Thursday, December 20, 2007

Butterscotch-Oatmeal-Coconut Cookies

So easy. So decadent. If you need a last minute cookie for holiday gift giving or dessert, this is it. Just mix, drop onto the cookie sheet, and bake.

Butterscotch Chip, Oatmeal, & Coconut Cookies


· 2 eggs, well beaten
· ¾ cup brown sugar
· ¾ cup white sugar
· 1 cup vegetable oil
· 1 cup flour sifted with 1 tsp salt
· 2 cups oatmeal
· 1 cup coconut
· 6 oz. butterscotch chips (sometimes I use the whole bag)


1) Mix all ingredients, then add up to 2 more cups oatmeal

2) Drop on ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Take out of oven. The cookies will not look done.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bourbon-Walnut Sweet Potato Mash

Although my focus is on holiday cookie making this month, I want to give a nod to a dish I made twice recently, once for Sunday dinner at my cousin Jeanne’s house and once for Thanksgiving. This recipe is a winner because it takes advantage of all the yams in the markets these days (they seem to be particularly sweet right now), and because it’s super easy. It’s perfect for a multi-course meal that includes other more time-consuming dishes. You can make it a day ahead; just heat it up in the microwave and sprinkle the nuts on top before serving. Because of the bourbon, maple syrup, and allspice, this dish has a wonderfully distinctive flavor that sets it apart as a cold weather side dish.

Bourbon-Walnut Sweet Potato Mash
from Bon Appetit, November 2007


- 4 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams)
- 1/2 cup whipping cream
- 6 Tbsp (3/4 cup) butter
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp bourbon
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 cup walnuts, toasted, chopped


1) Preheat oven to 350°F.

2) Roast potatoes on rimmed baking sheet until tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

3) Cool slightly. Scoop flesh into large bowl; discard skins.

4) Mash hot potatoes until coarse puree forms.

5) Heat cream and butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until butter melts, stirring occasionally.

6) Gradually stir hot cream mixture into hot potatoes.

7) Stir in syrup, bourbon, and all spices. Season with salt and pepper.

8) Before serving, sprinkle nuts over and serve.

Serves 8-10.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tis the Season: Holiday Gifts

Some years, I find Christmas shopping more difficult than usual. This is one of those years. There are a couple people on my list (my new fifteen-year-old niece and my mom) who have me stymied—if you have any recommendations for a hip London teen and a mother who has everything, please feel free to let me know. And just in case anyone who comes across this blog is looking for suggestions, I have a couple I’d like to offer … plus, this gives me a chance to promote some people and projects very close to my heart.

A Dose of Our Minds

For the last two and a half years, I have been leading a teen writing workshop at the Alexandria House neighborhood program in Los Angeles. Last year, we published a book of the teens’ poetry, essays, and artwork. I admit, I’m partial, because these are such amazing kids (I’ve known most of them for years), but outsiders have told me that their work really is moving. It gets to the heart of being an inner city teen. And if you buy a copy, profits go back into the program for writing supplies, new books, photography field trips, and a new volume of their writing next year. A great gift for creative teens.

Click here to purchase A Dose of Our Minds

The Sushi Book

Published by Things Asian Press, (the same publisher behind my To Asia With Love guidebook series), The Sushi Book is for hardcore sushi lovers. This primer by Celeste Heiter covers everything: sushi history, sushi etiquette, sushi lingo, etc. There’s even a chapter of basic recipes for making a sushi dinner at home. Photos are full color and add to the book’s gift appeal.

Click here to purchase The Sushi Book

Click here to purchase To Asia With Love

Click here to go to Celeste’s food blog: Chopstick Cinema

The Unprejudiced Palate

Slow, locally grown food. Are foodies talking about anything else these days? With “locavore” named as the Oxford English Dictionary’s 2007 Word of the Year, and Alice Waters’ recently published treatise/cookbook endorsing her “delicious revolution,” it’s clear that this trend is here to stay. But long before Chez Panisse, back in 1948, Angelo Pellegrini was arguing for the slo-lo way in The Unprejudiced Palate. Having immigrated to the US from Italy, Pellegrini was appalled by the way Americans approached food, and his book is a rebuttal, as well as a primer on how to eat—and therefore live—well. Since he grew as much of his food as he could, and even made his own wine, he knows of what he speaks.

Click here to purchase The Unprejudiced Palate

The Little Saigon Cookbook

Ah, I just can’t help myself. Written by my pal Ann Le, photographed by my sis Julie Fay Ashborn, and featuring my favorite food: Vietnamese … it’s always a winner.

Click here to purchase The Little Saigon Cookbook

Click here to purchase Julie’s Southeast Asia note cards

Spices from Didier Corlou

If you just happen to be in Hanoi this holiday season, pop into La Verticale, Didier Corlou’s new restaurant, which also features a spice shop. I had the good fortune of spending time with Didier a few years ago, when I was in Vietnam researching Communion (coming soon, I promise). Then, he headed up the kitchen at the Metropole. His food was exquisite. Though I haven’t been to La Verticale yet, I just know it’s amazing. But I can vouch for the spices he sells, as my publisher kindly sent me a box of the best, including pepper, cinnamon, a pho blend, a nuoc mam salt, and more.

La Verticale
19 Ngo Van So St.
Hoan Kiem District
(84-04) 944-6317