Cookies and Beans, oh, my!

We were home this weekend and cooked a few delicious dishes that will sustain us through the end of the week.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from a recipe by Jacques Torres, et al.
Makes about 18 cookies

These are the cookies that appeared in the July 9, 2008 edition of the New York Times.

Ingredients
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (Buy it)
Sea salt

Method
1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

4. Scoop six 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

Red Beans and Rice
Adapted from How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman

Ingredients

2 cups kidney, pinto, or other beans, washed and picked over and soaked over night
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chili powder (or 4 or 5 sprigs thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 2 bay leaves, and 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice; I use chili powder)
2 cups chopped tomatoes (canned are fine; don’t bother to drain)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
3 cups canned coconut milk, warmed
Chopped parsley or cilantro for garnish
Tabasco to taste

Procedure

1. Put the beans in a large pot with water to cover. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil; skim the foam if necessary. Cover loosely and cook at a gentle simmer, stirring very occasionally; add additional water if necessary.  We added a chuck of bacon; you could also use a ham hock.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet and cook the garlic and vegetables over medium heat until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the chili powder (or alternate spices) and stir. Add the tomatoes, turn the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes break up, 10-15 minutes.

3. When the beans are almost all the way cooked (after about an hour or an hour and 15 minutes; start checking frequently after 50 minutes, since much depends on your particular beans), stir the sautéed vegetables and tomatoes into the beans. Cook until the beans are cooked through and completely tender (keep tasting and checking; this is the secret of cooking beans, at least for me, not to quit until they’re done). Discard the bay leaves, if you used them, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Put 3 cups of the bean-vegetable mixture into another saucepan, one that can hold at least double their bulk comfortably. (You will probably have more than 3 cups of beans and vegetables; freeze the excess.) If the beans in the saucepan are swimming in liquid, cook them gently until they are moist but not inundated.

5. Add the rice and warmed coconut milk to the beans and vegetables. Cover and turn the heat to low. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed. If necessary, uncover and raise the heat to medium-high; cook, stirring, until the liquid is absorbed. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with parsley or cilantro, and serve. A dash or two of Tabasco tastes very good with the coconut milk.

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One response to “Cookies and Beans, oh, my!

  1. I love Mark Bittman’s cookbooks! I have How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and his new one Kitchen Express. You should check that one out if you haven’t already. It’s all about fast, seasonal meals, could help with your local eating journey.

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