Monday, September 28, 2009

Bugs "Bundt-y" Carrot Cake

Two years ago I took a reading and composition class and had this great connection with my graduate student instructor (GSI). She baked a cake for the students on the last day of class. Carrot cake. Wow was that good! I had to have the recipe. The cake was so moist and spicy, and there was not an overwhelming amount of frosting--just enough to complement the cake flavor!

Not only did she give me the recipe, but also she recommended that I go to Tartine Bakery to sit and people watch over a good cup of coffee and a pastry. Tartine is now one of my favorite hot spots in the Mission District of San Francisco.

Ok. And get this. She recommended that I read this book called “Julie and Julia” about a woman who cooks her way through Julia Child’s famous cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The book exhibits lots of humor and a few botched culinary experiments along the way. I had already read the book and LOVED it! Just this summer, I saw the MOVIE “Julie and Julia,” attended a birthday party at a local bookstore for Julia Child (we ate cake, sang “Happy Birthday,” and talked about food/cooking), and purchased Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I even have a master plan to be Julia Child for Halloween!!! Eeee soo excited!

Anyway, back to cake. Carrot cake, that is. Since the two years that she gave me the recipe, I have made this cake many times and it ALWAYS turns out great—definitely a crowd pleaser and a great “gift” to bring to a dinner party.

One of my favorite parts about the cake is that the recipe calls for fresh ginger! The ginger flavor adds such a nice “je ne sais qua” to the cake (ok, I admit, I was trying to find a good way to use my new favorite French phrase du jour!). FYI “je ne sais qua” is an idiomatic expression that one might say when thinking about something (or someone) special that you just can’t quite put into words…a charm, a special enchantment…

Carrot cake is typically baked in layers with globs of cream cheese frosting sandwiched between each layer as well as on the top and sides. Both my GSI and I think it is just so much darn easier to bake the whole shebang in a bundt pan and do a nice thin layer of frosting just on the outside.

Remember to TOAST your nuts! That is key. Whether you use pecans or walnuts (walnuts are my personal fave), toasted nuts are a blessing, really just a dream come true. Mixed in with that moist cake-y, carrot-y, ginger-y goodness…mmmm mmm mmmm!

I baked this cake in my friend’s old-school oven. We literally had to light the oven with a match and we pretty much guestimated the temperature. It was definitely tricky. Although cute and vintage-esque, I would recommend using a trust-worthy oven with a more reliable temperature setting. But hey, this made the afternoon exciting and kept us on our toes. I mean, every day you should do something risky, and this risk was totally worth it!

Bugs "Bundt-y" Carrot Cake
adapted from my GSI who adapted it from Martha Stewart

Makes 1 bundt cake (or 1 four-layer cake), serves 10 to 15


* Unsalted butter, for pans
* 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
* 1 cup walnut halves
* 1 1/3 pound large carrots, peeled (I just eyeball the amount…)
* 3 large eggs, room temperature
* 1/3 cup nonfat buttermilk (I have used plain Greek yogurt before and it works just as well)
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 2 cups sugar
* 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
* 1 ½- 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger (depending on how spicy you like it)
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

* Cream Cheese Frosting
* 1 stick of butter, room temperature
* an 8 oz block of cream cheese (I used ½ nonfat and ½ regular), softened
* powdered sugar (about 2 cups)
* pinch of salt
* a few drops of vanilla


1. Heat oven to 375°F. Butter a bundt pan (or two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans). Dust pans with flour, and tap out any excess. Set pans aside. Spread nuts in a single layer on an ungreased baking pan, and toast in the oven until lightly golden, about 7 minutes. Remove pan from oven, and let stand until completely cool. Reduce temperature to 300°F. Finely chop nuts, and set aside.

2. Peel the carrots and place in a food processor to yield about 3 cups of grated carrots.

3. Peel the ginger (I like to use a metal spoon) and use a microplane (one of my favorite tools!!) to grate the fresh ginger.

4. Place carrots, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, sugar, vegetable oil, and ginger in a large bowl; whisk until well combined.

5. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the carrot mixture until combined. Fold in the toasted nuts.

6. Pour the batter into the bundt pan (or divide between the two cake pans), and bake until a cake tester inserted into the middles comes out clean, about 50 minutes to 1 hour. Remove pan from oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool, 15 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack; let stand until completely cool.

7. To make the frosting, blend butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add powdered sugar and continue to whisk until soft and there are no lumps. Add vanilla and salt.

8. Once the cake is cool, frost. Garnish with something aesthetically pleasing. I used walnuts. Refrigerate until ready to eat, if you can even wait!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Roasted Eggplant Spread on Crostini

Fun Fact: An eggplant is actually a berry.

I know, sounds crazy, right? Typically thought of as a vegetable, the eggplant really is just a large bulbous purple berry.

Now don’t get me wrong, I probably would not mix this kind of berry in with my cereal…but I definitely would roast it in the oven and puree it with some tomatoes, roasted garlic, onions, and lemon juice and then spread it on crostini. Ooo la la finger food!!

Roasting the eggplant whole is easy. Are you ready? Take the eggplant, plop it on a sheet tray as is (no oil needed), put it in the oven at 350°F, and in about 60-75 minutes you’ve got one soft and roasted berry!

Next. Roasted garlic. Yes. Chop the end off a head of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil. Wrap in foil. Bake for an hour (any temp. from 350-450°F will do).

These two ingredients—roasted eggplant and garlic—make this sumptuous eggplant spread sing on the toasted baguette!

Finger food is just too fun! Who needs forks and knives: the phalanges are our natural utensils!!

Once again, I made this for my 60-person co-op and multiplied the recipe by 8. Touché!

Roasted Eggplant Spread on Crostini
Adapted from Goodthingscatered

Makes about 30 slices

1 medium eggplant
2 tomatoes, chopped and peeled
1/2 medium red onion (feel free to use white onion or shallots)
Roasted garlic (use about half a head, maybe the whole thing if your feelin’ good!)
1 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for crostini
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 baguette, preferably sourdough, sliced
2 scallions, white and light green portion thinly sliced

1/4 c. cilantro
1/4 c. pitted kalmata olives

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and place eggplant on a lined baking sheet.

2. Place baking sheet into oven and roast until eggplant looks wilted and skin is easily pieced with a fork, about 60-75 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, cut off the tip of the head of garlic, drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil. Throw this in the oven with the eggplant (It will take approximately the same time to cook as the eggplant).

4. Remove eggplant and garlic from oven and cool completely. If you prefer, peel the eggplant. If not, go for the rustic feel and leave the peel on.

5. In the bowl of food processor, combine tomato, red onion, garlic and olive oil. Pulse to process until well combined.

6. Add eggplant (cilantro, olives), lemon juice, salt, and pepper and pulse until ingredients are roughly chopped to the consistency of a salsa (about 4-5 pulses) and set aside.

7. Preheat oven to 450°F and place baguette slices onto baking sheet. Brush each slice lightly with olive oil.

8. Place baking sheet into oven and bake until edges are lightly golden, about 10 minutes.

9. Remove from oven, place a spoonful of eggplant spread onto each slice and place on serving platter.

10. Top with sliced scallions and serve. FINGER FOOD!! Woo hoo!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Hearty Grain Soup With Beans and Greens

This is my all-time favorite soup to make. It takes very little time and is so healthy and wholesome. It is a great winter soup that will warm your heart on a chilly day. Even in 80 degree weather, this soup proves to be a winner with its mixture of color and fresh flavor combination!

You can use any grain that you have on-hand: barley, brown rice, quinoa, kasha...Same goes for the beans--I prefer kidney beans but you can use a mixture of kidney, black, garbanzo, white beans...

I have made this soup at least 6-10 times and it never disappoints. One time, I accidentally used 3 times the amount of rice and rather than cry/freak out/kick and scream (which I did a bit of at first), I transformed the soup into risotto! Brilliant, just brilliant!

Paired with some rustic crusty bread, this is a perfect vegetarian meal: you've got your grain, protein, and veggies!

Now go and make this soup for your family, your friends, your lover, or just yourself...go know you want to...

Hearty Grain Soup with Beans and Greens

Adapted from Vegetarian Times Magazine
Time: 30 mintues
Serves 6-8


  • 2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked barley (or brown rice, quinoa, kasha, wheatberries...)
  • 1 15-oz. can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed, divided
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1/2 lb. kale, trimmed and chopped (I just rip the leaves off the stems into bite sized pieces)
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 to 3 tsp. balsamic vinegar (this is KEY!)
  • Optional: freshly grated cheese such as Parmesan, Grana...


  1. Heat 1 Tbs. oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, and cook 3 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, and cook 5 minutes more, or until onion is lightly browned.
  2. Stir in broth, kasha, tomatoes, 1 cup beans, oregano and rosemary. Bring to a boil. Press half of kale into liquid with wooden spoon until it wilts. Press remaining kale into liquid. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until kale is tender.
  3. Purée remaining beans in food processor (**this helps to thicken the soup and give it a nice texture). Add puréed beans, parsley and remaining 1 Tbs. oil to soup. Stir in vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Ladle into bowls, and serve.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Let’s Give a Hoot and a Holla for this Challah

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is just around the corner. To celebrate, I made 8 loaves of this comforting, traditional egg-bread known as “challah.”

The smell of warm homemade bread just fills the whole house and makes everyone smile! Crisp and browned on the outside, soft and doughy on the inside, filled with raisins and topped with seeds, this bread deserves some hoots and hollas'!

Growing up, my mom’s best friend would invite my family over for dinner and her homemade challah bread was always a huge hit! I dedicate this post to her for inspiring me to make yummy, yummy Jewish food!

Usually when I make challah bread, I throw all of my ingredients in my bread machine and let it do all the kneading for me. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

This time, however, I had no bread machine and kneaded the dough with my super human arm strength. Actually, it was very easy and came out better than my bread machine challah because I could control how much it really “needed to be kneaded (hehe)!”

Here is some dough in the process of rising! So light and fluffly!

In order for challah to be challah and not just egg-bread, you must tear off a small walnut-size piece of dough and say a blessing. Ok, repeat after me:

“Baruch ata Adonoy, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, asher kidishanu bimitzvo'sav, vitzivanu lihafrish challah min ha-issa.

Blessed are You God, King of the Universe, Who made us holy with His commandments, and commanded us to separate challah from the dough.”

Got it? Ok. Thought so. Good.

My 60+ housemates gobbled these loaves up!

Also on the menu this evening was:

-The Silver Palate’s Chicken Marbella (chicken with prunes, olives, artichoke hearts, oregano, and white wine)
-Beet salad with shallots, feta, and red wine vinegar
-Hearty bean soup with barley, kale, and tomatoes
-Sautéed green beans

Boy am I stuffed! My belly is indeed happy!

Hoot n’ Holla Challah (Egg Bread)
Adapted from SmittenKitchen

Time: about 1 hour, plus 2 1/2 hours’ rising
Yield: 2 loaves (multiply the recipe by 4 if cooking for 60 hungry college students)

1 ½ packages active dry yeast (1 1/2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon plus ½ cup sugar
½ cup olive or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
5 large eggs (1 is used at the end for egg wash)
1 tablespoon salt
8 to 8 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup raisins per challah, if using
Poppy and/or sesame seeds for sprinkling.

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 1 ¾ cups lukewarm water.

2. Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt. Gradually add flour. When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading.

3. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth (~ 5-10 minutes). Clean out the bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size (Dough may also rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150°F then turned off). Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.

4. To make a 4-braid challah, take half the dough and form it into 4 balls (take off a little tiny piece for the blessing and bake it with your loaves but DO NOT eat it). With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1 ½ inches wide. Place the 4 in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together. (***At this point, if you decide to use raisins or chocolate chips, you can put them into the middle of each strand, pinching the strands closed to make sure the raisins are not too exposed to the outside).

4 ½. Move the outside right strand under 2 strands. Then take the second strand from the left and move it over one to the right. Take the outside left strand and move it under 2. Move second strand from the right over one to the left. Start over with the outside right strand. Continue this until all strands are braided. Tuck the ends underneath. Make a second loaf the same way.

5. Grease a cookie sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon and cornmeal. Place braided loaves on the cookie sheet with at least 2 inches in between. Spray saran wrap with cooking spray and cover the loaves. Let rise another hour.

6. Preheat oven to 375°F and brush loaves with beaten egg. Sprinkle bread with seeds, if using (I HIGHLY recommend the seeds).

7. Bake in middle of oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. I like my challah bread served with a sprinkle of salt and some roasted garlic! Mmmm I love being Jewish!

Just for kicks, this is me 3 years ago...doing the challah baking thing!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cornbread fit for 60!

Where’s the peeler? You mean I have to soak the beans overnight? How much liquid do I use for the rice? These questions cross my mind every week as I prepare to cook dinner for sixty hungry college students living in my co-op.

As head cook, I start preparing dinner with one other person in the afternoon to have the meal ready by 7 p.m. I want to cater to everyone’s likes, dislikes, and needs—to vegetarians, vegans, meat-lovers, gluten-free eaters, and picky eaters. Seasonal produce, bread, meat, and dairy products regularly get delivered to the house, and the kitchen is already stocked with the basics—spices, grains, dry beans, oils and vinegars…

Cornbread. Always a crowd-pleaser. So moist and comforting—I feel guilty with glee, it is like eating cake with dinner!

Golden yellow in the center and perfectly browned on the edges, this cornbread really is the best ever! And you know why it is the best ever? Because it calls for the butter to be browned! Yes, browning the butter is the secret! It was also the secret in these blueberry muffins!

The key to browning your butter is to melt it on the stove over medium heat and to turn it off as soon as it stops “singing” (aka sizzling/cracking/popping/making get the picture). You can see the butter go from yellow to a nice brown color, and the smell is so sinfully delicious and nutty!

This is just a basic recipe for cornbread. If you are feelin’ a little cra’ cra’ (aka crazy!!) you can add in some cheese, fresh corn kernels, jalapeños, chives…

This recipe is so moist and all the flavors come together so nicely that I found no need to add any extra butter, honey, sour cream... on top. But if you feel so inclined, please go right ahead!

Best Cornbread Ever
Adapted from
Serves 60! (divide recipe by 6 and use an 8x8 in. pan to get the original proportions)

* 6 sticks unsalted butter
* 12 eggs
* 6 cups buttermilk (I used 3 cups nonfat milk + 3 cups 2% milk and 6 T. white vinegar)
* 6 cups cornmeal
* 6 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 cups sugar
* 6 teaspoons salt (aka 2 Tablespoons)
* 3 teaspoons baking soda

1. Preheat the oven to 375 °F and butter two large rectangular pans.
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking about 10 minutes or more until it is turning a light brown and has a delicious, nutty aroma. Do not skim, keep all those browned milk solids (that is where most of the flavor is concentrated!).
3. Whisk together the eggs and buttermilk. Drizzle in the butter, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the eggs.
4. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
5. Combine the wet and dry ingredients and stir just enough to form a batter. It is ok if there are a few lumps. Avoid over-beating as this could make the cornbread tough (tough cornbread=yuck).
6. Pour into the pan and bake about 25 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.
7. Serve while still hot. Get it while you can because in a house full of hungry 20-something year olds, it will all be gone in a matter of minutes!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Brownie Pudding Amazingness!

“Close your eyes the next time you eat a piece of chocolate cake; did it really taste like chocolate or did the fudgey-looking icing just trick you into thinking it would taste like chocolate? The best chocolate desserts have a depth of flavor that hits you in a few ways—both sweet and bitter, with a winey complexity—and it’s my goal to bring out that complexity to reveal the true essence of chocolate…”
--Ina Garten

Not quite a brownie, not quite a pudding, not quite a soufflé—just a beautifully rich and decadent chocolate filled dessert!

The top of this treat is thin and crisp, but once you stick your fork in, oozing molten chocolate amazingness seeps out!

Check out the lovely mound of sifted cocoa powder/flour!

Everything that I have made from Ina Garten’s Back To Basics cookbook has turned out exquisite. She really focuses on cooking with ingredients that bring out the essence of the natural flavor in food. It is all about taking ordinary, on-hand ingredients and cooking or pairing them in a way that really brings out the taste! She is very aware of weaving her menus together and adding that extra “umph” to her dishes by finishing them off with a sprinkle of course sea salt, a splash of lemon juice, or a gorgeous herb…!

I made this brownie pudding dessert as a gift for my friend Natasha’s going away party. She is leaving to study in Scotland for the YEAR! Natasha is the QUEEN of chocolate/dessert/sweets, so I saw this as a prime opportunity to make a rich dessert to send her off! I just hope the Scots will be able to accommodate her sweet tooth!

Ina bakes her brownie pudding in an oval shaped dish, however the co-op where I live only had a rectangular shape pan. Despite the change from circular to square, this baby came out just perfect!

This dessert is baked in a water bath. A water bath is typically used when baking delicate foods—especially dairy and egg-based custards, soufflés and cheesecakes—as they can curdle and overcook very easily. A water bath acts as a way to insulate whatever you are cooking to maintain a smooth and even texture. This way, the oven will cook the center of the cake/custard/etc. without overcooking the sides. Genius!

Warning: Do not leave me alone with a big pan of chocolate dessert, or I might just eat it all and you will have to retrieve me from the doctor for having an overdose of goodness! But seriously, I have very little self-control these days...

Brownie Pudding
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Back to Basics


½ lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter

4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature

2 cups sugar

¾ cup good cocoa powder

½ cup all-purpose flour

seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean

Optional: 1 Tablespoon of framboise liqueur (or any liqueur of your choice; espresso would be great, too!)

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly butter a 2-quart (9x12x2 inch) oval baking dish (I used a 9x13x2 inch rectangular and it came out great!)
2. Melt the butter and set aside to cool.
3. Beat the eggs and sugar until very thick and light yellow (Ina uses an electric mixer with paddle attachment and beats for 5-10 minutes, but I utilized my super arm strength and used a hand whisk instead!).
4. Sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set aside.
5. When the egg/sugar mixture is ready, add in the vanilla bean seeds, the liqueur (if using), and the cocoa powder/flour mixture. Mix until just combined.
6. Slowly pour in the cooled butter and mix again just until combined.
7. Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan. Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the sides of the dish.
8. Bake for exactly 1 hour. A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out ¾ clean. The center will appear very under-baked.
9. Allow to cool and serve with sifted powdered sugar, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, raspberries, or on its own. Mmmmmmmmmmmm!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Italian "Fig Newtons"--Cucidati

Ahh the foods of childhood…

Wagon wheel shaped pasta, Dunkaroos and those cookie koala’s with the chocolate inside, Fred Flintstone popsicles, shark gummy snacks, rock candy, that rainbow stripe gum, FIG NEWTONS!

Fig newtons… In the 1980s, Nabisco produced a popular advertising slogan: “A cookie is just a cookie, but a Newton is fruit and cake.”

Stand up comedian Brian Regan comments on Fig Newtons: “I was reading a Fig Newtons label -- I've always liked them, and I was trying to see if it was OK to eat them. Everything looked pretty good, the fat content and everything. So, I'm thinking I could eat these. I looked at the serving size: two cookies. Who the hell eats two cookies? I eat Fig Newtons by the sleeve. Two sleeves is a serving size.”

While on a little family vaca. a few weeks ago, my dad told my mom, “why don’t you buy some Fig Newtons? I miss those…”

This got me thinking about homemade Fig Newtons. I got slightly sidetracked in my search for homemade Fig Newtons when I came across theBrownEyedBaker’s Italian cucidati fig cookies!

These cucidati are similar to fig newtons, but less cake-like; they have this pie feel to them…more like shortbread than mushy.

The filling is AWESOME! Better than your typical Fig Newton. It almost reminded me of a Passover “Charoset” sans apples and wine. The texture was on the ball—crunchiness comes from walnuts and the fig seeds, and a smooth sweetness from dates, prunes, honey, and jam. Next time I would roll the dough out thinner to maximize the filling-to-cookie ratio! Mmm!

These cucidati are pretty labor intensive. You first make the dough, then you knead the dough, then you refrigerate, roll it out, cut it out into little rectangles, fill it, fold, and bake. On top of that, you have the option to frost and decorate. I nixed the frosting so as to enjoy the cookies as more of a snack than a dessert.

You could always halve the recipe to save time and energy because this recipe makes A LOT of cookies!

Nevertheless, my family went bonkers over the cookies and they were gone in an instant.


Cucidati (Italian Fig Cookies)

Adapted from theBrownEyedBaker

Makes about 4 dozen

4 cups all-purpose flour
1½ tablespoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
1 cup butter (can also use vegetable shortening)
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I used my own homemade extract!)
½ cup milk (I used nonfat)
**Note: my dough came out a little bit tough, so more liquid may be needed to smooth it out! Just eyeball it and add more milk as needed!

1 cup dried figs
1 cup dates, pitted (I substituted some of the dates with a few prunes!)
¾ cup raisins
½ cup walnuts, chopped or ground in food processor
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ cup honey
¼ cup apricot preserves (or marmalade or a jam of your choice!)

1. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the sugar and combine well.

2. Cut in the butter and work the mixture until it looks like cornmeal. (I used my fingers and rubbed the butter into the mix, but feel free to use a fork or pastry blender!)

3. In a separate bowl whisk together the egg, vanilla, and milk.

4. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and mix. The dough should be soft. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead by hand for 5 minutes.

5. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces, wrap each with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.

6. To make the filling, grind figs, dates, and raisins in a food processor until coarse. Place fig, date, and raisin mixture in a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Mixture will be thick. Set aside.

7. Preheat oven to 375°F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

8. Work with one piece of dough at a time, leaving the remaining pieces in the refrigerator until needed. On a floured surface roll the dough into a thin layer. Cut dough into 2×3-inch rectangles. Spoon filling into the middle of each rectangle. Carefully fold the short edges over to meet in the center and pinch to seal. Seal the sides as well.

9. Place each cookie, seam-side down, on a baking sheet, leaving 1-2 inches between each cookie. (Optional: As an alternative to icing, you can sprinkle some raw turbinado sugar on the tops of the cookies before baking!)

10. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the cookies are golden in color. Remove from oven and let these babies cool!

11. If you plan to put icing on the cookies, make sure they are completely cool. You can decorate with sprinkles, too!