Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving


Mmm. Thanksgiving.
Actually, it's really not the tastiest holiday. I don't really like turkey, or gravy.

But cranberries. I do love cranberries. And oranges. Cranberries with oranges.

Every since Mom first made this cranberry relish about 8 years ago, I've been wanting it every year. So, for the past four years, so ensure I get it, I've been making it.

But for some reason, I failed to double the recipe this year. Oops. I'll just have to make some more tomorrow. Leftover sweet potatoes are no good without cranberry relish on top.

The food isn't what I like about Thanksgiving though (relish aside). It's my family. And no, I'm not trying to be a Hallmark card. I'm serious. Especially after dinner when we play games. Last year we played Catchphrase. Hilarity ensued. But there's an odd number this year.

Cranberry Orange Relish
adapted from the November 2001 issue of Gourmet (I think Mom made the entire menu that year)
Makes about 2 cups

1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
1 navel orange
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Place the cranberries, sugar, and cinnamon in the food processor. Zest the orange over the food processor, and then peel the orange and separate the segments from the pith and toss them into the food processor too (the segments, not the pith. That would be nasty.) Pulse until it's all chopped up.
Refrigerate for at least two hours to let flavor develop. And then hoard it.
Or be nice and serve it.

I'd recommend doubling this recipe if you have someone who relishes it as much as I do. Gourmet says it serves 10, but who are they kidding?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

It Smells and Tastes Like Fall Now

My friend Lauren really likes pumpkin bread. Or so she says. I've never actually seen her a room with pumpkin bread. So I told her I'd make some. And then about 10 minutes later, I realized it would be hard to give to her, and pumpkin bread is so much tastier (in my opinion) in the morning. And I usually see her in the afternoons.
So I made those pumpkin bites from last year, which are essentially miniature pumpkin muffins. And they sustained her through a frustrating Calc study session. (Aren't you glad you are out of high school?)
But I was determined to get a pumpkin cookie down. So I turned to the banana-oatmeal cookies I've made far too many times. Because if they work for bananas, why not pumpkin?

It turned out to be harder than I thought. The first few batches, while tasty, nobody could ever identify the pumpkin in them. By batch 4 or 5, I'd found the secret. Ginger and toasted pecans. For some reason, the ginger and pecan flavor is reminiscent of fall and pumpkins. Or maybe I'm just crazy.

Either way, you should try these cookies.
Did I mention they're also super easy?

Spiced Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies
makes 30 or so small cookies

1 cup (130 g) whole-wheat pastry flour, or all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (85 g) pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups oats (130 g)
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/3 cup dried cranberries (Craisins)
1/3 cup white chocolate chips or 2 ounces white chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, sugars, and pumpkin puree until smooth. Whisk in egg and vanilla extract.
Stir in flour mixture. Stir in the oats, pecans, dried cranberries, and white chocolate.

Drop by tablespoonfuls on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until tops are dry and edges are lightly browned. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to rack to cool completely (or enjoy immediately.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Green Tea Sandwich Cookies


My friend's mom recently came back from Japan and with her she brought Green Tea KitKats. They're like normal kit kats, except the filling is matcha flavored, and the coating is a matcha white chocolate.

At lunch yesterday, when my friends and I got to talking about how tasty the kit kats were (and how long it had been since any of us had green tea ice cream). I said I'd make green tea ice cream, but then realized it would be hard to take it to school with me. So I decided to try to make cookies with a green tea filling instead.

I'd thought about making green tea sandwich cookies before when I saw a recipe somewhere, but never did. I just didn't feel like getting on the computer. So I turned to my Biggest Book of Cookies that one of my friends gave me for my birthday and looked for something similar to what I wanted. I usually don't like to make cookies that involve more than mixing, dropping, and baking, but I was inspired. And my two hours of work yielded only 22 cookies (there were more cookies, enough for closer to 30 sandwiches, but I ran out of filling and was too tired to make more; it was 10:30 at night).

I decided against dipping these rich, buttery cookies in a green tea-flavored white chocolate because they're fairly delicate, and delicious just the way they are. Hopefully my friends will like them!

Green Tea Sandwich Cookies
makes about 30
(adapted from a French Pistacho Buttercream recipe in Better Home & Gardens Biggest Book of Cookies)

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks; 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted (or sift into bowl with butter)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
Granulated sugar (for coating)

1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 oz) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon matcha (green tea) powder

To make cookies:
In a mixing bowl, beat 3/4 cup butter on high for about 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and salt, beat until fluffy and combined. Beat in egg. Beat in flour on low, or stir it in. Cover and chill dough about 1 hour, or until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Using a teaspoon, shape dough into balls. Place on a cookie sheet (lined for easy cleanup, but it doesn't need greased regardless). Use the bottom of a glass dipped in the dough and then sugar to flatten each ball into a 1 1/2-inch circle.

Bake for about 8-12 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely.

While the cookies cool, make the filling:
Beat the 1/4 cup butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and green tea powder until light green and fluffy.

To assemble the sandwiches, spread about 1/2 teaspoon filling on the flat side of one cookie and top with another. If you prefer more filling, double the buttercream recipe.