Thursday, October 29, 2009

Homemade Oreo-esque Cookies

This recipe is billed as "homemade Oreo cookies," but after making them, I'd call that a stretch. They are chocolate sandwich cookies with a cream center, but they don't taste like Oreos. But they're still good and they look good too!

(note: cat/cookie proportions not to scale)


For the chocolate wafers:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  1. Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F.
  2. In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
  3. Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.
  4. To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
  5. To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream. Dunk generously in a large glass of milk.
Recipe: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen via SugarCooking

Sunday, October 25, 2009

RESULTS of The Great Chocolate Chip Cookie Experiment

In an earlier post, I mentioned my quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. I decided to give Kristen some credit and try the recipe she recommended.

1 c. shortening
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c. chocolate chips

  1. Combine shortening, sugars and vanilla. 
  2. Sift flour, soda and salt. 
  3. Add to creamed mixture. Mix well. 
  4. Stir in chocolate chips. 
  5. Drop by teaspoon on cookie sheet. 
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.


For the first time, I used an actual teaspoon to scoop out 'teaspooned-sized' drops of dough. It really did help with consistency, and contributed to nice, even baking.

As for the cookies? Success! Crunchy but not hard, and salty but not too salty. I'm sure this won't be the last recipe I try (still need to try the bread flour one), but it's my favorite so far!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Speaking of grilling...

Next summer I’ll be trying this:

Grilling pound cake is simple. Prepare a medium fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill to medium. You can even grill the cake indoors on a grill pan.
Cut the cake into 1-inch thick slices and brush both sides with melted butter. Grill the cake slices for 1 to 2 minutes per side until they are warm and toasted.
Grilled pound cake slices can be topped with almost anything. Some delicious combinations are blueberries and crème fraiche, strawberries and whipped cream, mascarpone and cherries, or my personal favorite, vanilla ice cream and tequila-roasted pineapple.

Photo and recipe via Serious Eats

Chocolate Cakes Grilled in Orange Shells

Last weekend, Ashleylayne and Adam had an end-of-summer grill party. This was my contribution.

Chocolate Cakes Grilled in Orange Shells
(adapted from the Boy Scouts)
serves 12-15
1 box chocolate cake mix, or 1 batch of batter for a single-layer cake of your choosing
12 large oranges or 15 small oranges (types with a thick rind work best)
  1. Mix cake mix according to the instructions on box; put to the side (do not bake).

  2. Slice the top third of each orange; leave the top pieces to the side (you can use them as garnish later). Scoop the fruit out of the bottom 2/3 of the fruit, so that you have an empty shell.

  3. Fill each orange shell 3/4 full with cake batter.

  4. Nestle each orange within an 8-inch square of foil; place directly on grill.

  5. Grill for 15 to 20 minutes; shift frequently. To check if the cake is done, insert a skewer or toothpick; if it comes out clean, the cake’s ready.

  6. At this point you have two options: you can let them cool, and frost liberally with chocolate fudge frosting and slices from the unused top portion of the orange as garnish; or, you can eat the hot, unfrosted cake directly from the orange. Your choice.
It’s harder to scoop out the oranges than you think. And messier. But it’s worth it!

Recipe and photo via Cakespy

The Great Chocolate Chip Cookie Experiment

I thought I found the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. I used the Joy Of Cooking recipe (Colin gave me the infamous cookbook for Christmas last year), substituting shortening for butter, and got the best cookies I ever made. But, as every good scientist knows, in order to publish your theory, you’ve got to be able to reproduce your results.

And I haven’t been able to. Round 2 came out thick but hard. Round 3 came out flat and chewy. And I swear I used the same recipe!

My cousin Kristen swears by this recipe from
1 c. shortening
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. plain M&M's
1/4 c. chocolate chips

Combine shortening, sugars and vanilla. Sift flour, soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Mix well. Stir in M&M’S® and chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoon on cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

I haven’t tried it yet, but this recipe from Sugar Cooking has a key difference: bread flour.

Makes 20 - 30 cookies

2 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup milk
1.5 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup mini m&m’s (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

  3. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, egg yolk, and milk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.

  4. Stir in the chocolate chips and m&m’s by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

  5. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

I have a feeling I’ll be experimenting soon.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Two Shrimp Recipes

If I knew how easy it was to cook shrimp (especially with frozen, pre-cleaned shrimp!) I would have started years ago.

Chipotle Lime Shrimp

Chipotle Lime Shrimp
serves 4

1 chipotle chili in adobo (chopped)
2 teaspoons adobo sauce
1 teaspoon cumin (toasted and ground)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 lime (juice and zest)
2 tablespoons cilantro (chopped)
1 pound shrimp (peeled and deveined)

  1. Mix the chipotle, adobo sauce, cumin, brown sugar, lime zest, lime juice and cilantro in a bowl and and let marinate for 20 minutes.
  2. Skewer the shrimp.
  3. Oil up the grill and grill the shrimp until cooked, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Orange Chipotle Marinated Shrimp

Orange Chipotle Shrimp
serves 4


1 pound shrimp (peeled and de-veined)
1 orange juice and zest
1 tablespoon chipotles chilies in abode sauce (chopped)
1 tablespoon oil
3 tablespoons cilantro (chopped)
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Marinate the shrimp in the orange juice and zest, chipotles, oil and cilantro for 15+ minutes.
  2. Remove the shrimp from the marinade and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Skewer the shrimp and grill or fry in a pan for 1-3 minutes per side.

Recipes and photos thanks to Closet Cooking

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Welsh Rarebit

I made this retro recipe last week, and was shocked by how delicious it was.

Welsh Rarebit
serves 4

Slices of crusty bread, buttered and toasted under the broiler
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup whole milk
1/2 cup beer
1 heaping teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Couple of dashes Worcetershire
1 1/2 cups freshly grated sharp cheddar
1 egg yolk

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat.
  2. Sprinkle in flour and whisk together until combined. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes.
  3. Pour in milk and beer, whisking constantly, and cook for an additional minute. Add mustard, paprika, and cayenne and whisk.
  4. Add cheese and whisk slowly, cooking for a couple of minutes or until smooth, melted, and very hot.
  5. Remove from heat and whisk in egg yolk.
  6. Serve immediately (while hot) over toast. Sprinkle with chopped chives before serving.

Recipe from Pioneer Woman

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Polenta Stuffed with Spicy Greens and Cheese

I’ve only recently discovered my love for polenta. I forget exactly what we ordered, but when Colin and I visited Savannah in May, we had one of my top ten meals ever at The Pink House. A beautiful square of fried polenta accompanied one of our appetizers. I bit into its yellow, crunchy, creamy goodness and was hooked. Just last month, I ordered the grilled shrimp at the Brewster Fish House (again, what I ordered isn’t on the menu), solely for the polenta cake it came with.

I haven’t yet ventured in making polenta at home. It seems so easy, but I’m terrified that I’d mess up and ruin my polenta taste buds for life.


Polenta Stuffed with Spicy Greens and Cheese 
serves 8

11 cups water
2 2/3 cups coarse-ground cornmeal (polenta)
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 bunch chard, triple washed, stems separated, stems thinly sliced and leaves sliced 1/2” wide
1 bunch beet greens, triple washed, stems discarded, leaves sliced 1/2” wide
1 cup red wine
2 teaspoons chili flakes or more to your taste
8 oz. caciocavallo + more for garnish (aged provolone is a good substitute, or try smoked mozzarella)


1. Bring the water to a boil in a large soup pot and add 5 teaspoons of salt. Whisk in the cornmeal in a thin, slow stream. Stir continuously for 2 minutes. Cover and reduce heat to a lively simmer. Stir one minute out of every minutes for a total of forty minutes, then uncover and cook for five more minutes. It should be creamy and thick at this point. Keep it hot until you are ready to assemble the dish, otherwise it will set up.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over a medium high flame. Fry the onion and garlic for 1 minute. Add the thinly sliced chard stems and saute for 3 minutes. Add the leaves. It is ok if they are still wet. You may have to add them in batches to get them all in the pot, waiting til the first bunch “melts” a little. Add the chili flakes, red wine and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir, cover, reduce heat to low and cook until they are fully tender. Taste and adjust salt and chili flakes.
3. Grease a 13” x 18” half-sheet pan (aka jelly roll pan). Pour in half of the polenta and spread it into an even layer. Top with the sauteed greens (leaving behind any excess liquid) and the Caciocavallo cheese, distributing them as evenly as possible. Cover with the remaining polenta and use a spatula to form an even layer. 
4. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to chill until the polenta has set up firm, at least a couple of hours.
5. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Slice into squares and then triangles. Brush on the remaining olive oil. This will seem like a lot but we are trying to encourage the top to crisp up. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until heated through (a thermometer should read at least 160°F.) Now turn on the broiler and cook until you’ve got nice brown spots all over the top, watching carefully to avoid burning.

The mixture of beet greens and chardworks great, but feel free to substitute kale, collard greens, mustard greens or any other greens you fancy. I served the polenta with roasted beets, then made a sauce from the liquid left over from cooking the greens reduced with saba (also known as mosto cotto, or the cooked grape syrup rendered in the first step of balsamic vinegar production). This recipe serves a crowd—you can easily cut it in half. To serve the polenta in neat triangles, you’ll need a shallow pan of the appropriate dimension.

Picture and recipe from Serious Eats