Saturday, May 30, 2009

Chocolate Cookies

Per the request of numerous friends who devoured my last batch, here is the recipe for the greatest chocolate cookie ever. Ok, so that's a tall order, but Cook's Illustrated has made quite an amazing recipe (see, science can be fun!).

I will keep my normal preamble short. The chocolate that is used in this recipe is bittersweet, which translates to 62% cocoa. Since its chopped up pretty small I get the chips (since those are easy to find) and chop them up myself. You can go higher or lower on the % if you wish, but I would avoid straying too far. Two other sources of chocolate flavor are espresso powder and the cocoa powder. Espresso powder can be ordered online (more info here) and so can Dutch process cocoa (Valrhona is a good brand). Do not use regular cocoa! Your kitchen will explode (ok, maybe not, but they will not taste the same). I have a box of Dutch process at all times now because I actually use it much more than regular powder.

As far as the baking time goes for these cookies, I fell into the trap of "they look way too moist, I will leave them in" and the first batch got crunchy. Not bad, but these things should be super moist, so when you see them start to crack on the top (the cracks will be gooey), get them out.

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

1/3 cup granulated sugar plus 1/2 cup for coating
1 1/2 C all purpose flour (7 1/2 counces)
3/4 C Dutch process cocoa powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 plus 1/8 t table salt
1/2 C dark corn syrup
1 large egg white
1 t vanilla extract
12 T unsalted butter, softened
1/3 C dark brown sugar (2 1/2 ounces), packed
4 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Put 1/2 cup granulated sugar onto a plate and set aside. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda together in a small bowl and set aside. In another small bowl whisk together the corn syrup, egg white and vanilla and set aside.

Beat the butter, brown sugar and remaining 1/3 cup of white sugar together until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add the corn syrup mixture and beat until combined (20 seconds). Add the flour mixture and chopped chocolate and mix on low until just combined (30 seconds), making sure there isn't any unmixed flour pockets. Chill dough for 30 minutes (they say no longer than this).

Roll dough into small balls (recipe says 16 but I have been able to make 24) and then roll the balls in the sugar to coat. Put on baking sheets, 2 inches apart and bake 6-8 minutes, spinning sheets halfway during baking (watch them, they cook fast). Cookies are ready when they have cracked and still look raw in between the cracks. Allow the cookies to cool 5 minutes on the cookie sheets and then cool fully on a wire rack.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Maru Sushi

Here in the Lafayette area we have the highest number of chain restaurants per capita (so says Guinness). Trust me, not flaunting that fact. It limits the number of smaller restaurants and drives a good amount of them out of business. So when I find a local restaurant that is really good, I get up on a soap box and shout it. Today I want to introduce you to Maru Sushi.

Hands down the best sushi in town. They are reasonably priced and have a great selection. Rainbow rolls, Playboy (and girl) rolls, and the Thai chili roll are currently my favorites. They also have noodle dishes and ridiculously cheap and tasty lunch specials (bulgogi rocks my world). I have been all over the menu and have been satisfied each time.

The place is usually packed so be prepared to wait for about 20 minutes. All the meals come with water or tea (who knew barley tea was so good) as well as appetizers. Yes, that's right; you get miso soup, some marinated veggies and pickled cucumbers as small snacks before your meal. I cannot believe I'm saying this, but I think it even beats chips and salsa.

I strongly urge everyone who enjoys sushi or Japanese cuisine to go have lunch or dinner here, it’s a great restaurant that has become my most frequented for dining or carrying out.

111 N Chauncey Ave
West Lafayette, IN 47906
(765) 743-2646


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mocha Angel Food Cake

In my previous post, "Cake or Death", I wrote about the ups and downs of making an angel food cake. At the moment it's my favorite cake because, as one of my friends described, "It's like a freaking pillow". Now I have discovered a new twist on the cake that pretty much makes it irresistible.

Instead of the original vanilla, lemon juice, and almond extract combination, this time its coffee and chocolate added to the mix. Instant espresso powder and Kahlua to be more specific. Instant espresso powder is something that I find very intriguing and is showing up in more and more chocolate deserts. Next time you make brownies add some in and see how you like it. The problem is currently the inability to purchase it at most super markets. I'm pretty sure Whole Foods carries it, but other than that I'm at a loss. I bought mine off the internet here. If you cannot find espresso powder instant coffee will do in a pinch. Quick side note, check out the King Arthur Flour blog for wicked baked goods.

Mocha Angel Food Cake

12 egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 C sugar, divided evenly
1 1/2 t cream of tartar
1/4 C warm water
1/4 t salt
1 C cake flour
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 T instant espresso powder
1 T Kahlua
2 oz bittersweet chocolate finely chopped or grated

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift half of the sugar with the salt the cake flour, setting the remaining sugar aside. In a large bowl or stand mixer, add egg whites and water, beating until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and salt, mix on high speed. After about 3 minutes slowly add the reserved sugar, beating continuously at medium-high speed. Meanwhile mix together the Kahlua and espresso powder into a paste. Once you have achieved near-medium peaks (the ones that sort of fall down from the whisk), add the espresso-Kahlua mixture and the vanilla and mix to combine. Sift enough of the flour mixture in to dust the top of the foam. Using a spatula, fold in the flour mixture gently. Continue adding small amounts and folding until all of the flour mixture is incorporated. Incorporate the chocolate, careful not to overmix

Carefully add mixture into an ungreased tube pan (I like the one with the removable bottom). Tap the pan against the counter to even out the batter and remove any bubbles. Bake for 35 minutes before checking for doneness with a wooden skewer. (When inserted halfway between the inner and outer wall, the skewer should come out dry).

Cool on rack for about ten minutes, and then flip pan upside down. Cool upside down on cooling rack for at least two hours before removing from pan. If your pan does not have legs (like mine) invert it on a funnel and support it with shot glasses (genius idea, Em).


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lafayette Farmers Market

I write a lot on this blog about fresh ingredients and how great they can make food taste. Now that spring is well under way, it brings with it the Farmers Market. Or rather, three. There is one in Lafayette, one in West Lafayette, and one will be arriving in June at Purdue.

I consider these one of the greatest parts of residing in the Midwest. Fresh fruits and veggies, homemade goods such as soap and pastries, fresh meats, flowers, and above all, a chance to sample and purchase the beginnings of a great meal.

More info can be found at And thanks to my great friend Gracia for the nice pictures


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Hollandaise Again

After adjusting the recipe slightly (way too much butter), and in honor of Mother's Day, here is the post for Hollandaise once again. So be nice and make eggs Benedict for your mom :)

Hollandaise sauce is the bane of my existence. There is no other way to put it. I love it, I love putting it on food, but I hate making it. No, it's not that hard or time intensive, but it breaks. All the time. And I get so frustrated! Probably not a good thing that I mostly make it at breakfast (I'm probably cranky). I tried clarified butter, cold butter, warm yolks, and ancient rain dancing, but nothing worked. But alas, I think I have finally figured it out. Water! Yes, as I was flipping through all of my cookbooks, I found that the Joy of Cooking calls for some water to be added. This thins out the sauce a little bit and relaxes the strain on the egg proteins. And it was amazing. The sauce held quite nicely and even stayed together on the stove for when people came asking for seconds. Success! Now something else can be my bane.

Hollandaise Sauce
(adapted from the Joy of Cooking)

3 egg yolks
1 1/2 T lemon juice
pinch cayenne pepper
1 stick butter, melted
4 T warm water

First step, make a double boiler. Take a glass or stainless steel bowl and find a pot that the bottom just fits into. Fill the pot about half full with water and place it over medium high heat until it is just simmering. If you do this sauce over direct heat I can almost guarantee you it will be a disaster.

In the bowl whisk the egg yolks until slightly light and frothy. Whisk over heat and add 1 T water until the eggs just start to thicken, 3-5 minutes. Add the rest of the water 1 T at a time letting the eggs thicken in between. If you feel the eggs are getting too hot, pull the bowl out of the heat. Add the lemon juice. Remove the bowl from the heat and very slowly add the butter, stirring constantly until all the butter is incorporated (if you need to warm up the sauce while doing this place over the boiler for a few seconds). Leave the white solids from the butter (milk solids) out if possible. Whisk in the cayenne, season with salt. If the sauce is too thick, add a few drops of water. Serve immediately. To keep the sauce warm, place your mixing bowl in a larger bowl with some warm water and cover.

Note- If you want to boost the flavor even more, reduce ½ cup white wine to about 2 T and mix with the lemon juice before adding to the sauce.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

New Years Revelations Part III: Risotto

This is much less of a revelation then previous posts. I consider it more fine tuning (and inclusion of pictures). Risotto, which remains one of my favorite dishes, is not near as hard as I originally

was made to believe. Though somehow at least 50% of restaurants manage to make it into a big deal or a big mess. I'm not saying I'm super accomplished or anything of the sort, but I'm pretty

sure 95% of people who know how to turn on a stove can make risotto with a pretty good degree of success. But I will stop talking and start including a recipe. You can find the original here.

This is a good spring time recipe as asparagus is currently in its peak season (more on that later this week). But do not let it limit your ingredient list. I have made risotto with squash, peas, chicken, saffron, and even goat cheese. Yummy.

Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto

1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 onion, diced
2 T butter
1 oz Parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 cup white wine
3 cups chicken stock

4 cups water
1 pound of shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 bunch asparagus, trimmed of woody ends
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut asparagus into 1-2 inch pieces. Quickly steam for about 1 minute so just turn bright green but have all their crunch. Remove from steamer and rinse under cold water. Reserve cooking water and use as part of water for risotto.

In a small pot over medium low heat add the water and chicken stock until warm. In a heavy bottomed pan (I like a dutch oven, but any heavy pot will do), melt 2 T butter over medium heat until foaming, add the onion and some salt and sweat for about 3-5 minutes. Add the rice and stir constantly until the rice is slightly colored and smells toasted. This will take about 5 minutes. Add the wine and stir until absorbed. Reduce the heat slightly and add about 1 cup of the stock, stirring constantly until all of the stock has been absorbed. Repeat until about 20 minutes have passed and taste rice (note: you may not have to use all the stock/water). When slightly al dente add the shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes until shrimp are pink. Add the asparagus and cheese. Season with salt and lots of pepper. Serve hot or at room temperature.


Friday, May 1, 2009


Breakfast is a big deal in my house. Especially on the weekends. If I ever open a restaurant, its going to serve only breakfast. That's how much I like it.

Crepes are second to pancakes in terms of frequency of menu. I like them filled with strawberries that have been sliced and lightly tossed in sugar. Yum. They are pretty simple to make, in fact, the batter is the easy part. The more difficult is the actual pan process. I do not use a special crepe pan, just my 12 inch nonstick skillet. The first one does usually come out funny, but do not be discouraged. Just swirl the batter, flip gently and in no time you will be making crepes like nobody's business.

If you prefer the savory way, leave out the sugar. I have filled them with ricotta and made a tomato sauce to cover, it was pretty good.


1 C flour
2 t baking powder
1 t salt
1 t sugar
1 1/2 C milk
6 eggs

In a medium bowl mix together the dry ingredients and milk, whisk until no more lumps are present. Whisk in the eggs two at a time. Refrigerate the batter for at least 15 minutes to rest. Place a skillet over medium heat, let it come to temperature. Coat pan with cooking spray (light) or with a small amount of butter (flavor). Pour some of the batter (a little less than 1/3 C) into the center of the pan, swirling the pan to slowly coat the bottom. Once coated, let cook for about 2 minutes. Flip and let cook on other side until just starting to brown. If the batter bubbles turn the stove down just a bit. Fill with desired filling and top with whipped cream or syrup.


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