I originally created this recipe as a freelance project for a yogurt company. I first tested the cookie without yogurt to make sure the rest of the ingredients were sound. The result (below) was a chewy, sweet, heavily spiced cookie that is perfect for the holidays (I know, I know–I’m way late! Make them next year…).

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 ¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar, plus more for rolling
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup molasses
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preparation
Preheat oven to 375* F.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves; set aside.

With a hand mixer or in a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars until fluffy smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Add molasses, egg, and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated. Add the flour mixture in batches and mix until just combined.

Using a tablespoon, form cookies and roll each cookie in sugar. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and press each cookie with your fingers to flatten slightly.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or longer for a crispier cookie.

Another one of those just-an-idea posts, inspired by an al fresco lunch at Pentimento on Long Island: season and sear fresh tuna; remove from pan and dice; sweat minced garlic and shallots in evoo in same pan; add baby kale (or spinach or other baby greens) and cook until just begins to wilt; add cooked pappardelle pasta, some pasta water, lemon juice, grated parmesan cheese, and more evoo; stir to emulsify and create a sauce; toss in diced tuna at the very last minute just to warm; garnish with sliced scallions and more grated parmesan.

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1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp kosher salt
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chia seeds
3/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw cashews, roughly chopped
1 cup dried fruit, diced (I used chopped dates and apricots)

1. Preheat oven to 250 F.
2. In a small sauce pan, whisk together oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, and salt. Heat over medium-low heat until sugar and salt dissolve.
3. In a large bowl, combine oats, seeds, and cashews.
4. Pour the oil mixture over the oat mixture and stir to coat.
5. Spread evenly on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
6. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes.
7. Combine granola with dried fruit and cool, stirring occasionally to break into smaller clusters.

Notes: decrease both oil and chia seeds to 1/4 cup each. Otherwise, flavor was great and texture was what I had hoped: crunchy with some larger clusters throughout. Yum. Could probably decrease sweetness (try 1/4 cup maple syrup).

I am most certainly not taking any credit for this laughingly simple technique that impresses both in flavor, texture, and looks. My version coats a whole head of cauliflower in canola oil, and seasons it with smoked salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast until crispy and dark brown on the outside, and tender inside. Serve a wedge over a smooth squash puree* (in this instance, kabocha) and garnish with a bright, fresh gremolata.

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*I went all indulgent with butter and cream, but feel free to omit for a vegan version.

Another baked good that I brought on our trip to the woods. I was in search of something that represented fall, and what better than warm spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and allspice. For a subtle kick and mild heat, I added ground cayenne pepper, though for this round I substituted with freshly ground black pepper.

1 cup / 141 g whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup / 73 g all-purpose flour
1/2 cup / 55 g ground flax meal
1 tsp / 4 g baking soda
1 1/4 tsp / 2 g ground cardamom
1 1/4 tsp / 2 g ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp / 1 g ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper or 15 turns freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp / 2 g kosher salt
4 / 520 g over-ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup / 80 g low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup / 60 g canola oil
2 large / 100 g eggs
1/2 cup / 90 g brown sugar
1 teaspoon / 5 g vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
1. In a large bowl, whisk the flours, flax meal, baking soda, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk, bananas, and vanilla.
3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir until just combined.
4. Pour into a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and bake for 1 hour, turning halfway, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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Notes: This is the third time I’ve tested this recipe, and though I make minor changes each time, it winds up being a success. (The weight measurements, however, were only done once, so they should be re-tested.) I started with a base recipe and do not know where I found it, but I made so many changes that I can safely say this is an original recipe.

In addition to packing beef jerky for our backwoods vacation on the lake, I went on a mini baking spree. Oatmeal bars made an appearance, only with dried fruit in lieu of chocolate (a better choice for this recipe). Spiced banana bread also found its way with us, but that’s for a future post. I also used this recipe from Gourmet magazine to make whole wheat berry muffins, mostly as a way to use up the miscellaneous berries that were expiring in the refrigerator.

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I made minimal changes: assortment of berries instead of only blueberries, slightly less sugar than called for, and omission of sugar topping. Recipe:

1 3/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar (I used slightly less, and I think you could even cut it in half for something even more breakfast-friendly and healthy)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 large egg
1/2 cup whole milk (next time I will substitute with lower-fat milk or milk substitutes)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (I may swap for coconut oil next time around if I use a milk substitute)
1 1/2 cups assorted berries (fresh or frozen)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle. Butter muffin pan.
2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl, then whisk in zest.
3. Whisk egg in another bowl, then whisk in milk and butter. Add to dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined (batter will be dense). Fold in berries. Divide batter among muffin cups.
4. Bake until a wooden pick inserted into center of muffins comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then unmold onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.