Maple Almond Butter Cookies

It’s doubtful that one could improve on the delectable, simple, well-known Peanut Butter Cookie. To some, a homemade peanut butter cookie can bring back childhood memories.

As the old cliché proclaims, memories from “simpler times”.

Not having enough peanut butter and a jar of maple-almond butter on hand, I adapted the well-known Peanut Butter Cookie and baked “Maple Almond Butter Cookies.”

maple almond butter cookies

*Maple Almond Butter Cookies
Yield: about 30 cookies
Ingredients:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup maple almond butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
• Mix sugars, almond butter, butter, almond extract, vanilla extract and egg in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours or until firm.
• Heat oven to 375ºF.
• Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased or parchment lined cookie sheet. (Do not flatten as you would with peanut butter cookies).
• Bake 8 to 9 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 5 minutes; remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.

maple almond butter

*Adapted from this recipe: “Peanut Butter Cookie

These cookies were delicious.  They have a taste of their own and cannot be compared to a peanut butter cookie.  Both are equally tasty.

So, I will sit back and take in the day over a cup of espresso and a few of these cookies.

Dolce far Niente.”

What Brings Us Together

When children grow, leave home and move more than a thousand miles, you find yourself looking back to the past.

The solitude leaves me alone with my thoughts.

As you ponder on ago, you find yourself in a near trance, in your own little world where you shut out the present moment and dreamily stroll through the sights and sounds of an ordinary home where each got excited about holidays, birthdays, milestones, celebrations or just being together.

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You recall how the smells of a cooking meal, or how bread baking could make the home feel comfy and cozy.

dill bread

You remember the laughter, the joy, and how we comforted each other through tears, and heartaches.

As I abruptly come back to real-time, I sigh.

Reminiscing can either bring a smile to your face or a gut-wrenching, empty feeling.

sunflowers

On any given day, looking around the dinner table, you find only one plus you. More times than not, I forget to remember how thankful I am to be with that “one” with whom I can share a meal.

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For now, quickly setting the bygone days aside and sharing a meal with the “one”,  I am consoled by the thought that food is a celebration of life, it’s what brings all or “one” of us together.

“One” and One (Tom and Me)-1990 or 1991.

Sunday Supper For Two

Saturday, I was thinking about what to have for supper on Sunday with what I have on hand around the kitchen.

As they say, “willful waste makes woeful want.”

What to do with 2 potatoes, garlic, a shallot, a carrot, a stalk of celery, ground coriander, nutmeg, a small bay leaf, some pistachios, olive oil, unsalted butter and a can of chicken broth?

veggies & pistachios

I thought, “soup!”

First, I blanched the pistachios to loosen up the brown skins. Then rubbed the pistachio in a paper towel to remove the brown skins. Next, I softened the sliced shallot in a small amount of olive oil and a bit of unsalted butter, cut up the veggies and threw them into the pot along with pistachios and all of the other ingredients omitting the coriander and nutmeg. The addition for those spices were added in the next step.

pistachios and soup

When the veggies were cooked and cooled down for about 10 minutes, I put this all into a blender (along with the coriander, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste) and pureed it into a potage.

After reheating the soup, about a couple tablespoon of heavy cream was stirred into the soup.

For service, a dollop of homemade crème fraîche (made the day before) and crushed pistachios were added to the center of the potage.

crème fraîche

I am calling this, “Creamy Pistachio & Potato Potage”.

This potage/soup would, also, make a wonderful cold soup for Summer.

potage

Then, with 3 leftover campari tomatoes, a half a sheet of puff pastry, some fig infused balsamic vinegar, small amount of sugar, pepper, oregano, basil and Gruyere cheese…

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…I made two “Tomato Tartlettes”.

tartlettes

Voilà!

A Sunday supper for two.

Orange Hazelnut Cake

I saw a recipe for a walnut cake and thought I could enhance it by adding orange zest, hazelnut liqueur and substituting the ground walnuts with hazelnut flour/meal.

I call mine “Orange Hazelnut Cake”

orange hazelnut cake

With the addition of Hazelnut Liqueur and orange zest, I further enhanced the flavor, by making a syrup of hazelnut liqueur, honey, orange juice, and orange zest then brushed onto the cake.

For decoration, I made candied oranges slices

Delicious!

Orange Hazelnut Cake
Serves: Serves 8-10
Ingredients
⅔ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons hazelnut liqueur, plus 3 Tablespoons more for syrup
1 Tablespoon honey, plus 1 teaspoon more for syrup
3 eggs
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
Zest from 1 large orange, save and set aside ¼ teaspoon and the orange for syrup
pinch salt
½ cup hazelnut flour/meal

Orange Hazelnut Syrup
3 Tablespoons Hazelnut Syrup
Juice from 1 orange
1 teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon orange zest

Directions
⦁ Preheat the oven to 350°F.
⦁ Grease and flour a half-size Bundt pan with a 6-cup capacity. (I used Baker’s Joy Baking Spray)
⦁ With a hand mixer, beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.
⦁ Add the vanilla, hazelnut liqueur, and 1 Tablespoon honey and mix well.
⦁ Add the eggs, one at a time mixing well after each addition.
⦁ Add the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt and orange peel (minus the ¼ teaspoon saved) and beat till creamy.
⦁ Without using the mixer, gently fold the hazelnut flour into the batter.
⦁ Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
⦁ Leave the cake to rest in the pan for 5 minutes before carefully unmoulding it. Leave the cake to cool completely on a wire rack.
⦁ Meanwhile, to make the syrup, add orange juice, hazelnut liqueur, orange zest and honey to a small saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil, lower heat and gently boil for 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
⦁ Brush the syrup onto the cooled cake.

Decorate as desired. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Pretzel Buns For Pub-Style Burgers

Making homemade “pretzel sandwich buns” was easy and took little time and effort make.

I made these for cheeseburgers we had for supper last night along with a batch of home fries.

Pretzel Buns

For pub-style burgers (or any type sandwiches) at home without the added expense of eating out, I encourage you to make a batch.

You can find the recipe at King Arthur Flours/Pretzel Buns.

Easter For Two

For us, it was a quiet Easter.  We didn’t cook the traditional ham and sides; we dined (here at home) on pork tenderloin, roasted potatoes and green bean amandine/almondine.

Since it is just the two of us, I had in mind to make a small batch of homemade peanut butter eggs.  Knowing that I would have some chocolate leftover, and since I had a can of sweetened condensed milk sitting in the cupboard, I made dulce de leche (caramel) from the can of milk.

Dulce de leche

The milk caramelizes in the can by simmering the unopened can (label removed) in a pot of water.

You can find the complete instructions at Serious Eats.

After I made the peanut butter eggs,  I made chocolate covered, salted caramel wafers using the homemade caramel and leftover chocolate.

chocolate candy

I just dropped chocolate onto a piece of waxed paper (smoothing the chocolate down with the back of a spoon), chilled and then spread caramel on top of those and dropped and spread melted chocolate onto the caramel (sealing in the caramel) and added a pinch of kosher salt to the tops.

Easter for two!

French Financiers

Have you ever heard of a financier (pronounced fee-nahn-see-AY)?

financiers

It’s a classic French pastry.

According to the New York Time-The Pastry Chef’s Rich Little Secret, “IT’S a simple almond cake, leavened by egg whites, moistened with browned butter and baked into a small mold. It is springy, sweet and nutty with an exterior that’s as crisp as an eggshell.”

The article also goes on to say, “In France, financiers have been a staple of fine pastry shops for more than 100 years.”

In my quest to bake and taste something different,  I happened upon the article and the recipe for financiers.  

“All you need is a whisk, a bowl, a pan and a mere stroke of finesse.”

Yesterday, I baked a half batch.

financiers

“The batter then has to rest before baking. A few hours in the refrigerator, and the flavors will harmonize and the batter will firm up, making it easier to pipe into molds.”

The instructions say to chill the batter in the bowl.  Then, after chilling for the allotted amount of time, spoon the batter into a pastry bag with a 1/4 inch round pastry tip.  For me, I found it much easier to chill the batter in the pastry bag.  I, also, eliminated the round pastry tip and just cut an opening in the tip of the bag, then piped it into the prepared pans/molds.

You can find the recipe here: New York Time-The Pastry Chef’s Rich Little Secret.

Simply delicious!

What’s In Season?

I made a handy, *printable guide for: “What’s in Season?” that I would like to share with you.

This guide can help to explore different fruits and vegetables throughout the year.

Reasons Why we Should Cook in Season:

  • Flavor:  Produce that has been allowed to fully ripen tastes so much better! Sweet, juicy and full of natural flavor
  • Nutrition:  We all know fresh is best when choosing what to put in our bellys. A ripe and fully developed piece of fruit or vegetable has had more sun exposure and will have more antioxidants
  • Price:  When there is an abundance of product the price goes down. Stands to reason when something is in season ad plentiful, you will pay less! Seasonal food is more likely to be locally produced as well, which reduces the load on our environment due to transport
  • Community:  Our favorite reason. Getting to know where your food is coming from, who is growing your food and how they do it also makes you feel more connected to that whole process

*Click on image to save to your desktop then print from there.