Sunday, February 27, 2011

Warning Non Food Related!

Ok, now that we have that out of the picture, those who know me well, know that equal to my love of food and cooking is photography. Food photography is very new to me, the first picture of food I ever took was for this blog, so literally its been less than 2 months. 

My real passion is nature, landscape and cityscape photography....I also seem to have some fetish for doors, as many of my photos throughout the years have been doorways. I primarily shoot in very vivid color(color's pushed beyond what we would normally see with our vision, very saturated, rich and vibrant) or B/W. B/w is my real love, as I started off back in HS shooting only black and white and developing and printing my own photos that way.

This post is more for myself, but also to share with fans of photography. One of my twitter followers, Christine Riojas has a great blog of very stimulating photos; many haunting, some erotic but always beautiful. Following her blog and photos has inspired me to start a separate blog of just my photograph, so this is merely a "sneak peek" of what is to come. Please Visit my photography blog: The Tao of Photography

I hope you enjoy them, and feel free to leave comments...negative or positive...the only way I can improve is with feedback! All of these photos shot in Fort Myers

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

P.F Chang "Style" Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Those who know me; know that I would rather find a small cafe, a family owned place, or some whole in the wall over a national chain, but there are always exceptions. P.F Chang's is one of those. I love them! I typically order the small plates....Chinese tapas if you will! That way I can try a variety of Pf Chang's goodness and is fun to share!

My daughter turned me on to Changs a few years ago. Alli and her girlfriends would go out there for dinner back in high school when ever they wanted a fun girls night out, and she made me a believer! 80% of my business lunches I do at Changs.

Chicken lettuce wraps are pretty healthy, but I figured I could tweak them even more and make them with even less carbs and fat. I have seen several recipes for them online, but this is my own.

P.F Chang "Style" Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients for dipping sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons  low sugar ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon hot water
  • 1 tablespoon hot mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
  • 1 -2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce ( a hot chili, garlic sauce)
  • 2 small green onions, sliced thinly

Ingredients for stir-fry sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 packets of sun crystals (a 5 calorie blend of stevia and cane sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce

Ingredients for chicken:

  • 1 tablespoons garlic infused oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed to 1/2″
  • 1 – 8oz can sliced water chestnuts,chopped
  • 1-  8oz can of bamboo shoots, chopped
  • 1-  83/4 oz can of baby corn, drained
  • 3/4 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced fine
  • 6 large leaves of iceberg lettuce or Boston Butter lettuce

To make the dipping sauce:

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve sun crystals in cup warm water, then add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice, Sriracha sauce and sesame oil. Mix well
  2. Combine 1 teaspoons hot water with hot mustard and garlic and mix in small bow, add to the dipping sauce to taste.

To make the stir-fry sauce:

  1. Prep the stir fry sauce by mixing soy sauce, hoisin sauce, oyster sauce,  sun crystals, and rice vinegar in a small bowl.

To make the chicken stir-fry:

  1. Heat wok over high heat; Mix oils and add to wok . Heat oil over high heat until it glistens, about one minute. Add chicken and saute until mostly cooked through, about 4-5 minutes.
  2. Turn the heat down to medium-high, add garlic, onions, water chestnuts, mushrooms,bamboo shoots,  baby corn and the stir-fry sauce.  Stir-fry until the mushrooms are tender, about 5 minutes, and remove to a serving dish.
  3. Serve stir-fry with iceberg lettuce or Boston Butter lettuce and top with dipping sauce.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chicken with Roasted Red Peppers and Italian Herbs

This is another chicken dish that looks fattening, but it is not. Great for low fat and low carb diets. For a side I simple made a simple dish of  zucchini with fire roasted tomatoes, but this dish would be great with pasta!
Sometimes trying to eat "diet food" or trying to eat healthy can seem boring, but this dish has very little fat  (the cheese totals about 3 grams of fat) and only around 6 carbs

This dish is so easy to make, almost no prep time and only 20 minutes to cook, dinner and side in under 30 minutes total, a dish you can make any weeknight for your family and feel good about what you are feeding them.

Chicken with Roasted Red Peppers and Italian Herbs

  • 2 chicken breast, split  (4 pieces from two breast)
  • 1  12 oz jar of Roasted Red Peppers ( I use Vigo)
  • 2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1/2  14.5 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons of  low fat Parmesan cheese
  • 2 slices, cut in half of low fat provolone cheese (4 pieces) 
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a shallow baking dish arrange chicken pieces, and sprinkle with Italian herbs,  oregano, salt and pepper.
Remove peppers from jar and tears pieces to cover Chicken...I used about 3/4 of the jar, but use more less based upon your love of peppers :)  Pour half or more of the contexts of the vinegar/ liquid of the pepper jar into the pan and spoon fire roasted tomatoes equal over chicken and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and put one slice of the provolone cheese, and sprinkle with parmesan. Turn oven on broil, and return under broiler till cheese is bubbly and turning a golden brown.

Serve with your favorite vegetables or pasta 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Healthy Tex-Mex Chicken with Lime, Onion and Cilantro

I love spicy food, and I really love Mexican food. The truth is, unless one lives in Chicago and visits one of Rick Bayless places, it is very hard to find authentic Mexican cuisine. Most of what us Americans love is "Tex-Mex", Americanized dishes that all of us love. Chili, nachos, fajitas, burritos are all examples of "Tex Mex."

Recently I started to "diet"...I know, the term scares all of us foodies!! Truth is in my youth, heck even in my early 40's I was a bodybuilder...not a competitive juice head, but a pretty large guy! Worked out ever day, strong as an ox and ate pretty healthy. A few factors in life changed my diet and I made the choice to start making better eating choices. Does this mean I will stop enjoying my gourmet food.... HECK NO...I will make some of my full fat, full blown dishes to eat in moderation on occasion, but I am attempting to cook more healthy. I'm 47 years old and want to feel my best and look my best.

Tonight's dish is a play on the flavors of Chicken fajitas. I love them, but don't want the carbs right now (I will slowly be adding carbs back into my diet....the key is slowly...seeing what my body needs)

This is great meal for someone that doesn't want the fat and zero carbs, of course one could serve this with a starch if you are not carb restricted...I simply had steamed green beans with garlic pepper and some sea salt.
I normally prefer fresh herbs in everything, but with some dishes I do prefer to use "dried" or powdered seasonings.  This dish uses common spices that are most likely in ever kitchen. Enjoy!

Ken's Healthy Tex-Mex Chicken

  • 2 large chicken breast cut in half (will serve 4) 
  • 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil
  • 2 teaspons of ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons of chili powder
  • 1 teaspon of  Mrs. Dash® Southwest Chipotle Seasoning Blend
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small lime
  • a few sprigs of fresh cilantro
  • 1 medium onion, halved.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix toegther all of the spices and rub them unto both sides of your Chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour to marinate and infusion more flavor into the chicken.

In a non-stick sear grill pan, heart over medium high heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Once pan has heated, add chicken, cook 2-3 minutes per side, add halved onion to pan.

Put pan in preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes depending on your oven. Do not over cook! Chicken should be juicy!

Serve with cilantro and line juice squeezed over chicken

Monday, February 14, 2011

Bacon wrapped Dates with Cheese and a Pomegranate Reduction with Chocolate Soup

Valentines day; even the very name evokes as many mixed emotions as humanly possible. To some that are may mean a sad day, to others, it is a celebration of a love they share with someone special. I guess I am overly romantic at heart. I like a quite, candle lit dinner at home, wonderful, sexy food, a great bottle of Champagne, some tantalizing desert, some old R&B playing in the background.......

This desert has two elements, something salty, savory and sweet that you eat with your fingers and a sweet, velvety smooth chocolate that is so decadent that it will put those butterflies back in your stomach! If your partner does not thing this is a romantic..I'm sorry you picked a boring partner! Remember...sounds of joy and "Oh My God.." are sounds you want to hear from the beginning to the end of your perfect valentines date, including the meal.  ( I think I just made this post PG-13!)

Bacon Wrapped Dates, stuffed with Goat Cheese



  • 4 oz of cream cheese
  • 3 oz of goat cheese
  • 12 pitted dates (preferably Medjool)
  • 6 slices bacon cut into half
  • 6 oz pomegranate juice
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
  • 1tablespoon of sugar
  • 12 wooden picks


Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. 

First , in a small saucepan, whisk together pomegranate juice, balsamic vinegar and sugar, over medium heat cook down mixture till at least ½ reduced and mixture is thick and syrupy.

Mix together Cream cheese and goat cheese, transfer mixture onto plastic wrap, and roll into a cigar shaped tube in the plastic wrap; let refrigerator for an hour to make easier to cut. After cheese is chilled, cut into 1”-1 1/2” pieces and stuff into center of each date, then wrap one piece of bacon around each date and secure bacon with a toothpick. Arrange dates, bacon seam down and 1 inch apart in a shallow baking pan. 

Bake 5 minutes, then turn dates over with tongs and bake until bacon is crisp, 5 to 6 minutes additionally. Drain on a paper towel or wire rack. Serve with pomegranate reduction drizzled over top immediately.

Chocolate Soup



  • 3 1/2 cups of whole milk
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon of Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste (if you have fresh Vanilla bean work too!)
  • 10 oz Ghirardelli 70% Cacao Extra Bittersweet Baking Bar, chopped
  • 2 oz of Crème de cacao
  • 2 oz of Godiva chocolate liqueur
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 5 tablespoons cold water


In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir together the whole milk, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla bean paste. Bring the mixture almost to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat, let cool for 5 minutes
Put the pan on low heat, add the chocolate, whisk until the chocolate melts. Combine the cornstarch and water to form a slurry. Add the a slurry little at a time, whisking constantly, until the soup is thick and smooth. Soup is nearly done when the bubbles are gone and the chocolate has thickened, about 5minutes . Add in Crème de Cacao and Godiva chocolate liqueur, whisk and heat an additional 2 minutes
Pour the soup into bowls and garnish with whipped cream.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting

This post serves two fold; part of Food is Love Winter Revolt Party and Valentines day. I can not think of a better way to end a nice summer meal than with a cupcake! Imagine having a summer time picnic and these are put out on the picnic table! I think I would head right to these! Visit Food is Love Summer Revolt at this link:  Winter Revolt Party

Valentines day. No other holiday shows our celebration of love as does that one single day. It is unfortunate that English only has one word for Love,. Agape, many words used in other languages to express love..... To me Love is expressed in all the little things we do to show that person just how much we care. I will not go into my definition, but to make something for someone that mean so much to you, from your heart is priceless.
Bake these for a loved one, if they don't appreciate the love and hard work you put into to them...shame on them...To Cook with many people can say they have ate food cooked with love?  I cook with love everyday and hope you can all see the love I put into these for you :)

Peanut Butter Cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (I use favorite!)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup of sugar
1 egg
1 1/2  teaspoons of Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste
1/2 cup milk
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin tin cups with paper cupcake liners. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer  fitted with a paddle attachment, set to medium, beat the butter, peanut butter and sugars until smoothly blended about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Mix in the egg. Add the vanilla and beat for 1 minute, or until the batter is smooth. On low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixing just until the flour is incorporated and the batter looks smooth.

Fill each paper liner with a  1/4 cup of batter, to about 1/3 inch below the top of the liner. Bake just until the tops feel firm and are lightly browned, about 20-22 minutes. Check by inserting tooth pick in center of cupcake, it should come out clean.  Carefully remove cupcakes from pan and cool on wire rack... frost when completely cooled. 

Salted Peanut Butter Frosting

1 1/12  cups confectioners’ sugar( add more if needed)
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.Put into Pastry bag to frost cupcakes, garnish cupcakes with fresh ground sea salt.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pulled Pork Carnita Tacos

One of my blogger friends, Laurie, is doing a winter revolt and what better way to revolt against winter than a plate of fresh carnita tacos. Summer to me is about simple and fresh ingredients, and great, authentic taco's scream summer.  Please follow Laurie's Winter revolt at:    

In  response to Christine Riojas, @BellaCouturista on twitter for a pulled pork recipe (If you watch Top will get this!) Here is my simple and fresh Carnitas. For those of you that follow this blog, or follow me on Foodbuzz or twitter, you know that I love to use a pressure cooker. Why you ask? Time. It allows you to cook food with all of the flavors and complexities you would expect in much less time. Carnitas can take hours to cook. Not this recipe, 1-1 1/2 hours max.


  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt (I know, Kosher salt on Pork...sounds odd!)
  • 4 -5 lbs Pork Picnic Cut Shoulder
  • 1 -10.75 oz can of beef consomme
  • 1 cups of beef stock
  • 2 pounds refined lard
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 3 springs of fresh cilantro (more for serving)
  • Crumbled Queso Fresco for serving
  • Shredded Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese for serving
  • Warm tortillas, for serving

I use a Calphalon Nonstick Sear Grill Pan to sear the meat first. Heat your pan on high heat, add 2-3 tablespoons of lard and sear till completely caramelized on each side.

In your pressure cooker, heat up lard till melted, then add in beef consomme and beef stock. Add in the Pork Shoulder and sprinkle meat with all of seasonings. add Cilantro and onion to pot. Seal pressure cooker and put on medium high heat till you hear pressure being released, then reduce heat to medium. Cook for 35-45 minutes. remove from heat and relieve pressure. remove pork shoulder ( it should be pretty tender by now)

Cut meat into large chucks off of bone and return back to pressure cooker. Add additional water if needed and heat on high heat again, returning back down to medium heat. Cook an additional 35-45 minutes.(the pressure cooker should be making very little "noise"....this is not a high heat recipe, the pressure cooker is simply condensing the flavors and reducing cooking time)

By the time this is done, all the water will have evaporated/steamed from the pot, and what is left at the bottom of the pan is the rendered fat and lard that the meat has been cooking in....meat should be falling apart and caramelized completely.

Let meat rest , pull apart what has not already fallen part and serve with warm tortillas, cilantro, cheese and onion.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Quick Bolognese Sauce with Polenta Cakes

I sound like a oxymoron, a quick Bolgnese, but after watching Richard Blais of Top Chef prepare a Bolognese in a pressure cooker and I thought...Hmmm...I've never have done that! I must try this! Bolognese traditionally takes HOURS  to cook,  and one Chef described to me that his sauce cooked between 12-14 hours. I don't know about you; but I don't have that amount of time just to make a sauce!  This is a great way to make Bolognese, and from now on I will only ever use a pressure cooker to make this ...Thank you Chef Blais! 

You can watch Richard on his CNN segment here, along with his recipe:

For those that have never had or made a Bolognese, words simply can not do it justice. It is so much more than a red sauce with meat; the complexity of flavors are sublime. There are as many recipes for Bolognese as there are Italian grandmothers. My recipe is based upon several different ones I have come across, and modified to my taste.

The pressure cooker greatly reduced the time needed to develop the complexity of flavors that you would find in a Bolognese Sauce, if you don't own a pressure cooker,try doing this in a slow cooker so that it cooks all day to develops the flavors completely.

If you haven't noticed, I have a great love of Polenta. Most of use first think "Pasta" when it comes to Italian cuisine, but Polenta is very traditional in Italy's cuisine, and I would encourage all of you to master is easy and a very nice alternative to pasta. Don't get me wrong, I love pasta, but make this for a loved one or a friend and see the smiles and reactions..."Oh My God" are three words that sound almost as good as those three other magical words we all love to hear...

Ingredients for Bolognese

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 slices bacon, minced fine in food processor
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 3 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 8 oz  fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup of carrots,julienne cut (around 2 carrots)
  • 1 (29 ounce) can fire roasted or Italian style plum tomatoes
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup Pinot Noir
  • 32 oz  Beef stock (I ONLY use Kitchen Basic stocks, I find them superior in taste to any other)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1-2 teaspoons of Kosher salt
  • pepper to taste

Ingredients for Parmigiano-Reggiano Polenta Cakes
  •  32 oz of Chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of half and half
  • 4 Tablespoons of  unsalted butter 
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4 cup of fresh grated  Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 3/4 cups of yellow corn meal

Direction for Bolognese

   1. In a pressure cooker , add oil and  bacon, cook for 2-3 minutes
   2. Add in ground beef and veal and cook till browned, drain off excess fat.
   3. Add in all herbs, seasonings, and broth, simmer for 5 minutes
   4. Add the wine, remaining vegetables, tomatoes and tomato paste, stir. Seal the pressure cooker.
   5. Cook for 20-30 minutes, Release pressure.
   6. Serve over Polenta cakes

Direction for Polenta
  1. In Large saucepan bring chicken stock to a rolling boil. Add Salt.
  2. Add Milk and half and half
  3. Gradually pour in corn meal
  4. Whisk constantly to avoid clumping, while stirring in butter
  5. Reduce the heat to low and cook until mixture thickens.(10- 15 minutes)
  6. Stir in  Parmigiano-Reggiano
  7. Pour Polenta in a plastic wrap prepared pan (for ease of removal)
  8. Smooth with spatula and place in Refrigerator for 1-2 hours till complete set and cooled (can be made ahead of time)
  9. Cut into rounds and pan fry to light golden brown on each side, 3-4 minutes per side

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mole Chicken Enchiladas with Spanish Saffron Rice

Ummmm...Mole; (pronounced MOH LAY) even the name when it rings off your tongue sounds delicious and inviting! As all of my readers know, I love Top Chef, and the "Zen"  Master of them all is Rick Bayless. Rick has single handedly elevated the art of fine Mexican cuisine to our country. He is a true master and I would highly recommend anyone that wants to learn about the variety of Mexico's rich culture of food to read any of Rick's great books or watch his PBS series. Here is a link to a wonderful book by Rick:

This recipe is not Rick's but my own; It is my own experiment into Mole. I am always saddened when I hear someone that uses a pre-made sauce, I always question why? You have to cook the Chicken, so as the Chicken is cooking, make your own sauce!  Most of the ingredients many already have in their pantry and available in most grocery stores. One tool I use that I have to share....the Ninja food processor/blender. Don't laugh, funny name, but my previous food processor what did I do...I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond (I always wish there was an echo to my voice when I say Beyond..  : ) )  It is simple, easy to use, powerful, and best part, inexpensive, I paid under $40.00

This is a great dinner any day of the week as it doesn't take long for everything to come together. I use a pressure cooker to make the chicken, but it could be baked, or even put in a crock pot and cooked , the key is for tender chicken breast that pull apart easily.

The mole can be used for anything, in today's dish, I used it for enchiladas, but it is great poured over chicken, tamales, let your imagination be your guide. this is not a complex recipe, and doesn't nearly take the time required by Rick's recipe, for those looking to make a very authentic mole, I refer you to Rick's recipe:
Ken's Easy Red Mole

  • 29oz can of Tomato Puree
  • 1/2 -1 7oz can of Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce (I used the whole can, adjust based upon your own taste)
  • 1 14.5 oz can of Hunt's fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 slices of darkly toasted white bread
  • 3 tsp of cumin
  • 3 tbs of chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp of dried Mexican oregano
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp of black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 2-3oz of dark chocolate ( I used Ghirardelli 86% cacao bar)...( taste...should be a note of  chocolate taste, not overpowering)
  • 3/4-1 cup of chicken broth from cooked chicken
  • 2 oz of almonds, toasted
Chicken for Enchiladas
  • 3-4 large Chicken breast,on the bone, skin intact
  • 1 tsp, of cumin
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 1-2 cups of water ( enough to cover chicken in pressure cooker)
  • 1 tsp of garlic powder
Put chicken in pressure cooker, ass cumin, salt, water and garlic. Attached lid, and put on high heat till you hear steam escape from valve, and reduce heat to medium high, cook 20-30 minutes.

  • 1/2 cup Monterey Jack
  • 1/2 cup Asadero Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Queso Blanco
  • 1/2 cup  Sharp Cheddar cheese
Shred all cheeses, mix together and set aside


Put tomato puree, fire roasted tomatoes and chipotle pepper in adobe sauce in blender, puree until smooth. Toast bread, let cool and add to blender, pulse to smooth. Add in toasted almonds, and pulse till smooth. Pour contents of blender in medium saucepan, turn to medium heat. Add in in cumin, chili powder, crushed garlic, oregano, pepper, cinnamon. Cook over medium heat 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid splattering. Turn down heat to low simmer. Once Chicken is down, remove chicken broth from cook chicken and add to sauce. Finely chop chocolate ( I cut squares on the diagonal, I find it cuts easier) add to sauce and stir till complete incorporated into sauce.


To assemble Enchiladas, put chicken on 1/3 of large flour tortilla, cover chicken with cheese and put "around" 1/3 of a cup of sauce over cheese and chicken (I never measure this, I "eyeball" it.) Roll and place seam end down in a large baking dish that bottom has been covered with in sauce. Repeat till baking dish is full. Cover with sauce and sprinkle cheese on top. Bake 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees till completely heated and cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream or crema mexicana and  Spanish saffron rice.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ken's "Almost Famous" Chocolate Cookies

Chocolate; what is there not to love about it?? There are a few times of the year that I must admit, I get chocolate on the brain, and Valentine's day is one of those. Personally, I know of no better way to a woman's heart than Chocolate or shoes! Since I'm not a shoe maker, cooking will have to do. Want a nice simple cookie that you can make, wrap and give that special someone that really shows them you care? Well, these are those cookies!

I can't tell you for how long I've been baking cookies, and these are some of my favorite. I don't remember how I got the original recipe, but I've tweaked it through the years. these have always been my daughters favorites.

I recommend to always use a good quality chocolate. You food will only be as good as the ingredients you put in. I primarily use Ghirardelli...consistently good and many varieties to choose from. For these, I HIGHLY recommend  60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, Milk Chocolate Chips,Sweet ground Chocolate and cocoa and the 70% Cacao Extra Bittersweet Baking Bar for shaving. Those varieties of chocolate will give you several taste notes and really make for a delightful cookie.

I hope you enjoy these, as they are one of my personal favorites!

*A few notes: I find the texture of all of my cookies are so much better when I use a vegetable shortening, like Crisco instead of just butter. you can substitute all butter or shortening in this recipe. Vanilla...I am very picky. After taking a class with Norman Love he stressed the importance of a good, quality vanilla and steered us away from ever using an extract. He suggested either good quality beans, or a good paste.  Nielsen-Massey Vanillas makes the finest paste I have been able to find.

Ken's  Almost Famous Cookies
  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup of Crisco shortening
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 1 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 oz. Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  • 6 oz. Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Chips
  • 1 tsp. Soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Paste
  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 tbs of Ghirardelli Sweet ground Chocolate and Cocoa Powder
  • 2-4 oz. Ghirardelli 70% Cacao Extra Bittersweet Baking Bar, shaved
  • 2 ½ cups blended oatmeal (Measure oatmeal and blend in a blender to a medium-fine flour)

Cream butter, shortening and both sugars in a stand mixer with whisk attachment. Add eggs and vanilla. After creamed together, use spatula to scape sides of bowls, and change attachment to blade. Mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, Chocolate and Cocoa Powder, baking powder and soda. Add chocolate chips and shaved Chocolate. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for 9-10 minutes at 375. Let cool on wire baking sheet for 1 minute before removing to wire rack.

Chocolate Chip Cookies on FoodistaChocolate Chip Cookies