Sunday, June 13, 2010

Addictions

I'll admit that I am addicted to a few things in my life - addictions that started when I was little and if anything got stronger with age (as things like that are wont to do), and all of them concerning food. The first one would have to be good, full-sour kosher dill pickles. There was is a restaurant where my grandparents used to live (just found out it still existed!) called the Blackhorn Steakhouse, and they always give you a little plate of the most delicious dill pickles as an accompaniment to your meal. It was one of the first restaurants my family took me to when I was a baby, and apparently instead of wailing for a bottle or gumming my way through the baby food my mom would bring along, I would contentedly suck back pickle after vinegary pickle. The waiters thought both my parents and I were nuts - I mean, who lets an infant eat all the pickles she can get her hands on? But what can I say? I was unique.

My second major food-centric addiction is one that I know a couple people in my family share: peppery spice. I can actually place the blame for this one (if you want to call it blame) firmly on my mom and maternal grandfather (yes, the man of the 7-alarm curry). While my mom's tolerance for chilis and peppercorns has diminished over the years, when she was carrying me she was quite the queen of super-spicy vinaigrettes with her salads, and generous lashings of black pepper on everything. To this day neither my grandfather nor I can live without our pepper grinders - though mine is in somewhat sad condition, and doesn't really grind well anymore. We used to have a glorious, solid-wood salt and pepper grinder set as part of a salad bowl collection, but sometime during our move to the current house they both met the sarcastic side of the "fragile" label and shattered. It's been 4 years since then, and only being able to afford a plastic mockery of a pepper mill myself I've been after my mom to buy us a good set again with a mill like this one. FoodBuzz is featuring this electric set as their Daily Special on Monday, and provided it ground pepper coarsely (I hate the pepper "dust") I wouldn't say no to it even though it's electric - not really my first choice for a piece of equipment I consider so "rustic" and important for use. But pepper is pepper, and any is better than none! 

My third major addiction, since there are so many out there, should be rampantly obvious to those of you that read this blog. Yes, I am talking about the impossible-to-resist power of the baker's kitchen. I've made so many things recently that I haven't had time to share them all with you, which is a shame because they've (mostly) been outstanding successes. Things like these cookies, crammed full of sunflower and flax seeds, Craisins and oatmeal, inspired by a host of sites including this one on Gourmeted. Or these mini lemon puffs, low in fat but still incredibly moist and flavourful from a good dose of tangy yogurt - disappearing almost as quick as we could put them out onto platters. I guess you can say I've found my niche in the tumultuous world of addictions. I'm just glad my impulses to satisfy it are still welcomed!

Double Sunflower Seed Cookies
Makes 30
¾ cup flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp cornstarch
½ cup (3.8 oz) shortening
1 cup (6.3 oz) sunflower butter
¾ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
½ tbsp milk
½ tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp whole flax seeds
¾ cup rolled oats (not instant)
¾ cup salted, roasted sunflower seeds
½ cup dried cranberries
  1. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, baking powder and cornstarch. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl cream shortening, sunflower butter and sugars.
  4. Add egg, milk, lemon juice and vanilla, beating well.
  5. Add flour mixture, flax seeds, oats, sunflower seeds and cranberries, mix until no streaks of flour remain.
  6. Cover dough surface with plastic wrap and chill for 2-6 hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 350F.
  8. Bake for 11 minutes. Cool completely on the sheets.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 179.6
Total Fat: 9.8 g
Cholesterol: 7.1 mg
Sodium: 69.8 mg
Total Carbs: 20.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.3 g
Protein: 4.0 g

Little Lemon Yogurt Puffs
Makes 12
1 egg
1 egg white
1/2 cup low-fat lemon yogurt
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda

  1. Preheat oven to 350F, grease 10 mini-muffin cups or line with paper liners.
  2. In a bowl, beat together egg, egg white, yogurt, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice and olive oil. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and baking soda.
  4. Add dry mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring quickly but gently just to combine.
  5. Spoon into muffin cups.
  6. Bake 12-15 minutes, until test done. Turn out immediately and cool on a rack.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 107.6
Total Fat: 2.9 g
Cholesterol: 18.6 mg
Sodium: 14.8 mg
Total Carbs: 17.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.4 g
Protein: 2.5 g