Thursday, September 6, 2012

Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Every week we have been experimenting with different cookie recipes.  Making things from scratch are better and more satisfying than the mass produced store bought varieties (plus they have less artificial preservatives and additives).  I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and made my own edits by adding freshly grated nutmeg, using freshly grated cinnamon (not pre-ground cinnamon), using a different salt, and omitting the walnuts.  The recipe yielded about 15 small cookies, which was perfect because other cookie recipes will leave you with "obligation" cookies (cookies you are forced to eat every day until you are all "cookied" out).


1 stick - Unsalted Butter (softened)
2/3 cup - Light Brown Sugar 
1 - Egg
1/2 tsp - Vanilla Extract
3/4 cup - Flour
1/2 tsp - Baking Soda
1/2 tsp - Freshly Grated Cinnamon
1/4 tsp - Fresh Grated Nutmeg
1/2 tsp - Kosher Salt 
1 1/2 cups - Rolled Oats
3/4 cup - Raisins

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth. 
2) In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together. 
3) Mix this into the butter/sugar mixture. 
4) Stir in the oats and raisins.
5) Put the cookies two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake them for 11 minutes.
6) Take them out of the oven and let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Is it Brussel or Brussels Sprouts?

Every kid hates and despises brussel sprouts - its just a natural reaction.  "Eat your brussel sprouts" elicits repressed memories that people have buried for years.  Luckily, my mother neither fed or forced me to eat vegetables that I was fearful of (though she did make spam which I will probably never eat again).  This avoidance of the "bum rap" vegetables (broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, etc.) has led me to discover them with new eyes and cooking techniques.  Special thank you to dell'anima for having the most amazing brussel sprouts. Here's a recipe that I have had the joy of tinkering with the last couple of weeks (I'm not calling it the best recipe yet because I want to experiment with roasting them, but it will make the most finicky eater come back for more):


12oz-16oz - Brussel Sprouts
6 - Cloves of Garlic (sliced)
1/3 - Red Onion (chopped)
Olive Oil & Canola Oil
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Dried Bing Cherries (do not use Montmorency cherries) 
Red Wine Vinegar
Kosher Salt

1) Chop the end of the brussel sprouts off.
2) Peel and reserve 3-4 leaves from each brussel sprout and keep them off to the side.
3) Cut and quarter the brussel sprouts into 4 equal pieces.
3) In a skillet or saute pan, combine olive oil and canola oil equally over medium heat (if you put olive oil alone, it will get too smokey).
4) Put the brussel sprouts in the pan and let them carmelize.
5) Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.  Drizzle a splash of red wine vinegar.
6) Add the onions, garlic, cherris, and pecans and give everything a good stir.
7) When the brussel sprouts are starting to brown, drizzle honey over them, and add in the reserved leaves.
8) Cook them for an additional 2-3 minutes and enjoy.
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Artisanal Premium Cheese Class

I took their "Sexy Cheese & Sumptuous Wine" class and the last thing I felt was sexy or sumptuous.

I went straight to the class after work and I was paranoid that we weren't going to get a lot to eat/drink - I was completely wrong.  We were welcomed with a nice cheese spread (complete with fondue) and Cava (Spanish sparkling wine).  I was almost full heading into the class (instead of marbles, imagine a hungry hungry hippo going after different cheeses - that was me).

We were led into the class and my knees almost buckled. Each table setting had 7 cheeses and 4 full wine glasses (why didn't I pace myself!?).   The cheeses were:

- Humboldt Fog
- Ossau Iraty Pardou Arriou
- Edwin's Munster
- Uplands Pleasant Ridge
- Adelegger (***my favorite***)
- Prima Donna
- Bleu de Laqueuille

It was a vast variety of cheeses: goat milk, sheep milk, cow milk, soft, blue, hard, nutty tasting, etc.  Erin (our cheese instructor) retired from her corporate job and made her love of cheese into a new career.  She was very knowledgeable, had great handouts, and went through the history of cheese (and why it's so damn sexy).  But gets better!  They also had full glasses of the following wines:

- Verdejo / Viura Rueda
- Chenin Blanc
- Grenache / Cinsault / Tibourin
- Shiraz

We were supposed to try each cheese with each wine to decide which ones pair well together.  I played the pairing game for awhile, but your palette will be overloaded and your taste buds will go numb. Robert (our wine instructor) was equally knowledgeable and poured freely if you had space for more.  Good luck finishing everything and remember to pace yourself. 

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weisses Brauhaus (Munich, Germany)

Before Weisses Brauhaus:
- The thought of beer at breakfast seemed foreign.
- The thought of boiled white sausage and pretzels at breakfast seemed unappetizing.

After Weisses Brauhaus:
- When in Munich, do as the Munichers do (drink beer at breakfast).
- There was nothing more than I wanted to eat every day than a typical Bavarian breakfast: I went with the dark beer (instead of the traditional wheat beer), the delicious white sausage, the freshest baked pretzel, and sweet mustard.
- Everyone has their own method to removing the sausage skin (I preferred to surgically remove it versus ripping it off by hand).
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St Stephan's Cathedral / Stephansdom (Vienna, Austria)

If there is one thing that Europe has tons of are beautiful cathedrals, imposing castles, and plenty of statutes/fountains (just look through all of my vacation photo albums).  For a non-religious person, I always find myself visiting churches in my travels (it combines history, art, and awe inspiring architecture).

If you've seen one church, you've seen them all was definitely not the case with Stephansdom.  From the outside, it was undergoing construction and the scaffolding was covered with a tarp of what the cathedral would look like if it wasn't there (there was a picture of the cathedral superimposed on the tarp).  I've seen stained glass before, but it creates a stunningly beautiful effect inside of the church (it looks like a color prism projection over the columns and statutes).  Its definitely a must see while in Vienna and there are plenty of shops/restaurants nearby.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hofbrauhaus Beer Garden (Munich, Germany)

How to act like a tourist at Hofbrauhaus:

A) You stand around waiting at the entrance as if a hostess is going to seat you.
B) After you realize that no one is going to sit you, you walk around the entire beer garden looking for a mythical empty table.
C) After finding a place to sit, you don't hang up your coat, but instead create a 'fort' of coats around you.
D) Instead of ordering a beer right away, you decide to ask for an English menu and delay the time it takes to get a beer exponentially.
E) After finally getting your beer, you decide to take a thousand pictures of you holding the beer, drinking from the beer, comparing the size of the beer to your head, holding 2 beers, etc.

This place is massive with different rooms, floors, and an outdoor beer garden area.  It has tons of atmosphere with the diversity of people drinking here (we witnessed a 7 year old girl drinking with her parents).  The food is ok (Weisses Braeuhaus has better white sausages/pretzels and Haxnbauer has a better pork knuckle), but let's be're not here for the food.  Good luck not getting hungry watching other people eating food at your table. 
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Haxnbauer (Munich, Germany)

Not all pork knuckles are created equal.  This is the place to go for a hunk of burning 'pork' love.

Sure, you can order a pork knuckle anywhere in Munich...but why ruin your experience and go with subpar knuckle?  Haxnbauer roasts their pork over a wood fire for 3 hours and it smells divine when you walk in (I thought I died and went to porky heaven).  If you order an entire knuckle (good for 2 people), the waiter will let you pick your own (with price tags included).  The skin was perfectly crispy and the meat was absolutely delicious (I didn't want to stop eating until there was just a bone left on the plate). It's definitely a must do.

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