Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What I"m Reading

It's been a while since I've picked up any books to read. So I went to my bookshelf and dusted off this book by Ruth Reichl, the former Editor in Chief of Gourmet magazine, (sadly no longer published - this December was it's last issue). I was given this signed copy quite a while ago by a friend. I couldn't remember why I had never read it. As I got into it, I remembered. Although it gives a great story on how she became a restaurant critic for New West (California) magazine, the LA Times and NY Times, it is a memoir, and you do get irritated with some of the personal choices she makes (I actually yelled at my book, NO DON'T DO THAT!). What I did learn was some of the history of restaurants in my own neck of the woods that ironically I have yet to dine at, such as Michael's and Chinois on Main. I enjoyed learning about the beginning's of what we now call California Cuisine. There are some great stories about Alice Waters, Mark Peel and Wolfgang Puck.

I remembered quite a few years ago when I was working at an advertising agency I met Ruth. She came in to talk about Gourmet magazine. She ordered food from Campanile and inspired me with her words about food and travel. I was hooked. When I got to sit next to her at lunch I quizzed her about how she managed to go to all those restaurants in NY and eat all that food. She told me she took lots of friends and ziplock baggies. It was a the beginning's of my love for food and travel. Every year Gourmet put out an issue on a city somewhere in the world. When the Paris issue came out I even took with me to the city of lights. I was able to navigate the plethora of cafes and restaurant's thru Gourmet's point of view. Sadly the economy and Conde Nast have brought this great magazine to an end.

So long Gourmet, but we can't wait for the next journey of Ms. Reichl, it's sure to be interesting.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mexican Chocolate Chip Cookie

I know, don't hate me that I've spent so much time away. Work has kept me busy beyond belief.
Since I spend so much time at the agency believe it or not my inspiration for these delish baked goods came from a photograph.

As I walked passed the Art Buyer's desk (which always has these great promotional pieces from photographers, illustrators, and designers) I saw a photo of a cookie that looked so real I immediately grabbed it. Immediately my guilt set in and I put it back, but I came back to her desk to tell her that photo of the cookie looked so good I wanted to eat it. Then she told me it had the cookie recipe on the back.

And can you believe it was raining in L.A., a miracle. So I made the vow that day in front of everyone that I was going to go home and bake those cookies. I love to bake when it's cold and rainy outside. I took a photocopy of the photograph and recipe and went home to the task at hand. I did do a little research as the recipe was from a Bon Appetit in 1997 but the recipe didn't match the photograph which had a chocolate kiss in the middle. I saw quite a few comments about the cookies and decided to make some adjustments to the recipe. I doubled the cinnamon and black pepper and then added in cayenne pepper. These cookies tasted spicy when you ate into them but left a nice warm aftertaste. A fun alternative for the basic chocolate chip cookie.

My Recipe:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (original had only 1 tsp)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper (original had 1/8 tsp)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (original didn't have cayenne pepper)
1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips

Using electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time, then vanilla. Sift next 6 ingredients over butter mixture; beat just until blended. Mix in chocolate chips. Refrigerate dough until cold, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter 2 large baking sheets. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto sheets, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake cookies until golden brown but still soft to touch, about 8 minutes. Pull backing sheet out and stick one unwrapped chocolate kiss in the middle of each cookie and then put back in the oven for approximately 4 minutes. Let stand on sheets 3 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool.

Store in air tight container.

So far they have stayed fresh and soft for about a week. Oh and did my photograph match the photographers? No it didn't, bummer deal. The Art Buyer and I conclude that the cookies on his promo piece were raw cookie dough. We'll find out for sure once we ask the original photographer as I know my image pales in comparison to his.


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