November 12, 2009

The Infamous Neiman Marcus Cookie

The tale of this urban myth has been circulating for over 20 years, and has never been found to have a single bit of factual information. Legend has it that one day, a customer in the Neiman Marcus Cafe in the Dallas store so enjoyed a chocolate chip cookie for dessert that she asked for the recipe. A snippy waitress told her it was available for sale, and when asked the price, replied, "two-fifty." She was told to add the charge to the customer's bill. The tale continues that when the Visa statement came in the mail, the customer was surprised to see a charge of $250 for the recipe, and when she went to Neiman's customer service, was told, basically, "tough luck." So the customer sent the famous recipe to everyone she knew and asked them to do the same.

Neiman's says that they have never served these cookies in any of their restaurants. Neiman Marcus also does not accept Visa cards as payment in its stores and has a strict policy stipulating that a customer must sign his or her sales receipt prior to leaving a cafe or restaurant.

Because of all the hype this little cookie has generated, Neiman Marcus has come up with what they think is a better cookie recipe which you can find on their website.

After stumbling across the recipe time and time again, I had to give it a try to see if this infamous cookie was worth all the hype.

Guess what? They are! These cookies are so yummy, that even my hubby, who really isn't a cookie fan...loved them and an empty plate was all that was left.

The fleur de sel is not in the orignal recipe, but I love a salty sweet combo and couldn't resist.

Thank you Neiman Marcus for this seriously good cookie.

Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookie
Makes about 2 dozen

1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
3 tbsp sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp good vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1-1/2 tsps instant espresso coffee powder
1-1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
enough fleur de sel to sprinkle over cookies

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cream butter with the sugars, using an electric mixer on medium speed, until fluffy (approximately 30 seconds).
Beat in the egg and vanilla extract for another 30 seconds.
In a mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and beat into the butter mixture at low speed for about 15 seconds. Stir in the espresso coffee powder and chocolate chips.

Using a 1-ounce scoop or a 2-tablespoon measure, drop cookie dough into a greased cookie sheet or silpat about inches apart. Gently press down on the dough with the back of a spoon to spread out into a 2-inch circle. Sprinkle a litte fleur de sel over the cookies and bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned around the edges. Bake a little longer for a crispier cookie.


November 4, 2009

Green Rice (Arroz Verde)

If you love cilantro like I do, you will love this very fragrant side dish. I first had this pilaf at a great little Mexican restaurant in Tucson, and ever since, have preferred this over Spanish rice. It has such a nice distinct fresh herbal flavor from the cilantro, parsley, green onions and jalapeno. I have also served this to some folks who did not like cilantro, and they loved it.
For best results, use long-grain rice and do not rinse it. This should be cooked just before you plan on serving it, but the cilantro puree can be prepared in advance.
Just the color alone makes for a fun side dish! Give this easy recipe a try with your next Mexican meal.

Wine Pairing: An American Riesling would be a nice match to the herbs, and for something different, try a Rose' Cotes-du-Rhone.

Green Rice
Serves 4-6

1 cup chicken or beef broth (for a vegetarian version, vegetable broth can be used)
1 cup water
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup long-grain white rice
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 or 2 jalapeno chiles, chopped (depending on your taste)
2 green onions, including tender green tops, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
pinch of kosher salt

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the stock and the water and bring to a simmer. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, warm 2 tbsp of the olive oil. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until the grains are separated and opaque, 2-3 minutes. Gradually stir in the simmering stock (it will boil up vigorously), then reduce the heat and cover. Cook undisturbed until the rice has absorbed the liquid and is tender, about 20 minutes.

While the rice cooks, in a food processor, combine the cilantro, jalapeno, green onions, garlic, remaining 1 tbsp oil and salt. Process until you have a smooth consistency.

Remove the rice from heat. Dollop the cilantro puree evenly over the surface of the rice and cover. Let stand undisturbed for 5 minutes. Uncover and thoroughly stir the puree into the rice. Transfer to a serving dish and serve right away.


November 3, 2009

Roasted Apple and Butternut Squash Soup

Fall brings an abundance of vegetables...especially squash, which you can find in all shapes and sizes. Now is the perfect time to try out all those squash recipes that will add warmth to your tummy and take the chill out of those autumn nights.
There are so many variations to make this soup to your liking. Thai with a bit of coconut milk and ginger and Southwestern with some chipotle chiles, cumin and lime juice are just two delicious ways for something different.
Roasting the vegetables brings out more depth in the flavor as well as richness to the soup.
A seriously easy soup to add to your fall repetoire.

Wine Pairing: A very dry Riesling or a Pinot Gris would be a nice match. For something different, try serving a Spanish Sherry with this.

Roasted Apple and Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 6

1 medium butternut squash peeled and cubed
1 large sweet onion cubed
3 apples peeled and cubed
1 tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt and ground pepper to season squash
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large carrot peeled and chopped
1 medium shallot chopped
1 tsp fresh chopped thyme
1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp grated ginger
5 cups of low sodium chicken broth (veggie broth can be used for a vegetarian version)
1/2 cup of sherry
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Fresh thyme leaves to garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degress. In a large bowl, toss squash, apples and onion together with 1 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper making sure that everything is coated. Spread the veggie mixture out on a cookie sheet in one single layer. Roast, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are golden brown and softened, about 45-50 minutes. (I did this step the night before. Once veggies were cool, I tossed them into the fridge overnight).
In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the carrots and shallots. Saute until soft and shallots are translucent. Increase the heat to high and add the roasted squash, apples and onions, with the broth, thyme, coriander and ginger. After this mixture comes up to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes until the squash breaks apart.
Working in batches, puree squash mixture in blender or food processor. Transfer pureed soup to a large saucepan and stir in the nutmeg and sherry. Bring soup to a simmer over medium-low heat, adding 1/4 cup of water at a time to adjust consistency. Now it's time to enjoy!

Garnish with fresh thyme leaves.
Here are some other garnish ideas...
Dollop with sour cream or creme fraiche
Homemade coutons
Roasted pumpkins seeds or butternut squach seeds
Even plain popcorn would be a fun garnish for the kiddies.