Monday, August 11, 2008

perfect for vacuuming

These J. Crew Fleur patterned peep-toe heels have a really great shape. The pattern kind of reminds me of some of the tackier fabrics chosen on recent Project Runway challenges, but somehow, on a small, elegantly-shaped shoe (instead of a big, tulle-stuffed dress), the pattern seems refined. It even brings to mind MadMen, my new favorite show (so addictive, so hot), a little bit. I could certainly see Joanie/Red wearing these with a sexy red pedicure and a tailored teal dress. At $228, these would add a little retro surprise to an otherwise basic (or "essentialist", depending on how you look at it) fall wardrobe.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

cheddar-chive scones

cheddar chive scones, originally uploaded by doesinheadlights.

I rarely ever make scones, because I don't keep cream on hand, but after brunching at S's a weekend or two ago (see cinnamon rolls), and eating a version of these, which are a version of Ina Garten's cheddar-dill scones, I decided they were worth a special trip to the grocery store. The recipe is in Ina Garten's (first, I believe) book, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. I halved the recipe and copied S, swapping out the dill for fresh chives. These were incredibly cheesy and chive-y.

cheddar-chive scones

2 cups ap flour, plus more for rolling
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, diced
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
4.5 ounces (yellow) extra sharp cheddar cheese, small-diced
1/2 cup minced chives (I trimmed with scissors)
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash

Preheat oven to 400.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add the diced butter to the flour mixture and using two knives, a pastry blender or your fingers, cut the butter into the flour until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. Those pieces are the key to perfect scone texture. Lightly beat the eggs into the heavy cream and add to the flour/butter mixture. Combine with a few quick strokes. Add the diced cheddar and minced chives, then stir until mostly incorporated. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead briefly and lightly, until the chives and cheese are thoroughly incorporated. Roll out to a 3/4-inch thickness. Cut the dough into eight equal portions, then roll each into a small ball. Place scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone. Flatten each lightly with the palm of your hand, then brush with the egg wash. Bake for 20-25 minutes until light brown and crusty on the outside.

Yields 8 fantastic scones.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

chocolate chip cookies

five cookies, originally uploaded by doesinheadlights.

Here's a shot of the chocolate chip cookies I made for work tomorrow (I am in a training session and thought they would be a nice treat). I should, but I don't, have a special chocolate chip recipe that I use all the time. Instead, I use whatever one is on hand at the time--one pulled from a cookbook, a blog or the back of a bag of chocolate chips. I do follow a few rules though, regardless of the recipe:

1. Always use good chocolate.
2. Never bake chocolate chip cookies in an oven hotter than 350.
3. Room temperature butter, no exceptions.
4. Salted butter and/or extra salt in the recipe.
5. Beat the butter and sugar senseless--that's the true meaning of "creaming" them.
6. Always consider doubling the vanilla.

These cookies (made from the JOC recipe, if you're curious, with the above modifications) came out with crisp exteriors and chewy exteriors. If I drank much milk, I'd be tempted to break out a glass.

Monday, August 4, 2008

peach cobbler promises

peach cobbler, originally uploaded by doesinheadlights.

I wanted to make cobbler mostly because the peaches at the supermarket were huge, smelled strongly of peachiness, and were under a dollar a pound. I checked out a number of cobbler and crisp recipes, but found most of the proportions were not quite what I was looking for (too much sugar, not enough sugar, sweet crusts). In the end I used the simple JOC method (i.e. prepare fruit filling of your choice, top with biscuit dough of your choice, brush with butter, sprinkle with sugar, bake). The most arduous part of this process is blanching and peeling the peaches. My mother said she would have left the skin on, and I'm inclined to believe that doing so wouldn't be a bad idea.

simple peach cobbler

6 large peaches (about 3lbs)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3-4 tablespoons flour (or cornstarch)
1 3/4 cups ap flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons dried buttermilk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup cold water
butter for the pan and topping
sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425.

Boil plenty of water in a saucepan large enough to accommodate fat summer peaches. In the meantime, wash the peaches and prepare an ice water bath large enough to accommodate them. When the water is boiling, drop the peaches in for 30 to 45 seconds, and remove to ice water. Remove after 30 seconds to a minute. Peel by hand or using a paring knife.

Pit each peach and cut into several wedges. Place wedged peaches in a large bowl and toss with granulated sugar, brown sugar and flour or cornstarch. Set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and powdered buttermilk. Cut the unsalted butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Pour in cold water and stir the mixture gently until combined. Add more water if necessary, but dough should be sticky and dense.

Butter a large casserole, eight small ramekins, or some combination of the above (I used a small casserole dish and four small ramekins). Spoon the peach mixture into each. Top with loosely formed balls of the dough. Brush or spoon butter all over the top, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.

Serve with excellent vanilla ice cream.

Yields 8-10 generous servings.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

peach cobbler teaser

peach cobbler teaser, originally uploaded by doesinheadlights.

Here's a quick peek at the cobbler filling. The parents, NH and I each had a mini-cobbler for dessert tonight, topped with a healthy scoop of Ben & Jerry's Fair Trade Vanilla. The crust (not pictured) was a buttermilk biscuit dough, basted with butter and sprinkled with my new best friend, you guessed it, vanilla sugar. Recipe was made up as I went along and will be featured, with more pictures, tomorrow.