September 27, 2010

Monday Sweets: Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Pie

This pie has all the taste I love of chocolate chip cookies warm and gooey out of the oven, with the added bonus of a more gooey texture (when hot), pie crust, and an excuse to pair it with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. It's pretty much Tollhouse cookie dough with proportionally more butter  you can't beat that in the realm of sinfully delicious desserts.
Perfect for dinner parties (or just everyday dinner with a chocolate finale treat), you can put the pie in as you start eating dinner, and it's done and ready to eat an hour later. The pie also beats out cookies in the ease department; you don't have to dollop dough onto a cookie sheet, just pour in a pie shell, or clean up cookie sheets and cooling racks.

September 24, 2010

Tastecation: Maine Lobster

When in Maine, you must eat lobster, lots of lobster, or so I learned on my trip there last week. The meat is so fresh and sweet tasting you know it was fished from coastal waters within a few miles of your dining spot.  You can eat lobster stew, lobster quiche, and almost any lobster dish imaginable, but these were the classic and, in my opinion, best showcases of the state's signature food.

Exhibit A: Steamed Lobster
I definitely needed instruction to get the meat out of this guy and even with them managed to make a giant mess, but the taste is all the better when it doubles as a reward for pulling apart the lobster and carefully pushing out its meat.

Exhibit B: Lobster Roll
Even the ice cream shops in Maine sell lobster rolls apparently. It gives you the super-fresh meat with zero work required. The meat is mixed with a light white sauce and served on a, you guessed it, roll.

Bonus Tip: Blueberries
Are you ever in Maine, make sure you also feast on tiny yet sweet wild Maine blueberries the form of crumbles, pies, and jams.

September 20, 2010

Monday Sweets: Mint-Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Squares

Sundaes are great, but there's something special about feasting ice cream and toppings frozen together in layers. And what better flavor combo than cool mint-chocolate chip ice cream, crisp Oreo crumbs, rich homemade chocolate syrup, and light and creamy Cool Whip?

With a yield of 15 servings, this is a good recipe for a crowd. If you have less people, want to keep from over-eating leftovers, and/or want a different presentation, I also like a similar pie version of the mint-chocolate chip treat.

To avoid uber-green food dye and savor natural goodness, I like to use Breyer's mint-chocolate chip ice cream.

September 15, 2010

Super-Quick Appetizer: Baked Brie

Buttery, creamy Brie cheese is always a treat, but its flavors really come alive when heated to a gooey state. Better yet, add a little something sweet like honey to the rich, earthy-tasting cheese and a bread coating for the perfect Brie delight. I like to cut it into wedges. You can eat it on crackers or savor its flavors alone.
Baked Brie looks and sounds fancy, but all that it requires is drizzling honey on top of cheese, wrapping it in crescent roll dough, and baking. If you have an occasion that warrants buying a nice cheese for snacking, this is your new entertaining best friend.

September 13, 2010

Monday Sweets: Mississippi Mud Brownies

They're rich. They're gooey. They're chocolatey. They're almost as messy as that kind of mud your that your feet instantly sink into. Can you really ask for more than brownies topped with marshmallows and chocolate frosting? 

Usually I think of brownies as more of a simple grab-one-after-lunch kind of dessert, but these can be served on dessert plates like cake (and then eaten with hands for subsequent meals), especially if they're still warm. Mississippi Mud Cookies are tasty too, but these are thicker and richer and therefore better in my book.

September 10, 2010

Drink: Pimm's Cup

Precious long summer days are gradually getting shorter, and I am not okay with it. Unlike 99% of the South, I don't agree that the advent of football season makes up for nighttime darkness commencing just when I am just being freed after the work day ends. So I am making the most of sunlight while it lasts and make sure to have summery food and drinks for Labor Day weekend, including Pimm's.

Sweet and fruity Pimm's tastes like summer. It's alcoholic but just barely so. Its signature ingredient, Pimm's No. 1, is a sweet, dark liquor that originated and is popular in England, and the Brits like to mix it with lemonade (what they call Sprite), fruit, mint, and cucumber.

After sipping on Pimm's for the first time in several years, I am not sure the drink is worth buying a whole bottle for. But on occasion I having it to reminisce cool summer nights in English pubs, where I first had the drink. This is all in keeping with the Pimm's parties my friends from my summer study program in England and I had upon returning to the States and discovering the liquor store carried Pimm's. Of course, chatting about Pride and Prejudice country and the quaintness of Oxford would make it all the better.

September 6, 2010

Monday Sweets: Malted Chocolate Cookies

Seeing as today is an all-American kind of holiday, I bring you my all-time favorite dessert: chocolate chip cookies. This new-to-me recipe has a few twists that more than convinced me to actually try a recipe besides Toll House cookies.

Merit 1: Secret Ingredient
When I first tasted these cookies, there was a subtle something distinct about the dough whose taste I couldn't quite place. It turned out to be malted milk powder, which is used to make malted shakes and tastes reminiscent of a Whopper.

I found the Malted Milk powder near the canned milk and Ovaltine at the grocery store, but be wary of trying a similar product. Something like Ovaltine could make the taste a bit funky.
Merit 2: Colossal Size
They're several inches in diameter and perfectly thick and chewy. The recipe calls for 2-inch balls of dough on the cookie sheet before baking. The cookies in the front of the picture are that size and the ones in the back are my normal-sized ones. I recommend making them big because they're thicker and more chewy. One giant cookie is plenty to satisfy.
Merit 3: Chocolate and More Chocolate
Each bite of the cookie is packed with milk chocolate chips and semi-sweet chocolate chunks. Plus, there's chocolate syrup hidden in the dough too, and that along with calling for all brown (no white) sugar makes the dough a bit darker and chewier than average. It's pretty much a chocoholic's dream cookie.

The original recipe called for butter-flavored shortening, but I saw no reason to buy butter-flavored lard when you can use goodness that is real butter.

September 2, 2010

Dinner: Corn Cakes with Chicken

Stuffed with fresh corn kernels, cornmeal, cheese, and green onions, corn cakes are savory dinner pancakes. The taste reminded me of corn puddings and souffles, but the texture was more firm and bread-like. I wanted to display their flavor as a main dish instead of a measly side dish, so I spiced up some pulled rotisserie chicken to put on top along with a dollop of sour cream.

There are so many summer dinners I want to try before the produce shifts to winter squashes and greens and sunlight tragically disappears at 5 p.m., and this one was totally worth prioritizing.