Tuesday, February 24, 2009

When you are not looking...

It always happens when you finally give up looking - when you accept the fact that you will never have that thing you always wanted and longed for, it miraculously finds you. Not to be too overly dramatic, but honestly, I thought I was doomed to never, ever make a decent chocolate chip cookie. The recipe I have been searching for has found me at last, and in it I have found my inner chocolate chip cookie goddess. No joke. These cookies are that good. 

I made the dough about 4pm, and was planning on waiting the required 36 hours. Then I wrote the previous post, and couldn't help myself. I HAD to make just a couple...just to see... So at 8pm I put a batch and my hopes into the oven and waited. Even after just four hours of "resting" they were truly superior. Over the next day or so I made several bakings from that batch and they only got better. I loved that I could just bake up a few at night after dinner to have with tea. Who doesn't love the smell of warm cookies baking in the evening? 

One thing I learned is to not crowd the cookies. Mine were made from a small ice cream scoop, and weighed less than 2 oz. I was able to cook only 8 at a time. I also adjusted the time to 13 minutes - they were a light carmel brown, and after they cooled kept a little chewy-ness to balance the cripish corners. 

So, needless to say, I have been eating my fair share of chocolate chip cookies lately. Unfortunaly, they didn't last long enough to photograph...maybe next time. I will add the link to the recipe here: http://orangette.blogspot.com/2008/07/bold-statement.html

Let me know how they come out for you! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Nemesis

The nemesis of my baking world is the ever innocent chocolate chip cookie. Seriously, I feel like the crazy guy from Caddy Shack chasing the gopher...why can't I get it? Shouldn't it be so simple? Well, not for me. I have the worst track record with those suckers - most of the time they just spread out like a dog on its back waiting for a tummy rub. Dog, cute. Spready cookies, depressing. 

Once I saw a cookie bake off show on TV, and this special education teacher from San Diego won the top prize for his traditional chocolate chip cookie. I followed the recipe to a tee, and actually had success with it...once. After that, the same dang recipe has failed me each time I try to recapture cookie glory. 

OK, what is the point of this whole chippy diatribe? I am trying again. I am trying again to make a decent traditional chocolate chip cookie without any crutches like oatmeal or shortening. Reaching out to that cookie bad boy, hoping not to get disappointed again...hmmm

So this recipe is from another blogger site, and she got it from the New York Times food section. It has to "mature" for at least 36 hours. The make or break chocolate chip cookie dough is "resting" in my fridge, waiting for the big show day after tomorrow. Here's to you Don Quixote (or maybe more appropriately to Bill Murray) and to the impossible dream! 

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Blob...AKA, It's ALIVE!...AKA Foccacia



My latest every other day cooking pal is foccacia. It is funny how foods, breads especially, can come to life - like a little lovely pet...that you eat...um, well ok, anyways....My brain is fried from too much reading and thinking on subjects that are completly BORING! My mind wants to be so many other places...wanting to do so many other things. So, in the spirt of other-worldly-ness I present to you my special, amazing, beautiful foccacia recipe. The billowy dough, the air pockets and bubbles, crispy corners and salty olive oil crust...let's just get it over with. I am in love with this bread. I hope it finds a place in your kitchen hearts. 

Foccacia 
2 1/4 lbs Flour - about 7 cups
3 1/2 cups warm water 
1 tsp. active dry yeast
2 tablespoons coarse salt
olive oil
coarse salt

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together the flour, yeast and warm water. Let sit covered with a dish towel in a warm place until tripled in size and bubbly - about 2 hours. 

2. Add the salt and attach the bowl to the mixer. Let mix us the dough hook for about 3-5 minutes on low speed, the raise the speed to medium and mix about 15 seconds more. 

3. Transfer the dough to a very big bowl - it will be wet, slack and sticky. Let rise another 1 hour. 

4. Take a rubber spatula and mix up the dough by hand about a minute or so, just to deflate. Let rise another hour. Meanwhile prepare a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper.  

5. Drop the wet, sticky, bubbly dough onto the prepared sheet and spread it out with the rubber spatula. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Let it sit on the pan unbaked for about 20-30 minutes to get those big bubbles...

6. Drizzle dough with olive oil and course salt to taste. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden. 

7. Immediately slide focaccia onto a wire rack to cool. Slice with pizza wheel or serrated knife. 

Note: If you don't plan on eating it all the day it is baked, cut into pieces and freeze. It will be as good as fresh.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Little Tip...

On Monday we went out to a little French place here in San Marcos for Alex's birthday. We got scallops, fillet minion, mahi mahi, creme brulee...It was actually pretty good which is saying quite a lot from me! I am, uh, how you say...picky. Way too picky about dining out because honestly we eat very well at home, and spend a lot of money on food to do so. So anyway, the tip is that during Christmas I bought a $25 gift certificate to this place for only $2 at www.restaurant.com. I think they usually charge $10, but sometimes $5...anyway, you can go to restaurants all over the country, which is great for traveling. Most of the places are pretty high quality too, so the food should be pretty decent.