Chocolate Chip Cookies & Lemon Loaf

Choc Cip baked on pan
Choc Cip baked on pan
  • A few weeks ago I had no idea what a food blog was. I just happened to come across one while doing a Google search for how to bake a cupcake in a mug. I clicked on a website that happened to be a food blog. At first I sat in awe of the beautiful photos. The food looked like it could leap off the page. Then I read the blogger’s profile. What? She took these great pictures of what she had made herself! Then I looked around the rest of the site. The recipes were explained in detail and looked delicious. She included comments about herself and her travels. This was so much fun for me to read. There were ‘followers’ of this site listed at the bottom of the page so I clicked on one of their pictures. I was whisked away to their blog. Oh my! This was like discovering a treasure chest! Some of the cooking blogs had links to other cooking blogs. One after another I clicked away. They were all really good. I ended up spending a whole Saturday transported to another world. Continue reading Chocolate Chip Cookies & Lemon Loaf

Suzanne’s Biscotti

I have been baking biscotti for 25 years. It’s still my all time favorite cookie. The dough takes just a few minutes to prepare. It’s the rest of the procedure that seems to take forever! I will try to fully explain every detail of the process for you. Plus there are endless variations to the following basic recipe. My current favorite is dried cherry & almond. This is one recipe that is very forgiving. So let your imagination go wild coming up with your favorite version. I’ll give a few of my favorites at the end.
My suggestion for making biscotti is to have about four hours of free time. You won’t be spending the whole time on the biscotti but it does take a while. 15 minutes to mix up the dough. Then it needs to chill for an hour. Bake for 45 minutes. Cool 30 minutes. Then bake again for 50 minutes. In between all this you can be doing other things.

This recipe makes a cookie that is firm and crunchy but not break your teeth hard. You decide how firm you want it. It’s the second bake that determines the degree of firmness. You’ll have to let them cool completely before you can test for how hard they are. I like mine on the hard side. If you like them softer just decrease the baking time. It takes a little experimentation to get your biscotti exactly how you like them. But you really can’t go wrong. The second bake is at 250 degrees so you won’t have to worry about burning them.

It might take a few batches to get the hang of making biscotti. This is because the dough is sticky and needs to be handled a certain way in order to shape it into two logs. You’ll need to know how to tell if they have baked long enough. You don’t want them to burn on the bottom. Or be too soft to slice. You want to be able to slice the cookie log without it falling apart. But it really isn’t difficult. It’s definitely worth the effort. Biscotti make wonderful personal gifts. Package them in a crisp cellophane bag and tie with a ribbon or give in a decorative tin container. You won’t have to pay a high price any more for them. And best of all, they will be your own custom creation.

  • Suzanne’s Biscotti
  • Put the rack in the center of the oven
  • Preheat oven to 325 after dough has been chilling for 45 minutes
  • Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper
  • Whisk together and set aside:
  • 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Beat until foamy: (I use a Kitchen Aid mixer with the paddle)
  • 3 large eggs
  • Gradually add: and beat 2 minutes
  • 1 & 1/3 cups granulated sugar (see note at end)
  • Add: 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Add and continue to beat for 2 minutes:
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) melted unsalted butter (cut into 8 slices and microwave for approx 25 seconds, then let cool until just barely warm before adding to the eggs and sugar)
  • Slowly add the flour mixture and beat until well incorporated
  • This makes a plain vanilla biscotti.
  • Variation: Dried Cherry & Almond
  • At this point you could add:(use a sturdy spoon to hand mix)
  • 3/4 cup dry roasted almonds, chopped (or other nuts)
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, diced (or other dried fruit)
  • Note: Dried fruit is really sticky when you try to dice it. Use a cutting board. Sprinkle a little flour over the dried fruit and toss together. Then dice it. The flour should coat the little pieces. Keep tossing around in the flour as you dice.
  • Get plastic wrap and a rimmed cookie sheet.
  • Place the cookie sheet in front of yourself lengthwise. If you have a 18″ x 13″ cookie sheet the 18 inch side is in front of you. Take the plastic wrap and stretch it out over the length of the cookie sheet. Tear off enough wrap so you’ll have about 4 inches hanging past the ends.
  • We’ll just do one side at a time.
  • Place the plastic wrap so a third of it is hanging off the side and two thirds is on the inside of the cookie sheet.
  • Now take spoonfuls of the biscotti dough and lay them on the plastic wrap along the edge of the cookie sheet like a long snake.Don’t go all the way to the end. Stop when you run out of dough. Use half of the dough.
  • Smooth out the top of the dough with a knife so it is exactly the same height as the rim of the cookie sheet. Now take the two edges of the plastic wrap and bring them up to meet each other. Then fold over.  Twist the ends. Now smooth out the dough so that it is uniform and solid. I lift up the right end of the dough and wrap my index finger and thumb around it with my finger tips touching together and slide my hand down the length of the dough to the opposite end so it is uniform in shape. It should end up looking like a roll of cookie dough. Now make sure that it is the same height as the rim. You may need to do additional shaping. You want a uniform and solid looking roll.
  • Now do the same thing with the remaining half of the dough. If you end up with one log that’s wider or bigger or shorter, don’t worry. That’s ok.They don’t have to be exactly the same size. 
dough
dough
  • Carefully move the dough from the cookie sheet onto a cutting board that is long enough to support the dough and place in the refrigerator until firm. About one hour.
  • Make sure your oven is preheated to 325
  • Place the logs so they are about 2 inches from the sides of the cookie sheet and there is space between them for the dough to spread.
  • Your dough should be firm enough to pick up without being limp. Peel off the plastic wrap and place on the cookie sheet. Square up each end if it is tapered looking. This way when you slice the log you won’t have tiny end pieces.
  • Bake for 30 minutes at 325
  • Then turn the oven down to 275 and continue baking 10-15 minutes.
  • Once the biscotti logs are removed from the oven turn it down to 250
  • Note: after 30 minutes the logs should just start to be be turning golden brown. If they just look pale, bake another 5 minutes and recheck before turning the oven down to 275.
    Keep a careful eye on them once you turn the oven down to 275. After 10-15 minutes they should look golden brown and the cracks should look dry not wet.
  • They will continue baking once they come out. Better to slightly under bake than risk over baking.

    Cool Dough
    Cool Dough 
  • Cool 30 minutes. You’ll need a serrated knife, cutting board and a parchment lined cookie sheet. Make sure the logs are cooled to at least barely warm before slicing. Completely cold might be best if this is your first time.
  • Make sure your oven is now set to 250
  • Carefully take one log off the cookie sheet. Tilting it up on it’s side works best for me. Then holding it at the top I quickly transfer it to a cutting board and gently lay it down.(Lifting it off by putting your hands underneath could cause it to crack.) Have your cutting board close at hand so you can quickly make the transfer.
  • Place one log on the cutting board. Take your serrated knife and slice using a back and forth, sawing motion, while slightly pushing down. Practice makes perfect. The goal here is not to tear the cookie or cause a piece to break off. I usually cut 1/2″ slices.
  • Place sliced cookies standing up on the parchment lined cookie sheet. I don’t lay them on their sides. As long as they aren’t touching you can put them close together. One cookie sheet should hold them all.
  • Carefully place the cookies in the oven and bake to your desired level of crispness
  • 50 minutes for hard but crunchy – I recommend this if it’s your first batch
  • 40 minutes for medium hard
  • 30 minutes for barely crunchy
    Suzanne's Biscotti
    Suzanne’s Biscotti

     

  • Let cool completely.
  • Place in a glass cookie jar with a tightly fitting lid or cookie tin to prevent from getting soft. I think they taste better a few days after baking. They keep really well for at least two weeks. If by chance they do lose crispness just reheat in a 300 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.
  • Variations:
  • Chocolate Biscotti: substitute 1/2 cup cocoa powder for 1/2 cup of flour, add 1 cup chocolate chips
  • Anise Biscotti: substitute 1 teaspoon anise extract for the 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, add 1 tablespoon anise seeds
  • Almond Biscotti: add 3/4 cup dry roasted almonds, chopped
    substitute 1 teaspoon almond extract for 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Dried Cranberry Biscotti: add 1/2 cup dried cranberries that have been soaked in 1/2 cup of boiling water, drained and patted dry.
  • 50/50 Biscotti: make 2 batches of biscotti. One vanilla and one chocolate. Take 1/4 of the vanilla dough and lay out on the plastic wrap like a long snake, then 1/4 of the chocolate dough right next to it. Form into one log. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  • Note: You can decrease the sugar to as little as 3/4 cup without wrecking the biscotti. Or if you want it sweeter you could add up to 1 & 1/2 cups sugar and it will still be ok.

Kicharee

This is my version of the Indian soup called Kicheree. Two years ago I ate nothing but this soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a month. The funny thing is I never got tired of having it. I didn’t crave anything. I felt great. I was seeing a Ayurvedic nutritionist at the time.

Indian stores sell beans with “dal” in the name: for example moong dal beans — use these instead of lentils

Kicheree

  • Prep first:
  • Wash and chop into bite sized pieces: (use organic produce if possible)
  • 1 bunch dandelion greens (or kale or collard greens or mustard greens) discard the stems

    collard greens
    collard greens 
  •  This is to show you what dandelion greens look like
  • 1 or 2 Daikon radishes, peeled
  • 3 carrots, peeled
  • Set aside
  • Rinse 3 cups of lentils and drain
  • lace in a large bowl and pour bottled water over the beans to cover.
  • Soak the beans for 3 hours.
  • They will expand so use a big enough bowl.
  • They will soak up most of the water. Add more if needed.
  • Drain beans and set aside.
  • Take 1 large Vidalia or yellow onion and chop it up.
  • Saute onion in a soup pot over medium heat until almost transparent — you can add a little butter or oil
  • While the onion is cooking take 1 whole bulb of garlic and separate the cloves, peel and dice fine.
  • (THE WHOLE THING–not just a clove)
  • Add the garlic to the onion and cook for a minute or two.
  • Add 3 quarts of chicken broth —
  • (I use organic chicken broth)
  • Add : the beans
  • Add: Daikon radish, and carrots

    beans
    beans
  • Here’s the soaked/drained beans,onion, carrots, daikon radish, garlic
  • Bring to a boil with the heat set on Med
  • Then turn the heat down a little and add:
  • 3 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder (or more )
  • 2 teaspoons fennel powder(or more)
  • Add: greens and stir
  • Cook until beans are tender – about 30 minutes
  • Adjust seasonings and you are done.Kicharee3
  • Soup simmering away
  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator
  • Use any combination of veggies. The dark green ones are best.

    Kicharee4

    Enjoy!

Momofuku Cookies

The Momofuku phenomon has hit. This mini empire in New York City includes Noodle Bar, Ssam Bar, Ko, Ma Peche and Milk Bar. All this is the brain child of a very angry David Chen. Momofuku has change the game for everything it touches. It’s flavor pairings appear haphazard but have gained  a huge following. They have won awards. 

momofuku-cookies
momofuku-cookies

Continue reading Momofuku Cookies

Suzanne’s Caramels

This is my signature recipe. I make at least eight batches of caramels every year during the holidays. I always make some for Valentine’s Day and Easter. Then throughout the year for birthdays and special occasions.  Everyone loves these. The down side to this is that nobody wants to make them for themselves. Every time I give the recipe to someone after they have been given a gift of caramels they say: “This is too much work. You can make them for me.” Like biscotti these seem to take forever to make. But they are easy. Allow 30 minutes for the cooking time. Two to four hours for the candy to cool. (I prefer making this the night before.)  And one hour to cut and wrap them. This version is a brown sugar caramel with toasted pecans. Dry roasted almonds work well too. I have tried many caramel recipes over the years and this is the easiest and best tasting.

Continue reading Suzanne’s Caramels

Suzanne’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake

This is one of my most requested recipes. It’s yummy for breakfast or for a dessert when you don’t want cake with frosting. Since this recipe makes a big coffee cake you’ll have plenty to share.

Sometimes I use a rectangular pan to make this coffee cake and other times I use a 10 cup Bundt pan. See the Bundt cake variation.

Continue reading Suzanne’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake