Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Homemade Oreos

Let’s talk about Oreo cookies.  Are you a dunker or a non-dunker? Typically Oreo lovers are divided into two camps:  those who dunk them in a glass of cold milk and bite into the slightly soggy cookie with abandon, and those who carefully separate the dark chocolate sandwich rounds from the creamy white icing, eating each part with great care (glass of cold milk on the side, optional).  If you’re like me, you let your mood dictate the method of choice.
Oreos are not hard to find in Denmark.  But Danes are apparently more civilized and sparing in their Oreo consumption for the packaging here is much smaller than what one finds in the U.S.  (surprise surprise).
While Oreos have an unmistakable crunch and flavor, they are not the most natural food on the planet.  Don’t even attempt to make sense of the ingredient list.  Moreover, it won’t make you feel very good after you’ve ingested six of them.  The point is, shouldn’t there be a more natural way to have our Oreos and enjoy them too?  
Today’s your lucky day.  Homemade Oreos are exceedingly simple to make and taste even better than the store bought variety.  I kid you not.  But let me be up front about this recipe:  you will not arrive at the same pretty uniform-sized cookies that come in the package.  Honestly, who cares.  What you will make will be original, full of character, and wholly delicious.

Homemade Oreos
Adapted from Tiny Urban Kitchen

1.5c /350g all purpose flour
3/4c /175g sugar
3/4c /175g unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2t /2.5ml baking soda (a small spoonful)
1.5t /7.5ml salt (two small spoonfuls)
3/4c /200g unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2c /115g heavy cream
8oz. /225g white chocolate, chopped in small pieces
1.  In a large mixing bowl, combine butter and sugar and beat with a hand mixer until smooth and creamy.  Set aside.
2.  In a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda.  
3.  Carefully add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, a little at a time.  Incorporate well after each addition.
4.  Gather the mixture into a loose ball and divide in two.  Form each into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 30 minutes.
5.  Make the filling by bringing the cream just to the boil, then removing from the heat and adding the chopped chocolate.  Let sit for a few minutes; combine well until mixture is smooth without any lumps, and refrigerate, stirring every half hour or so.  The mixture can sit for six hours at room temperature to thicken or you can speed up the process in the refrigerator.
6.  Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator, one disk at a time.  On a well-floured surface, roll the dough until it is thin but thick enough so that your cookie cutter is able to pull the dough up with it.  
7.  Using a round cookie cutter (any size you prefer, although you’ll get more cookies with a smaller cookie cutter), cut as many rounds from the dough as possible.  You will need to re-roll the dough a few times.
8.  Bake at 350F /180C for 10-14 minutes, turning the baking sheet half way through the cooking time.
9.  Repeat with the remainder of the dough.  Let cooked cookies cool on a baking rack.
10.  Once filling is thick enough, beat it a minute or two with your hand mixer.  Apply as little or as much filling to completely cooled cookies, and enjoy.  Cookies can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Summery Rice Salad

I'm a sucker for rice salad.  It's my go to meal this time of year.  I mean, who doesn't have rice in the house?  The other reason it's brilliant is that you can add whatever you want to it and dress it with practically anything (i.e. tangy vinaigrette or creamy herb-laced buttermilk).

On a related note, let's talk about the seemingly humble carrot. When I was growing up, carrot sticks were invariably a lunch time staple. Unlike in the U.S. where we tend to slice carrots into thin strips, Danes have no compunction about eating them whole.  Even the three and four year-olds at my son's school eat them that way.  Just as carrot sticks are common in the U.S., a whole carrot that's been peeled and had it's tough ends chopped off are an ubiquitous snack in Denmark, (which is not to say that Danes don't eat carrot sticks, they do, but more commonly it's the whole variety).

I won't get into my French relatives' relationship with the raw carrot. Shredded is acceptable, but my mother in law won't let a carrot stick past her lips.  A whole carrot?  Mais, no.  I recently prepared a salad with carrots sliced into thinish coins. Alan said eating it made him feel like a rabbit.  But the French are never particular about what's put in front of them to eat.  No, never.

Having said that, I owe my discovery of the rice salad and it's myriad renderings to said French relatives. You'll note that the carrots in this rice salad have been shredded.

This version is ultra simple and makes for perfect lunch time fuel. All you do is make a pot of short grained brown rice, shred a few carrots (slice them in coins if you like.  Mais oui.), finely chop a handful of cornichon (mini pickles), chop up a red pepper, and that's it.  A can of tuna is a great addition.  So are garbanzo or black beans. The dressing I use consists of equal parts plain yogurt and mayonnaise as well as a spoon of dijon mustard, and salt and pepper.  To add even more flavor, grate one or two cloves of garlic over the whole thing and stir to combine.

Summery Rice Salad


1c short grain brown rice (cooked according to package directions and cooled)
3 medium carrots (shredded)
1/4 c cornichon
1 whole red, yellow, or green bell pepper, chopped into small pieces
1 can of tuna (optional)

1/3c plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
1/3c mayonnaise (I used Hellman's - yes we can get Hellman's in DK!)
2t dijon mustard

Add to taste:
1t sea salt
1.5t pepper
1-2 cloves of garlic, grated


Pour cooled, cooked rice into a serving bowl.  Add carrots, pepper, cornichon, and tuna (if using).

Mix together dressing ingredients in a jar and shake well (or mix together with a fork in a small bowl).

Add the dressing to the salad a little at a time until it is coated to your liking (you may have some left over that you can refrigerate).

Grate one or two cloves of garlic over the top and stir.  Add salt and pepper to taste.