Thursday, August 23, 2007

Totally Awesome Cookies! :: Defining Your Blogs Worth: TopSites:

I got this recipe from All Recipes (Award Winning Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies). The cookies turned out really well. But by making a few changes, it turns into an awesome cookie. It’s very rich.

When I first started to bake, I made a lot of cookie recipes on the cheap. This is not a cheap cookie to make. If the recipe called for butter, my theory was butter and margarine are about the same and margarine is cheaper. I have since learned that if a recipe calls for butter, use butter. There is a difference.

You are going to notice that the dough is very heavy, with a pound of butter in it, you’re going to get heavy too. I read somewhere that you can also gain weight, not just from eating, but also from smelling food. I’m in big trouble, I just made 22 dozen of these. My son and daughter-in-law are having a party to celebrate the finalization of Alex’s adoption. It’s a very weird feeling for six months that at any time, someone can come and take your baby away. But everything is final now and we’re celebrating!

The original recipe says that this makes 6 dozen cookies. I used a soup spoon to measure mine and I got 3 ½ dozen.

Awesome Chip Cookies

4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups butter, softened
1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
2 (3.4 ounce packages) INSTANT cheesecake pudding mix
4 eggs
4 Tablespoons vanilla extract
4 cups DARK CHOCOLATE/RASPBERRY baking chips
2 cups chopped walnuts


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder, add the salt, and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Stir in the baking chips and nuts. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto a ungreased cookie sheet.
3. Bake for 10-12 minutes in the preheated oven. Cookie edges will be golden brown.


1. If you use vanilla pudding mix, the flavor is not as intense.
2. If you use chocolate pudding mix, the cookie seems drier. (I ran out of vanilla flavoring, so I used rum flavoring – this may be why they were drier) I really didn’t like these, so I had some fun size Snickers. I cut the Snickers in thirds and put them on top of the cookie before and after baking. They are much better before baking.
3. If you use, chocolate/caramel chips, they turn out pretty good. But there is something about the dark chocolate/raspberry chips that makes them even better.

I’m going to put this recipe on all my sites, I think it’s that good. So, you may stumble onto it again.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

The French Laundry Cookbook

Rating A++++++

The French Laundry Cookbook written by Thomas Keller is a fascinating read. His passion for food is unbelievable. Most of the time when I read a cookbook, I skim through it. I have read every single word of this book. Not only is the book knowledgable but the emotion of the book is amazing.

"Cooking is not about convenience and it’s not about shortcuts. The recipes in this book are about wanting to take the time to do something that I think is priceless. Our hunger for the twenty minute gourmet meal, for one-pot ease and prewashed, precut ingredients has severed our lifeline to the satisfactions of cooking. Take your time. Take a long time. move slowly and deliberately and with great attention."

Thomas Keller, The French Laundry Cookbook

"A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe."

Thomas Keller, The French Laundry Cookbook

Thomas Keller is one of the very top chefs in America. His restaurant, the French Laundry, is one of the most sought out places to dine in America. And it is no wonder, anyone who feels this passion for food has to provide the most wonderful courses.

The most amazing thing is his training. He did not go to Culinary School. You could say that he learned on the job. And he reads and reads and reads...

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Here is a quick quiz about French culinary terms. How many do you know?

1. au jus
2. brasserie
3. fondue
4. a la carte
5. cordon bleu
6. au gratin, gratinée
7. ratatouille
8. terrine
9. liqueur
10. truffle
11. apéritif
12. à la mode
13. bouillabaisse
14. fois gras
15. quiche
16. petits fours
17. sauter (sauté)
18. escalope
19. pâtisserie
20. filet mignon

a. goose liver
b. individually served dishes in a restaurant that are priced separately
c. food that is browned on top, usually with cheese and/or bread crumbs
d. in the style or fashion of, often w/ ice cream
e. egg tart filled with cheese, onions, ham or other ingredients
f. in natural juices
g. provençal vegetable ragout with/ onions, eggplants, tomatoes, peppers
h. small layered, iced cakes
i. before-dinner drink
j. earthenware cooking container
k. sauce kept warm over flame for dipping bread, meat and vegetables
l. southern France favorite fish chowder
m. restaurant w/ bar
n. literally "cute steak" - a very tender center cut of steak
o.stuffed with Swiss cheese and ham
p. sweet pastries or pastry shop
q. small thin slice of meat, usually chicken or veal
r. to cook quickly in hot pan, tossing the food so that it "jumps"..
s. sweet fruity or spicy spirit drunk after a meal or used to flavor desserts
t. prized fungus with strong flavor found under the ground, expensive

Here are the answers

1. au jus f. in natural juices

2. brasserie m. restaurant w/ bar

3. fondue k. sauce kept warm over flame for dipping bread, meat, or vegetables

4. a la carte b. individually served dishes that are priced separately

5. cordon bleu o. stuffed with Swiss cheese and ham

6. au gratin, gratinée c. food that is browned on top, usually with cheese or bread crumbs

7. ratatouille g. provençal vegetable ragout with/ onions, eggplants, tomatoes,

8. terrine j. earthenware cooking container

9. liqueur s. sweet fruity or spicy spirit drunk after a meal or used to flavor

10. truffle t. prized fungus with strong flavor found under the ground, expensive

11. apéritif i. before-dinner drink

12. à la mode d. in the style or fashion of, often w/ ice cream

13. bouillabaisse l. southern France favorite fish chowder

14. fois gras a. goose liver

15. quiche e. egg tart filled with cheese, onions, ham or other ingredients

16. petits fours h. small layered, iced cakes

17. sauter (sauté) r. to cook quickly in hot pan, tossing the food so that it "jumps"

18. escalope q. small thin slice of meat, usually chicken or veal

19. pâtisserie p. sweet pastries or pastry shop

20. filet mignon n. literally "cute steak" - a very tender center cut of steak

French Cooking Terms

A roasting pan or baking dish partially filled with water to allow food to cook more slowly and be protected from direct high heat. Used for custards and terrines.

Creamy pudding that is made with cream and eggs, then set with gelatin.

Fritters. Small dollops of dough that are fried.

Beurre Manié
Butter and flour mixed together in equal parts and used to thicken liquids.

Beurre Noisette
Browned butter.

A shellfish soup that has been thickened.

A stew made from meat that has not been browned or fried. Usually refers to stews made of lamb, chicken or veal.

Small puff pastry cases.

Broth or stock.

Bouquet Garni
A mixture of fresh herbs tied together with string and used to flavor stews, soups etc. It refers to a mix of parsley, bay leaf, thyme (and sometimes celery stalk). The bouquet is removed before serving.

Vegetables cut into very small diced pieces.

An appetizer consisting of a small bread or biscuit base covered with a flavored topping.

Browned bread crumbs.

To remove the backbone from a rack of ribs.

To chop roughly

Broth that has been made clear.

A thick sauce usually made from one main ingredient, such as raspberry coulis.

Court Bouillon
Flavored liquid used for cooking fish.

Very thin pancakes.

A mixture of potato with ground cooked meat, fish or poultry formed into balls, patties or other shapes and coated with a breading before frying.

Bread piece dipped in butter and baked until it is crisp.

Crust. Sometimes refers to a pastry crust, sometimes to toasted or fried bread.

Small cubes of bread used as a garnish is salads and soups.

Small mould shaped like a castle used for moulding salads or baking cakes.

To deglaze, to loosen browned juices and fat from the bottom of a frying pan or saucepan by adding liquid, bringing to a boil and stirring. The liquid is usually water, wine or broth.

To extract juices from meat, fish or vegetables, usually by salting them, then soaking or washing. It is usually done to remove a strong taste.

To skim off the scum that accumulates at the top of a stock or sauce.

Finely chopped raw mushrooms, used as a stuffing. Sometimes combined with chopped ham or scallops.

Sirloin steak.

The term used to refer to something served before the main course but is used now to refer to the actual main course.

Dessert or sweet, but not including pastries.

A thin slice of meat that is often pounded out to make it thinner.


Flamber or Flambé
To set alcohol on fire.

Something that is iced or set on or in a bed of ice.

A stew made from poultry, meat or rabbit that has a white sauce.

Glace de Viande
Reduced brown stock used to add color and flavor to sauces.

Gratiner or Au Gratin
To sprinkle the surface of a cooked food with bread crumbs and butter, and sometimes cheese and brown under the broiler. The finished food is referred to as au gratin as in au gratin potatoes.

Hors d'Oeuvre
First course or appetizer.

Jus or Jus de Viande
The juices that occur naturally from cooking.

Jus Lié
A thickened gravy.

Ingredients used for thickening sauces, soups or other liquids.

Small diced mixed vegetables, usually containing at least one root

French word for a covered earthenware container for soup. The soup is both cooked and served in it.

A mixture of braising vegetables.

To hand meat, game or poultry.

A cake tin that is wider at the base than at the top and only about 1" in depth.

To coat, mask or cover with something.

The word literally means "nut". It usually means nut brown in color. For example, beurre noisette is butter browned over heat until it becomes a nut brown color. It can also refer to boneless rack of lamb that is rolled, tied and cut into rounds. The word can also refer to hazelnuts.

Nouvelle Cuisine
A term that refers to the style of cooking that features lighter dishes with lighter sauces and very fresh ingredients.

A very thick mixture, usually made from a combination of flour, butter and milk, that is used as a base for dishes such as soufflés and fish cakes.

To coat with egg and crumbs before frying.

A wrapping of parchment paper around fish or meat used for cooking. The paper retains moisture in the food.

Refers to potatoes molded into balls with a melon scoop and fried or roasted.

A basic mixture or paste. Often refers to uncooked dough or pastry.

A paste made of liver, pork or game.

A sweet or pastry, it also refers to a cake shop.

To insert fat, bacon, ham etc into meat or poultry.

A young chicken.

Minced fish or meat mixture that is formed into small shapes and poached. It also refers to a shape that the minced mixture is made into.

A stew

Reheated food.

Flour mixed with water or egg white and used to seal pans when cooking food slowly. Often used when cooking a ragoût.

To quickly fry meats or vegetables in hot fat to warm them through.

Melted butter to which flour has been added. Used as a thickener for sauces or soups.

Garlic and oil emulsion used as flavoring.

A deep frying pan with a lid, used for recipes that require fast frying, then slow cooking.

Pâté or mixture of minced ingredients, baked or steamed in a loaf shaped container.

A dish cooked in a mould that is higher than it is wide and has sloping sides.

A type of sauce made from butter, flour, cream and stock.

A large pastry case made of puff pastry that is usually used as a container for creamed dishes, such as creamed chicken.

Cooking Substitutes
· 1 cup sifted all purpose flour = 1 cup unsifted all purpose flour minus 2 tablespoons or = 1 1/4 cups sifted cake and pastry flour.

· 1 cup cake and pastry flour = 1 cup minus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour.

· 1 cup sifted self-rising flour = 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour plus 1 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt.

· 1 tbsp cornstarch (for thickening) = 2 tbsp flour or = 2 tsp quick cooking tapioca.

· 1 tsp baking powder = 1/4 tsp baking soda plus 3/4 tsp cream of tartar.

· 1 tsp double-acting baking powder = 1 1/2 tsp phosphate baking powder or = 2 tsp tartrate baking powder.

· 1 cup butter = 1 cup margarine (hard/brick type) or = 1 cup shortening.

· 1 cup liquid honey = 1 1/4 cups sugar plus 1/4 cup liquid.

· 1 cup corn syrup = 1 cup sugar plus 1/4 cup liquid.

· 1 cup granulated sugar = 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed or = 1 1/3 cups brown sugar.

· 1 cup buttermilk or sour milk = 1 tbsp lemon juice or vinegar in a 1 cup measure plus add milk
to make the 1 cup. Let stand 5 minutes.

· 1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup plain yogurt.

· 1 cup sour cream = 1 cup plain yogurt.

· 1 cup milk = 1/2 cup evaporated milk plus 1/2 cup water.

· 1 cup skim milk = 3 tbsp skim milk powder plus 1 cup water.

· 1 cup cream = 3/4 cup milk plus 1/4 cup butter.

· 1/2 cup oil = 1/2 cup melted butter or = 1/2 cup solid shortening, melted.

· 1 ounce chocolate (1 square) = 3 tbsp cocoa plus 1 tbsp butter or shortening.

· 1 package active dry yeast = 1 tbsp active dry yeast or = 1 cake of compressed yeast.

· 1 whole egg (approximately 1/4 cup) = 2 egg yolks plus 1 tbsp water. Omit the water for custards and similarly textured food.

· 1 cup meat stock (eg. beef broth) = 1 cup consomme or canned meat broth.

· 1 cup meat stock = 1 bouillon cube dissolved in 1 cup hot water or = 1 tsp instant bouillon.

· 4 cups chicken stock = 1 - 4 to 5 pound chicken, boiled for stock or = 4 cups canned broth or = 4 tsp instant chicken bouillon. Another cooking substitution would be 4 instant bouillon cubes plus 4 cups of water.

· 1 cup tomato juice = 1/2 cup tomato sauce plus 1/2 cup water.

· 1 cup tomato sauce = 1/2 cup tomato paste plus 1/2 cup water.

· 1 cup ketchup = 1 cup tomato sauce plus 1/2 cup sugar plus 2 tbsp vinegar.

· 1 clove garlic = 1/8 tsp garlic powder or 1/2 tsp garlic salt.

· 2 tbsp fresh chopped green or red pepper = 1 tbsp dried pepper flakes.

· 1 tsp dry mustard = 1 tbsp prepared mustard.

· 1 small onion = 1/4 cup chopped or = 1 tbsp dehydrated minced onion or = 1 tbsp onion salt.

· 1 tbsp fresh herbs (eg. parsley or basil) = 1 tsp dried.

· Juice of 1 lemon = 3 to 4 tbsp bottled lemon juice.

· 1/3 cup rum = 1 tbsp rum flavoring.

Cooking is an art, not a science. You do not have to rely on recipes if you understand the concept of cooking.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Making Stock

Have you ever wondered why most culinary terms are French? French chefs were very skilled. When the French Revolution started and everyone was losing their heads, the chefs to the Royal Families decided that now was a good time to travel to distant places. The chefs took their skills and culinary terms all over the world. French became the standard language of cooking.

Whether you are from the U.S. or Outer Mongolia, you both know that mirepoix is the sautéed combination of onions, celery and carrots. Let’s start with some basics.


Stocks are the foundation of cooking. (fond de cruisine). They add background to your dishes. Stock is made by simmering fresh bones in clear water. At the last hour, you may add meat or vegetables or both to the bones along with aromatics (seasonings and herbs – traditionally, peppercorns, thyme, parsley stems and bay leaves) and mirepoix. If you want a brown stock, add roasted tomato paste. Tomato paste is roasted to caramelize its sugars and break down the acids.

Mirepoix has a ratio of 50% onions, 25% carrots and 25% celery (2:1:1).

Start with a large stock pot (a pot taller than it is wide), add your bones and cover with water (the water should not be more than 2 inches over the bones). Bring slowly to a simmer. The bones will release impurities into the water, which will rise to the top as foam. Skim the foam (depouiller) to remove these from the stock. Removing the foam will make your stock clearer. The clearer the stock, the longer shelf life it will have. If you simmer the pot slightly off-center of the burner, the fat and impurities will gather along the edge of the pot away from the heat. Taste the stock every so often to find the peak flavor (if you simmer it too long, it becomes flat). Remove the stock from the heat and taste for seasoning. Add any more seasonings that you need while the stock is still warm. To strain the stock, set up a fine wire-mesh strainer (you can also use a colander lined with cheesecloth) over another pot or metal bowl and ladle the stock into it. If you are not going to use the stock right away, place the pot into a ice bath to cool. You can refrigerate or freeze your stock. When you are ready to use the stock, lift off any fat that is collected on top.

Cooking is an art, not a science. You do not have to rely on recipes if you understand the concept of cooking.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Using Our Food Sense

Food appeals to all our senses. Earlier, we discussed how the eyes play a big part in the way that food tastes. Probably the number one sound sensation is sizzle. What about the sense of smell? This is a huge factor in how people respond to your food. For instance, when you have guests for Thanksgiving, the minute that you open the door they are enveloped in the sense of roasting turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pies. They can’t wait for dinner. But some people have a highly developed sense of smell, they can tell if their food is even slightly off. There are times that even someone with a really bad head cold can tell that the food is off. This is one reason that it is so important that everything that you prepare is fresh. Meat, poultry and especially fish can have a really bad odor. Make sure of your use-by-date.

Our fourth sense is touch. This is represented by the texture of food. Texture is more important than most people realize. Care for a soft soggy cracker? How about a nice limp pickle? Some people love the flavor of banana bread, but won’t eat a plain banana, because of the soft texture. Texture can be defined by a number of characteristics, including viscosity, smoothness, softness, hardness, rigidity and elasticity. In addition to, and perhaps even beyond, a product’s texture, is the mouthfeel, measured in terms of dryness, lubricity, smoothness, sandiness or fluffiness.

Most people think taste is the most important sense when it comes to food. But before most people have even tasted your food, they have made up their minds about how they are going to like it.

There are five primary taste sensations.


Umami is the only one that you may not be familiar with. Umami is a Japanese word for savory or meaty. It describes the flavor of meat, cheese and mushrooms. High levels of glutamic acid can even trigger cravings. Why can’t you eat just one potato chip? It’s not the salt. It’s actually the umami in the potato that makes them addictive. When the potato slices are fried, they lose eater content, which concentrates the glutamic acid in each mouthful.

How do you know you’re tasting it?

Foods high in protein are best for sensing umami. For example, parmesan cheese is high in protein and aged, which means the moisture escapes and the glutamate concentrates. Umami is part of the Japanese culture.

The flavour also comes in vegetarian form. It's the "meaty" taste especially present in juicy beefsteak tomatoes (the riper the better), sugar snap peas, grapefruit, tofu and shiitake mushrooms. Piles of umami toppings on pizza — tomatoes, pepperoni, mozzarella and mushrooms — could very well be responsible for why people, and especially kids, love it.

Cooking French

History of French Cooking

History of French Cooking
By Michele Robbins

When it comes to French cooking, some of the most distinguished and elegant culinary styles are associated with this type of food preparation. The style of cooking responsible for the recipe of the red wine-cooked beef dish, Bouef Bourguignon and many versatile quiche creations, has evolved over many centuries including a past driven by an assortment of social and political transformations. French cooking has a history built upon banquet halls filled with heavily seasoned food of the Middle Ages to the haute cooking ("high cooking") of the French, which treated cookery as an art form.

The evolution of French cooking has seen many different changes, where French Medieval cuisine involved great preparation and presentation. Sauces at this time were thick and full of seasonings. Flavorful mustards accompanied sliced meats. During the late 18th to 19th century, foundation sauces became an important part of French cooking and were often made in large quantities. The late 19th to early 20th century followed a "brigade system" of cookery, as professional kitchens assigned cooks to one of five separate stations (cold dishes; sauces; pastries; roasted, grilled or fried foods; and soups and vegetables).

The intense diversity and cooking style of the French is seen through the traditional ways of France, where each region possessed their own unique cuisine that both the upper class and peasants accepted. Various parts of France became quite popular alone on the types of food and drink they held as specialties. Today, impressive fruit preserves come from Lorraine, while ham is delicious in Champagne. Normandy is home to the savory "moules a la crème Normande" (mussels cooked with white wine, garlic and cream).

The coastline of France opens up to an exciting world of seafood dishes, including sea bass, herring, scallops, and sole. Brittany recipes for lobster, crayfish, and mussels are well received. In Normandy, cider becomes an important ingredient because of their large population in apple trees. In the North, thick stews decorate the dinner table, as well as some of the best cauliflower and artichoke side dishes.

Creative salads are also popular in France, as "Salade Aveyronaise" is prepared with lettuce, tomato, Roquefort cheese, and walnuts in Aveyron. Cote d' Azur is known for the "Salade Niçoise," which offers a variety of ingredients, but always includes black olives and tuna. Additional regional meals include hochepot, a stew consisting of four different meats, and matelote, which offers a fish dish stewed in cider.

At some point in time, almost every French cook will prepare a crepe, a pancake cooked very thin and generally made from wheat flour. While a crepe may include eggs, cheese, spinach, and other ingredients as fillings, the most popular version is considered the dessert or sweet approach that often showcases melt-in-your-mouth whipped cream and strawberry sauce. The fillings and toppings for a crepe are never-ending, as cinnamon, nuts, berries, bananas, ice cream, chocolate sauce, maple syrup, jams and jellies, powdered sugar, and soft fruits allow French cooking creativity to blossom. Other worthy French desserts include chocolate mousse, tarts, choux a la crème, and many delightful pastry options.

Today, French cooking is known to make use of a variety of locally grown vegetables in their recipes. Carrots, potatoes, French green beans, leeks, eggplant, truffles, shallots, turnips, and many different kinds of mushrooms, such as porcini and oyster, are common selections. Meat dishes often center on chicken, duck, squab, veal, pork, rabbit, quail, and lamb. Savory egg recipes include exquisite omelets, sometimes seasoned with regional spices and herbs, including marjoram, lavender, fennel, sage, and tarragon.

For more information about French Cooking, please visit us at

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Eyes Have It!

People first taste their food with their eyes. Studies have shown that people prefer mediocre food that looks good, compared to good food that looks mediocre.

Marketing people certainly know this. Walk into a grocery store, the first department that you usually come in contact with is produce. Most of the fruits and vegetables are piled high, brightly colored, without wrappings. What does this mean – FRESH!
You can look, touch and smell each one. Your eyes have already told you that this fruit or vegetable is going to taste good.

This is where presentation comes into play. If your meal looks good, it’s going to taste good. A lot of people fix a great meal and then throw plates and silverware on the table. Let your table complement your food. Let nothing take away from the food. Remember the food has taken the most time for preparation. If you are having guests for dinner, set your table early. That’s one thing that you have out of the way. You don’t have to get fancy. Even a simple place setting can makes your food look better. If your dishes match, that’s a good thing. But, what color are your dishes? The most popular food colors are green, brown and red. So find colors that will complement those 3 colors. Do not serve that wonderful meal on blue dishes. There is a bit of psychology involved here. Researchers have found that when blue is involved with food, people lose appetite. In the mind, blue is associated with spoiled or toxic food. Years ago, restaurants used to advertise the blue plate special. Smaller portions could be served because the meal did not look as appetizing. Some diets purpose that you should dine from blue plates because you will eat less. On the other hand, there is a color that stimulates appetite. RED! Have red on your table somewhere. It could be red napkins or napkins rings, red flowers, red glassware or maybe a red trim on your tablecloth. Make sure that you prepare enough food, because these people are going to be hungry.

“Hospitality is present when something happens for you. It is absent when something happens to you. These two simple concepts – for and to – express it all.” Danny Meyer, “Setting the Table”.