It’s almost cookie season…..

Hi…..It’s Sarah……remember me?

I know, I know the radio silence has been deafening lately. I’m back to some sort of normal life again so here I am ready to pay attention to this lovely little blog I created. While trying to figure out what to share, I was looking back at the last additions I’d made to my blog. I quickly realized a lot has happened and time has gone by so quickly! It looks as though I stopped posting right when I cut off the tip of my finger while working at the Montage. Man that was a bummer, my first trip to an ER…EVER! The finger situation had nothing to do with my absence on the blog, but working my ass off at the Montage did. Oh the Montage, my time at the Loft. Culinary boot camp is one way to describe it, shit show was sometimes mentioned, killing it, digging your ass out of the weeds, a blur, a blast, insanity….never boring and always exciting. The food was amazing, the Chefs were talented and so generous with their talent. I met great people while I was there and consider myself lucky to have spent time with them. Here’s a look at some of the crew I rolled with.IMG_4906Ben, Josh, Manny, Dylan, Spencer and Mike. Gary 86’d me on my last night. Wonder if they miss me….

I’m sure most of you know by now that I’ve moved on from the Montage. In late August I got a call from the Casa Laguna Inn and Spa asking me to come back as Executive Chef. I accepted the position, made a graceful exit from the Loft and jumped head first into my new role. Within 2 weeks I created a new menu, hired crew, had a menu tasting, launched my new menu and its all been going great since. Already working on the winter menu launching in early December.

k enough about me… wasn’t I talking about cookie season???IMG_4907This is the best almond cookie ever and even though she is blurry in this picture, Lily is the best dog ever. I got this recipe from my Dad, he used to make tons of these as gifts for all the nurses that cared for him back when he had his old lungs. Now he makes them for all the nurses and doctors that follow the progress with his new lungs:) I make them all the time for friends, for gifts, for parties and to help people feel better…….

What you will need:IMG_4882

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons almond extract

3 eggs separated – 2 white together 1 whole egg and 2 yolks

3/4 cup finely chopped almonds

2 2/3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

48 whole almonds

Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.IMG_4884Add the 2 egg yolks and 1 whole egg & the extractsIMG_4883IMG_4885beat until eggs are incorporated and fluffy. add nuts.IMG_4889add flour and salt, mixing quickly but not too much, until all is blended well.IMG_4892With a scooper portion out all the dough into 1 inch balls or roll in your hand, dip them in the unbeaten egg whites. Place a whole almond in the center top of each cookie, brush the almond with more egg white and sprinkle your favorite salt on top. I use either pink salt or maldon salt.IMG_4893ready to bake at 375 for 13-15 minutesIMG_4895The egg white glazes the cookies, the center is soft, rich and nutty. Seriously a great cookie. I’ve changed the recipe a bit from my Dad’s, no doubt I’ll hear about it from Dad.

Summer was a blur, besides getting my ass kicked at the Loft most days, I did find the time for fun stuff. A beautiful family wedding in Santa Cruz, JT & JZ with my Lolo, Yosemite with my Jim and a few rare beach days.

What have y’all been up to?

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats

Here is a re do on a classic kid dessert that I never really could get my head around. The classic Rice Krispie treat was always so sweet it would hurt your teeth to eat it…that’s not cool. Again in my search for gluten-free recipes I found this recipe….right next to the flax coconut pancakes in Food and Wine magazine of all places. This was an article by Elisabeth Prueitt, pastry chef at Tartine and Bar Tartine in San Francisco. Instead of margarine or butter, how about coconut oil…YES!
Recipe makes 24 squares

3 tablespoons coconut oil

1 10 oz bag of marshmallows – use vegan marshmallows if that’s your thing

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter – use a really good one

7 ounces of brown rice crispy cereal (6 cups), which is naturally gluten-free.

Lightly grease a 9 x 13 pan with coconut oil. In a large sauce pot, melt 3 tablespoons of coconut oil. Add marshmallows and cook over low heat until melted, stirring constantly. Add peanut butter and stir until incorporated.Remove the pot from the heat and add the rice crispy cereal and stir to mix thoroughly.Quickly scrape the mixture into the greased pan and pat the mixture down with slightly wet hands to form the mix.Cool and cut into squares….a treat you can feel good about eating and giving to your kids and they taste GREAT! These will keep for a week in the fridge, best served at room temp. 

Joe Joe the Baker !

>I had a guest in my kitchen this weekend, Joe Joe the Baker , he’s our baker for camping. Joe and I baked up a bunch of goodies. He was a good sport as I outfitted him for our day of baking, doesn’t he look sharp?!?!

We made Chocolate Chip Cookies, Chocolate Cake and Tea Cookies. Starting off with Chocolate Chip Cookies we got to it right away.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe


2 sticks of butter at room temp 
1 cup of brown sugar- the darker the better
1/2 cup of raw sugar or white sugar
2 eggs at room temp – makes for better whipping
1 teaspoon vanilla – real vanilla please
2 1/4 cups flour- unbleached
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups of semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup toasted nuts- your choice
1 cup dried fruit- cherries, blueberries or raisins if you must…uugghh


Preheat oven to 350
Whip the butter with a hand mixer or on a stand mixer until very light and fluffy, then add the sugars until mixed well. 

Add the eggs one at a time until well blended, then add the vanilla. Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add to wet mixture slowly, mix well. 

Now you’re ready to add the chips and anything else you may like in your cookies, toasted walnuts, dried cherries, oats. Joe liked his with just chocolate chips, so that’s how we rolled this batch. 

Bake for 10-13 minutes depending on how you like your cookies, crispy or softy. We baked up one dozen for snacking while we continued on to the cake. I packed up the remaining cookie dough for Joe to take home and bake up for his family. Now he knows how to make CC Cookies from scratch, so he can always have dough in the fridge ready to bake up at anytime.


Next item Chocolate Cake – Joe’s made cakes before, but never a layered frosted cake. We used a cake mix for ease and to secure a solid outcome. Cakes from scratch are tricky and we wanted success so we took the easy route. Joe enjoyed all the gear we used. He listened and learned very well. We got the Kitchen Aid all the way to 10 while mixing the cake batter, he thought that was pretty cool.

We baked up our 8″ rounds and let them cool for frosting. They came out of the pans perfectly.

Joe took to frosting the cake… with careful concentration.

We also made Tea Cookies for his mom Nicky. Here’s a shot of Joe and all his goodies.

Here’s a shot of his family enjoying the Cake later that day…. Jimbo seems happy enough, where’s Jack ?

Big thanks to Joe for coming to bake with me, you did a GREAT job !! Come back anytime.

Tea Cookies

Cookies Cookie Cookies !!

Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies…….yummy.

Super easy and so good with coffee or tea.
I got this recipe from Claire Robinson, the 5 ingredient babe on the Food Network. Tasty little morsels of yum.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons loose Earl Grey tea leaves, or the tea of your choice.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

Directions

In a food processor, pulse together the flour, tea, and salt, until the tea is just spotted throughout the flour. 

Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and butter. Pulse together just until a dough is formed. 

Place dough on a sheet of plastic wrap, and roll into a log, about 2 1/2-inches in diameter. Tightly twist each end of wrap, and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Slice the log into 1/3-inch thick disks. 

Place on parchment or silpat lined baking sheets, 

2 inches apart (2 probably needed depending on size of sheets). Bake until the edges are just brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks and cool to room temperature.

Spring Cookies !!!

While I was relaxing with coffee and the food network this morning, Giada got me all fired up as she usually does.
She was making Lemon Ricotta Cookies ! 

They looked so good, my mission was set for the day. She was making them for a care package to send to her niece who just went off to college. I’ll make them for my peeps at the office.
Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested

Glaze:

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 lemon, zested

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Cookies:
In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the large bowl combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 

Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.
Line a baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. 
Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.

Glaze:
Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours.
These were delicious ! Light and cake like, so yummy. Bright lemon flavor, so fresh and springy !