"if you're afraid of butter, use cream." - Julia Child

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Dark Chocolate Crispy Swirls

Dark Chocolate Crispy Swirls

We’ve officially made it through the first week of the Holiday Season, and a hearty congratulations to us all. I don’t know about you guys, but around this part of the Process I start debating the merits of sleeping on the front doorstep until I’ve […]

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

I was wary of Indian flavors for a long time. Like a lot of people, I’d been misinformed about the heat level and feared an amount of Scoville units that were simply out of my league. But a friend steered me in the right direction […]

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt

Is there anything more comforting than a homemade chocolate chip cookie? Every time I make them I can’t help but remember getting so excited for them to come out of the oven as a little kid — peering over at them while they cooled on the counter; knowing they were too soft to eat yet and would surely crumble in my hands and burn my little fingers.

But I’m a firm believer that it is totally appropriate to spin your childhood faves in order to suit your now more mature palate. Some may cry sacrilege, but I cry progress! I cry innovation! I cry milk powder and flaky sea salt!

Okay, I hear you — what the hell is milk powder and why do I have the sinking feeling you’re putting it in the cookies. I know, it sounds…strange. But milk powder is one of the secrets of professional bakers — it adds a wonderfully subtle toasty milk flavor to all sorts of baked goods, but it also provides chewiness when you add it to cookies. And what could be wrong with that when our mission is chocolate chip cookies? Absolutely nothing, says Christina Tosi. And I agree with her wholeheartedly.

You may know Tosi from TV these days, but she’s always been the bad-ass baker behind Milk Bar; and her second cookbook, Milk Bar Life, features her take on a more casual chocolate chip cookie. We’ll be taking the lead from this recipe for the base of our cookie, but incorporating a method for achieving a more complex flavor in the final result: drastically cutting down the amount of salt in the cookie dough (if not leaving it out entirely) in favor of hitting the top of the unbaked cookies with sea salt before sliding them into the oven. The result is not your grandmother’s chocolate chip cookie, but she seems like a cool lady and I think she’d approve all the same.

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt

Adapted from Milk Bar Life

 

Ingredients:

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 ¼ cups light brown sugar

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons nonfat milk powder

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 12 oz bag semisweet chocolate chips

Flaky sea salt, for topping the cookies

 

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375°F. In the bowl of your stand mixer (or in a large mixing bowl with electric beaters), cream together the butter and sugars for about 3 minutes, until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.

Add the flour, milk powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda and stir until just combined. Add the chocolate chips and stir until evenly combined.

Line 2 baking sheets with a sil-pat if you have one, or foil if you don’t. Scoop the cookies in 1.5 tablespoon amounts (or a size 40 scoop) a few inches apart on the baking sheet. Before placing the pans in the oven, place a few grains of sea salt on top of each cookie dough round. Bake for 5 minutes, then rotate the pans: up and down and side to side. Bake another 5-6 minutes, or until just golden brown on the edges. Place the pans on wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 18 cookies

 

Bacon Cheddar Waffles

Bacon Cheddar Waffles

  I know this is bound to be a somewhat unpopular opinion given all the Stranger Things fever spreading around lately, but it has to be said: supermarket frozen waffles taste like cardboard. It doesn’t matter what brand they are, what the gluten content is, […]

Brie En Croute stuffed with Stone Fruit Jam

Brie En Croute stuffed with Stone Fruit Jam

I love a good cheese and cracker set-up as much as the next guy. It doesn’t even have to be fancy — triscuits and cheddar, you say? Perfect. I’ll bring the wine. But sometimes those occasions arise where you want to spread your big, beautiful, […]

Fall Salad with Caramelized Bacon and Fennel

Fall Salad with Caramelized Bacon and Fennel

I fear that I’m guilty of making the same side salads over and over again. In the spring and summer, it’s the blueberry goat cheese salad. And in the fall…as soon as the temperatures drop to the point that I suddenly remember my oven goes above 350, I can’t help but glance over at this one wistfully. I think it’s because it’s rare to have a first course salad that feels like an indulgence. Too often it feels perfunctory — the required dose of leafy greens and vegetables (and, okay, hopefully croutons) before the real party starts with the main course.

Not this one, my friends. This one has spunk. Roasting thinly sliced fennel and bacon, coated in a mixture of olive oil and brown sugar, in a high oven until beautifully glazed and caramelized; and adding it to your leafy greens before tossing it in a maple-y, mustard-y vinaigrette? Yeah, unquestionably better.

Now I know that a lot of folks have some strong, rather negative feelings about fennel. I’m of the opinion that these people are wary of all anise-like things, and I agree that the flavor isn’t for everyone. Because, you know…licorice. I’ll have you know that I am, generally, one of these people. But I submit to you that fresh fennel bulb just isn’t like this. It doesn’t taste like fennel seed (which has a way more dried, concentrated anise flavor), it doesn’t taste like the fronds of the fennel (again, more intense), and it doesn’t taste like ouzo or anisette. It’s mild and crunchy and fresh tasting, with a texture that’s always felt to me like a marriage between onion and celery — and its flavor mellows out in the oven even further. Think of it as an onion with more personality, but retaining all the wonderful transformative properties once you apply some heat.

This recipe is one I’ve been tweaking for years — its genesis is an old Giada recipe, formulated for an episode of her show designed for bachelors. I’ve replaced the pancetta she used with good old bacon (mostly because I like the smoky flavor with the fennel) and developed a completely different dressing to capitalize on the fall-ish feeling of the flavors. Last, I’ve increased the roasting time by quite a bit (while pulling the mixture out every so often to stir and make sure everything browns evenly) in order to achieve that deep caramelization that makes this salad so memorable — no matter what you’re serving for the main event.

Fall Salad with Caramelized Bacon, Fennel with Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette

Adapted loosely from Giada DeLaurentiis

Ingredients:

For the salad:

5 oz spring mix, washed and spun dry

I large (or 2 smaller) head of fennel, sliced thin

8 oz bacon, thick cut, diced

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, or other neutral cooking oil, plus more for drizzling the pan

For the dressing:

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

2 tablespoons maple syrup

3 tablespoons fruity olive oil

Kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and drizzle a little oil over the foil to prevent sticking, or spray with a non-stick cooking spray. Add the bacon and fennel to the sheet pan along with the rest of the oil and brown sugar. Toss well with your hands to make sure everything is evenly coated. Place the sheet pan in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, take the sheet pan out and toss everything with a rubber spatula to make sure it browns evenly. Roast another 10 minutes, take out the pan and toss again. Repeat every 7-10 minutes until everything is caramelized with crispy edges and golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely before assembling the salad.

While the bacon and fennel are roasting, make the vinaigrette. In a medium-sized bowl or a blender, combine the balsamic, dijon, maple syrup, salt and pepper. Whisk or pulse to combine. While whisking constantly, or with the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the dressing is emulsified. Taste the dressing when you’re done and season with salt and pepper as needed.

To assemble, toss the bacon and fennel mixture in a large bowl with the spring mix. Add the dressing and toss well to combine. You may not need all the dressing. Any leftover vinaigrette will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Serves 4 as a first course or side dish

 

Pumpkin Lasagne

Pumpkin Lasagne

In my humble(ish) opinion, October is the best month for indulging in all things pumpkin. I know its flavor is more strongly linked to the Hallowed Thanksgiving Dessert category, but I think that by late November we’re all getting tired of the gourd-fest that’s been […]

Green Chile Chicken Chili

Green Chile Chicken Chili

I never liked chili much growing up. It always seemed (and smelled) to me like the lid fell off the chili powder so somebody just said, “Eh,” and kept cooking. But I’ve finally realized that, like all classics, there are just an awful lot of […]

Creamy Poblano Chicken Soup

Creamy Poblano Chicken Soup

I discovered this soup when I was at that magical crossroads in life; young, broke and working one of my first restaurant jobs. This soup was always on the menu (and still is — I presume grown adults like myself would riot in the streets if they removed it).  My fellow servers and I were responsible for plating the soup for our own guests from the enormous, delightful-smelling tureen that kept it hot, and also for making sure it received the right heart-stopping garnishes: fried tortilla strips, sour cream and freshly grated jack cheese. Yeah.

And folks, I shoveled so much of this soup into my face that I’m amazed I didn’t either get horribly tired of it or develop some kind of dairy allergy. Even years after I’d moved to a different city, I remembered this soup and I craved it.

I scoured the back-alleys of Amazon until I found a cookbook from 1999 that promised this magical soup recipe in its pages. I couldn’t add it to my cart fast enough, but I wondered if I’d overly-romanticized the dish in my head. How long had it been since I’d had it? And how often is it that you dream of the thing, you yearn for the thing, then you have the thing and it’s just…meh. But I needn’t have worried — once I tasted it again I knew that I needed this soup in my life.  And, speaking as both your attorney and your physician, I think you need it in yours.

Creamy Poblano Soup with Chicken

Adapted from Canyon Cafe, Bringing the Southwest Experience Home

Ingredients:

For the roux:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup all-purpose flour

For the chicken:

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 teaspoon kosher salt

⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the soup:

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil, or other neutral oil

3 poblano peppers, chopped

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 ribs of celery, chopped

3 large cloves of garlic or about 5 small, minced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped fine

2 teaspoon white pepper (or sub ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper)

1 tablespoon ground cumin

3 cups chicken broth

2 cups heavy cream

3 tablespoons hot sauce, or more as needed

 

Directions:
Make the roux:

Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until completely melted. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook for 2 min, long enough to cook out the raw flour taste, but you don’t want this to take on any color. Set aside.

Prepare the chicken:

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Place the chicken thighs on a sheet pan and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the juices run clear. Set aside to cool. Once they’re cool enough to handle, slice into thin strips and reserve.

For the soup:

Heat the grapeseed oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the peppers, onion, celery and garlic and sweat until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme, pepper and cumin and cook; stirring, 1 minute to wake up the spices. Add the chicken stock, stir mixture well and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add the heavy cream, hot sauce and chicken and stir well to combine. Taste the soup for seasoning and add salt, pepper and/or hot sauce to taste. Simmer an additional few minutes to marry the flavors.

Serve with shredded cheese, sour cream, scallions, and fried tortilla strips (or any combination thereof) as a garnish, if desired.

Serves 4-5 as a main course

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Momofuku Pork Buns

Momofuku Pork Buns

These pork buns are famous enough without an introduction from me — arguably David Chang’s most recognizable dish and the one that helped launch the Momofuku Empire. It’s always an interesting experience when you try a dish for the first time that you’ve heard about […]