When Strudel suggested a cookie month, I knew I had tons of cookbooks in my kitchen that I could search for a cookie to reinvent. Then a friend at work really needed cheering up this week and her favorite thing that I make (she even requested it for her birthday) is Amish Shoofly Cake. I thought converting this cake to cookies would be a nice way to end her week AND a fun experiment for me.
I’ve never converted a cake to a cookie before BUT ages ago I did a very brief series called “Science of…” here on the blog and remembered that I did a Science of Cookies post, so I looked to it for guidance. Voila! Shoofly Cookies were successfully created and loved by everyone at work. Also, my friend was a little bit happier after eating a few of these cakey cookies with her morning coffee!
Cookies are a mainstay in my home – during the 30ish days in a month, there are homemade cookies in the house about 23 of those days. I’ve found a few recipes that we love and rotate through – it includes these amazing chocolate chip cookies and we love the oatmeal cocoa nib cookies too. There’s a few others included in the heavy rotation, and while we have yet to get bored with them, I’m always on the hunt for another cookie. To celebrate this hunt, Streus agreed to a February filled with blog posts about cookies!
I recently picked up a copy of “Dorie’s Cookies” by the lovely Dorie Greenspan and thought it was high time I started making some recipes from this cookbook. First up was the opportunity to bake with one of my favorite treats that I don’t know how to incorporate into more foods – cookie butter (aka Biscoff spread). Dorie kindly baked the Biscoff into some cookies, so I figured it was my duty to respect the spread, and make them myself. The result is a sweet, chewy and chocolatey cookie with a Biscoff-y flavor in the background.
To finish out the month of cultural cuisine I had to share with all of you a wonderful discovery I made recently thanks to my Whole30 Cookbook. There are many tasty recipes in this book but next to the Beef and Sweet Potato Chili (in which I substituted lamb) the dukkah-crusted brussels sprouts are amazingly good.
Nutty and crunchy, this blend can go on almost anything. I put it on these gold potatoes and roasted them. I’ve also put them on veggies and even cauliflower and chicken! I have been searching for things I can’t put dukkah on!
The world wide web tells me that dukkah (not dukkha, that would be a term used in Buddhism for suffering, there’s no suffering with this season blend) is an Egyptian spice blend typically made with ground hazelnuts and used as a dip for bread! It would be phenomenal with some fresh hot pita dipped in olive oil.
I spent much of my adolescence being moody; I’m sure it was mostly hormonal, and I’m even more certain that there was about 5-8 years where I wasn’t much fun to be around. I wore a lot of black with some occasional tie-dye, hippie skirts and definitely scarves in my hair. I also became a vegetarian at that time – and while I’ve managed to lose most of the ennui and have picked up better-fitting clothing, the vegetarianism stuck around for about 15ish years, at which point I started eating seafood again. Today folks would call me a “pescatarian” but that word wasn’t around back when my diet switched over. These days, I stick to saying I’m a vegetarian when it’s less fussy way to explain my dietary preferences, and go with “vegetarian that eats seafood” when it’s worth the time to get into it. I find anything short of that and people might think chicken broth is okay or just a hint of bacon isn’t worth mentioning.
It was a big deal for me to start eating seafood, and I did it because I just felt ready – I was getting a little bored with my diet and felt like there were things I was missing out on. There were specific foods I really missed – like sushi – and for me, it was just time.
Even thought it’s been a million years now that I started eating seafood, I still find that there are foods I loved but never really returned to. Wonton soup (from when I ate chicken) is one of those foods – and even though it’s possible to find shrimp wonton soup, it’s usually in chicken broth. So, when the glorious Deb from Smitten Kitchen posted an extremely adaptable and quick wonton soup recipe, all I had to do was sub out the ground chicken for shrimp and I was good to go!
Deb mentions this soup isn’t authentic, and since I don’t have anything to compare it to, I’ll take her word for it – but I’ll also say that it’s super delicious, very super flavorful, and comes together quite quickly. I made a batch and ate some for dinner and froze the rest, and it’s great for a quick snack or as part of my dinner. When I made it for dinner, I paired it with this main and a side of pan-seared zucchini, and it was perfect.
I have been wanting to make scotch eggs for a couple of years and have never gotten around to making them. What could be more delicious than meat wrapped around an egg?! I recently bought a lamb, not the adorably soft version but the processed and in my freezer version (which admittedly was once both adorable and soft).
I got to thinking lamb would be really tasty wrapped around an egg! These scotch eggs would have been even better if they were duck eggs and not chicken eggs but alas this time of year I must use store-bought chicken eggs (boo hoo!). The true impetus for making these and posting them this month was because I wanted to learn where scotch eggs originated.
First up, I am totally cheating on this month’s theme – there’s nothing really multicultural about this post other than I had coconut “bread” (it was really cake in loaf form) at one of my favorite coffee shops in Seattle, a Cuban-inspired coffee place in my old neighborhood (their Con Leche is a dream). I don’t usually buy treats at coffee shops – a slippery slope of pastry eating, as far as I’m concerned – but they had samples sitting out and Brandon was weak (or smart, depending on how your frame it). I like coconut just fine, but this “bread” was everything that’s good in the world, in loaf form. Tender, moist, sweet without being cloying, and packed with coconutty flavor.
I came home and immediately started googling – and really any Cuban coconut bread recipes I found were actually for a very slightly sweetened bread, but not actually cake, which is what this recipe is when we’re being honest with ourselves (which I’d prefer not to be). So then I got realistic about what I was really eating (a dessert that we will frame as a great brunch treat) and found this recipe from another blog. A few minor tweaks to make it a bit more like the one I had at the coffee shop, and ya esta!* We have coconut “brake” (that would be a combo of “bread” and “cake”).
* “it is done” in Spanish – Cuban Spanish is spoken by 90% of the entire population of Cuba
Last year was a fun blogging year for Strudel and I. By continuing our monthly themed posts that we started in 2015, we are continuing to try new recipes and enjoy sharing them with all of you.
In 2016, July was our most popular month with classic desserts such as Arlene’s Apple Pie and Boston Cream Pie. We had 25% more visitors than 2015 from 77 different countries! Next to the United States, our top three visiting countries were Canada, Brazil and Hong Kong. We even had a couple of visits from our friends in Vanuatu. I hope they saw my post about how much I love their coffee! Our top viewed post for 2016 was the Protein Biscuits, everyone must love Kodiak Cakes as much as we do!
To kick off this new year, this month we have decided to focus on foods from various cultures that we love to eat! I knew right away I wanted to make something using plantains from either Cuban or Puerto Rican cuisine.
I was fortunate enough to travel in France in October, and after nearly two weeks of butter, pastries, and coffee, we hauled ourself on a discount flight back to Seattle on Iceland Airlines. The flight was very inexpensive – for which we were extremely grateful for – and absolutely no-frills. It was a long flight and we weren’t able to pack food ahead of time, so had to pay for an airplane meal.
Besides junk food and Icelandic yogurt, they only vegetarian option was this salad. I was a little grumpy about eating a salad (very possibly a withdrawal reaction to the lack of butter or bread in this meal) – but, surprisingly, it ended up being *delicious* and filling (not my usual expectation of an airplane meal). It was so good, in fact, that I took a photo of the ingredient list so that I could re-create the salad at home.
Three things in particular made this salad so great: it was a little spicy, a little pickled, and a little sweet. So much good stuff! With December being healthy lunch month here at S&S, and now that my various medical complaints have healed, this seemed the perfect time to do some salad experimentation.
Unfortunately for all those around me, I am in the midst of suffering mightily – I’m doing an excellent job of fully investing, emotionally, in my current state of self-pity and lethargy. Also, I don’t have a new recipe for the blog this week.
My reasons – for both the self-pity AND the lack of a new recipe – are fairly stupid, but you know – so it goes sometimes. While Streus and I usually trade off posting on the blog, this month she took the first two weeks, at my last-minute request. I was very happily in Hawaii for a week at the beginning of this month, so blogging would have cramped my vacationing style. The photo above was taken during a lovely hike near Waikoloa.
Upon returning home, Brandon and I jumped back into work (appropriate) and then about a week after getting back – end of this past week – we both got sick (inappropriate and rude). Along with the nasty cold I’m suffering under, I also managed to – no other way to describe this – burn the shit out of the roof of my mouth. Pre-illness, I went to happy hour with some colleagues and despite the warning, “watch out, the artichoke dip is hot, we just took it out of the oven” I immediately shoved it into my mouth (I was hungry!). As the (mediocre) appetizer savagely seared my tender palate, I decided I didn’t know the people I was with quite well enough to frantically spit the dip out, so I stupidly left the food in my mouth. I literally could feel the blisters forming on the roof of my mouth. So, in the present moment, I’m sick, plus putting almost any food in my mouth is pretty painful. Cooking is about the last thing I’m in the mood for. Also important to say – manners are stupid and that’s the last time I make that mistake.
Saying that, I do need food for lunch week, so I’ve just made a batch of Broccoli Quinoa Casserole, since it’s both soft, to accommodate my pathetic mouth, and healthy – which I need in this season of sweets. I’m also going to roast a bunch of veggies, which will be soft, and eat only once they are entirely cool.
Until next week, my friends, we salute you with shave ice!
For the past six months I have been buying wonderfully flavored salmon frozen on cedar planks. My grocery store carries Cedar Bay Cedar Planked Salmon in three flavors (yes, I’ve tried them all) and they quite frequently go on sale. They make cooking up salmon on the grill super easy (yes, there is snow on the ground and I still use my grill).
I generously seasoned the bell peppers with my new favorite pepper, the Bourbon Barrel Smoked Black Pepper that I used in this and this recipe recently. This recipe made three lunches for me for the week. Easy. Delicious.