Carrie's Posts

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Monster Craving

Monday, March 31st, 2014

I don’t consider myself to be a baker, but I can make a pretty mean cookie.  One of my ‘go to’ recipes is actually gluten free. That doesn’t mean that it’s healthy, but it does mean I can share them with all of my friends. There are many variations of this recipe, so look around and find one that suits you best.

monster cookie 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The recipe is very simple and uses the creaming method. Creaming, in baking, is the technique of blending ingredients, usually granulated sugar, together with a solid fat like shortening or butter. The technique is most often used in making buttercream, cake batter or cookie dough. The dry ingredients are mixed or beaten with the fat until it becomes light and fluffy and increased in volume, due to the incorporation of tiny air bubbles. These air bubbles, locked into the semi-solid fat, remain in the final batter and expand as the item is baked, serving as a form of leavening agent.

monster cookie 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butter is the traditional fat for creaming, but vegetable shortening is a more effective leavener for a number of reasons. The low melting point of butter means it aerates best at temperatures cooler than most kitchens (18 °C/65 °F), while shortening works best at higher temperatures. Because fat of butter has coarser crystalline structure, it allows larger air bubbles to form than shortening; large bubbles can rise in and escape from thin batters. Also, most shortening is made with preformed nitrogen bubbles and bubble-stabilizing emulsifiers, both of which enhance its leavening ability.

monster cookie 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The only problem I run into when making these Monster Cookies is the size of my KitchenAid mixer.  It’s fine for one recipe, but I typically make a double batch because they freeze very well.  You can use a large or small portion scoop for these, just watch the bake time and adjust accordingly. These come out best when using a Silpat instead of parchment.  I find that when I use parchment paper, they tend to burn a little more quickly.  I do not like the taste of burnt peanut butter.  The Silpat gives a more of a buffer between the pan and the cookie.

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My name is Carrie.  I have a cookie addiction.  This is my third blog about cookies.

monster cookie 5

Feeling Pudgy? Salad to the Rescue

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

If you’re anything like me, the last thing you want to eat on a cold winter’s day is salad. Unfortunately, my pants seem to be shrinking by the day, so I thought I would share an awesome recipe.

This watercress salad is stunningly beautiful, full of flavor, textures and good for you. What more can you ask for?  The watercress gives the salad body and a nice peppery bite, celery makes it refreshing, chickpeas are soft and full of protein, almonds supply the crunch factor and pomegranate seeds are just amazing!

Watercress Salad with Chickpeas and Pomegranate Seeds

watercressYield 4-6 Servings

Active time: 20 minutes

Start to finish: 20 minutes

3 stalks celery, thinly sliced on the bias

1 bunch watercress, tough stems removed

One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Seeds of 1/2 pomegranate, see note below

Feta Vinaigrette, recipe follows

  1. In large salad bowl, toss together the celery, watercress and chickpeas.
  2. Dress with just enough feta vinaigrette to lightly coat. Place the salad on chilled plates.
  3. Top each serving with a sprinkling of almonds and pomegranate seeds.

pomegranateNote: The best way to remove the seeds from a pomegranate is to cut in half and place it in a bowl of water. Use your fingers to gently loosen the seeds from the pith without bursting them. The seeds will sink to the bottom, making it easy to gather them, and you will not get sprayed with any juice.

Another way to get the seeds out is to cut the pomegranate in half around the equator, hold the flat side in your hand over a bowl, then smack the rounded side with a heavy spoon.  The seeds fall right out into the bowl!

*Disclaimer – Don’t wear white clothing while doing this.

Feta Vinaigrette

Yield: 1 cup

Active time: 15 minutes

Start to finish time: 15 minutes

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 shallot, minced

1/3 to 1/2 extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon fresh dill, rough chopped

1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Mix together the vinegar and shallot in a medium size bowl.
  2. Slowly drizzle in the oil while whisking quickly to form a temporary emulsion.
  3. Stir in the honey, dill and feta cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Meyer Lemon Remedy

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

As I sit here on the couch, coughing, sneezing, and sniffling all over my laptop, all I can think about is a Meyer Lemon Hot Toddy. The question right now is: hot toddy, or NyQuil? I think I’ll have a better chance of typing and finishing this blog if I go with the hot toddy. Hold on… be right back.

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Yes, I really did just make myself a hot toddy!

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lemonsThe very first blog I wrote for The Chopping Blog was about winter citrus.  This is the most perfect time of the year to eat (or drink) citrus, not only because it is in season and the flavor is the best right now, but for the Vitamin C as well. Meyer lemons have a sweeter and more floral taste than standard lemons and can have a slight orange tint to the pulp. They have thinner skins (less pith) than other lemons and therefore are harder to transport and store. This make them perfect for preserving, too!  The season typically lasts from January to May, if we’re lucky.

Another of my favorite ways to use Meyer lemons is in the Meyer Lemon Pound Cake recipe that we make in our Eat, Drink Man Woman class on March 22nd at Lincoln Square. Sign up now! Okay, okay. I’ll share the recipe.

Meyer Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Glaze

cake2 Tablespoons breadcrumbs

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

½ cup whole blanched almonds

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¾ teaspoon fine salt

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

½ cup milk, at room temperature

2 Tablespoons lemon extract

Zest and juice of 2 Meyer lemons

For the glaze:

1 ½ cups powdered sugar

3 Tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1 lemon, zested

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  2. Butter a loaf pan and dust it with the breadcrumbs, tapping out any excess.
  3. Grind the almonds in a food processor until very fine.  Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  5. Pour the melted butter into a large bowl and add the sugar.  Using a whisk, mix until just combined.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.
  6. Add the flour mixture and milk in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the flour.  Blend until mixed after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.  Stir in the lemon extract.
  7. Using a spatula, fold in the lemon zest, juice and ground almonds.  The mixture will be thin.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 65 minutes.  Transfer to a cooling rack.
  9. While the cake is baking, prepare the glaze.  Place the powdered sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a bowl and stir until smooth.

I know your mouth is watering at this point. If you don’t have the loaf pan or cooling rack to prepare this Meyer Lemon Pound Cake, you should stop by The Chopping Block and pick them up because all bakeware is 20% off for the month of February!

Mama’s Buttermilk Biscuits

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

I was able to travel home for the holidays and lucky enough to get homemade biscuits two days in a row. The ingredients aren’t complicated, but it’s one of those recipes that really isn’t a recipe… it’s more a little of this, enough of that, etc. I’ve only attempted to make them a couple of times. They were edible, but nothing like my mom’s.

biscuitrawMama uses self-rising flour, which is all-purpose flour with baking powder and salt already added, buttermilk and vegetable oil.  That’s it.  Just three ingredients:

3 ½ – 4 cups self-rising flour

1 ½ cups buttermilk

½ cup vegetable oil

Here’s my attempt to describe her method:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place ¼ cup vegetable oil in a 10” cast iron skillet.
  3. With the flour in a large bowl, make a well and add buttermilk, plus 3 Tablespoons of vegetable oil.
  4. Gently begin mixing buttermilk using your hands or a fork to slowly incorporate flour with buttermilk.  Mix until dough is no longer sticky.  You may not need all of the flour.
  5. Portion out dough into approximately 12 pieces. Gently roll and place in oiled skillet.
  6. Brush each biscuit with vegetable oil.
  7. Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes until golden brown.

biscuitspreadThese probably aren’t anything like what most people would consider a typical biscuit. With the amount of oil that’s in the pan and in the dough, they get really crispy on the bottom (basically pan fried in the cast iron skillet).  I love them and will inevitably eat one too many!

We cooked some bacon and sliced some cheddar cheese to put inside them for breakfast one morning. When I was a child, I loved mixing syrup and a bit of butter together to dip the biscuits in.

In the spirit of Pinterest attempts” (aka “Nailed it!”) photos… here is a picture of my Mama’s biscuits and an attempt at making her biscuits by someone I promised I wouldn’t name so I could use her picture! Ha! They tasted great, but weren’t too pretty.

biscuitfinished

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What’s the best biscuit you’ve ever eaten?

Memorable Scents

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Did you know that your sense of taste is directly connected with your sense of smell? That’s the reason why you can’t taste anything and don’t really crave anything to eat when you have a cold.  The same thing applies to scents of foods and your memory of eating them, or feelings are brought back to mind once you smell certain things cooking.

onionsThere is one combination that always stands out to me; the scent of onions sautéing in butter.  No matter what kitchen or setting I’m in, when I smell butter and onions, I’m automatically taken back to my childhood and the memories of Velveeta cheese dip.  My mom would always start this recipe by sautéing a Vidalia onion with a little butter.  I knew, as soon as I smelled that combination, that soon, I would have hot, comforting, cheesy goodness.

I’m writing about this because I actually made some cheese dip this past weekend while watching football. It’s obviously a culinary delicacy that chefs can’t resist. Don’t judge! I can tear down on Pigs in a Blanket, too.

What food scent brings memories (good or bad) back to you?

cheesedip

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Carrie finally found her culinary niche as a Chef Instructor for The Chopping Block in May 2008, but only after a hilariously traumatic demonstration interview (of which you will have to attend one of her classes to hear about). She gets a thrill of sharing the things she’s learned about food and cooking with others and the memories and experiences around food that have made her who she is today. Her hope is to take away the apprehension people have of cooking by pouring on her southern hospitality and charm and having fun in the kitchen. When she isn’t cooking, you can usually find her at a concert, a neighborhood restaurant or just hanging out with friends and enjoying their company.