Monday, November 30, 2009

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies

These cookies scream holidays. They taste like Christmas. Probably due to the crushed candy canes and chocolate. Make these now! My co-workers ate half a batch today (I had to keep some for myself) and a couple of people asked for the recipe, which in my books equals success.

I used a chopped up dark chocolate bar for the chocolate layer, but chocolate chips would probably work just as well and would be faster. For the crushed peppermint candy I put unwrapped mini candy canes in a freezer bag and smashed them with a rolling pin. If you can find candy canes that are unwrapped or those round peppermint candies go with those- unwrapping all the candy canes was tedious to say the least. Also, they are really crumbly when you cut them, so I saved the crumbs to jazz up some vanilla ice cream. Tell me that's not awesome.

Next time I make these (and there will be a next time), I'd like to try spreading the dough on a larger baking sheet- I have a sheet that is the size of my oven- to get a thinner cookie layer and then double the chocolate for this recipe to really stand up to it's name.

Get the recipe from Bon Appetit HERE

PS I may or may not have had one of these cookies for breakfast this morning...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Southern Comfort

I love biscuits and cornbread. Jambalaya and gumbo. Gravy. Bacon. All the delights of the South, although I don't know about grits or chicken fried steak- but I won't knock it 'till I try it. I made biscuits on Sunday night. Then I made ham and cheese sandwiches with them and served them with soup (tomato for me, cream of mushroom for Tyler- both from a can I'm not ashamed to admit). This was the perfect meal for a cold, rainy night. I think it was rainy. But in any case, this is definitely comfort food. The biscuits were good, but not as good as a previous recipe I had made from America's Test Kitchen (I'm telling ya, they never steer me wrong), so I have included that recipe below. Sorry there's no photo for this post. We were hungry.

Makes 12 biscuits

· 2 cups flour
· 2 tsp baking powder
· 1/2 baking soda
· 1 tsp sugar
· 3/4 tsp table salt
· 1 cup cold buttermilk
· 8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly + 2 tbsp for brushing tops of baked biscuits if desired

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Combine buttermilk and 8 tablespoons melted butter in medium bowl, stirring until butter forms small clumps.*

Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated and batter pulls away from sides of bowl. Using greased 1/4-cup dry measure, scoop level amount of batter and drop onto parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet (biscuits should measure about 2 1/4 inches in diameter and 1 1/4 inches high). Repeat with remaining batter, spacing biscuits about 1 1/2 inches apart.

Bake until tops are golden brown and crisp, 12 to 14 minutes.
Brush biscuit tops with remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes before serving.

*When you stir slightly cooled melted butter into cold buttermilk, the butter will clump. Although this might look like a mistake, it's one of the secrets to this recipe. The clumps of butter are similar to the small bits of cold butter in biscuits prepared according to the traditional method and help guarantee a light and fluffy interior.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Farm food pick up

I picked up my farm vegetables last night (see this previous post on my local food discovery). I went to the church where the pick up was being held, not knowing what to expect. I also realized that I had forgotten to bring cloth bags to bring the stuff home in, and I was pretty sure that plastic bags would get me shunned. I used a box in my trunk which was totally unwieldy and awkward but it did the job.

So here's how it works. You go into the church gymnasium, pick up your list of what you ordered from which farm at the front, and walk around to each of the tables picking up your order. Then they check your order, you pay and go. That is how it is supposed to work anyway. If you are me, you walk around aimlessly with a massive cardboard box, get frustrated that you can't find a few things (who knew that Jerusalem artichokes look like small potatoes?), go to the front to pay anyways, then the cashier has to run around finding things for you. I may be shunned after all...

I am very pleased with my veggies (and eggs) and honored them by making roasted root vegetables with lemon aioli for dipping. The list of stuff I got- almost all organic- and ailoi recipe follows. To roast the veg, I cut them into batons, tossed with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted them in a single layer on a baking sheet at 400 degrees F for about 25 minutes, tossing halfway through.
4 huge red onions
2 small spaghetti squash
1 x 3L basket Gala apples
1 x 2L basket small sweet potatoes
1 lb Jerusalem artichokes
2 butternut squash
1 celeriac
2 bulbs garlic
1b parsnips
1 dozen free range eggs
= 33.75 total

Adapted from Bon Appetit via

*This makes a lot- about 2 cups, and I even halved the recipe.
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp water
  • zest of 1 lemon, grated
  • 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cups light fruity olive oil
  • 1/2 canola oil
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
Mash garlic and salt in mortar with pestle until paste forms. Whisk egg yolks, 6 tablespoons water, lemon juice, and mustard in medium metal bowl. Whisk in garlic mixture. Set bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water) and whisk constantly until mixture thickens and instant-read thermometer inserted into mixture registers 140°F for 3 minutes, about 10 minutes total. Remove bowl from over water. Cool mixture to room temperature, whisking occasionally, about 15 minutes. Gradually whisk oil into yolk mixture in very thin slow stream; continue whisking until aioli is thick. Season to taste with pepper and more salt, if desired.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My current food crush

I love these Jalapeno and Cheddar Cornbread Crackers from President's Choice right now. They have even beat out my other food crushes Bobby Flay, Eric Ripert (cute, French and cooks) and the brothers on the current season of Top Chef. Maybe because the crackers are more tangible and available for my instant gratification than celebrity food boys. These are slightly spicy, perfectly crunchy, and a little cheesy. Yum. I may eat too many and be sick of them shortly (like my Hot Pockets weekend), and then it'll be something else. The President's Choice Holiday Insiders Report should be out now which always has new products ripe for crushing on.

What, everybody doesn't have food crushes?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Why the internet is awesome

I know. We all know the internet is awesome. But here are two reasons why I had that thought right now and had to post about it:

1. We finally got a laptop and I have been sitting on my couch following link after link for 4 hours and I still haven't found the end of the internet.

2. I found my way to Artie McPhee's which sells, among other things, bacon-flavored dental floss and when you Google "Artie McPhee" the description is "Archie McPhee has the best toys, gift and novelties on the internet. We love the same things you do: unicorns, bacon, ninjas and pirates." Seriously, revel in the awesomeness.

Call me Clutz

I burned myself cooking the other day. I know this is common, but is it common to burn yourself twice in one night on two different arms? I dunno the statistics, but I'm going to wager a guess of no. I seared the top of my wrists on the oven rack while taking stuff out of the oven. I don't even remember what we ate, therefore I assume it wasn't even worth the pain. I'm ok- it didn't require a trip to emerg (like when I failed to use the safety on the mandoline) but I look like a failed suicide victim with gauze on my wrists. So maybe you should call me Crazy. Plus, we had no "medical tape", so I had to use electrical tape to keep the gauze on.

You'd think this may deter me from cooking anytime soon. At least until the scabs heal (sorry for the visual). Of course not. I made an uber-delicious pizza tonight- a riff on the pizza we had in Hawaii, except that grocery shopping is happening tomorrow so I had to improvise. There is not recipe per se- below is a list of what I put on this time. The pulled pork I used was leftover from earlier from this week, and I love broccoli on pizza 'cause it gets crispy and caramelized in the oven- same with the onions and garlic, which is why I put them on after the cheese. Go with your gut, use what you have in the fridge. It's near impossible to screw up pizza- trust the the burn victim.

  • 1 pizza dough*
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of tomato sauce, depending on how large and thin you roll the dough
  • pulled pork
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced**
  • 1 small head broccoli florets, sliced***
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1/2 small log herbed goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced with a garlic press

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Roll out dough to desired size and thickness. Spread sauce over dough. Top with broccoli and pork. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Evenly distribute onions and goat cheese, lastly sprinkle with garlic. Bake 10-13 minutes on lowest rack- until browned at the edges and cheese is bubbly.

*frozen or homemade- stay tuned for my dough recipe
**I find cutting the onion in half and then slicing into thin half moons is good on pizza
***since I had the oven on a high temp already, I sliced the broccoli stalk into half moons, tossed with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted them on a baking sheet on the middle rack at the same time as the pizza. Turn them halfway through baking- they'll take a little longer than the pizza.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Snacks

I could make a meal of snacks. In fact, I have. My favorite thing is to have some crostini (don't let the food snobs fool you- this is a fancy word for toast) topped with all manner of different things. My current fave toppings are Tomato Bruschetta with Feta and Fresh Pea Spread with Feta. Yum... feta... but I digress. I don't use a recipe for these, so I have just included the ingredients. The key is to taste before topping your bread. I taste and ask myself: is there enough salt? Pepper? Acidity? Is one ingredient overpowering all others? Being a chronic recipe clipper, I find that when I make something without using a recipe is very rewarding. Even if it is just pureed peas on toast.


Toast slices of a Baguette, French bread or Italian bread until just golden brown. You can drizzle with olive oil before toasting (in a toaster oven or in the oven- probably not a good idea in a toaster), but I usually just make it dry.


  • tomato(es), medium dice
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • splash of balsamic vinegar
  • finely minced garlic (squash it into a paste with the side of your knife even)
  • feta cheese, crumbled
  • crostini
Mix all ingredients but feta and crostini. Use immediately to top crostini or let rest in fridge up to 2 days. Sprinkle with feta and maybe some fresh black pepper.


  • frozen peas, thawed in a sieve under running water*
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • salt
  • pepper
  • crostini
  • feta, crumbled
Whizz all ingredients but crostini and feta in food processor until almost smooth. Spread on crostini and top with feta, pressing feta a bit so it doesn't fall off and your dog gets it (or is that just me?).
*I know, this is technically not a "fresh" pea spread, but it tastes like it and the name sounds better than Frozen Pea Spread.

Monday, November 9, 2009


I'm just back from our honeymoon in Maui, Hawai'i. Wow, what a beautiful place! We drove all over the island and saw everything! Beaches all over the island, tropical fish and sharks at the Maui Ocean Center, old plantation cum surfing towns including Pa'ia where we stayed, Haleakala- a volcanic crater at 10,000 meters above sea level, waterfalls, rain forest and black sand beaches along the Road to Hana. Incredible. The stories of the laid back hospitality of Hawaiians is true too- cars would stop on the road for us to pull out of a parking spot for example. C'mon, does that ever happen here?

BUT, I am here to talk about food. And brudda, did we eat some fantastic food. Here is a "slide show" of the highlights for you- click for a larger photo. No recipes this time (although those will probably come later when I start trying to recreate some of the things we ate)- these pics are just to get your mojo going.

  1. Coconut, Mango, Pineapple, Macadamia Nut Cookies at Hula Cookies
  2. Remember the game POGs in the '90's? This juice is where they started
  3. Fruit stand in Keanae off of the road to Hana- best banana bread ever. It was still warm.

  1. Pizza at Flatbread Co. in Pa'ia. Kulua pig (pig cooked underground for hours- falls apart like pulled pork), pineapple, goat cheese, BBQ sauce. So so good
  2. Fruit stand on the road to Hana at the entrance to the Twin Falls
  3. Stairs up to Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant on the ocean in Lahaina where my husband had a cheeseburger, fries, and a beer for breakfast. At 10 am.

  1. Hali'imaile General Store restaurant. Listed as the best restaurant in Maui's Upcountry. Very good
  2. Tyler's dinner at Hali'imaile- Braised Short Ribs and Truffled Mac n' Cheese. Best mac and cheese I've ever tasted.
  3. My dinner at Hali'imaile- Macadamia Nut-crusted Mahimahi with Tropical Fruit Salsa, Passionfruit Butter Sauce, Coconut Mashed Sweet Potato (sweet potatoes are purple in Hawaii!), garnished with fried sweet potato

  1. Feeding the goats at Surfing Goat Dairy where they make the most amazing goat cheese. And where I was inspired to have a goat farm some day :)
  2. Sign for Mama's Fish House Restaurant. We stayed at the Inn at Mama's Fish House and it was fantastic.
  3. Appetizer of Tempura Shrimp with Macadamia Nut Dipping Sauce at Mama's Fish House

  1. My meal at Mama's Fish House. Opakapaka (sea bass) sauteed in white wine, garlic, capers, tomatoes.
  2. Tyler's meal at Mama's Fish House. Mahimahi stuffed with crab and lobster with a pineapple sauce.
  3. Dessert at Mama's Fish House called the Polynesian Black Pearl. It's Chocolate Mousse with a Passionfruit Cream center in a pastry/cookie shell. Stunning and delicious.

  1. Tray in our room with bananas, papaya, banana bread, Kona coffee, and a lime. Made yummy smoothies for breakfast with the fruit
  2. Beef burger at Ulupalakua Ranch
  3. Grilled squash with honey and feta at Ulupalakua Ranch