Sunday, July 25, 2010

My Mama's Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I am pretty sure that these
are the world's, and most likely the universe's, best oatmeal raisin cookies.

And I am lucky enough to be the daughter of a woman who has the recipe.

The secret to these perfect cookies: giving the raisins a little extra love and care.
If you just stirred in plain old raisins, these cookies would be okay. If you, instead, soak the raisins for an hour in a mixture of beaten eggs and vanilla...
now you're talking divine.

For the rest of these cookies, you should start by toasting some pecans, as toasting nuts, and especially pecans, makes them way better.
After this point, these cookies precede as cookies normally do. Make sure your butter is at room temperature, and combine it with brown and white sugar. I've ramped up the brown sugar in these cookies, because I have found it makes them extra chewy.
Beat for three minutes, until light and fluffy.
Next, incorporate your flour a little bit at a time.
Next, stir in the raisin-mix, oats, and chopped toasted pecans.
The dough will be somewhat stiff.
Now, roll pieces of the dough into generous 1 1/2 inch balls.
And, flatten slightly.
If you are responsible, you should leave 2 inches between each cookie.
If you are like me, your first batch will probably spread into each other.

Let them cool on the sheet briefly, and then remove to a wire rack.
Here's to you, Mama!

My Mama's Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (adapted from Colorado Cache Cookbook and Joy of Cooking)
3 eggs, well beaten
1 cup raisins
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 cups flours
1 tsp salt
1 slightly heaping tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans or walnuts*

Combine the eggs, raisins, and vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350 and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, stir together flour, salt, cinnamon, and baking soda. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, and mix well. Blend in the egg-raisin mixture, oats, and chopped nuts. Dough will be stiff.

Shape the dough into generous 1 1/2 inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Flatten the balls slightly. Bake one sheet at a time for 12 to 14 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let stand briefly, then remove to a rack to cool.

*To toast the nuts: Put the nuts in a dry skillet over medium/medium-low heat for 5 minutes, or until they become fragrant. Remove immediately, as nuts have a tendency to burn if they are left on too long.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Grilled Opah with Mango-Avocado Salsa

I recently went to Maui.

One of my favorite activities was trying new fish, like gorgeous thick cuts of Mahi Mahi (who knew it came in versions other than thin, boring fillets?), Opakapaka, Walu, Hawaiian Butter Fish, Monchong, and Opah (aka Moonfish).

While they were all delicious, one of my favorite meals was this grilled opah with mango-avocado salsa.
Opah is a nice fish because although it has a fairly delicate, mild flavor, it is a sturdy fish, i.e. when you grill it, you don't have to worry that more of it will stick to the grill than will get on your plate.

I love making salsas for fish. One, they are so easy. Two, they are so delicious. And, three, they require no extra cooking, which during the summer is a must. All you have to do is let them sit there, and they will yum up on their own.

Here are the basics for this salsa: mangoes, avocado, a Serrano chili, orange, and parsley.
Please note, there is NO cilantro on this board. For those of us who feel like cilantro should be renamed 'soap-lantro', as so aptly put by a dear friend, parsley is a lovely substitute. It is fresh, zippy, a little lemony, and it does not taste like soap. (And for those cilantro-lovers out there, don't hate me for hating cilantro: it's genetic).

To prep the salsa: get your mango chopped up.
Next your avocado.
Since mangoes love orange, I think adding in some orange zest and orange juice is delightful. Now, you may want to also add some lemon juice, but that depends on how sweet your mangoes are and how acidic you like your salsas. This is entirely up to you.
Next, add in some finely chopped Serrano chili. Again, it is up to you whether you want to seed and vein it to reduce the heat.
Stir in some chopped parsley.
Add in a splash of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Taste it, adjust it as you see fit, and you are done with the salsa.
For the fish, look at this gorgeous 1 2/3 pound fillet of Opah.
To grill it, add olive oil, salt, and pepper to both sides. Heat up your grill for 10 minutes on high, reduce the heat to medium-high and grill for 6 minutes on both sides. If you have a smaller cut, reduce the time to 4-5 minutes each side.
Lovely, no?

Cover it in mango salsa, serve it with a slice of lemon, and enjoy a taste of Maui!
Grilled Opah with Mango-Avocado Salsa
Mango-Avocado Salsa
2 Mangoes, chopped
1 Avocado, chopped
1-2 Serrano chilis or jalapenos, finely minced
1 orange
1 lemon (optional)
a handful of parsley, finely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper*

Add together the mangoes, avocado, chili, orange zest, juice from half an orange, lemon juice (if using), parsley, a splash of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix together.

This salsa keeps for up to 1 day if covered in the refrigerator.

Grilled Opah
1 2/3 lb piece of opah
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Rub both sides of the fish with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Heat the grill to high for 10 minutes. Reduce to medium-high heat and add the opah. Grill for 6 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.**

Top with a generous portion of salsa and add a slice of lemon on the side.

*You can also add finely chopped red onion or finely minced garlic to this recipe.
**If using smaller cuts of opah, reduce grill time to 4-5 minutes per side