Book Review: The Alchemist

Book Review: The Alchemist{Book Review}

The Alchemist

By Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is one of the first book written by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho – first published in 1987, and then reprinted and translated into 67 languages (the greatest number of languages a book has been translated into while the author was still alive).

The Alchemist is the story of a young shepherd boy from Andalucia, Spain who sets out to fulfill his “personal legend,” a quest to find a treasure that is supposed to be at the pyramids of Egypt. Guided by signs and unlikely strangers, the shepherd persevered and searched his treasure for (I believe) over a year.

I really enjoyed The Alchemist and the idea behind it – to follow your dreams and not to give up. The story almost had a fairytale-like quality to it – it was filled with adventure, courage, faith, and a bit of magic.

As I read, I could picture the scenes in my head, which says a lot about this new author. I look forward to checking out some of Coelho’s other books, which have hopefully been translated into English!

Book Club: Inspired by the little boy from Andalucia, we had a tapas party for the book club meeting. Here’s the menu!

Amazing Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Bright cranberry and white chocolate flavors and a dough sweetened with coconut flakes make this oatmeal cookie stand out above many others.

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies - Bright cranberry and white chocolate flavors and a dough sweetened with coconut flakes make this oatmeal cookie stand out above many others.

Let’s talk about Thanksgiving traditions, shall we? Are you Team Pumpkin or Team Pecan? Me? I grew up in a house on Team Cranberry. There was never a Pumpkin or Pecan Pie on the dessert table unless a guest brought it over. Instead, we gravitated toward wonderful fall cranberries, with a Cranberry Pear Tart always sitting in the center of our holiday table.

Alongside that tart were these cookies, which are so delicious that we enjoy them all year round. These Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies stand out from the typical oatmeal cookie, as the coconut flakes, white chocolate chips, and dried cranberries create a sweeter cookie than the standard oatmeal cookie. And the best part? They freeze incredibly well (I actually prefer them a bit frozen) and are still soft and chewy after freezing. The trick is to hide them in the back of the freezer, behind the frozen vegetables, so that they don’t disappear when you’re not looking. 😉

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Bright cranberry and white chocolate flavors and a dough sweetened with coconut flakes make this oatmeal cookie stand out above many others.

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Bright cranberry and white chocolate flavors and a dough sweetened with coconut flakes make this oatmeal cookie stand out above many others.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Author Liz

Ingredients

  • 12 Tbs. 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. light brown sugar packed
  • 1 Tbs. light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. cake flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1/2 c. sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 c. sweetened coconut flakes
  • 3 1/2 oz. white chocolate coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 c. pecan coarsely chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add egg, corn syrup, and vanilla. Beat until combined.
  4. With the mixer running, mix in all-purpose flour, cake flour, salt, and baking soda, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
  5. Using a sturdy spoon or spatula (I like my silicon spatula), stir in the bowl of coconut, white chocolate, cranberries, oatmeal, and pecans.
  6. Using a 1-inch ice cream scoop, portion out cookie dough onto the prepared cookie sheets.
  7. Bake for 9-12 minutes, until edges are golden and top of the cookie is dry but still soft.
  8. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Recipe Notes:

  • Fine Cooking recommends you lightly toast the coconut flakes and pecan pieces. I never do — too lazy!
  • These cookies store well in the freezer for 2-3 months.

This recipe was adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine No. 74, p.73 but is also found online here.

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies - Bright cranberry and white chocolate flavors and a dough sweetened with coconut flakes make this oatmeal cookie stand out above many others.

This post was updated in March 2018.

Sauteed Mushrooms with Garlic & Parsley

Mushrooms 004-1

Sauteed Mushrooms with Garlic & Parsley

Source: Fine Cooking No. 81, p. 81 or online here

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 5 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 lb. white or cremini mushrooms; washed; trimmed; and quartered
  • kosher salt
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced (1 1/2 Tbs.)
  • 1 Tbs. sherry vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Add mushrooms and sprinkle with 3/4 tsp. kosher salt.

Let mushrooms cook undisturbed until liquid released from mushrooms evaporate, 5-7 minutes. Mushrooms will be golden brown. Stir; and continue sauteing and stirring until the mushrooms are browned, 3-5 more minutes.

Lower heat slightly and add garlic. Stir.

Add vinegar. Stir, scraping the pan to release the bits stuck to the bottom. Vinegar will evaporate.

Remove mushrooms from heat. Toss with parsley and season with more salt, to taste.

http://booksncooks.wordpress.com/2009/11/04/raspberry-cheesecake-cupcakes/

Nov. 2009 Book Club: The Alchemist & Tapas

A while back, a couple girls and I started a book club. We’re pretty informal. We alternate who chooses the book for the month, and that person hosts the book club meeting. November was my month. In honor of The Alchemist, whose main character is a boy from Spain, I chose to do a tapas party.

Book Review: The Alchemist

The menu: For those that don’t know, tapas are “small dishes” served in bars and cafes all over Spain. Tapas could be anything, from a little plate of olives to calamari and meatballs. Since there’s only a few of us, I couldn’t choose all my favorites, but below are a few that I enjoy.

Manchego Marinated in Olive Oil and Herbs

Patatas Bravas (Crispy Potatoes with a Tomato Sauce) – … not my favorite recipe, so make roasted potatoes and use the extra meatball sauce as a dipping sauce

Sauteed Mushrooms with Garlic & Parsley

Spanish-Style Meatballs

Marinated Manchego 002-1

(Marinated Manchego)

Spanish-Style Meatballs

Albondigas (aka Spanish-Style Meatballs)

Ingredients for the Sauce (An Esmeralda Original; inspired by this Food Network Recipe and this recipe from Spain Recipes)

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 an onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2-28 oz. cans whole tomato, chopped
  • 2 Tbs. red wine
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
  • salt & pepper

Ingredients for the Meatballs (Adapted from this recipe from Spain Recipes)

  • 1 lb. ground beef or meatloaf mix
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. plain breadcrumbs
  • 3 cloves garlic

I had used up all my manchego cheese before making this, but would like to add the recommended 2 Tbs. of grated manchego next time.

Make the Sauce

Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onions & garlic and cook for 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

While the onions are cooking, open the cans of tomatoes and roughly chop the tomatoes (save the juice!). This step is in here because I got ahead of myself and forgot to chop the tomatoes. 🙂

    Add tomatoes, and remaining ingredients to the onions & garlic. Lower heat and let simmer.

    Make the Meatballs

    In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients with your hands.

    Roll mixture into small balls and place on a foil-lined cookie sheet.

    Bake for 10 minutes, until browned (I forgot mine in the oven, hence why they’re a bit crispy looking!)

    Meatballs 1-1

    Add meatballs to sauce. If you’re serving them within the hour, let everything simmer together. Otherwise, turn off heat and reheat on low at least 20 minute before serving.

    Meatballs 2-1