Thursday, January 1, 2009

Bonne Année!

Demons aren't bound by physics. If you take the long view, the universe is just something small and round, like those waterfilled balls which produce a miniature snowstorm when you shake them.

— Good Omens

Things have been... busy. Crazy-busy-until-you-think-you-want-to-cry busy, actually. At the moment, I consider myself the center of the waterfilled ball (so to speak). Of late, there has been no:

1. rest
2. relaxation
3. spare time
4. blogging (as is evident)


I'm still kind of burned out, but I had two nice desserts that I actually managed to photograph. The first is a cranberry tea cake from the Moosewood Cookbook, which I came across in my large collection of vegetarian cookbooks. I don't have much to say—not so much because it was uninteresting but more because my one remaining brain cell is on strike. But it was good. You should try it.

Cranberry Tea Cake
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup almonds, finely chopped
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch salt

Coarsely chop cranberries. Combine with brown sugar, almonds, cinnamon and nutmeg; set to the side. Cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla, sour cream, and eggs; mix thoroughly.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir into egg mixture just until moistened.

Pour ½ of batter into greased Bundt pan or 8" round cake pan. Spread ½ of cranberry mixture over the top. Repeat with remaining batter and cranberries.

Bake 50-60 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool on rack. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

The second recipe was a nice surprise for my 2009 recipe box. I like oatmeal raisin cookies, but it seems that nobody else does. I've been wanting them for a while, and finally cracked when I saw the recipe for these cookies from Schrafft's. My only reservation was the prospect of eating them all myself, which seemed excessive even for the holidays. But these... they were fantastic. They were awesome. They were even better than I remembered. A "superior" oatmeal raisin cookie. I think I only got one before they disappeared.

Schraftt's Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
1½ cups old-fashioned or quick-cooking rolled oats (not instant oatmeal)
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup whole or lowfat milk
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets.

Whisk together the rolled oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in a large bowl.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter with the two sugars in a large bowl until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until light and well blended. With the mixer on low speed, add the oat mixture and the milk, beating until well combined and a stiff dough forms. Stir in the raisins and nuts. Refrigerate the dough 30 minutes—or up to 12 hours if not using immediately. Drop the dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Press the tops gently to flatten very slightly.

Bake until the edges are brown and the centers are still soft and puffy, about 11 to 14 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Store in a covered container for up to 3 days or freeze.

Happy New Year!