Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category

Cranberry Hazelnut Cookies

January 21, 2009

This cookie recipe, which I mentioned in an earlier post, is probably my favorite. Other than good ol’ chocolate chip, of course. I found it in some magazine about 15 years ago, so my apologies to the original, and now forgotten, author. It has become a bit of a tradition for me to make these chewy and chunky cookies around the holidays for my family. Cranberry and hazelnut is the perfect combination for Fall and Winter.

A couple of notes: The chopping of the dried cranberries is a bit of a chore because they are so sticky. I have used both a “chop-o-matic” style food chopper, which is a bit faster, but a pain to wash, as well as a sharp kitchen knife, which takes a bit more work, but is easier to clean. Your choice. I toast the chopped nuts under the broiler for a few minutes. Just make sure you watch it like a hawk as they burn easily. You could also toast them at a lower temperature, or by tossing them in a large skillet over medium heat. You’ll save a lot of money if you buy the oatmeal, dried cranberries, and hazelnuts in bulk.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup packed brown
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups chopped dried cranberries
1 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 375.
In a mixer, cream both sugars, butter and shortening. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Mix in flour, baking powder and baking soda. Stir in oats, cranberries and hazelnuts. Spoon large tablespoons of the dough on to a cookie sheet and bake for 9-12 minutes depending on how soft or crunchy you like your cookies.



My favorite pan

December 4, 2008
10 Lodge Cast Iron

10" Lodge Cast Iron

A few years back, I was living in eastern Washington, where only the most intrepid friends and family members came to visit.  One such adventurous soul was CW, who brought me a copy of The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook, thinking that, the sort of cook I was, surely I’d have a cast iron pan or two around.  But though I had gotten rid of everything non-stick several years before, at that point I only had a set of stainless steel Revere-ware and some other miscellaneous SS things.  No worries though, because CW also needed a chicken waterer, so we headed out to Ranch & Home, an all-purpose everything sort of store:  chicken waterers, gun safes, Justin boots, cast iron pans inside; hot tubs and livestock trailers in the parking lot.


Cranberry quince relish

November 28, 2008
Cranberry quince relish

Cranberry quince relish

I admit it – I love (LOVE!) that jellied cranberry sauce in a can.  Love how it floops out of the can whole, with the ring marks on the side.  Love the texture – that weird smooth “apple-pulpiness”.  Having a spare can in the pantry soothes me.  Remember the cranberry crisis a few years back??  I got through it okay, due to my emergency can.

This year, I was smitten and overwhelmed by a 3-lb bag of whole fresh cranberries, which I bought and then stared at for two weeks.  I knew I’d be making cranberry sauce, but put it off until Thanksgiving day.  Which was a good thing!  Because if I’d known how good this stuff was going to be, I would have made and eaten 3 batches by the time turkey day rolled around.

Hat tip to AW for cluing me in on using port for the cooking liquid!


4 dry cups of raw fresh cranberries, washed and picked over

1 cup peeled, cored, and roughly diced quince

1.5 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup port

1/4 cup creme de cassis (adds a black currant note, but just use port if you don’t have any in the house)

1 generous grind of black pepper

1 chunk of ginger, peeled if fresh, as is if dried

opt:  3/4 cup chopped pecans


Slowly simmer the diced quince in 1 cup of water until tender (approx. 30 minutes).  The water will reduce to about 1/2 cup and the quince will turn a salmon pink.

Put the cranberries and sugar in a large stainless saucepan.  Pour in the port and cassis, then add the quince with its remaining cooking liquid.  Stir over medium heat for a few minutes to dissolve the sugar.  Add the grind of black pepper, then put the piece of ginger into the pot (you will need to be able to identify it and remove it later!).  Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.  The pectin from the berries and quince will make this tend to boil up, so keep an eye on it and stir it down if necessary.  Remove the lid and continue to cook for 10-15 minutes more, until the berries have softened or popped and the mixture thickens.  Allow to cool, take out the chunk of ginger, then stir in the optional chopped pecans.  Serve warm or chilled.

Excellent with turkey, but also will be great with pork or sharp cheese or possibly lamb.  Pretty tasty by itself, with just you and a spoon.


October 20, 2008


Hard as a rock, covered in a strange waxy fuzz, smelling so strongly of roses infused with pears and apples, the quince is one of the last orchard fruits to ripen.  Uwajimaya, the huge asian grocery a few blocks from my flat, had several tossed in alongside the Bartletts and Boscs a few weeks ago, and I was reminded of the quince bush we found at the back of the property my dad bought after the divorce.  It was a short stunted shrub and bore a lone fruit, first green, then gradually turning yellow.  None of us thought to do anything with it.  I bought 3, determined to do something with them.


Back to Baking

October 12, 2008

Once upon a time, I used to bake a lot. I had all sorts of pans and utensils and weird decorative implements. Doing elaborate cakes was my favorite thing. Then, when I moved into a rotting apartment with (literally) no counter space, baking fell by the wayside. It was all I could do to steam a pot of broccoli without incident. A triple-layer dark chocolate gateaux, garnished with ruby sugar-dusted strawberries? Yeah, right. I eventually left that disgusting building, but I never quite picked up where I’d left off. My desire to bake had ebbed, and more importantly, my confidence had gone with it. I had turned into a Person Who Doesn’t Bake. Making pastry dough or my grandmother’s bundt cake with a nut swirl or a simple pan of brownies seemed like daunting and somewhat mysterious tasks to me. I even managed to ruin the cornbread on one occasion. Last week, while reading through some cooking blogs, I decided that enough was enough. I bought a tube pan from The Brooklyn Kitchen, printed out a recipe I’d been eyeing from The Smitten Kitchen, and got to work. And it was fun. And the cake is good. And you know what? I still think that tube pans are a pain in the ass.

Quinoa Vegetable Soup

October 7, 2008

So here’s a quick soup I threw together the other day using the harvest of veggies from my p-patch. Feel free to use whatever veggies you have on hand.

3 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion diced
2 cups carrots cut in 1/4 slices (about 6 purple carrots from my garden)
2 cloves of garlic sliced
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped (1 tsp dry)
1/2 tsp salt (more or less depending on how salty your broth is)
1 cup quinoa
4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
1 cup water
1-2 cups tomatoes chopped (and juices)
1 bunch swiss chard chopped into bite sized pieces

In a large pot heat oil over medium heat. Toss in onions and saute for 5 minutes or so. Add garlic, carrots, salt and thyme and continue to saute until the onions are soft and golden, and carrots have softened slightly, about 3-5 minutes more. Add the quinoa and stir. Turn heat up to high and add the broth and water. Bring to a boil then turn the heat down, cover and simmer for about 8 minutes. Toss in the chard stems, cover and continue to simmer for about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the chard greens and tomatoes with juices. Simmer uncovered for another few minutes until the greens and the quinoa are tender. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

This should make 4 generous meal portions or 6 or so side portions. If you have leftovers you may need to add a little more water when you reheat it because the quinoa will absorb most of the liquid when you store it in the refrigerator.


Quick pork and mushroom pasta sauce

September 27, 2008

I haven’t been working at home this week, and missed lunch on Thursday, so was starving by the time I got to the market at 5 to shop for dinner.  Most of the pasta sauces I make are the all-afternoon kind, long braises of meat, garlic, and tomatoes in wine.  But, inspired by a large package of marked down pre-sliced button mushrooms and one of organic basil, I grabbed a 1/2 pound package of thinly sliced side pork (and 5 kinds of ice cream – it really is a mistake to shop when you are hungry) and headed home.

I try to keep canned diced tomatoes in the pantry, as well as pasta in some form, garlic, and olive oil.  There wasn’t any red wine I was willing to open for cooking in the house (need to remedy this pronto), but I wanted to go for a hearty sauce with bright basil flavor, so a splash of wine could go missing.  In retrospect, I should have put the pasta water on to boil the minute I started cooking the sauce, so I wouldn’t be found at the stove later yelling “BOIL!” at the pot.


A Quick One

September 22, 2008

No photos, sadly, but it’s not a very impressive-looking dish. Last night I threw together an eggplant-chickpea stew, which turned out quite well and (most importantly) cost about $5 for what looks like a week’s worth of office lunches. I modified a recipe I found online, and in about 60 minutes the stew was finished and the washing-up was done. That’s a record for me, folks, since I’m known for my tortoise-like speed in the kitchen.

Here’s what I used:

1 large (about 1.25lbs) eggplant, cubed

1 large onion, chopped

garlic to taste, chopped

1tsp each cinnamon and cayenne pepper

2tsp garam masala

1 can (or equivalent) chickpeas

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes

1.5 cups veg. broth

Saute the onion, garlic, and spices together in some olive oil until the onion is softened/translucent. Add eggplant, chickpeas, tomatoes, and broth, and let the pot go for about 30 minutes (or to your desired level of done-ness). For a thicker stew, which I like, let it cook uncovered for the last 5-10 minutes (take care that the bottom doesn’t scorch). That’s it. Lovely with some couscous and feta cheese.

Getting to be that baking time of year…

September 19, 2008

It was overcast today, and cool, after weeks of sunny days.  I have a new kitchen I’m trying to sort out, and making my favorite tried-n-true recipes is an excellent way of figuring out the oven.  A friend is coming over tomorrow so I can sharpen her knives, and it would be nice to have some treats in the house.  My giant cast iron pan really really needs reseasoning, and if I’m going to heat the oven up anyway….

So many reasons to bake brownies.  (Like I needed more than 1.)


office snacktime

September 9, 2008

So, you’re looking for something to nuke that’s tasty, sweet, and substantial?  Something that isn’t microwave popcorn, but smells good enough to drive your co-workers around the twist?  How about a personal chocolate cake, baked in a large mug?

Round up:

1 large mug (straight-sided seems better than tapered)

2 or 3 packets of hot chocolate mix (you need about 7 tbsps)

4 tbsps white flour

a pinch of salt

3 tbsps oil (or melted butter)

one egg

3 tbsps water

Put all the dry ingredients in the mug, stir to mix.  Pour in the oil/melted butter, egg, and water.  Stir vigorously until very well blended.  Nuke on high power for 3 minutes.  Depending on the size of your mug, the batter might flow over the top, so put a plate under it.  Turn finished cake out of the mug onto a plate, let cool for a minute and eat.

Some other substitutions and additions that might work, but also might not:

Yogurt, for part of the water and oil (makes it moister, but also gummier)

Those little mayonnaise packets (the real stuff, not Miracle Whip) for the egg and oil (you’ll probably need 6 packets, approx. 5 tbsps)

Coffee instead of water

Chocolate (or butterscotch or peanut butter) chips

Smashed up Almond Joy to make german chocolate cake-like frosting (smash onto plate and put the hot cake on top of it for melty goodness)

Thanks to aldo cowpat for the original recipe (which features 4 tbsps sugar, 2 tbsps cocoa, and 3 tbsps milk instead of the hot chocolate mix and water).