Monday, January 23, 2012

C is for Cookie

Minutes before I injured my shoulder in December, I had just finished 3 sheet trays full of toffee to give away to friends and relations.  The chocolate on one of the trays didn't adhere correctly, and I've said before, I'm not a food scientist, so I'm not sure where we went wrong here.  We were left with a tray full of perfectly good toffee with mottled looking chocolate, so Dr. C. broke it up for me (picture Oral Surgeon with hammer and chisel!) and then we vacuum sealed it with the thought I could use it in cookies and brownies, maybe even break it up to garnish a cake. 

I've been a fan of Tate's Bake Shop for years; their crispy, deliciously buttery, chocolate chip cookies are awesome!  Kathleen Kings' Cookbook, The Tate's Bake Shop Cookbook is also awesome, with every recipe working perfectly.  And, guess what?  She uses SALTED butter! I'm sure the bakers of this world are hyperventilating! 
I came across a recipe in the book Pecan Toffee Cookies and adapted it to use my almond toffee, and these cookies are PDG!  I'll be leaving them for Dr. C tonight when I go to teach a Super Bowl Class at Great News

Almond Toffee Cookies
Makes about 48 two-inch cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla paste, or vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups instant rolled oats
2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped almond roca, or toffee (if your toffee doesn't have nuts in it, add 1/2 cup chopped almonds or pecans)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line 4 baking sheets with silicone baking liners, or parchment paper. 
In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars until creamy.
Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until the mixture appears curdled. 
Add the remaining ingredients, and beat until the ingredients are combined (about 3 minutes)  

Using a small portion scoop, place the dough on the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. 

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the edges are browned, and the interior of the cookies are set.

Remove from the oven, and allow to cool on the cookie sheet on a wire rack for 2 minutes before removing and cooling completely on the wire rack. 
The cookies can be stored airtight at room temperature for up to 3 days, or can be frozen for 2 months.  

Cook's Note:  Toffee Chips, and certain candies will not melt when you bake with them; because this was homemade toffee, it melted, and so we had a bit of hard caramel when the cookies were baked---what's not to love about that extra crunch???
Enjoy your day!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Shopping the Farmer's Market

If you are headed out tomorrow to your local green market, this link will help you to be able to store your produce and keep it fresh for a long time.  Remember to shop local, and organic, and have a great weekend.

Two Classy Chicks

My sling came off today, and I am so happy to be able to have more mobility.   To celebrate I decided to try out a technique for roast chicken I'd read about recently.  Now, admittedly, chicken isn't my favorite but this dinner was actually my choice, and it was great to use both hands to be able to flop these things around!

I began with a combination of olive oil, garlic, thyme and lemon juice.
Poured a bit of the sauce mixture into the roasting pan with a large yellow onion, sliced.  Then put the pan into a 425 oven to heat up the pan.

Meanwhile, I stuffed the squeezed lemons and some more thyme into the cavity of the (organic) chickens.  I sprinkled the chickens with salt and paprika (it helps in browning).

After the onions had begun to caramelize (about 15 minutes), add the chicks to the pan--this will brown the bottom of the chicken.

After 1 hour and 15 minutes, the chicken was browned, and registered 170 on a meat thermometer.    I only used the meat from one half of the chicken on the left for dinner; the rest will be frozen and I will use it for lots of other dishes in the future.  From these two chickens you will get about 5 cups of meat.
Served along with roasted butternut squash and green beans tossed with extra virgin olive oil.  The verdict: the chicken was moist (even the breast meat) juicy, and tender, so I think this high heat method is a good one.  Have a great weekend, we are expecting rain here while the rest of the country looks like it will be digging out from snow...where ever you are, enjoy the moment!

Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Thyme
Serve 8
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
One large onion, sliced
Two whole organic chickens, fat removed, washed in cold water, and the cavity salted

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  In a mixing bowl whisk together the oil, juice, garlic, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt and  the pepper. 
  2. Pour 3 tablespoons of the mixture into a large roasting pan, and toss the onion with the mixture.  Place the roasting pan into the oven and cook the onion for 10 to 15 minutes.    
  3. While the onion is cooking, combine the remaining salt and paprika, and rub the mixture over the chickens. 
  4. Tie the legs together and place the chickens on the onions in the hot pan, and roast the chickens for 1 hour and 15 minutes, basting the lemon garlic mixture 3 times during the cooking process. 
  5. The chickens will register 170 degrees on an instant read meat thermometer.  Remove the chickens from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving.  
  6. Pour the pan juices into a fat separator, and use the drippings to make a pan sauce if desired.    

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Weighing in On Paula Deen

It's taken me a day to get over my anger and disgust at the Paula Deen roadshow yesterday.  Now I know there are a lot of people who love Paula Deen and I understand that watching someone who cooks like she does is really spectator sport, but I am in Anthony Bourdain's corner on this one.  He described her as the most dangerous woman on the Food Network.  Here's exhibit A:

The Krispy Kreme Burger with two Krispy Kreme donuts, fried egg and bacon.  Just because she makes food like this doesn't give you permission to eat like this.  Ms Deen's admission (after knowing about her diabetes for over 3 years) came only after she had secured a lucrative spokesperson gig with a drug company.  The Food Network denied knowing about this but it's interesting that Paula's son has a show that began airing a few weeks ago titled "Not My Mama's Cooking", I find that all a bit too coincidental.

Anyone who has to deal with a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes, has to deal with a life long battle, and I do sympathize with that, but  when Ms. Deen said that "diabetes isn't your fault" I was flabbergasted.  I would say serial overeating, no exercise, and smoking are probably contributing factors.  How about this dish?
This is the deep fried baked I know it looks great, but could you really eat a steady diet of this?  Julia Child lived to be 92 years old; no one enjoyed good food and drink as much as she did, the operative words here are good food, fresh, simply prepared food.  Her quote was always, everything in moderation  which should be the American mantra when it comes to our diet. 
Now, I realize we are all adults here, and we make our own decisions, and face the consequence of our actions, but cooking with Ms. Deen can be hazardous to your health.  I think we all should follow my friend Cookie Monsters' advice...

Enjoy your day, and I'll be back tomorrow with a few tips for weekend cooking. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

I'm Back!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season.  I have begun to use my right arm, and can now type with both hands, so I'll be posting a bit more frequently when I have time.  My sling comes off a week from today and then I'll begin Physical Therapy which I've heard is worse than the fracture---oh well.

Today, with the help of the amazing staff at Great News I taught my first Farmer's Market bag class of the year,  and it was so much fun!  The bag this week is full of really great veggies to start the new year off right, and I hope you'll try some of these dishes if you bought the bag, or if you are looking for a few more ideas for weekend/weeknight dinners.

From left to right:  Valencia Orange, bunch carrots, rainbow chard, green gem lettuce, heirloom potato mix, rapini, sunshine squash, red torpedo onions, and black radishes.

Black radishes are strong in flavor, use them in salads, sliced, or dip them into olive oil with salt and pepper.  Another way to use them is to preserve them in vinegar, and then use as you would horseradish in cocktail sauce, or horseradish sauce for beef.

Preserved Black Radishes

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

One bunch black radishes
Distilled White Vinegar
Glass jar for storage

Peel the radishes, removing the black outer covering.  Shred the radishes on a box grater or in the food processor.  Pack into the glass jar, and cover with vinegar.  Seal tightly and refrigerate for up to 3 months.
Use the horseradish to make cocktail sauce or horseradish sauce for roast beef.

Horseradish Sauce

Makes about 2 1/3 cups

1 3/4 cups crème fraiche
1/3 cup prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  1. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together all the ingredients until blended.
  2.  Do-Ahead: At this point, you can cover and refrigerate for up to a week. Serve cold.

Rapini and chard are such great vegetables to include in your diet, and they are so easy to cook.  This next recipe is a go to recipe for a great weeknight dinner and you can use either the rapini or chard for it.

Sausage, Rapini and Linguine with Lemon Zest
Serves 6

1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian Sausage, removed from the casing
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (if needed)
One bunch rapini, broccoli rabe, or rainbow chard, stems removed, and thinly slice the chard, leave rapini or broccoli rabe whole with stems trimmed

One pound linguine, boiled 2 minutes short of al dente, saving some of the pasta water
 Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 to 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

  1. In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium high heat, breaking up any large chunks, and cooking until the sausage is no longer pink.  
  2. Add the garlic to the pan and saute another minute, if there is very little fat in the pan, add the oil, if there is about 2 tablespoons of fat, there is no need to add the oil.  
  3. Add the rapini, and cook turning until the rapini is tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. 
  4. Add the pasta to the pan, and turn the pasta to coat with the sauce. 
  5. Add the lemon zest, pepper, and a tablespoon or two of pasta water if the sauce appears to be dry.
  6. Add 1/3 cup of the cheese, and stir until melted.  Serve the pasta garnished with additional cheese. 

Baked Sunshine Squash
Serves 4 to 6

One sunshine squash (about 1 pound)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, line a baking sheet with a silicone baking liner and set aside.  Split the squash in half, and remove the seeds.  
  2. Drizzle a bit of oil over each half, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
  3. Bake the squash for 45 to 55 minutes, until the sharp tip of a knife inserted into the thickest part, goes in without any resistance.  
  4. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool for 10 minutes.  
  5. At this point, it is simple to scoop out the flesh and leave the peel.  The flesh can be mashed or it can be cut into cubes and served as a side dish.  (sage is a great flavor booster to add to the cubed squash)

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, I'll try and get back here again with some tips to start the new year off well.