Tuesdays with Dorie – Dorie’s Cookies – Fruit and Four-Grain Biscotti

I love a good biscotti, the perfect companion to your favorite hot beverage. I like this one because it’s a departure from the ubiquitous almond biscotti offered in coffee shops. While is does contain all purpose flour, it’s also chockful of whole grains: whole-wheat flour, oatmeal, wheat bran and kasha, plus some flax seeds. A couple of handfuls of chopped dried figs adds a touch of sweetness and a chewy texture. I tested my cookies with a homemade latte. Yum!

The dough is quick and easy: mix brown and granulated sugars with softened butter, then add eggs one at a time. Toss in the oatmeal, bran and Wolff’s medium graduation kasha (available on Amazon) and flax seeds. The flours, baking powder, soda, salt, cloves and nutmeg are next, then the chopped figs.

I formed two logs of dough, each of which ended up being about 11 inches long. The logs bake for 25 minutes, rest for 20 and then are sliced into 12 inch pieces and baked cut side down.

Like Dorie, I usually struggle to slice the logs without some crumbling. Miraculously, I sliced both logs with no crumbling. I used my mom’s bread knife, which is sharper than mine. I sawed into the top about a quarter inch, then pushed the rest of the way through. Was it the knife? Technique? Luck? I guess I’ll find out on the next batch of biscotti.

The biscotti come out of the oven golden brown and crunchy, perfect for dunking. Transfer to racks to cool, preferably using a Darth Vadar spatula. Mine was a Christmas gift from my niece, Casey.

They firm up with time, so serve with something to dunk them in. I had two with my morning mocha and called it breakfast.

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Cook the Book Fridays – Everyday Dorie – Potato Chowder Lots of Ways

This month’s selection from Everyday Dorie for Cook the Book Fridays was perfectly timed for me. I had a surplus of new potatoes from my weekly produce box that needed a purpose, so they became the potatoes for this chowder. Dorie provides a basic potato chowder recipe and offers seasonal options. I had some dill from my produce box and some frozen peas, so I decided to add them to the basic recipe and make the “Spring Chowder”.

After browning some bacon pieces and setting them aside, I gently sautéed thinly sliced leeks, onions, shallots and garlic in the bacon grease and a little olive oil. When the sliced vegetables were soft, I added broth, substituting unsalted beef broth for some of the chicken broth called for in the recipe. (To my surprise, I only had three cups of homemade chicken broth in the freezer; time to make some more!) The potatoes and peas went in next. When the potatoes were soft, I mashed some of them with a potato masher to thicken the soup. Then came heavy cream, sea salt and fresh ground pepper. After ladling the chowder into serving bowls, I garnished with the crunchy bacon bits and a little bit of chopped dill.

The results? A delicious and hearty chowder that is full of flavor.

Tuesdays with Dorie – Baking Chez Moi – Chocolate-Coconut Tart

This tart wows: its’ luscious appearance and heavenly taste will impress the grateful recipients of your efforts. It is not a difficult tart to make, but there are a number of components. So allow yourself enough time, and factor in the four hour chill time for the completed tart.

Begin with Dorie’s tart dough recipe, which is basically shortbread. You can roll the dough, chill, place it in the pan, chill again and blind bake. Or pat the dough in the pan, chill and bake. I chose the latter method, which saved some time. The egg in the dough creates a wonderfully yellow dough.

The coconut filling is essentially pastry cream made with coconut milk. Toasted and untoasted sweetened coconut flakes go in as well. I like Dorie’s technique of toasting the coconut flakes in the microwave.

The filling goes into the cooked pastry and is topped with a chocolate ganache. Pop the tart in the fridge for four hours and you have yourself an impressive dessert. Dorie says she created this tart when she was craving a Mounds bar. Unable to find one in Paris, she created this wonder. My family agreed it tasted like a Mounds bar. Except much, much tastier. I’m partial to Almond Joys myself so I may add a layer of candied almonds next time around. We didn’t finish the tart the first day (so rich!) but it held well in the fridge for two days.

Tuesdays with Dorie – Baking Chez Moi – Speculoos

My designated weekend to bake Speculoos coincided with an early Christmas gift of a new espresso machine. (Thanks big bro!) A match made in heaven! These small cookies pack a lot of flavor in every bite and are the perfect companion for coffee drinks.

I have a lot of family staying with me for the holidays, so I had to squeeze making these cookies in between Christmas dinner pre-prep and feeding the hungry hordes at the dinner table every night. I decided to prep and freeze the dough on Sunday and slice and bake on Monday. The dough came together quickly and the pliant dough rolled easily into three rolls. I put the rolls on a baking sheet and froze them overnight. I feared they would be harder to slice because of the extra time in the freezer, but they cut easily. The cookies don’t spread in the oven, so they can be placed close together the n the baking sheet. I baked two sheets pfor 6 minutes then rotated top to bottom and front to back. Five more minutes in the oven and the Speculoos were perfectly done.

My son wandered into the kitchen just as they came out of the oven. He grabbed one and took a bite. “How are they?” I asked. As if to answer, he took three more. “They taste like really good gingerbread,” he said. Indeed.

Tuesdays with Dorie – Dorie’s Cookies – Double-Crumb Ginger Cookies

First, and most importantly, these are delicious and after the first cookie, it was hard to stop eating. All four of us in our household loved these. I doubled the recipe, yet the day after baking there are two left!

The recipe starts with Do Almost-Anything Vanilla Cookie Dough. Minced fresh ginger macerated in sugar gets added to the dough. I rolled out the dough, slipped it on a baking sheet and popped it in the freezer. While the dough was firming up in the freezer, I made the topping: flour, sugar, ground ginger, salt and butter blended together with the fingertips. Because I doubled the cookie recipe, I doubled the crumb recipe, too. This was a mistake. Well, I have gingery crumbs in the freezer for future baking projects!

The timing for baking was off, at least for my oven. The first baking sheet of cookies was very brown after baking for 21 minutes (a minute less than the minimum bake time in the recipe.) See below:

The next sheet was slightly less brown after 18 minutes. The final sheet was spot on after 16 minutes in the oven. Here is a side-by-side of Cookies from the second and third sheets:

Dark brown, golden, we loved them all. My mom preferred the darker cookies, while my son and I preferred the lighter batch. But all we enjoyed every bite of these delicately flavored ginger cookies.

Cook the Book Friday’s – Everyday Dorie – Roasted Squash Hummus

This hummus is a delightful departure from the standard garbanzo bean hummus. Instead of the beans, this hummus uses puréed roasted winter squash as the main ingredient. I used a butterkin squash. Butterkin is slightly less sweet than a butternut squash and shaped like a pumpkin. It is the perfect base for this delicious dip. Served on a bed of Greek yogurt and garnished with pomegranate seeds, the hummus pairs well with toasted pita bread. I never waste squash seeds, so I roasted the seeds and scattered them over the plate as an extra garnish. They added a crunchy texture and additional flavor; I think they are a worthy addition.

Tuesdays with Dorie – Baking Chez Moi – Alsatian Christmas Bread

Lots of fun stuff going on in this recipe: bread made with nothing but macerated dried fruit and almond flour, and the old parchment paper and ruler trick. What’s not to like?

I am no stranger to fruitcake (my late step-father was one of the rare souls who loved it and I made it for him every Christmas for over forty years.) So I know that you can hold together a lot of dried fruits and nuts with very little batter. But when I dumped almond flour on top of dried fruit that had been soaked in spiced orange juice then squeezed dry, I had to have faith in Dorie that it would actually become a dough if I kept mixing. And it did.

In the past, I stubbornly refused to use Dorie’s method of using parchment paper and a ruler to form a tight log of dough. I was unsure that I could make it work. But I am a believer now. Not only did it work, but it’s easy and fun. The tightening of the paper around the dough pushes out any air bubbles to eliminate holes in the baked bread.

I found my bread needed longer than the suggested 90 minutes to get the deep brown Dorie describes, more like 95 minutes. After they cooled completely, I wrapped the loaves in parchment and foil to allow them to ripen. Only one loaf got to ripen, we were just too tempted. The bread is delicious, not as sweet as fruitcake, allowing the delicious dried fruits to shine.

Tuesdays with Dorie – Dorie’s Cookies – Greek Honey Dainties

Dainties are a good moniker for these cookies. Handle with care! Your efforts will be rewarded with honey-soaked deliciousness.

The dough is a quick mix of sugar, butter, oil, orange juice, flour, baking soda and baking power. Then comes the tricky part: forming the soft, sticky dough into ovals with indentations at their centers. I managed to get the dough off my fingers (so sticky!) on the pan and in the oven. Watch these cookies carefully. The first panful baked for the minimum time of fifteen minutes, rotating the pan at eight minutes. A little too brown (still yummy.) The second panful was rotated at seven minutes and out of the oven in fifteen. Perfectly done. The final panful was baked the same as the second and was slightly too brown for my taste. Curiously, even though I measured the dough with a small cookie scoop as instructed, I ended up with 29 cookies, not 18 as the recipe indicated. No complaints!

Use a spatula to move these cookies, even when fully cooled; they crumble easily, especially after you drench them in honey-sugar syrup. If you break one, don’t panic, just pop it in your mouth. I won’t tell.

Tuesdays with Dorie – Dorie’s Cookies – Cranberry Five-Spice Cookies

Cocktail cookies are what Dorie Greenspan calls a collection of savory and not-so-sweet cookies in her fabulous book, Dorie’s Cookies. These little cocktail cookies have an unusual ingredient: Chinese five-spice. Along with chopped fresh cranberries and salted peanuts, the five-spice perks up a basic butter cookie. The minimal amount of sugar in the dough makes this cookie a good stand in for a cracker for your holiday appetizer spread. After we munched on a few, the rest went in the freezer for Christmas Day.

About the shapes: the recipe asks you to roll out the dough, chill, then cut out the cookies with a round cookie cutter. I did that for the first piece of dough, then got impatient. Inspired by another Tuesdays with Dorie baker, Steph (Whisk/Spoon), I cut the second disk of dough with a pastry cutter and made square cookies. That went really fast and I like the look of the squares. For the photo, I plated the circles and the squares in alternating rows. Festive, delicious and not to sweet, these cookies are perfect for holiday entertaining.

Everyday Dorie – Maple Syrup and Mustard Brussels Sprouts

A new Dorie Greenspan cookbook and a new group to cook with – heaven! I just got my hands on Everyday Dorie last Wednesday at a very special book signing. Coyle’s Bakeshop in Seattle hosted Dorie fans to a tea and book signing co-hosted by our local cookbook shop, The Book Larder. Dorie was vivacious and generous with her time, making each person feel special. The tea was delicious and paired with recipes from the book. Here is the menu:

Now for this month’s recipe for Cook the Book Fridays: Maple Syrup and Mustard Brussels Sprouts. My Brussels Sprouts were huge. I followed Dorie’s instructions to halve them if large, one even had to be quartered. (I get most of my produce in a weekly box from Imperfect Produce, so you take what you get and work with it!)

I had just started steaming the Brussels Sprouts and realized I was supposed to throw in the garlic and shallots – wait, shallots? I didn’t have shallots on hand so some green onions volunteered to substitute. I quickly prepped the garlic and shallots, tossed them in and started steaming again.

Due to their size, it took about fifteen minutes to steam the Brussels Sprouts to partial tenderness, but Dorie warns you of that possibility. I steamed them ahead of time and let them rest while I prepared the rest of my dinner.

When I was ready to finish the dish, it came together quickly. Cooked the bacon, charred the Brussels Sprouts and tossed in the maple syrup and mustard. My husband walked in the door just as I was finishing up. The verdict? Delicious!