Cook’s Cookies: chocolate chip

This is the absolute best chocolate chip cookie ever! Cook’s Illustrated May/June 2009 calls it “The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie.” I must agree. The only adaptation I make is using dark chocolate chips and not making them as big. The Cook’s way makes 16; I make 36.

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

I baked these at 350 degrees F. I just reviewed the recipe and it said for 375. Oh well!

This is the secret: heat and lightly brown 10 tablespoons of the butter being careful not to burn. This will take 3-5 minutes. Swirl pan during this time, or stir. Pour this into the mixer bowl and add the rest of the butter; stir until it is melted.

Add both sugars to the bowl along with the salt and vanilla. Whisk (I am using a beater here) until fully incorporated. Then add the egg and egg yolk and mix for 30 seconds. Let rest for 3 minutes. This is a bit fussy but is worth it. Do this 30 second/3 minute rest two more times. Stir in flour mixture and then chips and nuts.

I spooned heaping tablespoons of dough onto parchment lined baking pans. And baked them for 9 minutes. Let them set on the pan for one minute before removing to wire racks to cool.

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I have tried the browning of the butter in other chocolate chip cookie recipes but it does not come out the same. When I first made these my son enjoyed the batter so much he wanted me to make some of the cookies without the chocolate chips!

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Cook’s Cookies: chocolate

It’s cookie baking time and being the season of the year that it is one would think that I would be making Christmas cookies, but no. I have found the most wonderful chocolate cookie from Cook’s Illustrated January/February 2009 edition. I was in awe of this cookie when I first made them. This is a cookie that I could have one or two with a cup of tea and be satisfied. Now that is unusual; with homemade cookies I can eat and eat and eat them, especially fresh out of the oven. But these are so rich and satisfying of that chocolate craving that one can be enough! This is my adaptation; I am not so fussy as the magazine.

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa; I use Hershey’s, don’t know if that is Dutch processed or not?
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a bowl.

  • 1/2 cup molasses; the original recipe calls for dark corn syrup
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk these together in a small bowl.

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Cream these together until light and fluffy about 3 minutes. Beat in egg mixture until fully incorporated and then the flour.

  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips; I used Hershey’s special dark since the original recipe calls for 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate chopped into 1/2 inch pieces.

Stir in the chocolate chips. Chill in fridge if desired; I did not bother. I had read that using wet hands to shape the dough into balls prevents the dough from sticking to the hands. It does work, somewhat. Roll the dough into balls. Make these uniform in size and adjust baking time accordingly. I used heaping tablespoons. Then roll in the sugar and place 2 inches apart on the parchment lines baking pans.  Bake for 10 minutes. Let rest on the pan for at least one minute before removing to a wire rack for cooling.

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I should have taken a picture of one with a bite out of it so you can see the darkness of the soft interior with a crispy outside. But I put them away so I would not feast on them over the course of the week, before packaging them to send to my favorite airman!

 

The Feast: the savory and the sweet

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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the savory
  • green salad (every item green) dressed with lime juice and olive oil
  • grilled steak
  • baked sweet potatoes
  • homemade rolls
  • mashed potatoes
  • autumn mixed-grains bake with butternut squash and cranberries
  • quinoa salad with dried apricots
  • sauteed mushrooms and onions in butter and red wine
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the sweet
  • rainbows sprinkles birthday cake from a box mix for the 4 year old and the 34 year old
  • vanilla ice cream with real ingredients anyone would recognize
  • tofu chocolate pudding for the dairy-free
  • pumpkin pie (the Betty Crocker standard)
  • apple pie with an oatmeal crumb topping
  • whipped cream freshly whipped from a carton of whipping cream (the bowl and whisk kept in the freezer beforehand)

I am thankful that we have enough food, actually more than enough. I am humbled that through my church I can take part in feeding hungry people a spaghetti dinner every week. I am thankful that my son and daughter were home to join us for the pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday feast this year. I am thankful for a loving Hubby, our home and our neighbors, our jobs, and our pets Leo and Squeaky.

I am thankful for all you who read my blog. I am thankful to get to know a little bit of each of you by reading yours.

And there are many more blessings I am thankful for. I will try to be grateful each day.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Salisbury Steak

A while ago a colleague gave me her recipe for Salisbury Steak. Recently another colleague said that was what she was going to try to make for dinner. And then one of you lovely bloggers posted a recipe for them cooked in a crock pot. You know who you are koolaidmoms! And then Hubby bought a package of ground beef when we were grocery shopping. It seems the stars were aligned!

This is the recipe given to me by my colleague: Salisbury Steak with Mushrooms.

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons water

I cannot guarantee that I used the exact amounts listed but a pretty close approximation.

Combine ground beef, bread crumbs, chopped onion, egg, salt and pepper in a bowl until evenly mixed. Shape into four patties.

Fry patties in a large skillet over medium heat until browned on both sides, about 10 minutes. Add broth, sliced onions, and mushrooms. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. Transfer to plate and keep warm.

Bring onion mixture to a boil. Mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Add to the skillet. Cook and stir until gravy is thickened, about one minute. Pour over patties to serve.

I cooked brown rice and made a salad to complete the dinner.

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It’s all about the gravy!

Making Cheese!

I made Cottage Cheese! Why? Just for the experience. I had been browsing through Bittman’s cookbook How To Cook Everything and there it was, easy cheese making. Hubby thought this was a fun idea so we did it.

Outcome: not as creamy as Daisy brand. In fact, a little dry and bland. But easy!

Cost: Daisy brand costs from $2-$3 a pint carton. To make this is a bit more expensive so it is not something to do regularly.

I made half the recipe which made about half a pint.

  • 1 quart of whole milk ($1.25)
  • 1/2 quart of buttermilk ($1.25, this was the more expensive brand because that is all the grocery store had on hand)
  • pinch of salt (should have used a tablespoon of salt)

Line a strainer with three layers of cheesecloth. I inadvertently used six layers or so!

Put milk in heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat and bring just to a boil. Bubbles will be seen on the side of the pan, not all over. Then add the buttermilk all at once and stir constantly until the mixture separates into curds and whey. This takes but a minute. Remove from heat and stir in a large pinch of salt if desired.

Carefully pour the mixture through the strainer so the curds collect and the whey drains off. This is a lot of whey. I had to look up uses for it since I do not like to waste food.

For Cottage Cheese let this drain for 30-60 minutes until it is a dry as you like. I let mine drain for 45 minutes but next time, if there is a next time, will only do so for 30 minutes.

We scooped this up and stored it in an empty Daisy container. We added a little bit of the whey back into it hoping to make it creamier.

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Hubby saved a link to how to make one’s own Cheddar Cheese. We will have to try that too.

 

Banana Cake with Buttercream Frosting

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I made a cake and layered it and frosted it! This is a slightly adapted recipe from the larger KitchenAid Cookbook, not the one that comes with the mixer. I bought this one for $12.99 quite some time ago. The copyright date is 1992. Sister had just baked the pumpkin bread from this book which made me get my copy out to peruse.

I have a large bag of slowly browning frozen bananas. I have never cooked with frozen bananas. I am never sure as to why they turn brown if I have supposedly frozen them in airtight bags. So I used some of them and now have half a bag of slowly browning frozen bananas.

Cake:

  • 2 1/3 cups flour; I used 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour in this amount.
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2/3 cup butter, softened or at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 frozen bananas to be about 1 1/4 cups mashed
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk; I only had 1/2 cup so added water to top it off
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2-1 cup chopped walnuts

I used the directions with the speed and timing for the KitchenAid stand mixer. So basically, sift all the dry ingredients into the bowl. Make a well and add the butter, banana, and 1/3 cup buttermilk. Beat to mix (Stir Speed for 30 seconds). Stop, scrape bowl. Turn to Speed 4 (high but not too high) and beat one minute. Add remaining buttermilk, vanilla, and eggs. Speed 2 for 30 seconds; stop and scrape; Speed 4 for one minute. Add 1/2 cup of the nuts at Stir Speed just until blended.

Pour batter into two 9-inch cake pans. I prepared the pans with parchment paper and sprayed that with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove and cool on wire racks.

Thoughts while making this…I often think that I should use my 8-inch cake pans in order to get taller layers. But the recipe said 9-inch. Sister told me she always doubles the nuts in her recipes so I did too. But I decided to put the extra nuts on top. While this was baking I hunted for my stash of cookie cutters thinking I had a maple leaf. I don’t. I was thinking of flavoring the frosting with maple syrup. I did not. I have always just used Speed 2 for mixing cake batters. But now I can go higher. Interesting.

For the frosting I also used the Speed and timing. This is very important for making fluffy frosting. Who knew?

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat the butter at Speed 6 for 30 seconds. Stop and scrape bowl. Sift powdered sugar into bowl. I got out my sifter and actually did sift the sugar into the bowl. I do not use the sifter very often at all. Add vanilla. Speed 2 for 30 seconds. Stop and scrape. Then Speed 6 for two minutes. Voila, fluffy, spreadable frosting. Frost cake after it cools. I found some prepared icing gel tubes and thought I would be fancy. I dream of decorating fancy cakes. Not the most intricate of designs, nor was it as easy as I thought it would be.

But the test is in the taste. And this was very tasty and moist. I took a large portion of it to work so as not to eat a whole cake this week. Everyone raved about it. This recipe will be marked as a keeper.

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