Thursday, March 28, 2013

PARMESAN-ROASTED CAULIFLOWER


















Well, we survived—and even enjoyed—the soup, so it was time to be brave and give cauliflower a shot in its natural form. Just after I made this momentous decision, I picked up a copy of Bon Appetit in the waiting room of my dentist’s office and voila! There was a gorgeous photo of some caramelized cauliflower, adorned with onions and thyme. When I read the barely-even-a-recipe paragraph-long description and realized there was cheese involved as well, it took all my good citizen instincts to restrain me from tearing out the page right then and there. (Instead, I very considerately and sensibly jotted down a note to myself to look up the recipe online when I got home.)

This is not only a cinch to make, but it’s also just as delicious as it looks. I used some beautiful orange cauliflower because I couldn’t resist it at the farmers’ market (doesn’t it look like it should be cheddar-flavored?) but otherwise followed directions exactly. As with most vegetables, roasting does magical things to cauliflower, and of course the sweet onion, pungent garlic, earthy thyme, and salty cheese make everything even better. My only complaint was that after a couple of bites, it seemed to cry out for a little acid to perk it up and balance out all the nutty, bitter notes. I didn’t actually give this a try, afraid of ruining things, and we happily made short work of all our cauliflower just as it was, but next time I’d like to try a roasted cauliflower recipe that includes lemon juice or balsamic vinegar, just to see how that goes. (The longer I’ve been cooking, the more I’ve noticed that I’m a bit of a tartness junkie. Tastes a bit bland? Add acid!) Regardless, this is a stellar recipe, especially if, like me, you’re a cauliflower skeptic.

1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
1 medium onion, cut into eighths
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 medium unpeeled garlic cloves
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup grated Parmesan
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. On a large rimmed baking sheet (coated with parchment if desired), toss cauliflower, onion, thyme, garlic, and olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast, tossing occasionally, until almost tender, 35 to 40 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with Parmesan, toss to combine, and roast until cauliflower is tender and golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes longer. (The original recipe neglects to say what to do with the garlic, but I just peeled it after roasting and put one clove in each serving.)
Serves: 4
Time: 1 hour
Leftover potential: OK.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

BANANA BAKED OATMEAL


















More baked oatmeal! I love it so. It’s incredibly comforting to have a warm, delicious breakfast ready to go on a chilly morning. My standard version is just dandy, but it turns out that fruit (or vegetable, in the case of pumpkin) puree adds tons of moisture and nutrients, as well as flavor. This version, amped up with walnuts, a bit of brown sugar, and cinnamon—which of course  I augmented with a little cardamom—in addition to the mashed banana, truly is reminiscent of banana bread. The recipe is from Budget Bytes, which has proven to be a veritable cornucopia of intriguing-sounding baked oatmeal options. The first time I set out to make it I ended up veering into this separate (but very similar) version, because I had some leftover blueberries in the fridge that were getting past their prime. It smelled wonderful while baking, but I didn’t particularly love the result. Granted, for most of my life I’ve been mildly grossed out by bananas and haven’t cared for blueberries in baked goods, but I thought those days were behind me. I still don’t eat whole bananas on their own, but I like them in other formats, including cake, cookies, pancakes, and pudding. And blueberry buttermilk cake is one of my very favorite summer desserts! Yet I didn’t enjoy the flavor or texture of the blueberry banana oatmeal; it was quite damp and overpoweringly banana-y, and the blueberries didn’t break down at all, and I’m sure it was my error or hangup and no fault of the recipe, but bleah.

Yet banana oatmeal still sounded potentially tasty to me, so I decided to give the non-blueberry recipe a try and just ease off on the banana slightly. The original recipe called for four medium bananas or 1½ cups mashed, so I bought three small ones, got about 1¼ cups of puree, and made up the liquid deficit by adding ¼ cup extra milk. I don’t know if using a tiny bit less banana really made such a difference, but something must have done the trick, because I enjoyed this oatmeal. It’s fluffy, not too sweet, properly banana-bread-esque without overwhelming the flavor of the oats, and keeps me full all morning. I love that I now have three different baked oatmeal variations I can rotate among, especially since I started my new job last month and definitely need to have convenient, nourishing breakfast treats on hand so I can fuel up for another intense day of learning what the heck I’m supposed to be doing! I bake up a big dish of oatmeal on the weekends and it keeps me happily fed all week long.

1 to 1½ cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 to 4 medium)
⅓ cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 to 2½ cups milk (depending on how much banana you use; milk and banana together should total 3½ cups)
2½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon cardamom
½ cup chopped walnuts
Canola or coconut oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the mashed bananas together with the brown sugar, eggs, salt, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk in the milk, then stir in the oats. Roughly chop the walnuts and stir them in as well.
  3. Oil the inside of an 8-by-8 glass baking dish. Pour in the oat mixture. Cover with foil (optional) and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil (if using) and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the center is solid and the edges are slightly golden brown.
  4. Serve warm or cold, topped with milk, yogurt, fruit, or whatever else you like.
Serves: 6 to 8
Time: 1 hour
Leftover potential: Great; will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for a week; reheat individual portions in the microwave. Note that the oatmeal may turn slightly gray as the banana oxidizes, but it will still be safe to eat.

Monday, March 25, 2013

LEEK FRITTERS WITH LEMON-GARLIC YOGURT SAUCE


















Deb Perelman at Smitten Kitchen is a blogger after my own heart, especially where fritters are concerned. A peek at my archives reveals no less than 10 fritter recipes, and three of them are from Smitten Kitchen: Indian-spiced vegetable fritters, zucchini-ham-ricotta fritters, and some tasty broccoli Parmesan fritters I haven’t posted about yet because the first time I made them, I scarfed them down before they could be photographed. So as soon as The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook came out and I snagged a copy at the library, I hoped a new fritter twist would be waiting inside, and I wasn’t disappointed. Leek fritters, no less! With lemony sauce!

A doesn’t especially love leeks, so I waited to make these until he was out of town. Blanching the leeks and squeezing them dry was a slight hassle, but no worse than shredding and squeezing zucchini, and everything else came together easily. I got slightly fewer fritters than promised—more like 6 than 10—but perhaps I just made mine larger than I was meant to; at any rate, it was a perfect meal for one person with a small salad on the side, and maybe a few left over for lunch the next day. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a leek fritter, but these were surprisingly unobtrusive. The blanched leeks melt into the rest of the batter, giving them a tender interior with the usual crisp frittery exterior, and the oniony flavor is quite delicate, which makes the tang of the creamy, garlicky, lemony sauce (I used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream) a welcome contrast. And the springy green color is so lovely. I’m kicking myself for not trying these with a poached egg on top as the original recipe notes suggest, but that just gives me an excuse to make them again soon. It’s possible that A wouldn’t even hate them—but if he does, more for me!

On her blog, Perelman jokes that she may need a “frittervention,” but I hope she keeps the pan-fried-vegetable iterations coming. In the meantime, now that I’m cautiously tolerating cauliflower, I may need to try her cauliflower and feta fritter recipe.

2 pounds leeks (about 3 very large ones)
½ teaspoon table salt, plus more to taste
2 scallions, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
A few gratings of lemon zest
1 small garlic clove, minced
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While it heats, trim the leeks, leaving only the white and pale green parts. Halve them lengthwise and wash well under cold water. On a cutting board, slice crosswise into ¼-inch strips. When the water boils, add the leeks and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until slightly softened but not limp. Drain and wring out in a dishtowel.
  2. Transfer the leeks to a large bowl and stir in the scallions. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, ½ teaspoon salt, baking powder, and black pepper to taste. Stir the dry ingredients into the leek mixture, then stir in the egg until the mixture is evenly coated.
  3.  Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Drop heaping spoonfuls of the leek mixture into the skillet and flatten with the back of a spatula. Cook until golden underneath, about 3 minutes. Flip fritters and cook for about 3 more minutes, or until the other side is browned. Drain fritters on paper towels and then transfer them to a cooling rack (or a 250-degree oven if you want to keep them warmer) while you repeat the process with the remaining leek mixture.
  4. While fritters cook, stir together yogurt, lemon juice and zest, garlic, and salt to taste in a small bowl. Serve atop the fritters.
Serves: 2
Time: 30 minutes
Leftover potential: OK; cooked fritters can be stored in the fridge for up to a week and reheated in a dry skillet over medium heat (or, according to the original recipe, in a 325-degree oven). Perelman also says that they can also be frozen for months in a well-sealed package and reheated in the oven. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

SPINACH AND FETA PIES


















Hand pies, hand pies! I feel like every hand pie recipe I’ve tried (this is my third) has been slightly troublesome in some way, yet I still love them. Because how could one not like filling enveloped in a flaky, buttery crust? In this case, the real “trouble” was only that I had way too much filling to fit inside the amount of puff pastry called for, necessitating the purchase of another box of pastry dough and the assembly of another four pies a few days after the initial eight. Maybe I was supposed to have filled them fuller, although I really don’'t see how I could be expected to cram more in there or stretch the dough any thinner. Since the unbaked pies keep very well in the freezer, ready to be whipped out and baked up for easy future weeknight dinners, this was actually a boon—except for the legitimate obstacle of finding good puff pastry dough. Most ordinary grocery stores only carry the Pepperidge Farm stuff, which I’ve used in a pinch but it has a scarily long list of ingredients, including partially hydrogenated oil and high-fructose corn syrup. Trader Joe’s has a great, reasonably priced all-butter puff pastry dough, but it turns out it’s considered a “seasonal” item and isn’t available year-round. After trying my luck at no less than three separate Trader Joe’s locations and coming up empty, I desperately turned to a gourmet grocery store in my neighborhood and bought a box of good-quality all-butter puff pastry for an embarrassingly high price ($10!). Then when I discovered I’d need even more pastry, I tried Whole Foods, where I found…that same brand of good-quality all-butter puff pastry, for the same exorbitant price. Reader, I paid it. Even having spent an atrocious $15 on puff pastry, the rest of the ingredients came so cheaply and I made so many pies that I figure they still averaged out to only a few dollars per serving. I’m sure DIY is the way to go here, but I just don’t foresee myself learning how to make pastry in the near future, so next time I see puff pastry in stock at Trader Joe’s, I’m filling up my freezer. But really, with all that butter, puff pastry is only a “sometimes food” anyway (as Cookie Monster would say), so its scarcity won’t ruin my life.

Beyond all these travails, the filling itself was really easy to make (except I really loathe defrosting and squeezing out frozen spinach; it gets everywhere) and delicious, reminiscent of spanakopita. Spinach + feta + lemon is a match made in heaven. I was first inspired to make these by a post on Budget Bytes that showed a similar filling baked into a single pie, also a nice idea (and it uses just one sheet of puff pastry, which is both cheaper and healthier) but I do love a hand pie, so some Internet searching turned up this even better version (because it uses feta too) at Small Time Cooks. (The original recipe is from Everyday Food, but for some reason it doesn’t show up on a search of the Martha Stewart site.) I love that the recipe included freezing directions, since puff pastry is best freshly baked; I’ll employ that technique with all other hand pies from now on.

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
40 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups crumbled feta
Juice from 1 large lemon (2–4 tablespoons)
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Coarse salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 large egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons water, for egg wash
All-purpose flour, for work surface
1 to 1½ boxes frozen puff pastry, thawed but still cold (where each box is about 16 to 17 ounces and contains two sheets of pastry; start with two sheets, or one box, and use the third if you still have leftover filling)
  1. In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat; add onions and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl; mix in spinach, feta, lemon juice, and cayenne. Season filling with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, with racks in the upper and lower thirds.
  3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each of two sheets of dough into a 12-inch square; cut each square into quarters to make 8 smaller squares. Dividing evenly, spoon filling onto the center of each of the 8 squares. Lightly brush two adjoining edges of each square with some egg wash. Fold these edges over filling to form a triangle; press firmly to seal (dough should be tightly pressed around filling). With a floured fork, crimp edges.
  4. If you still have filling left over, repeat step 3 with the remaining sheet of dough to make 12 pies.
  5. Transfer pies to two baking sheets (lined with parchment if desired); brush tops with remaining egg wash. Bake until golden and puffed, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through.
Serves: Supposedly 8, with one pie apiece, but for me, this made 12 pies, and I sometimes ate 1.5 pies per serving, so 6-12
Time: 1½ hours
Leftover potential: Good; already-baked puff pastry isn’t as good the next day (it tends to get kind of greasy, although it still tastes just fine). But it’s easy to freeze the raw pies and bake them later. Just place the unbaked pies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and put them in the freezer for an hour or so; once they’re frozen, package them up (I just placed them in a Tupperware box with waxed paper between the layers, but you can also wrap them individually in plastic wrap and put them in a resealable plastic bag) and you can store them in the freezer for up to 2 months. To bake from frozen, just unwrap them and follow the directions in step 5, adding 5 to 10 minutes to the baking time if needed.


Tuesday, March 05, 2013

TOM KHA GAI


















We used to have a favorite neighborhood Thai restaurant. When I first moved here, I was addicted to its fast, fresh, cheap, and delicious food, and since it was only a block away, we’d stroll over to pick up takeout on a regular basis. It was our go-to place to feed visitors, especially since it’s attached to the hotel where my parents always stay when they’re in town. Now that my own cooking has become much more frequent and adventurous, ordering takeout isn’t a regular part of our lives, but I still crave Thai food from time to time. And maybe I just overdosed on our place, but it just doesn’t seem quite as good to me as it once did. It’s undergone a change in name and management (although the d├ęcor and menu have remained similar enough that I’m pretty sure the new management is related to the old), and every time I walk past, it looks abandoned. I keep expecting to find it closed, and even though we no longer frequent it, that would make me sad, because then I’d have to go through all the hassle of finding a new Thai place (yes, I am a creature of habit).

Yet this still wouldn’t have been enough to inspire me to try replicating my favorite Thai restaurant dishes at home. I’ve gotten a bit bolder than I used to be about tackling Asian-inspired recipes (fish sauce now has a permanent place in my pantry), but I doubt my ability—or at least initiative—to concoct anything authentic enough to compete with a good restaurant. So when my friend S recommended this recipe from Cooking Light, I didn’t immediately jump to make it, despite the fact that tom kha gai had been our favorite soup order from the local Thai place. Honestly, it looked way too simple to be very good, and the reviews were somewhat mixed. But eventually I got curious and gave it a shot.

Is this especially authentic? No (it’s my understanding that galangal is a key ingredient of traditional tom kha gai, and that’s missing here). Is it as good as restaurant tom kha gai? No. But does it have more flavor than I expected a recipe this streamlined to have? Yes. And is it a delicious, ridiculously easy to make coconut chicken soup with mushrooms? Absolutely. A and I both thoroughly enjoyed it (he willingly late the leftovers, which is my barometer for determining whether he actually likes something, especially soup).

I was able to buy a single stalk of lemongrass at the farmers’ market, which was nice. I often use light coconut milk (mostly because that’s what Trader Joe’s has) but opted for the regular stuff here to avoid making the soup too thin, which I think was the right call (if even Cooking Light doesn’t specify light coconut milk, it may be a sign not to use it). I had to go with Vietnamese chili paste, sambal oelek, because my grocery store didn’t have a Thai version and had no time to go hunting, but the chili taste is subtle here, so I doubt it makes a very discernible difference; I actually ended up adding a teaspoon or so extra for more heat. (A lot of the Cooking Light commenters mentioned using “curry paste,” which is a different thing entirely; I’m not sure if they mistyped or misread.) I was confused by the direction to use “quarter-size pieces” of ginger (do I then remove them along with the lemongrass, or do I just have giant ginger chunks in my soup?), so I diced them as I do in most other recipes, but then I ended up having to chew a lot of ginger, so scratch that; I guess it’s better to leave the pieces big and then people can eat them or avoid them as they prefer.

Other than that I basically made the recipe as written, but with a bit more lime juice and mushrooms—I had an 8-ounce package and didn’t have a use for the leftovers, so I ended up putting in the whole thing, and I’ll admit the end result was very mushroomy (sort of like a Thai version of cream of mushroom soup). I didn’t mind it but will maybe cut back slightly next time. I also found myself hankering for a leafy green and might try adding a little baby bok choy in the future, even though it’s not strictly traditional. I served spring rolls on the side, although that upped the difficulty of the meal considerably, so next time I’ll probably just do a simple green salad instead for a truly effortless weeknight dinner.

14 ounces coconut milk
14 ounces reduced-sodium chicken broth
6 quarter-size slices fresh ginger
1 stalk fresh lemongrass, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup sliced mushrooms (I used cremini)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc mam or nam pla)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Thai chili paste
Salt to taste
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
¼ cup fresh cilantro

1. In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk, broth, ginger, and lemongrass and bring to a boil over high heat.

2. Add chicken, mushrooms, lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and chili paste. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is firm and opaque, 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Discard lemongrass. Season soup with salt to taste. Portion into four bowls and garnish every serving with 1 tablespoon each basil and cilantro.

Serves: 4
Time: 30 minutes
Leftover potential: Good (will separate as it cools, but just stir it back together when reheating).

Friday, March 01, 2013

CHOCOLATE OR BANANA BISCOFF WHOOPIE PIES



































I had big plans for all kinds of wild cooking experiments to perform while I was unemployed, but then I only ended up being out of work for two weeks. (Yay, but also, sigh.) Making ricotta and crafting my own flour tortillas will have to wait, but I did manage to get together with my (also unemployed) friend S to bake some whoopie pies. I’ve always been a huge fan of sandwich cookies (probably more so than I’m a fan of actual sandwiches), but having to make a cookie and a filling always seems like too much of a pain for me to try at home. With a second pair of hands and a free afternoon, however, it was the perfect kitchen adventure.

We settled on whoopie pies fairly quickly (it helped that I’d received a mini whoopie pie pan for Christmas and was itching to try it out), but when it came time to choose which kind to make, I instantly became overwhelmed by all the available options. S suggested this chocolate Biscoff recipe from Gimme Some Oven, and since I hadn’t gotten around to trying Biscoff yet, I figured why not kill two tasty birds with one stone? (For those who don’t know, in the food blog world, Biscoff is the new Nutella. It’s a Belgian spread made from ground cookies called speculoos, which are gently spiced buttery biscuits.)

To maximize the adventure, we also started toying with the idea of making a second variety of whoopie pie. I was taken with these banana caramel ones from Annie’s Eats, but making another type of cookie, another type of filling, and a caramel to go into the filling sounded too crazily ambitious an undertaking. Then I mused that banana cookies would probably taste pretty great with Biscoff filling, and a plan was hatched: Make a double recipe of the filling and then both types of cookies. That way, we could get a little variety but keep our process manageably streamlined.

Our decision was even more spot-on than we could have suspected, because that Biscoff cream cheese filling is seriously one of the most delicious things I’ve ever made. I can’t even explain it, because I’ve tasted Biscoff cookies and haven’t really been into them (they’re sort of a lighter gingersnap). I tasted a bit of the spread when we cracked the jar open and liked it better; it tasted vaguely like graham crackers. But mixed with cream cheese (which I normally don’t even enjoy that much), sugar, and a bit of vanilla, it became transcendent. Something about the tart cream cheese balanced out the sweet, nutty cookie perfectly. I could happily eat it straight—and I did, to clean out the bowl—but it was dynamite with the cookies. The chocolate cookies were the best overall, tender and not too sugary, but the flavor overshadowed the filling somewhat (after tasting one, we went back and added more filling to the rest, since we had some extra); it was in the banana version that the Biscoff flavor really shone. I’d make either kind again in a heartbeat. They weren’t even as difficult to put together as I’d expected, although ours definitely turned out a bit “rustic” in shape. Really, the only problem is that I can’t stop eating them! Not only is the flavor great, but the texture of the big, soft, fluffy cookies with a layer of frosting in the middle is also wonderful—like portable, handheld cake. I’ll reserve them for special treats, but I’ll certainly make them again…even though my next bout of unemployment will hopefully be far in the future.

Chocolate Biscoff Whoopie Pies

Cookies:
1⅔ cups all-purpose flour
⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk

Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup Biscoff spread (aka speculoos cookie butter)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mats.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together, flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with a mixer on low until just combined. Increase speed to medium and beat for about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat for two more minutes. Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk and beat on low until incorporated. Repeat with remaining flour and milk and beat until combined.
  4. Drop batter on baking sheet in tablespoon-sized clumps, each about two inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, or until cookies spring back when pressed gently. Remove from oven and cool for about five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, make the filling: Using an electric mixer, cream together cream cheese and Biscoff spread on medium speed until combined. Add vanilla and powdered sugar, and mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated. Stop mixer, and use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl. Increase speed to medium and mix for 1 more minute until well combined.
  6. Once cookies are cooled, match them into pairs by size/shape. Spoon or pipe the filling onto the flat side of one cookie in the pair, and then top with the other cookie to make a whoopie pie. Repeat with remaining filling and cookies.
Yields: 24-36 whoopie pies
Time:  1½ hours
Leftover potential: Good. I didn't try freezing them because I thought they would get too hard and I knew we wouldn't need to store them for very long because they were getting eaten so quickly, but they were a bit sticky at room temperature, so I kept them in the fridge, which worked well.

Variation: Banana Biscoff Whoopie Pies

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup mashed banana (about 1–2 bananas)
½ cup sour cream
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 batch Biscoff filling (see above)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; whisk to blend, and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the mashed banana and sour cream.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Blend in the egg and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the banana mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix each addition just until incorporated.
  5. Drop batter onto prepared baking sheets in tablespoon-sized clumps, spacing a couple of inches apart. Bake until the cookies are just set and the bottom edges are starting to brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 to 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Once the cookies are completely cooled, match them up in pairs by size. Spoon or pipe filling onto the flat side of one cookie of each pair, and sandwich the cookies together, pushing the filling to the edges. Store in an airtight container.