May 28, 2012

Levain Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies

While in New York for business a little over a week ago, several friends insisted that I visit a little establishment on the Upper West Side called Levain Bakery, whose softball-sized cookies are legendary among locals.  

With a few hours to kill before my flight, I took a stroll over to check out these signature $4.00 miracle cookies.  Were it not for the incredible smell wafting out the front door, I would have missed the small, unassuming storefront, having expected something bigger and grander to match Levain's massive sweets. 

Immediately after walking inside, I knew I was in for a treat.  The bakery display featured four simple, ginormous cookies:  Chocolate Chip Walnut, Oatmeal Raisin, Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip.  After purchasing a mix of all four, I devoured an ooey gooey Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip cookie.  It was everything I hoped for and more. 

And I had to replicate that experience.  

After scouring the Internet for an exact copy of this chocogasmic masterpiece, I stumbled upon a blog post that featured a handful of Levain cookie recipes published in a magazine several years ago.  The recipe below is for the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip cookie I fell in love with.  While I cannot confirm or deny it's authenticity, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did both Levain's cookies and my deconstructed version (with slight modifications)!

2 sticks cold butter, cubed 
1 1/4 c sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp corn starch
1/3 c cocoa powder
2 1/4 c flour
1 c chocolate chips
1 1/2 c peanut butter chips

First, add the sugar and butter (left), blending with a hand mixer initially and then by using a spatula. (right)

Then, simply add everything else in!  I first mixed using a spatula to blend the ingredients slightly, then by hand to blend

While Levain Bakery's cookies are the size of a jumbo scone, I decided to use an ice cream scooper to stretch my batter a little further: 24 normal sized cookies instead of 12 large ones.  Spread the love a little further, right?  :)

May 24, 2012

Burrata + Cantaloupe + Prosciutto + Arugula = Happy Place

Before I was bitten by the cooking bug sometime after college, my idea of a homemade salad was some bland iceberg lettuce with tomato, cucumber and some ranch dressing.  It's honestly a miracle that I developed any sort of culinary skill... 

Now, whenever I'm at a restaurant (even when I have zero intention of ordering a salad for my entree) I make a point of perusing their gourmet greens for inspiration.  The mouthwatering dish below was discovered on one such occasion. It's nearly identical to one from Sweetsalt, a gourmet eatery in Toluca Lake created by Alex Eusebio - Top Chef contestant from a few years back. 

It features so many beautiful, fresh flavors that, when combined, meld together in to one perfect little bite.  Rich, creamy burrata.  Sweet cantaloupe.  Light, smokey prosciutto.  Earthy arugula.  Top it off with a little olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar and that's it!

May 20, 2012

Simple Herb Rubbed Chicken Recipe

I've been out of town on/off for the last week and was up to my ears in work before that so I haven't been blogging for close to 2 weeks. ¡QuĂ© horrible!  To make it up to you, I wanted to share the delicious dinner that Ryan and I made tonight.  There are lots of flavorful ingredients but it was simple and easy to make. 

The recipe was inspired by one I saw in this month's Bon Appetit magazine for a spatchcocked chicken with a delicious herb marinade.  Not being a fan of spatchcocking (it involves a complicated process of butterflying the chicken, and then breaking the sternum), I opted for some classic chicken breasts instead. 

To make the rub start by adding the below ingredients in to your food processor:
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 2/3 c diced red onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic 
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbs pesto sauce (optional)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Leaves of 1 sprig fresh rosemary + thyme
  • Pinch of salt + pepper

Puree your ingredients in to a paste.  Place your chicken breasts in a casserole dish and spread the marinade on liberally.  I added some extra sprigs of rosemary and thyme to the chicken, as well as a few slices of lemon.

Bake at 400 degrees for roughly 35-45 minutes and enjoy!  I served this with a side dish of small potatoes and blanched green beans tossed with olive oil and Dijon mustard.

May 9, 2012

Summer Spinach Salad

I love alliteration.  Almost as much as I love this delicious faux gourmet salad.  I say faux gourmet because it looks and tastes like something far fancier that it actually is, while still being quick and easy to prepare.  Plus, one of it's main ingredients is goat cheese, which is basically one of the seven food wonders of the world and I would eat by the spoonful if that didn't sound so disgusting and weird.

So, here's the salad:  Spinach + Strawberries + Goat Cheese + Walnuts.   That's it.  It's fresh and flavorful and you can top it off with a little olive oil mixed with balsamic and a dash of salt & pepper.  

May 5, 2012

Painted Chevron Flour Sack Towel

I am obsessed with all things chevron.  I've been dying to paint a wall of our apartment with chevron stripes but figured I'd start out on a slightly smaller scale first.  So I grabbed a small flour sack towel, some masking tape, paint and a brush and got to work.

Using my masking, I made a few rows of stripes in varying sizes.  This wasn't an exact science.  I kept the pieces of tape the same length and more or less eyeballed the layout.

Lay a trash bag down flat and put your flour sack towel on top to avoid any paint seepage on to whatever surface you're working on.  Pick your first color and then just start painting it on with a little sponge brush.  I like using these because they're inexpensive and easy to clean.  Plus, they worked great on the towel fabric and aren't streaky like brushes can be.

Keep painting until all of your stripes are filled up!

After the paint is completely dry, peel your tape off to reveal what are sure to be your perfect little chevron stripes!