Italian Breakfast

The Italian style of eating sweets for breakfast is a little challenging for me.  I need to have protein for breakfast:  eggs, cheese, nuts,  something of that nature.  If I start my day with a lot of fluffy carbs, I’m starving and possibly in tears in about an hour.

Every morning we join the other guests in the cozy kitchen at our farm.  Nadia, the owner, and Maggie, an assistant, are often folding the line-dried laundry from the day before.  It creates such a homey atmosphere.

In the kitchen is an assortment of freshly baked goods. There will be a warm cake and one or two varieties of croissants along with yogurt, fresh fruit and cereal.  I zero in on yogurt and fresh fruit and sample just a little of the baked goods.  The morning we had Buckwheat Cake, however, I felt like I was eating something supportive.  This is a typical Northern Italian recipe called Torta Di Grano Saraceno.  Even though it contains a heavier flour and ground almonds, the cake has a light crumb.  Maggie cut her cake in half and filled it with raspberry preserves.

It is perfect with a cappuccino, but in case you don’t know this, it is considered gross to have milk in your coffee past noon in Italy so cappuccinos and lattes are only for morning.

Buckwheat Cake

Serves 16

Ingredients

1 cup whole almonds, blanched or natural ( 6oz/175g)
1 ½ cups buckwheat flour ( 200g)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 large lemon, zested
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature ( 6oz/175g)
1 ½ cups sugar, divided ( 300g)
¾ cup milk ( 180ml)
4 eggs, at room temperature, separated

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F/175°C Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast until golden and fragrant, about 10-12 minutes. Cool completely.
  2. Grease a 9-inch/23cm springform pan and set aside. In a food processor or clean coffee grinder, grind the almonds as finely as possible with 1/4 cup (50g) of the sugar. In a medium bowl, stir together the ground almonds, buckwheat flour, salt, cinnamon, lemon zest and baking powder.
  3. In another bowl, beat the butter and 1 cup (200g) of the sugar until fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the dry mixture alternately with the milk until everything is well combined.
  4. In a mixing bowl, whip the egg whites with the remaining 1/4 cup (50g) sugar until they form stiff, glossy peaks. Stir one-quarter of the whites into the cake batter to lighten it, then gently fold in the rest. Scrape the batter into the greased pan, smoothing the top.
  5. Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, covering the top loosely with foil if it begins to darken too quickly. Cool the cake for ten minutes on a rack, then carefully remove the outer ring and cool completely. Cut the cake in half, horizontally, and spread with preferred jam.  Dust with powdered sugar before serving..

Czech Beer-Cheese Bread

Our friends from Prague have been visiting this week.  At our final potluck gathering last night they treated us to a typical Czech pub snack called beer-cheese.

Beer-cheese is a variety of extremely pungent cheese and it is also the name of a dish that is the result of mixing and smashing the cheese with chopped onions, paprika, mustard, and a little actual beer to create a dish that is called beer-cheese.  Here is a short video showing the technique.

Actually, it’s NOT as bad as it looks, or smells.  I tried it spread on a Tunisian baguette and it was tasty.  It was so tasty that the flavor lingered in my mouth through the next five marinated olives I ate.  It really has staying power.

As we were saying goodnight and goodbye, they gave us our own packet of beer-cheese (Pivni syr) to enjoy at home.  It was already factory sealed in plastic, but because its odorous qualities were escaping the seal,  I immediately double-wrapped it when I got home and put it in the fridge.

The next morning…

When I opened the fridge this morning to get milk for my coffee, my first thought was, good Lord, a mouse has died and decomposed behind (or in) the fridge.   Then I remembered my friend talking about packing this cheese (smaller than a stick of butter) in baking soda and multiple bags to transport it to Tunis and I truly understood what she had been working with.

Using this cheese, today(!) came to the immediate top of my priority list.  Leaving it in our fridge to bring out as a novelty at our next social gathering was not an option.  I felt I needed to use it in combination with tempering ingredients that could hopefully soften and diffuse the pungency.  A cheese bread came to mind.  Dispersing the cheese throughout the mellow flavors of whole wheat flour, browned leeks, and toasted walnuts with a bite of paprika on top seemed like a good way to bring out its best qualities.

Cheese, Leek and Walnut Bread

Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons yeast
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 4 ½ cups flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 medium leek
  • 6 ounces walnuts
  • Paprika, 1 tablespoon
  • 12 ounces cheese (Stilton, Gorgonzola…) or ½ that much Pivni syr

Directions

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a wire whip, combine the yeast, water, 1 tablespoon of the oil and molasses. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Combine the flours and salt together.

Change the mixer attachment to a dough hook. Add the flours and mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Increase the speed to medium and beat until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl and climbs up the dough hook.

While dough is rising, toss walnut halves in 2 tsp. olive oil, 1 tablespoon paprika, and 1 teaspoon sea salt.  Turn out onto a baking sheet and toast in a 350 degree F.  oven for approximately 10 minutes.  When slightly brown, remove from the oven, turn out onto a cutting board and roughly chop.  Reserve.

Chop leek.  Saute in 2 teaspoons olive oil until lightly brown.  Reserve.

Grease a larger mixing bowl with the remaining teaspoon of oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning once. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free area. Allow the dough to rest until double in size, about 2 hours.

Divide the dough in half. Set one half aside. Roll or pat the dough out into a rough rectangle or circle. Sprinkle half of the nuts and 4 ounces of the cheese over the dough.  Work filling with fingers to thoroughly mix cheese into the leeks and walnuts.   Fold the sides in toward the center and knead the dough several times, working in all ingredients. Repeat with the remaining dough, walnuts, leeks and cheese. Form the balls of  dough into two small rectangles.

Grease 2 rectangular bread pans with the remaining oil. Place the dough in the prepared pans; press the dough to form to the pan. Sprinkle the top with more cheese, if desired.   Cover lightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise again until double in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Place the pans in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. and continue to bake for 20-30 minutes more or until brown. Remove from the heat and cool on a wire rack.

Allow the bread to cool before slicing.

Oatmeal, Pecan, Date Bars

There are going to be some date recipes on this blog.  Dates have become, in my kitchen, a little like bananas used to be when I lived in the US.  I always bought a few bananas, usually had some around, and then needed to use them in something when they got past fresh eating stage.

Dates don’t go quite so fast as bananas, but they are a staple we love to keep in our kitchen and then find creative uses for when the time comes to move them through.  It’s the date circle of life.

I am again crediting cooks.com with a recipe, with some of my adaptations.  I’ll tell you why I’m OK with recent cooks.com attributions.  I don’t mind because I’ve gone searching for good recipes from an entirely ingredient point of view and it turned out that cooks.com had some useful recipes that allowed for the modifications I wanted to make.  Too defensive?  Maybe so, but this is a great date bar.

DATE–NUT FILLING:

1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. lemon juice
16 oz. pitted dates, chopped
1 c. water

OATMEAL CRUST:

2 1/4 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. butter
1 1/2 c. light brown sugar
2 1/4 c. raw quick oats

1/2 c. chopped, toasted pecans

In a pie plate, toast pecans until slightly browned.  Cool and chop.

Make filling in a small saucepan; combine dates and sugar with water. Over medium heat, cook stirring constantly until thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon. Cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees; grease 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan.

Sift flour with soda and salt.

Beat butter and brown sugar in medium bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Add flour, oats, and nuts. Mix with hands, leaving dough in some clumps.

Press 1/2 oat mixture evenly on bottom of pan. Spread with filling, cover with remaining mixture. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Cool slightly, cut in squares while still warm.

Brown Sugar Pavlova with Strawberries

We have had a dribble of strawberries already, but being a seasoned Tunisian resident, I’ve lived here over a whole year now, I didn’t bite on the first buzz-bomb strawberry that caught my eye.  No, I know we will still have some strawberries in May and I remember making strawberry jam in March last year, so I was waiting.  I come from a strawberry-fulfilled county in Washington State.  I know, however, that the first strawberries you see in June are from California and taste like sheetrock.  You have to wait until the local berries are almost spoiled before you can get the really good ones.  Don’t get me started on the year my county was practically dumping strawberries into dumpsters they had such a bumper crop and our local Trader Joe’s had a pyramid of California strawberries in their store.  I didn’t go in that store for about two years after that.
            We live by local harvests here.  Can you imagine something so pure and wonderful?  When you see strawberries in the market, you can buy them and they will be sweet and full of the tastes of earth and sunshine.  I still can’t believe it.
            I am a big-time strawberry shortcake devotee, but only if every ingredient is homemade and real.  For these gentle, hand-raised strawberries, I made a special, but wholesome, pavlova, bearing the warm flavor of brown sugar.  The pavlova layers were a little crisp and chewy on the outside and marshmallowy on the inside.  Piled with layers of whipped crème fraiche, and strawberries, it was a winter delight, especially as it was pouring rain outside.
 Brown Sugar Pavlova with Strawberries
adapted from Gourmet Grilling, 2011
For Meringue
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
1 cup superfine granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp. distilled white vinegar
3/4 cup egg whites (5-6 large eggs) at room temperature for 30 minutes

For Berries
2 1/2 lb strawberries, trimmed and quartered
2 Tbsp granulated sugar

For Cream
1 1/3 cup creme fraiche
Make Meringue
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F, rack in middle.  Lightly butter 3 (8-inch) round cake pans and line with rounds of parchment paper.  Dust sides of pans with confectioners’ sugar, knocking out excess.
Pulse superfine sugar, brown sugar, and cornstarch in a food processor until well combined.
Stir together vanilla and vinegar in a small bowl.
Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt , using an electric mixer at medium speed until they hold soft peaks.  Increase speed to medium-high and add sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time.  After all sugar has been added, beat 1 minute more.  Add vinegar mixture, then beat at high speed until meringue is glossy and holds stiff peaks, about 5 minutes.  Spoon meringue into pans (about 2 1/2 cups per pan) and smooth tops.
Bake until meringues have a crisp crust and feel dry to the touch, about 1 hour (insides will still be moist and marshmallow-like).
Turn oven off and prop door open slightly, using a wooden spoon if necessary.  Cool meringues in oven 1 hour.
Run knife along sides of cake pans and carefully turn meringues out of pans.  Carefully peel off parchment (meringues will be fragile and may crack further).  Carefully turn right side up.
Toss berries with sugar and let stand at room temperature until ready to use (up to 1 hour).
Assemble Dessert
Beat creme fraiche using an electric mixer until it just holds soft peaks.  Put 1 meringue on a serving plate and spread 1/3 of whipped cream over it.  Spoon 1/3 of fruit (with juice) over top.  Repeat layering with remaining meringues, cream, and fruit.

Red Snapper Chowder

            The soup worked.  I was kind of stressed about it.  After I made such a dramatic point about the fish stock with my glassy-eyed John Dory photo, I knew some people wanted to know how the actual soup came off.  And to tell you the truth, I had to really think about it.  It has been a couple of years now since I’ve had the pleasure of a serving of the snapper chowder at Stock Market in Granville Island Market.  I actually scrolled through the reviews of the restaurant looking for descriptors and found a few helpful ones.  In the end though, I had to go deeply into my taste memory and what I clearly remembered is as follows:  It was a little chunky.  It had a base flavor of oysters and bay leaves.  There was a ton of celery with some actual stringy bits that didn’t puree out.  And it was completely nondairy.  Here is how I built the soup to go with the stock.
Ingredients
1 ½ – 2 yellow onions, chopped
A bundle of celery about 3” in diameter, including leaves, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1-2 leeks, chopped
3-5 bay leaves
1 potato, peeled and cubed
2 liters fish stock
¼ cup Arborio rice
2-3 fish fillets, diced into ½ inch cubes
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
            Sauté all of the vegetables, except the potato, in olive oil until soft, but not browned.  Cook the potato in a small saucepan, with a little water, until tender.  Puree vegetables in a food processor or with an emersion blender.  Leave it a little chunky.  Add solids to fish stock and heat.
            Stir in Arborio rice and simmer until rice is soft.
            Add the fish to the heated stock and simmer, without boiling, until fish is cooked, but tender.
            Season with salt and pepper.
Serves 8-10
The Rosemary, Scallion Focaccia Bread is a David Tanis reprint.  I have already written about it at Dinner at Diane’s.  It’s always great, but remember, you have to start it one day ahead of when you want to eat it.

Sticky Date Pudding

            Me dates ‘ave gone soft.  If that isn’t a constant concern for cooks.  We buy dates by the hank here.  They’re still on the stem and bundled together, almost like a skein of yarn, and they taste like caramels.

But they are dusty when you bring them home and need a rinsing.  Usually they dry right out and have an ongoing shelf life, but this particular batch isn’t drying so well and they have gotten a bit sticky.  So naturally, I thought of making another (also see Whole Orange Cake) Australian housewives’ staple dessert:  sticky date pudding.  You do know that a pudding is nothing more than a cake in British/Australian speak, so don’t let it intimidate you.

I first fell in love with this cake at a little Australian café in KATHMANDU, of all places.  The restaurant was opened by an Australian couple who were trying to adopt a Nepali child.  This turned out to be one complete genre of expat we frequently met in Nepal.  Others were Buddhist students, missionaries, ancient hippies, mountaineers, and entrepreneurs, along with diplomats and aid workers.   As the adoption process lingered on, this family decided to save the wear and tear on their family and just move to Kathmandu and open a restaurant, what they knew how to do.  The name of the restaurant was The Red Dingo.  I remembered this by association as it was right around the corner from another expat favorite, a Mex-Nepali restaurant called Lazy Gringo.  What made that restaurant Mex-Nepali you ask?  I guess it was mostly because all of the cheese they used was yak cheese, but there were other indicators, too.   The Red Dingo, however,  was quite un-Nepali which made it fun to visit now and then.  Inside the ceiling to floor glass windows were black and white tiles, a blackboard with the daily menu, and lipstick red leather sofas and chairs where you could sit with several friends and pretend that you were being very urban and First World.
 They always had sticky date pudding on the dessert menu.  I know myself well enough by this time in life to understand how completely I am lured in by caramel sauce.  Is anyone else defenseless against a sauce of butter, sugar, and cream?  I thought so.  The caramel sauce poured all over the date-studded cake causes the whole thing to just melt together.
Sticky Date Pudding
Serves 8
Description: lose

Ingredients 

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Description: ticky date pudding
Sticky date pudding
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1 1/2 c.  pitted dates, chopped 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 1/2 cups boiling water 
1/2 c.  butter, softened 
1 cup brown sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
2 eggs 
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted 
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt


Caramel sauce 
1 cup brown sugar 
3/4 c.  thickened cream  or creme fraiche
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1/4 c. butter
Method 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and line the base of an 8-inch springform cake pan. 
Place dates and baking soda into a bowl. Pour over boiling water. Allow to stand for 20 minutes. 
Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until pale and creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well
after each addition. Using a large metal spoon, fold through date mixture and flour until well combined. 
Spoon mixture into prepared cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center 
comes out clean. When cool enough to handle, place plate under cake. Open springform pan side and remove it
. 
Make sauce:
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until sauce comes to 
the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 2 minutes. 
Pierce pudding all over with a skewer or large-tined fork. Pour 1/2 cup of warm sauce over warm pudding. Let 
stand for at least 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.
Serve with remaining warm sauce.

Finished cake swimming in caramel sauce.  I love the air hole indicating the sauce is soaking way inside.

Next time your dates go soft (not an idiom) you know just what you can do with them.

Triple-Ginger Cookies

Star anise is a nice change from the cloves, ginger, and cinnamon of the season.  Plus, it’s so pretty.

The blog 101 Cookbooks is beautiful and I love to see what’s going on there, but it’s like stepping into a very private world.  The author strives for a level of purity, both with ingredients and in technique, that makes regular recipes seem a little silly and undisciplined.  It’s esoteric which precisely means it is intended for a small audience (though her readership is huge).  It might not be for everyone, but it is a nice Zen place to go to now and then.  Like at the finale of a cookie bake-a-thon.  These cookies require  some chopping, grinding, and grating, but they are nice ingredients to hang out with and the final cookie is a delight.  You will find the recipe on her blog.

And now, I have to run to the airport.  Seriously.  Through sheer force of bakery, I willed my sons home.  Let the fun begin!

Dried Fruit Cookies

         I already know before I make this that it will be the last one left on the cookie tray.  It sounds suspiciously like fruitcake and implies more character development than celebration.  Why persist?  Well, I like dried fruit when it’s real (not that candied cherry stuff) and we have a great selection of dried fruit in Tunis year-around.  But it was the markets in Nice (France) that really inspired me.  There, I saw authentically dried and candied fruit of every variety and stall after stall had them arrayed in their jewel-like glory.  It made me really want to work with them in some way.  So can we please consider these cookies to be French and “oh so Provence” and not just another attempt by me to slip 70s hippie food into unsuspecting lives?

I also really liked that this is a log cookie that you cut and bake.  This way, you can bake them up hot and fresh for the moment and who can resist warm cookies?
            Joking aside, these cookies have none of the disjointed texture and flavors, not to mention the unfoods, of annoying fruitcakes.  These cookies are buttery and the fruits each have delicious flavors which are enhanced by the dough.  These might actually get snatched off the tray first thing.
Dried Fruit Cookies, adapted fromIna Garten
Ingredients 1/2 pound dried pears  
1/4 pound raisins  
2 ounces dried Montmorency cherries, coarsely chopped  
2 ounces dried apricots, coarsely chopped  
1 tablespoon honey  
2 tablespoons dry sherry  
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice  
6 ounces chopped pecans  
Kosher salt  
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature  
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves  
1/2 cup superfine sugar  
1/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed  
1 extra-large egg  
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
Directions
Snip off the hard stems of the figs with scissors or a small knife and coarsely chop the figs. In a medium bowl, combine the figs, raisins, cherries, apricots, honey, sherry, lemon juice, pecans, and a pinch of salt. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit overnight at room temperature.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, cloves, superfine sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the egg and mix until incorporated. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt just until combined. Don’t overmix! Add the fruits and nuts, including any liquid in the bowl. Divide the dough in half and place each half on the long edge of a 12 by 18-inch piece of parchment or waxed paper. Roll each half into a log, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4-inch thick, making an 18-inch-long roll. Refrigerate the dough for several hours, or until firm.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
With a small, sharp knife, cut the logs into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Place the slices 1/2-inch apart on ungreased sheet pans and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly golden. 
          Brown paper packages tied up with string.  A favorite thing, indeed.

Sesame Seed Cookies

Do you like tahini?  Many years ago now (well, I was still in the morning sickness stage with my Gabe, who is 22),  we had breakfast with some of our best friends, the Bryants, at a little hippie café in Seattle.  I ordered Tahitian Toast with a glass of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice.  I think I expected it was going to involve pineapple in some form, but it was two thick, moist slices of French toast with a slathering  of tahini in the middle, like a French toast sandwich.  With maple syrup drizzled over the top and the tart citrus juice on the side, I fell in love with the bitter nuttiness of tahini and sesame seeds, in general.  I always have French toast with tahini now and freshly squeezed citrus when I can get it, which these days is pretty often.

Sesame seeds are next in the ingredient line-up (see Cookies Till They Come) and I didn’t want to hide them.  I wanted them to be toasted and slightly bitter in a crispy cookie.  This recipe is by Martha Stewart.

Sesame Seed Cookies
Yield 48
Ingredients
o   1 cup all-purpose flour
o   1/2 teaspoon salt
o   1/2 teaspoon baking soda
o   8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
o   1 cup packed light-brown sugar
o   1 large egg
o   1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
o   1 cup hulled sesame seeds, toasted
Directions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line four baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside. Sift together flour, salt, and baking soda, and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, and beat until combined. Add reserved flour mixture, and beat until combined. Add toasted sesame seeds, and beat until incorporated.
  3. Using a spoon, drop cookie batter, about 1 tablespoon at a time, onto prepared baking sheets, allowing at least 2 inches between cookies for spreading.
  4. Bake until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool on a wire rack.
These are a little chewier than crisp.  They are simple, but the flavor is fantastic:  buttery, toasty, bitter and the seeds crunch in little bursts in your mouth.    I would always prefer these now to peanut butter cookies.

Chewy Chocolate, Oatmeal, Coconut Cookies

          Cookies are cool because they are absolutely ingredient driven.  Whether it’s the pure simplicity of a butter or sugar cookie  or the lumpy texture of a chocolate chunk, you know what you are going to be tasting.  This is unless the cookie has a silly name, like a Lu Lu or something, but I don’t think I eat any of those cookies.  Well, I do eat Tam Tams from Australia when I can so that’s not true.  My insight into Islamic cookies so far is that they are exquisitely beautiful and also delicious (ingredient driven, too), but have unsettling body part references like Fatimah’s Fingers.  Mmm.
          Go back to Cookies Till They Come to catch the storyline and understand where we are.  If you’ve read along, you will recall that one of the ingredients I bought in bulk this week was coconut.  For this cookie, I certainly did consider an upfront coconut feature, like macaroons, but I feared that basing all of the cookies on a nut or dried fruit might make them all seem like Middle Eastern treats, which is nice, but doesn’t necessarily say Merry Christmas.  Chocolate and oatmeal are what we need to make everyone feel at home.  The coconut just snuggles right along side.
Chewy Chocolate, Oatmeal, Coconut Cookies
Ingredients 
1 cup butter, softened 
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar 
1/2 cup white sugar 
2 eggs 
2 tablespoons milk 
2 teaspoons vanilla extract 
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
3 cups rolled oats 
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips 
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional) 
1 cup shredded coconut
Directions 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). 
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the milk and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the sugar mixture until well blended. Stir in the oats, chocolate chips. walnuts and coconut until evenly distributed. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. 
Bake 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven for a chewy cookie or 14 minutes for a firmer cookie. 
Cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheet and then remove to wire rack. Cool completely and then store in tightly sealed container.