I get hung up on ingredients sometimes. There are certain things that I just really, really like to (or would like to) showcase in cooking/baking, such as:
- Winter squash
There are others, but what the list above has in common is that I’ve gotten at least one confused/surprised/disgusted reaction when sharing each of them with somebody else. “Ugh, eggplant? Seriously?” and “Acorn squash is so boring, though” and “I hate tomatoes” and “Nobody actually likes kale!” and many more in this vein. I understand the skepticism, for the most part. I was a die-hard hater of both tomatoes and beans until college. It took me until my first dinner in Greece with my foreign study group to voluntarily eat raw tomatoes (I had the realization that I couldn’t just eat gyros or moussaka every night). I had a tomato-based salad almost every day for dinner for the rest of the trip, and now I can’t get enough of them. My first-ever burrito was on my freshman pre-orientation trip, made with freshly-sauteed onions and peppers, Cabot cheddar, and reconstituted black beans; I was so hungry and cold that it was totally delicious. Similarly, my first bowl of chili was made by some of the senior girls at ski camp my freshman year. I ended up eating a cup of chili with a kale-and-spinach-based salad about every other day for lunch last year.
All in all, though, I’d rather convince people that these things are good via incredibly tasty recipes that bring out the best in the ingredients, as opposed to relying on hunger, desperation, and/or slow, unpleasant adjustment (that’s how I learned to like salad). At the very least, cooking healthy food in an interesting way can help ease the adjustment period if you’re trying to eat a more varied diet. If you don’t like ginger in cookies, maybe you’ll like it in a chicken and vegetable stir fry. If you don’t like eggplant in curry, you might still like ratatouille. If your only experience with winter squash is “mashed in with sweet potatoes and marshmallows” (yes, some people apparently do this), perhaps roasting it with butter and maple syrup or chili and lime is more your thing.
In that spirit, I return to buckwheat and oats. Oats are best known for being turned into oatmeal, synonymous with bland, joyless, healthy breakfast. Buckwheat is less common, but my mom always used to balk at including it in recipes because “it just makes things taste like health food.” (She changed her mind after her first encounter with chocolate buckwheat cake, which she suggests I make for every special occasion) Despite major reservations earlier in my life, I’m a big fan of both ingredients now. I like the complex nuttiness of buckwheat flour and the chewy texture and sweetness of oats. I’ve been looking for an excuse to make buckwheat chocolate chip cookies ever since I got back to Salt Lake City from Dartmouth (the Collis cafe has a great recipe, which they do not share). Lacking chocolate chips today, I thought a small batch of these oat and ginger “crisp” cookies (with buckwheat as a supporting actor) would fill the void. I halved the original recipe, reduced the sweetener a bit, and substituted Greek yogurt for half the butter/oil, but I don’t think any of that accounts for how different they look from the original recipe (click the link below for original recipe and photos). My dough turned out much darker and apparently runnier than the original, so I increased the proportion of oats and let them it while the oven preheated, which thickened them up a bit.
Regardless of their kind of funky appearance, the dough tastes delicious and the cookies are, too, if a bit delicate (these lack the normal binding agents of gluten and egg) and not particularly crispy (probably due to the yogurt-for-butter substitution). They’re a definite departure from traditional (and usually loathed) oatmeal raisin cookies, and, with some more recipe tinkering, they might be the gateway drug for buckwheat that some people are looking for.
Thin Oat & Ginger Cookies
Adapted from Green Kitchen Stories.
Yield: about 6 2-inch cookies.
1 Tbsp butter, softened
2 tsp Greek yogurt
1 to 1.5 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp buckwheat flour
1 Tbsp milk
1/2 c rolled oats
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1 pinch ground clove
1 pinch finely ground black pepper
1 pinch salt
1 small dash vanilla extract (about 1/4 tsp or less)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl. Spoon 6 pieces of dough on to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Use spoon or fingers to flatten into ~ 2-inch rounds. Bake for about 15 minutes; they should darken around the edges (it’s hard to tell with the dark buckwheat flour in there, but you should see the oats on the edges browning). Let cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Serving suggestion: I think pairing these with chai might be spice overkill, so I’d either go with the original author’s suggestion of serving these accompanied by vanilla ice cream/frozen yogurt, or having one or two with an afternoon London Fog, or regular Earl Grey or English Breakfast tea.