Monday, December 31, 2007

pecan pie bars

this recipe comes from my neighbor back home, who is an excellent baker. it's fairly easy to put together and is rich, gooey and nutty. the recipe calls for brickle chips, which can be hard to find. i found mine at meijer after striking out at kroger. heath brand makes both toffee bits and chocolate toffee bits. i've never tried the chocolate ones, but i can't imagine it would be bad.

i like to use a little trick with tin foil to make cutting easier. before baking, line the pan with tin foil, using a long piece of foil running the long way in the pan. make sure the foil comes up to and covers the short sides of the pan. now take a second piece of foil and lay it across the pan the other way, so that the long sides of the pan are covered in foil. when the pecan bars are completely cool, lift them out of the pan with the foil. this helps to avoid making a mess with cutting and then scooping the fragile bars out of the pan. the same trick works really well with brownies.

pecan pie bars

2 c flour
1/2 c confectioners sugar
1 c cold butter

14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 8 oz. package of brickle chips
1 c chopped pecansA

cut butter into flour until course, press firmly into 9" x 13" pan. bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

beat egg, milk, vanilla, and then stir in pecans and brickle chips. spread over crust. bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. cool completely and cut into 1 inch squares.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

black bean stew over coconut lime rice

i'm really struggling to be inspired to cook winter food. flipping through magazines and cookbooks, the only recipes that are jumping out at me are ones involving fresh sweet corn, strawberries and summer tomatoes. digging deep, i came up with this recipe tonight:

black bean stew over coconut lime rice

for the black bean stew:
2 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped fine
large handful of yellow baby carrots
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cans black beans (30 oz total)
half a pound of frozen corn
large can of stewed tomatoes

sweat the onion, carrots and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat in a stock pot until onion is soft. add seasonings and cook for a few minutes more. enjoy lovely aroma of onions and cumin. add stock, corn and one can of rinsed black beans. bring to a simmer. in a mixing bowl with a stick blender (or in a food processor) puree the tomatoes and second can of rinsed black beans. add tomato mixture to pot and simmer on low about 20 minutes.

for the coconut lime rice:
1 1/2 c basmati rice
14 oz can of lite coconut milk
1 1/4 c water
1 tbs sugar
juice of one lime
2 tsp salt
1/8 c chopped cilantro

incorporate all ingredients except cilantro in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. reduce heat and simmer until all liquid has been absorbed, about 25 minutes. fluff rice with a fork and mix in cilantro.

this is really a stick-to-your-ribs meal. and it's fairly balanced nutritionally speaking, which is important post holidays. the slight sweetness of the rice is a nice balance to the acid and heat in the stew. if you wanted to go light on the carbs, skip the rice all together and add 4 cups of veggie stock to convert the stew into a soup.

*update: having this left over, i served the stew over plain white rice with a dollop of sour cream. it was better than the coconut rice!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

cajun cashews

this recipe was given to me by a colleague's wife and i quickly adopted it as my holiday gift to family and friends. this year i made 20 pounds! these are easy to put together, the recipe can be adjusted to your heat preference and they are highly addictive. you'll need raw cashews. they can be found at trader joe's (best value), whole foods (organic) or krema nuts (big, beautiful and expensive).

cajun cashews

2 tbs butter
2 tbs red wine vinegar
2 tbs tabasco or other hot sauce
1 tbs cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp salt
4 cups raw cashews

preheat oven to 350 degrees. incorporate all ingredients except cashews in a saucepan on medium heat. when butter is melted and mixture begins to simmer, remove from heat and pour in cashews. stir until cashews are completely coated. pour cashews onto a foil lined jelly roll pan and bake for about 12 minutes or until nuts begin to turn golden brown. let cool for 5 minutes on pan and then scrape into mixing bowl and toss.

this year i used frank's red hot sauce but if you wanted more heat you could use something from cajohn's. you can also use more or less cayenne pepper to adjust the heat level. they taste great with my favorite beer.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

cocktail sauce, with a side of shrimp

having a craving for shrimp cocktail got me to thinking, why buy nice shrimp and then serve it with crummy jarred cocktail sauce? so i mixed up a batch of my own. i like the extra heat of a lot of horseradish and the lime goes above and beyond the average lemon in standard recipes.

cocktail sauce

1 cup chili sauce
juice of 1 lime
3 tbs horseradish
1 tbs finely chopped cilantro

mix ingredients and refrigerate. serve with shrimp. congratulate yourself on not succumbing to the lure of jarred cocktail sauce.

Friday, December 7, 2007

carrot cake pancakes

after eating these beauties in boston, i just couldn't get the idea of carrot cake pancakes out of my head. today i gave it a shot and i think they came out pretty well. the next time i make these i think i'd sweeten the cream cheese a bit more.

carrot cake pancakes

2 eggs
1 c milk
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c brown sugar
2 c flour
2 tbs baking powder
1 tbs baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 c shredded carrots

maple cream cheese:
1/2 block cream cheese
1 tbs maple syrup
2 tbs chopped pecans

chopped pecans

beat eggs, milk,vanilla extract and oil together. in a separate larger mixing bowl combine sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. mix in egg mixture. mix in shredded carrots (i used orange and yellow carrots). allow mixture to sit for 15 minutes. cook on a griddle at medium heat. cook slowly to allow the pancakes time to puff up and carrots time to cook. combine cream cheese, maple syrup and pecans. top pancakes with maple cream cheese, garnish with chopped pecans.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

angry gods of baking: 2, me: 0

i've had 2 baking disasters in 2 days. and if i didn't really love to eat baked goods, i'd probably just give it up for good.

the first foul up was with a dessert i really had high hopes for. i attempted to make lamingtons and although they did end up tasting pretty good, they were a frustrating mess to make and were just plain ugly. for those who haven't encountered the lamington, it's basically cubes of pound cake dipped in chocolate icing and then covered in coconut. sounds great, right? as usual, i have only myself to blame for this baking flub. i mistakenly bought self rising flour (why does this product even exist?!?) and then foolishly substituted it for the standard flour and baking soda the recipe called for. "it should be fine..." yeah right! my second flub was some how missing the "refrigerate cake for a few hours to overnight before icing." the flour substitution resulted in a very (way too) fluffy pound cake. a pound cake that when cut into cubes fell apart easily and then when i attempted to cover it in chocolate icing, fell apart even more. additionally by the time i got to the 'covering them with coconut' step, the icing had dried and the coconut wasn't sticking. so here i am, surrounded by a mess covering every square inch of my kitchen, icing, pound cake crumbs and coconut everywhere, attempting to forcefully stick coconut to lambingtons that just aren't having it. at this point, i'm close to loosing my temper (did i mention that my lack of patience is probably at the root of my baking issues?) setting aesthetics aside, i did end up with a reasonable reproduction of the lamington and because we were hanging out with good friends that night (the kind that don't judge you for baking screw ups), we ate them anyway. the one consolation was that they did taste good.

"i think i'm loosing my mind" goof up number two: i totally mess up making my signature cookie. first i beat the sugar and butter together and observed: "it's not really getting fluffy like it should... whatever, pour the flour in!" a few steps later: "oh crap, i didn't add the eggs. that's why it wasn't fluffy." so i add the eggs late in the game and proceed to incorporate the rest of the ingredients (almost) and put scoops of dough onto the sheets and then into the oven. 2 minutes into baking, i realize "i forgot the oatmeal!" so i pull the melty cookie dough out of the oven, put it back into the mixing bowl, add the oatmeal and then re-scoop it back onto the sheets. i baked them anyway and although they were edible, they spread out way too much and tasted just a bit off. plus they took an extra 5 minutes to cook. jeeze!

i'm going to take a hiatus from baking for a while. who knows how bad things could get if i keep at it.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

creamy potato yam soup

a rich and hearty potato soup is the perfect warm up after raking those leaves you've been putting off for the last couple of weeks. i often make this on a sunday night and take it for lunch all week. and as far as creamy soups go, it's pretty light. no heavy cream or inordinate amounts of butter. unless you want it that way.

creamy potato yam soup

1 medium onion, diced
2 tbs butter
2 medium potatoes
3 medium yams
4 -5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/8 c chopped parsley
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1/2 tsp celery salt
salt & pepper to taste
1 1/2 c milk
1 tbs flour

in stockpot, cook onions and butter until soft. peel potatoes and yams, then cube. add potatoes, yams, stock (less for thicker soup, more for thinner) and seasonings to stockpot. simmer for 30 minutes, or until potatoes and yams are tender. remove from heat. mix flour into milk and add to soup. with a stick blender, puree. i like to leave some chunks of potato & yam. bring to a simmer until thickened.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


eating at tasi was really a pleasant surprise. there are plenty of places to get a sandwich/soup/salad for lunch, but few that source local ingredients, make almost all ingredients in house (including roasting their own meats!) and do so for a reasonable price. the menu is expansive and here's a bonus: they serve breakfast all day.

to start we had the potato latkes with chive and sour cream. they're served warm with the perfect balance of a crispy outside and soft inside. not too greasy, which allowed the potato flavor to come through.
for lunch i had the cubano panini, consisting of roasted pork, pickled vegetables, mozzarella and dijon mustard. the meat was really tender and flavorful and the pickled veggies added great texture and bite. the bread was delicious and perfectly toasted for the panini. look at this beautiful pork:
my lunch companion had the sourdough blt with ancho mayo. although the ancho wasn't really detectable it was still voted a very yummy sandwich.
a highlight for both dishes were the very delicious house made chips. i really appreciate a house made chip that tastes like a crispy potato rather than crispy grease.

the space is really beautiful and even though i didn't think it could be improved from how pistachio used it, tasi has. it's rustic, homey and elegant all at the same time. there's a surprising amount of seating and many of the tables have beautiful dark green granite. it's fun to be able to peek into the immaculate kitchen and watch the staff at work. the only drawback seemed to be that kitchen noise made it difficult to communicate your order to the cashier.
continuing to browse the menu over lunch, i immediately had the desire to order about 4 more dishes. "ooh! greek scrambled eggs with zucchini, tomato, feta & toasted sourdough! or lobster mac and cheese!" i can't wait to go back to try these goodies.
tasi offers a nice selection of pre-made dishes for you to heat and serve. this isn't really my style but i can imagine many a nice dinner coming from tasi.
680 north pearl street
columbus, ohio 43215
p 614.222.0788
f 614.222.1877

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

that jeni...

is a flavor genius.
i was blown away today by a seasonal sorbet from jeni's: the cranberry royale.
cranberry royale is the joyful marriage of cranberry, grapefruit and champagne. each component pops in perfect harmony with the others, it's tart, sweet and complex. this sorbet had me thinking, where else i can recreate this beautiful flavor combination, or will i need to buy cranberry royale by the pint and eat it daily to satisfy my cravings?

Monday, November 26, 2007

uzbek dumplings - how to

late this summer i got a lesson on how to make two varieties of dumplings from my uzbek bff, dilya. both dumplings use the same dough, one is sauted and the other is steamed.

first, how to make the dough. the recipe isn't a precise formula, you just have to know when you've reached the right consistency.

ingredients: 1 egg, 2 tbs salt, 1 liter hot water, about 8 c flour

beat the egg and temper with some of the hot water in a large glass bowl. add the rest of the water and salt to egg. add the flour and begin incorporating and kneading until dough forms. dough will become firm and pull away from edges of bowl when ready. cover bowl with towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
cut dough into 6 pieces, and knead again, forming into balls on a floured work surface.
using either a rolling pin or pasta maker, roll dough out until about 1/8 inch thick and cut into 4 inch squares. roll and cut dough as needed for assembly of dumplings so it doesn't dry out.

bichak - pumpkin pieroshki

1/2 medium pumpkin: seeded, peeled, shredded
2 onions, thinly sliced
salt & pepper to taste
3 tbs cumin seeds (whole)
~3 tbs oil

place all ingredients in a large saute pan and saute until pumpkin and onions are cooked down and soft.
place one spoonful on each square of dough and fold opposing corners together, sealing all four corners in the middle. don't overfill, they won't seal completely and make a mess when you saute them.
lightly coat pan in a small amount of oil and saute bichak in batches until lightly browned on each side. turn once. layer in a pan to keep warm.bichak is eaten warm and served with sour cream. these things are so good, i could probably eat two dozen of them. they're the perfect comfort food. the pumpkin tastes fresh and bright and the cumin seeds provide a crunchy pop of flavor.


for pumpkin manti:
1/2 pumpkin, seeded, peeled & shredded
1 onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs cumin seeds, whole

for beef manti:
2 lbs ground beef
1 onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs cumin seeds, whole

in two separate bowls, incorporate ingredients for beef and pumpkin manti.

place a spoonful of filling on a 4 inch square of dough. fold all corners to the middle, like the bichak. then take both left corners and pinch them together on the side of the dumpling. take both right corners and pinch together on the right side of the dumpling. this is easy to do but hard to describe. check out the picture for the best depiction of the folding/pinching technique.
place dumplings in an oiled steamer tray and stack as many as five trays high. steam for 45 minutes.
meanwhile, saute onion and tomato together for a garnish to the bichak.
manti is served with sour cream and the tomato onion saute. they are really tasty and are meant to be eaten with your hands. the warm, soft, savory manti tastes so good with the cool creamy sour cream.
i'm so hungry for these now i'm almost willing to do the 4 hours of work it takes to prepare both of them.

Friday, November 23, 2007

you can't go wrong with goat cheese and caramelized onions

here's an appetizer so easy and tasty, you just can't go wrong. it combines the irresistible flavor combination of caramelized onions and goat cheese on a crispy, puffy little pillow of puff pastry. they can easily be made ahead and finished off in the oven for that "i make entertaining look soooo easy" start to any party.

goat cheese & caramelized onion appetizers

1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
1 large onion
2 tbs butter
1/4 c goat cheese

equipment: mini muffin pan

preheat oven to 400 degrees. slice onion and place in saute pan with butter. cook at medium heat for about 40 minutes until nicely caramelized. cut sheet of puff pastry into 24 squares (approximately 2" x 2") and push into mini muffin tins. bake for 9 minutes. add small piece of goat cheese (about 1/2 tbs) to each puff and top with an equal amount of caramelized onions. at this point you can either put it in the fridge overnight of just pop it back into the oven for 5-10 more minutes. or if they're coming from the fridge, probably 15 minutes would be best. they are done when the edges of the puff pastry just starts to turn golden brown.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

yuen's restaurant

have you ever loved a restaurant?
i mean really loved a restaurant.
the food is excellent all of the time and it's never too crowded to get a table. you feel right at home there, you know the staff and the menu is great but most of the time you just have the chef make you whatever he's feeling that day. a restaurant like this comes along once in a lifetime and when it's closed and torn down, it leaves a serious hole in your heart. and stomach.

the restaurant i'm talking about is chinese village, formerly located on high street near lane avenue. when they closed around 2002 they promised they would reopen, but years went by and... nothing. until recently i got a tip that they indeed had reopened last year under the name yuen's restaurant.
this weekend we visited yuen's and were not disappointed in the least. the menu and staff are the same and the new location is attractive and comfortable. the menu is expansive and we ordered our favorites from the vietnamese and chinese menu.we started with the beef tendon. i didn't really know what to expect and it was a nice surprise. it was pleasantly spicy and the texture was unique, as firm as meat but gelatinous like fat - in a good way.
we also had the vietnamese spring rolls, which in addition to being delicious were very beautiful. they were cool and fresh with veggies, rice noodles and two plump little shrimp in each one. they were served with a brown sauce (hoisen?) for dipping with crushed peanuts. the rice noodle soup with seafood was exactly as we remembered it. the squid, fish cakes, shrimp and crab are fresh and delicious in the best seafood broth i've ever tasted. the scallion and cilantro add just the right crunch of freshness.i had the egg roll with rice noodles and grilled pork. i love this dish because even though it had lots going on, everything worked really well together. the sauce served on the side was sweet but really thin. i do wish that after pouring it over i'd been able to taste it throughout the whole bowl. the egg rolls were warm and made with pork and served over rice noodles, over lettuce. the grilled pork was flavorful and savory.

the kind folks at yuen's are not messing around. the food is fresh and authentic and never disappoints. check them out for the best chinese and vietnamese food columbus has to offer.

yuen's restaurant
5720 cleveland avenue
columbus, ohio 43231

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

per cent'anni!

"per cent'anni!" translates to "for a hundred years!" and is a common italian toast at weddings. for our wedding our signature cocktail was a popiotini (a play on our last name) and many a toast was made.(photo credit: adam lowe photography)

the popiotini is actually a grapfruit gibson, the first of which we had at dragonfly about 7 years ago and should be made as follows:
1 part tanqueray no. 10 gin
2 parts freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
splash of salty lime

notes: our bartender was kind enough to have bubbles squeeze our grapefruit juice. salty lime can be made by combining salt and lime juice.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

you can't have an italian wedding without a cookie table

among the first thoughts my mom had when the husband and i got engaged was "i'll make cookies!" and it's true, you can't have a (real) italian wedding without a large cookie table. *all of the photographs in this post are the beautiful work of adam lowe, our incredible photographer. he captured our wedding perfectly (including the food!) and we really enjoyed having him be a part of our day. to anyone looking for a photographer, please email me and i'll be happy to gush at length about what a wonderful job adam did. i love our wedding photographs.

now, back to cookies. for months before the wedding my mother was slaving in the kitchen, trying to find the best version of all the classic italian cookies. and to my father's credit, he spent months taste testing every batch. we all sacrificed for this wedding! my grandfather was the final word on authenticity and taste. issuing the highest praise when my mom got a recipe right: "tastes just like my mother made".
when the final recipes were decided on, my mother began baking in earnest and socking away dozens upon dozens of cookies, filling her freezer and leasing space from neighbors when needed.
not only did she bake all these cookies but she and my dad drove from new york to columbus with them and assembled them all on trays the night before the wedding.
the future in-laws chipped in too and soon we had enough cookies to feed the largest army of italian wedding guests one could imagine.
it was so special to have that cookie table for the wedding. to think of all of the hard work, care and love that went into those cookies is really emotional. and to see our relatives dive in with such enthusiasm when those cookies were uncovered was truly priceless.
(photo credit: adam lowe photography)

one of my most cherished wedding gifts is a small recipe book my mom gave me, filled with all of the recipes she used to make our cookies. here are a few of my favorites:

italian fig cookies

2 1/2 c flour
1/3 c sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 c shortening
2 tbs butter
1/2 c milk
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 c dried figs
3/4 c golden raisins
1/4 c slivered almonds
1/4 c hot water
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground black pepper
1/4 c white sugar

in a large bowl, combine flour, 1/3 c sugar and baking powder. cut in shortening and butter until mixture resembles small peas. stir in the milk and egg until the dough comes together. divide dough into two pieces, wrap and refrigerate for about 2 hours or until easy to handle.
in a food processor, grind the figs, raisins and almonds until they are coarsely chopped. in a medium bowl, stir together 1/4 c sugar, cinnamon and pepper. add hot water and stir until sugar dissolves. stir in fruit mixture, cover and set aside until the dough is ready.
preheat oven to 350 degrees.
on a floured works surface, roll each piece of dough out to a 12 inch square. cut each 12 inch square into twelve 3 X 4 inch rectangles. using a tablespoon of filling for each rectangle, spread filling long one of the short sides of the rectangle. roll up from that side. place the rolls seam side down onto a cookie sheet. curve each roll slightly.
bake for 20 to 25 min until golden brown.
let cool and drizzle with confectioners icing.

wedding knot cookies

1/2 c butter
3 eggs
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 c flour
3 tsp baking powder

preheat oven to 350 degrees. cream the butter. addin eggs, sugar and vanilla. mix well.
in a separate bowl, stire together flour and baking powder. add flour mixture to butter mixture. use hands to shape pieces of dough into loose knots. bake 8-10 mins. frost with almond icing when cool.

almond confectioners icing

2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tbs almond extract
8 tsp water
2 tbs melted butter

mix all ingredients together until smooth. color as desired.

chocolate spice balls

1 devils food cake mix
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbs cocoa powder
1/2 c oil
1/2 c water
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

mix above ingredients together and add:
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup mini chocolate chips

mix thoroughly and roll into 1 inch balls. it's helpful to use a small amount of oil on your hands.
bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 mins. frost with confectioners icing.
(photo credit: adam lowe photography)

Monday, November 12, 2007

experimental panini night

another wedding gift i'm just getting around to unpacking is an awesome panini grill. if there's one thing i love it's a good sandwich, so i picked up some interesting ingredients from whole foods and got down to business.

the first panini was a combo of some of my favorite ingredients: sopressata, provolone, roasted tomatoes, and spicy mayo. the spicy mayo has been on my mind since the last time i had my favorite sushi at akai hana, the sweet potato roll. it contains sweet potato tempura, radish sprouts and the magical spicy mayo. i made mine by combining mayo and huy fong sriracha. i love it when you can easily replicate a restaurant ingredient you crave.

the second panini i made was a hawaiian panini, at the suggestion of my bff. other experiments with the hawaiian pizza flavor combo have been successful, so why not? the ingredients were: ham, sliced pineapple, mozzarella and a bit of garlic salt. i used rustic italian bread from whole foods and olive oil spread to facilitate the yummy crispy panini goodness.

*update: i think the panini maker is our new leftover consumption strategy. it's so easy to pull it out, assemble the sandwiches and be eating a warm meal in less than 15 minutes. that's my kind of weeknight dinner.
the husband made two paninis. the first consisting of leftover spaghetti, sopressata and provolone and the second made of sliced ny strip steak, provolone and spicy mayo.
my panini contained sliced chicken, artichoke hearts, spicy mayo and provolone. yummy!
i've had so many tasty breakfast wraps (north star cafe being among my favorite) i'd like to try to recreate some of my favorites and grill them on the panini press. the fun part about the grill i got is that you can set the top to rest at different heights so it won't totally flatten items unless you want it to.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

my favorite fall foods

visiting my parents in western ny brought two of my favorite fall foods: pumpkin seeds and concord grapes.
we have concord grapes here in ohio but they are a weaker imitation of western ny's concords. they have a rich, deep complex flavor and i love the pop of sweet juice in my mouth. here's the quart i picked up:

my other favorite is pumpkin seeds. there are many schools of thought on the best way to roast seeds, but here's my favorite method:

scoop the guts out of your pumpkins and carve them:
pick the seeds out of the guts
and rinse. drain, removing as much water as possible.
spread on parchment lined jelly roll pan and add equal parts of celery salt and table salt to taste. roast at 275 degrees until totally dry and just starting to brown:

Sunday, October 21, 2007

ode to a new kitchenaid mixer

registering for a kitchenaid stand mixer was the only preconceived notion i had about my wedding prior to getting engaged. post-wedding, things have settled down and this weekend i finally unpacked and put away my new kitchenaid artisan 5 qt stand mixer. so cool! for its inaugural spin i decided to make my signature treat: cranberry oatmeal pecan cookies.

cranberry oatmeal pecan cookies

1 c softened butter
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 c brown sugar
2/3 c white sugar
2 1/4 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 c rolled oats
1 c dried cranberries
1 c white chocolate chips
1 c chopped pecans

preheat oven to 350 degrees. take out kitchenaid mixer. marvel at its beauty. beat butter, eggs, vanilla & sugars until fluffy. add remaining ingredients and mix until incorporated. batter is thick and should look like this:
using one of those fancy cookie scoops (that works like an ice cream scoop), drop onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. bake about 10 minutes or until edges begin to brown.

i think these cookies are the total package. sweet, chewy and rich with a hint of salt. if you can think of a more inspirational name than "cranberry oatmeal pecan cookies", please let me know.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

banana bean cafe

calle ocho: cuban roast pork tenderloin, latin olive, caper and cachucha pepper salad, pressed on pan cubano with shaved manchego cheese.

i'm certainly not the first blogger to talk about banana bean cafe, and i won't be the last. but that won't stop me from singing the praises of this teeny tiny floribbean paradise in german village. this is the type of restaurant you leave so full and happy that you know the rest of your day is going to hurt, just trying to stay awake at your desk.

here are just a few more items i've enjoyed at banana bean cafe:
bananas foster french toast (sans banana, i hate banana!)

potato pancakes with caramelized apples and sour cream

cuban pork spring rolls with sugarcane chili sauce

one request for banana bean cafe, -please start serving cafe con leche! i love this cuban coffee drink and i don't think anyone in columbus serves it.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

the worst way to eat columbus' best dessert

i have enthusiastically loved pistachio for a long while and today i finally stopped in to their new location, pistacia vera. i think their mille feuille is as close to heaven on earth as one can get, their staff is lovely, and the space is beautiful and elegant. but today i've been sulking because my beloved pistachio has evolved in a way i just don't appreciate. apparently the boutique concept no longer accommodates patrons enjoying their desserts inside the shop. it's certainly not for a lack of space that there aren't cafe tables present, as the new location has more room than the short north location did.
here's the truth: i don't pretend to know what's best for pistacia vera's business model, i'm not an expert on how they carry out their vision, and i am certain i couldn't come close to replicating even a tenth of the items on their menu. but, i do know that those lovely, delicate, decadent desserts are best enjoyed in that beautiful, tranquil, elegant space. they are not meant to be eaten in the back seat of a friend's car, out of a cardboard box, with a plastic fork!
i'm actually pissed about this. and it doesn't help that the clerk today delivered the "no, we're a boutique, not a cafe" message with a bit too much edge to her voice.
i'm pouting. and until my craving for mille feuille grows unbearably intense enough to drown out my bitterness over their unwise choice not to offer seating, i'm not going back.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

jalapeno jelly

using a bumper crop of jalapeños and this recipe, a friend and i cooked up some very tasty jalapeño jelly. we did make one modification, substituting red jalapeños for the bell pepper.

jalapeno jelly

1 1/2 cup chopped jalapeño peppers
5 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 (6 fluid ounce) container liquid pectin

remove stems, seeds and ribs from jalapeños. dice in food processor. combine peppers, sugar and vinegar in large pot and bring to a rolling boil. boil for 3 minutes, watching carefully to avoid boiling over. let cool for 5 minutes. stirring constantly, add pectin and let cool for 2 minutes. stir for 1 minute. pour into 6 sterilized jelly jars. secure lids with rings and allow to cool. jelly will set up over the next 24 hours.
i served this jelly over cream cheese with crackers, a classic munchie treat. i love the combination of spicy and sweet and i think the substitution of more jalapenos for bell peppers gave it just enough heat.