Monday, November 20, 2006

Who needs pie?

I'm having a deja vu moment. It's from Willi Wonka when Violet grabs a piece of gum and begins experiencing a full 6-course meal (or something like that).

"What brought this on?" you ask?

In this morning's (digital) headlines I read "Give Thanks: Pie Takes On Life Of Its Own". The article goes on to say that Godiva has come up with a line of pie-flavored chocolates and Jones Soda has done the same with fizzy drinks.

Oh come now! Why replace pie with anything else? Tis the season for pie eating and I must say that there is just no substitute for the stuff. Nothing. Absolutely NOTHING should come between a girl and her pie. Not even a fancy chocolate with a pie-flavored soda chaser.

Read on...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

My First Pie

I'll admit that I don't much care for cake. I'm a cookie person. I prefer the crunch of a cookie to the crumb of cake. And I like that cookies don't have to be all that sweet. As a cook I appreciate how forgiving cookies are compared to cake. Cake is chemistry, precise science. Cookies are improv. They reward you for experimentation.

And then there's pie.

I've never really attempted pie because I've always been intimidated by the crust. My cousin Tamara can mix up a bit of dough without really thinking about it. She doesn't even need a bowl. Just tosses some butter, water, sugar and flour around on the counter and voila! A crust for anything you can imagine eating. That's not me.

One morning after sitting like a drone for hours watching the Food Network I decided that my fear of Pie making had to end. I would tackle it one piece at a time. If I could perfect some fillings, I'd give myself permission to use some pre-made pie crust. Heck, if Giada De Laurentiis could then why couldn't I? After all we're not talking some Frankenstein creation from Sandra Lee the Semi Homemade queen, right? (Hey a girl's got to rationalize...)

So here you have it. The results of my early pie experiments. This one inspired by my irrational love of nuts and Giada's recipe for Chocolate-Hazelnut Tart.

Chocolate Pecan Pie
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups pecans toasted and roughly chopped
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 1/2 cup)
4 ounces dark or bitter-sweet chocolate (chips or chopped)
1 cup corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (store bought frozen, defrosted) pie crust

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and the flour. Add the eggs, pecans, two kinds of chocolate, corn syrup, butter, vanilla, and salt. Stir well. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Bake for 1 hour.

Cool the tart for at least 30 minutes before serving. I find that the tart is very gooey on the first day but is nicely set on the second and holds its shape when cut so make ahead and resist temptation for 24 hours if you can!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Let the recipe sharing begin

I've been waiting to migrate MyCentralParkKitchen over to the Blogger Beta but I've run out of patience. I don't know enough HTML to create special sections in my old blog to add recipes but I've figured it out in the idiot-proof Blogger Beta so I'm going to say goodbye to MyCentralParkKitchen (I've migrated the old posts but can't migrate the comments - sorry!) and open things up in this new space - CentralParkKitchen. Why be possessive? When it comes to cookies - sharing is essential!

Pictured here (borrowed photo) are my latest creation. I call them Two-By- Fours. Two inches of cookie by 4 kinds of chocolate. These were inspired by my friend Paul Parton who can't have nuts. I started with Ina Garten's Chocolate White Chocolate Chunk Cookies and then began changing things around a bit.

A super decadent chocolate cookie.


1/2 pound unsalted butter (room temp)
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 large eggs (room temp)
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 pound white chocolate (chips or coarsely chopped)
1/2 pound semi-sweet chocolate (chips or coarsely chopped)
1/2 pound dark chocolate (chips or coarsely chopped)

Preheat oven to 350

Cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla then the eggs and mix well. Add the cocoa and mix again. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to chocolate mixture. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 3 kinds of chips.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and drop cookies using a #40 ice cream scoop (or rounded tablespoons). Flatten dough slightly with dampened hands (so dough doesn't stick).

Bake for 15 minutes and remove from oven (even if they look undone). Let cool slightly on the pan then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. If you can keep any around - store in an airtight container.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Back in the kitchen

I'm officially back in the kitchen. The weather has been perfect and the view is getting colorful.

Two weeks ago I had a 15 hour marathon session which started with two kinds of cookies (Chilmark Chunk and peanut butter Chocolate Chip).

I moved from there to grilling up some chicken piallard with a southwest seasoning mix (to be used later for a light supper over greens) and then realized I wanted to make adjustments to my seasoning mix. So I created a new one and popped a container of it onto the spice rack. T

hat got me thinking about staple foods, so I immediately set to work to make a gallon of granola (Seeded Maple).

I got hungry so I whipped up a Tuscan white bean salad for lunch which became an antipasto melange when I realized that I had some fantastic artichokes to add. And the artichokes got me to thinking about my favorite soup (from Giada DeLaurentis) Artichoke Leak soup - a kind of vichyssoise that can be served hot or cold (I omit the marscepone because it is rich enough without it!) A batch of that was created to compliment our light supper.

I realized that we might need another desert (because there's always a reason for more sweets) so I made Triple Chocolate Sorbet and poured it into my rocket pop molds. Its a kind of portion control. If I don't do that, Doug will finish the whole container before I get a taste!

After a short break I created our dinner salads with the chicken and served a spot of that yummy soup. Not satisfied enough to stop, after cleaning up, I thought I should make a treat for the folks I work with so I whipped up a chocolate pecan pie. This time I used Ghiradelli's bitter sweet chips and I must say, I 'm not thrilled with the result. I like darker chocolate but am not thrilled with the flavor of these chips. I've got to find a new chip source for my semi-sweet, bittersweet and white chips.

As soon as I figure out how to create and organize a new section for this blog, I'll add recipes for each of edibles I reference. Until then - enjoy the view!

Monday, August 7, 2006

New York On Fire

New York is hot. So hot I haven't cooked a batch of cookies in 2 months. Haven't slipped in a batch of granola. Simply won't attempt a roasted anything.

I promise when the temperature (outside) reads 72 degrees or less for 3 days running - the baking and steady blogging will begin anew.

And I'll figure out how to get multiple topics going so I can share the recipes that go along with the all the rest of this.

Monday, January 9, 2006

Peaceful Co-existence

Only in New York City do bagels and buses exist in such close proximity.

Each day as I make my way to work I marvel at the food vendors that appear like mushrooms popping up under pine trees after the rain.

And magically, by noon, they have all returned to deep earth. Out of site...
until the next morning.

Sunday, January 8, 2006

How it all started...

I've been cooking for a long time. It all started at age 6 or so when I'd park myself in front of the TV, a reward for having finished my chores (though it felt more like indentured servitude to me). And there, on public television I'd find Julia or the Galloping Gourmet sautéing and sasheying (respectively).

My Mother went to work full time when I turned 7. My brother and I were left in my sister's care and lucky for me - that meant a whole lot of freedom! Each day at 4:00pm I'd ring my Mother at work for dinner preparation instructions. It usally involved taking the strip streak out of the freezer so it would be just defrosted enough for her to make a quick stirfry when she got home. But when I was lucky, it would be about dressing the chicken, prepping the baked potatoes and putting everything up to bake at 400(f) for an hour. Little did she (or anyone else) know that this task would take on dimensions never imagined. I prepped my "studio" and staged all my ingredients in small bowls. I'd pretend that over the counter there was no wall, but a television camera and a studio audience. And I went about my task, explaining every move I made while offering hints and tips, dishing dirt on my siblings, and sharing my hopes that I would make it through recess tomorrow unscathed by yucky boys.

I've graduated from slathering store bought barbeque sauce on chicken quarters. I've obsessed over a chocolate chip cookie recipe. Made gallons of granola. And honor my Mother's beef stew recipe without the slightest alteration. I've been inspired by the food revolution, and with it the dawn of The Food Network and fantastic new cooking shows on Public Television. And I've been blessed to have a man in my kitchen (now that I realize boys aren't really all that yucky) who is astoundingly speedy and whose skill is awesome!

In this space I'll continue my tradition of looking across the counter and connecting with my audience. But I promise to spare you all the details of recess and the trials and tribulations of things unrelated to wonderful food and the pursuit of the perfect cookie.