Thursday, 18 November 2010

Chocolate chip cookies

These cookies will make you very popular if you choose to bake and share.
They are similar to those soft, chewy cookies they sell in those high street cookie shops, but far better of course! 
This foolproof recipe is from Basics, Baking and Beyond, by Pat Sinclair
but I found it on the food blog Honey & Jam.

Makes about 4 dozen

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 egg
1 cup semisweet or milk chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Heat oven to 375 with oven rack in the middle

Mix flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.

Beat butter, shortening, brown sugar, and granulated sugar in bowl of a stand mixer on Medium-High speed until creamy, scraping down bowl once or twive.
Add vanilla and egg and mix well.

Reduce mixer speed to Low and add the flour mixture. Scrape down sides of bowl and beat until dough forms. By hand, stir in chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and pecans.

Drop dough in rounded tablespoon about 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes until cookies are browned on edges.

(Note: The cookies will still be really soft, an may even appear uncooked, however they will stiffen up whilst they cool.  The secret to keeping these cookies soft and chewy the next day is not to overcook them!)

Clams & spaghetti

This is good. Reminds me of summer & Sardinia. 
Must be served with a bottle of wine.

The recipe is taken from Twelve - a tuscan cookbook, by Tessa kiros.

Serves 6

1kg small, fresh clams (vongole)
4 tablespoons of olive oil
3 garlic gloves
1 small dried red chili, crumbled 
1 medium bunch of parsley, chopped
125ml white wine
500g spaghetti
200g ripe cherry tomatoes, halved 
(I used a can of chopped Italian tomatoes, which
I suggest you do when tomatoes are out of season.)

Soak the clams in lightly salted water for a few hours.  Change the water frequently and drain in a colander to get rid of any sand.
Rinse and drain well.

Heat the olive oil in a large wide stockpot, add the garlic, chili and half of the parsley.  As soon a you begin to smell the garlic, add the clams and white white.  Turn up the heat to high, put a lid on, and cook for 5 minutes until the shells have opened.

Remove from the heat.  Discard any clams that have remained tightly shut.  Remove about half of the clams from their shells, discard these shells and return the clam meat back to the pot, leaving the rest of the clams in their shell.

Cook the spaghetti in boiling, salted water.  While the spaghetti is cooking, add the tomatoes to the clam pot and season with salt and pepper.  Return to the heat for a few minutes to heat through.  Drain the spaghetti when it is ready and add it to the clam pot, tossing with a pair of tongs.

There should be a fair amount of liquid from the clams to coat the pasta.  Put into individual pasta bowls, sprinkle with the remaining parsley and serve immediately, with an extra drizzle of olive oil.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Pad thai

Yum.  Once you've made this pad thai, you'll make it over and over again .... it is impossible to get sick off this. It is so good!
From Rick Steins Far Eastern Odyssey (obviously!!)

10 large raw unpeeled prawns
3 tbsp vegetable oil
175g dried flat rice noodles (banh pho) ... I used the fine rice noodles
15g garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp crushed dried chillies
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp tamarind water
2 tbsp sweet chili sauce
1 tbsp palm sugar
1 tbsp dried shrimp
50g roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
4 spring onions, halved, then finely shredded lengthways
50g fresh bean sprouts
2 tbsp roughly chopped coriander 
lime wedges, to serve

Peel the prawns, reserving the heads and shells.  Heat the oil in a pan over a medium-high heat, add the prawns heads and shells and fry gently for 2 minutes so the oil takes on the flavour of the prawns.  Tip the contents of the pan into a sieve set over a small bowl and press out as much oil as you can with the back of a spoon.  Set aside.

Drop the noodles into a pan of unsalted boiling water, turn off the heat and leave to soak for 3-4 minutes or until just tender.  Drain, rinse with hot water and toss with  few drops of oil to stop the strands sticking together.

Heat the prawn-flavoured oil in a wok over a high heat.
Add the garlic, crushed dried chillies and prawns and stir-fry for 2 minutes until the prawns are just cooked.  Pour in the beaten eggs and stir-fry for a few seconds until they start to look scrambled.

Lower the heat, add the noodles, fish sauce, tamarind water, chili sauce and sugar, and toss for a few seconds until the noodles are heated through.  Add the dried shrimps, peanuts, spring onions, bean sprouts and coriander and toss for another minute.  

Spoon onto warmed plates and serve with the lime wedges.