taking a trip down memory lane

thought about this lady tonight and how my roommates and i were convinced that she knew how to speak english yet told us she didn't. i was reminded of how she had a bee culture (apicultura) in her large backyard. i remember her feeding us a brioche filled with apricot jam every morning for breakfast. italians love apricots. i got sick of them pretty fast. she loved that i loved her cooking. my roommates used to say i was her favorite. they told me once rita always said "rachele" this, "rachele" that. haha. i swear it's just because i was the italian one in the house. i remember her love for her cats. not my finest memory. she used to make my bed while i was at work, and when i would come home her cat would be sleeping on my pillow. i'm getting grossed out just thinking about it.
this was the street we lived on. strada di pian del lago. we used to have to walk up a beautifully long hill to make it to the bus stop where we would wave our hands for the nice man to pick us up. he loved us. i wanted so bad to blend in with the rest of the group on the bus, and by the end of my trip i was chatting it up with neighborhood ladies that were going to pick up some groceries. we became good friends.

don't you hate how your mind fails you sometimes? i was just thinking about how many things i am beginning to forget about my trip. i've got to start writing my thoughts down when they come to me.

-photos by rique stone-

nyt chocolate chip cookies

photo by 'to paris and back'

this is by far the best chocolate chip cookie recipe i have ever tried. the key is using the best chocolate. no not nestle tollhouse, i'm saying like 75% bittersweet chocolate. the real bitter stuff that i love. i used to be a fan of milk chocolate, but due to certain circumstances i can't eat it anymore and i actually don't mind because i think dark chocolate is way better. plus it's even better for you.

this is now the only recipe i will use. it requires the use of cake flour and bread flour which makes for a crunchier outer crust, yet a chewier inside. so you basically get the best of both worlds. the other thing that i love about this recipe? the salt content is more than normal. i was a little hesitant about adding more salt than normal, but the salt brings out the stronger almost berry-like flavor of the dark chocolate. i'm craving a batch right now!

you want to know a funny/weird thing i love to do when i make cookies? i love making a huge batch yet only cooking 6 at a time. i can't stand dry, old cookies. they are only good warm. so i will only make them if i am going to eat them immediately! my family can't stand it. i love it.

i really want to buy the bittersweet disks that you can find at whole foods, but i haven't made it over there yet. i think the disks would be much better than chips because you have more chocolate surface area. plus, chocolate chips have a stabilizer in them which gives them their shape even after baking.

July 9, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Jacques Torres

Time: 45 minutes (for 1 6-cookie batch), plus at least 24 hours’ chilling

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 (see note)

Sea salt.

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 6 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.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

Note: Disks are sold at Jacques Torres Chocolate; Valrhona fèves, oval-shaped chocolate pieces, are at Whole Foods.


canoodling in the christmas castle

this is the home of a family in our stake that they turned into a b and b. it's 12,000 square feet and goes on for miles.

the dinner table. seated 24.

this mural was hand painted and went up the stairs as you walked in.

are these not the coolest locks you've ever seen? they were on each one of the doors and everyone had an antique key.

this was the venetian room. my favorite.

two pattys.

we did a little gift exchange. patty's white elephant gift was a mini personal flash light. my gift was a little star alarm clock.

good company and good cinnamon rolls!

ugly sweater party

some of the ugly sweaters

patty's playhouse.

when the patty's throw a party...we do it right.