The BEST Peanut Butter Cookies

Ready to go into oven

Ready to go into oven

The finished cookies

The finished cookies

 

This is the easiest recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies, and I might add, the most delicious. No flour at all so they are great for all of you who are allergic to wheat.  Adapted from Food and Wine this month, I added a few things to really make them sing! As usual, cayenne pepper makes an appearance! Enjoy!

I cup of smooth peanut butter

1 cup of sugar

1 extra large egg

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon baking soda (not powder)

1/4 teaspoon of cayenne

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons minced peanuts (minced in a mini chopper)

1/4 cup chopped bitter chocolate (finely please)

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly spray a baking sheet with non stick spray. 

In a bowl, place all of the ingredients except the peanuts and chocolate. Mix well until the egg is blended in well.  Add the chocolate and the peanuts. 

Spoon with a small ice cream scoop onto the prepared tray and then take a fork, and make the cross pattern as you see above, flattening slightly. Bake for about 15 minutes rotating the pans once through the baking process.  Transfer to a rack to cool and then serve (preferably with a tall glass of milk!)

These cookies are just delicious and are going to be making an appearance for Chistmas this year! Enjoy! Makes about 20 cookies using the ice cream scoop, but if you use a tablespoon to form small balls, it may make up to 30 cookies.

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Tzatziki

Tzatziki

Tzatziki

 

Ok….I’ve had several requests for tzatziki, that garlicky greek dip made with strained yogurt.  So without further delay, I’ll post the recipe, BUT, realize that this recipe is a little of this and a little of that.  Use your instincts while preparing this…you’ll be fine. 

Two cups of plain (NOT vanilla) full fat yogurt

1 clove of garlic

1/4 cup shredded (on a metal box grater) cucumber (seeded and peeled)

1/4 cup of chopped dill

1 tablespoon rice wine or sherry wine or white balsamic or other white wine vinegar

Salt and Pepper

 

The KEY to thick delicious tzatziki is to strain the yogurt.  Place a coffee filter in a sieve over a small bowl and spoon the yogurt into the filter. Let it strain overnight and you will be amazed by the amount of liquid that comes out of the yogurt. The yogurt will then look and feel like a thick sour cream (thicker even than sour cream).  This is actually called yogurt cheese because it has the look and feel of a ricotta.  But, in any event, let it drain in the fridge overnight in the coffee filter and the next day, place it in a bowl and add all of the remaining ingredients.  Chill for an hour or so and serve with chips, warmed pita or carrots/celery. 

Now, if you like more garlic or cucumber, add it.  If you like it spicy, add some hot sauce.  If you like color, add a couple tablespoons of roasted and chopped red pepper. You get the idea!

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

It suddenly occurred to me, after I received a lovely comment from someone who apparently had been searching for my Carrot Cake recipe for years, that I had not included the recipe here on my blog. Well here is the link. 

http://www.phillyburbs.com/pb-dyn/news/105-12142007-1456360.html

As Ruth Reichl stated in the Gourmet compilation, “it is one of the best we’ve ever tasted…” Enjoy!

Thai Curry Cornish hens with couscous

The finished cornish hens on couscous with the curry sauce

The finished cornish hens on couscous with the curry sauce

While at work today, I penned an ingredient list for what I think is the perfect fusion of Thai and Indian cuisines.  This marinade makes enough for two cornish hens.  The cayenne pepper lends a little kick and the peanut butter and coconut milk provide the perfect foundation for the curry powder.  A bold and delicious dish. Serve the hens on top of couscous that has been flavored with a little of the marinade, butter, salt and pepper. 

1 can light or full fat coconut milk (not cream of coconut)

3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

3 teaspoons curry powder

Salt and pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried ginger

Splash of rice wine vinegar

Dash of cayenne pepper

5-6 sprigs of cilantro

Whirl all ingredients in the blender and place in a small saucepan.  Heat over low flame until just up to the simmer and turn off the heat.  Let cool. 

Take 2 cornish hens and remove the backbones with kitchen shears and lay flat. Make a few slit in the drumsticks of each hen.  Pour about half the marinade on them and place in the fridge for about an hour. Just pour it out. Do not cross contaminate the marinade.  Keep marinade warm on the side. This will be your sauce to pour on the hens and for dipping too!

Preheat the grill to high and grill the cornish hens for about 8-10 minutes on each side, until the juices run clear when pierced.  While hens are on the grill make the couscous.

Couscous:

1 cup of couscous

1 cup of water

3 tablespoons of the marinade

1 tablespoon butter

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup frozen peas

Bring the water, the butter, the marinade, the seasoning and the peas to a boil in a saucepan. As soon as it comes to a boil, stir in the couscous.  Take off the heat and leave for 10 minutes.  Fluff with fork and season with salt and pepper.  A nice variation would be to add 1/2 cup of currants to the liquid and then 1/2 cup of pistacios or almond slices to the finished couscous (for some crunch).

Place the couscous on a platter and place the hens on top.  Drizzle remaining marinade over top of hens and serve. Serves 4

The simplest Chicken Curry

NOTE: If you want to turn this sauce into a Simple Chicken Curry, double the marinade recipe and add some warm chicken broth (maybe a half cup) to loosen it. Grill or broil some chicken pieces (cut pieces from one chicken) and add them into the curry sauce and simmer for a few minutes. Or, in the alternative, take boneless chicken breast (enough to be coated nicely with all that delicious sauce) and cut into pieces, sautee in olive oil until tender and done, and place in the warm sauce to warm through. Garnish with some chopped cilantro and serve with plain basmati rice and warm naan.

Walnut Basil Lemon Pesto on Pasta

Pasta with Walnut pesto

Pasta with Walnut pesto

Our dear friend Michael Murtha hosted a few friends to his home this weekend wherein he claimed he would prepare just a few appetizer items before we headed out for the evening.  Well to Michael a few appetizer items included baked shrimp in tomato sauce, paper thin prosciutto with buffalo mozzarella AND the most delicious orechiette with pistacio pesto sauce.  I must have had three portions. It was so delicious. I decided to recreate it, but I used walnuts instead and also changed the pasta to mezze penne.  I am writing this from work so I cannot post the photo I took last night, but suffice to say that it was delicious and I must give Michael his props for creating his dish and the inspired dish which resulted.  Enjoy!

Pasta with Walnut Pesto

1 clove of garlic
5 leaves of basil, torn
Salt and Pepper
2 cups of toasted walnuts
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
Somewhere between 1/2 cup and 3/4 cup of “good” olive oil
1/4 cup of light cream
1/2 cup of grated parmesan or pecorino romano
1/2 cup of cooking water from the pasta (more or less)
1 pound of Pasta of your choice (I used Mezze Penne)
More parmeggiano reggiano (or pecorino) and pepper when you serve

Boil the pasta and reserve the 1/2 cup of cooking water.  In food processor place all the ingredients except the oil, cheese and cream.  Process until the walnuts are chopped finely and then drizzle the oil into the feed tube. You don’t want it too oily so once you see the walnuts moving freely in the pesto, it’s fine.  Process for a few seconds to emulsify.  Turn off processor and stir in cream and parmesan cheese.  Toss over the pasta adding some of the reserved cooking water as you see fit to make it as dry or wet as you like.  Reseason with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately passing more cheese around to your guests!  Serves 4-6.

Variation: Add 1/2 cup of crumbled bacon from 3-4 strips of bacon crisped up either in a frying pan or in a hot oven. The saltiness of the bacon works with the sweetness of the walnuts.