A Sweet Treat for the Sweet Day: Double Chocolate Cookies

valentines useWhile I’m not that crazy about the actual “holiday” of Valentine’s Day, I do use it as an excuse to make something sweet for the Eater of the House (plus myself!). Since Shrove Tuesday is coming up and my annual 40 days of no sugar is almost here, I decided to make something delicious and chocolaty before I can’t!

These little cookies are a true delight, just 100 calories, and since they are small, the size a bit bigger than a quarter, you are getting just a bite-size of deep, rich chocolate flavor. The batter itself isn’t particularly sweet, but the chocolate chip adds just the right amount. And it comes together super easy and most of the ingredients you probably have on hand. Some of the cookies I molded into a ball and some I just spooned on the tray. I have to say, the molded ones look a lot better (see below); the others, while delicious, had something to be desired in terms of their appearance! (As you can imagine!)

For years I have always used King Arthur flour for all baking,  but it wasn’t but a year ago that I switched to all-purpose flour for most of my baking except from bread. KA has a high gluten content, and while all of my goodies turned out alright, an all-purpose flour like Pillsbury or Gold Medal make things a little lighter, I think.

The directions are right, don’t overbake them; I found them similar to the texture of a brownie. And the way I look at it, they say a little bit of chocolate is good for you, so these are perfect to make for your own sweetheart this weekend!

choco cookies

Double Chocolate Cookies

This recipe originally appeared in the November 2014 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

The secret to these rich chocolate cookies is not to overbake them. For a gooey, creamy cookie center, pull them out of the oven when they are still a bit glossy.

Makes 26 (serving size: 1 cookie)

6.75 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
3/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

1. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cocoa, and salt in a bowl, stirring with a whisk.

2. Place sugar, butter, and oil in a bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla; beat 1 minute. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Add chocolate; beat at low speed just until combined. Cover with plastic wrap; chill 30 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 350°.

4. Drop dough by 1 1/2 tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes or until almost set. Cool on pan 2 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies from pan; cool on wire racks.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Soups, Broth, and Stocks

zoup1It seems like everywhere I turn these days I’m seeing something about bone broths. I never really knew what anyone was talking about until I listened to Tom Ashbrook’s On Point episode last week and realized I’ve been doing this for years, since I boil up my chicken and turkey carcasses after dinner.

Two of my favorite cooks, Ming Tsai and Bridget Lancaster, joined Tom to talk about soups, broths, and stocks. The show was so inspiring that I thawed a package of homemade chicken broth and made chicken noodle soup this past weekend. Mind you, this was the second soup I made in a week. When it’s as cold and snowy as it’s been here in the Northeast, you need something warm and comforting when you come in from shoveling! And this show was the perfect inspiration

You can listen to the story by click here: Get It While It’s Hot: A Show About Soup.

Recipe Redux: Candy Corn Cookies

jackolanternSince it’s Halloween week, I thought I would pop in a day early with this week’s recipe so you have extra time to grab these ingredients if you want to make these cute little sugar cookies! While I don’t normally give you two sweet recipes in a row, I couldn’t resist a trip back to these cookies, which I originally posted in 2012.

Living in the country, we don’t get door-to-door trick or treaters; the only ones who have visited through the years were our next door neighbors and all four kids have since grown up. So when I made these, I gave bags to co-workers and friends as this recipe makes a lot because I made them the actual candy corn size, but you can always make the cookies bigger. And watch out, these are delicious and being so small, you can definitely get carried away with having “just one more!”

Aren't these adorable? And this was cookie sheet #1, so my batch definitely made more than 5 dozen cookies!

Aren’t these adorable? And this was cookie sheet #1, so my batch definitely made more than 5 dozen cookies!

Candy Corn Cookies
From PBS Food’s Fresh Taste blog, recipe by Jenna Weber

2 sticks of butter, softened
½ cups powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 egg
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
Red food coloring
Yellow food coloring

1. Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat until incorporated.

2. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to the butter sugar mixture and mix until a soft dough just forms. Remove dough from mixer bowl and separate into three equal pieces (use a food scale to weigh each piece if you want to be exact!). Mix together a little bit of red and yellow food coloring to make orange and then add the orange coloring to one of the dough pieces. Make another dough piece yellow and leave the third plain.

3. Place a piece of plastic wrap or tin foil inside a loaf pan and pat down the white dough inside. Place the orange dough on top (pat down firmly) followed by the yellow dough. Remove dough from pan, wrap up in either tin foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least four hours.

4. When you are ready to bake your cookies, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut 1/4th inch slices down the width of the dough. Continue cutting each slice into small triangles.

5. Place triangles on a lined baking sheet (line with parchment paper) and bake for 6-8 minutes until tops are puffy and bottoms are golden.

Yield: 5 dozen tiny cookies

marthaMVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Thanksgiving-Themed Cooking Magazines
Thanksgiving is hands down my favorite holiday. Since it is a little later than usual this year, now is the time to gather together the Thanksgiving-themed magazines to see what recipes you’d like to try out for this year’s meal! There are so many out there: Cooking LightMartha Stewart Living, EatingWell, Bon Appetit. I guarantee you’ll find more recipes than you can cook for your Thanksgiving dinner!

Speaking of Pumpkin…

The days of warmth and color are quickly becoming a memory.

The days of warmth and color are quickly becoming a memory.

Last week I talked about how everything lately is pumpkin spice flavored. So I had to bring you a recipe; I began the season with apples, and now that’s it’s crisp and dark outside, it’s time for the warmth of pumpkins!

The Eater of the House likes anything pumpkin: bread, pancakes, but his favorite is pumpkin pie. One year I said I’d make one, but in a fit of laziness, decided to make it without the crust and it became a new fall favorite! And without my beloved crust, it makes for a lot easier and healthier dessert.

The recipe, believe it or not, comes from the back of the condensed milk can! One bowl and five minutes, it takes longer for the oven to preheat than it does to actually mix it all together. I call it a pudding, because without a crust, cutting it into an actual pie slice is rather difficult. So I do my best, and put it in a serving dish. But of course, you can put it in an unbaked pie crust and serve it for Thanksgiving dessert!

unnamedPerfect Pumpkin “Pudding”
This recipe is adapted from the original Eagle Brand® recipe for Perfect Pumpkin Pie.

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 (14 ounce) can Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 large eggs
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk all the ingredients in a mixing bowl until smooth. Pour into a greased pie pan. Cook for 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the pudding comes out clean. Cool. Top with whipped cream.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: New York Times Cooking Newsletter
unnamedIf you’re like me and can’t get enough stories about food, the New York Times now has a cooking newsletter that can be delivered right to your inbox several times a week! Written by food editor, Sam Sifton, you’ll find food stories and recipes, and I’ve found it’s a great way to get inspired for dinner and other meals. For example, Sunday’s newsletter was “Cook on Sunday, be Thankful on Monday.” Who doesn’t want that? In addition, you have access to all of the recipes printed in the New York Times and you can create your own recipe box to save recipes for later instead of printing it out. A few days ago, Sifton wrote about stuffed baked potatoes and I haven’t been able to get them out of my mind. Stay tuned, I’m sure I’ll be making some soon!

To subscribe, click here.

 

Recipe Redux: Naked Apple Pie

Autumn is definitely here.

Autumn is definitely here.

 

I’m finding my cooking rather erratic in the last few weeks. The Eater of the House has been away and not home for dinner, so I’ve been fixing solo dinners, which usually consists of a mish-mash of vegetables and whatever else I can find to eat. But he’s home on the weekends, so that means big dinners that make enough leftovers for lunch. And revisiting old family favorites!

With the orchards now open, I can finally get some local apples. This is family recipe is a must dessert every fall in our house. Basically, it’s an apple pie without the crust, so it’s super easy. The flour and baking powder add a little fluffiness between the pieces of apple, and if you add walnuts, you have that wonderful crunchiness and nutty flavor. The most time-consuming part is peeling, coring, and dicing the apples. I like it topped with a little bit of cream or whipped cream, and I never say no to warm pie with vanilla ice cream!


NAP USE2Naked Apple Pie
I like to use Cortland apples for my pies; if you use a sweeter apple, you can, of course, cut down on the sugar. It’s a perfect dessert to take along to a potluck!

½ c. white sugar
½ c. brown sugar
½ c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
6-7 peeled, pared, diced apples
½ c. nuts, optional (if using, I use walnuts)
Cinnamon and nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Add the egg and vanilla and stir.
4. Add the apples and nuts, if using.
5. Top with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Bake in a greased pie pan or small cake pan for roughly 30 minutes, or until apples are soft.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Celebrity Chef Stamps!
stampsJust when I was wondering what this week’s endorsement was going to be, I saw this story!

I can’t believe it! Stamps of my favorite chefs! Julia Child! James Beard! You can be guaranteed I will be in line at my post office Saturday morning to pick up a sleeve or two of these! They’re so beautiful, they will only be used for letters only, no bills!

Warm Roasted Peaches and Cream

Apologies in advance to anyone who received the unwritten sneak peek at this story on Sunday. I’ve learned a valuable lesson, I’ve lost all capacity to multitask!

Each week I come home with lots of fruits and vegetables from the supermarket with the intention of cooking them up into delicious recipes, yet sometimes that doesn’t work out. An impulsive dinner out or a swifter dinner than planned because it’s late can change any evening. But instead of tossing out these limp and sad-looking orbs, I extend their life by roasting!

I know more than once I’ve extolled the virtues of roasting fruits and vegetables. If there is anything that looks like it has one foot in the compost pile, I cut it up, pop it in a pan with some olive oil, and roast. And the best thing about roasting is you can leave it in the oven and not worry how long to cook; sometimes the longer it cooks, the better it is!

Last fall I brought your roasted fall fruit—and we’re now getting into pear and apple season! This year, I wanted to extend summer a little bit further into September. One night when I was doing dishes, I noticed a bowl filled with peaches I had bought to make a pie but never got around to making. They were starting to turn and I either need to eat them or toss them; with the Eater of the House out of town, there was no way I was going to have my favorite pie on the counter—I’d be a full-sized kitchen when he returned home! But roasting them topped with a few drops of cream, that I could do.

After removing the skins, I added them to a oven-proof baking pan with a little bit of butter, a dash of sugar and nutmeg, and roasted them at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes. Once they start roasting, the juices come out, so just a little bit of the butter and sugar will go a long way–or use none at all if you prefer. Spooned into a bowl and with just a little bit of cream, I found it a very comforting and homey dessert.

The thermometer said it was in the 80s inside and I was a fool to turn on the oven, but for that evening, I was glad to extend the summertime heat for at least one more time.

peaches

Warm Roasted Peaches and Cream
Peaches, remove the skin with a paring knife
Butter, a couple of teaspoons
A sprinkle of sugar, white or brown, about 1 teaspoon
A few dashes of nutmeg and/or cinnamon
Cream for topping, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Add the sliced peaches to a pan and top with butter and nutmeg. Roast until the peaches are soft. When still warm, serve in a small dish with just a few drops of cream.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Try Something New!

watermelon radish
Do you know what this is?

I didn’t either until the other day. It’s a watermelon radish, which is an heirloom Chinese Daikon radish! (You can read more about it here.) But purchasing this got me thinking. Every week I usually buy the same fruits and vegetables, but I love it when I find something new to try! So if you’re at the farmer’s market or the coop, pick up a new-to-you fruit or vegetable. Don’t worry how to cook or prepare; there are a million recipes for everything on the Internet. So this week, try something new and expand your horizons; you might just find a new favorite! (My next vegetable to try is celery root. Ever seen one? They’re kind of scary looking, but people swear it’s delicious!)

celeryroot

 

Number 200

200What began during a March blizzard in 2011 as a creative way to get my adventures in the kitchen out into the world has developed into a weekly ritual of cooking and writing. In three years’ time, you’ve come along with me to specialty food shops in Florida, our local agricultural fair, and the sites of New York; my birthday tribute to Julia Child (when the electricity went out); I Mad Men’d myself for cocktails and Caesar salad; I’ve passed along family recipes, recipes I’ve created, and of course those from Cooking Light.

Despite being a pretty good home cook, I know there always is room to grow and for improvement. I recently made pancakes for my nephew who dubbed them good and gobbled them up, but when I bit into them, I realized I had forgotten the sugar! Well, at least my audience was happy! Just like everything in life, I am always learning and all I can do is to keep trying and mastering my craft. A big thank you to all who have been with me along the way, and a special thank you to Marta T., my very first follower who wasn’t related to me! And I can’t let this post escape with without thanking the Eater of the House, who has withstood experimental, delicious (and not so delicious), and really late dinners because of my writing and cooking! He is my first test taster, so nothing goes here without his seal of approval!

So since this is Post #200, I decided to give myself a reprieve this week and revisit my favorite pie recipe since it’s August and peach season. What better way to celebrate these beautiful golden orbs than with a pie?

peach pie

I can’t take credit for this pie; my Mom baked this beauty!


Crumbly Peach Pie
2/3 cup sugar (scant)
3/8 cup (6 Tablespoons) flour
1/3 cup (5 Tablespoons) butter (scant)
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg 6-8 peach halves, skinned

Mix the ingredients together and place half of the mixture at the bottom of a ready-to-bake pie crust. Place the peach halves on top and add the remainder of the crumbly mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then 325 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden.

To peel peaches: Fill a large pan with water and bring to a boil. In the sink, fill a large bowl with extra cold water. When the water has come to a boil, add the peaches one at a time and let it sit in the water for about 45 seconds to a minute. (The timing is very important, as you don’t want the peaches to cook.) Transfer immediately to the bowl of cold water. If everything goes well, you should be able to slip off the skins easily with your fingers. If you find they don’t, you can stick them in the hot water a little bit longer.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Tourterelle, New Haven, Vermont
For my 200th post, I thought I would give you a little peek at food in other kitchens in the state. Tourterelle is one of my favorite local restaurants that is one where we go for special occasions. The Eater of the House took me out a couple of weeks ago as a thank you for the pick up and drop off during a hiking excursion. French in theme, it’s a little country house that has a beautiful bar and several rooms where you can dine solo, à deux, or with a party.

I wasn’t very hungry that night, but that didn’t stop us from ordering the Salade de Homard (lobster salad), chunks of lobster with crunchy kohlrabi, radishes, a thin buttermilk dressing, and topped with puffed polenta. I could have eaten three of those alone! For my entrée, I ordered the Crêpe à la St Jacques, a thinly folded crepe with fresh sea scallops and wild mushrooms in a thin wine sauce. (If I were at home, I would have licked my plate!)

Unless it’s going to our local pub, I like to go to restaurants that serve food I can’t or won’t make at home. I know I will never even attempt to make crêpes at home, so this was a lovely evening out with absolutely delicious food. So this week, let someone else do the cooking and tell me about your adventures!
lobstercrepe

Forget No Gluten, No Dairy, and Your Diet: It’s Strawberry Shortcake Time!

berries
The strawberry season in Vermont consists of, if we’re lucky, two and a half weeks. With all due respect to California and Florida, you don’t know strawberries until you’ve had a Vermont one in July. Red, ripe, and juicy, set aside the sugar; they are sweet just on their own. I’m lucky there is a farm about three miles away and I can either pick my own or buzz up and get a couple of quarts to tide me over for the next couple of days, and to freeze, so I can have a little bit of summer in the colder months.

When I was growing up, there was always one night that we would have strawberry shortcake for dinner. That’s right, nothing but strawberry shortcake. And despite everything I know nutrition-wise, I have continued this tradition. I just can’t let a July evening go by without making biscuits and homemade whipped cream with fresh strawberries.

This is the way I grew up eating it, a bit biscuit-like “cake,” split it in the middle, fill the middle with whipped cream and lots of berries, and then top with more whipped cream and berries. While the Egg Biscuit Cake is from The New England Cookbook, by Brooke Dojny, the assembling instructions and whipped cream recipe are my own.

Luckily for myself and the eater of the house, the heat and humidity finally broke, so much so I needed to turn on the oven to warm up the kitchen! My suggestion would be if you have a small family to either make this for a dinner party or instead of making a cake, divide into drop biscuits. It really doesn’t last past a day. But then, there is always breakfast!

strawHomemade Strawberry Shortcake
1+ quart of strawberries, hulled and sliced (set aside eight perfect berries)

Egg Biscuit Cake
This cake recipe is published in The New England Cookbook by Brooke Dojny, 1999.

2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into about 10 pieces
1 egg
½ cup milk

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Generously grease an 8-inch cake pan.

2. Pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor. Distribute the butter over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture looks crumbly. Whisk the egg with the milk in a glass measuring cup. With the motor running, pour the milk mixture through the feed tube and process just until the dough begins to clump together. (To make the dough by hand, whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl, work in the cold butter with your fingertips, add the egg and milk and stir with a large fork to make a soft dough.) Scrape out onto a lightly floured board, knead lightly a few times, and roll or pat into an 8-inch round. (The dough can be prepared several hours ahead and refrigerated at this point.)

3. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan, patting it gently to the edges. Place in the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Bake for 22 to 26 minutes until the shortcake is pale golden brown on top. Cool in the pan on a rack for about 10 minutes.

Homemade Whipped Cream
1 pint of heavy or whipping cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2-3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Pour the cream into a large bowl. Add the sugar and vanilla. With a hand mixer set on high, beat the cream until stiff peaks form—about 6 minutes or so. Set aside.

To assemble
Take the shortcake out of the pan and carefully slice it in half horizontally and divide. With the bottom of the shortcake, add some whipped cream and berries. Add the top of the shortcake, add more berries, whipped cream, and dot with the reserved whole berries.

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week

Look at this gorgeous kale patch!

Look at this gorgeous kale patch!

Before I went home to a ton of strawberries, the Eater of the House and myself were lucky enough to be invited for a front-row seat to watch our local Fourth of July parade at our friends, Jo and Emmett’s house. Both eaters, readers, cooks, and artists, Emmett took me on a tour of his flower and vegetable gardens as I looked with envy. Living here on Bunny Hill, vegetables had a way of not making it to the dinner table, so I gave up vegetable gardening a long time ago.

Jo pointed out the kale and said she already had made my kale chips once this season, which reminded me I needed to make a batch myself!

So this week’s endorsement is make some kale chips! They are healthy, delicious, and low in calories–a terrific snack to counter-balance the shortcake!