Archive for October, 2011

From Dish Danielle:

As the resident Whisk & Ladle sweet tooth, it’s up to me to head up our “Dessert R&D” department. This past weekend, I got to work tweaking the best darn chewy oatmeal cookie recipe I’ve come across. Tough job, this self-appointed position…ahem.

I’ve long been a fan of oatmeal cookies in the fall. Something about the leaves changing colors makes me yearn for that caramel-y brown sugar flavor and the dried fruit and nut varieties. I’ve made this cookie recipe at least 6 times since the school year began (this is no exaggeration), and they’re simply the BEST. Since Mom’s in town for a visit we decided to get to work on some mother/daughter bonding/baking time, and she was on the same page with an oatmeal cookie craving (the apple doesn’t fall far…?). Since I had some leftover pumpkin ice cream from last weeks’ R&D fieldwork, I thought there was no better fall ice cream sandwich rendition. And no — it’s never, ever too cold for ice cream sandwiches.

For the cookies: (recipe adapted from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion)

½ c butter, softened to room temp
½ c shortening
½ c sugar
1 c brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 large egg
6 tbsp agave nectar
2 tbsp whole milk
3 c oats
1½ c flour
1 c assorted dried fruit (I used a mix of blueberries, cranberries & golden raisins)
1 c salted pecans

Preheat oven to 375. In large bowl, cream butter, shortening, sugars, vanilla, spices, salt, and baking soda together. Beat in egg, then beat in agave and milk, scraping bowl as needed. Stir in oats, flour, raisins, nuts.

Grease a few baking sheets. Drop dough by tablespoonful to yield about 50 killer cookies. Bake for about 11 minutes or until a light golden brown.

If so inclined, make pumpkin ice cream for ice cream sandwiches:

Bring 2c milk & 2c cream to low boil in med. saucepan (don’t allow it to get so hot that it’s rolling; just shy of that). In small bowl, whisk together 5 egg yolks, 1-1½c of sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1½-2c pureed pumpkin. Temper yolks by filling a liquid measuring cup with 1c of hot milk/cream and pour in slow/steady stream into yolk mixture WHILE whisking briskly. Once incorporated, pour tempered yolks into the saucepan while stirring with wooden spoon. Continue to stir until custard thickens. It will become noticeably thicker and will coat the back of wooden spoon. Remove from heat and chill in an ice bath (a large bowl of ice & water with a smaller bowl sitting inside) pour hot custard through a strainer into smaller bowl and stir to reduce temp. Chill in fridge for 3hrs or overnight, then run in ice cream maker for 20-25mins.

Once your ice cream is done you can easily throw together a platter of autumnal ice cream sandwiches! Make ahead of time and freeze in an airtight container before serving.

Trick out your treats, and have a happy Halloween!

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From Dish Gwen:

To be honest I’m not a big smoothie person. I’ve always kind of associated them with people who wear bike shorts and wake up early on the weekend to go for a 5 mile run. I’m not one of those people, so I thought smoothies weren’t for me. But then I spent the weekend at a friend’s house in DC about a year ago and everything changed.

My friend – let’s call her Kate (because that’s really her name) – blew my mind halfway through making our breakfast smoothie when she pulled out a jar of peanut butter and scooped a generous portion of the gooey stuff into a blender filled with yogurt and raspberries. I thought she was nuts and that this was going to be a rather nasty breakfast, but I was wrong. Dead wrong.

It was delicious! Adding peanut butter (or any nut butter) to your smoothie brings creaminess and rich texture, and even a little saltiness which I really enjoy. When I returned to NYC from my trip to Kate’s house I immediately purchased a blender and started adding almond butter and frozen berries to my regular shopping list. I’ll make myself a smoothie for breakfast at least a few times a week and it’s a great way to start the day. Plus it’s quick and easy to make (the key is to rinse out the blender immediately so you’re not scrubbing crusty dried yogurt out of it later on when you get home from work).

No bike shorts required.

1/2 cup fresh cranberries (can be substituted for any berries — fresh or frozen)
1 cup plain yogurt
½ cup milk
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup (the real stuff!)
2 tablespoons almond butter
1 ripe banana

This is the hard part: put them all in the blender, and push “go”. I have a “smoothie” button on my blender but I’m pretty sure any of the buttons on the machine would do the trick. Just make sure you blend it long enough to chop the cranberries finely.

Pour and drink! And check your teeth before you leave the house – you’ve likely got some berry bits stuck in there.

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From Dish Erin:

My husband makes fun of me all the time for my obsession with figs. Fresh, dried, reconstituted, I seriously heart figs.  Dates and prunes, too.  All three of which remind Dave of ‘old people’ food, prompting him to ask me, as I’m elbow deep in a bowl of dates and figs, “Who are you, my grandfather?!”

So imagine his trepidation when he came home after a long day of work to find me prepping a dinner made with figs. Never one to doubt his fearless chef who rarely disappoints in the kitchen, he gave it a shot. Afterward he told me it was one of the best dishes I’ve ever made. I think it was such a hit because it’s sweet and figgy enough to please a fig lover like me, but subtle enough not to be overpowering for a fig-novice like Dave. 

I served this with some rainbow chard.  To prepare, wash thoroughly and roughly chop, discarding of woody stems, then follow directions below.

Olive oil for sautéing 
Zest of 1 lemon, plus 2 tablespoons of juice 
1 medium shallot, slice
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
4 dried figs, cut into thin slices 
Two 1 1/4-inch-thick boneless pork loin chops 
1/3 chicken stock 
2 tablespoons one of the following: dry white wine, sherry or apple cider vinegar (I used sherry vinegar but white wine would be great, as would apple cider vinegar) 
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon of fig jam (omit if you don’t have, it’s not a deal-breaker) 
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper. In a skillet heat oil over moderately high heat, until hot but not smoking, sauté pork until browned, about 1 minute on each side. Transfer pork to a plate and in fat remaining in skillet cook shallot, garlic and ginger, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Deglaze the pan with the wine or vinegar and stir.  Add the chicken stock, lemon zest, lemon juice, and figs and stir.

Nestle the pork back into the pan and simmer, covered, 10 minutes, or until pork is just cooked through.

While this is cooking, heat a bit of olive oil, minced garlic and red pepper flakes over medium heat. Add rainbow chard and cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring every few minutes.  If the pan is dry you can add a tablespoon of water to help steam it. Season with salt & pepper to taste.  Cover to keep warm until pork is done.

Transfer pork to 2 plates. Allow sauce to thicken, uncovered, until reduced to a sauce-like consistency, about 1 minute. Whisk butter into fig mixture until incorporated.

Serve aside the rainbow chard with some crusty bread to mop up that buttery-sweet-zesty sauce.

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