Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Chocolate chip cookies for the cruelty-free crowd

David's sister, Jan, just paid us a visit and while she was here the two of us made some chocolate chip cookies together. Usually when I bake I go all out--butter, eggs, whole milk, the works. But Jan always seems to make the best chocolate chip cookies, despite the fact that they're vegan.

I don't know where Jan got this recipe from--we chose it because it didn't call for egg substitute (I didn't have any on hand and wasn't about to go back to the store). Jan found them a little greasy, but I thought they were just what the doctor ordered--especially after they cooled off a bit.

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup margarine
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated or turbinado sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream together the margarine and sugars in a large mixing bowl. Add the vanilla once everything has been combined nicely.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Slowly mix into the creamed mixture until incorporated (be careful to not over mix). Stir in the chocolate chips. (Mixture will be crumbly).

Form dough into walnut-sized balls and place on a cookie sheet (each sheet should allow 12-16 cookies). Bake for about 11 minutes. Cookies will flatten as they cool--don't worry!

Eat hot, maybe with some ice cream dolloped on top, or wait until they've cooled off (if you can!).

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The perfect brunch--courtesy of Cafe Nola

Today, David and I decided to venture outside of the lovely little nest we've created in Seattle (that can be a scary proposition--believe me). Our destination: Bainbridge Island--just a hop, skip and jump (or ferry ride) away from downtown.

As soon as we got onto the island, we made a beeline for Cafe Nola, a restaurant that was profiled earlier this year on the Food Network show, Giadda's Weekend Getaways. In particular we were hoping to try the caramel pecan french toast that made Giadda squeal with delight (literally).

It was, of course, wonderful. Though if I were in charge of the kitchen I'd add a bit more of the caramel and the pecans. Really, can you have too much of either? Here's the good news, though--the recipe for the dish was added to foodtv.com shortly after Giadda's show aired, so I can make it exactly as I want, whenever I want (and I may just take myself up on that little offer, since hoofing it over to Bainbridge just for french toast could become a little pricey).

Café Nola Caramel Pecan French Toast

1 loaf challah bread
Melted butter, to oil griddle
6 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 orange, zested and juiced
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

Cut challah bread in 1-inch thick slices. Allow to sit out for awhile to dry out.

Heat griddle to 350 degrees F and lightly brush with a butter soaked piece of paper towel.

Combine eggs, heavy cream, orange zest and juice, cinnamon and ground nutmeg in a shallow wide dish. Dip the slices of bread into the egg mixture allowing it to soak in on both sides. Transfer to each piece to the hot griddle and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Try to flip only once.

Serve topped with store-bought caramel sauce, chopped pecans and orange bourbon butter.

For the orange bourbon butter:

1 pound unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons orange flavored liqueur (recommended: Cointreau)
2 tablespoons bourbon
3 tablespoons orange zest

Cream the butter in a mixer. Add the bourbon and orange zest and mix well. Leave at room temperature and serve with the French toast.