Thursday, May 26, 2011

You're a Superstar. That is what you are.

One of my favorite eateries in the world is All Star Sandwich Bar in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I was lucky enough to live just down the street for more than a year. Either dine in or take out, All Star Sandwich bar serves a fantastic mix of fresh salads, tasty sides, burgers, and of course, sandwiches.

Now, living in DC, it is one of the places that I miss most. Alex and I always knew a good meal was only a few blocks away. We even been known to eat there twice in one day. That is just how good it is. 

The other day, I was particularly homesick and got a huge craving for a sandwich and pile of fries. I decided to check out their rotating menu to see what was on special. Probably not the best idea because that week's Funky sounded incredible: Mojo Braised Pork Shoulder with Spicy Feta Spread, Crispy Fried Onions, Red Leaf Lettuce, Tomatoes and Tsaziki Sauce on Grilled French. 

Seriously, how good does that sound? I told Alex to pack, we had to get in the car, we had to get to Cambridge before they closed for the evening and the Funky disappeared forever. Sadly, he kind of just laughed at me. So, I had to devise a plan to make my own.

Funk∙y \funkee\ adj. (inspired by All Star Sandwich Bar)
Serves 1
  • 3 oz of braised pork shoulder
  • 2 tablespoons of spicy feta spread or tyrokafteri, recipe to follow
  • 5 crispy fried onions rings
  • 3 leaves of lettuce
  • 3 tomato slices
  • 2 tablespoons of tzatziki
  • 1 piece of French bread, grilled


Spicy Feta Spread (Tyrokafteri)
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons crumbled feta
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 peperoncini, finely chopped


Directions

I started by frying up some shallots because I didn't have any onions on hand. I sliced them into rings, doused them in flour, soaked them in an egg wash, coated them in bread crumbs, and placed them in a pan of hot oil till they were crispy and golden brown.


In a food processor or magic bullet, blend together feta, Greek yogurt, olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes, paprika, cayenne pepper, cider vinegar, and chopped peperoncini.


Blend until smooth and chill until ready to use.


Slice French bread in half. Spread spicy feta spread on one side and tzatziki on the other. On one side, pile braised pork shoulder, crispy fried onion rings, lettuce, and tomatoes. Top with remaining slice of bread.


The sandwich turned out great, although probably not as good as the original. We'll be in Cambridge for a visit soon, I'll cross my fingers the Funky reappears on the menu because we will definitely be heading to All Star Sandwich Bar as soon as we get to Inman Square.

Have you ever tried to recreate a meal from your favorite restaurant? How did it turn out?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Twice. Two Times.

Last week, I went out for tapas twice. Two nights in a row to be exact. Both restaurants were nestled in the hip neighborhood of U Street. Both restaurants had a swanky, modern feel. Both menus were mouth watering, including fancy items like Mustard Greens and Speck and Wagyu Medallions. One I went to with friends, Chantal, Veronica, and Margaret, while the other I went to with Alex. I was equally super excited to eat at both. Sounds like two fabulous nights, right? Well, only sort of.

One restaurant came out as a shining example of tapas done right, while the other fell far behind, both in taste and in service. The contrast provided me with a true appreciation of perfection at Policy.


Policy had been on my list of restaurants to try for awhile. I walk by it nearly every day. Though the outside looks something like a cafe, the inside is a swanky, modern, industrial mix of a 1950's diner and upscale Manhattan Asian-inspired eatery. The decor is eclectic, illuminated by silver chandeliers, covered in black matte wallpaper featuring parking meters and fire hydrants, and dressed up with black mirrors and colorful paintings by local artists.

When we arrived, we were seated immediately in a shiny scarlet booth and greeted by a friendly waiter who seemed ready to take care of us in anyway. Alex and I chose two meat dishes and three vegetable dishes. Alex ordered a DC Brau, while I ordered a glass of Gewürztraminer, just as I had the day earlier with the girls.


The first dish to come out were the Stir Fried Green Beans, flavored with ginger, garlic, sesame, and soy. Let me just tell you that I have eaten my fair share of green beans, but these were the best I have ever had in my life. Powerfully salty, with the perfect amount of crunch, these green beans were definitely more than a side dish.


While we were serving ourselves green beans, our Madras Curry Lamb Sliders arrived. 

Thankfully, at Policy, it is not their policy to leave you eating a plate of vegetables by themselves as I had the night before when 30 minutes after the majority of our meal, I was brought a plate of cold, sad asparagus all by its lonesome. 

Though these green beans totally stood up on their own, they paired nicely with the sliders, which were fabulous, by the way.


The meat was well seasoned with curry and mint. The tiny brioche buns added a buttery, savory, touch.


While we munched on sliders and green beans, our Roasted Brussels Sprouts arrived.

I'm a huge fan of Brussels sprouts on their own, pair them with thick chunks of applewood smoked bacon, Danish blue cheese, and slices of blood orange and you just can't go wrong. They were full of flavor, managing to be both savory and sweet with notes of citrus. Simply delicious.


Next came two perfectly square servings of scalloped potatoes, which were crispy on the outside, starchy on the inside, and full of buttery, salty flavor.


Lastly, came our Grilled Hanger Steak. Sitting on a bed of shiitake mushrooms, green beans, and edamame puree, the steak was grilled and seasoned perfectly. The edamame puree was a nice touch, which I practically licked clean from the plate.

Not only was everyone one of the dishes we tried piping hot, cooked to perfection, incredibly flavorful, and totally delicious, but in stark contrast to my previous tapas experience, the serving was orchestrated in a way that brought out the best in each dish. From the green beans to the steak, the meal was truly perfect with no laps in food, drink, or service.


We ended the night on a sweet note with some of the most delicious key lime pie that I have ever had. The pie filling was tangy and sweet, topped with whipped cream and meringue and dotted with marshmallow.

I can't say enough about how fantastic everything was that we ate at Policy. I don't know that I've ever had a meal where everything we were served was incredibly good. The service was awesome too. This meal was truly impressive. We will definitely be back.

Have you been to any restaurants that have totally blown you away? Where should we check out next?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tart fail #2. The story of a too tart tart.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I had a tart fail. I made this pretty, delicious looking tart and it leaked all over my oven. When I tried to transfer it to a different pan, it fell apart mid slide and never recovered. It was a wreck and I was totally disappointed.

I decided to give it a second try. I still had a frozen pie crust left. Still had some strawberries which I decided to supplement with blackberries and raspberries. I was ready to go. I laid out my pie crust. Carefully spread my fruit filling, avoiding as much liquid as possible. I wrapped my edges tighter and pressed down harder on each to seal. Stuck it in the oven and voila! Out came a gorgeous tart.

However, when I went to take a bite, boy was it just that. Tart. Too tart to even eat. Even with a scoop of sugary, vanilla ice cream. Tart fail, again. This isn't the end, tart. I will find a way to make you and eat you. Until next time, at least I scored some pretty pictures. Hope you enjoy them, cause this tart was no treat.

Rhubarb-Berry Tart
Serves 8
  • 1 (8-ounce) sheet frozen pie crust, thawed
  • 1 piece of rhubarb, chopped
  • 1 cup of strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup raspberries
  • 1/4 cup blackberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions


Preheat to 375 degrees. Place rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries int a medium mixing bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and stir to coat. Set aside.



Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat baking mat. Roll the pastry out. Pierce all over with a fork. Spoon berries into center of the pastry, reserving the liquid as much as possible. Fold sides of the pastry over one side at a time forming corners as you go. Press down each corner to seal. Dot pastry with butter.

Bake for for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with vanilla ice cream.


Seven hours of pure deliciousness

I've been thinking about this for awhile now and I have come to a conclusion: Pork is definitely my favorite meat. Beef is good. Chicken is all right. Pork is just fantastic. Any way you slice it, bacon, ham, hot dogs, chops, pulled, it really doesn't matter. Pork is always pretty great.

Probably my favorite way to eat pork is pulled. I've tried it a few times in my crock pot and it is always super satisfying, but never quite as good as what you get in a restaurant. A few weeks ago, I saw a recipe for slow roasted shredded pork on one of my favorite food blogs The Food in My Beard. I had the pleasure of meeting Dan from The Food in My Beard many months ago at East Coast Grill during a Boston Blogger Brunch. The recipes on his blog always look amazing, so I decided, I had to try this one.

Because I'm a chicken when it comes to spice, I wasn't super sure about Dan's Mexican "Mojo" Marinade. I searched a few other places and found Martha Stewart's recipe for braised pork shoulder. With their powers combined, and a few additions of my own, I came up with my own version of Beer Braised Pork that I think will knock your socks off.

I will say, the recipe does take a full day to cook, but it's so worth it, especially on a rainy Sunday when you are not going to leave the house anyway.

Beer Braised Pork (inspired by Food in My Beard and Martha Stewart)
Serves 10-12
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2  Shallots
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 4 12-oz bottles Belgian Style Ale
  • 1 5-lb pork shoulder, bone in


Directions



Blend dry ingredients, shallots, garlic, and 1 12-oz bottle of Belgian Style Ale in food processor. Pour over pork, marinade overnight.

Place pork and marinade into oven safe pot uncovered. If needed, add a second Belgian Style Ale so the liquid goes about 1/4 up the side of the pork.


Bake at 275 degrees for about 6-7 hours, braising each hour with pan juices, adding more Belgian Style Ale as necessary to keep the meat moist. When browned on the outside and falling apart, remove from oven and allow to cool.


Shred with fork or hands and remove bone.


What's the longest time you've ever spent on one recipe? Was it worth it in the end?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A different kind of Italian Bread

The other day, I decided it was time to tackle organizing my Google Chrome bookmarks. Getting through the "Neat Stuff" and "Gardening Tips" sections were easy. Even the "Craft Ideas" section wasn't too bad. The "Recipes" section, however, was a bit of a battle. Over the years, I have book marked hundreds of recipes from Martha Stewart, to the New York Times, to tons of fabulously food blogs.

Once I make a recipe, I try to go back and delete the bookmark. Not because I'll never make the recipe again, but because once it exists on A Nesting Experience, I always know where to find it. I also know whether or not I liked it and will ever need it again.

One recipe I'm planning to need again at some point is this Schiacciata. Even though I have no know idea how you pronounce this Italian olive oil bread, it was so super delicious. Soft and chewy on the inside and crisp and toasty on the out, I'll definitely be keeping this recipe for meals to come.

Schiacciata (From Group Recipes)
Serves 8
  • 1 cup lukewarm water (90°F to 100°F)
  • 2 1/4-ounce packages dry yeast
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
Directions

Pour 1 cup lukewarm water into small bowl; sprinkle with yeast. Let stand until yeast dissolves, about 10 minutes. Place 2 cups flour in large bowl. Make well in center of flour. Pour yeast mixture into well.


Using fork, stir until dough comes together. Knead in bowl, adding enough flour 1/4 cup at a time to form slightly sticky dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Coat bowl with 1 tablespoon oil. Add dough; turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let stand in warm draft-free area until doubled, about 1 hour 15 minutes.


Brush 11-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom or baking sheet with 1 tablespoon oil. Punch down dough. Turn out onto floured work surface.


Shape into 11-inch round. Transfer dough to prepared tart pan or baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic. Let rise until dough is almost doubled, about 30 minutes.


Preheat oven to 400°F. Press fingertips into dough, creating indentations. Brush with remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Sprinkle with salt.


Bake until golden, about 28 minutes. Cool bread in pan on rack 10 minutes. Remove bread from pan; cool completely.


How many recipes do you have bookmarked? Got any you want to share?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Powerful POM Pork

A few weeks ago, I got a lovely email from POM Wonderful asking me if I would like a case of their wildly popular, world famous pomegranate juice. I was totally delighted. Up until a few days ago, I was probably the only person let on the planet who had yet to try POM. So many people rave about it's tastiness and it's health benefits, I was excited to see what all the fuss was about and attempt to incorporate it into a recipe or two.

When the POM arrived, I hurried it out of the box and into my fridge. After a little cooling off time, I cracked my first double bulb bottle and was pleasantly surprised. Super strong, tart, but a little sweet, almost exactly as expected, in a good way. The first thing that came to mind, pork chops, bacon, and blue cheese for a sweet and savory dish filled with protein and packed with flavor.

These pork chops did not disappoint. They were juicy, tender, and glazed to perfection.

Pomegranate Glazed Pork Chops
Serves 2
  • 2 strips bacon
  • 1 cup POM Pomegranate Juice
  • 1 cup Merlot
  • 4 oz chevre goat cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 thick cut pork chops
Directions

I started by pouring myself a glass of wine, the way all good recipes start. Then I combined the POM and Merlot in a small sauce pan and brought the liquid to a simmer. Let this reduce by about half.


When cooking with POM, be on the look out for pesky husbands who might try to steal a few sips.


Next, get your bacon in a pan that has been heated over medium high heat. Cook till crisp. Let cool on a paper towel. Once crispy and cool, break into small pieces with a fork. Mix together with cheese and set aside.


I decided to serve baby potatoes and green beans with my pork chops. I washed both. Trimmed my green beans. Then, stuck my potatoes in a pot of boiling water and my green beans in a pan with my reserved bacon fat, salt, and pepper.


Heat a medium sauté pan or medium, high heat. Slice your pork chop in a half about 3/4 of the way through, creating a deep pocket. Fill with cheese and bacon mixture and secure closed with a tooth pick.


Grill pork chops over medium high heat until browned, about five minutes on each side. Add POM and Merlot reduction to the sauté pan and baste pork chops using a pastry brush. Cook until the meat is cooked through or a thermometer inserted into the center of the meat registers at 160 degrees.


Serve with desired sides and enjoy!

Are you a fan of POM? What's your favorite recipe? What should I try next?

Disclaimer: While POM Wonderful provided me with a case of their delicious pomegranate juice for free, the opinions stated here are 100% my own.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Super Dorks

Alex is a big fan of Superman. He has been his whole life. He reads the comics, loves the movies, and has watched every episode of Smallville multiple times. Yep, it's a little bit dorky, but also his thing and kind of cool.

This weekend marked the end of a decade. After 10 years, Smallville called it quits. The young Clark Kent finally grabbed hold of his destiny and became the super man he was meant to be. It was an exciting two hour event with lots of throwbacks to seasons past and lots of hints toward the future of Christopher Reeves' Clark Kent in Superman.

And, just like Clark Kent embraced his true destiny, I decided that we needed to embrace our true dorkiness.

We celebrated with a little Superman themed party. We munched on Man of Steel Pizza. Snacked on "No tights, No Flights" Veggies and Dip. Sipped on Kryptonite Gin and Tonics. And finished off the night with some Big Blue Boy Scout Cupcakes.

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Powdered Sugar Frosting (From Bon Appétit Desserts)
Makes 16
  • 1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powdered
  • 2 ounces high-quality milk chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Frosting
  • 1 1-lb box confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2-3 teaspoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 16 standard muffin cups with paper liners. Combine cocoa powder and chocolate in medium bowl. Pour 1/2 cup boiling water over; whisk until smooth. Whisk in buttermilk.


Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in another medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat both sugars, oil, eggs, and vanilla in large bowl until light and creamy, about 2 minutes.


Beat in flour mixture, alternating with chocolate mixture in 2 additions. Divide among paper liners. Bake until tester inserted in center comes out with some crumbs attached, about 18 minutes. Cool in pans on cooling rack 10 minutes.


Transfer cupcakes to rack and cool completely.

Whip together butter and confectioners sugar until smooth. Add milk and vanilla adjusting for desired consistency. Once cupcakes are cooled, frost, and serve.


Here are some of our other treats!


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

We Could of Had it All

I've always been a big fan of salads, especially when the weather heats up. With fruits, vegetables, dairy, protein, and carbohydrates, salads really have it all.

A few months ago I was hanging out in my mother-in-law's kitchen, leafing through old food magazines when I spotted a spread on salads inspired by classic dishes. Favorites like Steak and Potatoes, Pork Chops and Applesauce, or Chicken Parmesan were represented. I couldn't imagine a salad filling me up the way Chicken Parmesan would, but I knew I had to give it a try.

Grilled Chicken Salad With Parmesan Breadcrumbs (inspired by Food Network Magazine)
Serves 2
  • 2 plum tomato, diced
  • 2 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, plus 2 tablespoons oil from the jar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, torn
  • 2 tablespoon grated Parmesan
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 6 oz shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 cups lettuce
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, roughly chopped
Directions

Place plum tomato, sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, garlic, oregano, a few basil leaves and 2 tablespoons parmesan in a blender or food processor and puree.


Drizzle in the sun-dried tomato oil until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the breadcrumbs, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Parmesan and the parsley and cook until toasted, about 1 more minute.

Toss the salad greens and remaining basil in a large bowl. Add the chicken to the greens along with the mozzarella. Toss with the dressing, then sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture.


Serve immediately on a chilled plate.


The salad turned out delicious and filling. Of course you don't quite get the feeling that you just ate classic Chicken Parmesan, but the flavors are well represented and I didn't feel a little healthier afterwards.

Are you a fan of salad? Has a favorite meal ever inspired a salad creation?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Step by Step, oooh baby, really want you in my world

I have another cooking confession to make. I've always been intimidated by risotto.

It's true. I've loved it every time I've tried it, but I've never made it myself. A few years ago, a friend of mine asked me for a recipe for risotto, which I couldn't help her with. Ever since, I've felt ashamed about my fears. I knew it was time to over come them, but what if it turned out disastrous? What if I ruined a perfectly good dinner? People are sent home on Top Chef for less than perfect risotto, and they are professionals.

But, this Sunday, I decided to face my fears. I pulled out all of my cookbooks and decided on Mark Bittman's Simple Risotto from How to Cook Everything. There were only five steps; I could do this, right? I consulted the internet to see what to serve with it. Every site I read warned to pick something easy, grilled meat of some sort, something that didn't require too much attention or could be cooked with my left hand. I decided on filet mignon. Sadly, now, there are only two steaks left in our bounty of Omaha Steaks Wedding Meat.

Now it was time to get started...

Simple Risotto with Zucchini and Summer Squash (inspired by Mark Bittman, How to Cook Everything)
Serves 4 to 6
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • Large pinch of parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 to 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons softened butter
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Directions

First, I gathering all of my ingredients in one place. In addition to the ingredients listed above, I chopped a small zucchini and a small summer squash, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 shallot, and pulled together two 5-oz fillets, 1 bottle of stout and 2 tablespoons of butter.


Now to start my risotto; First heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick pot. I went with my Le Creuset, really any excuse to use it! Allow the remaining butter to soften while you cook. When the butter is melted, add the shallot and parsley and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallot softens, about 3-5 minutes.


Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is glossy and coated with butter, 2-3 minutes.


Add a little salt and pepper, then the white wine. Stir and let the liquid bubble away. Use a ladle to begin adding the stock, 1/2 cup or so at a time, stirring after each addition.


When the stock is just about evaporated, add more. The mixture should be neither soupy, nor dry. Keep the heat at medium to medium high and stir frequently.

At this step, I heated 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 10-inch skillet. When the oil was glistening, I added my zucchini and summer squash. Stirring every couple of minutes to cook evenly.

I also added 2 tablespoons of butter to a 10-inch saute pan. Once the butter was melted, I added my fillets and seared on both sides. I removed the fillets from the pan, added the chopped shallots and garlic and sauted till tender. I added the stout and brought it to a simmer. When heated through, I returned the fillets to the pan and allowed them to cook to 135 degrees (Medium-Rare for Alex) and 155 degrees (Medium-Well for me).


Back to the risotto. Begin tasting the rice 20 minutes after you add it; you want it to be tender but still with a tiny bit of crunch; it could take as long as 30 minutes to reach this stage. When it does, stir in the softened butter and about 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, if you are using. At this stage, I added my zucchini and summer squash and stirred to combine.


Taste, adjusting the seasoning, and serve immediately.


The meal was a success! No one was more surprised than me that we didn't end up ordering take out. The risotto turned out buttery, delicious, and full of flavor. Though there was a lot of stirring, the recipe was not particularly difficult.

This recipe is definitely something I'll be adding to my repertoire for quiet evenings at home. Though I'll probably never make this for a dinner party given the precise timing necessary for getting it right.

I'm so relieved that I can now say I've made risotto and have a great recipe to share with others. I'm looking at you, Pallavi.

What dish are you most intimidated by? What is your greatest kitchen fear?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last week, I happened to catch an interesting tweet from America's Test Kitchen (@TestKitchen). It asked Boston Food Bloggers if they wanted a chance to visit the set of America's Test Kitchen or win a 1-year membership to CooksIllustrated.com. Though I wouldn't be able to make it to a Monday showing of America's Test Kitchen, I would love a 1-year membership to CooksIllustrated.com. Yes, please.

To enter to win, all Boston Food Bloggers have to do is blog about making America's Test Kitchen's Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies. Though I'm technically not a Boston Food Blogger anymore, it seemed easy enough. I do love Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I went on to read that these were not any average Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies. The geniuses over at America's Test Kitchen actually improved upon Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies. How does one improve upon a classic? How do you best the people who invented chocolate chip cookie? Now I had to make these.

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies (From Cook's Illustrated)
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8.75 ozs.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ozs.)
  • 3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ozs.)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)
Directions

So, the recipe tells you to start by opening up your oven and moving one of your racks to the middle position. I always forget to do this when I'm baking and dangerously try to juggle hot racks wearing a couple of oven mitts. But this recipe starts with a friendly reminder. Good tip.

Now you are ready to heat your oven to 375 degrees and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set those aside and get to work on your ingredients.

I'm about to make an embarrassing, but honest, admission. Though I pride myself on being a decent baker, I have never in my life measured out my dry ingredients. I cringe even saying it. I'm more of a dip and sweep girl cause that's how Mom used to roll. Since this recipe is pretty much challenging Toll House's legendary chocolate chip cookie recipe to a battle, I decided to try and follow the recipe as best I could. Here's proof.


Once weighed and measured, whisk together flour and baking soda in medium bowl. Set them aside.

Separate 10 tablespoons of butter and place them in a 10-inch skillet. Then, as if mocking my decision to follow this recipe to a T, the directions say, "Avoid using a nonstick skillet to brown the butter; the dark color of the nonstick coating makes it difficult to gauge when the butter is browned." Sadly, I only own one 10-inch skillet and it's as non-stick as they come.

Back to the recipe. Heat butter over medium-high heat until melted, about two minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, about one to three minutes.


After both timing and trying to pay extra attention to how my butter smelled, I was confident that my butter was properly browned.

So, next remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining four tablespoons of butter into hot butter until completely melted.


This is when I started to believe that America's Test Kitchen maybe could improve on Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies. The butter smelled like sweet caramel and took on a gorgeous brown glow. Yum

Next, add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and egg yolk. Whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny.

This step was pretty interesting. Usually the only thing I let rest in the kitchen is meat. I've never thought of letting my batter rest, but according to America's Test Kitchen, "whisking sugar into the liquid ingredients and then waiting 10 minutes allows more of it to dissolve, setting up better flavor and texture." Plus, it makes the batter look just gorgeous.


Next, using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute.


Here comes my favorite part.


Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. 

I went with no nuts. Alex is not a fan, and I didn't want to eat 16 cookies all by myself. Also, I must note that I was quite skeptical of this part because there are less chocolate chips in America's Test Kitchen's Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies. Normally, my rule about chocolate chips is the same as my rule about cinnamon. Double it, maybe, even triple it.

But, I'm trying to follow the recipe here so I'll go with only one and a quarter cup and give the dough a final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain. 

Next, divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons, or use #24 cookie scoop. The directions didn't quite say where to go next. Do I roll these into balls? It said to arrange two inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. So, even though I normally just grab two teaspoons and drop chunks of dough on to a prepared baking sheet, I followed the recipe for perfect, uniform morsels.


Bake cookies one tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, ten to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.

My first batch, totally burned at ten minutes, but that is not the recipes fault. My oven runs hot. My second batch came out perfect at eight minutes.

Next, transfer baking sheet to wire rack and try very hard not to drop any of them. Yep, great job, Erin.


Cool cookies completely on a wire cooling rack before serving. Okay, this direction I didn't follow. I love chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven.


The end result are that these cookies are delicious.

The cookie part far exceeds the original. You can certainly taste the difference made by the browned butter. There are layers of flavor from toffee to caramel to butterscotch that just can't be beat. That being said, I would totally double the chocolate chips. I know less chips make for a chewier cookie, but more chips leads to a more chocolatey cookie. All and all, I'm not sure who's the winner, but these are totally delicious cookies.


I chose to eat my second one with some vanilla frozen yogurt topped in caramel and chocolate sauce. Pretty indulgent, but hey it was Saturday night. Yum.