All posts by Mervin

Toasted Almond Sables

When I go to flea markets or stop by a neighborhood garage sale, I always find myself rummaging through weathered cardboard boxes looking for cookie cutters. Vintage ones, distinctive ones. You might imagine I have drawers full of them, but that’s not actually true. I have two small shoe-box sized containers of cookie cutters. That’s it. It doesn’t actually feel like a lot to some who loves to roll and stamp cookies as much as I do, but the good ones are hard to come by. Beyond shape, I have a fondness for metal cutters with sharp edges, and good structure. Shapes that can cut cleanly through a currant or dried cranberry if need be. Today, I thought I’d show you a few of my scores, and share a favorite cookie-cutter friendly recipe as well.

Toasted Almond Sable Recipe

So, I love my Swedish heart cookie cutter. It’s roughly the size of my palm and is perfectly symmetric. Here’s the thing. Hearts are a popular shape for cookie cutters, yet each heart is an individual. Some plunge deep, some curve shallow and soft, some are wide and squat, some are tall and elongated…each one says something different with its shape. There are friendly hearts, serious hearts, sophisticated hearts. It’s a personal preference, but I tend to like the hearts that are just about as wide as they are tall. Symmetrical, direct, with clean lines.

Toasted Almond Sable Recipe

Then there are the wild card cookie cutters that I can’t pass up. Like this farmhouse collection. The shapes get a bit mushy over the years, but the primitive lines are charming and the patina on the cutters beautiful. The pig has apparently escaped – note to self to find him.

Toasted Almond Sable Recipe

I’ve been making tiny shortbread in the shapes of small hearts, diamonds, spades, and clubs since I was a kid, and tend to prefer tiny cutters for butter-rich cookies. They’re the type of cookies where a couple make the perfect accompaniment to an afternoon coffee or tea. Today’s cookies qualify, and I picked the teardrop shape.

These toasted almond sable cookies are a take-off on Alice Medrich’s charming Whole Wheat Sables, published in Pure Dessert a few years back. I love them, and make them a number of different ways depending on what I have on hand. This variation is hard to beat – toasty, nutty, peppered with dried currants. They’re made with whole wheat and all-purpose flours, sliced almonds, and the best butter you can come by. That said, I made another variation with June Taylor’s candied citrus peels for the Little Flower School class a couple weeks back – swapping finely chopped peel for the currants you’ll see in the recipe below. The peel left lovely little slashes of color throughout the cookies, and bursts of citrus flavor. I really loved those too.

Toasted Almond Sable Recipe

For those of you who’ve made it this far. I made a note to myself for next time. I’m excited to try this recipe using Dorie’s trick of using cultured butter – for a hint of tang. It might be the thing to put these right over the top.

Continue reading Toasted Almond Sables…

Limoncello Macaroons

I packed a number of things for last weekend’s getaway to Mendocino. One pair of flip-flops, one book, a stack of magazines, a bottle of bubbles, ten rolls of film, three cameras, a tripod, and a bag of limoncello macaroons. I bookmarked these Pinched Orange Macaroons a while back, and when my sister gave me a bottle of limoncello (made from lemons in her yard), I decided to do a twist on Patrick Lemble’s cookies using the homemade citrus liqueur and zest. I thought they’d be a nice little treat for the cabin. The cookies are made primarily from almond paste and they bake into golden-crusted, powder-coated, almond-citrus gems. A tad messy to make, but well worth it.

Limoncello Macaroon Recipe

Before we dive into the minutiae of macaroon cookie making, I thought I’d share a few photos. For those of you who have missed previous mentions of the cabin, it is waaay off the grid, and a bit rustic – in the very best way possible. I like to sit on the porch and do a whole lot of nothing. We played board games and cards, cracked jokes, and talked a lot about the mountain lion that has been spotted at the cabin over the past few months.

Limoncello Macaroon Recipe

The mountain lion seemed like an abstract concept to me. Abstract in the way that I know there are bears around when I go camping, but I don’t really think about it much because they don’t bother me. There’s a difference here. This mountain lion has apparently killed a couple goats in the area. And then, there’s that photo up above. Lori & Lisa’s cousin rode down the driveway on his quad one afternoon to show us. He’d rigged a motion capture camera near his cabin, just up the road a bit, and apparently the camera captured that frame. It’s hard to tell from my picture, but I assure you, that cat is large.

Limoncello Macaroon Recipe

So, for the most part we stuck around the cabin. Or traveled in a pack when we were out and about. On the food front, Lori made an amazing grilled eggplant, arugula, and mozzarella salad as part of our dinner Saturday night, and if she posts it or publishes it at some point, I’ll be sure to link to it and give you all the heads up. Strong, garlicky, and good. She makes a mean panzanella as well.

Limoncello Macaroon Recipe

As far as the limoncello macaroons are concerned, let me say a few things. First off, they travel quite well. And while they seemed to be at their absolute peak roughly thirty minutes after baking, I placed the cooled cookies in a sealed plastic bag, and they were delicious for days. There wasn’t as much textural difference between the outside crust and the super-moist middle after being bagged, but they were still 90% as good.

Limoncello Macaroon Recipe

They’re also made from one of the simplest batters imaginable. I made one batch following Patrick’s original technique, then took a shortcut with the second batch which you’ll see reflected in my version of the recipe below. In short, I found I didn’t really need to do an egg wash/powder. I found the dough was quite moist. I threw a good amount of powdered sugar down on the counter top and shaped the cookies from there. They had a nice powdered sugar coating without the extra step. If you find you’re not getting enough of a powdered sugar coating before baking, give each ball of dough a light brushing of egg white and a quick roll in more powdered sugar.

Continue reading Limoncello Macaroons…

Christmas Cookie Recipes

Hi friends – I suspect it is going to be a big baking weekend, so I thought it might be helpful to wrangle some of my favorite holiday-esque cookie recipes into one spot, in a single list. There is a pretty wide range – from gingerbread to shortbread to chocolate…I think my favorite are the Swedish Rye Cookies pictured above – you can stamp them into any shape you like, and if you can’t track down rye flour, go ahead and swap in whole wheat pastry flour. But, if those aren’t your speed, there are a bunch of other options I’ve enjoyed in the past. xo -h

Christmas Cookie Recipes

Sante’s Hermits – My friend Sante shared his hermit recipe with me. A simple drop-style, spice cookie loaded with tiny currants, chopped walnuts,and finished with a bit of icing.

Swedish Rye Cookies – Powder-kissed and pretty, these Swedish Rye cookies are perfect for holiday cookie enthusiasts who are after a not-too-sweet, shortbread-style butter cookie made from a Rye flour blend.

Triple Ginger Cookies – This ginger cookie recipe is made special with three kinds of ginger and a hint of lemon zest. Cracked and sugar-crusted on the outside, dense and moist within.

Itsy Bitsy Chocolate Chip Cookies – The perfect bite-sized chocolate chip cookie. Tiny, thin, golden, crisp, a bit nutty with plenty of shaved chocolate.

Christmas Cookie Recipes

Sparkling Ginger Chip Cookies – I made these for Lottie & Doof’s 12 DAYS OF COOKIES. They are tiny, bite-sized holiday cookies made with two kinds of ginger and lots of shaved chocolate. The turbinado sugar crust gives them a bit of crunch which is a nice contrast to the ooey-goey chocolate.5
Limoncello Macaroons – A nice alternative to all of the peppermint and chocolate flavors this time of year. These are golden-crusted, powder-coated, almond-citrus gems spiked with limoncello liqueur.

Chocolate Puddle Cookies – I came across a cookie when I visited Portland, it was a crackle-edged puddle of chocolate with a texture that made me think of the collision between a soft meringue and a fudgy brownie. They are amazing. Downsize them a bit for a holiday cookie plate.

Biscotti al Pistaccio – Charming little bite-sized, powder-coated pistachio cookies inspired by a visit to Mona Talbott’s kitchen and the Rome Sustainable Food Project at the American Academy in Rome.

Christmas Cookie Recipes

Gingerbread Cookies – A delicious, traditional tasting, yet healthier gingerbread cookie recipe that includes white whole wheat flour, more assertive spices, and less refined sweeteners. You wont miss the traditional version. They are very cute on popsicle sticks.

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies – Super decadent. A rich chocolate dough punctuated by generous amount of chopped peppermint bark and mini chocolate chips.

Pine Nut Rosemary Shortbread – A twist on the shortbread recipe I included in Super Natural Cooking -perfectly golden pine nuts and just enough rosemary and lemon zest infuse a buttery sweet dough with fragrance and flavor. I also posted a more traditional shortbread recipe years back – the recipe was the one made in the Hearst Castle kitchen.

Peppermint Bark Chocolate Chip Cookies – A great peppermint bark cookie recipe using one of my favorite cookie doughs along with a generous amount of chopped peppermint bark.

Continue reading Christmas Cookie Recipes…

Easy Kale Taco Salad w/ Black Beans & Soyrizo

This recipe combines tacos, our first favorite food with salad, our second favorite food. It’s explosion of flavor that even your kids who don’t like vegetables will enjoy. Added bonus: this recipe only takes about 15 minutes to make. No cooking needed.  This taco salad is perfect for a potluck or to serve at a […]

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The post Easy Kale Taco Salad w/ Black Beans & Soyrizo appeared first on Food Heaven Made Easy.

White Bean Masala Smothered Sweet Potatoes

White Bean Masala Smothered Sweet Potatoes | http://naturallyella.com

I’m always a bit hesitant to share recipes that have a long list of ingredients. I know there can be an automatic reaction: lots of ingredients equals a hard recipe. That’s not the case with this white bean masala. At least half the ingredients and instructions are for the paste which once you make once, you’ll find it goes fairly quick. Plus, you can double or triple the paste and freeze the extra (because trust me, once you take a bite, you’ll wish you had more!) This recipe is a slight adaption from my lentil masala, so if you love that recipe, I recommend you add this white bean masala to your list! Read more and see the recipe.

The post White Bean Masala Smothered Sweet Potatoes appeared first on Naturally Ella.

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies (V/GF)

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies (V/GF)

Christmastime has always meant Christmas cookies.

My sister and I used to go to my aunt’s house and decorate sugar cookies along with an assortment of other goodies for our family’s Christmas dinner.

If you haven’t guessed yet, I’ve always had a bit of a sweet tooth. The only difference between 30-year-old me and 10-year-old me is a wee bit of self-control. I no longer eat 3 cookies before dinner and 13 after.

Continue to Peanut Butter Cup Cookies (V/GF) from Minimalist Baker →

Chimichurri Potato Tacos with Pinto Beans

Chimichurri Potato Tacos with Pinto Beans | @naturallyella

This recipe is in partnership with California Olive Ranch. See below for more details.

My love of tacos knows no limits. If I can figure a way to put a vegetable in a taco, I’ll try it. These potato tacos are a riff from a vegetarian taco I had some time back at a small taco cafe. They fried their potatoes and it was a fairly simple potato/salsa combination. I’m obsessed with this chimichurri sauce so the more I can use it, the better. I’ll make a double batch and use it throughout the week on egg skillets, enchiladas, and lots of tacos. Just make sure you use good olive oil (like one California Olive Ranch’s oils) though- I can make or break the chicmichurri!! Read more and see the recipe.

The post Chimichurri Potato Tacos with Pinto Beans appeared first on Naturally Ella.