Monday, January 4, 2010

Patience young padawan

I have been brave in the kitchen lately.

Yesterday, I conquered roux based gravy. I have failed at roux based gravy many times before. So, I avoided it. I mastered corn starch gravies and shaken cold flour gravies. I was waiting for the day to come when I would say "Flour, butter, get in the pan, we are gonna do this thing." That day finally came.

This is what I learned:The roux tells you when it's ready for the liquid and when it's had enough. You just have to be watching for the roux's subtle cues.You have to use all your senses to get it right.

You watch the color change from pale white to honey blond. The smell of the raw flour toasting as it swirls into the pool of melted butter fills the entire kitchen. The sound of the stock spilling into the pan as it mingles with the rue makes my mouth start to water. And,after a few minutes, I get to taste the velvety smooth gravy. It's perfect.

It's a thing of love. It's a relationship, it's an art, it's my happiness. It is how I express myself. I can't draw, I can't paint, I can't photograph. But, I can cook.

Today, feeling rather courageous because of my victory over gravy, I decided to give chocolate chip cookies another go around. I have failed at cookies for years. Without my dad standing there to test the dough, telling me to add this and not that, reminding me to check the cookies in the oven, I have not been successful in the cookie department. I know how to bake them, but they always, literally, fell flat. The flavor was always great, but I couldn't get the dough right so they would spread out too much. More often than not, I would end up over baking them.

But today was a new day. And it was a great day! I tweaked a recipe and made what ended up to be, picture perfect cookies. To prove it, here they are:

They are fail proof. If I can make these puppies work, anyone can. The recipe makes 3 dozen. They stay soft for 3 days according the original recipe. I like to store mine with brown sugar stone(used to keep brown sugar soft)or a slice of fresh bread. They stay softer longer. The higher cook temperature and reduced cook time help keep these cookies from spreading out and over baking.

Taste, enjoy, and love your food.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friend. Cheers!

Picture Perfect Cookies
3 dozen cookies

1 stick real butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt (table salt please!)
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips(pictured above with dark chocloate and mint chips)

Preheat oven to 400.

In a bowl, using a sturdy wooden spoon, cream together butter and sugars.

Beat in egg and vanilla until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir into butter mixture until well incorporated.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop dough by spoonfuls (about 1 1/2-2 TBS per cookie) 2 inches apart, onto baking sheets.*

Bake in the center of the oven, 1 pan at a time, until cookies are lightly browned and no longer wet in the center, 7-9 minutes. In my oven it takes 9 minutes exactly.

Let cookies stand on pan to firm up, 2 to 5 minutes, then transfer to a flat surface covered with brown paper bags or newspaper. Cool completely.

* If you are like me and typically end up with cookies that touch during baking resulting in "square" shaped cookies, try only dropping 9 cookies per sheet instead of 12.


  1. Thanks hon! I always knew what the problem was, but never knew how to correct it. I got down and I am so excited!