Monthly Archives: July 2012

Happy Birthday, “I Love You”, and Chewy Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chewy Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Post-post note! The day after this went live I was featured on America’s Test Kitchen for their Blogger Spotlight series! A few years ago my dear friend Thom turned me on to ATK and Cooks Illustrated in general, and I’ve come to refer to this incredibly knowledgeable source for any base recipe that I NEED to get right on the first try: basically they take a recipe and dissect it to the core, and then explain to you WHY certain combinations worked and others didn’t. I was honored, the day after my birthday, to be spotlighted by this incredibly well-known publication, especially with such an intro by their social media intern Belle Cushing.

Last night around midnight my dad woke me up to crack a huge bottle of champagne and have a chat in the backyard hot tub. I had literally just turned 31 – the age my dad was when he had me. We’ve renamed this occasion the “Better Champagne Birthday”. Climbing back into bed later after a text from my mom and a phone call with a good friend, I started mulling on the love in my life.

When I was 19, Ruark was the first man (of no familial relation) to say “I love you” to me. Or, at least, the first one of significance. It was New Years Eve of 2000/2001, and we were dressed formally and dancing at my parents’ house. Since then I’ve remembered every first “I love you” – where I was, if something as simple as making crepes inspired it, and how it felt physically inside of me to say and hear those words with someone for the first time. I remember this with all the men I’ve dated and all the women who’ve honored me with their friendship, giving their “I love you’s” so freely and fully that they’ve sometimes come for the first time at the end of a text or an email. The older I grow, the more weight those words carry. But a good weight – like a thick quilt in the dead of winter or stepping into a cool pool of water on a blistering summer day.

This week I was gifted with a new “I love you”. “I love you very much”, specifically. It caught me off guard. It was delicate, and genuine, and the kind of gift you want to wrap up and tuck somewhere safe.

I said “I love you” right back to this friend – and meant it – and the evening continued on, those words spoken and then left, sweetly, in the air. And then the next day they troubled me. And then the following day I found myself deeply introspective.

So I lay in bed in the first few hours of my 31st year thinking of “I love you”:

The way my father tells me – over and over again – that no one will ever love me as much as he does. The way my mother and I say it as we hug tight. The way my siblings and I say it easily and fully and often. The way Ruark and I end every phone call with it, still, though we’ve not been a couple for three years now. The way Lindsey’s “love you’s” have seen me through 15 years of growing pains. The way Abby ends a text with, “love you darlin”. Or Lyndsey’s “I love you’s” are so full and rich I feel her inside my heart though she’s hundreds of miles away. The way I now have to raise my voice to tell my grandparents I love them so that they can hear it. Or how I can say “I love you” over and over to Mitra, who doesn’t need words to know I do.

I was told recently that old souls say “I love you” first. I rarely have that courage, though I often say that them my head while holding tight or keeping a gaze. Once I’ve said them once, I want to say them again, and in any moment that feels significant.

But I think we often let fear stop us from expressing our love. Or at least I do. Not surface love or lust or social propriety, but real love and affection and attachment. Do we do this for protection or self-preservation? Or because once someone’s said “I love you” we immediately fear the day they’ll go away and we’ll be left to wonder what happened to that love?

And where does that love go once a relationship has ended? If we haven’t seen someone for a month, a year, a decade… where is that love?

Is it possible to love someone who said goodbye to me many years ago or to love someone who I’ve known for only a few months?

I guess the older you get and the more you experience, the more there is to chew on at 1:30 in the morning.

But, today, for me, love is everywhere. It’s in the people who, at some point on my birthday, will think of me with love. It’s in listening to the song that Ruark wrote me for my birthday last year. In wearing the pink chef coat that Erika gave me today. In flipping through the “Cook” Book that Dalane made me of all the menus and quirky texts I’ve sent him since starting my chef job out east.

It’s in Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. The new “I love you very much” person’s favorite sweet. I love making people’s favorites for their birthdays – cheesecake, Snickerdoodles, apple pies, brownies… they’ve been my way to say “I love you” when celebrating someone’s birth. Today, as I transcribe and clean and ponder on the conjunction of a few harmless, full words, I’m thinking “love” with butter, flour, and chocolate.

– Jacqueline

Chewy Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 18 cookies

Note: these are adapted from America’s Test Kitchen / Cooks Illustrated, which I find incredibly reliable when you want to nail something specific. They’re chewy and soft, but very sweet. In general I love subtle sweets, so while these are perfect for those who want bakery or Toll House-type cookies, don’t say I didn’t warn you if, like me, you prefer them with a bit of heft from nuts or oatmeal or almond butter. Sometimes love is baking outside your box.

Ingredients:

  • 10.5 oz gluten-free flour blend (mine was 6 oz brown rice flour, 3 oz. tapioca flour and 1.5 oz millet flour, more or less)
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 12 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar (or white sugar)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate baking chips (regular or oversized, as I used here)

Preheat oven to 325°. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment.

Measuring out the flours in a medium bowl. Add xanthan gum, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment (or hand mixer), beat sugars and butter until thoroughly combined. Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth and slightly fluffy. On low speed, add flour mixture until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Scoop into balls (about 1/4 cup or smaller, depending on how you like your cookies). Crack a ball in half and then fit the smooth sides together, so the rough dough from the middle makes the edges rougher and gives more surface area for texture. Place at least 3″ apart on baking sheets.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, rotating halfway through, until edges are slightly crispy but centers are still soft.

Cool on baking sheets (this will help the insides continue to cook but the edges stop before getting too crispy).

Share with many “I love you”s.

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I Chat With: Doug Quint of Big Gay Ice Cream

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I’m way super psyched that this morning my first ice cream interview comes out on Serious Eats NY. On a gorgeous day in Union Square I had a fun and absurd talk with Doug Quint of Big Gay Ice Cream. My editor told me it put a smile on his face from start to finish. I like my editor. Hi Max.

As I prepare food for my the family I work for to eat on my days off, seeing another interview go live pumps me up for returning to Manhattan and sitting with a few more awesome people – first Anita Lo, who I am incredibly excited to sit with. And then George Mendes, a fellow Portuguese chef who I can’t wait to brain-pick.

As I type at my iPad in my work kitchen, pondering what food I’m making today, I’m feeling very much at peace. I am exhausted from a long weekend of cooking for many people. But they were all lovely people, and I feel like I’m starting to get good at my job, finally settling into my skin with it. I’m going home to a good man who I really care about who is making ME an insane dinner tonight. And I’m celebrating turning 31 this week with my wonderful family, my dearest friends, and sustainable health. I am much happier right now than at this time last year, when turning 30 felt significant but hard. For the first time in my life I feel – naturally and fully – an adult. It was a weird realization… But a comfortable one.

So, enough reflection…

Go check out my interview with Doug on Serious Eats NY, to start your day off on a happy note.

From the water in Amagansett, happy Monday,
Jacqueline

Gluten and Dairy-Free Chocolate-Chocolate Cookies: Milk Bar Mondays!

Chocolate-Chocolate Cookies – Gluten and Dairy Free!

I’m missing shooting real photos with a real camera, instead of frantically with an iPad while I cook more in one day than I ever used to dream I could. Anyone have any suggestions for how to make photos from an iPad look awesome?!?!

Other than that bit of crankiness I’m pretty psyched by this Christina Tosi Milk Bar Cookbook recipe that Cassie of Bake Your Daypicked for today’s Milk Bar Mondays swap. Even before I baked these kids up, I knew that they were going to be crazy-awesome. And considering the time that goes into most Tosi recipes (the Apple Pie Layer Cake and Carrot Cake Truffles being two that spring to mind), these are relatively easy to make. And super awesome.

Being a cookie, it’s a simple matter of whipping together some fat and sugar, beating in some protein and more fatty yumminess, and then folding in gluten-free flours and starches and some chocolate crumbs.

Because, of course, a Tosi cookie has to have that little something extra. It has to have some crumb, crunch or liquidy addition to take it from “oh my dog yeah” to “save me from myself this is just too much yum in one cookie“.

Let’s just say I may have eaten a bit of batter before putting these mammoth babies in. Continue reading

Summer of Salads: Jicama and Watermelon

Jicama and Watermelon Salad

Every now and then, someone comes into your life and you breathe a huge sigh of relief.

One of those such special people made me a Jicama and Watermelon salad on the 4th of July. It went scrumptiously alongside some huge langostines I fried up all spicy-like and some ridiculously fresh sea bass that took a mere ten minutes to broil to perfection. He was all achy and sore from a pulled back muscle. I was exhausted from long days of cooking for other people. We feasted with white wine I had been saving for over a year for a special occasion – until I grew up and realized that every good meal with a good person is a special occasion. Then we climbed onto the roof and watched NYC’s spectacular fireworks burst over the Hudson river.

Then I stole his recipe.

I adapted it slightly for the family I cook for, and set it on the pink-canopied backyard table with some of my garden chicken salad and grilled burgers. By the time I got around to snapping pictures of it 24 hours later it had faded in color but the flavors had developed even more fully.

Jicama is a root that’s a cross between a water chestnut and rhubarb, believe it or not. Watery, slightly sweet and somewhat starchy, it’s often eaten in its native Mexico with fiery spices. Because of the light sweetness and water content, it pairs extremely well with watermelon, giving a salad of both some crunch and texture. They’re found at most big grocery stores out in the east coast, but are easy to overlook.

After grunting and sweating away peeling the annoyingly large jicama, I tossed it lightly with watermelon, lime, cilantro and a bit of jalapeno for a ridiculously refreshing salad that my blew my  bosses guests away.

Happy summer, happy Friday!

– Jacqueline

Jicama and Watermelon Salad


Jicama and Watermelon Salad

Serves 6 as a side

1 medium jicama, peeled and cut into thin 3″ long strips (about 3 cups)
1/4 watermelon, cut into thin 3″ long strips (about 3 cups)
1/2 jalapeno pepper, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and chill before serving.

When Life Gives You Awesome Lemons, Make “Happy Lemonade”

I find the Beatles’ “I’m So Tired” running through my head a lot nowadays. I try to use my time in the kitchen to focus on just one thing, so I don’t cut my finger half off (again) or overchar something. Even with a housefull of guests (not mine, of course), quiet can be found in the simple repetitions of cutting, stirring, basting…

The produce out in the Hamptons right now is just breathtaking, and it inspires me to appreciate and make the most out of each deliciously full meal I get paid to make. A handful of fresh mint from Round Swamp Farm sent me reeling. My upcoming feature for Easy Eats magazine (out mid-July) is on the joy of local honeys and their flavorful abundance, and I’ve become a new convert to sourcing local, rich honeys of vastly different colors, textures, aromas and flavor combinations. The Hamptons offers plenty of those, too.

So the mint and honey combo had me craving fresh lemonade. I LOVE it, but hate when sugar becomes the main flavor and sweetness overpowers refreshiment. Using a floral, lightly-sweet honey and fresh mint made mine a simply fresh, flavorful beverage that completely refreshed me midway through a long day. The next night, I added some local blueberries and a few nods of local bourbon (Hudson Valley Four Grain Whiskey, to be exact) for a late-night, happy-rejuvenating date when I spent a few hours breathing the same air with someone special. We’ll be tipping these back as we cook fresh HUGE langostines and striped bass caught yesterday morning and watch the fireworks from his roof on the Hudson tomorrow.

It seems silly to post a recipe for lemonade, but it made me so happy.

Hence… HAPPY LEMONADE!

Happy Lemonade

For each serving:

8 oz cold filtered water
juice of one large, preferably organic lemon
1 tsp thinly ribboned fresh mint, plus more for garnish
2 tsp local, light, floral honey, such as clover or blueberry
1.5 oz really awesome bourbon
5/6 blueberries

Squeeze lemon juice into water, reserving a slice to garnish (if making for a group, slice a fresh lemon instead and float on top). Stream in honey, whisking continually to dissolve. Taste and adjust to your sweetness level (2 tsp is perfect for me).

Fill long Pilsner or pint glasses with ice, fill, and add bourbon. Taste and adjust. Drop in mint and give it a twirl. Drop in blueberries and have fun watching them bob and weave around the ice.

Garnish with mint and lemon slice and bottoms up!

I Chat With Chef Markus Jernmark and a Missed Milk Bar Monday!

Last night at around 9pm I sat down on the floor in my office at my dad’s house – empty and dark and quiet – and cried for about five minutes.

Life is just… full… right now.

I love everything I get to do… almost. But evidently it’s catching up with me. I cried for another 40 or so seconds today.

I need sleep. Everything is more dramatic when you’re sleep deprived.

I have a feeling more than 27 of you out there understand.

I picked 27 because it’s the first number that came to mind. No further reason.

Anyway, two fun things are out in the world today.

The first, my We Chat With… interview with Marcus Jernmark of Aquavit in NYC is out today on Serious Eats NY. I loved sitting down with Chef Marcus, and once again found myself rejuvenated and motivated by someone’s passion, dedication and sense of humor in the chaotic field of food. And his plates are seriously gorgeous and you want to eat them immediately – two things that don’t always go hand in hand in NYC nowadays. And look at that smile! Nice, nice guy. Click on the image to be directed to the interview. They come out Monday mornings, all by yours truly.

Chef Marcus Jermark, photo Brent Herrig Photography

The second, my Milk Bar Mondays ladies! I haven’t had enough days off to make the deliciously lengthy Christina Tosi Milk Bar creation for this week, which makes my heart sad. This week Audra of The Baker Chic and Erin of Big Fat Baker made a Sweet Corn Cereal Milk Ice Cream Pie that is about to set me into a third round of tears, it looks so good and I wish I had a gluten-dairy-free version waiting for me RIGHT NOW! I even bought the ingredients two weeks ago, then didn’t have a day to make the recipe. Sniff. Check out these beauties (and click the images to be directed to their sites). Only 2 of 6 of us posted this week… I have good feelings about the next one.  I hate missing this swap. But what can you do?

From Audra of The Baker Chic

From host Erin of Big Fat Baker

Now I’m back to balancing books, driving, transcribing, researching, chatting, eating and, always, inevitably, cooking.

Happy Monday folks,

– Jacqueline

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