matcha, red bean, and almond rainbow cookies

I was a total blob this weekend as I came down off of this month of filming! I made snickerdoodles and then ate snickerdoodles, watched the UND hockey team score a million goals against Wisconsin, baked an extra buttery loaf of Alexandra’s bread, and discovered the brilliance that is Cynthia’s ginger chicken and dumplings. If you need proof that magic exists, just boil some chicken with tons of scallions and ginger, that’s it. Omg, it’s the best thing in my chicken life since Melissa Clark’s salt and pepper chicken. And then add a double batch of chewy dumplings and eat it while binging Three Wives, One Husband, and when those episodes run out (there were only four?!), embark on the holiday spirit.

I really can’t say that I’m glad that filming is over, because having the crew in my house and cooking all of my favorite winter foods rocked, but I can say that sitting on the couch and not thinking about anything except for snickerdoods and dumplings for a good few hours was deeply clutch.

Now that that’s out of my system though I’m beginning to think about Chrismukkah cookies and all of the cute boxes of them that I’m going to assemble over the coming season for various reasons (parties and gifts) and non-reasons (they look cute and are fun to make). Rainbow cookies are always a hit because they’re not only fiercely almondy and tasty but they also have a nice shelf life because of how moist they are. And I especially love them because, well, they’re actually cake.

I’m starting to exhaust variations on them (cake, gelato sandwiches), but wanted to drop these into the Chrismukkah lineup because they’re extra special! The green layer is actually matcha (an a+ pairing with the almond base), and the red layer has red bean paste (nutty and slightly fruity, also great with almond). I worked these up when I was developing a Chinese Jewish menu for an event next week in Baltimore. While matcha is typically thought of as a Japanese tea, it actually originated in China! And red bean paste is something that I grew up eating at dim sum in the center of Jian Dui, or fried sesame balls. I was afraid of it until Stoop told me that it tasted like peanut butter, so then I liked it. Classic rainbow cookies have Italian roots, but Jews love em. They end up on lots of our holiday dessert tables and I’m totally obsessed with their colorful, soft almondiness. This version doesn’t look too far off from the traditional but the added matcha and red bean paste add unexpected dimension and beautiful natural color. They are a perfect addition to any holiday cookie box!


Rainbow Cookies

Makes 16 cookies

ingredients

3 large eggs, separated

2 tb (13g) sugar + 1/2 c (100g) sugar

1 c (226g) unsalted butter, softened

6 oz (173g) almond paste, chopped

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 1/3 c (174g) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp matcha powder

1/4 c (68g) fine red bean paste

Red food coloring

3 tb (64g) apricot or raspberry jam

4 oz (114g) dark chocolate

clues

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease three 8” by 4” loaf pans and line them with parchment paper that comes at least 2” up the sides of the pan (these little wings will help you lift the cookie out of the pan). If you don’t have 3 loaf pans, you can bake the layers in batches. 

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites to soft peaks, and then with the mixer running on medium, gradually add the 2 tablespoons sugar. Increase the speed to medium high and beat to stiff peaks. Set them aside.

In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter, almond paste, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and add the yolks, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in the lemon juice and almond extract, and then reduce the speed to medium low and gradually add the flour. Mix to combine. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the whites. Transfer a third of the mixture to one of the loaf pans and use a small offset spatula to spread it out evenly. Transfer another third of the mixture to a separate bowl and fold in the matcha powder. Fold the red bean paste and a couple of drops of red food coloring into the remaining third. Transfer these into the remaining 2 loaf pans, spread them out evenly and then bake until the tops are just set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Begin checking for doneness at 12 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes and then lift them out and place on a wire rack to cool completely. 

Stack them up with 1 1/2 tablespoons jam between the layers. Wrap the loaf firmly in plastic wrap, weight it down with a couple of heavy cookbooks, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. 

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or by microwaving it for 30 second increments, stirring after each, until it’s smooth. Remove it from heat and stir continuously until it is no longer hot. Spread it over the top and sides of the cookie cake loaf and stick it in the refrigerator to firm up for about 15 minutes. Cut width-wise into 1” slices and then cut each of those slices in half to make 16 cookies.

Store at room temperature in an airtight container. 


-yeh!

p.s. Watch the season premiere of Girl Meets Farm this Sunday at 11am/10 central!!! We’re making goulash, chocolate hazelnut donuts, hawaij apple pie, and brussels sprouts!!

pistachio and olive oil basbousa

We are down to the last week and a half of filming season 2 and I miss it already! I love this crew so much. Right now they’re in my kitchen filming a conga line gif of sprinkly rice krispies treats and it is the silliest. The past few days have been warm enough for us to sit outside and eat lunch together (with Sven and Ole, who also are going to miss the crew dearly when we wrap). And over the weekend we went out and ordered all of the pizza at the best dive bar in town, Judy’s, but because they only have one pizza oven it came coursed out like a fancy tasting menu, which was a great new way to eat pizza. While we ate we sat anxiously waiting for the lottery numbers to be announced because we all went in on tickets together… we didn’t win. Or maybe we did and I just can’t tell you because we all made a pact not to tell anyone if we won. (I guess you’ll know I won if I start using whole vanilla beans and manuka honey in everything.)


In Eggboy news, sugar beet harvest is chugging along! The weather is so conventionally beautiful that at this rate all of the beets will be out of the ground by the end of the week. Then we party!!! Then Eggboy catches up on sleep. Then it’s Thanksgiving, then it’s Chrismukkah, then it’s 2019. It’s all smooth sailing from here! 

So, like, let’s eat cake about it??

This is my new favorite cake, Basbousa! Basbousa is a Middle Eastern semolina cake that has a coarse texture, not unlike that of cornbread. When it comes out of the oven it gets covered in a sugary syrup, so even though it’s crumbly, it’s very moist. I first met basbousa at Zahav last year, when I tried their carrot hazelnut version. It was nutty and almost pudding-y, and I immediately fell in love with its ability to be rustic in texture and sharp angled all at the same time. Like a structured tweed blazer, for lack of a more relevant comparison. 

This version is based on Janna Gur’s recipe from Jewish Soul Food and combines roasted pistachios with coconut and olive oil for a toasty, tender, and comforting snack cake. Its flavor is so complex that “frosting” isn’t even in its vocabulary, and because of the syrup, it will stay fresh for a good few days. If it lasts that long. 


pistachio and olive oil babousa

makes one 8” square cake

ingredients

1/2 c (50g) shredded or flaked unsweetened coconut

1/2 c + 1 tb (80g) all-purpose flour

1/2 c + 2 tb (125g) semolina flour

1/4 c (28g) ground roasted unsalted pistachios, plus more for decorating

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp baking powder

6 tb (75g) olive oil

1/4 c (60ml) heavy cream

1/2 c (120ml) whole milk

3 large eggs

3/4 c (150g) sugar

1/2 tsp almond extract


Syrup

3/4 c (178ml) water

3/4 c (150g) sugar

1 tsp rosewater, optional

clues

Preheat the oven to 350ºf. Grease and line an 8x8” pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine coconut, flour, semolina, pistachios, salt, and baking powder.

In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, cream, and milk. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix to combine. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and almond extract on high for 5 minutes, until pale and fluffy. Fold the egg mixture into the semolina mixture and pour into the prepared pan.

Bake until golden and a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs; begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes.

While the cake bakes, make the syrup: combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in rosewater, if using. 

When the cake comes out of the oven, pour the syrup all over it and let the cake cool completely in the pan. Sprinkle with additional pistachios, cut into squares, and enjoy.


babka straws

Happy Tuesday, friends!! We had a very delightful, very chill weekend at home which I am going to tell you about in list form:

-Watched Whip It, an under-celebrated movie! I was really craving a teen-y bopper early-2000s movie and this hit the spot.

-Visited the New Flavors Food Truck, which had a new chef on board who was cooking up the tastiest Mexican food. Our big yellow town food truck makes me the happiest.

-Engaged in my favorite Saturday routine of Gym and Jimmy Johns, which is something I haven’t been able to do that much with all of our traveling this past month! It was perfect in every way. I listened to Radical Face cover “Jolene,” lightly dipped my toes back into jogging, brainstormed new recipes, and then got cheese and mayo on my regular Turkey-Tom-With-Onions-And-Mustard. Really living life on the edge. 

-Made a brunch for some fronds, which included recipes that I am testing for Unglued Camp: a kale and swiss sourdough strata and a party breakfast sandwich. You know, like a party sub from Subway but a breakfast sandwich. It’s going to be so good!!!! I can’t wait for camp. I will definitely be posting both of those recipes soon. Also, Nile straight up brought a Jell-O salad with sour cream to brunch. We Midwested so hard.

-Supported Eggboy’s Tour de France fanboyness. He really put his all into watching the cobblestone stage and woooooooweee, was it stressful. That’s all. 

-Went on a bike ride with our friend Keith and saw a bunch of spots in Grand Forks that I had never seen before!!! There were beautiful parts of the Red River, cool new houses, and the butt of the golf course which is apparently about to employ a beer drone delivery service?! I love living in the future. We also kept getting whiffs of everyone grilling outside so the whole ride smelled like a burger. Afterwards we had two options: rush home and try to catch my judginess on Food Network Star or go eat burgers at JL Beers. We chose a combination of both and facetimed our friend Zach who held the phone up to his TV so we could watch it from the parking lot of burgers. 

-Saw Girl Meets Farm for the first time in real time on the TV! It was so much fun. I loved reading your posts, comments, and questions about the episode as they came in on IG and Twitter, it was like we were all hanging out!!! A+ Sunday morning, totally worth waking up way earlier than I normally wake up on a Sunday. 😜

Ok so one of the things I served at brunch was a new brilliant invention from the brain of my friend Chani. Yes, Chani of hasselback salami fame!! I’ve long known she was a genius but when I opened up her new book, Millennial Kosher, and found the Malawach Egg-in-A-Hole, I heard a mic drop, all the way from Brooklyn. And then I flipped further and found these babka straws which are absolutely perfect because if I had a dollar for every time I wanted babka but did not have the patience to make a dough, knead the sucker, and let it rise, I would have enough money to charter an airplane directly to Russ and Daughters.

Babka straws use store-bought puff pastry and are covered with crumbly stuff!!! Like an avalanche of crumbly stuff. Inside the pastry is a super simple and delicious chocolate spread which I feel like could be improvised upon if, like, you wanted to stir in tahini or peanut butter or add nuts or--wait for it--sprinkles. The options are endless. They take less than an hour to make and when they’re all baked up, they’re crunchy, flaky, and not too sweet, which I feel like is an under-appreciated characteristic of babka: it’s distinct not-too-sweetness that leaves you wanting more. 

Also, bonus: they freeze well! I made some a while ago, froze them for a few weeks, and then defrosted them and they were perfect!

So bottom line, make these any time you need a quick babka fix or an easy cute dessert or want to experience a crunchy flaky babka. And buy Chani’s delicious book!!!! I am giving away a copy over on Instagram later this week too :)


Babka Straws

yields 4 dozen

from Chani Apfelbaum’s Millennial Kosher

Ingredients

for the chocolate filling:

1 c (120g) powdered sugar

1/2 c (40g) cocoa powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp cinnamon 

pinch sea salt

1/4 c (50g) canola oil

3 tb water

 

for the sweet crumbs:

1 c (130g) flour

1 c (200g) sugar

1/2 c (100g) canola oil

2 tsp vanilla extract

pinch sea salt

 

2 sheets (490g) puff pastry, thawed

1 egg + 1 tb water, for egg wash

Clues

line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper (work in batches, if necessary). set aside. preheat oven to 375°f. 

prepare the chocolate filling: in a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, cinnamon, sea salt, oil and water. stir until creamy.

prepare the sweet crumbs: in a second bowl, combine flour, sugar, oil, vanilla, and salt. mix until crumbly.

prepare the babka straws: working with one sheet of puff pastry at a time, roll the dough out to form a large rectangle, about 12x17 inches. with the short side facing you, spread half of the dough with the chocolate filling; fold uncoated half over chocolate side.

using a pizza cutter, cut the pastry into 1/2-inch strips. twist the ends in opposite directions to give the straws a spiraled look. transfer each strip to one of the baking sheets, spaced an inch or so apart. refrigerate for 10 minutes. while straws are chilling, repeat with second sheet of puff pastry and the remaining chocolate filling.

remove pans from the fridge; brush straws lightly with egg wash. sprinkle with sweet crumbs.

bake until puffed and golden, about 20 minutes.

note: if the dough becomes too soft to twist, place into refrigerator about 10 minutes to firm up.


RECIPE: BACON BUNS

ok let's not draw too much attention to how i just spent an entire morning drawing photoshop faces on bacon buns {but molly what is it you do during your days? he said over fried squid and pho. well when i haven't got a glockenspiel part to prepare and when i'm procrastinating that article, it's this.} but i'm well happy i got around to it because if at the new music bake sale i charged people one dollar for just asking for this recipe, i would have doubled my earnings.

it's a swell little recipe, methinks. one that i've made since i was a wee one {only for the longest time my family used roasted chickens}. i think the bacon adds a nice little bite. and with these you don't really need an external dipping sauce of sorts because it is all up in the filling already.

-yeh!