Saturday, January 25, 2014

Bad Blogger & Milkbar Cornflake Crunch Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookies

hello. i'm here today. remember me? i used to update you a few times a month with stories, recipes, and photos..hopefully all delicious.

where have i been? clearly not staring at this white piece of paper with the cursor blinking at me. but i have been here, in the metaphysical sense. moving homes, going to weddings, petting kittens at local shelters (no adoptions, yet), getting the stomach flu, cheering on sports teams, climbing mountains (literal/proverbial), spending late nights on the phone with old friends, planning parties, i n s t a g r a m m i n g, boarding the planes, deplaning the planes, reading books, walking dogs, watching chopped (send help), watching jeopardy (i'm fine), attending conferences, stamping my passport, enduring existential breakdowns (pretty much a weekly occurrence at this this what "leaning in" feels like??), dipping my toes in the atlantic and pacific oceans...and, believe it or not....baking.

the thing is, i moved to a new home in january. not far. a total of 3.4 miles to be precise (ish). but something about getting settled in a new home with a new kitchen and new roommate really threw me off my baking/photographing/blogging game. where is the vanilla again? is this oven properly calibrated? where's the best light? how does one use this dishwashing contraption? so i was slow to get back into it. slow to bring myself back here. but putting words on a page feels good. creating something feels good. sharing and inspiring feels good. even if none of it is perfect.

if you want to take a peek at what i've been making this past year, check out my instagram feed. and if there are any votes for a more thorough blog post about any of those treats or meals, i'd appreciate the guidance.

for now - something simple. cookies. because cookie dough is my spirit animal. these were inspired by tracy shutterbean. do you know her? you should. she has the sparkle and has such an artistic eye. lady - you inspire me!

these cookies were quite the hit when i shared them with friends this past summer. we were loading back in the car, with wet hair and dirty feet, after a day of floating the clackamas river. it could have been a function of the summer heat, or potentially the high alcohol to food ratio we endured that day, but 30 seconds after i opened the tupperware with these cookies, they were gone. GONE. ravenous, my friends are. and as you'll see, they're pretty huge.

these are a little more involved than your average dough, because you have to make the cornflake crunch first. but the result will be well worth it. i have found countless uses for the leftover crunch, my favorite of which is on top of vanilla ice cream. i know it doesn't sound life changing, but i swear, it's like crack. (upon further research, milk powder has small traces of MSG in it, which could explain the otherworldly taste.)

hope you enjoy and i look forward to sharing more this year. comfort/creativity/community. it's all here.

Cornflake Crunch Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookies
(inspiration via shutterbean; original recipe via Momofuku Milk Bar)

Cornflake Crunch
5 c. cornflakes
1/2 c. milk powder
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
9 tbsp. butter, melted

Heat your oven to 275 F. Pour the cornflakes in a large bowl and use your hands to crush them to about 1/4 their original size. Add the milk powder, sugar, and salt. Toss to mix. Add the melted butter and toss to coat. The butter will act as a glue, binding the ingredients together and creating small cornflake clusters. Spread the cornflakes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes. Cool the cornflake crunch completely before using in a recipe. These will keep in an airtight container for a week at room temperature; for ~a month in the fridge or freezer.

The Cookie
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 + 1/4 c. granulated sugar
2/3 c. light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1+1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1+1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda

3 c. cornflake crunch (~3/4 of the recipe)
2/3 c. mini chocolate chips
1 +1/4 c. mini marshmallows

Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer and fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat on high for 7 to 8 minutes. (Sidenote: 7 to 8 minutes? Sounds like overkill, right? I agreed, but Christina Tosi is religious about this creaming process. And I quote: "I will go so far as to say it is the most important step in making a Milk Bar cookie." This process is what defines the consistency (crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside) of these cookies. So set the timer and get it done.)
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, powder, soda, and salt. Mix until the dough just comes together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Still on low, add the cornflake crunch and mini chocolate chips until just incorporated. Add the marshmallows and mix until just incorporated.

Using a 2+3/4 oz. ice cream scoop (or a 1/3 c. measure), portion out the dough on a parchment lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. (Christina warns to not bake the cookies at room temp - they won't hold their shape.)

Heat your oven to 375 F. Arrange the chilled dough balls on a parchment lined sheet pan 4 inches apart. Bake for 18 minutes. At 18 minutes, the cookies should be browned on the edges and just beginning to brown toward the center. If they still seem pale and doughy on the surface, leave in the oven for an additional ~1 minute.

Cool completely on the sheet pan before transferring. These will keep at room temp for 5 days; in the freezer for a month. (Slow clap to you if you manage not to consume them all within 5 days.)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Vasilopita (Greek New Year's Cake)

new years are full of hope, tinged with optimistic intentions and promise. for me, with this gift of a clean slate, of blankness, also comes anxiety. will i put my energies towards the best, most productive project? am i growing or will i hide in the comfort of more of the same? it comes down to: am i doing it right? ...i hate to say it, but john mayer (who i've been told is the michael bolton of our generation...marinate on that for a second.) was feeling the feelings with "why georgia". (and am i really blogging about john mayer? i really am rusty.)

i think these restless feelings stem from the fact that i'm a gemini. it is my gift, it is my curse. and i also think that being in the no mans land of the 25-30 age group contributes its fair share to this aimlessness. not in school, not married. not the most junior at work, most definitely not in charge. somewhere in between, with a regrettable feeling of waiting. things aren't quite on autopilot yet and i want to make sure i'm becoming the person i should be. but maybe that's just the thing. there is no autopilot and this thing called my life will always be stamped with the cautionary "work in progress" or "wet paint" (working title of my memoir?) maybe it's about trusting the process and finding joy, contentment in the in between. because it all is the in between.

on new year's day, it's greek tradition to bake a light, moist pound cake for the new year called "vasilopita" (translation: st. basil's cake.) the tradition is to bake a trinket or prize (my family uses a dime) into the cake and to cut a slice for the home, the church, and each person in the family (my family includes pets, obviously). the person who gets the dime is meant to have a lucky year. since leaving home, i've carried this tradition with me, offering a slice to friends, family, and roommates that i share the new year with. after years of tradition, i've won the dime, i've forgotten to put the dime in the batter (doh!), and i've always enjoyed kicking off the new year with renewed intention and this delicious cake.

Vasilopita (Greek New Year's Cake)
my mom's recipe

1/2 lb. butter, softened
2 c. sugar (370 g)
3 c. flour (420 g)
6 eggs
2 tbsp. baking powder
1 c. lukewarm milk
1/2 tsp. baking soda
juice of 1/2 lemon

a dime, cleaned with dish soap, folded in wax paper, and sprinkled lightly with flour

1/2 c. chopped nuts, toasted
1/4 c. sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a layer cake pan about 10 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep. Set aside.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add flour and stir until the mixture is mealy, like so:

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Eggs never fail to amaze me in how they bring things together. Nature's glue.

Separately, stir the baking powder into the milk and stir the milk mixture into the butter/egg mixture. Separately, mix the soda and lemon juice together (this will fizz!) and stir into the batter. 

Mix well and (this part is important!...i have a very special note that reads "ADD DIME!!!!" on my recipe) carefully add the prepared dime into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes.

After 25 minutes, sprinkle the cake with the nut/sugar mixture and return to oven to bake for another 15-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Allow to cool before cutting. When cool, cut a piece for each member of the family and hope for the dime!. The church was the lucky winner in my household this year (womp womp womp.) My brother and his fiancee tied for the dime back at home...fittingly so as they're getting married this year. St. Basil doin' big things in 2013.

These slices are mile high and are delicious, regardless of whether St. Basil has deemed you favorable. Hoping your new year is off to a great start!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

The days are getting shorter, the oscillating fan is stored up for good, and I wake up to a heavy marine layer each morning that barely burns off in time for lunch. Let's not even go there with the incessant Pinning of  pumpkin spice latte-esque drinks. Not ready for that jelly. I can even use my oven without having agitated freakouts about my overheating kitchen/body (this is a frequent occurrence in July). It's safe to say that the seasons are changing.

Living in the Pacific Northwest, it's always a little scary when the calendar jumps to Labor Day and it's time to say goodbye to the sun summer for nine months. But for now, I am enjoying the cooler days and the promise of fall. And at the very least, there are ripe, juicy, late summer tomatoes and sweet thyme to ease us through the transition. 

Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons
Recipe inspired from Sprouted Kitchen's new cookbook (seriously, how beautiful?) and adapted from Smitten Kitchen


3 lbs. roma (plum) tomatoes, halved
a healthy whallop of EVOO
salt + pepper
4 cloves of garlic

4 c. vegetable or chicken stock
1 tsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped
crushed red pepper flakes to taste
salt + pepper to taste

Hearty bread (I used sourdough)
Sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Lay the halved tomatoes, cut side up, on a rimmed baking sheet. Live with your heart wide open. At least that's the message I get from these 'mates.

Drizzle with EVOO and season generously with salt and pepper. Tightly wrap the unpeeled garlic cloves in aluminum foil and place on baking sheet.

Bake the tomatoes and garlic until the tomatoes begin to shrink and are tender and the smell of roasted garlic fills your kitchen, about 1 hour. Allow tomatoes to cool slightly.

Unwrap the garlic packet and peel the cloves. Roasted garlic just does it for me - is it doing it for you? Transfer the cloves, tomatoes, and any accumulated juices (key) to a large pot and pulse with an immersion blender until the tomatoes are a chunky puree. Alternatively, pulse the tomatoes, garlic, and juices in a blender or food processor, in shifts if necessary, and then transfer to large pot. Add stock, thyme, red pepper flakes to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook, uncovered for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and season to taste.

For the cheddar croutons, slice hearty bread (I used sourdough) into thick slices and slather with softened butter. Transfer the warm soup into oven-safe bowls (or if you're serving an army and have cooked the  soup in a heat-proof dutch oven, simply do the following directly into the large pot) and float the bread, butter side up, into each bowl. Sprinkle grated cheese generously on top of the bread. Broil for 3-5 minutes, until the crouton is bubbly. Keep a close eye on your soup - broiling does its thing FAST. Allow to cool for a few minutes before eating.

If you don't have oven-safe bowls, you can prepare the cheddar croutons on a baking sheet and place on top of soup before serving.

Makes 4-6 servings. Freezes well. Comforts better.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Blueberry Crumble


I've done did it. After a recent trip to the farmers market and an extra push in the form of oatmeal, cinnamon, and copious amounts of brown sugar, I have, by my own volition, created a dessert that boasts fruit as the primary ingredient. And dare I say...I actually liked it.

Who thought I'd see the day when my market spoils looked like this? Definitely not I.

The tiny hairs on the berries still sort of freak me out. Like I said: incorporate enough sugar and butter, and we're golden. 

Most (if not all) of you are probably well-aware of the fact that crumbles are heavenly. And you'll love this one. It is so easy to make (silly easy), the presentation is flawless (in a messy/beautiful kind of way), and it tastes like summer (which as of very recently, to me, tastes of fresh berries and warm oatmeal cookies. And ice cream). Win win win.

Blueberry Crumble
recipe from my mom

3 c. blueberries (fresh or frozen)
2 tbsp. lemon juice (optional)
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. quick-cooking oats
1/3 c. softened butter
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Arrange the blueberries in an ungreased baking dish. (Isn't this one so fun? It was a gift from my sister via Anthropologie. Little known fact: teal and lime green is a favorite color combo of mine.) Sprinkle the dish with lemon juice (I didn't have lemons on hand so I forwent this part.)

Mix together all other ingredients (brown sugar through salt) and combine until mealy. I find that my hands are the best tool for this kind of work. Get in there!

Sprinkle the crumble on top of the blueberries.

Bake until the topping is light brown and the blueberries are hot, about 30 minutes. 

Best served messy, and warm. With ice cream. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Coffee Ice Cream with Cocoa Nibs

Have you ever hated something with a passion undying only to find yourself one day...actually liking that same thing?

You know, things like "Make Love in this Club" by Usher? Tattoos (sorry mom and dad)? Your bangs? Mike's Hard Lemonade? 

I cannot be alone in this.

Since the beginning of (my) time, I have espoused coffee ice cream as a farce, disgusting, unworthy of being among the 31 flavors. An abomination, in my mind. Until unbeknownst to me, coffee ice cream slowly eeked its way into my life as something that I actually adore. I blame this change of heart on my go-to Portland ice cream shoppe, Salt & Straw. These guys know a thing or two about unique flavor combinations (Arbequina Olive Oil, Honey Balsalmic Strawberry with Cracked Pepper, Pear with Blue Cheese) and after a recent bi-weekly trip, I was inspired to steep, brew, chill, and churn my very own variety of Stumptown Coffee Ice Cream, complete with cocoa nibs. 

These are cocoa nibs. They are wonderful. I found mine at Whole Foods.

I can say that this is easily some of the best ice cream I have ever had (who am I?) and that I get excited to drink my morning coffee because it tricks my brain into thinking I'm noshing on this ice 

The process is pretty standard as far as ice cream making goes, and does require an ice cream m
aker and a fine mesh strainer. I know you're trying to minimize the kitchen gadgets. But it's summer, and ice cream is necessary. 

Coffee Ice Cream with Cocoa Nibs
inspired by Salt & Straw, a Portland ice cream shoppe; recipe adapted from David Lebovitz

1+1/2 c. whole milk
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1+1/2 c. whole coffee beans
pinch of salt
1+1/2 c. heavy cream, separated

5 egg yolks, large
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. finely ground coffee

1/2 c. cocoa nibs

In a medium saucepan over low heat, warm the milk, sugar, whole coffee beans, salt and 1/2 cup of the cream. Stir regularly with a wooden spoon until warm. Once warm, cover, remove from heat, and let steep at room temperature for one hour.

To me, this is a be
autiful sight. 

While you're waiting, make an ice bath by pouring ice cubes and cold water into a large bowl. (You'll eventually set another large bowl that contains your liquid ice cream on top of the ice water so that the bottom of the bowl is immersed in water. The ice bath will help everything cool down nicely.)

After the beans steep, rewarm the coffee-infused milk mixture over low heat. Pour the remaining 1 cup of cream into a bowl large enough to sit on top of the ice bath, and set a mesh strainer on top of it (this bowl doesn't need to be in the ice bath right now).

Separately, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.

Now this is the part I always feel I need three arms for. But we can do this.

Slowly pour the warm coffee mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Make sure your coffee mixture isn't too hot - lest you wind up with scrambled eggs in your coffee ice cream. Whisk constantly, and scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan that held the warm coffee mixture.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula, about 5-10 minutes. This is custard. Custard flecked with coffee beans.

Pour the custard through the strainer you set aside earlier (which is sitting on top of a bowl with the remaining 1 cup of cream) and stir it into the cream. Press on the coffee beans in the strainer to transfer as much of the coffee flavor as possible, then discard the beans (sad face). 

Mix in the vanilla and the finely ground coffee and stir until cool over your ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly (read: 12-24 hours. painful.) in the refrigerator then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers' instructions (This usually involves incorporating the mixture into a very frozen ice cream mixer and churning for around 20 minutes).

About 5-10 minutes through the mix, incorporate the cocoa nibs.

This ice cream came together quickly! After 10 minutes, mine was semi-solid.

Ready for the eating after about 15 minutes in the ice cream mixer.

Unlike the salted caramel ice cream I made last summer (which was decidedly softer), this ice cream is very firm, very dense. It will last frozen in your refrigerator for about 3 months. 

Serving suggestion: upon waking up, in lieu of coffee.