Category Archives: Food

The Encookening

Blame the pandemic or blame the Great British Bake Off, but as the pandemic wore on and I found myself at loose ends, I started to bake. And bake. And bake. I may have now baked my bodyweight in butter. I wanted to create a catalog/record in a single place of the things I’ve made and also links to recipes, should you so desire to try one (or many) of the recipes.

I will, however, try to organize a little bit by type of cookie, since I am a taxonomist.

Roll Cookies

Unfussy Sugar Cookies

Unfussy Sugar Cookie

Unfussy Sugar Cookie

I used both a classic Royal icing recipe with egg white as well as a vegan one, with aquafaba (bean water). The red design has egg, the blue does not.

Gingerbread tiles with rum butter glaze

Gingerbread tile with rum butter glaze

If you like a cookie with A LOT of flavor, this cookie IS FOR YOU (and me). Super.

Drop Cookies

Brown butter toffee chocolate chip cookies

Brown butter toffee chocolate chip cookies

I decided to make my own toffee for this recipe, and you can find the toffee recipe linked further down this page. Keep this in your back pocket for another one that will impress your friends.

Chewy Ginger Rye cookies

Chewy ginger rye cookie

These were a big hit with the fans of molasses ginger cookies.

Tahini, orange and chocolate chip cookies

Orange, tahini, chocolate chip cookies

I asked a while back on Twitter for recommendations of cookies that people bring out to WOW their friends. This was one that showed up and did not disappoint. Very interesting, with a nice light bite that then turns a little gooey.

Freezer Cookies

Korova cookies

Korova Cookie

A rich, chocolately shortbread style cookie, studded with chocolate chunks.

Marbled tahini cookies

Marbled tahini shortbread

I thought these looked really cool but didn’t taste like much. I am planning another go-round with some added flavor.

Pistachio pinwheels

Pistachio pinwheel

a subtle cookie, mostly like a sugar cookie

Salted chocolate chunk shortbread

Salted chocolate chunk shortbread

Alison Roman’s THE COOKIE – this is rich, dense, salty, sweet, crunchy – satisfies me on pretty much every level. I pretty much always have a log (or 3) in the freezer to bake up as I want.

Filled and Sandwich Cookies

Rugelach

Rugelach

I have been baking these for YEARS. A perennial fave. Also great because you can do these in steps, and freeze the dough, logs, and cookies.

Baci di dama

Baci di dama

I am on the hunt for a strong chocolate hazelnut cookie. This had the right ratio of hazelnut to chocolate, but the cookie wasn’t quite the texture I was looking for. It is gluten-free, so that’s a bonus for those of you looking.

Bakery Style Butter Cookies

Butter cookies

This was one of the first recipes I tried. I actually made them a second time because I wanted to see if I could improve on the first batch. Happy to say I did! I used a cookie press rather than pipe the dough and it worked great. The recipe says to make the sandwich and then dip in chocolate and decorate with nuts or sprinkles (as you can see), but I found I liked them better when I just put chocolate and jam inside the sandwich (also displayed above).

Chocolate peanut butter cup cookies

Chocolate peanut butter cup cookie

I just made these and they are THE BOMB. Have also compelled several friends to make them. Just do it, as that ad campaign would say.

Spiced brown butter Linzer cookies

Spiced brown butter Linzer cookies

If you are looking for ONE COOKIE to impress, this is it. A couple of notes: use whatever jam you like. I tried it with currant (as the recipe calls for) and found I liked raspberry better. Also the dough is incredibly crumbly and difficult to work – add water, a tablespoon at a time, until it comes together and you will stop cursing. Additionally this was my first foray into brown butter and now I AM OBSESSED.

Vegan macarons: filled with either vegan ganache or vegan lemon curd!

Macarons

Macarons, what can I say? If you love ’em, you love ’em.

Biscotti

Double-almond biscotti

Double almond biscotti with chocolate drizzle

The recipe does not call for chocolate, but I think everything is better with chocolate. So I drizzled.

Fig and walnut biscotti

Fig and walnut biscotti

These ended up being my favorite. The crunches from the figs are super and the walnut gives it a nice fragrance. I suppose you could try a different nut if you don’t like walnuts.

Chocolate hazelnut biscotti

Chocolate hazelnut biscotti

These were just ok in my book. I did not break a tooth.

Candy

Sea salt vanilla caramels – as you can see, I covered mine with chocolate

Chocolate covered salt caramel

Toffee

I’m sorry I don’t have any good pictures to share of the toffee. It’s not the most photogenic.

Chocolate filled with boozy spiced ganache

I have some candy molds that I just coat with melted chocolate, let the chocolate cool, then fill with a flavored ganache. Ganache recipe as follows:

6 oz chocolate
3 oz coconut milk/cream
2 Tbl Cointreau
Pinch or two of salt
Shake of cayenne

Melt the chocolate in the coconut milk, add the Cointreau and spices to your taste. You can make the chocolate as dark as you like. I often use half 72% and half 100% chocolate.

Chocolate lips

Spicy chocolate skulls

Savory(ish)

Parmesan cream crackers

Parmesan Cream Cracker

She says these are like Cheez-Its and my friends, she does not lie. They are amazeballs. Also I had made some olivada/tapenade and the crackers were otherworldly topped with the olive spread. But you can just pop them in your mouth too.

Croccantini (I think I tried this recipe)

Cream Scones

Cream scone

Just made these as well and they were super. I did end up baking them about 5 minutes longer than the recipe said, but I think I didn’t make the dough thin/flat enough. Also they toast up well. They made my tea taste that much butter.

Tune in next month when I shall have more cookie updates (and possibly a few other treats).

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Slow Steep

I left my notebook with my notes on the last panel from Geek Girl Con at home, so I asked if anyone on Twitter had any topics they wanted to hear me riff on. The lovely Brenna Layne, who has been doing a #HereBeDragons run of late, asked me to write about tea.

My first response was, ME? Write about tea? But I know noooothing. I mean, what about Lauren? She’s so much more knowledgeable. Or all these other people I follow on Twitter. Or the people at Smith Teas. Or Remedy. Or or or …

So I’m going to stop quailing and tell you a few things about me and tea. I am at least an expert on that.

Fudouin in Koya-san - tea service

Brenna asked me how I got into tea. Now I have to dig into the archives. Like many decisions I’ve made, it started as a negative: I didn’t like coffee. I couldn’t tolerate caffeine. But I went to college in the Frozen North (otherwise known as Ohio, just west of Cleveland). It was cold. Oh so cold. And I started drinking tea to stay warm. I think the inside of my lower lip was permanently scalded from about November to March. Bigelow Tea bags. The lemon flavored one. That was my tea of choice. Hot, flavored water.

After college I moved to Seattle, The Land of Coffee Drinkers. The birthplace of Starbucks. I even applied for a job there, as a barista, but didn’t get very far when they found out I didn’t like coffee. Think of how much I would have saved the company in the drinks I wouldn’t consume!

So for the last twenty years or so I’ve been an erstwhile tea drinker. I had a basket for loose leaves, but I never paid attention to the water temperature or really much about the leaves, other than that they were loose.

All that changed a few years ago when I met my friend Lauren Hall-Stigerts. Lauren and I met at this time of year, at an unconference. We immediately bonded over many things, one of them being tea. Lauren loves the greens. I keep trying them, like some people do with certain vegetables, but for the most part, they leave me cold. My impression from hanging out with the tea people I know is that greens and oolongs and pu-ers are the prized teas. There’s not much noise made about blacks or whites.

Somewhere in this period I had some tea from Smith Teas. In many ways I feel like I have an undistinguished palate, but Oh. My. God. This was TEA. I mean, when I sipped my first cup from them, I tasted something. It wasn’t just flavored water. There was so much more going on. This was their bagged tea, and if you know anything about bagged tea, it’s usually the leavings. Broken leaves swept up unceremoniously and dumped into those hideous bags. Like the Red Rose tea my Canadian grandmother drank. Smith’s bags are the “pyramid” sachets, with full leaves. This was another story altogether. Another world.

So I started buying whole leaves from a tea shop around the corner. That was a couple of years ago and I haven’t looked back. I made more connections on Twitter, and we shared our favorite teas with each other, furthering my explorations. Last year my mom got me an electric kettle with variable temps. I USE IT EVERY DAY. I love it.

Here’ s what I’ve discovered:

  • I love fruity, malty, and bitter, which is why I love IPA beers so much, too.
  • I like my tea straight, unadulterated. Some blends and teas are meant to take cream or milk, like Earl Grey. I just like the flavor of the tea, and while I used to like flavored teas, I’m finding them less appealing.
  • Among the world of blacks, I’ve said Yunnan is like the champagne of tea. It’s perfectly black, and the bitterness is balanced by a delicate apricot flavor. Keemun has a harsher flavor, as well as smoky. I heard someone else describe Assam as a velvet fist. I had to laugh, because it’s very smooth, but really packs a punch in terms of the caffeine.
  • Turns out there is technically one green tea I like: hojicha, which is sometimes referred to as bancha or twig tea. It’s the twigs and stems from the camellia sinensis and they are roasted. And there’s an oolong from Smacha Tea called Red 27 that is similarly roasted and that is a revelation. If you ever have the chance to try that one, do it.
  • I just realized I didn’t say anything about Darjeeling. Like oolong, it’s too slippery or something. It doesn’t hit that pleasure center for me. Just cruises right on by.

As much as I love the flavor of tea, I also love the ritual, the quietness, and the connections I’ve made.

What do you like to drink? Given what you know about my tea tastes, what should I try next?

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Sweets of the Season

This week’s prompt was around desserts! I usually do make a variety of sweets, but for some reason, I haven’t taken many pictures of them.

For the first time this year, we also went to see the gingerbread “house” competition in downtown Seattle. I will note that this is a fundraiser for an organization working around juvenile diabetes. Yeah, the irony was not lost on any of us.

I had two “houses” in particular that I really loved. One was Hawai’ian (I know, you are all SHOCKED), and the other was a love letter to Seattle.

Hawai’i

Surfin’ Santa

Surfin' Santa

Santapus

octopus santa

Seattle

Skyline

Seattle Skyline

Bertha – Seattle’s BIG DIG

Bertha

You can see the rest of the pics here.

In case you were looking for a temptation you could eat, I offer up this:

I did try out a chocolate mint thins with candy cane crunch from the NY Times, and it’s been a huge hit in our house. One word of caution – do try to crush the candy canes as much as you can. Chomping into a big chunk does put a damper on the enjoyment.

Candy cane cookie!

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52 Photos: Dessert

This week’s prompt was dessert.

lemon bar

If you give me the choice between a chocolate dessert and a fruit dessert, I will almost always choose the fruit (har har). Even within fruit, there’s a hierarchy, and the citrus sits at the top. Since I only cook/bake vegan at home, home made lemon bars are a treat I’ve gone without for a Very. Long. Time. I have always loved them, and have tried making a few vegan recipes over the years that just disappoint me. I was ready for my heart to be broken again with this one, particularly since the lemon topping uses agar agar flakes, which can have a strong and distinct flavor.

I’m happy to announce that this one wins, in every way. Flavor, texture, and even visually, it is all appealing. There is the added bonus of the lack of egg flavor, the one thing I actually don’t like about the regular lemon bars.

I bake pretty regularly, and despite what I say about the fruit, most of what I make has chocolate in it.

Chocolate thumbprint cookies:
Chocolate thumbprint cookies

Chocolate crinkle cookies:
chocolate crinkles

And my favorite rich treat, vegan peanut butter cream cheese brownie with chocolate chips:
vegan peanut butter cream cheese brownie

And sometimes I just like to buy someone else’s treats:
peppermint cupcake

What’s your favorite dessert? What do you like for someone else to make for you? What do you like to make for others?

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Vegan Cookery

pomegranate


Heh. I love the word “cookery.” It just sounds so … bad-ass and blasphemous. Last night I was asked to share some of my favorite vegan recipes. Since I get this question often enough, I figured it was time to do a blog post. I’m going to rec some of my favorite cookbooks and then point out specific recipes that I love from them. This is in no way comprehensive, but just what came to mind. If the cookbook is out of print and you can’t get it, let me know and I will share the recipe you would like.

Without further ado:

Cooking with PETA
You can say what you want about the organization, but if it hadn’t been for this cookbook, I don’t think my girlfriend would have stayed vegan very long.

  • Crispy Tofu Cubes (we add green bell pepper)
  • Golden Vegetable Noodle Soup
  • Beefless Stew (we use seitan instead of TVP)
  • Tofu Scrambler

Vegan With a Vengeance
Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero really changed things in our house. We particularly love:

  • carrot bisque – add a squeeze of lime juice!
  • make your own seitan!
  • raspberry blackout cake
  • scones
  • I make a pesto recipe that is very close to the one here, except mine has a little bit of miso in it instead of nutritional yeast
  • gnocchi
  • peanut sauce

Madhur Jaffrey’s Spice Kitchen

  • Make your own garam masala!
  • broccoli with garlic and mustard seeds
  • spicy kebabs (we use seitan instead of lamb – serve in a wrap with baked yam, squeeze some lime on top, yum yum

Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian

  • Mock Lamb Curry (I just sub soy sour cream for the dairy)
  • A chickpea curry recipe from Trinidad and Tobago

Sundays at the Moosewood:

  • Ethiopian Lentils
  • Veggie Pot Pie
  • Biscuits (to make buttermilk, I just put ~1tsp of apple cider vinegar in the soy milk)

The Candle Cafe Cookbook has THE BEST spanikopita recipe, vegan or no.

And we have one recipe that we LOVE from Ron Pickarski’s Eco-Cuisineseitan burgers. Do yourself a favor and skip the hazelnut cheesecake with the whole wheat couscous crust, though.

We also have all three dessert cookbooks by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero: Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World and Vegan Pie in the Sky. You can find all three here: Post Punk Kitchen: Vegan Baking and Cooking.

I have a few recipes that I just acquired. This is one of my favorites. It’s fairly easy and will wow your friends: Green beans and tofu in a Thai coconut sauce

Would love to hear what some of your favorite cookbooks and recipes are. Please share!

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