Friday, February 08, 2008

Waitangi Day

Here's how Scooter and I spent the 6th of February which was a public holiday on account of Waitangi Day.

I didn't spend the whole day just enjoying the sunshine; I decided to do some baking. I'm a gal who likes crisp cookies but my husband prefers his chewy and soft so I've been on the lookout for a really good chewy cookie recipe. The contender this time was Deb's Oatmeal Cookies. I'm sure she won't mind me sharing the recipe here but if you want to read her original post check it out on Red Shoe Ramblings. For my variants I used dried blueberries - just because I had them in the pantry; and some chocolate chips. In the oat department I didn't have enough regular cooking oats so had to make up the difference with some giant oats I'd bought to make muesli. I thought the cookies were a little on the sweet side which may be why they spread quite thin and then of course ended up a little crisper than I expected. It could be that I used butter (unsalted lactic butter in fact) instead of shortening. I would like to try them again and make the orange version. Note that all comments in the following recipe are Deb's.

Deb’s Favorite Oatmeal Cookies

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla (the real thing, please!…not that icky imitation stuff made from wood pulp…ugh!)
3 cups uncooked oats (I use the quick-cooking kind because I like the finer texture, but if you want chewier cookies the old-fashioned ones work too)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup (more or less) raisins

Preheat oven to 350F. Beat together shortening and sugars until fluffy, then add egg, water, and vanilla and beat until creamy and smooth. Combine dry ingredients, then add to sugar mixture a little at a time, mixing well. Fold in raisins (I like the golden ones!) or any other extra Stuff (see variations below). Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a parchment paper-lined cooking sheet (grease the sheet if you don’t have parchment paper, and then go buy some before the next time you bake! seriously!!) and bake for 12 - 15 minutes. (Less time will give you a softer, chewier cookie, which is what I like. If you like yours crispy-crunchy [*cough*freak*cough*] then go for the longer time.) Makes around 5 dozen cookies.

Variation One: Relatively UnJunky Orange Spice Craisin Oatmeal Cookies
Leave out raisins
Instead of 1/4 cup water, add 1/4 cup orange juice
Add 1/2 tsp. orange extract
Add 1/2 tsp. orange zest
Add 1/2 tsp. ground cloves (optional, but I like it)
Increase cinnamon to 1 1/2 tsp.
Add 1 cup (or a little more…I don’t measure) dried cranberries

Variation Two: Totally Junky but Very Yummy Chock Full o’ Stuff Cookies
Leave out raisins (or leave them in if you think they’d taste good with the other stuff…your cookies, your rules!)
Add 1/2 cup each (more or less…I don’t measure this part):
~dark chocolate chips
~toffee chips
~cinnamon chips
~sweetened flake coconut

The previous night my neighbour came over for dinner as she and I were both home alone. We decided we needed to cook something a little on the healthy side so we had pan fried salmon fillet. I thought the richness of the salmon needed a fresh and zingy tasting accompaniment so I made some mango and avocado salsa. It's not like you really need a recipe for salsa but here's what I did.

Mango and Avocado Salsa

1 mango
1 avocado
2-4 red tomatoes
1/2 a small red onion
Juice of half a lime
1/2 cup chopped coriander (cilantro)
Hot sauce if desired - I used Waha Wera which is a kiwifruit and habanero hot sauce

Finely dice the mango, avocado, tomatoes and onion and combine with the lime juice and coriander
Season to taste

I had leftover salsa and thought it would go really well with some grilled shrimp for my dinner the next night. I was right! To make the salsa a little more substantial I added some diced red pepper and some yellow tomatoes that needed using up. You could probably also turn the salsa into a salad by adding a can of black beans or kidney beans. Doesn't this look delicious?


Deb R said...

That salsa looks really good! In fact that whole plate at the end looks yummy. I kind of want to reach through the screen and grab it, and it's breakfast time here! :-)

About the cookies, I think it makes a big difference to use butter instead of shortening in this recipe. I usually prefer butter in most cookie recipes, but not in this one. I tried it once when I was out of shortening and didn't like the result, in terms of either texture or taste.

As far as the sweetness, you could probably cut back a bit on the sugar without it hurting anything, but hey...I think cookies are supposed to be sweet! If they aren't sweet, they aren't really cookies...they're bread or crackers or something! :-D

Morven said...

Interesting comment re the shortening Deb. I guess I'm doomed not to have success with this particular recipe then as we don't have shortening in NZ. Our choices are butter, margarine or "kremelta" aka copha which is a hydrogentated coconut oil. Not that I would ever have margarine in my house but I wonder if it might be a better fit for this recipe. Hmmmmmmm

Deb R said...

After not liking the result with butter, I've been afraid to try margarine, so I'm not sure. If you ever get brave and try it, I'd be curious to hear the result!

I could send you some of those shortening sticks, but I'm not sure how well they'd travel. Hhhmm....

barbie2be said...

looks like you and scooter had a lovely day. did you share your shrimp with him?

barbie2be said...

i just now noticed you are wearing crocs in the first picture. i have them too only mine are pink (natch!). don't you just love them? ugliest shoe on the planet but like walking on a cloud.