I was born and raised in Kansas and learned to cook alongside my mother. Now, along with my wonderful husband, I have taken the plunge into the city life in New York. These are my food adventures: in my own tiny kitchen, and in the many restaurants of the city.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies

Christmas really snuck up on me this year. I had every intention of baking like mad and making tons of candies and sweets and snacks. But now I'm only two days away from heading home for a week and just don't have any time. Hopefully I will make up for my slacking off in this department once January rolls around--I've got a lot of recipes piled up that I want to try! Although, I suppose my waistline is thanking me for putting off making all of these treats...

I did find the time to make some of these Ghirardelli Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies to send in with Joe for some of his coworkers, though. I stumbled across this recipe in a Gourmet magazine ad and just couldn't wait to try it. I have to admit that the Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe is one of my faves, so I was really hoping that this recipe would live up to that one. And it didn't disappoint. Chocolatey, rich, with just enough crispiness on the outside and a soft middle. The perfect type of cookie.

Ghirardelli Ultimate Double Chocolate Cookies
Yield: 24 cookies
12 ounce(s) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
11 1/2 ounce(s) 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
6 tablespoon(s) unsalted butter
3 eggs
1 cup(s) sugar
1/3 cup(s) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon(s) baking powder
1 cup(s) chopped walnuts

In double boiler over hot water, melt bittersweet chocolate chips and butter. In large bowl with electric mixer or whisk, beat eggs and sugar until thick; stir into chocolate mixture. In small bowl, stir together flour and baking powder; stir into chocolate mixture. Gently mix in semi-sweet chocolate chips and walnuts. Using a sheet of plastic wrap, form dough into two logs, each 2 inches in diameter and about 12 inches long. As dough will be quite soft, use plastic wrap to hold dough in log shape. Wrap tightly; refrigerate at least 1 hour or until firm. (Dough may be frozen; thaw in refrigerator before proceeding with recipe.) Heat oven to 375°F. Unwrap dough; with sharp knife, cut into 3/4-inch slices. Place slices 1 1/2 inches apart on greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until shiny crust forms on top but interior is still soft. Cool on baking sheet; store in airtight tin up to 1 week.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Focaccia Bread Pizzas

Pizza is probably our favorite meal around this house. We'll eat delivery, frozen, homemade, thin or thick crust, many different toppings (but mostly pepperoni :) ). Sometimes, though, you want to take a classic and change it up a little.
I decided to take focaccia bread and make it the main course by topping it with some pizza toppings, making it a heartier dish. The thicker "crust" of these pizzas is full of flavor and would be great on it's own, but really comes together with almost any toppings you want to throw on. We took this recipe and made two smaller square pizzas with it, using two different sets of toppings (we HAD to have one with the traditional pepperoni/mozzarella topping!). This meal would make a perfect treat on the go or would be great for a picnic as well.

Focaccia Bread Pizzas

1 c. warm water

3 TB olive oil (plus more for drizzling)

1 1/4 t. salt

3 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour

2 pkg. dry active yeast dissolved in 1/2 c. warm water for 10 minutes

1 TB fresh rosemary, chopped

1 TB fresh thyme, chopped

For two pizzas: Drizzle 2 9X9" baking dishes with 1 TB olive oil in each one. Combine all of the ingredients with an electric mixer and mix for 60 seconds.

Scoop 1/2 the sticky batter into each pan, cover, and let rise at room temperature for 60 minutes, or until it becomes puffy.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Poke the dough all over with your index finger and top with toppings of your choice (do not go overboard on topping, though! this isn't a traditional pizza), pushing the toppings slightly down into the dough. Bake the bread until the toppings begin to brown, about 35-40 minutes.

for toppings:

mushroom/goat cheese/truffle oil pizza

2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

2 oz. mushrooms (mixed works well: shitake, baby bella, crimini)

1/2 c. baby spinach

1/4 stick butter melted, mixed with 1 clove minced garlic

1 TB truffle oil

Spread the garlic butter mixture onto the prepared, risen focaccia dough. Place the spinach leaves, mushrooms and goat cheese on the dough. Bake as directed. After finished baking, drizzle the pizza with truffle oil and serve.

pepperoni pizza

4 large or 10 small slices pepperoni

1/2-3/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Sprinkle the cheese on the risen focaccia dough. Top with pepperoni slices and bake the focaccia accordingly.

Friday, December 5, 2008

French Pickled Garlic

I love garlic. I mean, I know a lot of people like garlic, but I LOVE it. I love when I cook with it and my fingers smell of garlic for a couple of days from chopping up so much. I love eating whole heads of roasted garlic even without any bread. I find a way to put garlic in pretty much everything I make. In fact, I'm slightly surprised that I haven't made a garlic dessert. I'm sure eventually I will.

When I was living in Spain, I came across something I had never tried: Pickled garlic. It was in this cute little wine store in the town I was living in. I was a little wary of trying it--fresh garlic can be a little harsh and I worried the pickled would be weird to eat alone. But it wasn't weird at all. It was wonderful. I kept the little jar in my room and ate the entire thing myself. I'm sure I smelled of garlic for a week. Ever since then I have been on the hunt for more. It finally came to me that I should just try making some. So I searched out some recipes and decided to give this one a shot.

I really liked this version, but the rosemary is a pretty powerful flavor in it. I can't wait to play around with it next time. Next time I also need to give some away, because again I am eating the whole jar myself. Ah, well. Garlic keeps those pesky vampires away, right??

French Pickled Garlic
(from epicurious.com)
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 small dried chile pepper
1 small thyme sprig
1 small rosemary sprig
1 small bay leaf
10 black peppercorns
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon pickling salt
1 cup peeled fresh garlic cloves

Put all of the ingredients except the garlic into a nonreactive saucepan. Bring the contents to a boil, and gently boil them for 5 minutes. Add the garlic. Return the contents to a boil, then cover the pan, and remove it from the heat. Let it stand at room temperature for 24 hours.
Bring the contents of the saucepan to a boil again, then transfer them to a half-pint jar. Let the jar cool, and cover it tightly with a nonreactive cap.
Store the jar in the refrigerator. The garlic will be ready to eat in about 5 days, and will keep well for about 1 year.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Eggnog Ice Cream

As usual, I'm a little late on the game, but how was everyone's Thanksgiving? I hope your day was filled with good friends and family, many reasons for thanks, and especially good food.

I actually had Thanksgiving off this year. As a waitress, I can't remember the last Thanksgiving where I had the whole day off (and before I was a waitress I worked at a grocery store that was open every day except Christmas, so I worked a lot of those Thanksgivings, too). I couldn't believe my luck this year. So I invited over the crew (old college friends, new city friends, etc.) and got myself ready to host my first Thanksgiving.

Everything turned out so well. We had some beer dip and figs wrapped in blue cheese and prosciutto for appetizers, then moved on to the main event. The turkey was free range and had so much flavor on its own (and turned out so moist! I was very proud of my first full turkey). I think I finally perfected my grandma's dinner rolls (I've gone in and made a few notes on the recipe if you want to give it a shot--sweet, delicious, perfect for a turkey sandwich). We also had the obligatory green bean casserole (yes, I love the cream of mushroom soup version...so sue me...) and some sweet potatoes. These roasted sweet potatoes with garlic oil and fried sage from Gourmet were to die for. I've been craving them ever since. I'm serious: try them now.

Finally we ended the meal with my mom's Caramel Apple Pie, pumpkin pie, and eggnog ice cream. I tried my own crusts this year for the pies and while it worked for the pumpkin, it wasn't sturdy enough for the apple so I had to run out and buy an emergency pre-made pie crust for the apple. Oh, well. Maybe next year. For the pumpkin pie I went with the basic Libby's recipe, but used coconut milk instead of evaporated milk. Yum. And I added cinnamon and ginger to the crust.

Now, the Eggnog Ice Cream was Joe's idea. And I am so glad he had it. It was the perfect accompaniment with the pumpkin pie, but was great on its own. It really tastes like the holidays. And it stayed creamy and perfect even after a week in the refrigerator (there's one or two bites left....I keep thinking I'm saving them for Joe, but I'm tempted to run in there and eat them now...).

Eggnog Ice Cream
2 c. eggnog
1 c. whipping cream
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 TB dark rum (we used Cpt. Morgan)

Combine all ingredients except the rum in a saucepan and cook over medium heat. Using a candy thermometer, cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 170 degrees F. Remove from heat. Mix in the 1 TB rum and allow the mixture to cool slightly (let it sit out until it is just above room temperature, about 40 minutes or so). Pour mixture into a lidded container and refrigerate overnight (this is very important in the consistency of the final product--don't skip this!).
Remove from refrigerator and mix ice cream according to the ice cream maker's instructions. Place back into a lidded container and freeze at least 1 hour before serving.