Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies

Excellent cookie- looks amazing, tastes wonderful and deeply chocolaty, and will stand out on the cookie tray. Found this recipe while browsing through this over-the-top dessert cookbook.

Only problem is the caffiene, so I used decaf espresso roast beans (finely ground) instead of regular.

Sift together:
1.5 C (or 7.5 oz) all purpose flour
3/4 C (or 2.25 oz) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tea baking soda
1/2 tea baking powder
2 tea fine ground espresso
(I used decaf espresso roast beans, then ground on "espresso" setting at the store)

Separately, cream:
1 C softened butter
3/4 C plus 2 TB brown sugar (7.25 oz)
1/2 C plus 1 TB white sugar (4 oz)

Add & stir to combine:
1 egg
1 tea vanila
1/2 tea salt

Add sifted flour/cocoa to the creamed butter/sugar in two additions and stir until combined.

Add 1 C chocolate chips and mix into dough.

Cover and rest in refrigerator for 30 minutes (improves the texture of the dough).

Bake small sized cookies in 350 F oven for 5-8 minutes. Basically, you want to have a crust on the top, but still see a little gooey-ness inside the cookie. Take the pan out of the oven and let rest on the hot pan- cookies set up on the pan, and finish baking.


Dinosaur Kale!

This stuff is delicious. I should have taken a picture... Apparently Lacinato (dinosaur) kale is less bitter than regular kale. It is "healthy" and this prep was fast and very good.

Over medium heat, cook minced garlic and sliced shallot in olive oil until it's not raw (but don't burn). Add 1/4 C water and chopped kale. Simmer 5-7 minutes until kale has cooked down.

Add 1/8 tea salt, 2 TB white wine, and 1/2 C veggie broth. Cover pan and simmer 10-15 minutes until the kale is tender.

Top with grated parmesan- goes great with Japanese short-grain "haiga" rice.

Biryani: Spicy Indian Rice with Veggies & Chicken

So I cheated and bought a pre-made spice mix, or "masala" labeled as a kind for biryani. This is an Indian/Pakistani version of a casserole, but oh-so-much-better! Traditional recipes have you layering the chicken mixture with rice and baking, but I think the "stir fry" method is better- the rice soaks up more flavor.

Basic steps are: marinate chicken, cook rice, simmer onions and aromatics with spices, add chicken and gently simmer for 15 minutes, then add rice, and viola.

Start cooking basmati rice (we use a rice cooker). You will use the rice at the end.

Cut up chicken into bite-size-chunks. Marinate for 15 minutes or more in something like this (I just throw the garlic, chiles and onions into the food processor, then combine with the yogurt and other spices):
plain yogurt grated ginger minced garlic salt lemon juice minced serrano pepper minced shallot or onion black pepper cumin

While the chicken is marinating, fry sliced onions in a little oil or ghee.

In food processor, make a paste of onion, garlic, ginger, and serranos. Once the onions on the stove are browned, add this paste and stir, cooking for about 5 minutes.

Add dry spices, or cheat and use a biryani masala (buy at an Indian grocery store for $1-2) and bay leaves. Stir in and cook 2 minutes. Add chunks of tomato and cook covered for a couple more minutes.

Now add 2-3 C water and the marinated chicken. Bring the pot back up to boiling, then reduce heat to barely a simmer and cook the chicken gently for 15-20 minutes.

Once the chicken is cooked and most of the liquid has cooked down, add the cooked rice, one cup at a time until you get the right ratio of the two.

Garnish generously with cashews, raisins, frozen peas, and mint leaves. If you want to be extra fancy, fry the cashews and raisins in oil or ghee for a minute before topping the biryani. The oil puffs up the raisins and gives a flair to the cashews.

Garlic Shrimp and Cabbage, Onion, Cashew Salad

This was such a success I am recreating it for dinner guests tomorrow. The basic premise here is a chopped salad, topped with hot sauteed shrimp.

1. Peel shrimp
2. In hot pan, add olive oil, garlic, sprinkle of salt. Swirl pan until garlic isn't raw (I'm on a garlic kick recently)
3. Add shrimp (in batches if you are serving more than 2 people)- don't overcrowd the pan or the shrimp will cook unevenly
4. Stir a couple times, sprinkle paprika and pepper on shrimp
5. Pour shrimp out on to a plate for serving and top with chopped parsley or cilantro. Reserve for topping salad.

Meanwhile, prep the salad:
1. toast raw cashews in a dry pan, shaking pan, until cashews smell and they have toasted spots
2. cut up napa cabbage and red cabbage
3. thinly slice red onion and green onion
4. Mix cashews, cabbage and onions in large salad bowl.

Top individual plates with salad, shrimp and simple balsamic dressing (balsamic vinegar and oil)

Apples for Dessert

Ever since I bought my first organic apple, I've been hooked. I lost my love for apples about the time I started shopping at Winco, where the apples taste like sugary styrofoam. However, organic apples (Trader Joes, or organic type store) really have flavor.

The simplest dessert is one I dubbed "raw apple pie" I just sliced up the apple and sprinkled cinnamon and rock sugar ("sugar-in-the-raw" or turbinado)

This was also very good- sliced apple with pistachios, coconut and minced cranberries. I drizzled a sweet-tart sauce over the top (proportions are approximate):

1 TB Agave syrup
2 TB Orange champagne vinegar
drizzle of olive oil
drop of almond extract

Asian Wok Greens with Garlic & Chili Flakes

This is my new favorite cooked green! I've tried it with baby bok choy and spinach, but we like the bok choy the best. Surprisingly, even the white ends were very tasty- moist with a slight crunch and lots of flavor.

1. Wash greens (bok choy, spinach, or cabbage might be good)
2. Cut off rough ends, slice in half or smaller to get managable chunks
3. Heat olive oil on medium high heat
4. Add chopped garlic, scant 1/4 tea salt, and scant 1/4 tea pepper flakes, let sizzle, but don't let garlic burn
5. Add washed greens and stir/shake pan for 1-3 minutes until greens wilt

Serve immediately- good with rice- this was so good Chris licked the plate!


Chickpea Curry

This is a new favorite curry. Vegan, but you would never guess it; not too much time to cook if you use canned chickpeas. I adapted this recipe from a more complicated version in this curry book.

Combine in a pressure cooker or other pot:
1 can chickpeas
1/2 onion, chopped
3-5 black cardamom seeds
3 cloves
2 bay leaves
6 peppercorn
1/2 tea cumin seeds
1/2 tea salt
pinch asafoetida
(enough to cover chickpeas, you will drain after cooking)

Cook until the chickpeas are tender: it was 4 minutes under pressure cooking. If you used soaked dry chickpeas, cook under pressure for 14 minutes. When done, open pressure cooker, and strain chickpeas, into a bowl to reserve the cooking water. Set aside the chickpeas and the cooking water for later.

Meanwhile, fry 3/4 C onion slices in olive oil until browned. This will take 15-20 minutes over medium heat, stir often to avoid burning the onions.

Puree in food processor:
1 onion
1 jalapeno pepper
1-2 thai chilis
1 tea grated ginger
2-4 cloves garlic

After the onion in the pan has browned, add the pureed onion/chili/garlic mixture and stir over medium heat until onion water evaporates a little.

Add spices to onion mixture:
1/2 tea turmeric
1/4 tea garam masala
1/2 tea coriander power
1/4 tea ground black pepper
1/2 tea mango powder/amchur

Then add 1 to 1.25 C pureed tomato (I used canned) and stir until combined.

Finally, add the reserved chickpeas and stir. Add chickpea cooking water as needed to make almost soupy consistency.

Serve with chopped cilantro and rock salt over basmati rice.

Japanese Shredded Carrot Salad

This is a great way to eat carrots: the process of shredding brings out their sweet flavor, vibrant color, and changes their often-woody texture. This was really good with lunch the next day too.

Shred 3 carrots in food processor (use the cheese grating disc). Add shredded carrots to salad bowl.

Add 1/4 C thinly sliced napa cabbage and 1/4 C chopped walnuts.

Prepare dressing and drizzle over carrots, cabbage and walnuts:
2 TB Japanese sweet rice wine "mirin"
3 TB Japanese rice vinegar "komezu"

1 tea soy sauce

Adapted from this great book on Japanese cooking and ingredients

Hazelnut & Apple Salad with Balsamic Dressing

This is a winning combination- the sweet apple slices play against the toasted hazelnuts.

baby salad greens
thinly sliced organic apple
1/4 C toasted hazelnuts

Drizzle with balsamic dressing:
2 TB olive oil
1 TB balsamic vinegar

Indian Skillet Potatoes

Cut small red, purple and yellow potatoes into 1-2 inch chunks, leave skins intact. Cook with 1/2 C water in a pressure cooker for 4 minutes or less.

Meanwhile, fry:
1/4 tea mustard seeds
2 shallots, thinly sliced
minced garlic
red pepper flakes

When potatoes are done, remove from pot and add to the fried shallots.

Add and stir over heat:
1/4 tea turmeric

Right before serving, stir in chopped cilantro leaves. Sprinkle with salt and serve.

Handy guide to vegetable cooking times in the pressure cooker here