DOUBLE CHOCOLATE AND MINT COOKIES

If you type “chocolate cookie recipe” in a Google search you’ll get over  2 million hits in return. Two million. How many recipes for chocolate cookies does the world need?  Nobody knows.  Since in my humble food blog I only have 13 cookie recipes, of which less than half involve chocolate, I need to catch up.  Here is one more for  you,  no chocolate chips, just good old melted chocolate, cocoa powder, and pieces of chocolate mint candy, such as Andes.  By the way, did you know that Andes mints originated in Chicago in the 1920’s and were originally named Andy’s Mints? It turns out that the owners of the company quickly realized that men did not care to give their partners a candy with another guy’s name on the box. So, instead of honoring its creator, Andrew Kanelos, Andy’s became Andes, and now we have a chocolate mint that is not too far away from celebrating its 100th Birthday.  The distinguished candy works well in this recipe from Giada de Laurentiis.

Chocolate Mint Cookies

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE AND MINT COOKIES
(from Giada de Laurentiis)

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
One 5-ounce package chocolate mint thins, such as Andes, each cut into thirds
.
Heat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
.
In a small bowl, combine the bittersweet chocolate and butter. Place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Allow it to cool for 5 minutes.
.
In a medium bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, 2 tablespoons water and vanilla extract. Gradually add the dry ingredients. Fold in the cooled chocolate. Stir in the chocolate mint pieces. Chill the dough 10 minutes to firm slightly.
.
Using 1/4 cup measuring cup, drop 6 mounds of batter onto each prepared sheet, spacing evenly apart. Bake the cookies for a total of 18 to 20 minutes, until slightly puffed and dry-looking with some small cracks on top.
.
Cool the cookies completely on sheets.
.
ENJOY!
 .
to print the recipe, click here
.
Mint is an interesting flavor. I think most people like it, but when someone doesn’t care for it, it’s a bit like cilantro. Intense hate. I wish I could tell you whether the mint flavor is too strong in these cookies, but I didn’t have a single one.  I baked them during my lunch break, took them still warm to the department, but when I went back to grab one, only crumbs were staring at me from the platter.  However, according to one of our graduate students, the mint component was pretty mild.  Two pointers for success from watching Giada’s show: first, keep the pieces of the Andes candies on the large side, because that makes them melt in your mouth as you bite into the cookie.  Second, cool the dough before baking.  The recipe uses relatively little flour, so cooling is needed to be able to scoop them out nicely.
cookies2
With this post Google has one more chocolate cookie to share with those desperately searching for it. Mission accomplished.
 .

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, December 2013

TWO YEARS AGO: Sourdough Mini-Rolls

CHICKEN MARSALA MEATBALLS WITH MUSHROOM SAUCE

I rarely buy ground chicken, opting for ground turkey instead, but this time I followed the recipe exactly as designed by Giada in a recent show on FoodTV.  The chicken meatballs can be  prepared many hours in advance and kept in the fridge, uncooked. Or you can cook them, make the sauce, and re-heat everything together when you want to serve  dinner.  The mushroom sauce is a perfect complement, all that’s needed is a starchy side to soak it all up.  On her show, she suggested egg noodles.  I went with a golden cauliflower puree and green beans. Now, on a tangent, can I share a little pet peeve of mine? I get a bit irritated when people use “compliment” when they actually mean “complement”. I know, English is not my first language, who am I to point the finger, when I make mistakes on a daily basis?  But still…  the compliment thing annoys me to no end.  A compliment is a flattering remark, a complement complements. The mushrooms are not having a conversation with the meatballs saying “wow, you look gorgeous today!”…  Ok, stepping off my soap box. Back to cooking. 😉

Pork Meatballs

CHICKEN MARSALA MEATBALLS IN MUSHROOM SAUCE
(slightly modified from Giada de Laurentiis)

1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons almond milk, room temperature
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon Marsala wine
1 pound ground white meat chicken
1/4 cup grated pecorino, plus extra for serving
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 large shallot, minced
1 teaspoon cepes powder (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons flour
1 cup chicken broth (slightly more if sauce seems too thick)
 .

In a large bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, almond milk and 1 tablespoon Marsala. Leave it soaking for 5 minutes.  Add the chicken, pecorino, egg, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper. Gently mix together the ingredients until just combined. Form the mixture into tablespoon-size balls and place on an oiled baking sheet. Broil for 5 minutes, or until the meatballs are beginning to brown and are just barely cooked through. Flip them around and broil the other side for a few more minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside.
.
In a straight-sided skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mushrooms are brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the shallots, the cepes powder, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook for another 2 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and stir in the flour and the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the 1/3 cup Marsala and stir until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the chicken broth and simmer for a few minutes. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for an additional 5 minutes to let the flavors blend, under very low heat.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

composite

Comments:  We both loved this meal!  One of the important tips for success is handling the meatballs as softly as possible. Wet your hands if you prefer, form the balls and do not pack them tightly, or you might compromise the texture.  I used regular mushrooms, but cremini or a mixture or wild mushrooms could be great.  Of course, having that special cepes powder to splurge only added a touch of sophistication to the meal.  A little bit goes a long way, the smell is terrific!  I know that it is a very unique ingredient I was lucky to receive as a gift, but even without it this will be a delicious meal.

served

I was pleasantly surprised by how well the yellow color of the golden cauliflower was preserved during cooking and mashing.  Shockingly yellow, like a burst of sun in the middle of the plate…

ONE YEAR AGO: PCR and a Dance in the Mind Field

TWO YEARS AGO: October 16th: World Bread Day!

THREE YEARS AGO: San Francisco Sourdough

FOUR YEARS AGO:  A Real Oscar Winner   (Oscar joins our home!)

FIVE YEARS AGO: Pane Siciliano

BLUEBERRY-BANANA BREAD

Back when my site was a young baby, I blogged about one of the greatest classics in American cooking, the banana bread. I had no idea that a few months down the line, that recipe would be part of a fun quest to find the world’s best banana bread, and what’s even more amazing, it tied for first place! To me, that matter was solved. No need to even bother trying another recipe. Then, on a quiet Saturday morning, while checking FoodTV episodes taped during the previous week, I saw Giada cheerfully making a blueberry banana loaf. Blueberries and bananas, baked together until the blueberries get all soft and intensely sweet… I decided that my blog can handle a second take on a classic, especially one with a purple twist! 😉

readyBLUEBERRY-BANANA BREAD
(from Giada de Laurentiis)
.
Butter, for greasing the loaf pan
1 + 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the loaf pan
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 ripe bananas, mashed (about 3/4 cup of mashed banana)
1 cup (about 4 ounces) fresh blueberries
.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9- by 5- by 3-inch loaf pan. Set aside. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla until blended. Stir in the bananas and blueberries. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.
.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool for 15 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack, about 2 hours.
.
ENJOY!
.
to print the recipe, click here
.

slicerow2.
Comments
:  I decided to make this loaf around 9pm on a Monday night.  It was a dark and stormy night… ooops, no, that’s the beginning of a bad novel…   It was actually a nice and warm summer night, but one in which I had to be in the lab at midnight to get some bacteria growing for an experiment early next day.   I wanted to make sure I would  not fall asleep in the middle of a Law and Order episode, and baking definitely gets my adrenaline going.  Side benefit?  Taking banana bread to the department, to make the life of the early birds a little sweeter…    😉
.

closeup2
This banana bread (or cake, or loaf, whatever you want to call it) is a breeze to make! I followed Giada’s advice and did not even use the electric mixer, was left with only a whisk plus two bowls to clean.  Awesome!

ONE YEAR AGO: Busy Times (one year since we moved our lab to KSU!)

TWO YEARS AGO: Oriental-Style Turkey Patties

THREE YEARS AGO: Sourdough English Muffins

FOUR YEARS AGO: Kaiser Rolls

CHICKEN PARMIGIANA, THE THRILLER

Phil doesn’t like to mess with a classic.  He’s got his favorite pancake recipe,  the oven-fried chicken with buttermilk biscuits and gravy, the Thanksgiving turkey, and the potato dumplings that his Grandma used to make.  And, he is also adamant about my chicken parmigiana, which he professes to be “the best he’s ever had”. That’s why it took me so long to try Giada’s version, a streamlined, lightened up approach to this American-Italian goodie.  I tried to hide my game, but he saw some of the regular actors in the plot: chicken breast filets, mozzarella cheese, and my tomato sauce simmering on top of the stove.  He opened his brightest smile: “We are having chicken Parmigiana! YEAAAAH!”    I  replied with a sheepish smile:  “Well, sort of, it’s a kind of Parmigiana, yes, but not really, maybe almost Parmigiana, but not quite.  We’ll see if we like it.”   Silence.  A slight shudder of the shoulder, which I could not help but notice.  His body language went more or less like “Why would she do this to me?”  Why? For the simple thrill of it, of course! 😉

First, you must make your own tomato sauce, using good quality canned tomatoes.  I saute’ a little shallot in olive oil until fragrant, season with salt and red pepper flakes, add the tomatoes and some dried thyme, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Then I use an immersion blender to turn it into a smooth sauce.

Next, you need to make a little seasoned oil.  I used thyme from my friend Cindy’s garden (yet another gift from my very thoughtful friend), and rosemary from our own plant here in Manhattan. Chop them finely, and add to the oil with a little salt. And freshly ground black pepper.

Brush the chicken cutlets on both sides with the oil, keep in the fridge for half an hour or so, if you have the time. If not, move on to the next step.

Sautee the cutlets in a very hot skillet with just a tiny coating of olive oil.  Once both sides are nicely golden, pour some  tomato sauce around and over the chicken.  Cover the pan and simmer gently for a few minutes.  Uncover, add grated mozzarella cheese on top of the meat, cover the pan again and bake on a 400F oven for 10 minutes.
Open the lid, turn the broiler on for a little while if you like your cheese to get a nice tan. It’s not mandatory, though… at this point, you have already reached the desired level of yumminess.

Serve with some spaghetti with your home-made tomato sauce, sprinkle Parmigiano cheese on top, and   ENJOY!

For Giada’s recipe, follow this link…

Comments:  When I make my own version of this dish,  I often omit the cheese in some pieces.  I tried it with this recipe (you might be able to notice one small piece of cheese-less chicken on the first photo), but I advise against it. In this particular preparation, the cheese will act as an important blanket for the cutlets that otherwise will be a bit dry.  What I love the most about this recipe is how easy it was to make it.  No need to have those three trays with breadcrumbs, flour, eggwash, and the result is quite a bit lighter but still delicious.  The herb oil adds a lot of flavor, don’t omit this step, and feel free to experiment with other spices and flavorings. Will it be the default Parmigiana in our home?  I doubt it, but it’s definitely a great option for those evenings that pop up right at the end of a hectic day at work.  😉

One more thing before I forget:  the pan I use is a Giada cast iron dish sold by Target.  I cannot believe I’m saying this, but I like it better than Le Creuset.  It is a lot cheaper, it works just as well, and the cleanup is a breeze!  My Le Creusets got stained from the first use, and never cleaned well, even using diluted bleach.  Giada’s pan still looks brand new, after many  encounters with tomatoes, red wine, and soy based sauces.  No, I don’t work for Target, and have no personal links to Giada.  In fact, I have never accepted  freebies from companies to write a review.  I only endorse stuff I love.  And I love, love, love this pan!  😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Wild Mushroom Risotto

TWO YEARS AGO: Tartine Bread:  Basic Country Loaf
(one of my most popular posts!)

THREE YEARS AGO:  Pugliese Bread

NUTELLA DROP COOKIES

Growing up as a picky eater, small and skinny, my Mom used to keep a jar of Nutella around because if nothing else, she knew I would not be able to resist its calling. I would hit that jar several times a day, with a small spoon and a big smile.  It didn’t make me tall and voluptuous, but I was hooked …

Of course, I now respect Nutella’s caloric content:  nuts, chocolate, and sugar,  a deliciously dangerous combo. The big jar sits in the pantry, waiting for a  reason to come out and play, like in these cookies that Giada made a few months ago.  They remind me of snickerdoodles with a suntan. 😉
NUTELLA DROP COOKIES
(from Giada de Laurentiis)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 cup Nutella, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar (for rolling the cookies: optional)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat type liners.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar  (1/4 cup) on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. With the machine running on low speed, gradually add the flour until incorporated. Beat in the Nutella. Using a small cookie scoop or a tablespoon, drop small balls of dough onto each baking sheet. Bake until the bottoms of the cookies flatten out slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

If you want to sugar-coat the cookies, place 1 cup of powdered sugar in a medium bowl, and roll the cookies in the sugar until coated. Alternatively, you can add the sugar to a sieve and sprinkle some on the surface of the cookies once they are cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

If you read the many reviews of this recipe in the FoodTV website, you’ll notice not everyone fell in love with it. I suspect it’s all related to how long you bake these cookies: under-baking is the key, or they’ll be too hard and dry.

I liked the simplicity of the recipe,  very few ingredients, quick to put together and bake.  But the best is that it gave me the chance to use for the first time my brand new cookie dough dispenser – loved it!

ONE YEAR AGO:  Dreaming of butternut squash

TWO YEARS AGO: Simply Elegant: Salmon Curry (one of my very favorite dishes!)

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

CARROT AND SWEET POTATO PUREE

Potato puree is comfort food “par excellence”. One of my favorite menus on a chilly evening is braised short ribs served over mashed potatoes (I gained about 3 pounds just by typing that sentence! 😉 ) Sometimes I crave that type of side dish, but I’d be happier with a lighter caloric load.

Giada de Laurentiis devised a perfect alternative during her “Light and Fabulous” menu, that paired broiled tilapia filets with a creamy puree of carrots and yams. You can find the recipes for that episode here. The puree has a beautiful, bright orange color, and its taste complements many main dishes.

CARROT AND SWEET POTATO PUREE
(adapted from Giada de Laurentiis)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
2 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
2 cups water

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a saucepan. Add the shallot and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the carrots, sweet potatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook for 5 minutes until slightly softened. Add the stock and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the veggies are tender, about 25 minutes. Drain the veggies, saving the cooking liquid. Transfer them to a food processor, and puree until still slightly chunky, adding some of the cooking liquid, until you reach the consistency you like. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Our grocery had sweet potatoes, but not yams, so that’s what I used. Next time I’ll add a touch of ginger to the puree, because it goes so well with sweet potatoes. Maybe a little orange zest too? But even without these additional touches, this puree was an excellent side dish for our grilled, butterflied pork tenderloin. Something about eating bright colored food instantly makes me feel healthy. This puree tastes good, it’s not too heavy, and it gives that  feeling of happy satisfaction at the end of the meal.

Want to make it even faster on a weeknight? Cut the veggies in the morning before work, and save them in the fridge. Small details make life a lot easier when you return home  feeling a little spent. 😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Impromptu Pasta Dinner

 

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine