Monday, July 5, 2010

Look to the cookie!

So, things have been a little crazy with my work lately and I haven't been a good little blogger for my gentle readers, but I'm back with some great stuff.  This is the first of several new posts that I am writing now because I have time and because it is 105 degrees here and I am too hot to concentrate on actual work.

This one is all about food--the things that I've been making lately when I have had time and/or it wasn't excessively hot and humid.  Let's begin with the cookies referenced in the title, Candy Johnson's Whoopie Pie Cookies as published in the Penzey's catalog.

Here is the recipe:

1 egg
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1/2 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract


1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. powdered sugar
1 c. marshmallow creme/fluff
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two large cookie sheets and set aside.  In large bowl, beat the egg and vegetable oil.  Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until pale yellow in color.  In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  In a measuring cup, combine the buttermilk and vanilla.  While mixing, alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk mixture to the egg and sugar, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Drop the batter by tablespoon onto the cookie sheets.  These will spread a lot, so make six cookies per sheet at a time.  Bake 8-10 minutes, until the top springs back when lightly touched.  Remove to wire racks to cool.  When cool, spread filling between two cookies to make sandwiches.

For the filling, in a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients and beat until light and fluffy.

Ms. Johnson adds that her mother would freeze these cookies so that she could thaw a few at a time.  They thaw fairly quickly and they are a great evening snack.  Very good--thank you Ms. Johnson and Penzey's for sharing the recipe!

Next up, Ina Garten's Pasta, Pesto, and Peas, which I made with fresh peas.

This did not thrill me.  I didn't care for her pesto recipe and pesto of any kind would, I think, overpower the peas, which you could barely taste.  Since they were fresh peas, that seemed like a waste, but the whole thing was just not good.  I ate it one night with grilled chicken and a nectarine/blueberry salad, but didn't keep the rest of it because I just didn't care for it.

Leah came this weekend to help me celebrate my birthday and, since she didn't arrive until later on Friday night, I made a bunch of appetizer/tapa dishes for us to eat when she got here.  Here is our spread:

We had grape tomatoes roasted at 400 degrees for 30 minutes in garlic infused olive oil and then mixed with goat cheese with bread to mop up the extra sauce.  Not bad, but not my favorite of the dishes I made that night.

We also had one of my favorite Ina Garten recipes--Potatoes with Aioli.  I didn't have fingerling potatoes, which are better for this, so I used small white ones instead.  Yummy.

Finally, we had small mushrooms stuffed with Boursin and baked in melted butter at 400 degrees.  Very good. 

I didn't get a photo, but we also had small lime tarts for dessert--graham cracker crust in my mini pie pans filled with lime curd.  Delicious and refreshing.

We ended up having a similar dinner the following evening as well, with the addition of bruschetta and fresh cherries.

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