Aug.
16

A couple of weeks ago I tried a new recipe for chocolate chip cookies.  If you’ve read my blog a few times or follow me on Twitter you know I have a big ol’ crush on Alton Brown.  What can I say… talent, wit and just enough geek-boy in him to keep me interested in any show he does or book he writes or commercial he stars in.  Yup… I got it reeeeeeeeeeeeal bad for Alton… and I’m not at all ashamed to admit it :)  Alton’s show “Good Eats” is one of my favorites and I’ll watch the episodes repeatedly never getting bored or restless.  In his episode Three Chips For Sister Marsha he provided us with three different chocolate chip cookie recipes…  The Thin… The Puffy… and… The Chewy.  Out of all the ridiculous number of chocolate chip cookie recipes I’ve tried, sadly most have turned out like “The Thin” so I have absolutely no desire to make that one.  Previously I’ve made The Chewy and really liked them so this time I decided to try “The Puffy”.  What I liked about that recipe was the cookies retain so much of their height.  I know it’s all about personal preference but sorry me no likey flat chocolate chip cookies.  When I made “The Puffy” the cookies were sooooo good that by the time I thought about blogging them, they were all gone!  So this week when I came across the idea of making chocolate chip cookies… with Oreos… I knew exactly what base recipe I’d use.  Once again… thank you Alton Brown!

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Aug.
04

Carrot cake is one of those traditional desserts that people hold near to their hearts. Seems that everyone I’ve talked to about it has a definite opinion about what makes a carrot cake “good”.   Some like it with walnuts… some like it with coconut… some like it with pineapple… some like it with raisins.  I like mine rather plain… without nuts or raisins… definitely with lots of spices… and standing mile-high with just a fringe of toasted coconut.   Whatever your preference, it all starts with a good recipe… and that’s where I can help you out!

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Oct.
24

Drunken Cherry Scones

 

In the spirit of “keepin it real” I’m just gonna put it right out there for ya…. I’m looking for a little sympathy today.  We’re having some work done on the first level of our house and it’s just got everything discumbobulated right now. We had to clear everything out of the living room and dining room… the furniture was moved to the family room, my “studio” (haha yeah, good one! LOL) was disassembled and moved to the guest bedroom… and everything that was in my china cabinet and curio cabinet is sitting all over the kitchen. The stovetop has the china, the countertops have some of the glassware and the rest is on the kitchen table. O-M-G.  The living room… the dining room… the family room… and worst of all the kitchen… all out of commission.  It’s been painful and very hard on my psyche as I’m unable to cook or bake… or photograph. It’s unfortunate I made these scones about a week ago because I’d surely LOVE to have some right now. These are really good… and of course, the addition of a wee bit of alcohol (optional, of course) doesn’t hurt a bit ;-) The batter is so tasty that I had to stop myself from eating it. This recipe is extremely versatile… use your choice of fruit… and your choice of alcohol… omit either one… omit both… as I like to say “do whatcha like”… but do make these :)

Before March of this year I’d never tried a scone. But just a single one had me hooked… hooked I tell ya! Now, I eat them all the time, mostly because I bake them so often. More complex in texture and taste than either a biscuit or a muffin, done right, a scone melts in your mouth and makes your tummy happy :) I had some dried cherries in the pantry, and we usually have Amaretto on hand so that’s the combination I made since cherry and almond flavors really appeal to me. But use your imagination, be creative! Maybe peaches and brandy, pineapple and Grand Marnier (orange) or whatever you like. You can omit the fruit entirely or use nuts instead. The base recipe is noteworthy all on it’s own so don’t feel like you have to dress them up because most certainly you do not. 

  

Drunken Cherry Scones

Adapted from Alton Brown

Ingredients
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons shortening
3/4 cup cream
1 egg
Handful dried cherries
Enough Amaretto to just cover the cherries

Preparation
Put the cherries in a small bowl and pour in the Amaretto so that the cherries are soaking. Let them sit for about 5-10 minutes to soften.  Come back and using either a muddler or end of a wooden spoon or similar utensil, kind of mash down the cherries just enough to open them up allowing more of the Amaretto to be absorbed. Let this sit for about 30 minutes.  Pour the cream into a measuring cup that is larger than 1cup size.  Add the cherry/Amaretto mixture and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 375°F
Line cookie sheet either with silicone baking mat or parchment paper

Directions
In a food processor combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar then pulse a couple of times to mix well. Add in butter and shortening and combine for about 15 seconds or until you have a pebbly mixture. In a separate bowl, combine cream mixture with beaten egg then add to dry ingredients and mix just until combined (don’t over mix but your cherries should be pretty well broken down and incorporated into the dough).  Spoon or scoop the dough into rough balls and place on cookie sheet.  Use a wet finger to smooth “peaked” areas.  Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. 

 

These come together quickly and easily. They’re tender, slightly sweet, moist and delicious.  Great with tea or for breakfast or as an anytime snack.   The work on our house should be completed this weekend so with any luck I’ll be back to baking soon :)


Enjoy!

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Sep.
21

The Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie


Chocolate chip cookies come in three basic styles… “The Thin”… “The Puffy”… and “The Chewy”.  And it’s a very personal thing when it comes to what you like.  Unless I’m on a deserted island , I’ll not fight you for “the thin”… you can have all of those you want :) While I realize that more than once I’ve said I’m done with testing out chocolate chip cookie recipes but.. but… but… in my own defense, these are from my boyfriend, Alton. I know… I know… {heavy sigh}… the very last thing I need is another batch of chocolate chip cookies in my house. But ya gotta understand…. these are from Alton Brown… and I just can’t resist his recipes. So, purely in the name of research of course, I made them…. and… today, dear readers, I present… “The Chewy”…

One night last week I was catching up on some very old episodes of Alton’s show “Good Eats”. The particular one I was watching involved different kinds of substitutions and in passing he mentioned his “award winning” episode about the three kinds of chocolate chip cookies. I searched the net and found “Three Chips For Sister Marsha” which I highly recommend to anyone  interested in the rationale behind what makes thin vs. puffy vs. chewy chocolate chip cookies. I decided to test out “The Chewy” and I’m glad I did. They certainly didn’t last long because they flew off the platter as if they had wings! I loved them – the hubs loved them – the kids loved them – the neighbors loved them…. I had to set aside and save some for the photos and to do that I almost had to resort to *hiding* them! LOL! I didn’t store them any fancy way, in fact, I purposely let them sit on the counter… uncovered… for three days to see how that would effect them. I’m happy to report they were still chewy and delicious :)  I followed the recipe to the letter, making absolutely no additions nor modifications whatsoever.  Three days later they were still chewy and delicious – I’m not talking “dried out” chewy, I’m talkin “moist-flavorful-delicious” chewy.  Depending on what kind of cookie you like, these might be worth making.  I know they were to me :)

The Chewy
Alton Brown

Ingredients
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Hardware:
Ice cream scooper (#20 disher, to be exact)
Parchment paper
Baking sheets
Mixer

Directions:
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.
Pour the melted butter in the mixer’s work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Chill the dough, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Have a delicious day!

Sep.
19

Honey Yeast Rolls


These are pretty much your basic dinner rolls… but the addition of honey in the dough and a brush of warm honey butter on top turns these into something that’s absatively irresistable!!! My family devoured them in record time… and I bet yours will too :)

I found the recipe on the blog …a cookie a day and it has instructions for either hand kneading or using a bread machine. I haven’t seen my bread machine since I moved back to SoCal from the Washington DC area… and I’m far too lazy to made bread by hand so I let my dear Lola do all the work. She’s always happy to do the heavy lifting… and I’m always happy to let her. Lola and I have a great relationship that way – she never lets me down :)

Until recently I had a real fear of yeast. I was afraid I would do something wrong and it just wouldn’t work out right. I’ll admit, yeast can be tricky… but I’ve gotten over my fear in part thanks to my boyfriend Alton Brown (back away, ladies, he’s mine!!! bwaaaaaaahahahaha). In his “Flat is Beautiful” episode of Good Eats, Alton explains it this way:
Alton Brown: dough gets its rise from the gas produced by billions and billions of unicellular fungi called ‘ yeast’ that chomp down on the sugar in flour-based doughs. Have a look. They are real pigs. And once their little feeding frenzy is over …
Yeast: [belching sounds]
Alton Brown:… that’s right. Yeast belch makes bread rise.

I just love that nerd-man :) So there you have it, a deconstructed explanation of the role yeast plays in making bread :)

This recipe uses honey as the “food” for the yeast but it doesn’t get added right away so contrary to following the recipe to the exact letter, I added about 1/8t sugar to the warm water for the yeast. This gives the lil fun-guys (get it.. fungi… fun-guy… I love that one! hahahahaha) something to start munching on right away so they can start burping quickly. In my experience, and this only goes for me, I’ve found that when I add even a tiny amount of sugar to the water, the yeast develop better than when I add none. That’s my little trick, not saying it’s anything scientific or special.

Once you’re done with all the mixing and needing and letting it rise, separate out your dough by weight, roll into balls and let them rise again before baking in the oven. Only take a quick peek at the above photo… okay….?…. cuz the rolls are nekkid ;-) But they’re in the oven and making your house smell M’mmm M’mmm Good. There’s just something about the smell of baking bread that is so warm and inviting. Very comforting to me :)

After about 5 minutes in the oven, brush with some honey butter and they’ll be beautifully browned with a touch of sweetness. I think that’s the part that makes them even more irresistible than your average dinner rolls. But you could certainly omit the honey on top if that’s more to your liking.

The full recipe can be found on …a cookie a day. If you visit and make these heavenly rolls (which I certainly hope you do), please tell her Em sent you!

Have a delicious day!

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