Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Snail Noodles

Because it's true (kinda, maybe) - the name "snickerdoodle", according to the mighty Wikipedia, may come from the German word Schneckennudeln, which means "snail noodles".  Gross, yet awesome.

This is going to be a short and sweet post, just to share a nice recipe for basic, no frills, completely delicious snickerdoodles.  Not super exotic or complicated, nor do they claim to be.  They were the perfect cookie to bake this weekend for several occasions (Lost finale party, BFF getting giant leg tattoo and possibly requiring emergency blood sugar boost, etc)  

I've been kind of busy (graduating from my master's program, woo-hoo!) so I apologize for the dearth of posts lately.  I know I'm probably not changing your life with this one, but these cookies are simple and good.  I just ate one, in fact.

by Martha Stewart, and followed to the letter

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set mixture aside.  Put butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar in bowl of electric mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment.  Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes (it really does take just about this long). 

Mix in eggs.  Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture.  Stir together cinnamon and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar (you may need a bit more sugar than this, keep some handy) in a small bowl.

Shape dough into 1 3/4 inch balls - roll in cinnamon/sugar mixture.  Space 3 inches apart (or a bit less, about 12 per sheet) and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment.  Bake cookies until edges are golden, about 12-15 minutes (I baked mine about 14.  They were not ready at 12 but I think I might have liked them even better at 13?)  Let cool on wire racks and enjoy.

Makes 36-ish cookies.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Profiteroles think they're so fancy.

Oh hey profiteroles, I didn't notice you there...which is funny, because you're staring right at me in all your buttery savory-sweet goodness, judging me.  I guess you think you're pretty awesome huh?  With your European-sounding name, and your predilection towards being accompanied by an entourage of fabulous creams and warm sugary sauces...served all over the world in fine restaurants and bakeries.  Ooooh, I'm so special and complex that you could never make me.  That's what you're thinking.  Well you know what, jerk?  You're wrong because I've totally done it.  And it definitely was NOT hard at all.  

Keep giving me the eye like that and I'll tell them all your secrets, profiteroles.  Oh, I'll do it.  Like that you began life as an unappetizing blob of greasy paste cooked on the stove top in a humble pot, that gets even grosser looking with the addition of eggs?  You think you can hide that with your just barely browned adorable final appearance, but don't deny your roots profiteroles.  We all know how you started now, and it's not pretty, even if it's called pate a choux.

In short profiteroles, stop judging.  Seriously.  I totally made you, and now everyone reading can too. You're not that fancy.  So drop the act.  Pfff...

...okay, fine. I love you and you are SO DELICIOUS.

from Michael Ruhlman's Ratio
makes about 24

8 ounces water
4 ounces butter (1 stick)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
4 ounces flour (a scant cup)
8 ounces eggs (4 large eggs)

Preheat oven to 425˚F.

Bring water, butter, sugar and salt to a boil over high heat in a medium to small sized sauce pan.  Reduce heat to medium and add flour.  Stir rapidly for about a minute or two, until dough is pulling away from the sides of the pan. (Michael notes that this helps the flour to cook and gets rid of some of the water.)

Remove the pan from heat and let it cool for about 5 minutes (the paste still needs to be hot for the next step, but be sure to let it rest).  Add eggs to pan one at a time, stirring rapidly until combined with the paste. (Michael also very helpfully notes here that it seems at first like the dough won't accept the eggs, but don't worry, it will.  The paste will become flat rather than shiny and slippery, when the eggs are fully incorporated.

On parchment lined baking sheets, spoon out golf ball sized portions of the paste.  Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350˚F and continue to bake for 15-20 minutes (mine took about 18), until lightly browned and cooked through.

Let cool on racks and serve as soon as possible - these simple yet exquisite treats are really best texture-wise the first day you bake them.  Slice in half horizontally and serve filled with ice cream, pastry cream, pudding, whatever, and topped with your favorite sweet sauce!

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Whew!  It's been a hectic week but I wanted to share a great, simple and springy recipe with you.  I got it from cooking guru Heidi Swanson's 101 Cookbooks blog, which honestly may be what ever turned me on to food blogging in the first place.  Thanks Heidi!

Heidi's recipes always inspire me to be nice to my body by eating foods that are whole, unprocessed and natural, and basically just really amazingly good for me.  Her book Super Natural Cooking is prominent on my shelf, always reminding me that it doesn't have to be steak, butter or cupcakes to be delicious.

Keeping that in mind, you might be surprised to learn that I try at least once a week to be vegetarian...vegan even.  I used to be a full time veg actually, back in college, but being married to a carnivore has lead me significantly astray.  I honestly can't deny though, how great it feels now on those days that I cut out meat and other animal products.

Anyway, this is a great miso noodle recipe that I adapted only slightly from 101 Cookbooks - I enjoy it on my pseudo-veggie-sometimes-even-vegan days.  The toasted walnuts and flavorful miso come together with honey and garlic to make a hearty and complex dressing, while the asparagus and fresh chives (from my garden!) add crunch depth to the bowl of whole wheat noodles.  Even my pet t.rex likes it.

Walnut Miso Noodles
altered ever so slightly from Heidi Swanson's 101 Cookbooks
serves 1-2

4 ounces whole wheat spaghetti, linguini or soba
1 small bunch of asparagus, sliced thinly, about 1/4 inch think (I tried this with white and would honestly stick to green)

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup good olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons mellow white miso paste
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
salt to taste
1/4 cup warm water (or more, but start with that)

Toppings: small bunch chives, chopped, more toasted walnuts, crumbled...Heidi also suggests topping this dish with lightly sauteed chard, or scallions.

Boil a large pot of water, adding a pinch or two of salt.  Cook pasta per package directions until al dente.  About 10 or so seconds before you're ready to drain the pasta, add the chopped asparagus to the pot.  Drain.

While water is boiling and pasta is cooking, puree toasted walnuts, oil, garlic, miso, vinegar and honey in a food processor until smooth.  Add the warm water a bit at a time and puree until a creamy texture is achieved.  Add salt to taste (if you think it needs it - I did not.)

Toss as much dressing as you'd like with warm noodles and asparagus.  Top with chives and crumbled toasted walnuts, or any of the other suggested toppings.  

If you have leftover dressing, it's great tossed with other cooked veggies, on a salad, or on a sandwich!