Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Chickpea Soup and other recipes

I love trying new recipes. I have a giant box of them - I've been clipping them from various sources for years. When I find a new one I stick it in the back. When I need one, I draw from the front. I have hundreds, so I tend to recycle a recipe after I've tried it. Yes, even if it's good. Even if it's really, really good. My friend Amy calls this the life's-too-short-to-make-the-same-dessert-twice philosophy. I think that's great. My other friends, though, are distraught. I'm not sure why - but I'm hoping that posting the high-praise, the wow you MADE this?, the please please please make this again recipes here, it will help my friends overcome, and hey, maybe I'll have some of these deliciosities at their houses.

This is a variation on a recipe from the New York Times. It sounds so simple, and it is, but it's incredibly good, and oh so good for you. (This will be the last time I make that observation.)

Chickpea Vegetable Soup

1 whole clove
1 onion, sliced
1 lb. dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
3 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
small handful of your favorite herbs (I used oregano because my fellow soup eaters don't like rosemary)
1/3 c. olive oil
1 1/2 T. salt
1 large can whole tomatoes, cut up
a good heap of sliced carrots
2 celery stalks, sliced 1/4"
1/4 t. black pepper

Insert the clove into one of the onion slices. Put in large pot with the drained chickpeas, herbs, garlic, bay leaves, olive oil and salt. Add 5 c. water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about an hour, or until chickpeas are tender.

Add tomatoes, carrots and celery, cover loosely and simmer until the vegetables are soft, about 25 min. longer. Season to taste with pepper and serve with Parmesan.

At the Ward Bakery open studio this past weekend, I dropped off a couple pans of bar cookies:

Chocolate Nut Bars

1 3/4 c. flour
3/4 firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 c. cold butter
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. chocolate - chocolate chips or chopped up candy bars (I had some tiny milk chocolate candy bars leftover from Halloween, which make an elegant and special baking ingredient)
2 c. nuts - I used unsalted peanuts, but any chopped nuts would be great.

In medium bowl, combine flour and sugar; cut in butter until crumbly. Gently press onto bottom of 9/13" baking pan. Bake 15 min. In medium bowl, combine milk, egg and vanilla. Spread over prepared crust. Top with chocolate and nuts. Bake at 350 20-25 min. or until bubbly.

This is from the annual Christmas collection published in the Northwestern, a newspaper in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I made a few changes from the original, submitted by Marjorie Breivogel of Montello.

Almond Shortbread

1 c. sugar
1 c. butter, softened
1 egg, separated
1 tsp. almond extract
2 c. flour
1 T. water
1 c. sliced almonds
1 T. or so coarse sugar, optional

In large bowl, combine sugar, butter, egg yolk and almond extract. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, 1-2 min. Add flour; beat at low speed, scraping bowl often, 2-3 min. Press on bottom of greased 10x15" pan (I used a fork to spread it evenly). In a small bowl, with fork, beat together egg white and water. Brush over dough; sprinkle with almonds and press in slightly. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake 350 for 20-30 min. or until lightly browned.

Both of these recipes say cool before eating. Tragic advice. They are so good warm, even if the roof of your mouth shreds and your eyes tear, it's worth it.

My CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares (organic fruits, vegetables and eggs I received each week over the summer and fall) ended with a couple pie pumpkins. This recipe came from ACCION: Helping Millions Help Themselves. My mom brought me the recipe, which features a photo of a lovely woman dispensing cream cheese frosting over a gajillion cupcakes. I've never made cupcakes with a cup of melted butter, and it sounds like they would be doorstops. But they are moist, yet tender, and amazing.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. coarse salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. sugar
1 c. butter, melted and cooled
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 c. pumpkin puree

Cream cheese frosting

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c. butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
1 c. confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Line cupcake pans with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugars, butter and eggs. Add dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin.
Fill each cupcake liner about halfway. The recipe says makes 18, but I got 20 (and some bowl licking). Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20-25 min.
To make frosting: beat cream cheese, and gradually add butter. Beat until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla.

Again, it says to cool, but have one warm. I'm telling you. Then share them. That's too much butter to eat by yourself!

Ok, four more. Fresh summer ripe tomatoes are one of the most precious resources on our living earth. Am I right? So when I tell you this recipe is worthy of your summer tomatoes, I don't say that lightly. If you use sickly Florida tomatoes grown in toxic sand by underpaid migrant workers, I will know. And despite what I said above, this is very healthful, especially over whole grain pasta.

Vegetable Pasta Sauce (a recipe namer with no poetic inclination or appreciation for how good this is)

2 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped carrot
1 c. chopped pepper
4 cloves garlic
1/4 c. olive oil
8 lb. (24 medium) fully ripe tomatoes, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped (about 16 c.)
12-oz. can tomato paste
1 c. red wine
2 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. celery seed
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 medium zucchini, chopped

Note about the vegetables: the tomatoes and their liquid should be close to these specs, but everything else is open to what you've got on hand. I think I had red, orange, green and purple tomatoes and red, green, orange and yellow, sweet and hot peppers and it was gorgeous. I used fresh herbs, and didn't really measure.

Cook onion, carrot, peppers and garlic in oil in a heavy 6-qt. Dutch oven (I used a big, deep skillet), covered, 5-7 min. Stir occasionally. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, herbs, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, 60-75 min. or until thick, stirring occasionally. Add zucchini. Simmer, covered, 5-7 min. more. Freeze leftovers. Makes 7-8 pints.

I took this next dessert to my writing workshop at Mill Creek, and one of the writers remarked that he'd expect it to be on the menu at a fancy restaurant. It's surprising how easy cheesecake is, compared to how well received. This one is a tiny bit more work because of the apples. I think this recipe came from Midwest Living. My grandmother sent me a gift subscription for years.

Apple Strudel Cheesecake


1 c. flour
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. cold butter
1/4 tsp. vanilla


4 c. sliced peeled tart apples
(2) 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
3/4 c. sugar, divided
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. chopped walnuts

In a bowl, combine flour and sugar; cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in vanilla. Press onto the bottom of an ungreased springform pan. Bake 350 for 10 min. Cool. Place apples in an ungreased 13x9" baking dish. Cover and bake 375 for 15 min. or until tender; drain and cool. Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine cream cheese, 1/2 c. sugar, eggs and vanilla; mix until light and fluffy. Pour over crust. Toss baked apples with cinnamon and remaining sugar. Arrange apples over cream cheese layer; drizzle with any remaining cinnamon mixture. Spinkle with nuts. Bake 375 for 15 min. Reduce heat to 350; bake 45-50 min. longer or until set. Cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

More almond bars. I tend toward bars if I'm pressed for time - they're so much faster than cookies.

Almond Bars


1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. confectioner's sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/4 c. shortening


1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. preserves (I used strawberry, but any will work)
1 T. butter, softened
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. sliced almonds

In a mixing bowl, beat flour, sugar, butter and shortening. Pat into the bottom and 1/2" up the sides of an ungreased 13x9" baking pan. Bake at 350 for 15-18 min. or until lightly browned. For topping, beat egg, sugar, preserves, butter and vanilla in a mixing bowl until smooth. Spread over hot crust. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake 350 for 15-20 min.

Next is the first recipe I tried with my leftover Clark Bars and Butterfingers from Halloween. These cookies are so good, I'm at a loss for words. Really. They're that good.

Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies

2/3 c. shortening
2/3 c. butter, softened
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 c. chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
1 c. chopped nuts

In a mixing bowl, cream shortening, butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Fold in the chocolate and nuts. Chill for at least 1 hr. Drop by 1/4 cupfuls onto greased baking sheets. Bake 375 for 13-15 min. or until golden brown. Cool for 5 min. before removing to a wire rack.

While they're still warm, you know what to do.

A lot of recipes went into the recycling bin, but this handful is worth sharing.


  1. Yum! But I have this feeling that they are always better when you make them . . .

  2. Nin, I will cook for you eight days a week.