Free Range Nurse

Cooking therapy from a former travel nurse

Crispy Tender Salmon With Vegetables January 6, 2011

Filed under: dinner,seafood — freerangenurse @ 12:16 pm

Broiled Salmon with wilted spinach

Now you know, I am taking steps toward healthy living.  I had to start pulling things from my regular cooking repertoire that could be considered healthy.  One of my favorites is broiled salmon.  I love broiling almost anything.  It seems to lock in the juices and form a crisp, seared texture to the meat.  I think the fat content in salmon particularly lends itself to broiling.  The resulting dish is filling, quick and easy to prepare, high in good fat and cholesterol, vitamins and nutrients and has a relatively low points value for weight watchers like me.

What you’ll need:

  • 5 ounce fillet of salmon, pin bones removed
  • 1 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups of baby spinach, washed thoroughly, excess water removed
  • 1/4 cup of red sweet pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp McCormick vegetable supreme seasoning

Turn oven on to broil.  Place salmon on a broiler safe pan and brush lightly with olive oil (you should still have the majority of the oil left over).  Sprinkle generously with Old Bay seasoning and a grind or two of pepper.  Place under the broiler with the oven rack as close to the heating element as it will go (the fish should be nearly touching the heating element).  Keep the door of the oven slightly ajar (most ovens have a built in stop for this), or you will have a house full of smoke.  Meanwhile, add the remaining olive oil to the saute pan and heat over medium high heat until the oil starts to ripple.  Saute the diced red pepper first for about 1 – 2 minutes, then add the garlic slices, vegetable seasoning and spinach.  Using tongs, turn and move the vegetables frequently until all the spinach is wilted.  Remove from heat and sprinkle a little sea salt on it.  Next, check your salmon.  It should have a nice crisp exterior, but be moist on the inside.  It only takes about 6 or 7 minutes in my oven, so watch it closely.  Enjoy your delicious lunch or dinner and if you are a weight watcher, this entire meal is 11 points.

 

Resolutions January 5, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — freerangenurse @ 9:13 pm

It’s that time of year, isn’t it? Time to make resolutions to lose weight, improve health, exercise more. I am among those trying to set out on a new journey to a better, healthier tomorrow.  My 40th birthday is coming up in a little over six months and it’s time for me to start taking care of the body that has been taking care of me.  I have joined Weight Watchers and Gold’s Gym for the new year and together with some dear friends of mine, I am determined to learn what, really, I have known all along – how to make and eat healthy food and incorporate physical activity in my everyday life.

Will this affect this blog?  Well, of course.  I blog foods that I cook, so if I am making healthier foods, they will be reflected here.  I will probably still do some desserts because I take those treats up to work.  I hope you’ll stick around and try some of the new things posted here.  I promise to make food that is tasty, even if it isn’t loaded with cream and cheese.  I may occasionally cook up something decadent, because part of re-learning healthy eating is knowing that the occasional rich dish is not forbidden, but can be enjoyed in moderation.

Cheers to all of you and to a healthy new year!

 

Delia, the Free Range Nurse

 

Chicken Pot Pie January 2, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — freerangenurse @ 10:38 am

Chicken Pot Pie

I love chicken pot pie!  I mean, what’s not to love (other than the quality cellulite you’ll have after eating it)?  Creamy sauce, tender veggies, pastry…during dinner!  Sign me up!  As much as I love a good chicken pot pie, I really only make them once a year and before this year, I always used Campbell’s cream of chicken and mushroom soup for the sauce.  Now that I try to make things from scratch, even if only to see how it’s done, I don’t know that I’ll go back to the old way.  Home cooking from scratch really does taste better, in my opinion.  Now, sometimes I don’t have time for “from scratch” cooking, and I’ll bet you don’t either.  In that case, certainly you could use cream of chicken, or cream of chicken and mushroom soup, add vegetables and cooked chicken and use a store bought pie crust.  Just promise me that at some point you’ll try it this way.

Chicken Pot Pie

adapted from The Barefoot Contessa

  • 3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin on
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups yellow onions, diced (2 medium onions)
  • 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups medium-diced carrots, washed
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag frozen peas
  • 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced thick

For the pastry:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup ice cold water
  • 1 egg beated with 1 tablespoon heavy cream (or water), for egg wash
  • flaked sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a baking sheet and rub them with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 35-40 minutes until cooked through.  Set aside until cool enough to handle.  Remove the meat from the bone and cut into large cubes.  You should have about 4-6 cups.

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock.  In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the onions and carrots over medium-low heat, until the onions are translucent.  Add the flour and cook over low heat for 1 minute more, stirring until thick.  Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce.  Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring until thick.  Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and heavy cream.  Add the cubed chicken and the rest of the vegetables.  Mix well.  Turn off heat and set aside.

For the pastry, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.  Cut in cold butter using a pastry cutter until the butter is about the size of small peas.  Add ice water, starting with 1/2 cup and using your hands, bring the dough together, trying to handle it as little as possible, so the butter stays cold.  If necessary, add more water, a little at a time, just until the dough comes mostly together.  Dump the dough onto a clean, floured counter and knead, quickly, into a ball.  Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate it for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Divide the filling among 6 ovenproof bowls (I used soup tureens, but you could use large ramekins or any oven-safe bowl).  Ina says this recipe makes 4 servings, but we very easily made 6 large servings.  Divide the dough into six equal portions and roll each piece into a circle large enough to cover your bowl.  Brush the outside edge of the bowl with egg wash, then place the dough on top.  Trim the circle to 1/2 inch larger than the top of the bowl.  Press the dough onto the edges to make it stick, then cut three slits into the dough to allow steam to vent.  Brush egg wash over the dough and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.  You could also sprinkle some parsley flakes for color, if you want to get a little fancy.  Place pies on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling hot.  Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.  Enjoy!

 

Confit Byaldi a.k.a. Ratatouille October 29, 2010

Filed under: dinner,lunch,side dishes — freerangenurse @ 9:49 am

Confit Byaldi

I’ll admit, before I saw the movie, Ratatouille, I had heard of ratatouille, but never had much desire to know what it was.  As Linguine would say, “It sounds like rat…patootie.”  Not very appetizing, but when Remy makes it at the end of the movie, it looks delicious.  Yes, I realize it was a cartoon, but I still wanted a cartoon bite!  I did some research and found out that the chef-spiration for Remy’s cooking came from Thomas Keller.  Mr. Keller is already a favorite of mine because of this recipe, and because I have loved all of the recipes I’ve tried from his Ad Hoc cookbook.  Plus, I’ve always wanted to go to his French Laundry restaurant, until I saw this!  Well, actually, I still want to go, but I guess I’ll have to wait until someone else wants to foot the bill.

While researching Keller and Remy, I found a link to the recipe for Ratatouille’s ratatouille by the man himself.  I made a couple of modifications, but it is still pretty true to the original.  It pairs amazingly well with goat cheese (an idea I gleaned from Smitten Kitchen).  It was hearty enough to be dinner and good enough to be lunch the following day.  I only wish I had made more so it could have been dinner again.  It was that good!

Don’t let all the steps and prep work scare you away.  If you have a mandolin (which doesn’t have to be expensive – mine is from Pampered Chef), it makes pretty quick work of the veggie prep.  My daughter did all the arranging and she is very proud of it.  Sadly, I did not bother to take an after picture, so all I have is an in progress photo.

Confit Byaldi
Thomas Keller’s Confit Byaldi

adapted slightly

For Piperade:

  • 1/2 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1/2 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
  • 3 San Marzano tomatoes (from can), seeded and coarsely diced, juices reserved
  • 1 sprig of thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 sprig flat leaf parsley, or 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 bay leaf, his recipe called for half a bayleaf, but seriously?
  • kosher salt

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Place pepper halves on a foil-lined baking sheet, cut side down.  Roast until the skin loosens, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely.

Combine oil, garlic, and onion in a medium skillet over low heat until very soft, but not browned, about 8 minutes.  Add tomatoes, their juices, and herbs.  Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes, do not brown; add peppers and simmer to soften them.  Season to taste with salt, and discard bay leaf.  Reserve a tablespoon of mixture and spread the remainder in the bottom of a pie plate.  Set aside.

For Vegetables

  • 1 zucchini (4-5 ounces), sliced into 1/16th inch rounds
  • 1 Japanese eggplant (4-5 ounces), sliced into 1/16 inch rounds
  • 1 yellow squash (4-5 ounces), sliced into 1/16 inch rounds
  • 4 roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16th inch rounds
  • 2 red bell peppers (long, skinny ones), sliced into 1/16th inch slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon thyme
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Starting in the center of the pie plate, arrange vegetable slices, in an alternating pattern, over piperade so that 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed.  Once you reach the outside of the pie pan, start working in concentric circles back in, until you fill the dish.  Combine remaining ingredients and drizzle over vegetables.  Set aside.

For Sauce:

  • 1 box Pomi tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp herbs de Provence (or a combination of herbs such as thyme, chervil, basil, etc)

Mix herbs into tomato sauce and pour over prepared vegetables until just covered.  Cover dish with parchment paper (not just aluminum foil – it reacts negatively to tomatoes), then aluminum foil and place in a preheated 350 degree oven.  Bake for an hour to an hour and a half, until vegetables are tender when tested with a paring knife.

Using a spatula, remove a desired amount of the confit byaldi to a plate, top with a dollop of fresh goat cheese and swoon!  I really need to make this again!

 

Pork Tenderloin with Shallots and Pears October 23, 2010

Filed under: dinner,pork — freerangenurse @ 2:11 pm

Pork Tenderloin with Shallots and Pear Jus

I’ve told you before that I love garlic and that I don’t really like onions, right?  Have I told you that I love their love child, the shallot?  Oh, I looooooooovvvvvveeeee shallots!!!  They are a delicious blend of onion and garlic and although they make me cry when prepping them (what love doesn’t make you cry from time to time), I still can’t get enough.  Imagine, then, my delight when I came across this recipe on epicurious.  It has shallots right in the title, as in, they are a featured component of this dish.  They get top billing!  I made this and let me say, I think it is a delicious fall recipe.

Pork Tenderloin With Shallots and Pear Jus

adapted from Epicurious

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground (coarse) black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-1 1/4 pound pork tenderloin
  • 6-8 large shallots, cut in half, peeled
  • 2 bosc or anjou pears, quartered, cored
  • 4 teaspoons butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup pear nectar (not juice, okay)

Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F.  Mix oil, garlic, salt, pepper and chopped thyme in a small bowl.  Dry the pork loin thoroughly, with paper towels.  Rub the loin, pears and shallots with the oil mixture to coat all sides well.

Heat a large ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the pork and shallots.  Brown on all sides, turning, about seven minutes total.  Transfer the shallots to a platter.  Transfer the pork to a baking sheet (do not clean the skillet, you’ll want, no you’ll NEED all those yummy brown bits on the bottom).  Roast the pork until a thermometer inserted into the center registers 145 degrees F, this takes about 10 minutes.

While your pork is finishing up in the oven, add the pears to the dirty seasoned skillet and cook over medium-high heat until they are brown on the cut side, turning them once or twice, about four minutes.  Transfer the pears to sit next to the shallots on the platter (wait!  Don’t clean that skillet, yet!!!)

Mix butter and flour in a small cup.  Add broth, pear nectar, and butter mixture to the skillet that you haven’t washed and boil until the sauce thickens, scraping up all those delicious, delectable, delightful brown bits you’ve been itching to wash off (shame on you, by the way).  This should take about 7 minutes.  Add the pears and shallots to the sauce.

By now, hopefully, you’ve taken your pork loin out of the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes, wrapped in foil.  You do know meat needs a break after cooking and before you slice into it with a knife, right?  We have to let those juices have a chance to move back into the meat.  If you cut it, the juice will just run out and you’ll be stuck with dry meat and I don’t want that for you!  As I was saying, after you let the meat rest, slice it and arrange it on a plate or platter, surround it with the pears and shallots and spoon some sauce over it.  Serve with a green veggie (I love sauteed spinach) and a starch (I chose mashed potatoes).  Enjoy!!!

 

Bringing Britain Back October 17, 2010

Filed under: cake,dessert — freerangenurse @ 12:28 pm

Coffee Walnut Cake

I have a dear friend, Emma, who just celebrated a milestone birthday this past week. I won’t say which milestone, because I’d still like for us to still be friends, but I’ll just say that it ended in a zero. Emma is from jolly old England and darn proud of it. I would dare say she’s almost as proud as Texans are about being from Texas! I offered to bake her the cake flavour (Queen’s English spelling, just for Emma) of her choosing and she chose coffee walnut cake. I scoured the internet and found a recipe courtesy of BBC. The only modifications I made was making the cake four layers and using all-purpose flour instead of self-rising and using granulated sugar in place of castor sugar.  I am happy to say the cake made her homesick, which means I did something right.  It was even a hit with her mum and other family members who still live in England.

When I first heard Emma mention a coffee flavored cake, I have to say, I wasn’t excited.  I like coffee, but I thought the cake would be overwhelmingly coffee flavored.  I’m glad to say, it is the perfect amount of coffee flavor.  The icing, a buttercream (which ordinarily I don’t like due to the overly sugary taste) was well balanced with the bitter espresso.  Adding that little bit of brewed espresso also seemed to make the buttercream lighter and creamier, but still stable enough for piping.  I highly recommend this cake, it just might be one of my new favorites!

note:  you will need a scale for this one.  I haven’t measured out the ingredient yet, but I promise to bake it again and take note of standard measurements.

Coffee Walnut Cake
(adapted from BBC)

yields a four layer 8-inch round cake

  • 450 grams/1 pound unsalted butter, softened (plus extra for greasing the pans)
  • 450 grams/1 pound of granulated sugar
  • 8 large eggs
  • 100 ml/3 1/2 ounces strong espresso coffee, cooled to room temperature
  • 450 grams/ 1 pound all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 150 grams/ 5 ounces chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour four 8-inch cake rounds.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until very light and pale, about 5 minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time to the butter and sugar mixture, beating until each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next.  Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl between each addition.

Add the espresso to the mixture and stir well.  Add the flour, baking powder and walnuts and stir well to completely combine.

Spoon the cake mixture into the four prepared cake pans, making sure to evenly distribute the batter between the four pans.  The batter will be very thick.

Bake in a single layer in a preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake is golden brown.  You may need to bake in batches of two at a time.

Remove the cakes from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Prepare coffee frosting, recipe follows.

Coffee Butter Cream Frosting

  • 250 grams/9 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  • 400 grams/14 ounces powdered (confectioners) sugar, sifted
  • 100ml/3 1/2 ounces espresso coffee, cooled to room temperature

Using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy, add the sugar in gradually (one cup at a time), beating until fully incorporated and fluffy, before adding more.  Once all of the sugar is incorporated, add the coffee and beat until fully incorporated.  Icing may separate a little, but will become smooth again with continued beating.

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a cake board/cake stand and cover with an even layer of frosting, coming just to the edges of the cake, not covering the sides of the cake.  Place another layer of cake, then icing until all of the cake and icing is used.  Top with 1 1/2 cups toasted, chopped walnuts.  For added decoration, and to make the cake shown here, prepare an extra half batch of frosting to use for piping a border around the cake.  Enjoy!

 

Cheddar Dill Scones October 15, 2010

Filed under: bread — freerangenurse @ 8:44 pm

Gougeres and scones

Who doesn’t love Ina Garten?  I know I do.  I have three of her cookbooks and haven’t been disappointed in a recipe, yet.  Today I made her recipe for cheddar dill scones.  I am making tomato soup today with some grilled shrimp and thought the scones would be a lovely way to bring it all together.  It just so happens that I’m invited to a seafood boil tomorrow afternoon, so I’ll be setting aside some scone dough to bake up for tomorrow along with the sangria (recipe link here) and an English Coffee and Walnut Cake for the birthday girl (recipe to come).

I loved the scones (what’s not to love if there are three sticks of butter in the recipe), but I did make one modification and would make another if I had it to do over.  Ina’s recipe calls for a petite dice of the cheddar.  I would shred the cheese next time for a less lumpy/more incorporated cheese scone.  I also decreased the amount of dill, quite frankly because one cup of dill seemed excessive.  I think I made the right choice for my taste.

Cheddar Dill Scones

adapted from Ina Garten

  • 4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 sticks (3/4 cup) cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 4 large eggs, beaten lightly
  • 1 cup cold, heavy cream, plus extra for brushing scones
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded or small diced
  • 1/3 cup minced dill weed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the 4 cups flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.  Whisk together to combine.  Add the butter and cut it into the flour, using a pastry cutter, until the butter is in pea-sized pieces.  Add the eggs to the cream and stir to combine, then add it to the flour mixture, combine just until blended.  Toss the cheddar and dill with the reserved tablespoon of flour and then add it to the dough, mixing just until incorporated.  You want your butter to remain as cold as possible, so don’t over-mix.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it just until it comes fully together.  Roll the dough, using a floured rolling pin until it is about 1/2 inch thick.  Using a small round biscuit cutter, begin cutting out rounds of dough.  After you cut as many rounds as you can, gather up your scraps and quickly combine them into a ball.  Place the ball of dough in the refrigerator before rolling it out again to cut more rounds, preventing your butter from melting.  Repeat this process until you have used all your dough.  At this point, you can set some of the rounds on a cookie sheet, in a single layer, to freeze for later use.  Once they are frozen, toss them into a freezer bag for storage.

If you are planning to bake the scones for immediate consumption, spread the scones apart, allowing at least two inches between scones, on a cookie sheet.  Brush the tops of the scones with heavy cream.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until the tops are lightly golden.  Enjoy your delicious scones!

 

Coming Soon: October 11, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — freerangenurse @ 1:41 pm

Hi there!! I know I’ve been a naughty blogger. I up and disappeared on you, but I promise to post again, soon. I do have more recipes to share, but I will probably start posting just the recipe along with a picture or two of the completed dish. I look forward to sharing with you.

Sincerely,

The (not currently so) Free Range Nurse.

 

I Really Love Your Peaches, Wanna Shake Your Tree June 4, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — freerangenurse @ 9:21 am

Yesterday, some friends and I headed out to Fredericksburg, Texas to pick our own peaches.  There is something really delicious about fruit that is left to ripen on the vine.  A very noticeable difference in the sweetness and intensity of flavor.  If you’ve never grown your own fruit or vegetables, or picked your own from an orchard or farm, you really owe it to yourself to get out there and get your hands on some tree-ripened fruit.  We were lucky enough to be able to find both peaches and strawberries.  Unfortunately, the blackberries were not quite ready and were entirely too sour.  Now the big dilemma is what to make with the 1/2 bushel of peaches I picked.  I have to move fast since the fruit is already ripe and ready to eat.  I am definitely going to make peach ice cream.  I have three different recipes I want to try, but I’m going to start with my man, David Lebovitz.  There will also be peach cobbler, for sure.  My question to you, dear reader, is what is your favorite peach recipe?  Share one with me and perhaps I can share it with the other 20 or so readers.  Oh what a celebrity you’ll be.

 

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.