Archive | August, 2012

Falafel Fridays

31 Aug

Mike, who worked as the community coordinator at the campus ministry, was looking for great recipes for lent. As a way to build community and really help students think about the impact of giving meat up and observing Lent, he started hosting Falafel Fridays. On Falafel Fridays, kids from all over would show up. These students could learn how to cook a new food and be social (which is what Fridays are all about in college).

As an athlete and healthy eater, Lent was always challenging for Mike. On Fridays, he searched for alternatives to the classic fish fry or carb load like spaghetti dinners. Mike looked for something that was easy to make, not so expensive, but filling! One day, in college, Mike stumbled onto Levantes, a Mediterranean restaurant in Washington, DC. There, he found a phenomenal falafel sandwich. He was instantly in love. It satisfied his need for healthy, good, vegetarian food with lots of sides like Israeli salad, Morroccan carrot salad, and hummus for not a lot of money.

Falafel Fridays served numerous purposes. First, it taught students to cook something healthy and easy. Second, it allowed students to think about what they give up during Lent and why . Third, it enabled students to learn about and experiment with spices like cumin and coriander and fresh herbs like parsley. Finally, because the falafel recipe is mainly comprised of fresh vegetables and foods, it opened a conversation about health, food, and sustainability. For Mike, Falafel sparked conversation, created community, and gave students a great Friday afternoon hang-out option and meal.

Friday Falafel Recipe


1 can chickpeas
1/2 large red onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)
2 tbsps finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp salt
1/2-1 tsp dried hot red pepper (or cayenne pepper to taste)
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp lime juice
4-6 tbsps flour
Olive oil for frying
Tomato for sandwich, diced
Red onion for sandwich, diced
Cucumber for sandwich, diced
Green leaf lettuce for sandwich
Hummus for sandwich
Tahina sauce
Pita bread (warmed in oven)


Prepare vegetables ahead of time. Slice some of the red onion and put aside for sandwich toppings; dice the rest for use in falafel patty. Mince the garlic for ease of mixing in food processer/blender. Slice cucumber and tomato, get lettuce leaves ready–place all aside.

Drain chickpeas, then empty container into food processer/blender, and add diced onion, garlic, lime juice, and olive oil. Add cilantro and blend again until mixture is relatively uniform (it will be a bit chunky) and resembles a thick paste. Ideally, you don’t want big chunks of garlic or onion. Add a bit of the flour and baking soda to absorb some of the moisture—I recommend putting the paste in a bowl first and stirring it with a spoon at this point. It becomes very challenging to get out of the blender.

Place some of the flour and baking powder in a small bowl and mix with a fork to create a basic dredge. Take about a tablespoon worth of paste, roll it into a small patty, and dip it briefly into the flour dredge. DO NOT coat it entirely— just a gentle dusting to hold it together as a patty, so that the paste does not all disintegrate in fryer.

In a skillet or saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Drop the patties in one by one, allowing space between. (Some prefer vegetable oil; I use olive oil for the additional flavor and health benefits. Others also do a deep-fry, where the entire falafel is covered in oil. I fry them in about a quarter inch of oil.)

When the edges of the patty appear to have turned a golden brown, flip and repeat on other side. Once both sides are golden brown, transfer to a plate with a paper towel to absorb excess oil.

Put the hummus, veggies, and falafel into a warm pita shell and enjoy!

Image: By Tlmoers (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (, via Wikimedia Commons


Laura Bush’s Cowboy Cookies

30 Aug

Though the Bushes have been out of the White House for some time now, and a bit removed from the public eye, Laura Bush’s Cowboy Cookies are unforgettable.  Imagine if you could combine all of your favorite cookies into one—the result would be the cowboy cookie.  With the mixture of cinnamon, oatmeal, coconut, pecans, and chocolate chips, you can’t go wrong.  Your Democratic and Republican friends alike will easily devour the three dozen cookies that this recipe yields.  Serve them at your next get-together (an election day party, perhaps?) or send them with your kid to sell at the school bakesale.  With prep time around 25 minutes and baking time around 20, these will be out of the oven and onto the cooling rack before your episode of The West Wing is over.

Laura Bush’s Cowboy Cookies Recipe


3 cups flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
3 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1 ½ cups packed light-brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3 old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
2 cups chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.

In another bowl, beat butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.  Gradually beat in sugars, about 2 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time, beating after each.  Beat in vanilla.

Stir in flour mixture. Add chocolate chips, oats, coconuts, and pecans.

Roll dough into balls, about ¼ cup each and put on ungreased baking sheets, spacing about 3 inches apart.

Bake in oven for 17-20 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.  Rotate sheets halfway through. Take cookies out of oven and place on rack to cool.

Banana Bread for Banana Lover’s Day

27 Aug

Happy Banana Lover’s Day!

I have just the recipe to celebrate—the winner of the infamous We Work Labs banana bread bake-off.

Over the holidays, Matt Shampine, founder of We Are NY Tech, ordered way too many bananas for We Work Labs.  I’m guessing that he thought every bunch he ordered was a single banana, so we’re talking about a lot of bananas.

When we returned from Christmas break, the bananas were way too ripe to eat, but we couldn’t just leave the whole mound sitting there; that would have been wrong.  Before we knew it, a casual conversation about banana bread turned into a fierce competition between Andrew Tider and I.  We both baked two kinds of banana bread, and this was the favorite of the group.

I have adapted it from these two different recipes.  While the banana-lime flavor combo might sound strange, it adds that extra something to traditional banana bread.  I don’t know about you, but when I eat banana bread, I always need to add some sort of glaze or spread to it anyways, so this is my new go-to.

Coconut Lime Banana Bread Recipe


1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 (8 oz) container sour cream
2 tsps vanilla extract
1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut
3 tbsps dark rum
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

For the glaze:

2 tbsps lime juice
1/2 cup powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 300°F.  Grease four 7×3″ loaf pans.  In a small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup white sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon.  Dust pans lightly with cinnamon and sugar mixture.

In a large bowl, cream butter and 3 cups sugar.  Mix in eggs, mashed bananas, sour cream, vanilla and cinnamon.  Mix in salt, baking soda, and flour.  Stir in nuts.  Stir in coconut.  Divide into prepared pans.  Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon coconut.

Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Combine powdered sugar and juice, stirring with a whisk; drizzle over warm bread.  Cool completely on wire rack.

What kind of banana bread will you be making today?

Commandeered Apple Cake

23 Aug

Emily has made Apple cake dozens of times, both with her mother and on her own since she was too young to use a knife to cut the apples. Though her mother originally got the recipe from of a friend of hers, it has been totally co-opted and claimed as her own. Through her experience in making this recipe, Emily can answer all of the questions you’ve pondered in previous apple cake attempts.

This apple cake helped Emily connect with her mother. Every time either of them makes the cake, they call each other to discuss the outcome. Here are some of the things they have figured out along the way.

What type of apple works best? Honey crisp for a sweet cake, granny smith for more tartness, a mix to spice things up.

How does the cake turn out if you peel the apples? Don’t bother; it’s much better with the skins for texture and it also keeps the apples from getting mushy.

What happens when you accidentally put an extra cup of sugar in the mix? It becomes very tasty with a super crunchy top, but will induce a sugar crash.

Finally, what is the best way to reheat it? Her mother is a microwave fan and Emily swears by the toaster oven.

Commandeered Apple Cake Recipe

  • 3 cups Flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 cups unpeeled, chopped apples (any variety)
  • 1 cup walnuts (optional)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350˚.  Sift dry ingredients, then mix in apples and nuts. Mix in other ingredients until all flour is incorporated.

Pour into a greased bunt or tube pan. Do NOT smooth out the top—the bumps and ridges get crispy.

Bake for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

An important equipment note for this recipe is the need for a bunt pan. The batter is so dense that it will not cook all the way through any other way. One alternative for those without a bunt pan is to make “apple cake muffins” which cook up much more quickly (about 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top).

This apple cake started as a Rosh Hashanah treat, using apples to celebrate the Jewish New Year, but can be used for any occasion. It works particularly well as a birthday cake for lactose intolerant bosses. Also, because it’s parve (not meat or dairy), it can be brought to almost any Jewish dinner party. Most importantly, it’s easy (it’s the only recipe Emily has memorized) and is a big crowd pleaser. To serve, You won’t need any accoutrements to go with it, no sauces or whipped cream, that would just ruin the purity of awesomeness that is this apple cake.

Photo by Silar (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons

Happy Birthday, Giada de Laurentiis!

22 Aug

Happy Birthday, Giada De Laurentiis!

22 Aug

The Food Network’s Italian goddess, Giada de Laurentiis, is celebrating her birthday today, and so are we, here at Cookbook Create. The culinary and pastry-trained chef—who is an alum of Le Cordon Blue in Paris, France—is best known for her hit TV show, “Everyday Italian” and as the NY Times best-selling author of Giada At Home, one of her 6 published cookbooks. Born in Rome Italy, Giada takes a very fresh, personable approach to Italian classics and adapts them for the modern home cook.

In celebration of Giada’s Birthday, we are downloading the “Giada’s Daily Bite” app on our iPhones and iPads. Her app includes easy weeknight recipes, Giada’s simple cooking tips, and our favorite feature – sound “bites” to help you pronounce Italian words just like her.  Additionally, the Daily Bite app includes a sneak peek at recipes from Giada’s newest cookbook, Weeknights with Giada.

As a kid, Giada’s mother, “for [her] birthday every year,” made pasta béchamel, “which is rigatoni with a white cream sauce.”  That sounds like the perfect way to celebrate! We know what we’ll be eating for dinner.

From all of us at Cookbook Create, Buon Compleanno, Giada!

The Family Leek Omelette

21 Aug

My favorite holiday of the year is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. On this holiday everything you eat is supposed to be sweet to represent a sweet New Year. In Syrian tradition, you also eat other symbolic foods to keep enemies away and to bless you with a year of many merits.

One of my favorite foods is the leek omelette. When cooked correctly, it comes out thick, has a perfect golden brown color, and is delicious. I remember being scared to learn how to make this omelette because of all the hot oil involved. It’s difficult to flip and there is a high likelihood splashing yourself with hot oil, especially in the first few cooking attempts. Additionally, if you flip it too early, the whole omelette falls apart and you need to just start again.  For years, I needed my grandpa on the phone before (and sometimes during) the omelette making process. I have to say, though, my omelette now rivals his.

Leek Omelette Recipe


  • 1 leek (at least 1 inch wide)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons matzah meal
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • oil for frying


Cut the tops off of the leek where the leek becomes darker green. Half the leek length-wise and then half it again. Cut very fine, making approximately ¼ inch slices. Rinse very well, making sure no sand or grit is left. This can be done by soaking slices in a shallow bowl of water and letting grit fall to the bottom. Cook for 15 minutes in boiling salted water. Rinse in cold water and drain.

In the meantime, separate the eggs. Beat white until they are foamy but not quite stiff. Beat the egg yolks.

Add the leeks to the egg whites. Next add the salt and cumin and mix. Add the egg yolks and matzah meal. Mix well.

Heat a 9 inch frying pan with about 1/8 inch oil. Add mixture making sure that it spreads out. Cover and cook on medium heat until bottom is brown. Turn over using a plate to help flip the omlette and fry the other side until it is golden brown as well.

This dish can be served hot or cold. Because it is like a frittata, it can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or as a delicious dinner sidedish.

Abby’s Famous Pecan Pie

20 Aug

Until Paula was in college, she had no idea what a boxed cake taste like. That just wasn’t the way things were done in her family. No break-and-bake cookies and no ready-to-go frosting. The women in Paula’s family always bake from scratch.

On one fateful Thanksgiving eve, a few years ago when Paula was 18, her grandmother decided it was her turn. It was time she learned to make pie. They started with the crust—a simple butter crust that was always moist and kept people coming back for more—and then they moved on to the filling, one of Paula’s favorites becoming Abby’s Famous Pecan Pie. Within a few years, Thanksgiving dessert became Paula’s responsibility. At first she found it stressful and nerve-wracking.  It didn’t matter how many other Thanksgiving dishes like turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce her mother was balancing; when it was pie time, she would announce, “It’s my time to make the pies. I’m taking over the kitchen.”

Paula’s grandmother has since passed away, but now, anytime she is in the kitchen making desserts, especially those pecan and pumpkin pies, she remembers her grandmother teaching her and her grandmother in the kitchen making those delicious pies that were such a family pleaser.

Abby’s Famous Pecan Pie comes from a dear Abby column that Paula’s mom started using. While other pies make appearances occasionally, the classics always made on Thanksgiving (the most important pie holiday of the year) are Abby’s pecan pie and the classic pumpkin pie.

Abby’s Famous Pecan Pie Recipe


  • 1 9” unbaked pie crust (or for better results, a homemade butter crust)
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 heaping cup pecan halves
  • whipped cream for serving


Heat over to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine corn syrup, sugar, eggs, butter, salt and vanilla; mix well. Pour filling into unbaked pie crust; cover with pecan halves. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until center is set. Remove from over and cool. Serve with whipped cream.

Photo by Stu Spivack (CC-BY-SA-2.0), via Wikimedia Commons

Chocolate Pecan Pie

20 Aug

In honor of Chocolate Pecan Pie Day, I’m posting my favorite recipe for the occasion and the story behind it. My mom has adapted it from Daisy King’s cookbook, Gracious Entertaining, Southern Style.

Will you be celebrating by making your own chocolate pecan pie today?

If you saw my mom on the street, you would think that she’s been a New Yorker her whole life.  But she is a Tennesseean and proud of it, and she loves to remind us every chance she gets.  We tease her about the way pronounces certain words—for example, “pen” and “pin” sound exactly the same but she swears there’s a difference—and the fact that as soon as she’s talking to her relatives or someone else from the south, her accent comes on full force.  She also celebrates her background through her cooking, and when that happens, we all bite our tongues.

Usually referred to as “Kentucky Derby Pie”, a trademark pie by Kern’s Kitchen, is one of the South’s best kept hidden secrets, and when I mention it to my friends up North, I get blank stares in return.  Don’t be fooled by the name; you don’t need your sun hat and pearls to enjoy a slice of pie.  But if you’re feeling fancy, there’s no shame in dressing up.  You just need to love pecans, chocolate, and whiskey.  (Okay, you can’t actually taste the whiskey that much, but if you do like it, it’s a plus). This pie is traditionally made with bourbon; however, as a proud Tennesseean, my mom feels obligated to use Jack Daniels, which is technically a Tennessee whiskey.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¾ cup butter, melted
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • ¾ cup light corn syrup
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp Jack Daniels
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • 1 9-inch pie shell

Preheat oven to 375°.  Cream sugar and butter.  Add and mix eggs, syrup, salt, Jack Daniels and vanilla. Pour pecans and chocolate chips into pie shell.  Pour filling into shell.  Bake for 45 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

What is your favorite chocolate pecan pie recipe?

Photo by Markmark28 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (, via Wikimedia Common

Bill Clinton’s Oatmeal Cookies

18 Aug

You’re no stranger to the mad dash to the cookie table.  You’ve done it many times before—whether it was in the school cafeteria, at a party, or at the presentation you snuck into just because you heard there would be free food (no judgment here).  After fighting through the crowd, you’re finally in reach of the table, only to see that all of the chocolate cookies are gone.  You settle for the oatmeal cookie because either a) you’re really hungry, or b) you feel like you have to since the only reason you walked in was for the freebies.  But you take a bite, and suddenly it doesn’t feel so much like settling anymore.

Everyone loves classic chocolate chip cookies, but sometimes you gotta mix things up a bit.  Oatmeal cookies are just as satisfying, and completely underrated overlooked, if you ask me.  So don’t be afraid to mix things up this season.  Not ready to part with chocolate cookies yet?  Throw some chocolate chips in the batter and you’ve got yourself a compromise.

These oatmeal cookies are apparently a favorite of Bill Clinton’s, and he even entered them in Family Circle’s Presidential Bake-Off back in ’08 when Hillary was still in the race.  As election time rolls around this year, things could get tense.  If you get tired of listening to people fight over politics at the dinner table, offer them some oatmeal cookies and they’ll be quiet in no time.

Bill Clinton’s Oatmeal Cookies Recipe


  • 2 ½ cups quick-cooking/old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter/margarine, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (optional)


Preheat oven to 350°.  Spread oats and walnuts in ungreased 15-1/2 x 10-1/2 1-inch baking pan.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.  Stir occasionally, until toasted and light brown. Let cool.

In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt.  In a large bowl, beat together brown sugar, butter/margarine, vanilla and egg.  Stir in oat mixture, then stir in flour mixture.

Roll dough into balls and place on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake at 350° until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.

Photo by jenny cu (CC-BY-2.0), via Wikimedia Commons

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