Chocolate-walnut cookies

J and I, lacking chocolate chips, made a variation of the Levain cookie recipe. We used the same amount of walnuts, but left out the chocolate chips and added 1/2 cup of cocoa powder in place of 1/2 cup of flour. Maybe use only 1/4 cup of cocoa powder or bake less time – these were a little dry.

Mock-Levain chocolate chip cookies

So there’s this trendy bakery in New York City that is known for huge, rich cookies (the crowd favorite is chocolate chip-walnut). The problem is that the line is really long and the cookies are expensive.

So, J and I have been making our own versions of these cookies! There are a lot of copycat recipes online. This is the result of combining a few of them. The Brown-Eyed Baker one was a major contributor, but doesn’t have enough walnuts or chocolate chips in it and mysteriously calls for baking soda despite no acid in the other ingredients.

Chocolate chip walnut cookies

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp cornstarch (or other refined cooking starch)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3/4-1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
  1. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients. Add to the butter-sugar mixture. Add the chocolate chips and walnuts.
  3. Bake cookies 10 min at 375Β°F (small cookies will be done, large cookies will be gooey).

Substitutions

  • The sugar together with the chocolate chips can make the cookies too sweet. You might consider reducing the amount of sugar in subsequent batches.
  • But don’t reduce the sugar if leaving out the chocolate chips.
  • Try leaving out the baking soda or powder. Another recipe we used only called for soda, which seems wrong.
  • Type of flour called for also varies by recipe. One reference called for all bread flour, and another half cake and half all-purpose.

Easy ciabatta

I’m going through old draft posts to see if any are still relevant. I think this was going to be a recipe, but I can’t for the life of me remember where it is from! Here’s one from Cook’s Illustrated, it’s probably fine…

We can never remember to take the picture before taking a bite 😬

Successful sourdough attempt

What with the yeast shortage, I decided to attempt sourdough again! The last time J and I tried, we managed to make an acceptable loaf of bread, but we baked all of the starter into it D’:

Cook’s Illustrated has starter instructions, and we used this sourdough recipe.

The final starter! It only took 2 or 3 weeks to get to this point… Apparently you know it’s done when the bubbles have the appearance of those in a root beer float πŸ™‚
Bread!! I made the cuts with a straight razor and even remembered to reserve some starter.

We’ve made 2 loaves and 2 pizzas with this recipe so far with local, mostly-whole wheat flour! In a fit of emergency food-buying, we got a bunch of flour from Castle Valley Mill, a local historical flour mill (located in Pennsylvania, about 100 miles from NYC). Their bolted (big pieces of bran sifted out) hard wheat flour is amazing for making bread – lots of gluten!

Sourdough-bacon-onion-cheddar pizza!

Bagels!

During social isolation, J and I have been cooking a lot. We’ve been trying to make more unusual dishes, since we can’t get cravings satisfied at restaurants or work.

J’s been eating bagels for breakfast, but we forgot to get them last grocery order, so we made them! We have a ton of cream cheese and lox, so it was either this or cheesecake (that might still happen πŸ™‚ We used the bagel recipe from ChefSteps.com (which seems to be a teach-you-to-cook website).

Gotta boil the bagels first! There’s baking soda and honey in the water.
Very flat bagels. They taste like pretzels, though πŸ™‚

Improvements to the recipe:

  • Put flour or cornmeal on the bagel bottoms. They stick really badly!
  • Oil the tops before covering with plastic wrap. They stick moderately badly…
  • Try the rope + roll method of shaping.

New yarn projects

In my new-spinner‘s excitement, I made a big batch of handspun yarn before realizing that it was waaay too loosely spun to wear well. It might’ve made a good hat, but certainly not the sweater I was aiming for. Sweaters and other items that get a lot of friction need tightly spun or lightly felted yarn to last a long time.

Fluffy but delicate.

Sooo, I’ve been respinning the batch! The aim, of course, is to make the yarn more durable by spinning it more tightly. To do so, I had to un-ply the yarn, spin the singles more, then re-ply everything. The whole process for about 600 yards of yarn only took a few years.

You can see that the yarn is now finer and more twisted.
But there’s not quite enough to make a sweater…

I’m now unsure what to use the yarn for. I’ve been considering:

  • A hat for J (see draft below!), potentially with a matching scarf or cowl
  • A sweater vest for me
  • A sweater with a contrasting color for the sleeves or the bottom, color-block style.

Let me know what you think would be best!

The draft hat using a Ravelry pattern.

White wine mushroom cream sauce

Another way to use up lingering wine. Eat with pasta, omelette, crepes, toast, etc.

Recipe

  • 3 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Parsley to taste
  1. Cook onion and garlic in butter until translucent.
  2. Add mushrooms and cook until they release liquid. Add salt and spices.
  3. Add white wine and cream, and reduce by half.

We didn’t have cream on hand, so we substituted macadamia nut butter mixed with water, which worked quite well! Macadamia nuts are super oily, so the richness was a good replacement for the cream.

Fondue

I’ve been trying to use up some white wine (originally found on the sidewalk when walking back from the train station). Thanks to Reddit, I made a couple of really good and quite novel (for us) dishes in the last few days. The first was Swiss fondue, recipe courtesy of half-Swiss friend S! Thanks~

Fondue

  • 40% by weight GruyΓ¨re
  • 40% by weight Emmental (can substitute with Jarlsberg or similar American “Swiss” cheese)
  • 20% by weight Appenzeller (can substitute with havarti)
  • 50% of the total weight of the cheese of dry white wine (e.g. Sauvignon blanc) (1 cup β‰ˆ 0.5 lb)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Pepper
  • Nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup kirsch or water
  1. Rub pot with cut side of garlic clove.
  2. Add grated cheese and wine to pot on low heat.
  3. When melted and bubbling, add cornstarch dissolved in kirsch, lemon juice, and spices to taste.
  4. Simmer for 2 minutes to thicken.

Exact measurements for garlic, cornstarch, and lemon juice are meant to serve 4 people. Adjust to taste/number of people/amount of cheese. The experts tell me Trader Joe’s has most of the requisite cheeses for cheap.

I can’t say the presentation is great, but it was good! We ate the fondue with homemade ciabatta (in background) and kimchi.