Saturday, March 30, 2013

Weekly Check-In

Produce in my Refrigerator:
Tangelos, Chinese cabbage, four tomatoes, two red bell peppers, carrots, and parsnips. SO RANDOM I KNOW.

Things That Are Not Expired:
Bread, eggs.

Failures:
OK I just checked and the milk expired yesterday :(

Things I Have Actually Cooked Recently:
*Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Feta

Things I Will Make Tomorrow:
Cookies for Cookie Monday (I cannot divulge yet)
S'MEEPS :)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Cookie Monday: Jacques Torres's Secret Chocolate Chip Cookies

Much like the famed "secret" Neiman Marcus cookie recipe, Mr Torres's cookie recipe is not so "secret" either (though the Torres recipe is real, and the Neiman Marcus one is not). I remembered seeing it in a newspaper years ago and the recipe has popped up all over the place since then. Most recently I saw it on Pinterest, but I've had the recipe saved from Martha Stewart for years. Because one batch makes 8 1/2 dozen cookies, I decided it was a good option for Cookie Monday.

My friend Janet brought in perfectly-shaped Nestle Tollhouse cookies the other day and shared a tip with me: if the dough isn't too tacky, roll it into balls. Even when it says to just drop the dough, nope! Roll it into balls. They'll spread to be perfectly round and uniform. It was amazing. My entire batch was perfectly the same size. I was so proud!

One of my coworkers brilliantly described these cookies as "giant versions of Cookie Crisp cereal." It's true. I prefer softer cookies and these definitely were not soft. This is largely due to the bread flour and the pastry flour - especially since I used whole-wheat pastry flour, since that's all my store carried. I used some strong dark chocolate, as well as one bar of milk chocolate and a bag of semisweet mini chocolate chips. I brought in 100 cookies and came home with zero, so I'm pretty happy about that. I still like the Crisp & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies better, but this was a nice addition to my Cookie Monday canon.

cookie

Jacques Torres's Secret Chocolate Chip Cookies
Martha Stewart Show, 2007

1 pound unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons pastry flour
3 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 pounds Jacques Torres House (60 percent cocoa) Chocolate or other best-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Reduce speed to low and add both flours, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, and chocolate; mix until well combined.

Using a 4-ounce scoop for larger cookies or a 1-ounce scoop for smaller cookies, scoop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake until lightly browned, but still soft, about 20 minutes for larger cookies and about 15 minutes for smaller cookies. Cool slightly on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 8 1/2 dozen "smaller" cookies (actually regular-sized cookies) or 26 five-inch cookies

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Cookie Monday That Was Not: Lemon Shortbread Edition

I went to Florida last week for a friend's wedding and got back late Sunday afternoon. Not wanting to leave my coworkers high and dry on a Cookie Monday, I thought ahead and looked for a solid icebox cookie recipe. Icebox cookies are kind of like a homemade version of Pillsbury slice-and-bake cookie dough: you make the dough, roll it up into a log, and shove it in the freezer. My brilliant idea was to make the dough, freeze it, and then it would be an easy slice-and-bake situation on Sunday.

A brilliant idea in theory! It was easy, I quickly cooked all of the cookies, but... a lot of them burned. And they were small. And they did NOT TASTE GOOD. I thought maybe once they'd cooled overnight, they'd taste better. I was wrong! Cookie Monday was a wash. I decided that I couldn't subject my friends to this kind of disaster. They were burned, oddly salty (I'd read this in reviews so I decreased the amount of salt - apparently not enough!), and not lemony enough. I was really angry. Don't make this. It's not delicious.

cookies

Lemon Icebox Cookies
Martha Stewart, Everyday Food, January/February 2010

2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar, for rolling

In a food processor, pulse flour, confectioners' sugar, salt, and lemon zest until combined. Add butter and process until sandy. Add egg yolks and lemon juice; pulse until dough comes together. Divide dough in half and form each into a 1 1/2-inch-wide log. Wrap in plastic and freeze until firm, about 2 hours (or up to 1 month).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Spread granulated sugar on a piece of parchment; roll logs over sugar to coat. Slice logs into 1/4-inch-thick slices and arrange, 1 inch apart, on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are golden brown around edges, about 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.

Yield: 60 tiny cookies

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cookie Monday: Kitchen Sink Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I thought these cookies would be fun for Cookie Monday because they have everything in them: chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, toffee chips, mini marshmallows. I quickly discovered that I hate baking with mini marshmallows. They ruined everything. They made the cookies spread out, they melted on everything and made things ugly, and they made the cookies extra-crisp (when I prefer softer cookies to begin with). I only baked them for 11 minutes rather than the 12-18 minutes recommended. This is what they looked like coming out of the oven:

mess

A mess.

But I persisted and baked 90 cookies and took them to work and people said they liked them. A couple people admitted that the mini marshmallows made them a little off, but I still came home with zero cookies. I was really dissatisfied with this though. I feel like life is too short for mediocrity and I don't want to feed people mediocre cookies. Not a recipe I will make again!

cookie

Kitchen Sink Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Food Network

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon. salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup toffee chips
1/2 cup mini-marshmallows
2 cups imported semisweet chocolate chunks

Cream butter in an upright mixer until fluffy. Add dark brown and white sugar and mix until thoroughly blended with butter, scraping sides and bottom of bowl from time to time.

Add eggs, l at a time, and mix until thoroughly blended, scraping sides and bottom of bowl from time to time.

Add vanilla extract and mix at low speed (to avoid splashing) to combine well. In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt, and baking soda. Add flour mixture to butter/sugar mixture and mix at low speed, until thoroughly blended, scraping sides and bottom of bowl from time to time. Mix briefly at medium speed until completely combined.

Add peanut butter chips and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Add toffee ships and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Add mini-marshmallows and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Add chocolate chunks and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate batter for a few hours or overnight until cold.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (300 degrees F if using convection oven). Line baking sheet with parchment paper and drop heaping teaspoonfuls of batter 2 inches apart. Bake for approximately 12 to 18 minutes (depending on type of oven), turning tray once during baking. Cookies are done when they are golden brown around edges and soft (not bubbly) on top. Let cool on wire rack.

Yield: 3 dozen cookies

Monday, March 11, 2013

Weekly Check-In

Things I've Made This Week:
Vegetable Bibimbap
I could have sworn I cooked more than that, but apparently I am wrong.

Times I Ate Dinner:
All the nights except last night, which I am blaming on the time change.

Produce in My Refrigerator:
Tangelos, lettuce, spinach, napa cabbage, red bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, a lemon

Things that are Not Expired:
Milk, bread, yogurt, cheese.

I'm doing pretty well I think.

Monday, March 04, 2013

COOKIE MONDAY: Brown Butter Rolo Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

Um.... yeah.

Brown the butter and it gets all rich and nutty. Toss in some chopped Rolos, some heath toffee bits, and some mini chocolate chips... this is a pretty good recipe. I am told this is my best one so far.

The parchment paper is important because the Rolos melt and the caramel would burn all over the pan if you didn't have parchment down. With the parchment paper, the caramel just kind of melts and dries around the cookie. It's pretty neat. I didn't make any substitutions. I did double the recipe as usual. I probably should have tripled it. I got 60-ish cookies, which was not enough.

My favorite moment of today was when one of my friends said, "Yay! Cookie! My day was terrible but now this has made it better!" Because isn't that the whole goal?

This is a great recipe. I will hold onto this one for sure.

cookie

Brown Butter Rolo Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Damn Delicious via Pinterest

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup toffee bits
1/4 cup miniature chocolate chips
16 Rolos, unwrapped and quartered

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until the foam subsides and the butter begins to turn a golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat browned butter and sugars on medium-high until well combined, about 1-2 minutes. Beat in vanilla and eggs, one at a time, until well combined. Gradually add flour mixture to sugar mixture at low speed, beating just until incorporated.

Gently fold in toffee bits, chocolate chips and Rolos.

Drop tablespoons of batter onto prepared baking sheet. Place into oven and bake until edges are golden brown but center is still moist, about 7-8 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Yield: 2 1/2 dozen cookies

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Individual Tiramisu Trifles

Look guys, I'm on a roll here! So much of the cooking is happening!

Yesterday I felt inspired in general. My gentleman had a really rough day yesterday - someone broke into his car and stole some stuff - so I decided to make comfort food. What's more comforting that Taco Bell, really? Only a few things. So I made my Homemade Crunchwrap Supremes in the hopes that it would make things a little better. I think he was nervous at first - he still is unsure about the vegetarian thing - but he said he really liked it and ate all of his and part of mine.

While I was at the grocery store yesterday, I saw a package of ladyfingers and decided that I MUST make tiramisu. Because it was only the two of us, I picked a small recipe for individual trifles in wine glasses (or, in my case, plastic martini glasses) and quartered it so it would just make two servings.

I'm pretty proud of myself for knowing my stuff with tiramisu so I altered this recipe without a lot of consideration. Instead of marsala wine, I used some Kahlua. Personal preference, not for the tiramisu purist. I did NOT use cream cheese and instead used the traditional mascarpone, mixed with a little less sugar than is called for since mascarpone is already sweet.

I was pretty proud of the result. It turns out that tiramisu is one of my gentleman's favorite desserts, which I'd had no idea of prior, so that was cool. This took all of about 5 minutes to make (not including the chilling time), so I'll definitely keep this recipe around for times when we need a quick dessert.

tiramisu

Individual Tiramisu Trifles
Cooking Light, September 2004

1 cup cold strong brewed coffee
3 tablespoons Marsala wine
8 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese -- softened
1/2 cup block-style fat-free cream cheese -- (4 ounces) softened
3/4 cup sugar
30 cakelike ladyfingers -- (2 1/2 [3-ounce] packages)
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa

Combine coffee and wine; set aside.

Place cheeses in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Gradually add sugar, beating until well blended.

Cut each ladyfinger crosswise into 3 pieces. Arrange 5 ladyfinger pieces into each of 9 wineglasses or small bowls; drizzle each serving with about 1 tablespoon coffee mixture. Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese mixture into each glass. Repeat layers once; sprinkle evenly with cocoa. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Servings: 9