Flour Head Bakery’s Appalachian Trail Mix Cookies

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I have a sneaky feeling that the creation of gravy happened somewhere at the intersection of accident and eureka.

In my imagination, it starts as a little grease fire in a pan.  When cook notices, she grabs a handful of flour left over from kneading the breakfast bread and tosses it into the pan to smother the flame. As the fire abates, she adds a little water to make sure the flame is dead or to keep the mess from sticking too hard, and, curious, she dips her finger in for a taste.  Voila!  Gravy.

Of course, that’s all early morning conjecture, but the history of food is rife with accidental creation not too dissimilar from this imagining.  A quick survey of the inter-webs will tell you that Crêpes Suzette and corn flakes are both the results of happy accidents.

Perhaps it’s merely a eureka moment when inspiration strikes cooks and inventors.  But in the kitchen, I can’t help believe that for every “ah-ha” moment, there are many more ideas born of frugality at times when every bite counted.

It can be hard for some of us to understand frugality in the kitchen. It’s easy to get used to throwing mistakes away and starting over without even wondering, “how can I salvage this?”  And that’s a real waste because it robs the world of some of the most potent and practical creative impulses: ideas born of necessity, the great mother of invention.

What is a pâté de campagne except an inspired assemblage of odd bits?  And those Crêpes Suzette?  They’re a brilliant accident that went onto a plate instead of into the trash after the sauce caught fire.

Mistakes happen – even in careful kitchens.  It’s what you do next that counts.

The cooks and bakers at our sister, Flour Head Bakery, are a precise lot, but accidents happen to the best of us. Like the time when two different kinds of granola found themselves in the same mixing bowl.  Not a great tragedy, I suppose, but it did mean there was a lot of unsalable granola hanging around.  Fortunately, someone said cookies.  And that’s how this recipe came to be.

It’s a hearty combination of some of our favorite things and, though I’m sure nobody felt good about mixing up all that granola, the mistake mixed with a little inspiration made for a pretty fabulous cookie.  And that’s how to turn a kitchen frown, upside down – all without throwing anything away.

 

Flour Head Bakery’s Appalachian Trail Mix Cookies

1 stick Unsalted Butter, Soft

½ cup Granulated Sugar

½ cup Light Brown Sugar, packed

1 Large Egg

1 tsp Vanilla

2 cups All Purpose Flour

½ tsp Cinnamon

½ tsp Ground Clove

½ tsp Salt

1 tsp Baking Powder

½ tsp Baking Soda

1.75 cups Flour Head Bakery Granola

1 cup Dried Cranberries

½ cup White Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In the bowl of your stand mixer beat together butter with sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg, followed by vanilla and beat until mixed.

Whisk together flour, spices, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until incorporated. Add the granola, dried cranberries and white chocolate chips and mix until well mixed.

Drop the cookies by the spoonful or scoop out onto a parchment lined cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Flatten the cookies slightly with the palm of your hand and bake for 12 minutes until the edges are light brown.

Cool cookies and serve.

Dough can be scooped and frozen for up to 4 weeks. Thaw and flatten before baking.

Makes 12- 24 cookies depending on size.

Hummus – Tradition and Invention

Absolutes are dangerous.

Of course, absolutes are also attractive, sometimes very attractive because they eliminate uncertainty and create a kind of level playing ground for the mind.  After all, life is so unpredictable, it’s only natural that we’re drawn to anything we perceive as steady, fixed and resolved.  But the truth is, the truth can vary.

And that’s as true in matters of food as it is of anything.  If you’re a well-traveled southerner or just one with family in more than one state, you probably know this instinctively.  Just you try to declare a definitive recipe for BBQ, corn bread, or, heck, even deviled eggs, and you’re likely to find yourself embroiled in the kind of ruckus that has been known suspend family reunions indefinitely and to rouse normally serene southern grandmothers to expletive laced invective.

In parts of the Middle East, you’ll find the same passion for the absolute in discussions about hummus and the one true recipe.  But if history has taught us anything, it demonstrates that there is no such thing as the one true recipe.  Hummus, like all good food, has as many incarnations as there are hands that make it.

Besides, history is notoriously incomplete in matters of food.  Even today as young writers relish and record family recipes, they’re setting down instructions and ingredients that are often several generations old, passed sometimes by food stained recipe card and sometimes by oral tradition. An old family recipe that insists that Duke’s is absolutely the only mayo for a properly deviled egg is curious to me because both Mama and Mamaw only ever had Helman’s in their kitchens.  Somebody changed that absolute, I know it.  And I know that’s true of hummus, too, because I’ve seen it happen.

Hummus is shorthand for hummus bi tahini which means chickpea with sesame paste.  It’s an old recipe with a first recorded mention sometime in the 13th century, though some folks argue that the first reference is actually in the Old Testament’s Book of Ruth.  There’s no recipe in Ruth, just an invitation to dip some bread in the hometz, and that’s just as well; chickpea cultivation is about 10, 000 years old, and I feel confident that someone, whether by accident or intention, mashed up the chickpea and found it good long before anybody even figured out how to make paper.

The basic ingredients of hummus are chickpeas, tahini, garlic and lemon – and from there it’s a story about invention, adaptation, and experimentation that has launched a thousand little tweaks in kitchens across the globe and close to home, too.

Even here in the Tomato Head kitchens we have a signature recipe that we couldn’t resist fiddling with.  Oh, don’t worry – our original and unsubtle hummus remains as original and unsubtle as ever, but we’ve added some more flavors to the mix.  In fact, there are four new flavors: Beet, Black Bean Sriracha, Carrot, and Classic.

Our new Classic hummus is a traditional, smooth and creamy chickpea centered dip.  The other flavors are just what they sound like because the recipes remain short, simple and fresh. And we make all of them by hand right here at home – that means we roast beets, shred carrots and mash the chickpeas ourselves.

And while they make great dips, don’t get so caught up in absolutes that you overlook all the hummus hack potential – consider the recipe below, Tomato Head’s Beet and Carrot Hummus Sandwich.  It combines 2 flavors of hummus with the taste of market fresh produce for a sandwich of considerable crunch and savor.  And even if the recipe doesn’t pre-date the Common Era and does take some liberties with even older recipes, it’s still absolutely delicious

 

Tomato Head’s Beet and Carrot Hummus Sandwich

For the Corn and Green Bean Salad:

8-10 Green Beans

1 ear Corn

2 tsp Fresh Mint Chopped

2 TBL Feta Cheese

4 tsp Olive Oil

2 tsp Lemon Juice

¼ tsp Salt

¼ tsp Cracked Black Pepper

In a large pot of boiling water, cook the corn for 3-5 minutes just until tender. Remove the corn from the pot. When the corn is cool, cut the kernels off the cob, cutting close to the cob. Place the corn kernels in a medium sized bowl and set aside. Drop the green beans in the same pot of water and cook for 30 seconds. Drain the green beans and immerse them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Remove the green beans from the ice water and slice thin. Add green beans and remaining ingredients to corn and toss well.

To assemble the sandwich:

1 – 9 oz tub Tomato Head Carrot Hummus

1 – 9 oz tub Tomato Head Beet Hummus

Flour Head Bakery 100% Wheat Bread

1-2 leaves Lacinato Kale Julienned

1 Green Zucchini sliced thin

1 Yellow Zucchini sliced thin

1 Tomato sliced

Place 2 slices of bread on your cutting board. Spread one slice generously with Carrot Hummus, and the other with Beet Hummus. Top one of the slices of bread with Julienned Kale, followed by Yellow Zucchini, Green Zucchini, Corn and Green Bean Salad and Sliced Tomato. Sprinkle the Sliced tomato with Salt and Pepper. Place the second slice of bread on top of the tomato, hummus side down. Cut sandwich in half. Repeat the process if building more than one sandwich.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!

We don’t mean this as a bait and switch, per se.  It is not actually chocolate chip cookie day as the food calendar would have it, but, honestly, everyday there’s a warm cookie nearby is a de facto festival in my book.  Today, while we are, in fact, celebrating the chocolate chip cookie, we’re doing it all on our own terms.

Almost every package of chocolate chips has a recipe for cookies on the back; some have that most famous of chocolate chip cookie recipes, the Toll House Cookie.  At least our package did, and Mahasti decided to follow that recipe exactly and to the letter.  When the cookies came out of the oven, Mahasti concluded that it was a good time to do a little tweaking…

We’re including the recipe, but we hope you’ll take a moment to watch the cookie making in action!  While you’re there, subscribe – we have good stuff cooking all the time.

 

Flour Head Bakery’s Chocolate Chip Cookie

2 sticks unslated butter, softened

½ cup Light Brown Sugar

½ cup Granulated Sugar

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

2 large Eggs, room temperature

2 ¼ cup All Purpose Flour

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 tsp Salt

2 cups Chocolate Chips

1 cup Chopped Walnuts

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment cream the butter with the sugars until light and fluffy.  Scrape the bowl down and with the mixer running on low speed add the vanilla, followed by the eggs – one at a time, and allowing the first egg to mix in before adding the second.  Scrape the bowl down after the second egg has completely mixed in.

In a small bowl mix together the flour with the salt and baking powder.  Whisk briefly to remove the lumps in the flour.  With the mixer running on low speed add the dry ingredients and mix until all the flour is inocorporated into the mixture.  Scrape the bowl down oen more time and mix for 15 – 20 seconds, then gradually add the chocolate chips followed by the nuts and mix until they are mixed in.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Scoop as many cookies as you would like to bake onto a parchment lined cookie sheet, allowing 2 inches between each cookie.  Flatten the cookies slightly and bake on the middle rack for 12- 13 minutes or until the edges are starting the brown.  Cool cookies on a cooling rack for 5- 10 minutes then enjoy.

Scoop the remainder of your cookie dough onto a parchment lined plate.  Freeze the cookie dough balls for 20- 30 minutes.  Transfer the dough balls to a Ziploc bag and freeze for up to 6 weeks.

To bake cookies from frozen, simply thaw the cookies 1 hour before baking then follow the baking instructions above.

Gingerbread


Cookies are magic.

Gingerbread People

We know it instinctively.  It might be that some of us grew up believing that little elves who live in hollow trees make magic in the form of fudge stripes on shortbread and the like.  For me, the magic is in the memory of family kitchens filled, especially at this time of year, with palpable enchantments; the lust of the forbidden cookie dough followed by that bewitching but tortuous aroma of cookies in the oven.  Just writing those words makes my head spin like no love potion could ever hope to do.  To this day, even the memory of that smell can cast a craving on me that won’t quit until answered.

And of all that aromatic cookie magic, the most potent is gingerbread.  The secret, methinks, is in the formidable combination of ginger and molasses which creates a darkly sweet but lively dough that produces a rich baking aroma that gets inside of me and makes me feel warm and, of course, very, very hungry.

It’s not a new magic by any means, gingerbread in various incarnations populates the histories of many cultures.  Likewise, the magic of shaping food into shapes for a little magical mischief is an ancient bit of sorcery.  Of course, it probably all started with clay and idols, but those aren’t particularly tasty.

In Medieval England, ladies would sometimes eat gingerbread husbands in hopes of acquiring the real thing.  I can’t imagine that was particularly efficacious magic – gingerbread is sweet and adorable and, from what I can tell, men in medieval England were not overly sweet as a rule.

But how gingerbread men came to be a part of the Christmas tradition is unclear – perhaps it evolved from the German tradition of creating gingerbread houses which were associated with the yuletide.  Or maybe it’s just one of those things that happens – somebody put a cookie on a tree for decoration and, abra cadabra, a tradition was born.

But the real magic of gingerbread isn’t in the shape, per se – it’s in the creation, the fact of the making, the act of the shaping and most importantly, the cooking of it.  The rich aroma of gingerbread in the oven is the aroma of home. And isn’t the magic of home a big part of what we observe this time of year?  No matter what holiday we celebrate, it’s always better at home – whether that’s a family moment or time shared with close friends, perhaps even pets, spending time with those we love is the real enchantment.

Homemade gingerbread is the by-product of love, which, of course, is the greatest magic of all.  And it’s never too late to find your inner wizard.
Yum

Gingerbread Cut Out Cookies

3 ¾ cups All Purpose Flour

1 cup, packed Light Brown Sugar

½ tsp Salt

1 tsp Baking Soda

4 tsp Ground Ginger

½ tsp Ground Clove

4 tsp Ground Cinnamon

2 sticks plus 1 TBL Unsalted Butter at room temperature

3 TBL Whole Milk

1 cup Blackstrap Molasses

Mix together the Flour, Brown Sugar, Salt, Baking Soda and spices in the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment until all the ingredients are mixed together well.  On low speed gradually add the butter and beat until the mixture resembles coarse sand.  Mix together the milk and molasses.  With the mixer running gradually add the molasses mixture to the mixing bowl and mix until all the dry ingredients are incorporated and a soft dough is formed.

Divide the dough up into 2-4 balls.  Flatten into disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.  Dough can also easily be frozen for up to 30 days.  Simply remove from the freezer 24 hours prior to baking.

Cooling Off

When ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.   Line your cutting board with a sheet of parchment paper big enough to cover the board and also fit your cookie sheet.  Remove your gingerbread dough from the refrigerator.  Dust the surface of your parchment paper heavily with flour and roll out the dough to ¼ inch thickness.  Cut your desired shapes into the cookie dough, leaving ¾ of an inch, enough room for cookies to expand in the oven, between each shape.  Remove the excess dough from in between the cookies shapes and reform the excess dough into a disk, which you can either re-roll out or refrigerate or freeze for future use.  Lift your cutting board off of your work surface and gently tilt it towards your cookie sheet, sliding the parchment paper with the cookies onto the cookie sheet.  Gently re-arrange the cookies if necessary, giving them enough room to expand in the oven.

Bake the cookies for 10 – 12 minutes for a soft cookie and 12-14 minutes for a crispy one.  Allow cookies to cool.  Ice with Royal Icing and decorate with sprinkles.  Allow icing to harden and enjoy.

Check out our recipe for royal icing to decorate your cookies.

Purchase Mahasti’s Recommended Utensils

Stand Mixer

Cutting Board

Measuring Cups

Measuring Spoons

Glass Measuring Cup

Rolling Pin

Gingerbread Man Cookie Cutter

Gingerbread Girl Cookie Cutter

Flour Head Bakery’s Pumpkin Pie


Yum

Ingredients

2 cups Fresh or Canned Pumpkin Puree

1 cup Heavy Cream

1/2 cup Milk

2 Eggs

1 Egg Yolk

1/2 cup Sugar

2 TBL Butter, melted

1/2 tsp Salt

3/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Ground Ginger

1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg

1/8 tsp Ground Clove

1 tsp Vanilla

One 9-inch-deep dish prepared pie crust, partially baked

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Place all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and whisk together until all the ingredients are mixed well.

Pour the mixture into a partially baked pie crust, being careful not to overfill. Bake the pie for 10 minutes, then tent with foil and bake another 45-50 minutes until the pie sets.  The filling should shake as a whole when you tap the side of the pie pan and not jiggle in the center.

If you have a little more filling that will fit into your crust, pour the excess into a buttered ramekin, bake for 15-20 minutes until set. You can cool and refrigerate ramekins and serve as a gluten free option.

Purchase Mahastie’s Suggested Utensils

Ceramic Deep Pie Dish, 9-1/2-Inch

Mixing Bowl 5-Quart

Whisk 9-Inch

Glass Measuring Cup Set

Measuring Spoons

Sheet Pan

Porcelain Ramekins

Flour Head Bakery’s Zucchini Bread

Prepped Ingredients

If you polled farmers about garden humor, I suspect that you’d find out that the poor, prolific zucchini is a popular subject for jokes.  That’s because, like rabbits, this summer squash greets life with a singular drive to be fruitful and multiply.  I have one gardener friend who tells tales about drive-by” squashings”; these midnight capers involve sneaking from house to house to leave big bags of the squash on the doorsteps of unsuspecting neighbors, all in an effort to make sure that the squash glut gets eaten – just by somebody else.

That’s why we have recipes galore for zucchini; from bread to cookies, thrifty and clever cooks have found all sorts of ways to use up legions of the rapid reproducer, and do it in a way that combats the inevitable squash fatigue that comes with late summer.

But what’s really great about these recipes is that they’re also excellent options for the devious parent who stays awake at night plotting ways to sneak vegetables into the food of their unsuspecting offspring.

There’s almost an industry about this kind of cunning cooking.  You might remember some flack over the publication of Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook, Deceptively Delicious, which involved accusations of plagiarism by the author of a similar cookbook that dealt with sneaking good food into kids’ diets.

Well, there’s no controversy with this recipe.  Zucchini Bread remains one of the easiest and most popular ways to use

The Batter

up the surplus, and has the added value of irresistibility!   Admit it, you’re already thinking of just how much butter one slice can handle. The Flour Head version has some added perks – including a unique addition of sunflower seeds and a healthy dollop of yogurt – both of which add a little je ne sais quoi to an old favorite.  Best of all, it’s popular with all ages so it’s a perfect too to aid the dastardly deed of feeding little people squash and making them love every minute of it.

The key to sneaking good vegetable matter from the garden and into your kid is subtlety.  So it might be wise to make this when the kids are not around.  Or at least have the secret ingredient already prepped and ready to add to the recipe in a flash while you distract your kid with something like taking out the trash (even if you don’t succeed in assigning the chore, the inevitable whining will keep the juvenile mind occupied long enough for you to slip the zucchini into the batter unnoticed).  And don’t be tempted to shortcut the shredding of the squash; you don’t want the vegetable to look anything like itself!  After all, if you can’t see it or taste it – it isn’t really there! With this recipe – all they’ll taste is delicious.

One of the byproducts of using zucchini is that it adds lots of moisture to the recipe, so you’ll have a tender bite that tastes great at room temperature and lends itself to some butter-melting toasting, too!   You’ll probably find yourself wanting to make this even when the garden isn’t overwhelmed with squash production.

 

Flour Head Bakery’s Zucchini Bread

Finished Loaf

1.5 cups All-purpose Flour

½ cup whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground allspice

½ tsp ground clove

½ tsp salt

1 cup chopped pecans

½ cup sunflower seeds

4 cups shredded Zucchini, shredded, about 3 small zucchini

2 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

½ cup packed light brown sugar

¼ cup whole milk plain yogurt

6 TB melted Butter

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Butter and lightly dust a 9×5 loaf pan with flour.

Place flours, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt in a large bowl. Add pecans and sunflower seeds and stir with a wooden spoon. Set aside.

Shred Zucchini on the large shred of a box grater and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together eggs, sugars, yogurt, and melted butter. Add the egg mixture and the shredded zucchini to the flour mixture, and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated. The miixture will look quite thick. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes. Drop the oven temperature to 350 and bake another 35- 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, or a thermometer registers 203 degrees.

Remove the pan from the oven, and allow the bread to cool in the pan for 15- 20 minutes, before removing from the pan.

For the best flavor, allow the bread to cool completely then place the bread in a plastic bag and let it rest for 12 – 24 hours before enjoying.

 

 

Cheese Straws

I do not often think of myself as a Southerner.  It’s not prejudicial – I am fond of the South in many ways and often eat and cook like a Southerner ought to do.   I’ve grown okra, I can tie up a tomato, I know how to make a fair tea cake, I prefer my grits with red-eye gravy, and my cast iron skillet is seasoned and ready for cornbread at the drop of a hat.  Why, the only things really that keep me from calling myself a true Southerner are that I have never thought of East Tennessee as being particularly Southern, and, much, much more to the point, I don’t care for cheese straws.

Getting Ready to Mix

Getting Ready to Mix

Don’t misunderstand me, I like the idea of cheese straws, and I even like the taste of them.  What I do not like is the shape – this essential southern snack, when forced through a cookie press like a big hog through a tight sty, takes on a cylindrical, sometimes frilly edged form that I find difficult to abide.

In case you might wonder, it is not a cylinder phobia of which I am afflicted.  I enjoy driving with all 4 of them firing as much as the next person, and should I find myself eating a whole carrot, I am content to nibble away as any cartoon bunny might.  But in the matter of cheese straws with their delicate and tender construction, I am entirely discontent to approach the thing as one might approach a corn dog.

That delicate construction has a propensity to crumb or even break off.  If the straw is made to be delicious, it will be a little unctuous and may very well leave a slight stain on one’s seersucker should it break apart.  Furthermore, I subscribe to the idea that decent cocktail food should be easily eaten in one, perhaps two bites.  I have seen straws that strain that rule to upwards of four ungainly mouthfuls.

Who, I ask you, would be so indelicate as to imagine that I could possibly eat that way in polite society?  Why a cheese straw of such a length would most certainly tickle the epiglottis and provoke an unseemly gag or, if it did not, might open one up to very scurrilous remarks upon the absence of that reflex.

So you see my point, I am quite sure.  Fortunately, the very good and sensible Mahasti also understands this woeful

Ready to Cut the Wafers

Ready to Cut the Wafers

dilemma.  For this reason, she has proved us with a very politic solution.  In fact it’s much more politic and agreeable than almost anything else I’ve heard so far this year.  You see, after Mahasti assembles her base recipe she rolls it up into a long cylinder (of which, I remind you, I am not phobic) and slices it into the most delicate little rounds you can imagine.

These are cheese wafers and have the same kind of ethereal lightness that I imagined manna having when it floated down into my imagination during Sunday School.

I suppose you can take your crunchy cheese snack in whatever shape you want it.  But I hope you’ll understand that while I may not have the genteel quality of a real Southerner, I do have delicate sensibilities which is the next best thing.

So Bon Appetit, y’all.

 

Flour Head Bakery’s Cheddar Cheese Wafers

The Finished Product

The Finished Product

½ lb Sharp Cheddar, shredded

4 oz butter (1 stick), soft

3 TBl water

1.5 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

½ tsp Cayenne

½ tsp Paprika

1 tsp Bl pepper

2 tsp baking powder

In the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a medium bowl with a hand-held mixer, beat the butter until smooth.  Add the shredded cheddar and mix until the cheese breaks down and forms a smooth paste.  Add water and mix just until incorporated.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, salt, cayenne, paprika, black pepper and baking powder.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until it forms a smooth ball.  Divide the dough into 2 pieces, and shape each piece into a log.  Wrap each log in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Slice the log into 1/8 inch discs and place on a parchment lined baking sheet, with ½ inch of space between each wafer.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove the wafers from the oven, turn the oven off and allow the oven to cool for 10 minutes.  Return the wafers to the oven and allow to rest in off oven for 30 minutes or until crisp. (the wafers will crisp up as they cool)

Unbaked wafer logs can be kept in the refrigerator up to 5 days, and can be frozen for up to 1 month.

National Sugar Cookie Day

If the sugar cookie could talk, I suspect it would express some bashful surprise at the fact that we honor, even celebrate, it.  The often pale and unadorned sweet might even blush to know that we toast its very existence today on National Sugar Cookie Day.

The Sugar Cookie, at least as we most often like it, appears as a simple treat made of ordinary ingredients that’s sometimes finished with an ordinary glaze, perhaps with a bit of color or, in a fit of holiday madness, there might be a jazzy sprinkle of brightly hued sugar that, like a festive hat, bedecks the cookie for a fete.

But even when the cookie takes on a less than modest appearance, as a star shape or perhaps in the form of a snowman, a tree, or a Santa cap, the fact of its transformation remains rooted in the simplicity of its making.  The simple dough is easy to cut and shape, and so bakers who lived long before the first cookie cutter could easily customize their baking.  Sometimes simplicity promotes longevity.

One of the earliest American examples of this sugary disk, the Nazareth Cookie (now installed as the official cookie of Pennsylvania) was created by Moravians in Nazareth, PA.  It’s not much more than sugar, flour, eggs, butter, leavening, and, maybem salt and was a part of a tradition of simple recipes for jumbal, jamble, jemelloe, or gemmel cookies that date beyond the 17th century – perhaps as long ago as 7th century Persia.  The popularity of the style cookie grew from its longevity – they could be cooked until they were dry and, admittedly, tough enough to handle a long journey.  It may be that, like some of your ancestors, the sugar cookie’s sires came over on the Mayflower.

Variations on the cookie became matters of pride – that’s certainly true in the South where the simple cookie morphed into the stately tea cake.  But even with an elevated name the cookie remained a relatively simple recipe – so much so that even the poorest larders might stock the ingredients to create tea cake for special occasions.  There are some culinary historians who opine that the sugar cookie or tea cake was one of the few holiday solaces that might grace a slave’s table in America.

It’s surprising, perhaps, to the modern palate with its cravings for flavor fireworks assuaged only by a multiplicity of radical tastes that the sugar cookie can have lasted so long.  And yet in its earliest incarnation, the cookie would have cajoled even the most jaded hipster palate.  Often English jumbals were touched by exotic spices like caraway, cardamom, anise or perhaps rosewater.  Sometimes they weren’t even what we might call sweet.

For such a simple recipe, the sugar cookie bears a complex array of culinary and social history:  the cultivation of sugar and the establishment of a spice trade mingle with joy, sadness, the travails of forced labor and slavery, religious oppression, the founding of a nation along with some stabs at utopia along the way.

This food celebration comes with much to contemplate – there’s a lot of history in this cookie.   So it’s best to start eating right now.  Happy Sugar Cookie Day – we hope it’s a sweet one.

Trifecta of Food Holidays

3 is a magical number.  In Roman and Chinese systems, it’s one of the few numbers that’s written with as many strokes as the number represents.  It’s a significant number to Christians, Hindus, Pagans, and Pythagoras, too. In less consecrated  ways, those who fancy a flutter on the gee-gees on Derby Day or anytime Keeneland is open have the option of betting Trifectas – a challenging but profitable prediction of the order of first, second and THIRD place winners.

Even cultural superstitions are pervaded by the number – third on a match dies, celebrities die in trios, and the third time is a charm.

Although we’re not especially superstitious, nor particularly wont to wager, as we consider the number 3 alongside our immediate future, it becomes clear that the prognosis is good, bright, and perhaps even wondrous.  We might even play the numbers.

May 13, 14 and 15 constitute a Trifecta of taste, practically a Tomato Head triduum, which celebrates three of the foods that are dear to our heart and hunger.  First comes National Hummus Day, followed by Buttermilk Biscuit Day, and finally Chocolate Chip Cookie Day.  Can you imagine a better way to celebrate the middle of the lusty month of May?

Hummus remains one of our most popular offerings in and out of our restaurants – you can find it on the shelves of 14 area grocery stores (you can see where here).  Our blend of pureed chick peas, tahini and (sort of) secret seasonings is a wholesome and tasty snack that makes a lot of sense for today’s diet – it tastes great, it’s packed with protein, and, best of all, it’s made by your neighbors.  If you have yet to spread hummus on a sandwich or tortilla come on down to see us on May 13th, and we’ll happily show you how it’s done.  Heck, come any day – Roger Roger and Lucy are just hanging out on the sandwich menu waiting to meet you, while Jose Jose Burrito practically pines for your attention on this special day.

Lucky for us all, May 14, better known as National Buttermilk Biscuit Day, falls on a Saturday this year, so you don’t have to postpone your party.  You can celebrate on schedule at brunch when we have a little bit of biscuit heaven available right here on earth.  We talked about the noble biscuit and shared the best biscuit recipe, too, in this blog entry from September.  Still it’s worth remembering that biscuits are not just an important part of a good southern diet, they make for a party day extraordinaire in Knoxville.  We serve our biscuits in classic fashion with gravy galore, but you can also really throw down with our option to top the biscuit with scrambled eggs, Sweetwater valley smoked cheddar, our housemade breakfast gravy & your choice of either ham, Benton’s bacon, chorizo, housemade soysage, or baked tofu.

Finally, you can wrap up this exceptional trio of tasty days with national Chocolate Chip Cookie Day which, as you may have gathered, falls on Sunday Fun Day.  For Tomato Head, this day holds a lot of significance – not just because of our inner cookie monster but because we can share the day with so many people.  It’s a good day for us to reflect on the value of having Flour Head Bakery in our lives because they give us three kinds of chocolate chip cookies including the traditional recipe along with options for both the Vegan and the Gluten Sensitive folks that we love.

The great thing about this trifecta is that the bets always pay off. And if you’re superstitious, the only thing bad that ever happened to the third person on a cookie is that they had to ask for another cookie.

So, party on.  And if you aren’t inclined to party like a rock star, you can certainly eat like a king. Bon appetit!

 

 

 

 

 

© 2016 The Tomato Head Site by: Robin Easter Design