My book club canceled its March meeting due to the pandemic, but after several of us starting using Zoom, we decided to organize a virtual meeting on-line. Our first gathering took place this week with eleven of our twelve members prominently displayed, gallery style, on the screens of our computers. After a lively discussion of our book selection, American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (which we all liked!), we drifted into conversations about day-to day-life, sheltering in. How we were having tele-visits rather than office visits with doctors, how we were dealing with unwanted gray roots in the era of closed salons (most were using DIY home kits), and where we were grocery shopping and what we were cooking. Several members, especially those who like to bake, were discouraged that flour was in short supply in many of our local stores.
Later that night, thinking about the flour shortage, I had a eureka moment, recalling that I had recently baked a batch of delicious oatmeal cookies that called for only three tablespoons of flour. Thin and crisp, these special confections resemble those ethereally light French cookies known as tuiles (tweels). Sliced almonds and grated orange zest add extra dimensions of flavor to the simple oatmeal batter. A recipe yields about five dozen, but be forewarned—they are addictive. I’ve seen a handful of people polish off a batch in one sitting.
So, if you have three tablespoons of flour, the other ingredients are not hard to find at the supermarket. If your flour canister is completely empty, try bartering with a friend or neighbor for the flour, offering a stack of these oatmeal thins as a fair exchange.
I hope everyone is staying safe and well.
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Crisp Oatmeal Thins Scented with Orange
1 cup old fashioned or quick-cooking rolled oats
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted (see cooking tip)
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 large egg
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tsp grated orange zest
1.Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper, but do not grease the paper. Have ready two cooling racks.
2.In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, almonds, sugar, flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and baking powder to combine. In another bowl, whisk the egg and vanilla and almond extracts until blended. Add the egg mixture to the oatmeal mixture, and stir until mixed well. Add the butter and orange zest, stirring until combined.
3. Using a teaspoon, drop the batter onto a baking sheet, spacing the cookies 2 1/2 inches apart. Bake one sheet at a time, until the cookies have spread and are golden, 7 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully as they can burn quickly. (If you have two ovens, you can bake two sheets at a time.)
4.Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and slide the parchment with the cookies onto a kitchen counter. Let cool about 3 to 4 minutes until you can use a spatula to lift them (or peel them) from the parchment. Transfer the cookies to a rack to firm and cool completely, about 5 minutes.
5. Continue in this way with the rest of the batter, reusing the parchment paper. (The cookies can be made 4 days ahead; store them in an airtight container at room temperature.)
Makes approximately 5 dozen cookies
Cooking tip: Spread almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in a preheated 350 degree oven until lightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Watch carefully so nuts do not burn. Remove and cool.
From Soup Nights by Betty Rosbottom (Rizzoli 2016)