Saturday, February 26, 2011

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'd love to take credit for this act of genius, but I actually found the recipe online - in a Bon Appetit article - and they found it from a blog called "The Picky Plate".  Regardless of who invented the idea of taking an oreo cookie and wrapping it with a chocolate chip cookie, the result is no less than (a phrase coined by Terry Tocantins) "Cookie Porn".  Proceed with caution.  Eating just one proves virtually impossible.

2 sticks softened butter
3/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
10 oz bag chocolate chips
1 pkg Oreo cookies (the recipe recommends double-stuff; I used regular and they came out great)

Recipe makes about 2 dozen VERY LARGE cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugars together with a mixer untl well combined.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.

In a separate bowl mix the flour, salt and baking soda.  Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips until just combined.

Using a cookie scoop take one scoop of cookie dough and place on top of an Oreo cookie.  Take another scoop of dough and place on bottom of Oreo cookie.  Seal edges together by pressing and cupping in hand until Orea cookie is enclosed in dough.

Place onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and bake cookies 9-13 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Potatoe and Onion Pierogi

What is a Pierogi, you say?  They are basically ravioli, filled with mashed potatoes and sometimes onion, meat or saurkraut.  Pierogi's are a traditional Eastern European food, that is quite popular in Pennsylvania (although virtually unheard of, here in California).  I would eat them often as a kid, when we would visit my family back east (my grandmother was Lithuanian).  The recipe below is one I found online, because  unfortunately, I do not have our family recipe.  These little pasta pockets are challenging and time-consuming, but well worth it.  You will need a pasta machine to roll the noodles (the one shown below, I inherited from my grandfather).  If this is your first time with pasta (as it was mine) treat it like an art project - use a gentle hand and your intuition.  This is not an exact science.

1 large red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, to saute the onion
4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
6 garlic chives, white and tender green parts only
3 tablespoons butter, for the mashed potatoes
1/4 cup milk
salt and freshly ground black pepper
(optional: I like to add 2-3 crushed garlic cloves to the mashed potatoes)

2 eggs
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sour cream
3 cups all-purpose flour, some extra for the board and to adjust dough as needed
Milk or water, as needed to moisten
1 or 2 eggs to make an egg wash to seal the pierogi
2 to 4 tablespoons butter, to saute the pierogi
1 to 2 cloves garlic, finely minced

Bring a pot of water to boil for the potatoes.  Saute onion (and optional garlic) in a small pan in 2 tablespoons of butter until translucent and set aside.  Boil the potatoes until tender.

While the potatoes are boiling, begin the dough.  Whisk together the eggs, 1/4 cup water and sour cream and pour into a small pitcher (or you can actually whisk them right in a container such as a 2-cup glass measuring vessel).

Mound the flour in the center of a clean room-temperature work surface like a large wooden cutting board.  Create a crater in the center of the mound.  Pour enough of the egg mixture into the center to fill the crater.

With a fork, gently begin to scramble the mixture within the confines of the crater, whilst integrating the flour from the sides of the crater as you carefully beat the egg mixture.

Once this first amount of the egg mixture is mostly mixed in, shore up the sides of the mound again with flour, maintaining the crater shape. Repeat the process with a second pour of egg mixture into the crater, and again until you have combined all egg mixture.  (Remember that making pasta is not an exact science.  Depending on the flour, you may need more moisture to make the dough come together, in which case use a little extra milk or water.  Conversely, if the dough is too wet, add a little more flour - but just enought to make it the right consistency.  This is an acquired skill so be patient with yourself.)  

Start kneading the dough with your palms, allowing the warmth of your hands to impart elasticity to the dough.  Knead for a count of about 400 strokes or until you feel you ahve created a cohesive mass.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow it to rest for about 30 minutes.

Return to the potatoes, drain, and mash them with the sauteed onion, (garlic), chives, butter, milk, and salt and pepper, to taste.  Set aside.

Work with 1/3 of the pasta dough at a time - keeping the balance wrapped in plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.  Use a pasta machine to gradually roll each section of the pasta down, successively reducing the setting on the machine until it is at a thickness of 1/16 of an inch (on my machine, this meant going down to the smallest setting).

Cut 3-inch circles of pasta (I use a juice glass), spoon some of the mashed potatoes into the center and fold the filled circles into half moons, sealing the edges with egg wash and pressing shut with your fingers or carefully with the tines of a fork (I didn't pay close enough attention here, and used two circles to make a final round pocket...this didn't make any difference, just meant more potatoes in each bite!)

Bring a large shallow saute pan of water to a boil, and gently boil the pierogi in batches for 2 to 3 minutes, removing carefully to a utility platter with a wooden spoon.

The final step is to melt the butter in a large fry pan and saute the garlic for a few minutes until it is tender and imparts its flavor to the butter in a pan.  Be careful not to burn either the butter or the garlic.  Saute the pierogis in this garlic butter and serve.  Optional: serve topped with a heaping teaspoon of sour cream.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Texas Summer Beer

Surprisingly DELICIOUS and Potent - Perfect for BBQ's!

One thing I've learned is that my posts about cocktails or imbibe seem to get hits faster and in great abundance.  Texas Summer beer was introduced to me by my lovely and worldly friend, Sondra.  We served this at the Super Bowl and it's lethal, but on par with some of the best cocktails I've had (at some of the most shi shi locations).

I'll let Sondra explain the recipe in her own words:

One Bottle Vodka (your choice - higher end is a smoother hangover)
Two Cans of Frozen Pink Lemonade
About 6 Cans of Coors Light (or any tasteless light beer)

Mix together in a big beverage cooler. Stir.

Poor over lots of ice.  Top off with some of the light beer to add a fresh frothy feel if you wish.

 Obviously, this drink will hurt if not managed properly.  A good rule of thumb ratio is 1:1 - 1 Texas Summer Beer to 1 EQUALLY SIZED glass of water (Angela here - this rule saved me during the superbowl).  Pace Yourself.  Also, best not to serve this to your known "asshole-drunk" friends.

Enjoy yourself y'all

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Roasted Pear Salad with Goat Cheese and Fig Dressing

I recently did a 21 Day Yoga Challenge, through Yoga Journal.  Every day, for 21 days, I would recieve an email with my daily workout and a healthy recipe from Vegetarian Times.  The challenge itself was transformative and had a strong, positive affect on my practice AND I got a few, new fabulous recipes to boot.  This is my favorite so far; perfect as an elegant side salad, or add grilled chicken and some quinoa for a balanced and healthy dinner.

(Recipe serves 8)
4 Bosc Pears, halved and cored
8 tsp, plus 2 Tbs fig jam, divided
5 oz soft goat cheese, cut into 8 sliced
1 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for drizzling, divided
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
4 cups watercress or baby arugula
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts or  pecans (I adore candied pecans)

If you don't already have one, I recommend getting a melon baller (they are inexpensive and make coring a breeze)

1/ Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Place pear halves cut-side up in 2 large baking dishes.

2/ Spoon 1 tsp. jam in center of each pear half.  Top with goat cheese rounds, and lightly drizzle with oil.  Bake pears 30 minutes, or until cheese begins to brown.

3/ Whisk together remaining 2 Tbs. fig jam, lemon juice, and mustard in bowl.  Whisk in 1 Tbs. olive oil.

4/ Divide watercress among 8 serving plates.  Sprinkle with onion and walnuts.  Top with pear half and drizzle with dressing.

Chilean Sea Bass with Mango Salsa

My friend Maria had this dish at a restaraunt and cobbled the recipe together from memory and taste.  I venture to guess her version is even better.  Chilean Sea Bass is ideal, because it has a rich, oily consistancy that works nicely with the Mango flavors, but in a crunch you can use Mahi Mahi, Halibut or any other mellow, white fish.

2 large pieces of chilean sea bass (or alternative white fish)
12 oz mango nectar
2 ripe mangos, peeled, pitted and diced
1/2 cup fresh pineapple, diced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 avocado, diced
1 chopped jalapeno or other hot pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste

Slicing a mango can be intimidating, so here is a great informative video taking you step-by-step through the process: How to Cut a Mango

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and move top rack up to the highest setting (that will allow you to fit a baking dish).  Rinse fish and blot dry wtih a paper towel.  Place in a large baking dish, add salt and pepper to each side of fish and fill pan with mango nectar, coating the fish.  Cover and place in the fridge for 20 minutes to marinate.

Combine diced mangos, pineapple, onion, avocado, and jalapeno in a large bowl.  Add lemon, lime juice and honey (to taste...I usually add a little extra honey).  Add cilanro, salt and pepper, to taste.

Place baking dish with fish (and mango nectar) in the oven.  Bake for 15-20 minutes (time will vary depending on th thickness of fish).

Remove pan from oven and place on plate with tongs (dispose of remaining nectar).  Top with a generous helping of salsa.  Serve with rice, quinoia or vegetable of your choice!