Cookie Time!

IMG_0110I’ve weirdly had a lot of time off this week and it has afforded me the time to think, bake, do my Bar Method DVD several times (ugh, I hate her but she knows her stuff), and read. Other than the whole exercise portion, these are literally all my favorite things to do! Well actually I don’t ever just sit around and think, I mean who does that? Every time they show someone pensively sitting around staring out a window or something in a movie I always think “I would never, ever do that.” Being left alone with your thoughts? Sounds gross. I like to keep my brain busy people!

And this week it was busy making cookies. Delicious cookies from two of my newer cookbook purchases, the Joy the Baker Cookbook and Pure Vanilla. The cookies on the left are Joy’s Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (minus the nuts + some white chocolate chips) and the little beauties on the right are called Vanilla Snaps.

IMG_0107The Brown Butter Cookies are excellent – EXCELLENT! Basically it’s just a regular ol’ chocolate chip cookie recipe but you take half the butter and brown it in a saucepan before adding it to the creamed butter and sugar. I’m sure you could do this with any chocolate chip cookie recipe and you would be adding that awesome toasty layer of flavor. Since you pour melted butter in there you have to give the dough a little rest in the fridge before you bake it but it’s not an unbearably long time before these can be in your face! I’d like to link to the recipe or something but I can’t seem to find it online and I feel ill at ease about being the first one to post it. Just buy her book okay? It’s really cheap and chock full of great recipes. Totally worth your $12, I swear. Plus she is cute and funny and I’d like her to stay successful in her field. Help a girl out.

Now onto the Vanilla Snaps. They look so simple and kind of plain in the pic right? Well they are not! They are amazing and crisp and just slightly sweet with a bang of vanilla flavor and a little salty kick. Basically they are one of the most dangerous cookies I have ever baked because I could probably eat like 20 without realizing it. I blame their cracker-ish consistency. In the book it says you can crush these up to become the crust of a cheesecake but I kind of couldn’t bear to do it. Plus I had a better idea. We had a Chocolate cooking class at work the other night and there was some leftover ganache that needed to find a home….what better real estate than between two delicious cookies? These Ganache-Filled Vanilla Snaps are not like breaking new ground in baking history or anything but they are seriously delicious.

IMG_2447The deep, dark chocolate flavor just pops and makes these little sandwich cookies divine. Basically they are like homemade E.L. Fudges x infinity. I think there is one left and I am totally going to snag it after I’m done writing this post. Also, did you happen to notice my cute new mustache mug? I got it at Target last weekend and I definitely think you should love yourself enough to buy one too. On their website you can only buy the set but in the stores they’re $3.99 each and they make morningtimes more fun. Go get one.

In other news, WordPress informed me that this is my Blog-a-versary. I guess one year ago today I decided to give this blogging thing another go. I already talked about it a little in my 100th post, but I’m super glad I’ve stuck with it and I plan to keep on going until I can’t think of any more new things to cook or bake or any more dumb things to say. Seems like that’ll take awhile though so it’s safe to say I’ll be here for a bit.

French Fridays with Dorie – Shrimp & Cellophane Noodles

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For a 27 year old who loves shrimp I feel this is a weird thing for me to say: this is the first time I ever cooked shrimp in my life. Normally I wouldn’t make it at all because Tristan is allergic but I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY wanted to both make and eat this so my neighbor helped me out by loving shrimp as much as me and helping me eat it. Plus she made burgers for our husbands so they could have something for dinner too. Good neighbor!

Another shocking statement coming your way – I had the day off on Sunday! And I have the day off today! It’s a miracle! On Sunday we took a little shopping trip down to Madison where I picked up these shrimp at a fancy new grocery store for a steal! I did have to peel and de-vein them but I’ve watched my dad do that enough times that I wasn’t really worried about it. It took me longer than I thought it would and it was kind of gross but I guess that’s a small price to pay for big delicious shrimps.

My neighbor also helped me out by doing some of the shopping for this recipe on her way home from work. She picked up the mushrooms, cilantro, and tomato portion of this meal so that I could get cracking on making it right at 6:15 when I got home. I’ve mentioned it before but I am just starting to like mushrooms and these floppy wood-ear ones were kind of s stretch for me. I mean, do they look like something you want to eat?

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No, no they don’t. In fact, they look like something I would avoid at all costs, but I bravely soldiered on. They are kind of a weird consistency but I chopped them up really fine and tried not to think about it.

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I even hauled out my wok, which sees very little play in the kitchen and was very excited to be used last night. Just like Dorie said, it all came together very quickly once it got going. I mean all the directions for cooking were in seconds, not minutes so I felt a little bit of pressure to have all my shit together. Usually you have some time to dick around while something is simmering but that was not the case last night. After dumping in the tomato everything kind of looks a mess until you garnish with cilantro but it smelled very, very nice.

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And tasted really interesting! I definitely liked it a lot but the flavor is hard to describe. The five-spice powder really can’t be explained, just tasted I think. I hauled-ass over the the neighbors’ once I had this put together and we enjoyed it while catching up on Once Upon a Time and Revenge and drinking some Tilia Bonarda which is a really delicious and kind of little-known varietal from South America. Yum!

Baking with Julia – French Apple Tart

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This was a perfect Christmas Eve dessert. Yeah, you read that right, I made this three weeks ago! Take that Baking with Julia! I’ve previously lamented my last minute baking for this group but I made this one almost a month ahead of schedule! I’m just gonna go ahead and pat myself on the back something fierce!

We chose not to travel this Christmas and while I did miss my immediate family, I got to spend it with some of my family that lives nearer to us and it was fantastic. We hung with two of my aunts and two of my favorite cousins and it was one of the most chill and delightful Christmases ever! I sort of felt like the yuppie couple who lives next to the Griswold’s in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but I’m oddly okay with that. Plus we didn’t get attacked by a Rottweiler or anything like that so we’re doing better than them by miles already.

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I like to think that Tristan and I would never wear these metallic sweatsuits, but who knows what the future will bring?

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I thought that roasting the apples beforehand made this dessert different and special. Definitely not efficient time-wise, but I’m okay with that. It reminded me of the blueberry nectarine pie from last year where we cooked the filling before baking it. Just another layer of flavor I guess. I’m proud to say that this was my first tart crust that didn’t totally shrink while it was baking and it made me extremely happy. Though I’m not 100% comfortable with the consistency of the pie/tart crust recipe from BWJ pre-bake, I will say that it delivers tremendous results in the final product. Looked beautiful and tasted amazing as well!

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Getting things done so far in advance felt good at the time, but now I am struggling to remember what I wanted to say about ths recipe specifically. I thought it was the perfect dessert for our meal of cassoulet and I really appreciated that it wasn’t tremendously sweet, but apart from that the details are escaping me. Oh well. I do remember that it was delicious though so if you’re interested in having this apple goodness in your life, visit  Gaye of Laws of the Kitchen for the recipe.

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P.S. Merry late Christmas from the cutest and fattest cat I know: Poppet

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Meow!