Monday, December 24, 2012

A Fortifying Breakfast

Before I could face the preparation of holiday cinnamon buns, pecan bars, palmiers, and creme brulee, I ate a bowl of steel-cut oats (look for them at the IGA, with all of the other Bob's Red Mill products) topped with dried figs. Cooking them pilaf-style, covered without stirring, gave them a great texture, toothsome but not crunchy. A nonstick pot is essential. Here is the recipe:

Steel-Cut Oats with Dried Fig Compote
Serves 3 to 4

1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup steel-cut oats
3 1/4 cups water
Pinch salt
1/2 cup dried figs, stemmed and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Milk or half-and-half

1. Melt the butter in a nonstick pot over medium-high heat. Add the oats and cook, stirring, until fragrant and lightly toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt, turn the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook without stirring for 30 minutes.
2. While the oats are cooking combine the figs, brown sugar, ginger, and remaining 1/4 cup water in a small pot. Bring to a simmer and cook at a bare simmer until the liquid is thickened, about 20 minutes.
3. Stir the oatmeal, divide it among 3 or 4 bowls, and top with the figs and their liquid. Serve immediately, with milk or half-and-half if desired.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Decorating with Cupcake Liners

My younger daughter discovered that cupcake liners make the best paper snowflakes. And then she got out her hot glue gun and made a garland with them.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pasta Friday: Holiday Edition

Pierson Seniors are allowed to leave campus for lunch. Eight or so of them always show up at my house on Friday for pasta and cookies. I usually take some chocolate chip cookie dough out of the freezer, but today, in honor of the coming holiday, I baked spicy molasses cookies. They aren't the most beautiful cookies, but  teenagers really like them. Here's the recipe:

Molasses Cookies
Makes about 32 cookies

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup dark (not light or blackstrap) molasses
2 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
2. Combine the butter, brown sugar, and molasses in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs and beat until well-combined. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined.
3. Drop tablespoonfuls of dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches between each cookie. Bake until the tops are just dry, 10 to 12 minutes. Let the cookies stand on the baking sheets for 5 minutes and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hot Chocolate and The Challenge

Although I'm pretty sure they're not kosher, I love the coffee cups I received from my uncle for Chanukah on Sunday. Last night we watched the Pierson Quiz Bowl team battle East Islip on MSG Varsity, while enjoying some rich hot chocolate in the new cups. The lobster looks like he made it out alive. Here is the recipe:

Rich Hot Chocolate
Makes 4 cups

6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
Pinch salt
3 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Combine the chocolate chips and salt in a heatproof bowl.
2. Combine the milk and cream in a heavy pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Turn the heat to low. Ladle 1/2 cup of the hot liquid into the bowl and whisk to melt the chocolate.
3. Return the chocolate mixture to the pot and whisk constantly until smooth.
4. Off heat, whisk in the vanilla. Pour into mugs and serve immediately.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Chanukah is getting off to a slow start at my house, I'm afraid. On Sunday, my husband smoked the Fairview Farm pork bellies he had been curing for the past 10 days (instructions are in the new America's Test Kitchen D.I.Y. Cookbook). Then he made BLTs for lunch. No one complained, especially because we knew that latkes and brisket were for dinner.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I'm Back, with Wheat Berries

I've been in and out of town a lot during the past few months, working on an exciting new cookbook project that I will tell you more about in the coming weeks. But I've missed my blog! I have quite a horde of Quail Hill wheat berries in my freezer, so I combined them with some shiitake mushrooms I picked up at Citarella's yesterday for a warming dinner. Here is the recipe:

Wheat Berries with Mushrooms
Serves 4

2 cups wheat berries
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
Ground black pepper
3/4 cup low-sodium canned chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

1. Place the wheat berries in a medium saucepan, turn the heat to medium, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add water to cover and 1/2 teaspoon salt, bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and simmer until soft but not mushy, 30 to 60 minutes (taste frequently to see how they are doing). Drain, return to the pot, and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Add the broth to the pot with the wheat berries and cook over medium-high heat until simmering. Stir in the mushroom mixture and heat through. Off heat stir in the butter, Parmesan, and parsley. Adjust the seasonings and serve.