Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Coconut Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

OK, so I don't really need to blog about chocolate chip cookies. I've made them a million times, and you probably have too.  However, I had a threefold motivation to bake something completely easy and decadent tonight.  First, my dad has been helping me a lot with the painting, and I wanted to reward him/bribe him.  Cookies are a good bribe.  Second, it's been exactly two months since T broke up with me. I'm doing pretty well now but I'm not above using it as an excuse to make cookies.  Lastly, they announced layoffs at work today.  I'm still not sure if I'm affected - some things are still up in the air.  But a lot of my coworkers got notice.
So if there ever was a night skip going to the gym and make cookies instead, it's tonight. I whipped up a batch of the standard issue Toll House recipe, but added about a cup of chopped up pecans with a coconut-toffee coating.  They came out exactly as you might expect - very decadent.
Now it's time to start drinking....

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Anise Orange Bread

I haven't made bread in a while.  It was hot, and I was preoccupied with other things and wasn't very hungry.  Now, however, fall is here and my appetite has returned.  On the 'Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" blog, they posted a recipe for Sweet Provencal Flatbread with Anise Seeds.  That got my attention.  I love anise and always have anise seeds on hand.  I also like combinations of sweet and savory flavors, and thought this would be good in sandwiches as well as for breakfast.
I've blogged about this method of making bread before.  You make a big batch of wet dough, let it rise for a few hours, and then store it in the fridge until you're ready to use it.  At that point, pull out as much dough as you need, shape it, let it rise, and bake it.  The anise orange bread recipe was pretty typical.  I mixed up a batch and let it rise at room temperature. I forgot to add the olive oil, since I'm so used to making oil-free breads so it completely slipped my mind.  The end result will be chewier and crustier, which is fine with me.  After two hours, the dough was threatening to overflow the bowl if it continued to rise, so I put it in the fridge.
This morning, I took the dough out of the fridge and pulled out about 1/3 of it.  I dusted it with flour and rolled it out like a thick pizza.  I then cut it into eight wedges, brushed each wedge with water, and sprinkled anise seeds on top.  I wasn't in a hurry, so I let them rise for an hour or so rather than bake them immediately, like they did in the blog.  The wedges puffed up somewhat.  I'd set the wedges on a silicone baking mat, so I just put this directly in the oven on top of the pizza stone.  After they'd been in the oven for a few minutes, they had risen to about twice their initial thickness.  I baked them were for 20 minutes. 
I ate one for lunch. It was quite tasty.  It had a nice aromatic favor from the anise and orange, but wasn't sweet.  I just ate it with butter, but it would taste good with either jam or with meat or cheese.  I still have a lot of the dough in the fridge, and when i bake the rest I may just bake it as a boule, or even use it as pizza dough for a pizza without tomato sauce.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Butternut Squash Chipotle Bisque

I love butternut squash, which is why I have two of them sitting on the counter.  In today's newspaper, there was a recipe for a chipotle-flavored butternut squash bisque.  Since I had all the ingredients on hand except the chipotle peppers, I decided to try it, and it gets the honor of being the first post now that Recipe Geek is a stand alone blog and no longer part of my other blog.  It also sounded healthy and tasty, since it's just veggies and broth.  Oh yeah, and sour creme on top, except that I forgot to buy some.
I have never made butternut squash soup before, mainly because I like the squash so much I usually just eat it plain.
The squash was roasted for about 40 minutes.  While it was roasting, I diced some carrots, celery, and onion, and sauteed for about ten minutes, and then added some minced garlic and sauteed for another minute or so before quenching it with some chicken broth.  I then pulled the squash out of the oven and attempted to scrape the flesh away from the skin.  This was a pain in the ass; next time I will let it cool longer. After I had transferred the bulk of the squash to the soup pot, I was left with a pan full of shreds of skin with bits of squash attached. (I ate them and they were mighty tasty, so it wasn't a complete loss.)  The soup was then simmered for half an hour, and then I added a bit of minced chipotle chile and pureed the soup in the blender.
I skipped the roasted squash seeds since that was too much work.  Likewise, I forgot to buy sour cream so I used yogurt instead.  This was mixed with a little bit of chipotle chile and a dollop of it was served on top of the soup.
The soup was tasty and the chipotle flavors mingled well with the squash. However, if I make it again I'll leave out the carrot and celery, since those flavors clashed with the overall taste of the soup.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Recipe Geek: Key Lime Pie

Even though my recipe geek record is pretty dismal when it comes to pies, I was not to be deterred. In honor of the fact that I'm going to Sacramento tomorrow, I made a key lime pie to bring with me.
Key lime pie is pretty simple. You beat some egg yolks, add a can of condensed milk and some lime juice and mix. The acid from the limes causes the milk proteins to crosslink and the filling gels. You then put it in the a prebaked graham cracker crust and chill it, then top with whipped cream. Although I've made key lime cheesecake, and key lime bars, I've never made the pie.
I used a recipe from "Cook's Illustrated." They're pretty obsessive, which is fine with me since pies are not my strongest point They messed around with the recipe a bit and made some changes. First, they add lime zest to the filling, and once the filling has been put into the crust, they bake the pie for 15 minutes. Supposedly it was too gloppy when it wasn't baked. I prepared the graham cracker crust and baked it for about 15 minutes, then let it cool while I made the filling. Once all the ingredients are mixed, you're supposed to let it set for half an hour. I distracted myself with an episode of "The Tudors" so that I wouldn't be tempted to play with it or sample it. It worked pretty much as described. I filled the crust and baked it, and now it's in the fridge. I'll pack it in a cooler for the drive and top it with whipped cream once we're ready to eat it. I'll put the taste test results in the comments section once we've tasted it.