Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

Molasses Cookies

February 3, 2013

IMG_9560I don’t know about you, but I have two types of stores that I could literally live in (while handing over my full paycheck in exchange for goods!). Kitchen stores (ie: Sur La Table) and spice stores (ie: Penzey’s). And the funny thing about spice stores is that I don’t even really need to be on the lookout for a spice to spend a good half hour in this olfactory heaven. I just glance at the spices available, and the recipes that they generally display to get your creative juices flowing.

So last time I was at Penzey’s, I spotted a recipe for Molasses Cookies. At first glance I thought to myself, not sure I have ever made those and it has probably been since childhood last time I tasted them. But, I started thinking that a spiced cookie would be delicious in the winter – might even warm me up!

This recipe is originally from Linda Aukerman and to my surprise, has no butter. Apparently, when baking with just shortening (vs butter) it really affects the texture of the cookie. And I have to admit, the crunchy outside and super chewy inside is worth the ingredient switch. And, combined with the warming spice mixture, make this cookie amazing.

These cookies were a clear winner the minute we tasted them – or quite possibly the moment they came out of the oven and we could smell them. They also disappeared at work quite quickly.

Thanks to Penzey’s and Linda Aukerman for sharing a recipe that does warm me up on a cold winter night!

MOLASSES COOKIES
1 1/2 cups shortening, melted and cooled (do NOT substitute butter)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 eggs
4 cups flour
4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp powdered ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup extra sugar or vanilla sugar for rolling (if you have a Penzey’s or spice shop nearby and can get the vanilla sugar, I highly recommend it!)

To the melted, cooled shortening add: the sugar, molasses and eggs. Beat well with hand mixer. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing to incorporate. Chill for at least an hour (can make the dough ahead and make the cookies the next day if desired). Preheat oven to 375. Using about a tablespoon of dough, form into balls. Roll in sugar and place on ungreased cookie sheets (although I would recommend a silicone mat or parchment paper), about 2 inches apart. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. Check at 8 minutes. You want them to flatten but still be soft. Let the cookies cool for at least 2 minutes before removing them from the pan, as they can break if you try to pick them up when they are very hot. Cool on a cooling rack.

BLT Hot Dogs with Caraway Remoulade

January 27, 2013

IMG_9554I do not pride myself on being ahead of culinary trends, or even knowing when one has come and gone. However, I read enough food magazines and go out to eat enough to realize that we really are seeing a trend of casual/street food turned gourmet. Restaurants serve gourmet $20 burgers with fois gras, hot spots are touting fancy wood-fired pizzas wearing brussels spouts and pistachios and taco joints are serving up the traditional Mexican fare stuffed with braised short ribs and kimchi. But one of the most fascinating trendy spots I have seen is a restaurant downtown that showcases what a dressed up hot dog can really do. And this place really does the job – a turducken dog, a croque monsieur with ham and bechamel, and a Chevy Chase complete with pretzels and beer cheese.

At first I was skeptical – that is until I actually had one of these exhibitions of gourmet picnic food. Who knew a hot dog could be so multi-dimensional. And, as a home cook, it has opened my eyes to what “dressed up casual food” I could make on an average weeknight.

So, when I saw a recipe for a BLT hot dog with caraway remoulade in my Food and Wine magazine, I thought why not? It is quick (easy for a weeknight), cheap (how much can all beef dogs really be?) and completely unique (not sure who decided to put bacon on a hot dog, but that person should win a Pulitzer Prize).

I cannot rave enough about this super simple recipe that tasted exactly like a BLT (but a bit better, to be honest!). The lettuce mixed in the homemade remoulade really makes the dish, so make sure to get a bite of it along with the dog, tomatoes and bacon.

This is surely going in my recipe book not only for an easy weeknight standby, but also to really mix up my next grill out. Who said picnic food can’t be a little fancy?

BLT HOT DOGS WITH CARAWAY REMOULADE
Serves 8

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon minced shallot
2 teaspoons chopped capers
1 tablespoon chopped dill pickle
1 tablespoon caraway seeds, toasted
8 hot dogs, cooked
8 hot dog buns, toasted
8 slices of crisp, cooked applewood-smoked bacon
1 cup chopped tomatoes
4 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
1/3 cup small basil leaves

In a medium bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the shallot, capers, pickle and toasted caraway seeds.

Put the cooked hot dogs in the buns; top with the bacon and tomatoes. Toss the lettuce and basil with some of the caraway remoulade. Top the dogs with the slaw. Serve any remaining remoulade on the side.

Spaghetti with Sicilian Meatballs

January 13, 2013

IMG_9502When we were in Italy, what struck me most is that there truly isn’t “Italian” food. Rather, their food is identified by the region you are in. Spaghetti and clams in the Italian Riviera. Boar in Tuscany. Pizza in Naples. That is why I was so intrigued when I saw a recipe for Sicilian meatballs in Bon Appetit.

The food of Sicily has a Greek and sometimes African influence, making it have more olives, capers and currants than you would find in the “boot.” So when looking at the meatball recipe, at first glance it seemed very traditional. Sausage meat (which was an interesting twist on the typical beef, veal, pork combo), breadcrumbs in milk, garlic, onion, etc. Yet, then they add pine nuts and currants to make it have a bit of nutty sweetness. They are baked, and then smothered in a traditional Italian red sauce.

This dish has that same warm, comforting result as typical Italian meatballs, but they do have an interesting sweetness to them that makes them have a “hmm, what’s that?” factor. It is a great alternative to a typical bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, and will be making its way to our dinner table as a great Sicilian (not Italian!) dish!

SPAGHETTI WITH SICILIAN MEATBALLS
Serves 4-6

Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice
4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Meatballs:
2/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 large egg
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound sweet Italian sausages, casings removed
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons dried currants

1 pound spaghetti

For Sauce:
Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-low heat. Add onion; sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Add tomatoes with juices and 2 tablespoons basil; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until sauce thickens, breaking up tomatoes with fork, about 1 hour. Mix in 2 tablespoons basil. Season with salt and pepper. Set sauce aside.

For Meatballs:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly oil baking sheet. Mix crumbs and milk in medium bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Mix in Parmesan, onion, basil, egg, garlic and pepper. Add sausage, pine nuts and currants; blend well. Using wet hands, form mixture into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place on baking sheet. Bake until meatballs are light brown and cooked through, about 30 minutes. Add to sauce.

Cook spaghetti in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Mound in dish. Bring sauce and meatballs to simmer. Mix with and spoon over spaghetti.

Momofuku Bo Ssam

June 24, 2012

I am always up for something different, a challenge if you will, on a Sunday. I have more time than any weekday prior, and I am a rejuvenated version of myself from the Saturday off. I have time to search out unique ingredients, slow roast meat, patiently babysit the evening’s dinner, and do something a little extraordinary. We always open a bottle of wine, watch a movie or the HBO series de jour and enjoy a celebration of the wonderful weekend.

I love Korean food so when my husband and I saw this recipe in the New York Times from Momofuku in NYC, I was intrigued. Essentially, Bo Ssam is a slow roasted pig that is then served with many accompaniments and sauces to be wrapped with rice in a lettuce leaf. A version that serves 6-10 people (like the recipe below) goes for $200 at Momofuku. And for good reason with all of the ingredients, time and love that goes into it. It looked like quite a production – the perfect meal for a Sunday night.

The ingredients are easier to find than you would think, with the exception of kimchi which resulted in a trip to our Asian market to purchase. Could you do without one item? One sauce? One accompaniment? Sure. But do you want to go through all of this effort and be one element short? I don’t think so.

The Bo Ssam was worth every effort I put into it. And, it is quite an impressive feast when spread out on a table. The pork is so tender it falls apart, and has such a deep flavor, despite not having excessive seasoning. And every sauce, every element goes perfectly together in the lettuce. With leftovers the next day, I shredded the pork, mixed in some of the sauces, and we made sliders. Also delicious.

So if you have a Sunday when you are feeling up for something special, I highly recommend this recipe. Because of this size, it also is perfect for entertaining. Although much cheaper than a flight to NYC and $200 to eat this at Momfuku, I officially put that experience on my to do list. I am sure it is worth every penny.

BO SSAM (from Momofuku)
Serves 6-8
Pork Butt:
1 whole bone-in pork butt or picnic ham (8 to 10 pounds)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons brown sugar

Ginger-Scallion Sauce:
2½ cups thinly sliced scallions, both green and white parts
½ cup peeled, minced fresh ginger
¼ cup neutral oil (like grapeseed)
1½ teaspoons light soy sauce
1 scant teaspoon sherry vinegar
½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

Ssam Sauce:
2 tablespoons fermented bean-and- chili paste (ssamjang, available in many Asian markets, and online)
1 tablespoon chili paste (kochujang, available in many Asian markets, and online)
½ cup sherry vinegar
½ cup neutral oil (like grapeseed)

Accompaniments:
2 cups plain white rice, cooked
3 heads bibb lettuce, leaves separated, washed and dried
1 dozen or more fresh oysters (optional – I did not include))
Kimchi (available in many Asian markets, and online).

1. Place the pork in a large, shallow bowl. Mix the white sugar and 1 cup of the salt together in another bowl, then rub the mixture all over the meat. Cover it with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, or overnight.

2. When you’re ready to cook, heat oven to 300. Remove pork from refrigerator and discard any juices. Place the pork in a roasting pan and set in the oven and cook for approximately 6 hours, or until it collapses, yielding easily to the tines of a fork. (After the first hour, baste hourly with pan juices.) At this point, you may remove the meat from the oven and allow it to rest for up to an hour.

3. Meanwhile, make the ginger-scallion sauce. In a large bowl, combine the scallions with the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and taste, adding salt if needed.

4. Make the ssam sauce. In a medium bowl, combine the chili pastes with the vinegar and oil, and mix well.

5. Prepare rice, wash lettuce and, if using, shuck the oysters. Put kimchi and sauces into serving bowls.

6. When your accompaniments are prepared and you are ready to serve the food, turn oven to 500. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining tablespoon of salt with the brown sugar. Rub this mixture all over the cooked pork. Place in oven for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, or until a dark caramel crust has developed on the meat. Serve hot, with the accompaniments.

Pineapple Upside-Down Pancakes

April 28, 2012

Breakfast is most likely the meal I make the least. Five days a week I am running out the door with a coffee and a granola bar, then on the other two we are generally headed to our local spots for something a bit more substantial like a quiche or some eggs.

So, it is rare that we stay in and I make something more than a bagel. But, when I saw this recipe it looked intriguing and simple enough that I wouldn’t have to spend my Friday night buying the relevant ingredients. The basics we all have (flour, etc.), and hopefully rum falls within that list for most of us as well. The only “special” ingredient was sliced pineapples, which fortunately can be bought in an can at anytime and stored in your pantry for this special occasion.

The result is not only incredibly tasty (and not too sweet as I had feared) but also beautiful. The pineapple soaked in rum, cinnamon and brown sugar has such a comforting quality, and the texture is the perfect contrast to the fluffy pancakes. And, if you have little ones around (like I did the week following this recipe’s debut), you can add some cherries for eyes and cut the pineapple in half for a mouth. My nephews thought they were the coolest pancakes they had ever seen.

So, stock your pantry with a few cans of pineapples and stay in one Saturday and Sunday to make this crowd pleaser. You will look like a star with little effort, and your belly will thank you. Thanks to Bon Appetit for this recipe!

PINEAPPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKES

Makes 8 pancakes
Pineapple:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1 large pineapple, peeled, cut into eight 1/2″ rounds, cored
3/4 cup dark rum
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar

Pancakes:

1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

PREPARATION
Pineapple:

Melt butter with cinnamon stick in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook until butter begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Add pineapple slices; cook until light golden brown, 4–5 minutes per side. Remove skillet from heat; add rum and brown sugar. Cook over medium-high heat until juices are thick and syrupy. Transfer pineapple to a plate; let cool. Reserve syrup.

Pancakes:

Preheat oven to 325°. Set a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Whisk first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add buttermilk and next 3 ingredients; whisk until smooth.
Heat a griddle or large heavy skillet over medium heat. Lightly coat with nonstick spray. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/4-cupfuls onto griddle. Cook each pan- cake until golden brown and bubbles form on top, about 2 minutes. Top each pancake with a pineapple ring. Flip; cook until pancake is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Place pancakes on prepared rack and bake in oven until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Rewarm reserved pineapple syrup. Divide pancakes among plates; drizzle with pineapple syrup.

Skillet-Fried Chicken

February 20, 2012

My husband has continuously asked for one dish ever since we got married – friend chicken. And being that half of my family is from the deep south, you would think that I would have some old grandmother recipe that I had made for years and, quite, frankly, didn’t even need the recipe. But the sad reality is that I had never made fried chicken before, and for only one, embarrassing reason – fear. Fear that I wouldn’t cook the chicken enough. Fear that I would spill oil everywhere. Fear that the chicken would not crisp up like you see on all of the cooking shows. And worst of all, fear I would embarrass my southern side of the family.

But, after 5 years I just couldn’t say no to my husband any longer. I figured I would give it a shot and if it went wrong, we would get take out and I wouldn’t tell a soul. Or, if it went right, I would not only be a fantastic wife, but a cook with new found confidence in doing something out of my comfort zone. Having said that, you know which one of the two was my outcome.

I won’t say it isn’t hard, or scary. It is both of those. But, once I got the hang of it, I was surprised at how crispy and delicious they looked. And even more surprised when we took our first bite and I thought had went to heaven. They were crispy, flavorful and had a slight hint of heat. With mashed potatoes and a glass of wine it was the Sunday night meal. And yes, I was completely oblivious to the caloric consequences – it was just too darn good to care.

The recipe came from Bon Appetit and was deemed the only friend chicken recipe you would ever need. They couldn’t have been more right.

A few tips I learned as a first-time fryer:
1. Don’t fill up the oil too far because it will REALLY get higher when you put the chicken in and you could risk a spill or two.
2. Use peanut oil and buy more than you think you need.
3. When in doubt, fry a bit more. This chicken is so moist, I do not believe a bit more time frying could have done it wrong.
4. Make sure to marinate overnight. It makes all the difference.
5. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, now would be the perfect time to buy one. And I promise you will use it for more than just frying chicken.

Thanks again to Bon Appetit (and my husband constant requests) for enticing me to do something different in the kitchen, and learn that I can really expand my skills as long as I put fear aside.

SKILLET-FRIED CHICKEN
4 Servings

2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 3–4-lb. chicken (not kosher), cut into 10 pieces, backbone and wing tips removed
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Peanut oil (for frying)

Whisk 1 Tbsp. salt, 2 tsp. black pepper, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl. Season chicken with spices. Place chicken in a medium bowl, cover, and chill overnight.

Let chicken stand covered at room temperature for 1 hour. Whisk buttermilk, egg, and 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl. Whisk flour, cornstarch, remaining 1 Tbsp. salt, and remaining 1 Tbsp. pepper in a 9x13x2″ baking dish.

Pour oil into a 10″–12″ cast-iron skillet or other heavy straight-sided skillet (not nonstick) to a depth of 3/4″. Prop deep-fry thermometer in oil so bulb is submerged. Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350°. Meanwhile, set a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet.

Working with 1 piece at a time (use 1 hand for wet ingredients and the other for dry ingredients), dip chicken in buttermilk mixture, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Dredge in flour mixture; tap against bowl to shake off excess. Place 5 pieces of chicken in skillet. Fry chicken, turning with tongs every 1–2 minutes and adjusting heat to maintain a steady temperature of 300°–325°, until skin is deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 165°, about 10 minutes for wings and 12 minutes for thighs, legs, and breasts.

Using tongs, remove chicken from skillet, allowing excess oil to drip back into skillet; transfer chicken to prepared rack.

Repeat with remaining chicken pieces; let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Kefta Tagine with Eggs and Roasted Cumin

January 16, 2012

After 2 weeks of not cooking, due to a lack of dishwasher (yes, we were actually so lazy we dirtied as few dishes as possible!), I wanted to try something lengthy, complicated, warm and comforting. Something that could go terribly wrong, but could also go terribly right. So, I broke out my Tagine cookbook, by Ghillie Basan, to find something spicy and filling to warm us on a cold winter night.

This dish caught my eye because even though it was comprised of the traditional lamb that is in many African dishes, it came together as meatballs, with sunny side up eggs, all cooked in the tagine.

The meatballs are called kefta, and they are filled with amazing spices, and are poached in water (which helps them keep their perfect shape), then cooked in spiced liquid that absorbs into the meatballs, and creates a hot, dry bottom of the tagine in which to cook the eggs.

Not only did the dish turn out perfectly, but the combination was nothing we had ever experienced. The spice, ras-el-hanout, is worth seeking out (I found mine at my local spice store, but you can also find it online).

My only caution is to be careful of the spice level. I will write this recipe with the spice level I used so hopefully it will do the trick (vs. the original recipe from the cookbook).

Trust me, it is worth the effort. And, ironically enough, at the end of the day there really weren’t many dishes to speak of – except the tagine itself (which doesn’t go in the dishwasher).

KEFTA TAGINE WITH EGGS AND ROASTED CUMIN
Serves 4

For the Kefta:
16 ounces ground lamb
1 onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried mint
3 teaspoons ras-el-hanout
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
a small bunch of fresh flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Rest of the Dish:
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6-8 eggs
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, dry-roasted and ground
a small bunch of fresh flatleaf parsley

To make the kefta, put the ground lamb, onion, mint, ras-el-hanout, cayenne and parsley in a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and mix well together. Using your hands, knead the mixture and mold it into small balls.

Fill a tagine (or dutch oven) with water and bring it to a boil. Carefully drop in the kefta, a few at a time, and poach them for about 10 minutes, turning them so they cook on all sides. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels. Reserve roughly 2 1/2 cups of cooking liquid.

Add the butter to the tagine with the reserved cooking water and bring to a boil. Stir in the salt and cayenne and drop in the poached kefta. Cook over high heat until almost all of the liquid has evaporated (about 15 or so minutes). Carefully crack the eggs around the kefta, cover the tagine with the lid, and cook and steam until they are just set. Sprinkle the roasted cumin seeds and the chopped parsley over the top of the dish. Serve with pearl couscous and flat bread.

Chili-Baked Ribs

January 3, 2012

For years, my husband has continuously asked me to make “saucy ribs.” But for some reason, every recipe I have tried, although good, never really gave me that sweet, spicy, sticky, lick-your-fingers ribs. Until last night.

Thanks to my parents, a bottle of liquid smoke was in my stocking this year (which is apparently available in many specialty food stores or online and can be used in many dishes!). I had heard of the ingredient and was curious about the depth of flavor it would add to items made in the kitchen vs. the grill. So when I found a saucy rib recipe that required liquid smoke, I knew I had to try it.

You need a weekend day for this one, but it is WELL worth it. I will never make another rib recipe again. The sauce is AMAZING and has such complex flavors – layering the liquid smoke, molasses, coffee and cinnamon. Then, it combines that sauciness with a great dry rub along with slow roasting the ribs until they fall off the bone.

The recipe is from Bon Appetit, but I made a few changes based on user reviews. I changed the recipe for a slower roast, and reduced the sugar for the right balance of sweet and spicy/smoky.

As someone who has tried many rib recipes, take my word that this one will be your favorite. And, if you have any doubts, just ask my rib-requesting husband!

CHILI-BAKED RIBS
Serves 8

Sauce (might want to make extra!)
4 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup minced onion
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup ketchup
2/3 cup packed golden brown sugar
2/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup unsulfured (light) molasses (although I used dark and it tasted great!)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Ribs
6 baby back pork rib racks (about 9 pounds total weight)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
4 teaspoons liquid smoke flavoring
6 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar

For Sauce:
Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Whisk in remaining ingredients. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until reduced to 3 cups, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. (Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

For Ribs:
Score white membrane on underside of ribs. Place ribs in large roasting pan. Mix vinegar and liquid smoke in small bowl; brush over both sides of ribs. Refrigerate 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 300°F. Mix chili powder, cumin, sugar, onion powder and cayenne. Rub over both sides of ribs. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange ribs, meat side up, in single layer on 2 large baking sheets. Roast 3 hours, covering loosely with foil if browning too quickly.

Remove ribs from oven. Brush both sides of ribs with 3/4 cup sauce. Roast 10 minutes. Brush both sides of ribs with additional 3/4 cup sauce. Roast 15 minutes longer. Remove ribs from oven. Cover with foil; let stand 15 minutes.

Cut ribs between bones into 3- to 4- rib sections. Serve with remaining sauce.

Baby Ruth Cookies

November 7, 2011

If you are like me, you tell yourself you won’t buy the Halloween candy that you have a weakness for, yet somehow it always ends up in your pantry. And eventually, your stomach. For me, that candy bar is a Baby Ruth. So, every Halloween, I have a bowl full of extra Baby Ruths that I continuously eat during the remainder of the week.

So this year I thought I would get a bit crafty – “what if my favorite candy bar were a cookie?” So, I took my remaining Baby Ruths, chopped them up, and put them in my favorite basic cookie recipe (from The Cookie Book by Peggy Cullen).

So during the 11 minutes the cookies were in the oven, magic happened. The nougat melted and turned chewy and sweet, and the peanuts and chocolate infused the entire dough. These might actually be the best cookies I have ever made.

So, my Halloween experiment turned into a new favorite. And, I would bet that your favorite Halloween candy would also be worth the little experiment of seeing how it translates into a cookie.

So, thanks to my basic cookie recipe and Halloween imagination for inspiring my new favorite cookie!

BABY RUTH COOKIES
2 dozen

2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/4 salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
7-10 fun size Baby Ruth candy bars, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugars, salt and vanilla until well combined. Beat in the egg. Scrape down the bowl using a rubber spatula and beat for a few more seconds.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and mix on low speed just until absorbed. Combine the Baby Ruth pieces into the dough.

Shape the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls and drop them about 3 inches apart onto baking sheets. For perfectly uniform cookies, scoop the dough using a 1 1/2-in cookie scoop, leveling the dough off across the top before dropping onto the baking sheets. Bake for 11 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Let sit for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Pumpkin Bread

October 27, 2011

For those who read my blog, know it has been a long time since I have posted. A few months in fact. And the unfortunate reality is that it isn’t because of my lack of time to blog. It is my lack of time to cook. Apologies to all who blog, but the latter is much more concerning.

Cooking and baking is part of what makes me calm, helps me keep things in perspective, allows me to feel control when other things feel out of control. And, most importantly, it allows me to share my food with others, and therefore share my love through the gift of food.

But, my busy job and travel schedule has resulted in nights of take out, frozen pizza and late night visits to our favorite local restaurants.

So, this past weekend I was finally in town. No work trips. No packed social calendar. Just a weekend to enjoy fall and reset for the busy week ahead. And fall being my favorite culinary season, I knew I had to take this opportunity to get back to what I love.

So, after 8 mini loaves of pumpkin bread that filled our house with the scents of fall, and was shared with neighbors, coworkers and friends, I rekindled what had been missing in my hectic life.

Although I love my job, and feel blessed every day that I go into work, I remembered the many other things that make me who I am. I had been missing going for a run, reading the latest Bon Appetit and spending the time with my husband that we both deserve.

So on Sunday, with the aroma of cozy and spicy fall filling our house, after delivering a loaf to our neighbor and packing up the others for coworkers, after making my butternut squash risotto with a glass of red wine listening to Italian music…..I knew that my life needed to shift. I needed to go back to what makes me happy, and prioritize it, no matter how hectic my life becomes.

So, this pumpkin bread symbolizes my commitment to spend more time doing what I enjoy doing – and that is spreading love through food.

And, it was only fitting that the pumpkin bread recipe I found was that of Bobby Flay, who I surprisingly met the weekend before at Keeneland. A sign? Maybe.

So besides the emotional connection I now have to Bobby Flay’s pumpkin bread, it is quite possibly the best recipe I have ever made. Granted, there is more sugar than in a batch of chocolate chip cookies, but his mixture of spices (especially All Spice, my favorite cold weather spice) make this a  comforting taste of fall.

So, for those who need to rekindle their love of cooking, or those just looking to make a great fall treat for the ones they love, I thank Bobby Flay for giving me the recipe that made me realize what I had been missing.

PUMPKIN BREAD
1 9-inch loaf or a 4 small loaf pan

* 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
* 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 1/4 cup vegetable oil
* Scant 1 cup canned pumpkin puree, not flavored pie filling
* 2 large eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch loaf pan.

2. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves in a small bowl.

3. Beat the butter, sugar, and oil on high speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl a few times, until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.

4. Add the pumpkin puree and mix until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until just incorporated. Mixing on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture and 2/3 cup water and mix until just combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes (if you are using a small 4 loaf pan bake for only 45 minutes). Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool completely.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: