Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

As my winter break was winding down to a close, I had a couple more baking trials to complete.  I recently tried the chocolate chip cookies my friend swore were the best she has ever made.  Correctly labeled Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies they were soft and chewy in the middle with a crunchy outer rim.  Head over to her blog, We Like to Cook to check them out!

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Sushi

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Sushi is a big deal these days… unfortunately, it’s always so expensive and it’s not always that tasty. The answer to this problem: homemade sushi. It’s actually quite easy to make, you just need to take your time.

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This recipe does not have exact measurements because I did it kind of randomly. I used coconut milk to flavor the rice and smoked salmon instead of raw fish. Feel free to customize your sushi however you want – use different vegetables, fishes, etc.

With these approximate proportions, I made about 35 sushi.

Ingredients

4 sheets of seaweed

2 cups of basmati rice

2 cans of coconut milk

4 cups of water (for the rice)

4 tablespoons of rice vinegar

1/2 cucumber

1 avocado

1 pack of smoked salmon

Sesame seeds for flavoring.

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Directions:

1. Cook the rice with the water, coconut milk, and rice vinegar. Do not put in all the liquids at once – add them progressively, depending with how sticky you want the rice to be. (more water = more sticky). Flavor the rice with some salt.

2. Let the rice cool for about 30 minutes.

3. Cut the salmon, cucumber, and avocado into thin strips.

4. Take a sheet of seaweed. Spread rice on top of it (about 1 cm thick). At the edge of the sheet, add some vegetables so that span the length of the sheet (you want there to be vegetables throughout the roll).

5. Take the edge of the seaweed sheet and roll it tightly. To keep the edges together once you have completed the roll, wet the seaweed with some water.

6. Using a sharp knife, cut the roll into individual sushis.

7. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

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Tatte Bakery

I finally made it over to Tatte Bakery on Washington St. and was so pleased with the results.  Tzurit Or is Tatte’s founder and she started off selling her goods at farmer’s markets.  She expanded into her first bakery in 2007-2008 and has been serving customers ever since.  She now has five locations around and in Boston and serves sweet and savory creations.  Known for blending between traditional European pastries and her Middle Eastern roots, Tatte has unique pastries you will not find elsewhere.

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Selection of breakfast goodies

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Selection of cakes and tarts and cookies

I opted for their pistachio croissant as I am a huge fan of the almond variety.  As stated before, Tatte does a wonderful mix between European and Middle Eastern sweets, and this was no exception.  The pistachio croissant was prepared similarly to an almond croissant.  Croissants are sliced open, dipped in syrup, and slathered with a nutty spread (traditionally frangipane), and then baked again.  However, this croissant tasted like a hybrid between an almond croissant and baklava with the substitution for pistachios instead of almonds.  The croissant was perfectly buttery, and the syrup soaked into the base making it delightfully sweet.  The pistachios were a nice change of pace and were still somewhat crunchy instead of being ground into a smooth paste.  Tatte also had some beautiful nut tarts that looked great and will be the next items I try.

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Nutty Frangipane Galette

Remember the Strawberry Frangipane Galette I made a little while ago?  While my father loved the buttery crust and creamy frangipane filling, but suggested omitting the fruit to make a sweet breakfast pastry of some sorts.  Similar in taste to a nutty shortbread.  I ended up doubling the amount of frangipane from the previous recipe and sprinkling slivered almonds on top.  It was fantastic!  Not too sweet it paired perfectly with coffee and was a great way to start off the day.  It made me feel like a lady on Downton Abbey.  I imagine they ate similar sweets in the morning. photo 4 Nutty Frangipane Galette (serves 8) Crust

  • 1 cup plus 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 9 tbsp cold butter, cut into tablespoons
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp ice water

Almond Frangipane

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 8 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 2 egg, separated
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 pinches of kosher salt

Slivered almonds and powdered sugar for garnish (optional) Mix together the flour, almond flour, salt, sugar, and butter with a hand mixer on low speed until you get crumbles.  Add in the vanilla extract and water.  Mix for another minute until the dough comes together or just use your hands to form it into a disc.  Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. For the frangipane, beat the almond flour, sugar, butter, egg yolk, and vanilla extract until smooth.  Refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the galette. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking pan with a silpat or parchment paper. On a floured surface (or confectioner’s sugar) roll out the dough to an 11 inch circle.  Place on the baking sheet and spread the frangipane over it.  Fold over the edges of the crust so as to contain the cream filling.  Sprinkle the almonds on top. Whisk the egg whites until foamy and spread over the galette. Bake the galette for 30 minutes.  The pastry should turn a nice golden brown on the edges.  Cool completely.  Serve alongside coffee.  Dust powder sugar on top to make it extra pretty.

Strawberry Frangipane Galette

I don’t know about you, but I love frangipane, or almond cream.  Found in the filling of almond croissants it is made of ground almonds and sugar and butter and is amazing!  When I saw a recipe for an Apricot Frangipane Galette I was inspired and made a couple of substitutions to fit my cupboard and pallet.   Feel free to use whatever fruit you have on hand, this galette is great with most!

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Strawberry Frangipane Galette (serves 8)

Crust

  • 1 cup plus 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 9 tbsp cold butter, cut into tablespoons
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp ice water

Almond Frangipane

  • ½ cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 4 tbsp butter, room temperature
  • 1 egg, separated
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • pinch of kosher salt

Strawberries

  • 3 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice

Mix together the flour, almond flour, salt, sugar, and butter with a hand mixer on low speed until you get crumbles.  Add in the vanilla extract and water.  Mix for another minute until the dough comes together or just use your hands to form it into a disc.  Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

For the frangipane, beat the almond flour, sugar, butter, egg yolk, and vanilla extract until smooth.  Refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the galette.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix the strawberries with the lemon juice and sugar.

Line a baking pan with a silpat or parchment paper.

On a floured surface (or confectioner’s sugar) roll out the dough to an 11 inch circle.  Place on the baking sheet and spread the frangipane over it.  Place the strawberries on top.  Fold over the edges of the crust so as to contain the fruit.

Whisk the egg white until foamy and spread over the galette.

Bake the galette for 30 minutes.  The pastry should turn a nice golden brown on the edges.  Serve alongside whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Prosciutto Caprese Sandwich

I got the idea for this sandwich from my go to order at Cafe Rustica in Somerville.  Fresh bread topped with pesto and sliced tomatoes and mozzarella.  Simple but good ingredients make it a treat whenever I order it.  This version has an addition of prosciutto de parma, which melts in your mouth and adds another salty element.  Wicked easy to make you will be stunned by how delicious it is!

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Prosciutto Caprese Sandwich

Sliced focaccia

Pesto

Thinly sliced prosciutto de parma

sliced mozzarella

sliced tomatoes (sprinkle with salt and pepper)

Slather the bread on both sides with the pesto.  Layer with the prosciutto, mozzarella, and tomato.  Dig in!!

Blueberry Banana Granola Parfait

Here is to a healthy 2015!  This parfait is perfect for breakfast or a light snack and can be made quickly once the granola is finished.  Mix and match the fruit and types of granola to best serve your own preference.  I made a cookie butter granola recently that was fantastic and would be an easy substitute.  I like plain Greek yogurt for its tartness and creaminess which balances the sweet fruit and crunchy granola.

Banana Blueberry Parfait

 

Blueberry Banana Granola Parfait

1/2-1 cup Greek yogurt

2 teaspoons honey

banana

1/2 cup blueberry banana bread granola (recipe follows)

Dollop half of the yogurt on the bottom of a glass.  Slice banana and layer on top.  Drizzle on honey.  Add granola.  Repeat.

Blueberry Banana Bread Granola 

3 cups oats

1 cup walnuts

1 cup dried blueberries

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 bananas mashed

1/4 cup maple syrup

egg white

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl, excluding the egg white.

Whip the egg white until frothy and then gently mix it into the other bowl.

Scatter the granola on the pan and cook for 75 minutes.  Break apart the granola into clusters once it has cooled for a couple of minutes.  Since the banana makes the granola have a wetter batter you may need to keep it in the oven longer.

 

Gustazo Cuban Restaurant Cafe

As my friend was preparing to ship back to St. Louis we decided to have dinner together one last time before March break.  I researched new places we could try and decided on Gustazo Cuban Restaurant and Cafe.  The menu caught my eye because it was filled with tapas reminiscent of our days in Spain.  The cafe is beautifully decorated and has a fun atmosphere.  Diners are encouraged to order multiple tapas to share with their companions or they can opt for one of the larger plates.

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I started with the guacamole served with fried plantain chips.  The guacamole was nice and zesty from the lime and had roasted peppers, red onion, pineapple, cilantro and sunflower seeds mixed in.  I then had the tortilla espanola, one of my favorite dishes from Spain, which is a potato and onion frittata of some sorts.

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Although I can’t say it was as good as in Spain it did the job, and was served on top of sour cream and cherry tomatoes.  Lastly, my favorite part of the meal, was dessert.  I ordered the churros and a cafe con leche.  I had a cafe con leche every morning at breakfast in Spain, which is coffee with scalded milk on top.
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This was very good and paired well with the sweet churros.  The churros were wonderfully crispy, and coated in sugar.  They were served alongside a thick chocolate sauce with a light sprinkling of red pepper flakes to add a little kick.  They were fantastic and I resorted to eating some of the chocolate with a spoon after I finished the churros…  Gustazo has so many great options you’ll be sure to find something you will like!

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The Greek Grille

Last week my family was trying to decide on a takeout place to order from and we ended up choosing a Greek restaurant that I had never been to.  Located in Winchester, The Greek Grille has been open since 2002 and is run by a family with recipes 85 years old.  The restaurant space is very small and takeout is definitely where they make most of their business.  I ordered the lamb souvlaki which comes with a side of tzatziki sauce and a choice of two sides.  I choose the greek salad and french fries.  The amount of food I received was astounding and well worth the price of $15.99.  Two skewers of lamb, a grilled vegetable skewer, a mountain of fries, a large greek salad, and pita bread.

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The lamb was well cooked and even better dipped in the tzatziki sauce.  The french fries were slightly better than your standard casual eatery and the greek salad was fantastic.  In the greek salad were homemade stuffed grape leaves which were amazing and can be ordered by themselves.  My family also recommends the rice pilaf as a side and the chicken and steak souvlaki as meals.  Next time I think I will try their famous gyro wrap and order the grape leaves as a side.

Croque Madame Casserole

After dining at the MET Bar, I was in a croque madame state of mind, and decided to whip up a deconstructed version from My Invisible Crown.  It was amazing.  It was so savory from the nutty gruyere cheese, creamy béchamel, and salty leftover Christmas ham.  It is a perfect winter meal because it sticks to your bones.  It would also make a great brunch.  I served it alongside an easy spinach salad.  This recipe is a keeper and I’ll definitely be making it in the near future!

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Croque Madame Casserole (serves around 10)

10 cups cubed day old brioche loaf

1 1/2 cups milk

3 1/2 cups cooked ham diced

4-5 tablespoons butter

4-5 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 cups cream or half and half

4 cups gruyere, grated

2 cups parmesan, grated

salt and pepper to taste

pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1 tablespoon olive oil

7-9 eggs

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Place the bread in a large casserole dish.  Pour the milk over it.

Heat the ham with the olive oil in a pan until it turns a golden color.  Scatter on top of the bread mixture.

Heat the butter and flour over high heat to start making the rue.  Add the half and half and cook until it thickens after boiling.  Add in salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  Add in the cheese and mix until everything is completely melted.  Pour over the bread mixture and stir to combine.

Grate any additional cheese on top if you would like.

Place the casserole dish in the oven and cook for 10 minutes.

Take out the dish and make indentations in the casserole for eggs to rest in.  Crack eggs and place in the little divets.  Cook in the oven on broil for around 7 minutes or until the egg whites set.  Serve it up and enjoy!