It never even occurred to me that someone might not like shortbread cookies. They’ve always been a favorite of mine for the reason I suppose a lot of people don’t like them — there isn’t a lot going on there, and the flavors aren’t bold. In fact, the primary flavor is butter, so you do have to use the good stuff. But Darcie came up with a fantastic spin on shortbread cookies with this recipe, adding macadamia nuts, chocolate ganache and — what really sets these apart — freeze dried raspberries crushed to bits. The flavors marry beautifully, and the raspberries give it an unexpected zing, plus make them look adorable and festive.
Happy New Year! Did you pave the way for luck and money to enter your life in 2015 with black eyed peas and greens or is there something else that’s a little more traditional for you? Gil and I met friends in the city for BBQ yesterday and enjoyed Hoppin’ John fritters and collard greens side dishes there, so there was no need to rush home and cook another meal simply to allay my superstitions.
I’m not a big fan of new year’s resolutions and resolutely avoid making them, but the time is right to start making some dietary changes. Now that the parties are over, the travel is done and life is returning to normal, I can stop making allowances for “just this once” or justifying another wheat or fried food-laden meal with this twisted logic: “I’ve already eaten bread (or fries) this week. How much worse will I feel if I do it again?” (For more classic excuses — a few more of which I made — check out Gretchen Rubin’s piece on self-sabotage.) Starting today, I’m getting back to the Primal Blueprint plan with its 21-Day Challenge and look forward to feeling good again, healthy and strong. I know a lot of people are skeptical about primal/paleo generally and gluten-free diets specifically, especially when there’s been no celiac diagnosis, but I know how my joints ache and pop when I eat wheat, I know the number it does on my stomach, and how much older I feel when I indulge even a little bit. And I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to ditch sugar after the sheer number of cookies and other desserts I ate over the last two weeks!
But before I start posting all of our nutritious primal dishes, here’s one last carb-y hurrah for you:
Mac and cheese is the world’s most perfect comfort food, don’t you think? Even bad boxed versions are tolerable, but when you start it from scratch, there’s nothing better. So when a friend posted a link to a recipe that promised the creamiest mac & cheese possible — and without a bechamel — I took notice. I don’t find the task of bechamel-making too onerous, to be honest, but if anything could get me one step closer to mac & cheese nirvana, I was willing to try it.
The recipe was originally published in Modernist Cuisine at Home and uses calcium citrate to keep the cheese’s oil and milk solids mixed when heated instead of allowing it to separate into a big greasy mess without the benefit of some medium (such as bechamel) to hold it together. SCIENCE! Chemistry was not my strong suit (she says, in the understatement of the year), but I needed to try this, so I ordered the Modernist Cuisine-recommended WillPowder Sodium Citrate from Amazon, which turned out to be the best value for the money I could find online.
I used a combination of cheddar and gouda and found it very creamy and quite rich, as you’d expect from a recipe that so revels in cheese. The only drawback is that you must eat it right away or it will solidify into a block (à la melted Velveeta) as it approaches room temperature. But you can always adjust the proportions to make just what you need. I reheated leftovers with a little added milk, but they just weren’t the same.
Find the recipe here. Playing with your food has never been so satisfying.
Oh, well, ok. I guess I do have a little more to share since the pictures are taken, anyway. As everyone knows, Christmas season is fueled by cookies, so I whipped out my favorite paleo chocolate chip cookie recipe to make a special batch just for us. I like to top them with Maldon sea salt before baking to give them a little extra pop, but otherwise stuck to the recipe as written. Gil devoured about 85% of them, but I got to enjoy a few. So many other cookies found their way into my mouth when I was in Louisiana that these don’t even tempt me now.
One the one hand, it’s a sad state of affairs. On the other, this sweets aversion will make my life relatively easy for the next 21 days as I go full primal. I haven’t decided if I’ll post my progress daily or just in bi-weekly digest form, but I’ll be sharing good primal-friendly recipes here, either way.
Happy New Year! Are you doing any sort of month-long challenge, too? Let me know in the comments so we can hold each other accountable/cheer each other on!
Though I normally don’t thrill to baking in quantity, The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap piqued my interest when I read about it on my friend Kasha’s Facebook page. The brainchild of Lindsay from Love & Olive Oil and Julie from The Little Kitchen, this event brings together bloggers from around the world to share cookies and support a worthwhile cause. After registering and paying a nominal fee, you receive the names of three bloggers and send each of them one dozen freshly baked cookies. In return, you receive one dozen cookies from three other bloggers.
How could anything go wrong? Pull up a chair and I’ll tell you how. Things can go wrong if you only skim the instructions then start baking weeks later without returning to them. If I’d reread the instructions before diving in, I might have saved myself a bit of time and a lot of trouble, but then three bloggers wouldn’t have received THREE DOZEN gluten-free cookies each. But it’s the season of giving, and I hope Sara from And a Little Chaos, Jackie from La Casa de Sweets and Jennifer from Nibbles ’n Bites are enjoying the cookies as much as I enjoyed baking them!
As you can imagine, all of this baking really put the damper on my already-minuscule sweet tooth, but I really did love all of the gluten-free cookies I received: Oatmeal Toffee Cookies from Andrea of Delicious by Dre, Classic Soft & Fluffy Sugar Cookies by Ariana of Ari’s Menu and Spicy Gingerbread Cookies by Heather at A Sweet Simple Life.
But on to my entries! Spicy molasses cookies and oatmeal cookies are always duking it out for my favorite cookie, so I thought I’d send both. With the help of this brilliant post at Gluten-Free Goddess, I managed to substitute flours pretty heavily for the molasses cookie and they turned out GREAT; the flavor was just what I was looking for and the texture was spot-on — not overly soft, as you’d expect from a gluten-free cookie.
For an oatmeal cookie that would stand up to shipping, I made Oatmeal Lace Cookies adulterated with loads of spices.
And you didn’t think you’d get out of this holiday season without another tweaked version of my Pecan Macaroons, did you? I added some coconut flour to bind the ingredients together and hopefully keep them in one piece during shipping.
But that’s not all! Once I realized my mistake, I went COMPLETELY overboard, figuring I might as well bake more and turn it into something special for the holidays since I’m not doing my annual Advent Calendar this year. Instead, I’m debuting an online magazine called Savory & Sweet! Check it out here or click the picture below for the three recipes from the cookie swap, plus several more. And let me know what you think. I’ve been a little bored with the standard blogging format, as you might be able to tell from my infrequent posts, so I’m considering putting out one of these online magazines every quarter or maybe even every month.
Molasses Spice Cookies adapted from Recipe Girl
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp teff flour
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon psyllium husk
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup dark molasses
additional sugar for rolling
In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (teff flour through salt).
Melt butter in medium saucepan over moderate heat until foam subsides, then lower heat and swirl butter in pan until milk solids turn light brown and smell nutty.
Combine butter and sugar in a stand mixer set to low. Increase speed by one level and blend in molasses, then egg. Add dry ingredients a little at a time until well blended. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least four hours or up to three days.
Preheat oven to 350°F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using a melon baller, scoop out a spoonful of the dough, roll it into a ball, then roll it in the additional sugar. Place dough balls about three inches apart on prepared cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies are set and starting to crackle on top. Cool for 10 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Oatmeal Lace Cookies adapted from Hippo Flambe
2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup)
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1/4 cup sweet white rice flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Melt butter in medium saucepan over moderate heat until foam subsides, then lower heat and swirl butter in pan until milk solids turn light brown and smell nutty. Stir in brown sugar, vanilla extract, salt. oats, flour and and spices until well mixed. Turn off heat and add egg, stirring well until batter is thoroughly combined.
Drop batter onto baking sheets in two teaspoon increments. Leave at least two inches of space between cookies, as they’ll spread in the oven. Use the back of your teaspoon to flatten each cookie into a two-inch round.
Bake for 16-18 minutes, rotating trays halfway through baking, until cookies are browned and set.
Cool cookies on baking sheet, or cool for five minutes then transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.
1/4 cup organic palm sugar, packed
1 large egg white
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, preferably homemade
Pinch of coarse salt
1 teaspoon coconut flour
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Whisk together sugar and egg white in a large bowl. Stir in the remaining ingredients and allow mixture to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Form dough into sixteen 1-tablespoon mounds and drop each onto sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake macaroons until golden-brown on bottoms and edges, about 15 minutes. Cool on sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and cool completely.
To finish, using a spoon, drizzle melted chocolate over cooled macaroons. Macaroons will keep, covered, for up to one week.
Sugary, almond-y, and the perfect little bites when you want a nibble, not a full-blown dessert.
- 1 cup almond paste
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups finely ground almond flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 egg whites, beaten
- 1 tablespoon apricot jam
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- slivered almonds
- powdered sugar, optional
Preheat oven to 300°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a stand mixer set to low, mix almond paste and sugar until ingredients start to combine. Increase speed by one or two levels until ingredients are well mixed. Reduce speed, add almond flour and salt, mixing again until thoroughly combined.
Add egg whites, jam and almond extract, and beat at medium speed until a wet dough is formed. It will be very sticky.
Scoop out a level tablespoon of dough and roll it into a ball between your palms. Place dough on prepared baking sheet and continue with remaining dough, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between cookies.
Top each cookie with a pinch of sliced almond, pressing almonds down into the cookie until cookie flattens into a disc about 1 1/2 inches wide.
Bake at 300°F for 25-30 minutes, or until light golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets.
Dust cooled cookies with powdered sugar if desired. Store in a closed container at room temperature.
After choking down loads of dense, eggy breads, biscuits and pancakes that felt like they were expanding in my throat, I decided coconut flour just didn’t live up to its reputation as an exciting (or even acceptable) paleo/gluten-free flour. No matter what it was blended with, the results were off just enough to remind me that I was eating a substitute for the real thing. But high praise from Jenny at MFAMB for a chocolate chip cookie made with a blend of coconut and almond flours* but no eggs led me to reconsider. The recipe at Cookie & Kate sounded deceptively simple, so I went straight to the kitchen to test the vegan version** with coconut oil. After cooling them on the pan until they were firm enough to be handled — 10-15 minutes — I bit into a delicious, standard chocolate chip cookie that was crisp at the edges and soft in the center. I defy anyone to identify them as gluten-free by taste alone.
Naturally, I also baked a batch with butter instead of oil, but I made a few other big changes at the same time:
- I browned the butter instead of just melting it, because brown butter makes everything better.
- Taking a cue from the awesome Jacques Torres cookie recipe that swept the food world several years ago, I rested the dough in the refrigerator for three days before baking.
- I doubled the size of the cookies from one tablespoon to two, flattened them slightly, and topped each with a sprinkle Maldon sea salt before baking for 13 minutes.
Weirdly, the butter amplified the coconut flavor more than the coconut oil did, but otherwise, I much preferred the second batch. It’s a heftier cookie that gets its only crunch from the sea salt, which accents the chocolate and just leaves you wanting more. And more. And still more.
Gluten-free bakers, this one’s a home run. Be sure to try this recipe.
* For the record, I used JK Gourmet Almond Flour rather than the more easily found Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour, which probably had a lot to do with the smooth texture that mimics regular flour. If you use almond meal, I’m sure you’ll produce a cookie every bit as delicious as these, just a bit coarser.
** For vegan cookies, be sure to buy dairy-free chocolate chips. I know you dedicated vegans always read labels, but when you’re just starting out, it’s sometimes easy to forget.
Hmmmm. These cookies, these cookies, these cookies…
I’ve had alfajores in the back of mind ever since Matt Armendariz first posted about them five years ago. I finally got around to making them this week, but my experience with them was mixed. Oh, they were delicious, as you’d expect from a dessert so dependent on cajeta. And the cookies themselves weren’t especially difficult to make; they didn’t spread at all in the oven, which can’t always be said about gluten-free dough. But the filling kept oozing out of them because I never quite got my cajeta to the perfect consistency despite cooking, cooling, cooking again, and cooling again. I realize this is entirely my fault, which is why I wanted to post about it anyway; you may have better luck than I did, after all. And if I wasn’t taking pictures for this blog, the consistency of the cajeta wouldn’t have been an issue, because who doesn’t love a layer of gooey caramel sandwiched between two cookies?
Come to think of it, maybe there was no problem at all. Have I mentioned that they were delicious?
Maybe rolling the edges in coconut as instructed would’ve helped, but I left it out because I didn’t want to interfere with the cajeta flavor.
These chocolate chunkers may not be the most attractive cookies ever to grace a blog, but they surely rank among the most delicious. And why wouldn’t they? Dorie Greenspan developed the recipe. ’nuff said.
I’m a batter eater from way back and honestly had a hard time convincing myself to cook these at all, but after resting for 10 minutes out of the oven they somehow improved upon what I thought was perfection. As we nibbled in the following days, Gil and I took to microwaving the cookies for 15 seconds or so to melt the chocolate a tiny bit, which was a great idea; they’re rich, and one is perfectly satisfying when they’re ever so slightly gooey.
Did you know that you can click on any image and it’ll take you to its flickr page? I only bring that up because, unless you’re using the biggest of monitors, the following behemoth will be tough to view in one window. Sorry ’bout that, but these cookies merited an ingredient shot. Plus, I’d just bought that chocolate spear, which is AWESOME and makes chunking chocolate from a big bar so much easier than doing it with a knife.
For various reasons there was no farmers’ market for us this weekend, but we did eat our weight in ice cream sandwiches, so it wasn’t a total wash.
Who cares if the ice cream was store-bought? Just sandwich some Haagen-Dazs vanilla between homemade spicy molasses cookies and call it a party.
Like I did with the popovers, I subbed Jules Gluten-Free Flour in place of the AP flour in the recipe and the cookies came out great. It’s been my experience that gluten-free cookies spread a bit more than regular, so I used a smaller amount of dough per cookie and they were absolutely perfect. Next time, I’ll try using coconut oil instead of the butter to see if that firms them up a little bit. (There’s less moisture in the cookies from the original recipe because it calls for shortening instead of butter, but man, that stuff gives me the willies.)
recipe after the jump
Time passed, and it was decreed that cook eat FRET needed a little root work, and thus made her pilgrimage to New York. She’s the outgoing sort who has food-blogger friends from all over the country (world, at this point?), so Gil and I met up with her, Zen Can Cook and Colloquial Cooking for dinner at Del Posto Friday night. Thursday Night Smackdown was unable to make it, so we feasted on her portion of the lardo that came around with the bread basket, and I’ll blame her when my skinny jeans no longer fit.
Our dinner companions were everything you could ask for — friendly, smart and talented, and honestly just lovely people, all-around. I’ll leave a review of the food to them, but must put in a plug for my dessert, the Sfera di Caprino, Celery & Fig Agrodolce & Celery Sorbetto, as the menu so mouthwateringly puts it. Delicious and unusual. Probably not something I’ll try to duplicate even in the slightest, but if someone out there would like to do the honors, I would not complain if you got back to me with your recipe.
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It has been brought to my attention (though it hadn’t really escaped my notice) that I don’t post often enough. But that’s not entirely true; just check my guest post at TNS for evidence.
But I do have a couple of things from last weekend that are sitting in my drafts folder collecting pixel-dust, so maybe the criticism is justified. It’s really a shame, because this meal could only have been better if I’d caught the trout myself minutes before firing up the (brand new) grill. But without access to decent trout streams here, I thought Whole Foods would be an acceptable substitute. I stuffed the fish with thin lemon slices and sprigs of thyme just before grilling — simple preparations are perfect with fresh trout. Dinner was on the table about 15 minutes later, served with an avocado, tomato and red onion salad, and grilled asparagus on the side. It’s that time of year, after all.
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Hey Cecily, you asked what I could do with limes…does this work?
Cornmeal cookies with lime glaze, inspired by the same at Amy’s Bread. These were a little crispier and less cakey than the originals, but were still just my kind of cookie — crumbly, crunchy, sweet/tart and completely lacking in chocolate.
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And just for you, Claire — more Rufus pictures:
The thing about a greyhound is, it’s really hard to get the nose and eyes in focus at the same time if your camera isn’t on a tripod.
But the boy really knows how to relax.
And I could learn a thing or two about patience from him.
recipe after the jump