Thursday, January 29, 2015

Almond and Coconut Flour Orange Shortbread Cookies with Rosemary Icing

Practicing my decorating skills again with this batch of shortbread cookies. 
All bagged up and ready for the mail!


I gave these as gifts this past Christmas and they were a big hit. Tender, buttery, and incredibly flavorful, this is a stellar cookie recipe that I can't recommend highly enough. I've made a variation of these before, and continue to tweek the recipe, but this cookie's backbone and inspiration comes from Casue Sweets, an amazing sister owned cookie company here in NYC.

I decided to make the icing with orange juice and fresh minced rosemary this time. It was really nice and subtile. A winner!

Almond and Coconut Flour Orange Shortbread Cookies with Rosemary Icing
Yield: 30-60 cookies depending on the size of your cookies. I got just short of 60.
1 lb unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed lightly
1 1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup almond meal/flour
4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon orange juice
1 Tablespoon orange zest

I used my stand mixer for this recipe, but a hand mixer will work fine here too. Cream the butter and sugar on medium/low until light and fluffy. Mix in the salt, vanilla, OJ, and zest until combined. Add the almond and coconut flours on medium/low speed until well combined. Then, in two additions, add the all purpose flour, pulsing until just combined. 

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and bring it together. It should be just a tad crumbly (mix in more flour before turing your dough out if it seems too wet in the mixing bowl). Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to an hour. 

Line baking sheets with parchment or siltpat and get your cookie cutters and work station ready.

Preheat your oven to 325. Take out a chunk of dough, about two cups or so, and put the rest back in the fridge covered tightly. On a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll the dough into a sheet about 1/3 inch thick. Cut the dough into your desired shape(s) and transfer each cookie to your prepared baking sheet (parchment or silt pat) using a spatula. 

The dough is delicate (i.e. sorta crumbly) but forgiving, so if it breaks, just patch it back together or start again. I kept rolling the scraps back into the next chunk of dough I grabbed from the fridge and the texture was still great (see, forgiving!). This dough also keeps it's shape really well while baking, so you can fit a lot of cookies on each sheet.

Once your oven is preheated, bake each sheet separately in the center of the oven for about 10-14 minutes - the edges will just begin to brown. Allow the cookies to firm up on the sheet for a few minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely. This recipe holds up well both at room temp and after being frozen and thawed. 

ICING!

The icing I used for these cookies is based on the recipe for Glace Icing from the ladies at Casue Sweets. I reduced it a bit but the general proportions are very similar to theirs. First, I made a looser base icing that could be used to "flood" the cookies. I poured off about three cups worth of it and added additional sifted confectioner's sugar to create a thicker icing for piping. 

Cookie Icing
Yield: I had enough for about 60 cookies with quite a bit leftover. 
6 cups sifted confectioner's sugar (plus extra for thickening the icing for piping)
4 oz lukewarm water
1/8 teaspoon orange juice
4 oz light corn syrup
1 Tablespoon finely minced fresh Rosemary

Sift 6 cups on confectioner's sugar into a large bowl, or into the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the water and begin mixing on the lowest speed with your stand or electric hand mixer, then add the orange juice and corn syrup. Keep mixing until everything is fully incorporated and the icing is shiny. It should be viscous enough that it runs smoothly off a spoon but not so wet that it looks like it would just run off the edges of the cookies. Basically, it should spread easily but not be runny. If your icing is too thin, simply sift in more confectioner's sugar a few tablespoons at a time until it looks right. If it's too dry add more liquid a drop or two at a time.

Separate out about 3/4 of the mixture for your "flood" icing and add the finely minced rosemary to it, then pour it into a squeeze bottle or tupperware container with a tight fitting lid, be sure to cover it well to keep it from hardening.

To the remaining icing, and just mixing by hand now, add more sifted confectioner's sugar by the tablespoon until the consistency is thick enough that it's difficult to stir. If you lift you spoon up, the icing should fall very, very slowly (slow glop). You want it to be thick so it sets up right away and creates a boarder to keep the flood icing in check. See my previous post for photo examples and let me know how yours come out!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Lamb and Turkey Meatballs To. Die. For.

Welp, it's been an age since I last posted. We had family in town for four months and between that, the little one, and the holidays, I've have put this here blog on the back burner in a big way. I've been cooking my fanny off, however, so I hope to give you some insight into the more notable culinary successes of this holiday season past. 

Well, almost past, because I decided to throw a party this weekend for my daughter's first birthday. Whooo Hooooo, looks like we made it! I'm not even decorating (just a pretty bouquet), or cooking much (we're doing fondue, kinda fun, right?!), or tying to frost a cake (powdered sugar, yo!). We're just letting the babies roam as they may and drinkjng some (spiked) hot apple cider! For Jon and me, this party is more of an excuse to have all the new folks/parents we've met since Freya was born over. And, as one of my new mom-buds put it, to celebrate having survived the first year. Happy Birthday, Freya!

So, THIS recipe, is one I made for Christmas eve as in my vaguely Italian American family tradition. It's an adaptation of one I posted a while back for Turkey Meatballs adapted from Molto Italiano by Marion Batali. The lamb was an accident, I was rushing at the grocery store and thought it was turkey, but I will never make these without it again. It's so good. Here's the adaptation along with a photo from the first batch I posted (we ate the lamb ones too fast to get a photo opp). They look the same but these taste so much more rich and nuanced. Yum!






Lamb and Turkey Meatballs
Adapted from Mario Batali's Turkey Meatballs from Molto Italiano 
Yield: about 30-40 small meatballs
1.5 lbs ground turkey
1/1.5 lbs ground lamb
1/2 -2/3 cup milk, any fat content you have on hand is fine
2 large eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups bread crumbs or croutons
4 gloves garlic, minced finely
1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced finely
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, minced finely
1/2 Tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 scant Tablespoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 475.

In a large bowl toss whisk the eggs and milk then add the bread crumbs, garlic, rosemary, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Let the bread get hydrated by the milk. Add the meat and gently massage it with your fingers or a wooden spoon. Your don't want to overwork the meat, but you do want to get all the lumps and knots of meat kneaded out, the two kinds of meat combined, and the whole mass worked into a fluffy (ish) consistency.

Gently roll a heaping tablespoon of the mixture between wet palms to shape. Be careful to use a light touch and not pack the meat together into a hard ball. Place each meatball just a little apart from the next in a casserole dish coated with olive oil.

Once the meatballs are all formed. Cook them for 15 minutes at 475. While they're cooking, make a simple sauce or doctor up a jarred one. 

After 15 minutes remove the meatballs from the oven and reduce the heat to 350. Toss the meatballs in the sauce and bake for an additional 45 minutes to 1 hour (read: braise!). Garnish with chopped parsley and Parmigiano-Reggiano and serve hot with crusty bread and al dente spaghetti. So good!!!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Apple Torte Riff

Sooooooo, this is another recipe I was inspired by Bon Appétempt to make. It's based on the Purple Plum Torte recipe, adapted by Morris, published during plum season every year in the New York Times. It's pretty amazing (tart and sweet) and my husband, who summarily avoids cake, loves it, which is really saying something. The apple inspiration, thusly sliced, came from this cake by Smitten Kitchen, and from the fact that the market next to my apartment had no plums the day I made this.



I decided to try the recipe with apples tossed in honey, lemon juice and cinnamon. It came out great but on the sweeter side, so I'd suggest using sour green apples, or the plums called for in the recipe of origin, if you make it.

Here's the recipe. Tell me how it comes out for ya!

Sour Apple Torte
Adapted slightly from Bon Appétempt and the New York Times
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar 
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
4 small sour apples, peeled, cored and sliced thinly 
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon honey
1/4 cup sliced almonds, optional

Preheat your oven to 350. Grease an 8 or 9 inch springform pan (both sizes work great just check on the large pan on the earlier side) and set it on a baking sheet. 

Prep the apples by peeling, coring, halving, then slicing, as pictured above, like a hasselback potato. Mix together the lemon juice, honey and cinnamon and drizzle over the apples to coat them while trying not to separate the slice bundles.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. 

In the bowl of a mixer, or with an electric handheld, cream the butter and sugar for about 4 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, mixing for another minute. Add the dry to the wet and mix until just combined. 

Use a spatula to transfer the batter (mine is always very thick) to your prepared pan and smooth it out to the edges. An offset spatula makes easy work of this. 

Nestle the apples around the edge and then center of the pan, leaving about a half-inch from the edge and each other, around each bundle. Drizzle any remaining honey/cinnamon/lemon juice mixture over the cake batter and apples.

*I found that this is especially important if you are using plums because they basically melt leaving cavities in the cake, so moving them in a smidge from the edge of the pan helps to keep the your cake intact.

Sprinkle the top of the cake with the almonds and bake for about 45-50 minutes until it passes the toothpick test.

I like this cake when it's warm best (with either plums or apples) despite it being generally recommended at room temp on the second day. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Corn and Cantaloupe Chopped Salad from Better Homes and Gardens August 2014 Edition

This is an outstanding salad. When I first read the ingredients list, I was intrigued and perplexed. Honestly, it looked weird but also delicious. What to do? Welp, I'm really glad I made it because it is delicious.

The recipe is from the August 2014 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. I skipped the greens and used a teaspoon of regular stone ground mustard instead of dry mustard powder. I also doubled the fresh dill. Yum!

I wish I had posted it earlier during prime corn/cantaloupe season but baby-proofing and teething have had me all-consumed until now. It's definitely going to be one of our family summer staples from now on, however, and maybe yours too, despite this short notice!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bon Appétempt's Triple-Coconut Quinoa Porridge from Megan Gordon's Whole-Grain Mornings

Triple-Coconut Quinoa Porridge is super delicious, healthy, and very satisfying.



If you haven't already heard of Amelia Morris' wonderful blog, Bon Appétempt, stop reading this and go there - now! 

Amelia is a wonderful emerging food (etc.) writer. I'm basically counting down until her book comes out early next year. All the recipes on her site are great but the ones from her semi-recent video/post, Post-Apocalyptic Pantry Cooking, are some of my favorite so far. This is probably (read: definitely) because they are easy and it's tricky cooking with a tiny baby in tow, something Amelia can speak to because she's a new mom too. 

Anyhow, made the black bean dip from this post two nights in a row and Jon and I ate ALL OF IT with tortilla chips for dinner both nights. So good! As for this delightful porridge, I'm not even going to type the recipe or instructions here. You just get my photo teaser and a link to the recipe at Bon Appétempt

Enjoy!!!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Salted Oatmeal and Dark Chocolate Lactation Cookies

More lactation cookies, you say? Yup! Turns out, enhancing lactation is one of the best reasons to make cookies there is. If you try these, please let me know how they turn out for you. It's been a while since I made them.

With regards to how long it's been since I made these, I must admit that the photo below is of another batch of cookies I made from a very similar recipe. I made the lactation cookie recipe below for my mom's group, and we devoured them so quickly, I never got the chance to take a good shot for foodrefuge. This photo gives you the gist though, as these are crisp and chewy, unlike the previous lactation cookie recipe I posted with Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Dried Cranberries and Toasted Pecans, which were thicker and softer. 


Salted Oatmeal and Dark Chocolate Lactation Cookies
Recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen, Crisp Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies
Yields about 2 dozen
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 Tablespoons flax seeds (I used golden flax)
2 teaspoons brewer's yeast (no more as this is very bitter stuff)
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
6 ounces (3/4 cup) dark chocolate (or chocolate of your choice), roughly chopped
1 cup chopped toasted nuts (pecans or walnuts), optional
*about 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt, for sprinkling 

Preheat your oven to 350 and line your baking sheets with parchment or a silicone pad. 


If using, toast the chopped nuts for 5-8 minutes until fragrant.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, table salt, flax seeds and brewer's yeast and set aside.


Chop the chocolate up and set aside. 


In a stand mixer or with an electric hand mixer in a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together for about 4 minutes until very light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and whip in the egg and vanilla. Scrape down again and pulse in your dry ingredients, then pulse in the oats. Fold in the chocolate and nuts until well distributed. 

It's never a bad idea to refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes at this point so the cookies spread less, or just proceed....

Roll about 2 Tablespoons of dough per cookie into rounds and flatten each slightly. Place them about 2 inches apart on your prepared backing sheets. Sprinkle each with just a smidgen of flaky sea salt and bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges just start to get golden. Let the cookies set up for a few minutes on the pan, then transfer them to a rack to finish cooling.

Here I am nursing Freya while touring around Washington DC. So, as you can see, these lactation cookies worked like a charm. Happy World Breastfeeding week, by the way!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Carrot-Top Pesto with Roasted Carrots Radishes and Cherry Tomatoes

This delicious pesto could not be easier, healthier, or more "sustainable" in that you're using something that all too often gets thrown away. It has a bright, herbaceous flavor and is just different enough to add a new twist to this classic condiment. 




I was inspired by this carrot-top pesto recipe from Bon Appétit but I just eyeballed everything and skipped the cheese, though I will be adding cheese when I toss this pesto with pasta later in the week. 

Carrot-Top Pesto
the green fronds from 6 carrots (washed and shaken dry) - about 4 cups or so
one large handful of basil leaves (also washed and shaken dry)
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/3 cup olive oil (add more, little by little, while scraping down the sides of your food processor to get a rough puree)
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts or other nut (toast at 350 for 5-8 minutes)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, optional
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes, optional

Pulse the garlic, nuts, and olive oil until relatively smooth. Pack in the greens and pulse until you get a rough puree, adding more olive oil, little by little, while scraping down the sides of your food processor to get a rough puree. Add the cheese, if using. Then salt and pepper to taste. 

Use right away on pasta, rice, potatoes, atop crostini, with roasted veggies, as a dressing on fresh salads, or freeze for later use. Freezing in ice cube trays is smart and allows you to grab a bit of pesto, say to toss into a sauce for extra flavor, whenever you need to!

I tossed mine with carrots, radishes and cherry tomatoes and roasted at 425 for about 30 minutes until everything was blistered and delicious.


Pesto is a condiment that most people love but not enough make because it seems sort of complicated. I hope this post helps to demystify it. The basic pesto formula is basil, olive oil, garlic, pignoli nuts and Parmesan cheese pureed (with salt and pepper to taste, of course). If you aren't being a stickler, however, you can change up the nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, brazil) and greens (arugula, carrot-tops, sorrel, watercress) and even swap the Parmesan for another hard-aged cheese (grana padano, aged gouda or manchego, hmmmmm!). 

Even more willy-nilly than pesto, is it's cousin, chimichuri! Check out my recipe/guidelines for that here!