February 26, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookies for the Rushed Mama

This is the only photo I have to document these cookies.

I have a lot of one-offs on my camera these days. I start making something and decide I'm going to capture it and write about it. So, I take a picture, maybe two if I'm really on a roll. And then before I know it, the whatever I'm making has made its way to my plate and I'm halfway through eating it before I remember that I was going to capture it.

Cooking with an 8 month old isn't relaxing. It's hard. There isn't a whole lot of time for photo snapping. This is how it generally goes:

I place her in her high chair and pray that she doesn't start whining the second I put her in it. Sometimes I use an excited tone of voice to make it sound like we're doing something fun. Sometimes I act normal and hope she'll accept this as a normal daily task. I haven't seen big differences in the response.

I frantically scoop up some things I hope will keep her occupied and place them on her tray before she gets bored.

I watch her pick one up with interest and immediately / quickly go about my prepping and making.

I look over and realize that all of her toys have made their way to the floor. I tell her she's silly for throwing her toys on the floor in hopes that if I talk to her and distract her, I can finish the step I'm on in the recipe.

I put the recipe on hold to collect the items from the floor and place them back on her high chair tray.

I watch her reach for me as I put the items back on her tray; she thinks I'm going to pick her up. I give her a kiss on the head and hope that it will be an acceptable substitute for me picking her up (ha).

I quickly start moving on to next step in recipe. I simultaneously start to sweat that the high chair isn't gonna work for much longer.

I hear her start grunting and whining, see her start arching her back and looking around at all of the places she'd rather be.

I feel her eyes staring me down, wondering when I'm going to save her from her high chair.

I start narrating every single step of whatever it is I'm doing, again hoping and praying that maybe she'll find it interesting. "Now we're going to measure out a half cup of whole wheat flour because whole wheat flour is healthier than plain all-purpose flour. You have to make sure it's level like this, so that we get good results. See? Like this? Isn't this fun?!"

I see that she doesn't care and doesn't think it's fun.

I hear the whining and grunting intensify.

I give her some different objects to play with, which buys me about two extra minutes.

I hear them land on the floor and see her start staring me down again.

I hear more whining and grunting, which sometimes turns into crying at this point.

I then repeat a few of the steps, mix them up a bit...

You get the point. I'm always in a hurry when I'm cooking or baking these days.

So.........this weekend when I wanted to make chocolate chip cookies, I wanted a recipe I could whip together quickly. My go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe requires that you make the dough a day or two in advance and let it hang out in the fridge--that wasn't going to happen this weekend.

So, I decided to try this recipe from Canal House Cooks Every Day. This book, which I bought on a whim a month or so ago, is amazing. I know I've been singing the praises of a lot of books lately, but this one takes the cake. I've been cooking out of it a lot. More to come on why this book rocks in an upcoming post.

Back to my cookies. These cookies are simple but perfect and delicious. Lots of butter, lots of chocolate chips. The standard flour, baking soda, brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla...

They get super thin (they aren't the prettiest cookie) and just a little bit crisp. And they taste all buttery, sweet, salty, and chocolatey. They're wonderful.

I have a feeling for the foreseeable future, this recipe will become my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe. I'm not quite organized enough right now for recipes that require planning and prep days in advance. One day...

Thin & Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies, adapted very slightly from Canal House Cooks Every Day

2 1/2 sticks unsalted room temp butter
1 1/4 c light brown sugar
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tsp kosher salt
2 eggs
1 3/4 c plus 2 tbsp flour
1 tsp baking soda
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375.

Beat butter, sugars, vanilla, and salt with electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment until light (about 3 minutes). Add eggs and mix on medium speed until blended (about 2 minutes).

Whisk the flour and baking soda together and add to butter mixture. Mix on medium speed for a couple minutes. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drop batter by small ice cream scoop onto trays lined with parchment. Make sure to leave adequate space between (about 4 inches)--these cookies spread a lot. Bake until golden brown, about 11 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet 5 minutes; then transfer to wire cooling rack.

February 10, 2013

Le Chocolat Chaud

There are so many times when the simplest things are best. Recipes that include just a few good ingredients.

Radishes with butter and sea salt. Pasta with pecorino and black pepper. Bread smeared with Nutella.

This recipe is another example.

I've always remembered the thick, uber-rich, super chocolatey hot chocolate served at Angelina's in Paris. It is literally like drinking melted chocolate bars. Today, with my mom in town and the snow coming down, it seemed like the perfect day to try to replicate it.

I looked at a few different takes on Parisian hot chocolate and decided that David Lebovitz's recipe sounded the best. The base was 2 ingredients: whole milk and really good bittersweet chocolate.

You heat up the milk in a saucepan and whisk in the chopped chocolate shards until they are melted. You can drink it right away as is, or you can continue to cook it for a few minutes to get it thick like it would be in Paris. It's amazing how much the consistency changes in just a few minutes on the stove.

Because he said he loves to add a little bit of sea salt (and because I love love love a little bit of salt with my sweet), I added a pinch of that too. And whipped up some fresh whipped cream to plop on top.

We all swooned. And we all declared it the best hot chocolate we had ever had.

The kicker was, I served it in little espresso cups, and it ended up being the perfect amount. It is so rich and so delicious that you really only need a few sips to be satisfied.

This recipe makes enough for 4 regular servings or 8 espresso-cup-sized servings. You can also keep the mixture in the fridge if you don't use it all. Lebovitz claims it gets even better as it sits. We don't have any left over so I can't vouch for this right now, but I think this will have to take residence in our fridge as a staple for the rest of the winter.

Le Chocolat Chaud, adapted slightly from David Lebovitz

2 c whole milk
5 oz good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Pinch of sea salt
Whipping cream
Pinch of sugar

Beat whipping cream until it's at desired consistency. Add a pinch or two of sugar, and give one last whip. Set aside.

Heat milk in small saucepan. When milk is warmed, add chocolate and whisk until completely combined. For thicker hot chocolate, continue to cook over moderate heat, for about 3-5 minutes, until it thickens. Don't let it boil.

Add a pinch of sea salt.

Pour hot chocolate into cups. Serve with whipped cream.

February 1, 2013

Lactation Cookies & Ensuing Hilarity

Now, boys, this may be too much for you to handle. I'm sorry. I'll get back to gender-neutral content soon.

But until then, this post is for you, ladies. Particularly those of you who are breastfeeding or have in the past.

Let me start off by saying it totally figures that the one thing I am convinced can increase my milk supply is cookies. I've tried insane amounts of water, tons of capsules that taste like...hay (or what I'm assuming hay tastes like), beer before bed, oats added to everything, a general well-balanced diet. No major changes.

But my friend gave me a container of some lactation cookies earlier this week. You know how I feel about baked goods. I've been cooped up in the house sick, with my sick baby all week. I ate more cookies than I should have.

And I swear I saw results. Awesome. This creates a challenging dilemma. If I eat 5 cookies a day, I will  increase my milk supply.

If I eat 5 cookies a day, I will also get fat.

But if I eat 5 cookies a day, I will be able to give my baby more milk. And probably be happier because I get to indulge in cookies every day. 

I haven't decided what to do yet. 

In the meantime, I'll leave you with a couple off funny exchanges between Zach and I regarding lactation cookies. 

A few months ago, when I mentioned the idea of lactation cookies:

(Insert totally horrified look here.) 
Z: Is there breast milk in them?
S: No, Zach, no breast milk in them. Come on.

Fast forward to this week. Clearly Zach had forgotten any explanations I had given him a few months ago about lactation cookies.

(Insert totally delighted look of surprise after coming across cookies in the cabinet.) 
Z: Where did these come from?!
S: They're lactation cookies. You can't have any. (I was jokingly going to let him believe he couldn't eat them because he might end up lactating. Because seriously, how can you resist?)
Z: Oh, come on. They aren't lactation cookies. 
S: No, seriously, they are.
Z: No, stop.
S: Zach, they are lactation cookies. P gave them to me.
Z: You're just saying that. I bet all cookies are lactation cookies.
S: No, these are really lactation cookies. They have ingredients in them that promote lactation.
Z: Well, can I have one?
S: I don't know if I would. I mean, do you really want to risk making milk?
Z: Ugh, stop. I'm going to ask R. (P's husband)
(Zach texts R to ask him about this cookie situation.)
Z: He says he has had one and isn't making milk yet.
(Zach eats 1 cookie.)
(Hours later, I get a text from P.)
P: Is Zach making milk yet? ;)
S: Zach, P wants to know if you're making milk yet.
Z: Tell her yes and that I'm wearing pad protectors.

Oh boy. :)