Chocolate Chip Cookies – redux

I have had a habit of making cookies in the fall/winter (when the baking is so much easier) for people that I really appreciate. Especially for all the staff at the restaurants that we go to. And now it is time to start baking again for this fall, at least our version of fall – which is not saying much — sigh. dd_1578

There is a sweet boy that works at our favorite local on the beach and I have been remiss to ask his name, but I finally did last weekend and asked him what kind of cookies he liked. I think I might have scared him a bit – I mean who does that. He said chocolate chip, so this is a new version of the standard. Because Toll House Cookies are a total standard – at least for me. But I totally wanted to make some really exotic kind of cookies …  but he said chocolate chip cookies, so there we are. Simple as it is ….

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 cups unsifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 oz bag)

Preheat  oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment.

Sift flour, baking soda, and salt over a sheet of waxed paper.

In a stand mixer, beat butter with sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy and lightened in color. Add eggs, one at a time and then add vanilla. Mix on low speed until incorporated. Gradually mix in flour mixture into butter mixture. Stir in Ghirardelli chocolate chips.

Drop by disher* #30 onto parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.

* a disher is apparently a name for a cookie scoop – or an ice cream scoop. Had no idea at all, but thanks to Alton Brown I know how to determine the size of the disher. The one I had was a 40, so I then purchased a 30 and a 20.

I really liked these cookies. They were crispy on the edges and that is what I like in a chocolate chip cookie. Not a huge fan of the chewy cookie, unless they are oatmeal cookies. These seemed to go over well with the Boy, and the office. So, all in all that is a good thing. I do value the opinions of my friends and family – just as long as they are honest in their assessments. I think these were a success.

Hello Tourists

Tourists –  We thank you for visiting our fair state. It makes it possible for us not pay state income taxes. But here is the problem – do you act like such jerkish dillweeds at home?  I am just wondering, because I am really hoping you do not. I would like to think I would not be a total dillweed in your hometown. Honestly, I am pretty sure I would not be.

Pensacola Beach SignYou drive like the speed limits do not apply to you, especially on our bridges which are our lifelines between Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, and Pensacola Beach. Honestly, we have enough of our own dillweeds for this idiocy – just saying.

We do not mind not being able to get to our own beach in the summer.  We understand first, the snowbirds, then the spring breakers, and then the tourists – we get it. Just please do not try to run us down on our own streets. It is just not right.

It will not be long until we get our beach local back, and while we appreciate you supporting our places for a few months each year, we support them when you are all gone – through the fall and winter. This is our hometown and it would be lovely if you were not so cavalier in our home.

 

Our Summer: Blue Angels

We live in Pensacola and the Blue Angels are our home team, as it were. The first weekend after the 4th of July is always Blue Angels’ weekend on the beach, an even bigger weekend for us here than the 4th of July. Tourists come in from all over for the Blues. No, really, all over.

Since we moved to Pensacola the MotH and I have made it a tradition to go to the Thursday beach practice. It is the one most people, excepting locals, do not know about which makes it the most fun. We go to our beach local, Shaggy’s, because it is on the center line of the show it is a great show and a great place to watch from. I think this show is a little better than the homecoming show because where we watch they are pretty much direct above us, while we drink a few beers.  At the homecoming show, in November, you are behind a line that mostly the planes do not cross. Except for the sneak attack – best part of the show, in my opinion.

I am just such a fan of Bert  – do love that amazing plane. The best start ever. You do just have to experience it.

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My Bert – best bit of the Blue Angels – yep, totally.

So a few weeks ago on a Thursday we were out on the back deck of Shaggy’s and watching my personal favorite plane – Bert – better known as Fat Albert doing things a plane that large just should not be able to do – at least to my mind. This plane is just beyond amazing. I know everyone is thrilled by the jets, but a US Marine Corp Lockheed C-130t Hercules just rocks my world. Also cool – it is flown by a woman. Yep.

I am too busy enjoying myself to take pictures or video – there is a long dissertation about living in the moment that I will not get into at this point, but it will happen at some point. That said, we were watching Bert being the bad ass that she is and there were people on the deck at Shaggy’s that did not seem to notice. Wait, what?

When the jets went overhead it pretty much got everyone’s attention – they are low and loud (and awesome!!). So there was a family – wife, husband, two kids and grandma. They had NO CLUE what was going on – they were just having lunch. So they asked and I explained and then the phones came out for pictures and video to take take to their home state Missouri. The kids loved it – and so did grandma. It was fun to watch.

This is such a huge part of our life that is funny to realize some unsuspecting tourist gets a cool show they have no idea is coming. We are privileged to live here and this is one of the reasons why. There are days when you are puttering around town and see the Blues flying or you can to to practice during the week – it is our home team.

 

The End of Winter (for us anyway)

Well, we don’t really have a true winter here, but it does get cold for a few days at a time. Then it warms up – then it gets cold again – then it rains –  then there is an amazing amount of pollen (damn clover) – this is winter in North Florida. I only have a limited number of long sleeved shirts to deal with season – I think 6? And way more shorts than pants. Sartorial choices.

Last weekend, Sunday was going to be “cold” by our standards (cannot wear really cute open toed shoes), and I joked at Shaggy’s the rainy Saturday prior that if there would be a fire (yes for me) on Sunday, because I would be wearing socks and that is equal to winter where we live.D&D_0670

That Sunday, I was so pleased to be able to get to the beach – because it was too cold for the locals,  and sorry tourists – it is the randomness of travel and you got stuck with “cold”weather for a beach town – no, really I am sorry about that not that I could do anything to fix it. During spring break if it is sunny and warm we locals cannot get out to our beach at all – reference: 2 weeks ago. I do not like to get stuck on the 3 mile bridge between Pensacola and Gulf Breeze.  I can handle the Bob Sikes bridge traffic to the beach, but do not want to get stuck on the 3 mile. Ever.

But, last Sunday,  I felt like the happiest person when we got to Shaggy’s, There was a real wood fire. I was told it was for me. But I’m hoping all the other people who were not expecting that kind of “cold weather” appreciated it too because the place was totally packed. This is the only local restaurant that I know that has a real wood-burning fireplace and I do love it so. I am pretty sure I will not see a fire there again until November or December of this year.  We won’t talk about how the fire was started, but is was so very appreciated. I love my local. The place I am  very happy to be. Thanks you guys – you are the best!

 

Hamburger Steak with mushrooms and onion gravy

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Hamburger Steak with mushroom and onion gravy

My mom (here it is again) used to make hamburger steaks for us when I was young and I really enjoyed them.  She would heat a cast iron skillet to just about blazing and put salt in the bottom, then add the ground beef patty.  The layer of salt seasoned and kept it from sticking. Kind of like cornmeal on a pizza crust.  But for a blog, this is just more brown food. Thank goodness the MotH has a way with a camera and for that I am ever grateful.

I think this came to mind when one of my favorite places (Shaggy’s) had it on the special board a few weeks ago. Didn’t order it, but thought about all the things I like about this really simple meal. I mean, mushrooms and onions are involved. What’s not to love? Got me. I looked up several recipes, but decided to put together a version that would work for me. A bit of meatloaf idea, but not quite really.

1 pound ground beef
1 egg
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs (one piece sandwich bread)
1/8 tsp black pepper
1 tsp McCormick Montreal Seasoning
1/4 tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
8 ozs mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbs flour
1 cup beef broth

Process bread in food processor until finely ground. Mix, by hand, ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, black pepper, Montreal seasoning, salt, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. Form into 4 patties.
Heat olive oil in skillet in medium heat. Add patties to the pan, do not crowd. Sear on both sides 3-4 minutes each. Add sliced onions to the pan and cover pan cooking for 4 minutes more. Remove patties to plate and keep warm.
Add mushrooms and cook until the release juices and start to dry out a bit. Spread flour over pan, and cook for 3 minutes. Slowly add broth.
Once gravy thickens, return patties and turn heat down to low simmer. Cover and cook for 8 minutes. Uncover and let simmer 7 minutes more. Serve warm.

Lemon White Chocolate Butter Cookies

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Lemon White Chocolate Butter Cookies

This recipe is from Bakewise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking by Shirley Corriher. I first “met” Shirley on Alton Brown’s show Good Eats. She is, of all things, a biochemist. I’m not entirely sure what that is.

I do love all things lemon, but this just sounded like a weird combination – lemon and white chocolate? But, I trusted Alton and, by extension, Shirley. Also she was totally charming on Good Eats. I won’t go into the science in this except to say that, I don’t understand it, and it just works amazingly well.

1 cup unsalted butter, cut in 2 Tbs pieces
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp light corn syrup
1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 Tbs grated lemon zest
2 large egg yolks
2 cups all purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1 cup white chocolate chips

In a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream butter, sugar, salt, corn syrup, lemon extract, and lemon zest until light and creamy. Add yolks, one at a time, beat until blended in thoroughly.

On low speed, add flour, scraping the sides and bottom of bowl. Stir in white chocolate chips. Divide dough and roll into log about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cover baking sheet with parchment. Slice cookies into 3/8 inch slices and arrange 1 inch apart on the sheet. Bake until edges just beginning to brown, about 13 minutes. Cool on pan 2 minutes, then remove to cooling rack.

21 December 2008 – bake about 12 minutes, vvg, great flavors  – slightly surprising; went over well at the office – need to make more.

2 January 2009 – 325 degrees for 13 minutes = perfect

18 January 2009

2 February 2010 – 325 degrees 13 minutes

25 August 2012

7 March 2015 – took some to work and to Shaggy’s.

Think I may make them just a bit too much? Nope. It is a strange (odd) recipe, but it totally works.

Sweet Potato Fries – just an unhealthy relationship

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Sweet Potato Fries – a total addiction.

For the last three four weeks, I have had an unhealthy relationship with sweet potato fries. First, it should be noted that I really like them but, I never make them at home. My first experience with them was several years ago at one of my then favorite, now closed, restaurant – Jerry’s Cajun.* They served sweet potato fries as a side, but they had some cajun spice on them so they were sweet from the potato and salty and spicy from the seasoning – a great combination.

Most places I know serve them with a sweet mixture that includes cinnamon, but to me that is just overkill. Sweet on sweet is pretty boring.

So, we were a Shaggy’s several weeks ago and I ordered sweet potato fries after confirming that there would be nothing sweet put on them. Now ketchup should have nothing to do with a sweet potato fry, so I was trying to think what might be good and spicy with them and it struck me – remoulade. Shaggy’s makes their own sauces/dressings, etc., so I asked for that and it was amazingly perfect together.

Thus my slow descent into eating sweet potato fries for lunch the last three several weekends. And here we are on a Wednesday and I’m thinking about them again.

I may have to break down and beg the chef at Shaggy’s for the remoulade recipe and sort out how to make sweet potato fries at home. But somehow that would take the fun out of it.

* Jerry’s Cajun had, by far, the best roast beef & gravy po boy in Pensacola. It rivaled my NOLA favorites.
This was also the first place I had boudin — one of my favorite foods – such a favorite we took an entire trip to the area around Lafayette La to eat it at every place we could – including gas stations. But that is another story entirely. But a good story all the same.