Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Summer Grape-Tomato Bruschetta

I went to see Julie and Julia the other day. I liked it. I was generally enamored with the Julia parts and apathetic about the Julia parts, but over all the equation turned out favorable.

At the beginning of the movie Julie makes some tasty looking bruschetta and since then I've been craving a fresh tomato bruschetta on crunchy French bread. As luck would have it, Whole Foods had some very tasty looking and multi-colored grape tomatoes on sale a few days ago and so for lunch, I made me some bruschetta. And god damn, it was good.

This makes enough for about 4 pieces of bruschetta. I ate all of them for lunch, but if this was an appetizer this could serve 4.

What you need:
  • 1.5 cups grape tomatoes, washed and halved
  • 10 leaves of fresh basil, julienned (dry basil just won't cut it, sorry)
  • Sprinkle of sea salt (to taste)
  • About 5 grinds of fresh black pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon of good extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Ttablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • 4 slices of crusty french bread (I used the "Daily Batard" from Whole Foods)
What you do:
  1. Drizzle olive oil on the bread slices, then place in a toaster oven until slightly golden.
  2. Meanwhile, put all the other ingredients in a bowl and mix.
  3. When the bread it toasted, pile the tomato mixture onto the toasts *
  4. Enjoy! **

* If you're feeling cheesy, you could spread a thin layer of goat cheese on the toasts before adding the tomatoes.

**This would be terribly enjoyable, indeed, with a nice red wine.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Huevos Rancheros

What do do with left-over green chili (on a Saturday morning, when you're feeling a little hungover)? Make huevos rancheros of course! Guaranteed to taste great and soothe your aches and pains!

This version is modeled, loosely, on the one they serve over at Mona's (voted by Edward to be the best huevos in Denver). It is not terribly "authenitic" but it is good. To make it extra special, we made fresh corn tortillas and fried them, but any store bought corn tortilla will work great.

What you need (per person):
  • 3 corn tortillas*
  • 1/2 can of pinto beans, warmed
  • About 1 cup of green chili
  • 2 eggs, fried, over easy
  • Optional: lime wedges, avocado slices, diced tomato

What to do:
  1. Warm the beans on low heat in a sauce pan. Add some chili powder and salt if you think they need it.
  2. Meanwhile, heat up some vegetable oil in a large skillet. Place 1-2 tortillas in the oil and fry until slightly golden and crispy. Turn the tortillas and repeat on the other side. Do this for all the tortillas, and drain on a paper towel.
  3. Warm up the left-over green chili. (I did it in the microwave)
  4. To make a good over medium fried egg: melt a about a teaspoon of butter in a non-stick pan on medium-high heat. Crack two eggs into the pan. Allow the whites to become opaque and then carefully flip with a spatula (or, loosen with a spatula, then flip with a flick of your wrist if you're feeling brave!) Cook for another 30 seconds and then remove from heat.
  5. To assemble: place some beans in the bottom of the bowl, then place the crispy tortillas around the edge of the bowl. I torn mine in half for better arranging. Add a spoon-full or two of green chili to the beans. Place the eggs on top of this, and then smother it all with the rest of the green chili. Sprinkle with chili powder and pepper to taste. Garnish with lime, avocado, tomato or anything else your heart desires.
  6. Now, dig in!!

*To make the fresh corn tortillas, we use Maseca instant corn masa flour. The instructions are really easy to follow on the bag, but essentially, you add some water to the flour. Mix for a couple minutes, then shape into balls and roll (or press) out into tortillas. Cook on a dry skillet 50 seconds per side. Done. Yum.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Colorado Green Chili

One of my favorite parts of August in Colorado is when the chile roasters start popping up everywhere. Most often, these large wire mesh roasters are stationed in empty lots and street corners over a roaring fire. The smell is divine as the Hatch green chiles, newly arrived from Hatch, NM and other towns in New Mexico and south-western Colorado, turn in the fire. The skin chars for easy removal, the peppers get smoky, and it smells like the turning of a season.

Earlier this week, I picked up some of these chiles so that I could make another Colorado masterpiece: Colorado Green Chili. Particularly in New Mexico and Colorado, almost every "Mexican" restaurant showcases a spicy pork green chili that can be eaten as a soup with tortillas or used to smother burritos, chile rellenos and anything else you can think of. In Colorado, the chili tends to be a little thicker. People describe it as "more gravy-like" because of the flour used to thicken it, but I've never thought of it as gravy. I think of it as pure goodness.

The kind of green chili I like the best has lots of tomatoes (which, I know, some purists think is a travesty) and lots and lots of fresh roasted green chiles.

I made this recipe the other day (adapted from here) and it turned out pretty great. The closest to Santiago's deliciousness so far...

What you need:
  • 1.5 pounds cubed lean pork (shoulder or butt is good. I was able to pick up "pork stew meat" from Whole Foods so I used that)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 28 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes, tomatoes chopped
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups of roasted Hatch green chiles, skinned, cleaned and diced (I think this is about 1.2 lbs of uncleaned chiles)
  • 1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. white pepper
  • salt and black pepper to taste
What to do:
  1. Place a large pot or dutch oven on medium high heat and add a little oil. When the oil is hot, add the cubed pork. Grind some pepper on the meat and brown. (Note: I added salt at this point too, but that made the pork release a lot of liquid so I think it might brown better with just the pepper.) Cook the pork until you don't see any more pink.
  2. Add the onions and cook until the onions are a little browned. Add the garlic and stir.
  3. Add the flour, mixing to combine. (Note: Some recipes call for making, essentially, a roux with the flour, but I didn't and don't feel like we missed anything).
  4. Add the tomatoes and the rest of the juice from the can, the chicken broth, chiles, chili powder, oregano and white pepper. Stir to combine, then cover.
  5. Simmer on relatively low heat with cover slightly ajar for two hours or until the pork is tender, stirring every so often. (Note: Instead of doing this on the stovetop, you could also do this in a Crock Pot for 2 or so hours on the high heat setting.)
  6. When the pork is tender, taste and determine if it needs more salt. It probably does. I think I put in about 1-2 more teaspoons, but you might want more or less than that.
  7. To eat as a soup, I like to garnish with a little lime, some crumbled queso fresco and a whole wheat tortilla to dip. Yum!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Healthier Zucchini Bread

Well, it's that time again. Zucchini time. Our garden zucchini plant is regularly producing 2-3 zucchini's every few days so we've got a bit of an excess on our hands. One way to use up zucchini-- especially those zucchinis that got a little too big and aren't as sweet and delicate as you'd like-- is to make zucchini bread!

My mom has a fantastic zucchini bread recipe that she got from her friend Rose Meyer. And Rose probably got it from somewhere else, but I don't know where. The original recipe has a lot of oil and sugar in it, as well as all white flour, and since T likes to have this for breakfast, I set out to make it a little healthier. In the end, I think I succeeded in making each slice about 70 calories less, and decreased the fat by half (from 10 grams to 5 grams) and doubled the fiber. I think that some more changes could be made to make it even better for us (such as adding nuts to increase protein, adding flax seed for more fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids, decreasing the oil even more, or cutting out some of the egg yolks) but those changes may have to wait for another time. (Also, I kind of hate recipes that complicate things by making me waste a good egg yolk just to save some fat and cholesterol-- egg yolks have a ton of vitamins in them so why not eat 'em?)

For now, I present to you a recipe for healthier zucchini bread:

What you need:
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil (like canola)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 c. coarsely shredded zucchini
  • 1 8-0z. can of crushed pineapple
  • 3 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground nutmeg (fresh is best!)
  • 1 c. raisins (or currents)
  • 1 c. applesauce
What do do:
  1. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla. Whisk it up.
  2. Stir in the zucchini, pineapple, applesauce and raisins.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients.
  4. Stir the dry ingredients gently into the zucchini mixture until just blended.
  5. Divide batter into two greased 5.5 x 9.5 loaf pans.
  6. Bake in the center of a 375 degree oven for 5o minutes.
  7. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then turn onto rack.
  8. EAT IT! Yummy.

Nutrition facts per slice (based on 12 slices per loaf):
Calories: 170
Fat: 5 grams
Protein: 3.5 grams
Fiber: 1.4 grams

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Sesame and Cilantro Noodle Salad with Tofu

This recipe is adapted from the very similar one on Simply Recipes. I didn't make it up, I just changed it a bit, but it is very tasty! It was just right for a summer evening-- cool and can be prepped far ahead of time. I changed the recipe on Simply Recipes by adding sauteed tofu and decreasing the amount of oil. I think that it would also be good with a bit of lime juice and some bias cut snow peas or perhaps grated carrots.

What You Need:

Honey Soy Dressing
1/8 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbsp dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper (I used Aleppo, and probably a full 1/2 Tablespoon)
3 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 package baked tofu (I used the "Thai" flavor)
8 ounces of vermicelli (i.e. angel hair pasta)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro (more is fine)
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
1 bunch thinly sliced green onions
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

What you do:
  1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions in salted water. Drain.
  2. Prepare the dressing by combining (in a large microwave safe bowl) the oils and red pepper and nuking for 2 minutes. After the oil is heated, and the chili has been infused (yum!), add the honey and soy sauce. Mix well.
  3. Add the pasta to the oil mixture and chill for several hours.
  4. After you've mixed the pasta, prep the rest of the ingredients for easy assembly later. Cut the tofu into 1/2 inch cubes. Warm a pan on the stove on medium high heat. Add some vegetable oil (about 2 Tbsp) and wait for the oil to get hot. Carefully add the tofu (the oil will spit at you.) Brown the tofu on all sides (about 2 minutes, per) and place in a Tupperware. Add to the Tupperware the chopped cilantro, onions and red pepper.
  5. When ready to eat, combine the noodles with the Tupperware contents and top each serving with peanuts and sesame seeds.
We got about 4 very hefty servings out of this. Best of all, it sits well in the fridge for quick healthy lunches too.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sugar Cookie Update

I continue to use this recipe for sugar cookies, however, I couldn't resist sharing my most recent endeavor: Humpy Cookies.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Three Bean Salad

I just love Three Bean Salad, and I thumb my nose at Mark Bittman who said recently, "the three-bean salad was usually a staple of the bad salad bar." I do agree, however, that most Three Bean Salads, particularly those served on salad bars are quite gross. Generally they're sickeningly sweet and the dressing is oddly thick. And usually the green beans have come from a can. A can! Now, everyone knows a can is no place for green beans!

This recipe is my own based on an amalgum of other recipes I found as I looked around. It features fresh steamed grean beans and I used some left over garbanzos which I cooked up the other day, though I'm sure a 15 oz. can would work just as well. I also reduced the amount of sugar and oil in the dressing to make it a little healthier. Here is what I came up with...
What you need:

  • 1 lb. fresh green beans
  • 1 cup garbanzo beans
  • 1 15 oz. can kidney beans
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 c. white sugar
  • 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 t. fresh pepper
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • 1 T. German mustard
What to do:
1. Wash and cut the green beans to 1-inch pieces.
2. Place 1 inch of water in a sauce pan fitted with a veggie steamer on a burner set to high.
3. When the water boils, fill steamer with the green beans and cover. Cook for about 5 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, chop the onion and red pepper and drain and wash the canned beans.
5. In a large bowl, combine the ingredients for the dressing and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
6. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl with the dressing and toss everything to cover.
7. Cover the bowl and put in the refrigerator for a few hours to let the flavors marinate.
8. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Healthy Potato Salad

You know, ever since Dan Quayle insisted on spelling potato with an "e," I balk every time I have to spell that particular word without aide of spell check. It isn't because I normally spell it wrong, actually, it's just that I fear that I may some day, thus resulting in debilitating embarrassment. Kind of like how I have to think about how I'm supposed to say nuclear, so that I don't haphazardly associate myself with George W. Bush.

However, neither Dan Quale nor GWB have anything to do with this particular potato salad, as far as I know. This salad turned out pretty well considering is has absolutely no added fat and instead utilizes lots of aromatic veggies, and Greek yogurt, my new obsession.

What you need:
  • 5 red potatoes
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 5 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced
  • 5 (or so) dill pickles (or a mix of sweet Gerkins and dill if that's your thang), chopped
  • 1 8-oz. tub of 0% fat Greek Yogurt
  • 1 T. German mustard (with the seeds in it), or any other kind of mustard you like
  • 2 T. apple cider vinager
  • 1 T. white sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. freshly groung black pepper
  • 1 t. dry dill
What to do:
  1. Cook the potatoes: Place the potatoes in a large pan and cover with water. Cook on high until the water boils, and then turn down to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 45 minutes to an hour. At 45 minutes, check to see if the potatoes are cooked by inserting a sharp knife into the potatoes. If the knife goes in easily, they are cooked. If they hit some resistance, they need to stick around for a while longer. When cooked, place the potatoes in a bowl of cool water with ice and let sit to coo.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the yogurt, mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper and dill. Whisk together until combined.
  3. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them into 1-inch cubes. (I like to keep the skins on for their extra texture and healthiness, but you could peel them before cutting the potatoes up.) Add the potatoes and the rest of the veggies to the dressing.
  4. Using a spatula, fold the dressing around the potatoes and veggies.
  5. Cover the bowl, and place in the refrigerator until you're ready to eat it. (This will stay good in the fridge for a few days, which is a good thing because this recipe makes quite a bit.)

Monday, June 29, 2009


I made quite the mezze the other day including homemade hummus and this yummy tabbouleh from the NY Times. I doubled the bulgur and the garlic and didn't bother with the romaine leaves which still resulted in a pleasantly herbacious salad.

What you need:
  • 1/2 cup fine bulgur wheat
  • 2 small garlic clove, minced (optional)
  • Juice of 2 large lemons, to taste
  • 3 cups chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (the original recipe says "from 3 large bunches" but I don't know what they mean. I got one bunch from the store and just used all of that.)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (from the garden...)
  • 1/2 pound ripe tomatoes, very finely chopped (I used chopped grape tomatoes)
  • 1 bunch scallions (i.e. green onions), finely chopped
  • Salt, preferably kosher salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
What you do:
1. Place the bulgur in a bowl, and cover with water by 1/2 inch. Soak for 20 minutes, until slightly softened. Drain through a cheesecloth-lined strainer, and press the bulgur against the strainer to squeeze out excess water. Transfer to a large bowl, and toss with the garlic, lemon juice, parsley, mint, tomatoes, scallions and salt. Leave at room temperature or in the refrigerator for two to three hours, so that the bulgur can continue to absorb liquid and swell.
2. Add the olive oil, toss together, taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with lettuce leaves.
Yield: Serves six as part of a larger Middle Eastern appetizer spread (mezze), four as a salad.
Advance preparation: This will keep for a day in the refrigerator, though the bright green color will fade because of the lemon juice.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Salsa: My old familiar friend.

I eat an enormous amount of salsa- substantially more than anyone I know. When I go out for Mexican nobody wants to sit next to me because the salsa bowl on my end of the table is always emptied startlingly fast. There are several factors that contribute to this. 1) To me the taste of salsa is like magic. 2) I am a heavy scooper. No quick dips for me, I like to get in there and load up every chip to its maximum weight bearing capacity. 3) Beer tastes better with salsa. 4) When I eat salsa it feels like a party, even if I'm all by myself.

Coming off the Memorial Day weekend I thought what better way to celebrate the kickoff of summer than a delicious batch of salsa.

What you'll need:

12 Roma tomatoes
1 White onion
1 Cilantro Bunch
3 Cloves of garlic
3 Jalapeno peppers
3 Limes
1 Teaspoon chili powder
3 Teaspoons salt
2/3 teaspoon cumin
2/3 teaspoon paprika
1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper

What to do:

1. Chop the tomatoes. I like to quarter them first and then cut out and discard the seeds and goopy part from each quarter. The tomatoes should then be chopped into small pieces.

2. Put the tomatoes in a large bowl and then add 1 teaspoon of salt. Then squeeze the juice from on lime on the tomatoes and mix it up. It's good to mash some of the tomatoes while you mix to make the salsa juicier. Note: The salt and lime at this point are optional. I like to do this because the salt draws some of the liquid out of the tomatoes and the acid from the lime will make sure the tomatoes stay nice even if I get distracted and leave the kitchen for a while.

3. Mince the onions and cilantro and add to the bowl.

4. Mince the jalapenos and garlic and put them in the bowl. Note: This recipe calls for 3 cloves of garlic and 3 jalapenos. This makes a robust salsa, heavy on garlic and pretty hot. If you want to avoid garlic breath or don't like too much heat, reduce the amount accordingly.

5. Add the cumin, paprika, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Mix.

6. Add the juice from the remaining limes. After each lime, taste to see if the salsa is acidic enough. The amount of lime juice you need can really vary depending on the tomatoes, so just keep adding until it's tangy and fresh tasting but not sour. Mix.

7. Add the remaining salt one teaspoon at a time and mix. After each teaspoon taste the salsa to see if it needs more salt. I've found the salt can vary based on the amount of lime you put in and there's nothing worse than ruining the salsa at the end with an unnecessary bombardment of salt. It's also good to do the tasting with the chips you're going serve with the salsa. If you've got a salty batch of chips, the salsa won't need as much salt.

8. Put the salsa in the fridge for at least two hours and then taste and make any desired tweaks to the seasoning. The taste of the salsa will change substantially in the fridge as the oils from the garlic and jalapenos become fully incorporated into the mix. Expect the salsa to get hotter and more garlicy as it marinates.

Optional additions:

1) Add 1.5 cups black beans for a heartier salsa.
2) Add 1.5 cups corn to add color and sweetness.
3) Add 1 cup grated carrots for sweetness and texture. Carrots are a very nice addition indeed.
4) Add 1 chopped red pepper.
5) Add 2 roasted, skinned and chopped anahiems/new mexico chili peppers or diced chipotles for a smokey goodness. Note: This will add a significant amount of heat, so adjust the fresh jalapenos accordingly.
6) Add 2 minced habanero peppers and enjoy the sweet pain. Note: Unless you want parts of your body other than your mouth to be burning, wear gloves to chop these and be careful not to touch your eyes or nose, or anything else. I speak from experience.

Optional Procedure: Put it all in a food processor for a smooth salsa and less prep time.

Monday, January 5, 2009


I fell in love with ribollita when I was touring Italy with my family in the summer of 2000, I think. We sat in a rustic restaurant, and even though it was the middle of summer, I was LOVING the soup. Ribollita means re-boiled in Italian. To make it correctly, you cook the soup the day before, then, stack pieces of stale bread in a container-- a dutch oven, perhaps-- and then dump the soup over it. You store it, refrigerated for a day and then scoop some out and reboil it for dinner. The bread thickens the soup and letting it sit allows the flavors to marry.

This is a quick version, adapted from the one my cousin-in-law recommends from Giada DeLaurentis. The original has boring spinach in it. Instead, I added very thinly sliced green cabbage and dinosaur kale for the delicious cruciferous greens. Also, the original calls for pancetta, but I could only find prosciutto. AND I didn't add a parmesan rind. It would probably be good-- it just turned out that we didn't have one like I thought we did. I might also add some crushed red pepper next time for a bit of ZING!

This version isn't vegetarian due to the prosciutto and chicken broth, but I think this recipe would still be very tasty with veggie broth and skipping the meat-- though, you might want to add a spot of chipotle powder or liquid smoke.

What you need:
  • about a 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 ounces pancetta (or prosciutto), chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bunch dinosaur (aka Tuscan) kale, stripped from the main vein and chopped
  • 1/4 of head of green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannelloni beans, drained
  • 1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 (3-inch) piece Parmesan rind (optional)
  • some slices of good crusty Italian bread
  • Grated Parmesan, for serving

What to do:
  1. Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, carrot, pancetta/prosciutto, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook until the onion is golden brown and the pancetta is crisp, about 7 minutes.
  3. Add tomato paste and stir until dissolved. Add tomatoes and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the brown bits.
  4. Add the cabbage, beans, herbs, stock, bay leaf, and Parmesan rind. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Add the kale, stir, and simmer for another 15 minutes
  6. Meanwhile, drizzle the bread slices with olive oil. Toast until golden brown in a toaster over, or you big ole' oven at about 350 degrees for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and rub the top of the toasts with a whole garlic clove (if you wish-- I might skip this next time.)
  7. Place the toasts in the serving bowls and ladle the soup over the toasts. Sprinkle with Parmesan or good olive oil and serve immediately.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Magic Cookie Bars

These are pretty much "seven layer bars" but there are only six layers because I don't like the butterscotch chips. This recipe is so easy and based on this recipe.

What you need:
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
  • 1 stick of butter, unsalted
  • 1 14-oz. can of sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
  • 1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1 1/3 cups coconut flakes
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
What to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the stick of butter into a 13 x 9 inch baking pan and place it in oven-- let it melt, but make sure it doesn't burn-- about 5 minutes.
  3. Pound some graham crackers in a large zip-lock bag until you have a cup and a half.
  4. Take the melted butter and baking pan out of the oven
  5. Mix the graham cracker crumbs into the butter in the pan until all the crumbs are buttered, then press into an even layer at the bottom of the pan
  6. Cover with the sweetened condensed milk.
  7. Cover the milk with the chocolate chips
  8. Cover the chips with the coconut.
  9. Cover the coconut with the nuts.
  10. Lightly press down on the conglomerate with your fingers or the back of a clean measuring cup.
  11. Bake for 25 minutes.
  12. Remove from oven, and let cool in pan before cutting.
*The edges will be quite crispy which I like, but if you don't, you can line the pan with aluminum foil.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Sugar Cookies

Edward's dad loves these cookies, particularly when they're covered in a colorful glaze of powdered sugar icing. I forgot to take a picture of these guys once they were decorated for some reason so use your imagination. Here's a picture of the icing production, if it helps:

What you need:
  • 1/2 cup butter- softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cup white flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2-3 Tablespoons milk
What you do:
  1. Cream butter and sugar together until nice and creamy-- depending on your mixer, I mix mine for about 5 minute. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients and set aside.
  2. Add egg to the butter mixture and beat well
  3. Add vanilla
  4. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk-- alternating about 3/4 c. of dry then 1 T. milk until it's all gone.
  5. Mold the dough into a ball, then cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour (but over night is fine too)
  6. After it's chilled, set the oven to 375 degrees.
  7. Place a little bit of flour on a flat surface and roll out the dough until it's about 1/4-1/8th of an inch thick.
  8. Dip your cookie cutters into a bit of flour, then cut our your cookies and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Place the cookies about a half and inch apart on the sheet.
  9. Bake until golden brown for about 7-10 minutes depending on the size of the cookies you cut.
  10. Remove from the cookies sheet and let cool on a wire wrack before icing.
  11. Eat with coffee or tea!

Friday, January 2, 2009

The BEST chocolate chip cookies

This recipe takes a little bit of forethought, because you have to refrigerate the dough for a day, but they really are the best chocolate chip cookies ever. A sprinkle of fleur de sel (French sea salt) sounds strange, but it's seriously good. The official original recipe calls for using the dark chocolate fèves (big 'ole chocolate ovals), which I used some of, but didn't want to spend $10 on a pound of chocolate so I used some disks and some chocolate chunks and it worked out fine. Maybe one of these days I'll even do it correctly.

Here are the beauties:

And here is the recipe which from the NY Times...

What you need:
  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see note)
  • Sea salt.
What you do:
1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.
Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.
Note: Disks are sold at Jacques Torres Chocolate; Valrhona fèves, oval-shaped chocolate pieces, are at Whole Foods.