Sunday, June 24, 2012

-flour + (chocolate x 2) + pecans

This is a picture of the one normal-looking cookie that came out of a batch of flourless double-chocolate pecan cookies I baked today.

The others either crumbled to pieces because I tried prying them from the baking sheet too early or spread to enormous proportions and grew corners until they resembled Midwestern states. Like this:

Pictured with a coaster to show their overgrown size.

No big deal. The cookies — all of which are now in pieces because they were too big to fit into a lidded container — taste just fine. I'm not sure what factor kept my batter so thin and caused the cookies to sprawl; it certainly wasn't as scoopable as it appeared in the Everyday Food video that persuaded me to bake these cookies. Could be the heat, of course. It's what I'm blaming for all my woes of late, especially missing a Jonathan Richman concert on Friday after getting somewhat dehydrated. I've learned my lesson once and for all that two beers and zero water while eating dinner outside is not the way to go.

Anyway, things are better now that I'm drinking water and eating these cookies. Because they're flourless and the only wet ingredient is egg whites, they bear a bit of that shiny, crackly look that signals a delicate, macaron-like chew. It's possible that the chocolate is supposed to melt throughout the cookie — more likely if you chop your chocolate instead of using lazy chips like I did — but I have no problem with pockets of chocolate instead.

Looking lacy.

Flourless double-chocolate pecan cookies
Makes 12

3 cups confectioners' sugar
3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (spooned and leveled)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (or other type of nut)
4 large egg whites, room temperature

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa, and salt. Stir in chocolate and pecans. Add egg whites and stir just until incorporated (do not overmix).

Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls, 3 inches apart, onto two parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets. Bake until cookie tops are dry and crackled, about 25 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer sheets to wire racks and let cookies cool completely. (To store, keep in an airtight container, up to 3 days.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

almond butter is a food group, right?

It's really easy for me to fall into the rut of quesadillas for lunch. I come home from work, flick the burner under the comal to high heat and let it go for a minute while I put down my purse and get out the tortillas and cheese. I search the DVR for a cooking show or last night's "Daily Show," then turn the heat to medium and get the tortillas going.

If I have guacamole, this is a fairly awesome lunch. But that counts only technically as eating something green. As much as I like quesadillas
or Mexican pizzas, as Miguel's older sister called them when they were kids to trick him into eating them as an after-school snack I soon start feeling like I should have had broccoli.

So when a Whole Foods email showed up just after I'd eaten a lunch of carbs + melted cheese and featured a recipe for broccoli salad with almond and chile dressing
, I wrote down a grocery list and made it that night. Because I was cooking only for myself and my logic didn't go much further than "Hey, at least it's not another quesadilla" I didn't follow the recipe to the letter. Mung bean sprouts weren't available (because of a recent recall, an H-E-B stocker told me), so I tossed everything together with soba noodles. For me, it's hard to go wrong with any combo of nut butter, crisp vegetables and soba. I also let the broccoli marinate in the dressing for only about as long as it took to snap that photo up there. Who can marinate when there's eating to do?

Broccoli salad with almond and chile dressing
Serves 6 to 8

1/2 cup almond butter
1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Tbsp. chopped pitted dates, raisins or prunes
Tbsp. chopped fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp. sea salt or 1 Tbsp. reduced-sodium tamari
1/2 small serrano pepper, finely chopped (optional)
1/3 cup water
2 heads broccoli, cut into florets and lightly steamed
1/3 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
1 1/2 cups mung bean sprouts

In a blender or food processor, purée almond butter, lemon juice, dates, ginger, garlic, salt, pepper and water until smooth. Transfer dressing to a large bowl, add broccoli and cilantro and toss well. Cover and marinate for up to 1 hour, if you like. (Or just include some cooked soba in the tossing step, skip the marinating and the following step and just grab a fork!) Arrange bean sprouts on a large platter, top with broccoli, garnish with cilantro and serve.