Thursday, May 31, 2007

Oatmeal Lace Cookies

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I have always loved these cookies. A friend of the family used to own a food company in the Seattle area called “Canterbury Cuisine” – they sold healthy, gourmet baking mixes, soup mixes, etc. that required just a couple ingredients added in order to make all kinds of treats. I had the great fortune of babysitting for the owner, and would always salivate over the various mixes in her pantry.

One time, under the guise of a “baking lesson” I set about baking a cookie mix with my charges – it was an Oatmeal Lace Cookie mix. And to this day, I still dream about its deliciousness. I have not found a comparable recipe that can measure up to the crunchy and chewy texture of that mix, but I am beginning the journey now. I don’t care how fat it makes me, or my husband (who is actually starting to complain about what this blog has done to his waistline – this last batch of cookies particularly, as oatmeal cookies are his favorite. Though I ate WAY more than he did, and suffered for it in many ways) I will find the perfect recipe!

I started with the simplest recipe I could find – and simple as it is, it yielded a tricky result. The first batch just spread all over the cookie sheet, like one flat pan-sized cookie. I had to use a spatula to separate it into sections while it was still hot, then bake for a few minutes longer in order to get anything resembling a cookie. The second and third batches were progressively better, as I started with smaller scoops of dough, and fewer dropped on the sheet. Also, the original recipe said to bake for 8-10 minutes, but I found these needed at least 12 minutes in order to be firm enough to remove from the cookie sheet.

I think these would be even better with a little cinnamon added!

Warning: there is a LOT of butter in this recipe. A LOT. So these are very rich, as dainty as they look.

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Oatmeal Lace Cookies (Trial #1)

2 sticks of butter, room temperature
3 c. oatmeal (uncooked)
1 c. sugar
½ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. salt

Cream butter, sugar and vanilla and salt together in the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment. Once mixed, fold in the oatmeal, one cup at a time, ensuring each cup is sufficiently combined.

Drop in 1/8 c. sized balls onto a baking sheet (I used a silpat) with several inches between each scoop, as these cookies will flatten out completely as they bake.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool a bit on the cookie sheet (they harden as they cool) before transferring to a cooling rack.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

SHF #31 - Lemon Sorbet

I finally tried out my ice cream maker! Of course it was way easier than I had expected, and now I can't wait to try out all of the fabulous-looking recipes that have been popping up lately. A friend had put in a request for lemon sorbet, and sorbet didn't have the intimidation factor of actual ice cream, AND the Sugar High Friday event is requesting white food! So here we are.

I found different versions of this recipe on several different blogs. Some of them included alcohol and I wish I had made the trip to the liquor store because my sorbet ended up freezing up too hard. But the flavor was perfect - not too sweet, and very lemony. And while the texture worked itself out after being left on the kitchen counter for a little while, I'll definitely try it with the booze next time.

Lemon Sorbet

- 1 cup lemon juice
- 2 1/2 cups water
- zest of 2or 3 lemons (I added some orange zest too)
- 3/4 cups sugar

Place zest, sugar, and water in sauce pan and warm until sugar is melted. Chill completely, then add juice. Put in ice cream maker, according to directions. Makes about 1 quart.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Apple and Pear Tartin

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So, Mama Mallow has been a busy little baker since I've been away! My two week vacation has come to a close, and I am officially in awe of just how productive my blogging partner has been, and how happy she's been making both her tummy and the tummies of those near and dear.

We had discussed doing a Mother's Day Post, but the opportunity escaped us, and though I for the first time in 9 years was actually WITH my mother on Mother's Day, and cooked a lovely meal for her and my dad, I am posting the fun a little late.

It was such a pleasure cooking for my parents. They are no slouches in the kitchen. My mom tends to make the savory dishes, and more often than not my dad is perfecting a baked good. Some recipes that stand out to me from my Mom's repertoire are Cioppino, insane pasta dishes with tons of fresh vegetables and flavor, and a Christmas morning Strata beyond belief. My dad bakes a profound pie, a chocolate cake for champions, and home-made bear claws. This is just a sampling of the wonders that come out of the family kitchen.

I considered trying to cook something with my mom that was a special recipe of hers that I could share, but in the end decided to let her kick back in my living room, look at my honeymoon pictures, and taste one of my creations.

For dinner I made Chicken With Forty Cloves Of Garlic. WAY easier than you would imagine. How hard is it to brown a bunch of garlic? I accompanied this with some easy roasted vegetables (cauliflower, red and green peppers, olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 425 for 25 minutes. Easy as it gets!).

For dessert, I was GOING to make some home-made ice cream to go with the Tartin, but my mom is calorie conscious, and I decided to let her save her big indulgences for her trip to France the next day!

This Tartin was so easy, and so satisfying. You can easily use any type of fruit - my original idea was to use peaches, but was not able to buy them in time to allow them to ripen a bit. The result is a lot like a Pineapple Upside Down Cake - and there are few things better than that! I think I would use even more fruit next time, though I couldn't figure out how to cut the pears and apples in order to fit more into the dish (maybe next time I'll use round slices and layer them into the pan in a spiral). Oh, and I forgot to add the currants. They would have made the treat even more festive. And home-made ice cream would have made this even better.

Apple and Pear Tartin

6 T butter (plus extra for baking dish)
1 medium pear
1 small apple
1-2 Tab dried currants
1 3/4 cup sugar, divided
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 c. sour cream
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup + 2 Tab flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Butter a 9 inch pie or baking dish, arrange fruit in bottom of dish in an artful way, most appealing side facing down.

Combine 1 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water in sauce pan and cook on high until it turns a warm amber color, swirling frequently, not stirring (warning: Once the mixture starts to turn a yellowish color, watch the pan closely. I burned the first batch, and ended up with a candy-bottomed sink).
Cream 6 Tabs butter and 3/4 cup sugar in mixer on medium with a paddle attachment until fluffy. Lower the speed to low, and add eggs one at a time, followed by the sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Combine only, do not over mix.

Pour batter over fruit in pie dish, and bake for 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool 15 minutes before dusting confectioners sugar over the top.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Perfect Brownies?

I may have finally found a brownie recipe that satisfies my craving for brownies from a box. The texture was perfect! They are chewy and chocolatey but not at all damp - they are neither cakey or fudgy - they are just exactly how I want them! However, in the name of full disclosure I must confess that I had a horrible cold, complete with plugged nose, when I made these, so my taste buds were probably not performing at full capacity. (I suppose I will simply need to make them again soon to reassess their superb-ness.) I found the recipe in my weird old Pillsbury cookbook, then I modified it just a bit. I thought the photo in the book looked promising and so I left the essentials alone. You could mix the pecans into the brownies, but I prefer leaving them on the top so that they stay crunchy rather than becoming soggy.

Chewy Brownies, modified from a Pillsbury cookbook recipe
- 6 ounces plus about 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (12 ounce bag)
- 1/2 cup butter
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 generous tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- about 1 cup chopped toasted pecans

Oven to 350 degrees; 13 x 9 pan lined with parchment or greased.

Melt 6 ounces of chocolate chips with the butter. Remove from heat when smooth and allow to cool slightly. Mix dry ingredients together in small bowl. Add sugar, then eggs, then vanilla to chocolate mixture. Stir in dry ingredients, and then remaining 3/4 cup chocolate chips. Pour into pan, then sprinkle pecans on top. Bake for 18-25 minutes (toothpick will be sticky with crumbs); cool in pan on rack.

Go check out the browniebabe event over at Once Upon a Tart!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Weekend Cookbook Challenge 16 - Something New...World Peace Cookies

These cookies are new for me, at least! I have been reading about them for ages now, and finally got to try them out. I just got Dorie's Baking From My Home to Yours cookbook and this was the first recipe I that I put to use. (Dorie Greenspan is also new to me, believe it or not!)

Just like everyone has said, these cookies are AMAZING. My plan had been to take them into work, but immediately after baking them I got a horrible cold. So rather than going in to work, I have spent the last two days laying on my couch feeling like death warmed over, eating a steady stream of World Peace Cookies. (Actually, I did venture out long enough to track down some hushpuppies, then I returned to my couch and my cookies). It should not be a surprise to anyone that I STILL feel like crap. And I have no cookies left.

Usually, after I violate myself with some sort of treat, I never want to see the thing again. But instead, I am actually mourning that I have none left! I kept reading about the "sandy texture", and didn't know what that meant - I guess I still don't exactly, but the texture of these cookies is soft and lovely. I like them with biggish chunks of dark chocolate, to contrast with the soft cookie. Then every once in a while you get a wave of salty goodness, and maybe even a tiny crunch when you find a bit of fleur de sel. Yum! I will be making these again soon, only I will find a way to share next time (maybe).

World Peace Cookies, or Korovas, from Baking From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan

- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 11 Tbsp butter at room temperature
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp fleur de sel
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 5 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate (I used really dark chocolate)

Mix together flour, cocoa and baking soda.

Beat butter until soft, then add sugars, salt and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes. Add dry ingredients and mix slowly until just combined; mix in chocolate. Do not overmix this dough. Divide dough into two portions, and form into logs of 1 1/2 inch diameter. Chill in refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment. Slice dough into 1/2" thick cookies, squishing back on any bits of dough that fall off (the dough is crumbly). Bake for exactly 12 minutes even though cookies will look underdone, and cool on baking sheet on wire rack.

Be sure to check out the roundup for the Weekend Cookbook Challenge, which should be posted soon.

Monday, May 7, 2007

A Taste of Yellow - Macaroni and Cheese

I have been planning on participating in the Taste of Yellow event at winosandfoodies ever since I first read about it. (Like everyone else who commented after Barbara's announcement, cancer has made plenty of appearances within my immediate circle lately). But suddenly it was May 7th and I had not done my entry! I had pretty much given up on pulling anything together when I developed an enormous craving for mac and cheese - very convenient. So here it is.

With the exception of breadcrumbs, I followed the recipe to the letter, so I will just give an abbreviated version here.

Classic Macaroni and Cheese (only slightly modified) from The New Best Recipe from Cook's Illustrated.

- 1 pound macaroni
- salt
- 5 Tbsp butter
- 6 Tbsp flour
- 1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 5 cups milk (I used 1%)
- 8 ounces monteray jack cheese, grated
- 8 ounces extra, extra, extra sharp cheddar, grated
- panko breadcrumbs

Using a large pot, cook pasta in well-salted water until tender. Drain in collander and set aside. In the now-empty pot, heat the butter over medium-high until foaming; add flour, mustard and cayenne, and whisk for about a minute, until color deepens. Continue whisking while gradually adding the milk; whisk until mixture is brought to full boil. Turn down heat to medium and simmer for about 5 minutes, until mixture is the consistency of heavy cream. Remove from heat. Add cheese and 1 tsp salt and stir until mixed. Add back pasta and stir over med-low heat until well heated, about 6 minutes. Pour into 9x13 pan (or ramekins). Sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs and place under broiler until browned.

Go see what A Taste of Yellow is all about!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Chocolate Peanut Butter-Caramel Macaroon Tarts

I think you must have to REALLY like coconut to enjoy these macaroon tarts. I got the recipe for the tart shells from Donna Hay's book, Off the Shelf. I think that even with my pan modifications, they turned out "right". Unfortunately, it wasn't until I was sampling my first bite that I remembered that I don't like macaroons. Shoot. However, the whole point to making these tarts in the first place was to find out what happens when you mix peanut butter with sweetened condensed milk. Turns out it is every bit as good as I had imagined. I am already thinking up tastier ways to use it (ways that don't involve macaroons, for example), so you can expect to see more of that here soon. But for anyone who is interested, I will go ahead and add the recipe for the macaroons too...

Macaroon Tarts (from Donna Hay's Off the Shelf):

- 3 egg whites
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 cups desiccated coconut

Oven to 280 degrees. According to the original recipe, you should grease six 3 1/2 inch tart pans with removable bottoms. I had none of those sitting around, so I lined the bottoms of six ramekins with parchment cupcake papers. (That left me with tons of left-over crust, which I attempted to make use of in various ways, none of which succeeded.) Mix all the ingredients together and press into the tart pans (or ramekins). Bake for 25-30 (or 50) minutes, until firm and turning golden. Allow to cool.

Peanut Butter Caramel:

- 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter

Mix together over medium heat until well-combined and the consistency becomes thin enough to pour (about 3 minutes). Pour into tarts and return to 280 degree oven for 5-10 minutes, until bubbles appear in caramel. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Remove tarts from pans (or ramekins.) Make ganache.


- 4 ounces chopped chocolate
- 4 ounces heavy cream.

Heat cream in pan, add chocolate and stir until melted and combined. Pour over tarts. Chill until set.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Sweet and Savory Dinner Party

I did it again. Planned a party and a menu that meant 3 days of cooking. This time though, I enjoyed every minute of it, up until the last 5 minutes before guests arrived and I was frantically working on the cream sauce, and my phone was ringing…that stressed me out a little bit, but I threw my phone at Mr. Roux, and managed to get everything ready in time, so I could enjoy myself thoroughly with my guests.

The original invitation list was for about 15 people, about 10 RSVP’d, and only 4 were able to make it in the end. But I had determined to cook enough food for any number who wanted to come by, in the spirit of sharing the food fun. There were PLENTY of left overs! My ONLY complaint: 3 of the 4 guests were girls, who eat like birds, so they didn’t eat nearly enough in my opinion…

I’ve decided to host dinner parties on a regular basis, and am using my Buddhist group as an excuse. I am a member of this great organization ( - watch the video on the media tab! Or to find a group near you), and get to practice with the COOLEST people in the world, but after our small discussion meetings, there is NEVER enough time to hang out, chat, catch up, get to know each other… so the spirit of these dinner parties will be Dinner and Dialog – sometimes there will be 2 people, maybe someday 10 – I don’t care, I like to cook and I like to run my yap. The inaugural Dinner and Dialog was fantastic – and we were all shocked to see it was 3AM when the chat fest started winding down! Sure success.

Le Menu:
Roasted Vegetable Tapenade
Irish Soda Bread
Parmesan Pepper Crackers

Iceberg wedges
Blue Cheese Dressing

Lemon Fusilli
Tuna Tartare served on Endive
Chicken Veronique

Lemon Yogurt Cake
Orange Chocolate Mini-Cakes
Homemade Grand Marnier Vanilla Ice Cream

I realize how ambitious this all looks. And I suppose it was. Honestly, each recipe was as simple as could be. I made the hummus, blue cheese dressing and lemon yogurt cake on Thursday evening. Friday night I made the orange chocolate cakes and the crackers. This left the roasted veg tapenade, ice cream, pasta, tuna, and chicken for Saturday. I got up pretty early to get started, and had JUST enough time.

I must officially thank Ina Garten once again for her inspiration and recipes! I took the liberty of some variations… here’s one, which is simultaneously an I Love Lucy moment; I added a cup of mayo instead of a half a cup of mayo to the Chicken Salad Veronique. I hate mayonnaise, so it was a tough 10 minutes for me scooping out un-stirred mayo from the mix. I ended up doubling the celery and grapes, and adding roasted pecans in order to bring balance back to the bowl.

Recipes/links** and commentary below! I only put pics of the most photogenic dishes below – sadly, I have neither the artistic eye nor photographic talent of Mallow who can make any dish look like a still life!

Roasted Vegetable Tapenade (variation of Roasted Eggplant Spread - see Sw&sa 020

4 small zucchini
2 red bell peppers, seeded
1 red onion, peeled
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tb. Olive oil
1 ½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 Tb. Tomato paste

Preheat oven to 400. Cut veg and onion into 1-inch cubes. Toss them in a large bowl with the garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes until the veg are lightly browned and soft, tossing once during cooking.
Cool slightly.

Place the veg in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the tomato paste, and pulse 3 or 4 times to blend. Taste for salt and pepper.

(This was so delicious. I used the zucchini instead of eggplant, since it's the one food I hate. I would have liked it with olives and some spicy pepper as well!)

2 cans chick peas/garbanzo beans, drained
¼ cup tahini
juice of 2 lemons
1 Tab. Pepper flakes
3-4 cloves garlic
2 Tab. Olive oil

Put everything but the olive oil in a food processor fitted with blade attachment. Blend thoroughly, adding the olive oil slowly while everything else blends.

(This makes a pretty mild hummus – you can really jazz it up with some artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, or any think you like!)

Parmesan Black Pepper Crackers (See

(I followed the recipe very closely, and ended up with very crumbly dough that was hard to roll into a log. It was much easier to deal with once frozen, but once cooked I found them a little too delicate to dip into either of my spreads. So we ate them for dinner on Friday.)

Irish Soda Bread (from “Barefoot Contessa At Home”)
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4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for the currants
4 Tab. Sugar (optional)
1 tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. kosher salt
4 Tab. (1/2 stick) Cold unsalted butter, cut into Tabs.
1¾ cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1 cup dried currants

Preheat oven to 375. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silpat.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.
With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants with 1 Tab. Of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.
Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound. Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temp.

(I decided to make this easy slightly sweet bread to dip into the savory spreads, as I really like the combination of sweet and savory – go figure. It was particularly good with the veg tapenade. I might leave the sugar out next time if serving with savory stuff.)

Blue Cheese Dressing (from “Barefoot Contessa At Home”)
½ lb. Roquefort cheese (I used crumbled blue cheese)
1 cup mayo
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. tarragon wine vinegar
2 Tab. Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Place half the cheese, the mayonnaise, heavy cream, vinegar, 1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until combined but still chunky. The other half of the cheese should be crumbled over the top of salad, but I added it to the mix. It was too thick. If you’re using this as a dip, its fine to add all the cheese, but as a dressing, you only need half.)

Lemon Fusilli with Arugula (See

(This was SO delicious. The arugula wilts just so, and the tomatoes get tender and juicy! A great dish for feeding the masses.)

Tuna Tartare (See

(I was a little disappointed that the tuna absorbed the soy sauce enough that it turned sort of a brown/gray color, rather than a pretty pinky color. GREAT flavor, and so lovely with the avocado. The peppery endive is a great edible spoon.)

Chicken Salad Veronique (See

(Again, I hate mayonnaise, but if it’s a good balance and not too gooey, I can take it. This worked out perfectly. I really liked the added crunch and depth of the pecans.)

Lemon Yogurt Cake (See
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(Once I poured the juice and sugar mixture over the warm cake, all I could think about was the fact that most of the syrup was ending up on wax paper on the tray below. Once the cake had cooled, I wrapped it in the syrupy wax paper, then wrapped the lot in plastic wrap, hoping the cake would absorb more as it rested. Success! Also, instead of the glaze, I used butter cream frosting, with added lemon zest. I probably won’t next time.)

Mini Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake (See
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(Um… Yum!? These almost didn’t need the chocolate syrup. I think I would have preferred them with a glaze instead, so the chocolate isn’t so overwhelming. I could eat these all day on into the night.)

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Vanilla Grand Marnier Ice Cream
4 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 cup cream + ¾ cup milk, scalded
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 ½ tsp. Grand Marnier liqueur

Beat egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer using paddle attachment on med. For 3 minutes, or until very thick. Reduce speed to low, and add cornstarch.

Slowly pour the hot milk into the eggs, with the mixer still on low. Next, pour this mixture (now like a custard) into a sauce pan and cook over low heat until the spoon coats with cream. (Don’t allow the temp to rise above about 150-160).

Pour the sauce through a fine strainer, add vanilla and Grand Marnier. Freeze using an ice cream maker per manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze in an air-tight container until ready to eat. Serves 4-5.

**My sincerest apologies! The hyperlink function is not currently working?! I have to annoyingly direct you to for recipe reference.