FAB CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

These cookies were originally called “Flourless Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies.” If that’s not a mouthful of a name, I don’t know what is…  But doesn’t it sound great? Flourless immediately conveys a soft, melt in your mouth fudgy texture. Almond butter is the grown-up, classy version of peanut butter. Once you add chocolate chips, oats, and a touch of coconut (omitted from the already long name), you can stop searching for the perfect cookie to start the day. Or as a mid-morning snack…

The recipe comes from Zainab’s blog, Blahnik Baker. Zainab is a food blogger who is working hard to finish her PhD in neuroscience. I remember those days (the PhD days, not the neuroscience); they are bittersweet like the best piece of chocolate. Part of you is thrilled by the vision of the finish line approaching, but getting there is never easy. Always harder than you anticipate.  I don’t know a single PhD candidate who at the time of the defense said “I started writing my thesis early enough, it all went smoothly”.  Nope, never. But, one way or another, we all seem to get there, and at some point forget the pain, enjoy the thrill.

Choc Chip Cookies1

FAB CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
(from Blahnik Baker)

⅔ cup old-fashioned rolled
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
⅓ cup coconut flakes
1 cup almond butter (I used coconut almond butter)
⅔ cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
⅔ cup dark chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with wax paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oats, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and coconut flakes

In another medium bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, mix the almond butter and sugar until smooth. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Reduce speed to low and add in the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined (do not over mix). Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate chips by hand.

Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop 2 tablespoon rounds of dough onto the prepared sheets.

Bake cookies for 9-11 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheet for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

CookieDough
I did not grow up eating cookies, they were not part of my family tradition. However, since moving to the US, I developed intense fondness for cookies with rolled oats.  A common American practice is to dunk cookies in milk, but I find that hard to watch. It actually makes me a little queasy, much to the amusement of one of my stepsons, who loved to tease me about it. But, the truth is that even with my anti-American stance on the dunking of a cookie, I suppose that this one would be perfect for such objectionable act.

Cookie Balls

We loved these cookies! If you don’t have coconut almond butter, use the plain type, but don’t omit the coconut flakes, they contribute a nice texture and that tropical flavor that makes these babies special and unique.

cooling

Zainab, thanks for the recipe, and good luck in this final stretch of your research, have a batch of cookies nearby, they do give a lot of energy and will make writing a tad easier. Wishful thinking?

;-)

ONE YEAR AGO: Pumpkin-Chipotle and Kale Pizza

TWO YEARS AGO: Enchiladas Suizas a la Marcela Valladolid

THREE YEARS AGO: The Little Apple

FOUR YEARS AGO: Majestic Sedona

FIVE YEARS AGO: Watermelon-induced Daze

BABY BACK RIBS WITH TOMATILLO GLAZE

Ribs are one of Phil’s favorite meals, and my default recipe has been on the blog for quite some time.  This version is different because instead of the regular barbecue sauce it calls for a tomatillo glaze. Much lighter in terms of sugar content, but very flavorful.  I actually made the exact recipe from Mary Sue Milliken a couple of years ago, but this time I tweaked it and to our taste it was close to perfection.  If you always make ribs with the red, sticky barbecue sauce, try this version for a totally different take. The tomatillos give them a brighter flavor, so get those napkins ready, and dig in!

RibsServed3_opt-2

BABY BACK RIBS WITH TOMATILLO GLAZE
(inspired by Mary Sue Milliken’s recipe)

for the dry rub:
2 racks of baby back ribs
2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large lemon, sliced
1 large lime, sliced

for the tomatillo glaze:
1 shallot, diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
10 tomatillos, husked, washed and roughly chopped
1 Serrano chile, sliced
1 large bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons maple syrup
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 325°. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Place each rack of ribs on a double layer of foil; sprinkle rub all over ribs. Wrap racks individually and divide between 2 baking sheets.

Bake ribs until very tender but not falling apart, about 3 hours. Carefully unwrap ribs; pour any juices from foil into a 4-cup heatproof measuring cup; reserve juices. Let ribs cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the tomatillo glaze: In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, saute the shallot in the olive oil until golden. Add the tomatillos and Serrano chile and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens, 30 to 45 minutes. Add the reserved rib pan juices (discard the top layer of fat) and cilantro and cook an additional 10 minutes. Puree in a blender and add the maple syrup. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring constantly and being careful not to burn. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Turn the oven heat up to 450 degrees F, or heat the grill. If finishing the ribs in the oven, brush generously with the glaze and bake another 10 minutes per side, basting with the glaze every 2 to 3 minutes. To grill, generously glaze the ribs and grill 5 minutes per side, frequently brushing with additional glaze. Cut the ribs apart and serve hot with extra glaze on the side.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

dry rub

 Ready to go into the oven, low and slow does it!

tomatillo glaze

Comments: My default recipe is similar in the overall method of cooking the ribs covered, low and slow, then adding a glaze and blasting it in a very hot oven or grill.  But usually I skip any dry rubs and simply season the ribs with salt, pepper, lemon slices on top.  I decided to change gears this time and after searching cookbooks and websites for the ultimate dry rub, I came up with this one. Not overly spicy, but if you like more heat pump up the cayenne and that should do it.

The tomatillo glaze makes the ribs shine! The recipe makes more than you’ll need for brushing during the final phase of cooking, so warm some up and enjoy with your meal.  Leftovers would pair well with a pork tenderloin or grilled boneless chicken breasts.

closeup1The meat is falling off the bone tender, the glaze is a little tangy, a little sweet, a little spicy and plenty delicious! Great recipe, definitely a perfect option for those living in the USA with the 4th of July celebrations coming up…

This post is dedicated to my Dad, who left us 11 years ago today.
He would have loved these ribs…

Papai

ONE YEAR AGO: Ten Years Ago

TWO YEARS AGO: Someone Got a Summer Shave

THREE YEARS AGO: Border Grill Margaritas

FOUR YEARS AGO:  Goodbye L.A.

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Vermont Sourdough

FORECAST CALLS FOR CAKE

A certain food blog will soon turn 6 years old.  The occasion calls for cake. After weeks of struggle, I settled on a recipe, and going over that hurdle brought a little peace into our home.  Friday night we were having dinner out and Phil asked me if I was ready to bake “the cake.” He asked me to repeat my answer on camera, and since I am fearless,  that’s what I did. 

He sent me the file by email with the subject: Famous Last Words…  HA! We shall see….

SEAFOOD GRATIN FOR A SPECIAL DINNER

Phil’s brother spent last weekend with us to play some golf and relax (forgive the oxymoron). I did not join them because I am a woman of principle and will not set foot on a golf course until the temperature reaches a comfortable level. For the record, that means above 80 F.  With no excessive wind because that messes my  accuracy with the driver, some irons, and the putter. What can I say? My game is one of exquisite precision. Instead of shivering and getting drenched on the course, I stayed in our kitchen preparing a special dinner for the gentlemen.  I chose a recipe from Ina Garten, which is a bit of an unusual move for me, I find most of her recipes overly rich.  This was no exception, but once in a blue moon it’s ok to indulge. Especially when  we have a wonderful guest to share it with!

Seafood Gratin

SEAFOOD GRATIN
(slightly modified from Ina Garten)

1 cup clam juice (I used homemade shrimp stock)
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup plus 3 tbsp. white wine divided (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
3 tbsp. tomato puree
1 lb. jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
8-ounces raw cod, cut into 1-inch chunks
16 oz. cooked lobster meat, cut into 1-inch chunks
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 cup thinly sliced leeks, white and green parts
1 cup peeled, shredded carrots
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. minced fresh parsley

Combine the shrimp stock (or clam juice), cream, white wine and tomato puree in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and add the shrimp.  Let cook 1-2 minutes, until pink and opaque.  Remove to a medium bowl with a slotted spoon.  Add the pieces of cod to the stock mixture until just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.  Remove to the same plate with the shrimp using a slotted spoon. Add the cooked lobster to the bowl.

Continue to cook the sauce until reduced by half, about 12 minutes.  Combine 1 tablespoon of the butter in a small bowl with the flour and mash together with a fork.  Whisk the butter-flour mixture with the salt and pepper into the sauce and continue to simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Set aside.

In a medium sauté pan melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat.  Add the leeks and carrots and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened.  Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of wine and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Cook for 5 minutes more.

Add the cream sauce and cooked vegetables to the bowl with the seafood and toss to blend well.  Divide the mixture between individual gratin dishes.  If not baking right away, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

When you are ready to bake the gratins, heat the oven to 375˚ F.  Place the filled gratin dishes on a baking sheet.  Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in a small bowl.  Add the Panko, parmesan, parsley and garlic to the bowl and toss with a fork to combine.  Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the prepared gratins.  Bake 20 minutes, until the top is browned and bubbling.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

mixture

Several pointers for success in this recipe: use jumbo or very large shrimp, and cook them briefly in the mixture of heavy cream and white wine.  They will bake later and you don’t want your seafood overcooked. Same is true for the fish, choose a fish with firm white flash, cod or halibut will both word well. If you can splurge, sea bass would be amazing, but when I saw the price of those, I could not bring myself to grab some.  Use any method you like for the lobster tails. I almost went with sous-vide, but in the end simmered them in a little lemony water.  The secret of cooking seafood is to never boil the liquid too hard. They are delicate creatures that will tighten on you and turn rubbery very easily.

I had home-made shrimp stock frozen, and in my opinion that worked much better than bottled clam juice. Great that I remembered having that liquid gold in the freezer. And, what’s even better, it was properly labeled! HA!

This is a perfect dish to entertain, because you can assemble the whole thing in advance and do the final baking while you prepare any side dishes of your choice.  I served it with a bucatini in olive oil with lemon zest, very simple. And roasted asparagus. Dessert was a duo of sorbets, chocolate and raspberry, both recipes should be on the blog in the near future. Ok, near future is a relative term when it comes to my posts. But hang in there, patience will pay off.

;-)

ONE YEAR AGO: Cooking Sous-Vide: Sweet and Spicy Asian Pork Loin

TWO YEARS AGO:  Farewell to a Bewitching Kitchen

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen. June 2012

FOUR YEARS AGO: Goodbye L.A.

FIVE YEARS AGO: 7-6-5 Pork Tenderloin

CHOCOLATE TOFFEE BANANA BREAD

I’ve been on a banana bread kick lately, trying some recipes that appeal to me because they have some unexpected twist, some intriguing component. Like this one that pairs a regular, well-behaved banana bread formula with toffee and chocolate. Banana, toffee, and chocolate. A trilogy not to be messed with. I found the recipe during a session of Pinterest surfing, saved it to my cooking board  and now that it’s been tried and thoroughly enjoyed, I share it with you!  Am I nice or am I nice? You decide.

BananaToffeeBread

CHOCOLATE TOFFEE BANANA BREAD
(recipe from The Weary Chef)

3 ripe bananas
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1½ cup all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray  a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, mash bananas. Stir in eggs, oil, and brown sugar until smooth.

Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, and stir just until dry ingredients are incorporated. Stir in toffee and chocolate chips until mixed in evenly.

Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake 45-55 minutes, checking at 45 minutes. Bread is done when edges are brown and toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.

Carefully remove loaf from pan to cool on a wire rack before cutting.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

BananaBread Served

Comments:  I think that nothing perfumes the kitchen more intensely than a banana bread baking in the oven. They say that to increase the chances of selling a home, one should bake cinnamon rolls or an apple pie right before showing it, but I suspect that banana bread would work even better. The smell is intoxicatingly delicious…

The original recipe from Andi’s site called for chocolate covered toffee bars chopped in pieces, but I went with a 50:50 mixture of butterscotch and chocolate chunks from Trader Joe’s.  The butterscotch chips were barely noticeable in the crumb of the banana bread, but their flavor… definitely there.  This was a very moist and tender banana loaf, well-received by our colleagues from the department.   I am sure it will please all the banana bread lovers out there, so give it a try, even if your house is not in the market…

;-)

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, June 2014

TWO YEARS AGO:  Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

THREE YEARS AGO: Baked Coconut and “The Brazilian Kitchen”

FOUR YEARS AGO: Honey-Glazed Chicken Legs

FIVE YEARS AGO: French-Style Rolls

YELLOW SQUASH SOUP

I generally dislike negativism, although admittedly I am not a very optimistic person.  I try to hide it well, though, and keep my assessment of everything that will might go wrong to myself. HOWEVER, the weather lately has pushed me to a dangerous edge, so I shall pout, whine, complain and be generally unpleasant to fellow human beings.  We have rain, then thunderstorms, then more rain. When there’s no rain, we have cloudy skies.  The temperature rarely reaches 75 F, but when that happens I am expected to be cheerful, walk around smiling. Not happening.  Given the bizarre meteorological situation I’m stuck with, I am blogging on soup. Soup. Hot and soothing. In May. I know, pitiful.

Yellow Squash Soup11
YELLOW SQUASH SOUP WITH TARRAGON AND LEMON
(slightly modified from Fer’s site Chucrute com Salsicha)

2 large yellow squash, cut in chunks
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves, minced
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup heavy cream
dash of nutmeg
fresh chives for decoration

Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan, add the shallots and saute until translucent. Add the pieces of squash and cook for 7 to 10 minutes in medium heat.  Season lightly with salt and pepper.  Add the tarragon, chicken stock, and lemon juice.  Mix well, cover the pan and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.  Off the heat, add the heavy cream and nutmeg, transfer the mixture to a blender and process until smooth.  Alternatively, you can reserve some of the pieces of squash to add later, for texture.

Serve right away with chives (or fresh tarragon) on top.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: For those who don’t know, Fer is a Brazilian food blogger who’s been living in the US probably as long or even longer than me. She was also my number one inspiration to start the Bewitching Kitchen, so it feels special to blog about a recipe from her site… Fer shared a post about this soup not too long ago, but my intention was to make it in the fall, when the weather would be more appropriate for it.  However,  the universe conspired against me.  We are at the end of the month of May.  I’ve been unable to wear shorts or flip-flops. End of May.  I had to bring a jacket from storage on more than one occasion. I wore boots three times this month. So there you have it, Yellow Squash Soup for lunch.  At least I can testify that it’s delicious!  This soup will be a regular appearance at our kitchen, and in my next time – when October comes – I intend to use coconut milk instead of heavy cream, just because I think it will be awesome that way too.  If you are faced with adverse meteorological conditions, make this soup, it is bright yellow like the sun that should be shinning outside.

cartoon-calvin-grumpy

Note added after publication…. because I have great friends, I share with you a better cartoon sent to me by the one and only Gary…  yeap, that summarizes it all much better

unnamed-23

ONE YEAR AGO: Grilled Chicken with Tamarind and Coconut Glaze

TWO YEARS AGO: Chicken-Apricot Skewers

THREE YEARS AGO:  Asparagus Quiche

FOUR YEARS AGO: Two-stage Pea and Prosciutto Risotto

FIVE YEARS AGO: Mellow Bakers: Corn Bread

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: LAMB MEATBALLS WITH TOASTED ORZO

When I was 13 years old I could not WAIT to turn 18. It took forever, but as you may have noticed, I made it. Now that I feel like setting the brakes on time, days pass flying by, turn into weeks, months, so here we are at the end of May, and I find myself with quite a few years added to those eighteen. Unreal. Anyway, the last Monday of May brings with it the formidable joy of Reveal Day from The Secret Recipe Club.  If you don’t already know about it, a food blogger is paired with another one in secret, has about a month to pick a recipe and cook from it, then the whole group blogs about their chosen dish at the exact same time.  Nothing is cooler than this, you must admit. I was paired this month with Life on Food, hosted by Emily, a 31-year-old woman with stunning blue eyes and a food blog that is a stalker’s dream! She’s been blogging since 2008, and her index of recipes is quite extensive. At first I decided to make something sweet, and almost settled on her Blackberry Oat  Muffins.  But then, I flirted with Carrot Cake Pancakes and with Pistachio Dark Chocolate Toffee.  Not sure what happened to my sweet tooth, but the outcome was nevertheless perfect:  a fantastic dish of juicy meatballs laying on top of toasted orzo. Life on Food means life is good!

LambMeatballs

LAMB MEATBALLS WITH TOASTED ORZO
(slightly modified from Life on Food)

1 quart chicken stock
2 slices white bread, crusts trimmed
Milk, for soaking
1 pound ground lamb
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon grated onion
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 lemon, juiced, plus 2 tsp zest
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper
olive oil, for drizzling
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup orzo
3 cups fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta

Heat the oven to 400 degrees . In a medium saucepan, heat the chicken stock over low heat; keep warm. In a small bowl, soak the bread in the milk.

In a large bowl, combine the lamb and egg. Wring out any excess milk from the soaked bread and crumble the bread into the meat. Stir in 1/4 cup parsley, onion, garlic, lemon zest, oregano, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Drizzle with olive oil; mix. Roll the mixture into 20 meatballs and arrange on a nonstick or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until browned, 15 to 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the orzo and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in a few ladles of the warm stock and allow it to absorb before adding more. Keep adding stock a little at a time and cook until the orzo is al dente.

Stir in the spinach to heat through in the last-minute of cooking. Remove from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice and feta. Serve the orzo in shallow bowls. Top with the meatballs and remaining 1/4 cup parsley.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

composite

Comments: In the opening paragraph of her post on this recipe, Emily says… I plan my meals, snacks, grocery lists days in advance.  I don’t want to be unprepared. Currently I have only about 2 cups worth of flour. I want to make muffins that require 3 cups. I am stressed.  That gave me such a big smile, because I am exactly the same way. With the added quirk of often forgetting what I have hidden deep inside in the pantry, so I “think” I have only a cup of flour, but two unopened bags will be found when I bring yet another from the store. I never fail to amaze myself.

This was a great meal, my main change was to use a gluten-free bread which I had in the freezer begging to be used up. The bread was made with almond flour and some ground nuts, I thought it would go nicely with the lamb meatballs, and indeed it worked well.  The toasted orzo was super creamy, more like a risotto with all the starch of the pasta as part of the sauce.  It did not take that long to cook, we like our orzo very al dente. 

Emily, I hope you had a great time with your assignment!  And, as usual, I invite my readers to go poke a blue frog. Said frog will take you to a collection of goodies made by my fellow friends on The Secret Recipe Club for today’s reveal day…

ONE YEAR AGO: Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars

TWO YEARS AGO: Penne with Trapanese Pesto

THREE YEARS AGO: Superman

FOUR YEARS AGO: Spring Pasta

FIVE YEARS AGO: Ice Cream Melts for Mango