Earl Grey Tea Shortbread

Buttery complex cookies with a hint of smoky bergamot flavor from Earl Grey tea.
About 32 cookies
Shopping List

2 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 TBL Earl Grey tea

In a medium-sized bowl, cream together

  • 2 sticks (8 ounces, 1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

with a mixer or by hand. Add

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 TBL Earl Grey tea (about 6 teabags if you don’t have loose tea)

and blend until the mixture resembles fine cornmeal. Form the dough into a long roll, 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter, cover with wax paper or parchment paper, and freeze until very firm.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 300°F. Slice the roll into cookies no thinner than 1/4 inch and prick each cookie twice with a fork. Bake on ungreased baking sheets for about 25 minutes. Watch the cookies carefully–when the bottoms are a light sand color, take them out of the oven and put them on a rack to cool completely.

You’ll find that shortbread improves with a little age. If you can resist eating them all.

Adapted from a recipe from the King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion.

Farm Wife’s Fresh Pear Tart

Rustic and simple to make, this cake is an incredibly delicious treat in fall and winter.
A 9-inch tart
Shopping List

2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 cup sugar
11/2 cups flour
2 pounds fresh pears, preferably Bosc or Anjou rather than Bartlett
1/2 cup dry, unflavored bread crumbs
3 TBL butter
12 whole cloves

Note that the pears will cook and don’t have to be fully ripened, although they should be on their way to getting ripe. Preheat oven to 375º F. In a mixing bowl, beat

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk

together in a bowl. Add

  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt

mixing it thoroughly to produce a batter. Peel

  • 2 pounds fresh pears

and continue to beat. Add

  • 11/2 cups flour

mixing it thoroughly to produce a batter. Peel

  • 2 pounds fresh pears

Cut the pears lengthwise in two, scoop out the seeds and core, then cut them into thin slices about one inch wide. Add them to the batter in the mixing bowl, distributing them evenly. Smear a 9-inch round cake pan generously with

  • 1 TBL butter

and sprinkle with

  • 1/3 cup dry bread crumbs

then turn over the pan and give it a sharp rap against the counter to shake loose excess crumbs. Put batter in pan, level it off with the back of a spoon. Make many small hollows on the top with a fingertip and fill with bits of

  • 2 TBL butter, cut into small bits

Stud the cake with

  • 12 whole cloves

distributing them at random, but apart. Place the pan in the upper third of the preheated oven and bake for 50 minutes or until the top is lightly colored.

While it is still lukewarm, cut around the edge of the pan, invert the cake on a rack and then invert it back onto a serving plate. It is very nice served while still warm, but it’s no disappointment at room temperature.

Adapted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, by Marcella Hazan.

Roasted Beet & Garlic Linguine with Walnuts & Feta

Even if this weren't so delicious, it would be worth it for the color alone.
Clothing-staining dinner for four
Shopping List

4 medium red beets
4 garlic cloves
2 TBL olive oil
Thyme sprigs, a few
2 15-oz cans cannellini beans (see note)
1 TBL red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
3 TBL cremè fraîche
1 lb linguine
1/41/3 lb feta cheese
1/3 cup walnuts
parsley or dill

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Scrub well

  • 4 medium red beets

and cut them into wedges. Place the beets and

  • 4 unpeeled garlic cloves

in a roasting tray and toss them with a little olive oil. Season with salt, pepper and some fresh thyme leaves. Roast 30-40 minutes, until beginning to caramelize.

Take out of the oven, trim any tough, darker bits from the beets. Put in a food processor. Squeeze the garlic from the skins into the food processor too. Add

  • 2 15-oz cans cannellini beans, drained (see note re dried beans)
  • 1 TBL red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • 3 TBL cremè fraîche

and pulse, adding water by the tablespoonful as needed until you have a smooth paste. You’ll probably need +/- 1/2 cup of water.

Cook the linguine & drain it. While the linguine is cooking, toast

  • 1/3 cup walnuts

in a toaster oven or skillet. Crumble

  • 1/41/3 lb feta cheese

Return the drained pasta to the still-warm pot and stir in the beet sauce.

Serve topped with toasted walnuts, a little crumbled feta and chopped parsley or dill.

Note: 1 cup of dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight and cooked until tender (about 25-60 minutes, depending on how old the beans are) will yield about 3 cups, the equivalent of 2 cans of beans.

Inspired by a recipe from chowhound.com.

Pasta with Carrot Miso Sauce

Looks like perfect M&C, but it's vegan and umami-ful.
Dinner for 2, sauce for 4
Shopping List

8 ounces orecchiette or other short pasta
2 shallots
4-6 garlic cloves
3 medium carrots
1/4 cup raw cashews
3 TBL while miso paste
1/2 cup carrot tops &/or parsley
1 lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup panko

Heat a little olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Saute

  • 2 shallots, rough chopped
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, rough chopped

until fragrant and starting to turn lightly golden, but they shouldn’t brown. Add

  • 2 heaping cups carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste

and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and let simmer for about 15 minutes, until the carrots are fork-tender. Stir in

  • 3 TBL white miso paste

The miso doesn’t have to dissolve completely. Let cool for 5-10 minutes.

While it’s cooling, start cooking

  • 8 ounces orecchiette or other short pasta

in well-salted boiling water. Make a gremolata: Chop together finely (by hand, food processor or mini-chop)

  • 1/2 cup carrot tops &/or 1/2 cup parsley
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 small garlic clove (center sprout removed if you want it less sharp)

Mix in some olive oil (it should be moist but not runny) and add salt to taste.

Now’s also as good a time as any to brown

  • 1/4 cup panko

tossing it few a few minutes over medium heat in a small skillet. Set aside.

Spoon the carrot-miso mixture into a blender and blend it until creamy and silky smooth, about 60-90 seconds starting on a low speed then high.

Drain the pasta and toss it with about half of the carrot-miso sauce. Save the other half of the sauce for another day; it freezes well.

Divide into bowls, sprinkle on some toasted panko and top with some gremolata.

Inspired by a recipe from feastingathome.com.

Chocolate Cake of My Dreams

I had a dream that involved a chocolate cake. The next day I felt compelled to make one. You can mix this cake faster than your oven will heat up.
Makes one loaf
Shopping List

1/4 cup cocoa powder
11/2 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 TBL instant coffee
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp white vinegar

I had a dream about a meal in a restaurant with self-service dessert. There were two options and someone at our table came back with a piece of cake that didn’t look appealing. My cousin returned with 5 slices of a dark chocolate loaf cake; they were all for her. The cake looked great and I got myself 2 slices. This recipe isn’t quite as good as the cake of my dreams, but I bet if you add some chocolate chips to the recipe it might be!

One more note: I adjusted the original recipe in some minor ways, but in particular, I reduced the sugar. Got a sweet tooth? Add some sugar back in, or add some chocolate frosting, or both.

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Grease an 81/2 x 41/2-inch loaf pan. Cut a rectangle of parchment paper the size of the bottom of the pan, and place it inside the pan.

In a large mixing bowl, measure

  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 11/2 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 TBL instant coffee
  • 1/2 tsp salt

In a quart liquid measure or bowl, combine

  • 11/4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp white vinegar

Using a whisk (or large spoon if you don’t have a whisk), combine the dry ingredients. Pour all the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until everything is mixed completely. You do not need to beat it a lot, just stir until it’s a smooth batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place in the oven. It will take up to 50 minutes to bake, but I’d start checking it after about 40 minutes. A toothpick inserted should come out with moist crumbs and the top should spring back when you press on it gently.

Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a rack. Remove the parchment paper when you take the cake out of the pan.

Inspired by a recipe (https://cookienameddesire.com/chocolate-loaf-cake/) from the Cookie Named Desire site.

Duck Cholent

An update of a dish frequently made by eastern European Jews. Cooks overnight in the oven or a slow cooker.
Makes 4 generous servings

Shopping List

4 duck leg quarters
1 cup dry cannellini beans
1/2 cup pearled barley
4 small to medium potatoes
1 TBL olive oil
1 small onion
1/2 head of garlic
1 branch of fresh rosemary or 1/2 TBL dried rosemary
several stems of fresh thyme or 3/4 tsp dried thyme
1 cup dry red wine
4 cups of duck or chicken stock
parsley, for garnish
I

Note: Regarding portions, you may want to put more duck pieces in this recipe without increasing the other ingredients as it has a lot of beans, barley and potatoes for 4 servings.

To cook this in the oven, you will need a Dutch oven or cast iron pot with a ATTNtight-fitting lid. You can also make this in a slow cooker, although I have never made it that way.

Preheat the oven to 200º F, unless you will be using a slow cooker. Trim excess fat from

  • 4 duck leg quarters

In a skillet of suitable size, heat

  • 1 TBL olive oil

brown the duck legs, working in batches if needed and draining the excess fat as it accumulates. If you’d prefer to have a lower-fat version of this dish you can remove most of the skin and fat and skip the process of rendering the fat, although browning the meat a bit will make the finished dish look better. As the the duck is browned and the fat is rendered to your desired level, transfer duck pieces to a plate.

As the duck fat is rendering, peel and dice

  • a small onion (1/2 cup diced onion)

You can also prepare

  • 1/2 clove garlic

by peeling it and chopping it coarsely. ATTNKeep it separate from the onion for now.

Meanwhile, in the bottom of the Dutch oven or slow cooker place

  • 1 cup dry cannellini beans (ATTNdo not soak them)
  • 1/2 cup pearled barley
  • 4 small-to-medium potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces

When the duck been browned, transfer the pieces to a plate and remove all but 1 TBL of fat from the pan. The reserved fat is not used for this recipe, so you can discard or save it for something else. Over medium-low heat saute the chopped onion until it starts to become translucent, then add the garlic pieces and continue to saute for a couple more minutes. Transfer the cooked onion and garlic to the Dutch oven or slow cooker, and add

  • 1 TBL salt, ATTN See the Useful Information page (link at top). That’s Kosher salt!
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 TBL finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1/2 TBL dried rosemary
  • several stems of fresh thyme or 3/4 tsp dried thyme

Place the duck pieces on top of the other ingredients and add

  • 1 cup red wine
  • enough chicken or duck stock to come up to the mid-level of the duck pieces, about 4 or 41/2 cups.

Put on the lid and place in the oven. This will need to cook for about 10-12 hours (same for a slow cooker set on the low temperature) and don’t worry about the exact timing because if it’s done after 10 hours and cooks for 12, nothing bad will happen.

ATTN Some ovens have a safety feature that shuts them off running for an extended period of time. My oven shuts off after 12 hours. If you have such an oven (usually the ones with electronic displays and controls), pay attention in case it shut itself off overnight and just start it up again, making sure the food temperature has stayed warm enough to be safe.

When the 10-12 hours mark has been reached, open the cover and add salt/pepper if needed. Some people like to remove the duck pieces and take the meat from the bones, returning it to the cholent. The last time I made this the duck legs were small enough I could give each person their own.

This dish is much better the day after you make it. To reheat, place the Dutch oven in a 300ºF oven until heated thoroughly.

Serve in bowls, perhaps garnished with

  • chopped parsley

although my my used to say “gornisht helft” (“nothing helps”) when speaking of parsley garnishes.

Inspired by a recipe by Deb Lindsey published in The Washington Post.

Banana-Walnut Yeast Bread

I wanted to create a yeast bread, flavored with bananas, filled with nuts and not too sweet.
Makes one loaf
Shopping List

2 lb bunch of bananas
3 TBL vegetable oil
3 TBL brown sugar
4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp yeast
1 cup walnuts

Preheat an oven to 400º F. Peel and cut into 1/4 inch slices

  • 2 lb bunch of bananas

This will give you about 11/2 pounds of bananas. Place them in a bowl with

  • 3 TBL vegetable oil
  • 3 TBL brown sugar (see note below)

Stir the mixture, cover a rimmed baking sheet parchment paper and distribute the mixture evenly over the parchment paper. Roast the bananas for 20-30 minutes until they are caramelized. Remove from oven, cool to room temperature, mash the mixture in a bowl.

In a large bowl, combine

  • 4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp salt

Stir in the banana mixture and

  • 11/4 cup water

You don’t want the mixture to be too wet, but it may be necessary to add more water to get the dough to come together. Add

  • 1 cup walnut pieces

and knead them into the mixture. Form the dough into a ball or loaf shape and let rise. I baked this bread at 400º F in a preheated dutch oven for about 45-50 minutes (covered for the first half), but you could easily bake it in a loaf pan or other form. Let cool before slicing.

Note: If you increase the sugar a bit, the banana flavor will be more pronounced.

Biscotti

Perfect for dipping in vin santo or coffee
40 medium biscotti
Shopping List

280 grams all-purpose flour
120 grams sugar
150 grams mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds, blanched hazelnuts)
1 tsp fennel seeds
3 eggs
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix

  • 2 eggs
  • 120 grams sugar
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract

Add

  • 280 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt

and knead with your hands to get a homogeneous mixture.

Before adding

  • 150 grams mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds, blanched hazelnuts)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds

to the mixture, break the walnuts in half. Incorporate everything into the mixture.

Divide the dough into two 9″ x 2″ rectangles; they’ll be about 1/2-inch high. Beat

  • 1 egg yolk with a little water

Place each piece of dough on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet and brush each with the egg wash. Bake about 15-20 minutes, until the dough swells and has turned golden brown.

Remove the pan from the oven, reduce the temperature to 275 F. Let the logs cool a few minutes then slice each into about 20 pieces. A sharp knife and decisive cutting (not sawing) works best. Lay each slice back on the baking sheet, without the parchment paper.

Put the biscotti back in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 275° F, flipping them over halfway through so they cook and dry thoroughly.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Inspired by the flavors from a recipe in the “Polpo” cookbook, with technique from thefoodellers.com.

Salt Cod (Porto Style)

We were served something like this in Porto, Portugal. It made a lasting impression.
Guidelines in the recipe will help you scale it to your desired portion size
Shopping List
salt cod, about 3 oz per person
potatoes, 1 russet per person
eggs, 1 egg (or 2) per person
onions, 1/2 medium per person
garlic, to taste
red and yellow peppers, 1/2 to 1 per person
olive oil
parsley

Rehydrate

  • salt cod, maybe 3 ounces per person

We like it a bit salty, but just change the water according to your taste. When it’s done rehydrating, drain and poach until cooked; it’s easiest in a skillet rather than a saucepan. Remove from the water and when cool, remove bones and flake the fish. You can do this well ahead of time.

Prepare the potatoes according to this recipe. We use about 1 large (russet) potato per serving. That recipe makes addictive roasted potatoes, so don’t say you weren’t warned.

While the potatoes are roasting, prep these vegetables.

  • onions, cut in half-slices or diced (about 1 medium onion per 2 servings)
  • garlic, minced finely or cut in slices (1 medium clove per 2 servings)
  • red and yellow peppers, cut into strips (1/2 to 1 pepper per serving)

Saute the onion slices in

  • a couple glugs of olive oil

Add the garlic and peppers, letting them saute until tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat and get ready to poach the eggs, one person. If you aren’t comfortable poaching eggs, you can fry them (over easy), but trust me, these directions work really well. ATTN I add 1 tsp of white vinegar to each egg and let them sit for a minute before lowering them into the water.

As the potatoes are nearing completion, raise the heat gently on the onion mixture, add the flaked salt cod. When the potatoes are out of the oven, put them in a warmed serving plate, cover with the onion/pepper/fish mixture, sprinkle with

  • chopped parsley, to taste

Blot the poached eggs dry and then place them on top of the serving dish.
Serve immediately: you may want to give each person their own egg(s) or else you can stir the whole thing together and serve it that way.

Black Risotto with Braised Squid

Braising the squid insures it is tender.
Makes 3 to 4 servings, depending on portion size
Shopping List

1 cup fish stock or clam juice
2 TBL butter
1/3 cup olive oil, approximately
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped parsley
11/4 pounds cleaned squid
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup Arborio rice
1 tsp squid ink
red pepper flakes

Heat

  • 1 TBL butter
  • 3 TBL olive oil
  • medium onion, diced fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TBL chopped parsley

Stir until onion is translucent. Meanwhile, clean

  • 11/4 pounds squid

and cut into pieces. I prefer bite-size pieces to rings. When onion is translucent add squid and stir. After a minute add

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook about 45 minutes, until squid is tender. Meanwhile, prepare the liquid. Combine in a saucepan

  • 1 cup fish stock or clam juice
  • 1 cup water

but don’t bother heating it up until you start cooking the onions, below and then just heat it up but don’t bring it to a boil.

In a 2-quart saucepan, combine

  • 1 TBL butter
  • 3 TBL olive oil
  • medium onion, diced fine

Cook over medium heat and hen the onion is translucent, add

  • 1 cup arborio rice

and stir for 2-3 minutes, until edges of grains become translucent. Raise heat a bit and add

  • 1/2 cup white wine

Once the wine is absorbed, add 1/2 cup of the squid-cooking liquid. As it cooks down, continue to add 1/2 cup at a time of squid-cooking liquid, then switch to using the fish stock-clam juice combination — still 1/2 cup at a time.

Continue to cook the risotto, using a 1/2 cup of the stock at a time, stirring and then adding more stock only when the liquid is reduced. If you run short of liquid, just us warm water; this will depend on how much liquid the cooked squid yielded. It will take 20-25 minutes to finish cooking the rice. As it seems to get within 5 to 10 minutes of completion, add the cooked squid and

  • 1 tsp squid ink
  • red pepper flakes, to taste

The rice may look gray at first but will darken as it cooks. When the rice is cooked, adjust salt if needed. Serve garnished with

  • 2 TBL chopped parsley

Note: I’ve added roasted pepper pieces when I add the cooked squid back in. It looks even more stunning and tastes great.

Inspired by a Martha Stewart recipe.

Fennel with White Beans and Tomato

This started out as a fish main dish, but after tasting it, we decided to just have it as a vegetable dish. Side or main? Who knows.
Make 4 servings
Shopping List

olive oil

fennel bulb

1 medium onion

1/2 cup white wine

4 roma tomatoes (or other varieties)

3-4 cloves of garlic

chili flakes

saffron threads

pastis (Pernod, Ricard, etc.)

1 cup of stock (fish, chicken, vegetable) or bean-cooking liquid

11/2 cups cooked white beans

Cut into wedges

  • 1 fennel bulb

In a large frying pan, heat

  • 2 glugs olive oil

Fry fennel until golden. Lower heat and add

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3/4 tsp salt

and cook until tender. Add more oil if needed and add

  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced or sliced

Cook briefly, add

  • 1/2 cup white wine

Bring briefly to boil and add

  • 4 Roma or an equivalent volume of other tomatoes, cored and diced
  • chili flakes, to tast
  • pinch saffron threads
  • splash of pastis
  • 1 cup fish, chicken or vegetable stock (see note, below)
  • 11/2 cups beans

Let simmer together until tomatoes are cooked down. (In the original recipe, you’d add fish at this point and just cook until the fish is cooked through.) Taste for salt and pepper.

Note: You can use the bean cooking liquid instead of the stock if you prefer.

Adapted from a recipe in The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers.

Non-Dairy Hamentaschen Dough

A nicely crisp cookie.
Makes about 30-35, depending on the size of the circles you cut.
Shopping List

2 large eggs

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tsp vanilla

2 1/4 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

This dough produces a cookie with just enough crispness! It’s become our favorite, and we’ve tried a lot of recipes over the years. Our favorite fillings are the very traditional Poppy Seed Filling and Prune Filling, but you can be creative.

Mix together in a bowl

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

In the bowl of a mixer (or large bowl, by hand) beat

  • 2 large eggs

Add and mix completely

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Add the dry ingredients and mix just until a uniform dough forms. If the dough doesn’t hold together, sprinkle a bit of water in and continue to mix; if it seems to wet, work in a bit of extra flour.

You can use the dough right away but I often make all the fillings and dough the day before and refrigerate them. The baking happens the next day with the help of some friends.

To make the hamentaschen, preheat the oven to 325º F. Roll the dough to the desired thickness. Under 1/8-inch gives crisp, thin cookies, but you can make them up to 1/4-inch thick. Place the filling, ATTN wet 3 places where you’ll form corners with a bit of water and form the triangles. This dough has a bit more leavening than some of the other doughs I have tried: if you don’t seal the corners they will pop open! Place the cookies on an oiled sheet pan, leaving a bit of space between them.

Make an egg glaze by beating together

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp water

When the cookies are ready to go in the oven, brush them with the glaze and bake for about 18-20 minutes. The timing will vary according to your oven, the thickness of the dough and how dark you like the dough to get.

Remove from oven and let cool on sheet for a couple minutes before transfering to racks to complete cooling. These will get soft if you put them in a closed container so we leave them on the counter for a day or two. They don’t last much longer than that at our house unless I make a huge batch, in which case I have frozen them successfully.

Adapted from a recipe by Torey Avey.

Cantucci/Biscotti

A version of the best-known Italian cookies.
Makes about 30 human-sized cookies.
Shopping List

2 eggs

125g white sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp sesame seeds

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

200g flour

11/2 tsp baking powder

125ml (1/2 cup) canola oil

175g mixed nuts (walnuts, pistachios, almonds, etc.)

Mix together in a bowl

  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 125g white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds

In a small bowl, combine

  • 200g flour
  • 11/2 tsp baking powder

Stir the flour mixture into the batter. When mixed completely, add (ATTNby hand only)

  • 175g mixed nuts (walnuts, pistachios, almonds, etc.)

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper and form 2 logs, about 10 inches long and 3 inches wide. They will be just under an inch high. Bake 20 minutes or until golden outside. Remove from oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 225º F immediately.

As soon as you can handle the cooked cakes, remove from the sheet, slice cross-wise into pieces about the width of a finger. Place pieces on rack, set the rack on a baking sheet and bake until dry and the cut sides start to show some color. This will take about 20 minutes, maybe a bit longer.

Adapted from a recipe in the cookbook Polpo by Russell Norman.

Honey Cake Crisps

A crunchy twice-baked cracker-cookie, inspired by Trader Joe's Ginger Crisps and my grandmother's honey cake. There is a vegan version given as well.
Makes many dozens, depending on the thickness of the slices.
Shopping List
21/4 cups flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1 cup of broken-up pieces of pecans

1 egg

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup canola oil

3/4 cup honey

3/4 cup tepid, strong coffee (or 2 TBL instant espresso coffee)

If you want to make a vegan version of this recipe, see the note at the end.

Butter and flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Preheat oven to 325º F. Brew

  • 3/4 cup strong coffee

ATTN Alternatively you can dissolve 2 TBL instant espresso coffee in 3/4 cup hot water. Set the coffee aside and let it cool to room temperature.

In a small bowl, combine

  • 21/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves

ATTN I replaced half the flour with whole wheat and will use 100% whole wheat next time. Adjust the mix of spices to your liking.

In the mixer, beat

  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 3/4 cup honey

Add half of the dry ingredients and mix as little as needed to blend everything together. Add the tepid coffee and as soon as that’s mixed in, beat in the remainder of the dry ingredients. By hand, stir in

  • 1 cup of broken-up pecan (or walnut) pieces

Place the batter in the prepared loaf pan. Bake for about 75 minutes or until a cake tester comes out completely dry. If the top gets dark after about 50 minutes, cover the top loosely with foil. The cake will be over-baked by normal standards but it will make it easier to slice.

Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove from the pan and transfer to a rack. When it’s completely cooled, cut the cake lengthwise, then cut super-thin slices. I have an electric slicer to it was pretty easy to do.

Place the slices on wire racks and bake in a 200º F oven until thoroughly dry. Turning them over once at the midpoint will speed the drying process. Slices that sat out overnight were dry in 20 minutes; freshly cut slices took about 40 minutes to dry.

To make a vegan version, instead of the egg, beat (with a whisk)

  • 1/4 cup liquid from cooked (or canned) beans
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tarter

When it becomes foamy, add in

  • 1 tsp sugar

The mixture will thicken but don’t try to turn it into anything thick and fluffy (although that’s possible to do). Use this in place of the egg in the recipe above.

Adapted from a honey cake recipe in Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts.

Dried Scallop Congee (Conpoy Congee)

I like to have it for breakfast on a winter morning, garnished with a pickled mustard greens and a little sesame oil.
Makes 6 bowls of delicious congee.
Shopping List
3/4 cup jasmine rice
1/4 cup dried scallops

In a pressure cooker, combine

  • 1/4 cup (45g) dried scallops
  • 3/4 cup (170g) white rice
  • 8 cups water

Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes, let cool for 15 minutes and then release remaining pressure. Add salt to taste, probably about

  • 1 to 11/2 tsp salt

Serve with your favorite condiments: I like pickled mustard greens and a bit of sesame oil or something spicy, like chili oil instead. Dried scallops are available in most Chinatowns. Avoid getting the expensive ones (large) that go for about triple the price of the cheapest, small scallops. For this recipe it won’t matter that you’ve taken the budget route.

This recipe reheats really well. I usually make a batch and then reheat a bowl when I’m in the mood during the next few days.

Derived from https://www.pressurecookrecipes.com/pressure-cooker-congee-rice-porridge-jook/