Category Archives: recipe

Cinnamon swirl cookies

A vision came to me. It was a cinnamon-bun-meets-cookie vision. To make this vision a reality, I used the dough recipe for “Fig Pinwheels” from Martha Stewart’s Cookies (page 101) and the butter-sugar-cinnamon filling for the cinnamon roll recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks (page 37).

This isn’t the type of recipe you can whip up in a snap, not because it’s difficult but because the dough has to chill three separate times: twice for an hour each, once for half an hour. You could definitely make the dough the day before and chill it overnight, but – hold on to your hats – that does mean starting a day earlier (i.e. you have to know you will want cookies tomorrow. Then again…when is that ever not the case?).

Step one is to make the dough – butter, brown sugar, white sugar, flour, baking soda, salt – then split it in half, wrap each half in plastic, and chill for an hour.

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Step two is to roll out each ball of dough into a rectangular shape on a floured piece of parchment paper, then chill for a half hour.

Step three, melt the butter for the filling and have the sugar and cinnamon to hand. PW’s cinnamon roll recipe is scaled to feed hungry cowboys, and it’s decadent; for the cookies, I used just 1/2 stick of butter, 1/4 cup of sugar, and 1.5 tsp cinnamon.

Step four, spread melted butter on each rectangle, then sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon over the butter. Roll each rectangle into a log, and chill the logs for another hour, turning occasionally so they don’t flatten on one side. (Then again, this is according to Martha Stewart; not all of us are as keen on perfect appearance. Most of us figure staying out of jail is a good enough appearance. But I digress.)

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Not perfect circles, but they came out fine!

Finally, slice the chilled logs and put the cookies on a baking sheet; bake at 350 F for about 15 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets halfway through. Remove to a rack to cool; store in plastic containers with parchment paper between layers of cookies. (Martha says the cookies will keep for three days.)

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Appearance-wise, they turned out great; they look like little snails, but unlike real snails, I will eat these. I was worried that the filling wasn’t thick enough (the original recipe calls for a homemade fig spread, or failing that – and yes, failing is the right word, thank you, Martha – a store-bought jam), but it turned out fine. They might be a tiny bit on the bland side, but I bet the butter-sugar-cinnamon filling made them a lot easier to handle; a fig or other jam filling would have been slippery and sticky.

We’re bringing half this batch to a fellow Hampshire alum who has invited us to tour her farm this weekend; I couldn’t go empty-handed. Must remember to pick up some carrots for the horses on the way! (Sudo’s staying home. As much as I’d love to see what would happen if she met a goat face to face…)

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Beer croutons

Once upon a time at the Draft Barn in Brooklyn, I tasted beer croutons. And they were marvelous. So I decided to try to re-create them at home, with some advice with my friend (and baking/beer expert) Tim. Here’s what I did:

DSC07658Ingredients:

5-6 Tbsp beer
5-6 Tbsp unsalted butter
6 cups cubed bread
1 tsp salt
fresh black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 F. Melt butter and mix it with beer and salt in a large bowl, then toss the cubed bread in the butter-beer mixture until it’s coated. Once the bread cubes are thoroughly coated, spread them on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are golden brown and crisp and delicious.

Next time, I might try with pumpernickel or dark rye, and another tablespoon or two of butter. But this first attempt was relatively successful. (So successful, in fact, that I have no pictures of the finished croutons.)

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Simple onion barley soup

Chicken soup is the usual prescription for those who are under the weather, but chicken has always been my least favorite part of chicken soup; it’s usually tough, stringy, chewy, and flavorless. When I’m sick, I like to make a stripped-down version of cock-a-leekie soup, with just onions, broth (from bouillon cubes), and barley. It’s easy and relatively quick to make, reheats well (though it thickens as the barley absorbs more of the broth; you can add more broth, or just water), and is flavorful and soothing.

6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 Tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 cup barley
salt & pepper to taste

Saute chopped onion in butter on medium heat in a pan or pot. In a separate soup pot, bring the broth to a boil, and add the barley. (Barley cooking time will vary; check the package for directions. I used Trader Joe’s “Ten Minute” barley, which always needs longer than ten minutes.) A few minutes before the barley is ready, add the buttery onions to the soup pot and stir.

onionbarleysoup

 

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Strawberry Top Water

I meant to post this three months ago* when strawberry season was at its height, but here it is now: strawberry top water!

*”What with one thing and another, three years passed.” -William Goldman, The Princess Bride

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This is an idea I found via Clotilde Dusoulier’s blog Chocolate & Zucchini, and I have very little to add except that it is a delicious idea and you should make strawberry water any time you have strawberries in the house. It’s like that cucumber-infused water they have at spas, only a hundred times better. And it hits that sweet spot: it’s low effort, but looks/tastes impressive.

  • Rinse strawberries. Slice off the tops, put them in a jar of water, put the jar in the fridge for several hours (overnight is okay).
  • Drain the water and toss the berry tops. Drink delicious, pale pink strawberry water right away or store for 1-2 days in fridge.
  • If you have some fresh herbs around, especially basil or mint, a few leaves make a tasty addition. Same goes for a little sliver of lemon. Strawberry-lemon-mint water, anyone?

It’s quite refreshing. And of course, it’s a nice complement to whatever you plan to do with the rest of the strawberry.

 

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From snow to spring

Winter was especially long this year. Here’s a post I started back in February:

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Nothing like being at work, watching inch after inch of snow fall, and feeling glad you put a shovel in the back of your car this morning. (That’s got to be on one of those “You know you’re a New Englander when…” lists, right?)
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Please excuse the glare from a light on the window (above); I took this photo from inside, ’cause I ain’t crazy.

But it is pretty when the sun comes out…

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***

Winter was especially long, and spring was especially poky in its arrival. But the snowdrops and crocuses began coming up a few weeks ago (though they got battered again by snow, ice, sleet, etc.), and now we’re seeing daffodils, early hyacinths and grape hyacinths, and a few tulips.

Today was finally warm and dry enough to take a blanket in the backyard and read outside for a few hours (until our delicate little flower of a dog got too warm and had to retreat to her fainting couch indoors).

"I don't know about this whole 'outdoors' thing. I like my couch."

“I don’t know about this whole ‘outdoors’ thing. I like my couch.”

In addition to the flowers growing outside, I’ve been indulging in some fresh cut flowers for inside. The blue glass bottle we brought back from Barcelona has been an excellent vase for these mini gerbera daisies:

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Is it ridiculous that aside from postcards, chocolate, and slightly-reduced TBR (to-be-read) lists, the only thing we brought back from Barcelona was an empty one-liter blue glass bottle? Probably. But it was just too pretty to leave behind.

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In other news, I can report that this flourless chocolate cake is as easy and as delicious as promised by both its creator and Deb at Smitten Kitchen (“17 flourless dessert ideas,” 4/16/08). Should you need something to get you through the final day of Passover (sorry I wasn’t more timely with this), this one is a winner.

Finally, for the two? three? loyal readers of this blog who have missed more frequent greyhound photos, here are a couple more:

"What's down there? Floor. Hmm. Floor looks comfortable too."

“What’s down there? Floor. Hmm. Floor looks comfortable too.”

"Helloooo down there."

“Helloooo down there.”

 

 

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Oatmeal cookies with apricots

I’ve never been a fan of raisins in other foods. Every now and again, one of those little red boxes of raisins as a snack on their own, sure. But raisins in trail mix always got stale before everything else, raisins in rice dishes just seemed strange and misplaced, and raisins in cookies? Why would you do that. I’ve gotten a little less picky as I’ve gotten older, though, and now I’ll tolerate raisins in cookies, but if I’m the baker, I’ll usually choose something else instead (like chocolate chips, for example).

Having made oatmeal-almond-apricot scones regularly for the past few years, then, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to think of adding dried apricots to oatmeal cookies. It turns out that oatmeal cookies with apricots in them are fabulous and you should make them at once. I used Deb’s recipe from Smitten Kitchen and subbed in 3/4 cup of chopped dried apricots in place of the raisins and nuts. I did a pretty rough chop of the apricots so there are big chunks of fruit in the cookies. The grown-up me finds the result delightful, though the five- (or ten-, or fifteen-) year old me would probably have been appalled. What can I say, tastes change. But cookies are always good.

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North African stew (adapted)

At our December book club meeting, our lovely hostess made a delicious North African stew. She had adapted the recipe from Cooking for Mr. Latte by Amanda Hesser (the original calls for lamb). She kindly sent out her adapted recipe, which I then adapted further, but not much. The ingredients and directions are below, with my adjustments in brackets.

2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic
2 medium onions, diced [1 onion]
2 medium turnips, peeled and diced (1/2 inch-ish cubes) [couldn’t find turnips, used parsnips instead]
2 medium Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced (1/2 inch-ish cubes) [1 potato]
4 carrots, peeled and diced
[2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and diced]
2/3 cup dried apricots
2/3 cup prunes
4-6 cups water or vegetable broth
Optional: chickpeas

[Note: Because everything is added more or less at once, it is handy to do the vegetable prep work beforehand, so everything is ready to go once you start melting the butter.]

Melt butter in large dutch oven. Add the onions, sauté 5-7 minutes. Add oil, salt, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, garlic. Stir for 30 seconds. Add vegetables and dried fruit. Pour in enough broth/water to cover the vegetables and bring to a boil. Lower the heat so the bubbles are sparse and languid; cover and simmer gently for 2 hours, or until tender. Some of the vegetables and fruits should have blended into a thin but flavorful sauce. Serve with hearty bread, couscous or rice pilaf. [I made Irish soda bread from the America’s Test Kitchen recipe. Yum.]

[Note: This serves at least 8. It also keeps well in the fridge for a few days.]

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