Friday, November 29, 2013

shearling.

A cozy chair with a shearling throw is the ideal way to enjoy epic leftover turkey sandwiches and pie.  The rug ensures you don't have to deal with cold floors (and adds a nice pop of color).   

(I adore the day after Thanksgiving eating.) 







































Image via Pinterest

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

cranberry-orange breakfast buns.



























Oh I'm sorry.  Were you expecting me to discuss something virtuous?  I know tomorrow is the day of over-indulgence but in my world you can't start Thanksgiving with a breakfast of yogurt and granola.  That feels wrong. 

Start your day with these instead. You can thank me later.  

Maybe you think I am a little crazy to even suggest you making something else when your kitchen is in havoc mode.  There are pie crusts to be rolled, biscuits to be cut, and turkeys to be brined.  And maybe it is a little absurd for me to think you have time to make something else.  But I assure you, if you can devote the minimal time and effort (and I promise it really is minimal) it takes to put these together you will be rewarded in the best possible way.  

These are magical.  The buns are soft and tender and when pulled apart reveal a yeasty orange scented interior. The tart cranberries pair brilliantly with the orange (so reminiscent of cranberry sauce) and brown sugar.  When the buns bake the brown sugar and cranberries melt down and create a gooey glaze at the bottom of the pan that you want to lick with a spoon.  The orange glaze at the top?  That's what makes these holiday worthy. (Or if you are like me you can just declare every Sunday morning a holiday in order to validate making these once a week. No judgments here. You're welcome.) 

Cranberry-Orange Breakfast Buns
Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Yield: 12 buns. This recipe could be halved and baked in a 9-inch round or 8×8-inch baking pan.

Dough

4 large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
6 tablespoons (85 grams) butter, melted, plus additional to grease pan
3/4 cup (175 ml) buttermilk
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated (to be used in dough and filling, below)
3 3/4 cups (470 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting counter
1 packet (7 grams or 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant dry yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse or kosher salt, or more to taste
1 teaspoon oil for bowl

Filling

1 1/2 tablespoons (20 grams) butter
1 cup (190 grams) packed light brown sugar
1 cup (115 grams) fresh cranberries
Orange zest leftover from above

Icing

3 1/2 tablespoons (55 ml) orange juice
2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar

Make the dough: In the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, buttermilk and 3/4 of the orange zest together (saving the rest for the filling). Add 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; stir until evenly moistened. Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining 1 3/4 cups flour and let the dough hook knead the mixture on low speed for 5 to 7 minutes. The dough should be soft and moist, but not overly sticky. Scrape the dough into a large, lightly oiled bowl (I usually scrape my dough briefly onto the counter, oil the mixing bowl, and scrape the dough back into it) and cover it with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled, which will take between 2 and 2 1/2 hours.

Prepare the filling: Melt the butter and set it aside. Coarsely chop the cranberries.  Set them aside.

Assemble the buns: Butter a 9×13-inch baking dish, a heavier ceramic or glass dish is ideal here. Turn the risen dough out onto a floured work surface and roll it into a rectangle that is 18 inches wide (the side nearest to you) and 12 or so inches long. (It’s okay if it goes longer/thinner.) Brush the dough with the melted butter. Sprinkle it with the brown sugar. Scatter the ground cranberries over it, then the remaining orange zest.
Roll the dough into a tight, 18-inch long spiral. Using a sharp serrated knife, very, very gently saw the log into 1 1/2-inch sections; you should get 12. Arrange the buns evenly spread out in your baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or up to 16 hours.

The next morning, bake the buns: Take your buns out of the fridge 30 minutes before you’d like to bake them, to allow them to warm up slightly. Heat your oven to 350 degrees F. Bake your buns until they’re puffed and golden (the internal temperature should read 190 degrees F), approximately 30 minutes.

Transfer pan to a cooling rack and let cool slightly. Make the icing by whisking the orange juice and powdered sugar together. Spread a little on each bun, or drizzle it over the whole pan. Serve immediately.




Tuesday, November 26, 2013

fireplace.

Heading home this evening to be greeted by a small army of puppies and the parentals.  Looking forward to a couple of lazy evenings spent curled up with Mom's old issues of Gourmet, a dog at my feet, pie in my hand and a fire in the fireplace.   

(This living room will be mine.  Someday.  Our next apartment needs a fireplace.  Sigh.)







































Image via here

Monday, November 25, 2013

spiced butternut squash and lentil salad.



























Come November, this is my default work lunch.  It doesn't look particularly exciting or revolutionary.  It isn't the kind of things that will illicit oohs and ahhs from people as they walk by your desk.  Even the name sounds rather bland and conjures thoughts of healthy hippie food (poor lentils).  

But people, don't fall into the trap of thinking those horribly negative things.  Those thoughts are oh so wrong. This is the kind of salad that I can't get enough of.  A collection of simple ingredients that comes together to produce a complex and flavorful dish. (One that would be pretty perfect on a Thanksgiving buffet.)   

The secret is the smoked Spanish paprika.  Smoked Spanish paprika is my single favorite ingredient.  It transforms everything and I mean everything you put it on.  I love it on scrambled eggs with goat cheese.  I adore it in mashed potatoes or sprinkled on avocado toast.  Here it adds an extra element to the squash.  The intermingling of heat and smoky spice with sweet and tender squash is what makes this dish so special.  It elevates and provides an extra level of dimension especially when paired with crunchy pepitas, tender lentils, and creamy goat cheese.  This is the kind of salad you'll be wanting seconds of.  




Spiced Butternut Squash and Lentil Salad
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

The arugula is optional.  Sometimes I add it, sometimes I don't.  Either way, its perfect.  

Serves 4 as a side, 3 as a main 

1 large butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
3/4 cup French green lentils
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika plus additional for sprinkling 
1/2 teaspoon salt plus additional to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper plus additional to taste
1 cup goat cheese crumbled
1 - 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup toasted pepitas
4 cups baby arugula (optional) 

Place lentils in small bowl. Cover with cold water and soak 10 minutes; drain.

Cook lentils in boiling salted water until tender but firm, about 20 - 25 minutes. Drain lentils. Rinse under cold water, then drain.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place squash in large bowl; toss with 2 tablespoons oil, cumin, paprika, and sea salt. Arrange squash in single layer on baking sheet; roast 20 minutes. Turn squash over. Roast until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool.

Combine lentils, squash, pepitas, and oil from baking sheet with arugula (if using), goat cheese, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.  Taste and sprinkle on more smoked paprika if desired. Divide among plates.




Saturday, November 23, 2013

coconut-sweet potato pie.


























Let's talk about pie.  Pie is the official dessert of that little holiday that happens next Thursday and it also happens to be the kind of thing that intimidates people.  They get nervous about the crust and how to roll it out and what blind baking means.  They get overwhelmed by the filling and how to make the filling cook with out burning the crust.  It's an utterly intimidating thing which is why I tend to avoid pie.  

I should rephrase that, I used to avoid pie, now I am a pie-a-holic. 

Nothing really changed, I didn't take a pie class or read a book, I just kind of accepted that pie is suppose to be homey.  It doesn't need to look perfect (though if it does all the more power to you), it just needs to taste exceptionally good which is why I love this sweet potato pie. 

I embraced my inner Southern woman with this recipe.  Or rather I embraced my inner Southern woman but added a very me twist to the whole thing with the addition of coconut milk.  This is a nice twist on the classic. The interplay of crunchy graham cracker crust (which is an easy way to introduce yourself to pie!) with creamy sweet potato custard is divine  The coconut milk brings an unexpected flavor and it also lightens the whole dish which is why its such a perfect ending to a Thanksgiving meal.  



























Coconut Sweet-Potato Pie
Recipe adapted from Mark Bittman at the NYTimes

So! Considering my level of insanity, I made my own graham crackers.  (Would you ever expect anything less from me?)  Obviously homemade graham crackers are beyond wonderful but you don't need to make yourself crazy if you choose to buy them, that is probably the more sane option when you are preparing an entire turkey dinner.  The graham cracker recipe is here.  You only need a half batch to make the crust but I would make a full batch and store the rest in the freezer.  I have another graham cracker crust pie already bookmarked.  

I also made candied nuts for the top.  Also unnecessary but it makes for a nice presentation and the crunchy nuts pair beautifully with the creamy pie. Recipe for those is here.  I just halved it and omitted the vanilla and added a pinch of cayenne.  

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (or 2 cups of puree)
1 1/3 cups graham crackers which is 1 package of graham crackers if it has 9 full crackers
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (brown or white)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
6 - 8 tablespoons butter melted 
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
Large pinch of salt
1 cup full-fat coconut milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put the sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan, add water to cover by about an inch, and bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the potatoes are very tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain, then rice the potatoes or run them through a food mill.

While the potatoes cook, put the graham crackers in a food processor and pulse several times until they are finely ground. Add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and 1/4 teaspoon each of the ginger and cinnamon, and pulse once or twice; add the melted butter (start with 6 and add the other 2 tablespoons if it doesn't come together) and pulse just to combine. Press the mixture into a 9-inch pie dish and bake for about 7 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and cool.

In a food processor, combine the eggs with the remaining sugar, ginger and cinnamon, along with the nutmeg, cloves and salt; pulse until well combined. Add the coconut milk and pulse to combine, then add the sweet potatoes and pulse until just smooth.

Put the pie plate on a baking sheet. Pour the sweet potato mixture into the crust and bake until the mixture is set on top but still quite moist, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool on a rack and serve warm or at room temperature.






Wednesday, November 20, 2013

buttermilk cornbread.



























Yesterday, I had an epiphany’s about stuffing.  Yes stuffing, also known as dressing also known as the most important side dish on a Thanksgiving table.  Deb, over at Smitten Kitchen, is posting all sorts of Thanksgiving recipes this week, one of which is Apple Herb Stuffing for all seasons.  It wasn't the recipe that provoked the light bulb moment; rather it was the picture of the stuffing with a poached egg on top

This picture has turned me into a crazy woman.  I have done nothing but think non-stop about making cornbread in order to recreate the apple-sausage stuffing of my dreams, solely so I can eat it for breakfast with a poached egg on top (or for dinner or lunch I’m not going to be picky here).  I’m envisioning the intermingling of flavors to be reminiscent of an egg sandwich, just deconstructed so I can better shovel it in my mouth as fast as possible. 

The one plus side to this whole stuffing obsession is that I already have the perfect cornbread recipe.  I've had it bookmarked for about a year now and rather stupidly it has taken me until now to make it (despite the fact that there have been other instances of cornbread being made this year).  This is a most dreamy version and the most perfect one I have ever made.  Dense with an intense corn flavor.  It's positively rich with an awesome tang from the buttermilk and sour cream.  Those flavors marry well with the honey (and yes there is sugar which some would say is sacrilegious but I am not a Southerner so I am OK with some sugar).  I love it with chili and turkey and soon I will love it in stuffing.  God, I can't wait for the cornbread stuffing.  With an egg.  

Buttermilk Cornbread
Recipe adapted from Tasting Table 

3 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup honey
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour 
1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
8 tablespoons butter, divided

Set a 12-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the buttermilk, sour cream and honey.

In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cayenne. Use a wooden spoon to stir the flour-cornmeal mixture into the sour cream-buttermilk mixture. Stir in 6 tablespoons of melted butter and mix until well combined.

Remove the hot cast-iron skillet from the oven and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, swirling the pan to evenly disperse the butter. Pour in the batter, using the back of the spoon to spread it into an even layer. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

oven love.

If I was hosting Thanksgiving (which thankfully I am not, thanks Mom for having me!), I would need a stove like this in order to make a most epic turkey dinner.  And pie.  Lots of pie.  

(I think my version of heaven is a home that is almost entirely black and gold.)








































Image via Pinterest.

Monday, November 18, 2013

brussel-sprout salad with pecorino, toasted almonds, and apple.



























In last week's issue of NYMagazine, they printed Thanksgiving recipes for two different types of menus.  The "sinful" menu (perfect for a butter lover and glutton at heart) and a "saintly" version (for those who love olive oil and saving their arteries).  

The "saintly" menu was the one that stole my heart. (Minus the whole salmon thing.  Turkey is a non-negotiable on Thanksgiving.)

The "saintly" menu felt fresh and modern.  It mirrors how the boy and I eat on a regular basis.  It's filled with seasonal vegetables prepared in a variety of ways so that your taste buds get to experience different textures and flavors in a new and exciting way. 

This brussel sprouts salad was made twice in 4 days, because it's that good.  I am obsessed with the combination of flavors and textures.  Crunchy! Sweet! Salty! It's the kind of salad where every bite's different which is what takes a salad from good to addicting.  It would be perfect on Thanksgiving Day but just as good eaten the day after Turkey day as a detox meal from all the butter, because in my mind the perfect Thanksgiving is a combination of sinful and saintly.  

Brussels-Sprout Salad with Pecorino, Toasted Almonds, and Apple
Recipe adapted from NY Magazine

Serves 2

This recipe can be kept as is (for a weeknight dinner for two) or quadrupled (for Turkey day dinner).  However you make it, make it immediately. 

½ - ¾ pounds Brussel sprouts
½ apple, julienned
¼ cup almonds sliced or whole
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
Zest of ½ a lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons white-wine or sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup + 2 teaspoons olive oil
¼ cup Pecorino Romano, grated, plus more for serving

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Holding each sprout by the stem, cut into very thin slices and then, with your hands, toss them in a mixing bowl to separate the layers.  Drizzle them 2 tablespoons olive oil, smoked paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread the sprouts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and roast in the oven until they’re crispy, about 10 -12 minutes, before removing them. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Place the almonds in a small bowl with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and toss to coat, season with salt, and spread on a baking sheet. Toast the almonds in the oven for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned.  If using whole almonds, chop them when cool.

Put the lemon zest and juice, vinegar, maple syrup, and mustard in a bowl. Whisk until the dressing is smooth, then slowly whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil.

Put the sliced Brussels sprouts, almonds, and apple into a large bowl, pour in the dressing, and toss together. Season to taste with salt and pepper (slightly underseasoning), then top with Pecorino. 




Saturday, November 16, 2013

thinking about thanksgiving.

We are at t-minus 12 days until Thanksgiving (where has November gone?) and I have pies and sides and biscuits on the brain.  I'm going to spend the next two-ish weeks discussing table decor (expect lots of gold because this is me we are talking about) and of course posting all sorts of amazingly delicious Thanksgiving recipes (Brussel sprout salad! Sweet potato pie!) to get everyone in the mood for the greatest holiday of the year.  

To get things started, I've done a round-up of recipes I've previously posted that would be perfect on Thanksgiving day (links below). These are some of my favorites for both Thanksgiving and any time of year. Hopefully this encourages you to start thinking about TURKEY DAY!





appetizers/dinner/sides.                                                

butternut squash and tahini dip.                                              
grape and rosemary foccacia (revisited).                                  
butternut squash lasagna.                                                     .
blood orange and pistachio salad.                                            
apple and white cheddar scones.                                            
                                                                                             

desserts.

apple cake with maple frosting. 
sue weinstein's german apple cake.
brûléed bourbon-maple pumpkin pie.
crème fraîche, cornmeal, and pumpkin coffee cake with pepita streusel.
pumpkin bread pudding.
pumpkin whoopie pies. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

salted espresso brownies.



























People (myself included) are very particular about their brownies.  Are nuts sacrilegious or a necessary addition (and are walnuts the only acceptable addition)? Should a brownie be a 2-bite sized indulgence or a palm-sized behemoth?  Can a brownie be cakey and soft or is fudgy and dense the only way to go?  It's truly exhausting reading and researching and trying to decipher what kind of brownie each recipe makes (is your definition of fudgy the same as my definition?!). I almost gave up on the search because sometimes my job actually requires me to do work and not just research my latest craving but then I found this gem of a recipe and all was right in the world.  

This is a fudgy, chocolaty, gloriously perfect (in my world) brownie.  It's dense and oh so rich, the kind of thing that begs for milk.  The espresso powder manages to both balance out the flavors and also make the coffee and cocoa flavor more apparent (so magical). The salt helps to cut the sweetness which is what moves this from a kid's snack to an adult's treat.  This is the kind of thing I would love to finish a dinner party with especially when served with scoops of vanilla ice cream and hot fudge.  

Salted Espresso Brownies
Recipe adapted from Leite’s Culinaria who got it from David Lebovitz

The salt and espresso powder are my own addition because it just felt right.  Here, the make a good brownie amazing.  

Makes 9 – 12 brownies

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted or salted butter cut into pieces, plus more for the pan
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder
¼ - ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt (smaller amount if using salted butter)
½ - ¾ cup chocolate chips (I am firmly in the more is better camp)
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Line an 8-inch square pan with 2 long lengths of aluminum foil or parchment paper, positioning the sheets perpendicular to one other and allowing the excess to extend beyond the edges of the pan.   Lightly butter the foil or parchment. 

In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the chocolate and stir by hand until it is melted and smooth. (Note, this can also be done in the microwave just watch it carefully so you don’t burn the mixture.)

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla until combined. Beat in the eggs by hand, 1 at a time. Add the flour, salt and espresso powder and stir energetically for 1 full minute—time yourself—until the batter loses its graininess, becomes smooth and glossy, and pulls away a bit from the sides of the saucepan. (This is crucial in the making of these brownies. You must stir them "energetically”. You also must make certain you stir the batter for a full minute. It may appear to separate a few seconds into stirring, and it may appear grainy midway through, but when you stir with vigor for a full 60 seconds--and we do mean a full 60 seconds, along the lines of "One Mississippi, two Mississippi..."--you'll end up with a batter that's rich, thick, satiny smooth, and glossy as can be. Therein lies the difference between dry, crumbly brownies and the world's best brownies.) Stir in the chocolate chips.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the center feels almost set, about 22-25 minutes. Do not overbake. (Check at the 22 minute mark). 

Let the brownie cool completely in the pan—this is the difficult part—before lifting the foil or parchment and the block of brownie out of the pan. Dust the brownies with powdered sugar if using. Cut the brownie into squares. (The brownies will keep well for up to 4 days and can be frozen for up to 1 month.).  



Tuesday, November 12, 2013

black accents.

Today it snowed.  The first snow of the season.  

I'm now ready to hibernate.  Here.  Come find me in March 2014.

(Loving the juxtaposition of black paint and an open space.  And the modern art on the wall is a welcome addition to a space that rarely sees art.)




















Image via Pinterest

Monday, November 11, 2013

sweet potato-quinoa burgers





























This recipe was stumbled upon.  I wasn't thinking about sweet potatoes or quinoa or burger alternatives but, while browsing the cookbook selection at Anthropologie (they have one of the best curated selections ever) and searching for the quintessential French bistro napkins I am obsessed with (I still haven't found them), I discovered it and proceeded to make it that evening.  

This is probably the best veggie burger I have ever encountered.  It doesn't crumble or fall apart after one bite (the way most every veggie burger has the habit of doing), it feels and tastes substantial which is why even hardcore meat eaters will love it (the boy gave it two thumbs up).  The combination of spices works amazingly well with the sweet potato and quinoa and that elevates the burger from boring to bold.  Served with your favorite burger fixings and you have one epic (vegetarian friendly) burger night.  


Sweet Potato-Quinoa Burgers
Recipe adapted from The Kinfolk Table Cookbook 

I loved the idea of this recipe, I absolutely detested the fussiness of it. I streamlined things, upped the level of spices, and basically made it much more user friendly.  

Makes 6 burgers

1 pound (455 grams) sweet potatoes, scrubbed
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces/100 grams) quinoa
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
1 cup (240 milliliters) water
1 cup (4 ounces/115 grams) chickpea flour
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon (3 grams) ground corriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or regular paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin 
1 - 2 tablespoons basil or cilantro or a combination of both 
1 teaspoon sesame seeds plus additional for sprinkling the burgers with 
For serving: Buns or english muffins, sliced avocado, roasted tomatoes, fontina cheese, or whatever burger accompaniments you love (this is just what I love!).  

Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and cook for about 45 minutes or until tender.  Transfer the sheet to a rack to cool the potatoes for about 10 minutes.  

Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa under cold running water in a fine mesh-sieve until the water runs clear.  Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium sauce-pan over medium -high heat until shimmering.  Add the quinoa and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes or until the quinoa is beginning to dry and turn golden. Add the water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes or until most of the water has evaporated.  Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes until all of the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender.  Fluff the quinoa with a fork and transfer to a bowl. Cool completely.  

Peel the potatoes and add the softened potato to the bowl with the quinoa.  Use a fork to smash the potato and mix to combine with the quinoa. Add in the corriander, cayenne, paprika, cumin, basil or cilantro, sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Add the chickpea flour 1/4 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition.  The mixture should be a little tacky but soft.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 5 hours or overnight.  

Remove the mixture from the fridge, form 6 patties about 3 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick.  Sprinkle the patties with sesame seeds.  Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Place 3 of the burgers in the pan and cook the burgers for about 3 minutes per side or until well browned.  Remove from the pan and repeat with the other 3 patties.  Serve with condiments of your choice. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

indoor picnic.

I love picnics.  

When I was a kid, my parents would on occasion serve us dinner picnic style on the floor of the kitchen.  It was a rare occurrence but one that I loved.  The whole thing was casual and thrown together and it felt scandalous and thrilling to my 9 year old self.  We would eat deli sandwiches (ham and cheese for me please), pickles from the jar, ridged potato chips, and grapes to round out the meal. Dessert would consist of perfectly crisp chocolate chip cookies made by my mom.  It was dinner perfection.

This picture reminded me of the adult version of that meal, slightly more elegant and up-scale.  The kind of thing that would be perfect on a cold Friday night if served with a bottle of red wine.  

I'm envisioning myself doing something like this this weekend with perhaps some tartines (avocado and chicken salad), baked apples, and fudgy espresso brownies for dessert.  

Because sometimes you want to revisit your favorite childhood memories.  






Image via Pinterest

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

cornflake-chocolate-chip marshmallow cookies.



























You know the salty-sweet-crunchy-chewy combination that everyone and their mother loves?

These cookies encompass every single one of those flavors and textures.  (Which is why they are so addicting.)

I questioned my sanity with regards to baking a batch because I knew these would be irresistible but sometimes I have to do things in the name of cookie research.  (Thankfully I have coworkers who are more then happy to eat any and all leftovers.)

These cookies have glorious crisp caramel flavored edges with soft chewy center.  The combination of bitter chocolate, sweet marshmallow, and crispy salty cornflakes is what makes them so perfect and a favorite of both children and adults.  The only accompaniment these require is a tall glass of ice-cold milk.  

Cornflake-Chocolate-Chip Marshmallow Cookies
Recipe via Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi

Makes 15 – 20 Cookies

I struggled with this cookie only when it comes to the amount of time and temperature you bake them at.  I had this same issue when I made the confetti cookies and I’ve come to the conclusion all of her temperatures are in-accurate for a home-cook’s oven.  I have provided my adjustments below which produces one awesome cookie. 

225 g (16 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
250 g (1 1/4 cups) granulated sugar
150 g (2⁄3 cup tightly packed) light brown sugar
1 egg
2 g (1/2 teaspoon) vanilla extract
240 g (1 1/2 cups) flour
2 g (1/2 teaspoon) baking powder
1.5 g (1/2 teaspoon) baking soda
5 g (1 1/2 teaspoons) kosher salt
3/4 recipe (3 cups) cornflake crunch (recipe below)
125 g (2⁄3 cup) mini or regular bittersweet chocolate chips
65 g (1 1/4 cups) mini marshmallows

Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. (Do not walk away from the machine during this step, or you will risk over mixing the dough.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Still on low speed, paddle in the cornflake crunch and mini chocolate chips just until they’re incorporated, no more than 30 to 45 seconds. Paddle in the mini marshmallows just until incorporated.

Using a 2 3/4 oz ice cream scoop (or a 1/3 cup measure), portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature—they will not hold their shape.

Heat the oven to 350°f.

Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment lined sheet pans. Bake for 12 minutes. The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread. At the 12-minute mark, the cookies should be browned on the edges and just beginning to brown toward the center. Leave them in the oven for an additional minute or so if they aren’t and they still seem pale and doughy on the surface.

Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or to an airtight container for storage. at room temperature, the cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.

Cornflake Crunch

Makes about 360 g (4 cups )

170 g (1/2 12oz box or 5 cups) Cornflakes
40 g (1/2 cup) milk powder
40 g (3 tablespoons) sugar
4 g (1 tsp) kosher salt
130 g (9 tablespoons) butter, melted

Heat the oven to 275°f.

Pour the cornflakes in a medium bowl and crush them with your hands to one-quarter of their original size. Add the milk powder, sugar, and salt and toss to mix. add the butter and toss to coat. As you toss, the butter will act as glue, binding the dry ingredients to the cereal and creating small clusters.

Spread the clusters on a parchment- or silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes, at which point they should look toasted, smell buttery, and crunch gently when cooled slightly and chewed.

Cool the cornflake crunch completely before storing or using in a recipe. Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, the crunch will keep fresh for 1 week; in the fridge or freezer, it will keep for 1 month.