Friday, March 4, 2016

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Granola

This is called granola because it contains ingredients commonly found in granola - oats, nuts, etc.  But there is chocolate.  Lots of chocolate.  So it's not really granola, in that virtuous this-is-good-for-you kind of way. If you are young and reckless you can have it for breakfast.  For the rest of us I would recommend it for an afternoon or after dinner snack, or as a topping for yogurt or ice cream. 

Sweet and Salty Chocolate Granola
adapted from Pinch of Yum

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats (NOT instant or quick cooking)
1 1/4 cups sliced almonds
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup turbinado sugar, DIVIDED (also sold as Sugar in the Raw)
2/3 cup melted coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
1/3 real maple syrup (or agave syrup)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 semisweet chocolate chips
flaky sea salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. 

In a large bowl toss the oats, almonds, coconut flakes, cocoa powder, salt and 1/3 cup of the turbinado sugar together until evenly mixed.  Set aside.

In a separate bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together the melted coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla.  Pour this mixture over the oat mixture and toss until everything is evenly coated.

Transfer the oat mixture to a baking sheet, spread evenly and place in preheated oven.  After 30 minutes toss the mixture and check to make sure it isn't burning. Continue to bake for another 10 to 20 minutes, checking frequently. When the granola is starting to become crispy and fragrant, remove from the oven and toss the chocolate chips evenly over the top. Don't stir.  Finally,  sprinkle the remaining turbinado sugar and a good dose of flaky sea salt over the entire mixture. Return to the oven for about five minutes.  The chocolate chips should keep their shape but the sugar and salt should stick to them. This is where the magic happens so don't fight it.

Remove from oven and cool completely before transferring to an airtight container.  

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Picture by

Are you aware that National Chocolate Chip Cookie Week is March 14-20? Thank goodness the food holiday designators chose an entire week to celebrate because just one day is absolutely not enough. Right now my freezer is stocked full of chocolate chip cookie dough. I have a double batch of the classic Strobel Cookie with half dark chocolate chips and half Dove milk chocolate, preferred by Strobel men for chocolate chip cookie dough pudding, or just eating naked, as in straight-from-the-freezer-no-baking-or-microwaving involved. If you dig a little deeper you will find a ziploc bag full of little dough balls waiting to be baked into Tate's thin and crispy chocolate chip cookies. Alongside those you will find my personal batch - classic Strobel cookie dough with Guittard semi-sweet chocolate super disks and toasted walnuts (no milk chocolate allowed). We like to cater to all tastes and palates at this house! 

If you are thinking there is no need for another variety, I would like to gently suggest that you are so so wrong. Let me introduce you to The King Arthur Flour Company's 2015 recipe of the year - the Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie. These are soft and chewy inside and deliciously crispy on the outside, as good cold as they are warm. I don't share chocolate chip cookie recipes recklessly. Trust me with this one.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup ( 7 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup (3 1/2 ounces) quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt or 3/4 teaspoon regular table salt
3 cups (18 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

With an electric or stand mixer, beat together the softened butter and both sugars until smooth and creamy. Add the egg and egg yolk one at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla and mix until well combined.

In a separate bowl whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, oatmeal, baking powder and soda, and salt. Add this to the butter mixture and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Prepare the dough for baking (or freezing) by scooping into balls. Any size will work! We prefer a larger cookie, about 1/4 cup dough each, but even tiny little scoops of about 2 teaspoons each will make a respectable cookie. Make sure to leave plenty of room between balls for spreading. Bake the cookies for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size, until they are very light golden brown with the edges slightly darker than the middle. Let the cookies rest for a minute or two on the cookie sheet then transfer to racks to cool

Yield: 20 to 100 cookies, depending on size.

Notes on the Recipe:
I prefer quick cooking oatmeal for these cookies because I think it makes for a better texture, but suit yourself, just don't use instant oatmeal.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Spice

photo courtesy

"Pumpkin spice Oreos? Pumpkin spice OreNO's" 
-Rebekah Strobel via Twitter 

Forget those bland grocery store spice blends. This is a pumpkin spice mix that will knock your socks off when used appropriately, like in recipes that actually call for pumpkin (pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin donut holes, etc.).  Please use responsibly.

Pumpkin Pie Spice
adapted from dessert for two

3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
1/2 tablespoon ground allspice
1/2 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper

Whisk all spices together and store in an air-tight jar.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Watermelon, Feta and Arugula Salad

Photo Courtesy of
I was driving down Dixwell Avenue towards New Haven a week or two ago.  It's the section of town that has layers and layers of texture, as my artist friend Sue says.  On a warm summer afternoon this is where people tend to mingle about.  You might find an older gentleman selling some barbecue right next to a younger man hawking knock-off sneakers and pocketbooks. My favorite vendor is the man with a U-Haul truck loaded with enormous watermelons.  For years I've wondered about those melons.  

My dad used to farm watermelons in Texas back in the 1940's.  He would tell stories about melons so abundant, so sweet and so big that they would split them open in the field, eat just the heart, and toss the rest away.  Maybe I was feeling nostalgic for my dad, but as I sat waiting at a red light something compelled me to yell out to the watermelon man, "Hey - are your melons any good?" Before the traffic light had turned green I had forked out $12 and had a gigantic melon (so big I could barely lift it) in my back seat.  I'm certain my dad would have approved of this beauty, after he had recovered from the sticker shock.

Dale Cutler Moncur
Watermelon, Feta and Arugula Salad
barely adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen by Sara Forte

Serves 4

1 small watermelon
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
4 cups baby arugula
handful fresh basil, coarsely chopped
1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced

Cut the watermelon widthwise into 1/2-inch slabs.  Using a round biscuit or cookie cutter (about 2 1/2 inches in diameter), punch out circles from the flesh of the watermelon. Depending on the size of the watermelon, you should be able to get 3 or 4 circles from each cross section. Save the excess melon for another use.

In a small bowl, make the dressing by mashing the feta cheese with the white balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a few grinds of black pepper.

In a small bowl, toss the arugula, basil, and red onion with a few tablespoons of the feta dressing to coat.  Put some of the dressed greens on a plate and top with a watermelon round.  Drizzle a bit of dressing on the watermelon and continue stacking with alternating layers of greens, watermelon and dressing.  Finish each serving with greens on top and serve immediately. 

Notes on the recipe:  This recipe demands white balsamic vinegar, not the more assertive dark variety. If you live near a Trader Joe's, their authentic imported Greek feta elevates this recipe to another level. Their white balsamic is also my favorite. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Chocolate Crostini with Olive Oil and Salt

Chocolate Crostini with Olive Oil and Salt
from Rogue Baking tips from Alice Medrich on Food52

This isn't really a recipe.  It's a suggestion. A very good suggestion.    I don't know about you but when it comes to food I am easily suggestible.

Slice some leftover crusty bread from dinner last night, brush with your favorite olive oil and bake in a 350 degree oven until it's just crunchy.  While the bread is crisping,  melt a couple of ounces of your favorite dark chocolate in the microwave.  Drizzle the melted chocolate over the bread, sprinkle with some good flaky salt and enjoy! Next time I am going to sprinkle it with crumbled up bacon.  Just another suggestion.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Avocado Chimichurri Bruschetta

I'm thinking it is time for the avocado to step up as the official food of St. Patrick's day.  Move over corned beef and cabbage or green eggs and ham or whatever green thing you like to eat on March 17.  Never mind that bruschetta is Italian, the chimichurri is Argentinean, the bread is French, the avocado is Mexican and the smoked paprika is Spanish - the Irish won't mind.  Once you taste this you will see what I mean.

Avocado Chimichurri Bruschetta
adapted from Vegetarian Times

2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (NOT DRIED)
2 avocados, ripe but not too ripe
10 (or more) 1/2-inch-thick slices of french bread, toasted

Combine lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, oregano, smoked paprika and black pepper in a small mixing bowl.  Whisk in olive oil, then chopped cilantro and parsley.  Peel avocado, removed pit and cut flesh into small cubes.  Gently fold the avocado into the chimichurri sauce. Spoon over toasted bread slices and serve.

Notes on the recipe:

Everything can be prepared in advance except the avocado.  Once the avocado is stirred into the chimichurri it needs to be used within 2 hours.  The chimichurri alone keeps well in the fridge for a few days.

Instead of bread you can use crackers.  Costco sells big bags of crostini and they work exceptionally well.  Once the avocado is spooned on top they hold up really well for at least 30 minutes.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sweet Corn and and Blackberry Ice Cream

I know.  I just used corn and ice cream in the title.  I saw this recipe two years ago in the New York Times and vowed to make it just because it sounded weird.  Sometimes weird recipes turn out to be amazing, and it is - weird and amazing! The corn flavor is hard to decipher if you don't know it's there, so if your friends (or husbands) are not adventuresome eaters it is totally appropriate to withhold certain information until after they have fallen in love with this delicious summer concoction.  

Sweet Corn and Blackberry Ice Cream
adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

Blackberry Sauce:
2 cups blackberries or raspberries, or a mix of both
1 cup sugar

1 ear of fresh sweet corn, husked and silk removed
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoons light corn syrup

Blackberry sauce: combine the berries and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Continue boiling, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 220 degrees.  Let cool slightly, then force through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds.  Refrigerate until cold.

Ice cream base: slice the kernels from the corn cob then extract the corn juices by scraping the cob with the back of a knife.  Reserve the kernels and as much corn juice as possible. 

Mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside.

Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Set aside.

Combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, corn and corn juice, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat and boil for 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and force the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl, leaving the solids behind.  Return the mixture to the saucepan and gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture.  Return to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat.

Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth.  Chill mixture overnight.  Freeze according to your machine's manufacture's instructions. 

Pack the ice cream into a storage container, alternating with layers of the blackberry sauce. Do not mix.  Place a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper directly over the surface and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of the freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Notes on the recipe:

-It's really important to freeze the canister in the coldest part of the freezer before churning the ice cream. It takes 2 days for my canister to become frozen enough. I also place the custard in the freezer for about one hour prior to churning.  This lowers the temperature of the base just enough to ensure success.

-I am pretty sure any berry would be fantastic, especially blueberries or raspberries. 

-I am really enjoying the recipes from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home.  Her base is drastically different from the more common egg yolk based custards.  Instead she uses cornstarch, a bit of corn syrup and a little cream cheese to make a base that freezes beautifully without ice crystals every time.  I was totally skeptical until I tried it and now I just can't go back. One of these days I will post her recipe for salted caramel ice cream.  It's probably the best thing I have ever made in my life.