Sunday, July 25, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I am frequently asked for a good chocolate chip cookie recipe, in fact, I think it is what everyone asks from me the most! I think one could argue that it is an all American classic as well as a favorite.

Cookies are good any time of year for their versatility, they are good for picnics, camping, school lunches, etc. They are easy to make and easy to transport to practically anywhere as they require no refridgeration and require even less time to prepare! All you need is a good chocolate chip cookie recipe!

A year ago when I started my job, I disliked Martha Stewart and the dang Cookie cookbook she rode in on! It was the bain of my existance at my job and that woman needed to pay!! Today, while I'm still not the biggest fan of Martha, I will admit she has some pretty darn good recipes and I'm thankful for the chocolate chip cookie recipe! It is by far, the best one I've ever had! And that is the one I am sharing with you all today!!

The Cast:
Kitchen aid with the beater blade -or- a bowl with your hand mixer
a couple of sheet pans
ice cream scoop (to scoop cookies of course!)
parchment paper
cooling rack

The Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup granulated
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (pure makes the cookies taste sooo wonderful!)
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and line your cookie sheets with parchment paper

You are going to be using the creaming method, this means you are going to cream your fat (butter) with your sugars (granulated and brown) until combined.

After that you add your eggs and vanilla until combined.

Once all the wet ingredients are together you can start adding the dry; salt, baking soda, ap flour. Mix the dry ingredients to the wet until you can see traces of flour left and then add your chocolate chip cookies, mix just until the flour is fully incorporated.

I like to scoop the cookies with an ice cream scoop to get the same size cookie everytime, however you can do it however you prefer. It also makes it easy to portion and you don't get all sticky from the cookie dough! Make sure they are about 2 inches apart on the sheet!!

Put the cookies in the oven for about 10 minutes and then check on them! They took about 14 minutes in my oven to be perfect, but everyone's oven is going to be different. You want to edges to be brown and you want to center to still look a little light for the chewy chocolate chip cookies. That and the cookies will continue to bake on the cookie sheet even after you have pulled them out of the oven.

Enjoy!! These are great to dunk in a nice cold glass of milk!! They also make good ice cream sandwichs!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Straweberry, Berry This and a Berry, Berry WINNER!

The winner of the dog treats is (drumroll please) Sandi W! Congrats Sandi! Email me your address at and I'll send them right on over!

Don't forget to leave those comments, as many as you can for the big drawing on the 30th! (Comments taken until the 29th). I'm hitting the store tomorrow for the baking goodies that will be going in the box to be mailed to the winner!!

Moving right along!! Today's recipe is a summertime classic and a favorite of mine! Strawberry shortcake! I got my Cooking Light August 2010 magazine in the mail the other day and they had a Citrus Shortcake recipe that I just had to try. It is pretty rare for me to get a magazine and try a recipe within the next day! The Citrus flavor from the shortcake mixed with the strawberries was absolutely stunning! I really loved how the flavor's mingled together!! So without further ado......

The Cast:
9 inch square metal baking pan
couple of mixing bowls
whisk or whisk attachment for kitchen aid


Citrus Shortcake
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 Tablespoon grated orange rind (about the rind of one medium size orange)
1 Tablespoon fresh orange juice
4.5 ounces all purpose flour (about 1 cup)
2 Tablespoons yellow cornmeal
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
Cooking spray

I prefer fresh strawberries and then I mascerate them with a little lemon juice and sugar to sweeten. However, for this recipe I ended up using pre-sweetened strawberries because I had a gallon leftover from work sitting in my freezer. They also work pretty well if you prefer to go that route.

Chantilly Cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

First thing you are going to want to do is pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray your 9 inch square metal pan with a nice thin coating of cooking spray and set aside.

Slice your strawberries and mascerate them with the lemon juice and sugar. After that step let them sit in the refridgerator so they get good and juicy!

For the shortcake you are going to start by creaming your butter and sugar together until thoroughly mixed and a little fluffy. After that you are going to add the eggs one at a time until they are completely incorporated. Next step is to add the orange rind and juice and mix well.

In a seperate bowl you are going to measure out all your dry ingredients, the AP Flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt. You are going to add the flour mixture and buttermilk to the butter alternating between the two and ending on flour. Also make sure you mix well after you incorporate both the flour and the buttermilk. Don't over mix! You just want to mix these until they are incorporated and there are no traces of flour! If you over mix it won't be delicate, it will be tough.

Once you are done mixing, scoop the batter into the prepared 9 inch metal pan and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. The top will look a little golden and the edges will just start to come away from the pan, also when you push on the top it will have a little spring.

While the shortcake is baking this is a good time to make the Chantilly, pour the heavy whipping cream into a bowl, kitchen aid or otherwise and then whip it! Whip it good! It is a common misconception that you whip everything together at the same time. If you add the sugar and vanilla right before it becomes full on "whip cream" it makes for better flavor, better texture and not such a heavy "whip cream". So go ahead and add the vanilla and sugar right about when you see the cream is thickening up, I describe it as what whip cream would look like if you left it out for about 5 minutes. It's still a little runny, but sort of whip cream. After you add the vanilla and sugar just whip it until it comes right to that point of whip cream. Don't over whip it or you make as well make some butter and buttermilk out of that heavy whipping cream!

To serve let the shortcake cool and cut into 9 squares, I cut into thirds and then turned the pan and cut into thirds again. When you are ready to plate, you are going to take the square piece of cake, put it on its side and cut it in half so it will look kind of like a slice of bread. The shortcake is going to act like a hamburger bun of sorts. Put the bottom of the shortcake "bun" in the bowl/plate/what have you and then put strawberries on top of that and whip cream on top of the strawberries, top with the other half of the shortcake and presto! You have yourself a summery treat! '

I apologize for the quality of lighting in the picture, the sun was setting and it was hard to get a good picture.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Pumpkin Dog Treats and All you ever wanted to know.

Recently, my friend Jen had one of those things they call a "meme" you know, answer these questions and I tag you, you and you! Or comment and I will ask you five questions! Almost all of the questions she had asked me were related to my chosen field! I thought what better place to answer the questions than here, where I can share it with loyal blog readers who have often wondered the very same questions she asked.

Asked by the beautiful Jen!
1. What is it about pastry that makes you so excited?

There are oh so many things that I love about it! With my 9-5 job (or in my case 7-2) I generally make a lot of cookies which gets redundant, but when I get to make something else I'm on cloud nine. The possibilities of what can be made/created are endless. When you let your creativity flow and are in an arena that allows you to follow it, it's wonderful! I rarely have the chance to get bored and I love that every day has a new challenge, no two days are usually the same. I also really love when a customer or someone near and dear to me takes a bite and says, "Wow, this is great" or they say, "This is the best ______ I've ever had!" It is rewarding! Food brings people together and it is generally something people are excited about!

2. If you could work at any one restaurant/bakery, where would it be and why?

Restaurant: Salish Lodge I actually interviewed there a year ago for a pastry cook position, but I wasn't available when they needed me. They had actually called me back last fall to offer me the position again, but I'm very happy where I am employed.  Chef Laurie seemed really down to earth and it seemed like a good environment to learn and grow as a pastry chef.

Bakery: Dahlia Bakery I also interviewed here and the staff seemed very down to earth and pleasant to be around. The Dahlia Bakery makes so many amazing things and I think I've already nailed the Triple Coconut Cream Pie, I make it ALL the time at home. They have a lot to offer!

3. What professional chef is your inspiration?

Honestly, this will sound a little cheese ball, but my instructor from Renton Technical College, Kim Smith. She has done so much with her career. Every time I make something I try and remember what she taught me and how she would do it. Her patience with her students is pretty amazing, because I know when I was there, we were a wily bunch and we had mouths that never ended!!

4. If you had to describe yourself as a dish (without words), what would it be and why?

I have the crunchy caramelized sugar top that is warm and crisp, but once you break through me, beneath is that small layer of warm custard and below that the cold crispness of the very same custard. I'm layered in so many ways, but have very simple ingredients. Can you guess what it is?

5. What music is the essence of who you are? (It can be a band or a song.)

I'm really into a band right now called Halestorm. I can really relate to a lot of the lyrics, they are rock, but they have the slower melodramatic side as well! And well the lead singer, Lzzy Hale, can wail!! I just really admire women that are successful in rock and are just as good if not better than their male counterparts. You know, Girl Power! RAAAWWR. 

Now for the Pumpkin Dog Treats! This is my own little recipe for dog treats, it is the first time I have made them and my dogs, Layla and Triton, gobbled them up! Actually, there was so much dog slobber coming out of Layla's mouth after she got it from me, I thought I was going to need some boots!!

For the recipe I used ingredients that I learned were good for dogs, like pumpkin and carrots and added some things to make them salivate, like beef bouillon granules.

The Cast:
A really big mixing bowl
Dog bone shape cookie cutter's (if you have them, if not a round will work just as good)
rolling pin
cookie sheets
Your hands, ready to get dirty again? 

The Ingredients:
5 cup whole wheat flour + more for rolling out the dough
3 Tablespoons +1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules
2 cups pureed pumpkin
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1 cup shredded carrot

To get started preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Get that giant bowl I was telling you about and measure out all your dry ingredients into the bowl, so the whole wheat flour and beef granules. Make a nice little well in the middle and add all your wet ingredients, eggs, pumpkin and water. Now start mixing it together with your hands. It will be a little wet, but don't worry, you will be getting more flour when you start rolling.

After the dough has come together put a nice layer of whole wheat flour down on the surface where you plan on rolling it out and get to rolling! You are going to want the dough to be 1/2-3/4 of an inch, they will puff slightly in the oven. When you have reached the desired thickness grab the cookie cutters and start to cut! You can rework the dough up to about 2 more times after the initial first cut, but after the 3rd one they start to get really tough.

Bake them on your cookie sheets for about 45 minutes, you want to dry the treats out as much as possible, like the ones you get at the pet store! If that isn't possible you'll only want to keep them around a couple weeks before they get rancid.  
But wait! Why do that when you can win some! Comment below with how many dogs you have and their size for a chance to win doggie treats for your pups! I'll take comments until July 15th at 11:59PM I'll draw a name and whoever wins will get some barktastic doggy treats in their mailbox for their pups!!

They sure do meet Layla and Triton's doggy standards! They inhaled them!

 They meet Triton's approval! he is about to inhale it!!

If you can't tell, Layla left her mark on this doggy treat!

Lastly, the treats themselves, I made two sizes, one that is about 3 inches and the other is about 6 inches! 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Two'fer Tuesday Part deux: Peach Melba

I don't know about anyone else, but I love used bookstores! I frequent Half Price Books almost as much at the grocery store! While in school we had to do notebooks and we had to come up with new ideas for desserts based on whatever station we happened to be at. For example, while on pies and tarts we had to submit 3 new ideas for pies and tarts in our notebook. The point of these new ideas was to keep an eye out for new trends, flavors, creativity, originality, etc.

Since leaving school I have become quite the recipe monger! Every time I go to Half Price Books I make a bee line straight to the cookbooks. I also get more food related magazine subscriptions in my mailbox than should be legally allowed, but that is a different story entirely!! One day I came across a book at Half Price called A Passion for Desserts by Emily Luchetti I flipped through the book and immediately had to have it!

This week I decided to do a Two'fer Tuesday, making both the peach cobbler and a peach melba from A Passion for Desserts. I knew that I wasn't going to be putting 12 peaches into my cobbler! So why not double the pleasure and double the fun?

 The Cast:
Either two 13 X 9 pyrex dish or one pyrex and a cookie sheet that has a lip
A big bowl that you will be able to fit 8 peach halves in plus liquid
Food Processor, blender or food mill
Small saucepan
The ability to make whipping cream, whether that's with a hand beater, kitchen aid or if you have the muscle and brawn in your arm you can do it with a whisk!! Good luck with that! :) 
Sifter, fine mesh sieve, whatever you have that is small enough to catch a raspberry seed

White Peach Melba
The Ingredients:

Raspberry Granita:
12 ounces frozen raspberries with no added sugar, defrosted
1/4 cup sugar
6 Tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
pinch of salt

Baked Peaches:
3/4 cup Moscato d'Atsi (if you can only find a white dessert wine that should work fine)
1/2 vanilla bean
4 Large, ripe white Peaches
1 Tablespoon sugar

Chantilly Cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

First things first, the granita can take a couple hours, so you can either do it a day ahead or you can make it in the steps and play some solitaire! Or hey, read you favorite baking blog! But the peaches should be served immediately after baking, so whenever you start the peaches you have to finish!!

To make the granita puree the raspberries in your method of choice and pour through a sieve of some kind, I used a sifter. After straining add the sugar, water, lemon and salt and mix.

Once you have mixed the ingredients together either pour into the baking sheet with the lip or one of your pyrex dishes. It needs to be shallow enough that you can drag a fork across it after it has set up for an hour. After the first hour take it out and mix it with a fork, I just dragged it back and forth. After this you will check it after every 30 minutes repeating fork step until it is frozen.

Onward to the peaches! Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and gather your moscato and vanilla bean. Measure and pour the moscato into a bowl and them cut the vanilla bean in half horizontally and then cut that in half lengthwise and run the tip of the knife down the inside of the bean to gather all those nice little flecks of black! These are vanilla beans and you are going to put them straight into the bowl with the moscato. But save that pod they came in!  I let this sit while I cut the peaches in half. Same with the cobbler you want to cut them in half and kind of twist/pull, remove the put and peel off the skin! One more step though on the backside opposite the side where the pit was, you want to cut off a little bit of the peach so it sits perfectly still. Plus, it's a nice little treat for the baker.

After you are through with the peaches you are going to soak them in the moscato and vanilla bean mixture for ten minutes on each side. Then you will arrange them in your pyrex dish, sprinkle the tablespoon of sugar over the top and put them in the oven for 15 minutes if they are good and ripe, 20 minutes otherwise.

While the peaches are baking you are going to take the moscato and vanilla bean and put it in the small saucepan over medium high heat and let it reduce to about 1/3 of a cup. I took the pod from the vanilla bean and stuck it right in the syrup for more vanilla flavor. Keep an eye on this while you make the chantilly, it took me about 15 minutes for it to reduce the length of how long my peaches were in the oven.

To make the Chantilly, pour the heavy whipping cream into a bowl, kitchen aid or otherwise and then whip it! Whip it good! It is a common misconception that you whip everything together at the same time. If you add the sugar and vanilla right before it becomes full on "whip cream" it makes for better flavor, better texture and not such a heavy "whip cream". So go ahead and add the vanilla and sugar right about when you see the cream is thickening up, I describe it as what whip cream would look like if you left it out for about 5 minutes. It's still a little runny, but sort of whip cream. After you add the vanilla and sugar just whip it until it comes right to that point of whip cream. Don't over whip it or you make as well make some butter and buttermilk out of that heavy whipping cream!

After your syrup and peaches are done you want them to come to room tempature before you plate your final product! You don't want that warm peach and syrup to melt the granita and whip cream before you can get a pretty picture of it! Oh wait, that may just be me! :)

To plate this beauty of a dessert you are going to set the peach in a bowl/plate/whatever you want and spoon the raspberry granita right on top where the pit once was and then a dollop of whip cream on top of that! Drizzle some of the syrup around the bottom of the peaches and tada! You've got yourself a fancy looking dessert that isn't super hard to make and isn't a total blow to your calorie count!

That's it for two'fer Tuesday! Hope y'all stop by for Three'fer Thursday!

Two'fer Tuesday!! 1st up, peach cobbler!

The story goes that my Auntie M made the best cobbler in all the town, when she passed away in the 80's everyone was perplexed as to how she made it! For years and years my mom tried in vain to duplicate, but was never successful! That is until one fateful day when she was working at an assisted living! They had made cherry cobbler and it had tasted just like her sister Marla's!! My mom rushed home and made it for her nephew and it got a resounding, "That's it!"

I made this many times in my pre-Professional Baking days and it was often with a box cake mix!! When my friend Megan asked me if I could do the cobbler for my blog, I knew I couldn't put on here to use a cake mix! The atrocity! The horror! What is a professional to do? I'll tell you, we make up our own!!!

The Cast:
A few bowls
9 X 13inch Pyrex dish
The ability to get your hands a little dirty

The Ingredients:
8-10 medium-large peaches, get them a couple days before you plan on using them so they can get nice and ripe on your countertop! I used white flesh peaches, but you could use any type. I think the recipe would be even better with regular 'ole peaches!
3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted

Getting down and dirty!!
First I thing is to preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

While the oven is heating you will want to spray the pyrex with pam or grease it with some butter. Then start slicing the peaches! I like to cut them in half and then kind of twist/pull the two apart! I like the peaches to be so ripe that I can just peel the fuzzy skin off without needing a knife! Then I just pull the pit out and slice them straight into the greased pyrex so that I can get all those nice juices in the dish! You could also put a little spice in here, perhaps some cinnamon or cardamom, but my husband and I like it peaches straight up!!

After you have sliced all the peaches sprinkle a little bit of sugar on them! The peaches should be fairly sweet on their own and they will get plenty of sweetening from the cobbler topping.

Moving on to the topping, this is really easy! Mix all your dry ingredients together in a bowl, so that is your cake flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Whisk them all together to make sure they are combined! From here, it's going to get dirty! Make sure your hands are nice and clean first! The easiest way to add the melted butter, egg and vanilla is with your hands! It is a pretty thick batter, a lot thicker than a cake batter, but thinner than a cookie batter. After it is all combined I crumble it on top of the peaches! Just take little pebble size parts of the dough and sprinkle all over the top of the peach crumble.

Pop the whole thing into the oven and put your timer on for about 45 minutes and then check it! You want it the very tops of the crumble to be golden brown and the peaches to be bubbling up on the sides!!

You can serve warm with a little bit of ice cream, but I really prefer the cobble super cold!! The peaches don't seem to have as much flavor warm as they do cold.

I hope you all enjoy it!! Let me know how it is!! Up next is the White Peach Melba, but probably later tonight!

Don't forget to leave those comments for a chance to win some cool baking gadgets at the end of the month!! 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Are you feeling hot, hot, hot!!

I left Saturday, July 3rd for Las Vegas and it was 59 degrees in the Emerald City! We come back Tuesday, July 6th and it is over 80 degrees!! Imagine my surprise!! To quote one of my favorite movies, "I'm bakin' like a toasted cheese-it! It's so hot here!" As such, I probably won't be doing much baking the rest of the week, hot oven equals hot house!! And since no one in the greater Seattle area believes in air conditioning, I think I shall skip it until next week when we are suppose to be back down to the mid-70's!

So where did I go for 4th of July? Sin City of course!! I had a nice little list of places I wanted to go, but the only place I got to was  Payard Patisserie in Caesar's Palace! I got the lovely raspberry rhubarb napoleon! I couldn't believe how flaky the puff pastry layers were! It was almost as if they were phyllo dough! And the pastry cream inside was jam packed with vanilla bean which made it taste so delightful! You can even see the flecks of vanilla bean in the picture. It was simply one of the best things I've ever tasted! I give it a definate 5 star rating!

 I have a bit of enticing news! As of now I have a whole 6 followers! Oiy. I know not everyone I know has a blogger or wants to have one! So to show me that I have more follower's that may not necessarily have a blogger of their own, I'm going to have a commenting contest!! For however many comments you leave between now and July 29th I will enter each comment into a drawing and randomly pull one on July 30th! So if you leave a comment on each entry I have so far (this will be lucky number 3) I would enter you into the drawing 3 times, etc, etc. The prize will be something baking related obviously!! As requested by a friend of mine, I will be making my version of peach cobbler next week!! If you have any suggestions of recipes you'd like to see or tips that you would like to know, by all means!! Comment away!! Good luck and get to posting those comments!