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Posts Tagged ‘walnuts’

I haven’t been a big fan of Bon Appetit since it took over my subscription from the now-defunct Gourmet last year. But they get props for this incredible brownie recipe, featured on the cover of February’s edition.

What puts these over the top is the brown butter, which is new to me but not hard to prepare. You melt unsalted butter over medium heat and allow the milk solids to separate and sink to the bottom of the pan and brown.  It adds a rich, nutty flavor to the mix that complements the walnuts and earthy unsweetened cocoa powder.  And the texture is perfect: rich and chewy on the inside, slightly crispy on top.

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Picture the perfect chocolate chip cookie… For me, it’s thin with a slightly crisp bottom and softer top; a balanced mix of chips and nuts; and, a buttery not-too-sweet richness overall.

And after many rounds of trial and error in my kitchen, I can honestly say these might come closest to the mark. They are without doubt the best I’ve made in over a year. Hat-tip to my fabulous colleague and talented baker Susan James for this recipe, circa 1979!

Her secret is to use about a half cup less flour and sugar each than a standard cookie recipe calls for — keeping all other quantities the same — yielding a softer and wetter batter that bakes down thin to irresistible, chewy/crunchy goodness.

Susan James’ Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup butter

3/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 cup oats

1 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

Unsweetened coconut, nuts and chocolate chips to taste

*Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, but watch them carefully in your oven to make sure they don’t burn.

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bananabuttermilkbread1

People are very particular about their bananas, as ubiquitous as the yellow fruit may be.  Ever watched as people sift through mounds of banana bunches at the market trying to find the ones with the “perfect” ripeness?  My informal poll found strong feelings about the preferred state of bananas for consumption: some only eat green, others wait till just off-green, and others won’t pull back the peel till little brown spots appear.  Anyone only eat brown bananas??  I happen to favor just off-green bananas for the firm, fresh taste.

When my bananas become too ripe for my breakfast cereal, I save them for bread.  The soft flesh is more easily blended into the batter and yields a stronger flavor.  This recipe with buttermilk creates an amazingly light, flaky and buttery bread.

Buttermilk Banana Walnut Bread
1 stick softened butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
4 medium-sized mashed bananas
4 tablespoons buttermilk
1 3/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

(1) Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs, bananas, buttermilk and vanilla.

(2) In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture. Mix until combined.  Add 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts.

(3) Divide batter into two greased and floured bread pans and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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granolaraw

Store-bought granolas are often high in sugar, oil and fat not to mention price. They vary widely in terms flavor, consistency, and crunchy/chewiness. But making granola at home is surprisingly easy and the best way to ensure a wholesome cereal that suits your taste. The key is fresh, quality raw materials — whole oats, raw unsalted nuts, and fresh dried fruits. The “wet mixture,” or coating that creates those classic, flavorful granola oat-nut clusters, can be customized to your preference of sweetness and flavor. This recipe from the Lafayette Inn bed & breakfast in Easton, PA, plays with the flavors of peanut butter and jelly — the nuttiness of the peanut butter complements the tangy sweetness of the dried cranberries and raisins.

Lafayette Inn Granola

1/3 cup honey

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup wheat germ

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup golden raisins

1 cup dried cranberries

granolamaking1

Heat the honey, peanut butter, vanilla and cinnamon over low heat, stirring frequently so the mixture doesn’t burn. Then, add the wet mixture to the oats and nuts.  (Leave out the raisins and cranberries until after baking.)

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The peanut butter will create clumps in the dry mixture, so do your best to break them up in the mixing process. Pour the coated oat-nut mixture on a cookie sheet and bake at 300 for 20-30 minutes, stirring once or twice. Depending on your “crunch” preference, you can roast it longer.  After the granola cools, add the cranberries and raisins and store in an airtight container.

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pumpoatraisincookies

Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside. That’s what you get when you mix-in pumpkin puree with oatmeal raisin cookie batter!  These are tasty cookies with a satisfying assortment of harvest goodness: whole oats, chopped walnuts, and raisins.

The pumpkin and cinnamon spice are subtle autumn flavors that come through in the modestly soft, chewy interior of the cookie. And, they’re not overwhelmingly sweet which makes them taste extra wholesome.

Harvest Cookies

2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

2 sticks butter

1 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup raisins

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

(1) Preheat the oven to 350.

(2) Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add egg, pumpkin and vanilla.

(3) Mix in dry ingredients. Then, add raisins and walnuts.

(4) Drop spoonfuls onto a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes.

(5) Leave on sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.

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With the weather turning cooler and the leaves beginning to turn in New York City, this autumn menu is perfect for a Friday night dinner party.

The chicken breasts were marinated in fresh herbs and white wine for several hours before being pan-roasted and finished in the oven with Dijon mustard on top. The creamy, Dijon-tarragon sauce is a light and flavorful complement to the marinade. (Recipe)

On the side: a salad of bosc pear, toasted walnuts, crumbled gorgonzola cheese and a cider-lemon vinagrette. Also, oven-roasted baby yukon gold potatoes tossed with olive oil, sea salt and chopped rosemary.

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