Monday, December 29, 2008

Coconut macaroons

This recipe is extraordinarily similar to a recipe from an old Sunset magazine, but I've given people that recipe and they say the results are different. So here's what i do. I think the main differences are that I add more coconut, cook them for longer, and omit the chocolate coating from the original recipe.

The coconut seems to come in bags varying from 12 to 14 oz. Whichever it is, I just add the whole bag. If there's not enough coconut, the egg white runs a bit while the cookie is baking and you end up having to trim the finished cookie.

I make cookies that range 1.5-3 inches, and the cooking time does not change that much.

4 egg whites
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 12-14 oz bag sweetened angel flake coconut

Preheat oven to 325F.

In a large bowl, whisk egg whites until frothy. Add the flour and vanilla and stir to combine. Stir in coconut. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silpat (I know that people say this and don't mean it, but this is serious. These things will stick even to the silpat, so don't skip this step.) On the cookie sheet, lightly press the coconut mixture into a cookie cutter. While gently pressing the coconut mixture, lift the cutter leaving the shaped cookie behind. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until deep golden. Edges should look like toasted coconut. Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the pan and then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

Macaroons will keep a week or more if refrigerated. Refrigeration will soften the cookies, but most of my tasters seem to prefer that.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Oatmeal Cookies

I've been tweaking this oatmeal cookie recipe for a while now. It's so far removed from the original recipe at this point that I'm going to call it my very own. Sometimes I add a cup of toasted pecans or walnuts. Sometimes I substitute dried tart cherries for the raisins.

1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp clove
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup butter
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 325F. In a medium mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients, flour, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, salt, baking soda, baking powder. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Mix in molasses, egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and raisins. Stir to combine. Scoop heaping tablespoons of mixture onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cookies may look a little bit wet in the cracks, but will be set and lightly golden around edges.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Ham and spinach bread pudding

The housemate really wanted me to write this one down, so here it is. 4 cups of half and half can be substituted for milk and cream.

1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 oz ham, cut into 1/4 cubes
1 T canola oil
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp kosher salt
pepper to taste
1 baguette, cut into 1 inch cubes
3/4 cup shredded gruyere
1/2 cup shredded parmesan

Preheat oven to 350F.

In large frying pan, cook ham over medium heat until lightly browned. Remove ham from pan. In same pan saute onion, bell pepper and celery until onion is translucent. Add garlic and continue sauteing for another minute or so. Mix in spinach and ham and remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cream, milk, eggs, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and half each of parmesan and gruyere. Add bread and stir to combine.

Layer bread mixture with vegetable mixture ending with bread mixture ina 13x9 glass baking dish. Top with remaining cheeses.

Bake at 350F for 45-50 minutes until puffed golden brown.

Popular peanut dip

More or less the recipe from a really old issue of Eating Well magazine. They probably used low fat something or other which I've never really been good at. Double it, you won't be sorry. It's great with veggies or even on noodles.

Don't have a lemon? Use a lime. It's equally good.

2 crushed garlic cloves
2 T peanut butter
2 T reduced sodium soy sauce
2 T mayonnaise
1 T brown sugar
1 T lemon juice
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

Mix all ingredients together. Stir until smooth. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

Makes about 3/4 cup.

Spiced candied pecans

There are two totally different varieties of 5 spice available out there. One has ginger, cloves, pepper, anise (or star anise) and cinnamon. The other is a blend of fennel, star anise, pepper, cinnamon and cloves. I imagine that either would be fine for this recipe, but I used the latter combo. I had a hard time finding the version I wanted so I made my own using
this recipe. And yes, I have Sichuan peppercorns sitting around. Doesn't everyone?

3 cups raw pecans
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1.5 T canola oil
2 T water
1/4 tsp ground cayenne
1.5 tsp. five spice

Mix first 6 ingredients in a large frying pan. Bring to boil over medium heat. Cook 7-9 minutes until nuts begin to smell slightly roasted, stirring occasionally. Add cayenne and five spice. Mix well. Turn out mixture onto parchment lined baking sheet, separating nuts. Cool at room temperature. Seal in air tight container.
Makes approximately 5 cups.

These will keep for at least a few minutes if Scott is around.