Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mighty Fine Chocolate Chip Cookies

This has been my secret Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe for years, and the funny part is that its not really that secret. I basically modified the recipe off the back of the Hersey Chipits bag and my mod is so subtle you would hardly notice the difference but my cookies do taste better. For years people have complimented me on the recipe and I chose to keep my mouth shut until now. So shhhhhh don't tell me secret just make the damn cookies.

2/3 cup melted butter (you can use margarine but butter is better)
2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp hot water
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract (not the fake stuff!)

Mix all of the above together well, I recommend using a Kitchenaid with the paddle, set on 2.

1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Sea Salt (not table salt, its bitter)
2 2/3 cups All Purpose Flour

Stir in the above dry ingredients, again just slowly add everything while the Kitchenaid whirs away on 2.

Once mixed add in one 270 gram bag of Milk Chocolate Chipits or your fave chocolate chip. In the past I've been really decadent and chopped up candy bars. I highly recommend Skor and Dairymilk Fruit & Nut Bars. White chocolate, dried cranberries & pecans is yummy too. I've also added in toffee chips and pecans for a little crunch. Add in whatever cranks your tractor but really nothing beats the simplicity of just good old milk chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 375, and chill the dough while you wait for the oven to heat up. Spoon out cookies on to a ungreased baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. I like my cookies a little underdone so they stay moist so I bake them for about 9 minutes, just before they start to brown. Keep the dough in the fridge between baking as it keeps the cookies from running into each other as they bake. Only bake 1 sheet at a time, don't over crowd the sheet or your oven.

Cool on a rack and store in an air tight container. Makes about 2 dozen, the package claims it makes 4 to 5 dozen so clearly I'm doing something wrong. I use a tablespoon for portioning so I guess a teaspoon makes 4 dozen more dainty size cookies. I like manly size cookies.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Smoked Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breasts Wrapped in Prosciutto

I don't really care for chicken, its the meat I eat because I can't have red meat every night of the week, even though I would if I didn't care about the fact that heart disease runs in the family. Ian prefers pork to chicken so a lot of the time I just avoid chicken altogether. The more I've learned about chicken processing plants the even less thrilled I've been about eating chicken. But I decided I need to embrace chicken and I've started figuring out that there are lots of things you can do to chicken that make it more appealing. Recently I roasted my first chicken which was really fun and probably the best tasting chicken I've had in a long time. I then made my first chicken stock from the carcass and then I made chicken noodle soup. I've made chicken noodle soup a couple times since then and I think I'm perfecting my recipe. I've also been buying organic, non medicated free range chicken and although it is pricey it is by far tastier and I feel better knowing that the birds at least had a brief but content life before being consumed.

Anyway tonight we are having a recipe inspired by my Dad. My guess is he made it up one night when he really wanted Chicken Cordon Bleu but we were avoiding fried foods. My Dad would use bacon and mozzarella cheese but I've tweaked it a bit tonight and I'm using smoked mozzarella and prosciutto. Here's the prep.

2 largish chicken breasts
4 ample slices of prosciutto
4 slices of smoked mozza
Pam & foil

Trim all the fatty bits and the tendons off the chicken breast, I'm squeamish about chicken so I like it pretty clean, any little spots of fat or blood need to be remove (blame my Mom) so I'll be happy eating it. Lay a piece of saran wrap over the breast and pound them out with a mallet until they are about 1 cm thick. Try to get them nice and even as it will help with the stuffing. Season both sides with pepper. In the middle of both breasts place 2 pieces of mozza. Fold the chicken around the cheese to make a nice little packet so that no cheese is showing, any holes and your cheese is going to leak out when you bake it. Then tightly wrap each breast with 2 pieces of prosciutto, try to overlap the prosciutto so that as little chicken is showing and to keep the cheese inside. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes, this will help the chicken keep its shape and prevent the cheese from melting too fast.

Place breast on a foil line baking tray, spray foil with Pam to prevent sticking. The foil is nice for easy clean up in case the cheese leaks out. Bake at 375 oven for about 30 minutes, depending on the size of the breast. Really yummy when served with steamed asparagus with a balsamic reduction.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Hot & Sour Asian Noodle Soup

This is by no means a traditional Hot & Sour soup, its more what I call white person Asian food but its tasty and healthy and clears out the sinuses. I've adapted this recipe from Anne's Lindsay's Lighthearted Cooking, I found her version to be too bland and not sour enough so I pepped it up a bit. I also switched to dried shiitake mushrooms instead of just plain old white mushrooms as they have more flavour and a nice chewy texture that works well in the soup.

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup dried shiitake mushroom (put mushrooms in a bowl with hot water for 20 minutes to hydrate, drain and rinse before adding to soup to remove grit)
2 cloves minced garlic
1 carrot finely julienned
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups water
2 serving packets of either dry or fresh Chinese chow mien noodles (look for simple ones where the ingredients are just flour & water, no preservatives)
3 tbsp sherry
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lime juice
1tbsp sweet chili sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp light soy
1 tsp sambal oelek or chili oil (less if you can't take the heat, this will be quite spicy)
1/2 cup chopped green onion

Saute mushrooms & garlic in oil from 2 minutes, just to soften the garlic and fuse the flavours, do not brown. Add in stock & water and bring to a boil. Once boiling add in all the condiments and then the noodles. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 or 4 minutes until noodles are done. Add in green onions and serve.
I would have liked to add a knob in ginger, some lemongrass and some enoki mushrooms but I didn't have any, but I bet they would be a nice addition.


Banana Yogurt Griddlecakes

I was inspired by my friend who tried a vegan recipe for banana pancakes to try something healthy but tasty. I have nothing against vegans, I just know that its not my thing. I'm not big on making foods that imitate other food. I love soy but I like my soy to not try to be something its not.

So here's a very tasty recipe for somewhat healthy pancakes, its a mod of the griddlecakes from my fave cookbook The Fannie Farmer.

3/4 cup yogurt
1 mashed well ripened banana
2 tbsp melted butter or margarine
1 egg
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar (easily omitted if you want)

Mash banana and mix in yogurt, egg, and melted butter. Sift in flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. Stir until well mixed, if too thick add a little more yogurt as it will depend on the fat content of your yogurt. I used Liberty's Bioyogurt which worked out to 3/4 of a cup to get the right pancake consistency.

Oil & heat a griddle pan, pour a ladle full of batter on griddle, flip when cake is full off bubbles. Watch that the griddle isn't too hot at the outside will burn before the inside is cooked. This recipe makes about 6 good sized pancakes. Store them in a 200 degree oven while you wait for the remainder to cook.

They were extra tasty with Summerland boysenberry syrup.