Saturday, May 24, 2008

Out of Season

Honest to goodness, it has been with much effort that I have not been sharing dessert recipes lately. Now especially, with it being late in Spring, and with the opening of Farmer’s Markets and the start of the CSA season, it would be irresponsible of me to not be putting pen to paper about all the recipes I have found for Swiss chard and kale and collards and all of the other lovely greens that are so fresh and flavorful right now. I mean, look, eating locally and seasonally is one of the best things we can do for the environment, and it certainly makes additional sense with food costs rising all around us.

Seriously, everyone has a good recipe for pie, or for cookies or cakes and all of that other sweet unnecessary nonsense, right? You definitely do not drop by here to read yet another post about brownies. Recipes for green garlic, spring onions, these are the items everyone is struggling to find a use for. Not cookies.

And, after all, bathing suit season begins NOW. This is a time for diets, for salads, for cold finger foods. Not. For. Chocolate.

On Tuesday, the kids and I drove out to the farm to pick up our first CSA box of the summer. I was downright joyful about the whole thing, especially the unexpected early start to the CSA season, and The Big Boy was fairly vibrating out of his carseat with glee. Nine months after our last trip to the farm, this four-year-old had not forgotten a single detail. He noticed the new gates at the top of the driveway, the new sign, the fact that there were more cars parked than usual. And – my favorite part – he marched right up to the farmers with determination, ready to see what was in our first box. He and I both stuck our heads straight into the box, fighting for the first sniff before pulling out random leaves and taking nibbles. I love that kid.

Well, I say I love him, but truth be told, when I saw the bag of fresh-picked strawberries tucked into a corner of the box, I (oh, the shame) hid them from him. I probably even shouldn’t admit it, right? Wouldn’t a good mother share her fruitful bounty with her first-born son? Yeah, well, I didn’t. I waited until he went to sleep that night and then I ate every single one of them all by myself.

I have no doubt my own mother has done that very same thing to me.

But even though I have enjoyed some fabulous salads this week, and the first CSA meal I cooked was my favorite greens recipe from last summer, the Bitter Greens with Sweet Onions and Tart Cheese (using farm kale and farm onions and some leftover goat cheese I had in the fridge), and even though it was utterly delicious and I nearly swooned with delight, this isn’t at all what I want to tell you about. All those wonderful, deliciously healthy fruits and vegetables just weren’t the culinary highlight of the week.

I’m gonna have to go to the altar on Sunday. First I deceive my own son about the presence of strawberries and now I’m going to make everyone fat.

It’s just that I had a sweet tooth a few days ago (big surprise, that) and the last dessert recipe I had attempted had been an abysmal failure and my ego was still smarting. And it just so happened that the only recipe I still wanted to try in the last issue of Bon Appetit was one for dark chocolate cookies. I had already cooked my way through much of the magazine with great success, and if you happen to be sitting on the June issue and you haven’t tried the ricotta pancakes, I can’t speak of it highly enough. Oh, and make sure to not overlook the grits and onion soufflĂ©, and the orzo salad with chickpeas and goat cheese which I also recommend, though not nearly as highly as those afore-mentioned cookies.

For pity’s sake. These cookies were a revelation. You know how everyone has their favorite cookie recipe of all time? These are better than that. With a chocolate batter, dotted with dark chocolate chips, and rolled in powdered sugar, how could they not be? They were like miniature little chocolate pies, dense and fudgy and chewy on the inside, and just a little crackly on the outside, sending out little puffs of sugar dust into the air with each bite. Oh, my. The Carnivore and The Houseguest and I ate them greedily, moaning with pleasure and leaving a trail of sugar everywhere we went (including all over Little Miss Piggy who was sleeping in my arms at the time). They were even just as good, if not better, the second day. I had been a little nervous that packing the leftovers into some plastic containers would affect the texture which is part of the allure of these little calorie bombs, but the worry was in vain. Our eyeballs still rolled back into our heads when we attacked them again the next night.

These will be worth the repentance. They are even worth the added exercise that will be necessary if I’m to continue to fit into my bathing suit. Maybe if I eat kale every night for the next week…


DEEP DARK CHOCOLATE COOKIES (from Bon Appetit), makes about 24
  • Nonstick spray
  • 1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips, about 9 oz, divided
  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbs cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  1. Spray 2 baking sheets with nonstick spray.
  2. Melt one cup of chocolate chips in microwave, stopping to stir every 30 seconds. Set aside to cool slightly.
  3. In a large bowl, beat egg whites in an electric mixer to soft peaks.
  4. Gradually beat in 1 cup sugar. Continue beating until mixture is creamy and has thickened.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together one cup sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt.
  6. On low speed, add the dry ingredients to the egg white mixture.
  7. Stir the melted chocolate and remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips into the mixture.
  8. Place remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl.
  9. Roll rounded tablespoon of dough into a ball (does not have to be perfect) and then roll it in the sugar.
  10. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, putting balls about 2 inches apart on sheet.
  11. Bake at 400 degrees (convection ovens will give best results) for about 10 minutes, until dough is puffed and the tops have cracked.


Anonymous said...

Sarah - the recipe looks fabulous. Can't wait to try it. But, uh, how are you going to resolve instruction #2 and your post of March 13th? :))

In His peace - Cindy
MoM(Mom of Many) - and ?????
The Bible calls children blessings and debt a curse. Yet in our society we apply for curses and reject blessings. Something is wrong with this picture.
Doug Phillips (Vision Forum)

Sarah Beam said...

Cindy: Ah, yeah, about that. Um, I actually went to the trouble of melting the chocolate in a pan on the stove. Because I clearly have issues, you know? I put microwave instructions though in the recipe because (1) not everyone else is as weird as I am, and (2) the magazine used microwave instructions.

I think it is funny that you noticed that though. My list of neuroses could keep a person busy.

Anonymous said...

Ah silly Sarah, if you don't have your recipes in a database by title and subject (a simple sort operation) and of course its source as well then you simply do not qualify as a card carrying member of Neuroses 'R Us.

In His peace - Cindy
Mom(Mom of Many) - and ???

Sarah Beam said...

Oh dear, Cindy, you won't believe what I worked on all weekend. Look to the new link under the "About Me" section at the top of this page. See that new "index of recipes"?

Where do I go to pick up my membership card?

Anonymous said...

Touche!!!!!!!!! - I'll send it ASAP.

In His peace - Cindy
MoM(Mom of Many)

Shari said...

Can I bribe you to post more often? After reading an Omnivore's Dilemma and having a fish cleaning fiasco I need more meal ideas. I figure I'll be good for the summer what with all the fruit and veggies in season but winter worries me. I like coming here cause you have worked all the kinks out of the recipes.

I promise to try everything!

Sarah Beam said...

Oh Shari, The Omnivore's Dilemna does change your outlook on things, doesn't it? Have you read his newest book 'In Defense of Food?' It is equally fascinating.

Tell you what, if you'll babysit for me, I'll post much more often. Actually, I have a frittata recipe to share today or tomorrow (kids willing) that I'm really proud of, and a whole list of other new recipes that I can't wait to post.