We got a lot of peaches last week in our CSA share and, although I like to enjoy the fresh taste of in-season produce, there comes a point where you simply cannot eat enough of them before they rot (or the next week’s share starts to crowd you out of house and home). I figured the best thing to do with the surplus was to modify the rhubarb recipe from an earlier post and make peach cobbler.
I make a lot of banana bread in this house. Our 19 month old son loves a banana as a midmorning snack and, although we all enjoy them, sometimes a bunch of bananas goes overripe before we can get through the lot. Luckily, you can freeze them. Now, they don’t tend to survive the thawing process intact (ice crystals, cell walls, ugly bags of mostly water, etc.) so the best thing to do is to use them in a cooked application. Even though we have an ice cream machine (perhaps in a future post), banana bread tends to be the go-to in this household. Anyway, ofttimes I feel the need to mess with a recipe, so…
In our CSA box this week was a bunch of rhubarb. Rhubarb’s a funny veg, tart and almost inedible unless cooked down with something sweet — classically in a pie with strawberries. But considering our first, farm fresh strawberries don’t arrive until next week (jealous?), and rhubarb can get rubbery really quickly, I wanted to do something with it now. Last year I tried a rhubarb cake that was submitted to the farm’s website some time ago and, although delicious, it was a bit tart for my tastes. So I decided to play with it a bit, adding the blackberry preserves I’d been using in my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the vegetable mixture and lemon zest and sugar to the batter. I also left out the milk… mostly because I forgot, but I figured it wasn’t too bad a mistake as it made the cake a little more like a crust — which can’t be a bad thing.
Messing with baking recipes is a dangerous thing. You can’t just swap out ingredients with impunity, you really have to do your research. Thankfully there’s the internet. We ran out of boxed cookies late last week and I’d been sending Ian off to school with graham crackers, which he really does enjoy, but I wanted to bake some cookies. I’d originally thought to make the standard chocolate chip cookies that I wrote about back in the first post, but Spring is here and I wanted to do something a little different. And since orange and chocolate go so very well together… well…
Growing up, my Dad would make carrot cakes for various baking-related events at the school in which he taught. They were always an enormous hit. They were equally popular at home and with my extended family… having been commented on favorably by my cousins any number of times. I currently have a crisper drawer full of carrots from our CSA (and more are on the way today). Fortunately, that inspired me to make a carrot cake… unfortunately, it only uses 3 cups of carrots. That’s barely a dent. Oh well.
I had to deviate from standard carrot cake recipes since two of the standard add-ins aren’t big hits in my family. I don’t particularly like raisins (it’s a textural thing… I also find them a bit overwhelmingly sweet in baked goods) and my 4 year old son doesn’t care for nuts – so walnuts were out of the question. Candied (uncrystalized) ginger proved a really nice solution to giving the cake a little extra something and the addition of cardamom to the cake and orange to the frosting was a variation on an orange-cardamom cookie I make from time-to-time (hopefully I’ll post that one a little later in the year).
My wife is not only lovely, but also brilliant. Now we could argue that of course I think this and of course I say this because she is my wife and I’m afraid of her, but above you see evidence of the brilliance part.
All of the parents in our son’s pre-kindergarten class have to volunteer to arrange a party for one or two holidays each year. We chose Halloween. We are supposed to provide an activity, a book appropriate to the celebration and food for the kids. In order to make my life easier, my wonderful wife came up with the idea of taking sandwich cookies and dipping them in white chocolate. And so we did. And they were great.
So a couple of years ago there was this huge thing (meme?) online regarding chocolate chip cookies. Now as far as I’m concerned, a big deal should ALWAYS be made about chocolate chip cookies. In my house, these cookies are made fairly often so that after school (and at work) snacks are readily available. This recipe was the most recent batch I made.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from The New York Times
2 cups all purpose flour
1 2/3 cup almond flour (thanks for leaving me that on your last visit, Mom)
1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. coarse salt, such as kosher
2 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 standard bag of your favorite chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°F
In a medium bowl, combine both flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment (I like my new BeaterBlade) cream butter and sugars until very light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low; then slowly add dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. Add the chocolate chips, and mix to incorporate.
Cover two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper. Set out as many cooling racks as you have.
Using a small to medium-size ice cream scoop, scoop mounds of dough onto the baking sheets (you should be able to fit 12 cookies per sheet), making sure to space them evenly. Bake until golden brown , 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack for 5-10 minutes, then transfer the cookies directly onto the rack.
Rinse and repeat. Oh wait, that’s shampoo… just keep going until you’ve run out of dough.