Comfort food, ch. 3: Oatmeal Turners

Ok, so I know oatmeal isn’t exciting. And I know a lot of people could careless. But let me put this out there: I freakin’ love oatmeal. Yes, I am a living on the edge wild child for the fibre treat. I love hot porridge, I love oatmeal skin products, I love the way it feels to sift through a bag of oats with my hands, and I love to fucking destroy a plate of oatmeal cookies.

The oatmeal cookie and all it’s simplistic glory calls to the Midwestern genetics in me that my mom has worked so tirelessly to destroy (but somethings can’t be helped; this love of sweat pants and trashy TV didn’t evolve on its own, Mom). They’re filling, but not too sweet, so you can eat about a million of them before you feel sick. And, you can convince yourself that since it’s oatmeal, butter, and brown sugar, you’re basically eating a bowl of oatmeal. That makes them a breakfast food. Aw yeah. But more than that, oatmeal cookies remind me of dad’s mom, Gramma.

My Gramma Turner was known for a few things: her incredible piano skillz (she had her Master’s Degree in Piano Performance and owned two black Steinway baby grand pianos and a room FULL of sheet music), her swift intelligence, her quilting talent, her art and calligraphy, buying us amazing toys and “forcing” us to do crafts (damnit I wish somone would force me to do crafts now); but she was not known for her cooking. I can’t blame her, she was born and raised in the mid-west, famous for Mayonaise and meatloaf. But these cookies. They made me say gat-damn. 

She had this recipe that just killed. I’ve never had a cookie that tastes like my Gramma’s cookies. They were basic oatmeal cookies, but they were white — which is weird. And they had this taste to them that I’ve never been able to replicate. It was like a raw cookie dough taste, rich, savory, but fully baked. It was plain, but it was haunting.

I couldn’t get enough of them. And whenever we’d visit, she’d always make a batch just for me, and keep them in a big, round, blue tin on the top of the fridge. She’d only let me have two at a time, and it drove me crazy. And I’d get in trouble when she realized I had snuck in there and eaten a handful. #worthit We have her recipe and have tried to make them a few times, but they don’t taste the same. By the time I had the interest to sit down and talk recipes with her, she was deep in the throws of dementia. And then she passed away. Whatever secret ingredient or method she had, she kept a secret.

Enter: Oatmeal Turners.

They’re a hybrid of my Gramma’s cookies, and my mom’s Exceptionally Badass Oatmeal Cookies. They’re fluffy, soft, rich, delicious little oatmeal bites, and they’re the closest cookies I’ve come to my Gramma’s. Every time I make them, it’s like a trip back in time. With one bite, I’m 7 years old, and sitting in my Gramma’s sunporch in Lexington, Kentucky, playing with our Barbie Dream House, waiting for her and my mom to go shopping so I can sneak more cookies.

So get a gallon of milk, make these cookies, and have a good time. You won’t regret it. Fun fact: I’ve also made these Vegan for my plant-friendly pals by using unbleached sugar, and swapping the eggs for Arrow Root powder + water, and the butter for canola based margarine. And they’re still good. Like they always say, getchu a cookie that can do both.

Here’s the low down:

Cast of Players

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ACT 1

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Combine the butter, sugars, vanilla and almond extract
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In a separate bowl, mix the flour, almond meal, salt, baking soda and coconut
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I wisk it all together because it makes me feel fancy
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Cream the wet stuff, 2-3 mins
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beat in eggs one at a time
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SLOWLY mix in the dry stuff (or dump it all in at once. I’m not here to tell you how to live your life. It just depends on how much you like cleaning up flour bombs.) Also, scrape scrape scrape to make sure the flour mix is well incorperated.
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The best part of baking is licking cleaning the beaters.

ACT II

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mix in the oats
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realise that mixing this with a utensil is futile, and use your hands — trust me, it’s the easiest way to go about it
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et voila. This is also the stage where you add goodies like white chocolate chips and walnuts, but I opted for classic flavour this time
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using a 1/4 cup measure, make big cookie balls. I use grease paper instead of a buttered pan because it makes the bottoms come out perrrrrrfect
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bake em up! at 325*F//260*C
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I use my trusty “10 mins first” and then “3 mins more” method until they’re done

ACT III

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The trick is to leave them just slightly undercooked. It helps to retain the fluffy softness, and super rich flavours. After about 13 mins, the skewer should come out clean, but slightly damp. That’s when you know they’re done. They’ll be ridiculously soft, so be careful when taking them off the tray (as evidenced by that dented cookie on the left). As they cool, they come more durable.
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Dat bottom. The bottom should be golden brown like the top. If the cookies overbake, then they’ll become extra crunchy when they cool. Like a Nature Valley bar.
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Enjoy!
Oatmeal Turners by Kim Turner
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flower
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup shaved coconut
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups oatmeal
  • optional: 1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)
  • optional: 1 cup white chocolate chips
  1. combine butter, sugars, vanilla + almond, set aside.
  2. combine flour, almond meal, salt and baking soda, and set aside.
  3. cream together butter and white and brown sugars.
  4. add eggs one at a time.
  5. slowly mix in dry ingredients.
  6. slowly mix in oatmeal and coconut and other mix-ins (pecans, white chocolate chips)
  7. use 1/4 cup scoop to make balls of oatmeal dough deliciousness, and distribute them on baking sheets
  8. bake for 8-10 minutes at 325*F//260*C
  9. remove immediately from baking sheet and let cool on a wire rack.
Mom’s pro-tips:
  • you aren’t baking successfully unless you’ve dirtied up every measuring device you own.
  • pull the cookies out when they’re almost done. They’ll continue baking when you bring them out of the oven, and it maintains the soft texture/crispy edge harmony.
  • For every baking sheet you bake, you get one spoon full of raw dough to eat.
  • Therefore, use every baking sheet you own.

 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to go eat the rest of these cookies, because I had an IUD fitted today and my uterus is furious with me. But more on that later.

How do you bake oatmeal cookies? Let me know!

xo

Comfort food, ch 2: Sweet Metric System Casserole Cookies

I love cookies. Or biscuits*, as my British based, adopted homeland calls them. I love pies and desserts, but my most favourite dessert is soft, buttery, fresh baked chocolate chip cookies and creamy vanilla ice cream. /droooooool

Continue reading “Comfort food, ch 2: Sweet Metric System Casserole Cookies”

Comfort Food, ch. 1: Bolognese for Days

Comfort eating – my favourite sport. I have a few meals in my rotation for when times get tough, or when I just need that ultimate food hug. Yes, it’s unhealthy to use food as a coping mechanism. But we aren’t here to discuss my unhealthy coping mechanisms – that’s another post all together. We’re here to talk about the food that takes you to a safe space. The meals that give you an island in a sea of bullshit.

My most craved meals are almost all from childhood, and they’re almost all amazingly unhealthy – chicken enchiladas, biscuits ‘n gravy, bbq chicken with yellow rice, brisket sandwiches, french toast, I could go on in a gravy coated, cheese topped dream.

Today, though, I’m all about bolognese. Full disclosure: I love my mom’s spaghetti sauce. It’s pretty damn good and my #1 meal of all time is her baked chilli spaghetti (coming soon!) But this sauce isn’t my mom’s recipe. I happened upon this deliciousness when I was older and living out of state on my own for the first time.

My sister’s God-brother’s wife, Mandy (yes) posted this recipe she got from her friend, and claimed it was life changing. I was an Extra Super Cooking Novice (I have since become a Kinda OK Cooking Novice) and had always thought bolognese was intimidating and too advanced for me. But Mandy made it look easy. I book marked the recipe until the one random night that I was gutsy enough to try it.

Sheeeeeew – it was incredible then, and it’s incredible now. It’s even good when I forget/swapped some ingredients (read: forgot to buy the right ones). It was the first real “adult” or “more than 3 ingredients” meal I attempted, and it was a raving success. And now, it holds a special place in my rapidly clogging arteries. Joel thinks we should have it once a week.

So, here’s the low down, complete with inevitable Audrey Mayhem (see above about forgetting/swapping ingredients) –

The ingredients:

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*aud note: I forgot to add 1/2 cup parsley. I have only ever remembered to buy it the first time I made this recipe. (Way to go, Audrey). Don’t worry, it’s not crucial.

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cube that shit up – don’t skip the pancetta. It’s next level.
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*aud note: once I was out of milk, so I used 1/2 cup of heavy cream with a spoon full of water to thin it out. It was really good
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*aud note: I’ve used $30 wine and I’ve used $5 wine to make this – and it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference to my gutter pallet.
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*aud note: this is a picture of pork/veal mince because it was on special for $5 and I was all “SOLD.” But let’s pretend it’s beef mince, because beef is fattier and doesn’t have that same “I killed a baby cow” taste. Also there’s no need for additional pork, because you have pancetta. Do as I say, not as I post.

 

Step 1: find some good trash TV to cook to. You’ve got some chopping to do.

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Judge awaaaay

Step 2: cook the onions in some olive oil for 2 minutes.

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*aud note: It’s easiest to make this in a deep sauce pan, like a dutch oven. But I’ve been making this meal for 5 years and I still don’t own a good sauce pot. I most often make it in our wok. Just make sure the pan/pot is deep, because you have a lot of ingredients to add.
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For example, you might start browning the onions in your frying pan before you forget that you won’t be able to stir it all up without spilling out the sides so you switch to the wok.

Step 3: Add the celery, carrot, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes

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Step 4: Pour yourself a glass of the $5 wine. Hold out hope that this is the one $5 bottle of wine that defies the odds and doesn’t taste like room-temperature, freshman year of college bad decisions.

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*aud note: it will taste like room temperature, freshman year of college bad decisions.

Step 5. Add the pancetta and cook for 5 minutes

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This is the best step. If only this was smell-0-vision.

Step 6: Add the beef and cook until brown

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Step 7: Add the remaining ingredients

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Joel gets really uncomfortable that there’s milk involved. To be honest, I was too the first time around. But once you go milk, you won’t go… bilk? Yeah.
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Yum, slop!
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Give it a big, big, stir, and watch the magic happen.

Step 8: THE HARDEST PART – let it simmer for at least 45 mins.

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The longest 45 mins ever. I’ve eaten it after 20 mins or so, but it’s better the longer it sits. In fact, it’s even better the next day.
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1 hour later… yessssss

Step 9: NOSH

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We’ve tried it with a variety of pasta, and anything you want is good. I like fusilli, Joel likes linguini – you can see who won this round. We’ve also served it without pasta, open face on toasted garlic bread – choice.

This recipe makes between 5-8 servings, depending on how big your servings are. It’s wonderful, complex, creamy and savoury, and I suggest you try it tonight. Because I’m off the store for more pancetta…

Best Bolognese Ever
From M Cubed

Makes 5-8 servings

Ingredients
– olive oil
– 1 large yellow onion, diced
– 3 stalks celery, diced
– 1 carrot, diced
– 4 cloves garlic, minced
– ¼ pound pancetta, chopped
– 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef
– 1 cup dry white wine
– 1 cup whole milk
– 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
– 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
– ¼ teaspoon red pepper
– 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1 tablespoon dried
– ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
– 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
– ¼ teaspoon black pepper
– ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
– ¼ cup grated Parmesan (plus more for sprinklage)


Directions
1. In a Dutch oven (sigh. Or deep sauce pan, or wok, or something stove-top oriented that’s deep), over medium heat, heat the oil.
2. Cook the onion in heated oil for 2 minutes.
3. Add the celery, carrot, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.
4. Add the pancetta and cook for 5 minutes
5. Add the beef and cook until brown
6. Add the wine and the remaining ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes or until sauce is thick.
7. Serve with fave type of pasta and top with shredded parmesan cheese.
8. For garlic bread with an extra kick – melt butter with some garlic powder and a pinch of paprika. Dip the surface of the bread in the melted butter mix, lay on a pan and toast until the edges are brown. Delish.
*I’ve been told that this sauce freezes and re-heats very well, for all you make a head types.

 

 

 

 

On the Subject of Pancakes

I hit one of those “I’m a Grownup” goal posts this week that I didn’t know existed and thus took me completely by surprise: my pancakes taste better than restaurant pancakes.

A little back story: last Saturday night, I had a craving for buttery syrup covered pancakes, crispy break like glass in your mouth American style bacon, and extra crispy outside soft on the inside salty hash brown patties. It was one of those “wow if I don’t get this exact meal right now I am going to burn this place to the ground” cravings. However, being that it was 8:30 PM and I had just eaten dinner, 3 cookies, a bowl of cereal, and was working my way through a chai tea made entirely with hot milk, I wasn’t about to walk out to the store to gather ingredients. And by that I mean I couldn’t convince Joel that this was an emergency and he needed to go out and get bacon and hash browns for me. Butthole. So I vowed to wake up on Sunday morning and have my pancake brunch.

I woke up with determination, even though it was raining. I knew where I wanted to go, and I had cash burning in my pocket, and it wasn’t until I was half way out the door that I realised the place I wanted to go to was closed on Sundays. On Sundays! The high holy day of Brunch. The brunchiest of Brunch days. No big loss, I thought, since we live in a super hip gentrified neighbourhood and you basically can’t spit without passing hitting a cafe.

But, spit all I want (which I don’t, that’s gross), I walked around for half an hour and couldn’t find a single place that sold pancakes. Womp womp. So I cut my loss and headed back to the grocery store to buy bacon* and frozen hash browns, and just make the pancakes myself from scratch. I also passed a stand selling brownie-cookie sandwiches and I bought three for Joel and I to sample. Whoooops. I was too stuffed on cookies to make the pancakes that day, but Monday was a pancake dream come true. And with crispy American style bacon and the dream hash browns. It was worth the sodium/diabetic coma I fell into and couldn’t pull myself out of.

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A few days later, Joel and I met a couple of friends for breakfast, at the afore mentioned inexplicably closed on Sundays cafe. I ordered the pancakes, which came with a side of home made mascarpone. I was really excited to get the professional pancakes, after eating my home made ones for most of the week (it’s been a fat week). And as the plate was put in front of me, they couldn’t have looked more beautiful: perfectly round, golden, full and even, lightly dusted with powered sugar… delish.

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Hello beautiful.

But as I dove in, something just wasn’t right. They were a bit dry. And the edges weren’t crispy. And I made it 2/3 of the way through the stack and still wasn’t feeling that pancake joy. And it hit me: my pancakes are better. 

I patted myself on the back, because this is honestly the first time I’ve ever felt something I made at home was better than something I ordered in a restaurant. And the next morning, I made pancakes again. They’re rarely perfect circles, or even, but they’re amazing. They’re soft and rich on the inside, crispy on the outside. They’re rich enough to make you feel sick if you eat a giant plate of them, but tantalizing enough to make you never stop eating. And I sat there eating with a smug smile of satisfaction on my face, feeling like I achieved something in this world.

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Don’t fuck with my pancakes, guys – they’re awesome.

Audrey’s “Better Than Restaurant Pancakes” Pancakes

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp white sugar
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup butter milk (look, you can use 1 1/4 cup of any milk you want, but this combo is perf)
1 egg
3 tbsp butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 tbsp vanilla extract)

In a large bowl, sift together all dry ingredients.

Make a well in the center of the bowl, and add wet ingredients

Whisk together until the batter is smooth

In a skillet on medium high heat, melt a bit of butter to coat the pan

Once the skillet is hot, scoop the batter out into the pan using a 1/4 cup as a scoop. I like to make small pancakes – tiny pancakes make me feel better about eating 6 at a time. But you can easily make giant ones using a 1 cup scoop.

Fry the pancake until you start to see slight bubbling around the edges or on top of the pancake, taking care not to burn. With small pancakes, this typically takes around 3-4 minutes. Flip to the other side and fry until cooked.

Serve with butter and syrup. Or whatever your heart desires – I’m not here to judge, only to guide.

Excess batter can be stored in an air tight container for like, a week probably. Not that it ever lasts that long.

I want to chop up strawberries into the batter to make strawberry vanilla pancakes and serve it with whipped cream. Or experiment with using cake flour instead of All Purpose. What do you think? Share any pancake thoughts that make you feel smug. THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS YOU GUYS.

xo

 

*I all but stopped craving bacon here because it’s just not the same. But, I found out that if I fry Australian bacon in olive oil, it gets super crispy. It takes me back home in a weird, wonderful, beautifully American way.