Category Archives: Cooking

3:00 PM Chocolate Pick-Me-Up Cookies


Makes about 42 cookies

1 1/2 cups pecan pieces
8 ounces dark chocolate (58 to 62 percent
cacao), chopped or broken into 1-inch pieces
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5 ounces (1 cup) milk chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the baking sheets with parchment.
2. Spread the pecan pieces in one layer in a small baking pan and put in the (preheated) oven. Set a timer for 10 minutes and check the nuts to see if they’re a light golden brown. If not, toast
2 minutes longer. Set aside to cool.
3. Melt the chocolate and the butter by putting them in a heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water. (You can use a double boiler if you have one.) Stir and scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally with the rubber spatula until the chocolate is smooth and evenly melted. Remove the bowl from the heat. Let cool to
room temperature.
4. In a small bowl, stir the flour and baking powder together and set aside.
5. With an electric mixer or by hand, beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla until smooth. Mix in the melted chocolate. Add the flour mixture and continue to mix until everything is evenly
combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice with the rubber spatula. Stir in the pecans and chocolate chips, just until combined.
6. Put 2 racks in the upper and lower thirds of the (preheated) oven. Place 1-tablespoon (slightly rounded, not flat, not heaping) mounds of dough 2 inches apart on the parchment-lined baking sheets. If you have one you can also use a small ice cream scoop to form the cookies and plop them out onto the sheets (it’s much faster and easier).
7. Bake the cookies for about 9 to 11 minutes, or until they’ve lost their sheen. Although they may seem underdone and kind of gooey, don’t be tempted to let them bake longer—they’ll firm up as they cool. So that the cookies bake evenly, you may need to rotate the pans in the oven or switch racks halfway through.

Courtesy of Emily Luchetti, author of “The Fearless Baker”

The Fearless Baker book cover

Wok’s Up With Chard?


We have found this technique is great for a variety of vegetables, Chard, Broccoli, Romanesco, Cauliflower, Rapini, and Broccolini. You can have it on its own, as a side dish, on grilled or toasted bread with a fried egg on top, you can mix it with cooked pasta and parmesan cheese, and you can add it to chicken stock and make a brothy soup. It will keep in the fridge for a week.

Half a red onion {big dices the size of your little finger nail}
A bunch of Swiss Chard {about a dozen leaves} de-stemmed and washed clean and torn into 2 inch pieces
3 cloves of sliced garlic
1/3 cup of Canola oil
1/4 cup of good olive oil
2 pinches of Chili Flakes {optional}
1/4 cup of tap water
Salt and Pepper to season

Heat the wok on high gas, for about a minute, then add the canola oil, let it get hot for about 30 seconds, add the diced onion, they will sizzle fast, so swirl the wok and cook the onions for about a minute, or use a wooden spoon to stir around, if its too hot, lift the wok off the heat, the onions around the edge will cook faster, keep stirring, add the sliced garlic and cook for 20-30 seconds, then add the Card {its OK if its wet} Turn the Chard over with the onions and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. It should wilt, add 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup of good olive oil and sprinkle with Chili Flakes, salt and pepper. Lower the heat to low, cover with a lid, and cook for about 10-15 minutes turning occasionally. You should have a little juice in the wok when finished. If it’s too watery drain the juice. When doing Cauliflower, use a white onion and add a little chopped mint right at the end. All these vegetables are done the same way. You can experiment using sesame oil and adding soy sauce if you want do an Asian slant. Can’t say enough about Veggies cooked this way.

Courtesy of Seamus and Shelly

Leek & Feta Gallette‏


Leek and Feta Gallette
Courtesy of our friend Heidi from Marin County California

 It’s what’s for dinner.

 So sorry meatlovers. 

Mama’s on strike and it looks good to me!

Asparagus & Wine Pairings


We are pleased to introduce our good friend and guest blogger Zinfreek!
Two of my favorite things (plus chive blossoms): Local springtime asparagus in California, and a Franciscan Ware platter (part of the collection I inherited from Mom and Dad Palmer, who received the set as a wedding gift in 1956).

Asparagus gets a bad rap when it comes to wine.  Alas, it’s true, as many wines can take on a weirdly sweet yet metallic, artificially canned fruit kinda flavor when paired with this iconic spring delight.

Not to worry, tho, for two reasons.

The first is that you’re probably not sitting down to a lonely platter of asparagus for lunch or dinner; unless you’re me and do do that, it’s probably just one part of a larger meal, so grab a nice bottle of whatever you find works with the main event and sip away.  If, however, asparagus is the star attraction and you wish to hone in on a pleasant match, you may want to bear in mind a basic rule of thumb (we’re talking white, here): choose something really fresh, crisp, lean and acidic even, with zero oak treatment I would suggest.  Sauvignon blanc naturally comes to mind, and world-wide this wine is better than ever as winemakers learn to leave it alone and let the grape’s aromatic, pungent personality shine.  Sancerre from the Loire Valley in France is a classic, or a Touraine sauvignon for an even less expensive choice.  A slightly less tropical and less bodacious New Zealand offering can do the trick, as can a balanced California version from Lake County or Monterey County, to name a few.  Other suggestions include an honest, zesty Pinot Grigio from Italy, of course (thinking Friuli or the Alto Adige), or a citrusy Rueda from Spain.  And whatever you do, do not forget about Grüner Veltliner from Austria (or try one if you’ve never before), one of the current darlings of the wine world: a slightly peppery, mineral laden white wine, and a great foil for vegetable-based dishes.  Finally: a pale, firm and dry (and ever so slightly earthy) Mediterranean-style Rosé, another of my favorite springtime indulgences as the newest vintage comes to market, and a wine that needn’t be fussed over.  There’s a bevy of other fine options out there, and most of them can be easy on the pocketbook, so chat with your neighborhood wine merchant to get some more suggestions.

Grüner veltliner was going to be my second tip (especially a lighter and leaner expression), because it’s so damned adept at succeeding where other wines fall a bit flat, but I already mentioned it.  So my second suggestion is to squeeze a bit of fresh lemon and a couple grinds of cracked pepper on top of your log jam mound of asparagus (maybe some minced chives, too); a no brainer as the threesome go hand in hand, but one that seems to help mitigate the sometimes difficult or awkward food/wine match.

Eat real food, people.  And eat your veggies.

Peter J. Palmer

Growing the Fava Beans is the Easy Part


This lovely mound of beans was my third harvest from my plants, and honestly by this point the prep required to actually get the beans to the table had me daunted.  The process goes like this, you shell the beans from the pod (not easy),  the shelled beans have a tough outer skin that needs to be removed, so you parboil the shelled beans for 2-3 minutes, drain, ice and then remove the outer skin from each and every bean (not easy).  So before this 3rd harvest I got some advice……

Take the bean pod and rip it in half

Then just squeeze the pod and the beans will pop right out

Yes my thumbnail is dirty, shucking Fava’s is HARD WORK!  and yes that is a dog hair jauntily sticking out from my index finger, but unfortunately you cannot eat in this house without dog hair, it is a condiment.

Fava Mania!


Years ago my friends Shelley & James planted a cover crop of Fava Beans in their yard (the Fava’s put lot’s of good nitrogen in the soil). When I first saw them they were in bloom and just beautiful, I couldn’t stop commenting on how pretty the plant was with it’s silvery green leaves and, such lovely flowers! When I saw some Fava plants at the nursery this winter I decided to try my hand at growing some in a half wine barrel.

The Fava plant grows tall and bushy, not viney like other beans

 They grew like the proverbial weed and before I knew it they were loaded with beautiful blossoms.

          

The center is such a deep purple it almost looks black

The flowers bloom in clusters all over the plant, not much of a scent, but the bees sure did like them!  Soon enough little baby Favas were sprouting.

              

Swiss Charred Pizza


Well, I was right in the middle of cooking a pizza last night, when my oven konked out.  I decided to finish the pizza on the grill.

I was very pleased with the way it looked when it came off the grill.  It looked beautiful!

Until I looked at the bottom………