Saturday, October 10, 2009

To Last Me 'Til Next Year

There have been lots of passing of epochs lately here, whether formally marked, acknowledged, or not. September 21 was the first day of spring here, which is actually fully celebrated (it`s also el dia del estudiante, so no one has class, and the parks are filled, and I mean filled, with kids). Rosh Hashanah came and went, and now Yom Kippur. One of the common occurrences being a foreign student (and having foreign student friends) is that there tends to be a lot of mobility, there´s always someone going back to their home country, or arriving anew, or someone's cousin´s friend just moved here etc...A Colombian friend, a pianist, is returning indefinitely to Colombia after not having been home in almost 2 years, and Saturday night there was a surprise goodbye party involving lots of beer and Colombian folk music played with upright piano and double bass (not a very typical combination, but you do what you can.) After a drizzly windy 5 o'clock in the morning return journey (read: freezing) certain people didn´t get out of bed until 3:30 in the afternoon (the day was made, made to stay in bed) although they had invited the pianist and his lovely girlfriend over for a goodbye 3. Luckily the party didn't end until 9 in the morning [we were super flojos (wusses) for leaving at 5], so no one was exactly raring to go. In the end it turned into a very late lunch/pre-Yom Kippur dinner (for the Jew), and I ended up so full I don't think I'm going to need to eat for the next two days anyway, which I blame, oddly enough, on a lemon tart that managed to taste ridiculously of butter, though it really didn't involve anymore than any typical recipe that I would tend to make. My mom used to always make us a bunch of lasagna right before Yom Kippur, my dad would eat half (if not a full) pan, and we would all end up satisfied, that is until we returned from Kol Nidre and I would become sharply aware of the long, dark 20 hours ahead of me. But after this meal I seriously think lemon tarts, while not particulary Jewy or traditional in any way, may be the way to go.

Does this look like spring to you? Not quite, but apparently we´re getting there...on the other hand, this is one of the coolest hospital facades I´ve seen...even the barred windows look classy.

Along with the ridiculous lemon tarts, I also made some chocolate cookies that, though pretty rich tasting, go down much lighter. I love them, everyone always loves them, and they´re pretty much the easiest cookies you could possibly make-- I say this because there is no creaming of butter, which I really think sometimes is an issue, especially for those of use who don't have mixers, and there are no eggs. They also use cocoa powder, which frankly is much cheaper than melting down chocolate and mixing it with the butter, and they seem to stay chewier for longer.

Cocoa Cookies

Adapted from Orangette, adapted from Alice Medrich

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (000)

1/4 tsp. baking soda

small pinch salt

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup light brown sugar (or mix 1 cup granulated sugar with 1 tsp. molasses to account for all of the sugar in the recipe)

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I´ve had some terrible experiences with cocoa powder in Argentina, mainly because it´s mostly sold in bulk so you don´t know what you´re getting beforehand. I mix a bit with equal parts sugar and a bit of water, and if it tastes kind of like dirt, well, I throw it out...not such a big fan of dirt-flavored cookies. Muddie buddies, on the other hand, I would totally go for right now...)

1/3 cup plain yogurt, preferably not low- or nonfat

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ cup chocolate chips or chopped chocolate, I like bittersweet but I've seen chocolate toffee candy bars chopped up and thrown in to good results as well, so it's flexible...walnuts might be good too...kind of like a calmer brownie with walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (Do I always do this? No. I almost never have parchment paper. Sometimes they stick...not terribly, but they do. It's up to you whether you feel like dealing with it, and whether you want picture perfect cookies.)

Heat the butter until just melted. Add the sugars and the cocoa, and stir well to break up any lumps in the cocoa (you can sift the cocoa first to avoid this if you want.) The mixture will be somewhat thick and pasty, like wet sand. Add the yogurt and vanilla and stir to mix thoroughly. Sift the flour with the salt and baking soda into the bowl with the chocolate mixture, and stir everything together just until it´s combined. Add the chocolate chips and stir to incorporate. Drop the dough by generous tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet. The cookies spread a bit so leave space, an inch or two, in between them. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes (rotate the sheet at 5 minutes so they cook evenly), or until the tops of the cookies have crackled slightly and look set. Transfer the sheet pan to a wire rack, and cool the cookies on the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer them to the rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough. Makes about 20 cookies.

Unas de las galletas mas faciles hacer, y a todos les encantan. No hay que preocuparse por incorporar aire a la mantequilla, y ni siquiera llevan huevo. Ademas llevan cacao, que es mucho mas barato que chocolate derretido con la mantequilla, como se hace en muchas recetas de galletas de chocolate, y parece que quedan masticables por mas tiempo.

Galleticas de Cacao

Adaptado de Orangette, adaptado de Alice Medrich

una taza de harina de trigo (tipo 000)

1/4 cucharita de bicarbinato de soda

una pizquita de sal

4 cucharadas de mantequilla

2/3 taza de azucar blanca

1/3 taza de azucar rubia (o 1/3 taza de azucar blanca mezclado con una cucharita de melao)

1/2 taza de cacao amargo (sin azucar...a ver, en Argentina he visto una diferencia de calidad y esto depende del lugar. Yo compro el cacao en las dieteticas, donde no hay marcas y lo venden suelto, asi que diria que tienes que probar el cacao, mezclalo con la misma cantidad de azucar y un poquito de agua, y si no tiene buen sabor asi, botalo...por ahi se encuentran unos que tienen saborcito de tierra...y asi sabran las galleticas)

1/3 taza de yogur natural (sin azucar, entero)

una cucharita de vanilla

½ taza de chips de chocolate o chocolate picado, a mi me gusta el chocolate semi-amargo aca pero se puede usar cualquier tipo de chocolate o pronto nueces, seria como un brownie mas suave con nueces

Precalienta el horno a 180°C. Cubre una bandeja con papel de hornear (La verdad es que no lo hago siempre...casi nunca tengo papel de hornear en casa. A veces se demasiado, pero si, pegan. Es una cuestion de molestias...¿comprar el papel, o tener galleticas pegaditas y menos perfectas?)

Calienta la mantequilla hasta que este justo derretida. Añade los azucares y el cacao, y mezclalo bien para romper grumos que esten en el cacao (puedes tamizar el cacao antes para evitar eso si quieres). La mezcla estara espesa y pastosa, como arena mojada. Echa el yogur y la vanilla y mezclalo bien. Sobre el bol que tiene la mezcla de chocolate, tamiza la harina junto con la sal y bicarbonato de soda y mezcla todo solo hasta que este combinado, no te excedas revolviendolo. Echa los chips de chocolate (o cualquier otra cosa que quieres echar ahora), y revuelve.

Coloca bolitas del tamaño de una cucharada en la bandeja preparada. Las galletas van a crecer entonces deja por lo menos 3 cm entre las bolitas. Hornealas por entre 9 y 11 minutos (voltea la bandeja a los 5 minutos para que cocinen uniformemente), o hasta que las superficies se vean un poquito rajadas y no tan humedas. Translada la bandeja a una rejilla de enfriamiento y dejalas enfriar por 10 minutos. Sacalas con una pala y transladalas a la rejilla para terminar de enfriar. Repita el proceso con el resto de la masa. Rinda alrededor de 20 galleticas.

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