Saturday, April 28, 2012

kim boyce's whole wheat chocolate chip cookies

Tomorrow, Daniel leaves on a business trip and will be gone for almost a week. I decided to bake him cookies to take with him.

Kim Boyce's whole wheat chocolate chip cookies are a new favorite of mine. They're substantial, a bit heftier than their white flour brethren, but delicious in a subtle, toasty way. Since I made my first batch a week and a half ago, these cookies have really grown on me. I took a dozen with me to a casual dinner and within 10 minutes, the cookies were gone. Always a good sign.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies, slightly adapted from Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain

3 cups white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
9 oz. bittersweet chocolate chips
Flakey salt, such as Maldon

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Put butter and sugars in a bowl (use either a stand mixer or a hand mixer, depending on what you've got) and mix on low speed until the butter and sugars are blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and beat until just incorporated. At the chocolate and mix until chips are evenly distributed. Make sure all the flour has been absorbed.

Use an ice cream scoop to form mounds of dough and space them three inches apart on the cookie sheets. Sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of salt. Bake the cookies for 15-18 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets halfway through. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool.

yield: 26 cookies

Friday, April 27, 2012

quiet things

To begin, I am happy the weekend is here. This is almost invariably the case- weekends are great!- but I'm feeling a certain amount of relief that this weekend is here. Either by chance or by design (at this point, who can tell), I have no plans, which sounds exactly right to me at the present moment. Sometimes a girl needs a bit of repose. For someone who never sleeps in, I'm looking forward to sleeping in. Reading my latest library book. Tidying my apartment. Small, quiet things.

Happy weekend.

photo via StudioChoo

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

little brother

Happy birthday to my little brother, who is not so little anymore. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

paul bertolli's cauliflower soup

So, I've been making soup a lot recently. Ginger carrot, roasted celery, and now cauliflower. 

I have had mixed success.

Last night, I made Paul Bertolli's cauliflower soup. It was listed on Food52 as one of their Genius Recipes, and since I'm nurturing a borderline unhealthy obsession with the Genius Recipes, I've had my eye on this particular soup for a while. 

Still, when I started assembling the ingredients, I was a bit surprised by the spareness. Nothing but an onion, a head of cauliflower and a bit of salt. Still, I pressed on.

Readers, it was bland. So bland. Even with a drizzle of olive oil, lots of pepper and a sprinkling of chives, I could barely keep my eyes open. Daniel made no bones about his lack of interest in the soup and instead proceded to eat most of the croutons out of the (very good) broccolini salad I'd made to round out the meal. 

So, the point is, I'm still learning with soups. Lesson taken from this? Raw vegetables + water = dull. It's not that it was bad- and at least it's relatively healthy- but with so many other more interesting soups out there, I doubt I'd make this again.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

judy rodgers' roast chicken and bread salad

Have you ever been to Zuni

Zuni has been around for 33 years and it's a San Francisco institution. I first went there years ago, maybe the first time I ever came to San Francisco. I was 10 or 11 and I don't know what I ate for dinner, but what I do know is that there was roast chicken on the menu. 

Roast chicken is a staple of Zuni's menu. It's a dish for two and it's served with bread salad. I've had it a few times over my many visits to Zuni over the years and it's one of those things I've always wanted to replicate at home. A week or so ago, I was browsing in the cookbook section of the library and I came across The Zuni Cafe Cookbook. Inside, the recipe for Judy Rodgers' roast chicken and bread salad. My time had come. 

The recipe is a little involved. Yet, as Ms. Rodgers says in the introduction to the book, "most often these dishes take their time, not the cooks time." Which is certainly true in this case. My chicken was slightly on the big side for this recipe (3 3/4 lbs) so I had to rub it with salt and pepper and slip herbs under its skin and let it rest for two days in the refrigerator rather than just one. But after that, all I had to do was stick the thing in the oven and flip it a few times to ensure even browning of the skin and out came the most beautifully burnished bird I've seen in...well, a long time. The meat was juicy and perfectly cooked and the drippings were rich and flavorful. 

The bread salad was a bit fussier but entirely worth it.Two kinds of vinegar, peppery arugula, toasted pine nuts and cubes of toasty bread lightly moistened with olive oil and chicken stock- this is seriously delicious stuff. Honestly, this recipe alone is well worth the price of the book, which I may now be forced to go out and buy once I return my copy to the library. 

The recipe for the chicken and salad takes up three pages of the Zuni Cafe Cookbook, so I won't write it all out here. Instead, I'll direct anyone who's interested here. My only real change is that I omitted currants from the salad since I'm not wild about dried fruit in salads. Apart from that, it was just perfect. 

Make this soon. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

sweet reminders

A few months ago, I paid my first visit to Chantal Guillon, a little macaron and tea shop in Hayes Valley. It's pretty as a picture and I would say that their macarons give Laduree's a run for their money. I never brought macarons home when I would come back to San Francisco from Paris because I'd been told that the pressurized cabin of an airplane would take the air of them and I was never willing to risk buying a big beautiful box only to have them deflate on the flight over, even if I'm probably the only one who would have cared. 

Anyway, it's lovely to have found a local place that specializes in these marvelous little treats that serve as sweet reminders of Paris. Now if only I could find a place to buy inexpensive unpasteurized cheeses...

Chantal Guillon
437 Hayes Street
San Francisco CA 

photo found here

Friday, April 13, 2012

birthday week

{birthday flowers from my mom}

My birthday was this week and between celebrating and my suddenly busy work schedule, I've been swamped. But in a good way. I think I should have some time to slow down around Sunday, so until then, thanks for stopping by and have a delightful weekend!  

ximena meier's espinacas con garbanzos

When I was sixteen, I moved to Spain for my junior year of high school. I'd never been there before, but I was craving a change, so off I went to spend a colorful, confusing, heady nine months in Zaragoza. 

In the springtime, my mother flew out to visit me so we could spent the Easter holiday together. She had never been to Spain before and we spent something like ten days hopping around the country- from Barcelona to Granada, Cordoba to Sevilla. There are certain moments that ten years later still stand out with perfect clarity: a bullfight on Easter Sunday in Sevilla, which was beautiful and moving in a way I never would have expected; the floats gliding down the jam-packed streets during Holy Week; the nazarenos in their ominous pointed caps; lunch at El Rinconcillo and eating espinacas con garbanzos.

I'd eaten this often in Zaragoza- sometimes with tomato sauce, sometimes without, but it was always delicious. My mother had never had it before and I still remember how delighted she seemed- by Sevilla, by El Rinconcillo, and by the garbanzos con espinacas

{with poached eggs on top}

Months back, I spied a recipe for garbanzos con espinacas on Ximena Meier's blog Lobstersquad. I hadn't thought of the dish in years. I knew I had to make it, and make it I did. I served it to Daniel for dinner one night, topping his portion with a couple of poached eggs, and he declared it one of the best things I'd ever made for dinner. For serious, people fall in love with this stuff. I bet you will too.  

Espinacas con garbanzos, original recipe found here, with ideas from here as well

3 cloves garlic,
6 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tbsp sherry vinegar
30oz canned garbanzo beans
3/4 lb spinach
1 inch slice country bread, crusts removed and cut into cubes
smoked Spanish paprika to finish

Heat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium heat and add 3tbsp of olive oil. Add spinach and a pinch of salt, cooking until just tender. Set aside.

Using a frying pan, fry the bread for 5 minutes in 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat, then add the final tbsp of olive oil, the garlic, cumin, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 more minute.

Transfer the mixture to a food processor and add vinegar. Blend mixture to a paste, then return to the pan and add the drained chickpeas and the tomato sauce. Heat and season with salt and pepper. Add the spinach. Serve hot with a sprinkling of the smoked paprika. Devour.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

christina tosi's crack pie

This Easter, I was charged with making a dessert. After pondering a number of options (strawberry tart? chocolate bundt cake?) I remembered Crack Pie.

I have never been to Momofuku Milk Bar but I read about Crack Pie some months ago in Bon Appetit. Based on the name alone, I knew I wanted to make it. Still, I had to wait for the right moment- a dessert this rich is better made for a crowd. 

I made Crack Pie over three days. On Friday evening, I made the oatmeal cookie that is crumbled up to make the crust. On Saturday morning, I assembled the crust and filling and baked the pie. I chilled the pie overnight and then on Sunday dusted it with powdered sugar and served it up with some bourbon-spiked whipped cream.

It was good. I couldn't eat more than a few mouthfuls- this stuff is rich- but everyone else scraped their plates (a friend even polished off my half-eaten piece). But while I'm glad I tried it, I'm not sure I'll make it again. I found the sweetness  a little cloying and think I would have found a bowl of good  vanilla ice cream far more addictive. To each her own.

Monday, April 9, 2012

easter hike

After an Easter egg hunt and a brunch of french toast, chicken sausage and fruit salad, Daniel, Joanna, Morgan and myself headed out for an early-afternoon hike.

We forded a creek, crashed through blackberry brambles, poison oak and tangles of underbrush and finally arrived on some beautifully hilly property with some fairly spectacular views.

Morgan and Joanna inspected the flora.

There were century plants that looked like something out of Dr. Seuss. And lots of beautiful flowers.

We found a good perch and shared a bottle of wine

It was something of an adventure and even though we all had to bathe ourselves in Tecnu when we got back to the house, we'd worked up hearty appetites for the Easter feast at Daniel's parents' house. 

silver oak

Over the weekend, Daniel and I drove up to Napa with our friends Morgan and Joanna to spend Easter with Daniel's parents. We arrived mid-afternoon on Saturday and headed over to Silver Oak for a wine tasting.

It wasn't a random choice- Daniel's mother recently started an awesome new job there and we were eager to stop in and say hello. 

We took a little tour of the place (it's gorgeous!) and tried some pretty delicious wines. My dad has bottles of Silver Oak from the mid-80's that sometimes make appearances on special occasions, so it was a real treat to visit the winery.

 It was the perfect start to the weekend.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

yotam ottolenghi's celeriac and lentils with hazelnut and mint

This is celeriac.

An amazingly gnarled little beastie that happens to have a deliciously smooth, nutty flavor. I bought the above specimen last week with no clear idea of what I was going to do with it. On Sunday morning, I was flipping through Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty (apparently I've become the sort of person who reads cookbooks for fun) and spotted his recipe for celeriac and lentils. I already had all the ingredients and just like that, I had a plan for lunch.

We ate this along with a small salad for lunch and then went hiking out by China Camp. It was at once wholesome and flavorful (the mellowness of the celeriac! the crunch from the hazelnuts! the brightness of the mint!) and I will certainly be making it again, and soon. 

slightly adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's celeriac and lentils with hazelnut and mint

1/3 cup whole hazelnuts
1 cup lentils du Puy
3 cups water
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs of thyme
1 celeriac peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
4 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp hazelnut oil
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
salt and black pepper
4 tbsp fresh mint, chopped

Preheat oven to 275. Scatter the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 15 minutes. Let them cool and chop roughly (or leave whole, as I did). 

Combine the lentils, water, bay leaves and thyme in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 18-20 minutes, or until al dente. Drain.

In another sauce pan, cook the celeriac in lots of boiling salted water for 10 minutes, or until just tender. Drain.

In a large bowl, mix the hot lentils with the olive oil, 2 tbsp of hazelnut oil, vinegar, salt and black pepper. Add celeriac and stir well. Stir in half of the mint and half of the hazelnuts. Pile onto a bowl and drizzle the remaining hazelnut oil on top. Garnish with remaining mint and hazelnuts.

le croissant du jour

I can resist everything except temptation
                                                                                                                                            -Oscar Wilde

Monday, April 2, 2012

kimberley hasselbrink's pea shoot salad with fava beans

This past Christmas, Daniel gave me a calendar he'd seen me admire at one of the shops in the Ferry building. It's a produce calendar with lovely watercolor drawings of various fruits and vegetables for each month of the year. It also includes a list of what's in season. For April, the list includes asparagus, green garlic, strawberries, English peas, and fava beans.

Yesterday while I was at our local farmer's market, I snapped up some pea shoots ($1 for an enormous bunch!) and today while I was doing some supplemental grocery shopping at Draeger's, I saw that fava beans had come in. I scooped some up and started fantasizing about how I might proceed to cook and eat them.

Enter Kimberley Hasselbrink's blog The Year in Food and a recipe for a pea shoot and fava bean salad that looked like spring incarnate. 

I suppose blanching and peeling the fava beans could be considered a bit of a chore, but I didn't mind. I made a pea and mushroom risotto at the same time and peeled the beans in between stirring the risotto. The resulting dinner was light and tasted like pure April. 

Pea shoot salad with fava beans, slightly adapted from The Year in Food

1/4 lb pea shoots (the leaves, flowers and tender, curly ends)
1lb fava beans
1/4 daikon radish
1 avocado
3 tbsp olive oil
scant tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Bring small pot of water to a boil and blanch the fava beans for 2 minutes, then drain and place in an ice bath. When cool, peel the skin off of the individual beans and discard. Set the peeled beans to the side.

Whisk the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper together.

Toss the pea shoots with the almonds, radish and dressing. Plate and top with avocado slices and the fava beans. Serve.
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