28 May 2008

nothing like a square cookie.

I went on a slight cooking kick a couple weeks back. Every recipe I saw, I wanted to make. It usually was because I realized I had one or two of the key ingredients in the house that I could use and the rest of the stuff could be picked up by my husband on his way home from work. So why not? These cookies were a perfect example of this. Smitten Kitchen had written about them the day before and talked about how they had made her top five favorite cookies ever... so I just had to make them! I had oatmeal... all I needed was white chocolate. And Dave was going to the store anyways... so I did it. I made them. On a whim. And you know what happens when you make cookies on a whim? You don't have room temperature butter. So you put some in the microwave and it gets a little too melty. And then your dough is just a little too thin. Which causes the cookies to spread more than usual when they cook... and then you get square cookies.

But they tasted mighty fine. C'est la vie!

Cripsy Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated and Smitten Kitchen

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

6 ounces good-quality white chocolate bar, chopped

1/2 teapoon fleur de sel (for sprinkling on top)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and table salt in a medium bowl.

2. Beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula, then add egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down bowl again. Add flour mixture gradually and mix until just incorporated and smooth. Gradually add oats and white chocolate and mix until well incorporated.

3. Divide dough into 24 equal portions, each about 2 tablespoons. Roll between palms into balls, then place on lined baking sheets about 2 1/2 inches apart. Using fingertips, gently press down each ball to about ¾-inch thickness.

4. Sprinkle a flake or two of sea salt on each cookie

5. Bake until cookies are deep golden brown, about 13 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack to cool.

19 May 2008

my man and his mac and cheese.

I have to admit, I really like making food that my hubby swoons over. I love it when he closes his eyes and makes yummy noises. I love making him happy. And I know that one of my special ways to his heart is my mac and cheese. When we met, he always said that his aunt makes the best mac and cheese ever. And, to be quite honest, I was jealous. As much as I love his aunt, she is a wonderful woman, I wanted him to think that about my food. About me. Every time I make dinner, I hope to please him. And, dammit, I wanted him to love my mac and cheese.

And I think I did it. Sorry Aunt Kathie! I have never had your mac and cheese, but I think I won Dave's heart with mine. I really isn't anything too special, based off the recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. But my twist really makes it something. Something that Dave won't let me play with. Sunday I wanted to try a blue cheese version. And my crazy husband, who LOVES blue cheese, wouldn't let me. He wanted the original. And that is what he got.

Mac and Cheese
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

2 T butter
1 onion chopped
2 T flour
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups milk
velveeta cheese, cubed*
cheddar cheese, shredded*
havarti cheese, shredded*
8 oz elbow noodles, cooked until just al denté

Melt the butter and saute the onion until soft but not browned. Add the flour and pepper and cook for just a second to remove the flour-y taste. Add the milk and stir until mixed. Cook the milk mixture, stirring occasionally, until it coats the back of a spoon. Stir in the cheeses and melt away. Mix noodles and cheese sauce and pour into a 2 quart baking dish. Bake at 350 until hot and bubbly. (I like to add a bit more cheese on top in the last few minutes of baking... your could also try breadcrumbs if you like a crunchy top.) Let stand (if you can) 10 minutes before scooping.

* I am not sure how much cheese i use. It ends up at about a half of a small box of velveeta, and about a cup each of the shredded cheeses. Sometimes it ends up with more cheese. Because cheese is good. Use how much you think you'll like.

15 May 2008

a night to myself.

As much as I love my husband and spending the evenings at home with him, sometimes it's nice when he has something to do so I can have an evening alone. It gives me a chance to try out new recipes that he may not enjoy and cook things for myself that feel like an indulgence. I'll pour myself a bottle of wine and put on my favorite show and settle in for the night with a nice plate of food.

This recipe came from such a night. I had had a jar of pumpkin pesto in the cupboard for a while waiting to use it to make pumpkin and sage risotto. I knew that Dave wouldn't enjoy it because of the pumpkin, so it was the perfect sports-night dinner. I had never made risotto before, but was excited to try my hand at this magical dish. And magical it is... both in how it comes together into creamy goodness and the taste. The sweetness of the pumpkin is the perfect match for the sharpness of the sage.

Creamy Pumpkin and Sage Risotto
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1 cup onion
1 T sage
1 T garlic
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine
4 cups heated stock
1 jar pumpkin pesto
2 T marscapone
salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter and olive oil and sauté onion, sage and garlic. Pour in rice and cook until just coated with the butter/oil. Stir in wine and cook until just absorbed. Stir in stock one cup at a time. Stir constantly, adding stock until rice is al dente. Fold in pumpkin and marscapone and season to taste. Finish with a sprinkle of parmesan.

14 May 2008

almond paste. who knew?

I can't believe that I haven't written about this yet. I saw this recipe on Orangette while reading her archives and was extremely excited to make it. In fact, I bought a special pan for it. See:

And, let me tell you, this cake is totally worth a pan to call its own. It is amazing. I wanted to eat the whole thing. It was very lucky that I made this for the premier of Top Chef when we had friends over for a little shindig. Otherwise, I just might have indulged in much more than the one (two?) piece that I did. And I got to send a couple squares home with them too... to prevent further temptation.

This cake really is beautiful. Square and very moist with a snowy sprinkle of powdered sugar. I can't say enough good things. So I will leave you with the recipe and be done with it.

Pain de Gênes
adapted from Orangette

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 Tbs potato starch (available in the baking section of most supermarkets)
14 ounces soft, pliable almond paste broken into pieces
4 large eggs
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled (but still liquid)
1 Tbs kirsch, Grand Marnier or some other good flavored liquor you have on hand
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 8-inch square pan (preferably metal, with nice, straight sides and corners), dust the inside with flour, tap out the excess, and put the pan on a baking sheet.

Sift the flour and potato starch together and set aside. Put the almond paste and two of the eggs in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for five minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, remove paddle, and put whisk attachment in place. Return the mixer to medium speed and beat in the remaining two eggs one at a time. Once eggs are incorporated, beat the batter for another ten minutes, scraping down the bowl frequently, until the batter is creamy. It should remind you of mayonnaise.

Stir a couple of tablespoons of this batter into the cooled melted butter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the Grand Marnier, followed by the dry ingredients, mixing only until just incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the butter.

Turn the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove cake from the oven, unmold onto a cooling rack, reinvert and cool to room temperature.

Dust powdered sugar (through a sieve or special powdered sugar shaker, if you have one) onto the top of the cake. Serve.

13 May 2008


When you read food blogs with the passion that I do, you notice the people who also read the same blogs that are in your rotation because every once in a while everyone will make a similar thing within the same time period. It is a funny little community of food bloggers... many of which don't know each other at all. But it does make me feel like a part of something... even though I probably post less than most.

I made this dish a couple of weeks ago, around the time in popped up on 101 Cookbooks... and has it popped up a couple other places since. But, I gotta say, it is one of my new favorite go-to recipes. I made it again last night for a quick, healthy dinner on my own and took the leftovers for lunch today. Fabulous. It tasty and fresh with just a hint of richness. Tomorrow night, you should join the community too and make this for dinner.

Peanut Noodles
adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 8 ounce package soba noodles
1 bunch asparagus spears, ends trimmed then cut into 1/2-inch segements
1 carrot, sliced

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
drizzle of toasted sesame oil
big pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1/4-1/2 cup hot water

1 cooked chicken breast, cubed
1 small bunch of spring onions or scallions, thinly sliced for garnish

Big a large pot of water to a boil. Boil the soba noodles per package instructions.In the last minute or so of cooking toss in the asparagus and carrots. Drain noodles and asparagus, run under cold water for about a minute to stop cooking, and set aside.

Meanwhile, make the peanut dressing by combining the peanut butter, rice vinegar, garlic, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, and a big pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Thin with hot water - the amount you'll need depends on the original consistency of your peanut butter. Taste and season with a bit more salt if needed.

Gently toss the noodles, asparagus, carrot and chicken with the dressing and garnish with scallions.