“Mrs. Fields” Chocolate Chip Cookies

Posted: April 30th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Cookies, Dessert, Vegetarian | 4 Comments »

Chocolate chip cookies, fresh out of the oven.

Everyone has a chocolate chip cookie recipe. This is mine. I have no idea if it’s actually Mrs. Fields’ recipe or not. The original recipe is scrawled in my 2nd grade penmanship; I brought it home from school one day. Its source has long since been forgotten, though I often wonder which Monte Vista Elementary School mom (or dad?) bestowed it upon me. Since I have been making these cookies basically forever, this recipe plays a crucial role in my culinary education. And, I must say, they are delicious.

Astonishingly, the original recipe makes about 100 cookies. I normally halve it for 50 cookies (plus what I eat from the dough). You could halve it again and it would be just fine. Below is the recipe for 50 cookies.

“Mrs. Fields” Chocolate Chip Cookies

INGREDIENTS

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups flour
2 1/2 cups oatmeal
1 12-oz. package chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Cream the butter, sugars, and vanilla with a mixer until fluffy.
  3. Add eggs. Mix well.
  4. Add salt, baking powder, baking soda, flour. Mix well.
  5. Put the 2 1/2 cups oatmeal into the blender and whiz it till it’s ground like flour. Add to the dough and mix well. It should be pretty thick at this point.
  6. Add chocolate chips and mix with a wooden spoon until thoroughly incorporated.

    Nothing quite like cookie dough.

    Be sure to sample the dough liberally along the way.

  7. Roll into balls and place on a cookie sheet.

    Doughballs.

    Make them about this big.

  8. Bake one sheet at a time for about 9 minutes, or until the peaks of the cookies are just getting golden brown but the rest of the cookie is still light and looks uncooked (it should still be shiny).
  9. Remove from oven and let cool on the cookie pan for 5 minutes. Transfer to wire cooling rack. (Cookies will fall apart if you try to transfer them sooner.)
  10. And try not to eat all of them at once like I always do.


Dainty Cucumber Sandwiches (for a proper tea time)

Posted: April 29th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Dairy-free, Sandwiches, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: | 2 Comments »

I have a group of friends that loves throwing fancy picnics, and consequently I have found it necessary to learn how to make cucumber sandwiches. Last weekend I brought a batch of them to a lovely ladies-only picnic in Dolores Park. We played croquet, drank beer out of tiny teacups and gorged on strawberries, Cowgirl Creamery cheese, and of course itsy bitsy sandwiches with the crusts cut off (including startlingly delicious combinations like spam and eggs). All in all a wonderful afternoon.

A ladies' picnic
Photo by Rachel Bunkers-Harmes

Croquet in the park
Our fearless leader, Jane Davis, takes a shot. Photo by Rachel Bunkers-Harmes

There are many different variations on cucumber sandwiches, but I opted for a very simple version. I find the simplicity of flavors delightful! I pulled together this recipe for cucumber sandwiches from several sources on the internet, though I have long since lost them (sorry!). The key to cucumber sandwiches is timing. You can’t make them more than a half-hour ahead of time or they’ll get soggy.

Dainty Cucumber Sandwiches

Dainty Cucumber Sandwiches (for a proper tea time)

INGREDIENTS

1 loaf white bread – I like Orowheat Country Potato for its slight buttery flavor (though it’s actually vegan)
1 large cucumber, peeled
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 stick of salted butter, room temperature – you can use Earth Balance if you’re vegan.

DIRECTIONS

  1. An hour and a half before you want to serve the sandwiches, pull the butter out of the fridge so it warms to room temperature. In a non-reactive (ceramic) bowl, mix the vinegar and the salt together. Slice the peeled cucumber very thinly and toss it with the vinegar/salt mix. Let it marinate for 1 hour, tossing occasionally.

    Marinating the cucumbers

  2. Drain and rinse the cucumber slices. In a single layer, place them on paper towels to soak up the excess moisture, patting the tops dry.
  3. Butter one side of the bread. Evenly distribute cucumber rounds in a single layer on top. Place a second slice of bread on top of that. Cut off crusts. Cut the remaining rectangle in half, then cut each of the halves diagonally. Each sandwich will produce four perfect triangles.
  4. Arrange artfully on a tray and serve to your most proper friends at tea time. Secretly devour the crusts when they’re not looking.

A Pantry Dinner – Orzo with Sausage, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts

Posted: April 28th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Dairy-free, Pasta | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

I know, I know, it’s been way too long since I’ve posted. I’ve been busy, broke, and a bit fooded-out to be honest. I promise I have a few more posts up my sleeve, coming soon! To whet your appetite, here’s a dinner I made a couple of weeks ago but never got around to posting.

Something I like to do when I only have pantry staples lying around is put together a grain or pasta with whatever jarred/canned/bulk things I have lying around. Usually it’s got a bit of a Mediterranean nature — Italy, Greece, the Middle East, whatever. Couscous or orzo or rice or spiral pasta. Sun-dried tomatoes (always sundried tomatoes). Whatever meat I’ve got lying around, usually sausage or bacon. Pine nuts. An aromatic or two, like shallots, onions, or garlic. Fresh veggies if I have them, particularly mushrooms or red bell peppers. Maybe some chickpeas. Everything but the grain goes in the skillet with some olive oil, salt & pepper, maybe some other spices, then it’s all mixed together with the cooked grain. Maybe toss in some feta or parmesan if that’s what floats your boat. Dinner!

Pantry Dinner - Orzo

Here’s one take on this theme. Ingredients are all approximate.

Orzo with Sausage, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Pine Nuts

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cup dry orzo pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil – you can decrease this significantly if you wish
2 medium shallots, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced or smashed
2 sausages (I used Niman Ranch Italian Sweet sausages), cut into rounds, and then each round in half
1/3 cup pine nuts
2/3 of a 9 oz jar of sundried tomatoes, oil drained (or add a bit of it — it’s very tasty!)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
generous splash of vodka
pinch oregano
salt & pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Start boiling some water for your pasta.
  2. Dry roast pine nuts over medium heat until golden brown. Keep an eye on them — they burn fast!. Set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil. Sautee shallots till translucent.
  4. Add garlic, sautee 30 seconds
  5. Add sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, salt, pepper, oregano, stir till mixed. Cook a bit till the sausage is heated through (I get the fully cooked kind, so I don’t have to worry about whether it’s going to kill me or not).
  6. Add tomato paste, stir till everthing is covered. Here’s a trick: You know how recipes only ever call for one or two tablespoons of tomato paste and you end up wasting the rest of that little can? Next time, line an ice cube tray with plastic wrap, then dole out 1 tablespoon portions of tomato paste into each hole. Freeze, and transfer to a freezer-safe bag. 1 tablespoon portions of tomato paste, ready to go!
  7. Add vodka, stir till absorbed and/or evaporated. A bit of alcohol “unlocks” some of the flavor compounds in tomatoes that aren’t otherwise accessible (source). That’s why your grandpa always throws some wine into his pasta sauce.
  8. At this point, your pasta water should be boiling. Add orzo and cook according to the directions on the package — usually about 8 minutes. Drain.
  9. Mix everything together. Toss some feta in if you have it. Serve! Yum.

Mmm, Bacon Brittle!

Posted: April 1st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Dessert, Other | Tags: | 1 Comment »

The other day, I had the pleasure of dining at Nopa with Edrabbit, Violet Blue (NSFW), and JNA. Ed and I are lucky enough to live just a few blocks away from this place, which has amazing food & drink, friendly (and beautiful!) staff, and a great atmosphere. When it got to be dessert time, I had one look at the menu and knew what I had to get: the honey skillet bread, whiskey-praline ice cream, and bacon brittle. The bacon brittle was really the standout here. Many people thought my pecan-bacon lace cookies were bacon brittle. No, THIS is bacon brittle:


Photo by Violet Blue

They did it right. Thick and sticky but still crisp–just like peanut brittle–but chockablock with delightfully crispy bacon bits instead of nuts. This stuff was perfect– and after it’d melted in the ice cream a bit, it got even better! Now I want to try my hand at it! And also go back to Nopa again while this is still on the menu. Next time, I’ll save more room for dessert. Mmm…


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