Let’s take a break from kale, and potatoes, and winter, shall we? Happy Valentine’s Day.
Here’s a cookie that I’ve had in my files for years. It’s time you had it too. This recipe was gifted to me by a mom I got to know when teaching her children. She brought them to share one day, impressively round and all perfectly the same size. What a treat. There are a lot of chocolate cookie recipes in this world, but when you bite into a keeper, don’t you know it right away? You’ll find these just the right thing for a deep chocolate craving. I think it’s worth a little extra fuss on the shaping to help them appear as beautiful as they taste. A good cookie for gifting, they even mail well if your valentine is far away.
Small and Sweet Chocolate Cookies
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 c. high quality unsweetened cocoa
2 cups AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips (or more, if you like)
- Set butter and eggs out to come to room temperature. (You need to be able to press the butter with your finger and see some give. Plan ahead, if you live in a chilly house. This could take a few hours.)
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time.
- Add cocoa and mix gently until incorporated.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add this to the cocoa and butter mixture. Mix just until combined.
- With a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate chips.
- Using a 1 inch cookie coop, drop balls onto a parchment lined baking sheet. With wet hands, reshape each ball slightly by rolling.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes. (If you choose to make a larger, more standard size, bake for 15 minutes.)
- If you don’t have a cookie scoop, roll 1 inch balls with wet hands and then place on parchment.
- The cocoa which I used for this recipe was gifted to me and is Callebut cocoa powder, CP-776. We call it the “good” cocoa and use it for special recipes that really feature the cocoa, because it does really make a huge difference. (I’ve also made this recipe many, many times with our bulk grocery store cocoa. Still delicious!)
Winter got you down? Add a little local fruit back into your diet. Booth Canyon Orchard, a certified organic family farm, will be coming to the island on January 23rd. You can pre-order a box or buy fruit by the pound upon arrival. We’ve been absolutely savoring our last box of pears. They keep well tucked into our crisper drawer. Firm and sweet, each pear has brought a little brightness to our breakfasts. They are so delicious that I have not even been tempted to bake with a single one – they’re just too good not to eat raw! If you’re interested in ordering ahead of time, here is the information from Stina:
I feel like the baking season is winding down. Did you know there was a baking season? Surely you did. It’s that time before Thanksgiving when you’re stocking up the freezer – breads, morning cakes, goodies for the meal itself – and then the mad rush onward to Christmas treats. Now that those piles of cookies are dwindling and all the homemade gifts have been gifted, we can taper off our flour use and get on with clean living. In case you too need help transitioning, here’s a cookie recipe for you to aid in bridging the gap. It’s healthful and tasty and a lovely thing to put in your little one’s hand as they struggle back into the school schedule.
In the dark days of winter, vegan recipes come in handy. Eggs are scarce and thrifty baking is a necessity. But in contrast to this starkness, this recipe is also an opportunity to celebrate your well stocked pantry. Use your homemade applesauce and dried fruit that you may have squirreled away in the bright days of summer. (And, if you didn’t, your bulk aisle will come to your aid.)
one 9×13 pan of bars or squares
1 c. AP flour
1/2 c. white whole wheat flour (see notes)
2 c. rolled oats
1/8 c. flax meal
1/8 c. oat or wheat bran
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 c. brown sugar
1 c. apple juice
1/2 c. applesauce
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. dried fruit, chopped
1/2 c. nuts, chopped finely
1/2 c. coconut
- Prepare a 9×13 pan by cutting a piece of parchment to line the bottom of the pan.
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- In a large bowl, place all of your dry ingredients and mix.
- Stir in juice, applesauce, oil, and vanilla until fully incorporated (no dry flour.)
- Mix in your fruit, nuts, and coconut.
- Spread into your pan. Bake for 30 minutes.
- Turn upside down onto a cutting board, peel off parchment, and cut into bars or square. Arrange these on a baking sheet so that there is a little space between each bar. Bake for another 15 minutes.
- Hooray, oh happy day! Central Market now stocks Nash’s freshly milled flour in the bulk section. Both their hard red wheat and white whole wheat are available. I remember the days when it was hard to come by, and it’s exciting to now have a steady supply.
- I used dried blueberries and strawberries.
- This cookie is not very sweet. (That’s good – it can be breakfast.) I dusted the top with a little powdered sugar and cinnamon this time.
- This recipe was adapted from Mollie Katzen’s, Honest Pretzels, a great resource for cooking with your child. The recipes are engagingly illustrated and the directions are easy to follow. It would be my first recommendation for any family with an interested young cook in the kitchen.
Green beans, new potatoes, fava beans, and basil are all ingredients that delight me when they begin to show up at the market. Living in the midwest, I used to feel that it was finally summer when I saw corn and tomatoes. Here in Washington, it’s the green beans that I wait for. And this year, at the beginning of this season, I discovered a new delight. Have you tried the parsley from Tani Creek? It’s like none other. You’ll want to add it to dishes as a main ingredient, not just a garnish, as it is often relegated. Adapted to our climate, this “awesome tasty” heirloom variety has a pedigree which you can read about on the farm’s website while you peruse their seeds for sale.
Here’s a spunky salad that features parsley prominently. (Feel free to substitute it for the basil entirely.) It does take a bit of time to prepare. Think of it as a potluck show off dish. Or, make a big bowl of it on Sunday and smugly take it for a hearty lunch all week.
1 pound new potatoes
1 pound green beans
1/2 pound fava beans (That’s the weight for the beans after being removed from pod.)
6 slices crispy ham, optional (See note.)
- Put a medium sized pot of water on to boil. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Set aside.
- Wash and slice potatoes into about 1 1/2 inch pieces. (If very small, you may not need to cut the potatoes. Yum!)
- Add potatoes to boiling water. Salt. Cook for 25 minutes.
- While your potatoes are cooking, attend to your green beans. Take the ends off the green beans and cut into large bites, about 2 inches long.
- Prepare fava beans by removing large beans from pods.
- Use a skimmer or slotted spoon to remove potatoes to ice water bath. When cold, remove potatoes and place on a dishtowel. Pat dry.
- In the same water, boil green beans for 2-3 minutes, tasting to see if they are the consistency you might like. Follow the same procedure as the potatoes – ice water, then towel.
- For this dish, boil fava beans for 2 minutes. After chilling, remove the skins.
- Place all the vegetables in a large bowl and pour vinaigrette over. Add crispy ham, if using.
1/4 c. fresh parsley leaves, packed
1/4 c. fresh basil leaves, packed
3 tbls. champagne vinegar (or other gentle, white vinegar)
2 tsp. mustard
2 garlic scapes (or one large clove of garlic)
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
a few grinds of pepper
Add all ingredients to food processor and process until smooth.
- We always pick up a ration of Hitchcock Deli meat for the week – turkey, beef, ham, bacon. Occasionally we might be overzealous in our order and have a little leftover at the end of the week. Crispy ham is a remedy to this problem. Take ham that’s been in your fridge for awhile, crisp it up at 450F for 5-6 minutes and voila – a yummy crunch for pasta, eggs, or salad.
- Feel free to play and add other seasonal veggies that you might prefer, of course.
Baby lettuces from our deck garden. Mint foraged from between the weeds in the front yard. Island blueberries. What a refreshing summer salad!
salad greens, washed and dried
the juice of 1 lemon (1 tbls.)
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1/2 c. half and half
about 2 tbls. chopped fresh mint
a handful of blueberries
- In a jar with a lid, shake salt and lemon until the salt is dissolved.
- Add half and half. Shake.
- Mix mint with salad greens.
- Toss your desired about of dressing with salad greens.
- Top with berries.
I am loving this salad in various forms these days. It’s a great traveler – drop it off as a surprise for a busy friend, take it to the park, make it minutes before dinner and add some quick green to your meal.
Even though this is an easy dish, many hands make light work, right? This is one that the four year old likes to help make. (In the photo, he is helping by snipping the leftover kale stems, which he’ll take out to the chickens for a treat.)
one bunch kale
a dash of apple cider vinegar
a drizzle of olive oil
two sprinkles of kosher salt
one grind of pepper
any raw veg that you may have: grated carrots or radishes are especially nice
optional: chickpeas fried in olive oil
- Tear kale leaves from the stems. Chop the leaves roughly and place in a large bowl.
- Pour vinegar and oil over kale. Sprinkle with salt. Now, massage those leaves! (This is a great job for a kid!) Squeeze and rub the leaves until they are broken down and soft.
- Add the veg on top and….done!!
- To add protein to this dish, go ahead and saute some chickpeas. Use freshly cooked or canned. Rinse and then dry on a kitchen towel. Next, on medium heat in a large skillet, toss olive oil and chickpeas. Stir often until the chickpeas are brown on all sides. If you’re using them in this salad, do not salt. (If you’re making them for a separate snack, I’d recommend fine salt sprinkled on after cooking.)
- I learned the trick of massaging kale from this recipe.
- A crinkle cutter makes a wonderful chopping tool for a small child. It’s easy to use, fun, and begins to teach about being aware of knives in a safe manner. This is the same brand as the one we use, which I picked up at a Montessori conference.
This cauliflower hazelnut hand pie is a perfect vegetarian entree to prepare ahead of time for a picnic. If you’ve got a bag of these in your freezer, you’ll be ready for that unexpected, sunny, and carefree day!
Cauliflower is plentiful at the market now. We got a beautiful, reasonably priced bag of it from Persephone Farm last week. I turned the first bit into this interesting soup and still had a lot left over. I love these little hand pies for quick, eat it on the go fare. Paired with hazelnuts from Holmquist, this makes good use of our local ingredients that are ready right now.
Makes 16 4-inch hand pies
1 pound cauliflower
2 handfuls of whole hazelnuts
1 clove garlic
grated zest from half of a lemon
3 oz. spunky, dry white cheese (I used Beecher’s white cheddar – yum)
olive oil, salt, pepper
2-3 tbls. cream to finish dough
3 3/4 c. AP
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbls. sugar
12 tbls. butter
3/4- 1 c. buttermilk
- Wash cauliflower and trim stem. Cut florets into equally-sized pieces. Toss on baking sheet with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 375F for 10 minutes, stirring once during that time.
- Add hazelnuts to baking sheet and bake with the cauliflower for 2 more minutes.
- Set aside to cool.
- To complete filling, you’ll use the food processor. Try this sequence to get everything to the right texture:
-Add garlic clove and whole nuts. Run until fine. Empty in bowl.
-Add cheese. Pulse until crumbly.
-Add cauliflower to cheese. Pulse about 6 more times. Empty into bowl.
- In the bowl with the cauliflower mixture, add zest, 1 tsp. of salt, and a dash of pepper to filling. Stir.
- Using a food processor, prepare the dough. Add the dry ingredients into the bowl. Cut butter into cubes and pulse with dry ingredients until roughly blended. Slowly pour buttermilk through top. Turn this mixture out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Squish together and flatten into disc. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes or as long as you like.
- Roll dough out thinly. Using a glass (or crumpet ring), cut circles that are about 4 inches.
- Scoop 1/4 c. filling for each hand pie. (I found it helpful to lay one circle on the measuring cup and flip the filling over onto it.)
- Place the second circle on top of the filling and pinch around the edge completely.
- Bake at 375F for 30 minutes.
- If you’re going to freeze them, underbake by about 5 minutes.
- When ready to remove from freezer, bake at 375F for a few minutes until brown. Serve at room temperature or warm.