Oatmeal Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

I like my cookies large, thin, and crunchy.  These fit the bill: studded with chocolate chips and walnut bits, the oatmeal nearly disappearing into the dough, these are ideal.  Add a little extra salt to the dough and eat them the same day, before they start to go soft.  But who keeps cookies more than a day, anyways?

Recipe adapted from Judy Rosenberg’s Chocolate-Packed Jam-Filled Butter-Rich No-Holds-Barred Cookie Book, an encyclopedic tome by the owner of Boston’s beloved Rosie’s Bakery. 

Makes about 30 large cookies

1 ¼ cups rolled oats
1 cup all purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) butter at room temperature
½ cup (lightly packed) brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
6 ounces (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper, or grease them lightly with vegetable oil.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter, both sugars, and the vanilla together in a medium-sized bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 1 ½ minutes. Stop the mixer twice during the process to scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Add the egg and beat on medium speed until blended. Scrape the bowl.  Add the flour, oats, baking powder, and salt and mix on low speed until combined. Add the chocolate chips and pecans and blend until mixed in.

Drop the dough by heaping tablespoons 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake until the edges are golden and the centers are slightly puffed up, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on the sheets. 


Vegetable Soup

This is one of those recipes that turns out something much more than the sum of its parts.  I know, a pureed vegetable soup, so boring, right? Wrong.  This dish is rich, homey, complex, and comforting.  The recipe makes a ton (it filled my big Le Creuset) but it lasts well.  If you’re so inclined, I’ve also always found that friends appreciate homemade soup gifts.

The recipe comes from Mireille Guiliano’s French Women Don’t Get Fat, a surprising source of some really excellent dishes. The original is titled “Soupe Aux Légumes de Maman”.

Serves 12-18

2 potatoes
1 onion, peeled and quartered
2 garlic cloves, peeled
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 leeks, white and tender green parts
½ small cabbage
3 celery ribs
2 turnips
4 carrots
4 tablespoons butter
2 cups canned (whole or diced) tomatoes
2 sprigs of parsley
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves

Peel, wash, and roughly slice the potatoes.  Place in a small pot and add water to cover. Add the quartered onion, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until tender (about 10 minutes). Drain and set aside.

Wash the remaining vegetables and slice or dice them.  Melt the butter in a very large (15-quart) soup pot and “sweat” the vegetables, stirring often (5 minutes). 

Add the tomatoes, potatoes, onion, and garlic, and water to cover.  Stir in the parsley, thyme, and bay leaves and continue to cook until all the vegetables are tender.  Remove the bay leaves.

Puree the soup until smooth, either in batches in the blender or, much more easily, with an immersion blender. Correct the seasoning and add fresh herbs, if you’re so inclined.


Lentil Soup

I forgot how much I liked this soup until I made it again today.  Lentils are great, but this preparation is especially good because of the two extra ingredients added at the end: a big spoonful of mustard and a splash of vinegar.  Those two additions lend a depth of flavor sometimes lacking in vegetarian soups, especially broth-y ones. Other reasons to love this soup? It cooks fast, is super cheap, and is packed with fiber, protein, and iron.

Recipe adapted from the excellent, encyclopedic Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.

Serves 6-8

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups finely diced onion (1 large or 1.5 medium)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 large garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
1/3 cup finely diced celery
1/3 cup finely diced carrot
2 bay leaves
½ cup chopped fresh parsley, or 3 tablespoons dried
1 ½ cups dry lentils
1-3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Heat the oil in a soup pot over high heat.  Add the onion and sauté until it begins to color around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes.  Work the tomato paste into the onion, then add the garlic, celery, carrot, bay leaves, and parsley and cook for 3 more minutes.  Add the lentils, 8 cups water, and ½ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the lentils are tender, 25 to 35 minutes.

Stir in the mustard and vinegar.  Taste and add more of either as needed.  Check the salt, season with plenty of pepper, remove the bay leaves, and serve. 

This soup ages well: it will last for a week or so, and it tastes best a day or two after you make it.


Hottie Beans & Greens

I still can’t get over Appetite for Reduction, Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s new vegan cookbook.  Everything in that book is delicious.  This is a (slight) riff on her Hottie Black-Eyed Peas & Greens recipe: I switched out pinto beans for the black eyed peas, doubled the greens, and added some vinegar.  The secret is the liquid smoke: a slightly weird ingredient, but it makes all the difference and transforms an otherwise run-of-the-mill bean stew into a memorable main dish. Yum! I could eat these every day.  She suggests serving them with ginger mashed sweet potatoes and apples for lunch or dinner, but I also like them with an egg and toast for breakfast. 

Serves 4

1 teaspoon olive oil
½ small onion, diced small
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale or collards, coarse stems removed, sliced thin
¼ cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
1 (15-ounce can) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup canned tomato puree
¼ cup vegetable broth (I used water with a bit of bouillon)
1 teaspoon hot sauce, like Tabasco
1-3 teaspoons vinegar
¼ teaspoon liquid smoke

Sauté the onion in the oil over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Throw in a couple tablespoons of water or a bit more oil if things start to stick.   Add the garlic and sauté for a minute more.  Add the greens, water, and salt.  Cover the pot and cook down the greens for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the beans, tomato sauce, and broth, and mix thoroughly.  Cover the pot and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the hot sauce, vinegar, and liquid smoke, then use a potato masher to mash about ¼ of the beans, creating a nice thick sauce. Add a little water if you need to loosen things up.  Cook for about 5 more minutes.  Taste for salt, vinegar, and hot sauce, and serve.  

These store great in the fridge for about 5 days.



Spoonbread is a southern classic whose roots can be traced back to the civil war era or earlier: the recipe is likely the descendent of a combination of Yorkshire pudding and the native American corn custard dish called suppone or suppawn.  The recipe I use comes from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook, published in 1906 by Fannie Merritt Farmer (who has an interesting history of her own). A cozy, mushy version of cornbread.  Try it with beans and greens for dinner, or doused with maple syrup and butter for breakfast.  Leftovers are good reheated, although they tend to resemble polenta more than custard.

Serves 6

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
4 eggs, well beaten
1 cup milk or buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.  Butter a 1 ½ quart casserole (or 6 8-ounce ramekins). Bring 2 cups water to a boil.  Add the cornmeal and salt in a steady stream and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 1 minute.  Stir in the butter, milk, and eggs, beating until smooth.  Pour into the casserole (or ramekins) and bake about 40 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.


Roasted Grapes

We roast apples and pears, grill pineapples, and sauté bananas, but for some reason you very rarely see cooked grapes.  I’m not sure why that is because roasted grapes are delicious and so simple.  You can eat these straight or use them to gussy up something like ice cream or yogurt.  We had roasted grapes with tiny cornmeal shortbread cookies and a dollop of mascarpone for dessert at a recent dinner party. Fancy life.

Serves 2-4

1 lb grapes, removed from the stem and rinsed
1 tablespoon fat (butter, grapeseed oil, canola oil…)
1-3 tablespoons sugar
Big pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 400ºF and line a cookie sheet with tinfoil or parchment.  Toss the grapes, fat, sugar, and salt together. Roast on the lined cookie sheet until the grapes just begin to burst, about 20-30 minutes.  When serving, make sure to scrape up any collected juices—they’re the best part.


Ginger-ACV drink

A few years ago my mom started drinking vinegar water.  So gross. I made fun of her and refused to share her tainted water bottles.  I’m a big fan of healthy eating, but that seemed to be taking it a little too far.  Then I tasted Bragg’s Ginger Spice Apple Cider Vinegar Drink and changed my tune.   The bottled commercial version is served chilled but I like to make it hot, too.  It’s a nice mix of sweet and tart (think a really good lemonade) and the ginger helps out your digestive track after a big meal.   Yum.

Serves 1

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup water, boiled
½-1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
sweetener, to taste (the bottled version uses stevia; honey would also be good)

Combine everything in a mug and steep for 5-10 minutes.  Drink immediately or cover and chill.


Flourless Chocolate-Walnut cookies

These cookies have a number of things to recommend them: they have an unusual, chewy texture akin to the corner brownies; they are super chocolatey; and they’re gluten-free and low-fat (if either of those are an issue for you). The recipe was bumping around the internet a bunch last year, but the one I used can be found here

Makes 2 dozen large cookies

2 3/4 cups walnut halves
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Spread the walnut halves on a large-rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 9 minutes, until they are golden and fragrant. Let cool slightly, then transfer the walnut halves to a work surface and coarsely chop them.

Position two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and lower temperature to 320. Line two large-rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk (or combine in an electric mixer on low speed) the confectioners’ sugar with the cocoa powder and salt followed by the chopped walnuts. While whisking (or once you change the speed to medium), add the egg whites and vanilla extract and beat just until the batter is moistened (do not overbeat or it will stiffen).

Spoon the batter onto the baking sheets in 12 evenly spaced mounds, and bake for 14 to 16 minutes, until the tops are glossy and lightly cracked; shift the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through to ensure even baking. Slide the parchment paper (with the cookies) onto 2 wire racks. Let cookies cool completely, and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


Drop Biscuits

I went through a phase a couple summers ago where I was making biscuits every weekend, and this was my favorite recipe.  Its innovation is that instead of asking you to cut in the butter (like you do for most scone and biscuit recipes), here you melt it and then pour it into cold buttermilk.  The chilled liquid solidifies the fat into tiny chunks without the hassle or mess of using two knives or a pastry blender, making this the perfect recipe for an easy Sunday (or snow day…) breakfast.

Recipe originally published in the November 2007 issue of Cook’s Illustrated, under the title “Best Drop Biscuits”.

Makes about 10 big biscuits

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup cold buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon vinegar)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (about 5 minutes)

Preheat the oven to 475°F and prepare a baking sheet by either greasing it or lining with parchment paper.  Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Combine buttermilk and melted butter in medium bowl, stirring until butter forms small clumps.

Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just incorporated and batter pulls away from sides of bowl.  Using a greased ¼-cup dry measure, scoop level amount of batter and drop onto prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining batter, spacing biscuits about 1-1/2 inches apart.  Bake until tops are golden brown and crisp, 12 to 14 minutes.


Ginger Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Apples

Do you know about Isa Chandra Moskowitz? She’s the super-hip author of a number of rad vegan cooking books, including Vegan with a Vengeance and Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  Her newest book, Appetite for Reduction, focuses on lighter recipes based on whole foods (no weirdo meat substitutes).  I just got it from the library and am loving it.  I made this recipe for dinner tonight and it’s blowing me away.  Delicious, nutritious, and stunningly hued, it’s a keeper.  Maybe being a vegan isn’t so hard…
Makes 6 servings

1 pound apples, peeled and cut into 1/2 –inch chunks
2 pounds sweets potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ - inch chunks
¼ cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon agave (optional)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Preheat a 4-quart pot over low heat.  Spray it with nonstick cooking spray, then add the apples, sweet potatoes, water, and salt. Cover the pot and sweat the apples and sweet potatoes for about 20 minutes, stirring often.  What this means is just to cook them slowly and let them steam.  You want to coax the moisture out of them, but if you set the flame too high they’ll burn and cook unevenly.

After 20 minutes, you can turn up the heat just a bit.  Add a little more water if needed. Cover and cook for 20 more minutes, paying close attention so that they don’t burn, and stirring often.  When they’re very tender, they’re done.  Mash with a potato masher.  Add the agave, cinnamon, and ginger, and mash some more.  Taste for salt and seasoning. Serve warm.