Empanadas

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empanadas

Empanadas have been part of our regular dinner rotation for a while now. The boys LOVE them – well, three out of four boys love them. One still primarily eats yogurt and peanut butter sandwiches. Now, wouldn’t you think it was easy to make a meal that three out of four boys eat? Well, it is, kind of. The dough is the same for all three, but the empanada fillings are vastly different. One gets filled with tofu and spices, one with cheese of various varieties and the last with sautéed ground turkey and broccoli. Broccoli was a new addition as of yesterday, so I guess we’re progressing a tiny bit in the eating department. My next goal will to get broccoli into the tofu and cheese empanadas. Wish me luck.

This dough is very easy to make, and you mix it by hand. If you have a pastry blender, making the dough will be a cinch. Keep in mind that it has to chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before you roll it out. These days I make the dough in the morning after the boys leave for school, toss it into the fridge and roll/fill the dough later in the afternoon.

The original recipe calls for deep-fat-frying the empanadas. I bake mine. I don’t have a fryer and even if I did, I don’t think I’d use it in our apartment. I’d be afraid the whole apartment would smell like fried food. I barely cook fish anymore because I have a really hard time getting the fish smell out of the apartment. We don’t have a kitchen vent that vents to the outside making it difficult to cook anything really fragrant or anything that smokes as it cooks.

Anyway, you can fill these with anything you want. There are lots of recipes out there for spiced/seasoned meat fillings, vegetarian fillings, etc.

These do very well in a lunchbox. The boys (all but that one peanut-butter eater) love bringing these to school for lunch. Oh, if you’re wondering whether their high schools have cafeterias that serve lunch, the answer is yes. Will our boys eat it? Nope. My husband makes four lunches every morning for the boys.

Empanada Dough
Recipe adapted slightly from Food Network

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
Pinch salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 egg
3/4 cup vegetable stock
1 egg white

For the empanada dough: Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the vegetable shortening with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg and then whisk in the stock. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and knead until a dough forms. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Prepare whatever type of filling you want. All meat should be fully cooked when using it as an empanada filling’

Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out 4-, 5- or 6-inch rounds, depending on how large you prefer. Add some filling to half of each empanada, leaving a border along the edge, and fold the dough over in half to enclose the filling. Fold the edges back onto themselves and use a fork to press and seal the edges closed. You can refrigerate the uncooked empanadas for up to 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk together the egg white and 1 teaspoon of water to create an egg wash. When the oven is preheated, put the empanadas on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush them with the egg wash. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Yield: ~6-8 servings

 

One year ago: Curried Peas and Tofu
Two years ago: Rosemary Butter Cookies
Three years agoCinnamon Roll Bites
Four years ago: Pumpkin Pie Refrigerator Oatmeal
Five years ago: Toasted Corn, Cherry Tomato, and Edamame Salad
Six years ago: French Gougères 
Seven years ago: Roasted Potatoes
Eight years ago: Tuna Salad with Cannellini Beans

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Fresh Corn Salad

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corn-salad

We have the most wonderful neighbors on Shelter Island and this recipe came from one of them. Our neighbor Jessie is famous for her corn salad, which highlights the best of summer’s produce in a very simple but incredibly delicious recipe. This is a perfect recipe for fresh corn season, which is August if you live in the Northeast. In New York City, we’re at the tail end of corn season. I still see some at the farmer’s markets, but it’s dwindling with my favorite heirloom tomatoes. I”m now seeing lots of different varieties of squash like butternut, acorn, etc.. The weather in NYC is still fairly mild, so I’m not yet ready for warm-weather food which I consider squash to be.

The next time I make this salad, I will add a little fresh cilantro. I think it will make a nice addition to the simple flavors. Fresh basil might be something nice to try as well. With all of the fresh vegetables, this salad is like summer on a plate.

I loved the version that I made, but I have to say that it tastes better when Jessie makes it. For me, almost anything that someone else makes tastes better than my own cooking.

You can easily cut this recipe in half if you’re not feeding an army.

 

Fresh Corn Salad
Recipe from Jessie Lacombe

10 ears of fresh corn-on-the-cob
1 red bell pepper, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
3-4 scallions, white and green parts chopped
1 can black beans (~15 oz.)
5 Tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
5 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro or basil (optional)
salt and pepper

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the corn for 3 minutes. Drain. When the corn is cool enough to touch, cut the kernels from the cobs and place in a large bowl. Rinse and drain the black beans and add to the corn. Add the red pepper, scallions and cilantro or basil if using. Toss the vegetables.

Whisk the olive oil and vinegar and pour on the salad. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Yield: 8 servings

 

One year ago: Summer Squash Casserole
Two years ago: Rosemary Butter Cookies
Three years agoSouthwestern Chopped Chicken Salad
Four years ago: German Potato Salad
Five years ago: Cottage Cheese Pancakes
Six years ago: Fresh Pear Pie with Dried Cherries and Brown Sugar Streusel 
Seven years ago: Lemon Chamomile Shortbread
Eight years ago: Creamless Creamy Tomato Soup

 

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Hummus

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hummus

I know I haven’t posted in a while. Summer was busy and the start of school for the boys has been crazy. They are attending three different schools now and we’re drowning in new routines, early mornings and keeping organized. We’re hoping to settle into a nice, healthy routine soon. We’re not quite there yet, but I’m hoping for any day now.

The triplets are in high school now which is a huge change for them. The boys have never experienced lockers before, and they’re traveling to and from new parts of the city by themselves. They also have a LOT of homework, which makes for chaotic nights in our apartment. I’m secretly hoping that with the dawn of high school and all of the new things that the boys are experiencing, that they’ll start to try/eat more new food. Think there’s a chance? If not, please don’t tell me.

I’m going to try to get back to posting on the blog more regularly now. This summer, we ate most of the new recipes I made before we had a chance to photograph them. That said, my husband did take a couple of photos which I hope to post over the next couple of days.

So let me tell you about this hummus. It’s not a quick recipe to make because you have to soak the dried chickpeas overnight, but it’s a very easy recipe to make once the soaking is done. I served this at a dinner party last weekend and everyone enjoyed it. It makes a fair amount, so several of our friends took some home. The hummus is silky smooth. I’d venture to say that it’s the most smooth hummus I’ve ever eaten – much smoother than anything I’ve purchased in the supermarket The flavor was delicious too. The only change I might make the next time I make this is to cook or roast the garlic first so it doesn’t go into the hummus raw. If you’re not serving a big group, try cutting the recipe in half the first time you make it. I made 1.5 times the recipe (I hate the thought of possible not having enough food at a dinner party) and it was enough to serve a couple of armies. Even for our dinner party, a half a batch would have been fine.

The recipe calls for “light” tahini paste. I couldn’t find light tahini, so I used regular run-of-the-mill tahini and the resulting hummus was perfect.

 

Hummus
Recipe from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi via the NY Times

1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas (250 grams)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light tahini paste
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt
6 1/2 tablespoons ice-cold water

 

Put chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with cold water at least twice their volume. Leave to soak overnight.

The next day, drain chickpeas. In a medium saucepan, combine drained chickpeas and baking soda over high heat. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add 6 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil. Cook at a simmer, skimming off any foam and any skins that float to the surface, from 20 and 40 minutes, depending on the type and freshness. Once done, they should be very tender, breaking easily when pressed between your thumb and finger, almost but not quite mushy.

Drain chickpeas. You should have roughly 3 cups (600 grams) now. Place chickpeas in a food processor and process until you get a stiff paste. Then, with the machine still running, add tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Slowly drizzle in ice water and allow it to mix for about 5 minutes, until you get a very smooth and creamy paste.

Transfer hummus to a bowl, cover surface with plastic wrap, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. If not using immediately, refrigerate until needed, up to two days. Remove from fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.

One year ago: New York Salt Potatoes
Two years ago: Yotam Ottolenghi’s Sweet Corn Polenta with Eggplant Sauce
Three years ago: Soft Pretzel Nuggets
Four years ago: Frittata with Red Peppers and Peas
Five years ago: Chipotle Turkey Chili with Apples and Cheddar
Six years ago: Mexican Wedding Cookies
Seven years ago: Lemon Mascarpone Mousse
Eight years ago: Chicken Salad with Apple and Basil

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Shrimp Scampi with Spiralized Zucchini

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Zucchini Shrimp Scampi

We have friends visiting from Atlanta and one of them prefers to avoid gluten, so I have been making some gluten-free dishes. As I mentioned in another post, I have found that Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour is a very good substitute for regular flour. In lieu of flour in some of my favorite recipes, it has yielded great results. Now I wish I could find a good gluten-free pasta.

Our friend Chris bought me this hand-held spiralizer. I’ve read a lot about them but had never tried one. Having a lot of zucchini on the counter, I decided to spiralize some of it. Using the device that I have, spiralizing is much like sharpening a pencil. You put the zucchini in and spin it. The results are long strands, just like spaghetti. It can be served raw, or cooked. I decided to sauté it in a little butter and olive oil and turn it into a shrimp scampi dish. I thought it was delicious. The friends visiting all thought it was delicious too, except the ones that don’t love zucchini. They ate the shrimp and left the squash. Did any of my boys try it? Nope. Despite that, I will definitely make this again.

The spiralizer is a lot of fun. I’m going to see what else I can spiralize.

Shrimp Scampi with Spiralized Zucchini
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style by Ina Garten
Vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1-2 small/medium zucchini
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 pound large shrimp (about 16 shrimp), peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 lemon, zest grated
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

Use your spiralizer to spiralized one or two small/medium zucchini.

In a large (12-inch), heavy-bottomed pan, melt one tablespoon of butter and one tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the zucchini and toss it in the pan for 2-3 minutes, until it becomes ever so slightly translucent or achieves the consistency you desire. Remove from the pan and place in a serving dish.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Be careful, the garlic burns easily! Add the shrimp, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and the pepper and saute until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat, add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine.

Pour the shrimp and its sauce over the cooked zucchini. Toss and serve immediately.


Serves 3

One year ago: Smooth and Creamy Polenta
Two years ago: Spring Root Vegetable Casserole
Three years ago: White Bean Burgers with Tomato-Olive Relish
Four years ago: Sprinkle Sugar Cookies
Five years ago: Summer Squash with Lemon and Mint
Six years ago: Ultimate Banana Bread
Seven years ago: Strawberry Lemonade
Eight years ago:
Fusilli and Chicken with Finger-Licking Peanut Sauce

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Shortbread

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Shortbread

This is some of the best shortbread I have ever eaten. One of my sons has started to enjoy baking and makes a batch every now and then. He doesn’t enjoy cooking. Just baking. I am hoping that I can convince him to do some cooking with me, in the hopes that he’ll widen his palate. He’s still a vegetarian who won’t eat vegetables.

These cookies are incredibly buttery with great flavor and texture. I have found that with shortbread, the quality of the butter makes all the difference. We use Kerrygold Irish butter in this recipe with great results.

My son tried to make a batch of these last week for his aunt, and we’re not sure why, but the cookies did not turn out as expected. They were almost like toffee, so his Aunt Lulu suggested that we crumble them and use them as an ice cream topping, which was perfect!

You can eat/serve these cookies as is, or dip them in chocolate as my son likes to do. I have read that lemon extract is a nice addition to the cookies. I plan to try it next time in place of the almond extract.


Shortbread

Recipe from King Arthur Flour

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, at cool room temperature*
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Lightly grease two round 9″ cake pans. If you worry about the shortbread possibly sticking in your particular pans, line them with parchment, and grease the parchment.

In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract, then beat in the flour. The mixture may seem a little dry at first; keep beating till it comes together. If it absolutely won’t come together, dribble in up to 1 tablespoon of water, until it does. This is a stiff dough.

Divide the dough in half (if you have a scale, each half will weigh about 10 1/2 ounces), and press each half into one of the prepared pans, smoothing the surface with your fingers, or with a mini rolling pin.

Use a fork to prick the dough all over; this allows any steam to escape, and prevents the shortbread from bubbling as it bakes. Prick the dough in a random pattern, but it looks nicer pricked with some kind of symmetry.

Bake the shortbread until it’s a light golden brown across the top surface, and a deeper golden brown around the edges, about 35 minutes.

Remove it from the oven, and immediately turn each shortbread round out onto a clean work surface.

Using a pizza wheel or sharp knife, cut each round into 12 wedges. (Do this while the shortbread is still warm; if you wait until it’s cool, it won’t cut easily.) Transfer the shortbread wedges to a rack to cool.

Yield: ~24 cookie wedges

One year ago: Nutella Cheesecake Chocolate Cookie Cups
Two years ago: Spring Root Vegetable Casserole
Three years ago: Tomato Feta Pasta Salad
Four years ago: Thai Curry Turkey Burgers
Five years ago: Chinese Chicken Salad
Six years ago: Cheese Quiche
Seven years ago: Mojitos

Eight years ago: Crispy Southwestern Baked Chicken

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Black Bean Burgers

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Black Bean Burger

These are the best black bean burgers I have ever made. You have to plan ahead because they need to rest for at least an hour before cooking them, but they’re well worth the planning. Many bean burgers have a mushy consistency. Not these. In a bun, they hold up like a hamburger. I like to serve them with a sauce that I make by mixing mayonnaise with sriracha sauce. I like 75% mayo to 25% sriracha.

I made these last night with gluten-free flour, and didn’t notice the difference between regular flour and gluten-free. I used the Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour. I also used it to make blueberry muffins this morning, and again, didn’t notice a difference between it and regular flour. I was quite surprised as I have used other gluten-free flours with terrible results.

These keep very well in the refrigerator overnight and reheat well in the microwave. This is now my go-to bean burger recipe. It’s part of our regular rotation now and our guests that have tried them have really liked them.

The photo above is of my friend Jon’s lunch plate. He styled the food for the photo. Thanks Jon!

 

Black Bean Burgers
Recipe from Cooks Illustrated magazine, September 2015

2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 scallions, minced
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 ounce tortilla chips, crushed coarse (~1/2 cup)
8 teaspoons vegetable oil
6 hamburger buns

The black bean mixture needs to be refrigerated for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours prior to cooking. When forming the patties, it is important to pack them firmly together.

Line rimmed baking sheet with triple layer of paper towels and spread beans over towels. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Whisk eggs and flour together in large bowl until uniform paste forms. Stir in scallions; cilantro; garlic; cumin; hot sauce, if using; coriander; salt; and pepper until well combined.

Process tortilla chips in food processor until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Add black beans and pulse until beans are roughly broken down, about 5 pulses. Transfer black bean mixture to bowl with egg mixture and mix until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Divide bean mixture into 6 equal portions. Firmly pack each portion into tight ball, then flatten to 3 1/2-inch-diameter patty. (Patties can be wrapped individually in plastic wrap, placed in a zipper-lock bag, and frozen for up to 2 weeks. Thaw patties before cooking.)

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Carefully place 3 patties in skillet and cook until bottoms are well browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Flip patties, add 2 teaspoons oil, and cook second side until well browned and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer burgers to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and place in warm oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining 3 patties and 4 teaspoons oil. Transfer burgers to buns and serve.

Yield: 6 servings

One year ago:Mint Chocolate Chip Meringues
Two years ago:Spring Root Vegetable Casserole
Three years ago: Hawaiian-Style Cabbage Salad
Four years ago:Dulce de Leche Brownies
Five years ago:Chocolate Chip Biscotti
Six years ago:Tate’s Bake Shop Chocolate Chip Cookies
Seven years ago:Peanut Butter Cup Bars
Eight years ago:Outrageous Brownies

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Chickpea of the Sea Sandwich

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Chickpea of the Sea Sandwich

This is like a vegetarian tuna salad sandwich, and it’s just about as quick to make as tuna salad is. It doesn’t exactly taste like tuna, but it definitely holds together like tuna salad, and it’s nice and tangy because of the vinegar in it. With all of the news about mercury in tuna and tuna being overfished, why not eat a tasty vegetarian salad instead? I understand that using the umeboshi (or ume plum) vinegar called for in the recipe gives the salad a seafood-like flavor. I couldn’t find the specialty vinegar at any of my local stores and didn’t want to order a bottle at great expense in case I didn’t like it, so I substituted red wine vinegar and I thought the salad was delicious. If I ever see a bottle of umeboshi vinegar in a local store, I might try it, but until then, I’m happy with my red wine vinegar.

It’s very easy to make this recipe if you have a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, you can absolutely make the salad by hand by crushing the chickpeas with a fork, but a food processor makes it so much easier.

If you do decide to eat tuna instead of this delicious vegetarian salad, here’s a guide to which types are best to eat. And if you do decide to switch to chickpeas, here’s a link to some of their benefits.

Chickpea of the Sea Sandwich
Recipe from The Kitchn

1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons umeboshi vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons celery seeds
1/4 cup chopped celery, from about one rib
2 tablespoons sliced scallions, from about about two scallions
Pinch cayenne pepper, optional
Freshly ground black pepper
Sliced whole grain bread
2 to 4 lettuce leaves, washed and dried well

Place chickpeas in the bowl of a food processor and pulse two or three times to roughly chop. Add remaining ingredients and pulse two or three times more to fully incorporate.

If making two sandwiches, place the lettuce leaves on two slices of bread. Spoon on the Chickpea of the Sea and top with the other slice of bread. Cut in half and enjoy!

Yield: 2 – 3 sandwiches

One year ago:Smooth and Creamy Polenta
Two years ago:Spring Root Vegetable Casserole
Three years ago: Gail’s Rolled Sugar Cookies with Piped Icing
Four years ago:Avocado-Mango Salad
Five years ago:Chocolate Chip Biscotti
Six years ago:Curried Carrot Soup
Seven years ago:Butterscotch Blondies
Eight years ago:Crispy Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies

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Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats

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Crispy treats

Many Rice Krispie treats can be very, very sweet. My husband was recently commenting that he likes them when they’re salty and not cloying. This recipe is the answer! These are slightly salty and definitely not as sweet as traditional Rice Krispie treats. I think the nutty flavor of the brown butter tones down the sweetness of the marshmallows. These don’t take long to make, and they’re a kid-favorite. Of course all four of my boys ate these, although a couple of them weren’t big fans of the addition of salt, but it didn’t stop them from devouring them.

If you try these and you have never browned butter before, please know that you have to watch it very carefully. Your butter will go from golden to brown to black very quickly. While stirring the butter, you want to make sure you take it off the heat when it’s a light brown color. Using a pan that doesn’t have a dark interior will help you watch the color.

Cereal can be expensive these days. A 12-oz. box of Rice Krispies at a local market in NYC costs $5.79. I just found a 10-oz. box of “Crisp Rice” cereal (identical to Rice Krispies) at Trader Joe’s for $1.99. I love that Trader Joe’s prices are consistent across the country. It makes their products very affordable in NYC.

If you like Rice Krispie treats but want them to have a slightly more grown-up taste, this version is for you.

Salted Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats
Recipe adapted ever so slightly from Smitten Kitchen

4 ounces (1/4 pound or 1 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan
1 10-ounce bag marshmallows
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal (about half a 12-ounce box)

Butter (or coat with non-stick spray) an 8-inch square cake pan with 2-inch sides.

In a large pot that doesn’t have a dark interior, melt butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Once it starts to get brown, watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn, which it can do very quickly. As soon as the butter takes on a nutty color, turn the heat to very low and stir in the marshmallows. Keep stirring until the mixture is smooth. It can take a good 5 or 6 minutes for the marshmallows to melt completely. You might think that the mixture is never going to get smooth, but be patient, it will.

When the marshmallow mixture is smooth, remove the pot from the stove and pour in the cereal, then sprinkle the salt evenly over the cereal and stir together. When completely mixed, quickly spread into prepared pan. I liked to use a piece of waxed or parchment paper that I’ve sprayed with oil to press it firmly and evenly into the edges and corners.

Let cool and cut into squares.

Yield: 16 bars (2″ square)

One year ago:Texas Sheet Cake
Two years ago:Chock-Full-of-Chips Drops
Three years ago: Coconut-Crusted Shrimp
Four years ago:Indian-Style Mustard Greens
Five years ago:Marinated Swordfish
Six years ago:Orange Scones with Chocolate Chips
Seven years ago:Sugar Cookie Bars
Eight years ago:Whole Grain Buttermilk Pancakes

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Fudge-Striped Shortbread Cookies

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Food

I am one of the co-presidents of my sons’ school PTA and I bring cookies to each of our Executive Board meetings. This time, I brought unfinished cookies. I started to make these cookies too late in the afternoon (the story of my life!), so I only had time to dip the bottoms in chocolate. I didn’t have time to put the chocolate stripes on the top. I barely let the bottom layer of chocolate firm up before I tossed them in a basket to bring to my meeting. Despite the fact that I served naked cookies with soft chocolate on the bottom, I received great feedback about them and they disappeared before the night was over.

Now let me warn you, these take a bit of time to make. They’re not nearly as quick as drop cookies. You have to make the dough, let it chill, roll it out, cut it out, bake it, let it cool, melt or temper the chocolate, dip the bottoms of the cookies, let them chill to harden the chocolate, then finally put the stripes on top. Lots of steps! In order to make these, you also need a candy thermometer (if you want to temper your chocolate), a food processor, a round cookie cutter with a 3″ diameter, and a small cookie cutter with a 1″ diameter (not having a cookie cutter this small, I actually used the wide end of a pastry bag tip to make the center holes in the cookies.)

I have read a lot about tempering chocolate, but had never tried it until this recipe. Tempering chocolate will leave it with a smooth, glossy finish and it will make it harden at room temperature so there’s a nice snap when it’s broken. Prior to making these cookies, I was always afraid of trying to temper chocolate, but I found a set of instruction that make it very easy, and the result was perfect. Once these cookies were fully cooled, they had a nice finish and the chocolate was indeed nice and hard at room temperature, without melting all over your fingers. Here are the instructions that I followed for tempering my chocolate. I highly recommend trying it. I used a big block of dark chocolate from Trader Joe’s (the pound plus bar) for these cookies. On my first try, I attempted to temper a mixture of bittersweet chocolate and milk chocolate. Bad idea. I ended up with a big mess of chocolate that didn’t melt properly. I’d stick to one type of chocolate when tempering.

I was hesitant about adding the orange zest to the cookies, but I’m glad I did. The orange flavor did not overwhelm the shortbread, it simply provided a bit of depth to the flavor of the cookies. These cookies were a big hit in my house. I’ll definitely make them again.

Fudge-Striped Shortbread Cookies
Recipe adapted slightly from Sugar Hero

Zest of 1 orange
3.5 oz (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
11.25 oz (2.5 cups) all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
10 oz cold, salted butter (~2.5 sticks), cubed
1 pound dark chocolate

Put the orange zest and the sugar into a small bowl and rub the orange zest into the sugar with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.

Put the sugar, flour and salt into the bowl of a large (10-14 cup) food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the cubed butter and pulse until the dough begins to clump together. Once it comes together, turn it out of the bowl and knead it into a ball. Divide the dough in half and roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper until it’s 1/4″ thick. Chill in the refrigerator until the dough is firm. This should take about 20 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Remove one sheet of dough from the refrigerator, put it on a cookie sheet and cut out 3-inch circles. Use your 1-inch cookie cutter (or the large end of a pastry bag tip) to cut circles in the center of the cookies. You might have to wait until the dough is slightly soft to cut the center circles, or the outer circles may crack. You can re-roll the scraps to create more cookies. Continue rolling and cutting until all of the dough is used. You should end up with approximately 30-32 circular cookies. Your dough should still be nice and cold when you bake the cookies. If not, chill them again for a few minutes by putting the cookie sheet directly into the refrigerator. Once chilled, bake them for 10-12 minutes until the edges start to turn light brown. Cool the cookies completely on the baking sheets before carefully removing them.

Melt the chocolate. I recommend tempering the chocolate. You can find directions for tempering chocolate here. Once the chocolate is melted, dip the bottom of each cookie into the chocolate, then place it chocolate-side down on the same parchment-lined baking sheet. Once all of the cookies are dipped, refrigerate the tray to set the chocolate. You can also put the cookie sheets into the freezer to speed up the process. Transfer the rest of the melted chocolate to a plastic bag with a very small hole snipped in the corner, and drizzle lines of chocolate over the tops of the cookies. Refrigerate once more to set the chocolate. If you don’t temper your chocolate, I recommend storing these cookies in the refrigerator.

Yield: ~30 cookies

One year ago:Texas Sheet Cake
Two years ago:Chock-Full-of-Chips Drops
Three years ago: Chocolate Sheet Cake with Delicious Vanilla Frosting
Four years ago:Pasta and White Beans with Broccoli Pesto
Five years ago:Carrot-Coconut Milk Soup
Six years ago:Mexican-Style Slaw with Jícama, Cilantro and Lime
Seven years ago:Vanilla Brown Sugar Breakfast Polenta
Eight years ago:Chick Pea Soup

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Pistachio-Crusted Cod Fillets

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fish

If you like fish, this is a very simple dish to make and it’s elegant enough for company. The recipe calls for cod, but any thicker, mild white fish like halibut, for example, should do. I love this recipe because you can make the topping in advance. You can even spread the mustard and the topping on the fish right before the guests arrive, then throw it in the oven when you’re ready to eat. The fish cooks in under 15 minutes. I have made this several times for guests and it’s definitely a crowd-pleasing dinner.

If you’re buying pistachios that have already been shelled, buy them unsalted so the dish doesn’t end up too salty.

In doing some reading, I learned that it’s much friendlier for the oceans to eat Pacific cod than it is to eat Atlantic cod, unless the Atlantic cod is from a recirculating aquaculture system. On the list of sustainable fish to eat, Atlantic cod is at the bottom of the list.  Here’s a website that will tell you the best fish to eat to keep our oceans healthy.

My husband and I loved this dish. How many of the boys ate it?  You’re right.  None.

Pistachio-Crusted Cod Fillets
Recipe from FineCooking.com

1/2 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
1/3 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 Tbs. grated Parmesan
1/2 tsp. coarse salt; more to taste
1/8 tsp. finely ground black pepper; more to taste
2 Tbs. olive oil
4 cod fillets, preferably loin pieces (4 to 6 oz. each)
2 Tbs. Dijon mustard

Heat the oven to 425°F. Line a small baking sheet with foil and lightly grease the foil (spray is fine).

Chop the pistachios into medium-fine pieces. Combine the nuts, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss with a fork until the crumbs are evenly moistened.

If using fillets with tapered ends, loosely fold the ends under to create a fillet of even thickness. Spread the top of each fillet evenly with the mustard. Press the mustard-coated side of each fillet into the crumb mixture to generously coat the fish. Set the fillets, coating side up, on the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the fillets to form a thick coating.

Bake the fillets until the topping is crisp and browned and the fish is cooked through, 10 to 12 min., depending on thickness. The fish is done when it’s no longer opaque in the center and when it flakes easily. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

One year ago: Sautéed Edamame Salad
Two years ago: Chock-Full-of-Chips Drops
Three years ago: Provençal Cherry Tomato Gratin
Four years ago: Black Bean and Pepper Jack Burgers
Five years ago: Strawberry-Orange-Vanilla Smoothie
Six years ago: Shortbread Cookies
Seven years ago: Sweet Potato Bread
Eight years ago: Asian Salmon Burgers

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