Sunday, August 30, 2020

A Golden Bread With Scoring

I missed the original posting of the Bread Baking Babes because, mostly, it was too hot to bake the bread with pretty scoring patterns mid-month and the loaf that I baked earlier was just plain ugly. Since our challenge by Kitchen of the Month Elizabeth of blogging from OUR kitchen was to do some fancy scoring, I decided to try again.

It's cooler now, although unfortunately very smokey, so I baked a yeasted loaf using some pumpkin puree in it, which made the interior a lovely golden color. I found the recipe in Ken Haedrich's The Harvest Baker book. There were a lot of changes. He used delicata squash and I used roasted pumpkin from a neighbor's garden. He made his as dinner rolls, but I made on long (16 inches) batard. I used a linen cloth with both bread and rice flour for the rising and put some rice flour on the top of the loaf, too, to help show the pattern, but all the flour browned to about the same color as the crust of the loaf, so that didn't work out so well. The scoring that was deeper allowed the interior gold to show. Next time I'll score deeper if I make this bread.

This is a lovely, moist, brioche-like bread. The pumpkin mostly gives it color and a faint sweetness, but not a true pumpkin flavor. Of course there is only 1 cup of roasted pumpkin puree and over 5 cups of flour. I used bread flour instead of all-purpose because I wanted a true skin on the loaf so the scoring would go better. You can see that, especially in the middle of the loaf where the scoring looks almost like a flying bee. I also reduced the sugar to two tablespoons, eliminated the yolk, and added a cup of flour, stirred in to the yeast/water mixture, before I added any other ingredients. I find that coating the yeast with flour helps when you are also adding butter, milk and things like veg puree.

Do try making this bread, either as a loaf or loaves or as dinner rolls. It's really delicious!

Roasted Pumpkin Long Loaf
a variation of Golden Delicata Squash Dinner Rolls
by Ken Haedrich in The Harvest Baker

1 medium pumpkin
1 tablespoon olive oil, or olive oil spray, plus more for the bowl
1/3 cup lukewarm water
1 packet (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm milk (I used soy creamer)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (I used non-dairy margarine)
2 teaspoons salt
5 1/2 - 6 cups bread flour

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Cut the pumpkin in half at the middle, so there is one half with a stem and one half with the bottom of the pumpkin. Scrape and remove all seeds and stringy bits. Oil the foil/spray with olive oil spray. Put the pumpkin halves, cut side down on the prepared baking sheet and roast until the pumpkin meat is tender, about 50-60 minutes. Still in baking sheet, cool pumpkin on a wire rack. When it has cooled, scoop out the flesh and put it through a potato ricer, or press it through a fine wire mesh strainer to make a puree. You will use 1 cup of the puree. Save the rest, if any, for other uses, refrigerated.

Pour the lukewarm water into a large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir briefly with a fork. Wait 5 minutes for the yeast to dissolve. Yeast will look a bit puffy.

Add 1 cup bread flour to the proofed yeast and water and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to combine. Add the warmed milk, sugar, butter and salt and stir again to combine. Add another two cups flour, a half cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean shower cap and set aside for 30 minutes.

If you have a stand mixer with dough hook, you can use that to add the additional bread flour until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough. If you don't have that, turn the dough out onto a well-floured clean work surface and knead the dough, adding flour as you go until the dough is soft and slightly sticky.

Coat a clean bowl or rising container with oil or spray olive oil. Form the dough into a ball and place in the container, turning the dough over to coat all with the oil. Cover with a damp tea towel or clean shower cap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1-2 hours.

Turn risen dough out of the container onto a lightly floured clean work surface and knead once or twice to get rid of excess gas. Shape into dinner rolls (18) or one or two long batards, making sure to pull the dough to the bottom a number of times so that there is a skin of stretched dough on top. Set shaped rolls or loaves on a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving room between. Cover with a damp tea towel, or oiled plastic wrap and let rise to almost doubled, about 30-40 minutes. While dough is doing this, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

If doing scoring (probably not on the rolls!), chill the loaves if possible in the freezer for 10 minutes after sprinkling lightly with a mixture of flour and rice flour. Then score with a lame or very sharp knife to allow the bread to expand and to make a pattern.

Bake in the preheated oven. It will take about 30 minutes for the rolls and about 45 minutes or a little longer for loaves.

Let loaves cool until barely warm (better yet, cool completely) before cutting. Serve the rolls warm.

Makes 18 rolls or one 16-inch long loaf or two 8-inch long loaves

Friday, August 28, 2020

Fire Update

Although the Walbridge fire near Guerneville is still only about 25% contained, many of the people who had been evacuated in the area have been allowed to return home. We were never actually threatened, nor given an evacuation warning, much less told to evacuate, but we were staged by the front door, ready to pack up and leave if needed.

Thanks to those who were worried and let us know, sent good thoughts, prayed. Prayers are still needed (and good thoughts) for the firefighters who are still fighting not only this fire but others around the state.

Of course we all still have to worry about the Covid pandemic...which is still going strong in my county and many other places in the U.S. and around the world, unfortunately.

Stay safe and healthy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Marble Loaf Magic

Sometimes things don't work out the way you have planned. While making the mid-August  layer cake, the buttercream became contaminated with grease while still in the meringue stage...which meant that it wouldn't whip up, so we started over. I saved the mixture, convinced that I could find a recipe that would work to used up that egg white and sugar mixture...with some butter added. I did find a recipe, but then it got too hot to bake and the mixture spoiled with the waiting. The thing is, I really liked the recipe that I found, so now that it is cooler, I made it anyway...starting from scratch.

As is often the case, I changed a few things, even though I'd never baked this recipe before. That's the magic part...proportions are the key in baking and if you keep the proportions, you can change the flavors to make what you like. The original cake had a white chocolate and orange or peppermint white part and a dark chocolate dark part.  I'm a big fan of coffee and chocolate flavor combined, so that's the two flavors in this marble pound cake loaf. I used some espresso powder and a tablespoon boiling water to dissolve it and mixed those into the 'vanilla' batter, along with 2 tablespoons of flour since I'd increased the moisture with that boiling water. I kept the chocolate part, but used melted chocolate chips since I was too lazy to chop up a darker chocolate. That part wasn't the best choice since it would have been a better cake with bittersweet chocolate, but it is still a tasty cake and very nice with a cup of coffee...or tea. The color contrast isn't strong with this combo, either, but it's a delicious one.

The key thing here is to allow enough time to really beat air into the butter, into the butter and sugar mixture and into the butter, sugar and egg mixture...then only beat enough to combine once you start adding flour mixture and milk. A few folds with a spatula will combine the coffee mixture with the 'vanilla' batter and the chocolate with it's batter. Light mixing once the flour goes in keeps the cake from getting tough.

The fun part is marbling. Restrain yourself when it's time to zigzag a knife through the mounded batters...less is more because then you will see...and taste...the two flavors.

You can, of course, go with a vanilla batter, a vanilla batter flavored with citrus oil, or mint or maple extract, etc. You can color a vanilla batter - chocolate and a mint green would be pretty and tasty, too.

This makes one big loaf. Top a slice with a scoop of ice cream and some syrup or topping or fruit and you have a decadent dessert.

Marble Mocha Cake
base on Double Chocolate Marble Cake in Dorie Greenspan's  Baking Chez Moi
Makes one loaf cake

2 cups (272 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons, 6 oz. 170 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used non-dairy margarine)
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup (120 ml) milk, at room temperature (I used soy creamer)
4 oz (113 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Stack two baking sheets or use an insulated baking sheet and on it place a 9x5-inch loaf pan that has been buttered and floured, with excess flour tapped out of it.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Mix together the espresso powder and the boiling water in a small bowl and stir until the powder dissolves. Set aside.

In a stand mixer bowl beat the butter on medium speed for 3 minutes, using the paddle attachment, or use a large bowl and a hand mixer to do the same thing. Add the sugar and beat for another 2-3 minutes. Scrape bowl and beater(s), then add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for 1 minute after each addition. Don't worry if the batter curdles.

Reduce mixer speed to low and mix in the vanilla. Scrape bowl and beater(s). Again on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions and the milk in two additions, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until each addition is incorporated. Avoid over-mixing.

Put half the batter in another bowl. Add the reserved espresso mixture and, using a flexible spatula, combine the batter and espresso until mixture is one color.

In the remaining batter, using a flexible spatula, combine the batter and the cooled chocolate until mixture is one color.

Using a large spoon or a scoop, dollop the batters into the prepared loaf pan in a random pattern. Plunge a table knife deep into the batter at one end of the loaf pan and zig-zag the knife to the other end in 6-8 zags, no more. Don't go backwards. The fewer strokes with the knife will allow for a nice marble effect but not too much mixing.

Bake the cake for 80-90 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. At about half way, check the cake and tent with foil if the top seems to be browning too quickly.

Cool the cake on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then unmold it, then turn it right side up on the rack and cool to room temperature. Store at room temperature, wrapped well, for up to 4 days. Freeze for longer storage.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

A Curious Carrot

Have been harvesting in the garden...squash for a while, beans almost finished, cucumbers almost finished and tomatoes really getting going now. A week or so ago I harvested my first carrot. Then, a few days later there were fairly tiny carrots, then I pull up a monster carrot which looked like about six carrots growing together with one top! From the soil surface it looked like one decent carrot, but once pulled you could see all the 'legs' of the other branches. Made it interesting to clean and prepare! I made roasted carrots which I tossed in a mixture of honey, sherry vinegar, dried thyme, pepper and garlic salt before roasting. They added a nice touch to the green salad we had for dinner last night. Didn't actually measure anything, so no real recipe.

Hope all is well with you, dear reader. The smoke has mostly cleared and the fire north of us is partly contained and improved weather probably means that the heroic firefighters will get it under control within a few days. Thank you for you good thoughts and prayers...they worked so far!

By the way, the tiled table under the carrots and tomatoes is one that I made with the help of a friend who showed me how to do mosaic tiling with bits of old plates and tea cups and other porcelain. It sits outside on our porch. I found the old tile for the center, the plates and mugs and things at the Recycletown at the county dump and only paid pennies. It was a fun process but I haven't made anything else since...perhaps I'll get back to it now that I have endless time...or so it sometimes seems.

Friday, August 21, 2020

We're OK

Friends and family have been contacting us because we live in Northern California and on the national news it might look like we are in danger from the wildfires currently burning in many areas of California due to lightning strikes a few days ago.

Not to worry...we are fine. The fires are at least 15 miles away from us to the north and the winds have shifted to be from the ocean (west of us) toward the east, so it is highly unlikely that the fire will come our way. The air is smoky so we are staying indoors. There is some ash filtering down but that has mostly stopped.

Do keep good thoughts for the thousands evacuated and the dozens, if not more, who have lost their homes. Normally August isn't fire season yet, but we rarely have summer thunder and lightning storms, either.

Thank you for your concern if you were worried. Sending virtual love!  Elle and Sweetie and Pi.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Family Food August 2020

Travel isn't easy during a time of pandemic, but our dear daughter, her person, and his son drove a heroic 13 hours a few weeks ago to come visit us before Raine's school started up again. We all had self-quarantined for two weeks before the visit so that we could safely hang out together. That meant that we could hug, sit close together to talk, exchange phones to look at photos, have tea together, watch Hamilton together on Disney+ (an awesome experience!), and cook and eat together. Since I had injured my knee, the time on my feet at the beginning of the visit was limited, but by the second week I was able to do quite a bit of cooking and baking with Raine. He likes to make things and really enjoyed the process, too and I enjoyed the time with him and sharing something that is important to me.

The first week we were able to have a delicious berry crisp that included raspberries from Costco as well as home-picked blackberries and strawberries. The recipe can be found HERE. Just substitute berries for the apples, omit the cinnamon in the pie filling and use 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg instead of the cinnamon. Keep the crumble topping the same and you are good to go.

We also enjoyed personal pizzas, cooked on the BBQ grill. Each person's portion was formed on a half sheet of parchment paper and then there were an array of toppings so we each could choose what we liked best. Mine had some pasta sauce, pepperoni slices, crumbles of cooked turkey Italian sausage, thinly sliced fresh tomato from our garden, and some caramelized onion, plus non-dairy ricotta. A scattering of finely sliced fresh basil from the garden finished it off. The photo is from before it was was even nicer looking baked, but I ate it all before I even thought to take a photo. So delicious! The pizza dough recipe is HERE. Add your favorite toppings and bake on a preheated pizza/bread stone at 425 or 450 degrees F. in the oven or in a BBQ with a cover.

Another fun adventure was to make Asian flavored turkey burgers during a late morning session with Chef Anne Burrell as part of Rachel Ray's Yum-O Cooking Camp. I signed Raine up weeks before they came and we all at the finished burgers for lunch right after the class finished. The Cooking Camp folks did a great job and Raine learned how to properly hold a knife and other knife skills...which he practiced over the next few days as we made other dishes for dinner. It was a free class but donations are accepted. They sent an email with recipe and lists of ingredients and tools needed in advance of the class, which was taught on Zoom. Chef Burrell is a great teacher and has a light and encouraging way about her. I hope that it is OK to include the recipe that we used. Chef Burrell came up with the recipe and it is a great one because, unlike many turkey burgers, it is moist and juicy. I really like the Asian flavors, too, although a dill pickle didn't seem to go with it as suggested. The recipe actually made five burgers, which was perfect for our group.

Asian Turkey Burgers
by Anne Burrell, Food Network as part of Rachel Ray's Yum-o Cooking Camp


 Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
Kosher salt
 2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds’ ground turkey (mix of light and dark turkey meat, or all dark turkey meat)
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 eight-ounce can water chestnuts, coarsely chopped (not too fine-they add GREAT texture)
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sriracha (we omitted this because some of us don't enjoy heat/spice)
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro, leaves finely chopped
4 burger buns (I like the seeded ones)
Optional Garnishes: 
·         4 slices American or Cheddar cheese (American melts better)
·         4 slices beefsteak tomatoes
·         4 slices red onion
·         4 leaves butter lettuce
·         ½ cup mayo mixed with 2 teaspoons sambal oelek
·         Your favorite Vlasic pickles


1      1) Coat a large saute' pan with olive oil and add the chopped onion. Season with salt and bring the pan to medium heat. Cook the onion until translucent and aromatic, 7-8 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool.

2      2) In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground turkey, prepared ginger, chopped water chestnuts, soy sauce, sriracha if using, chopped cilantro and the onion and garlic mixture. Wipe out the saute' pan with a paper towel and set aside to use for cooking the burgers.

3      3) Make sure that all the ingredients are well combined. Squeeze a walnut-sized portion of the mixture into a small patty to test the seasonings, and cook it in the saute' pan over medium-high heat. Taste it. Season as needed...a little more soy?, some salt or more cilantro?. Once the mixture is to your taste, form it into 4-5 patties.

4      4) Coat the saute' pan with olive oil. Cook the patties in the saute' pan over medium-high heat. It's important not to crowd the pan, so you may want to cook the patties two at a time. Cook 5-6 minutes per side. The burgers will be browned and cooked through when done. If cooking in batches, tent the cooked burgers with foil while cooking the rest.

5      5) Serve the burgers on toasted buns with toppings as desired.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

When Life Gets In The Way

You may have noticed, dear reader, that there have been few posts the last few weeks. That is because of two things. First off the unpleasant, three weeks ago this coming Wednesday I injured my knee while gardening. Followed the usual RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) for a couple of days, then just the rest and elevation, but no improvement on the sort of balloon that had popped out on my knee cap. Got in to see the doctor after two weeks and was told that it is fluid leak from the bursa behind the knee cap and that it will go away eventually. The good news was that I can now stop rest and elevation!

At the beginning of that time I had made some sourdough dough for a boule (ball shaped bread) which I was going to also decorate with some clever slashes. Lacking time on my feet after the accident, I did some simple slashed with the intention of baking it again before today. It was so bad that I didn't even take a photo. Our Kitchen of the Month, Elizabeth of the blog from OUR kitchen challenged us to bake a loaf of a high-hydration bread and then decorate it with a design in scoring. This works best when the loaf has a good outer 'skin', some flour on the loaf to accent the design, and a baker who has confidence as they score the loaf.

Two weeks ago we experienced the very pleasant when my daughter and her person and his son (yes, they call each other their person) came to visit from Phoenix after we all had quarantined for two weeks. They drove something like 13 hours straight to avoid carrying the Covid infection. That way we were all able to hang out together and have fun. The amount of sightseeing possible was limited by the pandemic, but we did watch Hamilton together on Disney+.  Raine (the son) and I baked up a storm and cooked dinners, too. We also harvested summer squash, tomatoes and cucumbers (see photo at top of post). Hoping to post some of the food we made soon.
Sweetie taught Raine how to do electrical work and to ride a riding lawn mower and Pi had almost more attention and loving than he could stand...not really, he loves all attention.

So my plan was to bake the bread again once they left on Saturday...but we are in a severe heat wave, not the best time to bake bread.Plus we lost power Friday, and had a severe thunderstorm with high winds and lightening at 4:30 am this morning. Lost power again until just a little while ago. Posting while we still have power because it's likely they will turn the power off again this evening due to too many people using air conditioners and fans because of the heat. Not the best time to bake anything!

This is the long way of saying that my bread for the challenge for the Bread Baking Babes this month was to be a high-hydration loaf with excellent I sort of failed the challenge. So sorry Elizabeth. Will try to accomplish the good design before the end of the month, when things are a bit cooler.

So be sure to visit the other Bread Baking Babes to see what wonders can be accomplished with a lame or razor or sharp knife and a steady hand and firm conviction.

To be a BBBuddy, visit Elizabeth's post for the details, but basically bake the bread with design by Aug. 29th and send Elizabeth an email with photo and deets.

Stay cool if you can!

Friday, August 07, 2020

Super Cinnamon Crumble-Topped Apple Pie

The Gravenstein apples are ripe and Sweetie and Raine picked a bucketful yesterday. Pie was promised. There is nothing quite like a Gravenstein apple pie. The apples cook down and become soft and moist and so delicious. They are the perfect balance of sweet and tart. We decided to use a crumble topping instead of a top crust.

This is really Raine's pie. I did peel and slice some apples and assist with advice, but Raine did all the work, including picking most of the apples, peeling and slicing the rest of the apples, rolling out the pie crust, measuring and mixing up the filling...including lots of cinnamon!...and measuring and putting the topping ingredients together, plus assembling the pie. Since we both really, really like cinnamon, we agreed that he could put extra into the filling and the topping, so it's a super cinnamon pie.

For the filling we used my Mom's apple pie recipe in the Classic Comfort Food cookbook, with a bit of brown sugar added, but not too much. She would usually do a two crust pie and would usually make her own pie dough, but this time our attention was on the crumble topping. For the bottom crust we used Pillsbury Ready Crust and we based the topping on a recipe we found online from Bon Appetit. We made enough changes that I'm calling this Raine's Apple Pie.

The crust is buttery, the apples sweet-tart and soft with some cinnamon and the topping is crunchy and rich and full of cinnamon flavor. A slice with some vanilla ice cream and you'll be glad that the Gravensteins have arrived.

No Gravenstein apples where you live? Substitute another favorite apple. Some good ones, although the texture will be different, are Granny Smith, Jonagold, and Honeycrisp.

Raine's Apple Pie

1 - Ready Crust pre-rolled dough for 1 crust (or your favorite pie dough for 1 crust)

6-7 cups (about 3 1/2 pounds) Gravenstein or other good pie apples, peeled and sliced, core and seeds removed
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (we used Penzey's Vietnamese Cinnamon)
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1-2 Tablespoons soft butter, in small lumps
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons butter, cold, cut into 6 pieces
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. On a lightly floured work surface roll out the crust gently so that the crust will fill a 9-inch pie plate with an overhang of at least an inch all around. Fit into pie pan. Set aside.

In a large bowl toss the apples with the 2 Tablespoons flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon,and the 2 Tablespoons brown sugar until thoroughly coated and mixed. Put apple mixture into prepared pan and dot with the butter lumps. Set aside.

In  a medium bowl mix together the flour, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, and salt. Use a pastry cutter to cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until it looks like we sand. Stir in the chopped walnuts.

Take a handful of the flour/butter mixture and squeeze lightly to make clumps. Distribute the clumps, which may come apart a bit as you distribute, over the top of the apple filling, completely covering the apples. Use all of the topping mixture.

Fold the extra dough up and over the filling and topping, pleating the crust as needed, giving a little pinch now and then to help it stay pleated.

Bake pie in the preheated 450 degree F oven for 10 (ten!) minues. Then reduce the oven temperature to 350 and continue to bake for another 35-40 minutes. Crust will be golden brown. It's a good idea to check on the pie about 10 minutes before it might be done and to tent the top with aluminum foil if the topping is browning too fast. I forgot to do that part, so some of the topping got a bit burnt...but it still tasted great.

Let finished pie cool on a wire rack until thoroughly cool. Serve in wedges with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side if you are feeling decadent.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Amazing Chocolate Cookie

As the pandemic continues, so does my perusal of old Bon Appetit magazines. About a week ago I was looking at an issue from 2001 and I came across an ad from Baker's chocolate that had a wonderful looking recipe for intensely chocolate cookies, which they called Death by Chocolate. Even though I had to translate the recipe a bit for another brand of chocolate which I had on hand, I knew it would be an outstanding cookie...and it was.

This is a moist, deeply chocolate drop cookie with walnuts. It's oversized and has chunks of chocolate that are still melted if you eat the cookies while still a bit warm. I had made up the batter in advance and baked up a dozen of these babies yesterday with my sous chef Raine. I scooped out the dough (still pretty firm from being in the fridge) and he made them into dough balls by rolling them in his palms. The second batch were flattened a bit after being put on the foil-lined baking sheet (we baked six at a time in my counter-top convection oven) because the first, round, batch were too tall. Since it was a new recipe I wasn't sure if they would spread, but they really don't.

Do make these if you really, really love chocolate and cookies! You could probably leave out the nuts but I love nuts and think they really add a great element to these cookies. Oh, yes, these cookies are made in one bowl and mixed by hand. Kinda old school, but less to clean up.

Death By Chocolate Cookies
based on a Baker's Chocolate recipe

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate (I use Scharfenberger but use your favorite quality chocolate)
4 oz. semisweet chocolate chunks or chips - chunks are better
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-2 cups chopped walnuts (optional) - I used 1 cup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Chop the 8 oz of bittersweet chocolate. In a large microwavable bowl, melt the chocolate on HIGH for 1 minute. Stir with a heatproof spatula (I use a small silicone one), then microwave again for another minute. Stir until smooth and completely melted.

Add the butter and brown sugar and stir to combine. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir to combine.

In a medium bowl whisk or stir together the flour, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt. Add the mixture to the chocolate mixture and stir just until combined.

Stir in the chunks or chips of semisweet chocolate and the walnuts if using. Stir thoroughly to combine. (At this point I refrigerated the mixture in a closed container for 4 days.)

Drop by 1/4 cupfuls or make similar sized balls of chilled dough onto lightly greased foil lined cookie sheets. Leave about an inch between dough mounds.  Flatten a bit.

Bake in preheated oven for 12-13 minutes. Cookies will be puffed and feel set to the touch. Cool for 1 minute on the sheet, then move to a wire cooling rack to cool completely...or as long as you can stand...they smell really good! Makes about 1 1/2 dozen (18) cookies.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

The Essence of Summer in a Sandwich

The first tomatoes are ripe! Started from seed in the early spring, planted with care in April, watered frequently and fertilized a few times, the bushes are full of tomatoes at all stages of development. It's been a while but the wait is worth it.

One of the first things I make with fresh, first of summer, home-grown tomatoes is the classic BLT sandwich. Good bacon is cooked until crisp, leaf lettuce is washed and dried, good bread is toasted, mayo and pepper are at the ready and I slice that first tomato with nice, thick slices. I only put mayo on the bottom slice of toast, followed by the tomato slices, some salt needed because of the bacon..., the bacon, the lettuce and the top slice of toast. It's a thing of beauty and a nice, juicy lunch, full of the flavors of summer.