Espresso powder enhances the flavor of any chocolate. Added to these dark chocolate chip cookies, it makes them extra rich and delicious!
I’m a big fan of New York times and King Arthur’s recipes. Both are my go-to for a lot of baking needs. When I was reading King Arthur’s blog post on the use of espresso powder to enhance the taste of chocolate in your baked goods, I knew I had to try it in my go-to cookie recipe, which is based on a NY Times one. It already made an appearance in my chocolate cupcakes, and they are already a crowd-pleaser.
In this recipe, I substituted in dark chocolate and thought the espresso would compliment the intensity of the chocolate, and I was right. This is now my new go-to.
Instructions to make Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees (~180C) and begin gathering your ingredients. Mix your dry powers in one bowl (flour, baking soda, and espresso powder) and set aside. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and add the sugar to combine.
Add the egg and vanilla extract and only beat just enough to mix – maybe 15 seconds. You don’t want to overmix the egg. Add the dry ingredients and again, only mix long enough to make a consistent mixture. Finally hand-mix in the chocolate, separate into cookies and bake for 13-15 minutes.
I no longer buy store made pasta. It’s so easy to make fresh pasta from scratch
Jaimie Oliver is perhaps my all time favorite chef. I first stumbled upon him browsing TV late one night about a decade ago. Hooked by his accent and demeanor I quickly went out and bought one of his cook books. Flipping through his book, one of the first dishes I tried making fresh pasta from scratch. Thus, I went out and purchased a pasta machine (Ed note: I have a Imperia pasta roller but just about any similar type machines will work) and once I figured out how to make it work, it astonished me how easy it is to make fresh pasta from scratch!
First, Make the Fresh Pasta Dough
Fresh pasta is simply flour and eggs – there is nothing more to it. Getting the dough right is the tough part and took me a while to perfect, so I wanted to share my results with you!
Generally speaking 3/4 cup of flour (~90 grams) and 1 egg yields about 1.5 servings, and is a perfect portion for my wife and I (adjust accordingly). First, mix the dough either using a mixer, by hand, or a food processor (I typically start by hand and then move to the mixer with kneading hooks). From this I mix in more flour, a little bit of time, until the dough is no longer sticky. You can tell by pinching it together: when the dough is smooth yet can still be formed into a soft, singular ball without easily falling apart, you are ready to proceed.
Separate the dough into racquetball size balls (about 2 balls per egg you used), cover with saran wrap and let rest for about 10 minutes in the fridge. I will sometimes make this the morning of or during a break at work – it’s ok to let the dough rest longer in the fridge
Second, Roll the Pasta Dough into a Sheet
When the dough has finished resting, begin working it through your pasta roller. Take each ball and it to make it easier to work through the roller. I follow a three step process when working my dough through the roller.
First, begin boiling your water to cook the pasta
Crank it through your pasta machine a time or two, folding it in half after each pass through
When you have a solid, wide sheet of pasta proceed to the next setting and slightlty dust each side of the flattened dough with flour to prevent it sticking in the rollers.
Click the setting down a notch, repeat Steps 1&2 and when you get to the last setting you are ready for cutting!
Finally, Cut the Dough into Pasta & Boil!
Finally, take each flattened pasta sheet and roll it trough your cutter. Then take the cut pasta and throw into a pot of boiling water and cook for no longer then two
minutes. Be mindful, fresh pasta does not need to cook for very long!
A little spicy, chicken tinga is a perfect way to enhance otherwise boring chicken breasts
Chicken tinga (known as tinga de pollo in Spanish) is a Mexican dish made with shredded chicken in a sauce made from tomatoes, chipotle chilis in adobo, chorizo, and sliced onion. The basis of the dish is Tinga Poblana, the Pueblan equivalent of a good Italian meat sauce that is utilizes the smokiness of chipotles. Just as every Italian Grandmother has their own special sauce, variations of the dish are rampant.
This is how we make chicken tinga at home and I based it on several versions I have read both online and in books to make it quick, easy, and palatable at home.
How to Make Chicken Tinga
Begin by bringing a pot of water boiling and adding the whole, skinless chicken breasts with a half onion, some smashed and peeled garlic cloves, and a bouillon cube. Bring it down to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is about 165 degrees. Pull the chicken out, shred it with a fork and set the pot of water aside – don’t toss it! We’ll use a little of the liquid later.
While the chicken is cooking begin the tomato puree – open the windows (it can get smoky!) and broil the roma tomatoes with the garlic and tomatillo for the salsa verde (I recommend broiling the ingredients for the salsa at the same time) until the tomatoes blacken in spots (a few minutes) flip and repeat. Puree the roma tomatoes and see the below section on how to finish the salsa.
While the tomatoes are broiling take a heavy, large frying pan and heat over medium heat with olive oil or lard. Add the onion and cook until brown and then add the chorizo and cook until its crumbly, about 8 minutes. Stir in the chipotle chilies, followed by the puree, and add a few tablespoons of the chicken reserved liquid
Cook the sauce until it’s been reduced by half and then add the chicken and and toss to coat. Serve on warmed tortillas with some salsa verde, onion, and cilantro. Congrats you just made chicken tinga!!
How to Make Salsa Verde
As mentioned above begin by opening the windows (it can get smoky!) and broiling the tomatoes, garlic, and tomatillo. For those super adventurous I’ve also done this part on the Green Egg over charcoal! Broil them for a few minutes and then flip half way. The goal is to get a few black spots on each side (but not burnt!).
You want the tomatoes to be soft and juicy as the broiling will help caramelize the sugars. This will make a slightly sweeter salsa verde vs just using raw ingredients.
Take the roasted tomatoes, onion and garlic and blend them with the Mexican oregano and honey to get a puree. Set aside to let cool – easy!
Smoked wings are one of the easiest and quickest things one can cook “low and slow.” Typically, at 225° wings can be done in as little as 2.5 hours, far faster than pork shoulder or ribs. Smoking wings make them tender, juicy and finger licking good. Prepare to be amazed!
I was browsing online for ideas for this year’s super bowl party and I came across these amazing looking wings on the Washington Post. I’m still relatively new to the Green Egg, but since I got, I adapt every recipe for grilling on the Green Egg. If you don’t have one, this recipe should do well on any type of smoker.
These wings are easy, tasty, and will be gone quickly! Their salty sweetness balances well with a mild wood (I used Cherry). The original recipe called for baking at 400 degrees, which the Green Egg can do, but I wanted a low, slow smoked flavor. The higher heat causes the sauce to become sticky as the sugar caramelizes. To replicate that stickiness, I boiled down the leftover sauce to get it nice and thick and then gave the wings a second coat about an hour in to the cook.
How to Make Smoked Tar Pit Chicken Wings
Prep the ingredients and combine the sugar, ginger, soy sauce, and dry red wine in a small sauce pan over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved
Coat the wings in the sauce and set in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Take a sip of that leftover wine, you deserve it.
While the wings are marinating, prepare your smoker for 225.
When the grill is prepped and the wings have marinated, place the wings on the smoker but save the sauce, you’ll need it later!
Put the leftover sauce in a small pan and reduce until it’s nice, and thick – about half
About an hour into the cook – take the now reduced sauce and give the wings another coat on both sides
You have a thermometer right? The wings will be done when they hit an internal temperature of 165. This should be about 2~2.5 hours.
Try these out and let me know your results. I’m always learning!
Recipe and Instructions for Smoked Tar Pit Chicken Wings
A creamy chocolate pie with a hint of whiskey? What more could you want!?
What is Tennessee Silk Pie you may ask? Well, being from Tennessee I decided to improve on my mother’s classic recipe for French Silk Pie and add a bit of Jack Daniels – because everything is better with a little bit of Jack, right? The addition of the charcoal filtered whiskey gives the pie a hint of smokiness and caramel, a perfect compliment to the chocolate. Unveiling the pie at a recent party, I had multiple requests for the recipe – so I knew a hit had been born!
This is a really easy to make recipe but it does take time. The key to making good french silk pie is spending the time to beat the mixture after the addition of each egg. Whisking the eggs for the length of time called for in this recipe is what gives French Silk Pie it’s delicate fluffiness, don’t cut corners! I love this recipe and make it for just about any function where I have to bring a desert. It’s usually gone in minutes!
How to Make Tennessee Silk Pie
First, start by gathering your ingredients. I’d say high quality eggs and chocolate will go a long way in the quality of the pie you make.
Pre-heat the oven and bake your pie crust according to the instructions given. When the crust has baked, let it cool
Note: It is important to poke holes in the crust before baking!
Meanwhile, take the softened butter and cream it with the sugar in a mixer
Add the melted chocolate , vanilla, and whiskey (0ptional). I melt the chocolate using a sauce pan floating in a pan of hot water to avoid burning it, let it cool for a bit before adding to the mixture
Begin adding the eggs, I start with the yolks first. Remember it’s extremely important to beat the mixture for 20 minutes after adding each egg & egg yolk. Remind me to add a stand mixer to my wedding registry….
Finally, add the mixture to the cooled pie crust
Put the pie in the fridge overnight to set and you will be rewarded with a delicious, easy to make Tennessee Silk Pie!!
French Silk pie emboldened by the addition of Jack Daniels. The combination of the eggs, sugar, chocolate, and a hint of whiskey really make this dessert a treat!
Recipe type: Dessert
1 Pre-made Pie crust. I use Trader Joe's when they have it
1 stick of butter (unsalted)
2 egg yolk
¾ cup of sugar
2 oz of high end, unsweetened chocolate
1.5 tsp of vanilla
2 tbs of Jack Daniels (optional)
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
2 tbs of powdered sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
Tennessee Silk Pie
Bake the pie crust according to directions on the box. Remember to poke holes in the crust before baking it to prevent the crust from bubbling.
Soften the butter (Let it sit out for a few hours or with a microwave - careful we want it softened but not liquid!)
Meanwhile soften the chocolate using a double boiler (or in the microwave) and let cool
When the butter has softened cream it with the sugar using a beater
Mix in the cooled chocolate, whiskey (optional) and vanilla
Mix in the egg yolks one at a time, beating for 5 minutes each. Repeat for each of the two eggs for a total whisking time of 20 minutes. Don't skimp! The long whisking time gives the silk in French Silk Pie 🙂
Pour the mixture into the cooled, baked crust and let it sit the fridge, covered, overnight
The next day serve with the whipped cream and enjoy!
In a metal bowl pour in the heavy whipping cream and add the vanilla
Using a whisk, begin whipping using wide strokes. The key is to try and introduce air into the milk.
When the cream starts to thicken add the sugar.
Continue whipping the cream until soft peaks begin to form, typically about 5 minutes
Be sure to keep the pie refrigerated between servings!
For best results, the whipped cream should be made right before serving.
The song Whip It, by Devo played twice is the perfect length of time for making the whipped cream, no joke! Careful though, go any longer and you risk turning the whipped cream into butter!
While the whiskey is what transforms the pie from French Silk into Tennessee Silk, you can easily leave it out and still have an extremely delicious pie!
You should note that the eggs in this recipe are uncooked. While I'm personal ok with eating raw eggs (I mean how many of us snack on cookie dough?) I'd say that this recipe should be avoided by those that are pregnant, very young, very old, or with a compromised immune system. Also I'd try and use the best quality of eggs you can get your hands on.
While we recommend your own quest, we felt El Chanchullero had the best mojito in Havana
Havana, Cuba is the birthplace of the mojito thus the drink can be found on any menu of any bar in town. While on a recent trip to Cuba I made it my mission to find the best mojito in Havana. I was surprised how varied the mojito recipes were from bar-to-bar. With bartenders influencing the creation of each drink, no two mojitos were alike, which kept us in pursuit!
Here is an ordered list of my impressions, but please try your own quest and let me know what you think.
6. La Esquina De Dragones Bar
Most people in La Esquina De Dragones were drinking mini beer towers, perhaps we should have?
La Esquina De Dragones is a little outdoor garden bar around the corner from the Fábrica de Tabacos Partagás. It’s on the corner of Dragones Filled with mostly locals, I imagine back when cigars were being actively made at the factory (they are now made at a temporary location across town), this would have been a lively place come quitting time.
The mojitos were decent, however, the sugar was overly grainy giving it a strange mouth feel. Also, the mojitos took a while to make (I think they went out to go buy the mint!) The owner stopped by and asked us how he could attract more tourist to the bar, a sign of the times in Havana (hint: boot the multiple people telling us they can get us cheap cigars). For the price I’d look elsewhere, but who knows what this place will be like in a few years? It is, after all, a great space with lovely trees shading the brick patio and they were setting up for a singer. I’ll probably just stick to the beer next time.
5. Sloppy Joe’s Bar
Watching Alec Guinness enter Sloppy Joe’s in the movie Our Man in Havana while sitting at the bar at Sloppy Joe’s. Very meta….
Sloppy Joe’s has welcomed tourists for over four decades—during the 1940s and 1950s it was a magnet for American celebrities and tourists wanting to mingle with them.
It has been described by the Los Angeles Times as “one of the most famous bars in the world” with “almost the status of a shrine.” In 2013, the bar underwent a complete renovation after a fire left it abandoned for 48 years.
We found the mojito at Sloppy Joe’s to be overly sugary and did not enjoy it as much as others we had on our trip. However, later on we found out it’s possible to tell your bartender how you like it “strong, little sugar etc.” so keep this in mind when ordering. Finally, you can get a shot of Havana Club 7 Años for about 2.5 CUC. Put it on ice and enjoy instead!
Price: 4 CUC
4. Hotel Nacional de Cuba
While the mojito here was so-so, the history and ambiance of this place make it a must-visit!
How can I refuse a chance to visit a place that was the haunt of Lansky, Luciano, and once even held a mob conference? Hotel Nacional is filled with old photos of all the movie and music stars that once graced the halls.
Watching the bartender make the mojito, I was surprised to find it tasting watered down (Hinting that the rum itself was watered down). Maybe the mob still has an influence over the hotel after all? While I liked the mojitos better at Sloppy Joe’s, the history of this place kick it up a notch!
*Extra half goes for the location!
3. La Bodeguita Del Medio
Stepping up to the bar and watching the bartender make so many mojitos at once is worth it for the experience alone!
Above the bar at La Bodeguita Del Medio is a quote from Hemingway: “My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita.” Given this, it seemed like the most likely candidate for the best Mojito in Havana, right?
Like all things in Cuba, don’t take everything literally. The quote was invented as a joke by the owners in the 50s to drum up business. The bartender seemed to like a heavy rum pour giving this mojito a strong rum taste. Still, I’d rank the mojito the third best mojito in Havana.
2. Saratoga Havana
The Saratoga Havana offers sweeping views of the city from its rooftop bar & pool. A must visit!
Originally built between 1879 and 1880, the Saratoga Havana quickly became one of the best known hotels in Havana. The hotel was renovated in 2005 as a luxury hotel (it was preciously a shuttered boarding house), so the lobby bar and roof deck are in great shape. With breath-taking views of the city from its roof deck, it’s no wonder Beyoncé chose to stay here on her vacation in Havana.
The mojitos were not too sweet and served with a dash of bitters. In addition, the roof deck makes for a perfect place to light up a cigar and take in the city views making this my second favorite mojito in Havana!
Price: 5.50CUC (inclusive of a mandatory service charge)
1. El Chanchullero, the best mojito in Havana
Amazing 2 CUC cocktails and cheap, delicious food? Sold!
Aqui jamás estuvo Hemingway (Hemingway was never here) reads the sign outside El Chanchullero, setting the tone for the type of establishment this place wants to be. Across the street from Plaza del Cristo and near the Capitol, El Chanchullero is just on the edge of old-town Havana.
The mojito was excellent, made with a dash of bitters to combat the sweetness causing it to break out of the Hemingwayish mold in a refreshing manner. In addition, the menu is filled with a variety of cheap (2~5 CUC) array of tapas and main dishes. Be warned though, this place is small and fills up fast! On one evening at ~9pm there was a line 20+ people deep. Come around 6:30PM to beat the rush!
Mojitos are not the only drink you should have while in Havana, Cuba. Below is a list of some other great finds:
Despite the price, the daiquiris and rum old fashioned at Floridita are not to be missed (they were out of mint when we arrived, bast!). Additionally, Floridita claims to have invented the daiquiri. (6CUC)
Close by, Monserrate Bar offers excellent rum manhattans and decent daiquiris for 4CUC
ChaChaCha (near Museo de la Revolucion) offers a great spin on the mojito – their house drink is made with fresh pineapple juice (in loo of club soda) and is served in a copper mug. In addition, the Cubata (a Cuba Libre made with dark rum) makes for a refreshing mid-afternoon pickup. Serving great ceviche, this place should not be missed!
The pineapple man at the flea market is awesome (back left corner)! He takes a whole pineapple, cores it and blends some of the slices with ice and adds rum upon request. Finally, he even gives you the leftovers in a bag! Perfect for walking around and looking at art (3CUC)