Thursday, June 30, 2016

Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Working as a chef instructor with 18 Reasons in Oakland and Berkeley, we tend to lean on oatmeal as a healthy go-to for breakfast ideas when teaching classes. Invariably I'll come upon the cookie recipe inside the cap for Quaker Old-Fashioned Oats so decided to make it a few times. The only tweak I've made to the recipe is replacing the 1/2 cup of butter with 45% leaf lard and 55% butter to get a slightly richer mouth feel to the cookies. I've heard that lard actually contains *less* saturated fat than does butter so I suppose that's a win, right? Also note that I add the sugar into the fat gradually rather than all at once and combine the dry ingredients separately prior to adding into the wet.

Silpats are great if you plan to bake a lot but parchment works fine too

Softened butter and leaf lard

'creaming' the fats and sugars

Brown and white sugars

Rolled oats and raisins

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
6 tablespoons leaf lard softened (or substitute butter completely)
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup raisins

Heat oven to 350°F.
In a large standing mixing bowl, beat butter (and leaf lard if using) at medium-high speed. Once it is soft, gradually add in the sugars while still beating until incorporated and creamed - i.e. the consistency of wet sand.
Reduce mixing speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt through a sifter or sieve then whisk together to combine.
Add the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients then stir in the oats and the raisins. Lay out parchment paper or a silpat onto cookie sheets then drop the batter by rounded tablespoons onto them.

Put the sheets into the pre-heated oven and bake 8-12 minutes, until light golden brown. Remove from oven to cool for about 5 minutes then cool completely on a wire rack. Store tightly covered. This should make about 4 dozen cookies.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Smoked Herring and Potatoes

When we were in France a couple of years ago, there were quite a few dishes on various restaurant menus we had never experienced but found a great affinity for once we ordered and tasted them. One of the most memorable was smoked herring and potatoes. When we returned to the US I quickly set out to recreate a good version with whatever ingredients I could find. Luckily Tokyo Fish Market in Berkeley happened to carry a smoked herring so I started buying it when hankering for the dish.

I based this version on a couple of recipes, including one that came on the herring package itself but mostly on this one here.

*NOTE: Although you could use the herring straight from the package, I find it best to marinate it in the frig over a day or three in sunflower oil.

(1-3 days ahead)
1/2 pound deboned smoked herring
1 cup sunflower oil

1 small onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 pound fingerling potatoes, scrubbed left unpeeled
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Handful of fresh summer savory, chopped

A day or three ahead of making (see *NOTE above), marinate the herring in the frig submerged in sunflower oil. When ready to prepare the dish, remove from the herring from frig and from the oil, chopping into 1-inch pieces
In a medium salad bowl, combine the onion, salt, mustard, and lemon juice. Let rest to take the edge off the onion.
Place the potatoes in a pan of cold water. Cover, bring to a low boil, and cook for 12 minutes, or until cooked through and tender (test with the tip of a knife). Drain and let rest until just cool enough to handle, then slice into 1/2-inch rounds.
Whisk the olive oil into the onion mixture. Add the potatoes and toss to coat. Add the fish and herbs, and stir gently to combine. Serve immediately for a warm dish; any leftovers can be eaten cold the next day, with the optional addition of butterhead lettuce.