Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies | Kitchen in the Hills

So. I promised you a blog post on Sunday, and here it is five days later. Not the greatest. I go through ups and downs with this blog, and while I love posting regularly, there are definitely more weeks than I like where it seems I’m just too busy or too stressed to make a post. This last week wasn’t bad, but I definitely didn’t put in the hours to make, photograph, write and edit a full recipe post.

This isn’t a full blog post, really. It’s more of an update, with recipe attached. A recipe that was too good not to share. I was reading smitten kitchen last week, and Deb mentioned a chocolate chip cookie that she made and liked. Specifically, this salted chocolate chunk cookie from Ashley Rodriguez’s Date Night In cookbook. 

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies | Kitchen in the Hills

The book, which features a bunch of simple, make-it-in-an-evening meals for two, had been on my cookbook wishlist for weeks. (You’ve got to check out Ashley’s website, Not Without Salt. Amazing.) I knew when I saw the cookie recipe that I had to make it. I made a batch for a dinner with friends. 

These cookies far exceeded my expectations. They were better than good. There are a lot of good cookie recipes out there, but this one made for big, crispy-edged, soft-centered packages of goodness. Not too sweet, but not too salty, either. These cookies were the first salted chocolate chip cookies that I actually liked— not bland, not too heavily salted, and definitely chocolate-forward. These are probably my second favorite chocolate chip cookies of all time, with ATK’s cookies taking first place. 

You should totally make these cookies this weekend. They are so good. 

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Weekend Things

 Why is it so hard to leave the house sometimes? I miss long morning walks and hikes on the weekends. Recently I’ve felt more busy than not, and it’s gotten easier and easier to skip walks and hikes and the hours I used to spend wandering downtown. I think I’ve convinced myself that leisure time is unproductive, or worse, unimportant… When really, it’s the happiest I am all week.

This Saturday I finally made it down to Claremont for a steep stairway walk through the hills, behind the beautiful Claremont Hotel & Spa. There were gorgeous views, blue skies and sunshine. And roses. So, so many roses. 

 
Here are my favorite links this weekend.
 
The Real Secret to Productivity: It’s all about routines and systems. Are we even surprised?
 
How Do Some People Always Stay Upbeat? An old question, an old answer, but worth remembering.
 
Should we really Stop Vilifying Almonds? Almonds are one of the biggest water-consuming crops in California, and they’ve exploded in popularity in the last few years. That’s a big problem right now, as the state goes through a major drought. Almonds are currently using 10% of the state’s agricultural water supply. But almonds are part of a much larger problem of water use and agriculture in California. Either way, I’ll probably stop buying almond milk (for now). 
 
I love this illustrated recipe journal. It’s beautiful.
 
I ate these dumplings at a fancy Italian restaurant in North Berkeley, and it was one of the best things I ever ate. Who knew you could make them at home? Trying this when I work up the courage + confidence.
 
 
Matcha Mint Iced Tea is something I want to stock my fridge with.
 
I’m in love with ALL THE DONUTS! There may be a donut recipe coming up later this week.
 
Bananas + cream are a classic dessert combo, and I feel like they’re making a comeback right now. Making this easy banana pudding.
 
Have you ever wondered why every single recipe seems to be baked at 350F? I know I have. Some answers from The Kitchn. 
 
Hillary Clinton is running for president in 2016! How do we feel about this?
 
Currently reading: This nearly 800-page novel for a contemporary fiction class that I love. 
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One-Pot Spring Pasta with Asparagus, Fava Beans & Peas

One-Pot Spring Pasta with Asparagus, Fava Beans, and Peas

I’m currently contemplating a big blog change, because fonts and colors and layouts are important. I’m also doing a project on instagram that involves launching an online handmade store in 100 days. I’m trying to make things and read things and figure out what all of my little projects and hobbies add up to. And all the while, I’m reading 800-page novels and writing papers and taking exams for classes that will be over in a month.

Sure, I constantly have stuff to do, but I’m loving every minute of it. I’m learning so much. I’m learning about the brain and the body, about our strange culture, about the ways that we speak to each other now. I’m learning how to write well and clearly. Most of all, I’m learning that it takes guts and time to make things, and put them out there in the world.

Nothing you ever write or paint or photograph is 100% perfect. Sometimes you have to let it go, say “this is it,” and release your work. Sometimes people will criticize you, or they won’t like what you’re doing. And sometimes you won’t hear a response at all, because nobody will see the thing that you spent hours making. But sometimes, your work will resonate with someone. They will love what you’ve created.

And that feels like winning the lottery. I honestly think that moment of connection is why anyone doing any kind of creative work keeps going. I know it’s why I do.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies

Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies

Last summer, I learned to love rhubarb. Always unsure of what to do with the celery-like stalk, I had passed it by at the grocery store for weeks. But when I finally tried it— in pie, in jam, in lemonade— it was delicious. Rhubarb has a special sweet-tart flavor that’s like nothing else for me. At the end of the season, I made some rhubarb jam and tucked it away in my fridge for the winter.

I’m happy to say that I just polished off my last can of jam about a month ago, and I’m already seeing rhubarb in the markets again. I picked some up to make strawberry rhubarb pie. 

Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies

But can I tell you a secret? For a person who so loves to bake, I don’t actually own a lot of baking equipment. A few pans, spoons, spatulas, measuring cups, whisks and mixing bowls. That’s about it. I recently upgraded from one simple metal baking sheet to two. Not a single pie dish in sight. This kind of minimalism is necessary when you’re living in a small apartment, but it does limit your options. 

I usually grab a disposable pie tin when I have an important pie to bake. (See this recipe.) But this time I didn’t want to grab a flimsy foil tin. I also wanted something that would look just as gorgeous as the traditional slice of lattice-top pie, with half the effort and mess. And bonus points if I could take it to-go. 

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Weekend Things

It has officially been spring for nearly a month, but only now does it feel real.

I spent an hour wandering around my favorite market yesterday, and spotted fiddlehead ferns and ramps on the shelves. Ramps! I’ve never cooked them before, but everyone seems to love them. I brought home a bunch to sauté for dinner tonight.

While I have been a little overwhelmed with school work (as mentioned in this post), it’s hard not to be happy when springtime comes around. The good weather puts me in a good mood, and I am always looking for a chance to spend some time outside.

I hope that snow has turned to spring for you, that cold days have been traded for warm ones, that afternoons spent hiding indoors in wool socks have been swapped out for iced tea on the patio. 

 

 
Here are some of my favorite things I’ve read this week.
 
Are we The Shut-In Economy? Joy the Baker’s blog pointed me to this piece. There are many good discussions to be had on staying in, buying back your time, entitlement, and class differences. 
 
In the spirit of springtime, I want to make all of Yotam Ottolenghi’s asparagus recipes. Asparagus with mushrooms and poached egg? A recipe after my own heart. 
 
 
I’ve been craving Chinese takeout and there’s a big bag of green beans in my fridge. I’m thinking something along the lines of these recipes may be in order.
 
Have you ever wondered what a chef’s home kitchen would look like? This is it. Ina’s kitchen is as light and bright as I imagined it would be, and Pierre Herme’s is appropriately hip. 
 
 
One of my favorite fashion blogs linked to this piece, where Hallie Wilson of Corals + Cognac talks about leaving her job for full-time blogging. Not for everyone, but some real talk on self employment. 
 
Also relevant: Alistair Humphreys’s Thoughts on Turning Your Hobby Into Your Career
 
And finally, Nick Offerman’s Paddle Your Own Canoe. This is some straight-up life advice. I love Offerman’s simple, straight forward, and just plain awesome outlook on life. I have this on audiobook, and listening to it makes me happy. Highly recommended.
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Garlic Sage Focaccia

Garlic Sage Focaccia | Kitchen in the Hills

If you haven’t heard from me in a while, it’s because school has taken over my whole life. It’s midterms season. It’s total craziness over here.

Okay, okay.

That might be a little bit of an exaggeration. But things are still busy, which means less time to make + photograph + write up recipes. 

Garlic Sage Focaccia | Kitchen in the Hills

My favorite pre-exam ritual, though, is something I call “stress baking.” Stressed? Bake some cookies.

There’s just something intensely calming about butter, sugar, eggs and flour. Or, in this case, flour, water, olive oil and salt. Perfectly portioned out. Stirred together, kneaded, rolled out, and baked in a very hot oven. 

The ritual of baking instantly puts all of the busy thoughts out of my mind. After all, how can I be stressed when there’s sugar to be caramelized, butter to be browned, or dough to be kneaded?

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My favorite crispy baked tofu

Crispy Baked Tofu | Kitchen in the Hills

I’m back with a tofu recipe! But not just any tofu recipe. This one certainly isn’t boring, and it’s something that I like to make every week or two. 

This week has felt pretty busy for me, and I wasn’t planning on sharing any recipes. Most of my time has been spent on school work and catching up with errands and apartment tasks. There hasn’t been much cooking going on– at least, not the exciting sort of stuff that I want to take picture of or blog about. But after a couple of weeks of consistent posting, it feels strange to go more than a few days without sharing some new content! 

Crispy Baked Tofu | Kitchen in the Hills

Today, I’m a sharing a simple technique that transforms tofu from dull, spongy, and flavorless to something chewy, salty and crisp around the edges. I love making a big batch of this stuff, having some for dinner, and leaving the leftovers in my fridge to eat throughout the week. It loses some of its crispness in the fridge, but becomes extra chewy, making it perfect for salads and saucy dishes.

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Simple Blood Orange Yogurt Bowl

Simple Blood Orange Yogurt Bowl | Kitchen in the Hills

What an embarrassment we’ve made of yogurt.  

Dudes will tell you that it’s a snack for women. And commercials on TV will tell you that it pairs well with poor body image and a yellow polka dot bikini. 

Yogurtland and Menchie’s have built empires on flavoring it with chocolate and selling it frozen– Okay, fine, that stuff is delicious. But the way that Dannon adds artificial fruit flavors and Yo Crunch tops it with tiny M&M’s and crushed Oreos?

The current state of yogurt in this country is not okay.

It’s a joke. 

Simple Blood Orange Yogurt Bowl | Kitchen in the Hills

This yogurt bowl is absolutely none of that.

No strangely artificial flavors, no silly commercials, no quick weight-loss schemes.

It’s just yogurt. In a bowl. With some of the season’s best produce, and some nuts, honey, and salt to add  flavor and crunch. 

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Weekend Things

Tea for Two | YanYan Zhang on Flickr

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Are you having a good weekend? I hope you are. I hope you’re sleeping in late and making some very good pancakes

I write this sleep deprived, from an airport in Charlotte, North Carolina. I’m en route to my parents’ home in Florida, and have a three-hour layover. Yes, that’s right, three hours in an airport at 6 AM. I’ll take three hours over a rushed thirty minutes, but it’s still a long time.

There are really only three things I like to do during layovers– nap, read things on the internet, and buy Cinnabons. While I can’t share my Cinnabons (or my naps, sorry!) here are the links that have been keeping me busy. 

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Very Good Pancakes

Very Good Pancakes | Kitchen in the Hills

Confession time: I’ve never been good at making pancakes. Pancakes, the quick-and-easy staple of the American kitchen. Almost everyone I know will choose to make their own batch before reaching for a box of Bisquick. But truth be told, I’ve never had more consistent results than with a box of mix. I have tried so many pancake recipes, and very few of them have worked out well for me. (Especially buttermilk pancakes that use baking soda as the sole leavening. Seriously?!)

Very Good Pancakes | Kitchen in the Hills

But pancakes shouldn’t be hard to pull off. 

You shouldn’t have to mix and measure and mix again, dirtying every dish in your kitchen. 

And you definitely shouldn’t have to spend Saturday morning with a plate of too-chewy, too-dense, too-icky-sweet pancakes. Especially not after all that effort. 

I’m a firm believer in pancake simplicity. 

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