Peanut Butter Cookies

Saturday, February 24, 2007

This has got to be the most ubiquitous cookie recipe in the world - equal parts peanut butter and sugar with an egg mixed in. It's on the Kr*ft peanut butter jars, if I remember correctly. This is with good reason though - it is easy, gluten free, and very, very good. The only tricky part is that the cookies are very tender when just baked, so they require careful handling to remove from the pan. I am using crunchy peanut butter, dark brown sugar, and some chopped up caramel and chocolate candy since I like some texture in the cookies. The post has a breakfast tag because I used to have one or two of these in the morning with a glass of soy milk before walking through Edmonton's river valley to work.

Mix together one cup of peanut butter and one cup of dark brown sugar with one large egg til blended. Chop up a handful of R*lo or similar candies and mix in to the batter if desired. Drop by teaspoons on ungreased baking sheet and flatten slightly. Bake at 325 deg F for ten to twelve minutes; makes about twenty cookies.

Sausage and Root Vegetable Soup with Peanut Butter

Monday, February 19, 2007

Moving to China has led to discovering lots of new foods, and recently I was given some local charcuterie including the cured sausage that many people have hanging in their windows this time of year. It was coarse textured and seasoned with the distinctive 麻辣 (ma2la4, hot and numbing) quality of Sichuan pepper. Cured meats are more often a luxury than frugal, but I like using them in small amounts as flavouring. For this soup you can use any strongly flavoured cured sausage, like a cured Italian sausage or Spanish style choriz0 (not the raw kind), preferably with a lot of fat in it. Or that leftover chunk of salami.

Sweet potatoes are a great foil for the heat and richness of the meat. I added taro, but only because the last regular potatoes I cooked here turned to mush and I wanted something that would hold texture. Carrots, turnips, parsnips, or other similar vegetables would also work well.

Finely mince a six inch piece of dry sausage (about one inch in diameter) and four cloves of garlic. Chop half a large onion and three leafy stalks of celery and fry together in a large wide bottomed pot such as a Dutch oven. (In a chili-head mood, I would have add a minced hot pepper to the vegetables.) When these are tender add four cups of water and three cups sweet potato and taro or other root vegetables peeled and chopped into half inch dice, cover, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes or so until root vegetables are tender. Stir in two tablespoons of peanut butter til smooth and taste for seasoning – this will really depend on how much salt and seasoning were in the meat. Serves four, best next day.

For the picture I borrowed a friend's camera - thanks, E! With the sausage I also received a smoked pig’s tail, and am figuring out what to do with it. Please leave suggestions in comments…a cross section reveals that there is not a lot of meat on the sucker.

Pigs in Blankets

Tuesday, February 13, 2007
For now, I am without electronic eyes - I foolishly left my camera on the taxi and hope is fading that I will be able to recover it. I'll add a picture next time I make these little treats; feast your eyes on these meanwhile. Pigs in blankets are not much work if you have baking mix on hand, and not much more from scratch. The crescent roll approach is really popular but not really frugal. This recipe makes 20-24, which was a perfect sized batch for the toaster oven.

Take one and 1/4 cup of biscuit mix (or work together one cup of flour, five tablespoons of butter or shortening, and one tsp of baking powder) and mix in a bowl with enough milk to make a rollable dough. Start with 1/3 cup of milk and add more if dough is too stiff. Knead dough about four times and let sit for an hour, then roll out on a floured surfact to a thickness of about 1/6 inch. Open a package of 24 cocktail franks or weiners cut in half and wrap them in blankets of biscuit dough about two inches by one inch. Arrange seam side down on oiled baking sheet (you can make ahead to this point, then cover well and chill up to one day). Cook at 375 deg F for about 15 minutes til pigs are warmed through and blankets are toasty. Try to make them shortly before eating, since they are amazing warm. Serve with mustard.

Celery with Noodles

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

After moving I came down with a bad cold and wanted something easy to make, comforting, and restorative. This bowl contains three things: celery, chicken stock, and noodles. Celery I like to buy in sticks rather than bunches because I can pick out the inner stalks and leafy pieces where most of the flavour hides. The chicken stock should be quite concentrated, giving the dish its body. (Note to all the worried people who find this blog by googling: should chicken stock be jelly? YES, it should, this is from the bones.) The noodles are dried, flat, white Chinese wheat noodles. They cook quickly and get soggy quickly, and I was not impressed with them until I started cooking them directly in soups and strongly flavoured sauces - they absorb a lot of character from the cooking liquid. Egg noodles would work well too.

Chop celery, mostly inner stalks and leaves, finely across the grain (don't worry much about shape, they cook enough to break down) til you have two cups chopped celery. Sweat over medium heat in a large saucepan with a pinch of salt til tender. Add three cups chicken stock and boil til celery is falling apart and the stock is reduced by about a quarter. You should have quite a bit of liquid still in the pan. Take a portion of noodles (about a dime's circumference) and break into thirds if desired. Add noodles to the pan and boil til they are tender, watching to make sure they don't stick together and adding hot water or more stock if the mixture gets too dry. Serves one sick person.