Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Not your ordinary chocolate cookie.

 I am a cookie addict.  While I’m not inclined to cram a fist full of cookies into my mouth in the style of   the cookie monster, I see nothing wrong in making a meal out of two large cookies and a glass of milk.   More than once my daughter has come home from school and stated I had chocolate breath.    If I was forced to choose my favorite sweet thing to eat, it would have to be a freshly baked cookie.  No ordinary cookie, but a wonderful hybrid call a Brookie. 
Take a brownie and cross it with a cookie and you naturally get a Brookie.  I found a brownie cookie recipe a while back and wasn’t thrilled with the results.  So I tinkered and tested and eventually wound up with this satisfying chocolatey treat I call a Brookie.
This cookie dough freezes beautifully and what could be better than knowing you are only 15 minutes away from a freshly baked Brookie!  These cookies are best eaten the same day they are baked, but if you should have any left the next day, try microwaving them for 5-7 seconds each to refresh their texture.  
To get great results when making these cookies be sure to select quality chocolate.  I like Guitard chocolate. Try their extra dark bittersweet chip if you really enjoy dark chocolate. 

(adapted from Got Milk? The Cookie Book by Peggy Cullen

Yields approximately 12 cookies, each made with 2 tablespoons of dough.
Make sure not to over-bake these cookies. It really spoils the texture of the cookie.
2 cups of good quality semisweet chocolate chips (11.5 ounces)
6 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee
1 cup flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Melt 1 ½ cups of chocolate chips and the butter in the top of a double boiler.  Stir to blend the chocolate and butter.  Set aside to cool (approximately 20-30 minutes).

Mix together in a small cup the vanilla and coffee.

In a medium bowl beat together the eggs and sugar. 

Add the vanilla/coffee mixture to the egg mixture and beat for about a minute.
Add the cooled chocolate mixture and mix well.

Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Then stir into the batter.
Stir in the remaining ½ cup chocolate chips.

To get 3 inch diameter cookies, form each ball from 2 tablespoons of dough; chill in the freezer or refrigerator until firm.  At this point you can freeze the dough in an air-tight container until you are ready to bake the cookies.

Optional- dip each ball of dough into sugar before baking. This emphasizes the cracks on the surfaces of the cookie.

Bake at 325 degrees for 14-15 minutes.  Do not over-bake; centers of the cookies will be slightly soft.  Let sit for 5 minutes before moving to let the cookie firm up.
Junior Cookie Monster Meal

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Eat More Vegetables

One goal I’m continually working on (I don’t like making New Year’s resolutions) is to 
eat more vegetables.  So I’m starting off 2012 with a tasty vegetable packed salad.
I've been making some form of this Asian style pasta salad for about a year now.  Each time I make the dish I tweak it here and there, gathering up ideas from various recipes.  In this version I was inspired after discovering Lauren Ulm's great blog and her recently published book, both called Vegan Yum Yum. The tofu and dressing are based on the "Soy-Mirin With Snow Peas and Peanut Sauce" recipe found on page 75.  Her cookbook is stuffed with her great photos and clear instructions, my favorite type of cookbook. 
This dish has 3 components; the dressing, the tofu, the fresh vegetables and pasta.  Make the dressing first, then prep your veggies, followed by cooking the tofu. Finish with cooking the pasta (I use either rice noodles or soba noodles), following the package directions.  I find the rice pasta tends to stick together and makes it hard to toss with the vegetables.  So I'll dress the pasta and vegetables separately and then layer the ingredients either in a serving bowl or directly onto individual plates.

I often double the peanut-dressing recipe so I never have to worry that I won’t have enough to toss with the salad.

Peanut Dressing:
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup water (or coconut milk if you have it)
2-4 tablespoons peanut butter (depending on how strong a peanut flavor you like)
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger or ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon garlic chili sauce
Juice from 1/2 of a lime
1 clove of garlic

Add all of the ingredients to a jar with a lid and shake well every so often.  Let the dressing sit for at least 20 minutes to absorb some of the garlic flavor.  Dressing can be made ahead and kept in the refrigerator.

Soy-Mirin Tofu
1 Block Extra Firm Tofu, pressed, cut into small squares
1 tablespoon Canola or Peanut Oil
2 teaspoon Soy Sauce
2 teaspoon Mirin  (A Japanese low-alcohol, sweet, wine made from rice)
1 bunch of Kale chopped into pieces with ribs removed and
saut├ęd with 2 tablespoons Canola Oil and 2 teaspoons Soy Sauce

Pan fry the tofu in the oil over high heat in a cast iron or non-stick skillet until browned on at least two sides sides.   Turn off the heat and drain off any excess oil.  Mix soy sauce and mirin together and pour over tofu, mixing well.  It will bubble up and form a light glaze.  Add the kale and gently toss with the tofu.
Ingredient suggestions for the salad:
Rice noodles, or soba noodles, 
sugar snap peas
peanuts or pumpkin seeds
seasame seeds
pea sprouts