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News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill Road home April 27 and...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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Stuff your cookies with seasonal treats


Eliza Ridgeway/Town Crier
Stuff cookies with nuts and fruit, above, and top with a sprinkle of flaked salt to create a hearty holiday treat.

Chock-full of nuts and fruit, my go-to holiday cookies (which I cook all year round) are hard to mess up even during busy party prep and they offer a hospitable premise: a thoroughly sweet treat, with redeeming qualities.

They’re tart, rich, nutty and crunchy, with a crinkle of salt on the top. The red and white of cherries and white chocolate suit the season, but this isn’t a cheesy Christmas cookie that puts appearance over flavor – it’s a fully loaded feast. The half-oat, half-flour base provides a satisfying heft while the add-ins add up to an almost granolalike effect.

British baker and food magnate Nigella Lawson, who inspired these cookies, calls for only white chocolate, but I don’t think we should stop there – I add white and dark chocolate, preferably chopped from a bar rather than premade chips. The fractured irregularity of chopped chocolate makes for a beautiful-looking cookie and gives entertaining variation in each bite.

For dried fruit, Lawson chose cranberries, but I prefer the bright, sharp flavor of cherries. Anything with an acid bite will do. For nuts, pick a favorite (or what’s in the cupboard) – I alternate between walnut and pecan.

Lawson’s holiday book, “Feast: Food to Celebrate Life” (Hyperion, 2003), includes the original version of the recipe that follows and offers a model for thinking about how we bake. Although some baking requires great precision (see: Lawson’s peanut brittle recipe, which I botched three times in a row), other treats allow for a roguish amount of variation, tuning the taste to your whims and what’s on hand.

The felicitous conjunction of salt and sweet on the dessert menu isn’t news to anyone at this point, but this recipe can convince you that it has a place in the world of humble homemade cookies.

Lawson has a long-professed love for Maldon Sea Salt, a flaky variety so light it brings bursts of flavor without the too-strong punch of heavier-grained varieties. Widely available in the U.S. in recent years, you can now regularly stock up on boxes that once had to be hand-carried from the UK.

Years ago, I forgot to add salt to one round of these cookies – a disaster caught too late – but rashly decided to rebound by crushing flakes of Maldon salt on the top of each cookie as I put it in to bake. The outcome: weirdly successful, and almost certainly assisted by the fact that, like a heathen, I bake with salted butter (increasing the amount of salt that goes into a recipe, but also accidentally hedging against a forgotten ingredient). This forgiving formulation tastes delicious regardless of the liberties (accidental or otherwise) you may take with it.

Cherry White-Chocolate Cookies

• 1 cup flour

• 1 cup rolled oats

• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 9 tablespoons chilled butter

• 2/3 cup dark brown sugar

• 1/2 cup white sugar

• 1 egg at room temperature

• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

• 2/3 cup dried cherries

• 1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped

• 1/2 cup white chocolate, chopped

• 1/3 cup dark chocolate, chopped

• 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and rolled oats in bowl. Beat together butter and sugars until creamy, then beat in egg and vanilla.

Delicately beat flour mixture into butter/sugar (minimal mixing keeps the cookies tender), then fold in cherries, nuts and chocolate.

Using your hand or a spoon, scoop tablespoon-sized chunks of dough, gently mold into roundish shapes and place on cookie sheet. Use fork to gently flatten each ball. Sprinkle with sea salt, crushing flakes with your fingers as you go.

Bake 15 minutes, until cookies are tinged a pale gold. They will be too soft to lift immediately off the baking sheet, so let cool unmolested.

Makes two dozen cookies.

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