Thursday, November 21, 2013

Oatmeal Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm currently awash in a bit of last-minute planning and packing before I head back East. Doing a final sweep of the house, making lists, packing and unpacking and re-packing. Oh, and baking cookies.

There's nothing like Thanksgiving to get you thinking about gratitude. And there's nothing like Thanksgiving-related favors to give you something to be grateful for. I am lucky enough to have friends who will still talk to me after I, say, anxiously text dozens of photos for feedback on which combination of dress/earrings/shoes constitutes a serviceable grown-up outfit for a holiday wedding (and even forward them along to other friends for second opinions — thanks, Katie and Christi!); or require assistance navigating the consumer chaos of the mall in search of proper undergarments; or foist myself upon too-kind-to-say-no friends for a couchsurf and road trip. These are good people. And they deserve cookies.

When I head to the airport, I'll be bringing a stash of these oatmeal walnut chocolate chip cookies. These rich, nutty treats are far, far superior to their raisin-laden cousins, yet still have a slight pretension of healthiness. I love em. Sturdy enough to hold up through some cross country traveling, but tasty enough to feel like a legitimate gift. And, after all that I've received, I'd like to respond in kind. Tis the season to be thankful, after all.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

adapted from Portland's own The Grand Central Baking Book
yields ~3 1/2 dozen cookies

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups rolled oats
1 1/4 cup chocolate chips or chunks
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or grease them well.

Measure the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or a wooden spoon, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar for a few minutes, until lighter in color and fluffy. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs and vanilla, and stir to combine. Gradually add the reserved dry ingredients, then add the oats, chocolate and walnuts, and stir until just combined.

Shape the cookies into ping-pong-sized balls, and place on the cookie sheets with some space between. Smoosh with the heel of your hand to form 1/2-inch thick disks.

Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time. Cook until the edges of the cookies are golden brown, but the centers appear blond and slightly underdone. Let the cookies cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to racks. Enjoy right away, or pack to bring with you as gifts on your cross-country flight.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Old Nordic Cuisine


I am a staunch defender of the unstylish, the unhip. It's a policy born of multiple impulses. Mostly because it's just not me —I have a remarkably deaf ear to such fashions. But even if I had the leisure time/funds to pursue them, I also just happen like things a wee bit stodgy. I give an admiring thumb's up to the expertly dressed, but my heart goes out to the underdog in last year's (or, perhaps, last decade's) soft-worn standards. And so, when I heard so much abuzz in the food world over the New Nordic cuisine, my root-for-the-little-guy impulses kicked in — what about the Old Nordic?

And so I dug up some comfy old unstylish examples of Nordic cuisine. No fancy kitchen gear, no fancy foraged ingredients. Just some rye flour and root vegetables, smoked fish and brown bread. And it was great. You can read more about these recipes over at NPR's Kitchen Window.