Showing posts with label fruit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fruit. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

This is an amazing chocolate chip cookie. It's chewy and spicy (from cinnamon!) and attractive and thick! It's also festive for the holidays with the red polka dots of dried cranberries.

And let's talk for a second about cranberries. I was just at my parents' house for Thanksgiving weekend. My mom went crazy with the cranberries. She bought two giant bags of fresh and two more bags of dried. She said, "I'm sure we'll find a use for these." Ha! Well, it would take weeks of baking up a storm to use up that many cranberries, but I did bake several cranberry-required desserts over the weekend and managed to make quite a dent in my mom's cranberry stash. So ok, maybe she was kind of right.

Cranberries are a really special ingredient because they're seasonal and gorgeous. I absolutely LOVE them! And from the looks of my mom's giant cranberry purchase, she loves them, too. But over the weekend, we heard on the radio that a lot of people have an aversion to cranberries like they have an aversion to marzipan and caviar. The radio host said it's a love it or hate it kind of food, no in between. Well, I hope you love it, because I'll be sharing more cranberry recipes with you soon!

Cranberry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Adapted from a recipe by Marcel Desaulniers in I’m Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas
Makes about 40 cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-tablespoon pieces and softened
1 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups quick oats
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup pecans, chopped and toasted (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt onto a large piece of wax paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Should only take a few minutes, but the mixture should be completely smooth. Scrape down the sides as necessary to incorporate all of the mixture. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for about 30 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides. Add the vanilla and beat another 15 seconds.

On low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients (that you sifted onto wax paper) by lifting up and folding the wax paper and aiming it into the bowl. Mix for about 1 minute, until the mixture is well-combined.

Add the chocolate chips, oats, and cranberries (and pecans if using) and mix on low for another 30 seconds. The dough will be pretty thick with these latest additions. It's a lot of add-ins! Take the bowl out of the stand mixer and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the add-ins are evenly distributed.

Use an ice cream scoop or a tablespoon to drop heaping tablespoons onto the baking sheets, at least an inch apart so they don't grow into each other. The larger the cookie you decide to make, the more space you will need in between them.

Bake the cookies on the top and center racks of the oven for 10-15 minutes depending on cookie size. Halfway through the baking time, switch the sheets between top and center racks and turn them around from back to front.

If you can't bake all the cookies at once, leave the unbaked cookie dough in the bowl out on the counter at room temperature while you finish up baking the first batch (as opposed to chilling the dough).

Remove the baking sheets from the oven and cool the cookies on the baking sheets for about 30 minutes before using a spatula to slide them onto a cooling rack. Store in an airtight plastic container. They'll keep well for a few days out on the counter or you can refrigerate them and they'll last for a few weeks (2 or 3 easily)! Or you can do what I like to do and freeze a bunch for later.

Step-by-Step in Pictures
Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt...

Beat together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar...

Add the two eggs, one at a time...

Add the vanilla...

Gradually add the dry ingredients...

Add the chocolate chips, oats, and cranberries (and pecans if using) and mix on low...

Then take the bowl out of the stand mixer and continue stirring by hand till incorporated...

Place cookie dough balls on a baking sheet, spaced evenly apart...

Perfect little mounds of yumminess!

Bake at 325 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, cool, and enjoy!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Orange-Roasted Figs

My parents have a fig tree that grows copious amounts of figs during the season. They don’t know what to do with all that fruit! Figs are really expensive at farmer’s markets and grocery stores, perhaps because they are so perishable. And you can’t pick them before they’re ripe because they are one fruit that does not ripen more if sitting out or placed in a paper bag, like other fruits will do. They are an unruly, misbehaving fruit! So let's review: you have to pick them when they’re ripe, and eat them within a few days. Unfortunately, when it rains, it pours, and tons of them are ready to be picked at the same time. What to do with all those figs?

Well, besides eating them raw, or with cheese, try making this Tori Ritchie recipe for Orange-Roasted Figs. My mom is a big fan of Tori's website Tuesday Recipe and so after staring at a giant bowl of figs on the kitchen counter for awhile, she pulled out this recipe that Tori had just posted. The figs bake in the oven for 35 minutes and take on the flavor of a sweet orange syrup. Soooo good! You can serve this with yogurt for breakfast or with vanilla ice cream for dessert. I enjoyed it with a slice of honey cake.

Orange-Roasted Figs
Adapted from a recipe by Tori Richie on her website Tuesday Recipe
Serves 4 to 6

8 to 12 ripe figs, halved or quartered, depending on size
¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons honey

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium sized baking dish (you can use pyrex or ceramic or whatever you want), place the fig pieces, evenly spaced. Make sure the pan has sides since there will be liquid.

In a small saucepan, combine the orange juice and the honey and stir over medium heat until the honey is melted, about 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can place the orange juice and honey in a small measuring glass and heat in the microwave for 35 to 45 seconds.

Pour the sauce over the figs and bake until the fruit is glazed and the sauce looks thick, 35 to 45 minutes. The dish will look gorgeous when done!

Step-by-Step in Pictures
Cut the figs into halves or quarters and place in baking dish...

In a small saucepan or the microwave, heat the honey with the orange juice until the honey is melted...

Pour the honey orange juice sauce over the figs...

Bake at 375 degrees F for 35 to 45 minutes, until the fruit is glazed and the sauce looks thickened...

Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fresh Peach Pie with a Lattice Top

I went to the Hollywood Farmer's Market this past weekend. Mostly, I was there for the cookbook sale hosted by the Culinary Historians of Southern California. And of course I bought 5 cookbooks. But that's a story for another day.

Since I was at the farmer's market, I might as well get a bunch of veggies, too. Then it dawned on me, with all the beautiful fruit stands, I should make a fruit pie. My first choice was an apple pie, but I was very stubborn and only willing to make the apple pie out of Gravenstein apples, like my mom does, but of course there were none at this market. So I quickly moved onto a different fruit. Peach.

A lady at one of the stands had what appeared to be only 5 peaches left. What! So early in the day? It was only around 10am. The market would be open for another three hours! Anyways, they were a tiny bit bruised in places because they were so ripe. With the bruises, she said she'd sell them to me for 50 cents a pound. Usually they'd be $3 a pound there. Sold! So I bought a few more peaches at another stand for $2.75/lb., which is still kind of pricey for peaches, but I didn't mind since I had saved so much on the first 5. Now I had enough peaches for a pie! Home I went, skipping and humming the whole way, excited to make a pie.

I sat on my living room floor in front of a cookbook bookcase, trying to figure out where to go to find a great peach pie recipe. My cookbook collection is enormous; this was a daunting task. But when I saw the photo of the peach pie in the Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking cookbook, I knew it was the one. I wanted to make a pie that looked exactly like that!

Of the entire process making the pie, from homemade crust, to preparing the peach filling, to placing the lattice on the top, the hardest and most time consuming part for me was getting the skin off the peaches. I often took the peaches out of the boiling water too soon when the skin was not easy enough to peel off. The task itself wasn't so complicated, I just wasn't giving it the patience it deserved. Other than that, it's really not that hard to make a peach pie! And a lattice top, while impressive looking, is easy as pie! :)

Lattice-Top Peach Pie
Adapted from a recipe by Cathy Burgett, Elinor Klivans, and Lou Seibert Pappas in Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking
Makes one 9-inch pie

1 Recipe Flaky Pie Pastry for Lattice Crust (see below)

For the filling
6-8 peaches (3 lb)
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, strained
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

For the topping
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon heavy (double) cream
2 teaspoons sugar

Prepare the Flaky Pie Pastry and refrigerate to chill as directed. Note: Do not bake the crust yet! The peach filling will be spread over the unbaked pie crust.

To make the filling, begin with the following technique to remove the skin from the peaches. Bring a large saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil. Immerse 3 peaches at a time in the water until the skin appears to puff up and separate from the meat of the peach. It took me anywhere from one minute to several minutes per peach. Sometimes I had to put a peach back in the boiling water to give it more time. Remove the peaches from the water and allow to cool enough so you can handle them. Remove the peel with your fingers or a small sharp knife, then cut each peach in half. Remove the pit and then cut the peach lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices.

In a large bowl, combine these peach slices with 4 tablespoons of the sugar, the lemon juice, and the tapioca. Gently stir to combine but take care not to mash the peaches. Set aside.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out the larger of the two disks of dough so that it will completely cover the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Sprinkle the flour and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar over the bottom crust. Spoon in the peach filling and spread evenly. Roll out the smaller dough disk, then cut parallel lines in the dough to create lattice strips. Place half the strips in one direction on the pie, spacing out evenly, then place the other half of the strips in the other direction, using the lattice technique of going over and under. Gently brush the lattice with the egg mixture, then sprinkle the entire top of the pie with sugar.

Bake the pie until the edges are just starting to brown, about 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 38-45 minutes until the crust is a light golden brown and the peach filling is bubbling through the lattice. Let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into it.

Flaky Pie Pastry for Lattice Crust Pie
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
4 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons sugar, optional
1/4 teaspoon salt
4-6 tablespoons ice water

You can make this dough by hand in a bowl with a pastry blender or two knives, but I prefer using a food processor. Makes the process so quick! A stand mixer will work, too.

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the food processor (or a bowl). Pulse a few times to mix. Add the cold butter and shortening pieces and pulse 8-10 times until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of large peas. Add the ice water a little at a time and pulse 10-12 times just until the dough begins to come together. It should not form a ball yet.

Transfer the dough to your dough board (that's been sprinkled with flour). Divide the dough into 2 portions, one twice as large as the other (in other words, imagine dividing the dough into three pieces and then combine two of them into one disk). Shape the larger portion into a 6-inch disk and the smaller one into a 3-inch disk. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour or for up to overnight.

Step-by-Step in Pictures
In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt, then pulse together with the cold butter and shortening...

Allow the dough to come together, though it does not need to form a tight ball...

Divide the dough into two disks; one disk should be twice as large as the other, then wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least one hour...

To make the filling, first briefly boil the peaches so the skins will peel off easily...

Peel off the skins. Have patience!

Slice the peaches into 1/2-inch slices and place in a bowl with sugar, lemon juice, and tapioca...

Stir to combine and then set aside...

Roll out the larger disk of dough into a circle large enough to cover a 9-inch pie pan...

Transfer the rolled out dough to the pie pan and crimp the edges with your thumb and index finger...

Sprinkle the bottom of the crust with flour and sugar...

Spoon the peach filling onto the crust...

Roll out the smaller disk of dough and cut into strips for the lattice top...

Place half the strips on the pie, spacing evenly...

With the remaining strips, one strip at a time, carefully lay them perpendicular to the strips that are already on the pie, lifting the original ones so that you create an over-under pattern...

Trim any excess dough hanging over the edge of the pie dish, then tuck the lattice strip ends into the pie edge (I use kitchen shears for the trimming)...

Prepare the egg wash by combining heavy cream with an egg...

Brush the top of the lattice with the egg wash...

Then sprinkle the entire top of the pie with sugar...

Bake at 400 degrees for the first 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 and continue baking for about another 40 minutes...

Let cool completely, then slice and serve!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Banana-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe comes from a very cool book dedicated solely to the chocolate chip. Every recipe is another approach to using chocolate chips. I love books like these that focus on one ingredient. If I'm in the mood to make something with a certain ingredient, or more pragmatically, I'm trying to use up an ingredient in my fridge, I turn to one of my ingredient-focused cookbooks. I have a whole cookbook on just squash, another on peanut butter, another on dates, or omelets, or lemons. I recently picked up this Elinor Klivans chocolate chip cookbook because chocolate chips are a staple in my cupboard; I ALWAYS have them on hand.

What appealed to me most about this chocolate chip cookie recipe is that the banana in it does not get mashed, only chopped into small cubes and stirred into the cookie batter. I like, but don't love, super soft cookies that are too cake-like, so the idea of using banana chunks instead of mashed banana is a big deal for me. The result is a cookie that, from a distance, looks a lot like a regular oatmeal chocolate chip cookie, but one bite and you know it's something different, something special, something that has banana flavor and texture, without being cake! It remains cookie all the way!

Banana-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from a recipe by Elinor Klivans in The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup oatmeal (not quick-cooking)
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
2 bananas, cut into 1/4- to 1/3-inch pieces

Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and butter the paper, or just use a silicone baking mat.

In a small bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter with the granulated sugar and brown sugar until smooth. That shouldn't take more than a minute or two.

Add the egg and vanilla and beat until just blended. Don't worry if you see some curdling.

On low speed, add the dry ingredients and again, don't overmix! When you don't see traces of flour anymore, you can stop.

Add the oatmeal and mix briefly to combine. Then add the chocolate chips and mix once more.

Remove the beater from the bowl of dough and use a spoon to (very gently!) stir in the banana chunks. Try to keep them intact. When you are finished, about 20 seconds later, you should still see banana pieces, not mush.

Drop heaping spoonfuls of dough onto the prepared baking sheets. They will spread out a little, so leave at least 2 inches between each cookie.

Bake the cookies until the edges are light brown and the tops look dry. Each tray took me about 14 minutes, but depending on your oven, check as early as 13 minutes in, and up to 18 minutes.

Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for the first 10 minutes, then use a spatula to slide them onto a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way.

These freeze easily; just wrap well in plastic wrap and then place in a freezer bag. Out on the counter, they'll remain fresh for up to 3 days if you store in an airtight container.

Step-by-Step in Pictures
Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and set aside...

Cream the butter with the sugars...

Add the egg and vanilla...

Add the dry ingredients...

Add the oatmeal...

Mix in the chocolate chips...

Chop the bananas into small cubes or chunks...

Add the banana chunks into the dough...

Gently stir in the banana pieces so they are mostly still intact, not mashed...

Drop heaping spoonfuls of cookie dough onto the baking sheet...

Bake for 13-18 minutes at 350 degrees F...

Let cool 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to cooling rack. Then eat!
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