Tag Archives: donna hay

Three Cookies

 

I find making cookies to be immensely satisfying. Not only is dough doable in 20 minutes, but the the ingredients they call for rarely requires a trip to the supermarket and they’re ready to go after a mere 10 min in the oven! Over the past couple weeks, I’ve taken a few recipes for test drives. Here are my results:

No. 1: Ghirardelli Milk-Chocolate-Chip Cookies

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I rarely cook with any chocolate other than bittersweet. But with a couple bags of milk chocolate chips in the freezer, I thought, why not?

Although the cookies on their own were nothing special, they turned out to be exceptional ice cream vehicles. A chocolate chip cookie eaten on its own must to be jam-packed with chocolate in to be delicious in my book. However, add a little vanilla (or better yet, hokey pokey!) ice cream to mix, and they become otherworldly. These cookies are chewy, but at the same time just stiff enough to hold their own against a sandwiched scoop of melty ice cream.

You can find the recipe here. My only advice: add extra vanilla, chocolate, and pecans, while decreasing the white sugar by at least a quarter cup.

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No. 2: Donna Hay’s (Relatively Healthy) Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Let me be frank. Never, ever, use a chocolate chip cookie recipe that calls for oil instead of butter. In theory, these cookies sound great. No butter, a limited quantity of sugar, some of the flour replaced with oats. In reality, if you’re going to bake cookies, make the real thing, not some sort of facsimile.

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The dough looked great, but even at that stage it seemed like something was off. The taste wasn’t quite right. When the cookies came out, they were cute-looking and bite sized, but lacked that essential cookie chewiness, not to mention that gooey chocolatey, buttery, flavor. I should probably hedge this by conceding that I did not use high quality chocolate for this batch, as it was another attempt to deplete my freezer full of chocolate. Nonetheless, even the dough itself was unsatisfactory. When it comes down to good old chocolate chip cookies, the Joy of Cooking recipe is the way to go.

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No. 3: Peanut Butter Blossoms

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A couple days ago, I was twiddling my thumbs looking for something to bake, when I ran across a bag of mini hershey’s kisses stashed away at the bottom of a drawer. Turning the package over, I found the directions for peanut butter blossoms, one of my all time favorite cookies. Tweaking the recipe to suit my taste (and the contents of my fridge), I baked my third batch of cookies in two weeks. These cookies were sensational. Nutty, sweet, chewy, and of course chocolatey, they were perfect. Here is my take on peanut butter blossoms. Enjoy!

Recipe: Peanut Butter Blossoms

Adapted from Hershey’s

You’ll need…

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup crunchy natural peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup white sugar (plus extra for rolling)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp nonfat milk
  • 1-1/2 cups flour (sifted)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • at least a tbsp of vanilla extract
  • Hershey’s kisses–full sized or mini

1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC (375ºF).

2. Beat together the butter and peanut butter. Add the sugars, followed by the egg, milk, and vanilla. Slowly add in the flour, salt, and baking soda.

3. Roll the dough into 1-in sized balls. (They will expand quite a bit so keeping the size small is key.) Roll each dough ball in white sugar to coat it. Place them on a cookie sheet, leaving plenty of space.

4. Press kisses into the tops of each cookie–one if they’re normal sized, three if they’re mini.

5. Bake for 9-10 min. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for at least 5 min before transferring.

(Note: the photograph above does not display a full batch of cookies. You can expect to make roughly 45 from this recipe.)

 

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Whole Wheat Pizzas

I made dinner for my family of four tonight. And, as you have probably already gathered, it was whole wheat pizzas.

Whole Wheat Pizzas

I’m going to jump right in and write about my pizza preparation.

First of all, the dough is delicious, and quickly made to boot. All you have to do is throw all of your ingredients into a kitchen-aid mixer, affix a dough hook, and watch it spin!

Pizza Dough

 

The dough has to rise for about 20 minutes.

Pizza Timer

While waiting for that to happen, there is plenty to do. These pizzas have a creamy ricotta base, rather than the typical tomato type. There is also the question of toppings. Donna includes six suggestions with her base recipe, so I decided to try three: spinach with feta and pine nuts, mushrooms with parmesan and thyme, and caramelized onion with feta and rosemary.

Caramelized Onions

My caramelized red onions were surprisingly sweet!

Toppings

After rolling out the dough nice and thin, I set out my toppings and began the assembly.

Here they are, my finished beauties:

 

Onion Pizza Mushroom Pizza The Works

This last one has everything on it except for onions because I ran out. They were the best homemade pizzas I’ve ever attempted!

The family favorite was easily the caramelized onion. The sweetness of the onion and the saltiness of the crust and feta offset and balanced each other beautifully. (That’s not to say the others weren’t pretty great too!)

Here’s how make these wholesome pies:

This recipe is adapted from Donna Hay’s Fresh and Light, an aesthetically pleasing cookbook full of hit recipes.

Ingredients:

For the base–

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp sea salt flakes (I used Maldon’s Fleur de Sel.)
  • 1/4 tsp dry yeast
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

For the ricotta spread–

  • 1 generous cup ricotta
  • 2 tbs milk
  • some salt and black pepper

For the toppings (amounts measured completely to taste)–

  • spinach, feta, pine nuts
  • assorted mushrooms, grated parmesan, fresh thyme
  • 2 red onions, vegetable oil plus salt & pepper for caramelizing, feta, fresh thyme

1. Mix the flour, salt, yeast, water, and oil in a stand mixer affixed with a dough hook for 3-5 minutes. Cover the bowl with saran wrap and let the dough rise for at least 20 minutes. I should warn you, you can barely tell it’s risen. Don’t be alarmed if you can’t see any change! I couldn’t really either and mine turned out just fine.

2. Mix the ricotta, milk, salt, and pepper together. This can be done by hand with a fork or a whisk.

3. (If you are caramelizing onions, chop them nice and thin and toss into a large fry pan with some vegetable oil. Let them cook until limp and brown, stirring every so often to avoid burning.)

4. Divide the dough into four and roll each piece into a thin round.

5. Spread each pizza base with the ricotta sauce and top as desired. For the mushroom pie, you can really heap the mushrooms on as they will reduce significantly when cooked, something that, as you can tell from the picture, I did not realize until afterwards.

6. Cook at 200ºC (400ºF). Donna says to cook for 14 minutes, but I kept mine in longer, until the edges were crisp and brown.

After dinner, my mother had the brilliant idea of blending some pesto in with the ricotta base. I am definitely trying that next time!

Onion Pizza II

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