Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mayberry-esque after school tales of warm cookies and cold milk, aren’t mine. In my world cookies were for Christmas; fruit, yogurt, and cheese were snacks. I never quite developed a sensory memory for the ubiquitous toll house. Instead of invoking memories of backyard tag, championship games, and mom with flour dusted apron, I’ve been a bit bored by them. >em>Until Now. This is not my recipe. It came to me by way of a third-party. I have been told it was created by Cook’s Illustrated. It doesn’t surprise me in the least bit. This cookie is filled with notes of toffee, enough salt to tease your palate, the bite of bitter chocolate and manages to be both soft and crispy. The recipe is a bit fussy, but worth it. trust me….

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes 16
from cook’s illustrated and only v.slightly changed

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
14 Tbs unsalted butter–divided
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar-firmly packed
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
3/4 cups toasted walnut halves

Heat oven to 375F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. Heat 10 Tbs of butter in a skillet over medium heat, swirling continually, until it becomes a dark golden brown and it smells a bit toffee like. This should take about 3-5 minutes…the larger the skillet, the quicker the reaction. Remove from heat and pour butter into mixing bowl. Add the remaining butter and stir until it is melted. Add the sugars, salt and vanilla to the bowl and hand-whisk until mixed well. Add egg and egg yolk and whisk until smooth and begins to lighten in color a bit. Let rest for 3 minutes. whisk again for 30 seconds and let rest for 3 minutes. Do this procedure 2 more times. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to stir in the flour mixture so that it is just combined–do not over-mix. Stir in chocolate and nuts. Scoop out large balls (about 3 Tbs) onto to the parchment, placing about 2″ apart. Bake for about 10-14 minutes or until the edges are slightly browned. Cool on wire rack.

*the original recipe calls for table salt, semi -sweet chips or chunks and chopped pecans or walnuts. i prefer kosher salt, bittersweet (60-70% cocoa solids) and large pieces of walnut which is why i inserted them into the recipe. try it both ways and decide for yourself!

Shaved Zucchini

Sometimes after a long weekend of heavy eating, I’ll prepare something really simple. This dish, bright and light, comes together rather quickly.

Shaved Zucchini

4 medium zucchini-about 4 cups
2 garlic cloves–peeled and smashed
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp dry thyme
zest from 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Shave the zucchini using a vegetable peeler. Make long strips and shave until you reach the heavily seeded part. turn and begin again. In the end, you will have a core. discard. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add the whole, but smashed garlic and let it brown. Remove the garlic (you are using it just to flavor the oil) and toss in the zucchini. Toss continually and allow the zucchini to cook through…this will take about 5-10 minutes. Add zest, thyme and lemon juice. Taste for seasoning–add salt and pepper to taste.

Heart Palmiers

We have neighbors with fabulous taste. Crown molding, silver service, art gallery lighting kind of taste. I almost wonder if Mike and I are their pro-bono friends. While residing in California, we rang in London’s new year together. Complete with champagne, caviar, and crown roast. Imagine my horror, as I catch from the corner of my eye, Mike, in all his glory with hands full of palmiers. With flaky crumbs falling to his beard and a smile as broad as his shoulders he was complimenting the hostess on her fabulous dessert. Turning to me, he gave a grand wink and said “you should make these”. So I did.

Simple Easy Heart Palmiers
1 sheet puff pastry–cold but not frozen
2 Tbs unsalted butter–melted
2 Tbs granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup granulated sugar for dipping

Place puff pastry on a sheet of parchment. In a small bowl, mix together the 2 Tbs granulated sugar and 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Using a pastry brush, brush the butter evenly covering the entire piece of pastry. Evenly and liberally sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top of the butter. Measure or eye the center of the puff pastry and gently score with the dull end of a knife (do not cut through). Starting on one end, tightly roll the dough to the center. Roll the opposite end to the center, forming what looks like a scroll. Gently press together, and if you would like an exaggerated heart shape, pinch the bottom to a point. Wrap in parchment and/or plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill. After 1 hour and up to 24 hours, preheat the oven to 375F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place the remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a saucer or shallow bowl. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and slice crosswise in 1/4″ sections. Reshape as necessary, then dip both sides in the sugar. Place on parchment paper approximately 1″ apart. bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Allow to cool a bit, but not fully before removing from the parchment. The sugar will cause them to stick if they cool too much. Allow to finish cooling on a wire rack.

Pizza Hand Pies

We had spaghetti and meat sauce for dinner last night. Simple but delicious. Lunch today? The sauce with a little cheese and a slice of pepperoni, for good measure. All sandwiched between two hearts of puff pastry.

Heart Pizza
makes 4
2 sheets of puff pastry-cold but not frozen
1/2 cup pasta or pizza sauce
4 pieces of pepperoni
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
Use a cookie 3″ heart or other cookie cutter to cut out 8 pieces. Place 1/2 of the pieces on a lined cookie sheet. Heap with pasta sauce, sprinkle with parmesan and place a piece of pepperoni on top. Cover with the remaining pieces of dough. Using the tines of a fork, press around the edges to seal. Place in a 400F oven until golden brown and puffy (about 20 minutes).

The Start to 2012 and Honey Roasted Carrots

Happy New Year! A well worn phrase with genuine intent. I find when spoken, it is always with a positive lilt; rarely a tone of indifference or sarcasm. No gifts to buy, no religious or political schism. Just the turn of the calendar giving us all a chance to

For 2011 my goals were: I will not judge in disappointment, as I am confident I too fall short of expectations others place on me. Rather than toss the years of the past I will carry them forward both as fond memories and retrospective caution. And I will eat more fruit.
For 2012, I have chosen a theme: dust Yourself Off. Simply, bootstrap mechanics. Get up, wipe off the dust, and give it another go. And. Eat more vegetables.

Honey Roasted Carrots
2 dozen small carrots-washed, peeled and trimmed
2 Tbs honey
1 Tbs white balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp toasted whole cumin seeds

Warm the honey and vinegar to thin. Toss the carrots in the mixture and place on a lined sheet pan. Sprinkle with cumin seeds. Place in a 350 oven and cook until soft and caramelized, about 30-35 minutes. I also like to serve these, with some tooth to them, as a crudite with dip. You only need to cook them until they are softened but not colored–about 25 minutes. They are delicious with a simple tahini/soy sauce dip.