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Lemon Tart – a bit of sunshine

Lemon TartThe weather here has been grey, wet and cooler than our usual Spring. We were in Paris for a week and it either rained or was overcast with periods of rain showers throughout the day. We came home and had a repeat of Paris weather. It’s been so wet mushrooms are sprouting up in our lawn so when patches of blue sky poked through the clouds this morning, I was elated.  Continue Reading →

Oats and Cranberry Bars

oats & cranberry barsA few posts ago Mr. S wanted me to make him his favorite ginger molasses cookies – I said I would but didn’t.  If I’m not in the mood to bake, I don’t even make an attempt.  I’ve had failures in the kitchen before when my mood was less than buoyant resulting in the meal tossed away and a freezer job to the rescue.  I recognize those moments, not with anguish or defeat, but knowing full well I’ll make it again when the pep-in-my-cooking-stride returns.  Continue Reading →

Cranberry and Pistachio Biscotti

cranberry & pistachio biscottiBiscotti (twice-baked), is an Italian cookie that is formed into a log shape, baked, sliced and then toasted to a crisp texture.  This has to be one of the easiest desserts to make.  Cranberry and pistachio are a perfect duo for this biscotti recipe by balancing the sweetness of the dough with a bit of sour from the cranberries and salt from the pistachio.  Traditionally biscotti was made with hazelnut and aniseed and recipes date back as far as the 13th century. Continue Reading →

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

cranberry oatmeal cookies The other day Mr. S. spotted lemon and cranberry cookies. There are few cookies I will buy from a grocery store but these did ‘look’ good and there were only 8 in the container. Once we decided to add it to the grocery cart, our curiosity got the better of us and opened the container. Yep, these were chewy good and Mr. S. said I should recreate these. So, here goes…

Makes about 35 to 40 cookies
1 1/3 cups dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups  rolled oats (old-fashioned oats)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
zest of one lemon
1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350f (180c).

Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper (silpat also works well). In a bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon; stir in the oats. In another bowl use an electric mixer to beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs then add honey, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla and beat until blended.  Add flour mixture in two additions, beating until well combined. Stir in the cranberries.

cranberry oatmeal cookie doughDrop dough by the heaping tablespoonful about 2-inches apart onto the cookie sheets. Bake until the centers of the cookies are soft – about 9 to 11 minutes.  If you want a soft cookie, do not over-bake them.  Let cool on the sheets for 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

cranberry oatmeal cookies 2The Culinary Chase’s Note: Chewy goodness! Use dried cherries instead of cranberries and for added crunch throw in a handful of chopped pistachios.  Bake one cookie sheet at a time, unless you have a convection oven.  You can use old-fashioned or quick oats but not instant (full of sugar, salt and other flavorings).  Enjoy!

Banana Chocolate Chip Raspberry Muffins

banana chocolate chip raspberry muffin by The Culinary ChaseWho hasn’t made banana bread or cake? It’s the easiest way to utilize ripe bananas that are not only gross to look at, but emit a smell that says overripe and to be honest don’t taste good either. I used to make banana bread but after living in Asia for 11 years, the humidity does nasty things to food that holds moisture not to mention an army of ants would come out from nowhere and suddenly descend upon it when left out on the counter top (to this day my mother in-law and I still giggle about that). So, what to do? I decided to make muffins and freeze whatever isn’t consumed. I’d individually wrap the muffins and then take out to defrost when needed. I still do this – old habits die hard. The addition of chocolate chips came while living in Singapore (had some left over). These were an immediate hit with my family. This morning I was making my breakfast smoothie and had some bits of frozen raspberries left over and figured I’d throw these into the muffin batter. Voilà! Banana chocolate chip raspberry muffins were born.

Makes 18
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 very ripe bananas
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
turbinado sugar, to sprinkle on top of the muffins

1. Preheat the oven to 350f (180c).
2. Cream butter, slowly add the sugar, and beat until light.
3. Add the bananas, eggs, and vanilla and beat well. Mix the flour, baking soda, and salt, add to the banana mixture, and blend. Add milk and beat until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Gently fold in frozen raspberries.
4. Arrange muffin liners in the pan and divide batter evenly.  Top each muffin with a pinch of turbinado sugar (or other large crystal sugar).  Bake 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
5. Cool in muffin pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a rack.

muffins by The Culinary ChaseThe Culinary Chase’s Note:  The raspberries take this muffin to a new level of baked goodness.  Topping the muffins with turbinado sugar gives an added crunch and a pleasant surprise to those who aren’t expecting it.  Enjoy!

Molasses Cookies

molasses cookies by The Culinary ChaseNorth Americans call it molasses and the Brits call it treacle. Molasses has been in North America since the 1600’s when it was first used to make rum. Back then, it was a preferred sweetener and cheaper than refined sugar.  Refined sugar prices after World War 1 dropped and therefore became cheaper than molasses. I have a Purity Cookbook published 1967 (first edition 1917) and The Fannie Farmer Cookbook published 1979 (first edition 1906) both list a molasses cookie recipe. The 1915 edition of Five Roses Cookbook also lists a molasses cookie recipe.  These older cookbooks clearly show it’s been a favorite for generations.  While this recipe isn’t your usual run-of-the-mill and one might think the ingredients are a bit suspect, I strongly encourage you to give this molasses cookie a go.

Makes about 15 cookies
adapted from The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (optional)
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup molasses

1. Sift flour, cocoa powder, ground ginger, baking soda, cardamom, and pepper into a bowl.

cookie ingredients2. In a bowl beat butter and grated ginger until smooth. Add brown sugar, white sugar, salt and mix until light and fluffy. Add molasses and mix until combined. Add flour mixture and mix.

cookie collage by The Culinary Chase3. Place dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log (about 10-inchs long). Tightly wrap and roll the log a few times, patting it as you go to make it smooth. Refrigerate until firm – at least 1 hour or up to 5 days.
4. Preheat oven to 350f. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Fill a small plate or bowl with granulated sugar.
5. Remove dough from fridge and slice into 1/2-inch thickness. Roll these slices into balls and then lightly roll in the sugar. Place on the baking sheet, spaced 1-inch apart. Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until crackly on top but still soft to touch. Let cool 10 minutes on baking sheet. The surface will get firmer as they cool.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: A slight crunch on the outside with a soft interior makes these cookies irresistible.  Mr. S. has now given these cookies his royal seal of approval. 🙂 Enjoy!

Fennel-Parmesan Shortbread

fennel-parmesan shortbread byThe Culinary ChaseWhen we lived in New York, I would come into the city once or twice a week and began my outing by meeting Mr. S. for a cappuccino at Blue Bottle coffee in Rockefeller Center.  We always shared a cookie as part of our java ritual.  Fennel-Parmesan shortbread, a savory twist, quickly became a favorite of ours.  I know, everyone has their favorite shortbread recipe but you really should give this one a try.  Slightly sweet with a teensy bit of savory crunch from the fennel-salt topping.  For me, it was the pleasant discovery of Parmesan quietly hitting my taste buds with every chew and dare I say, perfect with a cappuccino.

Makes about 21 cookies
adapted from The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoons sea salt
2 cups all-purpose flour plus more
1 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt or other coarse salt
extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing

1. Beat butter in a medium bowl on low speed until smooth, 1–2 minutes. Add powdered sugar, pepper, and salt. Reduce speed to medium and beat, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until light and fluffy, 4–5 minutes. Add flour and cheese. Reduce mixer speed to low and beat mixture just until dough comes together. Wrap dough in plastic and flatten into a 7×10-inch rectangle about 1/2-inch thick. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours.
shortbread by The Culinary Chase2. Coarsely crush fennel seeds with mortar and pestle or grind in a clean spice grinder. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in sea salt.
3. Preheat oven to 350f and arrange rack in center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
4. Remove plastic wrap from dough and cut into small rectangles.  Place cookies on prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 inch apart. Brush cookies generously with oil, then sprinkle with fennel salt.

fennel shortbread5. Bake 18 minutes until cookies are golden brown (flecks of cheese will be slightly darker), rotating sheet halfway through. Let cool on sheets for at least 10 minutes. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container. The cookies will keep for 3 days.

The Culinary Chase’s Note: The dough can be refrigerated, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days. These savory-sweet shortbread cookies are addictive! Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Enjoy!