miso sesame shortbread cookies (gf)

miso sesame shortbread cookies | what's cooking good looking
miso sesame shortbread cookies | what's cooking good looking
miso sesame shortbread cookies | what's cooking good looking

I am not a big cookie person. I can't say that I am that into cookie swaps, and I would much rather eat a giant piece of pie over snacking on a plate full of cookies. All that said, there are a few cookies that I makes exceptions for .... cookies that I love and can't get enough of.  Like shortbread. Shortbread cookies are are hands down my #1 favorite kind of cookie. There is something about that buttery sweetness that I just cant resist. 

The past few month, I have been trying to cut back on my grain intake. I am usually a big fan of grains in their whole form, and even more so the gluten-free grains, however, after a recommendation from my acupuncturist to make a significant cut back on grains overall to help me reduce some problem causing inflammation I've been having, it has caused me to rethink a lot of the staples in my pantry and my recipes. And when it comes to baking, cutting out grains cuts out a lot of the wholesome flours that I have grown accustom to using. It pretty much leaves you with almond flour, coconut flour, and garbanzo bean flour. On the one hand it can feel extremely limiting, but on the other, there is still lots you can do with these flours. Even though this is a short-term cutback on grains for me, I am determined to make the most of it, and maybe even discover and develop some new and exciting recipes because of it. 

Well, I am excited to report that these grain-free shortbread cookies are my first victory in the grain-free baking department. While these are not dairy-free (I needed to sneak a little indulgence in there, it is the holidays after all) they can be easily made so by subbing a sustainable palm shortening or a vegan butter. And, let's talk about the miso, because miso is, in my opinion, the best thing to happen to desserts. You know that miso and butter, when combined, create a bomb of flavors that makes anything, sweet or savory, that much more delicious. So, it's only natural that adding miso to a buttery cookie would take the cookie to a whole other level. If you haven't tried adding miso into a sweet dessert, these cookies are a great place to start .... everyone will be asking you why these tasting so addictingly good, and you can either let them in on your miso secret or keep it all to yourself. 

miso sesame shortbread cookies | what's cooking good looking
miso sesame shortbread cookies | what's cooking good looking
miso sesame shortbread cookies | what's cooking good looking
miso sesame shortbread cookies | what's cooking good looking
miso sesame shortbread cookies | what's cooking good looking
miso sesame shortbread cookies | what's cooking good looking
miso sesame shortbread cookies | what's cooking good looking

miso sesame shortbread cookies

MAKES
about 30 cookies

INGREDIENTS

1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup of maple syrup
2 tablespoons of sweet white miso
2 1/2 cups of almond meal (flour) 
1 cup of tapioca starch
1+ tablespoon of sesame seeds


METHOD

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. 
  • Place the butter and maple syrup into the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, and mix on high for 2-3 minutes until the mixture is fluffy. Then, add the miso and mix on high for another minute. 
  • Stop the mixer, add the almond meal and tapioca starch and mix on low just until incorporated (do not overmix!). The mixture should be a doughy consistency, but it will be on the wet and sticky side. 
  • Line a large baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Spoon the batter onto the center of the parchment, and place another piece of parchment over the top. Using the palms of your hands, press the mixture to form a rectangle (by pressing into the top piece of parchment). You want the dough to be about 1/4" thick all around. You can use a rolling pin or the back of a measuring cup to smooth/even out the top. Don't worry if it is not a perfect rectangle, you can trim the edges later on. 
  • Place the dough into the fridge, and allow to rest for a minimum of 1 hour, or overnight. 
  • Remove from the fridge and peel off the top layer of parchment. Sprinkle the sesame seeds evenly over the dough, and then cut the dough into squares. You might want to trim the edges along the outside so that you have nice, perfect squares. You can discard an extras or just cut them into little bite sized pieces and bake them with the squares. Alternatively, you can cut these into any shape you like using cookie cutters. 
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes, turning the tray 180º halfway through baking. They are done when the outside edges are a light golden brown. When you remove them from the oven, they will still be quite soft. They need to cool down in order to harden, so leave them on the baking sheet to cool for at least 30 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Once cooled, you can serve, or store them in an air-tight container for later. They can be stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks, or in the freezer for a month+. 

cauliflower + roasted garlic + tahini soup

cauliflower + roasted garlic + tahini soup | what's cooking good looking
cauliflower + roasted garlic + tahini soup | what's cooking good looking

I've talked here before about how our family has a tradition of eating out for Thanksgiving. It's one that I VERY much enjoy .... and one that I really look forward to. Since I am not doing any cooking or dish washing, it feels like a day off. I will wake up on Thursday morning, go for a long run, decide what to wear, and my responsibilities are done for the day.

Last year I thought that I missed cooking for Thanksgiving, so we went back to it .... and at the end of the meal when we were cleaning up, the whole family unanimously decided (with me leading the charge) that we would go back to our tradition of eating out for Thanksgiving.  And now two days out, when I don't have to be strategically planning my shopping so I am not waiting in absurd lines at various grocery stores with overflowing shopping carts all around, I am so happy we decided to do so. Eating out for Thanksgiving isn't so unusual for NYers, and last year when I was juggling cooking a giant turkey and all the sides in my tiny city oven, I remembered exactly why. 

If I were cooking for Thanksgiving this year, I would be keeping things simple. I might serve a soup as an appetizer, and then for the main a turkey (of course) with  two sides, and a pie for dessert. The soup would be something very simple, and something I could make in advance. Something like this cauliflower soup with flavors of roasted garlic, shallot, and tahini lingering in the background with lots of crunchy bits to top it off. 

I like to call this a sheet pan soup, and sheet pan soups are totally my thing. What I mean by sheet pan soups are that all the veggies are tossed in a spice mixture and roasted on a sheet pan in the oven until tender and caramelized ... then thrown into the blender with some other ingredients to blend it and balance it out. It's the lazy lady soup, but also can be made to impress by reserving some of the veggies for toppings and adding in some other fancy bits like nuts and seeds to make it pretty and give it texture. This is a soup that I would make if I wanted a quick home-cooked meal, but only had about three-ish things with soup potential in my fridge. But this is also a soup that I would make for a dinner party or a festive occasion (hello, thanksgiving) as an appetizer because you don't need to spent lots of time on it, but it still makes a really nice first impression. 

cauliflower + roasted garlic + tahini soup | what's cooking good looking
cauliflower + roasted garlic + tahini soup | what's cooking good looking
cauliflower + roasted garlic + tahini soup | what's cooking good looking
cauliflower + roasted garlic + tahini soup | what's cooking good looking

cauliflower + roasted garlic + tahini soup 

SERVES
2 as a main, 4 as an app

INGREDIENTS

1 large head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
3 large shallots, peeled and cut in half
1 head of garlic, broken into cloves with the peels left on
a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
1/4 teaspoon of ground coriander
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons of tahini
the juice of 1 lemon
2-3 cups of water, or broth

for the toppings:
a handful of pumpkin seeds
about 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
a couple of florets, reserved before blending

METHOD

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF. 
  • Place the cauliflower florets, shallots, and garlic onto a sheet pan. Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle the cumin, coriander, salt and pepper over top and then toss to evenly coat the vegetables. 
  • Roast for 30-35 minutes, until the cauliflower is fork tender and light brown around the edges. 
  • Transfer the cauliflower and shallots to a blender (reserving a couple of florets for topping, if you like). Remove the garlic peels and transfer the roasted garlic to the blender as well. Add the tahini, lemon, and 2 cups of the water or broth and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust any seasoning that is necessary (if you used water you might want to add more salt and pepper, but if you used a broth you might not need to). Slowly add the third cup of water or broth while the blender is running, until you have the consistency you like. 
  • Pour into individual serving bowls, and scatter the toppings over top. Serve warm. This will keep for a couple of days in an air-tight container in the fridge and easily reheated on the stovetop. 

honey baked eggplant

honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking
honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking

In case you've been wondering where I have been for the past few months ..... I've been cooking LOTS, in this space in these photos here. Our new studio with my friend and now partner, Hetty, has been bustling with activity ever since we finished our kitchen renovation back in August and opened our doors. We've hosted dinners, lunches, photography workshops, cooking classes ... we've even had people come and teach their own trades in our space, like macrame and bagel-making.

Last saturday we hosted a workshop that was the first of it's kind for us, and it was all about publishing food stories. We spent the day discussing different perspectives on publishing from conception to blogs to books and magazines, from a variety of experts and cookbook authors. The conversation was informative, candid, but most importantly, inspiring and fun. It was our hope that everyone who was at the studio that day left feeling their creative energy completely recharged. I know that we certainly did.  

No matter what the event at the studio, there will always be some sort of food component.  Last Saturday our lunch menu for the publishing workshop consisted of cauliflower with romesco, roasted brussels sprouts with a ginger scallion sauce, mushroom toasts, and this honey baked eggplant dish (which everyone kept calling eggplant lasagna, which is probably because it was reminiscent of lasagna/eggplant parmesan with layers of thinly sliced eggplant, red sauce, and cheese). We also made a vegan / dairy-free version by using a dairy-free cashew yogurt in lieu of the cheese (in the same amounts, with some garlic and seasoning mixed in) and that version was a big hit as well. So many people asked for the recipes so we decided it would be a great first recipe for our brand new studio blog, where we hope to share many of the recipes we create in the studio for events or just for ourselves. So head over to THE BLOG for this delicious recipe, and be sure to subscribe to our neighborhood studio newsletter so you will never miss a recipe.

Oh, AND, I will be posting new recipes here again too, now that we are in our groove over at the studio, and I am so excited because I have SO many fun, new recipes waiting for you. 

honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking
honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking
honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking
honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking
honey-eggplant_NS-07.jpg
honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking
honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking
honey baked eggplant | what's cooking good looking

peach + blueberry + polenta crisp

peach + blueberry + polenta crisp | what's cooking good looking
peach + blueberry + polenta crisp | what's cooking good looking

As someone who anticipates summer more than any other season, it's hard towards the end of the season to not sit back and think about how good the summer has been compared to other summers. How many warm perfect days vs. rainy days ... how many beach bbqs did we do or just overall days spent on the beach and swimming in the ocean. Did I get in my fair share of epic outdoor dinner parties. This summer had mostly ups and just a few downs. We had a lot of rainy saturdays, and for some reason these last few weeks of august have felt more like the last few of september, needing a sweater in the early morning and late evening. But weather aside, I have to say, everything else about this summer has been pretty great. I relished in my vacation time, just as much as I did getting back to work and getting our new brooklyn studio ready. We opened officially last weekend, and that definitely was a big highlight of my summer.

Once I have had a chance to anaylze my summer, I pretty much always come to the same conclusion. Summer is the best, and even the least best summer is still pretty darn amazing. 

This summer I did a lot of cooking. Even more than I usually do, and I consider that a big summertime win. With all of the amazing fruits and veggies at my finger tips, I have a hard time passing up any opportunity to cook with the summertime gems .... whether it's just for myself, or for a big group of people. I made a point to always make myself breakfast and lunch at home,  and I tried to keep eating out for more special or social occasions, or for when I was craving the crab pasta or wood grilled whole fish at one of my two favorite restaurants in town. Usually when I am doing a lot of cooking, I like to get creative to keep from getting bored, but this summer I was drawn to the most simple preparations .... a quick satuee or roast of vegetables served with a simply grilled fish or chicken was pretty much on repeat. As was this dessert here. I made a version of this crisp every single time we had guests this summer. In the early summer is was with strawberries and rhubarb, mid-summer it was with cherries and blackberries, and right about now I am making it with the perfectly ripe peaches and blueberries (my favorite fruit crisp duo). 

I have been working for a long time towards a crisp that is free of gluten and dairy, but hardly noticeable to traditional crisp lovers. This version which uses olive oil instead of butter, and a mixture of polenta and a gluten-free flour blend for a bit of crunch and texture, is by far the winner. I was so surprised at how well olive oil works to make a crispy crunch dessert topping. I have also been loving serving it in this limited edition teal colored dutch oven by Le Creuset. The color makes the dessert pop, and the dutch oven is the perfect vessel to cook and serve the dessert in because the top comes in handy for when you want to bake this ahead of time, and keep it waiting on the countertop, covered, until you're ready to serve. I would strongly suggest making this at your next dinner party, before the blueberries and peaches and summertime leave us until next year. 

**This post is sponsored by Le Creuset + Williams Sonoma. All opinions are my own. I am giving away one of these dutch ovens over on my Instagram, so head there for a chance to win! Thanks for supporting the brands that support WCGL! 

blueberry-peach-polenta-WCGL-07.jpg
blueberry-peach-polenta-WCGL-06.jpg
peach + blueberry + polenta crisp | what's cooking good looking
peach + blueberry + polenta crisp | what's cooking good looking

peach + blueberry + polenta crisp

This recipe is inspired by the strawberry + rhubarb + polenta crisp in Gjelina, by Travis Lett, but is adapted to be made gluten + dairy free. 

SERVES
10+ 

INGREDIENTS 

for the topping:
1 cup of gluten-free flour
1/2 cup of quick cooking polenta
1/3 cup of sugar (coconut palm sugar or white sugar)
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
a pinch of sea salt
1 egg
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

for the filling:
2 pints of blueberries
5-6 peaches, pitted and thinly sliced
1/3 cup of sugar (coconut palm or white sugar)
2 tablespoons of gluten-free flour
the juice of 1/2 a lime
a pinch of sea salt

Vanilla ice cream for serving

METHOD

Pre-heat the oven to 375ºF. 

Make the topping:

  • In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, polenta, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the egg and olive oil and whisk until combined. This topping will be a little wetter than more traditional crumble toppings, and that is ok. This can be made in advance and stored in an air-tight container the fridge, if using the same week, or you can place it into a container and store in the freezer for a few months. 

Make the filling, add the topping + bake:

  • In a large dutch oven (3.75QT) or baking dish (10"x14"), combine the blueberries, peaches, sugar, flour, lime, and salt. Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the top. 
  • Bake until the crisp topping is lightly browned and the filling is bubbling, about 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool, uncovered, for at least 20 minutes before serving. 
  • Serve warm with a scoop of your favorite ice cream. 

squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza"

squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza" | what's cooking good looking
squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza" | what's cooking good looking

The farms stands has been open for several weeks now, where I spend my summer on the East End of Long Island. They've certainly been open since my last blog post here ........ it's been so nice and refreshing to spend the past several weeks cruising the farms with little on my list, getting inspired by what I find. I literally cried the first day the farmstand in my town opened. I know that sounds a bit ridiculous, and they were happy tears, obviously .... I must have been feeling a little overly emotional that day, but still, the farms in our area make me that happy. 

I decided recently to take a little more time to myself, away from writing recipes, and writing in general. After a big project like writing a book, I felt like I needed some more me-time to reboot, refresh and to get reacquainted with myself in my kitchen, without an agenda, or without a huge to-do list of recipes. Going to the farm stand without a list of groceries has been liberating, and energizing. I desperately needed that jolt of energy, and to cook for fun a little again before diving into our next big project that gets going in a few weeks (MORE ON THAT HERE). Someone recently said to me, you know that you love what you do if you miss it while you take a break. So happily, I can say, I do love what I do .... I did miss writing and coming up with new recipes, and I am so excited to be doing it all over again.

Often times when am I developing recipes, I will have a recipe in mind (or mostly written) before I even start cooking. One of the biggest things that I have discovered (or remembered!) during this time to myself is that if I let some of that control go a little bit, some magic can happen in the kitchen. This recipe is a perfect example of that happening. I went to the farm with no list, just wanting to pick up a few veggie gems to cook with for the week. I picked up some fresh chives, half-a-dozen or so squash blossoms, a jar of pesto, some goat's cheese, and a few other things. I knew for lunch I wanted to make something with those squash blossoms, and I also had some sort of pizza/flat bread thing on my mind. I had chickpea flour in my pantry, because I always have chickpea flour in my pantry ... so I started cooking with hopes that I could turn my regular socca/chickpea crepe recipe into something more pizza-like. And here it is. I have made this a few times since that day, because it was that good, and I knew it was the first recipe I needed to share to get me back into this space. Of course you can mix and match with whatever topping you like, including a dairy-free cheese, or other veggies combinations, but I do hope you try this chickpea/socca pizza base. It is one of the best gluten-free bases I have found for when the mood strikes for something pizza-like. 

squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza" | what's cooking good looking
squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza" | what's cooking good looking
squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza" | what's cooking good looking
squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza" | what's cooking good looking
squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza" | what's cooking good looking

squash blossom + pesto socca "pizza"

MAKES
about 2 mini pizzas (4 slices each)

INGREDIENTS

for the socca pizza crust:
1 cup of chickpea flour
1 cup of water
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
a couple pinches of sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper
a handful of chopped chives (optional)
a couple tablespoons of ghee

for the toppings:
6-8 squash blossoms, stems and pistol removed
a few tablespoons of pesto (either homemade or store-bought)
several dollops of goat's cheese, or your favorite non-dairy cheese

METHOD

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt, pepper, and chives (if you're using), until fully incorporated and a batter has formed. Set aside to rest for about 20-30 minutes. 
  • Meanwhile, pre-heat the broiler and have your toppings ready to go, next to the stove top. 
  • Heat a large cast iron with the ghee over medium-high heat. Ladle about 1 cup of the batter into the pan and cook until bubbles start rising to the surface and the edges look cooked. Then, place a couple of spoonfuls of the pesto onto the batter, a couple of dollops of the cheese, and finish with 3-4 of the squash blossoms and then place the cast iron into the oven under the broiler. Cook for 5-10 minutes (checking often since broiler cooking times vary greatly). You know the pizza is done when the cheese is melty and the edges are browned.
  • Remove, and carefully transfer the pizza to a cutting board, cut into slices, and serve.
  • If you want to make additional pizzas (the batter will make 1-2 more), then start all over again with heating the ghee and ladling the batter into the cast iron. Alternatively, you can save the batter for another day/use. It will keep for about a week in an air-tight container in the fridge.