Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Crazy Good (or rather nutty) Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

These are just... really really good. I don't often say anything I make is "really really good ," certainly not on the first try. It is often that I will say "This is pretty good, but next time I would..." Not these. Ok, next time I may use 4 ounces butter by volume, rather than weight.

4 oz by weight butter substitute of choice, softened but still cool (I used Soy Garden. The non vegan recipe said 8 T, I would go with that next time I did it)

3/4 c dark brown sugar (I used muscadova , tastes like molasses)
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 egg replacement (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1 t pure vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt (the margarine usually has salt in it already)
1 1/4 c all purpose flour (I used 365 "all purpose baking flour")
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
8 oz dark chocolate, either chips or I just used some Valhrona and Trader Joes big bar chocolate I had lying around and chopped it up.
3/4 c chopped walnuts (optional)

In a large bowl, cream together fat and sugar until consistent (don't overmix. Sugar granules are just fine). You can do this by hand or via electric mixer. Add the egg substitute, vanilla, salt, and just combine.

In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Then sift into bowl with the fat/sugar mix. Stir until just combined, then add chocolate/nuts. Stir until consistent. Should look like the picture below. It was almost kind of dry/crumbly (I strongly recommend you click through for the close up).

Cover bowl with saran wrap, place in fridge for at least 30 minutes.

When ready, pre-heat oven to 350, and position rack in the middle of the oven.

Meanwhile, take out a baking sheet (no sides), line it with parchment, use a silpat sheet, or grease it. Lay out the cookies using a table spoon, a small scoop, or just pick out bits with your hand, and drop them on the sheet. Don't worry if the mix seems crumbly, just make sure the dough is in a bit of a pile. Don't over-handle.

Bake for about 13 minutes if you like them not too crunchy, 17 if you do like them crunchier (I only baked them for 13). The sugar begins to carmelize so they still have a certain crispness to them.

These cookies really hold their own at room temp/the day after. Good luck!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Coconut Chocolate Sherbert

I am currently churning this in my lame Cuisinart ice cream maker. Will report back soon.

This is def on the menu tomorrow, shaved fennel with toasted pistachios. I have a head of fennel, and some pistachios that are aching to be used. Though I am going to toast the pistachios my self.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Pizza party

So I am in a phase where I am "beyond recipes" for much of my cooking. I come home, I want comfort ASAP. So I do a quick evaluation of what I have, what needs to get used up the most before it goes bad, etc.
I also do a lot of work with 'concepts.' I describe concepts like the "concept" of miso soup; a lighter fare that is earthy and centering, light or heavy depending on which miso I use and how many vegetables I have. They are hardly loyal to tradition, but certainly echo it. I often fuse flavors and international concepts.
The concept of miso soup last night, for example, meant that I boil some water. While the water is boiling, I see what I have in the fridge and flavors I have in the pantry. So I end up chopping up some scallions, julienning some carrots and daikon, slicing a garlic clove and a couple of mushrooms. Split those ingredients into two bowls, along with some red pepper flakes, some liquid aminos, a bit of fruit kimchee fruit vinegar (the sour juice left over from the fruit kimchee I made. I used it instead of brown rice vinegar), a couple of grains of salt. I pour over the hot water and let it flash cook the vegetables, use the rest of the water for some hojicha tea, and set out a plate of home made (regular) kimchee.
What about the miso? Hell, what about the pizza? Isn't this a pizza post? Ok to wrap up about the miso. Add the hot water, taste it, determine how much 'substance' it needs, and then you add a heaping (or not so heaping) tablespoon of miso. In this case I used a 3 year barley miso. I also added the rest of my tom yum paste and coconut milk, to give it a creamier, more tropical aspect.

Anyway, back to the pizza. This was about introducing what 'concepts' are. So the pizza above is inspired by Veggie Planet's "Vegan Oddlot" pizza. In all fairness, I did buy some ingredients for this one. I already had the crust, though, and had to use it. Lets lay out the ingredients for this one.

Some or all of the following:
Olive oil
Red pepper flakes
Canned artichoke
Spinach (fresh or frozen. If frozen, thaw and squeeze the extra water out)
Fresh basil
Roasted red peppers
San Marzono tomatoes (those are great! Notice the can in the background)

Mashed tofu topping:
Tofu (drained)
Sriracha hot sauce (or sambal olek, or any other hot sauce)
Black pepper

Pizza dough or pre-made crust (or pita, tortillas, or other flat breads in lieu of dough).

Pre-heat oven to as hot as it will go (500 or so, for me). Note. I made this with a pizza stone. I don't know how raw dough will cook on metal. However you probably want it around 350-400 if you are doing it on a metal sheet.

This is a great activity to do with friends! So I often have one friend roll out the dough, while having other friends fetch what I need, or are prepping ingredients. Meanwhile, I prep the mashed tofu topping. In a bowl I smash together some tofu, tahini, a dash of sriracha, some salt, black pepper, and a mashed garlic cube or two. I don't have volume because it all depends on how much I have, and I measure based on eye. I would say use about 1 T tahini per half cup of tofu, though. Keep tasting it, though.
Set the mix aside, and get to assembling the pizza! I brush over some olive oil (sometimes I blend olive oil and garlic together for the topping). Then go nuts assembling all the ingredients however you like.
One note. I would layer the basil on the bottom or else it turns brown in the oven, if exposed.

I bake mine for about 12-15 minutes before I even check on it, then I see when the crust is starting to lift away from the stone as a good time to take it out.

I will surely post other pizza 'concepts' in the future. My friend just brought me some ramp (wild onions) from West Virginia!