Monday, May 28, 2007

homemade oreos

Oreos are the quintessential childhood cookie. My childhood affair with this bittersweet chocolate sandwich started in Rockport, Texas at my grandparents' house. My grandfather, the sugar tooth of all sugar tooths (he's responsible for me considering ice cream its own food group!), would buy oreos by the case from Sam's. Wrapped up in "individual servings," each package held a whopping six cookies, and of course, I was never one to complain.

After a long, sunny afternoon of swimming in the canal, we would anxiously open those oversized packages of oreos and dig in with our wet, salty fingers. No milk required. (We drank Big Red, after all!)

I am too many miles from my grandparents and their generously stocked pantry of king sized treats from Sam's, but I can relive those memories all the same and please my grown up tastes buds as well with these homemade oreos.

Recipe: Retro Desserts, Wayne Brachman via Smitten Kitchen.

My notes on the recipe:

-I only used 1 cup of sugar (as opposed to 1 1/2). Regardless if using these cookies with the listed icing or instead for something like ice cream sandwiches, I would not add the additional 1/2 cup of sugar. They were plenty sweet.

-I didn't find that I needed to turn the cookie sheet half-way through the baking time to "ensure even baking." Mine came out perfect without turning.

-Do not overbake! The cookies looked very undercooked at the recommended 9 minutes cooking time, so I left them in an extra 3. I had to throw that batch out! They tasted only the slightest bit burned, but the cookies were easily broken and crumbly, problematic when it comes to icing!

-The batter is slightly crumbly (but sticks together) so I took a teaspoon's worth and rolled it in a ball, then flattened with the bottom of a small glass. Not only did it get the dough to stick, it made all of the cookies uniform in size.

-Let the cookies cool completely on the parchment paper. They will seem underbaked, but will harden up within about 5 minutes. It's not a soft cookie, but more of a shortbread texture.

-The icing was thick and did not need to be piped. I was able to use an off-set spatula with ease.

-No Big Red in Seattle, so milk was a must! :-)

stop and smell the...poppies

I went all over town Memorial Day...from the pathways and trails along Elliot Bay, to West Seattle and up and down Alki Beach, to Fremont...but my favorite picture from this weekend was taken down the street from my house. Just goes to show you that sometimes the prettiest things are right in front of you all of the time. You just need to stop and look.

Friday, May 25, 2007

chocolate cake

I haven't made a cake in I don't know how long, but despite my inexperience I thought making one from scratch would be infinitely better than from the box. I can be a purist like that.

Maybe it was the type of cake, maybe it was my oven, or maybe it was because my grocery store only offered whole wheat, organic pastry flour. Whatever it was, my cake was not moist nor begged you to forget about that nagging goal to eat healthy and have another piece. Not to say that it was all bad, but considering the effort and hopes that went into it, it is not a recipe I will try again.

I do have to say though, that I am grateful for learning to make ganache, which has always sounded so fancy to me but is really the most simple thing to make-- chocolate and heavy cream. Next time, I'll double the recipe so i have twice the rich, whipped, chocolate-y bite of heaven that is chocolate ganache. And for the cake, maybe just out of a box next time (but don't tell anyone!).

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Another joyful reminder that streaks of good weather are on the horizon...huge, juicy, flavor-packed strawberries, purchased today at the market.

lunch in pike's market

Ahh...spring time, let me give you a big hug. Now I can enjoy the hour in the middle of the day I am permitted to leave the harsh glare of bad overhead lighting and my too-tall office chair whose arms bang the side of my desk every time I turn to answer my phone.

Sun! No rain! Pikes Place is calling my name. A lovely jaunt down the road, and I'm amidst a myriad of lunch options and produce galore. Today I opted for Mee Sum Pastry, a choice prompted by the line of enthusiastic patrons and a quick consult on yelp mobile. Equipped with just my blackberry, these camera phone pictures will have to do!
This place offers no-frills customer service, so the long line moved fast. From the online reviews, I couldn't pass up the recommended steamed bbq pork humbow and freshly made potstickers.

What is a humbow? I have no idea. Some Americanization of something or other I imagine, who knows? But what I do know, is I already want another one! Sort of like a "steamed bun" found in asian grocers, the flavor reminded me of my favorite Scandinavian treat, the kolache. Like a traditional kolache, the humbow's bread was slightly sweet and encased a savory meat filling. This one was tender shredded pork in a tangy, subtly spicy bbq sauce. Though I had my humbow steamed, they also offer them baked, which I imagine would resemble a kolache even more closely.

Best thing of all? This fast, delicious, and decidingly "different" lunch cost me a mere 4 dollars. Bad, eerie photo of seemingly glowing meal not included. (the blackberry camera is not very good!)