Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Edesia Cookbook Review

Last night I partipated in the Edesia Cookbook review at Barnes & Noble in Edina. Klecko , the founder of the St, Paul Bread Club was also there. Kim Ode,Minneapolis Star Tribune writer, lead the discussion. Our topic was "beginners". Although Klecko is a master baker, he is just learning to cook. His favorite cookbook is "Big Red"- Betty Crocker's Cookbook. He like the specific information it features such as how to hold a knife and chop correctly. This was very helpful to him as a beginner. I discussed "Baking Basics and Beyond" and emphasized the "Baker's Notes" and "Secrets to Success", that provide a lot of basic information. Kim Ode brought her copy of "The Victory Garden Cookbook" that was tattered and torn because she uses it so much. Because the topic was "beginners" I provide a list of the characteristics of a good recipe- list of ingredients in order used, specific measures (not 1/2 onion but 1/2 cup chopped onion), size of pans needed, times for the steps and cooking/baking times and number of servings.

Next month we will meet May 19 because of Memorial Day. Two professional pastry chefs are the speakers.

I served Chocolate Chip Cookies Deluxe and have added the recipe here. They always disappear quickly
Chocolate Chip Cookies Deluxe

Toll House, or Chocolate Chip, Cookies are definitely the most famous cookies in America. I use both butter and shortening in my recipe—a combination that gives the cookies a buttery flavor and a softer texture. Be creative and experiment with different combinations of “extras,” such as butterscotch chips, milk chocolate chunks, and crunchy macadamia nuts.


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg
1 cup semisweet or milk chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans, if desired

Heat oven to 375°F with oven rack in middle (see Baker’s Notes below).
Mix flour, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl.
Beat butter, shortening, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in bowl of a heavy-duty mixer on Medium-High speed until creamy, scraping down bowl once or twice. Add vanilla and egg and mix well.
Reduce mixer speed to Low and add the flour mixture. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat until dough forms. By hand, stir in chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and pecans.
Drop dough in rounded tablespoons about 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are browned on edges. Let cookies stand on cookie sheet for 1 minute before removing them. Cool on wire cooling rack.
These cookies should be stored loosely covered at room temperature.

BAKER’S NOTES: For uniform cookies, I drop the cookie dough onto the cookie sheet using a 1-tablespoon scoop that I purchased at a specialty store.
I usually place my oven racks on the second and fourth levels and bake two cookie sheets at once. If the heat in your oven is uneven, rotate the sheets halfway through baking.
SECRETS TO SUCCESS: Line a cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper for easier clean-up.
If you like softer cookies, remove them from the oven when the edges are barely browned even though the cookies still look slightly moist in the center. They firm up as they cool.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Spring, Finally

Today it seems like spring in Minnesota. The snow has melted and last night it rained. A few days ago I saw some petite crocuses popping up. When I was in New Orleans at the IACP conference, we saw lots of shrubs in bloom, including delicate pink roses.

One of the sessions I attended, Local on the Plate, was a panel discussion by Raymond Blanc, whose hotel restaurant, Le Manoir, has maintained Michelin two star status for 21 years, Mark Hix, an award winning journalist, and Donald Link. Donald Link is the owner/chef for Herbsaint and Cochon that both are focused on using local organic ingredients in season. That is a lot easier to do in New Orleans that it is to do here.

As consumers we have to demand change but also realize that it will cost more. Only consuming locally grown or produced foods has its limits so we must rely on importing foods from other areas. Chef Link believes we have to teach people how to cook and what to buy, especially people with lower incomes.

In honor of spring approaching I am posting an easy recipe for Blueberry Rhubarb Crumble. Rhubarb is one of the first local fruits to appear but blueberries take a lot longer. This time of year I use fresh rhubarb and frozen blueberries. This recipe is from Baking Basics and Beyond.

Blueberry Rhubarb Crumble

Fresh, sweet blueberries tame the tartness of rhubarb in this British crumble. Rhubarb is traditionally a sign of spring, and I always buy extra when I go to the farmers’ market or find it at the supermarket. It can be frozen without washing or trimming but should be tightly wrapped.

Makes 8 servings

1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 cups chopped fresh rhubarb
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup orange juice, or water

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cold butter, cut-up

Heat oven to 350°F with oven rack in center. Spray bottom of a 9 x 9-inch baking dish or 1 1/2-quart casserole with nonstick cooking spray.
Mix granulated sugar with 1/4 cup of flour and cinnamon in large bowl. Add rhubarb, blueberries, and orange juice and stir until fruit is well coated. Be careful not to break the blueberries. Spoon into prepared baking dish.
Bake 30 minutes or until juices are starting to thicken and bubble.

Mix remaining 1/2 cup of flour with the brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Crumble over the hot fruit.
Bake 25 to 35 minutes longer or until juices are bubbling and rhubarb is fork-tender. Cool on wire cooling rack.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Store any remaining in refrigerator.

Baker’s Note: Because frozen rhubarb and frozen blueberries are available throughout the year, this dessert can be baked any time. When you are using frozen rhubarb, I suggest chopping the largest pieces. Use the rhubarb and blueberries while still frozen. After adding the topping, you will need to bake about 60 minutes longer.
Secrets to Success: When I serve this dessert warm, I offer it with a little cream.

Baking Basics and Beyond by Pat Sinclair (Copyright 2006- Surrey Books)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Off to New Orleans and IACP

I'm off to IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) tomorrow. I'm looking forward to visiting New Orleans (my favorite place is the Cafe du Monde and my mouth waters just thinking of beignets!). Since it is a food conference everyone is seeking the best restaurants and there are so many choices. Our opening night event and Gala both feature local specialties and jazz music. So far we have dinner reservations at Bayona and Herbsaint. One of the sessions I'm attending about blogging so I expect I'll have lots of new ideas. And lots of new recipes.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Kids in the Kitchen in New Orleans

We're still waiting for spring this year in Minnesota. It's another dreary and cold day and I'm really looking forward to my trip next week to New Orleans for the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) conference. Every year in the city where the conference is being held IACP sponsors a "Kids in the Kitchen" project. For New Orleans the project has been a recipe contest. Local chefs gave demos at 6 schools and talked about food and family heritage. I was a judge and evaluated recipes from 6 children. All of the judges were encouraged to give the kids positive comments and increase their interest in cooking. One of the things I noticed was that their recipes were something they enjoyed as families. Some of the recipes had passed through several generations. One finalist from each school has been selected and they will participate in a cook-off next week during the conference. Everyone was aware of the disaster of Katrina but this reminds link us as our memory fades.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_vY4EaYC04&feature=related But New Orleans is definitely coming back and I'm willing to do my part in supporting their fabulous restaurants! Pat