Sunday, November 28, 2010

Not That There's Anything Wrong with Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal raisin cookies = classic. Always good. Comforting.
Try swapping out the raisins for dried cherries. Add almonds and almond extract. And chocolate chips? Now we're talking!
The recipe for Cherry-Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies was the first recipe I tried from the new Bon Appetit Desserts cookbook, which is one of those doorstop numbers that could possibly be the only dessert book you'd ever need. And it's certainly off to a good start with this recipe, which is your typical drop cookie recipe, just with a couple of twists.
With something as simple as an oatmeal cookie, replacing raisins with cherries and slipping in some homey chocolate chips and slightly sophisticated almonds is a very nice touch. It got me thinking about some other combos that might be tasty:
Candied ginger + pistachio?
Dried apricots + macadamia nuts?
Figs + hazelnuts?
You could really go, er, nuts here! But for now I'm quite content to enjoy the cherry almond combo. I gave a bag of them to some friends who just had a baby and they seemed to love them. But I'll admit it: I'm glad the bag only held about two-thirds of the whole batch.

Cherry-Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
10 T (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c (packed) dark brown sugar (I used light; no biggie)
1 large egg
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t almond extract
1 c old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips
1 c dried tart cherries (they seemed large so I cut them in half)
1/2 c slivered almonds, toasted (I used sliced almonds)

1. Position1 rack in center and 1 rack in top third of oven and preheat to 325 F. Line 2 heavy large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until well blended. Mix in egg and both extracts. Beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats, then chocolate chips, cherries, and almonds.
3. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 2" apart. Bake cookies 12 minutes. Reverse baking sheets and continue to bake cookies until golden, about 6 minutes longer. Cool cookies on baking sheets (cookies will firm as they cool).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A New Look at Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

I approached this year's meal a bit differently than usual. Don't get me wrong; I'm always focused on the food at Thanksgiving. But this year, with a 10-month-old baby grabbing at every morsel she could get her little hands on, I realized just how wonderful and varied the Thanksgiving meal is.

Our daughter got her greens via stracciatella soup with spinach and cut-up pieces of green beans from a green bean casserole. She savored small bites of rosemary garlic parmesan biscuits. She puckered up for my homemade cranberry sauce and, of course, wiped out her favorite food on the table: pureed sweet potatoes (this version doctored up with apple juice concentrate, brown sugar, and butter). She ate our family's Italian dishes, soufrite (sausage, peppers, & chicken) and Nonna's stuffing (ground beef, raisins, & rice). She had a few shreds of turkey, though, like me, she preferred the sides. When dessert arrived, she happily dug in to pumpkin pie (the filling), tasted a bite of a gingerbread cheesecake square, and had a few apples from my apple tart, and licked whipped cream off her dad's finger.

Of course I can't remember my first Thanksgiving. But watching my daughter enjoy hers was even better.