Salty Chocolate Thumbprints

From my February 2012 Newsletter

  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup plus 2 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup chocolate-hazelnut spread (Nutella)

Preheat the oven at 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa and salt in a small bowl.

Combine the butter, ½ cup plus 2 ½ tablespoons of the sugar. Beat with a mixer for about two minutes on low speed. Then add the egg yolk, cream and vanilla and beat on low until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.

Place the remaining ½ cup of sugar in a shallow bowl.

Scoop 15-18 heaping tablespoons of dough onto the baking sheet. Shape each mound into a ball, then roll each in the remaining sugar to coat. Space the balls 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Use your thumb to make an indentation on top of each ball, flattening the cookie as you go.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are just set. The tops of the cookies will remain soft. If the indentations have lost their definition, press the centers again immediately after you remove the baking sheet from the oven.

Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool. Spoon the chocolate-hazelnut spread into the center of each cookie while they’re still slightly warm.

Let the centers set and the cookies cool completely before serving or storing. Even though I love warm cookies, these tasted much better once they’d cooled. They’ll last one week in an airtight container or one month in the freezer. But I’m betting they’ll be all gone before either of those deadlines .

Share with someone you love.

Candied Nut Spread

From my December 2011 Newsletter

  • 1 cup Neufchatel cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup candied nuts, chopped—pecans or walnuts work well

Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Serve with graham cracker sticks or crispy wheat crackers.

Apple-Cranberry Crumble

From my November 2011 Newsletter

Here’s a new recipe that creates a link between spring, fall and the holidays—an apple-cranberry crumble with a maple twist.

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • ½ cup maple sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple or cranberry juice

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Spray an 8 X 8 pan with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, then add the apple slices and cranberries. Mix and turn into prepared pan.

In a medium bowl, combine the oats, maple sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, mix the oil and juice. Add the juice mixture to the oat mixture and stir until crumbly. Sprinkle over the apple and cranberries.

Bake for 35 minutes until bubbly and starting to brown. Serve warm or chilled.

Let the sweet-tart aroma invite company to join you at the supper table.

Ella’s Banana Scuffins

hiddenlegacy_coverFrom Hidden Legacy

A scuffin is a cross between a muffin and a scone. They’re not quite as fluffy as muffins or quite as dense as scones, but have a crumbly texture that’s quite addictive.

  • 1 ½ cups whole-wheat white flour
  • 1 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 tbsps. raw sugar
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ cup chopped dates
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 egg whites
  • 3 tbsps. coconut oil, melted
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/3 cup low-fat milk
  • cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400º F. In a large bowl, mix flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Stir in chopped dates and nuts.

In a small bowl, mash banana. Whisk in egg whites, coconut oil and milk. Add to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. The texture should feel thicker than muffins, but not as doughy as scones. Adjust milk accordingly (the amount of milk depends on the size of the banana).

Spray muffin tin with cooking spray. Divide batter among eight muffin cups. Bake until golden and a toothpick comes out clean—about 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before turning over on a wire rack to finish cooling.

Sunday Scones

From my May 2011 newsletter

I like recipes that allow the freedom to give them a different flavor every time I make them. With all that butter, these scones aren’t especially healthy, but they’re perfect for a special occasion.

  • 1 ¾ cups whole-wheat white flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons raw sugar
  • 1 stick butter (4 oz.)
  • ¾ cups plain low-fat yogurt
  • ½ cup raisins

Preheat the over to 425° F. Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar together in the bowl of a food processor. Give it a few whirls to mix. Add butter in chunks. Mix until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Add raisins.

Create a well in the center of the mixture and add the yogurt. Mix thoroughly until you get a thick, but not sticky dough.

Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

Roll out the dough into a 9-inch circle on a floured surface to about ½-inch thick. Cut into eight slices and place on cookie sheet. Brush with a little more yogurt and sprinkle with a bit more of the raw sugar for a nice crunch.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until browned.

Here comes the fun part. Instead of raisins, try one of the following combinations—replace the raisins with:

– ¼ cup dried cherries + ¼ cup dark chocolate chips (my favorite!)
– ½ cup chopped dried apricots + 1 tablespoon of chopped candied ginger
– ½ cup cinnamon or butterscotch chips (kids’ favorite)
– ½ cup dried cranberries + 1 teaspoon orange zest
– ½ cup dried blueberries + 1 teaspoon lemon zest

The only limit is your imagination.

Sylvie’s Tourtiere

From my December 2010 Newsletter

Christmas, more than any other holiday, seems to stir memories with its scents. The smell of briny seawater in the kitchen brings pictures of my grandfather shucking oysters on Christmas Eve. The scent of browning flour and chopped onions remind me of the production line of making meatballs for the ragoût. Then there’s the chocolate of the bûche, the honeyed syrup of the St. Honoré, and the incense of midnight mass that all remind me of my grandmother. She would lay out massive tables for all the invited guests to feast after midnight mass. Here’s my take on the traditional tourtière.

  • 1 ¼ pounds of lean ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon ground sage
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 small or 1 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
  • pastry for a double-crust 9-inch pie

Preheat oven to 425 F. In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm half the olive oil, then add the turkey, breaking up the meat, until the meat is no longer pink. Remove from pan.

In the same pan, add the last of the olive oil and sauté the onions, garlic and potatoes until the onions are soft (the potatoes will continue to bake in the oven). Add the meat back to the mixture and blend.

Line the pie pan with half the pastry, fill with the meat filling, then top with the remaining crust, crimping the edges together. With a sharp knife, add a couple of vent holes.

Bake 30-35 minutes, until the crust is brown. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with green beans and a beet salad.

Leek and Potato Soup

From my October 2010 Newsletter

With fall comes the bright red, yellow, and orange of sugar maple, oak, and birch leaves changing, along with frost warnings and brisker air. Nothing feels better on a cold, dark evening than warm soup, hot chili, or a piping casserole. Comfort food that makes the season all that much more enjoyable.

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 small leeks, white parts thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 apple, cored and diced
  • 4-5 potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2-3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh chives, chopped

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high. Add the leeks and sauté until limp, about 2-3 minutes. Add the cumin, ginger, and paprika, then sauté another minute.

Add the apple and potatoes and sauté 1 minute. Add the broth (enough to cover half the potatoes) and the milk, then bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes.

Transfer the soup to a blender and blend until smooth. Return the soup to the saucepan. I like the soup a little lumpy, so I use an immersion blender and leave a few chunks of potatoes. If you find the soup is too thick, you can thin it with extra vegetable broth. Season to taste. Garnish with chopped chives.

It takes about 30 minutes from start to finish and makes 4 servings. Serve with some warm whole-grain bread and a salad and you have a whole, satisfying meal in no time.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies

From my February 2010 Newsletter

Cherries and dark chocolate offer antioxidants, oats fiber, black walnuts good fats, and the cinnamon has blood sugar-regulating properties. Almost good-for-you cookies :).

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • ½ cup chopped black walnuts
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ cup milk

Heat over to 375 F. Cream butter and sugars together. Add applesauce and vanilla and beat until well blended.

In a bowl, combine flour, oats, cherries, chocolate chips, walnuts, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Add to the butter mixture along with the milk, stirring until blended.

Put tablespoon-size mounds of dough about 3 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Flatten the mounds a bit. Bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Cool for a minute on the sheet before transferring to a rack to finish cooling. Store in a tightly covered container at room temperature.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Dark Chocolate Lava Cakes

From my February 2009 Newsletter

Here’s a fast treat that’s sure to impress a date. You can make these confections ahead of time, then stick them into the oven as you finish dinner. (Yeah, so much for low fat and sugar :))

  • 1 1/3 cups of dark chocolate chips
  • 5 tbsp. butter
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. cocoa nibs* (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter six 3/4-cup size ramekins (or 7 muffin cups)

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat chocolate and butter on medium power 1-2 minutes until butter melts. Stir, reheating if necessary to melt chocolate. Set aside. Stir egg yolks and 2 tbsp. sugar into chocolate-butter mixture. Add cocoa nibs, if using.

Place egg whites in a large mixing bowl; beat until foamy. Combine remaining 2 tbsp. sugar and cocoa powder; gradually beat into whites, until soft peaks fold over when you lift the beaters.

Stir in 1/3 of chocolate-butter mixture into whites mixture. Gently fold in remaining chocolate mixture until completely combined. Divide evenly between cups.

You can cover the ramekins at this point and refrigerate up to 24 hours before baking.

Bake 10-12 minutes (14-16 minutes, if refrigerated) until puffy and cracks form on top. Edges should be firm and center moist between the cracks. Cool 3 minutes. Run knife around edges and invert cakes onto dessert plates. Serve hot with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. For a gourmet flair, dust with cocoa powder.

* Cocoa nibs are roasted, unprocessed, crushed whole cocoa beans. They’re crunchy and full of polyphenols and OEA, a special fat that helps you burn fat.

Noah’s Orzo-Rice Pilaf

honorofahunter_coverFrom Honor of a Hunter

  • 4 tablespoons butter or olive oil (I use a mixture of half butter and half oil)
  • 1 cup orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 1 cup regular long-grain rice
  • 4 cups broth of choice (beef, chicken, vegetable, depending on main course)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives

In a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add orzo. Cook until golden, stirring often, about 10 minutes.

Add rice, broth and chives. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and orzo and rice are tender.

Makes about 8 side servings.