Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Not kosher for Passover... but kosher for awesome.

On today's menu: rosemary bread a la Andy, pea-and-spinach soup, and what Cook's Illustrated describes as "perfect chocolate chip cookies."

1. These cookies are nearly perfect; their imperfection stems from a slight equipment malfunction (the cookie sheets suck, and I don't know where the good ones are, and we had no aluminum foil, so the bottoms browned quite quickly). They use 10 tablespoons of browned butter and 4 tablespoons of not-browned, and they're so very good.

2. The rosemary bread is hard not to like. The recipe instructs to use a bread machine, but those are for wimps who can't wise up to the fun of making bread the old-fashioned way. Basting it often with olive oil gives it a light, crunchy, delicious crust.

3. The soup involved cooking up some shallots in Smart Balance, throwing in frozen green peas and vegetable broth and spinach and a splash of white wine (I wish I had sherry) and mint and pepper and boiling it up and pureeing it, sadly without the aid of my trusty immersion blender, and then tossing in a few tablespoons of cream to smooth it all out and voila.

I chopped up some nectarine and kiwi and strawberries for a fruit salad, too, and all the doors are open, because the weather is perfect in Sarasota in late March, and why the hell not? I just wish I had a camera, because the soup is a lovely color and I want to make you all jealous.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Totally nuts

I made these cashew cookies filled with homemade dulce de leche (easier than it sounds: boil a can of sweetened condensed milk for like three and a half hours, but keep it covered with water, or it'll explode) upon returning to Florida today. They were very good, even very, very good, but did not match up to the awesome that the recipe's original poster promised. First of all, the cashew puree never got "creamy," per se, despite my assiduous use of the food processor until my mom told me to cut it out. Secondly, the cookies were not chewy. They were crunchy. While crunchy is good, chewy is better. And thirdly, dulce is one of those very few things that just never tastes as good homemade as when purchased somewhere in South America.

If anyone can troubleshoot for me, go for it: http://www.natalieskillercuisine.com/2010/03/salted-cashew-cookies-with-homemade.html Nevertheless, though, these are quite tasty. Just not tasty enough to make me have more than one.

Oh, and I remade the granola from last visit, too. That, my friends, lived up to expectations.

Friday, March 19, 2010

On the use of alcohol in baked goods

I am generally a huge fan. Maybe it's the fact that I don't actually drink, but I like the adult allure. Which is why I spent most of my time at a friend's surprise party tonight baking Guinness brownies with another resident of the suite we were in. Top o' the mornin' to that friend for choosing the recipe. They were chocolatey and beery and really good. Amusingly, there wasn't enough cocoa, so we ended up using hot chocolate mix and decreasing the sugar a bit. It turned out just fine. Juuuuust fine indeed. I love fudgy brownies and like cakey brownies well enough; these were pretty cakey, probably because they had four eggs in them. Next time, I'll cut some egg and replace it with water or milk.