Photos taken in and around the West Village in Manhattan.
Let me start with a disclaimer: I think most food fads – Paleo, juicing, Atkins, etc – are a little silly. I am a firm believer in the everything-in-moderation diet. I reserve the right to consume bread and cheese and wine on a Friday night after a long week, and to not feel bad about it.
Considering that baking is one of my passions, it’s a cruel joke that I actually can’t tolerate dairy very well. This is going to sound crazy, but dairy makes my nose all stuffy. After a wild night eating ice cream or hitting the cheese board pretty hard, my sinuses are a mess. Apparently, for people like me who already have bad allergies, milk products can make allergies worse. I know this from lots of personal experience. If you or your child has chronic sinus problems, I highly recommend eliminating all milk products for about two weeks. I think you’ll be amazed by how much better you feel.
Ok, end of soapbox!
I tell you all of this because lately, I’ve realized that I need to experiment with recipes that don’t use those ingredients that cause problems for me. I have good news! As it turns out, almonds and coconut oil actually make pretty delicious cookies. Now, I’m not going to lie to you and tell you these ingredients taste as good as these or these. But if you’re trying to avoid butter and gluten, or just want a healthier sweet, this recipe for almond thumbprint cookies is pretty damn good.
Almond Thumbprint Cookies
Adapted from this recipe. I made my own nut flours by grounding up raw slivered almonds and cashews in a food processor. Makes about one dozen cookies.
1 cup of almond flour
1 cup of cashew flour
1/4 cup of gluten-free oats (optional)
1/4 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 cup of cherry or apricot jam (I like Bonne Maman)
2 T dark chocolate, chopped (optional; I made a few with chocolate in the center instead of jam. They were really good.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat. In a mixing bowl, cream together the coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and almond extracts until relatively smooth (there will still be some lumps). Slowly add the nut flours, oats, shredded coconut, and salt until a dough forms.
Use your hands to roll the dough into smooth balls. Place them on the cookie sheet and use your thumb to press into the center of each ball, making a well for the jam. Spoon a small amount of jam in the middle of each cookie .
Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool and enjoy.
I think someone said once that chocolate is a perfectly acceptable breakfast food. Or, I’m making it up now. Either way, it’s true, and this granola recipe is evidence – alongside the pain au chocolat at Tartine.
I’ve been making this recipe for a few years after finding it on my favorite food blog Orangette. One year, Jason and I were scheming a homemade gift we could create for our friends, and we thought of this – but to make it special and, I don’t know – more seasonal – we added rosemary and sea salt. My mom’s restaurant makes this amazing nut mix with pecans, rosemary, and chocolate, so I thought the combination would work. Friends, I was right. We’re basically addicted to this recipe and it has become a holiday tradition of sorts.
Spoiler alert: many of our nearest and dearest will receive our granola as a gift this year. I love it because it’s homemade and it’s a little unexpected – the perfect thank-you gift for a friend who did me a huge favor recently, as well as for some friends who are hosting us up in wine country next weekend. Happy Thanksgiving!
Rosemary & Chocolate Granola
We go ahead and make the double batch because it goes fast. I suggest you do the same – or halve this recipe if you’d rather start small. It’s adapted from Molly’s recipe here. My adaptation fills about 3 quart-sized Ball jars.
6 cups rolled oats
1 cup raw nuts, chopped. I like pecans and almonds.
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, de-stemmed and finely chopped
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp of kosher salt
9 Tbsp. mild honey
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
5 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup, or more, chopped dark chocolate
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. You will need 2 large rimmed baking sheets, like these. Do not grease the sheets.
In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, coconut, rosemary, sugar, and salt. I use my hands to sift until all the ingredients are well-combined.
In a small sauce pan over medium-low heat, whisk together the honey, brown sugar, and oil until the sugar dissolves. Pour the liquid over the oat mixture and stir well until the oats are lightly moistened. Spread the mixture out evenly over both baking sheets. Bake for 25 minutes, stopping halfway to stir the granola.
Let granola cool for about 15 minutes then sprinkle with chopped dark chocolate. The chocolate may melt slightly, so resist the urge to stir the granola.
After chocolate has set up, scrape granola from pans into an airtight container. It will keep for up to 2 weeks.
There are small moments in life you hope you’ll always remember. These are a few of mine lately:
Sitting around our living room with my favorite red head, my brother, and his little family, bellies full, drinking wine, laughing and singing along to Otis Redding and the Righteous Brothers.
My godson on the phone, telling me in his tiny three-year-old voice that he misses me from 2,000 miles away.
Getting a surprise package in the mail from my mom with a ring she picked up for me on a recent trip to Greece.
I am truly thankful.
Ricotta, Pistachio and Honey Crostini (makes about 15 pieces)
1T olive oil
1/2 french or sourdough baguette, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
2-3 T raw honey
1/4 cup pistachios, toasted and chopped
salt & pepper
Heat oven to broil. Arrange baguette slices on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1T olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toast for about 90 seconds or until bread is golden brown. Remove from heat and let cool.
Spread each baguette slice with 1 small spoonful of ricotta cheese. Drizzle with honey and top with pistachios. Finish with a sprinkle of salt and pepper on top. Serve immediately.
During the Banshee party, we snuck off to have dinner at Campo Fina. It’s right off the square in Healdsburg and it’s a sexy little restaurant – kind of unexpected in wine country, but then again, Healdsburg is becoming very hip. Piece of advice: get the pork belly appetizer.
If you don’t live in San Francisco, you might now know that we have the best French bakery in the country, Tartine. I challenge anyone to argue with me on this fact.
It’s funny; just when you start thinking maybe you could live somewhere else, you have a magical day in which the city totally redeems itself. 80 degrees, incredible food, and the pretty streets of the Mission neighborhood. I’ll take it.
Photos taken at Tartine Bakery, The Mission neighborhood, San Francisco.