Categories
baking Dorie

Tuesdays With Dorie: Coconut Butter Thins

coconut-cookies-2-3

Mmm, cookies.

I love cookies.

The only problem with cookies is that I eat them. And eat them. And eat them. It’s only another cookie — what can it hurt?

This week’s Tuesdays With Dorie recipe was Coconut Butter Thins, chosen for us by Jayne of The Barefoot Kitchen Witch. Coconut. Butter. What’s not to like? I was very much looking forward to them.

Anyway, I made these. I made them exactly as written, except I used orange zest rather than lime, because the label on my coriander said it had hints of orange, and I thought it might work well. I even used coriander, which in previous days I would have left out (along with the zest).

My palate is what you might call unadventurous. #1 Son calls it boring. I tend not to like anything weird, which includes anything, you know, weird. Like coriander.

But the lemon zest worked so well in last week’s Blueberry Crumb Cake that I threw caution to the wind and decided to trust Dorie.

Good call.

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I loved these cookies. They’re just buttery shortbread, but with really interesting flavors underneath. Must be the coriander and orange. Who knew?

They’re very easy to make, although not as easy as Dorie’s food processor recipes; the only hitch was my last-minute discovery that we had no shredded sweetened coconut. Husband was happy to oblige (luckily, he and #1 Son had just gotten home from a weekend away), and the dough was soon all mixed and pretty.

I really like the technique of rolling the dough in a ziplock bag. Rolling has always been my nemesis; I absolutely hate it. The bag was neat and easy, and after I refrigerated it for three hours the dough was easy to plop down on a cutting board and cut with a pizza wheel.

I was working on a couple of other recipes at the same time as this one, and somehow I managed to reuse the timer while the first batch was in the oven. I have no idea how long they were eventually in there; they weren’t at all burnt, but there was definitely browning around the edges. I took the second batch out at 17 minutes, with just the merest hint of darkening at the edges.

The difference was amazing. The well-done cookies were crispy and delicious. The rare cookies were chewy and delicious. OK, maybe it wasn’t so amazing. My point is that it’s hard to screw these up. They were great the second day, too: completely different, much softer, but delicious. (I keep using that word. But I do think it means what I think it means.)

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Family liked them too:

Husband: I thought the dough was a bit iffy — had a bit of a flat, almost metallic taste — but the baked result was quite gratifying. It was quite a feat to have a chewy center (thank you, shredded coconut) in such a thin, crisp cookie.

#1 Son: Tasty but ultimately unspectacular. I didn’t get any of the special flavors I was promised. It was just a butter cookie, but a good butter cookie.

#2 Son: I like them. They were not very coconutty, and I didn’t get any coriander or orange. To me they were basically butter cookies with coconut in them — which is not bad. I look forward to having more.

And a bonus!

#1 Son’s Girlfriend: Delicious. I loved the texture. Didn’t really get a lot of coconut, and if you hadn’t told me there was coriander and orange I wouldn’t have known. But delicious!

You should try these. Really. Even if you don’t like coconut. Get the recipe from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, or on Jayne’s blog. Either way, you won’t be sorry. And check out what all the other TWD bakers did with these, too.

Next week, banana cream pie!

coconut-cookies-5

Categories
baking Dorie fruit

Tuesdays With Dorie: Blueberry Crumb Cake

blueberry-cake-4

I’m back! (Although, sadly, Passover is approaching. I’m hoping the April recipes are posted soon, so I can work ahead.)

I don’t like fruit; you all know that. I have actually skipped TWD recipes because they were fruit-based. But my two weeks of slacking guilted me into making this cake, and I am so glad I did.

This week’s recipe was Blueberry Crumb Cake. I like crumbs. I don’t like blueberries.

I decided this sounded like a breakfast cake, so breakfast it was. In a pathetic attempt to make it a touch more healthful, I used my beloved King Arthur white whole-wheat flour. See? It’s breakfast! It’s whole-grain!

Right.

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So I used the flour and I used frozen wild blueberries (because they’re smaller) and I used pecans rather than walnuts in the crumbs (because I like them better), but other than that I made this straight, exactly as Dorie prescribes. I even used the lemon zest, which I have left out of every single recipe I’ve ever made that has called for it. (I actually had to look up what zest is, because I was unsure, although #2 Son told me, and he was right.)

We had it for Monday breakfast, to celebrate the fact that Husband didn’t have to go to work for a whole week. Happy vacation! We’re not going anywhere, although he’s going to spend a few days with his father, but vacation is vacation!

Despite my worries about the whole fruit thing, it is delicious. Really delicious. The best fruit cake I’ve every had, and right up there contending for the spot of best cake ever. It’s moist (I never know when to take cakes out, so I generally get it wrong; got this one right) and flavorful (I actually likes the slight lemon flavor from the zest!), and the crumbs on top lend the perfect amount of sweetness. Magnificent. There have been TWD recipes that I haven’t been terribly impressed with, but this is not one of them.

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And the gang says:

Husband: Delicious breakfast cake. It was just phenomenal. I wish I’d had some coffee with it. [I tried to pin him down. Didn’t work.] It was just awesome. The whole thing, the sweetness and the … I don’t even know what you’d call it. [He’s a writer.] It almost tasted like toasted whole grains, like a meal.

#1 Son: Really delicious. Moist, great flavor, and the praline on top was simply magnificent.

#2 Son: Please can I have some more? It could have used a bit fewer blueberries in my second slice, because they overwhelmed the praline topping. The praline really makes it much better; it would not work without the praline. Yum. Please?

I guess the takeaway here is that my family is considerably less erudite when they like something than when they don’t. They liked this cake, a lot.

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Go check out the hundreds of other versions of this cake, and then get yourself a copy of Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan and make it. Blueberry Crumb Cake was chosen for us this week by Sihan of Befuddlement (or maybe Walking in the Rain?), so you can also just head over there to get the recipe. But make it you must, no matter how you feel about fruit in your cake.

Categories
bread holidays meat

An Irish-ish Meal

soda-bread-1

I promised this post on Tuesday night, but better late than never, I suppose.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we ate Irish (or a facsimile thereof): Irish stew and soda bread (and Guinness for the oldest two male members of the household). Husband couldn’t find lamb in the city or over here, so we wound up with beef for the stew, and I discovered at the last minute that I was out of King Arthur’s white whole-wheat flour and that neither of the supermarkets within two miles of my house carry it.

So beef stew and white soda bread it was.

I used a stew recipe I found on AllRecipes, although I made some modifications; I try a new recipe every time I make Irish stew, and this one had Guinness in it; I thought the boys would appreciate that. I dredged the beef (2½ pounds, rather than the recipe’s 1) in salted and garlicked flour, then browned it in my beautiful new 12-inch skillet (thank you, Freecycle!), then threw it in the crockpot.

Softened an onion and garlic and some celery — I did say it was Irish-ish — and threw that into the crockpot too.

Then broth and beer and a couple of bay leaves and oregano, but no tomato paste or mushrooms. They’re not Irish at all. (I have malleable standards.)

Cooked it for hours, four or so, then added the cornstarch to thicken. And some salt.

Yum.

irish-stew

The soda bread recipe came from Gourmet. Real Irish soda bread is whole-wheat, but as mentioned above, not this year. Everyone seemed happy with it, though, and #2 Son has been eating the leftovers for two days now.

So that was our St. Patrick’s Day. What did you do?

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Categories
boys candy Dorie holidays

And Again, No Tuesdays With Dorie

But I bring you another in what seems to be a series of ethnic holiday dishes (although this one, technically, is not my ethnicity, nor is it the ethnicity of anyone on either side of my family, or my husband’s; that’s got to make us pretty unusual.)

First, if you want to read about French Yogurt Cake with Marmalade Glaze (which sounds heavenly, I must say), check out all the other TWD blogs, most especially My Cookbook Addiction, where Liliana (who chose the recipe for us this week) will have the recipe for you. You should definitely also buy Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, the founder of our weekly feasts.

So today is, of course, St. Patrick’s Day. We like all things English/Irish/Scottish/Welsh around here (although again, no family history in any of those places), and so we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day the same way we celebrate everything else: with food.

#2 Son made the Irish potatoes (such as they were) this year, and being #2 Son he did them his own way (and in the process learned that there is a very definite difference between regular cinnamon and Penzey’s Vietnamese cinnamon). For those of you who don’t know Irish potatoes — you poor deprived souls — they’re not potatoes at all, or Irish. They’re a mix of cream cheese and butter and powdered sugar and coconut, rolled into little balls of heaven and coated in cinnamon. I’ve heard that they’re a Philadelphia thing, not widely known outside the city; I can’t confirm or deny that. But if you haven’t ever tried them, do it now.

He started out making potatoes:

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But he quickly decided that potatoes just wouldn’t do. There was a famine, after all, and all the potatoes turned black.

So he made some other shapes:

Shamrock
Shamrock
Celtic cross
Celtic cross
Snake, in honor of St. Patrick
Snake, in honor of St. Patrick
Bottle of Guinness (yes, he's 11)
Bottle of Guinness (yes, he's 11)
And what turned out to look like a standing stone, even though it wasn't meant to be
And what turned out to look like a standing stone, even though it wasn't meant to be

Later tonight I’ll write about the Irish stew and soda bread we’re having for dinner. But for now, here’s our recipe for Irish potatoes, originally provided by Donna Pilato at About.com: Entertaining (my comments in parentheses):

  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter, softened
  • 4 ounces regular cream cheese, softened (Donna says don’t use low fat or whipped, but we used Neufchatel with no problems)
  • 1 pound powdered sugar, plus extra for coating hands
  • 7 ounces sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon (we have also used allspice and nutmeg, both of which were delicious)

With mixer, cream together cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. Mix in sugar and vanilla, being careful to add sugar slowly to avoid creating a large sugar cloud. Stir in the coconut flakes. Put cinnamon into a small bowl. (If you discover that you have accidentally used extraordinarily strong Vietnamese cinnamon, mix in some powdered sugar to cut it.) Coat dry hands with a little powdered sugar, and using your hands take small pieces of mixture (about 2 teaspoons apiece) and form into potato shape (or as you wish!). Drop potatoes into cinnamon and roll to coat. Place on baking sheet. When all the potatoes have been formed and dipped in cinnamon, refrigerate for several hours until firm. (Or eat right away. Whatever.)

Categories
baking boys

No Tuesdays With Dorie, but Lovely Hamantaschen Instead!

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This week’s Tuesdays With Dorie recipe was Lemon Cup Custard, chosen for us by Bridget of The Way the Cookie Crumbles. I didn’t make it. Today is Purim, a Jewish holiday celebrated most significantly, at least for my family, with hamantaschen, and given that we made two batches on two different days, I decided to skip the custard. If you want to read about Lemon Cup Custard, visit the several hundred other TWD blogs, where you will no doubt see many lovely photos and read many vivid descriptions.

But if you want to read about hamantaschen, stay right here.

When I was young, I learned that hamantaschen were named for Haman’s hat, Haman being the awful nasty villain at the heart of the Purim story. Turns out that, as with so many other things we learn as children, that’s probably not true. And I always wondered why we were eating a bad guy’s hat anyway. But no matter why we eat hamantaschen, we do eat them. A lot of them.

Traditionally (meaning the ones I ate as a child, and the ones you see in bakeries today), hamantaschen are filled with cherry, prune, or poppyseed fillings. We are not traditional.

We’ve been refining our filling selections over the years since #1 Son was very young, and we’ve settled on some perennial favorites: Marshmallow Fluff and chocolate chips, almond pie filling and chocolate chips, cherry pie filling and chocolate chips …

Did you pick up on the common thread there?

We also use Nutella and pecans, plain cherry filling, almond butter and sweetened shredded coconut, and other things I’m forgetting right now.

On Friday #1 Son made a batch of dough, using a new recipe for us (because we couldn’t find the book with our regular recipe, but let’s not discuss that right now). He and his girlfriend and #2 Son and a friend of his made hamantaschen Friday afternoon. Fun was had. But the recipe didn’t make very many, and I didn’t get even one.

So Sunday night I made another batch, and this morning I baked them (with a little help from #2 Son, who made a turkey version).

hamantaschen-turkey

First I rolled out the dough and cut it into circles; our regular recipe involves rolling the dough into logs and slicing (like World Peace Cookies!), then rolling out each individual circle.

hamantaschen-cut

Next I put a dollop of filling in the middle of each cookie.

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I used lots of different fillings.

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And then I folded them into adorable little three-cornered hat simulacra.

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The dough was much drier than our usual. #1 Son had neglected to mention that, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it, so I made do. They’re not the prettiest hamantaschen ever; some were prettier than others.

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But they are absolutely delicious, as always, and I am very happy with them. And I am even happier that I made them in daylight, and so got some decent photos for a change.

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Categories
baking boys Dorie

Tuesdays With Dorie: Chocolate Armagnac Cake

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This week’s recipe, chosen for us by LyB of And Then I Do the Dishes, did not sound the slightest bit yummy to me. I don’t like fruit. I don’t like alcohol (except for Kahlua and the amazing mudslide mix my father-in-law buys at Christmas). And I’m sick to death of dark chocolate.

I wasn’t going to make it. I do TWD almost every week, so I figured I could skip a week.

Then #1 Son got hold of the recipe. He likes fruit. He loves alcohol. And he loves dark chocolate.

So I turn over the bulk of this post to my guest blogger:

“I made it with rum and prunes, and it was one of the easiest and tastiest chocolate cakes I have ever made. I would happily make it again.”

He’s a man of few words, at least when there’s no bacon involved.

So I guess that wasn’t the bulk of the post, and I apologize for its brevity. He cut the recipe by two-thirds and baked the result in an oval ramekin.

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I had the smallest bite of this cake, and as expected, I didn’t like it. The rest of them did, though:

Husband: I actually thought that the alcohol-softened prunes added quite a bit to the dark fudginess. There was a light fruit note that was quite enticing. I found the glaze a little simple, but it didn’t detract. I didn’t think it was necessary, ultimately. Given my choice, I would have put a little dollop of unsweetened whipped cream on top.

#1 Son: I liked it a lot. It had a really great fudgy texture, but wasn’t too rich and had a real depth of flavor. It was my favorite thing out of the Dorie book so far. Didn’t get much prune or rum flavor, though. I would have liked it with a little orange marmalade on top. That would have enhanced both the dark chocolate and fruit flavors, and been a light counterpart to the fudginess.

#2 Son: It was pretty good overall. The cake was good; I liked the bits of prune.

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Sorry, folks — that’s all I’ve got today. Go check out all the other TWD bloggers to see what they did with the cake, and if you want to try it yourself, buy Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, or visit And Then I Do the Dishes, where the recipe will appear.

Categories
boys food recipes

Snow Day!

Here in the mid-Atlantic we got our first real snow of the season today. On March 1st. And what’s really sad is that #2 Son, who is almost 12, was overjoyed when he woke up this morning; he thought this was a huge amount of snow.

snow-fort

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#1 Son remembers — just barely — the Great Snow of 1996, when we got 30 inches and it lasted for days. He was not quite 4 then, and our exchange student from Austria built him a snow cave to play in. That was a huge amount of snow. But poor #2 Son hasn’t seen much snow in recent years, and he really, really, really likes snow.

Where is the food-related content in this post? you may be wondering. Never fear: It’s coming.

This afternoon #2 Son scooped up a bowl of snow and prepared to mix it with maple syrup, as we’ve done with our pitiful little snowfalls in the past. But I remembered seeing a technique for pouring hot syrup over snow to make candy, so we tried that. (I Googled and found a recipe here.)

It took a while to get the syrup to the right temperature; as with every other kind of sugar syrup I’ve ever dealt with, it’s a long process that progresses almost instantly at the end to disaster. But I managed to get it just about right this time, and we dribbled it over the snow.

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The syrup hardens almost instantly to candy: chewy or brittle depending on the exact temperature at the moment of pouring. Either way, it’s yummy.

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And it’s very pretty, too!

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More snow!!!