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Martha’s Cookie of the Month

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I’m a Martha person. Are you? Her recipes are usually simple enough, well tested, and tasty. She only makes me feel like the most disorganized person on the planet some of the time. What a woman. When I get too discouraged I just remember she spent time behind bars and it makes me like her again.

This month the special cookie in her magazine is the “Nutty Butter.” This really isn’t a “throw it in the mixer and forget it” type of recipe. There are a few steps involved, so make sure you have about 45 minutes. You can find the recipe for these cookies after the pictures.

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Recipe can be found on page 56 of Martha Stewart Living Magazine, April 2012.
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Mix Mix Mixing up the butter and sugars.
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Thank you to my back yard chickens for making this egg and these cookies possible!
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Highly recommend investing in a full sized sheet pan. It takes up the entire oven and you can bake all of your cookies in one huge batch. Cuts a lot of time and energy…
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Here they are! And they were awesome. Not just because I’m pregnant.

Ingredients:

  • I 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 1 cup plus 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. coarse salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup nut butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (If that sounds too healthy, substitute chocolate chips. That’s what I did.)
  1. Melt 1/2 stick of butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add oats and cook, stirring, until toasted, 5-7 minutes. Spread oat mixture on a parchment lined baking sheet; let cool.
  2. Meanwhile preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat together the remaining stick of butter and the sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add egg, and beat until combined. Add nut butter (I used peanut butter but you can also use almond or cashew), and beat until combined on medium speed.
  3. Add oat mixture and chopped nuts (or chocolate chips), and beat on low speed until combined. Add flour mixture, beat until combined.
  4. Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place cookies 1 inch apart on baking sheet. Bake until golden, 12-15 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheets, can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week. But they won’t last that long.

An Acceptable Chocolate Chip Cookie

The Koslicks (Koslick is my maiden name) are notorious cookie snobs. Your cookie better not be too hard, too lemony, too crumbly, too chocolatey, or not brown-sugary enough. I have never been able to make a cookie that is worth their caloric intake…until now.

I believe I have found the holy grail of ingredients… Cornstarch. Cornstarch?! In a cookie?! I finally found the recipe to appease even the most sensitive Koslick cookie palate. And today, I will share it with you. See below.

Ingredients: 
3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips (or whichever you prefer)
Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Cream together butter and sugars until fluffy. I use my stand mixer for this… and one of the reasons why I love this recipe so much is that you can make the dough using only one bowl! So next you want to…..
3.  Mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Then add the chocolate chips.
4.  I roll my cookies into one inch balls and place them close together on a baking sheet. You can fit quite a few on one baking sheet since they puff up rather than spread out when they are cooked. Bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on how large of a pan you use. I used a sheet-cake size, so I can literally fit this entire batch in my oven all at once. Which is amazing. Start to finish the cookies take me about 20 minutes. Makes approximately 36 cookies.

*Recipe comes from http://kelseysappleaday.blogspot.com/, which she adapted from Anna Olsen, Food Network Canada.

“Tandoori” Naan

Okay, so I don’t have a Tandoor oven in my house, nor am I hiding one anywhere else on my property. I am just a big fan of naan and hummus, and I thought I would search for a recipe that gave me that same flavor without the same price tag (I calculate these will cost about .30 cents for a batch of four, which is a savings of $1.70 versus even the cheapest store bought varieties!!!).  Unashamedly I saved the Trader Joe’s “Tandoori Naan” freezer safe bag, and yes I will be storing the home made version in it.  This post should really be called “bread maker” naan, because that’s what it is.  I’m VERY into fast and easy recipes, so if you don’t have a bread maker….. I don’t know what to tell you. That’s Kelsey’s department and maybe she can come up with some great alternative for you. Note: If you have a 15 month old with an egg allergy, it isn’t advisable to let them sample this bread or to eat a whole piece. And that’s coming from personal experience. Oh well, here’s the recipe. While you’re testing it out I’m going to grab the Benadryl.

Ingredients:

Directions:
  1. Add ingredients to the bread pan according to the manufacturer’s directions. (Typically they want you to add the wet ingredients first, dry on top, finishing with the yeast)
  2. Set Cycle: dough; Loaf size: 2 lb.
  3. After about 5 minutes, check the dough; add a tablespoon of water at a time if too dry, or a tablespoon of flour at a time if too wet.
  4. Preheat oven to 450F, put 2 baking sheets in to heat for 10 minutes (this will help the naan to puff up and brown).
  5. When dough cycle is done, turn dough onto a floured surface and punch down; Divide into 8 pieces.
  6. Working one at a time, with the other pieces covered, roll dough out to a thickness of about 1/4 inch.
  7. Bake for about 4 minutes, until puffed up.
  8. These freeze very well.

Read more: http://www.food.com/recipe/easy-naan-bread-machine-41503#ixzz1lhvM9G2B

Jessica’s Rustic Apple Pie

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Rustic apple pie.

What makes something “rustic?” Is it unfinished looking? Usually. That’s the case with this apple pie. There are no crimped edges, no perfectly pressed crust. There’s not even a stitch of butter in the crust, which is normally a no-no for me [Jessica]. This pie takes about 15 minutes to throw together, and that’s what’s so beautiful about it. Maddy Lu has an eye for the “rustic” in dessert. It might not be pretty, but I bet it’s one of the best things you’ve ever eaten! Here is my recipe for rustic apple pie. I highly recommend it… and your husband will thank you when he walks in from work and smells the cinnamon. Maybe a back rub is in order?

Preheat Oven to 375…

Ingredients:

FILLING

  • 8 Medium Sized Apples, cored and sliced
  • 1/2 Cup Butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • A generous sprinkling of cinnamon
  • 3 TBS Flour

CRUST

  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  1. To begin, slice and core your apples. This is the time when an apple peeler/corer comes in handy.
  2. Melt a stick of butter on medium heat, once melted, add the flour.
  3. Add the white/brown sugars and the cinnamon.
  4. Let the mixture simmer for a few minutes. That’s it.
  5. Get that crust prepared- using a pastry cutter or a big fork, cut the flour/salt into the shortening.  Mix in the water with your hands until the dough comes together.
  6. Roll out the dough on a floured surface- you want a big huge pancake.
  7. Lift the dough onto your baking sheet, and dump the apples into the center.
  8. Pull up the edges so they come in about halfway towards the center.
  9. Bake on center rack at 375 or until you can see the apples are bubbling and the crust is browned.

Really?

What’s this? Gingerbread was an early baby food? That’s what I’ve read. I would cite my sources, but I’d rather be lazy now.

Just don’t tell my students.

But yes, gingerbread was given to German babies. The mothers would let it harden and then crush it into a powder and add the powder to milk or water.

How fantastic. Gingerbread does seem awfully wholesome to me—even medicinal. And what happy babies!

After I read about the gingerbread powder, I pinched off a hearty portion to accompany my morning coffee and my baby boy happily received any bits his papa had to offer.

And you can have some of this excellent stuff if you do one of two things:

1. Order it from Maddy Lu’s.

2. Follow the following recipe and bake your own.

The choice is yours. Make a good one.

This gingerbread comes from the fabulous Lynne Rossetto Kasper. She, along-with Sally Swift, includes this recipe in their book The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper.

Dark and Moist Gingerbread

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1 generous teaspoon baking soda    1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ground ginger    3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves   1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted    3/4 cup mild or dark molasses

3/4 cup very hot water (190F)   1/3 tight-packed cup dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1. Preheat the oven top 350 F. Butter and flour an 8-inch square pan.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper.

3. Beat together the butter, molasses, hot water, and brown sugar. When the mixture is almost frothy, beat in the egg and gradually add the flour blend. Stir until blended.

4. Pour batter into pan and bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

5. For a moist cake, cool in the pan on a rack. For a drier cake, cool for 10 in the pan and then turn it out of the pan and cool on a rack.

Serve this with a puff of whipped cream and  a dab of lemon curd.

Cooking with Irene

I brushed my teeth, grabbed my coffee, and set out to beat the elderly to the checkout lines (Yes, I feel guilty). Everyone else had the same idea.

The hurricane was coming and the meat lady promised we would all lose our electric. She was so convincing that I didn’t get far  before turning around and putting back  two packages of ground turkey that were on sale. It was hard to do, but as I said, the meat lady was very convincing.

The water was nearly sold-out and the milk was well-stocked. (I had to keep reminding myself that this was a hurricane, not a snowstorm. It’s all so confusing.)

I forgot D batteries. (My in-laws picked them up for me at 7-Eleven that night. My friend had stopped into a superstore that had sold out of them and was told by a cashier that security was called in to break up a fist fit over D batteries. Yes, a fist fight.)

While she handed me my receipt, the cashier told me to “be safe” and then she gave me this sad look. Oh dear. She too was very convincing.

I came home, kissed my babies, and went on a baking, cleaning, packing, prepping rampage.

I cooked a chicken, a turkey breast, and six bags of frozen vegetables. I made a couple of lettuce salads and baked granola and focaccia bread.

Here’s the recipe. It’s from Jamie Oliver.

Focaccia Bread

1  3/4 cups white bread flour

1  3/4 cups whole-wheat flour

1  1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast (1 envelope)

1  1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 cup lukewarm water

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

freshly ground pepper

3 fresh garlic cloves, thinly sliced

a nice bunch of fresh basil (optional)

a handful of ripe grape or cherry tomatoes (optional)

Directions

Whisk the yeast and sugar into the lukewarm water and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flours and the salt. Make a well in the center.

When the yeast mixture foams, pour it into the well, blending it into the flour with a fork as you pour. You may need a splash more of water to make the dough come together. I usually need about 2 more tablespoons of lukewarm water.

Once the dough comes together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it like crazy (not sure what that would look like if taken too literally) for 5 minutes or until it’s “smooth and springy.”

Oil a bowl, throw the dough in and cover with a damp towel. Put the bowl in a draft-free spot for about 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size.

Once it has risen, pound it down to knock the air out and then transfer it to a flour-dusted 11 x 15 baking sheet. Spread the dough to the edges of the pan. Cover it with the same towel used previously and let it alone for another 30 minutes to allow it to double in size. It may take a few more minutes depending on the weather, but it’s well worth the wait.

While you wait, prepare the topping by slicing the garlic and tomatoes and combining it with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 3 pinches of sea salt, and 3 small pinches of ground pepper.

Next, you remove the towel, poke at the dough a bit, sprinkle with olive oil and then pour on the topping.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden.

Remove it from the pan and allow to cool on a wire rack. If you decide to use fresh herbs, this is when you want to put them on.

I’ve made this bread with different toppings. A favorite topping combo is roasted garlic, sliced ripened grape tomatoes, and fresh Thai basil. You can top it with different cheeses, meats, herbs, and vegetables. Try it out and then let me know what you come up with.

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Day 2 of the hurricane:  I went to town. Everyone was losing electricity. I needed to bake as much as possible. It was a must at the time. I wanted to make a sour cream pound cake, but was afraid to make such a time commitment in case we did in fact lose electricity. According to everyone, it was just a matter of time.

So, I started with MaryAnn’s Pecan Goodness (see a past post for recipe), my own rocky road cookies (recipe may be unveiled), and soft spice biscotti (recipe will not be unveiled). Then, I made an apple slab pie (which baked for an hour, the amount of time the sour cream pound cake would have taken).

While I was working on the biscotti, Josh asked if I was done baking. So, when he asked if I was done when I was working on the pie, I knew he was really telling me to stop. I did.

We never lost power.

Day 3: We still have power and hopefully we still will because my honey whole-wheat pan bread is just about fully risen.

Make something. Do it while you still have power.

A Birthday and A Baby: A Sweet Story

Like anyone, Erica is complex. She can be soft and teary-eyed or wild and unashamed. (I can hear her shouting “Woo-woooo!” as I write.) She’s a beautiful person with a sweet tooth and a taste for the good stuff–chocolate.

And she just turned twenty-five.

Her husband needed a cake for her. A small, simple one for a casual dessert party.

We went with three layers of our wonderfully moist and deliciously decadent chocolate cake, our tasty vanilla buttercream frosting, and rich chocolate coating.

We chose antique rose for the base color and chocolate browns for the decoration.

Erica's cake

The cake was simple, yet elegant–very much like Erica.

Happy Birthday, Erica.

Speaking of birthdays, there’s a little baby coming soon. Baby Job is due to arrive on October 1st to parents-to-be Allie and Adam. Maddy Lu made the dessert table for Allie’s baby shower.

The menu was as follows:

miniature red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, miniature moist mocha cupcakes with cappuccino frosting, miniature vanilla cupcakes with blueberry buttercream frosting, chocolate peanut butter cake pops, blueberry pinwheel cookies made with our very own blueberry preserves, soft gingerbread drop cookies, and sugar cookie cut-outs.

Congratulations, Allie and Adam. We look forward to meeting you, Baby Job.

Birthdays and babies–lovely, lively parts of life.

Now, onto peach preserves…

It’s strange, but I’ve begun to feel naked without my apron on.