I decided to try these cookies as a pre birthday treat, and because damn, cookies based on a Dark and Stormy sound pretty damn amazing. Unsurprisingly, they are as good as they sound, and these may have gotten me into a bake off with my new coworkers today after bringing them in. They were described as tasting “like Christmas in Miami”, too. You need these in your belly. And be sure to check out Sarah Gailey’s original recipe, because it’s amazing.

Dark and Stormy Cookies

Ingredients

  • 12 T unsalted butter (1.5 sticks), softened to room temperature
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1.5 t ground cinnamon
  • 1.5 t ground ginger
  • .5 t ground cloves
  • Pinch ground allspice
  • Pinch fresh ground pepper
  • Pinch salt
  • 2.5 c flour
  • 1/3 c white sugar
  • 1/3 c dark brown sugar
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 glug vanilla extract (v scientific)
  • 1 egg yolk (and if you don’t have egg, use .25 c full fat Greek yogurt!)
  • .5 c dark molasses
  • White sugar for rolling
  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 1.5 T lime juice
  • 1.5 T dark rum

Preheat your oven to 375, and if you haven’t been warming your butter, put the butter on top of the oven while it preheats, it will help (excellent tip, Sarah!!)

In a separate bowl, combine the spices, baking soda, and flour (pic 1). Using your mixer (hand, stand, whatever), cream the softened butter until it’s fluffy, and then add in the white and brown sugars and your lime zest, until they’re nicely combined. Then add in your vanilla and egg yolk, followed by your dark molasses (pic 2).

Slowly mix in the dry ingredients, until they’re just combined and have a roughly paste like texture (pic 3). Then, take the dough, roll into small balls, and toss them in sugar before putting them on your baking sheet. To keep your fingers from getting sticky, have a bowl of ice water on hand to dip the hand you’re rolling the dough with into between balls, and use the other hand for sugar dipping. If you have something like a silicone baking sheet, use that, but if you don’t, be sure to grease it up so the cookies don’t stick.

Flatten the dipped balls on the sheet slightly (pic 4), and then bake for 11 mins. They may still look slightly underbaked when you pull them out (pic 5), but the residual heat will finish them off just fine while they cool.

While they’re baking/cooling, make your glaze by whisking together the powdered sugar, lime juice, and dark rum (pic 6), and make sure the resulting glaze is thin enough to drizzle. Once the cookies are cooked, drizzle the glaze over them (pic 7), and enjoy the resulting amazing (pic 8). Damn.

Roasted Brussels sprouts + a fish sauce based vinaigrette + kimchi = very yes. It doesn’t need to be more complicated than that. And now is the time of year Trader Joe’s has two pound bags of sprouts, so that helps even more with enabling my Brussels sprouts kick.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Kimchi and Ginger

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs Brussels sprouts, split in half
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 2-inch knob ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
  • 3 T olive oil
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 c drained kimchi, roughly chopped
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 T rice vinegar
  • 1 T fish sauce (I probably upped this a bit)
  • .25 c chopped fresh mint

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees, and line a baking pan with aluminum foil. Toss your halved Brussels sprouts, sliced shallots, and matchsticked ginger with the olive oil, and then season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Ensure that they’re spread over the pan evenly (pic 1), and then roast for 20 mins, until the sprouts are tender and deeply browned, and the shallots and ginger start to char (pic 3).

While the sprouts roast, toss together the kimchi, honey, vinegar, and fish sauce (pic 2). When the sprouts are done, toss them with the kimchi, and add in the mint (pic 4), and enjoy!!

Looking for a simple savory side? Do these goat cheese stuffed mushrooms. Between the herbed goat cheese (which you can get at TJ’s), and the destemmed mushrooms, you get some amazing flavors that come together super easy.

Herbed Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 16 oz creamini mushrooms, destemmed
  • 2 4 oz logs herbed goat cheese
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • .5 c grated parmigiano reggiano

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Using a muffin tin, put your destemmed mushrooms in the cups, and then spoon the goat cheese into the caps, and sprinkle the parm on top, and sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper (pics 1 and 2).

Bake for 20 to 25 mins, until hot and bubbly (pic 3), and nom!

Halloumi. Potatoes. Lemon. All of these are good on their own, but throw them all together in a cast iron pan under a broiler, and it gets exponentially better. That’s all I really need to say to preface this lol.

Broiled Lemony Potatoes with Halloumi Cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 lb potatoes, sliced 1/8 in thick (pretty sure I used baby reds)
  • Sea salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • .25 c fresh lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 8 oz halloumi cheese, sliced thin
  • 2 T dried oregano

Preheat the broiler and set the top oven rack so it’s about 6 in away from, the broiler. Add olive oil to a 12 inch cast iron skillet and spread it evenly. Add your potatoes, shingling the slices around the pan in a single layer (pic 1). Season with salt and pepper. Broil until the potatoes have puffed up a bit and have browned on top, and are mostly cooked through, about 7 mins.

Then, remove from the broiler and pour lemon juice and sprinkle the lemon zest all over the potatoes. Layer the halloumi cheese in an even layer on top (pic 3) and broil until the cheese is golden brown and the potatoes are fully cooked through, roughly four mins.

Then sprinkle oregano on top and enjoy (pic 4).

So, this is another one of those “major hits with the boyfriend” and also a “super cheap and low effort and high output” dinners, which means that this is going to come into regular rotation, lol. I didn’t think that the sauce ended up thick enough, though that could be because I didn’t simmer it for long enough; I might end up trying to throw in a can of diced tomatoes and sub out heavy whipping cream and Greek yogurt instead of the coconut milk. I’ll experiment next time! Still, the base result is incredibly good.

Indian Pumpkin Butter Chickpeas

Ingredients

  • 2 T olive oil
  • Half of a medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves minimum garlic, minced
  • 2 in fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 T garam masala
  • 2 t curry powder (yellow recommended, I went mild)
  • .5 t turmeric
  • 1 t cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 14 oz cans chickpeas, drained
  • 1 c canned pumpkin
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • .5 c water (I apparently missed this)
  • 2 T salted butter
  • Indian bread of choice and rice to serve
  • (Note – add can of diced tomato, and substitute 1 c heavy whipping cream, .25 c Greek yogurt, see result)

Heat your olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add your chopped onion, and cook five mins until soft and fragrant. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook another two mins, until fragrant (pic 1). Stir in the garam masala, curry powder, turmeric, cayenne, and a pinch of the sea salt and fresh ground pepper, and cook until fragrant, about a minute (pic 2). Then, add the drained chickpeas and toss to coat with the spices, and cook for five mins (pic 3).

Once coated, stir in the coconut milk, pumpkin, tomato paste, butter, and .5 c water (the last of which I missed). Simmer for about 5 mins (though this might actually need to be closer to 15), until the sauce thickens a bit.

Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with your Indian bread of choice (I went with TJ’s paratha) and rice, if you so choose.

I made a double batch of his, even though this is technically only supposed to be a side dish. Good mushrooms plus soy, rice vinegar and garlic = amazingness. Definitely a good recipe, and one I’ll use in the future again.

Mushroom Stir-Fry

Ingredients

  • 2 T vegetable or other neutral oil
  • 10 oz cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed if long, sliced thin
  • 6 oz shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced thin
  • 1 T thinly sliced scallions, white bits only
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 2 t sesame oil
  • 3 t soy sauce
  • .25 c dashi
  • 1 t rice vinegar

In a large skillet, heat 1 T veggie oil over high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook over high heat, until the liquid they exude during the cooking process and the mushrooms are nicely browned (pic 1). Then, add another T of veggie oil, and add the scallion, garlic, and salt, and cook for another minute (pic 2). Then, add the sesame oil, soy sauce, and stock, and use it to deglaze the pan, scraping up anything that might have stuck to the pan (pic 3). Let the sauce reduce a touch, then remove the pan from heat and stir in the rice vinegar. Serve hot or at room temp (pic 4).

This is one of those “this is so stupidly simple, why did I not try it sooner?” things. As it turns out, puddings are kind of stupidly simple to make, and when you add in a touch of booze, it makes it the more wonderful. I altered the recipe a bit bc it’s a Tieghan recipe, but it’s still pretty much the same at its core. I was able to get some clearance organic semisweet baking chocolate, but I have a feeling I could have gotten better for this.

Kahlua Chocolate Pudding

There’s still some in the fridge, I’ll get back to you on how many servings this lasts us

Ingredients

  • 2 c milk
  • 3 T flour
  • 3 T sugar (2-4 recommended)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c Kahlua (used peppermint Kahlua that I still have in the fridge)
  • 4 oz semisweet chocolate chopped
  • 4 T butter

Warm the milk in a pot over low heat. In a separate pot, whisk together the flour, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla extract until smooth (pic 1). Then slowly whisk in the warm milk, a bit at a time (pic 2), until smooth (pic 3). Turn the heat to a low heat and cook for 2-3 mins, stirring continuously. Then, whisk in the Kahlua (pic 4) and turn up the heat to medium low, confusing to whisk till the mixture thickens, roughly 15 to 25 mins. (I had it too low, and had to increase the heat, whoops).

Remove the pan from heat, and stir in the chocolate (pic 5) and butter (pic 6) and stir together till melted and smooth. Place in a container to chill in the fridge, and enjoy!

So, this was a recipe I decided to try on a whim, because I had access to good, cheap tomatoes and potatoes, and it turns out that Trader Joe’s sells reasonably priced saffron, and I wanted to try a recipe out of the new Persian cookbook I got earlier in the year (Naz Deravain’s Bottom of the Pot) that my vegetarian boyfriend might like. Lessons for the future: maybe reduce the water content by like a cup or so (or sub vegetable stock) bc the tomato/potato/leek mixture brings its own juices into the mix, and make the dices smaller next time. And try the fried egg on top next time like she suggests in the book, because that looks amazing.

Kateh Estamboli – Rice with Potatoes and Tomatoes

Lasted me and the boy two servings each plus one more left over

Ingredients

  • .25 c olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 1 leek (white and light green bits only), halved and sliced thin
  • .5 t ground turmeric
  • 1 large Yukon Gold potato (appx .5 lbs) peeled and cubed in .5 in cubes
  • 3 c water (chicken or vegetarian stock also an option)
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Sea salt
  • 3 large tomatoes (about 1.5 lbs), diced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, diced
  • 1.5 c rice, rinsed and drained (I used short grain bc it was what I had to hand, basmati recommended)
  • .25 t ground saffron
  • 2 T unsalted butter, cubed

(A note – I used a rice cooker here. If you don’t have one of those, just use a single large pot. I’ll put the stovetop version notes in parentheses.)

In a large skillet (pot), heat the oil over medium high heat, and add the leek and onion (pic 1). Cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown and good-smelling. Sprinkle with a touch of salt, and add the turmeric. After a quick stir, add the potatoes (pic 2), and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 mins.

Meanwhile, get your rice cooker ready, adding the rice and water. (If doing this stovetop, bring your water or stock to a boil in a separate pan).

Season the potato mix well with salt and pepper, and then add your tomatoes and garlic (pic 3). Add a pinch of salt to the tomatoes, and cook about three mins, until they start to release their juices. Add the mixture to the rice cooker and add some more salt, the ground saffron, and butter (pic 4), and let the rice cooker do its thing (pics 5 and 6)!

(If using stovetop, stir in the rice to the mixture, cook two mins until toasted, then add in the boiling water, 2 t salt, saffron, and butter, and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the liquid’s been absorbed, about fifteen mins. Them, wrap the lid in a kitchen towel or a few layers of paper towel to catch condensation, make sure they’re secured so they don’t catch fire, and cook until the rice is fully cooked and the flavors have all melted, about 30-ish mins).

So, this is one of those “why the hell didn’t I try this sooner?” things. Canned coffee (in this case, a La Colombe draft mocha, which is equivalent to 2.25 c of coffee), cut down with a bit of milk and vanilla extract, and add some good Oreos (I had leftover peppermint bark version from winter), and put in popsicle molds, and you have a reasonably caffeinated popsicle. And popsicle molds are going on sale around this time of year too, so you can easily make these pretty cheap.

Mocha Cookies and Cream Popsicles

Makes 10-12 popsicles

Ingredients

  • 12 oz milk
  • 1 can (9 oz) La Colombe draft mocha
  • .25 c sugar
  • 1.5 t vanilla extract
  • 18ish Oreo-type cookies

Stir together the draft mocha, milk, sugar, and vanilla extract (pic 2). Take your Oreos, put them in a plastic bag, and crush them with a rolling pin (pic 3). Stir them into the milk mixture (pic 4).

Then, pour the milk mixture into the popsicle molds (pic 5), and freeze. And then, enjoy your caffeinated popsicle (pic 6)!

Risotto is good. It was one of the first things I learned to make well out of college. However, up until I found this recipe, I had never thought of just straight up taking tomatoes and using them as the base for the broth for the risotto. This recipe is now joining the mainstay recipes, especially in the summer, and hopefully as I start growing things on the balcony again. Good, fresh tomatoes grated down to make tomato pulp and juice, essentially, plus some good cheeses, makes an amazing tasting dinner. And if you can grow/pick up some good heirlooms, they also make it look gorgeous, if you want to go the aesthetic route. (The ones I used for this were German striped tomatoes, as the farmers market had a tomato tasting this morning and they were amaaaaaazing.)

If you have an Instant Pot/pressure cooker, click on the original recipe link for the pressure cooker version of this recipe. I do have one, but haven’t taken it out of the box yet, and am honestly mildly intimidated to do so. So, for now, I just stuck to the way I know best – stovetop method.

Fresh Tomato Risotto

Probably going to last four-ish meals judging on the amount of leftovers that went in the fridge

Ingredients

  • About 3 lbs tomatoes (how many this comes to will depend on size – mine were 2 largish heirlooms)
  • .25 c olive oil
  • Half an onion, finely diced (original recommends 4 medium shallots, didn’t make a large difference I think)
  • 2 c Arborio rice
  • 1 c dry white wine at room temp (I used a dry Riesling I found at TJ’s for $5)
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and grated (honestly I’m just using minced garlic rn)
  • Large pinch sea salt (read Samin Nosrat this afternoon, learn what you like salt wise and go with it! This is just a recommendation!)
  • Pinch fresh ground black pepper
  • .5 c finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano (found this at TJ’s)
  • .25 c marscapone cheese

Take a medium sized bowl and a box grater, and then take your tomatoes, and start grating the whole tomatoes using the largest holes of a box grater. When you grate the tomatoes, it will pretty much leave you with just tomato seeds, juice, and pulp in the bowl, and will leave the peels against the grate, which allows you to just discard them. Pics 1 and 2 give you an idea of what the process looks like, and pic 3 shows the finished product.

Heat your skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, and as soon as it’s warmed, add the onion, cooking until softened and just barely browned at the edges (pic 4). Add the garlic and heat until it starts to smell good. Then, add the rice, mix well to coat with the olive oil, and cook until lightly toasted (it should smell like it’s toasting, too), which comes out to about 2-3 minutes, roughly (pic 5).

Then, add the cup of white wine, use it to deglaze the pan and make sure that nothing is sticking, and stir constantly as you bring it to a simmer, cooking until the wine has been almost completely absorbed, about 3 minutes. Then, slowly add your grated tomatoes about a half a cup at a time and stirring slowly and constantly, making sure that the liquid’s been almost completely absorbed by the rice before adding more. Pics 6 and 7 show what this process looks like. Do this until you’ve used all your tomatoes up – this should take about fifteen to twenty minutes. Taste the risotto and see how the rice is – it should be soft but still have a bit of a chewy edge (aka al dente). The broth should be creamy and thick, like a nice porridge. A neat way to tell if it’s done is that you should run your spatula through the risotto, and the rice should slowly fill the dry area back in, like a wave of water at the beach.

Then turn off the heat, and stir in the butter and Parmesan (see pic 8) until it’s nice and creamy, and add the marscapone in to finish, folding in until absorbed and creamy (pic 9). Let it sit for a few minutes after all the cheese is in it so that everything can combine.

And then, enjoy your amazing ass risotto, ideally with some bread if you’ve got some around.