Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The "Everything" Oatmeal Cookie

No doubt you've heard of the Everything Bagel.  I present you with the The Everything Oatmeal Cookie!  I follow a great baker (especially sourdough bread) on Instagram by the name of @dinocurr and recently, he posted a photo of his Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies that looked wonderful to me. Inspired by his recipe, I added a whole kitchen sink full of extra goodies based on some web search and also what appealed to my taste buds.

If you have a Thanksgiving table full of young ones that don't like traditional Thanksgiving desserts or cranberries, here is a way to treat them to a dessert that they will love and also get a little bit of cranberry into their holiday that even they will enjoy! These cookies are almost like eating granola bars.  Not too sweet but totally delicious.

They are loaded with chocolate chips, coconut, Brickle Bits, walnuts, plumped dried cranberries and a touch of orange peel and cinnamon, with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt on top.

Add a tall glass of milk and you'll have some very happy kids...and adults too ;)  These will travel well if you are going out of town or across town for Thanksgiving.

The half pint glass that I used in my photo above is from my late mother's antique bottle collection that I cherish.  This particular jar is from a early 1900's dairy in my home town in SE Wisconsin.  Can you imagine these being delivered in horse drawn wagons? 

Over the river and through the woods ;) 

The Everything Oatmeal Cookie

Printable Recipe

3/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large or extra large egg (should equal at least 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon water
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cup rolled oats
½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup Brickle Bits
1-1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel (I use Penzeys). Can substitute fresh orange zest
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tsp Kirsch liqueur or rum (optional)
Flaky Sea Salt for Sprinkling over after baking

Rehydrate dried cranberries in a small bowl with enough cranberry juice (or water) to cover. Add Kirsch or rum, if using. Allow to ‘plump’ for about 30 minutes

Pulse rolled oats in a food processor for about 5 seconds. Place in a large bowl. If using extra large flakes of coconut, pulse coconut also for about 5 seconds. Place in same bowl with oats.
Add chocolate chips, chopped walnuts , chocolate chips, Brickle Bits, and orange peel to the same bowl.

Drain the rehydrated cranberries and squeeze excess moisture out with paper toweling and add to the bowl with the chocolate chips, etc.

In a stand mixer with paddle attaching or a mixing bowl by hand, cream shortening and sugars. Add egg, water and vanilla and mix together well.

In a separate small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the creamed mixture gradually.

Add in all of the remaining ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix together gently.

Scoop out 1 tablespoon portions and place 3" apart on a parchment or silicone mat-lined baking sheet.

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately sprinkle the cookies with a pinch of flaky sea salt. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack or waxed paper to cool completely.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Mushroom and Barley Soup

Do you know what it's like when you have something that tastes so utterly fantastic at a restaurant that you become obsessed with trying to recreate the recipe at home? (Hmmm, maybe that's just me!). 

Last week, I had lunch with some dear friends at a downtown restaurant and had a delightful bowl of mushroom and barley soup that was so full of flavor, I had to figure out how to make it.  Sometimes, being in an atmosphere of camaraderie makes everything taste better so I was anxious to see if my research and effort paid off. If you love mushrooms and mushroom soups, this is one of the best I've tried and was equally good as the restaurant version!

After all, it is November, or NovemBrrrr I should say! We had a couple of light frosts the last week of October and finally had to turn on the heat. If you are craving warm, earthy and comforting food, this mushroom and barley soup delivers! The savory, almost meaty, flavor of the mushrooms in a rich broth has a wonderful mouth-feel and the barley makes it satisfying bowl of soup.  Just add some crusty bread, a salad, and perhaps a glass of wine.

Did you know mushrooms are good for you too?  Rich in B vitamins and in disease-fighting phytochemicals, eating them regularly has been linked to a lower risk of breast cancer in studies of Chinese and Korean women. They have also prevented prostate cancer cells from multiplying in mice and might do the same in men. They are also a good source of selenium.

The leaves are falling, the winds are blowing and a chill is in the air. Let's have soup!

Mushroom and Barley Soup

Serves 6 to 8

1 ounce dried Porcini mushrooms 
1 ounce dried Shiitake mushrooms
4 strips meaty bacon, diced
1-1/2 tablespoon tomato paste 
1 small onion, chopped into small dice 
2 carrots, chopped into small dice 
1 stalk celery, chopped into small dice 
1 shallot, chopped 
2 large cloves garlic, chopped 
1 pound baby Portabella mushrooms, quartered and sliced 
1-1/2 tablespoon soy sauce 
1/3 cup dry sherry 
1 cup pearl barley
4 cups chicken stock 
4 cups vegetable stock
1-1/2 teaspoons salt 
3/4 teaspoon pepper 
Fresh parsley, chopped

Note: You can make this soup vegetarian by eliminating the bacon. Sauté the vegetables in oil and replace chicken stock with all vegetable stock.  Please don't omit the dried mushrooms and reserved mushroom-soaking liquid.  They are essential to the complex flavor of this soup.  Amazon sells the Mycological Brand of dried mushrooms quite reasonably as an 'Add On' Item to your order. 

Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with 3/4 cup hot water and soak to soften while proceeding with the rest of the recipe. Important - Reserve the soaking water! 

In a soup pot over medium low heat, add the diced bacon sauté slowly, until evenly browned. Stir in the tomato paste and allow to caramelized just a bit. 

Reduce the heat to low, and add the chopped onions, carrots, celery and shallot to the pot and sauté about 10-12 minutes, until softened. 

Turn the heat back up to medium and add the garlic and mushrooms and saute until mushrooms release their moisture. 

Remove the rehydrated mushrooms from the soaking water (reserving liquid), and chop. 

Add the chopped, rehydrated mushrooms and the barley to the pot and mix to combine. 

Add the dry sherry and soy sauce and simmer until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. 

Add the stocks and the reserved liquid from the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. 

Turn heat down to low and simmer soup, covered, for 60 to 90 minutes, until the barley is softened. 

Add chopped parsley just before serving. 

Tip: Freeze the rest of the unused tomato paste in 1 Tablespoon portions in plastic wrap bundles. Place inside a zipper bag and keep in the freezer until you need a small portion of tomato paste again. 

Recipe inspired by Food 52