Sunday, March 3, 2013

Grandmaw's Oatmeal Cookies

First of all, sorry for the long hiatus. It's been an intentional break to try to get my dissertation done, and it's working so far. I'm just breaking my "fast" to post these awesome cookies because they deserve to be on here.

Instagram photo because (1) I'm kind of lazy and (2) my camera needs to go to the repair shop since I dropped it in Ireland over the summer.

But seriously, don't let that stop you from making these quick and delicious cookies. YOU DON'T EVEN NEED EGGS. The recipe is my great-grandmother's, and I remember eating these when I was little and we went for tea at her house. My mom used to make these too. She still does, actually. Hi mom!

These are a very crumbly, spiced biscuit, great with tea in the afternoon. They come together very quickly in one bowl and you don't even need to grease the pan.


1/2 c softened butter
1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda dissolved in 2 tbs hot water
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c white flour
1 c oats
1/4 c dried coconut (unsweetened)
1/8 tsp (heaping) nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 300ºF.

2. Cream butter and sugar until well mixed, then add in the baking soda mixture and the vanilla.

3. Stir in the flour, oats, and coconut. Mix. You'll have a crumbly-looking dough but don't worry.

4. Using your hands, form walnut sized balls of the dough. I find it works best if you flatten them a little bit so you have kind of a fat disk of dough, about 1 cm thick. If you are having trouble, you can add a tiny bit more water to help the dough form, but be careful not to add too much—1/4 tsp at a time!

5. Arrange the first batch on your ungreased baking sheet and then GENTLY press down on each cookie with a fork dipped in milk (to prevent sticking). This pressing gives the cookies their crumbled-looking edges. Don't press too hard or the cookie might fall apart.

6. Bake for 15 minutes, then let cool slightly on the pan before moving to a cooling rack and doing your second batch.

This amount of ingredients gives 2 dozen; the original recipe is double this and obviously gives 4 dozen, but we are only 2 people and 48 cookies is a lot for us.

Let me know how you like them!

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chilled Soba with Ginger-Jasmine Poached Sole

I don't know about you, but it's a little hot around here these days. Also, I'm done teaching my summer class and my dissertation is starting at me. Guess that means it's time to cook something!

My old room-mate, Lea, introduced me to cold soba on a hot day. (She has a blog, too!) And it's probably been that long since I had them, since my favourite noodle book, Noodle, advocates making your own dashi and I can't be bothered. It's not that I'm not one to leap at the chance to do things "the right way" or make stuff from scratch; it's just that there's something about "high heat and humidity warning"that doesn't groove with simmering fish stock in a small apartment. But then another friend of mine opened my eyes to the fact that there is, in fact, ready-made soba dipping sauce. I don't know why this didn't cross my mind earlier.

Anyways, boring story short, I give you soba-something, loosely based on the chilled soba recipe from Noodle, with jasmine-ginger-poached sole, of my own invention, and chilled cucumber salad.

You need:

For noodles:
4 bundles of soba noodles
water to boil
soba dipping sauce (or make your own!)
3 green onions, sliced thinly

For fish:
4 fillets of sole, or other white fish
enough water to cover in a shallow pan
1 jasmine tea bag
6-8 slices of fresh ginger
1 green onion, sliced
1 tsp sesame oil

For salad:
1 large cucumber
rice vinegar

1. Cook your noodles according to the package directions, then drain and rinse well, until the noodles are cool. Then chill them in the fridge to keep cool. I tossed mine with a bit of sesame oil for good measure.

2. Put all the fish ingredients except the fish in a shallow frying pan, large enough to hold all your fish without overlapping. Let this simmer for 15 minutes, to let the flavours develop.

3. Meanwhile, slice your cucumber thinly. Mix rice vinegar, mirin and salt in the bottom of a medium bowl, and adjust the amounts to taste. Then toss the cucumber in the dressing and put in the fridge to keep cool.

4. Add the fish to the simmering liquid and cook for 15 minutes, never letting the bubbles get big. When the fist flakes easily with a fork, remove it carefully.

Serve the noodles and fish separately, side by side, or stack the fish on top of the chilled noodles; your noodles won't be as cold this way, but the presentation is nicer.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

In which there is GARLIC

You know when you leave something for a while and intend to come back really soon and then it's Reading Week and you go out of town and then it's finals time and you're busy with marking and exams and then when you finally get back to it it's been four months and it's May already? Yeah. That happened to me one time, too.

ANYWAYS enough about me. Let's have some food.

I swear one time I had this recipe for some kind of Italian bread stew but I looked for it tonight, because that's what I felt like eating, and all I could find were recipes for Italian bread SALAD or Italian bread SOUP and I didn't want either of those. So I just wung it. (Wung is the past tense of wing, in case you didn't know.) Actually, I'm kind of in the process of winging it right now, so if you ever see this, it means I was successful. If not, then I guess you're not reading this right now. Who knows, maybe after four months no one is reading it anyways!

If you feel like eating my made-up recipe for Italian bread STEW, then you need the following:

3 cups of cubed stale bread
1 large tin of diced tomatoes
1.5 c cooked white beans
1 diced onion
1-5 cloves of garlic, minced (I used 5 because I'm on Team Buffy)
[Optional: some diced prosciutto, which I used because it was in my freezer and I felt like it]
1 diced carrot
two bay leaves
fresh or dried basil to taste. I added about 3 TBS fresh chopped that I had frozen from the summer!
a sprig of fresh rosemary or a bit of dried rosemary
olive oil
garlic salt (if you are so inclined)
salt and pepper
some lovely minced parsley

1. Start by heating a glug of olive oil in a deep-ish pan. Sautee your onions and your prosciutto, if you're using it. Then add the garlic and cook until it's fragrant.

2. Add the rest of the ingredients (down to where it says olive oil) and cover and cook for 10 more minutes on medium and then on low for another 30 minutes.

3. In the last 10 minutes, heat some more olive oil in another pan. Toast the breadcrumbs in the olive oil, tossing with garlic salt to taste. GARLIC! I would recommend watching the breadcrumbs closely as some of mine got a bit overly toasted and had to be eaten before their time.

4. Taste the stew for seasonings and adjust if you need to. When your breadcrumbs are all toasty and garlicky,  serve the stew in bowls and top with a heap of breadcrumbs! And parsley! You could even sprinkle some parmesan cheese on there if you were really feeling decadent!

VERDICT: DELICIOUS. Hence my posting of it here.

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Monday, January 10, 2011


This loaf, despite being completely vegetarian, has all the familiar comforting taste of a genuine meatloaf, especially when you add the slightly sweet, rich, ketchupy glaze part way through the cooking. And, unlike a regular meatloaf, this one has NINE GRAMS of fiber per slice. NINE. So if your New Year's Resolutions involve eating healthier, this recipe is for you. (Even if you don't have New Year's Resolutions that involve food, sometimes it's a good idea to take a break from meat once in a while. It's cheaper, for one thing, and it's better for you and the environment.)

Part of the secret to how good, and how like a traditional meatloaf this one tastes is because of two secret ingredients. That's right, not one, but two secret ingredients. The first is steak sauce. The original recipe called for A-1 sauce, but we prefer HP so that's what I used, and lots of it. The second, very surprising, secret ingredient is finely chopped dates. I know. But they add a sweet, sticky texture that actually mimics meat surprisingly well. I wouldn't leave them out if I were you.

I'll warn you, though, that it's not as quick a meal to throw together as an actual meat-meat-loaf. If you add up the times on the page of the original recipe, even they have underestimated by at least 20 minutes by their own count. I would say allow 30 minutes for prep, but using the food-processor for everything will speed stuff up. I had to cook my rice as well as my lentils, so that also added time to the recipe, despite my renowned talent for multi-tasking.

I don't want to scare you off, though, because the results are amazing.

So! Now that I've rambled sufficiently, here is the recipe, which I've altered slightly from the original. It makes one large loaf, which we managed to cut into 9 slices. We ate the leftovers the next night and they were equally tasty.

You need:

A food processor (you will save yourself a lot of headache, trust me.)
1 cup dry brown lentils
2 medium carrots, grated or shredded
1 cup finely diced dates (I did mine in the food processor)
1 medium onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons HP sauce
1/2 cup ground or very finely minced pecans (did 'em in the good ole food processor)
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
3 large eggs

Sauce for Topping Loaf:
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

First, note that you can do all your chopping in the food processor. You might as well, because you need it anyway to get the lentils the right texture, so if it's already got to be out, you may as well take advantage of it. Do the pecans first, then do the onion, celery, and carrot, and lastly the dates, because they are sticky and you  want to minimize the cleaning effort.

1. Cook your lentils in plenty of boiling water for about 20 minutes, or until they're very soft but not yet mush. Drain them really well and set aside to drain more.

2. Meanwhile, sautee the onion, carrot, celery, and dates in the butter over medium high heat for 6-8 minutes, until things are getting soft (like the onions) and there isn't a lot of liquid. You should stir a lot to make sure all the liquid gets a chance to evaporate. Add the garlic, cumin, soy sauce, and HP sauce and cook for another minute.

3. Pulse the lentils in the food processor until they're smooth. Put them in a big bowl. Pulse the cooked vegetables in the food processor until they're smooth. Add them to the lentils in the big bowl. Mix all this well and make sure it's cool enough to not cook eggs.

4. Add the rest of the ingredients for the loaf to the bowl and mix well. Make a sling with tin foil and put it in the bottom of a loaf pan. Grease the bottom and sides of the pan for easy removal. Spoon in your loaf mixture and cook for 20 minutes at 375ºF.

5. While it's cooking, add the sauce ingredients to a small saucepan and cook on low for 5 minutes, until thickened. After your loaf has cooked for its 20 minutes, take it out and slather it with the sauce. Then put the loaf back in the oven for another 20 minutes.

6. Let it cool for about 10 minutes, then slice and serve as you would normally serve meatloaf! In our house, that means with lots of ketchup.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Grandma's Ginger Crisps

This is my grandma when she was around 20:

These are her cookies, which she makes every year for Christmas; every year my dad probably eats half of them. Every year I eat the other half. Not really. But I would if I had no decency. I have just enough decency.

These cookies don't have the "snap" that ginger snaps have; the cloves and cinnamon even out the ginger. The end result is a crispy, slightly chewy in the middle cookie that tastes exactly like Christmas. They are also really good on a rainy or snowy afternoon with a cup of tea, any time of the season. Now that I have acquired this highly guarded secret recipe, I can make them for snowy afternoons if I want to!

You need:

3/4 c shortening
1 c white sugar, plus a bit extra
1 egg
1/4 c molasses
2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger

1. Cream the shortening and 1 cup of sugar; add the egg and molasses and mix until creamy.

2. Mix the dry ingredients together and add the dry to the wet and mix until you get something that looks like cookie dough.

3.  Lightly grease a couple of baking sheets, or line them with parchment paper. Make 1.5 tbs balls of dough and roll in some white sugar. Place the dough balls about 1.5" apart on the baking sheet. Press each ball down gently with a fork.

4. Bake for 10-12 minutes (watch them after 10 minutes!) in a 375ºF oven. Let cool, then devour them all and share them with no one. No no. I didn't mean that. I mean wrap them up and give them to friends and family in the spirit of the season.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Spinach and Pesto Pasta Bake

Sorry I don't update that often. I'm kind of hoping to make some progress on this PhD so this semester has largely seen me staying at the library until it gets really dark outside, then coming home to desperate crock-pot experiments based wishful thinking and miscellaneous pantry items. I don't deem it appropriate nor healthy to post those because then one of you poor souls might actually try to recreate it and hold me responsible.

This one is good though. I can vouch for it -- recommend it, even. It's pretty quick to make (good if you are in the throes of PhD studies), and it has spinach in it, which not only is tasty but also makes you strong. Also cheese!

(Serves 2 hungry people or 4 not very hungry people. I guess it would serve three medium-hungry people)

3 cups dry small pasta, like macaroni
1/4 c heavy cream
2 tbs flour
2 tbs basil pesto
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup grated sharp cheese
1 medium onion in thin slices
2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
2 tbs butter
1/4-1/2 c milk

1. In a cast-iron pan on medium, melt 1 tbs of the butter and saute the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent. Meanwhile, cook your pasta.

2. Turn the heat to low and add the flour to the pan and cook for a minute, then add the cream and the pesto. Stir until combined and cook for 5 minutes, until thickened.

3. Add the spinach and 1/4 c milk and cook until the spinach is wilted and everything looks nice and saucy. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Put the other tbs of butter in a small casserole dish and pour the cooked, drained pasta into it to melt the butter and coat the pasta. This not only greases the casserole, but also keeps the pasta from clumping. Then add the pasta to the pan with the spinach mixture and stir to combine. At this point, if the sauce is too thick, add the rest of the milk and adjust the salt if you need to.

5. Pour the whole shebang back into the casserole dish and top with the grated cheese. Bake in a preheated oven (375 should do it) for 10 minutes, then broil for 2 or 3 more minutes, until the cheesey top is just starting to brown. Do let it cool a bit before digging in.

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Savoury French Lentil Stew

I admit that this is not the prettiest dish. It wasn't a joy to photograph, let me tell you. But what it lacked in aesthetics it more than made up for in flavour!

It's also so seriously easy to make, largely because of my little friend, the slow cooker. You could also do this in a pot and it would still be really easy and probably just as tasty, too! But these days I just have so much going on that by the time I get home around 6 the thought of *starting* dinner makes me want to eat cookies. So my slow cooker is my friend right now. What strategies do you all use to cope with busy days and hot dinners?

This dish could be vegetarian really easily; I used beef stock because it added a depth of flavour and a richness, but vegetable stock would make this a perfect, hearty vegetarian meal.

You need (Serves 4):

3 quart slow cooker
1 tbs olive oil
1 cup French/Puy lentils, rinsed and picked over*
2 large carrots, cut in coins
3 medium potatoes, in large dice
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 sprig of rosemary
1 bay leaf
4 cups beef stock or veggie stock
salt and pepper to taste

To make this in the slow cooker, put all the ingredients in the slow cooker and turn to low. Cook 8-10 hours. Done!

To make this on the stove, heat the oil in a large pot and saute the onions and the garlic until translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until the lentils are cooked and the potatoes are soft. Done!

*Because of the long cooking time, Puy or French lentils are important because they hold their shape better than regular brown lentils, but if you don't mind mush then sub other lentils if you like.

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