Monday, December 15, 2008

Steel cut

I accidently bought steel cut oats instead of regular oats at the grocery store.  Not wanting to throw away a giant tub of them, I searched for recipes using them.  I found this on the Anson Mills website, and modified it a bit to include fresh cranberries and chocolate chips instead of coconut.  They're substantial little cookies, but I mean that in a good way.  Tart and sweet.  

Cranberry chocolate chip cookies

You will need: 

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup steel cut oats
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat over to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper of Silpat.  Turn the flour, oats, cranberries, baking powder and soda, salt and cinnamon into a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

Beat the butter with a hand mixer until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Beat in both sugars until the mixture is light and aerated. With the mixer on low speed, add the egg and vanilla, and then the milk. Stir in the dry ingredients and chocolate chips with a rubber spatula. 

Using an ice cream scooper, spoon cookies onto cookie sheet. Bake 13-15 minutes, and allow to cool on a rack for 15 minutes. 

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Too much? What's too much?

This article in the New York Times Dining Section is causing a bit of fuss. Frank Bruni writes about finding nice meals for two at restaurants in Manhattan that come in under $100 (excluding drinks). Part of the challenge is to have a traditional three course meal, and have enough for a 20% tip.

The basic jist of the comments (so far there are over 200) is that this is an awful lot of money to spend on an ordinary dinner for two. I don't disagree; $100 is a lot of money to spend on one meal. One woman writes:

"I read the header for this and was astonished-- your favorite restaurants at a good price-- good price being $100 or so???? Do we really need this kind of thing while people are losing jobs, homes, retirement, life savings and kids are looking at a future with college unaffordable? Perhaps I live in a strange world, but I would not dream of spending $100 on a meal in a restaurant. "
— Stephanie Gilmore, Blacksburg, Virginia


Almost all of the comments are from people living outside of New York City. And I feel like dining in New York is a different experience than it is anywhere else in the country.

Is it more expensive? Yes! But is the food better? Yes!

This isn't to say that every restaurant in NYC is the best you've ever been to (far from it). But in New York, you have access to more than 20,000 restaurants. That choice, that accessability, that variety -- it's part of what you're paying for each and every time you go out.

For us, on this blog, I consider a bill under $50 before tip to be a cheap date spot. I consider any bill higher than that to be a celebration stop. I know that those are high figures for some people, and believe me, it doesn't exactly feel cheap to us, either. But restaurants are important to us, and while we couldn't do it every day, we're willing to pay the price when we do go out.

Peter and I were talking about this article last night at dinner, and he said he wished Bruni spent more time searching for hole in the wall spots that serve a great meal for a low price, or that Bruni went to truly fantastic, very expensive restaurants and worked the menu to keep the cost down. I think both of those are great ideas, but that may be because they also happen to be the exact approaches we take when dining out!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Slow down

I love the idea of a slow cooker.  Do a little chopping and dropping in the morning; come home to a delicious meal at night.  But it can be hard to find things to cook in it that don't involve a can of cream soup.   

Last Christmas I got one of those slow cooker recipe magazines in my stocking (you know the ones lining the check out aisle in the grocery store?).  A lot of the recipes rely on that can of cream soup, but the one I tried today was delicious and easy to put together -- exactly what I want from my slow cooker.  The list of ingredients looks long, but it's all stuff I usually have on hand. 

African groundnut stew with chicken

You will need: 

4 chicken drumsticks
1 large shallot or medium onion, chopped
1 big glop of peanut butter (about 1/4 cup)
1 can diced or crushed tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
2 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes

Layer all the ingredients into the slow cooker, spread the peanut around in dollops.  Cover and cook on low heat for 8-10 hours.  Break up the chicken and discard the bones before serving.

I added about 1/2 cup of cooked rice, a scoop of Greek yogurt, and some chopped celery greens to ours before serving.  Amazing.  

It happened

I know these are the last things people want to see right now, but I have to document the success of our first Thanksgiving somewhere!

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