Sunday, February 28, 2010

Tyler Florence's Big Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies - week 9 of 52

Tyler Florence February is coming to an end and all meals must end with dessert! Tyler's recipe for "big fat chocolate chip cookies" is incredibly easy (and tasty) and I love the chunks of chocolate vs chips - much more rustic. There are so many great Tyler Florence recipes I'm sure another Tyler Florence month sometime this year!

Bon appétit!

Did you know?
The chocolate chip cookie was apparently accidentally developed by Ruth Wakefield in 1933. She owned the Toll House Inn, in Whitman, Massachusetts. Wakefield was making chocolate cookies, and when she ran out of regular baker's chocolate, substituted broken pieces of semi-sweet chocolate from Nestlé for it, thinking that it would melt and mix into the batter. They did not melt and the chocolate chip cookie was born! Wakefield sold the recipe to Nestlé in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate chips. Now every bag of Nestlé chocolate chips sold in North America has a variation of her original recipe printed on the back.

Tyler Florence Big Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies - makes 30 large cookies (or 12 huge cookies)



• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
• 1/2 cup white sugar
• 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 large eggs
• 1 (8-ounce) block dark chocolate coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
Place the butter, sugar, and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer; cream together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in the vanilla and eggs. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and continue to mix until a smooth batter forms. Turn off the mixer and fold in the chocolate chunks using the spatula.
To form the cookies, scoop about 1/4 cup of cookie dough into your hands and roll it around into a ball; place them about 3-inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets; you should get about 4 cookies on each pan. Press down the tops of the dough slightly and bake until the cookies are light brown, 12 minutes for chewy cookies, or about 15 minutes for crispy cookies.
Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough/cookie sheets.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tyler Florence's Ultimate Duck with Peanut Soba Noodles - week 8 of 52

The third of Tyler Florence’s recipes. This was a simple Asian inspired recipe. The roasted pears were a nice compliment to the duck. I think fresh sliced mango would go quite nicely – I will have to try that next time!

Soba noodles are thin Japanese buckwheat noodles which can be found at Asian specialty stores. For readers in Toronto I found that St Andrew’s Poultry in Kensington market has very affordable duck breasts. I got three small ones for $10.
Bon appétit!

Ingredients – Serves 4


• 4 ripe pears, cut in half and pitted
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
• 2 duck breasts, skin-on (about 1 1/4 pounds total)
• Cold Sesame Noodles, recipe follows
• Hydroponic watercress, for garnish
• Lime wedges, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the pears on a baking sheet, cut sides up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Place them into the oven and roast 15 to 20 minutes, until very tender when pierced with a knife.
Meanwhile, put the duck breasts on a cutting board skin side up and score all over in a tiny crosshatch pattern, so the fat will render and the skin will crisp. Season all over with salt and pepper and drizzle with 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Add the breasts to a stainless steel pan over medium heat, skin side down, and cook slowly for about 12 to 15 minutes until the fat is rendered and the skin is browned and crispy. Occasionally spoon the fat out into a bowl. Turn the breasts and cook 1 to 2 more minutes for medium-rare. Transfer the duck to a cutting board to rest.
To serve, cut the duck breasts crosswise, on an angle, into 8 slices each. Mound the Sesame Noodles evenly between 4 bowls. Add half a sliced duck breast to each bowl along with a peach half. Garnish with watercress and lime wedges.

Cold Sesame Noodles:

• 1/2 pound dried buckwheat (soba) noodles
• 9 tablespoons dark sesame oil
• 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and crushed with the side of a knife
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed with the side of a knife
• 1 red Thai bird chile, minced, seeds and all
• 2 tablespoons brown sugar
• 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
• 1/4 cup rice vinegar
• 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
• 6 tablespoons water , room temperature
• 1 tablespoon chili sauce
• 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, for garnish
• 2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
• 1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles and stir to keep them from sticking together. Cook until barely tender and still firm, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain immediately and rinse under cold running water to cool. Drain the noodles really well, transfer to a wide serving bowl, and toss immediately with 3 tablespoons of the sesame oil so they don't stick together.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a saucepan, heat 1/4 cup sesame oil over medium-low heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and chile. Cook, stirring for a minute, until the vegetables are soft and fragrant. Place into a blender along with the brown sugar, peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, hot water, chili sauce, and the remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil. Puree and refrigerate until cold.
Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium-low heat until golden brown. (Shake the pan constantly to keep the seeds from burning). Put the noodles in a serving bowl and toss with the sesame sauce. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and green onions, and serve with the lime wedges.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tyler Florence's Minestrone - week 7 of 52

Week 2 of Florence February - this is another simple, hearty recipe! Minestrone is a hearty Italian soup that varies from region to region. It's great for a simple dinner (and the leftovers are great for work)! This makes approximately 6 servings. It is especially good with Tyler's Parmesean croutons - yum!

Bon appétit!

Hunter’s Minestrone - Serves 6


• 2 quarts chicken stock
• 1 head garlic, halved
• 1/2 pound small rigatoni
• Extra-virgin olive oil
• 8 fresh sage leaves
• 1 sprig fresh rosemary
• 1 sprig fresh thyme
• 3/4 pound loose sweet Italian pork sausage
• 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
• 2 celery ribs, roughly chopped
• 1 onion, roughly chopped
• 1 (28-ounce) can crushed plum tomatoes
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 (28-ounce) cans cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
• 1/2 bunch fresh parsley leaves, finely minced
• juice of 1/2 a lemon
• Coarsely ground black pepper
• 12 slices baguette
• 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Combine the stock and halved garlic head in a big saucepan and simmer for about 15 minutes to give the stock a nice, garlicky taste; strain out the garlic. Keep warm.
Bring a pot of salted water to boil for the rigatoni.

Pour 1/4 cup olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the sage, rosemary and thyme and warm the oil over medium heat to infuse it with the flavor of the herbs, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the sausage with the side of a big spoon until well browned. Chop the carrots, celery, and onion in a food processor. Add to the saucepan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned.

To the pan with the sausage stir in the crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, cannelloni beans, and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.

Cook the rigatoni in the boiling water for 6 minutes; it should be slightly underdone. Drain and stir into the simmering soup. Add the parsley, lemon juice, salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste. Discard the bay leaf and herb sprigs.
To serve, preheat the broiler. Put the baguette slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with the Parmigiano and broil until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and float a couple of the baguette slices on top

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Good Eats!

This week's post reminded me of one of my favourite restaurants - Le Select Bistro in Toronto at King and Wellington. Charming decor and great service! They have some great French onion soup but better yet, their prix fixe menu! For $35 your choice of app, main and dessert. The main choice of : steak frites, duck confit or squash risotto (the risotto is amazing!). To top of this meal, creme brulee or chocolate mousse.

I have heard brunch is great too - I still need to check it out!

Bon appetit!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Tyler Florence's Ultimate French Onion Soup - week 6 of 52

Week 1 of Florence February! Review of Tyler Florence recipe - “ultimate French Onion soup” definitely lives up to its name! Although prep and cooking time are approx an hour, it is definitely worth the wait. The simple ingredients blend to make a rich soup - comfort food you would want to have on a cold winter evening (like the many we have here in Canada). I’ve seen some recipes with white wine but I like the red, as it adds a little extra depth to the broth. This is one for your recipe collections!

Bon appétit!

Tyler Florence – The Ultimate French Onion Soup – serves 4-6



• 1/2 cup unsalted butter
• 4 onions, sliced
• 2 garlic cloves, chopped
• 2 bay leaves
• 2 fresh thyme sprigs
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 cup red wine, about 1/2 bottle
• 3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 2 quarts beef broth
• 1 baguette, sliced
• 1/2 pound grated Gruyere

Melt the stick of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Add the wine, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir. Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn't burn, and cook for 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Now add the beef broth, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

When you're ready to eat, preheat the broiler. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle the slices with the Gruyere and broil until bubbly and golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.

Ladle the soup in bowls and float several of the Gruyere croutons on top.
Alternative method: Ladle the soup into bowls, top each with 2 slices of bread and top with cheese. Put the bowls into the oven to toast the bread and melt the cheese.