Friday, August 28, 2009

Brown butter pecan chocolate chip cookies.

Last night we had a end of year bash for our softball team (we won a whopping two games and got kicked out of the playoffs). I wanted to bake cookies, but had to bake them at the party. Chocolate chip cookies are always a crowd pleaser, but I wanted to do something a little different. At first I thought of using marcona almonds, but scratched that. Then I thought of using buttermilk, which I've done before and is always delicious- but I didn't want to buy a whole big jug of buttermilk. Then I though molasses and scratched that, too.

Finally I just decided to brown the butter. OMFG. It added such a rich, complex, nutty taste to the cookies. They were AMAZING.

Brown Butter Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 sticks salted butter
4 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, salt and baking soda and set aside. In a small saucepan, melt butter and stir over low heat till browned. Add sugar to butter and stir to dissolve. Let mixture cool. When cooled, add butter/sugar to dry ingredients and add eggs and vanilla and mix. Add pecans and chips. Form into balls and bake, about 10 minutes.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Google Mapping Paris

Above are my most sucessful macarons that I made for the 4th of July. So pretty!

Alright, there's only one short week untill I leave for Paris. I've been frantically mapping all the places that have been recommended to me, or that I want to visit. Comments are a mix of my silly observations, copy-pasted David Lebovitz's comments from his Favorite Places in Paris and suggestions made by others. Apparently, bars are located on the east side of Paris, and macarons on the west.

I will be bringing the world's teeniest laptop with me, and will be blogging when possible from Paris, Bruges, Belgium and Amsterdam- so make sure that you check next week for updates!

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Whole-Wheat Pecan Zucchini Bread

My friend Roly asked me for a zucchini bread recipe the other day. I didn't have one off-hand. This is what I came up with- you cut as much oil as possible with yogurt. Buttermilk adds a nice tang. And, the secret to keeping any bread or cake with tons of fresh veggies in it (like carrot cake), or any cake, really, is to dump a package of sugar-free instant pudding in the batter. Works every time. For this bread I like to use cheesecake flavored pudding, but you could use vanilla, too.

Whole-Wheat Pecan Zucchini Bread:
1 1/4 cups of whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups of white flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutneg
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs (or eggbeaters)
3/4 cup of walnuts or pecans
1/3 cup of vegetable oil
3/4 cup of low-fat or fat-free yogurt, plain or vanilla
1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons of vanilla
2 cups of zucchini, shredded
1 package sugar-free pudding

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease or oil two 8 inch by 4 inch loaf pans. Mix everything together and split batter into pans. Bake 55 minutes or until set in center.

Yum. There it is, right out of the oven.

And there it is, out of the toaster, smothered with butter and cinnamon sugar. Mmm.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Tennis-y Shoes

Two things you should know: First, I left my pictures of whole-wheat pecan zucchini bread at home. Second, I am not a Coach tennis-shoes kind of girl. I am a Marc Jacobs mouse flats kind of girl, and MJ shoes do not fit me. But this weekend I went shopping for comfy Paris (10 days!) shoes and found that I actually like Coach's Op Art print. I think because the print, for some reason, reminds me of candy. Delicious candy shoes.

Tomorrow: Whole-wheat zucchini bread!
Wednesday: Chicken Kelly!

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Bear in a dorag! Bear in a dorag!

Josie came to work today. Look how happy she is! Actually, I have an egg sammich, which is what she's happy about.

So happy. So not in focus. Who wants to see a bear in a dorag?

Bear in a dorag!

Bear in a dorag! Bear in a dorag!

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Thursday, August 20, 2009


Whole wheat pasta, zucchini, peas, leeks and basil with scallops. Look at that crusty brown scallop, yum. I'm not posting a recipe because there isn't really one- just saute all the things I listed in some olive oil. You can cut the leeks up into rings, rinse them really well and saute them first and save some for something else- a crab and avocado salad, vichyssoise, etc.

I couldn't post last week, since I had a bit of a disagreement with the electric company over whether or not we should be receiving electricity. Now that that's sorted out... exactly two weeks until Paris! I'll be blogging from Europe when I can, so get ready for some seriously disturbing macaron pics.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Best Parisian Eclairs! (?)

So, I will be in Paris in only 23 short days. I'm excited, are you? When I met Gale Gand (2001 James Beard award winning pastry chef) at the Green City Market, I asked her what Patisseries I should make sure not to miss when I was in Paris. She recommended the usual "Lauduree" for macarons, which I had already mapped out in my travel guide, along with Pierre Herme. But for ├ęclairs, she told me I couldn't miss Stohrer.

I will be finding out for myself by eating all the ├ęclairs in Paris.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

WTF, Sushi overload!

Last night I made way too much sushi. There were about eight rolls, all of varying combinations of tuna, asparagus and avocado. My rolls weren't perfect, but my rice was. Then there was the dilemma of what to do with the leftover sushi- which ended up causing me to leave an embarrassing amount of phone messages to Chicago friends along the lines of, "I know this is going to sound weird, but, I've got a ton of sushi over here if you want it."

I brought the leftovers to work today, so they should get eaten at lunch.

Mmmmm, sushi.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Brown Sugar Caramel Corn with Hazelnuts

So I decided to try and make caramel corn today, about an hour before leaving to see "500 Days of Summer" (mixed feelings). I skipped the bake-the-coated-corn-in-the-oven part and ended up with a sticky, chewy ball of corn. But it was still delicious.

2 bags 100 calorie pack microwave popcorn, popped.
1/2 cup whole hazelnuts
1/2 stick margarine
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 TBSP light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
sea salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a saucepan, combine margarine, brown sugar, corn syrup and vanilla. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. In the meantime, mix popped corn and hazelnuts on a baking sheet. Add baking soda and a pinch of salt to the stove mixture. Stir to combine, then pour over popped corn and nuts. Stir to coat evenly and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake in the oven for 1 hour, checking every 15 minutes. Allow to cool then break into pieces.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Pride and Joy.

So in addition to cooking, my other main hobby is silversmithing. One corner of my bedroom is filled with butane torches, a flexible drill, saws, pickling acids, files, and more silver, gold and gemstones than I can keep track of (at least financially). These are a couple of my favorite pieces. Above is a necklace I made for my friend Roly- it's the teeny-est grey-blue sapphire bezel set in sterling silver on a thin chain.

Then there's my baby. Fourteen 8x10 mm faceted citrines, prong set in silver and hand-forged together with hinges- all made by hand. It took me six months of time and savings, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009


This weekend I picked up the most adorable cast-iron trivet in robin's egg blue from the Martha Stewart Collection at Macy's- super on sale. It is now my second favorite trivet, topped only by a hot plate-ish thing I picked up at a cooking store in Germany that pictures two plump sausages lying on a blue plaid table cloth. Other favorites:

Le Creuset's trivets are a little ornate for my taste, but the dune is more than classy enough for tabletop serving.

Here's the one I picked up at Macy's in Cobalt.

This trivet is made of adjustable ceramic "pearls" that can be manipulated to fit any number of hot objects.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New York Strip with Burgandy Mushroom Sauce

Steak for dinner! This was so rich I could only handle a couple bites. Here's what you need:

1 steak
2 small shallots, chopped
2 cups sliced button mushrooms
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 TBSP sour cream
salt and pepper

Coat steak with salt and pepper on both sides and sear in a bit of super-hot olive oil. Add mushrooms and shallots and saute till soft. Add wine and stir to get bits off the bottom. Cook steak in liquid briefly or move to oven. When steak is done, pull out and let set. Continue cooking remaining ingredients until liquid has reduced. Add sour cream and scoop onto steak. Woot, steak.

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