Sunday, February 11, 2018

The chocolate holiday

Let's admit it, for some of us, Valentine's Day is just an excuse to indulge in as much chocolate as we can. With that in mind I want to share two of my favorite chocolate desserts.
They will win the heart of any valentine on your list.

First, these very simple and very tasty brownies. I have made them several times this year already.
They were a touchdown at the Super Bowl party I went to !

Katharine Hepburn's Brownies   
    •     ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    •    1/2 cup butter
    •    2 eggs
    •    1 cup sugar
    •    ¼ cup flour
    •    1 cup broken-up walnuts or pecans
    •    1 teaspoon vanilla
    •    pinch of salt
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8x8 inch pan.
2. Melt butter in saucepan with cocoa and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
3) Whisk in eggs, one at a time. Stir in vanilla.
4) In a separate bowl, combine sugar, flour, nuts, and salt. 
5) Add to the cocoa-butter mixture. Stir until just combined.
6) Pour into a greased 8x8 square pan.  
7) Bake 35-40 minutes. Do not overbake; they should be gooey. 
8) Here comes the hard part...let cool, and cut into bars. It's important to let them cool, as the texture changes.
For something a bit fancier, for that special Valentine's day dinner, here's my flourless chocolate cake.
I made this one as the dessert for my Hearts card game party.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
4 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)
1/2 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla and/or almond extract or any liqueur of your choice
1/2 teaspoon salt.
1) Preheat oven to 375°F
2) Butter an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a round of parchment paper and butter paper.

3) Chop chocolate into small pieces. 
4) In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, melt chocolate with butter, stirring, until smooth.
5) Remove top of double boiler heat, you can transfer it into a bowl at this point, whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. 
6) Add eggs and whisk well.
7)  Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder into chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined.
8) Pour batter into pan.
9) Bake in middle of oven 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. 
10) Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate, if you plan to serve it immediately. Be careful it is delicate and crumbles easily. I made mine ahead of time, so after it cooled, I put it in the fridge in the pan. I recommend this.
This cake begs for a topping, I decided on vanilla ice cream and boysenberry sauce. It was delightful, tangy and the perfect foil for the chocolate. The heart sugar cookie was my friend's addition ;-) 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Orange Food Part 3: Cake !!

It's certainly citrus season around here. I have lots of my Satsuma mandarins and limes, friends and family are sharing their navel orange bounty.  

It's the perfect time to make this very orange cake. I was surprised when I found it several years ago while searching for a vegan orange cake to serve dinner guests, it was from Joy of Cooking !!

I have made it twice already this year.

The cake is delightful, moist, easy and very adaptable.
Very Orange Cake

1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
 orange zest from one orange


1/4 cup powdered sugar
1-2 teaspoons orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest or tiny curls of peel

1) Preheat the oven 350 F. Grease and flour  a 9 inch round cake pan.

The original recipe called for an 8 inch pan, the first time I made it this year that's what I used, it overflowed the pan while baking...never a good thing, so be sure to go with a 9 inch round cake pan.

The original recipe also stressed the flouring part. I used spray oil and then floured it. I had no trouble removing it from the pan.

2) Grate the orange, and make juice to one cup. I was lucky and already had  a large jar made up.

3) In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients including the zest.

4) in a smaller bowl combine the liquid ingredients.

5) Add the liquid ingredients into the dry, mix just to blend.

6) Pour into the greased and floured pan, bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Do the toothpick trick to test for doneness. It will be a golden brown.

7) Cool for 10 minutes then carefully transfer to a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely before adding the glaze.
8)  In a small bowl mix 1/4 cup powered sugar, 1 teaspoon zest or tiny curls of peel. Start with 1 teaspoon of juice and add more to get a thick paste.

9) Apply the glaze to cover the top of the cake.

It is the perfect cake for tea time, brunch or dessert after dinner.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Orange Food Post Part 2

I was given a huge supply of Fuyu persimmons a few weeks ago. I have been eating them daily but couldn't quite keep up. I do love them when they are still firm, eventually they will soften like the Hachiya variety. It was time to make cookies !!

These cookies are soft, moist and a fabulous way to use those gooey persimmons.
Click on the link to get the detailed recipe.

Persimmon Oatmeal Cookies Revised
Yield: 2- 3 dozen cookies
1/2 cup soft butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup persimmon pulp

1 tsp vanilla extract
1  cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves

 1/4 tsp. cardamon
2 cup rolled oats
1 cup chopped walnuts 

Happy New Year: Recipes for Orange Food, Part 1 !

Happy 2018 !
One of my New Year's resolutions was to get back to doing a bit more food blogging.
It's been six months and you don't need to hear my excuses, I don't need to have them anyway.
Sometimes it's good to take a break.

Orange food has been on my mind... winter squash, persimmons, mandarins.

I made this warming winter squash soup last week and shared it with a friend. She was so impressed she asked for the recipe. It's very simple, it can be made with any winter squash, butternut, pumpkins, Hubbard, whatever you have on hand. You can even used canned pumpkin if that's what you have.
It's perfect for the cold weather !!

Here's the ingredient list, click on the link to get the full recipe.

Laurie's Warming Winter Squash Soup

1 diced onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 cups cooked winter squash*
1 cup tomatoes*
1 1/2 cup coconut milk**
1 tablespoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds
2 teaspoons  fresh grated ginger ( freezing fresh ginger makes it easy to grate and keeps longer)
2 cups water
1 tablespoon Better than Bouillon ( optional)
salt to taste

In my next post I'll share my persimmon oatmeal cookie recipe !
It's nice to be back !

Monday, July 3, 2017

A dessert for independence: Clafouti !

Just barely in time for your freedom celebrations.
Fun to say, fun to eat, this dessert is so simple to make it will free you up to have more fun tomorrow.
In my original recipe I used peaches, in this newer version I used blueberries and boysenberries.
It definitely looks more patriotic and would be great with any kind of berry.
Make in early in the day and sit back and relax !

Berry Clafouti


 1/3 cup white sugar
 3 cups berries: blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries...
 3 eggs
1 1/3 cups milk
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. almond meal ( don't have it, just skip it)
1 teaspoons vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Whipped cream for topping (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 10 inch pie plate.
2. Arrange berries so that they cover the entire bottom of the pie plate.
3. In a blender, combine the sugar, eggs, milk, flour, almond meal, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt.            Process until smooth, about 2 minutes.
 4. Pour over the fruit in the pie plate.
5. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven, or until firm and lightly browned.
6. Let stand 30 minutes to an hour before slicing. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve with whipped cream.

It's great leftover for breakfast !!

Friday, April 14, 2017

It's asparagus season !!

I love fresh asparagus, it has been in my farmer's market for a few weeks now.
It's fun to plan meals around what is in season in the farmer's market.

There are several ways to cook this fine vegetable, whether you steam it, roast it or grill it, please do it lightly !!
Don't shy away from the fatter stalks, we fine them to be sweeter than their skinny brethren, a grower gave us that tip.

My favorite way to eat them is roasted. 

Roasted Asparagus
    •    1 bunches asparagus
    •    1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or olive oil spray
    •    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    •    Freshly ground black pepper

1) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2) Cover an edged cookie sheet with foil or a silicon baking sheet.
3) Wash then, snap the woody ends from the asparagus.
4) Spread the spears in a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle or spray with olive oil, sprinkle with the salt and pepper, and roll to coat thoroughly.
5) Roast the asparagus until lightly browned and tender, about 10 to 16 minutes depending on their thickness. Give the pan a good shake about halfway through to turn the asparagus.
6) Serve as is or with a light dipping sauce like a vinaigrette, lemon juice or plain yogurt.

I love them cold as well, they are great added to a salad or as a side dish.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Sweet Potato Muffins

I love seeing what's in my fridge and being creative.
The other day I had a friend coming over for brunch, I made a quiche with roasted red pepper I had on hand and sauteed some chard as a side dish. I wanted one more item to complete the menu.
I looked in the fridge and saw one leftover cooked sweet potato... "hmmm I wonder if I can make muffins out of that ? "
As they grow very well in the south, my daughter gets a LOT of them in her CSA( Community Supported Agriculture) boxes, I figured if this recipe worked she would have one more way to use all those sweet potatoes.
I did what I usually do and googled it, up came a variety of recipes and as I usually do I melded a few together with my own twist. I am so impressed with these tasty little muffins.

Laurie's Sweet Potato Muffins

Yield: one dozen


1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cooked mashed sweet potato
1 egg
1/2 canola oil
the zest of one orange

1) Preheat oven to 375 F, grease or paper a muffin tin. I used my silicon muffin cups which I love.
2) In a bowl whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
3) In another bowl whisk together the wet ingredients: mashed sweet potato, egg, oil and orange zest.
4) Mix the wet ingredients in with the dry, just until moistened.
5) Fill the muffin cups, about half full ( just use all the batter, don't get too carried away measuring how much.)
6) Bake for 15-18 minutes, using the toothpick trick. Mine took 18 minutes.

Serve warm !!

All the recipes called for glazes but I like them just the way they are.

I am very pleased with how they taste even several days later.
I am going to try freezing them too.
Wish I had a surplus of sweet potatoes ;-)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Tortilla Soup

Several weeks ago I wanted a hearty crowd pleasing soup to serve for a casual dinner. I remembered this tortilla soup but always thought of it as a summer soup, I think because I do love using fresh seasonal ingredients.  With a few changes to the original recipe I came up with a very satisfying dish, I liked it so much I made it twice !! It's a delicious taco in a bowl.

Tortilla Soup ( for any season)


1 large onion, chopped

1-2 bell peppers, chopped

1 bag frozen fire roasted corn*, rinsed and drained ( Trader Joe's has it.)

1 cup finely chopped red or green cabbage

2 cups cooked beans ( black beans, kidney or pinto beans)

2 cloves chopped garlic

1 pint canned tomatoes ( stewed, fire roasted, whatever you like.)

1 quart veggie or chicken or beef broth

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp. ancho chili or other powdered chili
1/4 red chili flakes, more if you like it hotter
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika ( optional)
2 tbsp cumin powder
1 tsp. of dried oregano ( sprig of fresh oregano if you have it)
salt and pepper to taste

strips of corn tortilla
sour cream
grated cheddar or jack cheese
chunks of avocado
fresh minced cilantro
sliced black olives
hot sauce
lime wedges

* (If you start with regular frozen corn, it's best to brown it first.)

1) Saute the onion in the olive oil until it starts to brown slightly.

2) Add the garlic, cabbage, corn and bell pepper, cook until soft.

3) Add in the spices and saute another minute or so, to release the full flavor of the spices.

4) Add the tomatoes, beans and broth, simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.

5) Serve with corn tortilla strips ( I found that heating them up first is great) and any or all of the topping listed above.

As with a lot of my soup there is room to modify and adjust to your tastes and what's in your pantry.

Enjoy !!

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Chocolate Holiday is almost here !!

Forget sentimental cards, diamond earrings and bouquets of roses... Valentine's Day is all about chocolate !!

This year I decided to experiment with the chocolate bark I blogged about two years ago.
Instead of one big round, I made it into individual disks studded with nuts and bits of dried fruit.
It's so very simple,  quick to make and they look beautiful.

I also tried to make some in my silicone baking cups with shredded coconut on the bottom and almonds on top.

It was marginally successful...I wished I had been a little more aggressive about mixing the melted chocolate with the coconut.

I tried the same trick with the disks on the parchment.
With similar results...

I am sure they will all taste delicious !!
I used a mix of two dark chocolates, I find the quality of these bars great for this kind of confection.

Since our microwave oven is broken, I melted my chocolate the old fashioned way, in a double boiler. It is slower, requiring more patient ;-) but does the job, it's best not to let the water boil.

Use your imagination, customize each one, have fun !!

Here are a few other wonderful chocolate desserts to try.

Flour-less chocolate cake

Very Very Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate ganache ( vegan)

The Most Amazing Chocolate Ice Cream

Chocolate Lava Cakes

Easy Brownies

Chocolate Walnut Cookies

Divine Brownies

Chocolate Sorbet

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Citrus Season

I do love the citrus season. There are so many great varieties and such a long span of productivity.
First come my sister's Satsuma mandarin in late fall, she is always generous, giving me huge baskets of these sweet little gems. Her navel oranges are next in the new year and are one of my favorite evening snacks. Our little Satsuma mandarin produces lots of fruit but due to our warmer climate they don't get very sweet, so I juice them.

A bushel of mandarins make about two gallons of juice. I have a glass every morning, liquid sunshine!

I freeze some, share with friends and use it to make this wonderful orange cake. It's so simple, moist and vegan !! I don't bother with the fancy candied orange peel in the photo below, but I do sometimes as some almond extract to the batter and some slivered almonds to the top.

My friend, Susan gave me this wonderful Cthulhu citrus, which is actually called Buddha's hand but reminds me of the H.P. Lovecraft monster. It's all about the peel, Susan uses the zest in all kinds of sweet and savory dishes.

I have been revisiting some of the fun breads from my Bread Machine Magic cookbook lately.
I was looking for one that used citrus and found this lovely marmalade and oats bread.
The recipe is for a bread machine but if you already bake your own bread I am sure you can adapt it.
I use my own marmalade but any commercial version will do.

Marmalade and Oats Bread.

2/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats ( not instant)
1 1/8 cup milk or soy milk ( or almond etc...)
2 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoon butter or Earth Balance
1/2 cup citrus marmalade 
1 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast ( Red Star is the one recommended in the cookbook).

Place all the ingredients in the bread machine in the order above. Use a light crust setting and regular baking cycle ( it's a three hour process in my machine).
Once the baking cycle ends, remove from pan and allow to cool for one hour. It's important that you let it cool. The oats in the dough make it very chewy and moist. It's fabulous toasted with butter and marmalade !!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Laurie's Warming Winter Squash Soup

This fall my brother grew some great winter squash and was kind enough to share two of them with me, a huge Hubbard and a warty French squash.

There are so many ways to use these versatile fall and winter vegetables, I did a whole post on that several years ago. While each winter squash including pumpkin have slightly different flavors and textures they are, for the most part, interchangeable in my recipes.

I wanted to come up with another savory soup using winter squash, I had some ideas so I just started cooking. The result was rich, warming and tasty, it reminds me a bit of a warm savory pumpkin pie.
I made it a second time to take photos and measurements so I could share it with you.

Laurie's Warming Winter Squash Soup

1 diced onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 cups cooked winter squash*
1 cup tomatoes*
1 1/2 cup coconut milk**
1 tablespoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds
2 teaspoons  fresh grated ginger ( freezing fresh ginger makes it easy to grate and keeps longer)
2 cups water
1 tablespoon Better than Bouillon ( optional)
salt to taste

* I used the Hubbard squash I had roasted, cut into chunks and froze, same with the tomatoes. I think a large can of pumpkin and a can of stewed tomatoes would work as well.

** Use coconut milk not coconut water, I like this Trader Joe's coconut milk.

1) Saute the onion in the olive oil until soft.

2) Add the spices,  stir and cook for several minutes.

3) Add the cooked winter squash, tomatoes, coconut milk, water and bouillon. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

4) Allow to cool before pureeing in the blender. Salt to taste.

You can serve with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and a garnish of fresh parsley or cilantro. It will certainly warm you up on a cold winter night.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Beet Borsch(t)

This fall I was fortunate enough to travel to New England, I had a friend in Vermont and one in Massachusetts, I spent time with both. Strangely enough they both served me beet borsch made two very different ways. I loved them both and so far I have the recipe I like for one version and plan to work on the second one soon.

This soup feels like winter, deep red in color, hearty and good for a cold evening.
I made the omnivore version, it is easily adapted for the plant base diet*.
It begins with these humble ingredients.

Beet Borsch

2 cups peeled and diced beets ( 3-4 medium size beets)
4 cups shredded cabbage
1 pound beef stew meat cut into 1" pieces
1-2 large onions
3 1/2 cups canned tomatoes
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
6 cloves garlic, chopped.
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon  honey
1 teaspoon salt
ground pepper
8 cups water
sour cream for topping
*If you are making the vegetarian recipe add 1 tablespoon Better than Bouillon.

Most of the work for the soup comes in preparing the beets and cabbage.
The beets need to be peeled and cut into chunks while still raw.

The cabbage is shredded or chopped to the size you like for your soup.

1) Peel, chop and saute the onions to soften in a small amount of olive oil.
2) Add the beef to brown it.

3) Add the all veggies, spices, vinegar and water.
Note: as with most soup the exact about of each vegetable is flexible. While the original recipe called for 3 1/2 cups of canned tomatoes, I used maybe 2 cups of my frozen tomatoes.

4) Simmer for 1 hour.
5) Serve with a dollop of sour cream, a nice salad and a slice of rye bread !!

Here is my friend's cat sitting on the original recipe.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The best from 2016, it's a short list.

Cooking new things and blogging about them were not high on my list this past year.
While I still love to eat and to cook, food blogging has slowly taken a back seat.
Times change and so does the focus of our lives.

This morning I did make creme caramel for dessert tonight with friends. It came out beautifully.

I was inspired to make the New Years Day special: hoppin' john, eating a bowl is said to bring you good luck for the year.

Here are a couple of recipes worth remembering from 2016.

 Oven Roasted Chicken Shawarma !!
 This is such a tasty way to serve chicken.

My favorite chocolate chip cookies, these are worth the extra work.

Wacky cake is fun to say and simple to make and it's hard to believe that it has no eggs or dairy.

Two desserts, no surprise ;-)

I do have a lovely beet borscht recipe I hope to post soon.

A friend gave me a book on American Cakes, their history and recipes.
I hope to try one recipe from this book each month, yum !!

Happy New Year to you all, may it be full of good food !!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Wacky Cake

Yes, that's what it's called Wacky Cake. I love it just for the name. It's comes out of the Great Depression era when eggs, and dairy were scarce, before the word "vegan" was born. It's a moist spongy chocolate cake that will please any party, vegan or not.

I first had it when my always inspiring sister-in-law Gina made it. It's so simple and adaptable.
It would be perfect for any holiday potluck, office party or dessert with your holiday meal.

Sorry I don't have any photos of the finished product. It disappeared too fast !

Wacky Cake


3 cups all purpose unbleached flour
2 cups sugar
½ cup cocoa powder ( unsweetened)
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cups canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 cups water

1) Preheat oven to 350 F.

2) Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

3) In another bowl mix the oil, vanilla, vinegar and water.

4) Pour the liquids into the flour mixture and mix until smooth.

5) Pour into a 9 X 13 inch ungreased pan.

6) Bake for 25-30 minutes.

7) Once the cake has cooled frost with your favorite frosting.

I like to frost it with this very simple ganache.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

1/2 cup soy milk
(If you are not concerned about the vegan aspect you can use milk or cream in place the soy milk.)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips.
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract ( or almond or peppermint)

1) Bring 1/2 of soy milk to a gentle boil in a small sauce pan.
2) Remove from heat pour over 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, let sit for 3-4 minutes.
3) Whisk until smooth.
4) Set aside at room temperature until you are ready to use it. It will solidify as it cools which makes it easier to spread.

This cake will lend itself to modification.
This time of year add peppermint extract to the cake or frosting and dust it with crushed candy canes.
Or go the almond route with almond extract and slivered almonds on top.
Use white frosting instead or try a German Chocolate frosting with coconut and pecans.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Laurie's Little Store

Normally today would be the day I would spend recovering from my annual arts and crafts sale in the beautiful garden on Rigg Street.

For several reason that show did not happen this year. I have decided to take this year off from craft sales. I am loving this decision as Facebook reminds me of all the TOFFEE and jam I would have made by now.

Don't despair, I will be making my famous toffee later this week and boysenberry jam is on the list for tomorrow morning.

My body butters, scrubs, bath salts, Celtic soaps and photo-cards, as well as an array of jams and toffee are still available for your holiday shopping pleasure.
Don't forget massage certificates make great gifts too !!

This year you can shop directly from Laurie's Little Store.
Check out what I have and the price list, email me at or call /text my cell ( 831-588-9419) to place your order.

It's good to give me advance notice since some of these items I will be making to order !!
You can also set up a time to come to my office to shop in person.

I hope you will shop locally and reduce your holiday stress.

Carrot Coconut Soup and yes I'm still here...

I do still cook and enjoy it, blogging has just fallen to the bottom of my priority list lately.
The other day I saw some beautiful large carrots at the farmer's market and was inspired to make that wonderful carrot ginger soup... I was moved to modify it a bit and the results were fabulous. I used some of my garlic cilantro butter to saute the onions, then added spices and coconut milk. As I haven't been in the blogging mode lately I didn't document of my changes with photos. It wasn't until I was about to eat the last cup that I even remembered to take a photo.

Here is the recipe from memory.

Carrot Coconut Soup.


1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp. olive oil or 1 tbsp. garlic cilantro butter
2 cloves fresh garlic chopped ( if you don't use the garlic butter)
1 tsp. cumin power
2 tsp. Garam Masala or curry powder
6-8 large carrots, stemmed and chopped into large coins.
fresh ginger, sliced
1 can coconut milk
1-2 cups water, you just want enough to cover the carrots
salt & pepper to taste

1) Saute the chopped onion in olive oil or garlic butter until just beginning to soften.
2) Add the spices except the fresh ginger & garlic, saute another few minutes.
3) Deglaze the pan with 1 cup water, stirring to loosen any dark bits of onion.
4) Add the carrots, coconut milk, ginger, (garlic) and  enough water to just cover.
5) Simmer for 30 minutes or until the carrots are soft.
6) Allow to cool before blending. You can remove some of the ginger if desired and add water depending of the consistency you want.
7) Salt and pepper to taste. Yum !!

Today I made a huge pot of vegetable/ minestrone soup, since all the carrot coconut soup is now gone.  Of course, I didn't follow either of the recipes exactly...that's how soup goes.
I made an apple pie from my galas, I  blended and prepared to freeze my last batch of roasted tomatoes.

So that's been my day in the kitchen.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Oven-Roasted Chicken Shawarma

This oven baked chicken has become my favorite way to cook chicken thanks to my sister-in-law, Gina. She finds the best recipes and then so kindly makes them for me and I get to share them here !!

The original recipe came from the New York Times Cooking website, it has gone through the "Laurie" filter to arrive at its present iteration.

Oven Roasted Chicken Shawarma

  • 2 pounds, boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons, chopped fresh parsley ( optional)

For the marinade
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced or grated*
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • A pinch ground cinnamon 
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste  
1) Combine the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon and red pepper flakes in a large bowl, then whisk to combine.
*The recipe asked you to mince the garlic, I have my secret way to avoid the tedious chopping: the micro-grater.
You can also see in this photo that I mix my marinade right into the glass pan I am going to marinate my chicken in.

2) Add the chicken and toss well to coat.

3) Cover and store in refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.

4) When ready to cook, heat oven to 425 degrees.

5) Add the quartered onion to the chicken and marinade, and toss once to combine.

6) Remove the chicken and onion from the marinade, and place in an oiled baking pan.

7) Roast until it is browned, crisp at the edges and cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes.

8) Serve with the fresh parsley sprinkled on top.

I love to serve the chicken with my coconut rice, it's also great with roasted vegetable.
While the recipe calls for the boneless, skinless chicken thighs, the next time I make it, I am going to try a using  bone-in chicken pieces.  If you try this,  increase your baking time by 15-20 minutes, depending on the thickness of your pieces.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

My favorite chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate chip cookies are one of those classic cookies that everyone loves. While I can make a mean oatmeal cookie and great brownies, I have not been particularly satisfied with my chocolate chip cookies. They usually come out rather flat and spread out, some people prefer them this way, not me.
A few months ago I had some cookies that knocked my socks off !! They were substantial, chewy and full of chunks of chocolate. The baker said he used a recipe from Smitten Kitchen with some modifications which he rattled off and I promptly forgot.

I did some recipe forensics and found the original cookie recipe from the Cooking NY Times website.
They mention it's more complicated than the one on the back of the chocolate chip package, this is true. It is well worth it and the recipe is large so you can either make them over several days or make and freeze them. The dough will need to be refrigerated at least 24 hours before baking, so keep that in mind.

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

Don't be put off by the bread flour and cake flour in this recipe. There are ways around it.
Bread flour has more protein content than all-purpose, which helps with gluten development. Some recipes call for it when an especially chewy and elastic crumb is desired, but you can use all purpose flour if that is all you have on hand.
Cake flour is a low protein flour that is made from soft winter wheat, it has a very fine texture. The easiest way to make your own cake flour is to put 2 tbsp of cornstarch in the bottom of a 1-cup measuring cup, then fill the cup as usual with all-purpose flour and level top. I don't have cake flour around so I did it this way.

I am not sure why they  have both kinds in the cookies but trust me it works !!

  • 2 cups cake flour or 1 3/4 all purpose flour plus 1/4 cup cornstarch.
  • 1 ⅔ cups bread flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons  salt
  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter
  • 1 ¼ cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons  granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips 
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate bar, chopped
  • 1 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • Sea salt ( optional)

  1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. 
  4. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. 
  5. Drop chocolate and nuts in and incorporate them carefully. 
  6. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
  7. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  8. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
  9. Scoop 6 large* mounds of dough onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. 
  10. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt if desired and bake until golden brown but still soft, 16 to 18 minutes. Baking time will vary with the size of the cookie you make.
  11. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. 
  12. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.
*( I used a 2 inch diameter ice cream scoop.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Crepes for Bastille Day, July 14, Vive La France !!

The French Bastille Day, their version of 4th of July, is just two days away, what better way to celebrate than with crêpes.

They come from the Breton coast of France, these flat thin pancakes. They are served on the street like Genevieve has in the photo below or at restaurants as a main meal. In Paris, the Rue du Montparnasse is full of creperies, restaurants that specialize in crepes of all kinds.

A regular crêpe made with white flour is called a crêpe, and one made with buckwheat flour is called a galette, so technically my favorite recipe is for galette.

You do need to plan ahead as the batter needs to sit overnight and then come to room temperature before you make them. You will want to have your fillings ready.
I made them recently for brunch with a friend, she is a vegetarian so our crepes had sauteed mushrooms, roasted asparagus and onions with a Swiss Gruyere cheese. The recipe makes a lot of batter, so I sent some home with my friend, she used it to make a dessert crepe. I dined on crepes with roasted vegetables and cheese for the rest of the week, what a treat.

The filling is warmed before putting it on the crepe.

I like to flip half the crepe over on itself. 

I served it with a dollop of creme fraiche.