Sunday, March 27, 2011

OMG: spaghetti bolognese

HTB* and I are still getting into our suburban routine. For us that means pick-ups at the Metro North train station, taking turns walking the Grizz,** and maneuvering weeknight dinner duty - among other things. I absolutely have new respect for commuters who cook dinner after a full day, do homework with their kids, run a load of laundry, kiss their husbands and get up in the morning ready (and willing) to do it all over. I can barely stay awake on the train home and HTB has gone a couple weeks without a real make-out. Poor guy.

And just to remind me how much I love him, last Thursday I came home after a long day to the most incredible smell in our house. I may have told you that HTB comes from an Italian American family, but that fact alone does no Mario Batali make. In fact, dating in the culinary capital of the States, he never had a chance to woo me with his culinary ways... but OMG. Complex flavor with a robust red wine taste, and still light enough to be scooped with a crusty warm baguette. I mean, restaurant quality! I guess HTB was telling the truth about sweating olive oil and bleeding marinara. Lucky me :)

*HTB = Hubs-to-be
**the Grizz = 3-year old Cockapoo princess
Caveat: the following recipe is to me what "F-me boots" are to college guys. Make it immediately - but beware of the inevitable food baby to follow.

Spaghetti Bolognese
adapted from Rocco Dispirito's Rocco's Italian-American

1/4 pound ground pork
1/4 pound ground beef
3 tbsp. extra-vigin olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4 stalks celery, rinsed and diced
1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 glass red wine
2 cups marinara sauce
2 cups chicken stock
salt and red pepper flakes
1/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
1 1/4 pound whole wheat spaghetti (or orecchiette when you have it as leftovers)

In a stockpot, over high heat, brown the meat in the olive oil. Lower the heat and add everything else, except the pasta and the cheese, cover, and simmer 1 hour.

Meanwhile, bring a big pot of water to a boil. Add a handful of salt when it begins to simmer. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water, drain, and toss it in the pot with the sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with the cheese.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

comeback: peanut-butter surprises

I know, you're surprised. But I'm back! It was a long hiatus (actually the longest in Baking Therapy history), but it was much needed. I had an engagement to celebrate, a fiance to play with and a new home to warm. Plus a new commute to figure out. But the fiance is happy, the house is sizzling (photos to come soon!) and I'm a master of Grand Central. So it was time to pull the standing mixer and return to the baking state of mind.

I knew it would be a shock to see Baking Therapy pop up on your newsfeed, so I chose Martha's Peanut-Butter Surprises for my comeback. What's better than a current Baking Therapy post and a burst of peanut butter inside double chocolate cookies?? Maybe a supercute 1890's farmhouse and sunny skies all weekend... but we already got that :)

These. are. chocolatopia in your face. With a splash of pb. And a side of happiness wrapped in deliciousness.

Peanut-Butter Surprises

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups firmly packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda, set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, vegetable shortening, granulated sugar, and 1 cup brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until fully combined between additions. Add vanilla, beat to combine. Gradually add dry ingredients; mix on low speed until fully combined. Add chocolate chips, mix on low speed just until combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; chill until firm, about 1 hour.

In a small bowl using a rubber spatula, stir together peanut butter and remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar.

Drop 1 tbsp. of dough at a time onto baking sheets, spacing cookies about 2-inches apart. Make a thumbprint in the center of each cookie. Fill thumbprint with 2 tsp. peanut butter mixture. Top with a second tablespoon of flattened dough. Carefully mold dough to cover the surprise.

Bake until firm, about 12 minutes, rotating halfway through. Transfer baking sheets to wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Remove cookies from baking sheets, and let cool completely on wire racks.
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