Skip to content

Mom’s Whole Wheat Tahini Cookies

This is my mom’s tahini adaptation of her favorite peanut butter cookie recipe. The sugar has been reduced (a lot) and some extra ingredients added for a little crunch. It’s a nice not-too-sweet snack with afternoon tea.

IMG_4276

1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup tahini
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
Pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
Some dried sweetened coconut (to taste)
1 1/2 cups rice crispies

Cream together the butter and brown sugar. Add the egg, tahini and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the coconut and rice crispies. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 minutes. These cookies are best if well-baked (until they start to brown).

Mini Angel Food Cakes

This is one of my go-to recipes for using up extra egg whites (the other is chocolate meringues). The recipe uses three egg whites and makes two cakes. The cakes freeze well too. And, actually, so do egg whites. If I don’t have three leftover egg whites at once, I freeze them and make the cakes later when I have enough. You need 2 mini tube pans (2-cup size) for this recipe, as well as something to hold the cakes up while they cool (see note at the bottom).

IMG_1981

6 Tbsp cake flour (1.5 oz)

1/2 cup sugar (3.5 oz)

pinch salt

3 egg whites, room temperature

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Mix the flour, half the sugar, and the salt in a small bowl. In a large bowl, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer on medium-low until foamy (about 1 min). Turn the mixer to medium-high and mix another minute, or until it forms soft, billowy mounds. Slowly add the remaining sugar and whip until the whites are glossy and form soft peaks (1 to 3 min). Add the vanilla and whisk it in by hand. Sift half the flour mixture over the egg whites and gently fold it in with a large spatula. Repeat with the rest of the flour. Divide the batter between two mini tube pans.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 30-35 min, until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out dry. Invert the pans over an upside-down kitchen funnel to cool completely (about an hour). Run a knife around the cake to loosen it and remove it from the pan.

Note: If you don’t have 2 kitchen funnels to cool the cakes, the recipe suggests using a beer bottle with a chopstick in it. That didn’t work so well for me, but plastic squeeze bottles with pointy lids worked fine.

(Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen’s Cooking for Two: 2010)

Cherry Mint Couscous Salad

This recipe was originally cranberry mint couscous salad, but it works well with cherries too.

IMG_4041

1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cumin

1/2 cup dried cherries or cranberries

1 cup uncooked couscous

1/4-1/3 cup vegetable or olive oil (or a combination)

2 Tbsp rice vinegar

1/3-1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1/3 cup chopped green onions or chives

2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint

Combine broth, cherries, cinnamon and cumin in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in couscous, cover and let stand 5-7 min. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool slightly, uncovered.

Whisk oil and vinegar together. Pour over couscous. Add remaining ingredients and toss well. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies

My friend Averil introduced me to this variation on peanut butter cookies she found while trying to use up a jar of tahini. The tahini flavor is more subtle than peanut butter but it makes a good substitute.

tahini chocolate chip cookies

Beat together:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup tahini
1/2 cup softened butter
Stir in:
1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Add 1 cup chocolate chips

Shape dough into 1 1/4″ balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet or parchment paper. Bake at 375 degrees F for 8 min. Remove from oven and use a fork dipped in sugar to gently flatten the balls. Return to oven for 1-2 minutes, until very light brown.

Makes 12

tahini cookies

Ribollita (Tuscan bean and kale soup)

I liked this soup more than I expected. It’s got a good flavor and a little spiciness from the red pepper flakes. It’s a good thing to have around this week with all the holiday baking I’ve been doing – at least we’re eating something healthy! It took me years to find romano beans. Eventually I found them at a Mexican grocery store somewhere in a northwest Chicago suburb. When I run out of them, I’ll probably just substitute another kind of bean so I can make this again sooner. I never did find savoy cabbage, but green cabbage works fine. I used the whole bunch of kale and the whole (small) cabbage. This may be part of the reason my soup was so thick.

IMG_4163

If you want to include the bread (which I recommend), you’ll need to do a little advance planning and make it at least a few days in advance, or even longer if it’s more convenient. And, since making this recipe seems to be all about planning ahead, I cooked the dried beans in a slow cooker the day before making this soup. This way, it didn’t take as long for the soup to cook and I put the extra cooked beans in the freezer to make this again later.

1/2 cup dried romano (or borlotti) beans – or another bean that you like

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 cup coarsely chopped red onion

1/2 cup carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup celery, coarsely chopped

2 small bay leaves

1-2 tsp salt

1 tsp red pepper flakes

7 cups cabbage (green or savoy), cored and thinly sliced

1/2 bunch lacinato kale (also called Tuscan, black or dinosaur kale – or use green kale if you can’t find it), stems removed and leaves thinly sliced

14 oz. can diced tomatoes, regular or fire roasted

5 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cups very stale no-knead bread, cut into cubes. (You could try using something else,  but this bread doesn’t dissolve into complete mush in this soup like other breads would. It’s not much work to make and you can do it way in advance – a week or more. I recommend cutting it into cubes before it gets really stale and is hard to cut.)

If using dried beans, rinse and drain the beans. Cover with cool water and soak for 8 hours.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-low. Add the onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves, 1 tsp salt and the red pepper. Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until the onions are partially translucent and just starting to brown at the edges (about 9 min). Add the cabbage and kale. Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until wilted (about 15 min). Drain the beans and add to the pot with the water and tomatoes (with juice) and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the beans are cooked and vegetables are soft, 2 to 3 hours if using dried beans, and a lot less if your beans are already cooked. Season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes.

Add the bread to the bowls of soup and let it sit a few minutes to soften.

(Recipe adapted from My Bread by Jim Lahey)

Thai Fried Egg Salad

We ate this delicious salad for our Thanksgiving lunch, alongside Pok Pok’s chicken wings and some sticky sushi rice.

Thai fried egg salad

2 eggs, room temperature

vegetable oil

about 1 cup green leaf lettuce, cut into thick ribbons

1/2 small yellow onion, thinly sliced with the grain

1 carrot, cut into thin strips

1 stalk coarsely chopped celery (supposed to be chopped Chinese celery – thin stems and leaves – but we couldn’t find any)

1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro (thin stems and leaves)

Dressing:

1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar (or palm sugar)

1 1/2 Tbsp water

1 1/2 Tbsp key lime juice

1 Tbsp Thai fish sauce

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 small fresh green Thai chiles, thinly sliced (you can remove the seeds to make it less spicy if you want – these chiles are very hot. I also recommend wearing gloves to handle them.)

Crack the eggs into a bowl or mug to make them easy to put in the hot oil. Pour enough oil in a wok or non-stick frying pan to reach a depth of 1/4 inch. Heat over high heat until the oil just begins to smoke. Holding the bowl close to the oil, gently add the eggs (they will crackle and spit). Lower the heat to medium. Cook until the edges of the whites start to get crispy and brown (about 1 min) then flip the eggs, trying to keep the yolks intact. Cook on the other side until just set, another 30 seconds or so. Set the eggs on paper towel to drain the excess oil.

To make the dressing, combine the sugar and water in a small pan and heat to dissolve the sugar. Add the rest of the ingredients and heat until it’s just warm to the touch.

Quarter the eggs through the yolks. Add the vegetables, herbs, and eggs to a bowl. Pour the dressing over and serve.

Thanksgiving lunch spread

(Recipe adapted from Pok Pok by Andy Ricker)

Lentil Salad – 2 ways

Both versions of this lentil salad are delicious. It serves two as a side dish or light lunch with some bread or something to go along with it. It can be served warm or at room temperature.

lentil salad with mint, feta and olives

Lentil Salad with Olives, Mint and Feta:

1/2 cup lentils (brown, French green, or black beluga), picked over and rinsed

3 cups warm water (110 degrees F)

1 cup chicken broth

2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled

1 bay leaf

2 1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar

1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1 shallot, minced

2 Tbsp crumbled feta

salt and pepper

Soak lentils and 1/2 tsp salt in 2 cups warm water for 1 hour. Drain, add 1 cup water, broth, garlic, bay leaf and 1/4 tsp salt in medium saucepan or small casserole. Cover and bake at 325 degrees F until lentils are tender but not falling apart, 40 to 60 min.

Whisk oil and vinegar. Drain lentils and remove garlic and bay leaf. Toss with dressing, olives, mint and shallot. Sprinkle with feta.

 

lentil salad with hazelnuts and goat cheese

Lentil Salad with Hazelnuts and Goat Cheese:

1/2 cup lentils (brown, French green, or black beluga), picked over and rinsed

3 cups warm water (110 degrees F)

1 cup chicken broth

2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled

1 bay leaf

2 1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 shallot, minced

1 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

2 Tbsp toasted skinned hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

salt and pepper

Soak lentils and 1/2 tsp salt in 2 cups warm water for 1 hour. Drain, add 1 cup water, broth, garlic, bay leaf and 1/4 tsp salt in medium saucepan or small casserole. Cover and bake at 325 degrees F until lentils are tender but not falling apart, 40 to 60 min.

Whisk oil, vinegar and mustard. Drain lentils and remove garlic and bay leaf. Toss with dressing, parsley and shallot. Sprinkle with goat cheese and hazelnuts.

(Recipes from America’s Test Kitchen’s Cooking for Two: 2013)

Cherry Walnut Granola

My other favorite granola…

cherry walnut granola

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1 cup unsweetened coconut

1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup toasted wheat germ

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp coarse salt

1/2 cup (or up to 2/3 cup) maple syrup

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 egg white

1 1/2 cups dried cherries

Combine everything but the cherries and egg white. Whisk the egg white until frothy and stir into the granola mixture. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees F for 45 to 55 minutes, turning the granola over halfway through with a large spatula (try not to break it up too much as you turn it in sections). Bake until browned and dry to the touch. Cool pan on a rack until completely cool. Break into clusters and add the dried cherries.

cherry walnut granola

(Recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman)

Granola with Orange, Walnuts and Currants

Another delicious granola. It’s so hard to choose a favorite!

granola

4 cups rolled oats

1 ½ cups walnuts (and/or pecans)

1 cup large flake coconut

½ tsp sea salt

zest of 2 oranges

1/3 cup butter

½ cup maple syrup

2/3 cup currants

Melt butter and whisk in maple syrup. Combine the rest and mix in butter/syrup mixture. Stir until well coated and divide between 2 baking sheets. Bake at 300 degrees F, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 40-50 min. (I usually add fruit after baking the granola, so that is what I did here, but the original recipe included the currants before baking.)

granola

(Recipe adapted slightly from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson)

Mr. Nicka’s Peanut Butter Oreo Pie

John makes this dessert for his top performing class every grading period. They always vote on what treat they want as a prize, and every time they vote for this one. I can’t blame them. It is delicious. It’s very rich, so just a small slice will be plenty, but if you are serving this to a whole classroom of teenagers, you’ll need to double the original quantities and use a 9 x 13 pan.

peanut butter oreo pie

3 oz. package cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp milk
2 cups thawed frozen whipped topping (Cool Whip)
18 Oreos, coarsely chopped, divided
1 (9-inch) prepared Oreo pie crust (see note below if making your own)

Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until creamy.  Add peanut butter and milk; beat 2 minutes more or until smooth. Fold in whipped topping and 1 3/4 cups chopped cookies. Spread into pie crust. Sprinkle with remaining chopped cookies. Refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or overnight.

Note: To make an Oreo pie crust for a 9 x 13 pan, crush 1 pkg. Oreos in a food processor until they are crumbs. Add 5 Tbsp melted butter until combined and press into the pan. (Use half this much if you want to make your own 9-inch crust.) Refrigerate the crust until set before adding the filling (2-4 hours).

sample size