Brace yourselves, Internet. I’ve found a cookie recipe so simple that even I, perennial great-chef-bad-baker, have managed to produce a chewy, perfect cookie. Ever since the Great Cornbread Disaster of 2007 where I tried my hand at “fluffy” cornbread only to produce cardboard-like tack, I’d doubted myself when it came to anything flour-based. These cookies gave me my groove back.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl. Beat butter and sugars until pale and fluffy. Mix in egg and vanilla, then flour mixture. Mix in oats, then raisins.
2. Using a tablespoon, scoop 1 tablespoon of dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing each scoop about 2 inches apart. Bake until edges are golden, about 15 minutes. Let cookies cool on a wire rack.
It turns out I may be developing a sweet tooth after all. Cake and tarts and most pastries still do nothing for me, but these chocolatey frozen bananas are just right. Crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside, they keep well for when a craving strikes. Plus, bananas are full of potassium, so these are kind of healthy, right?
1. Stir chocolate and oil in heavy small saucepan over low heat just until smooth. Let stand 15 minutes to cool.
2. Place each topping in separate shallow dish. Line baking sheet with foil. Arrange banana slices on foil. Using fingers, dip 1 banana slice in chocolate, coating completely. Shake off excess chocolate. Drop dipped banana in 1 topping. Using clean hand, sprinkle more topping over banana to coat; transfer to foil-lined sheet. Repeat with remaining bananas, chocolate, and toppings. Freeze until firm, about 3 hours, then serve.
Happy Norooz! Last week ushered in the two week-long Iranian new year, a time for celebration, time spent around loved ones, and sweets. Lots of sweets. Most Iranian sweets are too strong for my taste, but I can never say no to sholeh zard. Traditionally prepared as alms during religious festivals in Iran, this dish takes me back to my (Californian) childhood. Whenever a holiday rolled around, my mom and family friends would spend an afternoon making huge pots of the fragrant, rosewater-flecked rice pudding. They would garnish the finished dish with beautiful Persian calligraphy using cinnamon.
I’ve since learned to make sholeh zard on my own, though my calligraphy skills are sorely lacking. This rich dessert is otherwise easy to make, but requires some attention. Just remember to check the pot frequently. You want your finished dish to have a thin pudding-like consistency, as it’ll thicken when it cools down.
1 cup basmati rice
7 cups or more water
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup unsalted slivered almonds
1/2 teaspoon ground saffron dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup rosewater
1. Clean and wash the rice, changing the water several times. Drain.
2. Combine the rice with 4 cups of water in a large pot and bring to a boil, skimming the foam as it rises. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes over medium heat until the rice is soft.
3. Add 3 more cups of warm water and sugar, cook for 25 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the butter, almonds, saffron water, cardamom, and rosewater. Mix well. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Remove the cover and cook over low heat, uncovered, for another 20 minutes or until the mixture is cooked and has thickened to a pudding.
4. Spoon the pudding into individual serving dishes or a large bowl. Decorate with cinnamon, almonds, and pistachios. Serve the pudding cold or room temperature.
The first time I cooked with tapioca pearls a few years ago, I ended up with a giant mess. I was trying to recreate boba tea, and I overcooked the small, translucent spheres and the whole thing dissolved into a gelatinous blob that adhered itself to the pot. After that experience, I stayed away from tapioca pearls – until now.
When I came across this recipe for a cool, tropical tapioca pudding first published in Sunset Magazine, and by the Bay Area’s very own Tim Luym, no less, I knew I had to give tapioca a second chance. Luym is the former executive chef of Poleng Lounge, a fun, street-food centered Filipino restaurant that’s no longer around, but I’d met Luym at an Anthony Bourdain book release a few years ago and his super friendly vibe and his amazing use of Southeast Asian flavors made an impression on me.
But I digress. Back to the tapioca. Thankfully, this dish turned out to be really easy to make. Just keep an eye on the tapioca pearls as they boil and take care not to overcook them. Use small, white pearls, not the larger, dark ones that you typically see in boba tea. I topped this pudding with toasted coconut, mango, and grass jelly, but lychees, kiwi, or pineapple will work just as well.
1/3 cup small pearl tapioca
1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes
1 mango, chopped
1/3 can grass jelly, drained and chopped
1. In a saucepan, cook tapioca in 2 quarts boiling water until only slightly chewy to the bite, 5 to 8 minutes. Pour through a fine strainer.
2. Meanwhile, in another saucepan over medium heat, warm the coconut milk, milk, sugar, and vanilla, until steaming, 6 to 8 minutes.
3. Stir drained tapioca into vanilla mixture. Cook, stirring often, until tapioca pearls are clear and just tender, 3 to 6 minutes.
4. Let pudding cool, then chill, stirring occasionally, at least 1 1/4 hours. Stir in more milk if pudding seems too thick.
5. Spoon pudding into glasses or small bowls. Top with toasted coconut and fresh fruit.
i don’t make desserts often, partially because i don’t have much of a sweet tooth and partially because i usually second guess my method if i’m baking. but every once in a while, i stumble across a recipe that instantly becomes a favorite, one of those i know i’ll turn back to time and time again. crepes with carmelized apples, rum sauce, and vanilla ice cream is one of those:
spaghetti with scallops, white wine and chile-butter sauce
steamed asparagus with anchovy butter
calamari, papaya and cashew salad
here’s the recipe for the crepes:
1 cup milk
5 T dark rum
6 T butter
1 T sugar
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 c flour
3 lbs medium golden delicious apples, peeled, quartered, each quarter cut into 3 wedges
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup apple juice
2 T lemon juice
1 t grated lemon peel
vanilla ice cream
1. mix eggs, milk, 2 tablespoons of the rum, 2 tablespoons of the butter, sugar, salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a blender until smooth. add flour in 2 additions, blending until smooth after each and scraping down sides of the container. let batter stand at room temperature for an hour.
2. heat nonstick skillet with 7-inch diameter bottom over medium-high heat. brush with melted butter. pour in 3 tablespoonfuls of crepe batter, rotating and shaking pan so batter covers bottom evenly. cook crepe until golden on bottom, about 45 seconds. turn crepe over and cook until light brown in spots, about 30 seconds. turn crepe out onto paper towel. repeat with remaining batter, brushing pan with butter before making each crepe.
3. melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in large skillet over high heat. add apples, saute until deep golden and tender, tossing often, about 15 minutes. add sugar, apple juice, lemon juice, lemon peel, and remaining 1 teaspoon cinamon. simmer until juices thicken and apples are very tender, turning with spatula, about 3 minutes. remove from heat.
4. butter large ovenproof rimmed platter. arrange crepes on work surface and spoon apples into center of crepes, dividing equally and leaving sauce in skillet. fold 1 side of crepes over filling; roll up, enclosing filling. arrange on platter, seam side down. stir ru into sauce in skillet. bring to boil, stirring.
5. preheat oven to 350F. spoon sauce over crepes. bake until warm, about 10 minutes. serve with ice cream.