Saturday, September 24, 2016

Peanut Butter Cookies

After two weekends spent mostly away, last weekend I buried myself in my kitchen. Among the results were these peanut butter cookies. The recipe comes from Joanne Chang's Flour -- one of the things I miss about working in Cambridge is easy access to the branch there. Their cookbook is gorgeous, but I haven't had much chance to make anything from it.

I've never been a huge fan of peanut butter cookies, but these might be my new go-to.

Note: This dough includes a three-hour "rest" phase.

As with all baking recipes, pause once in a while to scrape the mixer bowl with a spatula and make sure everything is evenly incorporated.

1/2 c unsalted butter at room temperature
1 c granulated sugar
1 c packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 c chunky peanut butter (I used Jif)
2 2/3 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt

In a mixer bowl, cream together the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy (around 5 minutes with a stand mixer). Beat in the eggs and vanilla on medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until thoroughly combined. On medium-low speed, beat in the peanut butter for another 2 minutes.

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add this mixture to the butter-sugar mixture on low speed. Mix just until everything is evenly incorporated.

For best results, scrape into an airtight container and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least three hours and up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Drop the dough in 1/4-cup balls onto a baking sheet, spacing them 2 inches apart. Flatten each ball slightly. Use a fork to make the traditional cross-hatch pattern (dip the fork in water to keep the dough from sticking).

Bake cookies 18-20 minutes or until just brown around the edges and still soft in the center. Cool on the baking sheet for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Honey Oat Bread

I spent most of yesterday immobilized by a glancing encounter with a stomach bug (8yo had a more severe one, unfortunately). After a day of crackers and ginger ale, at 4 p.m. I decided to make bread along with the basic chicken soup I had planned for dinner. I picked this recipe because I remembered it as taking relatively little time to make, but that turned out to be not entirely accurate.

Still, it is very good bread, and I can tell you that it also makes amazing toast. The header text on my copy of the recipe leads me to think that it originally came from Bon Appetit.
Never have I tried a homemade bread as light and delicious as the honey-oat loaf at The Green Mountain Inn in Stowe, Vermont," writes Rebecca Rothaug of Westbury, New York. "With your help, I would like to share this bread with my family and friends."
Serve slices of this tender, slightly sweet bread with plenty of butter and honey.

Servings:   Makes 2 small loaves.

1 3/4 cups warm water (105°F to 110°F)
1 tablespoon dry yeast
3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
1/3 cup honey
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
5 cups (about) all purpose flour

1 large egg, beaten to blend
Additional quick-cooking oats

Stir 1/4 cup warm water and yeast in large bowl. Let stand 10 minutes to dissolve yeast. Stir in remaining 1 1/2 cups water, 3/4 cup oats, honey, oil, and salt. Stir in enough flour to form soft dough. Coat another large bowl with oil. Transfer dough to oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel and let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Oil two 8 1/2x4 1/2x2 1/2-inch loaf pans. Punch down dough; shape into 2 loaves. Place 1 loaf in each pan. Cover and let rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush tops of loaves with egg; sprinkle with additional oats. Bake until brown on top and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool completely. (Can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

Monday, June 27, 2011

What's in a name

When I decided that I should give food blogging another try, the first thing I had to decide was what to call the thing.

Peanut Butter Sandwiches? The food I have probably eaten more of my entire life than anything else, but it was taken. The Examined Plate? I like the idea of thinking carefully about food, but it seemed a bit too clinical, and possibly too high-falutin'. Variations on Kitchen Dreams suggested themselves, but were mostly taken as well.

The name I eventually went with, From Allspice to Zatar, is intended to suggest the range of cooking endeavors I hope to chronicle here. On a recent trip to Newport, RI, I visited a lovely new spice shop, still in its first week and yet to have its grand opening. My main reason for going in was the fact that it was raining, and I didn't have an umbrella. The shop was deserted, so I could haul the stroller inside without being in anyone's way. I did just that and looked at the shelves of jarred condiments, teas, and spices. The proprietor was friendly, anxious to help, and I think a bit nervous about his new venture.

I couldn't think of anything I particularly needed, but I wanted to buy something to support a brave soul casting off lines and venturing into the retail world in this economy -- even in a tourist town with plenty of money. I picked up a little bamboo salt box (and almost named this site after it), and some sumac on a whim, because I didn't have any.

He got very enthused about the sumac and said it was used in zatar, at which my ears pricked up. I knew that I had seen some recipe or other recently that called for it, and ended up not making it because I didn't have everything that was supposed to go into the blend, and they didn't have any at our market. He let me sniff an open box of the stuff, and I added it to my little stack at once.

So among other things, this will be a quest to use it!

I don't have an overall goal or theme here other than to cook good food and try to share what I find. Most of my weeknight meals tend to be on the fast and simple side, but once in a while I get to do something more complicated. In the summer, I try to get to the farmer's market at least once a week, but the season is relatively short here in Massachusetts. I cook healthy by default, but don't obsess over a cream sauce now and again. I like to bake as well as to cook when I can find the time, but most nights we don't eat dessert.

Let's see what happens, shall we?