Pistachio Shortbread

A very easy simple shortbread from Bon Appetit. Trader Joe’s sells shelled dry roasted and unsalted pistachios that are perfect for this recipe. You make the whole recipe in the food processor!

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature & cubed
¾ cup shelled pistachios, plus ¼ chopped
⅓ cup confectioners sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Preheat oven to 325˚ F and flip the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan upside down and grease with butter. (This allows the bottom to sit flat so it is easier to slice-*note-I was not able to do this and it was fine!). Line bottom with parchment. Grease parchment with butter.

In a food processor, pulse the ¾ cup of whole pistachios and confectioners sugar until finely ground.
Add the butter, vanilla and salt. Pulse until combined. Add flour and pulse until dough forms.
Scrape dough into prepared pan. Lightly flour the back of a measuring cup and press dough into an even layer in bottom of pan.
Freeze until firm, 30 minutes.
Bake until cookie is set and barely golden at edges, 23 to 25 minutes.
Carefully remove hot cookie from springform pan and slice into 12 wedges. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Chocolate Glaze-optional topping
4 oz. dark chocolate (60%)Line a baking sheet with parchment.
1 teaspoon coconut oil
In a heatproof bowl, microwave chocolate and coconut oil until just melted (about 1 minute on high), stirring until smooth.
Using a spoon, drizzle chocolate over part of each cookie and arrange on the prepared baking sheet.
Sprinkle with chopped pistachios and flaky sea salt.
Refrigerate until set, at least 15 minutes and up to 3 days covered.

Another great Banana Bread

This recipe is from King Arthur Flour and was their recipe of the year in 2018. I love that it has a lot of bananas in it (5 or 2 cups mashed) and half whole wheat (or white whole wheat flour). This is very similar to Flour Bakery’s Best Banana bread but still enough different that you should make it. I love the cinnamon sugar on top of the loaf.
I definitely recommend lining the bread pan with parchment as I did have some trouble getting it out of the pan (although I blame that on altitude-I should have made some minor adjustments for Denver).

2 cups (454g) thoroughly mashed banana, about 4 or 5 medium bananas
1/2 cup (99g) vegetable oil
1 cup (213g) brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (120g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 cup (113g) King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (57g) chopped walnuts, toasted if desired; optional*
*Leave the nuts out, if desired; or substitute up to 1 cup chopped dried fruit, chocolate or butterscotch chips, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, or other mix-ins of your choice.
1 tablespoon (13g) sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center position. Lightly grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan; if your pan is glass or stoneware, reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. **I highly recommend lining the pan with parchment.

In a large bowl, stir together the mashed banana, oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.

Weigh your flours; or measure them by gently spooning into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Mix the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and chopped walnuts into the banana mixture. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and mix again to thoroughly combine the ingredients.

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle over the batter.
Bake the bread for about 60 to 75 minutes, until the bread feels set on the top, and a paring knife (or other thin knife) inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs (but no wet batter). If you have a digital thermometer, the bread’s temperature at the center should register about 205°F. If the bread appears to be browning too quickly, tent it with aluminum foil for the final 15 to 20 minutes of baking. Note: If baking in a glass or stoneware pan, increase the baking time by 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove the bread from the oven. Cool it in the pan for 15 minutes, then loosen the edges, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool completely.

Store leftover bread, tightly wrapped, at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

Creamy Pasta Bake with Baby Broccoli

From Giada via Food Network. I made a half recipe of this but used the full recipe of topping because I love the crunch. I threw my chopped broccolini into the pasta one minute before it was done. I did not have provolone but used some fontina and gruyere that I had on hand in addition to the parmesan cheese. I think this recipe could be very flexible and you could add some leftover sausage or ham or any vegetables that you wanted to use. This is a very simple recipe that comes together quickly. You can make it ahead and finish it in the oven when you are ready to eat. Delicious!

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound medium shell pasta
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus additional for the pasta water
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk, at room temperature
2 cups heavy cream, at room temperature
2 cups grated mild provolone
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan
3 cups broccoli florets, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
For the topping:
Mix together the panko, Parmesan and olive oil in a small bowl. Season with the salt and set aside.
For the pasta: Cook the pasta in boiling salted water for 4 minutes, then reserve 1/4 cup pasta water and drain. Set aside.
Place a medium pan (that can go into the oven) over medium heat. Melt the butter and whisk in the flour until smooth. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, then add the cream, whisking. Bring the milk mixture to a simmer, whisking often. Whisk in the provolone and Parmesan until melted and smooth. Season with the salt. Fold in the blanched pasta, reserved pasta water and the broccoli florets. Top with the breadcrumb mixture and bake in the top third of the oven until golden brown and bubbly, about 20 minutes.

Roasted Sweet Peppers

From alexandracooks These peppers are so versatile. They are great as is, or on salads or sandwiches or as a garnish. They disappear in a few days in our house!

Regarding the pan: A sheet pan is not recommended because the balsamic will reduce too quickly and burn. You want to use a pan that will fit the peppers snuggly. I find a 9×13-inch pan to be perfect for 1.5 lbs. of mini peppers, but something a little bit larger or slightly smaller will work well, too.*The bag of peppers that I buy is 1# and it fits perfectly in my 10″ cast iron skillet.

1.5 lbs. mixed baby peppers
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Heat the oven to 450ºF convection. (If you don’t have convection, don’t worry — your peppers may just take a little bit longer.) Place peppers in a 9×13-inch pan or something similar, see notes above (a sheet pan is not recommended). Season with salt, olive oil, and balsamic and toss to coat.
Transfer pan to the oven and cook for 15 to 25 minutes. Start checking at the 15 minute mark — every oven is different, and depending on the pan you are using the peppers may need more or less time. Remove the peppers when they look blistered to your liking — they shouldn’t be charred the way peppers look when you want to roast and peel them, but they should have some nice dark spots, and they should look wrinkly and slightly collapsed — they’ll collapse more once you remove them from the oven.
Remove peppers from the oven and transfer them and all of their juices to a serving platter. Taste one. Sprinkle with more flaky seas salt (or other) if desired. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

White Bean Soup

I made this from Marcella beans from Rancho Gordo. I love all of the Rancho Gordo beans and find them a much better quality than regular store bought dried beans. Once your beans are cooked, the soup comes together quickly. You can garnish it with baby spinach or any other green.

1 c. white beans, soaked overnight-and cooked until tender, do not discard soaking water
1-2 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 stalks of celery diced
1/2 fennel bulb, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4# diced ham or you could use cooked sausage or chicken
optional garnishes: baby spinach or any chopped green-kale, croutons, parmesan

Sauté onions, carrots, celery and fennel for 5-10 minutes in olive oil. Add garlic for 1-2 minutes. Add cooked beans and broth and simmer 1 hour. If necessary, add water or stock for the right consistency.

Chile Verde

I often cook a whole pork shoulder and freeze half of it and this recipe is the perfect use for that pork. I am lucky to have access to lots of different fresh green chilies-poblanos, Anaheims, jalapeños which I roast for this recipe-either on a grill or under a broiler. We love to eat this Chile verde with warm tortillas but you could serve it with rice and lots of garnishes like cilantro, lime, cheese.

1-2 T. vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 T. cumin
1 t. Mexican Oregano
1/4 c. flour
1 quart of chicken stock
4 Poblano chilies, roasted, seeded and peeled
3 Anaheim chilies, roasted, seeded and peeled
1-2 Jalapeños, roasted, (seeded if you like)
1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1# or more Leftover Pork shoulder, chopped
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
fresh limes
tortillas-I love flour or the corn and flour mixed tortillas

Heat oil in a large saucepan. Saute onion for a few minutes, add garlic, cumin and oregano. Stir until fragrant. Add flour and stir for a minute. Add chicken stock, stirring. Purée all of the chilies in the food processor and add to saucepan. Pulse the can of tomatoes in the food processor four times and add to pan. Add pork and cook 15 minutes. Add cilantro before serving with warm tortillas.

Chocolate Extremes

A very rich and chocolatey cookie from The NY Times. Perfect for Valentine’s Day! I think it is one of the best cookies.  A perfect combination of chocolates and pecans. I made 33 cookies of my usual size and look forward to sharing them with friends and neighbors.

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, preferably Valrhona, finely chopped, plus 6 ounces cut into 1/2inch chunks, or any other kind of chocolate, I used milk chocolate chips

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon brewed espresso

2 large eggs, at room temperature

7 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

7 tablespoons sifted cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups coarsely chopped pecans.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, combine the finely chopped bittersweet chocolate, butter and espresso. Stir occasionally until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine eggs and sugar and whip until the mixture is light in color and increases substantially in volume, about 10 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract. Stir in the melted chocolate. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder and fold them into the chocolate mixture until just combined. Fold in the pecans and chocolate chunks. Line two-three cookie sheets with parchment paper. Drop the batter by heaping tablespoons onto the paper, leaving about 2 inches between each. Bake until the cookies are slightly puffed and cracked on the outside but gooey inside, about 10 to 14 minutes. Cool on the cookie sheets.

Puttanesca Sauce for Pasta

Originally from The New Basics cookbook by the Silver Palate gals-via alexandracooks which is a wonderful blog and her cookbook Bread, Toast, Crumbs is also great. This is the fastest sauce to make and I had all of the ingredients in my pantry. The recipe does not call to add cheese, but I added some freshly grated parmesan and fresh basil.

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 can (2 oz.) anchovy fillets, undrained
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 28-oz can San Marzano plum tomatoes
1 jar (2 1/2 oz) or 1/4 cup capers, drained
1/2 cup black or kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1/2 lb. pasta — shapes like campanelle and orecchiette catch all of those yummy bites of capers and olives, but use what you like

Place all ingredients with the exception of the pasta in large pot or wide-mouthed sauté pans. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring every so often — you need something like a potato masher or flat-bottomed whisk or wooden spoon to gently crush the tomatoes as well as the garlic cloves every so often. The anchovies dissolve on their own, but the tomatoes and garlic need assistance.
Boil pasta — no need to salt the water — drain, and toss with sauce.

Tangy Brisket with Fennel and Herbs

A delightful new brisket recipe from Alison Roman via Bon Appetit. I tried this with a half of a brisket and made the full sauce and vegetable mixture. I will make it with a whole brisket next time as the meat is delicious and can be used in tacos or sandwiches or soups. I was a little concerned about the thick fat cap that my brisket had but it crisps up in the last hour of cooking and is perfection!

1 4–5-lb. piece untrimmed flat-cut beef brisket
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
1 medium onion, cut through root end into 1″-thick wedges
1 large fennel bulb, cut through root end into 1″-thick wedges
3 celery stalks, cut into 2″ pieces, plus 1 cup leaves
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
½ bunch thyme, oregano, or marjoram
¾ cup distilled white vinegar
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce
2 cups mixed tender herbs (such as parsley, mint, and/or cilantro)
½ lemon
Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Flaky sea salt
Preheat oven to 300°. Season brisket on all sides with kosher salt (about 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton per lb.) and pepper and set on a rimmed baking sheet. Chill, uncovered, at least 12 hours and up to 2 days.

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large heavy pot over medium. Cook brisket, fatty side down, until deeply browned (it might be snug at first, but the meat will shrink as it cooks), 10–12 minutes. Turn and cook until the other side is deeply browned, 8–10 minutes. Turn onto edges and brown (this isn’t necessary, but it will add more flavor). Transfer to a platter.

Pour off fat in pot; discard. Pour remaining 2 Tbsp. oil into pot; set over medium-high heat. Add onion and season with kosher salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown and frizzle around the edges, about 3 minutes.

Add fennel, celery, garlic, and thyme and toss to coat; season with kosher salt and pepper. Add vinegar, soy sauce, and 4 cups water. Place brisket in pot, arranging fatty side up; it should be submerged. (Use tongs to work it in there. If anything has to poke out of the liquid, let it be the vegetables.) Bring to a simmer, then cover and slide into the oven. Braise (without peeking) 3 hours. Check brisket; it should be very tender (the tip of a knife should easily pierce meat). If not, braise another 20 minutes or so and check again.

Uncover brisket and increase oven temperature to 425°. Roast until liquid is reduced by three-fourths and top of brisket is crisp and deeply browned (it should be extremely tender), 50–60 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a cutting board. Slice with a serrated knife or shred with your hands. Skim fat from surface of braising liquid.

Just before meat is done, place tender herbs and celery leaves in a small bowl; squeeze some juice from lemon over and toss to coat.

Arrange meat on a platter. Spoon vegetables and braising liquid in pot around meat and top with herb salad. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes, if desired, and sea salt.

Do Ahead: Brisket can be braised (but not roasted) 1 day ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Uncover and remove fat from surface. Continue with roasting process before serving.

Nutty Seedy Breakfast Cookies

From the new Pastry Love cookbook by the amazing JoAnne Chang.There are a lot of ingredients that you may need to go to the health food store for but it will be worth it! The batter needs to be chilled at least a half an hour and this is a cookie that you should make every other day as the recipe says the cookies only hold for 2 days. Every recipe I have made from Pastry Love has been excellent and I highly recommend this book if you enjoy baking!

3/4 c. /90 grams walnuts, roughly chopped
1 cup /2 sticks/225 grams unsalted butter
1/2 c./170 grams maple syrup
1 t. pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ripe banana, thoroughly mashed (about 1/2 c./100 grams)
3/4 c./100 grams raw unsalted pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
3/4 c./40 grams flaked coconut
1/2 c./raw shelled sunflower seeds
1/2 c./50 grams flaxseeds
1/4 c./50 grams millet
1 1/2 c./150 grams rolled oats
1 c./120 grams dried cranberries
2/3 c./100 grams whole wheat flour
1/2 c./100 grams dried cherries
1 t. baking soda
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. freshly grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place rack in center of oven. Place walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 6-9 minutes, until light golden brown and fragrant. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
Melt butter and place it in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk in maple syrup and vanilla until well combined. Whisk in the eggs and banana until the mixture is totally homogeneous. The banana needs to be completely mashed so it whisks in smoothly.
In a large bowl, stir together the pipits, coconut, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds and millet. Remove 1/2 c./50 grams of the mixture and set aside for topping the cookies. Add the walnuts, oats, cranberries, flour, cherries, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg to the bowl and stir well to combine. Make a well in the center and pour in the butter mixture. Stir well to combine. The dough will be more like a soft batter than a stiff cookie dough. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight to allow the grains to absorb the liquid and firm up the batter.
When ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or butter it.
Wet your hands and use them to scoop 1/4 c. of the dough from the bowl. Roll into a rough ball and dip the top into the reserved seed mixture and place it seed side up on the baking sheet. Press the cookies down with your hand to flatten. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, rotating the baking sheet midway through the baking time.Bake until the cookies are golden brown on the edges and firm when you press the middle. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet on a wire rack.
Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.