Tag Archives: recipe

Biscuits (redux)

Okay, I may have just stumbled across the world’s greatest biscuit recipe. Since trying to make biscuits for the first time last month, I’ve been playing around with the recipe. I wasn’t 100% happy with it. It was pleasant enough, but it was a bit tough and a bit lacking in sweetness.

After a number of different experiments, I think I just hit the home run. Unlike the first time, they’re very fluffy, decently sweet, and absolutely divine hot. I haven’t tried them at room temperature yet, and I suspect if Marc were here, they wouldn’t last that long. (I’ve got guests coming over at some point, so the biscuits may not make it that long anyway.)

In any case, here’s the new and updated recipe. Because I love you and want you to be happy like I am. (And, yes, I convert all my recipes to weight values. It means I only have one spoon and one bowl to clean up at the end of my baking.)

(Recipe behind the cut.)

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Pumpkin muffins

As part of my “experimental dessert day” last week, I wound up with about a cup and a half of pumpkin puree sitting in my fridge. I had no idea what to do with it until Marc’s mom mentioned that she had a really great recipe for pumpkin muffins. It’s one of Marc’s favorites, too, so my decision was easy.

I made a 3/4 batch, due to the amount of pumpkin puree I had on hand. It was a surprisingly easy recipe: no creaming of butter (it uses oil instead) and all done in one bowl. I didn’t use cloves because I didn’t feel like grinding the whole cloves I’ve got and I don’t have any ground cloves. (Note to self: make up some pumpkin pie spice as some point.)

I discovered after I made my first dozen that I’d run out of muffin liners. So the first dozen were lined and much larger than the second batch. I wound up with a total of 21 muffins, though I suspect if I’d made them all unlined I probably would have had two dozen or maybe a little more. In any event, there were none left by the end of last night’s game, so I call this recipe a rousing success.

(Recipe behind the cut.)

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Sugar cookies from Baking Illustrated

I admit, I had high hopes for these cookies. (Recipe below.) I’ve always been a huge fan of Cooks Illustrated, because they take the time to explain their methodology and why things work as they do. So I expected their “Soft and Chewy Sugar Cookies” recipe to be stellar.

It’s not. It’s not bad; don’t get me wrong. They’re just not great. Maybe because I had my oven on a touch too high, or maybe because the melted sugar cooked just a bit too long, but the sugar-coated bottoms of the cookies wound up burning, even though the tops are fine. Also, the cookies are more crumbly than I anticipated. I expected something more smooth than crumbly.

Still, they’re decently tasty, especially with milk. I’m just not sure I’ll make them again, and I doubt they’ll make the Christmas cookie gift list.

For the record: I made these by hand, and I only cooked one baking sheet at a time because I have a small oven. Your mileage may vary.

(Recipe behind the cut.)

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Un-chocolate chip cookies

Okay, you all should know I’m a little weird by now, right? You’ve all figured that out? Well, one of the ways in which I’m weird is that I’ve wondered for years now what chocolate chip cookies would taste like without chocolate chips. (Yes, really.) For years, I’ve tried to eat chocolate chip cookies getting a bite without chocolate chip, just to see what it tasted like. I usually fail.

Today, seeing as how I was in the mood to bake and didn’t have chocolate chippits around anyway, I decided to experiment. (Cue thunder and lightning.)

I found a recipe called Baseball Tollhouse Cookies in a book Marc’s mom had given me, originally by Marcy Goldman in the book “The Best of Better Baking.com”. (Recipe below.) It was the only chocolate chip cookie recipe I had that was both 1) easily available, and 2) vetted by someone I trust. So I decided to use that one.

Now, this was a true experiment for me. The dough — a fairly standard cookie dough, as far as I could tell — was quite tasty. But I had no idea how the lack of chocolate chips would affect baking: would they need longer or shorter baking times? Do the chocolate chips add moisture to the dough? I had no idea. But if there’s one thing everyone should have learned by now, it’s that even near-certain failure is only a minor impediment in my experiments. (Repeat after me: Experience is what you get right after you needed it.)

In the end, the dough produced 21 gigantic cookies. (What do you expect with 3 tablespoons of dough per cookie?!?) They’re flat and chewy and delicious. And gigantic. Baking time in my oven is about 12 minutes, and they may be a touch underdone, despite the golden-browning of the edges. But I like them chewy and a touch underdone, so that’s all good in my book.

So now I have an answer to the age-old question, “What do chocolate chip cookies taste like without the chocolate chips?” Answer: “Chewy, sweet, and all-around wonderful.” (Though maybe next time I’ll make them a bit smaller. *grin*)

(Recipe behind the cut.)

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Bean and vegetable chili

Tonight, I felt like surprising Marc with a nice, fall dish. Something warm and hearty he could eat after spending the day outside. I came upon this recipe from Mark Bittman (one of my favorite sources for recipes), and then heavily adapted it. This recipe is actually based on his book Food Matters, in which he says it’s totally okay to switch out the beans, the vegetables, or pretty much anything else you like.

I wasn’t quite sure my pot was going to be big enough, but in the end it was — just. My vegetables worked out to about 4 cups before cooking, and that’s a decent amount of vegetables! Other issues: the recipe never says when to add back the meat, so I put it in with the tomatoes and beans. I also wasn’t quite sure what to use to replace the chili pepper, so I added some chili powder and some red pepper flakes, and that seemed to work out pretty well. For the first time ever in cooking, I didn’t measure out my seasonings. I consider this a milestone. Finally, towards the end, I didn’t think it was thick enough, so I added a tablespoon of corn meal. (Thank you, Google, for the helpful hint!) Which meant it was just thick enough for a first eating, and will be super-thick when it’s reheated for leftovers.

Marc and I both really like this one. I think it’s a keeper.

Here’s my take on this recipe:

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Potato and chickpea tagine

So. Earlier this year, I made a tagine. The recipe is here, though it appears to have changed since I cooked it. (There definitely wasn’t any vanilla the first time I made it. I’d remember that.) Thankfully, I have the original on my computer.

In any event, tonight I was really in the mood for the flavour of the tagine (earthy, a little sweet), but all my chicken is in the freezer and I didn’t want to deal with defrosting it. On the other hand, I had two sweet potatoes I’d been meaning to use for a while (perhaps a little too long, actually — I had to cut off some bad parts) and there were two smallish potatoes left over from making hash browns yesterday. So I decided to experiment. Me, cooking without a full recipe? This is a dangerous, dangerous thing. But I decided to try anyway.

The main difference between this time and the last time I made this recipe is that there was a lot less panic. Since April, I’ve become comfortable with my spice grinder, with using ginger, and with the heat of my stove. So even though prep took about 45 minutes (mostly due to cutting the potatoes and other ingredients), it was a lot less stressful.

Because there wasn’t any chicken, I started directly with frying the onions. I put in my potatoes around the same time as I put in the chickpeas. It took much longer to cook through step 2 (see below) because I needed to wait for the potatoes to be tender, that took closer to 25 minutes than 15.

I was iffy on putting in the couscous, because there was so much potato in there, and I wasn’t sure if it needed more grains. In the end, I decided to put them in, just to thicken it up a bit and make it a bit of a one-pot meal. I think it was the right choice.

From start of prep to end of cooking, it was still about an hour and a half, but it was a much less stressful hour and a half, and most of the cooking time was unattended, so I don’t mind too much.

Final verdict: It smells tasty, and it tastes tasty too! Yay! The only problem (and it’s a small one) is that the sweet potato cooked faster than the regular potato, so it’s a bit on the mushy side. Maybe try putting it in 5 minutes later next time?

(Recipe behind the cut)

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“Depression style” pasta with peas

Clearly not having learned my lesson with Tuesday’s fiasco, I ventured once more into the kitchen. This time, I wanted something that didn’t involve vermicelli. Something simpler. Something from Depression Cooking with Clara, specifically her pasta with peas. Don’t ask me why. It’s just what I felt like having tonight.

All told, it wasn’t horrible. It was a bit on the mushy side, and it definitely needed some pepping up with tomato sauce and grated cheese, but I’d eat it again. Which is good, because I’ve probably got about 3 servings’ worth of leftovers.

Also in the “good news” category, this cooking experiment was far easier on the nerves: I didn’t even come close to blowing up my kitchen this time. I did have a bit of a challenge when I tried to put the peas into the pot, mind you. I was using frozen peas instead of canned, and to simulate the water in the can of peas, poured some water about halfway up the measuring cup that I had the peas in. What I hadn’t counted upon what that this apparently froze those peas together into a solid clump that required a bit of whacking with the wooden spoon to separate once in the pot. But it worked out in the end, and (like I said) the kitchen didn’t explode.

For my own recollections, and for those who are interested, a plain-English recipe (along with my comments) follows behind the cut.

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