Saturday, October 8, 2011

Big, Fat, Chewey Chocolate Chip Cookies

I found this recipe on back in March but it disappeared from there so I stole it and blatantly plagiarized it here. This is currently my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe... not that I have tried cooking that many different ones. I made a full batch of cookie dough for these last night but set about 2/3 of the cookie dough aside. Cookie dough should freeze, right? Guess I find out.

Big, Fat, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted and slightly cooled

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven or until the edges are slightly golden. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Makes approximately 12-14 very large cookies.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Rogue Leopard Frogs

Leopard frogs (pic borrowed from are a sensitive species and maybe threatened here in the Black Hills and probably a thorn in the side of loggers and miners like the sage grouse is in Wyoming. The wildlife people here at the Forest service like to know where the leopard frogs are so that the habitats can be protected. Since my job takes me all over the Northern Hills and Bear Lodge Ranger Districts in the Black hills and my job involves water, I come across many leopard frog habitats. When I find them, I let the wildlife people know and usually give them a map pointing to where I found them…the frogs that is.

Thursday I found a rogue frog. There I was, minding my own business driving up a road I had no business driving my little Chevy Colorado up. The road was bad and I've never been up this particular road before. When I come up to a big mud puddle of some questionable quality, I get out of the truck and check it out. In the case of mud puddles, which have the potential to swallow small buses, I get out and poke around it with a stick to see if I'll sink down to sea level or be OK passing through it. So, I'm driving up the 628.1C road (that's a Forest Service designation...the "C" is short for "you don't have to be crazy to drive this road, but it helps") and come across a puddle 10' long and wide as the road-granted the road is only wide enough for one vehicle if you don't mind brushing trees on either side as you go. So I'm poking around the puddle-it's only 12" deep and has a good solid bottom and something moves in the water...WTF. It wasn't a started "WTF" just a general curiosity "WTF" since usually things don't move in puddles in the road. I poke around some more and it's a damn leopard frog. It's not supposed to be there. There's no ponds that I know of around. Being the general don't-want-to squish-something-under-my-tires kind of guy, I keep poking at the frog till it gets fed up and hops out of the puddle into the brush. I continued on my way splashing the truck with a fresh coating of mud and the frog went on its merry way doing whatever frogs, who are nowhere there supposed to be, go on doing.

Today I asked the wildlife people about this and according to them, these frogs have been known to wander a mile or more away from good habitat. Stupid frogs. On a positive note, before I found this information out I decided the frog had to come from someplace and ended up finding yet another unmapped spring nearby.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sauted Chicken Liver

For the last 15 years, every time I've bought and cut up a whole chicken I've tossed the chicken livers in the garbage. I always keep the rest of the carcass for stock but the livers are alleged to make a stock bitter. Today I cut up a chicken planning on making coq au vin and there they were again, a big ol' bunch of chicken livers. Partially inspired by Anthony Bordain, I thought "what the hell" and cooked them up.

Chicken liver cut into bite sides pieces
Flour for dredging

Extra virgin olive oil
whole garlic clove chopped in half
dried whole hot pepper

Yellow union sliced this
garlic clove chopped thin
1 T chopped Italian parsley
1 t chopped fresh oregano
Mushroom chopped or sliced
red wine (1/4-1/2 glass)

Heat the oil with garlic and hot pepper. Remove the garlic when golden. Dredge the liver in flour. Fry the liver for 1 min on each side, remove from pan and set aside. Fry onions, garlic, parsley, oregano and mushrooms in oil until oil begins to disappear (1-2 minutes). Add red wine and saute for another minute or 2. Add liver and toss with onions etc and saute for another minute.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Roast Leg of Lamb

After being here in Spearfish for almost a month now, I'm finally getting my cooking mojo back. While I was in Rawlins last year I bought up all the lamb I could. Tonight I cooked up the last bit I bought. Since I am living here solo, I bought a 5 pound leg of lamb in Pocatello and had my butcher chop it up in 4 pieces. As far as cooking times, consult whatever reference you see fit. There aren't any references for itty-bitty leg of lamb roasts.

Recipe (keep in mind, this was for a 1.25 lb roast, you'll have to adjust the recipe accordingly):

Preheat oven to 425F

Prepare spice rub:
1/2 t dried rosemary crushed
1/2 t Hungarian sweet paprika
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch lemon zest
1 small chopped garlic clove
fresh ground black pepper
kosher salt

Mix rub together

Rub extra virgin olive oil into roast
Rub spice rub into roast

Due to the lack of a small roasting pan I used a medium sized cast iron skillet and preheated the oven with the skillet in it. I think this helped sear the roast.

Put roast into pan fat side up. (I did it fat-side down and that was a mistake). Add some red wine to the pan.

Roast for ~20 minutes at 425F then turn temp to 320F until roast is done. Using a meat thermometer, cook the roast till desired doneness. I prefer mine rare, so I cooked it until it was 153F on the inside.

Once done, remove roast and let it rest for 10-20 minutes.

Since I'm living as a feral bachelor, the lamb never even made it to a plate. I ate it standing in the kitchen, lamb slices in one hand and chef's knife in the other.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Experimental cooking resumes: Steamed Brussels Sprouts with Black Vinegar Wasabi

Tonight's dinner was barbequed Jamaican Jerk Chicken from a New York kitchen cookbook and the name escapes me, white rice and steamed Brussels sprouts. The latter 2 just seemed too plain for dinner so instead of plain white rice, I made a quick quinoa rice pilaf and needed something different for the sprouts. This is what I came up with...

Steamed Brussels Sprouts with Black Vinegar Wasabi

1.5 C steamed fresh trimmed Brussels sprouts

1 T dark soy sauce
1 T black vinegar
1 t hot bean sauce
1/2 t dry Chinese mustard
1/2 t powdered wasabi
1/2 t honey
1-2 dashes Sriracha sauce

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Slice sprouts in half (to get more sauce in them) and pour sauce over sprouts.

It had a nice burn and clears the sinuses :)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tofu-veggie stir fry

Having lived solo in a 22’ foot travel trailed with a freezer the size of a show box, most of my recipes ended to be in the “serves ONE” scale. Amazingly, the food selection at the Rawlins City Market grocery store was quite good. Between the regular grocery store there and the Asian grocery store, the shopping there was better than here in Pocatello.

I’ve been experimenting on how to make tofu palatable. According to Cheryl and Jenny, I nailed it on m last experimental tofu-veggie stir fry and I promised Cheryl I’d post the recipe, not that there was one. In actuality, I prepared the stir fry one night and it was somewhat bland. The second night, when Cheryl was here, I had doctored the recipe and got something right.
This is as close as I can get to what actually worked :)

This seriously isn’t a final recipe. Even though I go rave reviews from 2 people, I know can do better. This will evolve.

Tofu-veggie stir-fry

2 T oil
2 garlic cloves peeled and cut in half
2 ¼” thick sliced fresh ginger root peeled
2-3 small dried red chili peppers

½ lb FIRM tofu (pressed, drained, frozen and thawed…see note)
2 T dark soy sauce
1 T rice wine vinegar
1 T Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
1 t grated fresh ginger root
1 garlic clove chopped fine
1 green onion chopped fine

1 can sliced water chestnuts
3-4 baby bok-choy (stems sliced, leaves mostly whole)
1 cup chopped fresh broccoli
½ sliced zucchini (or other summer squash)
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
½ chopped bell pepper (whatever color you like)
1 jalapeƱo seeded and sliced
3 green onions chopped into ½” lengths

2 T dark soy sauce
1 T oyster sauce
1 t hot sauce (I prefer Sriracha sauce-the Thai one with the rooster on the label)

You get tofu in 1 lb blocks. Before I figured this out, I would buy tofu, use as much as I could stand and throw out about half of it when it tuned grey-green in the fried. So… assuming a single serving is about ¼ lb, slice up the tofu into eighths so that each slice is about ¼” thick. You can slice it into fourths if you like great gobs of tofu¬--I don’t. Press out all the water from the slices by placing them between paper towels, cutting boards weighted down with something heavy like a cast iron skillet. Change the paper towels a couple times till either satisfied the water is pressed out or you’re tired of changing and wasting paper towels. Separate the tofu into ¼ lb sections, assuming that’s a portion size, wrap the ¼ lb slabs in plastic wrap, stuff the wrapped sections in a freezer bag and freeze until needed.

Freezing the tofu has, for me, a couple purposes: 1) I don’t waste the tofu by letting it go rancid and turn various shades of grey-green and 2) interesting and cool things happen to the texture. When you need the tofu, take it out of the freezer and let it thaw out in whatever amounts needed.

So, we have tofu, maybe frozen-thawed or maybe not. Cut the tofu into bite sizes pieces. Toss tofu into container or a bag with dark soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, Shaoxing wine, grated fresh ginger root, chopped garlic clove, and chopped green onion chopped. Let marinate for at least an hour.

Heat the oil in a large cast iron pan on the stove or a wok. Toss in the sliced garlic cloves, sliced ginger root, and red pepper. This seasons the oil. I learned this watching “Yan Can Cook” on PBS years ago. Toss the ginger and garlic until they begin to brown but not burn. Burned garlic in the oil is nasty.

Drain the tofu reserving the marinade. Remove and discard the sliced garlic and ginger from the oil. I prefer to leave in the red peppers. Remove the tofu from the marinade reserving the marinade. Toss tofu into the hot oil and stir fry for 60-90 seconds. Remove tofu from oil. Stir fry vegetables in oil for 1-2 minutes. Return tofu to oil and add soy sauce, oyster sauce, and hot sauce. If a softer vegetable consistency is desired, reduce heat, place top on pan/wok/whatever and let steam for 1 minute.

Serve over rice or noodles.