Monthly Archives: January 2014

Jimmy’s No. 43 at FSNYC ChiliFest 2014

Chilifest 2014 mugOfficial NYChiliFest 2014 Mug

One of the things that I enjoy the most about moving to the other side of the culinary events table, from merely writing about them to participating in them, is that I get to work with some amazing chefs and to have tons of fun doing so.  This weekend, I was part of the team that took part in the Food Systems Network NYC‘s annual chili cook-off.  We created the entry for Jimmy’s No. 43 for ChiliFest 2014, a beef, pork, and black bean chili that we topped with a cilantro lime crema, fried scallions, and a bit of pickled hot peppers.  Here’s an abbreviated look at how it all came together, from picking up our donated meat to the end of the event:

Picking up the beef from DicksonsPicking up the beef from Jake Dickson of Dickson’s Farmstand Meats

Dickson’s Farmstand Meats was a partner and sponsor of this event.  Chef Annette Tomei and I stopped by their store in Chelsea Market last Monday during a food shopping trip and picked up the dry-aged beef that each of the cook-off participants had to use in their dishes.

AD warming up to cookAngela trying to warm up

When we got to Jimmy’s No. 43 on Sunday morning, still a bit on the early side, it was quiet, dark, and quite chilly inside. Angela Dimino, a former instructor of mine from the International Culinary Center, with whom I’d worked on the NYCWFF Burger Bash last fall, had joined Annette and me to try to create a winning chili recipe.

Getting set up to cook chiliGetting set up to cook chili

After turning on the burners, oven, and flattop to try to get some heat going in the kitchen, we pulled all the meat out of the walk-in refrigerators and started assembling all the groceries that we’d bought for this event so that we could get the chili-making started.

Beef being placed in oven to cookBeef getting put in the oven

After a brief strategy meeting, we each went into motion, picking up our selected tasks to get the chili components cooking.  Black beans were rinsed and put on the stove to cook.  Beef was taken out of the Cryovac bags and put into hotel pans to cook in the ovens.  The same was done with the pork that we’d bought at the East Village Meat Market around the corner, keeping with our local-ingredients theme.

Cooked beef and porkMixed beef and pork

Once the beef and pork were cooked, they were mixed together and set aside until ready to combine with the other ingredients.

Selection of chilisSelection of chilis

The various peppers that were chosen to make the mystery blend were opened up and re-hydrated.  They had varying degrees of heat and sweet with along with other flavor notes, which would help to make the final dish have layers of tastes.

Chilis mixed togetherMixture of chilis

Then, Angela puréed each set of peppers individually.  She and Annette put their heads together to create the exact flavor profile they wanted the final dish to have, adding ladlefuls of the chilis in various combinations.  I stood by lending my tastebuds to the process, as well.

Tomatoes, onion cookingTomatoes and onions cooking

To add some moisture to the chili, we put a bunch of onions (that I had the pleasure of chopping into fine pieces) on the heat to soften. We poured in a can of tomatoes and let the mixture simmer for a bit to concentrate the flavors before adding the chilis so that they all melded into one rich, incredible-tasting sauce.

The JImmy's No. 43 Chilifest TeamThe Jimmy’s No. 43 2014 Chilifest team

Then, the real fun began, as all the chili components that had been prepared separately were mixed together to create the final blended dish.  With Angela’s cousin, Cristina Lemos joining us, the chili crew was complete.

Mixing chili togetherMixing chili together

To get just the right mix, the beef, pork, beans, tomatoes, onions, and peppers were all divided into two bus tubs and blended by hand.  Then, it was allowed to sit for a few minutes, while we tasted it, debated the seasoning, tasted it some more, and then decided on our next steps.  We thought that it might need a bit more cooking time to concentrate the flavors, so the chili was returned to a pan on the stove.

The final batch of chiliThe final batch of chili

Here’s the hotel pan full of chili, just before we packed it up to head over to Chelsea Market.  Even now, a few days later, it looks so delicious I could just dive right into it.

Packed up & ready to goPacked up and ready to go

After a bit of deliberation, we decided that we’d pack up all the chili into gallon-sized resealable plastic bags, double-bag them, and then pack them into the bus tubs to transport them over to the event.  Alexis and Cameron from Jimmy’s staff were also coming with us, so we had plenty of hands available to cart everything over there.

Load-in signLoading in at Chelsea Market

We all crammed into the SUV to make the trip to Chelsea Market.  Once there, we entered via a side doorway marked for the chef teams to load-in.

Load-in entranceLoad-in entrance

While that last comment might have made it seem as though we had some specially-decorated doorway to great our way to the chilifest, in reality, this is how we went into the event.  It was a really good thing that we’d packed up everything into as few containers as possible to make it up the stairs and around the garbage skips to the entranceway.

Getting to the tableFinding our table

We checked in with the organizers and then made our way to the table marked for Jimmy’s No. 43.  Chelsea Market was eerily quiet with just a low hum of all the chef and their teams getting set up, the organizers making sure we had our own chili tasting mugs and beer cups, and that we knew how the judging would happen.

Jimmy's No 43 tableJimmy’s No. 43 table

As soon as we found our table, we started arranging everything to set up our station.  Cristina created a display of ingredients that we had used in our chili to brighten up the table and to make sure our People’s Choice coin box was in clear view for the attendees.

Loading the chafers with chiliPouring chili into the chafing dishes

Angela started breaking open the bags of chili to get it set up in the chafing dishes.  The event organizers had set us up with chafers, hotel pans, and sterno to keep everything nice and hot.

Table setupTable all set up

With the chili loaded into the chafers, the decorations all displayed, and all of the toppings for the chili portioned into serving bowls, we were ready to great our first guests.  There’s this odd calm that takes hold before the storm at these events, a few moments to pause.

Chilifest 2014 tasting mapChiliFest 2014 tasting map

It’s quiet except for some last-minute banging around, you and your fellow chefs joke around a bit, take a stroll around to see the other tables and find your friends who are also working the event.  Maybe you grab a beverage or head to the restroom one last time.  Then, the first folks arrive, and it is pretty much just a whirlwind from there until the last plate is served or you run out of food, whichever happens first.

Serving up chiliServing up chili

I’m not sure how many portions of chili we served up in the end.  We cleaned out at least two hotel pans and then started in on a third.  In the middle of the event, we had to swap out the pans midstream and heat up another couple of bags of the chili.  Fortunately, we have a crack food events team, so we could nimbly switch gears to keep the flow of service going while a couple of us handled the chili re-filling duties.  It was great to get lots of thumbs up from the attendees who enjoyed our dish and to see people come back for seconds.

Chili cups on the tableEmpty chili cups

After the chili tasting portion of the event was over, we all headed over to hear the judges’ decision.  Our team didn’t take home any trophies on Sunday night, but we had a fantastic time, hanging out in the kitchen all day, chatting, swapping cooking stories, and laughing lots as we pulled together our dish.  It had been quite a while since this group had cooked together, so it was almost like old times.

Serving table at end of eventOur table at the end of the evening

After that, we made our way back to our table, broke down our set up, and loaded out (this time via the public exit) and returned to Jimmy’s No. 43 to drop off the remaining food and to have a drink to celebrate the evening.  Jimmy Carbone was there, at the bar, ready to hear our stories of the event and to thank us heartily for putting together a chili to compete in the event for his place.  We’d left behind some chili to put on the menu this week, so if you head on over there, there might even be some of it left to try.

Buon appetito!

Boozy Chocolate-Orange Bread Pudding

Chocolate-Orange Bread Puddings ready to serveBoozy Chocolate-Orange Bread Pudding

I don’t have to tell any of you who live in the Northeast just how miserable and cold it has been these first few weeks of 2014.  This provides a great excuse to make all sorts of creamy, heavy, filling dishes to try to warm up our bodies and souls.  The first Sunday of Season 4 of Downton Abbey, I hosted a few friends at my place to watch the show.  They came over with bottles of wine, and I put together a few snacks for us to munch on while we caught up on the latest dramas and antics in the lives of the Crawley family.  For dessert, I made these Boozy Chocolate-Orange Bread Pudding for us to enjoy (and as a way to use leftover brioche bread to clear up room in my freezer, one of my 2014 goals).

IngredientsIngredients for bread pudding

Chocolate and Orange are one of my favorite flavor combinations.  Add to that the custard mix, some buttery-rich brioche bread, and a healthy shot of orange liqueur, and you have the simplest of desserts that all comes together very quickly.  This is a perfect dish to whip up for a dinner party as well or even an impromptu dinner for two.  I’m almost tempted to break into the other full loaf of brioche bread in my freezer to make some more of these, but this time, I might not share them!

Boozy Chocolate-Orange Bread Pudding

Prep time:  A little bit over an hour

Serving size: 6 ramekins

Ingredients:

2 Large Eggs

2 Tbsp. White Sugar

1/3 c. Heavy Cream

2/3 c. Whole Milk

1/4 c. Orange Liqueur (like Gran Marnier or Cointreau)

1 pinch Salt

Butter for greasing ramekins

3 c. Cubes of Brioche bread (about 1/2-inch in size)

Zest of 1/2 an Orange

1/2 bar of Semi-sweet Chocolate (use whatever you have on hand), grated

Assembly:

Whisking up fillingFilling mixed together

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Whisk together eggs and sugar in a bowl until they are thoroughly combined.  Add heavy cream, milk, orange liqueur, and salt.  Whisk these items together.  Set aside for a moment while assembling the bread puddings.

Buttering ramekinsButtering ramekins

Lightly grease each ramekin with butter.  For a hint as to how to make this messy job a bit easier, see Kitchen Witch Tips for a suggestion here.  Divide the brioche bread cubes into equal amounts and distribute them among the ramekins.  Sprinkle the top of each bread-filled ramekin with a bit of orange peel and some of the chocolate shavings.

Bread Puddings ready for the ovenBread Puddings ready for the oven

Pour the custard over each of the ramekins, making sure to get the liquid in all of the corners of the puddings and to cover as much of the bread as possible.  Let them sit for about 10-15 minutes to make sure the custard is absorbed into the bread.  Put in the oven on a baking sheet and cook for 25-30 minutes.

Chocolate-Orange Bread Puddings ready to serveBoozy Chocolate-Orange Bread Pudding

Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for at least 5 minutes before attempting to eat one.  You can also make these a bit in advance and reheat them just before serving.

Buon appetito!

International Day of Italian Cuisines (IDIC) 2014 at the International Culinary Center

IDIC 2014International Day of Italian Cuisines (IDIC) 2014

Yesterday was the Seventh Edition of the International Day of Italian Cuisines (IDIC) held, as in past years, at the International Culinary Center.  The IDIC is held each year on January 17th, the feast day of St. Anthony the Abbot, the patron saint of butchers, as we were told.  Held since 2008, this event recognizes Italian chefs around the globe who make their native cuisine and works to preserve authentic Italian dishes and culinary traditions.  This year’s dish is Spaghetti al Pomodoro (Spaghetti in Tomato Sauce).  As Rosario Scarpato, honorary president of GVCI (Virtual Group of Italian Chefs), explained, consumers are used to commercially-popular versions of Italian foods, but it is important for them to know the more traditional cuisine.

Chef Cesare Casella introduces the programmeChef Cesare Casella, Dean of Italian Studies at the International Culinary Center, introducing the program

Although this year’s dish might seem very simple, being composed of spaghetti, olive oil, tomatoes, salt, and basil, which was acknowledged at the opening of the day, Chef Cesare Casella reminded us we were there to learn about, “Simple dishes that are Italian food, made in the right way.”  He added, “The way we talk, the way we incorporate the ingredients – need to use the right ingredients from Italy.”  This emphasis on using the highest quality ingredients and putting the components together in just the right way so as to achieve maximum flavors is a cornerstone of Italian cooking, whether in fine dining or la cucina casalinga (home-style cooking).  Even though that might sound very easy, it can be a complicated thing to achieve and to master.  The three chefs who cooked for us yesterday each had his own rendition and method for making Spaghetti al Pomodoro, which resulted in three variations on this “simple” dish, each with different taste profiles.

Olive Oil tasting plateExtra Virgin Olive Oil tasting workshop

Prior to sampling the chefs’ plates, however, we participated in three workshops about some of the ingredients that go into making this dish.  The first one was about olive oil with a discussion by a representative from the Consozio Nazionale degli Olivicoltori (the group that works to represent olive growers and olive oil producers).  With a potential production of 100,000 tons of olive oil per year, this is a vast industry for the country.  This organization works to ensure traceability, food safety, and quality control for Italian olive oils, something that has become of increasing importance as olive oil production has grown globally.  We tried three varieties of Italian extra virgin olive oil from different regions of Italy, each with a distinctive characteristics and flavors, from a grassy and subtle-tasting oil from Calabria to a more pungent (stronger, spicier) one from Abruzzo.

Lou Di Palo talking about Grana PadanoLou Di Palo of Di Palo Selects talking about Grana Padano 

One “permitted” addition to Spaghetti al Pomodoro, we were told, would be to finish it off with a light dusting of Grana Padano cheese.  This nutty-tasting hard cheese from the north of Italy is a staple in many dishes due to its depth of flavor and adaptability.  When less mature, from 9 to 16 months of aging, the cheese has a more creamy profile and is perfect for melting, as with a risotto dish that Lou Di Palo of Di Palo Selects said he’d been served recently.  As the cheese continues to mature, the nuttier flavor becomes more pronounced, and it develops a crumblier texture, perfect for grating on pasta dishes.

Link with The President restaurant in PompeiiLink with President restaurant in Pompeii

Alessandra Rotondi, an Italian wine consultant, walked us through the checkered history of another ingredient that plays a key role in this dish – The Tomato.  She took us on the voyage of this fruit (yes, it was emphasized that a tomato is a fruit) from South America to Spain via Cortez and then back again to the New World.  Along the way, it was used as a decorative ornament, graced the pewter plates of the wealthy (where it gained its reputation as being toxic as it picked up traces of lead leached from the plates), to the gardens of Thomas Jefferson in Virginia, and most recently as a food in dishes created by poorer Italians who then brought the recipes for using in a sauce with pasta to the United States.  We didn’t have any of the hanging tomatoes known as “piennolo” to sample at the event, but we were treated to the sight of them via a video link with President restaurant in Pompeii, home to the Vesuvian soil where these tomatoes grow.

Justin Smilie receiving Best New Italian Chef in NYC awardJustin Smilie of Il Buco Alimentari & VineriaBest Emerging Chef of Italian Cuisine in the USA

Before we could dig into plates of pasta, however, much as our appetites were growing with each of these workshops – and the fact that the folks at President were cooking up their own plates of Spaghetti al Pomodoro as we were watching them from our seats in the school’s auditorium – we had a little while longer to wait while the efforts of those who herald Italian cuisine here in New York were recognized and applauded.  Among those honored were Lou Di Palo for his and his family’s efforts at the promotion of Italian cuisine, culture, and ingredients.  Chef Justin Smilie of Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria was recognized as the Best Emerging Chef of Italian Cuisine in the USA.  A complete list of the awardees is here.

Chefs making pastaChefs making their pasta dishes

Then, finally, finally, it was time to watch the chefs prepare their versions of Spaghetti al Pomodoro. Those who were cooking for us yesterday were three chefs under the age of 35 who represent the new faces of Italian cuisine as recognized by the GVCI: Enrico Bartolini of Devero Ristorante in Milan; Matteo Bergamini of SD26 Restaurant in New York City; and Luca Signoretti of Roberto’s Restaurant in Dubai (left to right in the photo with Alessandra Rotondi as moderator for the tasting).  Here are photos of the final plates that they all created.

Enrico Bartolini - Spaghetti al PomodoroSpaghetti al Pomodoro by Enrico Bartolini

Matteo Bergamini - Spaghetti al PomodoroSpaghetti al Pomodoro by Matteo Bergamini

Luca Signoretti - Spaghetti al PomodoroSpaghetti al Pomodoro by Luca Signoretti

Each chef, interestingly enough, used an olive oil from Sicily in his dish.  From there, they put together their own spin on the combination of garlic, tomatoes, salt, and basil (never with black pepper and oregano, as we were advised) along with durum wheat spaghetti.  Chef Bartolini added chopped garlic and red pepper flakes to the oil, par-cooked the pasta (it was still a bit rigid when it came out of the water), and then finished cooking it in the oil, which gave it a sheen and slightly spicy kick, along with some of the reserved tomato juice before adding tomato pulp.  Then, he added the tomatoes to the pasta.  Chef Bergamini infused his oil with cloves of garlic and then added the tomatoes before incorporating the pasta.  Chef Signoretti crushed his tomatoes before making the sauce and then after adding the pasta, grated Grana Padano on top of the dish while it was still in the pan to allow the cheese to melt into the sauce and to absorb some of the liquid so that it coated each strand of the pasta.  My favorite was the one by Chef Bergamini as every bite seemed to have a silken, tangy coating of the sauce on the spaghetti.  The herbacious notes of the basil (torn, not chopped, we were instructed) balanced out the acidity of the tomatoes and creaminess of the cheese.  I could have happily gone back for several more plates of this dish.

Rosario Scarpato introduces seminarsRosario Scarpato thanks everyone for attending IDIC 2014

After we’d cleaned off our plates, it was time to wrap up IDIC for 2014.  Rosario Scarpato, the event organizer, thanked everyone for coming to honor the achievements of the chefs and the others who help to promote Italian cuisine.  He also announced that the program would change slightly for 2015.  Instead of featuring Italian foods that are already well-known outside of Italy to work towards preserving their authenticity, the next year’s event would aim to recognize a dish that is less eaten outside of the country to promote some of the hidden culinary treasures of la cucina italiana.  I’ll be very interested to see what that will be.

Buon appetito!

Announcing scholarship in Marcella Hazan's nameAnnouncing the scholarship in Marcella Hazan’s name

Addendum

At yesterday’s event, Dorothy Cann Hamilton, found of the International Culinary Center also announced a scholarship named after culinary instructor and cookbook author Marcella Hazan for someone wishing to enroll in their Italian Culinary Experience this spring.  The deadline for applications is March 7, 2014.

Making Cassoulet at Jimmy’s No. 43

Cassoulet displaySome of the cassoulets we made

As I’d mentioned, last week and weekend, I spent some time in the kitchen at Jimmy’s No. 43 working with guest chef Annette Tomei on making large quantities of cassoulet.  Annette and I have worked on several culinary projects together in the past, so when she called me to ask if I’d be up for helping out on this one, I knew that we’d have a great time banging around the kitchen and that I would have a chance to learn a lot about techniques and execution from her.  I also knew that we’d eat very well.

Annette Tomei garnishing cassouletChef Annette Tomei garnishing dishes at the Cassoulet Cook-off

I’ve kind of always wanted to do a series of photos of what takes place to get ready for these kinds of events, as it is about producing food in very large volume.  I managed to capture some of the process for making the cassoulet while we were working and created this slideshow (click on the “show info” link on the top right for the captions).  We made enough of each type of cassoulet for the Cassoulet & Beer Pairing event on Saturday, the Cassoulet Cook-off on Sunday, and the Cassoulet & Wine Pairing dinner on Monday night.  It’s been a big week for cassoulet!

Buon appetito!

“Jimmy and the Bean Trough: 6th Annual Cassoulet Cookoff at Jimmy’s No. 43” from Edible Manhattan
(Article about my culinary events work at Jimmy’s No. 43 with VinEducation founder Chef Annette Tomei.)

Jimmy’s No. 43 Sixth Annual Cassoulet Cook-off

Cassoulet displayDisplay of Cassoulet at Jimmy’s No. 43

This past Sunday was the Sixth Annual Cassoulet Cook-off at Jimmy’s No. 43, an event where amateur and professional chefs go knife-to-knife to create one of France’s iconic and heart-warming dishes.  Jimmy had invited me to be a judge for this feast again this year, which I happily accepted to do, and joined Jackie Gordon from The Diva That Ate New York, Margaret Chen from Savory Sweet Living, Nancy Matsumoto, and Amy Zavatto and Ariel Lauren Wilson of Edible Manhattan in tasting and evaluating the various cassoulets.

Judges making their decisionsWorking out the winners

As in past years, the entrants demonstrated numerous variations on the bean-and-meat-stew format.  Six cooks created cassoulets which the attendees walked around and sampled.  Tickets to the event also included one beverage from the bar with which to wash down all that rich, hearty food.  This gathering raised over $2,000 to go to The Greenmarket‘s regional grains initiative.  Here’s a look at the dishes and their cooks:

Gilbert Clerget - bowl of cassouletCassoulet de Castelnaudary by Gilbert Clerget

Gilbert Clerget and his wife Rebecca made the trip north from Washington, DC to contribute their Cassoulet de Castelnaudary to the tastings.  His version, as he explained, reflected more the southwest of France in the Languedoc region.  The dish featured Stachowski Brand Charcuterie from Georgetown, including their Toulouse Sausage made with tarragon.

Patrick Clark - bowl of cassouletPatricia Clark‘s classic-style cassoulet

Studded with velvety, succulent chunks of duck confit, which she made, as well as duck bacon that she also made, pork, beans, and layers of flavors, returning contributor and caterer Patricia Clark‘s dedication to this dish was evident.  She told us that she’d spent the past year researching cassoulet in its many incarnations before coming up with her version, reviewing over 100 recipes for this dish before developing her own rendition.

Nourish Kitchen cassouletCassoulet with Kale by Nourish Kitchen + Table

The team from Nourish Kitchen + Table created a version of cassoulet that had pork butt, proscuitto, and housemade duck confit along with kale to give it a bit of a healthy kick.  They topped their selection with crunchy toasted breadcrumbs with pork cracklings to contrast the creamy beans.

Mighty Quinn's - Burnt Ends and BeansBeans and Burnt Ends by Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque

Neighborhood barbecue joint, Mighty Quinn’s chipped in some of their Beans and Burnt Ends.  With its smoky, meaty, porkiness, this is a more American take on the French classic.  As the judges noted in their round-up of the cook-off, this dish is available to try all year around at their store, not just in the cold winter months of peak cassoulet season.

David Navarro - Jimmy's No 43 House CassouletSausage & Beans with Chicharrones by David Navarro

Jimmy’s No. 43 house chef David Navarro contributed a batch of cassoulet with a more Latin twist to it.  He made a batch of Sausage and Beans topped with chicharrones, or crispy fried pork skins, creating a contrast between the hearty beans, smoky meat, and crunchiness of the topping.

American-style cassoulet plateAmerican-style Cassoulet by Annette Tomei

Beer-braised pork shoulder cassoulet plateBeer-braised Pork Shoulder and Beans by Annette Tomei

Plate of Vegetarian CassouletVegetarian Cassoulet by Annette Tomei

[By way of full disclosure, I assisted her with the prep for this and several of the dishes that folks sampled on Sunday.]

Annette Tomei, owner of VinEducation and one of my former instructors at the International Culinary Center, was the featured chef for Jimmy’s No. 43‘s Cassoulet & Beer and Cassoulet & Wine events during the past few days.  She whipped up several different styles of cassoulet for guests to nibble on on Sunday, including an American-style version using pinto beans mixed with shredded confit chicken, braised turkey wings, spicy sausage, and bacon ends topped with a panko-sage crumble, a Beans with Beer-braised Pork Shoulder, and even a Vegetarian Cassoulet with beans mixed in with roasted brussels sprouts, mushrooms, and butternut squash.  This latter version was a favorite of several of the attendees.

Jimmy Carbone thanking attendeesJimmy Carbone thanking cooks and guests

After guests had sampled the cassoulets and had taken some time to digest and to decide on their favorites, Jimmy Carbone took to the stage in the back room to thank everyone for coming to this event and to garner a round of applause for all the cooks.  Then, he turned it over to the judges to reveal the results of the cook-off.  Jackie Gordon started off by recognizing the honorable mentions, including Annette Tomei’s “Best Vegetarian Cassoulet for Carnivores” and David Navarro’s “Best Use of Chicharrones in a Cassoulet.”  Then, the prizes were handed out.

Nourish Kitchen - pot of cassouletThird Place Winner: Nourish Kitchen

Patricia Clark - cassoulet displaySecond Place Winner: Patricia Clark

Gilbert & Rebecca ClergetFirst Place Winner: Gilbert Clerget with his wife Patricia

This year’s winner of the Cassoulet Cook-off is Gilbert Clerget with his Cassoulet de Castelnaudary.  It seems fitting that a Frenchman took the crown for 2014.  His cassoulet was also the winner of the People’s Choice Award at the cook-off, so the people and the judges were unanimous in their culinary decisions this year.  Congratulations to all the winners and thanks to everyone who cooked for us this Sunday!

Buon appetito!

“Jimmy and the Bean Trough: 6th Annual Cassoulet Cookoff at Jimmy’s No. 43” from Edible Manhattan
(Article about my culinary events work at Jimmy’s No. 43 with VinEducation founder Chef Annette Tomei.)

#Snowday Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate-chip cookies with Sea SaltSea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I heard that today was the first official snow day of 2014, I decided that it should also be the first SnowBakeDay of the new year.  Fortunately, I had just enough supplies on hand to make a batch of Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies.  These should probably be called “Kim E’s Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies,” because I first developed this recipe for a former co-worker of mine, as chocolate chip cookies are his favorites.  He loves the taste of the deep dark chocolate combined with the crisp, toffee-flavored edges and that pop that the sea salt gives to the cookies, as it dances on the tongue, highlighting even more of the richness of the chocolate along with the soft, buttery interior.

Chopped chocolateChopped Chocolate

They were well-received when I brought them to an appointment I had this afternoon at the International Culinary Center. The staff had trudged in through the snow and the frigid temperatures to get things up and running for the students.  It was a bit of a risk to serve them to folks who work at a culinary school, but as I wasn’t a pastry grad, I thought I could take that chance!  These are a wonderful treat to make anytime, not just on snow days, so they are a great addition to your catalogue of cookie recipes.

IngredientsIngredients

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep time:  about an hour, including baking time

Serving size:  yields 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 c. (1 stick) Unsalted Butter (I used Kerrygold), softened

1/4 c., plus 1 Tbsp. White Sugar

1/4 c., plus 1 Tbsp. Light Brown Sugar

2 Tbsp. Dark Brown Sugar

1 Large Egg

1/2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

1 c. All-purpose Flour

1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt

1.5 oz. 70% Cocoa Solids Chocolate Bar, chopped

Sea Salt (like Maldon) for finishing

Assembly:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Combine butter and sugars in mixing bowl until smooth.  I am very low-tech about making cookies, preferring to mix everything by hand, using a wooden spoon.  Then, mix in one egg and the vanilla extract and stir until the batter is light and fluffy.

Wet Ingredients Mixed TogetherWet ingredients mixed together

Mix together the all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and stir to combine them thoroughly.  Stir in the chocolate chunks.

Chocolate chips mixed inWet and dry ingredients mixed with chocolate chunks

Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking tray.  Scoop teaspoonfuls of cookie dough onto the baking sheet.  I actually purchased a small ice cream scoop to try to keep the amount of dough I was baking per cookie consistent.  When I made the Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies with Peppermint and White Chocolate Drizzle for the NYC food bloggers holiday cookie swap, I found that it helped me to create fairly uniformly-sized cookies. 

Scooping cookies on trayScooping out cookie dough

Then, sprinkle the sea salt on top of the cookies, after they are on the tray.  I actually crumble the sea salt a bit, so that there aren’t large chunks of salt on the finished cookies.  Bake them for 5 minutes, turn the tray around and bake them for 5 minutes more, until they are, as we would say in the prep kitchen, “GBD” (Golden Brown and Delicious).  Remove them from the baking sheet to a cooling rack.  Try to keep from eating too many of these, as you decide with whom you are going to share them.

Cooling cookiesCooling cookies (spatula courtesy Kim E & Rich)

Buon appetito!