Thursday, July 12, 2007

Date Night

Thursday is Date Night, at least some of the time. When Sweetie and I had been married about 15 years we started having date night every week. As often happens when you get busy with jobs, homemaking, errands and all of the seemingly endless activities surrounding raising kids, we had very little time as a couple. Our focus was on the kids, job, etc., not on our relationship. I watched people I knew who were another 10 years or less past us in the baby to adult curve of childrearing and saw that there is a sort of danger time for relationships. One way to avoid the danger is to date your spouse! Sweetie got a lot of ribbing from co-workers about why he had to date his wife. Even so, it allowed us to reconnect as a couple and rediscover why we had married each other. It worked. Twelve years later we are still dating, although not every week, and having fun together.
Tonight the date was to Bodega Bay. The weather is often foggy at the beach but today it was beautiful in the late afternoon with a bright blue sky and golden late day light on the waves. We brough our dog with us and took a long walk on the crescent beach with him.

After the walk we went to Lucas Wharf restaurant which is right on the inner part of the bay. The breeze came in the window. Sweetie had saute' of calamari with a lemony sauce and I had a Caesar salad and then we both had bowls of excellent clam chowder. Near the end of our meal I noticed a fisherman on a nearby dock cleaning freshly caught salmon and then tossing them into a box filled with ice. Later he agreed to have his photo taken. Guess what we will be having for dinner soon :)

So why is there a photo of cookies at the beginning of this post? It's a belated birthday treat for fellow Daring Baker Veronica of Veronica's Test Kitchen. She recently experienced the Culinary Institute of America's French Cuisine Boot Camp, so these French inspired cookies seemed quite appropriate.

It is also because I don't have a recipe for the calamari or chowder, but I do have a recipe for the cookies taken directly from Dorie Greenspan's Baking from My Home to Yours . They are called Chocolate Spice Quickies for a very good reason. Except for chilling the dough, the making of these delicious sables type cookies is super quick and very easy. They have a good chocolate flavor and some texture from the almonds, with just a touch of spice. Since they are refrigerator cookies, you can slice and bake some, then freeze the rest for baking at another time.

Chocolate Spice Quickies
From Baking From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Makes about 40 cookies

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup blanched almonds, whole, sliced or slivered (I used raw, unblanched)
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice or cloves
pinch of salt
¾ cup sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Put the flour, almonds, cocoa, baking powder, spice and salt in a food processor and pulse, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until the almonds are finely ground. Turn the ingredients out onto a sheet of wax paper.

Put the sugar and the butter into the processor and whir for a minute, then scrape the bowl and process for another 15 seconds; the butter and sugar should be smoothly blended. Add the vanilla and egg and process for 30 seconds, then scrape and process for another 30 seconds. Add the chocolate and pulse to blend. Finally, add the dry ingredients and pulse until they are fully incorporated. You’ll have a soft, fudgy, very malleable dough. Scrape it out onto a work surface.

Divide the dough in half and roll each piece into a log 7 to 8 inches long and 1 inch in diameter. Once the logs are formed, wrap them in plastic wrap, twisting the ends of the plastic firecracker-style to tighten the rolls. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. If the dough is too soft to wrap, let cool for 15 minutes in the fridge and then divide and wrap as described above. (The logs can be wrapped airtight and refrigerated for up to 4 days or kept frozen for up to 2 months; slice and bake the frozen logs without defrosting – just add a minute or two to the baking time.)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Using a thin knife, cut the logs into 1/3 inch thick rounds and place the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving at least 1 inch between rounds.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 7 minutes, or until the cookies are slightly puffed and their tops look dry. Transfer the sheet to a rack and wait 1 minute before carefully lifting the still-fragile cookies onto a rack to cool to room temperature.

The cookies can be stored in a tin for about 4 days.


  1. How romantic and such good advice! Love the sound of the calamari with the lemony sauce.

  2. I love slice and bake cookies, Elle - these are no exception!

  3. I totally agree with you about the date night - I've only been married just under 2 years, but I hope to still be "dating" my husband when we have been married 50 years!!

    I love Dorie! And I love cookies that I can make what I will eat and freeze the rest. That way I don't eat too many of them!

  4. Our date night is either Wednesday or Saturday depending on what is going on!
    Dorie, as always, does not disappoint.

  5. People don't understand that we go just about everywhere together, even though we've been married for 13 years. They can't understand wanting to be with your best friend? Feel sorry for them, I guess.

    Cookies ... with spices. Evil. :)

  6. Amanda, I wish I had the recipe for the was tasty.

    Patricia, yes slice and bake are winners in general and these are Dorie's.

    Deborah, so glad that you still date. Keep it up and your golden anniversary will be wonderful. As far as the cookies, that is one reason why I like these. I only bake a few at a time, so don't eat too many.

    Peabody, yes, Dorie seems to be magic. Glad that the date idea works for you too.

  7. That is great advice to have a date night! I love my little one dearly, but most of our time as a couple is pushed to one side, I'm telling hubby!

    Your cookies look fabulous, I would so love one right this minute :)

  8. I'm not married but just the other day I was saying to my brother who is, that relationships and marriages need constant maintenance and work - things are always changing and evolving...

  9. Anonymous6:45 PM

    Going on dates with your spouse is essential. We don't do it very often, but we can tell a major difference in our relationship when we do.
    We have a date scheduled for August 11th. We have to plan ahead, but at least it is on the calendar!
    Your date sounds lovely.

  10. Kelly-Jane,I'd love to give you a cookie & am glad that date night is an idea you might like.

    Cynthia, that is the truth! Growth and change go hand in hand.

    Kristen, way to go! Hope Aug.11th is lots of fun for you both.

  11. I'm jealous of your date nights, Elle. Good for you guys! =)

    Those cookies look SO GOOD! I love how uniform they look.. very pretty. :D