Oatmeal Cookies – Welcome Home

Oatmeal Cookie and Milk

We’re back from a two week vacation that spanned Moab, UT, to the northern most part of Washington, where from the top of a mountain, I could see Canada.  We drove all the way to Seattle in a rented RV with two of our best friends and our little redhead.  Once we were in Seattle, the worst case scenario happened to our traveling partners – a death in the family – and they had to drive the RV home early and we booked a flight for later in the week to come home on our own.  We sorely missed their company but had an amazing time with the friends we went to see – John and Courtney and their amazing children.  They graciously welcomed us into their home and gave up their beds and their schedules and the order of how they normally go about life and made us feel so welcome, we felt more honored than family!  I just feel so lucky to have such friends in my life.  Olive has such wonderful people to look up to and strive to become.

I will post a LOT of recipes in the coming days about our trip and mostly recipes INSPIRED by our trip.  Recipes that immediately come to mind will be: Raspberry Pavlova, Chocolate Cayenne Mousse, a traditional crab boil, the ultimate potato salad, and a traditional poutine, just to name a few.  I can’t wait to share these recipes with you.

But today is about coming home.  Coming home to familiarity, to the warmth of being in your own space with the view out the window you remember (let’s not talk about what our yard looks like after 2 weeks of neglect).  When I think about coming home, I think about oatmeal cookies.  They scream comfort and familiarity and nourishment.  And the recipe today is kind of perfect.  The original recipe card I had is from a generic set of cookie recipes that came in a funny little box that just says COOKIES.  Each card is a different recipe.  It’s a pretty fun jumbo-sized deck of cards for Olive to play with and I can imagine when she gets older, picking out a card for our weekend baking adventures.  I modified the recipe because it seemed extremely void of liquid.  The original recipe didn’t call for any egg, so if you want to leave it out, know that you’ll just have to work the dough a little more so that it holds together because it’s pretty crumbly.  Either modification is good, but the addition of the egg makes a softer fluffier cookie, which worked out really well for my gap-toothed toddler.

Enjoy being home.  Everything is fleeting.

Oatmeal Cookie

Oatmeal and Golden Raisin Cookies
makes 2 dozen cookies

1 1/4 cups AP flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tbs light corn syrup
1 tsp baking soda
1 TBS boiling water
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 325F.  Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper, or spray well with spray oil.

Sift the flour into a large bowl.  Stir in the sugar, oats, coconut, and raisins.  Make a well in the center.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and syrup over low heat.  In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda in boiling water; stir immediately into the butter.

Pour the butter mixture into the well in the flour mixture.  With a fork, mix thoroughly.  Mix in the egg until well incorporated.

Drop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto the cookie sheets about 2 inches apart.  Bake until lightly browned, 15-20 minutes.  Cool a few minutes on the sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Serve with milk.

Oatmeal Cookies and Milk

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Cooking on the Road

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They made up their minds, and they started packing.
They left before the sun came up that day.
An exit to eternal summer slacking,
But where were they going without ever knowing the way?

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I think we might be crazy.  But we’ve made up our minds to drive from here to Seattle in an RV with some really good friends, good music, and good food.  We’re bringing the coffee maker, some good quality beans and our guitars, so I think we may survive. 🙂  We have  friends who live in Seattle, and so we decided to make the trip part of the vacation.  In preparation for a few days on the road, I decided to get to baking.  No one likes to decide what to have for breakfast, so I took it upon myself to make it a no-brainer.  I consulted Annie’s Eats, of course, because that woman knows how to prepare for anything.  She has a wonderful selection of baked goods on her blog, and when I grow up, I want to be just like her.  (I may be older but that’s not the issue, here.)

I chose from her blog, the peanut butter banana oatmeal muffins,(they looked so great but I refrained from taste-testing) the chocolate cherry muffins and the bacon and cheddar scones.  We were forced to taste-test the chocolate muffins because they looked too chocolately for their own good and so what else were we going to do?  Leave it to chance?!  They can hardly be called muffins, in my opinion.  They are nearly flourless chocolate cakes, but just enough flour to make them decadent brownies.  In fact, next time I want to make brownies, I’m using this recipe.  So they might be more for snack time instead of breakfast.

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Chocolate Cherry Muffins*
(I doubled the recipe and it turned out great)

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 tbs. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup dried cherries, chopped if desired

Directions:
Preheat an oven to 350º F. Line a muffin pan with muffin cups or grease wells.

In a small heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. Set the bowl over but not touching simmering water in a small saucepan and melt the chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally, until smooth and blended. Let cool slightly.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar and vanilla until light in color and doubled in volume. Whisk in the chocolate mixture and then the flour mixture just until combined. Stir in the dried cherries. Divide the batter evenly among the wells of the prepared pan and smooth the tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 25-30 minutes.

Makes 7-8 muffins.

*didn’t adapt this at all from Annie’s Eats, except for doubling it and using half dark chocolate, half milk because that’s what I had on hand!

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The scones I prepared up until baking and just froze them raw.  Then, I will put them in that tiny RV oven and add a few minutes on to baking time and we will have an amazing breakfast heading down the road!  I can’t wait for our adventure and I can’t wait for all the amazing food we will try and the sites we’ll see and the memories we will make.  And with any luck, we’ll all still like each other when we get home.  🙂  I’ll be sure and take lots of REAL, non-iPhone pictures and have a few posts about our gastronomical adventures when I return.

Bacon Cheddar Scones*
makes 8-10

For the scones:
3 cups bread flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. ground black pepper (depending on your preference)
8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1½ cups grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
10 slices bacon, cooked and chopped or crumbled into small pieces
1 cup buttermilk (plus up to ½ cup extra, if needed)

For the egg wash:
1 large egg
2 tbsp. water

Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and black pepper; mix briefly to combine.  Add the cubes of butter and mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter pieces are about the size of small peas.  (Alternatively, this can be done in a regular mixing bowl, using a pastry blender or two knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients.)  Add in the grated cheese and mix just until incorporated.

Mix in the green onions, bacon, and 1 cup of the buttermilk into the flour-butter mixture.  Stir by hand just until all the ingredients are incorporated.  If the dough is too dry to come together, mix in the remaining buttermilk a tablespoon or two at a time until the dough can be formed into a ball.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and pat the dough into an 8-inch disk.  Cut with a 3″ biscuit cutter into 12 circles, place on a greased cookie sheet, wrap in plastic and freeze till ready to eat.  Before baking, remove from freezer, brush with egg wash and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

*slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats

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Summer Corn Chowder – perfect for a rainy day

Corn Chowder and Cornbread

I hope you’re getting rain.  We got a little bit last night and it’s threatening to rain, today.  The clouds are hanging low and the wind is a cool 65 and I feel for a minute that it could be late September instead of the middle of July.  I live for cold weather and I’m still a little perplexed by why I live here, in the desert.  I grew up around here – maybe that’s it.  We long for things unfamiliar or for the relief we feel on the rare occasions we get a break from our usual reality.  I hear people in Seattle long for the beach.  I bet they don’t long for the desert, though!

Another comforting thing about food is the ability to transport myself into a feeling or a mood simply by the dish I prepare.  Caprese salad makes me long for summer nights, spice cakes make me wish for Christmas, chocolate chip cookies make me think of home.  A warm bowl of chowder with a thick slice of cornbread and a cold slab of butter puts me in the mood for a cloudy day and cooler temps.  So, in the middle of the heat of the summer, on this cooler week with cloudy days and threatening rain, let’s make a memory with a warm bowl of corn chowder and pray the rain stays a while.

Summer Corn Chowder and the Perfect Cornbread*
serves 6

4 teaspoons bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
2 ribs celery,cut into 1/2-inch dice (3/4 cup)
8 sprigs thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cups homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock
3 ears yellow corn, kernels removed (about 2 1/2 cups)
5 ounces small fingerling potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 poblano chile, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 1/2 cups half-and-half

Place bacon in small stockpot over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until bacon is deep golden brown and all the fat has been rendered, about 4 minutes. Remove bacon with slotted spoon, transfer to paper towel, and set aside. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat.

Add onions, celery, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste to stockpot; cook over medium-low heat until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add stock; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 15 minutes.

Add corn, potatoes, and chile; cook until potatoes are tender, 10-20 minutes. Remove and discard thyme. Add half-and-half, and simmer until soup is hot. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and garnish with the reserved crisp bacon pieces.

*recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Cornbread

 

We only make one cornbread recipe, anymore.  The New Best Recipe is a wonderful encyclopedia of how to make every recipe basically, perfect.  We love this book and it never steers us wrong.  It’s quite bulky, but all the recipes are tested extensively and done in a myriad of ways, and they give a background as to why the recipes work.  It’s very trust-worthy and a definite go-to in times of need of a solid recipe!  Their Golden Northern Cornbread is our go-to cornbread recipe.  It’s light, fluffy, moist and slightly sweet.  Holds together beautifully to be a base for your bowl of soup, or just on the side with some cold butter.

The Best Golden Cornbread
makes 9 servings

2 tbs unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
1 cup (5 ounces) yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
1 cup (5 ounces) AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup milk

Adjust an oven rack to the center position and heat the oven to 425 degrees.  Grease a 9 inch square baking pan with butter.

Whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt together in a large bowl.  Push the dry ingredients up the sides of the bowl to make a well.

Crack the eggs into the well and stir lightly with a wooden spoon, then add the buttermilk and milk.  Stir the wet and dry ingredients quickly until almost combined.  Add the melted butter and stir until the ingredients are just combined.

Pour the batter into the greased pan (we actually love to use our cast-iron skillet for this recipe). Bake until the top of the cornbread is golden brown and lightly cracked and the edges have pulled away from the sides of the pan, about 25 minutes.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool slightly, 10 minutes.  Cut and serve warm!

 

Greek Yogurt and Almond Butter Cheesecake

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I made this cheesecake last weekend for the 4th of July festivities.  By festivities, I mean meals.  Olive has been consuming a lot of yogurt lately (plain, full fat awesome stuff sweetened with a little bit of honey) and I did one of those “I thought we were out” mistakes and bought a huge container to come home and realize we already had a huge container.  I hate wasting and so I have been putting Greek yogurt in a lot of stuff , lately.  This morning I made yogurt and oatmeal waffles (really good, I’ll post about those, soon) and when I ran across a recipe that called for 2 cups of yogurt in a cheesecake, I knew I’d found my way to not waste!  Oh, how humble of me to eat a cheesecake in order to not waste yogurt.  It’s a hard life.

This is the no-bake type of cheesecake I grew up eating.  I love the kind you bake and there’s a place for that (that place is anywhere) but for these super hot summer days, a lighter, fluffier, doesn’t-heat-up-your-kitchen dessert is the way to go.  And using those strawberries I almost ALWAYS let rot on my counter is a plus, too!  For the topping, I chopped up almost-bad strawberries, a few blueberries and mixed them up with a bit of honey and let it sit out while I made the cheesecake.  By the time everything was ready, the topping was perfect.

The addition of almond butter adds such a wonderful flavor.  I think if I make this again, I’d try using peanut butter, just to see what it would be like!  The original blogger of this recipe said that it was “healthy” and could be eaten for breakfast because it has yogurt and granola in the crust.  I think that’s a marvelous way to feel like taking a nap at about 10:30, so I wouldn’t recommend it (this is based on experience).  Just because something has granola and yogurt doesn’t make it healthy.  This is perhaps lighter than most cheesecakes, but it also has cream cheese and whipping cream, so you do the math.  Or don’t do math.  Just enjoy dessert and stop thinking about whether it’s healthy or not. Of course you shouldn’t eat it every day.  If you want to, then sure, obsess over calories.  If you only eat stuff like this on weekends, then by all means, go for the gold.

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This little hand loved every bite.

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Greek Yogurt and Almond Butter Cheesecake*

For the Granola:
1 cup rolled or old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup finely shredded coconut
1/4 cup chopped cashews
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp coconut oil (or butter would work fine – just make sure it’s soft and at room temp)
1/4 cup honey

Crust:
1 1/2 cups granola you just made
4 whole grain honey graham crackers
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake Filling:
8 oz cream cheese, room temp
3/4 cup + 1/4 cup sugar, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup almond butter
2 cups plain greek yogurt – full fat, y’all
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine the oats, coconut, and nuts. In a measuring cup or separate bowl, whisk together the salt, coconut oil, and honey. Pour this mixture over the oats, and stir to completely coat the ingredients. Spread the mixture into an even layer on a baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Flip granola around with a spatula every 3-4 minutes to prevent burning and to get an even golden-brown crisp. After baking, set granola aside to cool.

Once the granola is cool to the touch, combine the granola and graham crackers in a food processor. Puree for 60-90 seconds, until a very fine and crumb-like texture. Pour in melted butter, and stir to combine evenly. Next, spread the crust mixture into the bottom of an 9-in round springform pan. Press down to compact into an even layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 3-4 minutes. (Do not let it burn!) Set aside to cool.

To make the filling, add the cream cheese and 3/4 of a cup of sugar to the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the cheese and sugar together until smooth and fluffy. Add the vanilla and almond butter, and beat until incorporated. Then, remove the bowl from the mixer, and fold in the Greek yogurt with a spatula. (Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl!)

In a separate bowl, whisk the heavy cream with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the cheesecake filling. Finally, pour the filling into the cooled granola crust, and spread into an even layer with a spatula. Cover with foil or plastic wrap, and freeze overnight.

To serve, run a paring knife around the edges of the cheesecake to loosen the sides from the pan. Then, unlatch the springform pan. Transfer the cheesecake to a cake stand or serving platter and garnish with fresh fruit.

*adapted from the adorable Mangoes and Palm Trees blog

Black Plum and Blackberry Galette

black plum galette
I’m in love with this pie.  It’s a galette – a free-form pie that is usually very rustic and can be sweet or savory, or even resemble a thin pancake in some regions of France.  I love it because it eliminates the pressure to make a pretty pie crust.  So many people struggle with pie crust, and when the edges crack, it can make even the most tempered person lose their cool.  But the galette solves all that.  You simply roll out your dough, fill it up and fold the edges over.  If you add an egg wash and some crunchy sugar sprinkled over the dough, no one in the world will care that it isn’t in a pie plate!  We enjoyed plums and a few blackberries in this pie because they were ripe and in season and cheap!  I really don’t buy fruit if it isn’t on sale.  I just figure that sale price tells me what’s in abundance and that’s an easy way to know what’s in season!

I served this over the course of a few days to a few different friends.  I love that one dish can unite so many.  I believe five different friends, total, shared this pie at different times over the weekend.  This is my very favorite thing about cooking and sharing meals.  And yes, a plum galette and a cup of coffee is a meal 🙂 I think people stay longer and open up quicker and are more at ease if you have something to offer them to eat and drink.  I’m not always good about doing this, especially for the most frequent friends.  And how awful to treat the frequent friends less special!  It’s hard for those of us who can’t be trusted with baked goods in the house, to have them in the house during the week.  But, maybe you could consider it a bit of a social challenge for yourself to bake this pie and then see how many different friends you can get to share it with you.  🙂

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Plum and Blackberry Galette*

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for rolling
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ice water
1/4 cup whole, skin-on almonds, toasted
5 to 6 plums, halved, pitted, and sliced 1/4 inch thick (keep slices together if possible – this was hard for me because my plums were cling and didn’t come away from the pit very easy.  I just sliced them as best I could – still pretty)
1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream

In a food processor, combine 2 1/2 cups flour, butter, 1 teaspoon sugar, and salt; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup ice water. Pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 1/4 cup remaining ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time). Don’t overmix! Remove dough from processor and shape into a disk; wrap in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour. Meanwhile, wipe bowl of food processor clean and add almonds, 3 tablespoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons flour; pulse until ground to a coarse meal.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet; sprinkle almond mixture over dough (this is necessary for absorbing the juices from the fruit so your crust won’t be a soggy mess.  Plus, it tastes great.)  With a spatula, transfer plums to dough; press lightly to fan out, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold edge of dough over fruit. Refrigerate 20 minutes (this is so your butter doesn’t leak out). Brush crust with cream (I used an egg); sprinkle galette with 2 tablespoons sugar (I used super crunchy sugar!)  Bake until crust is golden and underside is cooked through, about 70 minutes.

*I made this from Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts cookbook, which, is a book I could look at for hours on end, reading it like a novel.  That’s one way to get better at cooking, by the way – read cookbooks like they’re novels 🙂

Cajun Shrimp and Potato Bake

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This is a fantastically easy, hearty, well-rounded meal that is wonderful for the whole family.  I love cutting corn cobs into sundials – it’s not only very pretty to look at, but it makes it very easy for little hands to pick up and dig in!  I created this meal after determining we had nothing to eat 🙂  I had a few fingerling potatoes, 3 cobs of corn, and about 12 shrimp in the freezer.  Oh, and a shallot.  I had a shallot.  It really is remarkable what you can create when your laziness for going to the store beats out your laziness for cooking.  I chopped up everything, roasted them, and served it all in bowls with plenty of hot sauce!

This meal was made possible by the previously stated freezer staple, frozen shrimp, and a strong desire to stay home and out of the heat.  We had leftovers for a few days from this, and for what was probably $5 total, I’d consider that a success.

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Cajun Shrimp and Potato Bake
serves 4

1 lb fingerling potatoes, or small, new potatoes, chopped into 1″ pieces
3 cobs of corn, cut into 1″ cross-sections
1 large shallot, or 1/2 a medium onion, cut into thin half-moons
1/2 lb peeled, deveined, frozen shrimp (about 6-8 per person, if they are big)
1 tsp Cajun seasoning (or Old Bay would work great)
Olive oil (about 3-4 tablespoons total)
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Preheat the oven to 375. Run cold water over the frozen shrimp to thaw and leave it in the colander while you cut up the vegetables.  Toss the potatoes, corn and onion with about 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle well with salt and pepper.  Roast for 25-30 minutes, until corn turns golden and potatoes are tender, stirring once or twice during cooking time.  While the vegetables are roasting, rinse the shrimp again and then lay them out on paper towels, blot dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper and Cajun seasoning on both sides.

When the vegetables are almost done, take the tray out and lay the shrimp on top of the vegetables and drizzle with olive oil.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until the shrimp are opaque.  Toss everything together in a big bowl and serve with hot sauce of choice!

Happy 4th of July Weekend!

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It’s strange when a holiday falls in the middle of the week.  People have to go back to work the next day, so it’s this little blip in the week that makes you WANT the full, extended weekend, but few actually get it.  I figure since people might be celebrating all weekend, a recipe for a few burger-accompaniments would be in order.  I might even post, again, tomorrow with what we cook, tonight.  Maybe I’ll post on Sunday, too, with what happens on Saturday.  I love a good excuse to celebrate the summer all weekend long.  We really don’t need an excuse, but when festivities are high and people are cooking and grilling, it’s a wonderful time to try out new recipes and make the old, beloved standards.

We’ve been Top Chef fans since its debut seven years ago.  We developed a love-hate relationship with Spike during his season and bought his cookbook and now that relationship is all love.  He really understands how to do comfort food and takes nostalgia (burgers, shakes) to a new level.  So he is the go-to for summer time recipes!  I highly recommend his cookbook, The Good Stuff Cookbook and especially his recipe for the Good Stuff sauce that we now have to have on every burger we grill!  It’s a perfect blend of sweet, tangy and savory and it is perfect for burger toppings or a dip for fries!

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Good Stuff burger sauce*
makes about 2 cups

2 cups homemade or Hellman’s mayonnaise
2 tbs ketchup
2 tbs molasses
2 tbs rice vinegar
1 tsp salt

Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender (or in a cup with an immersion blender) and puree until smooth.  The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

*taken directly from The Good Stuff cookbook

We also are addicted, lately to caramelized onions.  There’s really nothing difficult about making them, and they completely improve everything they touch.  I’ve added them to omelets, sandwiches, wraps, burgers, stir-fry, beans, rice dishes – EVERYTHING!  Here is my simple method:

Caramelized Onions
makes 2 cups – can easily be scaled down

6 white onions, halved and then sliced thin
2 tablespoons neutral oil like Canola
Kosher salt

Heat the oil in a 12″ cast iron pan till it shimmers.  Dump all the onions in at once and let it sit there for a few minutes.  Then, gradually start flipping and stirring the onions around till they all get coated with the oil.  Your pan will be VERY full if you used all 6 onions.  Turn the heat down to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally for at least 30 minutes.  You want a deep, rich brown color on all the onions.  They will greatly reduce in size till you’re left with about 2 cups of onions.  We keep ours in the fridge and scoop out portions for everything under the sun, but most recently, they were an AMAZING topping to our burgers this weekend, complete with smoked gouda, pickles and the Good Stuff sauce.  Oh, heavens…

The last recipe I’ll impart is a very classic deviled egg recipe that includes a good amount of olive oil and the result is the most silky texture to the filling and the perfect balance of acid and richness from the egg yolks.  The recipe is adapted from the Serious Eats site, which, if you haven’t become addicted or receive their weekly emails, you will and you must.  So many great recipes come from their extensive research and trial and error!

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Deviled Eggs
makes about 18

1 dozen large eggs, not too fresh
2 tablespoons mayonnaise, preferably home made
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
Up to 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Frank’s Red Hot sauce
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons thinly sliced chives
Crushed red pepper or hot paprika

Place eggs in a large saucepan and cover with 2 quarts cold water. Place over high heat, bring to a boil, cover, remove from heat, and let stand ten minutes. Drain eggs and peel under cool running water. Slice each egg in half lengthwise.

Place all of the yolks in the bowl of a food processor. Select 16 of the best looking egg white halves and set aside. Reserve the remaining 8 for another use. Add mayonnaise, mustard, half of vinegar, and hot sauce to food processor and process until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.

With machine running, slowly drizzle in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season mixture to taste with salt and remaining vinegar (if desired). Transfer to zipper-lock bag. Filling and egg white halves can be stored in the refrigerator up to overnight before filling and serving.

Cut off corner of ziplock bag and pipe filling mixture into egg whites, overstuffing each hole. Drizzle with extra olive oil, sprinkle with black pepper, chives, crushed red pepper, and sea salt. Serve immediately.

Figs with Cream and Honey

figs and honey
Fresh figs are exceptionally hard to find around here.  I’m not exactly sure, why, because our climate is perfect for the fig plant.  Maybe I’m just going to the store at the wrong time of day.  Maybe some old lady waits till she sees the truck and loads up the back of her Cadillac so she can make jam.  Whatever the reason, I’ve never had much luck finding them.  Most that we can find are dried and the fresh ones are crazy expensive.  So when I happened to pass these by, I got really excited.  I got some from a friend a few years ago and made some killer port wine figpote, but I’d never just given the fig a chance to be eaten plain without dumping a bunch of sugar on it.  (I know – I dumped honey on it.  But not a lot, really.  And it seems okay when it’s not white sugar by the cupfuls in a huge jam pot.)

These figs are currently at Market Street and they are beautifully ripe.  A fig is nearly an instant dessert without doing any fancy prep to it.  It has such a luscious texture and the flavor is mellow and pairs well with so many things.  So, with just a little work, you can escalate a simple fig into a high-end dessert you might get charged $12 for at a restaurant that claims to be “up-scale.”  Not to mention, it’s wonderfully easy for a baby or toddler to eat, and it goes so well with wine, you might just feel like it’s the weekend in the middle of the week.  Desserts can do that.  And because this is a very sensible dessert, I’m giving you permission to eat it on a Tuesday, instead of waiting for the weekend.

figs with creme fraiche

Figs with Cream and Honey
serves two

4-6 fresh figs, depending on size
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1 tbs honey, plus more for drizzling
2 tbs roasted, salted pistachios

So, basically, the ingredients are the instructions.  Wash the figs, slice them down the middle and remove the stems.  Arrange them on a plate and whip up the creme fraiche with the honey until smooth and place in the center of the figs.  Top the creme fraiche with the pistachios and drizzle the whole thing with extra honey and serve!  Creme fraiche can be replaced by greek yogurt, fresh whipped creme, or even marscapone cheese.  The pistachios were a last minute addition but they totally brought everything together and added real depth to the dish.  In the tone of James Oseland, I give this dish 3 and a half starrrrrrs.

figs with creme fraiche, honey and pistachios