Sweet Cooking

Archive for June, 2010|Monthly archive page

When in Doubt, Go with a Classic.

In Cookies on June 30, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Perhaps the headline should read, "When in doubt, go with chocolate!"

I wanted to make cookies. I was looking at saved recipes and searching on line for something that would satisfy my cookie urge. Nothing was doing it for me. That’s when I decided to make the classic: Original Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies. Sometimes you just can’t beat the oohie gooey goodness of a freshly baked Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie.

Follow the instructions for making the batter. The recipe calls for 1 cup of chopped nuts. I used walnuts but pecans, macadamia nuts or hazel nuts would work too.

I was out at the beach shack when I made these cookies. I was supposed to be assembling Adirondack chairs while my husband diligently installed the dog fence. I was panicked that he would walk in and catch me mid-cookie baking. Normally, that would not be a big deal, but these chairs have been on my list for a long time! Since I was totally procrastinating (again), I was looking to cut corners in the time department. I decided to make a pan cookie instead of individual cookies.

Just spread the dough out evenly in a jelly roll pan. Saves a lot of time!

Pop the pan into a 375° oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Be careful not to burn the edges. By the way, I intended to put one of the chairs together while the cookies were baking, but it took me a full 20 minutes just to get the chair out of the box. It’s crazy the way that thing was wrapped up and tied up and secured with bubble wrap, peanuts and paper. Geez. Back to the cookies…once they are done, remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for about 20 minutes. Then slice them up like brownies.

As the saying goes, a classic never goes out of style!

Chicken Salad

In Just Good Food, Lunch on June 29, 2010 at 3:52 pm

This chicken salad is totally going to be on the menu at my imaginary restaurant.

I found the recipe for this chicken salad sandwich in the June issue of Bon Appetit. It’s a great issue – lots of good things to try. I couldn’t find the recipe on-line, so here you go:

Open-Face Chicken Salad Sandwiches with Asparagus and Prosciutto

Makes 6 servings

1 lb slender asparagus, trimmed

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt (I used goat milk yogurt instead)

1 T fresh lemon juice

1 T Dijon mustard

4 cups bite-size skinless cooked chicken (from 1 purchased roast chicken – or you can roast your own!)

1/2 cup chopped fresh chives

6 thin prosciutto slices (I used pancetta because the grocery was out of prosciutto – the pancetta was great!)

6 pieces of bread lightly toasted (the recipe suggests rye, but I used whole wheat)

2 green onions thinly sliced

1. Cook asparagus in boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.  Drain and place asparagus in bowl of ice water to cool. Drain again and pat dry. Cut the asparagus into 3/4″ pieces (cut on a diagonal).

2. Whisk together the mayo, yogurt, lemon juice and mustard in a large bowl. Add the chicken, chives and asparagus and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill the chicken salad.

3. Preheat oven to 375°. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick spray. Arrange prosciutto slices in a single layer. Bake until prosciutto is crisp, about 15 minutes and let cool.

4. Divide chicken salad among toasted bread slices. Sprinkle with green onions and top each with 1 slice of prosciutto.

This is a great lunch or light summer dinner!

Clamming in Westhampton Beach!

In Just Good Food, Lunch on June 28, 2010 at 2:40 pm

My friend, Melissa, grew up vacationing in Westhampton Beach, NY. I asked her if she ever went clamming as a kid. She lit up and said that she still loves to go clamming. So…on Sunday, she generously drove us out to a clamming spot and taught us what to do. It’s a ton of fun!

Basically, you stand in the water and do “the twist” while digging your heels down into the sand. The idea is to get your feet a few inches into the floor of the bay. If you feel something hard, it’s a clam! Once you feel the clam, you go down into the water and pick it up. If it’s closed, it’s a keeper!

Lunch!

We clammed for maybe an hour and got almost 70 clams! We threw some back because we felt they were too big. Large clams are best used for chowder…for a clam bake, you really want smaller clams.

I won the award for finding the smallest clam.

We first soaked all of the clams in ice cold water to remove the sand. Then we put some of them on the grill and heated them up just until they opened. Once opened, we added a mixture of butter, garlic, shallots, breadcrumbs and bacon to each clam shell. Then we broiled them in the oven for a minute until browned on top! Delicious!

The clams were awesome!

Just out of the broiler.

For some of the smaller clams, I made a white wine, butter and lemon sauce with fresh parsley and lemon juice. I steamed the clams in the sauce until they opened up. We served these with a crusty baguette. The sauce was so tasty and perfect with a fresh piece of warm bread.

It took a while for everything to come together, and it made a giant mess, but I loved our first clamming expedition and clam bake!

Frozen Lemonade Pie

In Pie on June 25, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Man, it’s hot! There has never been a better time for a cool, refreshing dessert. Frozen Lemonade Pie hits the spot. This is a recipe from some random newspaper that I’ve been saving for a hundred years. The newspaper is actually yellow. I have no idea where it came from. Maybe the AJC? I can’t be sure. Here you go!

Frozen Lemonade Pie

makes 2 pies

1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 6 0z can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed and undiluted

1 8 oz tub frozen shipped topping, thawed

2 prepared graham cracker crusts

A visual, if you need it.

1. In a large bowl, fold sweetened condensed milk and lemonade into whipped topping.

Spoon the filling into pie crusts. Then freeze for 3 hours or until firm.

I used one large pie crust and 6 mini pie crusts to make the individual pies pictured above.

Top with blueberries or raspberries and enjoy!

Israeli Couscous – Love it!

In Just Good Food on June 24, 2010 at 3:47 pm

I’ve made lots of couscous in my life, but this is my first experience with Israeli (also known as Middle Eastern) couscous. It’s really a great base for a side dish or salad. I highly recommend adding some couscous to your life – it’s as fun to eat as it is to say! You can find Israeli couscous at most markets. They have it at my Whole Foods, and I’ve seen it at a few other places around NYC.

I was inspired by a recent trip to the Union Square Green Market. The spring produce is just unbelievable.

I'm obsessed with the Green Market these days.

Since I had all this great produce, I decided to make Israeli Couscous with Asparagus, Peas and Sugar Snaps from Bon Appetit. I  had asparagus, but I was reserving it for another use, so I just left it out. I followed the recipe other than that omission. This is a very nice side dish or vegetarian main dish. We ate it warm, but I think it would be great at room temperature, as well. Pair this dish with grilled chicken or fish.There is one down side…this recipe requires a lot of pots/pans. So the clean up isn’t super fast. Just wanted to let you know in advance.

Just lovely. Enjoy!

Wookie Cookies

In Cookies on June 23, 2010 at 3:23 pm

My cute nephew turned 6 on Monday. He’s a Star Wars freak! He has more lightsabers than Luke Skywalker. I wanted to make something in his honor and scoured the Internet for Star Wars themed desserts. I realized pretty quickly that I did not have the patience or ability to make a cake in the shape of Darth Vader’s helmet. Luckily, I found this recipe for Wookie Cookies.

Little did I know there is an entire Star Wars cookbook. You can buy it on Amazon.

I followed the instructions with 2 exceptions:

1. I used white chocolate chips instead of milk-chocolate chips. I love white chocolate and try to add it to recipes as often as possible.

2. Instead of making 36 cookies, I made 18 giant Wookie Cookies.

Chewbaca is kind of a big wookie and I think he would probably prefer a large cookie.

Since I was making large cookies, I baked mine a little longer than the recipe instructed. They turned out great. There is 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon in the recipe…the flavor really comes through. If you aren’t a huge cinnamon fan, I would reduce the amount.

Definitely wookie worthy!

The Ultimate Fudgy Brownie

In Brownies & Bars on June 22, 2010 at 5:16 pm

I am typically more of a cookie person than a brownie person, but I decided to give brownies another try. The title of this recipe got my attention: “Ultimate Fudgy Brownies.” I don’t like “cake-like” brownies. I prefer the fudgy kind, so this recipe looked perfect.

Here are the ingredients. I used Ghirardelli cocoa powder but any unsweetened cocoa powder will do. I sifted my cocoa powder.

Just a note about the recipe…evidently there was a typo in the printed magazine. The amount of butter was incorrect. The recipe on-line (access it by the link above) has been corrected. Use 12 oz of butter or 1 1/2 cups. I weigh all of my ingredients when I am trying something new.

The key to fudgy brownies is not to over bake. The instructions say to “bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with small bits of brownie sticking to it.”

This is my toothpick. Perfect!

Shiny and crackly on top, gooey in the middle. Delicious and addictive.

These brownies are to die for. I can't tell you how many I ate before I gave the rest away. Seriously good.

Cake. One Year Later.

In Cakes & Cupcakes on June 21, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Dan and I celebrated our one year anniversary yesterday!

It’s been a fantastic year. We got the world’s cutest puppy, renovated the beach shack, Dan started a new job, I adjusted my job, we drove the California coast, went to Paris and to Southern France. And, oh yeah, and I started this blog!

It did not take me long to decide what type of wedding cake I wanted. I’ve known since my first imaginary wedding at twelve years old. I chose a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting. I thought the chef did a fantastic job. Not only did the cake look beautiful, it also tasted great.

I love red velvet cake almost as much as my husband.

As tradition goes, we saved the top of our wedding cake to eat on our one year anniversary. I’m not sure who thought this would be a great idea, and it’s really not that appetizing to think about eating a year old cake. But you know what, I never turn down cake!

This cake has been taking up valuable freezer space for a year!

To our surprise, the cake was still great. I had very low expectations, but the cake was moist, tasty and still fun to eat one year later. The cream cheese frosting between the cake layers was still excellent, as well. The frosting covering the outer part of the cake did not fare as well in the freezer. It had a layer of butter cream over the cream cheese frosting to help hold the flowers in place. The butter cream was not good…we just ate around it!

There is nothing better than red velvet cake. Even if it is a year old.

The Little Things

In Just Good Food, Travel on June 18, 2010 at 3:37 pm

Don’t you just love it when you check into a hotel and there is a little gift for you in your room? Nothing elaborate, just a simple something to say “welcome”. A chilled bottle of Perrier, a basket of apples, freshly cut flowers, a chocolate on your pillow. I believe that small gestures like this can turn an ordinary experience into an extraordinary one. Here are some of “the little things” that stood out during our trip.

Fresh Cherries at La Mirande in Avignon.

Olives with herbs at Cafe de Paris in Monaco.

An assortment of French macaroons at Villa Gallici in Aix. These were heaven.

Rasberry tart served with tea at Chateau de la Messardiere in St. Tropez.

We’re all  busy with work, family, obligations, commitments. It’s easy to get lost in it all. This weekend, I hope you’ll sit back, relax (even for 10 minutes)  and eat or drink something that makes you happy! I hope you enjoyed reading about our trip. Next week I’ll be back in the kitchen and blogging about baking and cooking. As a matter of fact, I just made some sick brownies that I can’t wait to tell you about. Have a great weekend everyone!

Cooking in Aix En Provence

In Just Good Food, Travel on June 17, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Aix is a cool town in Southern France. It’s home to a university and filled with college kids, quaint restaurants, pizzerias, and art galleries. We had great food in Aix, but one meal really stood out because we made it ourselves at Le Passage. Le Passage is a large restaurant that also has a cooking school. Before we started cooking, Dan and I went to the open air market with Yannick (our chef/instructor) and selected our produce.

It was Yannick's birthday, and everyone at the market kept hugging him!

We purchased a few zucchini blossoms (yellow flowers above) for our starter.

We bought several tomatoes. They had a million varieties.

In addition to the blossoms and tomatoes, we also chose red peppers, fresh mint, fava beans, and asparagus. We also purchased some fresh goat cheese and sea bream (mild, white fish).

For our starter we prepared zucchini blossoms stuffed with goat cheese. First, we chopped up the mint and mixed it with goat cheese. Then we blanched each blossom. Next we stuffed the blossoms with the goat cheese mixture and garnished it with sliced radish and chopped tomatoes seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper. It was very simple to prepare and so delicious!

This is so pretty and can easily be done at home. The goat cheese and mint mixture is fantastic.

For the main course, we had sea bream with asparagus and fava beans. I had never before fileted a fish or cooked fava beans. Both were easy. Our lunch was amazing…simple, fresh, tasty!

The red sauce on the plate is basically a pureed red pepper - it is such a colorful addition and easy to do.

My favorite part of this class was definitely learning how to filet a fish. I’ve always been intimidated by whole fish. I actually think I may try to filet one at home. That’s the great thing about cooking classes…confidence in the kitchen!

We did not get a printed recipe after our class, but if you’re interested, please comment and I’ll send you step by step instructions.