Sunday, May 20, 2012

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Feta

Finally Brussels sprouts are getting some love. Some serious love from some of the restaurants around Los Angeles. My favorite places right now to nosh on these are Cleo in Hollywood, and Freddy Smalls, in West LA. Freddy Smalls fries theirs and puts a big spoonful of goats cheese in the bottom of the bowl that gets soft and warm from the heat of the sprouts. They're insane. I went with friends and we ordered two servings. This recipe calls for feta, but sometimes I substitute goats cheese. You can use whatever you have at home. I'm guessing some ricotta would be really tasty as well.... I coat them with a little balsamic vinegar right out of the oven, but you could just use some fresh lemon juice as well. Leave your comments and let me know what you try.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Feta

2-3 lbs Brussels sprouts
2 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c olive oil
2 T balsamic
handful of crumbled feta or goats cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut the end of the sprouts and quarter of halve them, depending on the size. Toss in a bowl with the shallots, garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper.

Roast in oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden and crispy. You may want to take them out half way through and stir them around for even browning. As soon as you take them out, drizzle the balsamic vinegar over them on the sheet pan and stir around to coat evenly. Serve in a bowl with the cheese crumbled on the bottom, middle and top.

Serves 4

Friday, May 18, 2012

Dark chocolate and sea salt cookies

I've been making these cookies since I stumbled across Jaques Torres' recipe in a New York Times article and they seriously make people go crazy. They are not your standard Toll House cookies - they require good chocolate (I like Guittard or Valhrona,) two types of flour, and an overnight rest of the dough in the fridge. The two types of flour and the overnight rest are apparently what make these cookies so amazing - they're chewy and crisp at the same time. They are, in a word, outofthisworld.

Jacques Torres' Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe (adapted from The New York Times)

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks, at least 60 percent cacao content (Jacques Torres, Valhrona, Guittard)
Sea salt (I like to use Maldon but a good flaky sea salt will do)

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours, or frozen for a few months (although freezing it defeats the point of this point - enjoy it now!)

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
Scoop 12 mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 14 to 18 minutes depending on your oven. DO NOT OVER BAKE and error on the underbaked side. They will firm up a little while they cool.

Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day.

Yield: 4 dozen.