Flax and Hemp Seed Crackers

Yes, you've got the right blog. And yes, I know this isn't the kind of recipe you usually see here. Hemp seeds? Flax meal? But lots of you have posted recipes for making your own crackers,  I just haven't gotten around to trying any of your recipes.  

Until now. 
After reading Sylvie's post about these flax and hemp seed crackers, they looked so easy I decided to try them. They're grain-free, gluten-free too...although that's not something I need to worry about, fortunately. Doesn't hurt to eat healthy though, does it?
Anyway...Sylvie raves about them. And after a trip to Whole Foods for other odds and ends, I easily found flax meal, hemp seeds and coconut flour. 
The hemp seeds and  ground flax meal were in the breakfast cereal area. The coconut flour with their other flours.
So now I had the ingredients in my kitchen. No excuses. Please don't think it was wasteful to buy a sack of coconut flour  (luckily, Whole Foods has small sacks) for just one tablespoon, because not only will you make these crackers again, but I plan to use the coconut flour in my coconut bread and coconut muffins. Bet it would make marvelous pancakes too.

These crackers were so easy; came together in a few stirs, rolled out beautifully and although they needed to be baked a tad longer than Sylvie indicated, turned out perfectly. I cut mine Wheat Thin cracker size. They're crisp, but somewhat delicate so they'd be good with a soft cheese like brie or a dip (hummus would be great) and super for snacking. I think I might add some sesame seeds next time.

Flax and Hemp Seed Crackers

From Gourmande in the Kitchen

½ cup/ 60g almond meal
½ cup/52g ground flax meal
2 Tablespoons/30g shelled hemp seeds
1 Tablespoon/ 8g coconut flour
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt (plus more to sprinkle on top)
2 Tablespoons/28g unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg white

Preheat oven to 300° degrees F/ 150° C.
Mix almond meal, flax meal, shelled hemp seed, coconut flour and fine sea salt in a large bowl. Pour melted butter and large white egg over the dry ingredients and mix well to combine with a fork until dough comes together in a ball (you may need to use your hands).
Roll the crackers out very thinly between two sheets of parchment paper. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut into small squares and sprinkle with a pinch of additional sea salt.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until completely dry and crisp.
Cool on cooling rack and store in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.


Gourmet's 50 Women Game Changers in Food: #36, Edna Lewis

Edna Lewis was the granddaughter of a former slave. She was born in 1916 in a small settlement in Virginia called Freetown, on a farm given to her newly-freed grandfather. The growing, harvesting and cooking of food was not only the family's way of life, but their entertainment. She learned most of her cooking from her Aunt Jenny. Edna could tell when a cake was done just by listening.

At the age of 16, after her father died, Miss Lewis took a bus to Washington and then New York where she worked as a laundress, a seamstress ( she was exceptionally talented and copied Dior dresses for clients), and as an employee of the Daily Worker (a communist newspaper). She was also involved in political demonstrations and campaigned for FDR.

In New York, Edna’s cooking was making her into local legend. In 1948, when female chefs were few and black female chefs were even fewer, Edna was chef at a restaurant owned by her friend John Nicholson, an antiques dealer and bohemian with a taste for high society. Café Nicholson on East 57th Street in Manhattan was a huge success. 

In the meantime, she married a former seaman, Steve Kingston, who was a Communist. Her husband was not happy she worked at Café Nicholson: 
 "He used to always say, 'This restaurant should be for ordinary people on the street. You're catering to capitalists,' " Mr. Nicholson said in an interview with The New York Times in 2004. "It was such a bore." (He was right: the café attracted numerous famous faces like Gloria Vanderbilt, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, Marlene Dietrich, and Diana Vreeland.)
Miss Lewis did not leave Café Nicholson until 1954, after which the couple tried a number of ventures, including running a pheasant farm.

In the late 60's, nursing a broken leg, she decided to write down her recipes and, urged on by Judith Jones, who also edited Julia Child, she wrote a cookbook. Those handwritten pages turned into "The Taste of Country Cooking." James Beard and M.K.F. Fisher praised the book and Craig Claiborne of The Times said the book "may well be the most entertaining regional cookbook in America." Her books included personal memoirs and her thoughts on rural life. Chapters on fresh food and their seasons predate the American culinary revolution.

In a 1989 interview with The Times, Miss Lewis said: "As a child in Virginia, I thought all food tasted delicious. After growing up, I didn't think food tasted the same, so it has been my lifelong effort to try and recapture those good flavors of the past." Alice Waters admired her dedication to the "purity of ingredients, taste and authenticity".  She said Miss Lewis was uncompromising but subtle in her approach to food and politics alike.

Miss Jones, who edited three of Miss Lewis's cookbooks said: " She loved Jack Daniel's, Bessie Smith and understated conversation. She had a tremendous sense of dignity in the face of often difficult treatment."
Miss Lewis's husband had died as she completed "The Taste of Country Cooking."

Miss Lewis returned to restaurants, most notably to Gage & Tollner in Brooklyn. In the mid-90s she retired from the restaurant and with some friends, she founded the Society for the Revival and Preservation of Southern Food, dedicated in part to seeing that people did not forget how to cook with lard. :)

"One of the biggest goals they had was they didn't want to lose the classic Southern dishes, and this was the binding factor," Marion Cunningham, the grande dame of home cooking, said in an interview with The Times in 2004: "They preached about it, and they wanted to let the country know what the South stood for."

One of the friends she met through the 
Society for the Revival and Preservation of Southern Food was Scott Peacock, a young, gay, white chef. He became a lifelong friend and eventually her caretaker as she aged, causing quite a rift in her family.

Edna died in her sleep at age 89. Despite a quiet demeanor, Miss Lewis had a reach that extended from her family farm in Virginia, to left-wing politics in Manhattan to the birthplace of California cuisine.

Read a reminiscence from a blogger who met Edna Lewis HERE. And read through the comment section...many bloggers have met her.

Edna Lewis's awards:

1986 – Named Who’s Who in American Cooking by Cook’s Magazine
1990 – Lifetime Achievement Award IACP (International Assoc. of Culinary Professionals)
1995 – James Beard Living Legend Award (Their first such award.)
1999 – Named Grande Dame by Les Dames d’Escoffier, an international organization of female culinary professionals.
1999 – Lifetime Achievement Award from Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA) (Their first such award.)
2002 - Barbara Tropp President's Award (WCR – Women Chefs & Restaurateurs)
2003 – Inducted into the KitchenAid Cookbook Hall of Fame (James Beard)
2004 – The Gift of Southern Cooking nominated for James Beard Award and IACP Award


Edna's cookbook is a gem. With all the choices you may well wonder why I chose to make Blancmange. I confess, it's my childhood again. My mother made it frequently, but her recipe consisted simply of cornstarch, milk, sugar and vanilla; she didn't use almonds at all. Funny how desserts like this stick in your mind. I never made it for my own family even though I always liked it....I've been trying to recall if my mother served it with fresh fruit or just the pudding itself. I can't imagine not using fruit...will have to ask my sister.

Here and there I found blancmange (including in Edna's cookbook) written as two words, but more commonly it's one. I was unable to discover an explanation for this, but for the etymologists and historians among you, I did find this:

Blancmange translated means "whitedish" (from the original Old French term blanc mangier) was an upper-class dish common to most of Europe during the Middle Ages and early modern period. It occurs in countless variations from recipe collections from all over Europe and is mentioned in the prologue to Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
, 1. 387, was apparently a compound made of capon minced with flour, sugar, and cream and also in an early 15th century cookbook written by the chefs of Richard II. 
The "mangier" part is, incidentally, closely related to our English word "manger," meaning a trough or other place where animals are fed. Another source explains: "Blancmange" was originally a main course, made with chopped meat, eggs, rice, cream and almonds. Over the years, however, the recipe was simplified, the meat was omitted, and "blancmange" became a dessert.
It's pronounced "bla-mahnj," and is also used in a figurative sense to mean "nonsense" or "trivial matters."

Blancmange is also mentioned by one of my favorite authors, Roald Dahl in 
"Matilda" :  "The Trunchbull, this mighty female giant, stood there in her green breeches, quivering like a blancmange." Don't you love Dahls' stories?
I made this more fun by using a cute mold and cheated just a bit by using Bob's Red Mill ground almond flour which I already had. But I followed the directions exactly starting from the point of adding water to the almonds in the blender. BTW: I felt this pudding was too sweet and would cut the sugar to 1/2 cup, perhaps even less. Start with 1/3 cup, taste it, and add what pleases you and your family. I had a rhubarb puree in the freezer and served it with that. You could use any kind of fruit or sauce made with fruit.

Blanc Mange

Recipe by Edna Lewis


1 cup unblanched Jordan almonds
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 cup cold milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or dark rum
Fruit for serving


Drop the almonds in boiling water, remove from the stove and let them sit until the water cools enough to remove them. Their skins will peel right off. Put some in a blender and blend with the water; repeat until all the almonds are pureed. Return everything to the blender and add the milk and cream. Blend until smooth.
Dissolve the gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water.
Strain the almond/milk mixture into a sauce pan with the finest strainer you have. Heat (but do not allow to boil, adding the gelatin to dissolve. Remove from heat, add the vanilla and rum and strain one last time.
Pour into a wet ring mold (or any mold you like) and leave in the fridge overnight or until firm. Run a spatula around the mold and turn out on a serving platter. Serve with fruit.

Join Mary from One Perfect Bite and all the other participants in this fun series.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets 
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Kathleen Van Bruinisse - Bake Away with Me 
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Martha - Lines from Linderhof
Amy - Beloved Green

 Ciao Chow Linda


Claudia Fleming's Rhubarb Cobbler

Guess what I found tucked in a corner of the produce section in The Fresh Market the other day? Rhubarb! No doubt hothouse rhubarb, but any rhubarb this time of year will do. It's my favorite. To quote 
Alice Waters: cooked rhubarb has a “subtle character, which reminds us of the smell of the earth in the spring.”
My mother always had some growing in her garden; I remember it well from my childhood. Often, she just stewed it and served it as a dessert for lunch. (We actually came home for lunch! Poor mom.) But her rhubarb pies were divine. My grandmother and great aunt owned a bakery in their youth and my mother learned her way around a pie crust at an early age. 

Anyway, this recipe was a real winner. And there are boiled egg yolks in the biscuit. Strange, so I looked it up. Here's what I found: To make biscuits richer, some shortcake recipes (and some biscuit recipes) call for cream as a liquid instead of milk or buttermilk. And some recipes—both biscuit and shortcake--call for cooked egg yolks, an innovation of James Beard.

We never stop learning, do we? Anyway...you're going to love this and the biscuits were exactly as advertised. 

Rhubarb Cobbler
From Claudia Fleming via New York Magazine 

For dough
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 hard-boiled egg yolks
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream

For rhubarb

2 pounds rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
1-inch piece of vanilla bean, split lengthwise, pulp scraped
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar


In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, egg yolks, and salt. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the flour resembles coarse meal. Add 2/3 cup of cream and pulse until the dough comes together. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently pat it together, incorporating any stray crumbs.

Using a small ice cream scoop or a large spoon, form the dough into 2-inch balls, then flatten them slightly into thick rounds. Chill for 20 minutes (and up to 2 hours). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the rhubarb in a shallow 21/2- quart casserole dish and toss with sugar, vanilla, and cornstarch. Allow to macerate 15 minutes.

Arrange the biscuit rounds on top, leaving about an inch between them. Brush the biscuits with cream and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake the cobbler until the rhubarb is bubbling and the biscuits are golden brown, about 40 to 45 minutes. Serve with ice cream or crème fraîche.


Gourmet's 50 Women Game Changers in Food: # 35, Delia Smith

Delia Smith is a British 
phenomenon and considered a national cooking treasure. But like so many of our Game Changers, she knew next to nothing about cooking when she was younger. She did a stint as a hairdresser, then a shop assistant, then a travel agent. But finally, at 21, she went to work at a restaurant called The Singing Chef. She was a dogsbody at first, then slowly was allowed to help with the cooking. She became interested in trying to revive an interest in British food, probably in reaction to Elizabeth David's championing of French and Mediterranean cuisine. Delia spent many hours at the library trying to figure out why French cooking was so good and British cooking so bad. She experimented in the kitchen and served her recipes to the family and friends she was living with.

She met literary agent Deborah Owen in 1969, to whom she gave tips on how to cook a nice poached egg for her husband and through her she got a job at the Daily Mirror. Her rise since then has been prodigious.  Her column led to her first cookbook in 1971: How to Cheat at Cooking. The cookbook is certainly true to its' name as it contains recipes for baked fish fingers with tinned mushrooms and tomatoes, or sponge cake (bought) with tinned cherry-pie filling. "Delia's masterstroke was to embark on a back-to-basics cookery course: how to boil an egg, how to make toast. People scoffed. But Smith's advice  was useful: toast is better if you let it stand for a short while before you butter it, eggs are better when they're fresh, etc."
What Delia is, is everywoman. And that's her appeal...she's teaching the basics.

I came across this amusing story about Gordon Ramsay and Delia:
Wearing prosthetic make-up, glasses and a hairpiece to make him appear years older, Ramsay posed as an amateur cooking enthusiast and signed up for one of her classes. The unsuspecting Smith was totally fooled and failed to spot that one of the nation's best known chefs was under her nose. There's no love lost between Ramsay and Smith, two of the country's foremost culinary figures. Smith has criticized her rival over his foul language. "That's not teaching. I like him when he does his recipes, but I'm not keen on his swearing," she has said.
In his turn, Ramsay was scathing about Smith's series, How To Cheat At Cooking, in which she extolled the virtues of frozen mash and tinned mince. "Here we are trying to establish a reputation across the world for this country's food and along comes Delia and tips it out of a can. That hurts," he said.

Delia's first television appearances came in the early 1970s. With education in mind, Smith approached BBC Further Education with an idea for their first televised cooking class. Her aim was to teach people how to cook: to take them back to basics and cover all the classic techniques. Accompanying books were needed to explain not only how, but why, things happen. Smith became famous by hosting a cookery television show Family Fare which ran between 1973-1975. This was followed in the late 70's by another series and her three Cookery Course books: Delia Smith’s Cookery Course: Part One was published in 1978 to accompany the series, followed, over the next two years, by Part Two and Part Three. The cookbooks were a smash hit. Her use of particular ingredients and utensils could lead to an overnight surge in commercial sales, something referred to as "The Delia Effect". Her status as Britain's best-loved cook was sealed.  

I'm not a cook," she says routinely, which I assume to mean she doesn't claim to be a Cordon Bleu level cook. But that appeals to her audience, because they're not cooks either. Delia's aim was, and is, to do precisely what the Joneses are doing.

I read an interesting, rather snarky article about her in which the author described her television personality as follows: "
Still, you can tell she doesn't like to get her hands dirty: even if this is not in fact the case, the impression you get from her movements in the kitchen is very much one of a woman who would prefer to avoid sensuous contact with the ingredients."
I immediately thought of Julia Child with those chickens. :)
Never having seen a Delia TV show, I went to YouTube to watch and he was exactly right. There's no passion in her delivery and she appears to keep her hands well clear of the ingredients. At any rate he sums things up by saying:
"Is there anyone who appears duller than Delia Smith? Maybe not; but I would suspect that there are millions of people who are precisely as dull as her: us."
Delia returned to television in 1990, this time to make a series about Christmas. Delia Smith’s Christmas has sold 1,500,000 copies and the series is repeated each year. 
One cookbook success followed another. She would retire for a while, and then return to television with another special or series. Her most recent was in 2010: Delia through the Decades. Her biggest selling book is Delia Smith's The Winter Collection (1995) which sold 2 million copies in hardback. In March 2001 Delia fulfilled a long-term dream to be directly in touch with her readers and launched Delia Online.
You can't argue with success.

Outside of cooking, Delia is very religious; she converted to Catholicism in 
her twenties and has published four spiritual books.
Another of Delia's great passions is football. She has been a supporter of Norwich City Football Club for over 25 years and, in November 1996, became a Director of the club. 

Delia received an OBE in the Queen's 1995 New Year's Honours List and an MBE in the Queen's 2009 Birthday Honours List. 
In 1996, she was awarded an Honorary degree by Nottingham University, a Fellowship from St Mary’s College and a Fellowship from the Royal Television Society. 
In 1999 she received an Honorary degree from the University of East Anglia and in 2000, a Fellowship from John Moores University in Liverpool. 
See all her cookbooks HERE 
Delia's website


Some of our  Game Changers don't have large recipe sources. Believe me, Delia Smith was NOT one of them. Narrowing it down was the problem! Not being overly fond of walnuts, when I have a choice between walnuts and pecans, I almost always choose pecans. I love walnuts in salads, but prefer pecans in cakes and cookies. On the other hand, my mother LOVED walnuts, so in her honor, I chose to feature Delia's walnut sponge. I don't have the size baking tins Delia suggests so I made this cake in a smallish springform pan and then split it in half. Worked fine as you can see. This is one cake you can make with a hand tied behind your back; the texture is light, the flavor excellent. And we really liked the coffee-flavored mascarpone frosting.

All-in-one Walnut Sponge with Coffee Cream

From Delia Smith's Cookery Course

 110g / 4oz self-raising flour, sifted 
 1 teaspoon baking powder 
 110g margarine, at room temperature  
 110g / 4oz golden caster sugar 
 2 large eggs 
 1 tablespoon instant espresso dissolved in 1 ½ tablespoons of boiling water 
 50g / 2oz finely chopped walnuts  
For the filling and topping  
 250g / 9oz Mascarpone cheese 
 1 dessertspoon instant espresso powder 
 1 rounded dessertspoon golden caster sugar 
 8 walnut halves 

Two 18cm / 7 inch sponge tins, no less than 2.5cm / 1 inch deep, lightly greased and lined with baking parchment (also greased) 

Pre-heat the oven to 170ºC, 325ºF, gas mark 3  
Take a very large mixing bowl, put the flour and baking powder in a sieve and sift it into the bowl, holding the sieve high to give it a good airing as it goes down. Now all you do is simply add all the other cake ingredients (except the walnuts and coffee) to the bowl and, provided the margarine is really soft, just go in with an electric hand whisk and whisk everything together until you have a smooth, well-combined mixture. This will take about 1 minute but, if you don't have an electric hand whisk, you can use a wooden spoon and a little bit more effort. What you should end up with is a soft mixture that drops off the spoon easily when you give it a sharp tap. Then add the coffee mixture and the chopped walnuts and whisk them together. 

Divide the mixture between the prepared sandwich tins, spreading the mixture around evenly. Then give each tin a sharp tap to even the mixture out and place the tins on the centre shelf of the oven and bake them for 30 minutes. 

While the cakes are cooking you can make up the filling and topping, and all you do here is place all the ingredients, except the walnut halves, in a bowl and whisk them together till thoroughly blended. Then cover the bowl with clingfilm and chill till needed. 

When the cakes are cooked, i.e. feel springy in the centre, leave them in their tins for about 30 seconds then loosen the edges by sliding a palette knife all round and turn them out on to a wire cooling rack. Peel off the base papers carefully and, when cool sandwich the cakes together with half of the coffee cream, then carefully on top and spread the other half over. 

Finally, arrange the reserved walnut halves in a circle all around. It's a good idea to chill the cake if you're not going to serve it immediately.

Join Mary from One Perfect Bite and all the other participants in this fun series.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets 
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Kathleen Van Bruinisse - Bake Away with Me 
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Martha - Lines from Linderhof
Amy - Beloved Green

 Ciao Chow Linda


John Scharffenberger's Silky Chocolate Pudding

Anyone who reads my blog with any regularity knows chocolate isn't much on my radar. But this week, which is chocolate-filled anyway, is the exception.
Comfort puddings are some of my favorite things and personally I lean towards custard, floating Island, banana pudding, rice pudding...well you see what I mean. Mostly vanilla based. But everyone needs a perfect chocolate pudding recipe in their repertoire and for me, this is it. It sounds simple (once I cheated and didn't even use a double boiler...it'll be our little secret), but don't be fooled, it's ambrosial. Great chocolate makes all the difference. Your family will probably dig into it while it's still warm.

Isn't silky the perfect description?

Silky Chocolate Pudding
From The Essence of Chocolate by John Scharffenberger via The Wednesday Chef

Serves 4 to 6 

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
6 ounces 62% semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used half bittersweet chocolate)
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)


Combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt in the top of a double boiler. Slowly whisk in the milk, scraping the bottom and sides with a heatproof spatula to incorporate the dry ingredients. Place over gently simmering water and stir occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides. Use a whisk as necessary should lumps begin to form. After 15 to 20 minutes, when the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of the spoon, add the chocolate. 
Continue stirring for about 2 to 4 minutes, or until the pudding is smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a serving bowl (I skipped this step) or into a large measuring cup with a spout and pour into individual serving dishes.
If you like pudding skin, pull plastic wrap over the top of the serving dish(es) before refrigerating. If you dislike pudding skin, place plastic wrap on top of the pudding and smooth it gently against the surface before refrigerating. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days.


Momofuku Milk Bar's Chocolate Chip Cookies for Valentine's Day

Quite a few of you have posted this recipe, but the Momofuku 
Milk Bar Cookbook was a Christmas gift from one of my kids and I just HAD to try the cookie I'd heard so much about. It's my Valentine's Day present to you! 

I don't need to say anything about this cookbook, do I? The Milk Bar has THE. MOST. DIVINE. DESSERTS. Unusual, too. I loved reading this cookbook....everyone wants to borrow it!

So....on to the cookies. Make the Cornflake Crunch ahead of time. This recipe can be tricky
 if you don't follow directions, so I'll color the important parts in the recipe just to get your attention. I know, they're kind of a pain to make, but make them ahead and freeze the dough. It needs to be refrigerated anyway and freezing the dough actually makes for a better cookie.

Momofuku Milk Bar Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookies

From Momofuki Milk Bar by Christina Tosi

16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
1 egg, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups Cornflake Crunch (recipe follows) (3 cups is about 3/4 of the recipe below)
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows

Combine butter and sugars in a mixer with a paddle attachment and beat for 2-3 minutes.
Scrape down the bowl and add the egg and vanilla. Beat for 7-8 minutes.
Reduce mixer speed and add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix only until dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the Cornflake Crunch and mini chocolate chips and mix on low speed for only 30 seconds. Mix in marshmallows just until incorporated.
Using a 2 3/4 ounce ice cream scoop (or a 1/3 cup measure) portion out the dough on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Press down to flatten the dough somewhat, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate a minimum of 1 hour up to one week. Or cover tightly and freeze the dough at this point.
Do not bake the cookies from room temperature.
Preheat oven to 375.

Arrange the dough on parchment paper or silpat, 4 inches apart. The cookies will puff, 
crackle and spread. The recipe says 18 minutes; the cookies should be browned on the edges and beginning to brown in the center. I found it took 15 minutes in my oven...start checking after 12 minutes. Much depends on whether the cookies are frozen or refrigerated and oven temps are not all alike to begin with. Allow to cool completely right on the parchment paper. The cookies will stay fresh up to 5 days in an airtight container or in the freezer up to a month.

 Cornflake Crunch

5 cups cornflakes (1/2 box)
1/2 cup milk powder
3 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


Preheat oven to 275
Pour the cornflakes in a bowl and crush them with your hands until they are one quarter of their original size. Add the milk powder, sugar and salt and mix well with your hands.
Pour the melted butter over and toss to coat.
Spread mixture out on a parchment or silpat-lined baking pan and toast 20 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan and store in an airtight container. It will keep fresh for 1 week, or in the refrigerator or freezer it will keep a month.


Gourmet's 50 Women Game Changers in Food: # 34, Ella Brennan

This was such a fun post to write. I LOVE New Orleans and have literally eaten my way through the city. This Game Changer is the undisputed queen of NOLA and my post could have gone on and on as the Brennan family is fascinating.

Ella Brennan is the daughter of Nellie Brennan and Owen Edward Brennan Sr., who had a job in the New Orleans shipyards. She grew up in the Irish Channel section of New Orleans and instead of joining the debutante set, she spent her time at Cafe Lafitte, learning about life from the Cafe Lafitte regulars like Lucius Beebe, the famous bon vivant, and Max Kriendler, who owned the "21" Club in New York. Nothing dull about Ella's teenage years!

"Before the jet plane, there was no jet set, darlin' -- there was Cafe Lafitte," she said. "Everybody was there. "And there I was, this little girl off a bayou, big eyes, big ears and a big mouth in the making."

Ella's  oldest brother Owen was g
ood-looking, gregarious and quite the bon vivant around town. He became one of the French Quarter's favorite gadabouts. He earned his reputation as proprietor of the Old Absinthe House and later the Vieux Carre, a restaurant he bought in the French Quarter. Ella idolized him. She griped about the poor quality of food served there so Owen offered her a job.

She was still a girl when Owen first put her on an airplane and sent her around the world to eat in the finest restaurants and see what she could learn. "My mother cooked everything you could think of better than anyone on earth," Brennan says. Brennan was definitely
not a cook (“Who the hell wants to cook?”), but she developed an educated palate through her travels, which she trained by “restaurant chasing,” as she called her passion of energetically sampling the offerings of restaurants wherever she went. Something she's continued throughout her life.

"I read all the books ever written on Creole cooking and then all the French ones that were translated, " she says. "I still say the first 137 pages of the Escoffier cookbook -- if you don't know that, you don't know anything about cooking," she says.

Miss Ella, as she is called, married briefly but wasn't much of a stay-at-home mom. Although unconventional, Brennan endowed her children with something her daughter says she values even more: interesting lives.

While Vieux Carre ultimately grew into a consequential establishment, Owen was determined to create something sensational. Brennan's, he would call it. Unfortunately, he died in 1955 but together, the family managed to regroup and get on with the project.
"Everybody mortgaged their houses, " Brennan says. "And everybody who had an in-law got a loan."

"We did everything wrong we could possibly do wrong but we made a lot of friends along the way," is how she explains the family's success. Brennan's was a hit. 
"A lot of business got done at Brennan's. Some people did more business at the restaurant than in their offices."

The family packaged the Creole mystique and pushed it into the American mainstream. "Bananas Foster" was invented during Miss Ella's reign at Brennan's; so was "Breakfast at Brennan's," the prototypical American brunch. In the process, they developed social, financial and political bonds far beyond New Orleans. The Brennans are the Kennedys of the Big Easy. 

In 1969, the Brennans bought Emile Commander's restaurant. The culinary world was being shaken by a controversial new approach to food -- nouvelle cuisine, and Brennan wanted to marry it somehow to traditional New Orleans fare. She invented "haute creole". (Interesting since the Brennans were Irish.) The restaurant was not an immediate hit.

"Let me tell you, it was dicey in the early days, " says Brennan's son Alex.
 For five years, Brennan struggled with the restaurant, but experience won out. 
The family survived deaths and a rift in 1974, when a family feud split the business. Owen's children -- Pip, Jimmy and Ted -- have run the family's original restaurant, Brennan's, on Royal Street. At the same time, Ella, Dick, Adelaide, Dottie and John took over Commander's Palace in the Garden District and built it into one of the 10 top grossing restaurants in the United States.

When the world started to change, Miss Ella pushed her brother Dick to computerize the business. When the national diet began to change, she pushed her chef, Emeril Lagasse, to lighten Creole dishes. Creating restaurants that can thrive in a tight economy, herding her family through a change of guard -- these are the sort of things Miss Ella can handle.

Many chefs got their start here: Paul Prudhomme, Emeril Lagasse and Frank Brigsten, who says: "Can you cook in that environment?" he asks. "Do you have the moves? Can you do the dance? That's what you learn in a place like Commander's Palace: Do you have it or not?" 
"You can be the greatest chef in the world, " says Brigtsen, "but if you can't serve your food at a profit, you won't be the greatest chef in the world for very long." 

                                                               Here's my AJLI ladies' group at the  Commander's Palace Jazz Brunch

The reason for Ella Brennan's success? She's never content; she does her homework and reads voraciously; she learned the business from the bottom up; she knows how to combine a spirit of fun with a grand restaurant; and finally, she knows service is king.

In 1996, Commander's Palace was honored with the Lifetime Outstanding Restaurant Award from the James Beard Foundation. It has also been awarded the Lifetime Service Award.
In 2002 the Lifetime Achievement Award Winner from SFA was given to Ella Brennan.


There are many
 famous Brennan restaurant recipes we've read about, but I decided on this wonderful, unusual soup. Of course, you have to love eggplant, which I do. This is supposedly a favorite of Ella's and is thicker than most soups, almost a purée. I made a few changes to the recipe. I puréed the soup in my food processor and I used fresh herbs.

Cream of Eggplant Soup

From The Commander's Palace New Orleans Cookbook

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups minced onions
1 1/2 cups minced celery

1 1/2 cups peeled and finely diced potatoes
2 large eggplants, peeled at least 1/4 inch from the skin (to prevent bitterness), finely diced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon sweet basil
1 quart chicken stock
2 cups heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large saucepan and sauté the onions, celery, potatoes and eggplant until soft, about 25 minutes. Add curry powder, thyme and basil. Cook until ingredients begin to stick to the bottom of the pan.
Add chicken stock and cook until soup begins to thicken, about 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from heat, purée in a food processor and then add cream and salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Join Mary from One Perfect Bite and all the other participants in this fun series.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets 
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Kathleen Van Bruinisse - Bake Away with Me 
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Martha - Lines from Linderhof
Amy - Beloved Green

 Ciao Chow Linda


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