Friday, July 25, 2008

Pocketful of Peach Drop Cookies

Hey Kathryn,

Many strange things happened.  I have had not one, but two whole days off from work this week, and the high yesterday in Iowa City was 65 and complete with cloudy skies and a chance of thunderstorms.  Though it was not quite idyllic weather for RAGBRAI (the week long bike across Iowa), the odds could not have been better for summer baking, which is usually so nonsensical.

Also, I stumbled upon this great peach drop cookie recipe from the domestic guru herself, Martha Stewart, and unlike her public persona, they are not at all stuffy.  They are a cross between a scone and a snickerdoodle, having both a chewy consistency along with a mildly spiced topping.  

Look at how pretty they are with the flecks of purple peach skins!  I didn't think of this before, but they would be excellent with chopped crystallized ginger.

They are also best eaten the first day, so invite some friends over, make some peach iced tea, and have a porch party.

Peach Drop Cookies
Adapted From Aug 2007 Issue of Martha Stewart Living


2 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 stick of butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 egg at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large ripe peaches, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 cup peach jam
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 375, and dot the corners of a baking sheet with butter and place on top a sheet parchment paper or wax paper.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.  In a large bowl, stir the stick of butter until fluffy, and then add a cup of sugar. Cream the mixture until the sugar is well incorporated into the butter and is no longer grainy.  Add the egg and vanilla and stir until well combined.  Add the flour mixture, and stir (don't worry if the dough is clumpy at this stage).  Add the peach jam and diced peaches and blend just until well combined.  

In another small bowl, combine the remaining sugar and cinnamon and set aside.  Use a tablespoon sized spoon and scoop the cookie dough onto the baking sheets.  Sprinkle the tops with the cinnamon sugar mixture, and place in the oven.  Bake until the edges are just golden brown, about 11 to 13 minutes.  Let them cool in the pan for five minutes, and then transfer them to a cooling rack.  

Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Enjoy!  Good luck with your article for Urban Tulsa.  See you in less than a month!


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

You say sei-tan, i say sei-ton

Hey Kathryn,

How're you?  I can't believe that it's Friday already, one whole week after the 4th, when I actually made this new recipe.  I didn't do the conventional 4th of July BBQ this year - there was a Jazz Festival in Iowa City, and I got me some fried oreos instead.  They didn't quite match my expectations - the chocolate wafers were a little too soggy from all of the batter and frying - but you only live once, right?

However, I still had the urge to cook something equally revolutionary, and then it crossed my mind that we've had this blog for over seven months, and we have very few posts devoted to vegetarian proteins like tofu, tempeh, and probably the most mysterious one, seitan.  I wish that I had discovered seitan when I first became a vegetarian, and was really craving meat.  Seitan is made from gluten, the protein in flour.  In color and in texture, it vaguely resembles liver, and since it is vegetarian, it is way less creepy to eat than the meat-version.  It is delicious on its own, eaten with some homemade broth, or put into curries, taco-fillings, etc.  If you haven't tried it before, I would recommend ordering it at a restaurant first so you can see if you like it (for all of those in Iowa City, go to Thai Flavors, and order it in the Green Curry). 

Once you've discovered that you can't live without seitan, you can either continue ordering it at restaurants, buying it at the store, or you can make your own!  I kid you not, it's easier than making pie.  All you really have to do is make the dough, knead it,

and plop it into some simmering stock.

It makes quite the homey meal, served with the homemade stock and some noodles.  Also, do you remember gak, that rubbery playdough?  Because the seitan dough totally resembles it, so you can only imagine how much fun it is to work with it and knead it.  

Simple Seitan
Adapted from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

Braising Broth:

2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 onions, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, kept whole
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper
1 quart of water
1/4 - 1/3 cup soy sauce

Heat the oil in a stock pot on medium heat, and add the onions and garlic.  Cook the onions and garlic until they start to caramelize and brown along the edges.  Add thyme and salt and pepper and continue cooking until the onions are a golden brown all over.  Add the water and the soy sauce and stir to incorporate the browned bits from the bottom into the stock.  Watch the pot and once it comes to a boil, cover and simmer for at least 25 minutes.  In the meantime, make the seitan

Seitan Ingredients:

1 cup Vital Wheat Gluten Flour
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 cup cold vegetable broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves either finely minced or pressed

Combine the gluten with the nutritional yeast in a medium sized bowl, and combine the rest of the ingredients in a small size bowl.  Create a well in the gluten mixture bowl and pour in the wet mixture.  Stir until the mixture comes together in a dough-like ball, and knead with a spoon along the sides of the bowl for about 2 minutes.  Divide the dough into three parts, and knead and stretch each of them in your hands for about 3 minutes.

Once the stock has come to slow simmer, drop the seitan balls in the liquid, cook them in the covered pot for about an hour.  

To store the seitan, put in a reusable container along with the extra broth to make sure that the seitan stays moist.

Another tip, you should wash any of the cookware that you handled with the raw gluten flour or seitan by hand, not in the dishwasher.  Hand-washing ensures that the loose bits of flour will not turn into protein clumps on your cookware.  

Good luck with everything, and stay cool in scorching Oklahoma