Saturday, February 7, 2009

Neiman Marcus $1 million Urban Legend Cookies recipe

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

2 cups butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups granulated sugar (Castor sugar in the UK)

2 tsp. vanilla
4 large eggs
4 cups plain white flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
5 cups blended oatmeal**

24 oz. chocolate chips - plain (classic)
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice: I use walnut or pecan)
I sometimes add raisens, usually I just leave it out as overkill - depends on what you like.)

Cream the butter and both sugars.
Add eggs and vanilla; mix
Mix flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda in seperate bowl. Add into wet ingredients and mix.
Add chocolate chips and nuts and mix gently untill distributed.
Roll into balls*** and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. I flatten the balls a bit with my palm

Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees F(watch and vary per your oven - mine is actually 9 min)
You only want them faintly brown or they will burn.
Cool on a wire rack

Makes 112 cookies (You want a lot of them because everyone will eat them and they do keep well if you put them into ziplock bags or a tin)

** measure oatmeal and blend in a blender to a fine powder.
*** dough balls should be about walnut size and remember to flatten gently when you place them on baking sheet
Use flat baking sheets for this - I use non-stick and it works perfectly

Friday, February 6, 2009

Chicken smothered in mushrooms and caramelized onions.

Andrew here. Well, this is my first attempt at this and I went a little nuts. So let's start off with the basic recipe, as well as my personal recommendations and the like.

Mushroom smothered chicken with caramelized onions Ingredients

3 tbsp olive oil 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
4 bone-in chicken brest halves (about 2 lbs) skin re 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
4 tbsp flour 1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar 1/4 tsp dried sage
1 lb mushrooms thinly sliced1 One spanish onion cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1/4 cup brandy

Instructions for Mushroom smothered chicken with caramelized onions

1. In large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Dredge chicken in 2 tablespoons of flour, shaking off excess. Add chicken to pan and saute 5 minutes per side or until golden brown. With slotted spoon, transfer chicken to plate.

2. Add onion to pan, sprinkle with sugar and cook, stirrinf frequently, 12 minutes or until golden brown and tender. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, 10 minutes or until tender and liquid has evaporated. Add brandy to pan, increase heat to high, and cook 1 minute to evaporate alcohol.

3. Add remaining 2 tablespoons flour, stirring to evenly coat vegatables. Whisk in broth, pepper, salt and sage and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, return chicken to pan, and simmer 7 minutes until cooked through.

Andrew's reccomendaitons/changes/thoughts:

The frst time I made this it was really lovely. I made a few changes while I was at it, however:
1. I used boneless chicken breasts without a problem- in fact, it might have been better since it could be breaded and cut without a problem.
2. It took me much longer to reduce the mushrooms than the ten minutes- but I was working with a fairly small pan.
3. I ended up using some cooking sherry rather than the brandy and was very pleased with the results- the sweetness of the sherry nicely complimented the onions and mushrooms.
4. I would recommend having everything chopped and sliced beforehand- I ended up slicing 3 mushrooms, running to the stove for a quick stir, then running back to slice and chop.
5. Used a vidalia onion rather than a spanish onion- again, a slightly sweeter variety, but otherwise pretty much exactly the same.
6. Used fresh sage rather than dried. It came out nicely but I recommend if you use fresh, use more and make sure to chop it finely.

Anyway, a very easy recipe, very tasty, has lots of elbowroom for error. And it is a simple, elegant dish. I even was able to use it to taste up some leftover mashed potatoes!

So, I loved it so much I decided to re-create it for you folks at home. Since the first time I made it, I had some new kitchen equipment I was itching the try and such.

Now I knew that measuring how much flour I used to coat the chickens was silly- the idea was that you should coat the chiens with a very light layer of flour such that they are no longer tacky, and that's about it. So I did so:

I encountered my first of many problems here. The first time I tried this recipe I had these nice plump chicken breasts, skinless and boneless. These were whole, uncut, and roughly a half pound each. However, now I had these thinly cut chicken breasts. That would alter cooking times and the like but shouldn't be too bad, right? So, put a little big of olive oil into my new pan.

Hm, that's not a lot of chicken considering I want to make enough for lunch tomorrow as well as dinner tonight. I'll just coat some more chicken with flour.

And now to put it into the pan....fuck. These thinly sliced chicken breasts take up a lot of space. A LOT. Damn, I should have added more olive oil as a result of using mroe chicken. Oh well it should still be okay. Set it up to medium heat for a little bit before adding the chicken.

Well, last time when I cooked the chicken breasts, after 5 minutes they were nicely browned to golden perfection. Still not fully cooked inside, I understood the idea was to finish cooking them essentially via poaching in the mushroom-stock at the end. So no worries. So after 6 minutes I flip it.

Hunh. That's not what they looked like last time. I realize that the pan I used last time has a large flat bottom, resulting in a large flat area with relatively even temperature across the surface. This is shaped more like a wok. A wok is hot at the bottom but cools as you go up the side. So my chicken is cooking unevenly. Plus with the greater surface area is taking longer for the heated side to crisp, even though it is cooking nontheless. Well, I'll just leave it on for longer and fudge it until I get it right. Meantime I have learned from my mistake from last time and set to get all my onions and mushrooms chopped.

Shit. I thought I still had a vidalia onion. Oh well. I have regular onions. That should be okay. I take a large and a small onion and chop them up.

You'll notice that the pieces are fairly large. I did this on purpose. When caramelizing onions I like them to be between 1-2 square centimeters in size so they don't completely melt into the resultant food. Now for the mushrooms.

Hm. I remember having more mushrooms last time. Did I not buy enough? Well, too late now. Let's check on the chicken.

Much better. It took a lot longer than I would have liked, but I can live with it. I marvel at how the colors change and look a little redder in the camera's eye. Time to take them out and add in the onions. Quickly I add the sugar

Bam! Now I have learned one thing over the years- do't fuck around with caramelizing onions. Just stir stir stir the bastards. Because the second it cooks too long- it burns and the entire thing is ruined and tastes like garbage. Le'ts check on hwo the other side of that chicken looks on the plate.

Awesome. How are the onions coming?

Nope, it's only been around 8 minutes.

Aha, now we're getting somewhere. TThe onions above look and taste like they would be nice on a hamburger but are still a little strongly flavored and not brown enough yet. Lets cook it a little longer.

Okay is has been another 10 mintues. My arm is killing me from all this stirring. These onions aren't browning properly. I realize for the 5th time this evening that I should have used a different pan. These, since they are heating unevenly, and using the wrong onions, are in fact cooking the water out of the onions without actually heating htem properly to caramelize them. Crap. Well, this shoudl be good enough. I head to my computer to check my recipe for what is coming up. Mushrooms, check. Then boil them down, uh-huh. Chicken stock....wait. Chicken stock? Oh damn it- oh DAMN IT. I forgot the chicken stock. Uh....crap. Do we have any? I mean, we must, right? Surely everyone has at least a can somewhere shoved in the back of the cabinets....Nope. Fuck. I shut the heat off of everything, and throw on a trenchcoat. It is a balmy 3 degrees outside. I am feeling very dumb. My iphone plaing Frankie goes to Hollywood's Relax in my ears, I run from food place to food place around the neighborhood looking for onoe that might be open, since evrythig shuts down around 7:30 and it is now around 9:00. Finally I find a Rite-Aide. Sure enough they have the chicken stock. I grab three cans and two of beef stock, since I am not goign through this again. Scuttle back to the apartment.

BAM! Okay, turn the heat back on and dump in the mushrooms.
That's it you little bastard. Fry. FRY.
Hm. It's been 10 minutes. I remember from previous experiences with mushrooms usually they take a long time then all at once release their juices. It's really nice. This is just...Well, some is coming out. I again realize that this pan is wrong. It is getting ht emushrooms ot release their juices, but then it is immediately evaporating them. Last time I left some of the liquid behind as a nice sort of mushroom gravy. It was really nice. Oh well. Meantime I open up a can of the chicken stock and pour it into my new 1 cup measuring cup. Yup, still some left. Time for the sherry. Since this si a little more than I had, I'll use a teensy bit more sherry. Shit. I put the stock into the 1 cup measuring cup. I'll put the sherry into the 2-cup measuring cup and kick myself later.

I really hope this doesn't catch on fire since there isn't really any liquid in there.
Ah ha ha! Now' we're cooking.
Well, that is, we've been cooking all along. But you know what I mean. Okay, that's done, lets add the stock.
Salt, pepper....I forgot to dice the sage. Zoon, cut cut cut- gosh I love my new cleaver. In she goes!

Cook, damn you! I'm hungry and this shit smells good!

Okay I think we're good. Time to add back the chicken.
Damn. Not really enough stuff. I thought I needed more mushrooms. Fuck. Stupid pan.Oh well. Ah, time for the potatoes....why does the potato water look so funny? Shit! I drain it. I decided to be fancy and store the potatoes in a glass bowl with water to keep them nice. But they absorbed the water, makign them soft. THey didn't cook any faster, they just disintigrated partly. Fuck. Well, I'll do my best.

Eh. Not so bad. I'm happy. Now to serve.

Ah. And the mess?

Thank god for a washing machine.

And it was delicious. But less sauce than last time.

Lessons to take from this:
1. Use a proper fucking pan. No, seriously. I wish I had.
2.Don't store yoru potatoes in water.
3. This is a nice enough recipe that it'll come out nice no matter what. But it won't be really sublime and what looks like restaurant-quality dish unless you use the proper pan. But it is still delicious.
4. Use solid chicken breasts. They'll cook a little slower, but they crisp properly (it's not really crispy, just a teensy bit) without getting tough like these ended up beinng a little bit.
5. Mkae sure you have all your ingredients ahead of time.
6. This is a pretty nice dish. Don't freak out too much. And enjoy!