Monday, November 22, 2010

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Whenever I see a recipe for chocolate chip cookies labeling them the “best chocolate chip cookies” I always feel compelled to try out the recipe.  I don’t know why that is, but it seems that my quest to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie is never ending.

So when I saw A Bowl of Mush’s post on The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie, of course I had to try it. The cookies looked promising:  slightly crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside, not too thin and not too thick/cakey.

These chocolate chip cookies were a lot paler in color compared to other chocolate chip cookies I tried. I used light brown sugar, but usually this doesn’t affect my cookies. I would probably recommend using dark brown sugar for these cookies.

Of course, everyone’s definition of the best chocolate chip cookie is different and everyone has different criteria. These weren’t the perfect chocolate chip cookies for me. They were tasty. I liked the crunchy outside and the chewy inside, but they weren’t my favorite. BF loved them though.

I don’t think I’ll ever stop trying chocolate chip cookie recipes, and it’s always fun to keep trying new ones.  So far my favorite recipe has been this one.

To see A Bowl of Mush’s recipe, click here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cucina Urbana

I heart Cucina Urbana.  Let me start off with that. I really do. I can’t wait to go back.

I had heard the buzz about Cucina Urbana for a while, but just didn’t have the time to check out it. Finally, I made some time.  I invited my friend Steve who is always up for trying out new spots. BF came too of course. Since dining at CU, I can see why its business  strategy has kept it extremely successful and popular.

CU focuses on using local produce (organic when possible), and offering affordable food. No dish is priced over $20 and the wine is sold at retail.

Sometimes when I hear a lot of buzz about someplace, I am a little wary that it won’t live up to the hype. But I had a good feeling about Cucina Urbana.  When we arrived, the place was busy and packed, but our table was already waiting for us. I immediately loved the open atmosphere, and the bar that seems to wrap around the middle of the dining section. Everyone inside seemed as happy as clams, which was a good sign.

Once seated, our waitress appeared. She was so sweet and friendly and seemed to genuinely love her job (is that even possible?) She seemed really happy to be working and serving us.

She asked us if we had any questions, and we had a few since it was our first time, and she was extremely informative with her responses. Being the type A personality that I am, I had of course, researched the menu online the night before. Reviewing the menu had gotten me even more excited about CU.

Almost everything I read on the menu sounded fresh, innovative, and delicious. And what was most amazing of all were the prices. Not a single dish over $20. Looking at the ingredients and the descriptions, I would have guessed more expensive prices. But that is one of the things that makes this place so great.

Since it was our first time, we decided to order quite a few things from the menu in order to get a better idea of what CU has to offer.

CU offers a selection of “vasi,” or little jars of spread served with bread. They all sounded pretty good, but we decided to try the chicken liver pate.

The jar of pate was quite full and we had plenty to spread on our bread and still had a lot leftover.  As we began to run low on our bread, the waitress immediately brought over more bread without us even having to ask. I began to notice that throughout the night, she was constantly checking to make sure we had everything, even if she didn’t always verbally come to speak to us (though she did that as well.) Great service was another reason why I had such a lovely experience here.

We chose fried squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta cheese for an appetizer. The squash blossoms were so pretty.  The plate looked small, but it was enough for each of us to have two squash blossoms. The blossoms were served with a side of fresh made pesto.

Deciding on entrees was hard. Everything looked good.  Our waitress told us that her favorite dish was the whole roasted brook trout.  Steve chose that one.

The trout was served whole and boneless, which I thought was pretty cool. It did have a few small bones remaining, but it is hard to completely debone a trout. The flavor of the fish was fantastic. I loved the lemony taste. The skin was nice and crispy and the fish was very moist.  We all agreed that this was our favorite entree.

BF chose the short rib pappardelle, served with cremini mushroom and parmigiano. I loved the wide  noodles used in this dish. The short rib was very tender. We all enjoyed this dish too, just not as much as the trout.

As soon as I saw truffle oil on the menu on several dishes, I knew I had to get one with truffle oil. I debated between a pasta and a pizza and ended up choosing pizza since we already had one pasta dish.  The foraged mushroom pizza was topped with mushrooms and drizzled with truffle oil.

The truffle oil aroma was so intoxicating. I am convinced almost anything tastes good with truffle oil, so there isn’t much to say about this pizza.  Ever since eating it, I’ve been craving truffle oil all week.

Despite being completely full, we decided to split a dessert.  We opted for a roasted strawberry fregolata. The dessert arrived piping hot.  I didn’t love the dessert as much as I loved the meal.  It wasn’t a bad dessert; it just wasn’t my favorite. I thought the strawberries were a little too tart and overall I thought the dessert was a lot more simple than the description, and was something I could make myself.

We left feeling extremely satisfied and full. I can’t wait until my next visit and I can’t wait to take more friends here. Perhaps more restaurants should follow CU’s footsteps.

Cucina Urbana
505 Laurel St,
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 239-2222
http://www.cucinaurbana.com/Cucina Urbana on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sweet potato chocolate chip cookies

With only a couple of days left before Thanksgiving, I spent the weekend testing out a few more recipes before determining which ones will be made for Thanksgiving Day.

For me, sweet potatoes is a must during Thanksgiving so I tested out a couple of sweet potato dessert recipes. First, I decided to try making some sweet potato chocolate chip cookies.  Pumpkin puree and sweet potato puree  are pretty similar so you can interchange a lot of recipes with the two ingredients.

With that in mind,  I thought I’d try out making some sweet potato chocolate chip cookies by tweaking around the recipe I had used to make pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  The cookies are soft and cakey. I liked them, but I think the chocolate overpowered the subtle taste of sweet potato.

I prefer the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies I’ve made because they taste like pumpkin bread.  These are pretty good too, but I don’t think the sweet potato flavor came out as well.

Sweet potato chocolate chip cookies (inspired by this recipe))

Ingredients

1 cup sweet potato puree
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

1.To make sweet potato puree, roast a large sweet potato until it is soft and cooked all the way through. After it has cooled, peel off the skin and then put potato into a food processor to puree.

2. Preheat oven to 350F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

3. Whisk together puree, sugar, vegetable oil, vanilla and egg in a large bowl . In a separate bowl, whisk together together flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add the flour mixture to sweet potato  mixture and stir until combined, using a large spoon. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4. Take large tablespoons full of dough and drop onto the cookie sheet, spread about 1 inch apart. Once the cookie dough is down on the sheets, wash your hands clean of the sticky dough. Then attempt to smooth and shape the dough to the shape of a finished cookie because the cookie batter does not spread as much as normal cookie batter, so you want the batter to be very smooth and finished looking.

5. Bake for approximately 10 minutes.