30 January 2010

Vanilla Olive Oil Granola

I take breakfast very seriously. I start looking forward to it when I go to sleep, and the very thought of it gets me out of bed. Granola is one of my favorite breakfasts because it has so many different textures and flavors and you can put whatever you want in it. Recently, my friend Holly made me some granola with big coconut flakes in it. That sealed the deal. I knew I loved coconut in granola, but I kept using the small flakes because my brain shuts down the moment I walk into New Seasons and the bulk isle overwhelms me so. Big flakes are what makes granola rule! I marched right down to the store and bought two bags (ambitious). Here's what I came up with for this weeks granola:

Vanilla Olive Oil Granola

3 cups oats
1 cup large flake coconut
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup pecans
1/4 cup chopped dried apricots
2/3 cup honey
juice from one large orange
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Combine oats, nuts and fruit in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl mix honey, orange juice, oil, vanilla, and nutmeg. Pour over the oats and combine well. Spread mix out in a large glass pan and sprinkle the salt over the top. Bake at 300 degrees for 45 minutes or so, stirring frequently. Cool granola completely before serving, and store in mason jars or any airtight container.

28 January 2010


Staff meal has been epic lately. This last week we had a southern meal with fried chicken, mashed potatoes, collard greens, cole slaw with fried pigs ears, jello shots, and I made whoppa cookies. Now, I am not sure if whoppa cookies are, in fact, southern because I made them up. But I think southern people are always putting candy in stuff to "make it fancy." Kevin does anyway, and he's fair-weather southern. So, the point is, I made cookies and they were southern in my mind and also very, very good. Because I didn't follow a recipe, they are not perfect. For some examples, they are a little greasy when still hot, the malted milk balls collapsed in the cookies (which ended up being a good thing- they caramelized) and they were very flat. However, I have tweaked the recipe here by adding a bit more flour and reducing the baking soda. Please let me know how it goes for you. I normally might not post this recipe until I got it right, but they are so good even if not puffy and pretty. And I promise I am not avoiding putting a photo up because they fell- I just forgot my camera and I made them at work.

Whoppa Cookies

2 1/2 cups of flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temp
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 lb dark semisweet chocolate, melted with 1 T butter
2 cups halved whoppers or malted milk balls

Mix the flour, powedr, soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Meanwhile, in a double broiler melt the chocolate with a bit of butter. After it has fully melted remove from heat and set aside. In a standing mixer, beat butter and sugar until fluffy and add the vanilla. Slowly blend in the chocolate, then the flour mixture, the milk, and then the whoppers.
Chill the dough for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper drop healthy spoonfuls of dough 3 inches apart from each other. Bake 10-12 minutes and let cool. They are fantastic on the second day, if stored properly in an air-tight container or wrapped in plastic wrap.

21 January 2010

Word of Mouth Meatballs

Last night, to go along with the most perfect tomato sauce ever, I decided to make meatballs. The last time I made them was for Adult Spaghetti-O night, and those were tiny. This time I wanted to have some fun with them, aka stuff them with cheese. I asked around and everyone instructed me to use ground pork and beef, chopped garlic, and breadcrumbs. Some suggested onions, some suggested grated cheese, but I skipped those and put a little nugget of fresh whole milk mozzarella in the middle.
Also, my new best friend Charlie the bulldog came over. It's love.

Word of Mouth Meatballs

3/4 lb ground beef (not too lean mind you)
1/2 lb ground pork
3 gloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
pinch of oregano
salt and pepper
1 ball of fresh mozz, cubed

Gently combine meats, garlic, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and oregano. Don't over work the mix. Form balls the size of a small lime or so. Stick a cube of the cheese into the center, and then pinch shut. Heat up a cast iron skillet with lots of olive oil. Sear the meatballs so that they have a nice brown exterior, then transfer them with a slotted spoon over to the hot and ready tomato sauce. Finish cooking them in the sauce. Serve over spaghetti.

20 January 2010

19 January 2010

Pistachio Glass

I recently made another version of panna cotta. This time it was yogurt based, and I swirled it with caramel pudding- like whoa. As a garnish I made a pistachio brittle of sorts. Not the kind that is like a toffee style brittle with butter and corn syrup, but more of a glass candy style. It was absurdly simple and made a beautiful garnish.

Pistachio Glass
adapted from Bon Appetit

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup unsalted pistachios
1/2 teaspoon salt

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray or grease with a bit of vegetable oil. Combine sugar, salt and water in a sauce pan and turn the heat up to medium high. Do not stir the sugar while it comes to a boil, and allow it to turn a deep amber color (12 minutes or so). It transitions to amber quickly- make sure you are keeping a close eye on it so it does not burn. You do want to let it go as long and dark as you can stand though, because the flavor base comes from the caramelization of the sugar. When it gets to the perfect deep gold, pull the pan off the heat and stir in the nuts quickly. Immediately pour the mixture onto the pan and spread the edges out by pulling them with the tip of a knife. Allow to cool completely before breaking it into pieces. I sprinkled it with salt one last time for the thrill of it.


I've been getting into my summer jars recently. First it was the tomato sauce, then the peaches (from the same batch I used in my blue ribbon peach pie!) Next summer I promise to follow a recipe when canning. Mostly so that I don't die of botulism, which is a risk I take every day with my foot loose and fancy free canning job of last year. I have found that the roasted tomatoes that I canned are too sweet and the sauce is too salty. The peaches lost something in translation- not that I really expected them to be as good as fresh. Even so, it has been delightful remembering that summer happens and will happen again!

13 January 2010

Plain Cookies

I wanted a cookie on Sunday. Something honest to go along next to that crazy panna cotta. I thought a whisp of cinnamon might work, but not much else.I decided to make up my own damn recipe after having little luck finding something as simple as I wanted it to be. Here is what I came up with:

Plain Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter at room temp
1 T. mascarpone
1/2 cup bakers sugar
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp. vanilla (if I had a vanilla bean on hand I would have used it)
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for dusting

Beat butter, mascarpone and sugar together until light and whipped. Add vanilla, then slowly mix in the flour, salt and cinnamon. Form dough into a tube, wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. (This dough can be frozen this way too, and then you can bake off the cookies as you wish.) Slice off cookies about 3/8ths of an inch thick, and space evenly on a baking sheet or silpat. Bake until golden, about 9 minutes.

This cookie is buttery with little diamonds of salt here and there. It is not too sweet and highlights the cinnamon in a very comforting and pleasing way. I had two for breakfast yesterday and plan on having the last one right now.

PS. I would like to direct your attention here for information on how to help people in Haiti today.

12 January 2010

Lime Mascarpone Panna Cotta

I would probably not order a lime dessert if I saw it on a menu. However, when I made posole the other night I knew I should make something lime-y to follow it up. I found a recipe for lime panna cotta in Bon Appetit and decided to have a go.
I really love panna cotta. It is silky and light, despite being packed with not light things like heavy cream. However, this panna cotta was a bit different. It could be that I whipped the cream and the mascarpone a little too long, but it had a fluffy, cheesecake -like texture to it. Not my favorite, but still very delicious. When I tried it again today, I really liked it a lot and even accepted the fluffy texture into my heart. I think I will try to make panna cotta again soon to see if I can get the texture a bit silkier. Anyway, if you are into fluffy desserts and/or cheesecake, you will certainly like this dessert which is very easy to make.

Lime Mascarpone Panna Cotta
adapted from Bon Appetit

4 T. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tsp. grated lime peel
1 tsp. gelatin
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup room temp. mascarpone
1/2 cup sugar

Mix the lime juice and peel together in a sauce pan, and sprinkle the gelatin over the top. Let sit for 5 minutes, and then turn the stove on to medium heat. Add 1/4 cup of cream to the pan and stir until the gelatin is absorbed. Remove from heat. Whisk mascarpone and sugar together, then whisk cream in. Do not over mix unless you want a fluffy texture. Mix in the lime-gelatin mixture, and then pour into small cups. Cover and chill for several hours before serving.
I served mine with cinnamon cookies.

Posole with Pork

Like I said, ever since I saw this recipe posted on 101 Cookbooks I have wanted to make it. And so on sunday I did. Of course, I added pork and doubled the recipe because I'm fat like that. It kind of took all day, but also kind of didn't. It was very good, comforting and tasty. Plus I got to serve it with all kinds of little bowls of other stuff, like limes and cheese and tortilla strips. So that was awesome.
I am not going to post the recipe for this because all I did was add 2 pounds of shredded pork to Heidi's recipe, so please visit her site and check out the recipe if you want to make it for dinner! Which you should.

08 January 2010

Behind the curve

I know a lot of cooks, people from California, and food lovers already know about this, but check out my new bean dealer: Rancho Gordo! They carry heirloom beans, dried hominy and chilies. I just ordered 3 packages of dried hominy (I only wanted 1 but I hit the wrong button and couldn't figure out how to change my error) and some New Mexican chile powder. Can you guess what I am making? That's right, red posole! I saw the recipe on 101 Cookbooks and have not recovered since. My chef at work gave me some cans of hominy last night, but as he handed them over he said "these are a sorry excuse for dried or frozen hominy." That will not do. So I ordered the good stuff from Rancho Gordo and am going to throw the cans in the trash. Kidding! I will eat those too- but I want my first attempt at posole to be sincere.

Image from Ranchogordo.com

07 January 2010

Part 2: Sayulita

Sayulita was totally different than Yelapa. It is a surfing village, full of dude-bros and mexican hippies. It also is home to some of the funniest dogs and the best tacos ever. The beach was beautiful and the water was warm and salty.
We couldn't decide who our favorite beach vendor was- the guy with the candy wagon, or the guy with the smoked shrimps and fishes on a stick. The wagon was literally a wheelbarrow full of penny candy and dried fruits. Who thought that was a good idea? If someone asked me, "Jenny. Wouldn't it be cool if I had a wheelbarrow full of sticky penny candy and I wheeled it down a sandy beach and sold it to people in bathing suits???" I would have to say, "Yes, but it would never work." And that is where I would be wrong! Because it works! The guy with the shrimp walks down the beach holding about twenty kabobs with 4 smoked shrimp on each, and a couple of sticks stacked with lime quarters. In his pocket is a bottle of smokey hot sauce. We ate a lot of those smokey shrimp delights, and fed the shells to stray dogs! We made many friends.
Now that I think of it, there is another beach vendor in the running for the best- the tamale lady. I bought two piping hot pork tamales out of her cooler there on the beach and ate them up, sand and all. I would kill for one right now.
The photo of all the bottles up there is from a tequila bar. They had 330 tequilas, of which we tried probably 12. So many reasons to go back!

06 January 2010

Part 1: Yelapa

Though we spent our first night in Puerto Vallarta, I think we need to focus on more important things. Specifically, Yelapa. Here is how you get there: you drive to the furthest beach. You get on a boat. Go for a half hour until you see the most beautiful cove you can imagine. Jump off the boat, and hike into the jungle. And then you are there. Is that how my recipes read? I hope so.
I don't want to be annoying about this whole Mexico thing. But we had spiney lobster caught from that very dock on New Years Eve. We ate tacos twice a day, and polished off lots of bottles of tequila and pacifico steadily and with out consequence (so far-who knows what my future holds). It ruled, very seriously, and very awesomely. There was a library there, and burros. I will tell you about the dogs and more about the food in part 2.

05 January 2010

I'm Back!

When we got home a bit ago, we found a couple of packages waiting for us. One of them held the key to the universe, sticky buns made by my friend Erin in New Hampshire. Despite sitting on my floor for a week...they were still perfect. Dinner.