Monday, June 26, 2006

Mondays with Maida - Oatmeal Icebox Cookies

Page 140 in the old book / page 175 in the new book

I would classify these cookies as old-fashioned cookie jar cookies. They are sweet and crunchy with a generous helping of walnuts. Though they have an open, crunchy texture, they are quite sturdy and I expect they would ship well. With a little ginger and vanilla, they have a distinctive, but mild flavor.

Because of its crunchy, dry texture, I had a hunch that crumbling one over some vanilla ice might be nice. Having no ice cream on hand, I reserved a couple of cookies for that purpose and packed up the rest for the office. The next evening I picked up some vanilla ice cream and treated myself to a little ice cream a la cookie. It was delicious. Hmmm, bet they'd be good on top of some cooked fruit too - sort of like a crumble, buckle, or cobbler. Anyone up for a cookie crumble?

Here's the panel...

Suzanne: The cookie was crunchy but boring. There was nothing attractive about the cookie or appealing to the taste. A granola bar would have been more interesting to eat. Sorry, but this one is only getting a rating of 2. Rating- 2.0"

Denny: "A good cookie. Not spectacular, but good. Rating - 3.0"

Laura: "Crunchy and yummy! Rating - 4.5"

Herman: "I like oatmeal and crunchy … as a result, my rating on these cookies is 4.5 out of 5. Rating - 4.5"

Overall rating by the panel - 3.5

Next week - Peanut-Butter Pillows

Nutrition Facts

Sunday, June 25, 2006

IMBB 27 + SHF 20 = The Joy of Soy!

Can it be? Are we really up to IMBB 27? And SHF - didn't that start a couple of months ago? SHF 20??? I knew I had skipped a few of these events, but am horrified to find I've missed ten of each. This month Reid - the nicest guy in Hawaii - is hosting both events concurrently. There is no way I'm missing this one!

And if the fact that Reid is hosting this double-header weren't reason enough to participate, the theme this month is soy. Though I know little about soy and seldom cook with it, I've always been fascinated by its infinite incarnations - soy milk, soy flour, tofu, tempeh, TVP, "soysage", soy cheese, soy bacon, etc. Soy can do it all.

I didn't go too far from my comfort zone for this occasion (tempeh wouldn't really fit in with the SHF theme, now would it?). It's that time of year when I'm (happily) inundated with blueberries, so I took my favorite blueberry muffin recipe and swapped in some soy flour and changed up my new favorite smoothie recipe by using soy yogurt. Both are delicious and together make for a nutritious breakfast with lots of protein, fiber, and nature's sweetest little brain food morsels - blueberries!

Blueberry Muffins
adapted from "Maida Heatter's New Book of Great Desserts"

1 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup soy flour
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1/2 cup skim milk
finely grated rind from one orange

Preheat oven to 375 F and grease muffin pan or line with paper cups.

Stir together the dry ingredients in a large bowl, then stir in the blueberries. In a small bowl, beat the egg lightly then mix in the oil, orange rind, and milk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula until just mixed. Spoon into muffin cups. Sprinkle tops of muffins with a generous amount of sugar. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 10 muffins.

Note: Reid reminded me that one of the benefits of soy is that those that are lactose intolerant (which I think is, believe it or not, most of the adults on this planet) can use it to replace milk products. I have substituted orange juice for the milk in this recipe before and I'm sure substituting soy milk would work equally well.

A few tips about substituting soy flour: baked goods made with soy flour will brown more quickly than those without, so you may need to lower the oven temperature and/or reduce the cooking time. Because it has no gluten, you cannot replace all the flour in a recipe with soy flour and expect similar results. You can swap in soy flour for a quarter to one third of the flour. Soy flour can also be used as an egg replacer (one tablespoon soy flour + one tablespoon water = 1 egg). Interestingly, baked goods made with soy flour keep better.

Banana Blueberry Smoothie made with Soy Yogurt

I happened upon this recipe while watching an episode of Everyday Food a few weeks ago. It looked so good and sounded so easy, AND I had everything I needed to make it. The next morning I tried it and was hooked. I've since made it with strawberries (I put some fresh ones in the freezer the night before) and now with soy yogurt. It is so good - rich and creamy and surprisingly sweet, given that it has no added sugar. If you've got some flavorful blueberries, you can throw in your ugliest old banana and it will still be amazing. I've also made this without freezing the berries, and while it's not quite as thick and certainly not as frosty, it's still mighty good.

Looking back over this post, I see now it looks more like the Joy of Blueberries than the Joy of Soy, but I really did enjoy my soy - honest! Thanks to Reid for hosting this round of IMBB and SHF. Watch for his round-up later in the week over on 'Ono Kine Grindz. I'm sure it's going to be fantastic!

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Monday, June 19, 2006

Mondays with Maida - Pecan Butterscotch Icebox Cookies

Page 139 in the old book / page 174 in the new book

This week brings another very easy to make butterscotch cookie, but this cookie gets its butterscotch flavor from butter and brown sugar alone. The flavor in these is more subtle and though crunchy, it's not the candy-like crunch of last week's cookie. The milder flavor and less brittle crunch allow the pecans to play a bigger role in the taste and texture of these cookies.

I liked these a lot and appreciated the fact that they were made without butterscotch morsels! They aren't a razzle dazzle cookie - just plain, good and true.

Here's the panel...

Suzanne: Delicious! The cookie was thin, crunchy and buttery. I loved the butterscotch and pecan combination. I could eat the whole box. Rating- 5.0"

Denny: "Just a little bit better than the last ones, but I'd still give them a 3. Rating - 3.0"

Laura: "Crunchy, nutty, and delicious. Rating - 4.0"

Terri: "These cookies have more of a buttery taste than a butterscotch taste. I almost wouldn't notice a butterscotch flavor. The crunchiness of the pecans and thinness (about 1/4" thick) make this a delicious treat. Rating - 3.5"

Overall rating by the panel - 3.9

Next week - Oatmeal Icebox Cookies

Nutrition Facts

Monday, June 12, 2006

Mondays with Maida - Butterscotch Thins

Page 138 in the old book / page 173 in the new book

These cookies were exceedingly thin and very crunchy. They were fairly average cookies, but even so, they were hard to stop eating. It's sort of like potato chips - there's so little to each one, that it's easy to rationalize that there's no harm in eating just one more.

I found the dough easy to slice, in spite of the fact that these must be cut about one eighth of an inch thick. Don't be tempted to crowd these cookies. Despite the tiny bit of dough in each cookie, they actually do spread a surprising amount.

I was put off by the fact that the butterscotch flavoring in these cookies comes from melted butterscotch morsels, but pleasantly surprised to find that I really enjoyed them. The nuts give these cookies a little visual interest, but are hardly noticeable in such a crunchy cookie. They aren't nearly as fragile as you might think, though they may not be suitable for mailing.

Here's the panel...

Suzanne: The cookie was pleasant but not great. The cookie was breakable crunchy and had a definite butterscotch, pecan taste. Since the cookie was thin, I looked for the fattest cookie. I told myself that this was so I could give a fair evaluation to the taste and texture of the cookie. The bad thing is I felt I could have several to make up for the thickness of one cookie. With thoughts like this, how am I ever going to loose those 5 extra pounds? Rating- 3.0"

Denny: "Average - 3.0. Butterscotch overpowered pecans, making them pointless. Rating - 3.0"

Laura: "Crunchy goodness! The flavor was light and wonderful! Rating - 4.0"

Terri: "These are light and delicious. These wafer-thin cookies have a distinctive butterscotch taste and the pecans add just the right amount of crunchiness. These would be delicious with chocolate or vanilla ice cream. Rating - 3.5"

Overall rating by the panel - 3.4

Next week - Pecan Butterscotch Icebox Cookies

Nutrition Facts

Monday, June 05, 2006

Mondays with Maida - Fruitcake Icebox Cookies

Page 136 in the old book / page 172 in the new book

A little tamer than last week's cookie, this one is quite attractive and has a wonderful sandy texture. Even though they're called "Fruitcake" Icebox Cookies, the candied fruits are limited to cherries and pineapple, and might even be enjoyed by the fruitcake-adverse.

These buttery cookies are very easy to make, with a limited number of ingredients. I used pecans, but Maida suggests green pistachios as a lovely alternative. The candied fruits play a prominent role, so taste is important. I was glad I had splurged for some candied cherries from France. When I opened the bag, they actually smelled like cherries! Not so for the candied pineapple from the grocery store, I'm afraid. It was merely a vehicle for delivering a not-so-healthy dose of corn syrup. I'd be tempted to use dried pineapple another time. I'm sure it would taste better, my only question is whether it would make the cookies difficult to slice.

Here's the panel...

Suzanne: Shame on me! When Cathy showed me the cookies, I actually turned up my nose at them. When someone as nice as Cathy bakes cookies for us each week, I shouldn’t have a disappointed look on my face. I guess the cookie evaluator job has gone to my head. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised and loved the cookie. I usually don’t like anything with candied fruit in them, but I liked this cookie. Even though it was a butter cookie, it had a subtle butter taste. The cookie had a nice crunch to it and the candied fruit added a delicate sweetness to the flavor. Rating- 4.7"

Denny: "Beautiful-looking, which raised my expectations along with the candied fruits and pecans. The taste was good, but my high expectations were disappointed. Deducting 1 point for no chocolate, I'd give them a 3. Rating - 3.0"

Laura: "Buttery and sweet (from the yummy fruits). Very tasty! Rating - 3.5"

Terri: "These are delicious with a real buttery flavor to compliment the fruit (cherries and pineapple). I'm not a fan of fruitcake, but the buttery flavor and pecans seem to make the fruits not quite as rich. Rating - 4.0"

Overall rating by the panel - 3.8

Next week - Fruitcake Icebox Cookies

Nutrition Facts

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Weaving: the towels are done!

They came out much softer then I remember them being - not much body at all. Not sure if it's the yarn or something I did. Anyway, they're done!