Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ultimate Noms: Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookie

COOKIE!!! Ahnomnomnomnom!

This cookie is courtesy of Momofuku Milk Bar. It has the same sort of sweet, crunchy, salty blend of flavors as the infamous Crack Pie. This is one of those cookies that will become your next obsession and they are even better when you microwave them for a few seconds to heat them up before noshing. This will be you, munching on the cookies:

 An important component of the cookie to make first is the cornflake crunch. Let me tell you, this stuff is like crack - or at least what I imagine the addictiveness of crack to be. It's a tasty salty/sugary/buttery snack unto itself. I've eaten so much of it on hand and had to stop myself for fear of not having enough to bake the cookies.

The recipe is here. Important recipe notes:
  • Do make a ton of cornflake crunch in advance but beware its addictiveness. Mix lots and lots of this and have some on hand for extra snacking.
  • Beating the egg and vanilla along with the butter and sugar for 7-8 minutes is an important step. You can even beat the butter and sugar for longer than that.
  • Do not flatten the cookie dough rounds like the recipe says. You really do need to separate the cookies on the baking sheet by 2-3 inches or so. They might be nice flattened mounds when they go in the oven, but they spread generously while baking.
  • It says to refrigerate the cookies on parchment sheets for at least an hour before baking. I highly recommend keeping them in the icebox for an hour or two or perhaps overnight. The very first batch we made spread like crazy and burned slightly after only baking in the oven for 10 minutes which is half the suggested baking time. If you're baking and swapping out cookie sheets in and out of the oven, put the sheets back in the fridge or freezer before you put the raw dough rounds on to bake. If you put the cookies on warm or still-hot cookie sheets, they will spread or burn.
  • I find that using an 1/4 cup measure for the dough is a better cookie size than 1/3 cup. You get more cookies and can bake 9 cookies per sheet.
  • After 7-8 minutes, keep the oven light on and keep your eye on the oven. I don't care what the recipe says; none of our cookie batches have taken 18-20 minutes to bake at 375 degrees. They are temperamental. They take between 10 to 14 minutes to bake if you use the 1/3 cup measure and 8-10 if you use the 1/4 cup measure. If you don't bake them enough, they will crumble and fall apart. Bake them too much and they will be a little too hard.
The dough itself is pretty irresistible as well.  

The cookies spread a lot while baking. This batch is probably a tad on the overdone side. This cookie is tough to bake correctly!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Wait... What Happened to Restaurant Week?

Pretty much what you're going to eat
It's Seattle Restaurant Week. So why haven't you seen tweets, photos and Facebook updates about Nick and I gorging ourselves on fancy bits and pieces? Why hadn't you received a giant Excel spreadsheet with spots and dates to sign up for a new restaurant you've been dying to try? WHYYYY?

Nick and I have been going to SRW and writing about it twice a year ever since we started dating (except when we ate our way through Vietnam). Each time, we had gone to at least four or five different spots, sometimes more. But we mutually decided to skip it this time around and instead explore some new restaurants the old-fashioned way - by paying the regular price. So why have we decided to eschew the popular event this time around?
  1. Nothing new to see here. There weren't a lot of new restaurants to try on the list. Nick and I use SRW as an opportunity to try new places or revisit a spot we haven't been to in a while. Many of the new restaurants listed were from familiar chefs like Maria Hine's Italian spot, Agrodolce. We've already frequented Tilth and Golden Beetle. We've already reveled in the sake slushy from Tanakasan.
  2. You're not even trying. With the exception of a few notable places like Poppy or Art of the Table, many of the restaurants sort of phone it in. A lot of the SRW menus are almost the same across the board and restaurants often feel forced to participate in this two-week event. So they offer a bisque, an apple fennel salad or a beet salad with pumpkin seeds or a roulade of some sort as a first course, usually a roast chicken or lamb, a seasonal pasta or risotto along with a seared cod or trout as course number two and pretty uninspired crème brulee, a chocolate cake, or a seasonal crisp and house-made gelato as the dessert. Remember our complaint about the spaghetti o's sauce from Cicchetti? It's banquet food for the most part. It may be executed well, but it's nothing to write home about. Guess what you're having to eat at our wedding? It's not like we can knock your socks off at that either.
  3. Service sucks sometimes. Once you mention you are there for restaurant week, many times you get lackluster service because servers think you are not "real diners". Again, this isn't true across the board and we've enjoyed lovely service at some of the best places but many places are overbooked and understaffed so guess who's going to be a tad cranky or absent?
  4. I could have bought two GTA V's with that money. It's not really that inexpensive. Plus, you are packing in the calories. Every time we go to restaurant week, we feel the need to eat like kings. We share bottles of wine or delicious cocktails with our friends and clean our plates. Multiply that by 4-7 times over two weeks and you realized you overindulged way too many times. When Nick and I go out for a nice dinner, we'll typically share an appetizer (if at all) and each have an entrée. We both tend not to drink during the week. That means (sans tax and tip), we'll have spent $8 + $16 + $18 = $42. If we happened to each have a glass of wine say me a glass of bubbles and Nick a house cab, then it's now $8 + 16 + $18 + $6 + $9 = $57. However, make it restaurant week and we go hog wild. Let's say I'm driving home so I'll have a fabulous cocktail. Nick will have two. We aren't having a rum and coke or an IPA because their seasonal cocktails are probably amazing, like Art of the Table's Winter is Coming which was Nick's favorite SRW cocktail of all time. This is now $28 +28 + $10 + $12 + $12 = $90. Let's talk tax and tip now. For a normal date night, we have 10% tax and a 20% tip which means $57 is now $74.1. For SRW, $90 becomes $117. That's nearly a $43 difference and is about a third more expensive than a typical night out when we both drink. It's twice as expensive as the nights out when we don't drink. Plus, I'm not a dieter or anything but it's a huge difference when you split an appetizer or a dessert with friends or another person than when you're eating all of the food by yourself.
  5. We are lazy busy. It's a lot of work to do research, make a ton of reservations and wrangle a gaggle of pals. We have a wedding to plan and things to do this time around.
If you are going to Seattle Restaurant Week this autumn, let me suggest trying to get a table at some of our favorites who never let us down for SRW:
Or take an opportunity to go against the grain and try a new restaurant that isn't doing SRW. More on that later...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mexican-Inspired Potsickers and Queso

I invented a monstrously delicious dumpling during cook club: the Mexican potsticker. It's like a more refined version of the Totino's cheesy taco pizza roll or a potsticker with a burrito/taco filling. As classy as I'd like to think I am, I've kept it real by dipping it queso. Sure, you can dip it in guacamole and salsa but the queso is a winner.

Here's how it went down:

Dumpling wrapper dough:

Feel free to use store-bought wonton or potsticker wrappers. No one will think less of you. If you are ambitious, make your own dough:
  • 2 qt AP flour
  • 1/2 cup cilantro and green onion puree (or anything you'd like to puree)
  • 2 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 tbsp salt
To make a puree, you just need to throw in a bunch of stuff in a food processor with a little water. A bunch of cilantro and some chopped green onions should work fine in a food processor.
Mix all dry ingredients together first, then add water.
Knead until the dough is smooth and add flour as you roll out in long sheets with a pasta maker. You can cut it up into squares or use a biscuit or cookie cutter to cut rounds.

Dumpling Filling:
  • 2 cups ground beef, pork or beef substitute
  • Spices - chipotle powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder or taco seasoning - all to taste
  • 1 can refried black beans
  • 1 small diced onion
  • 4-5 diced radishes
  • 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese
  • Chopped cilantro to taste
  • Diced green onion to taste
For veg people, using soyrizo is great. It's already spicy so you don't need to add very much additional spices.
Sautee the onion until soft, then cook the meat. Season it to your liking with Mexican spices and feel free to add your choice of hot sauce. If you have taco seasoning, you can use it as a shortcut.
Add the refried black beans and cook through.
Let the mixture cool or feel free to refrigerate until you want to complete your cooking. It's easy to prep the filling early.
Mix in the diced radishes, cotija cheese, cilantro and green onion. Some people dislike cilantro or a lot of green onion so taste the filling.

Fill the dumplings and pan sear to cook it. If your wrapper is thick or if your filling was really cold, pour a tablespoon of water into the pan and cover the pan with a lid after searing it on one side.


Use whatever queso recipe makes you happy. I found this recipe for queso blanco but couldn't find white American cheese at the two stores I went to. I modified the recipe by using good old Velveeta along with white mild cheddar instead since the Velveeta melts and blends so well. I also dumped it into a crock pot which kept the queso melted and warm.

Monday, October 7, 2013

New Seattle Brunch Spots to Try

Brunch can be legend...wait-for-it...dary. There is something very American about going to brunch, stuffing your face early in the day and not eating again until the evening. Like Ted Mosby and Marshall Ericson, we adore brunch. Just don't go alone.

Unlike folks in Portland and San Francisco, we Seattleites are desperate for the first cup of coffee and loathe waiting in line for brunch. We've been hitting up new or not-new-but-different brunch spots in Seattle and here are some picks for spots you should try as an alternative to the standards or the long lines. Trust us. They are tasty.  

This spot boasts a gorgeous open space with plenty of natural light, reclaimed wood and Pacific Northwest-y nature photos; just the space alone makes you fall in love with the restaurant. The menu has a little something to please everyone including melt-in-your-mouth caramelized apple ricotta beignets with a vanilla anglaise, rich shrimp and grits, biscuits and gravy, wild mushroom scrambles and eggs benedict.


If you want elegant portions and artful food to share, this is your jam. Assemble a table of small plates, tasty egg dishes, veggie sides and share with a group of your best pals over spicy bloody marys. And yes, the breakfast cocktails are delicious here.


Why have you not enjoyed Joule's awesome brunch dishes and even more amazing cold buffet yet? GO STUFF YOUR FACE THERE NOW! I'm salivating just thinking about the amazing Asian-inspired dishes starting with black sesame waffle and chicken fried steak reminiscent of chicken katsu and shrimp and grits with Chinese sausage. But they have an amazing themed buffet that includes an assortment of cheese, house-made crackers, seasonal salads, pickles, danishes and pound cakes. Bring your eating pants or wear a muumuu to hit this brunch hard.

TNT Taqueria

We don't have a Torchy's and it's sad. However, this place is perfectly acceptable when you're craving breakfast tacos heaped with delicious chorizo or papas dulces and kale or an assortment of yummy things smothered in any number of salsas - even an extra spicy habanero radish salsa. Bonus are the rich horchata lattes.
Mushrooms and eggs - yummy!