Tapas and Tinto: Some Words on Spanish Cuisine

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Well hello, Wright-Time-for-a-Schnackers! It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted here, I’ll admit– but worry not, I have certainly not abandoned our beloved food blog. I’ve been quite busy, living in the incredible city of Madrid for the past month and a half, sampling some of the varied, incomparably delicious cuisine that España is known for.

some Spanish olives, a typical tapa

Spain is known for its tapas: small servings of savory food, usually served with drinks at a bar. Apparently, they originated a long time ago, when a past king of Spain realized that drunken buffoonery was reduced if alcohol consumers ate with their booze, and so ordered some of the bars in Spain to begin serving a small portion of food with each drink a customer ordered.

one of the amazing restaurants I’ve visited. the bread was still warm. mmm.

Now, Madrid has a raging tapas scene, though they are not quite so commonly served free with the drinks you order (if you do, the drinks will be much more expensive, anyways.) A typical tapa would be a crusty slice of baguette topped with some ham (Spaniards LOVE their ham) and olive oil, or perhaps a small, greasily delicious empanada. Fruits and veggies are not usually served raw here (how I miss my mom’s giant salads!) but the deliciousness of the dishes they serve instead more than makes up for it.

okay, so this was technically French-style cuisine, but seeing as this crepe was consumed in Spain it counts, right?

The ever-present ham is certainly a staple for Spaniards, but I’ve sampled a variety of their other signature dishes as well. My favorite thus far has been croquettes, small fried balls of bechamel white sauce, peppered with ham and swirled with cheese. They’re basically little deep-fried bombs of creamy, tangy deliciousness. Another favorite is paella, the classic Spanish savory rice dish. And the churros con chocolate. And the coffee here is amazing. AND OKAY LET’S JUST FACE IT I’ve been spending all my money on food because I can’t stop eating everything Madrid has to offer me.

churros and chocolate- essentially the most delicious thing ever.

Spanish meals are served significantly later than American meals–lunch is typically at about 2-3pm, dinner at about 9-10pm. It took a bit to get used to, but now that I have it makes lots of sense. Everything is adjusted here to the thriving nightlife of Spain, so all events, from club openings to meals to store hours are pushed back to accommodate.

coffee and a veggie croissant at a retro café in an extremely hipster neighborhood

Some of my newly acquired friends and I have started a “Tapas Tuesday” lunch club kind of tradition every week, where we go out and dine at a reasonably-priced, highly-rated restaurant in the city. Every week I think the restaurant won’t top the food from the week before, and every week it does. Today’s was especially delightful. Good food and good company can do wonders to one’s happiness level.

the best gazpacho I’ve ever eaten

I apologize for the not-quite-as-stellar pictures, but unfortunately dimly-lit restaurants and iPhone cameras are sometimes not the most flattering for the dishes. I assure you, they lack in photographability what they make up for in deliciousness.

a giant pan of paella

I hope you enjoy hearing about/observing the photos of the international eateries I’ve experienced. One final disclaimer: All of the food in this post was eventually consumed by me, but none of it was made by me– excepting the very last photo, an extremely high-class and gastronomically advanced concoction created by my lovable 13-year-old host sister and I.

Yeah, it’s a cookie monster cupcake. And it’s fantastic. Like I said–the height of gastronomical class.

Adios, and gracias for reading!

Caramel Apple Coffee Cake

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One thing I’ve learned from living in the New York City is that it’s difficult to tell when the season changes from summer to fall. The weather likes to remain stagnant here–so far, there’s only been a couple days where I have had to bundle up with more than one sweater. The trees are hardly changing color. As I write this, I am looking at the trees in our courtyard, which are either green or a dead shade of brown. Fortunately, I was able to attend a retreat in upstate New York a couple weeks ago, where I really got to appreciate the beauty of autumn. I never thought I would take foliage for granted, but I have. Even though it was frigid at night, the fresh air and brilliantly colored trees inspired me to appreciate the gifts of the season.

This weekend, I baked a caramel apple coffee cake to celebrate the new season. I haven’t been baking as much as I would like to, due to the fact that I have limited free time and limited expenses. I’m sure I’ll have to get creative with substitutions as my college bank account dwindles later on in the year. Speaking of creative, I’m still getting used to cooking in a tiny kitchen and finding places to put my things as I cook. I’m constantly shuffling my mixing bowl and ingredients from the small counter to the top of the refrigerator, or the edge of the sink or the stovetop. Oh, how I miss cooking in my kitchen at home!

Somehow I managed to pull together a decent looking and delicious cake that made my dorm room smell fantastic. I even made my own caramel sauce, which is probably more economical than buying it in the store because I already had the simple ingredients in my cabinet and fridge. (Hint: if you make your own caramel, everyone will think you’re some sort of superhuman.) One of the most satisfying things about fall is the marriage of caramel and apples. Throw on some streusel topping, and you have yourself a festive cake to celebrate the season.

Enjoy!

Caramel Apple Coffee Cake
Adapted from Eat Good 4 Life
Serves 10-12

1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup flour (you can use all-purpose or whole wheat pastry)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 apples, sliced thin
1/4 to 1/3 cup caramel sauce (recipe follows)

1 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup olive oil, melted butter or coconut oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a springform pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix oil, eggs, yogurt and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder and cinnamon and stir to combine.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and arrange apple slices on top.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, pecans, oil, sugar and cinnamon. Place the topping over the apples.
  5. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan, then remove and pour caramel sauce over it.

Notes: I do not have, nor could I find anyone with, a springform pan, so I used an 8-inch round cake pan. The only problem with this is that you can’t neatly remove the cake from the pan without damaging the topping, so the caramel sauce sort of runs under the cake. If you’re planning on serving the cake at a gathering, I would advise using a springform pan. However, if you’re feeding hungry college kids, nobody will mind the messy caramel.

Caramel Sauce
Adapted from Barefeet in the Kitchen

1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt

  1. In a heavy saucepan, combine sugar and water over medium heat. Gently stir until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until the mixture is light brown, 7-8 minutes. Do not scrape the sides of the pan.
  2. Add the butter and gently stir until combined. Once the butter is melted, remove the mixture from heat and add cream, vanilla and salt. Stir vigorously until all ingredients are incorporated. Let cool before using.

College Cooking: An Update

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Oh, hello there friends! Here I am for a long-overdue Wright Time for a Schnack post. Except, because Georgia’s in Spain and I’m in New York, this is a post featuring some Schnacks. Ha, ha, ha.

So yes, I’ve been in college for a little under a month now. And I have been cooking, although not as much as I would like to. Thankfully I am lucky enough to be in a dorm with a kitchen. I won’t even begin to complain about how small it is because at least I get a kitchen, right?

One of the first things we made in the dorm kitchen were banana muffins. They were a variation of these banana crumb muffins–remember, the muffins with the sugary topping? I was lacking brown sugar and cinnamon (donations of vital cooking ingredients are greatly appreciated.. ha ha) so I improvised and mixed together some butter and crunchy cereal for a topping. It probably wasn’t the best way to create a topping, but it was good enough. I don’t think there’s a good substitute for a cinnamon and brown sugar crumb topping. Without the topping, the muffins were delectable and were consumed in no time. By the way, if you’re cooking in a college dorm, you will make friends very fast. People love food. I’m serious. (Please excuse the Instagram photos in this post. It’s just so convenient for food photography and photo editing, and I’m secretly think it’s the best iPhone app in the world.)

In addition to baking, my roommates and I have also tried our hand at making dinner. Once. Which is actually quite impressive, because there isn’t much cooking time to be had in college. The other night we went to the local farmers market and picked up some swiss chard, goat cheese and cherry tomatoes.

For dinner, we sautéed the tomatoes and tomatoes in some olive oil and garlic paste. Garlic paste is a little trick I learned in my Intro to Foods and Food Science class here at school. (It’s basically cooking class. With some food science.) If you’ve ever tried to cook garlic with olive oil, you may have noticed how it browns very quickly. To prevent this while still getting a good flavor from the garlic, mince garlic then add a bit of salt. Keep mincing and crush the minced pieces with a knife to form a paste. If the garlic starts to leave liquid on your cutting board, that’s right! Add this to olive oil in a saute pan and heat the oil, then add swiss chard and tomatoes. Cook until the chard is tender–you will end up with a much smaller amount than you started with. Add salt and pepper to taste, and more oil if necessary. Throw in some goat cheese and mix everything up, then spoon the chard/tomato/cheese mixture over pasta of your choice. Add more goat cheese, if you wish, to make everything fancy. And if you want to be really healthy, chop up the stems of the chard and add these to the mix too. (You’ll need to start cooking the ends first, as they take awhile to soften.)

I’ve only had two official food science (“cooking”) classes, but I can already say that I think this is my favorite class. So far we’ve worked with vegetables and legumes. Sometimes the class feels like Top Chef because we only have a certain amount of time to work and we have to plate everything at the end. Also, I had to buy a serious chef’s knife and a chef’s jacket. I like to think I look professional.

Here’s a sampling of the dishes we’ve made in class, starting from the top left:
Pasta salad with spinach, radishes and goat cheese; butternut squash risotto, quinoa and roasted beet salad and couscous with apricot and mint.

More on my college cooking adventures later. Hopefully you’ll see a Spanish food post by Georgia soon 🙂

Peach-Glazed Buttermilk Donuts

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My friends, we have reached the last blog post in which Caty and I cook together for quite some time. Tomorrow marks the day in which Caty is headed off to NYU to study (what else) food, and in three weeks I depart for Spain. We are hoping to continue the blog from our little parts of the world, but the posts will be coming at a bit of a slower pace than in the past. This is okay. We are a rare breed of people that enjoy taking pictures of their cuisine, and it’s become such a lifestyle now for both of us that Wright Time for a Schnack is quite unlikely to be disappearing into cyberspace anytime soon.

For our final summer post (sniff sniff) we knew we wanted to incorporate peaches. We are lucky to have a number of farms locally (buy local, everyone!) that provide pick-your-own-fruit orchards and such. So we ventured off to a lovely, expansive farm dotted with hydrangea plants and berry bushes to pluck some delicious peaches off the trees. Unfortunately, many of them were still underripe, but after some serious fruit examinations we picked a peck of perfectly prime peaches. Pretty praiseworthy peaches, in fact.

So with help from Caty’s newly purchased donut pan (she gets a little excited about kitchen utensils) we crafted some peachy keen baked goods. Any baked item that includes buttermilk is great in my book, and when you add notes of honey and farm-fresh peaches these are one great snack that can’t be beat. Our one revision would be to add a bit more baking powder, for they were slightly dense, but the taste was truly delicious.

Caty and I have had some really fantastic, silly and delectable times cooking together in our last year of high school. We hope you all have enjoyed our adventures in cooking as much as we have– and stay tuned for more, varied dishes from the Big Apple and Madrid. Enjoy the last few days of hot, lazy summer and remember it’s always the Wright Time for a Schnack!

Peach-Glazed Buttermilk Donuts

2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 pureed peach
2 eggs
2 Tbsp melted butter
1 tsp vanilla

Glaze
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup pureed peach
1 Tbsp honey

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour donut pan
2. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large mixing bowl
3. Stir in buttermilk, eggs, peach puree, butter and vanilla; beat until just combined
4. Fill each well 2/3 full. Bake 10-12 minutes, until top of donuts spring back when lightly touched.
5. Let cool for 5-10 minutes. In the meantime, combine powdered sugar, peach puree, and honey. Add extra powdered sugar if consistency too thin and extra puree if consistency too thick. Stir until smooth.
6. Put glaze in shallow bowl and dip the top of the donuts in the glaze. Let cool. Devour.
Thanks for reading, everyone.

 

Fastest Cinnamon Rolls

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So guess what.

We made the most delicious, fastest cinnamon rolls ever. It’s hard to believe, but these babies required absolutely no proofing or rising of dough because they don’t contain yeast. They were so utterly scrumptious that it felt like cheating. When Georgia first suggested the recipe, I secretly scoffed at it because I assumed “fastest cinnamon rolls” meant open a can of Pillsbury dough and spread butter, cinnamon and sugar on them. And I was about to reevaluate our blogging partnership and even friendship. (A confession: I have actually made cinnamon rolls this way; I cannot tell a lie.) But then I read the recipe and was mind blown. In under an hour, warm cinnamon buns could be mine. Was it too good to be true?

 

No, my friends. After roughly 25 minutes in the oven, we feasted on the best cinnamon rolls ever. We couldn’t even wait to let them cool (after drenching them in a marscapone cheese glaze, of course) because the aroma of fresh cinnamon rolls was tickling our noses.

I can’t even begin to describe how amazing these cinnamon rolls were. The eight rolls didn’t even last an hour–I think our families really appreciate having food blogging daughters. Cottage cheese (or ricotta, if you’re not cooking 0n the cheap like we are) and buttermilk give these rolls a quite interesting texture. The only giveaway that these aren’t made with yeast is that there’s no distinct yeast-bread taste. But you won’t miss it, I promise.

Fastest Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from Don’t Forget Delicious, via Fine Cooking

 

For the dough
3/4 cup part skim ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese)
1/3 cup low fat buttermilk
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda

For the filling
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice

For the glaze
2 oz marscapone cheese, room temperature
1/2-3/4 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Grease the sides and bottom of a 8 or 9″ baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Combine the ricotta (or cottage) cheese, buttermilk, sugar, melted butter, and vanilla in food processor and process until smooth, about 10 seconds. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda and pulse in short bursts just until the dough clumps together (don’t overprocess). The dough will be soft and moist.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it with floured hands 4 or 5 times until smooth. The dough will be sticky, so add as much flour to hands and surface of the dough as needed. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12×15-inch rectangle.
  4. Brush the dough with the melted butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border unbuttered around the edges. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar and spices. Sprinkle the mixture over the buttered area of the dough and press gently into the surface.
  5. Starting at a long edge, tightly roll up the dough, making sure to keep the filling inside the roll. Pinch the seam to seal, and leave the ends open.
  6. With a sharp knife, cut the roll into 8 equal pieces. Set the pieces, cut side up, in the prepared pan. The rolls should touch each other.
  7. Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, 20 to 28 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Run a spatula around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the rolls, and transfer them to a serving plate.
  8. In a small bowl, mix the softened mascarpone cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla to make a smooth glaze. Add milk as needed to achieve desired consistency. Spread or drizzle onto warm rolls. Let stand 10 minutes (or 10 seconds, if you can’t wait) and serve.

Scrumptious Cereal Bar Treats

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I’ll be honest: I had really no idea what to call these. I debated between Anti-Rice Krispie Treats, Everything But the Kitchen Sink Treats, and the very accurate This Is What Happens When You Have Extra Marshmallows and a Box of Cheerios Treats. Well, if you, like so many of us in the summer, are faced with an abundance of marshmallows after a bonfire or celebration of sorts, here’s a suggestion. Add Cheerios + espresso +Nutella + shredded coconut + marshmallows + butter + drizzled chocolate, receive heavenly gooey treat things that will make your mom roll her eyes and make cutting remarks about cavities. It’s a good combination, but feel free to adapt the recipe and take as many culinary liberties as you would like.

Summer Tomato Tart with Goat Cheese

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Well hello, my fine friends. I hope you all have been enjoying your summer as much as I have and have squeezed in plenty reading, swimming, and of course cooking if you are able. As it is tomato season, and as we have been rather dessert-heavy for the past few posts, Caty and I decided to concoct this savory tart and it was a raging success. In my opinion, anyway.

This light tart is a perfect combination of fresh vegetables, salty goat cheese, and buttery crust. We layered goat cheese on a simple dough crust with caramelized onions, arranged thinly sliced tomatoes on top, and drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and garnished with garden-fresh basil. It was delectable; the perfect dish to bring to a July luncheon. Really, though, one could eat it at any time of the day. I certainly would have had some for breakfast tomorrow had there been any left. Alas, it was demolished in twenty minutes flat after we deemed it ready for the eating.

I hope this delights you as much as it delighted us.

Summer Tomato Tart with Goat Cheese
Crust recipe courtesy of Food and Wine online magazine
(http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/all-butter-pie-dough)

For the crust:
1  1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup ice water

For the filling:
3 ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/4 of a white onion
6oz. goat cheese (chevré)
2 tablespoons chopped basil
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. For the crust: In a food processor, pulse the flour with the salt. Add the butter and pulse until the size of peas. Drizzle in the water and pulse until the crumbs are moistened; turn out onto a work surface. Gather into a ball, flatten, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes minimum.
2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out pie crust to 1/4 inch thick on floured work surface. Place in and mold to ungreased tart pan (the buttery dough requires no additional grease.)
3. Place tart pan/crust in freezer for 15 minutes.
4. Bake crust in oven for 25 minutes, or until it turns a light golden brown. Reduce heat to 375 degrees. Let crust cool for 10 minutes or so .
5. Chop onion. Heat in pan with salt, pepper and a bit of olive oil until they turn light brown and caramelized.
6. Spread goat cheese evenly over crust. Top with caramelized onions. Layer tomato slices on top.
7. Drizzle with olive oil, and generously sprinkle salt and pepper on top to taste. Bake for 25 minutes. Garnish with  basil, and serve to adoring family and friends.

(Celebratory) Mocha Pudding and Our Blog’s First Birthday!

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A year ago, Georgia and I made a pitcher of lemonade that would change our lives. Yes, that sounds quite dramatic; but it’s true. That pitcher of lemonade, as you may remember, if you’ve been following us since the beginning (thank you!), was our first foray into the world of food creation as a team. Neither of us had planned to start a food blog, but we did. I had brought my camera to Georgia’s that day and began messing around with it, trying to be “artsy” with my photos of squeezed lemons and the ubiquitous mason jars we used to serve the cool beverage. After a short discussion about the possibility of food blogging, we agreed to create our own food blog.  The name came to us quickly. We wanted something fresh, something creative. “Remember,” I began warily, “when we were in kindergarten, picking strawberries in my garden, and my dad said that it was the ‘Wright time for a Schnack?’” Well, once we realized the ingenuity of that phrase as applied to a food blog, there was no turning back.

Who knew that eleven years later, Georgia and I would be still be friends, using the moniker for a food blog, and that our first creation would be minted strawberry lemonade. Life is strange sometimes, isn’t it?

This year of blogging has strengthened our friendship, which I am so thankful for. Whoever said that there’s nothing like food to bring people together hit the nail on the head. I feel that we have both grown as people and as artists. Our photos, once pretty terrible, have become significantly better—though we are still developing our food styling and photography issues and know we have a long way to go until we can reach the professional level of some of our favorite food bloggers. We’ve had some minor disagreements about what’s going to taste good (though I often pressure Georgia into giving in and letting me try something ridiculous). We’ve learned that cooking takes time, tripods are your friends, it’s not possible to leave Whole Foods without fancy chocolate and it’s best to read a recipe entirely before starting to cook. But above all, I think our first year of blogging has been a huge success. We have no idea what the fall will bring, when we go our separate ways (Caty, to college in New York City, and Georgia, to Spain and college the following year), but we can assure you that Wright Time for a Schnack is not over. Never in a million years did Georgia and I think our blog would be as successful as it is. Thank you, everyone, for following our blog, trying our recipes and giving us your support. We truly appreciate it.

To celebrate our blog-iversary, we decided to make mocha pudding. This is actually the second time we’ve made pudding from scratch in the last couple weeks—we had a patriotic pudding pop experiment for the fourth of July that unfortunately did not freeze in a timely enough fashion to make it to the blog. This mocha pudding is just as (if not more) delicious, however, and made the perfect decadent dessert to round off our year of blogging with. It’s the kind of concoction that brings the table to a happy silence as it is joyfully consumed.

Happy one year, blog. Stay sweet, everybody!

Mocha Pudding
Adapted from Endless Simmer

1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
3 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon instant coffee or espresso powder
3/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  1. Combine cornstach, sugar, salt, milk and espresso powder in a heatproof bowl and whisk vigorously until combined.
  2. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water (do not let the bowl of pudding touch the water) and cook, whisking frequently, until thickened, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in vanilla and chocolate. Serve warm or chilled and top with whipped cream, if desired.

The New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

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Welcome to the deliciousness tour. Here on the left, folks, we have the world’s most amazing chocolate cookies, brought to you straight from the virtual pages of the New York Times and constructed in the kitchens of Wright Time for a Schnack. Though it is difficult to resist consuming all the cookie dough in the 24-hour refrigeration period between prepping and baking, our specially trained chefs exhibited an inordinate amount of willpower and prevailed against temptation. They were finally rewarded today with what are described by Chef Caty as the best chocolate chip cookies in all the land–large, flat, chewy, chocolaty disks of pure heaven. If you, too, wish to follow the recipe below, you may find yourself soon swearing off of other cookie recipes–you have reached the holy grail of pastry.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
From The New York Times 
 
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons
(8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see note)
Sea salt.
 
1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.
 
Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.
 
Note: Disks are sold at Jacques Torres Chocolate; Valrhona fèves, oval-shaped chocolate pieces, are at Whole Foods.

Chilled Snap Pea Soup with Lemon and Mint

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Summertime is simply wonderful. I love everything about this season–the weather (that does include the oppressive New England humidity, but that’s our little secret); salt-water hair, lazy days and basking in the sun. Summer provides so much inspiration for cooking and creating food. Fresh ingredients abound, the fruit is ripe, the grill is on, and the patio table is set for an evening of dining al fresco.

So yes, I truly love everything about summer, especially the food. Today Georgia and I took advantage of fresh sugar snap peas from the garden and crafted them into a deliciously refreshing soup with notes of fresh mint and lemon. It’s a beautiful shade of green, set off by a dollop of fresh creme fraiche (or yogurt, or heavy cream, if you’re not that fancy).

This is a lovely soup to make for a hot summer day, as the only cooking it requires is blanching the peas in boiling water for several minutes. The rest of the preparation is only a matter of blending the ingredients together. You could also serve this soup hot on a cool summer night.

If this soup knocks your sandals off and the flavors make you want to grab summer by the hands and dance around with it, then, yes, you’re making it right.

Enjoy!

Snap Pea Soup with Lemon and Mint
From The Year In Food, serves 4-6

1 1/2 pounds snap peas, stems removed, rinsed
1/2 cup minced shallots
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ming
Zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup creme fraiche, heavy cream or yogurt

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the peas and blanch until tender but still bright green, about 6-8 minutes. Drain immediately and place in a bath of ice water in order to retain the color and to prevent further cooking.
  2. Heat a stock pot over medium heat and cook the shallots until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove the pot from heat.
  3. Add peas, broth, parmesan, mint, lemon zest, juice, salt and pepper to taste to the pot. Blend with an immersion blender or blender until it reaches the desired consistency. Whisk in the creme fraiche and serve, garnished with a dollop of creme fraiche and mint.