Saturday, May 31, 2014

Alton Brown's The Chewy


Although I feel that I have found my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe and I made a big deal about it here, I just can't help but want to try new chocolate chip cookie recipes, especially those recipes that so many other people rave about. Many people have referred to this chocolate chip cookie recipe by Alton Brown as one of their favorites, so I just had to give it a try. These chocolate chip cookies are boldly named "The Chewy" and I think the name is appropriate enough although the chewiness does vary depending on the ingredients and how you handle the dough.

The darker the brown sugar you use, the chewier your cookies should be. Letting them refrigerate for a longer period of time also changes the texture. The first time I tried these, I followed the recipe and let the dough refrigerate for an hour. I ended up with a softer chewier cookie than the next time I made them in which I refrigerated the dough overnight. I like the flavor and texture of cookies that have been refrigerated longer, but either way, you don't want to over bake these or they won't be chewy at all.

This recipe won't replace the other one as my go-to chocolate chip cookies, but they are fantastic chocolate chip cookies and I think it really comes down to personal preference. I like that these chocolate chip cookies are a bit less sweet and are a bit chewier overall in texture, but the NY Times' ones taste more well-rounded in flavor and don't lack in chewiness either. If I didn't have any cake flour and wanted a less sweet chocolate chip cookie, I would definitely make these again. It's nice to have more than one chocolate chip cookie recipe that you can rely on in case you want cookies, but don't have all the ingredients for a certain recipe. That being said, I still need to find a recipe using only all purpose flour that is just as good for those times when I simply don't have bread flour.

The Chewy
Recipe slightly adapted from Alton Brown
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter
12 ounces bread flour
1 tsp kosher salt, half the amount if using fine table salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 ounces granulated sugar
8 ounces brown sugar
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
1 ounce milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
10 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Melt the butter in a saucepan and set aside to cool slightly. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, add in the melted butter and sugars. Beat the butter and sugars together on medium for about 2 minutes. Whisk the egg, egg yolk, milk, and vanilla extract together in a small bowl. Add the egg mixture to the butter and sugar and beat until mixed thoroughly.

Add the sifted dry ingredients and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and mix for about 15 seconds until just mixed in. Chill the dough for 1 hour for softer cookies or overnight for crisper-edged cookies.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375 deg F. Scoop mounds of dough with an ice cream scoop and place them at least 2 inches apart on a parchment lined pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Let cool for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies are best the day they're made, store cookies in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Ever Versatile Quiche

I may not be someone who hosts a lot of brunches, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate and enjoy a good quiche, a classic brunch staple. Quiche is one of those dishes that most people love, but don't make very often for some reason. It's actually super easy to put together and can serve a crowd easily. It can also be filled with whatever you like, so you could make several for your next get-together and please vegetarians and meat eaters alike. The basic recipe is the same, but the varieties are endless. Recently, I made a ham, cheese, potato quiche and a blue cheese, caramelized onion, spinach, mushroom quiche. Cheddar, fresh corn, and roasted tomatoes is also amazing when corn is in season. You want your fillings to not be too wet and mostly cooked, but not overcooked. You can also add a variety of different herbs and spices.

The recipe seems to be the go-to one from and the custard filling holds up nicely. I've also made wonderful mini quiches from another Martha Stewart recipe that has an even lighter and softer custard. That one works better in mini form and takes a bit more work. I'll show those in a later post. For this larger version, you can assemble the quiche in whatever pan you like. You can use a quiche pan, a springform pan, or a pie pan as I've done here. If you are making a deeper quiche, you can just scale up the recipe and bake it a bit longer.

Recipe from
Makes one 9 inch quiche

Pie Crust
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 stick cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp fine salt, double the amount of kosher salt
1/8-1/4 cup iced water

Pulse the butter, sugar, salt, and flour in a food processor until the butter is the size of peas. Gradually add just enough iced water as the processor is running until the dough just holds together when squeezed in the palm of your hand. Dump out onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a round disk. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days or freeze up to a month.

When ready to use, roll out the pie dough to a round big enough with overhang for a 9 inch pie plate. Fit into the pie plate, fold the overhang under, crimp, dock with a fork, then freeze for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 deg F. Line the pie crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 30-35 minutes removing the parchment and pie weights halfway through so that the crust can begin to brown. Remove when the crust starts to color nicely. Set aside while you prepare the filling.

Reduce the oven to 350 deg F.

6 large eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
About 2 cups meat/veggies/cheese of your choice, partially cooked
Salt and pepper, to taste

Whisk the eggs and heavy cream together in a large measuring cup. Season with salt and pepper depending on the saltiness of your add ins.

Layer your cooked meat, veggies, and cheese into the prebaked pie crust. Pour the egg mixture over the top and use a fork to help distribute the egg mixture throughout. Bake at 350 deg. F for 30-35 minutes until the custard is just set. Let cool slightly before serving.

Quiche may be eaten warm or at room temp. Store in the refrigerator, well wrapped, for up to several days. Reheat at 325 deg. F for about 15 minutes.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Although it took me a while to find a recipe for the perfect chocolate chip cookie, I was very pleased with these Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies the first time I tried them. I think most people have a specific chocolate chip cookie in mind when comparing them whereas other cookies are judged less critically. This recipe is an old Ina Garten favorite from my recipe binder. I used to make them with dark chocolate because that's what I prefer, but recently I made them with white chocolate chips per my sister's request. You could really add whatever you wanted to the base cookie dough recipe including nuts, chopped up peanut butter cups, coconut, chopped up candy bars, etc. Once, I made peanut butter-double chocolate chunk cookies by squishing peanut butter cookie dough and this cookie dough together and that was really good too. I'll have to look for a good peanut butter cookie dough recipe to recreate that sometime.

Since I've been liking the texture of letting my cookie doughs rest in the refrigerator overnight, I did that with this recipe as well. By doing so, cookies tend to crisp up more on the outside and have a chewier texture on the inside. If you don't do so, the cookies are still delicious, but the texture will be a little softer. It doesn't really matter what type of cocoa you use in these, dutch-processed or not, but the darker your cocoa, the darker and richer your cookies will be. I think next time, I will also add a bit of instant coffee or espresso powder to enhance the chocolaty flavor. As with any other cookie, don't overbake them, they'll continue to cook and harden as they cool.

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Recipe Slightly Adapted from Ina Garten
Makes 20-24 cookies

1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup (80 g) light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup (90 g) granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp instant coffee granules/espresso powder (optional)
1 extra-large egg, room temp
1/3 cup (25 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (120 g) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt, half the amount of fine table salt
10 oz white chocolate/dark chocolate, roughly chopped

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugars together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for 3-5 minutes on medium-high until light and fluffy. Dissolve the instant coffee, if using, in the vanilla extract. Add the vanilla mixture to the bowl, followed by the egg, and mix well.

On low speed, add in the cocoa powder slowly to avoid a cocoa powder dust storm. Then add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Mix in the chopped chocolate. You may bake the cookies now or refrigerate the dough overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 deg F. With an ice cream scoop or a spoon, scoop mounds of cookie dough about a rounded tbsp. in size onto a lined baking sheet. Lightly wet your hands and flatten the tops slightly.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, start checking at about 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the pan before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temp. for up to 2 days.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Easy Peasy Focaccia

*Bad blogger, forgot to take pics, will update the next time I make it.

Recently, I've been thinking about skills and learning. I've spent the majority of my life learning academic knowledge and honing my thinking skills. However, there is always more to learn and in many cases, having a certain range of skills is just as important as knowledge. At this transitional point in my life, I think it's a good time to work on developing those skills that I would like to put to use later on and so I've been looking at the options out there as I try to move to the next part of my life.

Speaking about skills, bread making is a skill that is definitely worth acquiring because there's just nothing like a fresh loaf of bread from the oven. It takes some practice to master, but even beginners can make an excellent loaf of bread with the right recipe and resources. The most important things for me in bread making are making sure that my yeast is alive and to give dough enough time to rise and yet not over rise. The time required and even the amount of flour to water varies depending on the conditions. So, as much as baking is a science, bread making still requires the baker to be flexible and make adjustments as needed.

I still have a long way to go in terms of my bread making skills, but this recipe for focaccia from Anne Burrell is a good place for anyone to start or continue on their bread making journey. The instructions are simple enough for a bread making novice and produce an impressive praiseworthy slab of flavorful focaccia. The recipe is widely available, but I thought I would document my experience anyway.

The focaccia can be made in just a few hours and is perfect for eating as is or for sandwiches. For sandwiches, I would dial back on the olive oil so it's not too oily for sandwich making. I wanted to serve the focaccia for a party so I made it the day before, underbaked it slightly and then reheated it for about 15 minutes the next day. You can add herbs, caramelized onions, cheese, etc. to the focaccia to make it your own or keep it plain.

Recipe from Anne Burrell
Makes about a Jelly Roll Sized Sheet of Focaccia

1 3/4 cup of warm water (110-115 deg F)
2 1/4 tsp of active dry yeast (1 packet)
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
5 cups of all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 tbsp. kosher salt, half the amount of fine table salt
1/2 -1 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

Dissolve the sugar in the warm water and mix in the yeast, let sit for 15 minutes, it should be bubbling. If not, start again with new yeast.

In a stand mixer with a dough hook, mix the flour, salt, 1/2 cup of olive oil, and the yeast mixture on low. When the dough starts to come together, increase speed to medium and mix for 5-6 minutes until the dough is smooth and soft. Take the dough out of the mixer onto a lightly floured surface kneading it a few times to bring it together into a ball.

Lightly coat the inside of the mixer bowl or another large bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl lightly coating it with the oil and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size, at least 1 hour.

Coat a jelly roll pan with the remaining 1/2 cup of oil or just a few tablespoons depending on how you plan to serve the focaccia. Place the dough in the pan and press it out with your hands to fill the pan. Turn the dough over to coat the other side with the oil. As you press and stretch out the dough, use your fingers to make holes throughout the dough so that you end up with the traditional bumpy looking focaccia. If you want a smooth focaccia, then you don't need to do this.

Place the dough in a warm place covered with a damp kitchen towel or a loose piece of plastic wrap. Let rise until it has doubled in size again, about 1 hour.

As the dough is nearing the end of its second rise, preheat the oven to 425 deg F. Sprinkle the top of the focaccia with sea salt, herbs, cheese as you would like and drizzle a bit of oil on the top. Bake the focaccia until the top is golden brown, about 25-30 min. Let the focaccia cool before cutting. Store in an airtight container for up to several days.

Saturday, May 3, 2014


I noticed that so far, every cookie I've posted on this blog has chocolate in it in some form. Even for recipes that didn't mention it, I added chocolate to it. When I crave a cookie, it's usually one with a bit or a lot of chocolate in it, chocolate just makes a great cookie even better. Give me a piece of chocolate over any other type of candy any day. However, another one of my family's favorite cookies is Snickerdoodles and these are perfect all on their own.

The recipe is another keeper from Joanne Chang's Flour cookbook. I can't recommend this beautiful cookbook enough and this recipe makes wonderful crisp cinnamony Snickerdoodles and sugar cookies if you leave out the cinnamon sugar coating. Like her other cookie recipes, Joanne lets the dough rest overnight which I think is what makes cookies great vs. good. If you're looking for super soft Snickerdoodles, these aren't it, but you should give these a try anyway. They have the perfect amount of cinnamon sweetness and are incredibly easy to make.

Recipe from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe
Makes about 24 cookies

1 cup (2 sticks/228 g) unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups (350 g) unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher salt or large pinch of fine salt
2 tsp cream of tartar

1/4 cup (30 g) ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar

In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or with a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium high for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and paddle with a spatula as needed. Add in the eggs and beat for a few minutes until well combined.

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar together. On low speed, add in the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or move to an airtight container and refrigerate the dough overnight before baking.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 deg F and position a rack in the center. Prepare the coating by mixing the ground cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl.

Scoop balls of dough, about a rounded tbsp. in size, and roll between your hands to form a smooth ball. Place the balls in the cinnamon sugar and roll to coat. Place the coated balls on a lined baking sheet leaving about 3 inches between them. Flatten each ball slightly.

Bake for 12-15 minutes until the cookies are golden brown on the edges and a bit soft in the center. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temp for up to several days. The unbaked dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week.