Sunday, March 28, 2010

Macadamia White Chocolate Cookies

I like cookies.

Since I buy chocolate chips in bulk, not in the bag, I don't have the Toll House recipe at my finger tips... Or do I? In fact, there is a recipe for "Toll House Cookies" in the 1953 Joy of Cooking I work with. Guess the brand has been around a while...

These cookies are always delicious, despite the strange measurements (6 tablespoons of sugar? What the?...).

I usually put chocolate chips and chopped hazelnuts in these cookies (yum!), but last week I wanted to do something exotic, so I got some white chocolate chips and used those and some of the macadamia nuts we brought back from Hawaii. They were delicious!

Here's the ancient, but apparently perfect, recipe:

Heat the oven to 375.

Cream together:
- 1/2 cup of butter (best if this is room temperature when you start, so plan ahead)
- 6 Tblsp brown sugar
- 6 Tblsp white sugar

Beat in:
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla

In a separate bowl, mix together:
- 1 cup plus 2 Tblsp sifted all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda

Stir this into the wet stuff.
Then stir in:
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts (if you want)

Plop smallish amounts onto a lightly greased cookie sheet, with an inch or so between each blob.

Bake at 375 for 8 minutes. (watch them, or they'll get too brown!)


**A note about my mixer: I love it. My lovely hubby got it for me a year or so ago, and while I don't bake every week or anything, it still is a great help! It's so nice to be able to just toss in the butter and turn it on low, then toss in more ingredients as needed - just letting it stir it all together. I need to use it more. I have a pasta attachment, and I've only used it once. I think it's about time for another go!

A little dash of...

One of my favorite things about my yard/garden is that I have delicious fresh herbs right outside the back door. When I need rosemary or thyme or oregano or fennel or cilantro or sage or parsley I can get them all fresh - many of them all year round - within seconds and for free. Yippee!

There was a nice oregano plant in one of my beds when we moved into this house 5 years ago. And it lived through all the winters so far, growing bigger each summer and flowering nicely to attract bees. This past December we got uncharacteristically cold weather for days on end and it proved too much for my oregano. I was really sad to see no new growth coming up this past week when everything else was springing back to life.

Well, out with the old, in with the new. I went out and got a new plant, tore out the old one, and now I've got fresh oregano again.

For dinner tonight I got to use fresh thyme and rosemary (blog post to follow), not oregano, but I think later this week I'll use some in the sauce for another round of chicken parmesan. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chocolate Cake

For this week's potluck we had "island" themed food - I just can't give up Hawaii yet. I experimented with some pineapple and macadamia rice. Others brought some BBQ chicken, some pineapple/coconut cod, spam musabi, hawaiian sweet bread and pina coladas. It was ALL delicious.

For dessert I made my favorite chocolate cake, and added some mac nuts to "island" it up a bit. I'm pretty sure I originally got this recipe from my friend Jean - baker extraordinaire - who I think got it from Moosewood. It's delicious and moist, with a crispy top, and comes in handy when you have vegans around. You could top it with just about any kind of icing, fruit, or whatever.

Six-minute (Vegan) Chocolate Cake
In one bowl mix:
1 and 1/2 cup white flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp baking soda

In smaller bowl mix:
1/2 cup vegetable oil (Canola, or olive works too)
1 cup cold water (or coffee, which makes it richer)
2 tsp. vanilla
Add to dry and mix.

Then add 2 Tblsp vinegar. Stir quickly and dump into 9x12-ish baking pan.

Bake 25 minutes at 375 degrees.

The nuts were a nice touch - I'd recommend adding some if you need some crunch. I've tried these as cupcakes too, and they turn out well.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Future ingredients

I've been a slacker as I have been on vacation, eating fresh bananas and papayas every day in Hawaii and cooking nothing. It was nice.

Back to cooking later this week, but right now I'm excited about the seeds I bought today! I don't usually go through a whole packet of any one veggie each year, but this year I ran out of many things so I went on a little shopping spree. Soon, I'll get peas, lettuce, onions and broccoli in the ground and other things started in the greenhouse. I'm a bit behind on these things but it'll be worth the wait. Hubby rebuilt the raised beds this month, so they'll soon be filled with brand new, super healthy soil for all my veggies. Hooray!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Melted brie pie

Thanks to my friend Kate, who served this appetizer at a party not long ago, I had a great idea for one of the apps I served at an Oscar party the other night. It's super easy, and super tasty. (sorry I didn't get a picture of the finished product - it disappeared too fast!)

- Just lay out some filo dough - about 5 or 6 sheets thick - that is wide enough to cover a pie pan. (you can also use pie dough)

- Plop a wheel of brie in the middle.

- Cover the brie with something sweet. I used some homemade fig jam I made last fall from our fig tree. Honey works too.

- Top that with some chopped nuts. I used a mixture of almonds and hazelnuts.

- Gather the dough up around the brie so it's closed at the top and twist together the best you can so it stays closed. Brush the top with melted butter.

- Put in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes or so.

- Serve with crackers or bread by just cutting the "pie" into wedges. Brie will gush out, and all the sweetness will mingle with it. Yum!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Chicken parmesan dream

Last week, we made something pretty amazing - and I say "we" because hubby played a major role.

First things first, though: the olive oil.
I heard recently (over twitter) that a new store had opened downtown called "Olive Grand". It's an olive oil store, so naturally I stopped in. What a sweet place! It's the first business venture for this couple, and they have a whole store filled with different styles and flavors of wonderful olive oil, as well as many types of flavored balsamic vinegars. I was in heaven. The folks were very nice and I got to taste a variety of wonderful, rich flavors. I couldn't decide what to buy, so I rashly decided on the lemon olive oil. I got a small bottle - filled directly from a large steel vat - for $13.50. Ouch. But what a delicious novelty!

So, here's the question: What do you use lemon olive oil for? We tried it with some balsamic and dipped olive bread in it. Delicious!

Then, a few days later hubby had the dinner idea of chicken parmesan (something we never make). In the morning, I decided the chicken breasts needed a marinade, so I poured some lemon olive oil in a bag with them (not too much!), added a few cloves of chopped garlic and some salt and pepper and let them sit all day.

To cook the chicken, hubby followed my suggestions: He started by broiling the breasts on each side for about 5 minutes each in a glass casserole. Then he dumped some canned (organic at least!) marinara sauce over them and baked at 350 for 15 or 20 minutes. Then he added a whole bunch of freshly grated/shredded parmesan cheese and let that get nice and melty.

This is when I got home from a late meeting and rejoiced.

I quickly cooked up some egg noodles to put the chicken and sauce over. When I cut into the chicken, the aroma of lemon and garlic oozed out. Surprise! The subtle flavor of lemon permeated the chicken, and mixed well with the marinara and cheese. The noodles provided a good secondary sauce-delivery-mechanism. Oh yeah, we had some salad too. It was all divine.

This was more than a week ago and I can still taste it. I highly recommend all of the above!