Showing posts with label Ina Garten. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ina Garten. Show all posts

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies With Cranberries and Salty Tops #mysteries #cookies @AbbottMysteries

By Victoria Abbott aka Mary Jane and Victoria Maffini

Our story begins on a bleak January day with a storm swirling. There was not much chance to venture out to the store, even once the plow came. So very many stories start out that way, but this tale stars heroic and delicious cookies and so you readers may anticipate a happy ending. 

I love and I mean LOVE The Barefoot Contessa’s cookbooks and own most of them. As a rule, I don’t make changes to them.  Ina Garten gives us tasty and beautifully presented recipes that are not impossible to do.  I had been planning to make these very fabulous Salty Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies from her Make It Ahead cookbook, to take to lunch at our cousins’ new home the next day.  But we hardy Canucks had been advised to stay off the roads because of the storm (many accidents!) and I didn’t have Fleur de sel or bittersweet chocolate. 

So I had no choice but to make a few changes to the recipe or go without cookies the next morning.  You know, by this point I had my heart set on them.  With a bit of improvising, we were all very happy with the results.  Under the circumstances, we think the Contessa would forgive us!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies With Cranberries and Salty Tops

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1¾ cups unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1¼ cups old-fashioned oats (NOT INSTANT)
¾ pound (12 ounces)  semi-sweet chocolate.  We used Baker’s because that’s what we had.
5/8 cup dried cranberries (We love dried cranberries, so added a bit to the original)
Pink Himalayan salt or other special sea salt 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 4 sheet pans with parchment paper. Or two and then freeze or wait to bake the rest.  We only have three pans, so used two at a time.  

Chop the chocolate into nice chunks.

Beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. 

Scrape down the bowl with a spatula. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl again. 

Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Mix in the oats. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture (low speed on mixer or by hand) Don’t over beat it! Stir in the chopped chocolate and cranberries until the dough is well mixed. 

With a 1¾-inch ice cream scoop (or two spoons), scoop round balls of dough onto the prepared sheet pans. 

 Keep them well apart as the cookies spread when baking. (SEE OUTTAKES BELOW!) Our second batch was spaced further apart than the ones shown here. Sprinkle lightly with the Himalayan or sea salt.  For those of you who can't have much or any extra salt, take heart. These are great cookies without the extra salt too.

 Bake for 13 minutes, until nicely browned.  You may have to experiment with timing. Our oven seemed to take longer and one batch took fourteen minutes. The original recipe said twelve. 

We took Ina’s advice and kept some of the ‘balls’ in the fridge, in well-sealed plastic bags. We waited a couple of days before we baked them.  We froze a few of the baked ones and they ‘performed’ very well after freezing. According to the recipe you can freeze them baked or unbaked. They do smell great baking, so next time we’ll freeze some of the balls. 
All in all, a tasty success!  Here our adorable cousin, Gabi, is taste-testing the results, in a suitably dramatic way.  Like all of us, she was bundled up against the cold.  Brrr! But the cookies helped.

Hope you can also enjoy these special treats on a blustery winter afternoon.  Or any time really.  This afternoon, I'm enjoying mine with a nice cup of hot tea.

Speaking of treats, we're thrilled to see the new cover for our forthcoming fifth book collector mystery, THE HAMMETT HEX!  We'll let you know as soon as it's available for pre-order!


We love the outtakes on movies: so here is an outtake from our first batch of cookies, the ones that were too close together.  They tasted great but would never win a beauty contest.

Have a happy reading January, everyone!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Classic Tabbouleh -- summer's bounty

by Leslie Budewitz

I used to be a good gardener. Then I signed two three-book mystery contracts, the garden flooded two years in a row, and my strawberry bed began to resemble a central Montana hayfield after fifty-mile winds and hail the size of golf balls.


But this year, I built a new bed and bought two itty bitty cucumber plants. Stuck three tomato starts in pots on the back porch. Bought parsley and thyme, and started basil in egg cartons.

And of course, neglect aside, there is mint. Three varieties. If you’ve ever grown mint, you’re wondering whatever possessed me. In my defense, only one is a planned plant—a lovely, bright green mint called Mojito. (And why, yes, it does make a fine cocktail.) The two unnamed varieties were gifts. (Gardeners are generous with starts. Some have a wicked glint in their eye. In climates like mine, in NW Montana, where herbs won’t survive the winter outside in pots, mint is best planted in large plastic buckets with the bottoms cut out and sunk into the herb bed.)

So, tomatoes, mint, and cukes gave me a craving for tabbouleh. This is basically Ina Garten’s recipe, with a few minor variations. She does a fabulous job with the classics, and this is an easy, yummy example. It’s terrific served on its own or on a bed of sturdy greens, and is a great side dish for kabobs, chicken, or salmon.

Classic Tabbouleh 

1 cup bulghur wheat (we used red bulghur because we had it; red or white will do)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), scant
1/4 cup olive oil
3 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup green onions, white and green parts (1 bunch), chopped
1 cup fresh mint leaves (1 bunch, in the grocery store), chopped
1 cup Italian (flat leaf) parsley (1 bunch, in the grocery store), chopped
1 English cucumber or two green slicing cucumbers, unpeeled, diced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 Place the bulghur in a large bowl, pour in the boiling water, and add the lemon juice, olive oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Stir. Let sit at room temperature about 1 hour.

Add the onions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper; mix well. Season, to taste, and serve or cover and refrigerate. The flavor will improve if the tabbouleh sits for a few hours.

Serves eight. This recipe keeps nicely in the fridge for 2-3 days, although the salt will draw some liquid off the cucumbers. If it seems like too much to stir in, spoon out as much liquid as you can and stir the rest into the salad.

From the cover of BUTTER OFF DEAD, third in the Food Lovers' Village Mysteries: As the national bestselling Food Lovers’ Village mysteries continue, the merchants of Jewel Bay, Montana try to heat up chilly winter business with a new film festival. But their plans are sent reeling when a dangerous killer dims the lights on a local mover and shaker …

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. She lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher.

Connect with her on her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Do you have a Favorite
Celebrity Chef?

Vote below and hit poll results to see how others have voted. If you don't see your favorite chef in the list below, you can vote "other" and leave a comment here or on my We
b site's messsage board at
Read the post below the poll for links to
some of our favorite RECIPES!
hotlinks to "rock star"
chef tours (per Wall Street Journal).

Did you know that chef’s are the new rock stars? The Wall Street Journal declared it this week in a huge article. I laughed when I saw it because this is far from news to me. I made this point in fiction two years ago...

In my mystey French Pressed, the twenty-year-old daughter of my amateur sleuth (Clare Cosi) became completely infatuated with a “rock star” chef with whom she was interning--to her detriment since murder was involved.

The real news to me in the Journal article was the fact that these celebrity chefs are now going on live tours, just like rock stars. Click on the chef’s name below for more info. If they have a live appearance coming up, I hot linked to a place where you can find out more and order tickets. And I hope you enjoy my little vision of the Rock Star Chef Family Thanksgiving below...


(Just pretend I actually had an ounce of artistic ability and drew the following as a cartoon with little word balloons...)

Alton Brown (tour hotlink)

My brainy big brother
“Pass the mashed potatoes, Alton. No, I don't actually need the metric conversion on that...but thanks.”

Guy Fieri (tour hotlink)
My wild and crazy little brother
“Holla, Guy! Did you know Jenn’s husband invented a salsa recipe with tequila? I thought you’d be impressed.”

Paula Deen (tour hotlink)

My funny, adorable auntie
“Oh, boy! Can we fry that too? And have you checked out Riley's baked Garlic Cheese Grits recipe (click here)?"

Tony Bourdain (tour hotlink)
The bad boy neighbor
“Gotta light, baby? You’ve inspired me to take up smoking again. Better yet, how about I mix you up a sexy Raspberry Lemon Drop martini a la Julie Hyzie?”

Emeril Lagasse (tour hotlink)
My jolly, loveable uncle
“After we go apple picking Saturday, can you show me how to make a brioche? I'll trade you Krista's recipe for Danish Apple Cake."

Rachel Ray
My bubbly, adorable sister
“Tomorrow night! Popping popcorn in rosemary oil then drooling over Jason Statham in Transporter 6."

Giada De Laurentiis
My sweet but too-thin fashionista sister.
“I’m in for Black Friday. We’ll shop, dish, have a latte, and workout. But then you better eat something, sweetie, I’m worried about you. I know what you'll love--Avery's "Hungry Girl" bacon shrimp & cheese kabob, under 200 calories.”

Ina Garten
My down-to-earth, knowledgeable older sister
“Super, Ina, one last thing? How long do you braise the beef in red wine?”

Tyler Florence
The cute boy next door
“Hi Tyler, can I borrow a cup of sugar? And that tagine of lamb you just took out of the oven? Thanks! I'll swap you my own recipe for holiday pernil: Puerto Rican Style Roasted Pork Shoulder.”

Gordon Ramsay
The hot English neighbor

“Thumbs up on the real gravy and Yorkshire pudding, Gordo, but you’ve just got to stop with the farm animal butchery segments.” (And if you’ve never seen this man’s BBC show, The F Word, forget you just read that.)

So who is your favorite rock star chef? Take the poll at the top of the blog and then click to see the results and find out what your fellow Mystery Lovers' Kitchen fans think. If I've missed your favorite chef, just write him (or her) in -- you can add a comment below or hop over to the Message Board at my Web site


~Cleo Coyle
author of The Coffeehouse Mysteries

To download my latest free recipes or find out more about my nationally bestselling series of culinary mysteries, visit my official Web site:
"Where coffee and crime are always brewing..."

Sign up at my
Web site for my free seasonal E-newsletter and you'll be entered automatically in my weekly FREE COFFEE DRAWINGS-- just a way for me share my latest "Coffee Picks" with my readers and Web site's visitors.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Antipasto Platter

WE HAVE ANOTHER WINNER and, yet again, I’m not the one who gets to announce. Boo-hoo. Keep taking a peek each day to hear who it is. Yep, it could be you!

Taking a lead from The Barefoot Contessa (SHOUT OUT TO INA),I thought I’d share one of my favorite ways to treat guests to appetizers. An antipasto platter. This even makes a fabulously easy dinner for my husband and myself.

What’s so wonderful is that you don’t have to prepare everything yourself. So many stores have these items all ready to go. Preparing an appetizingly scrumptious antipasto platter is all in the display. Serve with a zesty French bread or your favorite crackers and, voilá!

Hint: Make sure you go to the store with a list.


Basil leaves
Fresh buffalo mozzarella (small bite-sized balls)
Marinated red peppers
Pepper crusted salami
Olives (multi-colored and multi-sized for variety)
Artichoke hearts (from a can, in water)
Asparagus spears (cooked to a crisp tender and cooled)
Baby Tomatoes (I used yellow and red)
Olive Oil
Fresh figs [reserved for last]

Using a big platter, lay out the vegetables, cheese and meats in sections, the meats to the outside. Clump the veggies together, reds next to greens, etc. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika for color. Garnish with basil [which tastes terrific wrapped around the mozzarella and tomatoes.]

Lastly, layer the figs on the top. If figs aren’t in season, try pretty dried fruit like apricots. Either of these, wrapped in prosciutto, are a delicious bite!

For those with an adventurous spirit, you might add spicy pepperoncinis to the mix! They are also known as Tuscan peppers, sweet Italian peppers and gold Greek pepper.

Note: Buffalo mozzarella is made from the milk of domestic water buffalo. Apart from Italy, its birthplace, it is manufactured in many places including Southern California, Vermont, Australia and more!
Enjoy! And remember to "Say Cheese!" You can change the world, one smile at a time. And check out The Cheese Shop Mysteries, coming in 2010!


Also, before you leave us to visit another site, enter to win our weekly Mystery Lovers' Kitchen contest. The prize is a $25 gift certificate to the Williams-Sonoma kitchenware and gourmet food store. Just sign in to this blog and leave a comment or send an "Enter me!" e-mail with your first name and state to We announce the winners right here every Sunday. Best to all!