Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Double Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Off to the beach!  Sometimes it gets so warm in the valley that we have to take a trip to the beach to feel the cool breezes and to listen to the crashing waves!  Packing up goodies for a wine picnic and taking along a snack or two makes the trip special!  We enjoy meeting friends, sharing new wineries with one another and taking advantage of the wonderful picnic areas at the wineries!

I had been looking for an excuse to make these wonderful cookies and this seemed like just the occasion.  I saw the recipe on Chris's blog, The Cafe Sucre Farine. Spending time on her blog is delightful..she shares wonderful recipes, her adorable granddaughters and great tips.   You won't want to miss visiting her.....with just one look, I knew that I would have to treat us to cookies!

The cookies are a wonderfully chewy sugar cookie and with lots of chocolate!!  I wasn't certain if they were going to make it with us to the coast....that are that good...

Double Chocolate Sugar Cookies
adapted from The Cafe Sucre Farine

Yield:  30 (4-inch cookies)
Preheat oven:  350° F.

1/2 cup raw sugar (Turbinado), set aside
1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
14 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Place rack in the middle and preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Place the raw sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and baking powder.  Set aside.

Place 10 Tablespoons of butter in a bowl that is microwave-safe.  Microwave until melted, about 1 minutes.  Remove from the microwave and stir in the remaining 4 Tablespoons of butter, which has been cut into small chunks, until melted.  (This process helps to cool down the butter.  It should be from 90-95 degrees within five minutes.  Warm!  Not hot!)

Place the butter in the bowl of a mixer.  Whisk the brown sugar, vanilla, and salt into the butter until no lumps remain, scrape down the bowl as necessary.  Whisk in the egg and yolk until smooth.  Stir in the flour mixture a little at a time, until just combined.  Stir in the mini chocolate chips.

Using a scoop, work with about 2 Tablespoons of dough to form balls.  Roll the ball into the raw sugar (Turbinado) and place onto the baking sheet.  Use the bottom of a measuring cup or a glass to flatten the cookies slightly, to about 2-inches in diameter.  Sprinkle each cookie with raw sugar.

Bake one sheet at a time until the cookies are slightly puffy and the edges have begun to set.  They will have tiny cracks running around the edges and on the top, about 9 minutes. (Do not overbake.  The cookies will look slightly underdone in the cracks.)  If you are not using a convection oven you should turn the sheets midway through baking.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.


I have been trying not to eat you can tell from recent posts, I have cut back on sugar!! I had to splurge with these little guys....After eating one cookie I mentioned to my daughter that I had my sugar fix for at least a month.  They are so good.....and yes, I ate more than one.   I even shared with the daughter, neighbors and friends....  I can hardly wait to find an excuse to make these again.

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm and Foodie Friday hosted by Simple Living and Eating.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Greek Village Salad

During the summer we tend to prefer the rustic Greek lettuce, just fresh garden vegetables.  They are really quite simple, comprised of the same simple vegetables but do lend themselves to a little variation in the dressing and additions.

I have previously posted two other Greek Salad recipes each one had its own appeal.  This Greek Village Salad had the addition of capers and I just cannot turn down a dish with capers!  I also liked the basic dressing of olive oil and lemon juice....nice flavor and it doesn't overplay all of the wonderful fresh vegetables.

Horiatki Salata
Greek Village Salad
adapted from It's All Greek to Me by Debbie Matenopoulos

1 English cucumber, washed and sliced, each slice quartered
4-5 tomatoes cut into wedges (I used a combination of cherry tomatoes, and heirlooms.)
A combination of green, yellow and red peppers, about 1/2 of each pepper
1/2-1 small red onion, sliced then cut in half, rings separated
1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
8 oz. brine-packed Greek feta cheese, drained and sliced or crumbled
1 tsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
2-3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon cut into wedges
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper

Toss the first five ingredients together in a large salad bowl.  Top with slices or crumbles of feta.
Sprinkle the capers over the salad then crush the oregano and sprinkle it.  Drizzle the lemon juice and the olive oil over the salad and allow to marinate at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. Add a few twists of fresh ground pepper and salt to your taste.

Serve with lemon wedges along the side.

This is an easy salad to adjust for two people or for ten!  This really is a perfect summer treat.

As I mentioned earlier, varying a Greek Salad is easy and I have tried a few.  This Greek Salad has dressing that includes vinegar and Dijon mustard.  This Horiatki Salata only uses olive oil.  It is hard to choose which salad is my preferred.  I think it must have to do with what is in the garden, the refrigerator and mood!

I am sharing today at Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Zucchini Fritters

While I was taking my cookbook tour of Greece, I saw a recipe for Kolokithopites aka zucchini fritters served with Tzatziki and since it is summer and since there is always an abundance of zucchini in the frig, it seemed like a great way to use up some zucchini and enjoy a tasty appetizer or side dish!  The cookbook is It's All Greek to Me by Debbi Matenopoulos.  It was an excellent read and is packed with great recipes.

Zucchini Fritters
adapted from It's All Greek to Me by Debbie Matenopoulos

3 pounds zucchini, cleaned and trimmed
1 tsp sea salt, divided
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces Greek Feta, in brine, about 1 1/2 cups crumbled
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
Vegetable oil for frying
Tzatziki (homemade or purchased)

Preheat the oven to 250° F or turn on the warming oven

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. Using a small spoon or small scoop, hollow out the zucchini shells.   If you will be using the "boats" leave a small amount of zucchini in tact next to the skin. Or, if you like, you can shred the entire zucchini in a food processor.  (I scooped out the pulp thinking I would use the shells for another meal...when I finished I realized that I could have saved a great deal of time by shredding the entire zucchini!  I will shred them the next time...)

Place the shredded (grated) pulp into a colander and toss with 1/2 teaspoon of the sea salt.  Set the colander in the sink.  Cover the zucchini with a plate and weight it down.  Drain the zucchini for about 10-15 minutes, gently rinse and then squeeze as much liquid as possible from the zucchini.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, eggs, mint, remaining 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and pepper until smooth.  Gently fold the drained zucchini into the flour mixture and then add the feta and the Parmesan.  The mixture will resemble a thick batter.

Heat 1/2 inch oil in a deep skillet set over medium heat until it shimmers.  Working in batches, use a 1/8 cup measure to scoop out the batter.  Carefully drop it into the oil.  The fritters should flatten out during cooking.  Cook the fritters three to five minutes per side, until they are golden brown. (Flip the fritters as you would a pancake.)  Removed the fritters when they are golden brown and drain them on a baking sheet lined with paper towels.  Keep the fritters in the oven or warming oven while you continue frying the remaining fritters.

Serve the Zucchini Fritters on a platter with Tzatziki.


I would definitely make these again.  They would be perfect for one of those nights when you have Appetizers for dinner!  I love those times...a variety of little bites makes a great light meal...with a glass of wine...perfect!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Chipotle BBQ Baked Beans

There are some sides that you just don't mess mom's baked beans is one of them.  She is always called upon to "bring the baked beans".  Making these beans is not stepping into her territory.   They are different from the ordinary baked beans.  They have a nice smokey, zesty flavor and if you aren't careful they could be down right hot...spicy hot!!

The beans are made with the Chipotle BBQ Sauce that I made for hamburgers.  And, as I mentioned, it is always nice to be able to use a sauce in different ways.  The recipe calls for a tablespoon of cayenne.  Cayenne and chipotles together would make for one powerfully hot dish. Given that thought, I decided to cut way back on the cayenne.  It is all personal choice but if you want to have any taste buds left after eating...I recommend cutting back on the cayenne!  I also removed all but about 2-3 Tablespoons of the bacon fat when I cooked the onion....once again, it is personal choice.

Chipotle BBQ Baked Beans
adapted from The Good Stuff by Spike Mendelsohn

1 cup Chipotle BBQ Sauce
8-10 slices thick cut smoked bacon, cut into small strips (about 2 cups)
1 small white onion, diced
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp molasses
1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4 15-ounce cans of white beans, drained and rinsed

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp.  Remove the bacon strips and drain on paper towels.

Leave 2-3 Tablespoons of bacon fat in the pan.  Add the diced onion to the bacon fat and cook, stirring, until translucent, about three minutes.  Add the tomato sauce and bring the mixture to a boil.  Add the brown sugar, molasses, and cayenne.  Stir until combined.  Add the vinegar, stirring to combine and scrapping to remove any bits of bacon on the bottom of the pan.  Add the beans, Chiptole BBQ Sauce and bacon and heat throuogh.

Ladle the beans into a 3-quart baking dish and cover with foil.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and bubbly.  (I reduced the oven temperature after thirty minutes and allowed the beans to continue to cook until thickened.)

PRINTABLE RECIPE (for both beans and Chipotle BBQ Sauce)

It was fun to make a different kind of baked bean.  As with most bean recipes, allowing the beans to sit for an afternoon or overnight allows the flavors to meld....they kept getting better and better...or maybe I just love baked beans!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Chipotle BBQ Sauce

It is always nice to find a sauce that can be used for different things.  I was drawn to this Chipotle BBQ Sauce because I love the smokey and spicy hot flavor of the chipotle.  A chipotle is a jalapeño that is smoke-dried.

The jalapeños used for chipotles are those that are left on the vine after the green jalapeños are picked.  The remaining chiles become bright red.  They are left on the bush as long as possible. When they turn a deep red, they have lost most of their moisture and are picked to become chipotles.

Once picked, they are placed on a grill in an enclosed smoking chamber.  There they are smoked and stirred every few hours to mix in the smoke.  They remain in the chamber for a few days until most of the moisture is removed.  When the process is complete, the chipotles have the appearance of a shriveled up prune or a raisin.

This is another sauce that tastes wonderful on a grilled burger but it also makes a fine pot of beans that I will tell you about the first of the week.

For now I want to share the sauce recipe.  Nobody will believe that this wonderful sauce only takes a few minutes to whip up in the blender!  Complex flavors in just a few minutes!

Chipotle BBQ Sauce
The Good Stuff by Spike Mendelsohn

Yield:  3 cups

1-2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1 Tbsp adobo sauce
2 cups sweet, mild barbecue sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp molasses

Place the chipotles and half of the sauce in a blender of food processor.  Puree until smooth.

Add the remaining ingredients and puree, again, until smooth.  Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain the mixture to remove all of the seeds.  Pour the sauce into a jar and set aside until ready to use.


That's it folks.....Two simple steps away from a smokey, tangy barbecue sauce!

I am sharing today at Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Baked Cod with Lemon Garlic Parsley Sauce - "A Trip to Greece" with Debbie Matenopoulos

Welcome to the "Trip to Greece" blog tour with Debbie Matenopoulos featuring her new cookbook, It's All Greek to Me!  What a treat this has been...and on so many levels!  Reading the cookbook brought back many memories of our trip to Greece last year, the wonderful foods we ate and the friendly people that we met.  We immediately loved the fresh and healthy food presented at each meal. And, that is what you can expect in the cookbook, It's All Greek to Me:  delicious recipes focused on fresh and healthy eating!

One thing that really resonated with me when I read through the cookbook was Debbie's outlook on food.  She says, "To Greeks, food is not just food.  It represents love.  It represents family. Sitting down to the table to eat is the time when friends and family come together to connect and share their day with one another..."  That philosophy parallels our approach to food and meals. There is always time to cook good food and to bring family and friends together to share a meal!  I am on-board!

The wide variety of recipes available in the cookbook make it easy to eat healthy and to eat well! There were so many that I wanted to try:

  • Kolokithopites (Zucchini Fritters) sounds like a perfect appetizer, 
  • Horiatki Salata (Greek Village Salad) looks as though it is packed with freshness and popping with flavor, 
  • Gigantes (Greek Giant White Beans) that we became so fond of on our trip, and they are oh, so delicious, not to mention 
  • Dessert Fruit Salad with honey and yogurt....yum...
What to make first!?

I selected Baked Cod with Lemon Garlic Parsley Sauce as my recipe to prepare.  Mr. T. and I were really excited to participate and since we just happened to be visiting a little fishing town on the coast, it was easy to find fresh fish!  We selected two lovely pieces of Rock Cod to prepare.

Baked Cod with Lemon Garlic Parsley Sauce

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 skinless cod fillets, 6 ounces each, rinsed and patted dry
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
4 tablespoons lemon juice, divided (about 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (optional)

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Coat the bottom of a large oven-safe baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.  Lay the cod fillets in the baking dish and season them with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt (1/8 teaspoon per fillet). Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice over the fish.  Bake, uncovered, until the fish is opaque and easily flaked with a fork, about 15 minutes.  Be careful not to overcook the fish.

While the fish is baking, make the sauce.  In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, parsley, garlic, and lemon zest.  Slowly whisk in the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper (if using).

Serve the cod immediately on warmed dinner plates, with the sauce spooned evenly over each fillet.

Debbie is right.  This is a quick, healthy recipe.  The sauce is light and lemony and infuses the fish with a subtle garlic flavor.  This is my new way to prepare fish!

I was so happy to add this wonderful cookbook to my library.  It will be well used.  I am looking forward to preparing Zucchini Fritters served with Tzatziki next week....we will enjoy them with a crisp white wine and dream of blue seas, blue skies, great food and our wonderful trip to Greece.....

Debbie will be tweeting throughout the tour.  Use the hashtag #GreekSummer.  Here are her social media sites should you wish to connect with her:  Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

I am sharing at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.