Hide and Seek

January 6, 2009

My blog might self destruct with all the posting I have been doing lately, but for the sake of my audience I shall persevere without a second thought to my safety.

For most of my life, I have been a sneaky hider of food. Much like a pirate burying their treasure across the Caribbean, I would hide tasty morsels throughout the house. When I was little, this was not because I was afraid the food would disappear but more because I was not supposed to have it. Of course, I would always hide the food in my clothes and then laundry day went very badly for me.

In my teenage years, my food hiding turned into Coca Cola hiding because my father decreed that I could not consume sugary caffeinated soft drinks under his roof and I had already become addicted. Unlike the cynical chef of younger years, I now had my own money and my own bedroom, which had the ultimate insurance of privacy: a keep out sign. Turns out, the sign doesn’t really keep people out and I would be subjected to watching my father pour my beloved and self-purchased soda down the drain. My sister used to like to tell people her sister had a coke problem. My mother was not so amused.

Then, I got one of those live in boyfriends who later turned in my beloved husband and I realized my food hiding skill was the only way I could enjoy baked goods in this house. My first attempt went awry when I hid my famous chocolate chip cookies in the cookie jar. I thought I was cunning. I thought I was sneaky. I thought surely a boy would not assume there are cookies in the jar when there is a plate of fresh cookies available. I was wrong and I was also a sad little girl without a cookie.

But, do not feel sorry for me, I have since mastered this art of food hiding. I learned that things kept in the vegetable drawer have no interest to Alex. And even though they might be a little chilly, they are all mine.

On a semi- unrelated note: My favorite food pirate joke

What’s a pirate’s favorite fast food restaurant?

ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRby’s

My Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies (They taste just like the Double Tree Ones)cookies-013a

Original Recipe can be found here

1/2 cup rolled oats
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
2 eggs
3 cups semi-sweet, chocolate chips
1-1/2 cups chopped walnuts

Directions:

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Oats All Ground Up

Grind oats in a food processor or blender until fine. Combine the ground oats with the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl.

Cream together the butter, sugars, vanilla, and lemon juice in another medium bowl with an electric mixer. Add the eggs and mix until smooth. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture and blend well. Add the chocolate chips and nuts to the dough and mix by hand until ingredients are well blended.

For the best results, chill the dough overnight in the refrigerator before baking the cookies.

Spoon rounded 1/4 cup portions onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Place the scoops about 2 inches apart. Bake in a 350°F oven for 16-18 minutes or until cookies are light brown and soft in the middle. Store in a sealed container when cool to keep soft. Makes 20 cookies

Note: There are occasions I have to cook the dough longer than 16-18 minutes. But, you want to err on the side of caution. I take these cookies out when they are not done and let them finish on the pan. The cookies are golden but the insides still a little gooey. This will create a dense cookie with a soft, chocolatey center. It took a few years to get the timing right.

Chill the dough. It makes a world of difference and be prepared to make this cookies all the time. I wouldn’t make any substitutions or leave anything out; it changes the whole cookie. Trust me.chocolate-chip-cookies-019a

I have also scooped the balls of dough and frozen them for up to a month. We made 6 batches for our wedding as their favor. They got bakery bags and a little carton of milk. Huge Hit!!chocolate-chip-cookies-a

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And in this corner….

December 6, 2008

We have a tradition that some may think is a little dorky. But since I embrace my inner dork, I am happy to share the fruits of this laborious tradition with you. This tradition was born out of boredom, my love for my sister, and my sister’s love for the holidays. You see, December is Cindy’s favorite time if the year. She embraces all things Christmas then holds onto them in her viselike grip until mid January.

I enjoy this time with my sister because it is impossible not to love the holidays when you are around her. Sure, watching the Grinch 47 times can get old and of course, one year we had to throw a Halloween party just so she wouldn’t put up the Christmas tree in October, but her love for the holidays is contiguous and I love every minute of it.

So this contest, the Gingerbread-Off, was thought of one night after dinner when boredom was setting in and Cindy had picked up the Grinch to watch again, my instincts kicked in and as I desperately searched for another holiday avenue to pacify Cindy’s needs the Gingerbread-Off came into existence.  By the end of the night, we had a gingerbread Mack truck and a realization that the rules next year would have to include no hot glue.

Today, the tradition continues. This year, there were two teams, Alex and I  and Cindy and Wendy, each fought a great battle and each brought something unique to the table. Cindy and Wendy are putting up a train and station for consideration and it seems that a penguin community has taken it over. Alex and I have made a gingerbread scene called Santa’s Summer Home. Santa is taking the day off and his elves are doing the dirty work; trimming the hedges and mowing the lawn.

Train and Station

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Santa’s Summer Home

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Details about the contest:gingerbread-off-033ab

We used regular in the grocery store tube gingerbread and added some flour to the mix. The royal icing consisted of powdered sugar, meringue powder and water. The characters are made out of different colors of fondant, which you can find at your local craft store. To paint the white fondant, gel food coloring was mixed with a small amount of vodka and paint as normal. The alcohol dries and the color is left behind. Shrubs were made from rice krispe treats with green gel color mixed into the marshmallow. If you have any other questions about how anything was done, send me a email at thecynicalchef@yahoo.com. Happy Holidays!!!

There are some dishes that I make that test my virtue as a wife and good person. These dishes also fall in the same category as desserts. Usually the ritual is a some sweet, sugary, satisfying, slice of heaven type goodness is made on the weekend. The target day is Friday night, which gives us the optimum amount of equal time with the goodness. We can pick, share and attempt to consume the small amount of joy that our oven has produced.

Now sometimes, this ritual is moved back because of prior engagements and the baking does not commence until Sunday afternoon. This is where the problem comes in; no matter how much we try it is impossible to finish it in one sitting. We have tried to send some to work and attempted smaller batches (like that is the solution) but the problem still remains: leftovers. And it is a small amount of leftovers, say 4 cookies.

Not a problem you say, just have the four cookies the next day. You get two each, you say. Well, perhaps it is not a problem for you because you get home as the same time as your significant other. I get home about an hour and half before handsome comes walking through the door. And do you know what happens? They call to me; so delectable on the plate. They are longing to be eaten; sad they were tossed aside the night before. So I eat one to calm down their pleas then while writing a blog entry about their rich, buttery, salty, sweet goodness I have two. Then, while starting dinner for my big, strapping, lumberjack of a man, I absent-mindly eat another.

Then the text, phone call or carrier pigeon comes; “Love you. Can’t wait to see you. I hope there are cookies left they were so good.” But, there is not. There is just me, an empty plate, and my shame. It is the cookies fault I tell you. Why did they have to be so good?

Today’s recipe comes from the food altar that is Smitten Kitchensalted-oatmeal-cookies-067a

Be warned: These are great. So good your virtues as a human being will be tested.

Tips: There was a discussion on Smitten Kitchen comments about the amount of butter. 12 or 14 tablespoons; I spilt the difference (13) and the cookies were so good. I cooled the batter for about 20 minutes before baking and stuck it back in the fridge between batches.

Cripsy Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

The original recipe didn’t have white chocolate in it, but it really works wonderfully in here. Even if you’re a dark chocolate fan. Watch out, use the good stuff and this may even convert you.

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

6 ounces good-quality white chocolate bar, chopped (not “white chocolate” chips; they’re almost always artificial. I am adamant about this.)

1/2 teapoon flaky sea salt (like Maldon or fleur de sel) (for sprinkling on top)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and table salt in a medium bowl.

2. Beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula, then add egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Scrape down bowl again. Add flour mixture gradually and mix until just incorporated and smooth. Gradually add oats and white chocolate and mix until well incorporated.

3. Divide dough into 24 equal portions, each about 2 tablespoons. Roll between palms into balls, then place on lined baking sheets about 2 1/2 inches apart. Using fingertips, gently press down each ball to about ¾-inch thickness.

4. Sprinkle a flake or two of sea salt on each cookiesalted-oatmeal-cookies-088a

5. Bake until cookies are deep golden brown, about 13 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack to cool.