Archive for January, 2009

The NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies: yup, me too

January 30, 2009

OK. So it has been 22 whole days since my last post. Pathetic, I know! But January is for hibernating and drinking tea and curling up under down blankets. And my kitchen is cold! Enough with the excuses. I can’t take back the last 22 days, but what I can do is offer you these cookies. I know, I know, they’ve been everywhere. But I couldn’t help myself. I thought, for a moment, about not posting these since they are literally all over the blog world, but you know what? If even one person has somehow missed these cookies and finds them on my blog, it’ll all be worth it. They are that good.

cookies

Here’s the deal. These cookies don’t differ too much from your average chocolate chip cookie except for one essential secret. You give the dough a little vacation (or maybe even a weekend getaway) in your fridge before it goes in the oven. Why, you ask? Yes, I know, it’s hard be patient while such promising (and delicious) cookie dough just sits, but I swear, you will reap the benefits. Letting the dough chill over night or, preferably, over two nights, allows the dry ingredients to absorb the wet, yielding a cookie with an infinitely better texture and more complex, caramelly flavor. So don’t skimp on the chilling! I suggest giving the dough at least 36 hours, and if you can handle it, 48. Here’s the recipe, as well as the link to the original NY Times story on these babies.

NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour

1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract

1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see note) (I just used ghiradelli chocolate chips)

Sea salt.

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

Note: Disks are sold at Jacques Torres Chocolate; Valrhona fèves, oval-shaped chocolate pieces, are at Whole Foods.

kabocha squash, two ways

January 8, 2009

Today I have a couple of really simple recipes for you. My roommate and I joined the local CSA (community shared agriculture) this year, so now we get a big box of locally farmed vegetables and fruit each week. We also get granola, cheese, meat, and eggs too. Not a bad deal, right?

The one downside (or upside, as I like to see it) is that you don’t get to choose what you get. Lucky for me, I love weird winter vegetables and plan to roast and braise away all winter. I actually just got Molly Stevens’s All About Braising and a dutch oven* for Christmas, so as far as I’m concerned, I’m ready to go.

Well. That being said, neither of these recipes involve braising. The truth is, the dutch oven is still in the trunk of my car and it was raining last night and, well, you get the idea. This week, we got an amazing-looking kabocha squash from our CSA and I wanted to experiment a little.  Being scientifically minded, I did a little bit of a comparison study to test out two methods of cooking.

The first half of the squash got tossed with a little olive oil, cumin, and cinnamon and then roasted in a hot oven (see below, and first picture). For a finishing touch, I crumbled a bit of brie over the squash towards the end and then threw it back in the oven just long enough for the brie to melt.

The second half got boiled and then cooked briefly with some miso and soy (below, and second picture from top). And while I really expected to like the roasted squash much better, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed them both.

Either of these preparations would make great side dishes, but I was eating alone last night and the best thing about eating alone is that you can have whatever you want. So yes, I had lots of squash for dinner (and some swedish fish for dessert), and yes, it was awesome.

*I just have to say, I definitely did not pay $200, or even $100-something for the dutch oven. My mom and I found the exact same ones at Marshall’s for 50 bucks. Yeah!

Roasted Kabocha Squash with Cumin and Brie

  • 1/2 of a medium-sized kabocha squash, skin removed, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 oz brie, mild or stinky depending on your preference
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil to drizzle

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

2. Cube the kabocha: cut it in half, then scoop out the seeds. Place it cut side down on your cutting board, and then cut into half-inch slices. To remove the skins, place each slice on its side and cut off the skin in pieces (or use a vegetable peeler, although I think you’ll have to peel it twice to get all the skin off).

2. Drizzle some olive oil on a heavy baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Put the squash on the baking sheet and then sprinkle cumin and cinnamon on top. Season with a good pinch of salt too, and some freshly ground pepper.

3. Roast on the middle rack of the oven until the bottoms of the squash cubes are golden brown, about 20 minutes (although you should definitely check along the way, as some ovens will brown food way faster than others). Toss sqash with a spatula, and return to oven for another 15 or 20 minutes to brown the other sides. At that point, check to see that the squash is done (it should give when you press it, or you can always just taste one).

4. Pinch off little pieces of the brie and sprinkle over the squash. Return to the oven for five minutes until the brie melts.

Kabocha with miso-soy glaze

  • 1/2 of a medium-sized kabocha squash, cut into 1/2 inch by 2 inch pieces (skin can stay on)
  • 1 T miso paste (I used yellow)
  • 1/2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T water

1. Cut the squash and place it in a medium-sized pot. Fill with water to cover about half of the squash. Cover, and cook over medim heat until squash is tender. It should take only 15 minutes or so, but to be honest I didn’t time it.

2. Meanwhile, mix together the miso paste, soy sauce and water.

3. When the squash has finished cooking, pour out the extra water and add in the miso-soy mixture. Continue cooking for a minute until almost all of the liquid is absorbed.


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