Archive for September, 2012

September 17, 2012

Fleetwood Mac | Say You Love Me

Fleetwood Mac | Say You Love Me

What we are listening to in the kitchen.

September 15, 2012

Salted Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am addicted to salted butter.  After 2 years in France, I find myself buttering baguettes with a far higher butter to bread ratio than I ever could have imagined.  There is something about the salted butter in this country that makes it go ‘crunch’ between your teeth and leaves you (endlessly) hankering for more.  In fact, if I could eat only baguette and salted butter for the rest of my days, I think I would be totally fine with it (and totally 3000 pounds.)

The other day, I started taking classes again.  They are in French and 7 hours long.  Hour 1 is fine, I’m perfectly attentive and learning…but by hour 6.5, I am planning what I am going to bake/cook in order to “change my ideas” and think about something else.  During our last in-class 15 minute break, while all of the other students were conversing about formation and adult education, I was on my phone googling David Lebovtiz’s chocolate chip cookies (a tried and true recipe) in order to know what ingredients I might need on the way home.  The first chocolate chip cookie recipe that popped up wasn’t the one I was looking for, but it seemed to tempt me even more.  A traditional cookie made with SALTED BUTTER.  Hallelujah, the angels were singing.

I stopped at the supermarket on the way home from school and splurged on the nicest, saltest butter that I could find.  I wanted it to “croque” (crunch) in my mouth. And crunch it shall.

This cookie is delicious. That is all I really have to say.  Make them and see for yourself.  In the US, salted butter really isn’t as salty as in France, so you might have to add some thicker salt (iodized salt just won’t do it) along the lines of fleur de sel or kosher salt…anything large and lumpy!

Salted Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

(adapted from David Lebovtiz) my baking guru

(I got about 36 cookies)
What you’ll need:

  • 4 ounces (115g) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup packed (110g) dark or light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cup (180g) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 1/3 cups (200g) coarsely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

Now what?

  1. Mix butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a stand mixer (or by hand) until creamy. Do not overmix! This leads to flat and crunchy cookies rather than large and fluffy ones.
  2. Add the egg, vanilla extract and flour and combine until smooth.
  3. Finally, add the baking soda, sea salt and chopped chocolate (and chocolate ‘dust’)
  4. Place the dough in the refrigerator for at least a half an hour (ideally overnight).
  5. Once it is chilled, place spoonfuls on an ungreased baking sheet evenly spaced out.  Be sure to press down on the top of the dough to flatten them.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through (for even baking!) After 10 minutes, flatten the tops of the cookies with a spatula and put back in the oven for about 2 more minutes.  Be careful not to over bake (if you do they will still be delicious, just crunchy.)
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

(coming home to cookies.)

September 12, 2012

Filling the Void: Macarons (A Guest Blog by Susan Elliot)

Musings from my counterpart all the way in the United States of America, 12 days away from France….a post from Susan Elliot:

Filling the Void

Filling the void with dark chocolate ganache. It’s the only appropriate thing I can think of. Leaving the place and the people, surtout one certain person, has been more of a ‘ripping out, roots and all’ experience than I had expected it would be. It’s bittersweet and, at the moment, more bitter than sweet.

So dark chocolate is the only option I think. At least 70%, as the recipe suggests.

From one day to the next, I’ve jetted so far away from these people, the place, a best friend; the results of my choice yet I couldn’t have foreseen the sentiments this experience would evoke for me.

It’s my attempt to get back there, to feel closer to you, to feel as if you would be with me in the kitchen. These macarons are my attempt to bridge the gap between us. From one side to the other with dark chocolate ganache, just what you’ll find in the middle of this chocolate macaron.

The goal was smaller, traditional macarons, but in the end, one big maracon cake was the best I could pull off for this first attempt.

September 3, 2012

Alsatian Spaetzle | spaetzle à l’alsacienne

Once upon a time in a large kitchen in the countryside of Alsace, chez Martine a colleague of mine,  I learned how to make spaetzle.  While most other French citizens might mock Alsatians for being very agricultural and dare I say, hickish, I, on the other hand, have fallen in love with their culture.  I guess being from New York, I crave what is foreign to me: sprawling green hills and mamies (grandmas) who bake cakes every Sunday!  Because those cakes feed my roommates who consequentially feed me!  And damn, they are good.

The term Alsatian evokes a whole set of particular principles — I could never do it justice by trying to explain it (Christa, let me know what it is you actually find out about this interesting species in your PHD.)  A few words that come to mind are family-oriented (Sunday lunch….every week), neat (2 sponges for doing the dishes?) and proud of their culture and history (have you SEEN those costumes?)

I could go on.  And I will at a later date as I am still continuing to uncover the mystery that is Alsace.
Anyway, this past weekend my better half picked up and left Strasbourg to return to Atlanta, Georgia.  Prior to her departure, I showed her all my Alsatian tricks.  Spaetzle making included. Miss you schnooze. Come back schnoon.

Alsatian Spaetzle | spaetzle à l’alsacienne

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk or water

Now what?

  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and pepper.  Make a well in the center of your flour mixture and add the eggs and milk.  Mix until you obtain a homogenous batter, adding more milk or water if need be. The dough should be smooth, thick and sticky.
  2. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Now you have two methods to choose from. 1) Using a strainer, press the dough through the tiny holes until they fall in the water.  2) Working with a moist cutting board, place a large spoonful of the dough onto the cutting board.  Cut small pieces of the dough off of the cutting board and into the boiling water ( this is the method that I prefer.)  You will have to do several batches.  Once the spaetzle float to the top of the pot, remove them with a slotted spoon and place them under cold water to stop the cooking and to prevent sticking.  Drain well in a colander.
  3. Once the spaetzle are made (and the kitchen looks like a dough disaster area), sauté them in salted butter until they’ve obtained a beautiful golden brown crunch.
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