Short stray from baking

This morning on my way out the door to the gym, I found a surprising delivery at my feet, my very own CSA box (Community Supported Agriculture), from Farm Fresh To You, was sitting on my door step. I felt like I had just gotten a gift from a secret admire.

Two weekends ago, my friend and I had signed up for the CSA service a few hours in to a wine tasting event. I had been playing with the idea of getting a CSA for months, but wasn't sure if I could handle the commitment; cooking fresh, possibly unknown, produce nightly. But with Jen's and the overly enthusiastic guy at the sign up table's encouragement, I went for it. However, they never contacted Jen or I after that day to get our payment information and the box never came when they said it would. I felt like I had been stood up on a date.

So the roller coaster of emotions has ended in happiness! Though I did receive a large bunch of chard, which I would never buy, I found a delicious way to use it....PESTO! I'm going to test it on my boyfriend (who is adamantly against chard), I'm pretty sure this pesto recipe will pass the test.


1 bunch of organic chard
1/2 cup (more or less) olive oil
1/2 cup pine nuts (or a different nut)
3 garlic cloves garlic
1/3 cup (more) fresh grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp lemon juice (organic Meyer lemon from my box, check!)
2 big pinches salt (to taste)
fresh ground pepper (to taste)

Barely blanch the chard leaves: Boil water. Once boiling, put in the chard for 1-2 minutes, remove chard from boiling water into a strainer and place under running cold water until it has stopped cooking.

Puree the chard in a food processor with the garlic, almonds, Parmesan, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Drizzle in the olive oil and pulse until smooth.

I guess that is half the adventure of receiving fresh, local, organic produce. Now what to do with the radishes?



I was tired of making banana bread but had some bananas that were passed their time, so I looked around online for some banana cookie inspiration. I tried a couple different small batches, slightly tweaking the first recipe I whipped up.

The first batch was yummy, but not quite what I wanted. The second batch had better flavor (I took out the coarse oat flour and reduced the sugar and butter).

Both batches were very banana-y! This can only be achieved by having a very, ummm, banana bread-like cookie, so it is a bit gooey. If you want the cookie texture, you lose the banana flavor and vice-verse.

But these are somewhat healthy treats (as far as cookies go) with only two tablespoons of butter, low in sugar, and made with whole wheat flour. Plus, there's fruit in it!

Yield: 16 cookies

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare baking sheet with silicon sheet or parchment paper.

3/4 cup all purpose flour
2/4 cup wheat flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder (learn the difference between the two)
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown
1 medium banana mashed well (about 1/3 cup)
1 egg
1tsp vanilla
2/3 cup Guittard white chocolate chips

In a separate bowl or large measuring cup mix together the flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt. On low-medium speed, cream the butter. Gradually add in both sugars. Mix in the egg and vanilla. Mix in the mashed banana. Gradually, on low speed or by hand, add in the flour mixture. Stir in white chocolate chips.

You may want to refrigerate the dough for about 45 minutes. Drop by spoonfuls into prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-14 minutes, until the cookies look set and have just started to brown. Let sit for 5 minutes on baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Cookies will be sticky, but oh so tasty. Try adding oats (quick cook or regular), if you want a heartier cookie. I plan to try a couple more batches with some tweaks (including adding oats!) and I will update the recipe then.


Quest for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Stack O' Cookies
The Finished Product
The New York Times version of Jacques Torres' Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookie Dough Tips & Tricks to Mix by was created to satisfy my friends and family alike, that have told me to “just write it down”. Many have mentioned in passing conversation that they are going to bake a batch of cookies. This sets me off on an excited rant about how they can make an extra-ordinary cookie if they follow my tested tricks.

Writing these tips inspired me to re-read the baking articles that first started me on the path to really learning the science (art) of baking from home. But, my quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie really can’t be over, or even close to it. I can't just settle on the Toll House recipe as being the best one out there. So this weekend I mixed up a batch of the NY Times version of Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookie. I opted for their modified version, only because it makes a smaller batch. Using the Guittard bittersweet chocolate discs I received from being an SF Food Wars participant from Bridge Brands Chocolates I had the one ingredient that would otherwise set me back from whipping up a batch of these famous cookies right away!

One minute after the dough was finished, I did a pre-bake taste test — it passed!

I ate about four cookies worth of dough I think... Then 12 hours later I baked a batch (I couldn't wait the full 36 hours!) Then 48 hours later, I made a few more batches. Even the 12-hour batch was fantastic — full of buttery, chocolaty, salty flavors.

This device, has turned out to be a lifesaver in so many recipes, and helped me to perfectly measure the sugar, and flour for this recipe.


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.