a lighter, subtler dessert flavor that’s just perfect after a bit of chocolate overload.
|Posted by bibiddream on October 17, 2014 at 5:35 AM||comments (0)|
This is my last post for 2013, and I wanted to end this year on a healthy note. With a salad thats fresh, zingy, tangy, crunchy, creamy, sweet, filling and more than anything … thanks to the post I’ve just had a fabulous lunch – feels good specially after the last couple of days of binging on all things sinful. Sometimes, I’m glad I blog, because just sometimes led light, I’m not sure, If I blog because I cook fairly well, or I make things well for the blog. Either ways … We end up with good food on the table, and thats most important. Nothing beats a homemade meal, prepared with love and best of ingredients. And thats what I want to encourage all of you to do …. make it a point this coming year, you take out time for yourself and your family, eat well, cook more often, eat healthy, be happy, stay fit, and most of all … always keep room for dessert.
Salad leaves – butter / or any you like
Kale – leaves picked out and finely sliced – I tucked in a few as I had some lying around. You could substitute with rocket too.
Pink grapefruit – cut and segment
Figs – finely sliced
Avocado – cubed
Handful of toasted Hazelnuts
Sage – few leaves sliced finely
juice of 1 Orange
3-4 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 heaped teaspoon of Homemade Wholegrain Mustard
salt to taste
Tear the salad leaves roughly. Add the kale + sage and toss. Now place the grapefruit, figs and avocados evenly all over and throw over the nuts personal loans.
For the dressing, just mix all the ingredients well, and pour over the salad. Serve immediately.
May this New Year bring you …
Everlasting Happiness and Peace
Success in whatever you do
Prosperity to you and your family
May 2014 fill your home with joy and dc gear motors spirit
Happy New Year and Seasons Greetings
|Posted by bibiddream on September 25, 2014 at 2:15 PM||comments (0)|
The winter weather has been wicked enough on this side of the Atlantic so you're forgiven if you're unaware of the flooding problems in England that are threatening their hard cider production. It's been the wettest winter there since 1910, killing millions of apple trees. Submerging the base of an apple tree for just two weeks is enough to wreck its root system according to England's Metro news. The Southwest of England, where loads of apples are grown, was flooded for longer than that.
So drink beer instead, you might be thinking to yourself. We know the Brits love their pubs and their beer, but they are serious hard cider connoisseurs as well, having consumed about 1.5 billion pints of it last year. The number was expected to increase this year, but that's questionable now.
Hard cider is a growing industry in this country, too. Did you think, like I did as a kid, that Johnny Appleseed planted apple trees to keep the doctor away? Michael Pollan explained the truth about Johnny Appleseed in The Botany of Desire. Appleseed didn't give a hoot about eating fresh apples. His trees were for hard cider, and everybody drank it, including kids. Why? Because it was safer, often, than the local fresh water. Appleseed traveled way ahead of large groups of homesteaders and planted trees so that there would be fruit ready to press for hard cider by the time they arrived. A smart businessman!
Hard cider makers in America, take note: Get ready to export your product to England this year.
Cooking with Hard Cider
Are you a fan of hard cider? If so, tell us what brands you love.
|Posted by bibiddream on August 17, 2014 at 2:35 PM||comments (0)|
A behind-the-scenes look at our recipe contest and White House celebration
by Tanya Wenman Steel
W alking through the Visitors' Gate at the White House on July 9, 2013, with 54 kids and their parents from all across the country, elicited a range of feelings: giddiness, joy, tears, nausea—and that was just among the adults! A few years ago, when I and two colleagues came up with the idea of a healthy lunch recipe contest for kids, whereby the winners would attend a priceless celebration at the White House and meet the First Lady, little did I think, a little more than two years later, that I would have the honor and privilege of speaking Stainless steel tea infuser, eating, and crying at the second annual Kids' "State Dinner."
This year, we received more than 1,300 entries from all over the country. We could designate only one champ for each state and territory, which meant that the winners had to stand out among stiff competition. The 54 winners, ages 8 to 12, served up creative, nutritious, and delicious recipes that were filled not only with black beans, quinoa, kale, and Greek yogurt but also with hopes and dreams, trials and triumphs, singular knowledge, and sophisticated tastes.
Determining the finalists was a difficult task, to say nothing of the judging process, a Herculean feat executed by the D.C. Central Kitchen staff, who cooked up and served 108 hot and cold dishes. With Let's Move! Executive Director and Assistant White House Chef Sam Kass, I convened a group of supertasters, including two recent graduates of Share Our Strength's Cooking Matters program, 9-year-old Cha'Lita and 10-year-old Sabrina. Representatives from the U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture also volunteered their palates. Several hours and many antacids later, we selected the winners.
This accomplished group of kids—some have founded charities, competed in triathlons, hosted weekly TV cooking segments, volunteered in their communities, and written blogs—began their once-in-a-lifetime trip when they boarded Delta Airlines flights to D.C. (thank you, Delta), and then headed for an overnight stay at the gracious Westin Alexandria in northern Virginia (chef hats off to Westin), accompanied by an adult family member.
Knowing that this group of serious foodies would enjoy a little historical context, we jumped on the Metro to see the National Museum of American History's exhibit, FOOD: Transforming the American Table. Besides learning about food culture's whos Business Education, whats, whys, and hows over the past 50 years, the group was treated to a personal tour of Julia Child's kitchen from the curators responsible for bringing it to the Smithsonian. The kids learned that a few of their dishes would be selected to become part of the exhibit this fall; their creations would be served just a few feet from the kitchen where Julia Child created her own masterpieces.
Back at the hotel, the winners planted "Imagination Gardens" with fresh herbs, all provided by Miracle-Gro. These plantings were then transported to a local pediatric facility by Project Sunshine, an international volunteer group that provides free educational, recreational, and social programs to children and families living with medical challenges. The kids were rewarded for their good efforts with a healthy pizza party. (After all, we had to carbo-load before the marathon events of the next morning!)
Tuesday, July 9, the kids donned snazzy ties or dresses, grabbed a nutritious breakfast to go, boarded buses, and headed to the gates of the White House.
When prime ministers and heads of state visit the White House, they are formally announced with their titles and honors. Our 54 excited young winners were announced in a similar fashion as they arrived, with their age, home state, and the name of their winning recipe. After answering interview questions from the attendant press gauntlet, the kids and their parents headed up to the first floor. As anyone who's scored tickets to a White House tour knows, the first floor is where the historic and beautiful public rooms are situated, including the Dining Room, where the children were transfixed by the eye-popping balloons architected by a master balloonist; the Blue Room, where each winning team had their photo taken with the First Lady; the Cross Hall, where some lucky chefs participated in Sam Kass' live stream of the event while the Marine Band played on; and finally the East Room, where the lunch was held.
With the backdrop a map of America artfully labeled with the names of the winning dishes, the party got started with a few introductory remarks from myself, 12-year-old whiz kid Haile Thomas—already a stellar advocate for healthy eating—and the inspiring Mrs. Obama. Lunch followed, a menu composed of eight of the prize-winning recipes—spring rolls, zucchini cornbread, pork and lettuce cups, a cauliflower-crust pizza, a veggie and barley salad, banana muffins, fruit salad, and smoothies. Before we could finish all of our victuals, a surprise guest came by, President Barack Obama. He lamented that he hadn't been invited, wished he were allowed to eat with his fingers at state dinners, and then promptly dispensed handshakes and hugs to everyone in the room. The lunch ended with a rousing sing-along and dance-off with singer Rachel Crowe.
The party continued in the lush White House Garden, where the young chefs inspected the flourishing kale, zucchini, and honeybee hives How to Manage DC Motor Speed Control. It was a blissful and moving day, one that none of us will ever forget. Indeed, 8-year-old Campbell Kielb from Virginia was asked if the day was "epic." His response: "No. It was Epicurious." To see Campbell and all of my new friends, check out the videos and slideshows below.
|Posted by bibiddream on July 13, 2014 at 10:05 AM||comments (0)|
When I first got married I used to ask my husband if he wanted salad with dinner, the answer was usually "no." After a few years I wised up and started serving him salad without asking first. But often he didn't eat much of it, despite my raving "Have some salad! It's delicious!" Lately I've hit upon a solution. I serve salad as a main dish, or pile everything onto it so it's an integral part of the meal. Main dish salads, if only someone had told me 12 years ago!
During the Winter or whenever it's cold outside salads, either side salads or main dish salads are not top of mind, but they should be. Just as Summer is the perfect time for cold soup, Winter is the ideal season to try a warm salad. I like to start with a cooked grain like farro or quinoa then use seasonal fruits or vegetables and add some heartier elements too, in this case feta cheese and almonds.
I have to admit, this salad sounds a bit like a parody, it's filled with trendy ingredients and super foods, all that's missing is a little chocolate and kale! I love the sunny colors and hearty crunch to this salad, it's kind of the antithesis of a tossed green salad all floppy and wilted. It's bright and cheerful and yet very hearty. I like combination of citrus, pomegranate, almonds and feta with a touch of ginger but feel free to change up the ingredients in the salad or use a different dressing or spice if you prefer.
Warm Winter Farro Salad
1 cup pearled farro
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1 cup diced feta, about 6 ounces
1 cup toasted sliced almonds
2 tangerines peeled and segments cut in half
3/4 cup sliced celery about 2-3 stalks
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Bring a pot of water to boil and add the farro, cook for 10- 15 minutes or until al dente (or cook according to package instructions). In a bowl combine the feta, almonds, tangerines (remove any seeds) and celery. Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil and ginger in a bowl.
When the farro is cooked, drain it and toss it in a bowl with the other ingredients and dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
|Posted by bibiddream on March 6, 2014 at 8:30 PM||comments (0)|
It’s been quite a wet and windy week over here. While the Western world is somewhere in the middle of summer frolic, we are stranded (pun intended) in our rainy season…monsoon rains, buffeting winds, floods, wonky internet, and the occasional power outage. I swear next year I’ll be buying myself some cute rain boots instead of stubbornly amassing flip flops and sandals all year long. It may seem designer handbags clearance, to me at least, counter-intuitive to buy rubber boots when, for most of the year, you are in varying states of melting, but any rainy morning at the market (with feet totally soaked) will tell you otherwise.
The rainy season’s gray clouds do have their silver lining though: cozying up to a bowl of steaming tinola, sinigang, or bulalo…not having to deal (so much) with the heat…the electricity bill going down (!!)…snuggles under the duvet…hot chocolate…
It’s also the most comfortable season in our tropical year for baking. Not that we don’t bake at any other time. Just that, with the rain pouring outside, cooling down my city’s steamy pavements, a warm oven actually seems, for once, halfway inviting.
And, of course, baking has the added bonus of creating an end-product that adds brightness to otherwise dreary days. Especially when combined with rum and caramel.
Rum and Date Cake with Caramel Sauce
(from Donna Hay magazine issue # 62)
1 1/2 cups (210 grams) dates, chopped
1/2 cup (90 grams) prunes, chopped
1/2 cup (75 grams) raisins
3/4 cup (180 ml) boiling water
1/2 cup (125 ml) rum
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda, sifted
1 1/2 cups (225 grams) self-rising flour**, sifted
1 1/3 cups (235 grams) brown sugar
225 grams butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
100 grams butter
3/4 cup (135 grams) brown sugar
1/2 cup (175 grams) golden syrup***
1 cup (250 ml) single cream
1/4 cup (60 ml) rum
- Place the dates, prunes, raisins, boiling water, rum, and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor and leave for about 10 minutes. Process the mixture until smooth. Resist the urge to spoon a splodge of it into a shot glass to top with more rum and turn into the most indecent dessert/cocktail/shooter ever. Set aside.
- Place the flour and sugar in a bowl and mix to combine. To this add the butter, vanilla, eggs, and the date/rum mixture. Mix well to combine hosting service.
- Pour the batter into a well greased bundt pan (3.5 liter capacity) and bake in a pre-heated 160C (325F) oven for 55-60 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Allow to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- While your cake is baking you can make the caramel sauce. Place the butter, sugar, syrup, cream, and rum in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until thickened.
- Allow both the cake and sauce to cool completely before pouring the sauce over the cake. I like to pour some sauce on the cake and save some to serve alongside it.
I knew I had to make this cake the moment I saw it gracing the cover of Donna Hay magazine’s April/May 2012 Autumn issue (bit of trivia: autumn and winter are usually my favorite issues for all food magazines). It was dark and beguiling, and involved dates and prunes and rum. And caramel. And a bundt pan (I so had been wanting to use that bundt pan!). Before I tell you that I and my not-too-hot-about-cakes husband loved it, I need to let you know that the making of it did not go totally without a hitch. The cake stuck to the pan (despite my having greased it generously as the recipe instructed) and the caramel split.
What, me panic?
I gently (gently!) extricated the cake parts stuck at the bottom of the pan and patched them onto the top of the bundt, fitting each part as precisely as I could. The split caramel took a bit more elbow grease. After extensive research telling me that split caramel which was already finished cooking had no hope of being remedied I decided to take matters into my own hands. I was not giving up and I was not throwing a batch of perfectly tasty caramel out. I let the caramel sit and split completely, which is to say I let all the butter that had split float to the top. I then skimmed that all off. Then I placed the remaining caramel in a metal bowl, and placed the metal bowl into another bowl filled with ice water. Finally, I took a whisk in my hand and beat the living daylights out of it. Before I knew it, the caramel was smooth and creamy again. When there’s a will, there’s a way. Just so you know.
Was it worth it? Every second. The cake was incredibly moist, as only a cake packed with rum-soaked-then-blitzed dates, prunes, and raisins can be. It was tender and damp, with a deep, dark, vaguely adult flavor. Smother a slice with the rum-infused caramel and you go up the audacity ladder more than a few notches.
Just as you should never let a little rain and the lack of rain boots stop you from going to the market, you should never allow such trivialities like cake sticking to your pan (fie on you faithless bundt pan!) or split caramel stop you from enjoying something delicious.
**I have no clue where to find self-rising flour in Manila, nor have I ever had any need for it. I just use this formula: for each cup of all purpose flour iphone skin , add 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder + 1/4 teaspoon salt.
***Tragically, golden syrup is not available anywhere on my islands. I used a mixture of corn syrup and honey and it worked fine.
|Posted by bibiddream on February 24, 2014 at 4:35 AM||comments (0)|
As far as vegetables are concerned, we have been dining like kings lately. It’s all thanks to local organic farmers! Beautiful baskets of fresh, vibrant produce are delivered right to my doorstep. I don’t even have to leave the house! They come over, we have a nice chit-chat about what’s growing, observe the difference between the veggies from last batch (oh my! Look how the mustasa has grown!)...all without having to start my car (plus points for that!)
Of course, I still meander through the market...what’s a girl to do without her market-therapy right (no, shoe-therapy does not replace it...though they do complement each other I believe)? Plus I have to continually restock our garlic and onions, which we go through like there’s no tomorrow (please someone tell me that onions are blazingly healthy)! I hardly buy any vegetables at the market anymore though, onions and garlic aside. You see, those baskets we get keep us two nicely covered in veggies for a while. In fact, I have to race to use them all before they start to, um, complain
I get my veg from two sources. One from the organic farmer I mentioned here (coincidentally delivering his first basket on my birthday!). The other is the same one who delivers to Christine. Here is where some of them went...
Roasted and Grilled Veggie Salad
2 Asian eggplants (the long thin ones), sliced on the diagonal
1 white onion, sliced relatively thick
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly cracked pepper
Herbs de Provence
- Roast the peppers. I cut them in quarters, remove all the seeds, and then lay them skin side up on a baking tray lined with parchment. Place in a 200C oven and roast until the pepper’s skin is black and blistered in places. Take the peppers out, place in a bowl, and cover with cling wrap. Leave to cool slightly. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, gently peel off skin (it will come off easily at this point), slice into strips and set aside.
- While your peppers are roasting, heat a grill pan. Brush the eggplant and onions slices with oil and grill until they are soft and have respectable grill-marks.
- Place grilled eggplants and onions (the onion rings may fall apart...that’s fine) in a bowl with the roasted and peeled peppers. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with herbs de Provence and season with salt and pepper.
- Serves two.
This is one of my favourite ways to have peppers and eggplant (aside from tortang talong) -- roasted and grilled, or just grilled or just roasted, then tossed with some good olive oil and salt. The herbs de Provence adds a lovely aroma, but if you don’t have any, feel free to use what you’ve got. Or stick to the olive oil and salt. With great veggies you really won’t need much else. This is good at room temp, so it can sit patiently while you go about making the rest of your meal. You can also add a splash of red wine vinegar and finely chopped garlic (or roast some garlic alongside the peppers and smoosh that in) and you’ll have something approaching escalivada (a Spanish salad I am extremely fond of). If you have leftovers, just park them in the fridge and toss them with some pasta the next day.
Aaah...Lovely simple vegetables! Something tells me this won’t be the last “veggie basket” post...please indulge me I’ll try not to be too dull and swoony!
|Posted by bibiddream on February 11, 2014 at 9:20 PM||comments (0)|
Another year dawns bright any sunny…if not literally, then at least, hopefully, in our figurative perceptions of it. I for one am chomping at the bit to launch myself head first, with arms wide open, into 2013.
Before hurtling down the unknown but promising adventure of this new year, let me take one last look at the year that was. 2012 definitely had its moments of bliss, along with its share of trials and tribulations. In retrospect, both vital, in their own ways, to where I am now. It has certainly, although perhaps not too apparent on this blog, been a year of reflection and soul searching. I am, like most of the human race, nowhere near “figuring it out” yet, despite my advancing years, but I am happy to know that I am closer than I was last year. At least I hope so!
I thought to put together a list of goals for the year but I realize, looking back, that most of my goals remain the same. Not because they weren't achieved in past years, but because these are, by and large, the recurring themes of my life (or at the very least the direction I want to take it): simplify, avoid waste (food and otherwise), write more, read more, cook more, laugh more, live more, focus on what is truly important and spend more time doing what truly makes me happy -- part of which, of course, is being right here, messing around in the kitchen, and talking with you all.
I've started a few new writing projects which I am beyond excited about. You can already see one of here. I'll be sharing the other very soon so stay tuned! As for ongoing writing projects, my column, Family Kitchen, in Yummy Magazine is still chugging merrily along...the January/February issue is out now if you'd like to take a peek.
And what better way to start the new year than with something sweet and delicious These cookies from Joy The Baker are perfect. Oatmeal for virtue, cocoa nibs for something new, and chocolate to celebrate!
Oatmeal Walnut Cocoa Nib Cookies
(from Joy The Baker)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup cocoa nibs
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- Beat the butter and both sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitter with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
- In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add this flour mixture all at once to the butter and egg mixture and beat on low speed until the mixture just comes together (there may still be some flour visible, and that’s ok).
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the oats, walnuts, cocoa nibs, and the chocolate chips. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to finish mixing everything by hand. Mix together just until no flour bits remain, and everything is well mixed together and evenly distributed.
- Scoop dough by the tablespoonful onto parchement-lines baking sheets. Bake in a pre-heated 350F oven for 10-13 minutes until edges are just a tad toasty (the middles will still be soft). Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
You can make the dough ahead of time and chill (Joy says it it will stay good for a week in the fridge) until you are ready to bake it. Indeed, since these cookies, I have been resting my dough for a day before baking. If I don't need the whole batch, I also like to freeze half the dough, already shaped into logs, for future cookie needs. I have said it a million times before, cookie dough in your freezer is one of life's great insurances.
These cookies got a resounding two thumbs up from my family, who liquidated almost 2 dozen over one Sunday lunch. This includes my brother who will normally not touch anything with nuts. I highly recommend them (and am unabashedly smug that I have 2 logs of its dough tucked away in the freezer)!
2013 will be quite an adventure for me and my little family, I can already tell...an adventure I hope to share with all of you. Finger and toes crossed, a wing, a prayer, and full speed ahead!!! Wishing you all the best this year!
***For those of you asking: I got my cocoa nibs from Risa Chocolates -- they are lovely artisans who are passionate about local chocolate. They don't have any nibs currently but may have some by mid-year. Meanwhile, check out their other tempting products here.