Mini-Batch of Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tonight I had a craving for crisp, chewy, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookies. As I was taking out some ingredients from my fridge, I suddenly realized I didn’t have enough butter to make a dozen cookies!

There’s a reason for my bare fridge. You see, I have this weird rule that 1 week before going on vacation, no food should be purchased for the household. Actually, it’s kind of a dorky fun challenge I give myself to use up all remaining food only using what is available. So with 3 TBSP of butter, my dreams of chocolate chip cookies and milk, were suddenly becoming just that, a dream. Then it hit me, why not try to make a tiny batch of cookies. Double the pleasure and half the guilt that comes with the desire to inhale a dozen cookies! Challenge accepted!

Luckily for me, I found this lovely recipe that yields 8 cookies (adapted from from Cake on the Brain Blog, which adapted the recipe from Small Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers by Debbie Maugans).

Since, I like a nuts in my cookies, I adapted the recipe by adding pecans. In addition, I broke many cardinal rules of baking while making these:

  • My dough came out kind of dry, probably due to not adding enough molasses (see notes below). As a result, I added *hides in shame* a splash or two of milk to my batter.
  • I didn’t have any unsalted butter, so used *still hiding in shame* salted butter.

To my surprise, no matter how many wrongs I made, they still tasted and looked delicious! My husband said “these are the BEST cookies you’ve ever made”!

What you need:

  • 3 TBSP butter (app. 45 g), softened
  • 3 TBSP packed brown sugar*
  • 3 TBSP white sugar
  • 1 TBSP beaten egg **
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c chocolate chips
  • 1/4 c coarsely chopped pecans (optional, if you opt out use 1/2 c chocolate chips)
  • Maybe a splash of milk, if your dough is too dry

How you make it:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F (app. 190 C)
  2. Mix flour, salt, baking soda
  3. Cream butter and sugars
  4. Add egg, mixed well, add flour mixture
  5. Add vanilla
  6. Mix in chips and nuts
  7. Scoop out about 8 TBSP and place them on a baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 10 – 13 minutes (I have a convection oven, it took my cookie a little under 10 minutes).

*On brown sugar, I live in Switzerland and don’t have packed brown sugar at my local grocery store, I simply mix molasses with my white sugar. It’s a bit of trial and error. For this recipe I used 1/4 tsp of molasses. My batter still didn’t have the desired moisture level, hence adding the splash of milk.

**Reserve the rest of the egg and use it for something else, like pancakes, which I’ll be making tomorrow morning.

Moral of the recipe, nothing comes between me and cookies! Hope you enjoy this recipe!

Rustic Oatmeal Cookies

Around the holidays there are three things I love to do at home: blast cheesy holiday songs, light candles and the bake cookies. The smell of oven-baked cookies, just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. To me, the holidays are not about opening up a ton of gifts or running around like a maniac doing last-minute shopping (even if that’s what I’ll end up doing). I love the calmness, coziness and togetherness it brings about.

Last week, we had a fondue dinner at friends, who live in a cozy chalet-style apartment, nestled in the Alps. Nothing screams holiday and cozy quite like being 1,300 meters above the sea, overlooking the snow-covered mountains. It was also the perfect excuse –not that one needs one, to bake cookies. Oatmeal raisin cookies are one of my holiday favorites. I adapted this recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. These cookies have a rich nutty texture and slightly sweet taste. They are a nutritious and wholesome cookie alternative. The addition of sunflower seeds are optional, but they do add a nice crunch and subtle, salty taste.

What you need:

  • 4 TBSP unsalted butter
  • 1/4 c white sugar
  • 1/4 c brown sugar (or in my case about 1/4 tsp of molasses mixed with white sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c of whole wheat
  • 1 cup of rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • little less than 1/4 c of milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c raisins
  • 1/2 c chocolate chips
  • 1/4 c sunflower seeds

How you make it:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F
  2. Cream butter and sugars with an electric mixer, add egg and blend well
  3. combine flour, oats, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder
  4. Add milk and dry ingredients to the batter and blend together
  5. Stir in vanilla extract
  6. Bake cookies on an ungreased baking sheet for  10 – 13 minutes or until golden brown and transfer to a cooling rack
  7. Put it in a cute holiday container and spread the holiday cheer!

Wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season filled with family, friends and amazing food.

Moroccan Country Bread

I really missed blogging about food. I’m happy to post again after a long hiatus. Rest assured, I’ve been eating well, I just haven’t had the time to snap pretty pictures and blog about it.

Speaking of pretty pictures, last year, I traveled to Morocco with my husband. This was truly one of my favorite vacations. The beautiful hues of blue painted on the doors of houses, the trance-like rhythm of Gnawa music, the aroma of spices and all the beautiful artwork of artisans. It really was a total sensory experience. One couldn’t help but feel inspired by the beauty of Morocco.

Moroccan food is also delightful and lovely. In the morning, we were spoiled with platters of crepes or pancakes, served with freshly squeezed orange juice and mint tea. Dinner typically involved tender stewed lamb tajines, vegetable soups,  desserts with hints of fig and dates. I especially enjoyed the variety of breads that accompanied our meals.

Not long ago, a good friend gave me a Moroccan cookbook, with lots of beautiful pictures and descriptions. Reminiscing on my amazing vacation, I decided to make Kesra or Moroccan Country Bread. This bread is SO GOOD, I could eat it all day! It has a crispy outside and moist, buttery  inside. I paired it with a curried pea soup (recipe to come in later post) and was very pleased with the results.

What you need.

2 loaves of country bread (kesra)

  • 1/2 tsp dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • 2/3 c. cornmeal
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 TBSP melted butter (or ghee, if you’re lucky enough to have it)
  • 2 1/4 c. lukewarm water
  • 2 oiled baking sheets or flat pizza pans
  • sesame seeds, for sprinkling (optional) – I used flax seeds b/c I didn’t have sesame

How you make it.

  1. Put yeast, sugar + 1/4 c water in a small bowl
  2. Place flour, cornmeal and salt in a large bowl and stir well with a fork (about 1 min)
  3. Melt 2 TBSP of butter over low heat
  4. Make a well in the center of flour mixture and pour in yeast mixture and melted butter
  5. Gradually add the lukewarm water and use your hands or a wooden spoon to form the dough
  6. Place dough on a lightly floured and need until elastic and smooth
  7. Divide dough into 2 pieces and roll each piece into a ball then flatten to about 8 inches in diameter
  8. Place the flattened dough on the prepared baking sheets and cover with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place  for about 1 hour or until they’ve doubled in size
  9. Preheat the oven to 425 F
  10. Prick the dough with a fork about 4 -5 times and sprinkle with seeds
  11. Bake 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and back another 15 minutes
  12. Dough is done when it’s crisp, golden and sounds hollow when tapped

Bon Appétit!

(Recipe adapted from Ghillie Basan’s Flavors of Morocco)

Trash Vegetable Stock

I haven’t blogged in almost 3 months and I return with a post like this!! Apologies, I know the name of this post is a bit gross. I hope you aren’t conjuring up images of me picking through my trash.

Well actually, I am using “trash” to make a delicious soup, however, it’s “saved” trash. When I cook, I keep all of my carrot peelings, potato skins, onion skins, leek leaves, etc., in a container/freezer bag in my fridge. Generally, after about 2 weeks, I have enough scraps to make a soup stock.  This soup stock is cheaper than what you’ll find at your grocery store, healthier, it’s eco-friendly, as it offers an alternative for those who can’t compost, and best of all it’s delicious! Moral of the story, your trash could really be your treasure!

This won’t be a formal recipe, but a foundation recipe for your next soup stock. The measurements don’t need to be perfect, so just throw in what you have and work your magic.

What you need.

  • Veggie scraps – I used about 1 liter of carrot, onion, leek and scallion scraps
  • 2 – 3 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 large onions cut in half (keep the peel on)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 cup of fresh mushrooms or 1/4 cup of dried mushroom soaked in 1 c. warm water
  • 4 TBSP of olive oil
  • 8 – 10 fresh parsley sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 c white wine
  • 8 cups of water
  • salt and pepper to taste

How to make it.

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F (app. 205 C)
  2. Place all carrots, onions, potatoes, garlic and fresh mushrooms (if using dry, keep them on the side) in a roasted pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Put the pan in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes or until veggies are nice and brown. You may have to turn the veggies a couple of times to make sure it roasts evenly.
  3. Scoop the ingredients into a stockpot. Add your scraps and remaining ingredients (excluding the salt and pepper). Bring the contents to a boil, then partly cover and reduce heat.
  4. Cook until veggies are soft (abt. 45 minutes)
  5. Strain the mixture, pressing the vegetables to extract the juice.
  6. You can season your stock now or when you’re ready to use your stock later, this is really up to you.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

This made about 3 quarts (little less than 3.5 liters). Add this stock as a base to your soups and enjoy. Now you’ve really turned your trash into a treasure.

Have you tried your hand at making soup stock?