Category Archives: Recipe

Hooray for Chocolate Chip Cookies (and Ruth Graves Wakefield)!

There is nothing like taking a bite out of the perfect chocolate chip cookie, savoring every chew and then washing it down with ice-cold milk.  My whole outlook on life can be transformed in one bite. The last few years I have been on a quest to perfect the recipe for these soul-satisfying morsels, one that tasted and cooked consistently each time.  As Americans we can be proud to know the chocolate chip cookie originated in Massachusetts and is credited to Ruth Graves Wakefield from the Tollhouse Inn.  In the 1930’s she developed the recipe while making Butter Drop cookies; it is unclear whether the cookies were the product of a kitchen mishap where pieces of a Nestle chocolate bar ended up in the batter, or an intentional creation by a chef who understood the science of chocolate and how it retained its texture when cooked.   The cookies became a local sensation which led to an agreement with Nestle to use her recipe on their candy bars.  The candy bar was later turned into chocolate bits that we know today as chocolate chips and it still has Ruth’s Tollhouse recipe on each bag. 

When I worked at the catering company I always sighed when chocolate chip cookies were on my daily food prep list because the recipe yielded over 250 cookies!  After the dough was made it all had to be scooped out into balls (boy, was my arm sore!).  If not, it was impossible to scoop out the cold, hard dough each time we needed to make a batch of cookies for an event. I thought this was a brilliant technique to use at home.  This recipe makes over 40 cookies and I can’t have that many staring at me because I know I’ll gobble them up.  

So instead of baking them all at once, I place all the scoops of dough on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, cover them completely with enough plastic wrap so it qualifies for the catering death wrap –  encased top and bottom with a few sheets of plastic wrap to ensure freshness – and freeze them.  The next day I transfer them to a large Ziploc bag and store them in the freezer.  The frozen dough will last about a month (they all usually get eaten way before then) and I can satisfy my sweet tooth with something homemade in a few minutes.

 

I use a medium OXO scoop which holds about 1 ½ tablespoons of batter. 

 

Sometimes I will toast the walnuts to add another layer of flavor in the dough.  Here’s how: either chop them or break them up with your fingers into bite-size pieces.  Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and add the walnuts; toast for about 5 minutes until they start to turn a dark golden color and become fragrant.  Stir often, every 30 seconds or so, and put them on a timer because they burn very quickly and it’s easy to get distracted.  Let cool before adding to the dough.

I like my cookies to have some density to them with a slightly crispy outside and a chewy inside.  I found that you can put the frozen cookie balls directly into the oven (I use my convection setting) and they come out perfect every time – they have just enough rise and don’t flatten out.  I also recommend using parchment paper to line your sheet pan; the cookies don’t stick, they cook evenly all the way through and the cleanup is easy.  You can find parchment paper in your grocery store, usually next to the tin foil.  Here is the recipe for this irresistible American Classic.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Recipe makes about 40 cookies; reduce by half for 20 cookies
375 degree oven


2 ½ cups flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
2 teaspoons water
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (60% cacao)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Sift the flour into a bowl, add the baking soda and salt and mix together with a fork.

In a large bowl add the butter and mix on low speed with a hand mixer for 30 seconds to break it up.  Add the sugars and vanilla and mix on low for about a minute until well incorporated.  Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each one is added.   

Add the flour mixture along with 2 teaspoons water and mix well on low speed.  Add the chocolate chips and walnuts and mix together using a strong spoon until well incorporated.  Scoop out all the cookie dough into balls and freeze the extras for later use (see directions above). 

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and place 8 cookie scoops on it, evenly spaced.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown.  Rotate the sheet pan at 8 minutes for even browning.  Let cool for a few minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.

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Get Your Marmalade on for Dinner!

Tomato & Onion Marmalade with Angel Hair Pasta

I wanted my first blog to feature something that was easy to prepare and satisfying to eat – it was a difficult choice but pasta won out because it is an easy go-to for me.   It can be prepared in so many tempting ways and comes in lots of fun shapes and sizes. I always feel like a successful foodie when I can make a simple sauce that’s full of flavor in the time it takes the water to boil and the pasta to cook.  Mind you, I live at an elevation of 7,500 feet (2,290 m) so I am stuck with a little extra cooking time for pasta at this altitude.  Mostly my recipe ideas work and sometimes they don’t – this one worked great the first time I made it.  And even though the marmalade takes minutes to make it is full of rich, deep flavors. For this recipe, I recommend a combination of grape tomatoes (I am a big fan because they are packed with flavor) and Campari tomatoes on the vine.

Fresh Ingredients Give You The Most Flavor

My inspiration for this recipe came from our trip to Italy and the Marche (pronounced mar-kay) region last October. Our host Paolo at Agriturismo Ramuse  asked if we were hungry for lunch one afternoon and we excitedly said yes, knowing all the ingredients were fresh and local. It was one of the best meals I had during our trip – not to mention one of the best local Sangiovese wines I have ever tasted – because it was real food that connected us to his country and his land.

Melissa (L) and her new friend from Amsterdam, Netty, making gnocchi - a tasty blog for another time.

During a cooking class in Paolo’s kitchen later that week , I noticed the amount of olive oil they used as the basis for a simple sauce.  It was similar to how we use a few pours of chicken broth or stock to make a light sauce.  I have since re-created the tomato sauce from Paolo’s lunch back in my own kitchen and thought it would be a great segue for a tomato and onion marmalade.  The result was a satisfying meal made in less than thirty minutes.   I was excited to recently find at Whole Foods pasta made in the Marche region, which I used for the photo (Montebello brand/Capellini style pasta).  Angel Hair works just as well and is a tad thicker (try Barilla, in the blue box).   Note: For those interested, the blue and white striped apron that I am wearing in the above photo belonged to Jamie Oliver and was given to Paolo when he cooked with him at Ramuse. Pretty cool, but too bad I couldn’t keep it.

Double Duty For The Marmalade
If you have the tomatoes, you can make extra Marmalade for another meal; just double the recipe and set aside one cup.  Try using the marmalade on a crostini with ricotta (or just rub the toasted bread with garlic), as a condiment for your sandwich, over your favorite style eggs or on grilled chicken with some melted cheese over the top. 

Enjoy!  Please let me know if you try the recipe and how you liked it.  Here is the recipe:


Tomato & Onion Marmalade with Angel Hair Pasta   (click for printable version)
Recipe: Melissa Schenker/Foodie for Two
Serves 2 foodies – Recipe makes about 1 cup of marmalade

5 ounces Angel Hair Pasta (approx. 1½” loose bundle)
4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Onion half (medium), diced
Kosher Salt
Freshly Cracked Pepper
1/8 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
1 teaspoon dried Basil
½ teaspoon fresh Thyme leaves
1 medium clove Garlic, minced
1 ¼ cups chopped tomatoes (cherry tomatoes and tomatoes on the vine)
1 tablespoon fresh Basil, julienned (cut into thin strips)
2 tablespoons Parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, freshly grated

1. Cook the Pasta:
Heat a tall pot of water to boil; add a drizzle of olive oil and a generous pinch of salt. Stir in pasta and cook al dente, about 4 minutes.

2. Make the Marmalade and Assemble:
While the water is heating, start the marmalade. Heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When hot, add the onion, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon dried basil and ½ teaspoon thyme leaves; Sauté until tender, stirring often, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and let cook for about 30 seconds. Add the diced tomatoes, a pinch of salt, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon fresh basil and stir well. Let simmer over low heat while the pasta finishes cooking, stirring every few minutes.

With a spaghetti fork or tongs, transfer the cooked pasta directly to the skillet along with a few ladles of pasta water and 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese; toss well to coat. Serve immediately and garnish with more Parmesan cheese and fresh cracked pepper.

  • No need to chop the cherry tomatoes, just halve or quarter them depending on their size.
  •  To save time, Marmalade can be made one day ahead: While pasta is cooking, reheat on medium low heat and add a handful of cherry tomatoes to refresh it.
  • If Marmalade batch is doubled: Refrigerate extra cup in air tight container for two to three days.