Christina Tosi’s Blueberry & Cream Cookies

Aside from taking my first trip to the Renaissance Festival, the thing I was most looking forward to over my birthday weekend was finally endeavoring to make these incredibly unique, delicious, and labor-intensive cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar’s head pastry chef, Christina Tosi.

To achieve the crisp edge and soft-in-the-center texture of these cookies, you have to scoop them out and refrigerate them overnight so the total prep and cooking time for these comes out to a whopping twenty-seven hours. You also have to make some of the components ahead of time, like the oddball component of Tosi’s own invention that she calls “milk crumbs” which is essentially a powdered milk based streusel.

To sum up, these are not cookies you can just kind of whip up from items in your pantry in under an hour but they are completely worth it. Especially if you want to elicit an “I’ve never tasted anything like this before” reaction from everyone who tries one. They are pretty amazing.

Start by making the milk crumbs because they have to cool before you use them. This recipe makes enough milk crumbs for one batch of cookies, which, by the way, is enormous. I think I got about 40 cookies from the recipe that follows. Anyway…

3/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 275°F and line a cake pan with parchment paper. Mix up all the ingredients except for the butter and then dribble in the melted butter until it resembles a crumble you’d put atop a pie. Spread mixture evenly on prepared sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Cool Milk Crumbs completely before adding into the cookie dough.

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 large eggs (room temp)
5 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 1/2 cups Milk Crumbs
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (can use dried)

Combine butter, both sugars, and corn syrup and mix well, beating on medium for about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and beat for 10 minutes, until sugars are dissolved. Add the dry ingredients, except Milk Crumbs and mix them in until just incorporated. Add Milk Crumbs and mix in. Stir in blueberries gently so they don’t break.

Scoop cookies using a small ice cream scoop, dropping them onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Heat oven to 375 and line baking sheets with parchment. Transfer chilled dough scoops to each sheet, giving space in between as these do spread. Total baking time will vary. I think my oven runs hot and the recipe said to make for 20 to 22 minutes total, but I preferred the cookies that I baked for 17 to 18 minutes. Any longer in the oven and the cookies tended to burn due to the three different kind of sugars in the dough.

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Well This Pretty Much Changed My Life

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Wordless Wednesday: Pizza Farm

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Wordless Wednesday: “Caviar & Creme Fraiche”

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Cadbury Flake Cake

I was recently in Pittsburgh for a family wedding and got to spend a few hours wandering The Strip District with my siblings. Its roots, like much of the rest of the city, are largely industrial. Many of the district’s main streets were once home to mills and aluminum production facilities, which makes sense as it is squarely located between two riverfronts. The Strip District is still bustling, but as an open air market selling produce, street food, Steelers gear, and more Steelers gear.

After a round of horseradish-flecked Bloody Marys, we found a little sweets shop called Mon Aimee that makes their own specialty chocolate tablets and truffles. They also sell my boyfriend’s favorite candy from his UK home: Cadbury Flake. This chocolate bar has a strange crumbly texture that I personally don’t find to be all that appealing, but the taste is very good. Sweet, milky, but not at all waxy like some of the cheaper American chocolate can be. I thought it would make a good little souvenir (along with a requisite Iron City t-shirt) and an excellent base for a cake frosting.

I used my go-to-birthday cake for this and substituted buttermilk for the regular milk and plain full-fat yogurt for the sour cream. I can’t but my finger on what it did, but the result was springier and more tender than the last time I made it.

You will have quite a large batch of thin, darkly colored batter to divide into two round cake pans. Be sure to grease and flour them for easy release!

Then comes the very important part – the filling and the frosting. If you want to be more fancy and more futzy, you could certainly make your own raspberry coulis to put between the layers of this lovely cake. I just opened a jar of decent-quality raspberry preserves, brought it to an easily spreadable temperature, and smeared a thick layer over the bottom cake.

Cadbury Flake Frosting – frosts the outside of a two layer cake
6 oz. bittersweet (70% cacao or more) baking chocolate, melted
6 oz. (about one bar) Cadbury Flake, crumbled and divided into two 3 oz. piles
1 stick unsalted butter, room temp and cut into pieces
About 3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp. milk

Melt your bittersweet chocolate using your preferred method and allow it to cool to a point where it won’t completely melt your butter. Whip butter in a mixer until light and add in melted chocolate. Slowly whip in powdered sugar until you get your desired consistency. (I like mine a little loose and not quite as thick or sweet as most other people.) Add one 3 oz. pile of the Cadbury Flake and finally, the milk and vanilla.


Sprinkle the other 3oz. pile of the Cadbury Flake on top of the cake, prior to serving.

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Wordless Wednesday: Runyon’s Wings Reign Supreme

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Wordless Wednesday:Last of the Summer Melon

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Ground Chicken Enchiladas: Worth the Effort

Sure, you could cut out about 10 steps in this recipe, make it much simpler, and shave maybe 15 minutes of active time off the preparation, but you would be missing out. And you would be wrong.

By the end of my very messy assembly of this dish, our kitchen looked as though I had repeatedly dipped a hand mixer into enchilada sauce and pulsed the on button while hanging it haphazardly over the countertop. It was nothing a couple paper towels couldn’t fix, but I am sure that you, gentle reader, will prepare your cooking station more carefully than I did.

Set up:
1 whole medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green or red pepper, chopped
1/2 pack of mushrooms, sliced & diced
1 large handful black olives, chopped
Large bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
Bunch of green onions, roughly chopped
Cans of enchilada sauce
1 block of cheddar or cheddar jack, shredded
S&P, oregano, chili powder, cumin, cayenne
Stack of corn tortillas
Plate lined with paper towels
1 medium pot with 2 Tbsp oil, heating
1 large saute pan with 1 Tbsp oil, heating
Tongs. Tongs are a must have.
Oven heated to 200 degrees

So right away, you want to get your tortillas soft and pliable. How do you do this? Fry each side in the oil heating in the saute pan for about 20 seconds and then drop onto that plate lined (each layer) with paper towels. When you have done about 12 of them, pop the plate into the warm oven and add another Tbsp. of oil to that saute pan.

Add the yellow onion, garlic, and green pepper and start to sweat those out and get them soft.

In the pot with the oil that is heating over a low flame, add about a Tbsp. of flour. Just regular old flour. Stir it and let the raw taste cook out for about two minutes. Crack open two small or one large can of red enchilada sauce and add into your faux roux. Season with salt, pepper, and oregano, (sometimes I also put in some cocoa powder for a more mole-like sauce) and keep that going over a low flame. Throw in a handful of chopped cilantro.

By now your onion, garlic, and pepper should be getting somewhat soft. Toss in the mushrooms and allow them to cook for about four minutes or so while they release some of their water. Add in the ground chicken and season generously with chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and pinch of cayenne. Allow chicken to brown, adding in some stock if your pan gets too dry. Once this mixture is fully cooked, remove from heat and throw in the black olives.

Here is where your tongs will become a major player. Take the still warm and pliable tortillas from the oven, and dip them, one by one, into the enchilada sauce pot. Make sure you get both sides. As you do this, stuff each dipped tortilla with a spoonful of the meat mixture and a generous sprinkling of cheese. Roll up and place them seam side down in a baking dish. Repeat TWELVE TIMES.

Finally, pour any leftover sauce over your little stuffed tortilla sleeping bags. Top with the rest of the cheese and bake for 20 – 25 minutes in a 350 oven.

When they are done and the cheese is still bubbling, sprinkle with the green onions and cilantro just before serving LIKE SO:

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Wordless Wednesday: Spice-rubbed Ribs

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Summer Supper: Meat & Potatoes

As a rule, I try to never turn the oven on in the summer for anything but baking pie or the occasional shortcake. When you have but a few short weeks of warm nights and superfresh in-season produce, you want to capitalize on the ability to cook simple dishes, outside, over charcoal, and keep any nasty unnecessary heat out of the kitchen.

This grilling rule is particularly true when it comes to steak. I tend to keep close watch over beef and not mess with it too much when it’s cooked over an open flame and that way, I don’t overcook it. Nothing is more disappointing than an overcooked steak. Maybe Spiderman 3. Oh, or better (worse?) yet, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Anyway, I had my meat and potatoes menu all ready to go but when the skies started looking rainy last night, I had to adjust my plan and pull out actual pots and pans. Now, if you MUST cook a steak indoors there is a restaurant technique (best applied to small cuts that dry out easily) that works really nicely but makes me go against my own turning-on-the-oven-rule. Luckily, my boyfriend has central air.

There are no hard and fast ingredients in this recipe since it’s more about the America’s Test Kitchen method, but I’ll note what I used to make this quick and satisfying supper.

Quarter, but don’t bother peeling, YUKON GOLD POTATOES. Also, don’t bother using anything but Yukon Golds for most of your potato needs. They make the best mashed potatoes, tenderest roast potatoes, sturdiest but not grossly starchy grilling potatoes, and unboring boiled potatoes. They cost about a dollar more per bag than Red Bs or Russets and are worth every penny. Oh one thing they aren’t awesome for is potato salad, but that’s another post entirely.

OK! Quarter the taters and throw in a pot. Cover with cold water, salt generously, and bring to a boil. They should cook about 20 minutes total, which is why you have to do this first, but just check periodically to see if they are spoon-soft.

While that’s happening, combine some soy sauce, Worcestershire, brown sugar, sesame oil, and a little bit of water in a small saucepan. You could also use honey, balsamic vinegar, ginger, garlic, you know…whatever. Something sweet, something salty, and something a little bit spicy or earthy. Put it on a low boil and allow it to reduce to a thick, sticky syrup. If you put it in a squeeze bottle, it will keep in the fridge for a week. Take it off the heat after about oh….10 minutes of gentle boiling.

Ok the steak part! About halfway through your sauce-making, heat a heavy pan, preferably a cast iron one, to screaming hot. Season both sides of your room temp steak with grill seasoning and place in the dry pan for about 2 minutes on each side (this depends on thickness of your steak). What you are trying to do here is create a nice crusty sear on the steak and seal in the juices. The steak will finish cooking in a 400 degree oven.

So once you get both sides seared, transfer the steak to the pre-heated oven. If you seared it in a pan that is not oven-safe, transfer steak to something oven-safe, you moron. It will only take an additional 5 to 6 minutes in the oven before the steak is cooked to medium rare.

If you transferred the steak into some sort of glass dish for baking, simply add about 1 cup of water to the pan that has all the good little cooking bits in it and bring to a boil. Throw trimmed asparagus in there and steam it very lightly – about three minutes. It will continue to cook a bit unless you blanch it and nothing is appealing about a piece of flaccid asparagus.

You’re pretty much done now. Take steak from the oven and wrap it in foil to let it slake for like five minutes before you slice it. Drain potatoes if you have not already done so, and throw in a knob of butter and some herbs de Provence or whatever you have on hand. If you have properly salted the water, the potatoes should have absorbed that flavor and should not need more salt but you know whatever – taste it. Stir.

Drizzle sticky reduction over the asparagus and place atop some mixed greens. Slice steak and pile up some potatoes on the plate like it’s a lovely composed salad.

I don’t care if it’s the heat of summer, a tall glass of milk is the only accompaniment to this meal.

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  • So topical…