Thursday, March 29, 2012

Flour-less Mixed Nut Cookies

When I was around 7 or 8 years old, and already quite the bake-aholic, my granny sent me a recipe clipping for Easy Peanut Butter Cookies. The recipe went something like this:

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg

Mix, roll, flatten with a fork, and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Okay, it went exactly like that. And they're good, too! I relied on that recipe during college, to satisfy many a late-night, empty pantry, baking spree. I may run out of butter and flour, but I'm rarely out of butter and flour AND peanut butter, sugar and eggs, at the same time. It's a sad day, indeed, if I am.

Anyway, I love that simple recipe. This new one is kind of like Easy Peanut Butter Cookies -- All Grown Up. I used some leavening, added more nuts and nuanced flavor, and even some flaxseed meal. Simple and adaptable, I'm pretty sure you could substitute any kind of nut butter and chopped nuts, and end up with something wonderful. Let me know if you do!

And if your great mind thinks like mine... try drizzling melted dark chocolate over the tops, once they're cooled. I didn't because I'm married to someone who actually complains that I put chocolate in everything.... I know!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cucumber Fennel Risotto & Salmon en papillote

It sounds a little weird, I know. I had cucumbers on the brain yesterday like, three weeks ago when I started this post. And I figure, if you are craving a food, there's a reason. The reason in this case was beyond me, but I went out to buy some cucumbers anyway. (And no, I'm definitely NOT pregnant, for those of you that would ask.) I think I'm craving summer and a garden, more than anything. Cucumbers are one thing I can grow in abundance, without fail... Cucumbers and zucchini. In fact, there was a funny thing I heard more than one person say while we lived in Vermont, and that was, "If you have to buy zucchini in the summer, then you must not have any friends." A little harsh, perhaps, but totally true in a place like Vermont. Most people had more summer squash than they knew what to do with! We had them growing wild out of our compost pile.

Anyway, back to cucumbers:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sausage and Herb Biscuits

Josh received a most spectacular cookbook this past Christmas. Yet, it's SO MUCH MORE than a cookbook. The Professional Chef. I'm telling you: It's everything about everything involving food. Technique descriptions and ingredient reference; equipment evaluations and then some. It's the go-to reference for culinary school, I believe. And I love it. 

This biscuit recipe is adapted from their basic buttermilk biscuits. Now, the recipes in this book tend to assume you are cooking for a crowd. As in, 3.5 lbs of flour per batch of biscuits. Thankfully, it lists weights for each ingredient (actually, it only lists weights for most recipes), so I can easily quarter the recipe and get 20 biscuits instead of 80. Not that I wouldn't happily freeze the extra; I just don't have the energy to deal with that much dough early Saturday morning. 

Sandwich with extra-sharp cheddar for lunch.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Pot-roasted Parsnips over Herbed Lentils with Warm Buttermilk Sauce

That's a long name! And I didn't even fit the element of truffles in there...

Josh and I both agreed we'd be more than happy to receive this as a vegetarian main at any good restaurant. This. Was. Gooooood. One day, when I meet that benevolent benefactor who is just dying to invest in our cafe (or actually save up all the money to invest in it ourselves... whichever comes first), we will happily serve this dish. (Can you tell I'm proud of this one?)

Of course, simply prepared meals with high-quality ingredients rarely go wrong. So, perhaps I can't take all the credit. I was just so happy to have the idea of this dish speak to me one afternoon, then be able to make it materialize in such a satisfying way.

Oh, and speaking of high-quality ingredients:

Yes, you should: You should definitely indulge in $10 salt and $15 oil. (Fleur de Sel and White Truffle Oil, that is.) You really should. The tiniest little bit goes a really long way, and takes the simplest dish right over the line from just good to downright Amazing. Even the humble omelette can benefit from their magic. Treat yourself! You won't be sorry.

The idea for pot-roasting root vegetables, and dousing them in buttermilk, came from this month's issue of Bon Apetit. There's a profile piece on Rene Redzepi, chef and forager behind Noma. Want to eat there the next time you're in Copenhagen? Get a reservation like two years ago.

Anyway, Chef Redzepi likes to pot-roast a whole celeriac (celery root), and dress it with warm buttermilk and olives. He even tosses a couple of coffee beans in for good measure. I, however, am not a Danish avant-garde forager/chef, and I opted out of the coffee bean variation. I chose potatoes and parsnips, dropped the olives, added the truffle oil... served over French (or Le Puy) lentils stewed with herbs and... Success.