For decades I have been annotating my cookbooks, recipe by recipe. For each recipe I attempt, I then write a recipe review. In each cookbook recipe the recipe is rated from one to 5 stars with some accompanying descriptive text. For recipes I save from the internet (and these are few and far between since I’m a bit old fashioned) the title of the recipe saved on my computer has an asterisk rating from “*” to “*****”. Ditto for all of those beloved recipes my friends and families send me. I hardly every look back on one to three star recipes. Those 4 and 5 star recipes are really the keepers. From time to time I’ll post a few 4 star cookie recipes.
I packed myself off to college with some of my favorite recipes handwritten in a binder which I’ll just call “Roberts Heritage Recipes”. This easy and delicious recipe was one of the first I hand wrote for that binder. It was a great lure to get my friends to come on over to study for calculus finals. Recently it has entered the curriculum of my Cookie Camp and sometimes in Easy Peasy Meals for Younger Kids. It’s still a great lure and a treat I promise to my younger campers for good behavior.
- 2 cups flour (8.8 oz, 250g)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 tsp. ground cloves
- 1 ¼ tsp. ginger
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2/3 cup lard or shortening (4.8 oz, 130g)
- 1 cup sugar (8.1 oz, 230g)
- 1 egg (2 oz, 57g)
- ¼ cup molasses (3 oz, 85 g)
- ½ cup finely chopped walnuts (2.1 oz, 60g)
- 1/3 cup sugar (2,7 oz, 77g)
Preheat to 350. Sift together flour, soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and salt. Cream lard and 1 cup sugar. Add eggs and molasses. Add sifted dry ingredients to creamed mixture. Add nuts. Mix well. Shape dough into balls the size of a small walnut and roll in the remaining sugar. Place 2 in. apart. Cook for 10 min.
To celebrate California’s great cheese makers I recently headed to a driving tour of the farms and creameries. It was so fun and you can do it too. What a delicious way to support ourlocal farmers. In Marin County, California, Audrey heads up the first U.S. buffalo mozzarella farm and creamery in the United States. It was such a treat to spend time with her and her buffalos on a Saturday tour of the farm and creamery. As Audrey sells only to restaurants and her visitors, this is one way to obtain fresh mozzarella which lasts only 3-7 days. It’s great to know where our food comes from when we’re cooking a meal. Enjoy it on a caprese salad as I did as a way to maximize the ultimate pleasure of this fresh cheese with a super simple recipe.
- 8 ounces super fresh buffalo mozzarella
- 1-2 large tomatoes, preferably heirloom, sliced into ¼ inch rounds
- 1/8 cup basil leaves, sliced into strips
- 1/8 cup high quality extra virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Lay tomato slices flat on a plate. Slice a think slab of mozzarella. Lie it on top of the tomatoes. Top with basil. Drizzle olive oil on top. Sprinkle with salt an freshly ground pepper.
One of the most rewarding parts of running La Toque de Cindy is the words of flattery I receive from customers. Parents this summer offered to share their comments with my readers so I thought I’d give you a peek into what they had to say about summer, 2016, camp.
“My son took the Best of NY Times camp last week and loved it! He said he learned a lot and everything tasted really good. One day he asked to stop at the store on the way home so he could buy the ingredients for strawberry fool and he made it for us (told me I had to get the NYT cooking app!). It was delicious and he narrated each step for me to learn. Some days he brought home leftovers and plated them beautifully for us. We’re now on vacation and went to a great restaurant that he appreciated very much with the exception of a cabbage slaw that he felt had a little too much cumin (food critic!).” Sarah
“ Hannah had a great time at your camp. She will be interested in this next year as well. She shared some of her chocolates with my friends which made her feel so proud!” Pattie
“Theo really enjoyed the camp – he overcame his fear of Bunsen burners (!) and was really proud of the food he made. Thank you for a great experience!” Holly
“Andrew loved the class and the sliders. I’m looking forward to testing at home all of the great recipes he’s making with you. He doesn’t love brussel sprouts, but his older siblings and the rest of our family are big fans. Hopefully he’ll be willing to try the brussel sprouts that you make with him. We’re trying to expand his repertoire!” Lisa
“Thanks for camp! I’m grateful that Carson is expanding his palate…and having fun.” Tricia
“There’s no way Jonathan is going to miss your class, as he’s been waiting for it the whole summer. Going through the recipes, I was very impressed with how awesome they are, and I’m sure Jonathan is up for a treat. ” Dror
“Riley and Chloe both loved the camp and we were thrilled with the leftovers! The girls are excited to teach us how to make some of the recipes from the camp. They can’t wait to try out the recipes again!” Donna
Oh how I wish cooking camp would never end. But the days are getting shorter and children have started the 2016/17 school year so we’ve closed our doors until next summer. With so many enthusiastic young chefs attending it was a whirlwind adventure but so worth it. I saw increased confidence in reading/following recipes, proper use of a double boiler, egg separating like a pro, using a kitchen scale, knife skills, cake/cupcake decorating and just the feeling “I can do it”. My dream is that all of these chefs become great home cooks as adults. Or at least become frequent home chefs as adults. It saddens me to learn how many meals are either take out or restaurant outings these days. There are so many reasons to cook and one is that it’s just so dang fun. Thanks to all of the parents who appreciate our efforts and the new teachers who offered their enthusiasm and know how this summer. Here are some of my favorite photos from summer, 2016. Gotta love that onion goggle fashion statement!
The Food Network is looking for promising young chefs for their next Chopped Junior show. In camp this summer some of the campers competed in their own Chopped style competition. Now you can take that to TV and become a celebrity chef. I’m happy to announce that two of my former students made it to the final round of interviews for this show the last time around. This time it could be the budding young chef in your house. They are in search of young culinary masterminds between the ages of 9 and 13 who can take the heat in the kitchen and the competition!
Although a third of my cooking camp spots are full with registrations from my private email list, two thirds of them are now available to the public. We have a LOT of fun in store this summer, from old favorites such as “Easy Peasy Meals for Younger Kids” and “Pizza and Pasta Pros” to some new and novel camps.
I’d like to offer a big welcome to Alyssa Blau who is teaching a “Delectable Dinner” camp this summer. Alyssa has worked alongside me with catering jobs and as a camp assistant. She’s an excellent cook and offered to teach a camp after a bit of arm twisting from me. I strongly recommend you try out her camp this summer. It’s something new and it’s always good to take classes from a variety of teachers as everyone will have a different spin on how to make the most delicious dinners.
As chocolate is my forte and many of my students have asked for a class for older teens, I’ve added a camp called “Chocolate Challengers“. To take a peek at what we’ll learn in this class see the photo above of my chocolate ganache meringue cake. it’s four layers of delicious hazelnut/almond meringue spread with chocolate between the layers. I just baked one of these cakes for my “Chocoholics Dream Party” last week. The 50 guests were kind enough to leave a few slices of it for me to enjoy.
I hope to see your children this summer at camp. Sign up soon as camp is limited to 12 students per session. Some are near capacity already. Details about camp and registration.
One of my friends hosts a Cookie Exchange each December. I look forward to it every year. I’m sure she’s thinking this is the perfect way to have a medley of cookies at your holiday party rather than 300 of the same kind. What a great idea. If you need some help making cookies, come to my Christmas cookies class. Here’s how to line up your own cookie exchange.
How to host a cookie exchange. Invite your friends to come over to a shin dig at your house. The only requirement is that they show up with two dozen home made cookies. Strongly emphasize the home made component as I’m on a mission to get everyone back to fun in the kitchen. And, you must admit home made will be much tastier and more of a draw for your guests. You get an extra bonus if you bring the recipe to share. Of course they can bring more but let’s just say 24 is the minimum. While at the party, sample a few of the other offerings. Try as hard as possible to constrain yourself and taste only a few. Package up a few from one guest, a few from another. Head home and pop them in the freezer unless your party is tomorrow. Host your own party and amaze your guests by your medley of cookies.