Skillet chocolate chip cookie (one bowl)

Skillet chocolate chip cookie

This is the ultimate lazy baking recipe. This is for those nights when you really really want a warm chocolate chip cookie, but really really don’t want to go through the whole song and dance of measuring, creaming butter and sugar, dirtying multiple dishes and carefully spooning out dough mounds onto baking sheets.

Don’t get me wrong: I love a well-crafted, perfectly executed chocolate chip cookie, and most of the time, I don’t mind the extra effort. But tonight, I did mind the extra effort (and I only had half a cup of chocolate chips left over), so this skillet cookie was just what I needed.

Note: I forgot to put salt in the mixture, so I guessed that about 1/4 teaspoon would have worked and added to the below list. Also, this is a pretty sweet cookie, overall, so I may reduce the amount of sugar next time. Lastly, this yields a thin cookie – the recipe could probably be doubled and baked in the same size skillet for thicker results (left in the oven for longer, of course).

Skillet chocolate chip cookie
Adapted from: SparkRecipes

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 egg
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Measure all ingredients into a bowl and mix (either by hand or electric mixer) until they all come together. Lightly spray a 10-inch cast-iron skillet (or other ovenproof skillet) with cooking spray, and spread the batter into the skillet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool before slicing and enjoying.

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The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

I like making cookies, and I like eating cookies, so I decided it would be fun to participate in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap!

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2011

Here’s the schedule:

Sign Up Deadline: Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Receive Your Matches: Monday, November 21, 2011
Shipment Deadline: Monday, December 5, 2011
Blog Post Date: Monday, December 12, 2011

If you or someone you know wants to participate, check out additional information by clicking the above image.

Cookies!

30 before 30: B’stilla

B'stilla

I’m not exactly sure what inspired me to put b’stilla, a Moroccan chicken pie, on my 30 before 30 list. Before putting it on the list, I’d actually only eaten it once – at Aziza, as a part of an overall fantastic, multi-course meal. I think I was mostly intrigued by the idea of putting together a savory, delicately layered pie, which is something I’ve never really attempted before.

B'stilla

B'stilla

This pie involves so many pure, beautiful ingredients: fresh herbs, bright spices, enough butter and powdered sugar and cinnamon to give the dish a rich and complex taste.

I also appreciate the fact that this recipe got me to branch out, ingredients-wise. This was actually the first time I’ve ever purchased and cooked boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Traditionally, I’ve been a bit afraid to branch out much beyond the breast of the chicken, so I was grateful to be pushed out of that shell.

B'stilla

B'stilla

B'stilla

We experienced a couple of snafus. One: the stovetop mixture, before going in to the pie dish, just wasn’t thickening as much as I would have liked, and I worried about overcooking it, so I think the end result wasn’t quite firm enough. Two: the pie had been baking for at least 15 minutes past the recommended baking time, and the top still wasn’t as crisp and brown as it should have been; I wanted to give it more time, but we were starving and it was late and I just wanted to be done. Despite this, however, this b’stilla was really delicious. I would definitely consider making it again, for a special occasion or a weekend that begs for a longer cooking project.

B'stilla

B'stilla

B'stilla

B'stilla

I didn’t stray at all from the recipe I followed, so I won’t dictate it here. Here is the recipe source: Bon Appetit, via Turntable Kitchen.

B'stilla

B'stilla

B'stilla

Curried potato-squash-leek soup

I made a clean-out-the-pantry-and-fridge soup last night. I had some potatoes and a delicata squash left over from dinner the night before, plus a leek in the fridge and some leftover cooked lentils that were threatening to go bad. So, I took Mark Bittman’s potato-leek soup recipe and adjusted to include some extra ingredients. No photos, sorry. ūüė¶

P.S. I have about three 30 before 30 posts in the vault, just need to actually sit down and crank ’em out!

Curried potato-squash-leek soup

3 tablespoons butter
4 medium red potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 delicata squash, peeled and chopped
3 leeks (white and light green parts only), chopped
4-6 cups broth (veggie or chicken)
1 cup cooked lentils (mine were cooked with broth and some cumin)
1/2 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon curry powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the leeks, potatoes, and squash and gently stir until softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add enough broth to just cover the vegetables, bring to a boil, then adjust the heat so that the soup bubbles gently. Add a few shakes of salt and pepper and cook for about 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes and squash are tender. Stir in lentils.

Turn off the heat, and puree the soup until smooth – either with an immersion blender, or regular blender or food processor. Stir in the garam masala and curry powder, plus additional salt and pepper to taste, and re-heat over the stove if necessary.

Microwave nectarine pie steel-cut oats

Nectarine pie steel-cut oats

When I don’t make steel-cut oats ahead of time, I still like to have the option of eating them at work for a late breakfast (or sometimes lunch if need be). For this, I take advantage of Trader Joe’s Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats. They’re not as creamy and awesome as the pure ones cooked on the stove, but they still do the trick.

This past week, I had a bag of big, gorgeous nectarines from the Alemany Farmers Market, and I was out of the frozen berries that I normally stir into my microwaved oats with honey. So, I improvised, and “nectarine pie” steel-cut oats were born.

Microwave nectarine pie steel-cut oats

1/4 cup Trader Joe’s Quick Cook Steel Cut Oats
3/4 cup hot water
1-2 tablespoons honey
1 large nectarine
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon

Chop  the nectarine into bite-size pieces. Add the oats and water to a bowl (preferably one with high sides, since the mix will rise up Рotherwise you need to babysit it as it cooks and pause to stir if it starts to boil over).  Cook for 3 minutes in the microwave. Stir, then cook for an additional 1.5 minutes.

Stir in the honey, nectarine pieces and cinnamon, and return to the microwave for an additional 1.5 – 2 minutes (depending on how firm/soft you want the nectarine pieces). Stir and let sit for a couple of minutes before eating (don’t burn your tongue!).

Biscuits with leeks, gruyere cheese and amaranth flour

Biscuits with leeks, gruyere cheese, and amaranth

I’ve been throwing this idea around in my head for awhile. Ever since I made Kim Boyce’s Muscovado Sugar Cake and caught my first whiff of fragrant¬†amaranth flour.

What would happen if this grassy amaranth flour was paired with earthy leeks, in some sort of buttery bready concoction? Like, say, biscuits? Ooh la la.

I did some research and found a few biscuit recipes that involved wild leeks (a.k.a. ramps), but I couldn’t find any that involved both regular leeks and amaranth flour. I decided to do a combination of this smitten kitchen recipe for prepping the leeks and this recipe for biscuits that utilizes pencil leeks, making appropriate changes and substitutions.¬†I also decided to add some nutty gruyere cheese. Just because.

Biscuits with leeks, gruyere cheese, and amaranth

Biscuits with leeks, gruyere cheese, and amaranth

Biscuits with leeks, gruyere cheese, and amaranth

I made the biscuits tonight, to serve with Alton Brown’s curried split pea soup. And they were very, very good (the soup was very good as well). The flavor of the leeks was strong and pronounced, likely enhanced by the amaranth. And as expected, the gruyere came through strongly as well – one day, I would like to make these biscuits again, with either less gruyere or none at all, to see how well the leeks and amaranth perform on their own.

Biscuits with leeks, gruyere cheese, and amaranth

Biscuits with leeks, gruyere cheese, and amaranth

Biscuits with leeks, gruyere cheese and amaranth flour
Adapted from smitten kitchen and Crumbs On My Keyboard

Leeks:
1 cup leeks, white and light green parts only, halved and chopped, rinsed and drained
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter
Freshly ground pepper

Biscuits:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup amaranth flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons cold butter cut into small cubes
Prepared leeks (above)
1/2 – 1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, position a rack in the center of the oven, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium-sized pan, saute the leeks over medium-high heat with a little cooking spray and a pinch of kosher salt until softened (about 5 minutes). Lower the heat to medium-low, stir in the butter, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pepper and more salt to taste. Remove from pan and set aside.

In a medium/large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter (or a food processor, or your fingers). Gently stir in the cheese and the prepared leeks. Pour in the buttermilk and fold until just combined.

On a lightly floured work surface, gently knead the dough four or five times, adding a bit more flour if the dough sticks. Roll the dough until about 1/2 inch thickness with a rolling pin. Using anything with a 2-inch-ish circumference (I used an old jar), cut out the biscuit rounds and transfer to the prepared baking sheet (around 12-15 rounds). Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.

Biscuits with leeks, gruyere cheese, and amaranth

Biscuits with leeks, gruyere cheese, and amaranth

Make this soup: Red lentil soup with lemon

I have no photos. I have nothing to give besides words. Sorry.

But you should make this soup. It is so very delicious.

I got it from my copy of The Essential New York Times Cookbook, and I mostly tried it because a) I really wanted to make some type of lentil soup, and b) I’ve been dying to use my new immersion blender.

The full recipe, plus more gushing about the greatness of this soup, can be found via both Orangette and Sassy Radish.

My additions/substitutions/notes:

  • I added one leek to the mixture (since I like leeks), and¬†I used coconut oil instead of olive for the¬†saut√©ing¬†(since I’ve been digging coconut oil recently).¬†I found both additions to be extremely pleasing, especially the coconut oil.
  • I increased the number of garlic cloves by 3 or 4, since garlic is boss.
  • I left out the cilantro because I didn’t have any, but I’m sure it would have been divine.
  • Lastly, the recipe dictates “juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste” – I ended up using the juice from almost the entire lemon.
MAKE THIS SOUP.

Doing what I can: Peanut butter cream pie, for Mikey Perillo

Peanut butter cream pie

I do not know Jennifer Perillo. I do, however, read her blog. Her story, as of just a few days ago, is heartbreaking.

There is little anyone can do when a loved one suddenly dies, so Jennifer asked that her friends and readers, if they so desired, make a dish that was one of her late husband’s favorites: peanut butter cream pie.

Peanut butter cream pie

I wasn’t planning on making the pie. I’m not really a part of this massive food blogging community – this blog is just a fun little outlet for me. But I watched today as my Google Reader exploded with posts featuring gorgeous variations of peanut butter pie – all for Mikey, and for Jennifer, even if the blogger had never met either of them. I followed the #apieformikey trending topic on Twitter. I was blown away at the giant wave of support within this online community.

I found myself reading Jennifer’s story and holding back tears. I couldn’t help but wonder how I would feel if any of my loved ones – my boyfriend, my mother, my father, my sister, my friends – just disappeared from my life at the drop of a hat, with no warning. I can’t even fathom it.

Peanut butter cream pie

So I came home from work today and I made the pie. It’s chilling in the fridge as we speak. Maybe we’ll dig in when we get home later tonight; maybe we’ll wait and bring it to a friend’s BBQ tomorrow. Either way, the pie will be consumed with people I care about – we will enjoy ¬†the pie and each other’s company, and that is the whole point.

Peanut butter cream pie

Peanut butter cream pie, for Mikey. You can read more about Jennifer and see more peanut butter pie blog posts over at the Tomato Tart.

Cherry-vanilla baked oatmeal

Cherry-vanilla baked oatmeal

I’m obsessed with oatmeal for breakfast. However, due to my long commute and extreme disdain for early mornings, it’s difficult for me to actually make breakfast in the morning. Anything that requires more than pouring into a bowl or heating in the microwave isn’t realistic for me in the long term.

Cherry-vanilla baked oatmeal

That’s where making steel-cut oats overnight and this awesome baked oatmeal come in handy. Both can be made in big batches and store beautifully in the fridge throughout the week.

Cherry-vanilla baked oatmeal

Cherry-vanilla baked oatmeal

This cherry-vanilla baked oatmeal is an adaptation of Heidi Swanson‘s baked oatmeal from the gorgeous Super Natural Every Day. I’ve made her recipe verbatim before and absolutely loved it. This past weekend, I wanted to make it again but only had cherries and vanilla soy milk on hand, so Cherry-Vanilla Baked Oatmeal was born.

Cherry-Vanilla Baked Oatmeal
Adapted from Super Natural Every Day (original recipe can be found via Lottie + Doof)
Serves 6-8

2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/3 cup sugar or maple syrup
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Scant 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2 cups vanilla soy milk
1 large egg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups sweet cherries, pitted and halved

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place a rack in the upper third of the oven. Spray a 9×13 glass casserole dish with cooking spray (or use butter).

In a medium bowl, mix the oats, half the walnuts, sugar (if using), baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, whisk the maple syrup (if using), soy milk, egg, butter and vanilla.

Arrange 1 cup of the pitted/halved cherries in a single layer at the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Cover with the oat mixture, then slowly drizzle the wet mix over the oats. Give the dish a couple of gently thwacks on the counter to ensure even distribution of the wet mixture through the dry. Scatter the rest of the cherries and walnuts on top.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the oatmeal is set. Let cool for a few minutes before serving, and store leftovers in the fridge (will keep up to a week or so).

30 before 30: Sour cherry pie with lattice top

30 before 30: Sour cherry pie

Something magical happens when you mix sour cherries with sugar and lemon juice.

Wait, let’s back up. First, we need to talk about sour cherries.

30 before 30: Sour cherry pie

Apparently, fresh¬†sour (a.k.a. tart) cherries are not easy to come by, at least in the Bay Area. While markets will have piles of fresh, sweet Bings and¬†Rainiers ready for the taking, it is much less likely that the same markets will have fresh sour cherries available. Instead, sour cherries can be found canned, frozen, or dried, and if you’re lucky, at your local farmers market. A friend informed me that she usually gets sour cherries from a farmer selling at the Civic Center market; however, this summer, due to wackier weather, this farmer didn’t have any for the selling.

30 before 30: Sour cherry pie

30 before 30: Sour cherry pie

I have very little experience making pies (the last time I made an apple pie, I forgot to peel the apples first), so I wasn’t sure how I should proceed. Should I just make the pie with sweet cherries, adding more lemon juice to mimic the traditional tartness? Should I just wait until next summer and try my luck again? My sister (a pie-making guru if there ever was one) made a pie with sweet cherries and said it wasn’t that great, and I didn’t like the idea of waiting until less than a month before my 30th birthday to complete this portion of the 30 before 30 project.

30 before 30: Sour cherry pie

30 before 30: Sour cherry pie

So where to get sour cherries now? Alemany Farmers Market didn’t have any. We called Rainbow Grocery, and they didn’t have any. Should I look for the canned variety? I wouldn’t even know where to start, and using canned cherries seemed to go against the whole point of this project.

So we turned to Berkeley Bowl, and lo and behold, tart cherries were in stock! The cherries had been shipped in from Washington in 2 pound plastic containers – the exact quantity that I needed.

So, back to the pie.

30 before 30: Sour cherry pie

30 before 30: Sour cherry pie

This pie was amazing. I mean . . . I’m basically speechless. I’ve never had homemade, classic cherry pie before, and this was truly unreal. The crust is buttery, flaky perfection (despite the fact that I overbaked it). And the filling. Oh, the filling. Sour cherries mix with sugar and lemon juice and some cornstarch (for thickening), and the result is just heavenly. If you can find fresh sour cherries, I can’t recommend this enough.

Cherry-hunting aside, making this pie was fairly easy. It takes a while to pit all the cherries (I highly recommend a cherry pitter), and making/shaping the crust is a precise process, but otherwise it’s not back-breaking or overly complicated. And the finished product is more than worth it. Times ten.

30 before 30: Sour cherry pie

30 before 30: Sour cherry pie

I used two recipes for this pie: Cooks Illustrated’s pie crust (which uses both butter and shortening for taste and texture, respectively), and Bon Appetit’s sour cherry filling (via Lottie + Doof).

I will dream of this pie every day until I can get sour cherries once again.

INGREDIENTS:

Pie crust
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
13 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
7 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cold
4-5 tablespoons ice water

Sour cherry pie filling
Adapted from Bon Appetit/Lottie + Doof

1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 cups whole pitted sour cherries
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Milk (any kind), for brushing on top

INSTRUCTIONS: 

Make the pie crust first, since the dough has to chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out and assembling (and you can use the chill time to pit your cherries). For the next few steps, I used a food processor, but they can also be done in a bowl with either a pastry cutter or two knives or just your fingers.

Add the flour, sugar and salt to the food processor bowl and pulse a couple of times to mix together. Take your butter and shortening out of the fridge and cut into small (1/4 inch or so) pieces. Add the butter pieces to the flour mixture in the food processor, and pulse 5 times to incorporate. Repeat the same steps with the shortening. You want the mixture to resemble very coarse cornmeal. Note: I ended up with a mixture that had butter/shortening chunks that were slightly larger than small peas, as opposed to the Cook’s Illustrated instructions – since I didn’t want to overmix, however, I just went with it. The crust turned out wonderfully, regardless.

Transfer mixture to a medium bowl. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of ice water into the mixture and fold in with a rubber spatula (add 1 more tablespoon if the dough isn’t coming together). Using your hands, shape the dough into two balls, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten into 4-inch wide disks (I forgot this step), dust with flour, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

After chilling the fridge, remove the dough from the refrigerator and set aside. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and place a rack in the lower third of the oven.

Make the filling. Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl, then gently stir in pitted cherries, lemon juice, and vanilla. Set aside while you roll out the dough.

Roll out the smaller disk of dough between two lightly floured pieces of plastic wrap (this is optional; I certainly found it easier to use the plastic rather than roll out directly on the counter) into a 12-inch round. Transfer to a 9-inch glass pie dish, and trim the edges to 1/2 inch length (I forgot to do this, and just ended up with some extra crust – no big deal).

Roll out the larger disk of dough between two lightly floured pieces of plastic into a 12-inch round. Using a pizza cutter, knife or pastry wheel (I used a pizza cutter), cut the round into 10 equal long strips (about 3/4 inch wide strips).

Give the filling one last stir, and gently pour into the dough-lined pie dish, mounding slightly in the center, and dot with the butter pieces. Follow these helpful instructions for arranging the strips on top of the filling to form the lattice. Fold the bottom crust over the ends of the strips and seal together all around the pie. Use a fork to crimp the edges. Brush the lattice pieces with a little bit of milk, then sprinkle with sugar (around 1 tablespoon).

Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet (because the filling will spill out, and the baking sheets prevents a big stinky smelly mess in your oven). Bake the pie for 15 minutes at 425, then reduce temperature to 375 degrees and bake for 50-60 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. If the crust starts to brown too quickly, drape foil lightly over the whole pie until the end (I didn’t check mine soon enough and my crust was already a bit too brown, but it still came out great).

Once the pie is finished baking, remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool completely. Resist the urge to cut into the pie before it’s finished cooling; as the filling cools, it thickens up into the perfect pie consistency that’s worth waiting for.