Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Comfort Food Fest- Chocolate Chip Cookies

There is nothing more comforting than a warm, chewy, chocolately chocolate chip cookie.  Whether you like them crispy or chewy (my preference) nothing beats the original -- Toll House Cookies.  For Christmas my husband bought me New England Home Cooking by Brooke Doiny and inside is the story of the Toll House Cookie.

The Legend of Toll House
Ruth Wakefield, owner of the Toll House Inn in Whittman Massachusetts was mixing up a batch of plain American brown sugar cookies known as Bostons or butter drop do cookies.  The legend goes that she ran out of nuts and decided to break up a Nestle semisweet chocolate bar. From this was born the classic was born!  Today Nestle makes more than 240 million morsels everyday.  Chocolate chip cookies are America's most popular cookie recipe, accounting for half of all the cookie baked in the country.

With a few tips you can easily have a warm batch ready in less than an hour. And if you're looking for more chocolate chip cookie variations read all the way to the bottom for the list of recipes from my fellow Comfort Food Fest bloggers.

To make Toll House Cookies you'll need:

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of butter (I prefer margarine)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups Nestle semisweet morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small mixing bowl mix together flour, baking soda and salt.  In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer) cream margarine or butter and sugars together. 

<TIP> I like to warm the margarine a little in the microwave. If the margarine is warm it will dissolve the sugars more completely so that the cookies are grainy. I also think that butter will make a crispier cookie and margarine makes one that is more chewy.

Once the butter or margarine and sugars are creamed together then add the vanilla and the eggs.  Once it is completely incorporated (be sure to scrape the sides down) the add the dry ingredients mixing completely.
Add the chocolate chips. 

<TIP>  I like to incorporate the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon.

<TIP> To bake you can line the cookie sheet with silpat or with parchment to make clean up easier.

Drop the cookies onto the prepared cookie sheet by using a spoon or cookie scoop and bake for 9-11 minutes.  For a chewy cookie let them cool on the pan. For a crispier cookie cool them on rack.

<TIP> Be sure to check the cookies at the 9 minute mark because the cookies will continue to cook after they are taken out of the oven.

With these tips and a tried and true recipe (thanks to Ruth Wakefield and Nestle) you can have fresh baked cookies warm from the oven almost anytime!

More variations on the theme from some amazing bloggers and cooks. Be sure to tell them you found their amazing recipe here!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

FN Dish Comfort Food Fest-Garlic and Herb Infused Cheesy Potatoes

Food Network's Blog FN Dish has decided to create another franchise. This time it's all about Comfort Food and this week the topic is potatoes.  Potatoes are nutritious, versatile and cheap.  They can be made in a variety of ways that can please a crowd or add that special touch to everyday meals.  My recipe for this installment -- Garlic and Herb Infused Cheesy Potatoes! Now that's a mouthful (of deliciousness!!)
Like in all the past installments be sure to read to the bottom of this post for even more potatoes recipes from some incredible bloggers and cooks.

This is fairly simple but makes a great statement on the dining room table.  By infusing the milk with garlic and herbs the potatoes soak up all that flavor and the addition of cheese makes it even more delicious. After all everything is better with cheese.

To Make Garlic and Herb Infused Cheesy Potatoes you'll need:

Russet potatoes (I usually allow 2 potatoes per person, this will assure you have left overs)
1 1/2 cups milk
3-4 garlic cloves, smashed
assorted herbs, parsley, rosemary, basil, oregano or any combination you like.
4-6 ounces of cheese depending on how cheesy you like it. I used a sharp cheddar but just about any kind of cheese you like will work.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Slice the potatoes very thin on a mandolin or with a knife. Layer them in a casserole dish seasoning the potatoes between the layers with salt and pepper and cheese.

On the stove in a saucepan warm the milk, add the garlic and herbs and let them steep in the milk for about 10 minutes.  Once the potatoes are sliced and seasoned pour the warm, steeped milk through a fine mesh strainer over the potatoes, then top them with the grated cheese.

Bake the potatoes for about 20 minutes or until they are tender and brown.

Sprinkle chopped herbs on top and enjoy them with just about any kind of meat. For this meal I chose pan fried pork chops.
These potatoes can be reheated home-fry style for breakfast the next morning.  Just add some butter or oil to the pan and fry them until crispy.
Garlic and Herb Infused Cheesy Potatoes -- another easy, flavorful potato dish to add to your repertoire of potatoes recipes. If you give them a try please be sure to leave a comment and rate the dish!  Check out the list below for even more mouth-watering potato dishes.

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