Author Archives: Rachel

About Rachel

a writer, rambler, leisurely jogger, bike commuter, and the biggest fan of snail mail.

cooks and cookies

it took me several years, but i think that i now hold the best chocolate chip cookie recipe out there (this is completely different from the sea salt cookies mentioned here, of course). here’s what constitutes perfection in the realm of cookie-baking:

consistency (not just texture, but that each and every time i make a batch- they are equally delicious)

chocolatey (it has the perfect amount of chips without overwhelming the senses)

simplicity (i know it says to use a mixer, but half the time i don’t- and again, they are consistently delightful)

it’s from a page called “mom’s who think”:

Ingredients:

2 cups + 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature*
1 Tablespoon milk
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips**

*melt the butter if you prefer chewier textured cookies

**increase to 2 cups (12 ounces) if you like a lot of chips in each cookie (this will also increase the overall sweetness of the cookies)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda, set aside.

3. Using a mixer; cream together the butter, milk, brown sugar, and white sugar until thoroughly blended.

4. Add in the egg, the egg yolk, and vanilla and mix until well blended and smooth (about 1 minute).

5. Slowly blend in the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Do not overbeat.

6. Add the chocolate chips, and mix until they are evenly distributed throughout the batter (about 30 seconds).

7. Drop by rounded 2 Tablespoons (use a cookie scoop or combine 2 Tablespoons of dough into a rounded drop) onto the prepared cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Repeat until all dough is used.

8. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes in the preheated oven. The cookies should have golden brown edges and soft centers.

9. Remove from oven, and let cool on baking sheet for 1 minute. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely.

 

show their page some love, they deserve it:

http://www.momswhothink.com/cookie-recipes/chocolate-chip-cookie-recipe.html

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lo and behold, it’s bread.

as you are well-aware, my specialties often revolve around things with that are sweetened and simple. this is the best of both worlds as it is both healthy and includes lots of baking time (during which  time i can simply sit around and feel accomplished).

here’s the recipe, brought to you by the trusty source of allrecipes.com (original post here: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/simple-whole-wheat-bread/)

Ingredients 

 
Original recipe makes 3 loaves

  • 3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)

  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast

  • 1/3 cup honey

  • 5 cups bread flour

  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
 Directions
  1. In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.
  2. Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky – just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.
  3. Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely.

enjoy!

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another baked oatmeal (apple/cinnamon style)

…because one just isn’t enough.

rather than a banana-focus, this one concentrates more on the autumn-appropriate apple. i woke up to snow (on oct 5, mind you) and decided that granola and rice milk just isn’t going to cut it. so i turned on the trusty oven/makeshift house heater, and plopped this inside:

YIELD: 2-4 servings

PREP TIME: 10

COOK TIME: 25-30

TOTAL TIME: 40

INGREDIENTS:

1 medium-sized Apple, cored and diced {like Cortland, Jonathan or Rome}

1-1/3 cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

1/4 cup Golden Raisins

2 tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar, plus more for serving

1 tablespoons Melted Butter

1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon Fresh Nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon Kosher Salt

2 cups Whole Milk

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the apple, oats, raisins, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir in the melted butter and pour the mixture into an oven safe dish. Pour the two cups of milk over top and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes or until most of the milk is absorbed. Sprinkle with a little extra cinnamon, drizzle with a little bit of milk and serve!

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my deepest thanks to the simply scratch person who posted it. see the beautiful accompanying photos of the masterpiece here: http://www.simplyscratch.com/2011/11/baked-apple-cinnamon-oatmeal.html

 

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oh my pie

i played around with various recipes for far too long after i found this one…none of the others even compared. the mushroom/onion/spinach/feta goodness is beyond delightful. plus, cooking with wine adds a edge of maturity that i do not often experience in my typical cookie-and-brownie fare. these are delicious and, if you can manage to tuck any away, taste even better the next day.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 small brown onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup of white wine
  • 600g of mushrooms
  • 150g of spinach
  • 60g of Danish feta
  • 4 sheets of frozen low fat puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 egg, beaten

Notes:

I used a mix of button and portobello mushrooms.  I also added a couple of pinches of truffle salt which added extra depth to the pies.

While I used low fat puff pastry, you can of course use regular frozen puff pastry.

Method:

  1. Place a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil and onions.  Cook the onions until golden.
  2. Add the mushrooms, garlic and salt and pepper to taste, and cook until the mushrooms are softened before adding the white wine.  Simmer in the wine for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the spinach and cook until wilted and set aside to cool.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (355 Fahrenheit) and line 2 baking trays with greaseproof baking paper.
  5. Cut the pastry into quarters.  Top one quarter with the mushroom mixture and crumble a quarter of the feta on top.  Top with one of the pastry quarters and press to seal the edges.  Repeat with the remaining pastry and mixture.
  6. Cut a small hole in the centre of the top of each pie and brush with beaten egg.
  7. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and puffed.

i recommend you see the original, the font is far fancier than mine: http://www.ledelicieux.com/2011/04/13/mushroom-spinach-feta-pie/

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a staple recipe no one should live without 🙂

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fluffy rice

if there’s one thing i never doubted about my culinary skills, it was rice-making. add water, boil, and viola- rice. it has been pointed out to me, however, the wide range of qualities in which a cooked pot of rice can be categorized.

apparently mine was sub-par. or rather, it was drab and normal.

with this recipe, i’ve found my rice-cooking-confidence again:

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1 cup long-grain white rice
Unsalted butter or olive oil (optional)
Kosher salt (optional)

Rinse the rice in a few changes of cold water. Drain the rice well in a sieve.

In a medium, heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid, combine 1-3/4 cups water, the rice, and a bit of butter or oil and salt, if you like. Bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water is boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cover. (If you have an electric stove, use two burners: bring the rice to a boil on a hot burner and then immediately slide it to a burner set on low to continue cooking at a slow simmer.) Cook at a gentle simmer until the water is completely absorbed and the rice is tender, about 12 minutes (it’s okay to lift the lid to make sure the rice is fully cooked and the water is absorbed—just replace the lid quickly).

Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit, undisturbed with the lid on, for at least 5 minutes and for as long as 30 minutes. Remove the lid, fluff the rice gently with a fork or chopstick, and serve.

from the fine source itself: http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/basic-white-rice.aspx

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enjoy 🙂

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oven oatmeal

i wanted to mix up my usual oatmeal routine…and it’s a saturday, so it seemed appropriate to do so. i hadn’t made baked oatmeal in years, but it was as easy as i had hoped.

i substituted the skim milk for soya milk and the oats for quick-cook oats…it was divine.

this is a simple (and well deserving of re-posting) recipe for any banana-and-oat lovers:

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1) Bananas

Slice 2 bananas. You can add these however you like – in with the wet ingredients or arranged in a pattern on the top (and/or bottom!) of the dish. (You’ll need an additional mashed banana for the wet ingredients below)

2) Combine the dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

3) Combine the wet ingredients:

  • 1 egg, beat
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 1.5 cups skim milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

4) Pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix well.

5) Line an 8″ pan (square or round) with parchment paper (for easy removal and cutting!).

6) Layer some banana slices on the bottom. Pour batter into pan. Top with remaining banana slices.

OR just use cooking spray – or a pie dish (which is harder to get out in one piece but saves having to use parchment)

7) Pop into a 375* oven for about 26 minutes.

8) After 26 minutes, increase heat to broil, sprinkle oatmeal with 1 heaping tbsp brown sugar and broil for 3-4 minutes.

Makes 4 portions about 275 kcal, 6 grams fiber and 11 grams protein each. We saved one portion to reheat tomorrow!

 

from the culinary stylings of: http://www.katheats.com/favorite-foods/baked-banana-oatmeal

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happy oatmeal-eating!

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is that salt?

we’re moving soon- we have a good 3 handfuls of coarse salt that needs to be used before that time. this can only mean that these cookies will be headlining all of my upcoming get-togethers. they’re simple to make and indescribably good.

the consistency of the dough threw me for a loop the first time i made them, but i’ve come to learn it’s supposed to be like that (i think). apparently the recipe was written by a french lady, all the better!

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  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • About 2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
  • 10 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup vanilla sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces bitter chocolate chips, or bitter chocolate cut in very small pieces

preparation

Preheat the oven to 375°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together onto a piece of waxed paper the flour, the soda, and one half teaspoon of the salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and the sugar until it is light and pale yellow. Whisk in the eggs one at a time until thoroughly blended. Whisk in the vanilla, then stir in the flour just until it is blended.

Stir in the chocolate chips or pieces and mix until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Drop the dough by tablespoons full onto the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle each with a generous pinch of sea salt. Bake in the center of the oven until the cookies are golden, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit on the baking sheets for about 4 minutes to allow the cookies, which are fragile, to firm up, then slide them onto a cooling rack.

from the kitchen of: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Chocolate-Chip-Cookies-with-Salt-104371

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thank you, french lady!

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bbc brownies

my friend’s birthday was in february. i hadn’t made brownies in ages, but it seemed like the right time. i searched high and low, and finally settled on this recipe. i was not disappointed (nor was she).

it’s a bit more complicated than my usual style (i.e. it’s a bit like reading a recipe that tolkien wrote- don’t skip a line or you’ll be wandering in the dark), but it was well worth the extra effort. don’t believe the ‘moderately easy’ tagline it gives you.

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Method

  1. Cut 185g unsalted butter into smallish cubes and tip into a medium bowl. Break 185g best dark chocolate into small pieces and drop into the bowl. Fill a small saucepan about a quarter full with hot water, then sit the bowl on top so it rests on the rim of the pan, not touching the water. Put over a low heat until the butter and chocolate have melted, stirring occasionally to mix them. Now remove the bowl from the pan. Alternatively, cover the bowl loosely with cling film and put in the microwave for 2 minutes on High. Leave the melted mixture to cool to room temperature.
  2. While you wait for the chocolate to cool, position a shelf in the middle of your oven and turn the oven on to fan 160C/conventional 180C/gas 4 (most ovens take 10-15 minutes to heat up). Using a shallow 20cm square tin, cut out a square of non-stick baking parchment to line the base. Now tip 85g plain flour and 40g cocoa powder into a sieve held over a medium bowl, and tap and shake the sieve so they run through together and you get rid of any lumps.
  3. With a large sharp knife, chop 50g white chocolate and 50g milk chocolate into chunks on a board. The slabs of chocolate will be quite hard, so the safest way to do this is to hold the knife over the chocolate and press the tip down on the board, then bring the rest of the blade down across the chocolate. Keep on doing this, moving the knife across the chocolate to chop it into pieces, then turn the board round 90 degrees and again work across the chocolate so you end up with rough squares.
  4. Break 3 large eggs into a large bowl and tip in 275g golden caster sugar. With an electric mixer on maximum speed, whisk the eggs and sugar until they look thick and creamy, like a milk shake. This can take 3-8 minutes, depending on how powerful your mixer is, so don’t lose heart. You’ll know it’s ready when the mixture becomes really pale and about double its original volume. Another check is to turn off the mixer, lift out the beaters and wiggle them from side to side. If the mixture that runs off the beaters leaves a trail on the surface of the mixture in the bowl for a second or two, you’re there.
  5. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the eggy mousse, then gently fold together with a rubber spatula. Plunge the spatula in at one side, take it underneath and bring it up the opposite side and in again at the middle. Continue going under and over in a figure of eight, moving the bowl round after each folding so you can get at it from all sides, until the two mixtures are one and the colour is a mottled dark brown. The idea is to marry them without knocking out the air, so be as gentle and slow as you like – you don’t want to undo all the work you did in step 4.
  6. Hold the sieve over the bowl of eggy chocolate mixture and resift the cocoa and flour mixture, shaking the sieve from side to side, to cover the top evenly. Gently fold in this powder using the same figure of eight action as before. The mixture will look dry and dusty at first, and a bit unpromising, but if you keep going very gently and patiently, it will end up looking gungy and fudgy. Stop just before you feel you should, as you don’t want to overdo this mixing. Finally, stir in the white and milk chocolate chunks until they’re dotted throughout. Now your mixing is done and the oven can take over.
  7. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, scraping every bit out of the bowl with the spatula. Gently ease the mixture into the corners of the tin and paddle the spatula from side to side across the top to level it. Put in the oven and set your timer for 25 minutes. When the buzzer goes, open the oven, pull the shelf out a bit and gently shake the tin. If the brownie wobbles in the middle, it’s not quite done, so slide it back in and bake for another 5 minutes until the top has a shiny, papery crust and the sides are just beginning to come away from the tin. Take out of the oven.
  8. Leave the whole thing in the tin until completely cold, then, if you’re using the brownie tin, lift up the protruding rim slightly and slide the uncut brownie out on its base. If you’re using a normal tin, lift out the brownie with the foil. Cut into quarters, then cut each quarter into four squares and finally into triangles. These brownies are so addictive you’ll want to make a second batch before the first is finished, but if you want to make some to hide away for a special occasion, it’s useful to know that they’ll keep in an airtight container for a good two weeks and in the freezer for up to a month.

straight from bbc: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1223/bestever-brownies

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hats off to you, bbc! good news and good food!

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the daily granola

since the start of the year, i’ve been making granola on a bi-weekly or monthly basis (depending on external factors like current oat supply and number-of-days-we-make-fancy-breakfast-instead). i’ve baked through a plethora of granola recipes and i have concluded this:

they’re mostly all good. some are bad. i have a favourite.

it the favourite one that i will share with you. it’s marvelously simple, delightful tasteful, and posted by a great estonian food blogger nonetheless!

here, and i quote, is how it should* be done:

*should is a somewhat relative term in the art of granola making…if you don’t have almonds, toss in sesame seeds or whatever you think could be good- chances are, it will be.

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Honey Granola Recipe
(Lihtne mesine granola)

250 g old-fashioned oats (about 3 cups)
100 g almond slices
8 Tbsp runny honey
4 Tbsp neutral oil
4 Tbsp water
raisins or currants (optional)

Mix oats and almonds on a large baking sheet. Mix honey and oil in a small bowl, then add water and stir again. Pour the liquid mixture over the oats and mix until everything is well combined. 
Roast in a pre-heated 150 C / 300 F oven for about 30 minutes, shaking the pan every now and then, until the oats are golden and slightly crispy (they crisp up even more when cooling down).
Remove from the oven and cool. Fold in the raisins.
Keep in an airtight container.

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if you want to go straight to the source (and i recommend doing so, as she has an array of good-looking recipes to try), here it is:

http://nami-nami.blogspot.com/2011/03/honey-granola-recipe-simple-but.html

God bless you, estonian food lover & your skill in granola-making!

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