Happy National Cookie Day!

A fellow blogger let me in on a little secret… Today is National Cookie Day!!!! I think I like holidays created for doughnuts, cookies, and pizza much better than the traditional holidays. I mean, good foods deserve their own special day, right?

In celebration of this sweet holiday, I made cookies. Not just any old cookie, but a fancy cookie! I wrote the recipe for my soon-to-be published cookzine and finally found some time to work out the kinks. In the spirit of National Cookie Day, I am sharing the recipe with you!

Choco-Berry Cookies 02December Photo Project 2012: Day #4

These are called Choco-Berry Cookies: a chocolate dough and a raspberry dough side-by-side and dipped in dark chocolate. They were supposed to be twisted, but that ended up being too much work for a batch of cookies. These came out wonderfully! Sadly, I didn’t have parchment paper so after I dipped them in chocolate they stuck to my cookie sheets. Hmpf. You can’t tell from the photograph.

Choco-Berry Cookies

Makes about 32 cookies

1/2 cup vegan butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
1 tablespoon tapioca starch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons raspberry jam, or jam of choice
3/4 cup organic chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes on medium speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then add in the non-dairy milk and vanilla extract. Beat again on high speed for about a minute.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 1/4 cups of the flour, tapioca starch, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and beat until a dough comes together. Divide the dough into two equal parts.

4. Place one measure of dough back into the stand mixer bowl and add the cocoa powder. Beat until the cocoa powder is incorporated. Remove dough from mixer bowl and place on a clean, lightly-floured surface. Now, put the second measure of dough into the stand mixer bowl and add remaining 1/4 cup flour and the raspberry jam. Beat until well incorporated. Remove dough from bowl and set next to the chocolate dough. The dough should be soft and pliable, like playdough. Chill it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes or add more flour (1 tablespoon at a time) if it isn’t firm enough.

5. Divide each batch of dough into four equal parts. Roll each part into a 16-inch long rope. Take one rope from each batch, place them side-by-side (so they are touching) and gently press them together. Repeat with remaining dough.

6. Using a sharp knife, slice each pair of ropes into 8, 2-inch long cookies. Transfer each cookie to prepared baking sheet. Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool before proceeding with the recipe.

7. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips. Stir well to ensure a smooth mixture. Take cooled cookies and dip one end in the melted chocolate. Return dipped cookies to their parchment-lined baking sheets and place in the fridge to firm up the chocolate. These tend to soften if left out, so store them in an airtight container at room temperature.

Enjoy!!

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Pita Bread: A Recipe

Scroll to the bottom of this post to see my Day #2 photograph for the December Photo Project!

Homemade bread is perhaps one of my favorite things to bake (if cookies didn’t exist of course). I woke up this morning with a great desire to make pita bread. While pita bread is a bit more time consuming and requires some dedication, the end result is always worth the effort. Pita bread freezes well and tastes wonderful in so many applications: cut into wedges and served with hummus, toasted and served with soup, filled with falafel and tahini sauce, seasoned and baked into chips for a tasty snack… I love it!

Pita Dough 02

The recipe I use was printed in my local newspaper quite some time ago. My copy has been taped together many times and has dried dough on it – signs of a well-used recipe! It never fails and uses ingredients you ought to have on hand. You will need a baking stone though. Tim and I created a video of the pita making process in 2009 which I posted to my blog. You can also watch it here if you so desire. It’s funny.

Pita Bread (adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden)

*NOTE: I have had success replacing some of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour so feel free to experiment.

Makes 16

1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups warm water, divided
6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 teaspoons salt

1. In a large bowl, whisk together yeast, sugar, and 1/2 cup warm water. Whisk well and set aside until frothy, about 10 minutes. Add remaining 2 cups of warm water and 1 cup of flour. Stir with a big spoon. Add 2 more cups of flour, stirring well after each addition. Allow mixture to rest for 10-15 minutes.

2. Add 2 tablespoons oil and the salt to the mixture and stir well. Slowly add the remaining 3 cups of flour, mixing with a sturdy spoon or your hands. Mix until the dough forms a rough ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, you can use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Knead on medium speed until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes. Grease a large bowl with the remaining tablespoon of oil and place dough in bowl. Turn to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and place in a warm, draft-free spot. Let the dough rise until doubled in volume, 1 1/2 – 2 hours.

3. Place a baking stone on the middle rack of your oven and preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead a few times and then divide equally into 16 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap to prevent drying out the dough. Start with one ball of dough and roll it into a 7-inch disk. Place it on a lightly floured cookie sheet and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Repeat the process with as many dough balls as can fit on cookie sheets, making sure to leave a bit of space between each disk (do not to stack the dough). I usually use two large cookie sheets and place three disks on each sheet. Let the disks rest for 20 minutes.

4. Bake the disks, 1-2 at a time (depending on the size of your baking stone), on the stone until slightly golden and puffed, about 3 minutes per pita. Set a timer so you don’t forget!! Remove puffed pita(s) from the oven and start stacking on a plate. They will deflate on their own. Cover the stack with a clean dry towel and repeat until all pitas are baked.

Pita Dough 04

5. If you choose to freeze some of the pita breads, let them cool first and then double wrap them in zipper-lock bags. They keep well for several months, but rarely last that long since they are so darn delicious! Enjoy!!

Pita Dough 06

This stack of pita breads is my December Photo Project Day #2 photograph.

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December 2012 Photo Project

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This month I have decided to participate in a photography project. It’s so easy to get tangled up in life and forget the importance of capturing the special moments – no matter how small. Besides, my hope is that this project will motivate me and challenge me to pick up my camera and use it more! The idea behind the project is to take one photograph each day for the first 25 days of December and post it to your blog, social media site, Flickr, or whatever platform you use to share your photography. I will be posting photographs here because it will encourage me to write more too. You can check out all the other participants photos by clicking here!!

Today I actually forgot it was the 1st of December until I got home from work in the evening! Ooops! No matter, I still managed a photograph:

My Corner 02

Not my best work, but it sets the mood nicely. This is my favorite spot in our apartment. That comfy chair sits in a corner and the view out the windows looks west toward downtown Portland. I strung the lights a few days ago in the spirit of the holidays.

I also took a photograph yesterday morning that captures the same view from those windows, but in the morning – and there was a surprise!

Rainbow!

I love Portland.

Also, there is still plenty of time to enter the giveaway for a copy of Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day!!!

See you tomorrow!