Matcha Shortbread Cookies

An Homage to “The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane”

I just finished reading Lisa See’s new book, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane. More accurately, I just finished listening to this wonderful book. I often listen to books while I commute into work, and the narrators of this particular novel are great! Lisa See is a very talented author, and her stories transport me to other times, places and cultures. This particular novel centers around tea and the Akah ethnic minority living in the Yunnan province of China.

After finishing this novel, I was inspired to develop a  cookie using matcha (green tea) powder.

Here you go!

Matcha Shortbread Cookies

INGREDIENTS:

2 ¾ plus 2 TBS cups all purpose flour (14 ¼ oz)

2 TBS plus 1 tsp matcha powder

½ tsp salt

1 ½ cups unsalted butter (12 oz), room temperature

¾ cup sugar (5 ¼  oz)

Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar (4 ¾ oz)

3 TBS lemon juice or as needed

METHOD:

Whisk together the flour, matcha powder and salt, set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar together until combined.

Add the flour mixture slowly.

Divide the dough into 2 parts. Roll each half into a log about 1 ¾  inches wide.

Wrap each log in parchment or wax paper. Chill until firm.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice about 1/3 inch thick. Place on parchment lined baking sheets about 1 inch apart.

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Bake 15-18 minutes until the cookies are set and very slightly golden on the edges.

When cookies are completely cool, whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice to make a glaze.

Drizzle on the cookies.

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Yield about 4 dozen.

BAKER’s NOTE: These are very delicately flavored- for a more robust matcha flavor, use up to 3 TBS in the recipe.

 

Cleaning Out The Fridge Pasta

I call this “Cleaning Out The Fridge Pasta”.

At the end of the day on Friday, I opened my fridge to see what I had to inspire me to prepare dinner. All week long I save little bits of leftover vegetables, sauce and stock – and lo and behold, put them together and dinner presents itself!

This week I had a container of mushrooms that needed to be sauteed. I had some white beans left over from a salad. I had extra garlic chopped. I had a handful of arugula. I had vegetable broth that needed to be used. And I had a cup of homemade marinara sauce. Not to mention that I try to have organic green peas (fresh or frozen) on hand at all times. In addition I had some fun tri- color pasta that I wanted to try.

There’s not really an exact recipe here- just let it flow.

In a large skillet, I lightly sauteed the garlic in EVOO, added the mushrooms with salt to taste. Let that go until the mushrooms were almost done. Next, I added the marinara sauce and some vegetable broth and the beans.

While that was simmering away I cooked the pasta until almost done and then added the peas for the last 3 minutes of cooking.

Back to the sauce- I added the arugula and let it wilt. And a healthy pinch of red pepper flakes and freshly ground black pepper.6ABF9778-95E7-4A46-A993-431CAABA1003

Pasta is cooked- so out comes my spider and I scoop the pasta into the skillet with the sauce.img_4046

I let the pasta and sauce cook for a minute or two, added more vegetable broth to taste and- DINNER WAS READY!!

The lesson here is that nothing really goes to waste. And when you cook with vegetables, mostly everything goes well together. So next time that you have a few stalks of broccoli left over, or a small handful of spinach or not enough tomato sauce to stand on it’s own- you can have a new (and thoroughly your own) dinner ready in just a few minutes.

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P.S. Happy Mother’s Day!!

Easter 2017

I haven’t had time to write these past two weeks- I’ve been too busy living in the moment. This year I was fortunate to experience the “High Holies” of my faith in two cultures- the jubilant evangelicalism of Palm Sunday in the Caribbean and the solemn rituals of my home parish in New York. I love them both!

I also love Easter breakfast. It is hands down my favorite meal of the year, and has been since I was a child. The centerpiece is my family’s version of Pizza Rustica. It’s a once a year treat. In Italy, Pizza Rustica is made for Easter Monday, or Pasquetta. It’s an egg, cheese and meat pie that is made as picnic fare for the day after Easter,  a day Italians spend outside enjoying family and friends. Since we do not celebrate Easter Monday here, many Italian American families make Pizza Rustica for Easter breakfast.

In addition to Pizza Rustica, there’s colored eggs, homemade cinnamon bread and fruit salad all surrounded by my collection of vintage chocolate molds and other Easter decor.

Then there’s Easter sugar cookies and delicious chocolate from my sister’s store as take home favors. All in all a pretty, fun and delicious table!

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A final note- I cook mainly vegan and enjoy doing so.  I started to help my husband control diabetes. I love vegetables and legumes!!! This meal is anything BUT vegan, yet once a year…… 🙂

 

 

 

 

Chunky Monkey Cookies

One of the more fun cookies I developed at Provisons Bake Shop was what we dubbed  “Chunky Monkey”. It speaks to comfort flavors- peanut butter, chocolate and banana, all delicious on their own but when combined they are definitely more than their individual parts! The high school senior working at the counter couldn’t get enough of them- she’d even come in on her days off to stock up!

CHUNKY MONKEY COOKIES

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup all purpose flour (5 oz)

1/3 cup quick oats (approximately 1 oz)

½ tsp salt

½ tsp baking soda

1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup sugar (3 ½ oz)

½ cup brown sugar (3 ½ oz)

½ cup natural peanut butter, preferably fresh ground (4 ½ oz)

1 large egg

½ tsp pure vanilla extract (or banana extract)

1 very ripe banana, mashed

1/3 cup roasted peanuts, chopped (1 ½ oz)

¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips (4 oz)

 

METHOD:

Whisk together flour, oats, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

Thoroughly cream together the butter, sugars and peanut butter.

Add egg and vanilla. Mix until combined.

Add mashed banana, mix in lightly.

Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.

Add peanuts and chocolate chips.

Scoop onto parchment lined baking sheets.

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With wet fingertips lightly press down the dough.

Bake 10 minutes, rotate pans. If cookies are puffing up too much, gently bang pans to let out air.

Bake another 5 minutes until firm to the touch.

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Yield 3 dozen cookies using a 1 ½ tablespoon size scoop.

Enjoy!!

 

Sesame Crusted Rye Shortbread Cookies

Sesame Crusted Rye Shortbread Cookies

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I had a wonderful cookie from Tandem Bakery in Portland, Maine. This is my recreation of it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups of dark rye flour (9 oz)

½ cups sugar (3 ½ oz)

¼ tsp fine sea salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (8 oz)

1 tsp grated orange zest

TOPPING:

3 TBS sparkling sugar

¼ tsp fine sea salt

2 TBS black sesame seeds

 

METHOD:

Whisk the flour and salt and set aside.

Beat the butter, sugar and orange zest together until combined.

Add the flour and salt, slowly.

Mix until dough comes together.

 

Divide the dough into 2 parts. Roll each half into a log about 1 ½ inches wide.

Wrap each log and chill until firm.

 

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the sparkling sugar, sea salt and sesame seeds.

When dough is firm, slice about 1/3 inch thick.2A08C585-69CC-4753-934A-4BCDCA4A0111

Place on parchment lined baking sheets about 1 inch apart.

Bake 16-20 minutes until the cookies are set and firm to the touch. Rotate the pans halfway through baking.

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Yield about 4 dozen.

Late Winter Citrus Salad

It’s that time of year when you need a little spark to lighten up your dinner. One of my favorite salads is this Sicilian Citrus Salad utilizing what’s fresh in the market now. It’s based on recipes that have appeared in the New York Times over the years, but truth be told it is something that my Sicilian grandmother would have made.

And there’s another thing. Having grown up with my Italian and French grandparents, we always had our salad after our entree. A proper salad acts as a digestif. The world has changed with regards to this, but my old habits die hard and I truly relish a refreshing salad after my entree. Give it a try and see if you don’t agree.

Late Winter Citrus Salad

Ingredients:

2 handfuls of baby arugula

1 cup radicchio, shredded

1 large Cara Cara orange, peeled, sliced lengthwise and then across, white pith removed

1 blood orange, peeled and sliced crosswise

1 rib of celery, sliced

¼ cup brined cured black olives, pits removed

2 TBS extra virgin olive oil

1 TBS red or white wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Place the arugula and radicchio on a platter

Top with the citrus segments, celery and olives.

Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

Drizzle over the composed salad.

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Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

The Goodness of a Bowl of Lentils in Pasta Form

I’m always on the lookout to try new ways to incorporate lentils in my diet. I LOVE lentils!

So, when I was grocery shopping last week you can imagine my delight when I came across a pasta made exclusively from 100% organic red lentils.

In thinking what to do with it, I decided to go with a saute of Swiss chard. I often add Swiss chard to lentil soup-  the flavors complement each other nicely.

Cooking this pasta was an experiment and I am very pleased with the results.And as a bonus, it’s a quick, easy meal to put together. Give it a try- I think you’ll be pleased as well.

Red Lentil Pasta with Wilted Chard

Ingredients:

½ pound (8 oz) red lentil pasta

3 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped fine

1 bunch of Swiss chard, woody stems discarded and leaves chopped

Large pinch of red pepper flakes

2 TBS pine nuts, toasted

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Method:

In a large sauté pan, over low heat, cook the garlic in the olive oil for a minute or two.

Add the Swiss chard, the red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and cook over medium heat until the Swiss chard is wilted. Remove the cover.

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Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water cook the red lentil pasta according to the package directions. Do not overcook.

Using a spider or sieve, add the pasta to the wilted chard.IMG_4046.JPG

Cook stirring for a minute or two until the flavors have blended. Add a little pasta water if necessary.

Serve, garnished with the pine nuts.

Makes 4 servings.

 

Mr. Chidlow’s Perfect Apple Pie

Right now with all the political turmoil in the U.S. I find myself turning again and again to comfort food. Baking is my “happy place” and I need to go there often!  Who doesn’t find comfort in a slice of warm apple pie?  My children had a grade school teacher, Mr. Chidlow, who did many cooking projects with his classes. His recipe for Perfect Apple Pie has been a family favorite for almost 30 years and during the time I owned Provisions Bake Shop we made hundreds of them!

Here’s how it goes:

PIE CRUST

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups all purpose flour (10 oz)

½ tsp salt

½ pound (2 sticks)  COLD unsalted butter; cut into small cubes

1 large egg

1 TBS heavy cream

METHOD:

In food processor mix flour and salt.

Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Add egg and cream and process until a ball of dough forms on blade.

If mixture seems dry, add a DROP more of cream.

Divide dough in half and form into 2 discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.

Yield 2 crusts (enough for a double crust 9″ pie)

While the dough is chilling prepare the pie filling.

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APPLE PIE FILLING

INGREDIENTS:

7 Golden Delicious Apples

3/4 cup sugar (5.25 oz)

2 TBS All Purpose Flour

1  1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp salt

2 TBS unsalted butter

Egg wash :1 egg whisked with a pinch of salt

extra sugar for sprinkling on top

METHOD:

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel, quarter and core the apples.

Thinly slice the apples crosswise.

Whisk together the sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt.

Add to the apples and toss gently.

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Roll out one disc of the dough.

Pie Dough

Line a 9″ pie plate with the pastry.

Mound the apples in the pie shell and dot with the 2 TBS of butter.

Roll out the second crust and place on top. Crimp the two crusts together.

Brush the top crust with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Cut 3 or 4 air vents in top crust to let out steam.

Bake for about 50 minutes until apples are soft. (Test by sticking a knife in an air vent).

If the crust starts getting too brown before the apples are soft, cover loosely with aluminum foil.

I personally like to bake my pies on a parchment lined sheet pan to catch any overflowing juices.

Enjoy!

Life Lessons Learned From My Son AKA Homemade Vegetable Broth

My son, Dennis is a great cook! We learn a lot from each other. He shamed me when he discovered that I was throwing away my vegetable peelings and scraps.

Homemade vegetable broth is SO SO much tastier than anything you can purchase. I feel that it has a more neutral flavor and thus doesn’t overpower and conflict with whatever your final  product is.

There’s no formal recipe but here’s the method:

Keep a freezer bag handy when cooking.

vegetables for broth

Add to it all your vegetable peelings, cut off ends of vegetables,mushroom stems, stems from herbs, wilted lettuces, the skin from an orange, a few peppercorns.

Keep the bag in the freezer and when full- voila! You have the base for a great broth.

Put the contents in a stockpot, add maybe an onion or carrot, cover with water and bring to the boil. Boil uncovered for about an hour.

Strain the soup through a fine mesh sieve and portion into containers. Cool thoroughly and freeze until ready to use.

vegetable broth

Gingerbread Scones

I know it’s been awhile since you’ve heard from me- my “day job” has gotten a lot busier! But- I wanted to make sure to wish all of my readers a very happy and delicious holiday with a special recipe.

If you love gingerbread, then these scones are the perfect addition to your breakfast or brunch table.

In this recipe, I find that the most tender results come from mixing the dough with your hand. My most inspiring teacher was Master Pastry chef Albert Kumin. In our Breads and Doughs class, he held up his scrupulously clean hand with his fingers slightly curled and announced: “This is the best mixing tool that God has given you”.

Heat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment

INGREDIENTS:

1  1/2 cups All Purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

¼ cup sugar

1 TBS Baking Powder

½ tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/3 cup candied ginger

1 ¼ cup heavy cream

2 TBS molasses

1 TBS melted butter

1 TBS sugar for topping, preferably turbinado sugar

METHOD:

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder and salt and spices.

Stir in candied ginger.

Mix the cream with the molasses and slowly add to the flour mixture, mixing with your hand until the dough comes together and no dry particles remain. Stop adding cream as soon as the dough comes together. Depending on the weather this could take 1 cup of liquid  up to 1 ½ cups.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 4 or 5 times.

Roll or pat the dough into an 8” circle about ¾ inch thick.

Brush the dough with the melted butter and evenly sprinkle the sugar on top.

Cut the circle into 8 wedges.

Place evenly on the baking sheet

Bake 12-15 minutes until lightly browned and firm to the touch.

panned dough

gingerbread scone dough