Polenta cookies with rosemary and olive oil

Yield 30 cookies

Ingredients
1 ½ cups (7.5 oz.) all-purpose flour
½ cup (2.5 oz.) polenta
1 t baking powder
¼ t fine sea salt
½ cup (3.5 oz.) granulated sugar
½ cup olive oil (use a fruity, flavorful oil as it will stand out in this cookie)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 cup (4 oz.) confectioners’ sugar

Directions
Adjust your oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions if you plan to use two cookie sheets. If you’re only using one, then center a rack. Preheat a standard oven to 375 degrees or convection oven to 350 degrees F. Line your baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl and set it aside.

Whisk the granulated sugar and oil together in a large bowl, then add in the eggs one at a time. Sprinkle in the rosemary and incorporate- the resulting mixture should be smooth. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir in the flour mixture until a soft dough is formed (it will come together in one large, cohesive ball). Drop one-tablespoon balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheet(s), spacing them about two inches apart.

Bake the cookies until the edges are lightly golden and the tops are split. This will take about 13 minutes in a standard oven, and 11 minutes in a convection.

Let the cookies cool on the sheet(s) for five minutes before giving them a tumble in confectioners’ sugar in a shallow dish. You will be doing this while the cookies are still a little warm and the remaining steam emitting from the slightly cooled cookies will help that sugar to stick. Set dusted cookies on a rack to finish cooling, or scarf serve warm.

If you serve these cookies warm, the limonene terpene in the fresh rosemary will fool your taste buds into thinking they’re lemon cookies even though there’s not a drop of lemon in them. If you keep the cookies out on a cooling rack for several hours, they will continue to dry out and transition from being a little cakey, to being crispy on the outside. The air-dried cookies made me think of eating pre-packaged powdered doughnettes (except way the heck more flavorful [and healthy!]).

Adapted from a recipe posted on America’s Test Kitchen.

Banana Oat Muffins

It’s summer in New England which means that our weather has changed to incorporate heat & humidity on the regular, thus speeding up the decomposition process for our room-temperature fruits & veggies.  Bananas are no exception to this, and when they turn completely brown I pop them into a container and store them in the freezer until I get a hankering to bake something with bananas in it.  This muffin recipe is not your standard sweet, dense banana bread.  The crumb on these muffins is light & fluffy thanks to the oat flour, and the sweetness is minimal.  The muffins toast up beautifully and are really lovely with a little smear of butter.

Yield 12 standard muffins

Ingredients

1 cup / 145 grams whole wheat flour
1 cup / 120 grams oat flour
1/4 cup / 25 grams old-fashioned oats (plus extra for sprinkling on top)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 cup / 300 grams packed mashed ripe banana (2-3 large bananas)
2 eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup whole milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a standard sized muffin tin with butter or cooking spray or line with liners and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the wheat & oat flours, ¼ cup of oats, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat the mashed bananas, eggs, honey, canola oil, milk, and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix until fully combined, taking care not to over-mix.

Divide the muffin mixture evenly into 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle the muffin tops with rolled oats. Bake muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

Banana Oat Muffin

Strawberry rhubarb oat squares

Yield: 16 squares

Ingredients

1 cup / 80 grams rolled oats
3/4 cup / 95 grams all-purpose flour
1/2 cup / 95 grams dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
6 tablespoons /85 grams unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon / 15 grams granulated sugar
1 cup / 125 grams diced rhubarb
1 cup / 155 grams diced strawberries (I cut average-sized berries in half, then each half in quarters)

Directions

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease an 8-by-8-inch square baking pan and set aside.

Measure the oats, flour, brown sugar and salt into a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine. Pour the melted butter over and stir until it gets clumpy. Set aside 1/2 cup of the mixture and press the rest evenly into the bottom of the pan.

Softly toss the rhubarb and strawberries together in a bowl to combine. Spread the fruit mixture over the crust and sprinkle it evenly with cornstarch and granulated sugar. Scatter the reserved crumble mixture over the fruit and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and the top crisp is golden.

Let the baked concoction cool in the pan. Once fully cooled, loosen up the edges with a cookie spatula. You can either cut into squares in the pan, or if you’re super-snazzy you can flip them out onto a cutting board.

Store leftovers in the fridge.

Strawberry rhubarb square

Crème anglaise

I came down with a cold last week and had to miss my baking class lecture & lab.  Chef was kind enough to allow me to make up the lab at home with the stipulation that I document the process and show it to her.  This I could do!  My assigned dessert sauce was Crème anglaise which is a custard that can be poured over the likes of cake or fruit, or even be drunk on its own (it tastes like unspiced egg nog).  This recipe is very sweet which will be great on a plain cake or unsweet fruit, but if the item being topped is sweet, I would cut back on the sugar content.

Ingredients

250 g egg yolks
250 g granulated sugar
1 L whole milk or 1/2 L whole milk plus 1/2 L heavy cream
1 vanilla bean or  15 mL vanilla extract

Directions

Measure 250 g granulated sugar
Separate the egg yolks from the whites

Measure 250 g egg yolks

I opted to use 1/2 milk and 1/2 cream Measure 1 L milk & cream

Get out your vanilla bean and cut it lengthwise

Set up an ice bath to cool that custard down quickly once it’s cooked. Set a stainless bowl inside of a larger bowl that’s got some ice and water  int it

Set a strainer over the bowl that’s in the ice bath.  This will help to withhold any lumps that may end up in the custard

The yolks and sugar need to be combined in a stainless bowl and whipped as soon as they’re combined until thick and light

Scrape the beans out of the vanilla and put them into the milk mixture, in a large sauce pan, add the seed pods too

Heat the vanilla and milk mixture to scalding (181 degrees F)

Temper the egg mixture with the warm milk mixture by adding one ladle of milk to the eggs while mixing on low

Slowly add the egg mixture to the warm milk in the saucepan and cook it on a medium-low heat while stirring constantly to prevent curdling until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon(180 degrees F)

Remove the pan from the heat and pour the custard into the strainer that’s resting over the bowl in the ice bath and stir it to cool it down before using or storing in the refrigerator

Rhubarb curd

Ingredients
600g/21 oz. rhubarb, washed, trimmed and chopped into 1-inch chunks
4 large eggs
200g/7oz. unsalted butter, diced
8 tsp cornstarch
175g/6 oz. powdered sugar

Directions
Put the rhubarb chunks into a food processor and work them until a fine pulp is achieved. Transfer the pulp to a food mill and work it over a medium bowl to catch the juice until you’ve collected about 350 ml.

Add the eggs, diced butter, cornstarch, powdered sugar and 250ml of the rhubarb juice (save the rest) to a pan and set over a low heat, whisking until all of the butter has melted.

Once the butter has melted, switch to a wooden spoon and stir the concoction constantly until the curd has thickened to a consistency a wee bit thicker than custard. Do not increase the heat to speed up the process or your eggs will curdle- nobody likes a chunky custard!

Stir in about 100ml more of the reserved rhubarb juice, then set the custard in the refrigerator to chill.

Once chilled, taste the custard and add a splash of rhubarb juice if it needs more tart, then divide into jars. The curd will keep, stored in the fridge, for up to a week.   This preservative is delightful spread on toast, spooned onto a scone, or dolloped onto bread pudding (as pictured below).  The one negative to this curd is that all of the beautiful color of the rhubarb disappears and the resulting product looks rather paste-like.

Rhubarb curd atop bread pudding