Cooking for two is boring -- I want to cook for the entire blogosphere!

Tuesday, December 4

Gingersnap and Lemon Ice Cream Sandwiches

Now I love peppermint as much as the next girl, but once in a while you've got to shake things up. Christmas should not be limited to egg nog, pumpkin spice, and mint (no matter what Starbucks would have you believe). As I've gotten older, I've developed a fondness for gingersnaps, especially this excellent recipe from the Joy of Cooking. These cookies have a warmth that feels very homey in December, and of course they remind me of making gingerbread houses (and eating most of the gumdrops and licorice before they could be affixed to the roof). I really like lemon with gingersnaps, and instead of making a lemon icing, I made ice cream sandwiches (which have the added appeal of staying fresh in the freezer for several weeks). The ice cream couldn't be easier, and the recipe comes from The Perfect Scoop.

Ginger Snaps

3 3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 2/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup dark molasses
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp lemon zest

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 F. Line two cookie sheets with parchement paper.

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until very fluffy. Add the eggs, molasses, lemon juice, and zest and combine until well blended.

  • Stir in the flour mixture until well-blended and smooth. Pull off pieces of dough and form one-inch balls in your hands. Space about 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Flatten each ball with the palm of your hand. You can also use a damp glass dipped in sugar, which will add some sweetness and sparkle to the final product.

  • Bake no more than 9-10 minutes for soft cookies; as long as 13 minutes for very, very crisp cookies. Cool on a wire rack.

Simple Lemon Ice Cream

2 lemons
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large or 3 small lemons)
2 cups half-n-half
Pinch of salt

  • Zest the lemons directly into a food processor or good blender. Add the sugar and blend until the lemon zest is very fine. Add the lemon juice and blend until the sugar is completely dissolved. Blend in the half-in-half and salt until smooth.

  • Chill 1 hour, then pour into your ice cream machine.

To make sandwiches, match up two cookies of the same size. Put about 1/4 cup ice cream (freshly churned or else softened) on one cookie and press the other on top. Ice cream will squeeze out the sides, and you can scrape it away with a rubber spatula. Wrap each sandwich individually in plastic wrap and freeze. They are much easier to eat once they've frozen solid.

Sunday, November 18

Anise and Almond Biscotti

I used to be intimidated by biscotti. Then I actually made it. No cookie could be simpler.

My bible for cookies, the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion, has a dynamite recipe for true Italian biscotti. This cookie is not meant to be eaten plain, unless you are a baby who likes to gum her food. But Italian biscotti are simply sensational with coffee; the hot liquid immediately softens the biscuit while bringing out the subtle flavors (especially delicious when those flavors include hazelnut, chocolate, almond, or vanilla).

Since I had a big jar of anise leftover from a Mexican baking adventure (brush a flour tortilla with melted butter, sprinkle on cinnamon, sugar, and anise, bake for about 10 minutes, cut into triangles, and enjoy with vanilla or cinnamon ice cream), I decided to make King Arthur's "classic" biscotti, almond and anise. It has subtle licorice flavor that's pleasant but not too intense. Nice to serve if you have Italian neighbors or an Italian mother-in-law you want to impress.

For extra interest, throw in a cup of chopped toasted almonds with the flour.

Classic Italian Biscotti

2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp aniseed
2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, baking powder, salt, and vanilla until creamy looking; the mixture will be light-colored and thick as pancake batter. Lower the mixer speed and add the flour and anise seed, beating gently just until it's totally incorporated. Add the almonds now if you're using them.
  • Transfer the dough the baking sheet and shape into a log about 14 inches long, 2.5 inches wide, and .75 inches thick. Using a dough scraper or wet hands helps.
  • Bake the dough for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit until cool to the touch, 5-25 minutes. About 5 minutes before cutting the cookie log, spritz it with water or pat it with wet hands - this will make the cutting easier.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 325. Cut the biscotti into 1/2 inch slices, cutting an an angle across the cookie log. Make sure to slice straight up and down or the biscotti will topple over in the oven.
  • Set the sliced biscotti upright on the baking sheet. Bake for another 25 minutes, then cool on a rack. The finished cookies can be stored up to two weeks in an air-tight container. Remember to enjoy them with tea, coffee, or hot chocolate!

Monday, October 8

Cinnamon Buns

Even though it's still 80 degrees in New York, something about October signals fall. Maybe it's the leaves turning brown and landing in the gutter. Or maybe it's the neighbors, who already have their stoop decked out in fake spiderwebs and plastic bats. Or maybe it's the way the breeze swoops in, cooler than the sunshine and humidity would predict, reminding us that winter really isn't that far off.

In any case, I decided to make cinnamon buns. I've always wanted to and finally found a reipe that seemed relatively easy to put together. In fact, this recipe was more difficult in execution than it seemed it would be. The dough is very sticky and split apart when I rolled it out and again when I rolled it up. Removing the baked buns from the pan "without seperating" was mere wishful thinking on the part of the recipe writers, or maybe they just had a really big spatula. Instead of emerging as eight rolls all stuck together, I ended up with a jumbled mass of bread and melted sugar. Still, it must be said that these buns are all kind of delicious. The biscuit part is very nice, and the filling crisps up into sort of a toffee on the outside. I don't know who ever thought to christen these rolls a breakfast food, however; they are so sweet my teeth hurt.

Quick Cinnamon Buns with Buttermilk Icing

Melted butter is used in both the filling and the dough and to
grease the pan; it’s easiest to melt the total amount (8
tablespoons) at once and measure it out as you need it. The
finished buns are best eaten warm, but they hold reasonably well
for up to 2 hours. Makes 8 buns.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter , melted, for pan

Cinnamon-Sugar Filling
3/4 cup dark brown sugar (packed, 5 1/4 ounces)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (1 3/4 ounces)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter , melted

Biscuit Dough
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces), plus
additional flour for work surface
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted

2 tablespoons cream cheese , softened
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 cup confectioners' sugar (4 ounces)

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425
degrees. Pour 1 tablespoon melted butter in 9-inch nonstick cake
pan; brush to coat pan. Spray wire rack with nonstick cooking
spray; set aside.

2. To make cinnamon-sugar filling: Combine sugars, spices, and salt
in small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon melted butter and stir with fork or
fingers until mixture resembles wet sand; set filling mixture aside.

3. To make biscuit dough: Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking
soda, and salt in large bowl. Whisk buttermilk and 2 tablespoons
melted butter in measuring cup or small bowl. Add liquid to dry
ingredients and stir with wooden spoon until liquid is absorbed
(dough will look very shaggy), about 30 seconds. Transfer dough to
lightly floured work surface and knead until just smooth and no
longer shaggy.

4. Pat dough with hands into 12 by 9-inch rectangle. Following
illustrations below, fill, roll, cut, and arrange buns in buttered
cake pan. Brush with 2 tablespoons remaining melted butter. Bake
until edges are golden brown, 23 to 25 minutes. Use offset metal
spatula to loosen buns from pan; without separating, slide buns out
of pan onto greased cooling rack. Cool about 5 minutes before icing.

5. To make icing and finish buns: While buns are cooling, line
rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (for easy cleanup); set
rack with buns over baking sheet. Whisk cream cheese and buttermilk
in large nonreactive bowl until thick and smooth (mixture will look
like cottage cheese at first). Sift confectioners’ sugar over;
whisk until smooth glaze forms, about 30 seconds. Spoon glaze
evenly over buns; serve immediately.

STEP BY STEP: Rolling Up Cinnamon Buns

1. Brush dough with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle evenly
with filling, leaving 1/2-inch border of plain dough around edges.
Press filling firmly into dough.
2. Using bench scraper or metal spatula, loosen dough from work
surface. Starting at long side, roll dough, pressing lightly, to
form a tight log. Pinch seam to seal.

3. Roll log seam-side down and cut evenly into eight pieces. With
hand, slightly flatten each piece of dough to seal open edges and
keep filling in place.
4. Place one roll in center of prepared nonstick pan, then place
remaining seven rolls around perimeter of pan.

*Cooks Illustrated 2002

Thursday, October 4

Portobello Mushroom Spaghetti

I want to say thanks to my pal at On the Hob for rescuing me from my dining dilemma tonight: what to do with the giant Portobello mushroom I bought? Couldn't stuff it, couldn't make a sandwich, no point in roasting... Her solution? Saute it with a little balsamic vinegar. It worked like a charm. I added zucchini (or courgette as some people I know like to say), tomatoes, and Italian parsley and served it over spaghetti. Here's how the whole thing turned out:

It was quite a nice dinner, and I liked using up odds and ends that were already in the fridge and cupboard. I also have to thank Jamie Oliver for the pasta serving suggestion that appears in this month's Gourmet: swirl the spaghetti in a ladle or large spoon and then plate. It was so much easier than shlurping with a fork or tongs and looked pretty, too. It's nice to see something in Gourmet that's actually practical and useful for the home cook and not just theoretical inspiration...

Friday, August 17

Summer Bean Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

I've been making a variation of this salad all summer. I don't think I've ever actually made it as directed below, but it's the kind of thing that lends itself to variation. I love the crunch of cucumber, the sweetness of fresh corn, and the sweet-tartness of fresh summer tomatoes. The part that pulls the recipe together is the yummy lime vinaigrette. The proportions are spot on and this is a great way to use up limes if, like me, you bought 15 one day when they were on sale at 15/$1.

Summer Bean Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

3/4 cup uncooked small macaroni
1 1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes
3/4 cup diced peeled avocado
1/2 cup chopped seeded poblano chile
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/3 cup chopped red onion
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained & rinsed
2 tsp lime zest
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic (3/4 tsp), minced
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground red pepper

  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and cool completely.
  • Combine the tomatoes, avocado, poblano, cucumber, onion, cilantro, and beans in a medium bowl, stirring to combine.
  • Combine zest, juice, vinegar, oil, garlic, salt & pepper in small bowl, whisking well. Add pasta and lime vinaigrette to veggie mixture; toss to combine.
*From Cooking Light magazine

Tuesday, June 19

Fresh Peach Ice Cream

For my birthday a very smart man got me David Lebovitz's book The Perfect Scoop. It's a compendium of amazing ice cream recipes, varying from chocolate and vanilla to basil and avocado. For my inagural taste test, I decided on fresh peach, which seems like a great way to eat in season. I've never been a big fruit ice cream person, but maybe with my tastes changing in other ways, ice cream is not far behind?

This recipe was really delightful. It has tangy, sour notes but tastes strongly of fresh peaches, too. It was pretty foolproof to make (especially compared to some of the recipes in the book) and uses less cream than many ice creams. It was certainly better than some of my invented creations, though I have to say that I thought of malted milk ice cream before I saw the recipe in the Lebovitz book! I'll be interested to see if his version beats mine (probably).

I stuck to this recipe pretty closely. I didn't have sour cream so I substituted cream cheese and half & half. I also used two peaches and one nectarine -- perhaps these substitutions are why my ice cream tasted rather tangy. A bit more cream cheese, and I would have had Peach Cheesecake ice cream -- not altogether a bad idea.

Fresh Peach Ice Cream

1 1/3 lbs peaches (3 or 4 large)
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
a splash of fresh lemon juice

- Peel the peaches, slice them in half and remove the stone. Chop them into small-ish chunks and cook them with the water in a saucepan over medium heat, covered, stirring once or twice, until soft and cooked through, about 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat, stir in sugar, then cool to room temperature. You can use an ice bath to speed this process up.
- Puree the cooked peaches and the final four ingredients in a blender or food processor until almost smooth but still piecey. Alternately, you can mash the cooked peach with a potato masher or similar.
- Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator or over an ice bath (the colder the mixture, the quicker and better the ice cream will freeze), then freeze in your ice cream maker.

Saturday, May 5

Double Chocolate Souffles with warm fudge sauce

A few Christmases back, I got a souffle pan, but the prospect of making a souffle always seemed so daunting, so I never used it. Then I saw a long article in Cooking Light a while back, all about how to make the perfect souffle. Included were several recipes for unique and low-fat dishes. Armed with a good recipe and new, adorable candy-colored ramekins (the Christmas souffle pan is in storage, alas), I tried my hand at my first souffle.

I halved this recipe and it fit into four little ramakins. I think this recipe would also work as-is for a normal souffle pan. The resulting desserts turned out rich and very chocolatey, which is great considering they're pretty low-fat (about 9 grams of fat, 300 calories each, including 2 tablespoons of sauce). For a chocolate souffle, I'd say that's pretty good. The souffle is better than the sauce, though, which tasted too flour-y to me. If you didn't mind a few extra calories, I'd make a regular chocolate sauce and maybe add a dollap of sweetened whipped cream on top. I'm leaving out the chocolate sauce recipe as it wasn't so good; you'll have to substitute your own.


1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar, divided
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups fat-free milk
3 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
6 large egg whites

- Move oven rack to the bottom of the oven, and remove the middle rack. Preheat oven to 425.
- Lightly coat 6 eight-ounce souffle dishes with cooking spray or a little butter. Sprinkle evenly with 2 tbsp of sugar.
- Combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar, 3 tbsp flour, 3 tbsp cocoa, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly with a whisk; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly; remove from heat.
- Add chocolate and stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature, then stir in vanilla and egg yolk.
- Place egg whites in a large non-reactive mixing bowl and beat at high speed with a mixer until stiff peaks form (but don't overbeat!!). Gently fold 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in remaining.
- Sharply tap dishes2 or 3 times on counter to level. Place dishes on baking sheet; place sheet on bottom rack of oven. Immediately reduce temperature to 350. Bake 40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick insterted into the side of the souffle comes out clean. Don't peak while they're cooking or they won't rise properly!
- Serve warm, straight from the oven when possible, with a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

Tuesday, April 24

Roasted Eggplant with Yogurt Sauce

After a long hiatus of few cooking adventures, some exciting things are happening in the kitchen. Most thrillingly, I bought an ice cream maker at a thrift shop in the West Village. It's your standard we-got-married-twenty-years-ago-and-haven't-used-this-thing-once-let's-finally-get-rid-of-the-clutter ice cream maker; I think it's the same model my dad and I had back in the late 1980s for girl scout ice cream chemistry projects. It's never been used, so at $8.00, quite the bargain. For quite some time now I've been ready to spend $30 or $40 for the priveledge of making my own delicious frozen confections.

My first attempt at making mocha frozen yogurt tasted like, well, yogurt that was cold. The book is wrong when it says, "Just pour in any flavored yogurt, turn, freeze, and voila!" What I made did not taste at all like any frozen yogurt I've had anywhere. I think the key is to add sugar, and maybe to use Greek yogurt, which is milder and creamier. In any case, I'm moving on to regular ice cream tonight or tomorrow, and hopefully that recipe will yield better results.

I've also been thinking for a while now about an eggplant dish I had at an Afghan restaurant while I was in California last Christmas. It was soft eggplant smothered in a creamy sauce, and it was delicious -- unlike any eggplant I've ever had. This week I found myself in possesion of a few little Chinese eggplants, so I decided to try to replicate the dish as best I could. I think it turned out lovely, though not quite what I had in California. I roasted the epplants with a few chopped onions in the oven, then made a variation on a yogurt sauce from a cucumbers-in-yogurt recipe. Finally I added some chickpeas to the mix to make it a full dinner (I guess I would have used lamb if I ate that) and served over brown rice. While I doubt this dish is authentic to Afghan, Moroccan, Turkish, or any kind of Middle Eastern cuisine, it was my own take and pretty good in the end.

Eggplant in Yogurt Sauce

For the Eggplant:

2-3 small Chinese eggplants or 1 large European variety, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked pepper

- Preheat the oven to 375.
- Toss the vegetables with the oil and seasoning. Scatter in one layer on a baking sheet.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, then flip the veggies and bake another 10-15 minutes, until they are soft and crisp at the edges. Remove from oven.

For the Yogurt Sauce:

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt (preferably Greek)
Juice of one lemon (2 tbsp)
1-2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cracked pepper
3/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp dried seasoning (I used sage but dill or parsley is preferable)

- Mix all ingredients. Let sit for at least 10-15 minutes to meld flavors.
- Pour over the eggplant and onion.
- You will use only about a third of the sauce; the other two-thirds can be mixed with cucumbers for a side salad or with warmed chickpeas for a main course. This dish should be served at room temperature or slighly warm but not hot or cold. Serves 2 with leftovers.

*Yogurt sauce recipe adapted from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant.

Tuesday, March 6

Roasted Winter Vegetables

Lovely as a side dish with chicken or lentils, roasted vegetables hit the spot on a cold winter's night. But they don't have to be limited to side dish status -- I piled mine into a goat-cheese omlette. The creamy cheese is a wonderful foil for salty, strong-flavored veggies. Serve for lunch in your Northern California backyard, with a crisp beer and a little side salad, on a sunny March day!

Use any combination of root vegetables or squash that takes your fancy... The cooking time won't vary too much. By cooking hard roots like beets the same length of time as tender squash like zucchini, you guarrantee the same relative texture; that is, the roasted beets will still be firmer than the roasted zucchini, but none should be over or under-done.

1 medium sweet potato
1 large zucchini
1/2 large onion
2 large carrots
2 medium beets

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 1/2 tbsp dried sage
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 F.
Wash and peel vegetables, then roughly chop them; it's good if the pieces are relatively uniform in size. Put vegetables in a large bowl. Whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over vegetables, then toss so all are evenly coated with dressing.
Spread in a single layer (or as close as you can get) on an unoiled 11x17 baking pan, or use two baking sheets (Pyrex glass pans work fine as well). Bake for 40 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes, until crispy, browned, and tender.

Recipe adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics

Monday, March 5

Candy Making 101

I am on a quest to learn how to make candy. I have the thermometer. I have the pastry brush. Lord knows I have the sugar. But I'm a little scared; I can't imagine a more ironic death for the sugar obsessed than spilling a pan and being burned alive by molten sugar. So I'm easing into the process by practicing with two very easy, no-fuss, no boil candy recipes. Both turned out great, so I am encouraged to move on to marshmallows and caramels!

Chocolate-covered cornflakes. How deliciously kitchy. In the article where I got this recipe, the author claimed she first had them at Jacques Torres chocolatier here in NYC, but I imagine they were cooked up by a bored housewife or a General Mills food promotions exec back in the '50s. In any case, chocolate-covered cornflakes are malty, crunchy, sweet, and spectacularly easy to make.


* 1/2 lb. Semi-sweet or Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
* 2 Cups Corn Flakes (fresh is best)

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler until almost melted. Take from heat and stir chocolate until smooth. Pour half over the corn flakes and quickly stir with rubber spatula. Add remaining chocolate and fold gently until all of the corn flakes are generously coated with chocolate. Using two teaspoons, scoop the chocolate-covered corn flakes onto a waxed-paper-lined cookie sheet, shaping into clusters. (Alternately, spread out on cookie sheet into individual flakes - or as close as you can get.) Let set. Makes about a cookie-sheet full. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Rocky Road Fudge. Having been a candy fiend for most of my life, I've sampled many different types of fudge from many different places - maple fudge from Vermont, chocolate fudge by the seaside in Santa Cruz, and peanut butter fudge in the unparalleled fudge hotspot of Mackinac Island. Most fudges are sweet and rich. The recipe I chose to make is rich indeed, but with a more sophisticated and grown-up chocolate taste. Its flavor depends on using quality ingredients - really fine chocolate is a must. But for such sophisticated taste, this is really simple to throw together.


16 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup walnuts
1 cup marshmallows

Line an 8x8" pan with a piece of greased aluminum foil, folded over to create a double layer (or use a single layer of heavy-duty foil). In a medium, heat-proof bowl or the top of a double boiler, toss together chocolates, soda, and salt. Stir in condensed milk and vanilla. Place bowl over a pan of boiling water, taking care that the water does not touch the pan (same with double-boiler). Stir mixture for 2-4 minutes, until most but not all of the chocolate has melted. Remove from heat and stir two more minutes, until all the chocolate has melted. Stir in the walnuts and marshmallows. Spread the fudge into the prepared pan and chill until set, about 2 hours.

As a note, these taste much better at room temperature than straight from the fridge. It's worth taking a piece out 20 minutes before you want to eat it to let it come up to room temperature.

These will keep about 2 weeks in the fridge or a month in the freezer.

Recipe from Cook's Illustrated.

Thursday, February 15

Chocolate Raspberry Sandwich Cookies

This is what I made for my sweetheart for Valentine's Day: obscenely good chocolate raspberry sandwich cookies. Seriously, the picture doesn't demonstrate how brilliant the raspberry flavor is with the chocolate. I guess you'll just have to imagine.

The recipe for the cookies is adapted from the King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion. The only changes I made were to add some wheat flour (as is my wont) and to add half brown sugar (mostly because I ran out of white, but the flavor compliments the chocolate, I think). The recipe for the filling is from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics. It's actually a vegan frosting for chocolate cake, but it worked wonderfully as a filling here.


1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 tsp(heaping) salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking powder
2 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a large bowl, beat together the cream and sugar until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the salt and the vanilla.
- In a seperate bowl, wisk together the flour, cocoa, and baking powder. Gradually blend this mixture into the butter mixture until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips.
- Drop the dough by teaspoonful onto parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving about 1.5 inches between each. Bake for 11 to 12 minutes; they'll feel soft on top and will have spread out. Transfer to a rack to cool.
- When the cookies are completely cool, you can fill them. Instructions below.


1/3 cup raspberry jam
1 cup semisweet chocolate

- Combine jam and chocolate and melt in microwave: try 20 seconds, then stir. If chocolate is not yet completely melted, microwave again in 5 seconds increments. Don't overheat!
- Scoop about a teaspoonful of filling onto one cookie and spread with a knife or offset spatula. Top with another cookie and leave an hour or two to set. Repeat with remaining cookies.

Sunday, February 11

Blueberry Muffins

Muffins are probably the most American of breakfast baked goods, and blueberry is the quintessential flavor. I can't imagine a homemade brunch without homemade blueberry muffins, and nothing is nicer to serve a guest with tea on a winter afternoon. You'd think, given the ubiquity and popularity of this treat, that there'd be one way to make them, one definitive recipe, one set taste. Not so. Those greasy giants sold by the dozen at Costco can't compare to the crispy, fruit-filled gems you might find at your local weekend breakfast joint. The point is, muffin recipes are extremely flexible, and as such, muffins are lots of fun to make.

I have been playing around with ingredients with some very good results. The old standby, The Joy of Cooking, has three basic recipes that are a great place to start -- one for muffins, one for low-fat muffins, and one for yogurt muffins. After some experimentation, I found that modifying the low-fat recipe yielded the best result. The resulting muffins are rich and sweet, with crispy tops and a nice crumb. I'm not sure if the recipe still qualifies as "low fat" (heavy cream, not so much low in fat) but I'm sure you're way better off eating one of these muffins than whatever you'd find on the bagel and danish platter at your next morning meeting.

Blueberry Muffins

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 egg
3 generous tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup nonfat milk
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups blueberries

- Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a standard 12 cup muffin tin with paper cups.
- Whisk together in a large bowl the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
- Put the butter in a glass liquid measuring cup and microwave until melted, approx. 30 seconds. Whisk in the egg, vanilla, and milk. If the butter solidifies into little pieces, put the mixture back into the microwave for another 10 - 15 seconds and stir.
- Pour the butter mixture into the flour mixture and add the blueberries. Fold together with a few light strokes, until the dry ingredients are moistened, taking care not to over mix.
- Divide the batter among the muffin cups. There will be just enough to fill 12 cups completely. Sprinkle the tops with cinnamon and sugar. Bake 19 - 22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

These muffins freeze well for several weeks. To reheat, pop in a 350 oven for 15-20 minutes.

Friday, January 26

Wild Rice Cakes with Creamed Spinach

You can find the recipes for this here and here, so I won't bother posting them, but doesn't this look divine? What a perfect little appetizer for a dinner party or a small main meal for two.

By the way, you can save a few calories and substitute milk for cream in the spinach. It makes a basic white sauce instead. If you go this route I would use cornstarch instead of flour to help it thicken better. The sauce won't have the apprearance or rich taste of a cream sauce, but at least a low-fat sauce gives you an excuse to throw some parmesan cheese on top. Also, it's not necessary to steam the spinach prior to putting it in the sauce, unless you like well-cooked spinach. Otherwise, the heat from the sauce will wilt it, if you stir everything together for about a minute over the heat.

Also, I should add that I tried two new things this week that I'd never made before: eggplant parmesan and hummus. I decided to bake the little breaded eggplant disks for the eggplant parm, instead of frying them, with decent results. So, it can be done if you want to avoid frying. Just add a lot of sauce when you're finally baking everything together. The hummus, on the other hand, was quick as a snap and very delicious. Super easy with a little mini prep food processor and miles cheaper than buying prepared hummus from the grocery store. I'd recommend giving it a shot sometime!

Sunday, January 14

Hot Fudge Sauce

I had a craving for something sweet this weekend, and thought, "Why not hot fudge sundaes?!" For Christmas I gave my better half Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, and inside was an easy and, it turned out, excellent recipe for hot fudge. The quality of the final product depends greatly, of course, on the type of chocolate used; we had good-quality semi-sweet chocolate that worked really nicely. This recipe isn't as achingly sweet as many commercial chocolate sauces, which I find nice, but you could always pick a sweeter chocolate to make the sauce more child or sweet-tooth friendly.

Hot Fudge

4 oz. semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate

4 tbsp butter

1/4 cup sugar

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup water

1/3 cup corn syrup

1 tsp vanilla

Combine first 5 ingredients in a saucepan over very low heat. Cook, stirring, until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Add the corn syrup. Bring the mixture just to a boil and turn quickly back down, careful not to burn the chocolate. Cook, stirring more or less constantly, for 5-10 minutes, until the mixtures is shiny and begins to thicken. Add the vanilla. Avoid the temptation to eat this right away; it's better if it sits for 10-15 minutes before you dig in. Not only does this allow the sauce to thicken, but also your ice cream won't melt that way!