creating recipes

I love to cook, most times. Then there are times where I dread the idea of shopping and preparing another meal, but usually my mostly Italian upbringing holds and I turn to food for many things. Comfort, celebration, union and on and on. I am not saying this is always a good thing, I am just making the observation of what I do.

I had two food triumphs yesterday. First, I made risotto for the first time. I love risotto when well made and I don't find it on many menus and even when it is offered it may not be good. When we ate out last Thursday I was dismayed to get a bowl of 'risotto' swimming in a pool of broth. It was edible and it was for charity but that's all I will say.

This is not a dish that I grew up eating [my family is southern Italy] but I enjoyed it several times when I was in Rome last year. Knowing that the anniversary of our Rome trip was coming up whetted my appetite and I bought the proper type of rice. I read up about it in the Silver Spoon. Yesterday my wife got some bad news and I wanted to show my support, I had all the ingredients and I made some then and there. It worked! It was yummy and I think it cheered her a bit.

I can't wait to eat the leftovers, even though I know they won't be as good as they were fresh. I won't give a recipe here since it was very basic and you can find a risotto recipe anywhere. But it was wonderful. I look forward to making this again.

Then I made blondies later. I was wanting something sweet, always a failing of mine. I wanted to use ingredients I had on hand. I wanted it to be quick and not fussy. It also had to be adaptable to whole wheat flour and alternative [not artificial] sugars. I have been reading How to cook everything vegetarian by Mark Bittman I found his blondie recipe and then modified the recipe a lot. I am so pleased with my version that I share it below.

These blondies are made with palm sugar, my current favorite sugar. I bought mine at a local "asian" market. [4.4 lbs for $4.99] I used the thick paste version here. Palm sugar has mild, bit caramelly sweetness compared to the highly processed cane or beet sugar. The biggest downside is that it is certainly not local. You could probably make these blondies with local maple sugar, but then the sweetness will be greatly increased. Since I am so sensitive to sugar I choose to use the palm.

Aside: Why aren't there more cookbooks, good ones, highlighting whole wheat flour and other natural traditional sugars out there? Why not use the most nutrient rich ingredients available? Do I have to write one myself or what?! Just for the record for those who don't cook much there are very very few things where you cannot substitute WW pastry flour for white flour or palm sugar [or maple, agave] for plain white sugar.

Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8x8 or 9x9 square baking dish.

melt over low heat:
8 oz unsalted butter

mix with:
1 c palm sugar [scant]
until very smooth

mix in:
1 egg [room temperature]
1 t vanilla extract

stir in a
pinch of sea salt
3/4 c chopped pecans

lightly stir in
1 c WW pastry flour

spread into pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. It is better to slightly under bake than over bake these. Do your best to cool on a rack before cutting and Enjoy!


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