Sunday, August 31, 2008

what would life be without junk food?

Today I had an unusual craving for chocolate (I usually prefer vanilla), so I decided to make a batch of chocolate chip cookies. I'm not sure what it is about this particular recipe that stands out from others I've tried, but I suspect it's that the dough is a treat in itself, not just a floury vehicle for the chocolate chips. And the reason for this is twofold: brown sugar to add richness and double-strength vanilla (our addition) to round out the sweetness. In addition, I recommend using a higher-end chocolate if you can. It seems to stay creamy longer, instead of getting dry and flaky and tasteless.

chocolate chip cookies
(as seen on bags of Ambrosia chocolate chips)
makes 3 dozen cookies (but depends on how much dough you eat)

2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup cane sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
2 cups chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 375 F.
2) In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3) In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg. Beat well. Add dry ingredients and combine well. Stir in chocolate chips.
4) Roll a tablespoon of dough into a ball. Place on ungreased cookie sheet covered in parchment paper.
5) Bake for 10 to 15 minutes (in all our ovens, it's been much closer to 10, so keep an eye on these guys). Remove from oven and transfer cookies to a cooling rack.

Note: These will last well in an air-tight container for at least a week.

Do you remember the pizza and lime pie I wrote about a few weeks ago? Ian and Mom K were both gracious enough to divulge their recipes, so many thanks to them.

pizza a la cliffe
(created by Ian himself)
makes 4 pizzas; serves 4-6

(for the sauce -- a variation on marinara created by Colleen Feldner)
1 Tbl. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
kosher salt, to taste
1 Tbl. balsamic vinegar
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbl. tomato paste
1/4 tsp. anchovy paste (optional -- it's really not that bad, guys!)
2 (28-oz.) cans whole, peeled tomatoes, seeded, puree reserved
1 Tbl. dried basil
1 tsp. sugar
crushed red pepper, to taste (he uses just over 1/4 tsp.)
fresh ground pepper, to taste
(for the dough -- an adaptation of America's Test Kitchens' recipe)
2 cups bread flour (we use King Arthur European artisan bread flour)
2 cups durham flour (can be replaced by bread flour, whole wheat flour, or semolina)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbl. olive oil
1 1/3 cups warm water
pinch of sugar
1 envelope active dry yeast (not instant)
all-purpose flour, for kneading
(for the pizza)
1 1/4 lb. fresh salted mozzarella, chilled and grated or sliced
1 cup basil, chopped
Penzeys Pizza Sprinkle, to taste (he uses about 1/4 tsp. per pizza)
your choice of toppings (at least try one plain cheese, though!)

(for the sauce -- can be made ahead of time and refrigerated or frozen)
1) Heat olive oil in medium sauce pan on medium-low to medium heat until shimmering. Add onions and a large pinch of salt and sweat until soft, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
2) Add balsamic vinegar, stirring until liquid evaporates, about 30 seconds.
3) Add garlic, tomato paste, and anchovy paste, stirring until aromatic, about 20 seconds.
4) Add tomatoes and reserved puree, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the sauce pan. Add basil, sugar, crushed red pepper, and black pepper (about 8 cranks).
5) After mixture has been heated for 3 minutes, use a potato masher to combine all ingredients and crush tomatoes until only small chunks remain.
6) Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until reduced by 1/4. After the sauce has been simmering for 10 minutes, add salt and any additional spices to taste.
7) Add a dash more olive oil and stir well after removing from heat, and allow to cool.
8) Puree in a food processor (optional, if you like your sauce to be chunky).
(for the dough)
1) In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup warm water, a pinch of sugar, and yeast. Allow to proof, about 10 minutes, while preparing remaining dry ingredients.
2) In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Stir together and create a well for wet ingredients. Add olive oil, remaining 1 1/4 cups water, and proofed yeast mixture. Combine until a wet dough forms.
3) Scrape dough onto a floured work surface. Knead by hand to form a smooth ball, adding flour as needed, about 10 to 15 minutes, using a dough scraper to assist in keeping the dough from sticking to the work surface. (For a more bubbly crust, the dough should remain slightly wet and sticky. For a flatter, chewier crust, add more flour and work to the consistency of bread dough.)
4) Place dough in buttered bowl, cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
5) Punch the dough down and allow for a second rise, approximately 45 minutes.
6) Divide dough into 4 equal pieces and form into balls. Allow to rest for 5-15 minutes before making pizzas.

(for the pizza)
1) Preheat oven to 500 F, placing baking stone or perforated pizza pan on middle rack to heat.
2) For each pizza: On a sheet of parchment paper that has been very lightly dusted with flour, flatten the dough. Lightly flour the dough and a rolling pin; roll out into a roundish shape with a thickness of 1/8-inch (don't worry -- it doesn't have to be perfect).
3) Spread 1/4 of the sauce over the pizza with the back of a ladle, starting in the middle and working your way out, within about 1/4 inch of the edge.
4) Sprinkle pizza seasoning and 1/4 cup basil over the sauce. Top with 1/4 of the mozzarella and any other toppings you choose.
5) With a flat cookie sheet or pizza peel, move pizza (with parchment) into oven and place directly on heated pizza stone or pan. Cook for 8 to 15 minutes, until edge of crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown.
6) Remove pizza from oven; allow to rest 3 to 5 minutes. Slice, serve, and gobble.

sublime lime pie
(from a 1981 Capital Times recipe discovered by Mom K)
makes 1 pie; serves 12

(for the dough -- from the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book, circa 1970)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter
4 to 5 Tbl. cold water
(for the filling)
3 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (4 to 5 limes)
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
whipped cream
lime slices

(for the crust)
1) Sift flour and salt. Cut in butter til pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing mixture after each addition.
2) Form into a ball; flatten on a lightly floured board. Roll 1/8-thick from center to edge. Fold in half and gently lower into pie plate. Crimp edges (or do whatever you want to make it decorative if you like that sort of thing). Cover and chill until pie is ready to be assembled and baked.
(for the filling)
1) Preheat oven to 350 F.
2) Beat egg whites in large mixing bowl until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
3) In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks. Stir in milk and lime juice. Add sugar, flour, and salt; beat until smooth. Using a flat whisk, fold the lime mixture into the egg whites.
4) Pour into the pastry-lined pie plate. Bake for 35 to minutes or until golden brown (don't freak out if the surface cracks). A knife inserted into the center of the pie should come out clean.
5) Allow to cool to room temperature or chill in the fridge. Garnish with whipped cream and lime slices before serving.

Notes from Mom K: If the pie is browning too quickly, tent it with foil (seriously, make a little pyramid; don't just lay the foil on top or it might collapse and ruin the top of your pie). For perfect slices, run a knife under hot water before cutting the pie.


Mom/Jenny said...

Thanks so much for the recipes, especially the pizza recipe from Ian. I've tried to make this kind of pizza from your verbal recipe and it's been good but not sensational. Now I'll try the recipe. I'm sure it will be delicious.

Also, Ellie, did you know when you were little, I used the chocolate chip recipe from the Ambrosia bag (except when I was making tofu chocolate chip cookies). For some reason, Ambrosia doesn't include tofu?!?

Love, Jenny/Mom

Kelly said...

Tofu in cookies???? How horrible!!! Cookies are meant to be bad for you :)

Anonymous said...

The chocolate chip cookies look so good that Abby grandma Kay and I are going to make them.