Saturday, January 16, 2010

Salmon Sashimi

Sashimi at a sushi restaurant can cost up to $20, and they give you so little! We bought this gorgeous piece of salmon from a Japanese supermarket and sliced it ourselves. Total cost? Under $7.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

We combined the chilling-the-dough-for-36-hours step from the NY Times best chocolate chip cookie recipe with the Cooks Illustrated browned butter chocolate chip recipe to create these illegally scrumptious demons. We tried two versions, with and without finely chopped walnuts. The nuts win, in our opinion.

These cookies were crispy on the edges yet chewy in the middle, and had that distinctly delicious hint of browned butter. The few improvements we would make include adding a tangy ingredient to cut through the buttery flavor, like perhaps some orange zest or cranberries, and using a high quality dark chocolate rather than semisweet chips (which were a little too sweet). Of course, some would argue that the addition of cranberries ruins the purity of this classic recipe. There is merit to that assertion, and these cookies are crazy good as is.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
1¾ cups (8¾ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons (1¾ sticks) unsalted butter
½ cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar
¾ cup (5¼ ounces) packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk1¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
¾ cup chopped walnuts, raw

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with foil. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.
3. Add both sugars, salt and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whish for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain. Refrigerate dough for at least 24 hours, 36 is even better to allow flavors and texture to develop.
4. Use an ice cream scoop to portion out dough, roll into spheres, and position 8 cookies on each baking sheet.
5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10-14 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Choclate-espresso Snowcaps

Chocolate-espresso Snowcaps (recipe courtesy Martha Stewart)

Makes 18.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 teaspoons instant espresso
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 cup confectioners sugar, for coating

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg until well combined; mix in cooled chocolate. With mixer on low speed, gradually add dry ingredients; beat in milk just until combined. Flatten dough into a disk; wrap in plastic. Freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place confectioners' sugar into a medium bowl; working in batches, roll balls in sugar twice.

Place balls on prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies have spread and coating is cracked, 12 to 14 minutes; cookies will still be soft to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Whole Wheat Walnut Cranberry Brownies

I thought it would be pretty cool to be able to have brownies for breakfast. With 2/3 cup of whole wheat and not as much sugar as most brownie recipes, these are healthy and delicious, not bad for a morning meal. Recipe courtesy, with cranberries and extra walnuts added.

Whole Wheat Walnut Cranberry Brownies

2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup 1% milk
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup dried cranberries

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl combine the oil, milk, water, eggs, and vanilla. Now mix everything together including the chocolate chips and walnuts, be careful that you don’t over mix.

Pour the brownie batter into an 8×8 nonstick pan. Drop in a few more chopped walnuts on the top and bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes. Use a toothpick in the middle of the pan to check if it is done. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Zhong Zi

Zhong zi is a delicious Chinese food that is basically sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaf and steamed. We added chopped kabocha (squash), flaked roasted duck meat, and goji berries to some of the zhong zi to add some interesting flavors. To eat it, unwrap the leaves and use chopsticks to hold the sticky rice and dip it in white sugar or maple syrup. It's chewy, sticky, and has the refreshing taste of bamboo leaf!

Zhong zi
sticky rice (uncooked, soaked for 1 hour)
bamboo leaves (soaked for 1 hour to soften)
mix-ins (kabocha squash, flaked duck meat, goji berries...anything else you think would be delicious!)

1. Take a bamboo leaf and form it into a skinny cone.
2. Fill 1/3 of it with rice, using a chopstick to push the rice all the way into the tip. Make sure you pack the rice tightly but not too tightly that it doesn't give at all when you squeeze it.
3. Add a mix-in, if desired.
4. Add more rice, packing it in with the back of a spoon or your thumb.
5. Add another mix-in, if desired.
6. Add more rice to within 0.5 cm of the rim of your bamboo cone.
7. Fold over the left and right sides of the bamboo leaf, and then fold down the top. Wrap tightly with a string and tie a square knot.
8. Put in a large pot of water and simmer for 4-5 hours until rice is cooked through.
9. To serve, unwrap individual zhong zi and dip in sugar or maple syrup.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Chocolate Cranberry Spice Cookies

Adapted from Tish Boyle's chocolate cranberry spice cookies (The Good Cookie). Part of the reason for making these was to dispose of the rest of our "mascarpone butter" that resulted from overbeating that finicky mascarpone cheese.

Chocolate Cranberry Spice Cookies
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cardamom (original recipe used cloves)
pinch of salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup mascarpone butter (from overbeaten mascarpone cheese)
3/4 packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1.5 cups coarsely chopped walnuts, plus 20-30 whole walnuts for pressing into tops of cookies

1. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

2. Use a hand mixer to beat butter and sugars at medium speed until light, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg. Beat in vanilla extract. Use a fork to add dry ingredients in three additions, mixing until just combined. Stir in cranberries and walnuts. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for an hour.

3. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with foil.

4. Use an ice cream scoop to drop dollops of cookie dough on sheets (12 per sheet). Bake for 15 minutes or until just set but still soft.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Chocolate Marble Chunk Cookies

We used a recipe adapted from Tish Boyle's book, The Good Cookie. Instead of butter, we used butter of mascarpone cheese (...we learned the hard way that marscarpone cheese forms butter when overbeaten) and the cookies turned out just divine. Tender and moist on the inside with a nice browned crust all around, and studded with pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, and chopped cranberries.

Chocolate Marble Chunk Cookies
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup mascarpone butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 cup chopped toasted unsalted pistachios
1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped cranberries
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.
3. With an electric whisk, beat butter and sugars and medium high speed until light, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and eggs one at a time, mixing well afer each. Add the flour mixture and blend with a fork until just blended.
4. Transfer half of hte dough to another bowl and set aside. Add cocoa powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg to one half of the dough and gently mix until well blended. Evenly divide the mix-ins and add them to each dough.
5. Fill one side of a tablespoon with the light dough, and the other side with the cocoa dough. Roll both into a ball and flatten into a 1.5-inch diameter disk. The dough will be sticky, so it helps to spray your hands with Pam or cover them with water.
6. Space cookies 1.5 inches apart and bake for 10-15 minutes.