When I was growing up I read a series of young adult mystery books about a girl who saw ghosts and solved mysteries as a result. The girl was named Nina Tanleven (she goes by Nine) and I loved the books, though I can’t tell you much about them today, since I haven’t cracked one of them in about 15 years. One thing I do remember from them is that Nine and her father (her mom had died, I think) liked to make cookies that they called slopnuggets. Slopnuggets were basically cookies made without a recipe. You just put things in a bowl that you thought should be in cookies, and stopped when it looked like cookie dough. Bake, and enjoy. Nine said that slopnuggets always turned out differently, but were generally delicious. And I remember that in the brief author biography of writer Bruce Coville, he noted that the books were fiction, but slopnuggets are real.
Since I read the books I’ve been wanting to try my hand at slopnuggets, and this week I finally did it. When my washer broke and I needed to use a neighbor’s I decided to make her cookies as a thank you, and didn’t have time to look for a recipe, so it was time to get sloppy.
Turns out, making slopnuggets is really fun, and has generally yummy results (I say generally because in my second batch I accidentally used salt instead of sugar…and that was an unfixable error). Here are my tips for making successful slopnuggets, a perfect treat for a day when you’re cooped up inside because of a hurricane or a heat wave.
Start with dry ingredients:
You’ll probably want to use some kind of flour or oatmeal or a combination
Baking powder or soda
Spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cocoa)
Sweetener of some kind (sugar, brown sugar, molasses, honey, maple syrup, agave)
Fat and liquids of some kind (oil, butter, peanut butter, pumpkin, yogurt, eggs, milk, juice)
And extract (vanilla, mint, lemon etc, depending on your mood and what you have on hand)
Once it’s the consistency of cookie dough, taste, adjust as needed, and add chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, and/or any other add-ins you’d like. Then drop by rounded tablespoons onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at about 350F for about 15 minutes.
The con: you can’t give the recipe away when someone asks if you can share your maple walnut cookie recipe.
One of many pros: you never have to worry that you won’t have the ingredients necessary to make slopnuggets. It’s whatever you happen to have in the pantry.
A couple of hours ago I made a truly wonderful batch of peanut butter molasses cookies. I’m sure I could come up with a lovely fancy name for them, but I’m just calling them slopnuggets.
I have a confession to make. I’m not proud of it but I feel compelled to share. You know how most Jewish gatherings serve the ubiquitous Assorted Cookie Platter? You know the ones I mean… Well, I confess: I hoard the multi-colored Rainbow Cookies.
I don’t intend to hoard them – in fact, I always start with just one. But I inevitably end up going back for seconds and thirds. I know… they’re called assorted cookies because you’re supposed to try several types. I just can’t help myself! I love their moist and rich almond interior, lightened by a hint of acidic apricot and then intensified by a touch of bitter chocolate. Add the fun colors and you have the perfect cookie.
When planning this year’s Hanukkah gathering, I decided the festivities wouldn’t be complete without these cookies. With just a tiny adjustment to my regular recipe, they became Rainbow Cookies á la Hanukkah. Making them is a multi-step process but, fear not, they are easy steps. Here’s the recipe:
About Joy Prevor: A food aficionado and graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, Joy Dawn Prevor has served as a major gifts fundraiser and senior executive in the Jewish nonprofit sector for over 17 years.
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
8 oz almond paste
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 drops blue food coloring
12 drops blue food coloring
12 oz apricot preserves, heated and strained
12 oz high-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter three 9 X 13 baking sheet pans and line with parchment paper. Beat almond paste in stand mixer until smooth. Add butter and sugar and beat until fluffy. Add almond extract and then eggs, one at a time. Add flour and salt - only beat until combined.
Divide batter into three bowls and add 6 drops of blue food coloring to one bowl and 12 drops of blue food coloring to a second bowl – leave the third bowl plain.
Spread each batter into its own pan and bake for approximately 10 minutes and cool on a wire rack. Once cooled, place one of the blue cakes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread preserves on it and place the plain cake on top. Spread preserves on plain cake and place the other blue cake on top. Freeze for 1 hour to set jam.
Spread melted chocolate on top and on sides – chill for 30 minutes to set. Flip cake onto another piece of parchment paper and spread chocolate on the other side – freeze for at least one hour. While still frozen, slice cake into 1 ½ inch logs and slice logs into individual ½ inch cookies. Allow cookies to defrost before serving
Another week, another round of recipe ideas for your Shabbat table.
Last month I had the most delicious Caesar Brussel Sprout Salad at Almond in Bridgehampton, New York. Ever since I’ve been looking for a similar recipe, but in the meantime, I came across this Food Network Brussel Sprout Salad with a light dressing, and dried fruit. If you’re making this with a meat meal, just leave out the manchego cheese.
This Citrus and Rosemary Roast Chicken recipe is pretty similar to my own go-to chicken recipe for Shabbat dinner. My favorite tip? Marinate the chicken on Thursday night in a plastic bag, and let sit overnight in the fridge. By the time you roast your Shabbat chicken, it will be infused with flavor, and super moist.
I love roasted potatoes, but sometimes you want something a little more special. This “Potatoes a la Bakery” has a wow factor, yet is super simple to prepare. Just replace the butter in the recipe with olive oil, or my favorite, duck fat (chicken fat would work great too).
My mother-in-law made this recipe for Roasted Fennel with Olives and Garlic recently and it was delicious!