27 June, 2012

Seattle's Quarterly Foodportunity Shindig


Once again, Keren Brown has put on another successful Seattle Foodportunity networking event, held at the lovely Palace Ballroom. It's a great event for writers, chefs, food producers, foodies, and restaurateurs to network, mingle, and nosh on good eats.

As usual, there were many participating restaurants and food producers, as well as guest chefs and cookbook writers. Here are some photos showcasing a few of those who participated. I apologize in advance if I missed key folks; there are too many pictures to blog them all. So, these are only the highlights, certainly not a comprehensive listing of Who's Who.

Click any photo to view a larger version. Enjoy!

Keren Brown, Organizer



Far Eats made a fabulous curry





Cookbook authors Alice Currah, Michael Natkin, and Jess Thomson





Alice Currah with Keren Brown

Dry Fly Distillers made spicy drinks for everyone











Chefs McKracken and Tough









Author Amy Pennington


24 June, 2012

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie


My friend Lorna Yee (author of The Newlywed Kitchen) made this recipe, and another friend of mine posted about it. I've been wanting to try it ever since and finally did this last weekend. Now, I don't normally give one recipe triple air time, but it really is too good of a recipe not to share.

I'm not one to make such claims as anything being "perfect." In fact, I think perfection is overrated, which is why I skipped Lorna's step about rolling them into perfectly round balls before baking them--I love a good lumpy, malformed cookie. (If, however, you strive for perfection, roll the balls in the palm of your hands before placing them on the cookie sheet like Lorna does.)

With the bitter dark chocolate, the salty crunch of the sea salt, and the sweetness of three different kinds of sugar, this cookie really kicks all of the various tastebuds into action. It's a total flavor bomb.

I am not going to suggest any alternatives to ingredients listed here because I really do believe that some of the non-traditional cookie ingredients (demerara sugar, bittersweet chocolate, bread flour, fleur de sel) make this the sublime masterpiece that it is. Another ingredient you definitely don't want to substitute is the unsalted butter. If you're like me, and typically just use whatever butter you have on hand, this is one of those times you should definitely make sure to have unsalted butter. The kosher salt in the recipe, and the sea salt sprinkled on top, these cookies have just the perfect amount of seasoning. Using salted butter would make it over-the-top salty and ruin the quality.

Ingredients.

1-1/4 cup (2-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup demerara sugar
1-3/4 cups dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup + 1 tbsp bread flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp kosher salt
Fleur de sel (French sea salt) for dusting
Extra demerara sugar for dusting
18 oz. 70% bittersweet chocolate, in chunks or coarsely chopped (I used Scharffenberger baking chunks)

Instructions.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugars, eggs, and vanilla on medium speed until well incorporated and creamy.

In a small bowl, mix flours, baking soda, baking powder, and kosher salt. On low speed, incorporate the dry ingredients into the creamy mixture to form a dough. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, add the chocolate pieces to the dough.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats. Scoop heaping teaspoons of dough and drop onto the baking sheet. Press each ball of dough down slightly with the palm of your hand. Dust the tops of each ball of dough very lightly with a pinch of demerara sugar and a pinch of fleur de sel.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 9 - 11 minutes, or until the cookies have a golden brown color all around the edge, but still soft in the center. Remove from oven and enjoy.

Images.





22 June, 2012

Naughty Strawberry-Rhubarb Streusel Pie






I cannot stress how naughty this dessert it. SO. MUCH. SIN.

It's got butter, white and brown sugar, copious gooey fruit, and the crust I used is a lard dough that my grandfather sent me the recipe to. (I was living in Germany at the time and was in dire need of American apple pie!) The flaky crust, the oozing, syrupy fruit (with a hint of balsamico), the crunch of the streusel topping, and a dollop of Mascarpone whip is truly a taste-texture explosion. It is sincerely one of the best pies I've made in a while.

Here's the recipe, which I adapted from another recipe I found online.

Ingredients.

For the crust:
1 unbaked pie crust of your choice (I used my grandfather's recipe, but most people I know have their own favorites)

For the filling:
6 stalks fresh rhubarb, sliced in 1/2" chunks
1-1/2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
3/4 cup sugar
1 TB balsamic vinegar
3 TB arrowroot or cornstarch (your pie will be a soupy mess without this!)

For the streusel topping:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, cold and cut into pieces

For the Mascarpone whip:
8 ounces Mascarpone cheese
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup + 2 TB sugar

Instructions.

In a large bowl, combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, balsamic, and arrowroot (or cornstarch). Stir well until the strawberry-rhubarb mixture is syrupy.

In a small or medium bowl, add the butter pieces, the flour, and the brown sugar, and using a pastry cutter, incorporate the butter into the flour/sugar mixture until crumbly.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out the pie dough and place into a 9-inch pie pan. Pour the strawberry-rhubarb mixture into the pie pan, evening out the contents with a spoon. Take the streusel topping and spread evenly across the top of the pie, covering as much of the strawberry-rhubarb mixture as possible.

Bake at 400 degrees for 50-55 minutes, covering the pie with foil halfway after 30 minutes to prevent over-browning.

While the pie is baking, make the Mascarpone whip. Take the heavy cream and beat until the cream forms stiff peaks. Transfer whipped cream into a clean bowl. Take the Mascarpone and place into the same bowl you used to beat the cream and mix with vanilla and sugar. Beat the Mascarpone-sugar mixture until well aerated, about 2-3 minutes. Add the whipped cream to the Mascarpone, a little bit at a time, until it is well incorporated. Chill until time to serve.

When the pie is done, let cool for two hours, and serve with a large dollop of chilled Mascarpone whip.