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Cookies Day 11: Chocolate Mint Cookies

And now for something completely different: a recipe I knew would work.

Discouraged by my utter inability to produce a decent fig swirl, today I chose I recipe that was tried and true, tested with a positive outcome. I also wanted something simple to make without requiring a lot of extra steps. And, most importantly, I wanted something that I knew would taste good. If you like thin mints, and I do, this recipe is for you. Plus, you get to drizzle melted chocolate all over everything, most likely making a mess in the meantime, and who doesn’t like to get messy?

Because these cookies are topped with melted chocolate they must be stored in the refrigerator, but then again I thought thin mins were at their best when they were nice and cold.

When I made this recipe I only had peppermint “flavor” rather than extract, which I think is a little weaker than extract. When I tasted a cookie by itself, sans drizzled chocolate, it didn’t really have the peppermint kick I was looking for. In order to boost the peppermint flavor I added 1/4 of a teaspoon of the flavoring to the chocolate once it was melted.

Chocolate Mint Cookies
(original recipe Bon Appetit January 2002)

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sugar
1 large egg

6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Preparation
Whisk flour, cocoa powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in peppermint extract and vanilla extract. Beat in sugar in 3 additions. Add egg and beat until blended. Add dry ingredients and beat just until blended (dough will be sticky).

Divide dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Using plastic wrap as aid, form dough on each into 2-inch-diameter log. Wrap with plastic and refrigerate dough until well chilled, at least 2 hours. (Dough can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

Position 1 rack in center and 1 rack in top third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Unwrap cookie dough logs; roll briefly on work surface to form smooth round logs. Cut logs crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake cookies until tops and edges are dry to touch, about 15 minutes. Transfer baking sheets with cookies to racks; cool completely. Stir chocolate in top of double boiler set over simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Cool melted chocolate until slightly thickened but still pourable, about 10 minutes. Dip fork into melted chocolate, then wave fork back and forth over cookies, drizzling melted chocolate thickly over cookies in zigzag pattern. Refrigerate cookies on baking sheets until chocolate is set, about 10 minutes. (Cookies can be made 1 week ahead. Refrigerate in airtight container between sheets of parchment paper or waxed paper.)

Westend Bistro Chefs Fired

Although technically this is not fresh news, I just discovered that the Chef de cuisine of Westend Bistro, Leo Marino, will no longer be working for Eric Ripert, as well as a couple of others. Ann Limpert reported that Eric Ripert cited “behavior problems” and the “boys club” environment of the kitchen as reasons for the “departures.”

Considering my very sub par experience at Westend and subsequent review, I find it very interesting that members of the Westend kitchen have been let go. At least in my own mind (and maybe Jay’s too) I like to think that the quality of food has something to do with the “departures.”

I think this is the perfect time for a, “I told you so!”

Waiter there’s something in my …. duck terrine!

 duckp1.jpg

When The Passionatte Cook announced that the next WTSIM event would focus on terrines, I eagerly turned toward the back of my new CIA cookbook, The Professional Chef. Yet another wonderful Christmas present, it proved to be a blessing, with a whole chapter devoted to forecemeats.

My husband, on the other hand, wasn’t quite as delighted about the event as I was. When I told him I wanted to make a pate, I think at first he thought I was joking. He said, well, you’re the one making it! When he got a chance to look at the ingredients (fatback is included), his enthusiasm shrank even more. It probably wasn’t very fair of me to make him ask for the weird ingredients at the butcher, but hey, I was the one cooking!

The first challenge was getting enough duck meat off of the duck we bought without using the breast meat (that was reserved to be added whole). The duck was frozen and even though we had let it thaw in the fridge for a day, parts of it were still frozen. Eventually I managed to salvage enough meat off of the duck, a process that probably could have been easier if I had kitchen shears. We ended up saving the carcass and using it to make duck stock, which happily awaits us in the freezer.

The second challenge was grinding the meat. I don’t have a meat grinder attachment for my kitchenaid mixer yet, so I had to make due with my meat processor. I vaguely remember something on Good Eats about how the food processor isn’t as good for grinding meats for sausages, but because I wanted the consistency of this meat to be more pasty anyway, I didn’t think it would matter too much.

Third problem: we couldn’t find TCM (tinted curing mix) ANYWHERE in town. Granted, we live in Little Rock, Arkansas, so the culinary community is quite small. I had to settle on some Morton curing mix that included suger, but it was better than nothing.

Fourth problem: no terrine pan. Not only did we not have one, but, once again NOWHERE in town had one for sale. The only thing that seemed like a suitable replacement was our earthenware meat loaf pan. It was a little wide, so the terrine itself ended up being a little more shallow than I would have liked.

After poaching the pate and then weighing it down over night, Jay and I were anxious to try it. Later Jay told me that his only experiences with pate had been with mushy, cat-food like pates. I was the first to try the pate, which was a little intimidating all wrapped in ham. Cut open, however, it revealed its little jewels of dried cherries and pistachio nuts, as well as the whole duck breast running through the center of the pate. I bit into the first slice …..

duckp3.jpg

….. and it was amazing! The flavors are really complex but not overwhelmingly so, and they all play on each other very nicely. The first thing I could taste was the saltiness of the ham, but soon it gave way to the flavor of the duck, which in turn was followed by a subtle sweetness and a hint of the early sage. Each bite was exactly like the first: a harmony of flavors that played off of and followed each other in a gradual succession, inviting you to savor the meat in your mouth rather than just swallow and get rid of it. Furthermore, the texture isn’t mushy at all but instead nice and firm without being overly tough. I think Jay ended up liking it even more than me! For dinner, Jay seared a couple of thin slices for a duck pate sandwich.

Needless to say, I was very proud of my achievment. I was a little timid and anxious during most of the process, mainly because this was a whole new type of cooking that I had never even dreamed of trying. Thanks to my new cookbook, however, and this wonderful challenge, I was able to stretch my culinary abilities. And thanks to this new-found ability and confidence in myself, I’ll be more confident about preparing fancy things like pates for future dinner parties. If you can weather through the preparation of this dish, I highly recommend it.

duckp2.jpg
packed pate, pre-poaching

Duck Terrine with Pistachios and Dried Cherries
(original recipe The Professional Chef by the CIA)

That time of year …..

It’s that time of year again, the time when I forget to shower because I’m so busy studying for law exams. The time of year I dream about the Uniform Commercial Code, estate planning and taxation. The time of year, well, I don’t have time to blog.

This is unfortunate for several reasons. I’m already backed up with things I want to post and restaurant reviews, and I keep slipping behind more and more each day. I just realized that today is the deadline to post for Waiter There’s Something in my …. Topless Tart, and I still don’t have my pictures all ready or a comment written up. Added to that, my damn internet isn’t working (thank you library computer lab for your continuing support of my extra-curricular activities).

That being said, I’m working hard. I neeeeed to put up a review of a new restaurant in town, and I’ll do that first, even though there’s things from almost a month ago that need to go up.

Somewhere in this mess, I’ll finish my applications for my masters in tax law….

Lots to do!

It’s been a while since the last post, but much blog-worthy activity has happened within the past week. Unfortunately, so has much work-related and law school activity, which leaves little time for the fun of food blogging! Nevertheless, expect a new post (with pictures!!!!) sometime tonight, with much more to follow in the near future.

A little sluggish ….

So it’s been a long while since I last posted. I have lots and lots I want to put up, but the motivation just hasn’t been there, what with work and school burning me out every day.

Tonight though things are going to change. My dinner plans have been substantially altered, and I find myself having to cook for only myself. While I could just whip up the good ole’ standby of pan-seared chicken and a side of spinach salad, I’m pretty pissed off at how my plans have changed, so I think I’m going to go for something more adventurous. I’ve been wanting to make a clam dish for a long time now, and I think tonight is going to be the night to bust it out. Why not? I’m home alone, just me and the dogs, and I want something special, especially because my long-anticipated sushi plans are a bust. So after the gym I’ll swing by Fresh Market (and the liquor store) for a few things and have myself a nice, satisfying and exciting dinner, all by myself.

Hey, maybe I’ll even make my own pasta.

Small update

It’s been a while since the posts have been regular, but never fear. A few events have come in the way of me making regular posts, including: (1) going to DC, (2) losing my camera in a cab, (3) starting a new job, (4) starting a new year of law school. I even have a cooking post that has been written but not completed yet but which was prepared before I left for DC. That will be coming shortly, as well as some restaurant reviews.


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