Free Range Nurse

Cooking therapy from a former travel nurse

Versatile Chocolate Cookie Dough May 29, 2010

Filed under: chocolate,cookies,dessert — freerangenurse @ 7:19 am

How much do you love chocolate?  If you are like most, chocolate ranks high on the dessert wish list.  Of course there’s the common chocolate chip cookie to nibble on, but really think about it.  How much of the chocolate flavor comes through?  The sweetness of most chocolate chip cookies easily over-powers the flavor of even the most intense chocolate chip.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good chocolate chunk cookie, but if you want to really taste chocolate, then this is the cookie for you….or rather, these are the cookies for you.

I found this/these recipes in Fine Cooking Magazine.  Yes, the same magazine that gave me this, and this.  This particular edition was dedicated to chocolate, every recipe – oh yes, and there are many recipes in the magazine.  It was a little difficult to know where to start, but I decided to start here and honestly, I haven’t moved on yet.  I have made this recipe four or five times already, wowing my coworkers with these intensely chocolate-y cookies.  What is more impressive is how different they are from one another, even though the base recipe is identical.

The chocolate wafers are thin and crisp and are an excellent coffee companion, have great dunkability in milk and would love a delicious coating of chocolate ganache or perhaps even a smear of Bailey’s infused cream.  They are a snap to make, store beautifully in the fridge until ready to cut and bake (just like those less than desirable store bought slice and bake cookie doughs).

The second version (my favorite) are thick and chewy, have a totally different texture, and while possessing the same intense chocolate taste, have a little added complexity with the addition of cherries, chocolate chunks and nuts.  Like their simpler counterparts, they also hold up well to a dip in the milk pool.  They could easily be made with different fruit/nut combos, or even have the fruit omitted.  They are your cookies, it is your dough, change the supporting cast and still end up with a winner.

Let me know what you changed and how you made this your own cookie.

Basic Cocoa Cookie Dough

recipe from Fine Cooking,

  • 2 1/4 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons (3 3/8 oz) unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 1 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/8 tsp baking soda
  • 3/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Using a food processor, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Pulse several times to thoroughly combine.  Add softened butter and pulse to combine.  Combine the milk and vanilla in a bowl.  With the food processor running, add milk mixture and continue to process until the dough clumps around the blade.  Note, this can also be made in a mixer.  Once mixed, transfer the dough to a clean work surface and knead to make sure all ingredients are combined.

From here you can take this dough in any direction you want to go.  You can form the dough into a log, wrap it in wax paper and chill it in the refrigerator for about an hour, then slice into 1/4 inch slices and bake it at 350 for 12-15 minutes.  This will make the intensely chocolate, crisp wafer cookies….or, you can take it further.

For Cherry Chocolate Cookies:

  • 1 batch of cocoa cookie dough
  • 2 cups toasted chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts)
  • 1 1/2 cup chocolate chunks (about 9 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped)
  • 9 ounces (about 1 1/2 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped

Mix all ingredients using a stand mixer until well combined.  Drop tablespoons of dough about 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-14 minutes until the cookies are dry to the touch and slightly soft when pushed with your finger.  Cool cookies on a rack.  Store at room temperature in an airtight container….if you have any left.


From Mothers to Daughters to Granddaughters: Enchiladas Suizas de Pollo May 26, 2010

Filed under: chicken,dinner — freerangenurse @ 11:12 am

In continuing with my Mexican food week, I am presenting the (slightly altered) recipe for enchiladas suizas.  Growing up, I always looked forward to my mom making enchiladas.  Those rolled tortillas filled with spicy beef and gooey cheese, then covered in a rich red sauce with even more melted cheese….not exactly heart healthy, but oh, so delicious.  We always had beef enchiladas at home.  I had never heard of enchiladas suizas.  This is likely due to the fact that we rarely ever ate out.  My mom cooked breakfast and dinner nearly every night, despite working full time and having six children, although there were never more than five living at home at any given time.  Our house was always spotlessly clean (my mother would disagree with this statement, but that is because if the magazines are not perfectly fanned out, the house is a wreck, in her opinion).  While we kids had chores on Saturday and alternated days washing dishes, I am still amazed at how she managed to get everything done.  I am the mother of one and generally only work two days per week and my house is in a constant state of disarray!  While I do cook, the dishes are often left until the following morning, I don’t cook every day and I almost never cook breakfast. (more…)


Viva Mexico May 23, 2010

Filed under: appetizers,seafood — freerangenurse @ 3:37 pm

A new shipment of cookbooks arrived from Amazon a couple of weeks ago.  One of the new books I was eagerly awaiting was Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years of Food and Art.  The first time I went to Fonda San Miguel restaurant was back in 1981 (I think) when I was a flower girl in a wedding.  The rehearsal dinner was held there and I remember thinking the food was really good, but I don’t remember much else.  Several years later, I went back as an adult and this time I took in the vibrant surroundings, the art on the walls, the intricately cut papel picado (or cut paper banners) hanging from the ceiling, the peaceful entry courtyard area, and of course, the food.

The food at FSM is not typical TexMex, but rather interior Mexican food full of flavor and texture.  There is a variety of seafood selections such as ceviche (raw fish marinated in lime juice) and enchiladas suizas de jaiba (crab enchiladas) as well as regional delicacies such as quesadillas de huitlacoche (corn fungus – which is just starting to gain following as Mexican truffles), which has a nutty, earthy flavor.  The queso is not a liquid mixture to be scooped up with tortilla chips, but rather a thick, gooey serving of melted cheese served with warm tortillas.  Mmmm, delicioso y sabroso (delicious and flavorful)! (more…)


Delight-ful Egg Tart

Filed under: dessert — freerangenurse @ 2:34 pm

I’m in a book club.  An over-the-top book club.  Each month we take turns selecting the book, then the hostess also brings snacks which coordinate with the book.  One month later when we meet to discuss the book and chose a new one, she also comes up with a little take away and a clever way to discuss the book.  This month was my month to host and my book pick was Kitchen Chinese.  I selected this book mostly because of the food descriptions, so it was only fitting that I came up with a Chinese snack menu.

I emailed my friend, Delight.  It’s true, I have a Chinese American friend who’s real name is Delight and it’s fitting, because she is, in fact, a delight.  I’ve known her since elementary school and, since her parents owned a Chinese restaurant, I figured she could help me select some snack recipes for the group.  She emailed me several ideas and I chose to make these egg tarts and almond cookies (recipe coming soon).  Delight warned me that the tarts are very egg-y and not for everyone, so I decided to make mini-mini tarts, so if my book club folks didn’t like them, they wouldn’t feel bad about not finishing them.  After I tasted them, I discovered they weren’t what I thought they’d be at all.  At hearing the name, egg tart, I imagined a scrambled egg in a pastry shell.  After eating one, I decided they should be renamed custard tarts.  The filling tasted more like a flan custard minus the coffee flavor.  They are mildly sweet, very smooth and surprisingly delicious.  I also think the pastry shells would be even better filled with lemon curd (I will test this hypothesis in the near future). (more…)


I Believe in a Thing Called Brine May 16, 2010

Filed under: chicken,dinner — freerangenurse @ 3:22 pm

I’ve made fried chicken many times.  I’ve made good fried chicken many times.  I made exceptional fried chicken for the first time.  What was the difference between the chicken I’d been making and the chicken I will make from here on out?  A little thing called brine.

I’d heard of brine before now.  Deb at Smitten Kitchen extolled the virtues of brine here and here.  I just hadn’t ever tried it, fearing it would make the chicken too salty.  I then read Thomas Keller’s recipe in his Ad Hoc at Home cookbook. (more…)