Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The Chewiest Oatmeal Cookies


At the beginning of the Covid pandemic, when everything started to close and my fears were at their highest, I discovered two delicious things. The first was the chef and author David Lebovitz live streaming cocktail hour from his Pairs apartment each evening (early afternoon here in Kansas) on Instagram. Soon I was hooked on his posts and stories, especially the ones where he unpacked his purchases after trips to the market, complete with details of what was happening on the Paris streets during the lockdown. As he pulled cheese, apricots, plumbs, lettuces, and herbs from their paper bags, I dreamed of experiencing life and eating like a true Parisian.

My daily visits to Chef Lebovitz’s posts lead to my second discovery—his recipe for Cranzac Cookies. I love cookies so full of goodness you can justify eating them for breakfast. Oatmeal, coconut, and dried cranberries tossed with flour and dark brown sugar and then held together with a little (for a cookie) melted butter and golden syrup. Lovely!
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve made these cookies. I also mix things up by using raisins, dried blueberries or dried cherries instead of dried cranberries. Sometimes a mixture of all three. Mini chocolate chips were also an excellent addition. 

You can find David Lebovitz’s Cranzac Cookie recipe here.  

While I was more than happy with the recipe, I knew many of my friends and family wouldn’t like the coconut. As an experiment, I decided to leave it out and double the amount of oatmeal instead. 

Eureka! The perfect, chewy oatmeal cookie! I went with traditional raisins and added chopped walnuts. I also decreased the amount of brown sugar by 1/4 because the original amount made the cookies a little too sweet for my tastes. 

This all-oatmeal version is now my go-to cookie recipe. The ingredients are pantry staples in my house. No mixer is needed, and the dough comes together in minutes.  Humm, I wonder how diced dried apple would taste? Or maybe dried apricots and pecans? There are so many possibilities… 

Yield: 22 to 24 cookies
Author: Linda Ditch
The Chewiest Oatmeal Cookies

The Chewiest Oatmeal Cookies

This is an all-oatmeal version of David Lebovitz's Cranzac Cookies. While the recipe calls for raisins and walnuts, you can use any dried fruits and nuts you like.


  • 2 cups (190 g) old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 3/4 cup (185 g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup (175 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) raisins
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) chopped walnuts
  • 3 to 6 tablespoons of water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup golden syrup


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Place the oatmeal, brown sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Mix to combine, breaking up any clumps of sugar. Toss in the raisins and walnuts. Add the melted butter, golden syrup, and 3 tablespoons of water. Stir until combined, adding more water to moisten the dough so it holds together when scooped. (I typically use 5 to 6 tablespoons.)
  3. Scoop out about 1 1/2-inch ball of dough (approximately 2 tablespoons) onto the prepared baking sheets. (I use a spring-loaded cookie scoop that looks like a miniature ice cream version.) Since the cookies don’t spread a lot, I can get 12 on a sheet about 1-inch apart. Then use your hand to flatten each scoop of dough about halfway down.
  4. Bake until the cookies are golden brown, about 14 to 16 minutes, making sure you rotate the pan halfway through baking. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan for 2 to 3 minutes. Then transfer the cookies to a rack to finish cooling. The cookies will keep for 5 to 7 days in an airtight container. (I use a gallon zippered plastic bag.)


I use Lyles Golden Syrup, also known as light or golden treacle in the UK. Chef Lebovitz’s original Cranzac Cookie recipe suggests substituting with 2 tablespoons agave nectar, rice syrup, or mild-flavored honey, noting it would change the flavor somewhat. I would go with honey since the consistency is very much like golden syrup. However, you can find golden syrup in the import food section of some grocery stores. I buy mine on Amazon.

Note #2: I measured my dry ingredients with a food scale instead of measuring cups.  While I give amounts for both methods, I highly recommend using the scale for the best accuracy. Oxo makes my favorite scale.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Easy Homemade Tomato Basil Soup


While tomatoes mean summer to me, tomato soup has been a cold-weather favorite ever since my college roommate introduced me to the tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich combo after a day skiing. Whether you enjoy this soup with a sandwich or not, it is a flavorful way to warm up on a chilly day.

Have I told you I share a house with my 80-year-old mom? She moved to Topeka in 2018, so we could be roomies! I love having her here, and we have a deal: I cook, and she empties the dishwasher. LOL One of our favorite meals is soup, which I make no matter the season. Minestrone and chicken-noodle are my typical go-to recipes, but this one for Tomato Basil Soup may jump to the top of the list.

I adapted this recipe from one I found in Autumn by Susan Branch, who I’ve mentioned as one of my favorite authors in a past blog post. I was drawn to this soup because it is soooo easy! It’s the perfect recipe because, once you make it a couple of times, you’ll be able to do so again and again without looking at the recipe because it’s that easy to remember. 

One important tip: Use the highest quality crushed tomatoes possible. I like the flavor of the Cento brand. While cheaper brands are available, you won’t regret spending a few extra cents since the tomatoes take center stage in this soup.

Yield: 4
Author: Linda Ditch
Tomato Basil Soup

Tomato Basil Soup

This luscious soup, adapted from a recipe in Autumn by Susan Branch, is one of those perfect recipes because, once you make it a couple of times, you’ll be able to do so again and again without looking at the recipe. It's that easy...and delicious!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (I use Cento brand)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Pour the olive oil into a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 to 60 seconds, and then add the remaining ingredients except for the half and half. Bring to simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the half and half, and then add salt and pepper, to taste.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Homemade Hazelnut Latte


I'm obsessed with this homemade hazelnut latte that's also healthier than the one from a coffee shop. I started making it last year and enjoyed it almost every day until the weather got too warm. Now that autumn has arrived, it's time to add it back to my morning routine. 

No chemical flavors from hazelnut syrup. 

Not too sweet.


Homemade Hazelnut Latte How-to: 

Pour 6 ounces of boiling water into a mug. (I get it straight from my Keurig)

Stir in 1 tablespoon instant espresso (I use Cafe Bustelo)

Stir in 1 tablespoon Nutella

Pour 1/2 cup unsweetened plain almond milk or milk of choice into a measuring cup and microwave for 90 seconds.

Whisk hot milk until frothy.

Pour milk into espresso-Nutella mixture.