Archive for the 'Desserts' Category

Chocolate Chip Cookies, NYC

I’m almost done with my NYC restaurant reviews, but before I finished I wanted to touch on one of my loves: Chocolate Chip Cookies.

While in NY, I ate some of the best cookies I have had in a long time. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures. In my eagerness to enjoy the cookies, I kinda ended up with chocolate all over my hands and face. Not wanting to ruin expensive pieces of electronics by glazing them in chocolate, I continued eating and decided I’d have to settle for no pictures in this post–I’ll get pics next time. I will tell you where you can get two of the cookies that I did enjoy.

Get a cookie at Jacques Torres; You will love it. He is known for chocolate–rightfully so–but his cookies should not be overlooked. Large, melty feves of chocolate create layers of oozing chocolate within the dough. The cookies are served warm and soft and really must be enjoyed immediately before they fall apart and get chocolate all over your fingers, camera or clothes. It’s a risk well worth taking.

The next place is Levain Bakery (photo of the cookie at the website). This cookie is out-of-control large. I’m talking fist sized cookie here. Lumped with chocolate, over an inch thick, a combination of crispy and chewy, one single cookie can be enjoyed over several meals. Or just go ahead and eat several as one meal. Your call. I won’t judge.

And a shout out goes to Milk and Cookies. The cookies here are not the legendary creations of Jacques Torres or Levain, but are more like really really good home-made cookies. They don’t go overboard and they make them like you’d expect that kind grandmother who lives next door makes them–sticking with the same formula that has worked for generations.

In the future, I’ll be posting about making chocolate chip cookies at home and my quest for the best chocolate chip cookie ever. I think I’ve found one, but you’ll have to wait just a little longer to find out which one that is…

C is for cookie, and that’s good enough for me!

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New Years Eve 2008

For New Years Eve, I decided to host an dinner and a party at my place. Kyle and I prepared a nine course meal for our guests. This was an excuse for us to flex our culinary mussels and treat our friends to a New Year’s Eve 2008 Menu.

Pâté Maison

Pâté Maison

We started the night off with some pâté I had brought back from France. The pâté comes from a shop that cans their own meat near Loubressac. To give it a nicer finish, the pâté is topped with truffles. I served this with a fanned cornichon, toast and a baby tomato.

Tuscan White Bean Soup

Tuscan White Bean Soup

The next course was a Tuscan White Bean Soup made by Kyle. This was very good. We served it drizzled with Extra Vigin olive oil and Balsamic vinegar with a slice of toasted baguette.

Mussels steamed in white wine

Mussels steamed in white wine

Following that we served steamed mussels in a white wine, lemon and shallot sauce. Most of my guests had not had mussels before, so this was a new experience for them. If you have never had mussels before, this is a good recipe to try. They are very simple to make and full of flavor. The go exceptionally well with pastas or just own their own with a good crusty bread.

Parmesan Crisps with Swedish Meatballs

Parmesan Crisps with Swedish Meatballs

Next up was Swedish meatballs served in Parmesan crisps. Each plate had three crisps on them, two of the crisps held meatballs, and the third was filled with marinara sauce–kind of a deconstruced meatballs in sauce dish. The parmesan crisps are very easy to make and wonderful on their own as crackers or can be shaped into cups as soon as they come out of the oven.

Beef bourguignon

Beef bourguignon

The next course was a bœuf bourguignon. This is a French beef stew made with lardons, onions and mushrooms in a Bourgogne wine sauce. Very flavorful, full beef taste rendered very tender by cooking over low heat for a long time.

Roasted Rack of Lamb with Brussels sprouts and savory polenta

Roasted Rack of Lamb with Brussels sprouts and savory polenta

This was followed by a roasted rack of lamb served with a wine sauce. This was plated with Brussels sprouts that had been finished in duck fat and a savory polenta with sun-dried tomatoes.

A cheese tasting came next. Brie, Cambozola Triple Creme, Doux de Montagne and a Petit Pont L’evequê.

A salad with a French Dijon vinaigrette was served next as a way to help clear the pallet for the dessert.

Gâteau (torte) au chocolat fondant de Natalie

Gâteau (torte) au chocolat fondant de Natalie

The dessert was a chocolate torte. The recipe was taken from Chocolate and Zucchini and was fantastically rich and wonderful. Soft, dense texture and a rich, deep chocolate taste.

Espresso with Creme

Espresso with Creme

Finally, espresso’s were served. And people were given the option of digistifs of Limoncello, Fernet Branca or Sambuca.

Click through the jump to see recipes for some of the meals.

Continue reading ‘New Years Eve 2008’

Vanilla Crème Brûlée

Crème Brûlée

When I think of dessert, one of the first things that comes to mind is Crème Brûlée.  I can’t resist the contrast between the cool, creamy custard and the crisp, carmelized sugar.  Luckily this dessert is actually quite simple to make once you master a couple of basic cooking techniques (as well as wielding a blow torch).  One of the best things about this dessert is that you can prepare the custard ahead of time, and you just have to pull out the custard and caramelize the sugar when it’s time for dessert.

I’ve made many variations of Crème Brûlée and I still have to say that my favorite is the classic vanilla.  I’m quite adamant about the use of vanilla beans for this recipe.  I use vanilla beans anytime vanilla is one of the major flavors in the dish.  Don’t get me wrong, vanilla extract has its place (like in brownies).  I have to say one of the best recipes that I’ve tried is Alton Brown’s Creme Brulee from the Food Network show Good Eats.  I recommend using a torch from a hardware store.  Definitely buy one that has a self-starter because it’s more likely to stay on when you tilt the torch.

I pretty much follow his recipe exactly, but I’ll try and be more thorough with my explanation:

Continue reading ‘Vanilla Crème Brûlée’


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