Saturday, May 15, 2010

Chocolate Chunk Cookies With The Little Chef

A Recipe For A Very Happy Afternoon With A Little Chef

Step One: When your 8-year-old nephew Mac (aka The Little Chef) is staying with you all week and keeps begging you to bake something together, it helps if you have a great recipe to start with. The chocolate chip cookie recipe in David Lebovitz’s mouth-watering new book, Ready For Dessert, became our new BFF this week.

Step Two: Make sure you have all the ingredients on hand and at the correct temperature. The butter will be pliable once it softens to room temperature, though you can quickly get the eggs to room temp by placing them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes. Your brown sugar should also be the soft consistency of warm sand so that you can easily pack it into the measuring cup.

However, our brown sugar was spectacularly rock-hard and might have done serious damage had we thrown it at something. If I were a microwave-owner, I could have easily softened the block of sugar by nuking it for a few seconds. But since I am not, the Little Chef and I employed a series of questionable techniques to get that sugar to the right consistency and packed into the measuring cup. We grated the sugar-rock on a box grater (not very efficient), and we placed it in a Ziploc bag and swung it against the edge of the counter (fun, but also not so efficient). We also smashed it into larger bits with a hammer (getting better) and finally resorted to pulverizing those rocky bits in a food processor. By the time we finally ended up with a packed cup of light brown sugar, we might as well have run out to the corner deli for a fresh box, but Mac and I laughed a lot more by doing it this way. (We also avoided having to take twelve flights of stairs on a day the elevator was being repaired in my building!)

Step Three: Give your Little Chef a chance to show off his measuring and whisking skills. Bribe him with extra chocolate pieces if he can keep most of the dry ingredients in the bowl and off the counter, especially if he tends to whisk dry ingredients together quite vigorously as a rule.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Asparagus Pasta To Woo You Back

Hello everyone! I’m very happy to be back here on Kitchen Fiddler, and I am truly sorry that I dropped off the face of the blogosphere these past two months. There wasn’t a day that passed in which I didn’t think, “I want to crank out something for the blog today, and I just have to find the time to cook and write today!” But obviously it didn’t happen. For those of you who have been following Kitchen Fiddler for the past year, you may recall that I had a similar period of blog inactivity last spring when my cooking and writing fell by the wayside during a bout of extreme musical busy-ness. I will try to make it up to you with this treasured recipe for my favorite Asparagus Pasta.

I don’t know about you, but I really struggle with being disciplined in multiple areas of my life simultaneously. I CAN focus extremely well, but that focus is usually confined to one activity at a time. The fire has been cranked up under Project X, something that has demanded a hell of a lot of mental energy on my part as well as a willingness to travel like never before, but the recent developments are exciting and I look forward to being able to share it with you soon. I also spent all of April practicing like a maniac, as I played a chamber music concert with the great pianist Menahem Pressler on Friday night in LA. In preparing to play with one of the major giants of the classical music world, I thought it was wiser to focus on being a serious Fiddler at the expense of the Kitchen aspect of my life. So while I may not have cooked very much this spring—writing and blogging even less frequently—I’m glad in the end that I did spend all of those countless hours in the practice room because Friday’s concert was a true joy to play.