Saturday, August 4, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is my go-to recipe for chocolate chip cookies.  It is from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything."  I really just love this recipe, although there are definitely other good ones out there.  I usually add nuts and you can add just about a cup of anything (dried cranberries, coconut, nuts, etc.).

Here is your cast of ingredients:

Here's how you make these buttery sugary little monsters!

Place oven racks at lowest and highest positions.  Preheat oven to 375 Fahrenheit.
Add 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 3/4 cup brown sugar to your trusty mixer.  Oh and yes, two sticks of softened unsalted butter.

Mix on high until light and fluffy (several minutes... at least 5)... I LOVE this part of making these... it is so luscious!  So creamy!  I can't deal. (OK sorry just had to get that out of my system!)  Oh and then add the eggs and mix those in too.

OK now, mix your dry ingredients together.  That would be 2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. baking soda.  At this point it is good, if you are willing, to stir in the dry ingredients by hand. Yes, I have cheated many times and used the mixer for this, but it is a little more delicate, better, more satisfying, to do it the long way... and it doesn't take that long, really.  so just add a bit of the flour mixture at a time and stir it in.

Then add one tsp of vanilla extract.  Stir that in.  Then add the chocolate chips.  The recipe calls for 2 cups but that is usually a little chocolate heavy for me, but I am weird with this probably... I use 1 cup of choc chips and 1 cup nuts... do what you want OK?  If you love chocolate, add 2 cups.  If you love nuts, add a cup (or more) of those too... once you have the base, you can really just put in anything.

Spoon by tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets and bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes or so, switching cookie sheet positions half way through.   Cool on racks.

Eat warm.  Eat with milk. Eat with tea.  Eat after lunch, after dinner, in bed, in the bathtub, don't leave them out when you are at work and your husband is home! :)


Blender Pesto

Pesto is summer and summer is not summer without pesto.  Pesto and sweet corn.  It reminds me of home, childhood, of warm nights, crickets, open windows.  I made pesto recently by the mortar pestle method and that was REALLY REALLY good, but more work.  There are so many recipes for pesto.  Some have pancetta, some have walnuts, some have butter.  This one is a bit richer than others, but so good.  Although this calls for a blender, I use the food processor, I find it much easier (my blender is old and pretty lame)...


2 cups fresh basil leaves (packed)
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbs. pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed with a heavy knife handle and peeled
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs. freshly grated Romano pecorino cheese
3 Tbs. butter, softened to room temperature

I used a mix of green and purple basil from the garden (pretty yes?)

You want to tear up all but the smallest leaves into pieces, but use care not to crush the basil. 

Put basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic cloves, and salt in the blender or processor and mix at high speed until evenly blended, scraping down sides with spatula as needed.

It will look creamy green olive oily and deliciousssssss!


At this point, pour it into a bowl and gently mix in the grated cheese by hand. 

Then beat in the softened butter.

Before spooking the pesto over pasta, add a tablespoon or so of the hot water in which the pasta has boiled.  My favorite pastas to use with pesto: Rotini, Penne, or Orecchiette.  Especially with the Orecciette, a really nice addition is some toasted pine nuts.  Also, my dad was saying lately he has been adding some potatoes and green beans to the pasta, which he cooks in the same water.  I think this sounds delicious and plan to try it.  Also I used this pesto the other night on homemade pizza, with some fresh colorful tomatoes from a local farm, mozzarella, and topped it with some fresh basil leaves.  This was AMAZING.  YUM. 

Note on mortar pesto: same ingredients.  Use a marble mortar and wooden pestle.  In this order:

1.  Put basil, pine nuts, garlic, and a pinch of coarse salt in and using a rotary movement, grind the ingredients against the side of the mortar, crushing with the pestle (this takes some patience!)

2.  Once ground into a paste, add both grated cheeses and continue to grind until mixture is evenly blended.

3.  Put aside the pestle.  Shir olive oil in, a few drops at a time at first, beating it into the mixture with a wooden spoon.  Then beat in the butter with the spoon.


Cauliflower, Garlic and Oil Pasta

 I promised this recipe to my aunt, Becky weeks ago... Sorry Becks!  Here it is finally.  This dish feels so substantial and meaty even though it is vegetarian (well, except for the anchovies)... I really love this pasta and so does Brandon.  So good and so easy! This is one of Marcella Hazan's recipes.  Here is how it is done!


1.5 pound head of caluiflower
1/2 cup olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
6 flat anchovy filets, chopped
1/4 tsp. chopped hot red pepper (I use red pepper flakes)
1 lb. package penne or other macaroni
2 Tbs. chopped parsley


1. Strip cauliflower of all leaves except tender inner ones, rinse in cold water, cut head in 2 and cook in 4 to 5 quarts boiling water until tender but still compact - about 20-30 minutes.  Test with a fork to know when it is done.  Drain and set aside.

2.  Put oil, garlic, and chopped anchovy fillets in a medium saute pan. Turn heat to medium and saute until garlic turns golden brown, stir from time to time with a wooden spoon, mashing anchovies with it. 

(Listen, you should not set it on fire... I am not sure what the reflection in the pan is... not fire, I promise... probably just an effect caused by the flash of the camera. very cool. anyways...)

3.  Add the boiled cauliflower, break it up quickly with a fork, crumbling into pieces no bigger than a peanut (I am not sure why Marcella uses the reference to a peanut but it cracks me up so I kept it!).  Turn it thoroughly in the oil, mashing part of it to a pulp.

4.  Add hot pepper and liberal amount of salt (it takes quite a bit of salt to make it right, do it to taste).  Turn up the heat and cook for a few minutes more, stirring frequently.  Then turn off the heat.

5.  Bring 4 to 5 quarts water to a boil, salt the water, and when water returns to a boil, put in the pasta.  Cook until al dente, drain well and transfer to a warm serving bowl.

6.  Very briefly reheat cauliflower and poor contents over pasta.  Toss thoroughly, add parsley, and toss again.  Serve at once.