What I'm up to
  • Oxo Good Grips Small Wooden Spoon
    Oxo Good Grips Small Wooden Spoon

    everyone needs these, many of them.

  • Mauviel Cuprinox Style 8-inch Round Frying Pan
    Mauviel Cuprinox Style 8-inch Round Frying Pan

    Scarily, I can say I have enough copper. Not many people can utter those words.

  • Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French Oven, Red
    Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French Oven, Red
    Le Creuset

    The same thing could be said for Le Creuset, but still. Great for braising and soup making.

  • The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century
    The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century
    by Amanda Hesser
  • Nordic Ware Bakers Half Sheet, 13 X 18 X 1
    Nordic Ware Bakers Half Sheet, 13 X 18 X 1
    Nordic Ware

    What did I do before I started using this half sheet? Cry.

flora and flying. Get yours at bighugelabs.com

Entries in cookbook club (2)


Gourmet Game Night - Walnut Sables with Maple Walnut Cream


I love my Cookbook Club, unfortunately the Cookbook Club schedule and mine have not collided for the past few months,  and I have missed some great discussions and feasts.  As luck  had it, I would be home in January. In order to bring some sophistication to 2012, the powers that be decided it was time to jazz things up and have a cocktail party with fancy dresses and shoes and adult beverages.The book we chose to highlight was Gourmet Game Night by Cynthia Nims. Cynthia, a northwest native is a is a well known chef and cookbook author, with quite a portfolio of cookbooks to date.  Gourmet Game Night highlights finger food, easy to assemble, eat and manage when you are holding a royal flush at your monthly poker game.

The book also contains all sorts imaginative recipes come some yummy adult beverages will knock your Laboutins off, but can be adapted for the abstaining ones in your party.

So, the royal we donned our fancy dresses - sequins, sparkles, lace and stilletos for a night of gab, sitting by the pool, eating and dissecting all of our great discoveries. As usual, I stuck my head in the sand about the dressing up part.  I never think I have a nice outfit to wear to these events, always happy to be clad in pencil jeans, black sweater and flats. This time I delved deep into my closet and found an awesome lace skirt I hadn't worn since my friend's 40th (He'll be 47 this year) and a cap sleved cashmere sweater. This was paired with a nice pair of Cythnia Rowely lace stilletos and a
girly clutch, contacts and make up suitable for Vegas. I thought I cleaned up pretty well.

As for the food, I couldn't decide on what to make. I had been so bogged down with my AMS meeting that had consumed the whole month of January and had about 12 hours to make a decision. Everything that I had origininally eyed had been taken, so I took another deeper look and found two things that intrigued. One was a stuffed mushroom recipe (to be posted later) and the other
was a cookie. The cookie was a sure thing because desserts are not always plentiful and I had all the ingredients on hand (WIN).

So, folks, I present to you a delicious, partially time intensive but oh so worth your while cookie that
you will end up adding to your repetorie when you want something elegant, not too sweet and not chocolately.

Walnut Sables with Maple Walnut Cream

In her notes, Cynthia says that cookies taste better a day later, and I agree. Let them fully cool before
filling them and after filled store in a sealed container in the fridge and take out a 30 minutes before serving, as if they will last more than a day. Her original recipe calls for using a 2" round cookie cutter. I used my 1 1/2" and made the same amount of cookies. As long as there are two cookies per sandwich you'll be okay.

Prep time - 30 min for dough and frosting

Active time - rolling baking filling - 60 minutes

Eating time - pretty quickly

Walnut Sables
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 t salt (I used sea salt)
1/2 c unsalted butter, cut into cubes
3 egg yolks
1 t vanilla extract

Maple Walnut Cream

1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temp
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3 T finely chopped toasted walnuts
1 1/2 T maple syrup (I use grade B, or dark, it has a much better flavor)

Toast walnuts, Preheat oven to 300 F. Place walnuts on cookie sheet and bake until they are fragant, about 10 minutes. You don't want them to burn, but you need them to to toast enough to release some of their nutty goodness.  Remove from oven and let cool. I do this by removing them from the cookie sheet and putting them on a plate, to cool faster. When they are finally cool, you can work with them.

Left over toasted walnuts are delicious on oatmeal, just saying.

Place walnuts and whole wheat flour into food processor fitted with metal blade and whizz until walnuts are finely chopped. Add remaining flour, confectioner's sugar, and salt and process until well blended. Add butter, egg yolks, and vanilla and pulse until well blended and if you were to stop the processor and take press the dough together it would hold together like a shortbread. Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment or saran wrap, and press together into a flat disk. Wrap and place in fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes.

In the while, make the walnut cream. In a small bowl, place the softened butter and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Stir until combined, continue to add the sugar into the butter until well incorporated.  Next stir in the finely chopped walnuts and maple syrup. The mixture should look like frosting. Refrigerate until use.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Take dough out of fridge and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes to soften. Roll out dough onto a floured surface (I use parchment on a cutting board), to about 1/4". Using your cookie cutter, 1 to 1 1/2" circle, cut out circles and place onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Fill up the cookie sheets with the cookie cut outs, leaving 1" between each cookie.  Reform scraps of dough and refrigerate to firm up if the cookie dough has become to soft to work. Bake cookies in the middle racks of the oven for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. I checked at 5 minutes and switched trays from the racks and turned the trays from front to back. Remove from cookie sheets onto a wire rack to cool. These cookies are very delicate - sandy like a sable, so be gentle until they cool.

Continue rolling out dough and repeating process until you have used up all the dough. I ended up with another cookie sheet and about 50 cookies total.

At this point, you can take your cooled cookies and place into a air tight container for a few days until you are ready to fill them.

When it is time to fill them, remove filling from refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. The filling is like frosting and should be easily spread between the sable cookies.  Place a grape sized amount of filling onto one cookie and then place another cookie on top and press down gently, use your finger or a napkin to smooth off the filling that may have oozed out the sides.

Let sit an hour before storing.Leftovers, as if you'll have any, should be stored in an air tight container.

Makes 25 cookies.


Chickpea, cilantro and feta salad 


My mom called me on Sunday to tell me she had made a tabouli salad and kindly saved some for me.  If I hadn't been completely stuffed to the gills from Cookbook Club and the recipes from Falling Cloudberries, I would have picked up the keys and driven over because I love my mom's tabouli.  However, this post is not about tabouli, it is about the fact that soon it will be outdoor potluck weather and soon we'll be wishing we had opted to make a salad instead of a casserole.

Let me tell you something else about tabouli - everyone loves tabouli, and thinks that they will be exotic and daring and make it for a potluck.  Last year, I attended a summer solstice event at my parent's community garden where four tabouli salads turned up to feed  twenty people.  The same could be said for insalata caprese, its innocuous and frankly, not that exciting.

This week I made three different cold salads, ones that require minimal stovetop use and like most marinated things - tastes better the following day. While the weather has been unseasonably cool, you might as well plan ahead and try and tweak these recipes to your liking.   Here is the first. I love this salad and have made it three times for different events. It is hearty and packed with protein. The parsely and cilantro give it a nice springy taste and the jalepeno, a bit of a kick. I have varied the types of feta cheese in this recipe. If you have picky eaters on your guest list, go for the milder varieties of feta.

Chickepea, Cilantro and Feta salad - adapted from Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros

1 14 oz can of chickpeas, drained

1 small red onion, chopped finely

1/2 jalepeno pepper, cut in a fine mince, remove seeds if you want

2 cloves of garlic (the original recipe calls for five, this was plenty)

1/2 cup olive oil (yes, I said 1/2 cup, and that is an adjustment down from the 1 cup specified)

1 1/4 cup chopped parsely

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 to 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled (I used both light and the real stuff - both worked fine)

2 green onions chopped (white and light green parts)

1 lemon, juiced (I will admit to adding more than that, I like things tangy)


Saute onion in 2 T olive oil until soft (7 minutes for me), add garlic and chopped jalepeno and cook until you can just start smelling the garlic (ca. 2 minutes), remove from heat and let mixture come to room temperature (Note: you could do this ahead of time if you were more prepared than me).

Assemble the rest of the salad while the onion mixture is cooling.

Place chickpeas, parsely, cilantro, green onions in a bowl. Add cooled onion mixture and mix to combine.  Next add crumbled feta cheese to mixture and again, mix to combine.  Lastly add remaining olive oil and lemon juice mixture until it is well distributed.

Season to taste - add more lemon if you want, add salt and pepper, but the feta is a salty cheese and you many not need to add any.  Garnish with remaining parsely.

Refrigerate until served. This salad is delicious right out of the bowl or a few hours or days later. 

Props to Maggim for allowing me to use her lovely picture. I could not do this salad justice.