Leaving on a Jet Plane + Cookies
For those of you who follow me on twitter, you’ve probably gathered that I’m a huge Kim Boyce fan–I really haven’t been this excited and inspired by a cookbook in a long time. Perhaps ever. I had the opportunity to meet Kim last week at Omnivore Books and hear her take on the different whole grain flours she uses in Good to the Grain and how each affects the flavor and texture of her recipes. If you want a more detailed review of her book, I wrote a short piece for Bay Area Bites last week, so feel free to read more there.
But for now, let’s talk cookies. And let’s talk whole wheat flour. And let’s talk about how I’m flying to China with my dad and my sisters this afternoon and I’m wholly unprepared and kind of o.k. with that. The odd thing about that is I’m a big planner. Generally when I go on trips, I stock up on guidebooks, start making lists, talk to friends, email acquaintences, mock up a few itineraries. That’s just how I roll. But something seems to have changed. I just don’t care to even think about planning. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I just packed up my entire life and moved it into my mom’s garage for the summer. I can’t find my running shorts or my favorite salad bowl, so that’s thrown me a little. So I guess now’s as good a time as any to throw it out to my lovely readers: If any of you have been to Shanghai and/or Hong Kong and have suggestions, bring it on! I’d love to hear them. Truly. And in the meantime, I’m settling in to my new fly-by-the-seat, carefree mentality with a plateful of whole wheat chocolate chip cookies.
Now Good to the Grain is organized in chapters according to the type of whole grain flour Kim’s using. So while there are certainly more exciting recipes I suppose (Muscovado Sugar Cake, Rhubarb Tarts, Figgy Buckwheat Scones), you can’t go wrong with a solid chocolate chip cookie and I was intrigued with Kim’s use of cold butter, 100% whole wheat flour, and atypical amount of kosher salt. Now while I may be known for hyperbole, I have to say I’m not sure I’ll ever make another chocolate chip cookies recipe again. I’ve fallen in love. Kim’s recipe yields a chewy, almost nutty cookie with uneven shards of bittersweet chocolate and glints of kosher salt. It’s a sturdy cookie begging for a glass of milk. But it’s also a delightfully decadent cookie, perfect all on its own.
Besides the insanely creative recipes, Kim’s expert tips, and Quentin Bacon’s luscious photos, one thing I love about Kim’s approach is her playfulness. I’m a typical baker in that I like to measure, I’m precise, and I don’t love straying from a recipe the first time around (although I’m getting much better with this one). But Kim encourages adaptation and taking yourself less seriously in the kitchen. A little less stringent planning, perhaps. Use what you’ve got on hand. I took her advice with these cookies and threw in chopped pecans, and I’m taking her advice all the way to China and winging it just a little. Seeking out a bit of unplanned adventure, using what we’ve got on hand, following our instincts, and seeing what kind of trouble we can muster up. Count on the fact that I’ll fill you in. Until then…
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Yield: 16-18 cookies
- Prep time:15mins
- Cook time:20mins
- Total time:35mins
I added chopped pecans to this recipe although you could certainly add in your favorite nuts, dried fruit, or a bit of coconut if you’d like. They’re best warm from the oven or eaten the same day.
Slightly adapted from: Good to the Grain
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, pouring back into the bowl any bits of grain or other ingredients that may remain in the sifter.
Add the butter and the sugars to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, mix just until the butter and sugars are blended, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is combined. Mix in vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and blend on low speed until the flour is barely combined, about 30 seconds.
Add the chocolate and pecans all at once and quickly mix on low speed until evenly combined. Use a spatula to scrape down sides and bottom of bowl and turn out onto a clean work surface and use your hands to fully incorporate all ingredients.
Scoop balls of dough about 3 tablespoons in size on the baking sheet, leaving 3 inches between them. Bake for 16-20 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through until the cookies are evenly dark brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cook and repeat with remaining dough.
Healthy Comfort Food
Thai Carrot, Coconut and Cauliflower Soup
People describe raising young kids as a particular season in life. I hadn't heard this until we had a baby, but it brought me a lot of comfort when I'd start to let my mind wander, late at night between feedings, to fears that we'd never travel internationally again or have a sit-down meal in our dining room. Would I ever eat a cardamom bun in Sweden? Soak in Iceland? I loved the heck out of our tiny Oliver, but man what had we done?! Friends would swoop in and reassure us that this was just a season, a blip in the big picture of it all. They promised we'd likely not even remember walking around the house in circles singing made-up songs while eating freezer burritos at odd hours of the day (or night). And it's true.
Oliver is turning two next month, and those all-encompassing baby days feel like a different time, a different Us. In many ways, dare I say it, Toddlerhood actually feels a bit harder. Lately Oliver has become extremely opinionated about what he will and will not wear -- and he enforces these opinions with fervor. Don't get near the kid with a button-down shirt. This week at least. He's obsessed with his rain boots and if it were up to him, he'd keep them on at all times, especially during meals. He insists on ketchup with everything (I created a damn monster), has learned the word "trash" and insists on throwing found items away on his own that really, truly are not trash. I came to pick him up from daycare the other day and he was randomly wearing a bike helmet -- his teacher mentioned he'd had it on most of the day and really, really didn't want to take it off. The kid has FEELINGS. I love that about him, and wouldn't want it any other way. But, man it's also exhausting.
Cheesy Quinoa Cauliflower Bake
I just finished washing out Oliver's lunchbox and laying it out to dry for the weekend. My favorite time of day is (finally) here: the quiet of the evening when I can actually talk to Sam about our day or sit and reflect on my own thoughts after the inevitable dance party or band practice that precedes the bedtime routine lately. Before becoming pregnant for the second time, I'd have had a glass of wine with the back door propped open right about now -- these days though, I have sparkling water or occasionally take a sip from one of Sam's hard ciders. Except now the back door's closed and we even turned on the heat for the first time yesterday. The racing to water the lawn and clean the grill have been replaced by cozier dinners at home and longer baths in the evening. You blink and it's the first day of fall.
Stuffed Shells with Fennel and Radicchio
I'd heard from many friends that buying a house wasn't for the faint of heart. But I always shrugged it off, figuring I probably kept better files or was more organized and, really, how hard could it be? Well, I've started (and stopped) writing this post a good fifteen times which may indicate something. BUT! First thing's first: we bought a house! I think! I'm pretty sure! We're still waiting for some tax transcripts to come through and barring any hiccough with that, we'll be moving out of our beloved craftsman in a few weeks and down the block to a great, brick Tudor house that we wanted the second we laid eyes on it. The only problem: it seemed everyone else in Seattle had also laid eyes on it, and wanted it equally as much. I'm not really sure why the homeowner chose us in the end. Our offer actually wasn't the highest, but apparently there were some issues with a few of them. We wrote a letter introducing ourselves and describing why we'd be the best candidates and why we were so drawn to the house; we have a really wonderful broker who pulled out all the stops, and after sifting through 10 offers and spending a number of hours deliberating, they ended up going with ours. We were at a friend's book event at the time when Sam showed me the text from our broker and I kind of just collapsed into his arms. We were both in ecstatic denial (wait, is this real?! Did we just buy a house?) and celebrated by getting chicken salad and potato salad from the neighborhood grocery store and eating it, dazed, on our living room floor. Potato salad never tasted so good.
Smoky Butternut Squash and Three Bean Chili
If your house is anything like ours, last week wasn't our most inspired in terms of cooking. We're all suffering from the post-election blues -- the sole upside being Oliver's decision to sleep-in until 7 am for the first time in many, many months; I think he's trying to tell us that pulling the covers over our heads and hibernating for awhile is ok. It's half-convincing. For much of the week, instead of cooking, there'd been takeout pizza and canned soup before, at week's end, I decided it was time to pour a glass of wine and get back into the kitchen. I was craving something hearty and comforting that we could eat for a few days. Something that wouldn't remind me too much of Thanksgiving because, frankly, I can't quite gather the steam to start planning for that yet. It was time for a big bowl of chili.
To Talk Porridge
Porridge is not the sexiest of breakfasts, it's true. It doesn't have a stylish name like strata or shakshuka, and it doesn't have perfectly domed tops like your favorite fruity muffin. It doesn't crumble into delightful bits like a good scone nor does it fall into buttery shards like a well-made croissant. But when you wake up and it's 17 degrees outside (as it has been, give or take a few, for the last week), there's nothing that satisfies like a bowl of porridge or oatmeal. It's warm and hearty and can be made sweet or savory with any number of toppings. The problem? Over the years, it's gotten a bad rap as gluey or gummy or just downright boring or dutiful -- and it's because not everyone knows the secrets to making a great pot of warm morning cereal. So let's talk porridge (also: my cookbook comes out this month! So let's take a peek inside, shall we?)
I just ordered the book and cannot wait to try a few of the recipes. These cookies look amazing. I am a firm believer that everything is better with chocolate as well.
I love the dark chocolate plate in the photo - a heath?
Have a GREAT time in China. I cannot wait to hear all about your trip and to see some photos!
The best trips are the ones you run into with open arms. Enjoy! And if something goes awry, you'll always have a cookie.
I am totally in love with this book as well. I just made the Rhubarb Tarts last night and they are Supermodels I tell you, they photograph beautifully and the taste...OMG! I also made the Popovers which popped higher than any I have ever made. The Buttermilk pancakes, YUM! Sorry to go on and on, but I love this book!
Hope you have a great time on your trip. I hope you find that the best ones are the ones you don't plan for. Enjoy the spontaneity of it all.
This is an amazing coincidence Megan - I was literally about to tweet to see if anyone had this very recipe online! I've ordered the book but it hasn't arrived yet. Thank you! And happy travels!
I'm always on the lookout for a good whole-wheat cookie. Yum! Have a fantastic time in China! Sometimes those unplanned trips are the best ones!
Oh, I must make these. I've been craving chocolate chip cookies something fierce lately.
I'm normally a big planner, too, but sometimes I find the best adventures are the ones you couldn't possibly have planned for. Have an amazing trip!
Mary @ Bites and Bliss
Whole wheat..that means they're healthy, right? It must cancel the butter out or something. ;) These look delicious!
allison [a for aubergine]
after reading a few of your entries overtime, i am fully inspired to buy the book, "good to the grain." i can't wait to buy it. seriously, i should just buy on amazon right now! those cookies look amaaaazing!
Have an awesome time in China! Sometimes it is good to not have a plan!
Your cookies look so good, I'll need to check out that cookbook.
A Canadian Foodie
What an informative and inspiring post. I will definitely check out your article (good work) and the book. Flours I am deeply into with my bread making - and I have always loved the wholesomeness that whole wheat brings to my baking. Most people, don't, however. They are from the Wonderbread Culture.
Have a wonderful time. CHINA! Post post post. I want to read it all, every day!
I can't believe I still haven't tried anything from this book! Soon. And these cookies look like a great idea -
have a wonderful trip!
Love the heft of these cookies - they look amazing.
Enjoy your trip. The cookies look wonderful!
Embrace the unknown Megan - cannot WAIT to read all about it!
How lucky you are to visit China. Please take lots of pictures to post because I'm dying to hear about this trip. Seriously sounds exciting. And I never thought of putting whole wheat into a cookie. Sounds good. Have a safe trip...enjoy!
I just ran into your blog, and it's lovely! I also used to live in Shanghai -- Franck is a truly yummy bistro in the old French Concession. And Di Shui Dong has great Hunan-style food. Don't forget to try xiao long bao (soup-filled dumplings), a Shanghai specialty!
Thank you so much for the comment and advice, Nicky! We ran across Franck yesterday actually and it looked lovely (but closed at the time). Unfortunately this is our last day in Shanghai (far too short!), but I plan on returning so I'll keep your other recommendation in mind. Thank you!
Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen
These cookies look amazing. I've tried the Quinoa and Beet Pancakes and the Rhubarb Tarts. Both were incredible. There's too much to try in Good to the Grain, but these are high on my list. Hope you had an awesome time in China!
I also got this book and this was the first recipe I tried from it. I had thought my chocolate chip cookie recipe was unbeatable but she definitely beat it. I have to admit though, I didn't notice the "cold butter" instructions until after I had already softened the butter and they were still delicious. I agree that the salt was key, as was the good quality chocolate. Later, I made these again and froze some of the dough for later and it also worked out wonderfully.
Ohhh....I'll freeze some of the dough next time. Good call. This will prevent eating too darn many. Thanks for stopping by and for the great tip :)
I love this recipe! It's frightening how quickly those cookies disappear once made--and how soon I want to make them again every time. It's been a while, so I think I feel okay about whipping up a batch this afternoon...
I put a handful of chopped dried cherries in once, and I highly recommend the combo. Great flavor, and nutritious to boot!
As an out-of-work English teacher myself, I want to say how much I like your blog (just discovered it). Will check in again often. Thanks!
Thanks, Lis! I'm so happy you stopped by! The dried cherries sound like an awesome idea. Hope you're having a great summer, teaching job or no come fall :)
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