This is one of the regulars (pretty much the only regular) on my holiday cookie list. The combination of oat flour and whole wheat pastry flour offers a whole-grain kick and a bit more body to the cookies while still being a bit light; although you can buy oat flour in the supermarket, I make my own oat flour by grinding rolled oats in a coffee grinder. It comes out exactly the same, it’s significantly cheaper (about 50%, at least), and I use oat flour in pretty much all of my baking, so I just make a bunch at a time and keep it handy.
To make it:
- 2 cups butter, softened
- 1 2/3 cups raw sugar (if you don’t like your cookies super-sweet, use 1/3 cup less sugar)
- 1-2 tsp fresh orange zest (about half of a large orange)
- 1 tbsp finely chopped candied ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry flour
- 2 cups oat flour
- 1 1/3 cup cornstarch
- sugar for sprinkling.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In medium-sized bowl, sift flour and cornstarch together with cinnamon and orange zest and set aside. In larger bowl, cream butter with sugar and candied ginger until fluffy. Slowly add dry ingredients (about a half-cup to a cup at a time), and mix until all the ingredients are incorporated (electric beaters work wonderfully for this, as would a KitchenAid mixer if my boyfriend is giving me what I think I’m getting for Christmas…). The batter should be thick and kind of dry. Bring dough to the parchment-lined baking sheet and use your hands to spread it out (should be about 1/2 inch thick by the end) to the ends of the sheet. Bake for 30 minutes until the cookies have just started to get golden brown. Remove from heat and sprinkle with raw sugar while it’s still warm. Let cool 5 minutes, then cut shortbread into rectangles about 1″ by 3″ - these are super-rich, so you don’t really need them to be bigger than this.
I got this recipe fromThe Vegetarian Table: Franceby Georganne Brennan, and I swear to you, it’s brilliant. Harissa is a spicy chili-garlic paste that’s North African in origin, but apparently popular in France. This version is modified slightly based on what I had available (couldn’t find dried Anaheim chilis, and I added a couple of things), but it’s really good.
You don’t need much of this to make your food good and spicy, but it typically goes with couscous, and even went well with the Endive Au Gratin that I made for tonight’s dinner.
To make it:
- 3-4 dried Chipotle peppers
- 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
- 8 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp good olive oil
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth
Start by removing the stems and seeds from the Chipotles. Cut into smallish pieces and grind along with mustard seeds in a coffee/spice grinder.
In a small chopper, add garlic, spices and turmeric and pulse until garlic is well-chopped. Add oil and continue pulsing until combined - then add broth and do the same.
This will store in a tightly covered container in your refrigerator for up to 5 days. Use it on couscous, in tomato dishes, and soups. Be warned, it’s spicy - so you don’t need a lot unless you really like your food hot. It’s also great in hummus.
Over the last several months, there have been a number of important shifts happening in my business. Some are perfectly normal and comfortable and leave me wondering why I haven’t always done things this way; others, quite frankly, scare the bejeebus out of me. Through all of it, I’ve found myself caught up in wishing – feeling like I need to overhaul my office, my internal processes, even the way I market the studio. This morning, what I realized I hadn’t been doing at all was taking time to actually appreciate what I’ve spent the last five years building. And I wondered: hokey as the thought may seem, what would it look like if I spent less time constantly wishing things were different, and spent some time simply loving what is?
As independent professionals, we spend a lot of time learning. We read books, articles, blogs, all by people calling themselves experts, all proposing some new way that we need to do things in order to succeed. But how often do we really listen to ourselves? How often do we sit back, really look at where we are, and trust that we know what to do? And frankly, when everyone who owns an independent service business (and trust me, I count among that number) is writing all these articles trying to prove that they’re an “expert” in something, how do we figure out who to listen to and who to ignore?
I’m beginning to think the answer lies in shutting down the noise – at least for a little while – and going back into ourselves. I think we need to start with what we do know, and then worry about what to add to that knowledge. I think that we need to trust that we’re enough.
This has become one of my favorite lunches for a summer day. Amazing if you grow your own stuff (the cukes, tomatoes and herbs in mine come from my own garden), but you can easily substitute quality store-bought veggies with good results.
The important thing to remember here is using either French Green or Black Beluga lentils; they stay firmer when you cook them. Standard green lentils or red lentils get too mushy to work well in this dish.
To make it:
- 1-3/4 cup French green or Beluga lentils, rinsed
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cloves garlic (whole)
add everything to a large saucepan. Cook over low-medium heat, covered, for about 30-45 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and lentils are tender. Stir occasionally to make sure that the lentils don’t stick to the pan.
- 1 small-medium cucumber, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/4″ slices
- 6-7 grape tomatoes, quartered lengthwise (or 2 plum tomatoes, diced)
- about a dozen good-quality pitted green olives (I use the lemon-garlic olives from Whole Foods), quartered lengthwise
into a large bowl. When lentils are done, add lentils to veggies and let cool in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. Once lentils have cooled, add
- 8 oz good-quality feta cheese
- 2 tbsp julienned basil
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp garlic chives, chopped
- juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp good olive oil
Mix everything together carefully, let chill for about an hour, and serve. Really good by itself, or along with some brown rice.
One of the benefits (and challenges) of getting a farm share is dealing with all the produce and herbs that you get in your share. One of the more common things I do is take all the basil and/or arugula from the share and make a batch of pesto with it, freeze it in ice cube trays and then store the cubes in Zip-loc bags for use throughout the winter. Thanks to the good folks at Drumlin Farm and my basil-happy share, I now have enough pesto to last me until 2012.
But the beauty of pesto is that it doesn't actually have to be just basil - it can be any herb, any type of nut, any cheese, etc. So here's three different ways to make pesto. All freeze beautifully, and are incredibly useful to have in the freezer for just about any meal. Try throwing a couple of cubes into a big pot of veggie soup, or mixing a cube or two with Greek yogurt and a bit of mayo to make a dressing for potato or macaroni salad. One twist that I take with all my pesto is that I put a bit of vinegar or lemon in it - it keeps everything nice and green, adds a bit of punch to the flavor, and cuts a large amount of the olive oil (which makes it much less fattening).
To make it:
Classic Basil Pesto
- 1-2 bunches of basil (just leaves)
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted slightly
- 1/2 cup romano cheese, grated
- 1-2 garlic cloves salt and pepper to taste
- white wine vinegar (about 1-2 tbsp)
- good olive oil (about 1-2 tbsp)
- water (about 1-2 tbsp)
Pack leaves, garlic, and nuts with a bit of salt and pepper into a food processor. Add a bit of vinegar and a bit of water and start the processor working - you should have enough liquid that the leaves start getting chopped pretty quickly. Once leaves are completely chopped and the whole thing's a paste, add cheese, cover and start the processor again, drizzling in about a tablespoon or two of olive oil - just enough so that you have a smooth paste.
Basil Arugula Pesto
This is almost exactly the same as the Basil pesto, but you'd do half arugula, half basil. You can also do it with all arugula, but I suggest leaving out the pepper and using almonds instead of pine nuts if you want an all-arugula pesto. You could also substitute Gruyere for the Romano cheese.
Oh my, but this is some tasty stuff. Try it on grilled salmon or chicken.
- 1 bunch of cilantro (just leaves)
- 1 big clove of garlic
- 1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed
- 2 tbsp Trader Joe's Orange-Muscat vinegar (if you can't find this, you can also use a tbsp of orange juice and a tbsp of cider vinegar)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts
- a bit of salt
Pack everything but oil into a food processor and work it up, drizzling the oil into the mixture as it processes. For all three, use immediately, or load into a covered ice cube tray and freeze overnight. The next day, pop the cubes out of the tray into a double zip freezer bag - they'll keep for at least 6 months.