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Archive for the ‘Edibles’ Category

The Remains of the Day

I am saddened by the fact that this is my last taste of Thanksgiving stuffing.  I don’t eat a lot of stuffing and look forward all year to the batch I make especially for Thanksgiving.   No matter how much I make, it always goes fast – it has been known to convert stuffing haters!  This year I had a request for the recipe from some friends who weren’t able to make it up to our annual shindig…the amounts are approximate so you can customize it.  Different breads will also require different amounts of liquid. I never stuff a turkey, because by the time the stuffing reaches the 165F needed to kill off all the germs imparted by the blood and juices dripping into it, the turkey will be overdone and dry.  Plus, the turkey cooks in half the time without it being stuffed! (For more flavor, you can put herb sprigs, cut citrus fruits or other aromatics into the cavity to perfume the meat)  I like to make my stuffing with lots of chestnuts and fresh sage, but you can vary the additions to taste.  The biggest factor for creating great taste and texture is the bread used.  Sliced white bread or commercial stuffing cubes don’t cut it!  I used to make my own bread ahead of time, but now I just buy some good quality loaves.  I usually like to combine crusty wheat and white breads, but one of the best stuffings I ever had was made with pumpernickel and pistachios (good thinking Jeremy!).  I love chestnuts, but they are time consuming to roast and peel.  I highly recommend looking for the ones peeled and packed in air (I have seen them at Williams Sonoma and Whole Foods) as they will save you about an hour and they taste virtually the same as the ones you roast yourself.  Just don’t use the ones packed in water – yuck!  This stuffing would be equally nice with goose, chicken or a pork roast – or cold straight from the fridge.  That’s how I’m eating this last bit…

Chestnut & Sage Stuffing

Serves approx 8-10 people.

  • Get 2lbs of good quality crusty bread & cut into 1 inch cubes. Dry 1-2 days on sheet trays or dry in a 200F oven until  dry, but not browned. (The quality of the bread makes a huge difference!)
  • 4 or 5 leafy stalks of celery, diced (include the leaves)
  • 3-4 shallots, diced
  • 1/2- 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 pkg fresh sage, finely minced
  • 1/2 pkg fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • Chicken stock (the amount you need will vary – about 1-1 1/2 quarts) Get good quality as this is a major flavor component. You could also use vegetable stock.
  • 1-2 sticks butter (don’t skimp!)
  • 1 13-14oz jar peeled chestnuts packed in air, chopped  or 1 1/2 lbs roasted fresh chestnuts, peeled, chopped
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Grease a 9X13 pan with butter. Place the bread cubes in a very large bowl. In a large skillet, melt the butter & saute the shallots and celery until soft. Add the herbs & saute 1 minute. Add chestnuts, then season to taste (remember the stock will be salty, so don’t add a lot of salt). Pour this mixture over the bread cubes and toss well. Add enough chicken stock to make the bread moist, but not too soggy, mixing well – it should clump when squeezed. A few crunchy bread cubes are ok, but almost all should be moist. Taste & correct seasoning. If it doesn’t taste herby enough, add more. Pour this mixture into the baking dish and bake for 30 minutes @ 375, or until top is crunchy & stuffing is heated through.  You can make this up to 1 day ahead, covered & refrigerated- uncooked. Leftovers will last a week. (in theory)

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Baked Potato Skins

Potato Skins

Baked Kennebec Potato Skins

At some point I will be posting more frequently, but for now I have been testing recipes for upcoming classes and don’t want to spoil those by sharing the recipes beforehand…

One of my class themes is bacon, so I’ve had a lot of it floating around.  I had potatoes- delicious Kennebec potates from the garden.  These potatoes skins covered both those bases.  People normally would eat these as an appetizer or snack, but I actually just had them for my dinner!  I baked a few extra potatoes the night before, then baked these beauties up the next day after a long day at work.  Easy, easy, easy and quick!

Baked Potato Skins

  • 1-2  medium potatoes per person, already baked or boiled & unpeeled
  • olive oil for brushing
  • grated cheese of choice
  • cooked bacon (or sausage), crumbled
  • salt & pepper, to taste  (if you want to get fancy, I used White Truffle Sea Salt)
  • Optional, but nice:  chopped green onions (scallions), sour cream, any topping that floats your boat!

Preheat oven to 450F.  Slice potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out most of the potato, leaving a 1/4-1/2 inch thick shell. Reserve scooped out potatoes for another use – home fries, mashed potatoes, etc.  Brush shells lightly with olive oil and place on a baking sheet.  Top with cheese and bacon, as desired.  Just remember, the more cheese, the less crispy the potato skin will be!  Bake the potato skins 15-20 minutes, or until as brown and crispy as you want.  Season with freshly ground pepper, and if you like salty, add a sprinkle of salt.  Garnish with green onions and sour cream.  Try not to eat them all! These are good party food, because you can assemble these ahead of time and store, unbaked and wrapped, in the fridge for 1 day.    Variations: Try blue cheese with pancetta and a drizzle of aged balsamic, or swiss cheese with sauteed leeks and chopped ham

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Asian Meatballs

Asian Meatballs

Asian Meatballs with Shredded Daikon and Rice

So, before I forget what I did, I need to this write down.  I was telling a friend about these and she requested the recipe.  The only problem is, I didn’t really have one…I just had a taste in my head and the ingredients at the house.  I glanced through a few recipes for ideas on temperature, and so on.  Luckily, it’s only been a few days, so I remember.  Just don’t ask me in a few weeks!

These would be good served on their own as an appetizer, or served as part of a meal with rice & veggies.  The meat I used was locally raised and grass fed Highland beef (a cow breed from Scotland that’s naturally lower in fat).  Grass fed beef tastes different from the normal corn finished beef mainly available here in the States.  If you can find grass fed beef, try it! (ask to make sure it is not finished on corn – a lot of it is pastured animals they feed corn to the days before slaughter to make the taste more appealing to the general US population)  It is high in natural Omega 3’s from the grass and lower in fat and cholesterol because cows are made to eat grasses, not grains.  The flavor is different from what you are used to – more meaty with herb-y notes.  I had a daikon radish ( a Japanese variety that is crispy, juicy and mild) I had just gotten at the Boulder Farmer’s Market, so I grated it and served both the daikon and meatballs with rice for dinner.  On the side I had roasted delicata (a very small and luscious) squash (cut in half, sprinkled with soy sauce and brown sugar then roasted 30 minutes at 450F).  The next day I ate the meatballs cold, straight from the fridge, for lunch.  Yum!  The crunchiness of the water chestnuts made these really addicting!

ASIAN MEATBALLS

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 green onions, chopped finely
  • 1 8oz can water chestnuts, finely chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce, or to taste*
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste*
  • 1 egg

Preheat oven to 450F.  Line a large baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.  In a medium bowl combine all ingredients.  Shape into walnut sized meatballs and space at least 1/2″ apart on baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes.  If desired, brush with more hoisin sauce and bake for another minute or two to glaze.  Teriyaki sauce could be substituted for hoisin sauce, for a less sweet result.  I like sweet, so next time I would actually add more hoisin! Makes 4 servings.

*To check seasoning on raw meat, heat a small frying pan until hot and put a small spoonful of meat mixture in pan.  Cook a few minutes, turning once, until done.  Taste & adjust.

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My Favorite Cookies

 

M&M Cookie

M&M Cookie

 

I don’t know what I love more, these cookies, or their uncooked dough!  (Despite my severe aversion to Salmonella and raw egg goo, yes, I eat this dough raw.  I don’t suggest it for anyone that can’t handle the Salmonella risk, though!)  This is actually the recipe my mom made chocolate chip cookies with, but at Christmas she would use the holiday colored M&Ms instead of the chocolate chips.  I make them year-round because I *Heart*Them soo much! (They are pictured above with Halloween colors – spooky! =) )  This is one of the few recipes I actually prefer made with margarine.  Don’t get me wrong, in a pinch I’ll use butter, but they are much chewier with margarine.  (Unsalted butter, salted butter, margarine and shortening all have different water content which affects the texture of the finished product)  Growing up we used Blue Bonnet, but that’s hydrogenated.  Now I use margarine made from non-hydrogenated oils – you just have to look at the packaging to make sure it is suitable for baking.  I dare you to make these and not eat them all!

M&M Cookies

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 2/3 cup shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 15oz bag M&M candies (or 12 oz chocolate chips)

Cream together sugars, butter/margarine, and shortening.  Mix in eggs and vanilla, then stir in flour, baking soda and salt.  Mix in M&Ms.  Drop dough by rounded spoonfuls 1-2 inches apart on a room temperature,  ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes, or until light golden.  For chewy cookies, slightly underbake cookies and let them cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before moving to a rack.  If you want more cake-like cookies, add up to an additional ½ cup of flour.  These keep up to a week at room temperature, or you can freeze for up to 3 months, tightly wrapped.  The dough can be frozen, tightly wrapped, then thawed overnight in the refrigerator – do not refreeze uncooked dough. Makes about 3 dozen.

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Oatmeal Scones

Oatmeal Scone

Oatmeal Scone

When life breaks your furnace and it’s cold, bake something!  At least that’s what I’ve been doing…

I was looking through a copy of the Joy Of Cooking for inspiration  – I wanted something fast, easy and perfect for my breakfast the next morning.  I was tired after a long day of work (until 9:30pm), had to be back at 9:30 the following morning, so I  needed something requiring minimal effort.  This recipe is one I would have normally skipped over, as I don’t particularly like American style scones, but it was worth a shot!  They turned out toasty, nutty and a little sweet – I liked them so much, I made them again!  (Yes, I froze the leftover ones.  Did you even need to ask?)

OATMEAL SCONES

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar (I used raw sugar – brown sugar would also be nice!)
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup rolled oats (old fashioned or quick cooking)
  • 1/2 cup dried currants, or other dried fruit
  • 1 large egg
  • 10 Tablespoons butter (1 1/4 sticks)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • Sugar, for sprinkling on top ( I used Sugar in the Raw for big crystals)

Preheat the oven to 450F.   Melt the butter  (I melt it in a stainless bowl in the preheating oven – just remember to use oven mitts to get the bowl out & when pouring)  Meanwhile, get out a large baking sheet and set within easy reach (but not on the stove to heat up – the sheet needs to be room temp or colder).  Lightly flour your work surface to prepare for the dough.  The faster scones and biscuits get into the oven after mixing, the better they turn out!  Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour through oats).  When they are mixed, stir in the dried fruit.  In a separate bowl, mix together the milk and egg, then stir in the melted butter.  Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients, and stir just until moistened.  The dough will be sticky.  Transfer the dough to the lightly floured work surface, and pat into a 3/4″ round or square.  Either cut the round into 8 wedges, or the square into 9 smaller squares.  Place cut scones onto baking sheet at least 1/2″ apart.  If the dough seems too sticky to move, wait one minute for the oats to absorb more moisture – do not add more flour!  Sprinkle the tops of the scones with sugar and place the tray in the oven.  Bake 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned and firm to the touch.  Makes about 8 large scones.  These freeze beautifully and take just a few minutes to thaw at room temperature.  (Recipe adapted from The Joy of Cooking)

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Perfect Roasted Chicken

Roasted Chicken with Kennebec Potatoes

Roasted Chicken with Kennebec Potatoes

This is the easiest meal!  Even a novice cook can make a great roast chicken.  The best part is that it always impresses people!  Not to mention the great uses you can use the leftover meat for ( You could always roast 2 just for the leftover meat) .  I always save the bones (I put them in a bag in the freezer) for chicken stock.  (Yes, I will pretty much freeze anything.  It is a standing joke among my friends.)

You can just roast the chicken, or you can roast potatoes and/or vegetables under the chicken for a complete meal.  If you want to make gravy, you need to roast the chicken by itself.  Roasting vegetables soak up all the juices you need to make gravy, but in turn it makes them taste fantastic!  This recipe uses a French technique for keeping the breast meat moist.  Because the dark meat takes longer to cook, there is always a danger of overcooking the white meat in the breast.  The French start cooking the bird upside down, so all the juices flow into the breast and the dark meat is more exposed to the oven’s heat.  Halfway through cooking, the chicken is turned right side up to brown the skin and make it crispy.  A really fail-proof method for a juicy chicken. (It is also great for roasting turkeys – it will just be more awkward to wrestle around.  For turkeys I usually roast on one side, then the other, then roast breast side up. You can use balls of aluminum foil to prop the turkey in place)  Once you make this, you won’t want to buy one of those saline injected rotisserie chickens at the store!

Perfect Roasted Chicken

  • 1 Whole Chicken, about 4lbs
  • 1-2 Tablespoons Butter or Olive Oil
  • Salt & pepper or a spice rub of your choosing, to taste
  • Optional:  Fresh herbs (especially thyme, sage, rosemary, parsley or bay leaves – any combination you like) , garlic cloves, a halved lemon, whatever strikes your fancy!

Preheat oven to 400F.  Have ready a shallow sided roasting pan (at least 8’x10″).  Remove chicken from wrapping and make sure to remove any packets of giblets that may be in the cavity.  Check the cavity for any remaining organs – sometimes the liver or lungs are still left in- and remove.  It won’t wreck the chicken completely, if you are reluctant to pull them out, unless you are planning on saving the bones for stock.  Liver makes the stock really funky tasting.  There is no need to rinse the chicken off.  Doing so usually just spreads bacteria around your kitchen.  (On that note – make sure you wash your hands after touching the raw meat.  Salmonella -amongst other bacteria- is pretty unavoidable in US chickens thanks to widespread overuse of antibiotics and crowded breeding/growing conditions.  This applies even to free range and organic chicken as it can be passed through breeding stock/soil/water) Best practice is to portion out what you want to rub on or stuff in chicken before you touch the meat.  Then all you touch with your germy hands will be what is going on the meat anyway!  If you want to be very basic, just sprinkle the cavity and the skin of the chicken with salt and pepper to taste and then rub on the olive oil or butter.  If you are feeling creative, fill the cavity with a halved lemon, sprigs of herbs, garlic cloves, etc.  You can also rub on spice rubs instead of salt and pepper.  If you want to be really fancy, you can loosen the skin over the breast meat with your hand (slide your hand under it very gently, starting at the neck) and place whole herb leaves, butter, etc right on top of the meat.  Get creative – there is no right or wrong!

If you have a roasting rack, place it in the roasting pan, but it is not necessary.  ( I generally don’t use one, but it does help airflow around the chicken and crisp the skin more.)  Place the chicken breast side down.  You can truss the bird for a neater presentation, but I just usually tuck the wings back and let the legs settle wherever they want ( the chicken will cook slightly faster untrussed, as well).  Place pan in preheated oven and roast for 35 minutes.  After 35 minutes, remove the pan from the oven.  Using paper towels as disposable hot pads, grip the chicken and turn it over so it is breast side up in the pan.  You could also use a pair of tongs instead, just be careful not to tear the skin.  Roast for another 20-25 minutes, adding an additional 3 minutes for every pound (and fraction of) above 4 pounds, until the skin is nicely browned and the meat is fully cooked.  To check for doneness: 1. Use an instant read or meat thermometer and poke it in the thickest part of the thigh without touching bone.  It needs to be at 170F or above.  2.  Prick the thickest part of the thigh – juices should run clear (signifying all blood has been cooked and solidified) and the leg should move freely, meat almost falling from the bone.  Using a thermometer is the most reliable and safest method.  Once fully cooked, remove chicken to a platter and cover loosely with foil to let the meat rest and juices flow back into the meat.  Let rest about 10 minutes.  Serves 4-6.

To make gravy:  Pour off all but about 2 Tablespoons of the fat/juices from the bottom of the pan and discard.  Toss 2 Tablespoons of flour in the pan, along with a little salt and pepper.  Stir this around until the flour absorbs the fat.  Heat this pan over medium heat and cook for a few minutes, until the mixture is bubbly and golden.  You are trying to cook off the floury taste.  Pour in a little  wine, hard cider, lager beer or chicken stock to deglaze the pan – enough to make the mixture liquidy enough to stir and to dissolve the brown bits at the bottom of the pan (these hold a lot of concentrated flavor), about 1/2 cup to start.  Once the liquid has mostly evaporated, add in a cup or so of chicken stock and stir pretty constantly as you bring the mixture to a boil.  Boil about a minute, then taste and check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.  If the mixture is too thick, thin it out with a little stock or water and bring back to a boil.  It is better to have it too thick than too thin, as you can always add a little stock or water.  Strain the gravy into a serving vessel and serve alongside the meat.

To roast vegetables with the chicken:  You can roast just potatoes, or a mixture of root vegetables with the chicken.  Potatoes can be peeled, if desired.  Carrots, Celeriac/Celery Root, Turnips, Rutabagas, Kohlrabi, Parsnips, Salsify, Sweet potatoes and onions can all be used, but they need to be peeled.  Chop desired vegetables into 1″ chunks.  Place in the bottom of roasting pan before the chicken.  Toss with a little drizzle of olive oil or melted butter and season with salt, pepper, and herbs as desired.  The vegetables will absorb the juices and some fat from the chicken, so only a tiny bit of oil is needed to get the veggies started – just barely enough to coat!  You can roast heads of garlic in the pan too – just slice a little off the top and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.  Place the chicken, breast side down, on the vegetables, or place the vegetables around the roasting rack, if you are using one. When you flip the chicken, give the veggies a stir.  If they are not quite done when the chicken is, place back in the oven while the chicken rests.  Voila!  Complete meal in one pan!  You can use a little wine or chicken stock to deglaze the pan after the veggies are removed, scraping up any browned bits.  Bring to a boil and check for seasoning.  Serve pan jus over the chicken like you would gravy – it will have a much thinner consistency and be almost absorbed by the meat.

Easy Peasy and Tasty!

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Brown Sugar and Cardamom Peach Pie

Brown Sugar & Cardamom Peach Pie

Pie is the new cupcake – mark my words!  It’s classic Americana –  comforting and easy.  Now that Colorado Peach Season is in full swing,  celebrate with this yummy pie!  (sorry Georgia, but your peaches don’t even come close to the ones we get from the Western Slope!) The caramel richness of brown sugar and the bright tones of cardamom really accent peaches nicely.  I feel that pie filling should really highlight the taste of the fruit, so very little spice is added.  Taste a peach first and adjust the sugar accordingly – you want to enhance the sweet-tart fruitiness, not cover it up!  Using cornstarch as a thickener gives a pretty and clear filling.  Just remember to let it cool before cutting, or the filling will run out and make for a not so pretty presentation.

 

Brown Sugar Cardamom Peach Pie

For a 9” Pie:         

  • 6 cups fresh peaches, peeled and sliced ( 8 – 10 peaches)
  • 2/3 to 1 cup brown sugar (depending on sweetness of fruit)
  • 2Tbs cornstarch (preferred)  or ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, if needed
  • Pie crust for a double crust 9″ pie

 Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Let the mix sit 15 minutes to let the juices run. Taste and correct the sweeteness.  If filling is bland, add up to one tablespoon of lemon juice.  Pour filling into a pie plate lined with one crust and cover with a top crust.  Crimp the edges and make sure to vent the top.  Bake at 400F until filling is bubbling out of the crust vents and crust is golden, about 1 hour.  If pastry edges start to get to dark, cover them with foil.  Let cool at least 1 hour before cutting.  Serves 8.  (Or 4 serious pie lovers.)

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Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

This has been my go-to meal all summer!  Fresh veggies from the garden, hearty chickpeas and crumbly creamy feta – what’s not to love?

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

  • 2 Tablespoons  good quality extra virgin olive oil – something fresh and herbaceous!  (I frequently use O&Co’s Mint Olive Oil)
  • 1 Tablespoon O&Co White Balsamic with Oregano (my preference), or any good quality white balsamic/wine vinegar handy
  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
  • 1 large cucumber, (peeled if waxed) chopped
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or 1-2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 bunch radishes, sliced thinly
  • 3 scallions/green onions, sliced (include the deep green part) or 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbs (or more!) chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 4 oz Feta, crumbled
  • 1 Tbs  basil or mint, sliced thinly (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, whisk together oil and vinegar.  Normally, you would season the vinaigrette at this point, but since the feta and chickpeas will vary in saltiness, wait until the end.  Add remaining ingredients to bowl (except salt and pepper) and toss to combine.  Taste the salad, then season with salt and pepper as needed.  Don’t be afraid to toss in a little more olive oil or vinegar if the chickpeas or veggies are blah tasting!  Serves 4 as a main, 6-8 as a side or starter.  Keeps up to 2 days, refrigerated (will get more liquidy the longer it sits).

Variations:

This salad is great for improvising – add different herbs, use different beans, add cooked shrimp or chicken, even croutons, to make it heartier.  It’s also a great filling for pitas.

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Oatmeal Biscuit

Oatmeal Biscuit

I am ashamed to admit, quite some time ago I received a request for this recipe from my old housemate, Vicki, and haven’t quite gotten around to adapting it until now! (Sorry Vicki!)

When I was in Ireland and going to school at Ballymaloe, I had a hankering to make American style cookies after class one day, but had no recipes at hand.  Specifically, I wanted to make the oatmeal cookies I grew up making on Saturday afternoons.  Now, the cookies I grew up with used vegetable shortening (unheard of in the British Isles) and I only had butter – salted Kerrygold butter.  The oatmeal I had was Macroom Oats, a toasted and ground oat from the little town of Macroom, Ireland.  The toastiness and small size of the oats I thought would make for a more delicate cookie. So I  just started mixing things in until the dough seemed the right consistency and taste( I am very fond of eating cookie dough – a quirk that really helped me here!)  then baked them off.  I noticed the butter gave them a richer flavor and crisper crumb than shortening.  These are really more a cross between the traditional American cookie and an English biscuit.  My housemates and I polished them off within  minutes of them being out of the oven (Hey, there were 12 of us!)  I made them a few times after that, whenever anyone asked – they are quite easy!

Not long ago, another of my old housemates, Alex, emailed me and told me she made my cookies.  This made me think I had actually emailed the recipe to Vicki, but Alex set me straight!  So, since it was cool tonight, I thought I should work on getting the measurements down and produce a real recipe!

Oatmeal Biscuits

  • 1 cup / 8oz / 225g  butter, softened
  • 1 cup / 7.5 oz / 200g brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup / 3 oz / 80g granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups  / 6.75oz / 300g all purpose flour (plain flour)
  • 3 cups  / 10 1/2 oz / 300g quick cooking oats*
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • (1/2 tsp salt – if using unsalted butter)

Preheat oven to 350F/ 175C.  Cream together butter and sugars until fluffy.  Stir in vanilla and egg; mix well.  Add dry ingredients to bowl and mix until just combined.  Place walnut sized balls of dough about 1 1/2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.  Bake 8-10 minutes, until lightly gold and slightly puffy.  Let cool on baking sheet a few minutes, then remove to cooling rack.  Makes about 3 dozen.  These will keep a week in an airtight container, or 3 months frozen.  Enjoy!

*Macroom, or Bob’s Red Mill’s Scottish Oatmeal (here in the States) – if you can find them.  Standard US quick cooking oats are what I had and they worked, they just weren’t as delicate textured or as toasty flavored as the others would be!

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