February 23, 2010

Honey Bunches

Chocolate chip cookies? Sign me up. Wheat germ cookies? Um, yeah, not so much. Normally I'd take a pass but one thing I've learned about Tuesdays With Dorie recipes is to keep an open mind. I had every intention of pawning these Honey Wheat Cookies off on the first health nut I could find but these things are seriously good. Sweetly, crumbly, insanely addictively good. Especially with local wildflower honey.

Reminds me of my Honey Nut Cheerio phase- I could never stop at just one bowl.
My usual "try one or two for quality control purposes" quickly snowballed and had the makings of a full-on binge until I packed those suckers up for my tennis class. Once they are in the tupperware they are off limits. The ones that didn't fit in the container though...come to Mama.
Thanks Michelle, for an awesome pick. For more honey-fied goodness, check out the blogroll.

February 21, 2010

Out of the Bubble

When it comes to parties, I'm more wallflower than animal. Often times I'd rather stay home but for a good cause I'll put my social ineptitude aside. I've just gotten back from the Stir It 28 LA, an event hosted by Crystal and Amir of Duo Dishes to benefit Haiti relief. Held up in the Hollywood Hills at the beautiful home of Greg from Sippity Sup, it was a wonderful party for a great cause.

Bloggers from around the Los Angeles and Orange County donated their time and culinary skills to this cozy cocktail party complete with a gorgeous spread from Small Pleasures Catering,

signature cocktails from Grey Goose Vodka, Sutter Home and Liquid Muse,

as well as passed hors d'oeuvres created by the bloggers themselves.

Everyone was so laid back and easy to talk to, I didn't even to resort to unnecessary fiddling with my camera. And how can you have a bad time when people keep handing you brownies. Brownies with bacon in them. Oh, having a furry friend around always makes me feel more at ease.

Never did catch his name.

February 16, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies, Now Hype Free

The most difficult choice when making chocolate chips cookies used to be with nuts or not. I always opted for not. Nowadays you've got so many decisions to make- semisweet, bittersweet, cocoa percentages, brown sugar, browned butter, to refrigerate or not, if so then for how long. Truly I find it exhausting. Do we really need all these criteria to come between us and a warm chocolate chip cookie in our hands? I think not, and it seems like Dorie Greenspan agrees.
This weeks TWD is My Best Chocolate Chip Cookies and they live up to their name. No fancy ingredients, no chilling periods, just mix, scoop and bake.
Thanks Kait for your pick this week and thanks to Dorie keeping it real with a simple rendition of a classic favorite.

February 14, 2010

Love Child

If Seattle and London had a baby- that's how I describe Vancouver. A perfect combination of Pacific Northwest scenery and European lifestyle, Vancouver is absolutely one of the best places I have ever visited. With it's fabulous food and wine, warm hospitality, and downright live-ability I have been kicking myself for not planning a trip up there for the Olympics. What on Earth was I thinking?
I'll be watching it on tv, and living vicariously through a girlfriend who had the incredible good fortune to get go up there this week. Oh, and of course these Nanaimo Bars.

Nanaimo Bars are a Canadian staple made up of a graham cracker, coconut and nut bottom, creamy vanilla custard in the middle, and rich chocolate ganache on top. If you don't already have love in your heart for Canada, take a bite of these and you will.

O, Canada.
There are lots of recipes out there for this decadent treat. I used this one.

February 10, 2010

Pitter Pat

We took a rare field trip into Beverly Hills the other day on the hunt for fancy accessories for our newly remodeled bathroom. Designer labels like Versace, Mossimo, and Tiffany don't hold much allure for someone whose jobs all require me to get up at ungodly early hours to be covered in flour, or dirt or both so I was thoroughly content to window shop- until I got to The Cheese Store.
Amidst the flash and glam of Rodeo Drive, this place is the real deal, a foodie paradise of specialty cheese, cured meats, aged balsamics, wine, the works. Awed into a stupor, I could only croak a small "Help?" to the woman behind the counter who then graciously guided me through their amazing selection. You name it they've got it, and they even let you sample everything before you buy it. Ultimately I dropped $30 on some manchego, quince paste, butter, and some other cheese with caraway seeds that I don't even know the name of and it was money well spent.
To do justice to the thick, bright yellow, Humboldt County butter, I made a loaf of Prosciutto Bread from Malgieri's Modern Baker.

Bread + Bacon + Butter = Heaven
Forget designer labels. Get a slice of homemade bread and a pat of quality butter and taste the good life.

February 8, 2010

Change Of Heart

I need to be upfront about this right away by saying I've always been a bit of a Valentine's Day scrooge. It's not I'm against expressions of love in general, just being told when and how to do so. Very much a "Hallmark Holiday," I once had the same level of disdain for Feb. 14 as I still do for bathing suit shopping- too much pressure, high expectations, dashed hopes, and the likelihood that it will end in tears. Kinda like the Bachelor. Not that I watch that show. No way.
Maybe I was just emotional scarring left over from high school- more specifically from any from any event that predicated roses being handed out in class.
Pity parties aside, I adore showing my loved ones I care on any ordinary day, especially when they are not expecting it, and my favorite way to do this is with food.
On Saturday I cooked up a romantic pre-Valentine's Day dinner of flat iron steak with port mushroom sauce, garlic mashed, and haricot vert with White Chocolate Strawberry Napoleons for dessert. Nothing says I love you like meat, potatoes, and chocolate.
In my maturity, I have given up the V-day bah humbug and embraced it's pink and red in-your-faceness. Hopefully people will have so much fun showing there love to one another, they'll keep it up all year round.

White Chocolate Strawberry Napoleons
adapted from Food Network
1 packaged frozen puff pastry
7 oz white chocolate, chopped
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 cup heavy cream, divided
1 pint sliced strawberries
powdered sugar for dusting

Thaw 2 sheets of puff pastry. Cut in thirds, then cut each third in half. Bake on parchment lined sheet pans at 400 for 10 minutes until puffed and lightly golden. Set aside
Place chopped chocolate into a heat resistant bowl. Whisk yolks and sugar in a small bowl until pale. In a saucepan, bring 1/4 cup of cream to a boil then pour slowly over egg mixture to temper. Pour back into the saucepan, cooking over low heat until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. Push warm mixture through a sieve over the bowl of chocolate and stir gently until melted and smooth.
In a separate bowl, whip the remaining cup of cream until almost still peaks. Fold half of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to lighten, then gently fold in the remaining whipped cream until fully incorporated. Let set in the refrigerator for an hour.
To assemble, pipe or spread the mousse onto one square of puff pastry. Lay sliced strawberries over the cream and top with another square of puff pastry. Dust with powdered sugar prior to serving.

February 3, 2010

Promises, Promises

Ok, so there are lots of reasons my most recent post was dated January 12th but I won't bore you with all the details. In a nutshell, bathroom remodeling, freelance tv and baking gigs (all good things mind you) pushed blogging to the back burner and even though I have been baking a ton, there are no photos to show for it. You should have seen the Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes I made for my friend/contractor, the cakey brownies I fed to my husband and his friend to enjoy with their armagnac, and I still have every intention of sharing my vegan adaptation of Choco-Nana Bread with all of you.
Hello? Are you guys even still with me?
Just bear with me a little bit longer because I do have lots of great stuff to tell you about in the near future. I've gotta go let the shower door guy in but I will be back and next time I promise I'll bring treats!