Book review: The Knot Outdoor Weddings

Monday, December 28, 2015


I was excited to read The Knot Outdoor Weddings to get inspiration for styling tables and food for our dinner parties and not so much for wedding planning because my hubby and I have been married for a while.  From first glance, this book is gorgeous with many real life weddings featured.  If you follow the magazine, this book is an extension of the magazine.  There are a lot of helpful tips peppered throughout the book for wedding planning but I wish a bit more details were included in the 4 pages devoted to each wedding.  As beautiful as this book is, it lacks detail.  There's a nice credit page at the end if you want to look at vendors, venues, or photographers.  Comparing the book to the website, I find the website to be more helpful.  Skip The Knot Outdoor Weddings and use their website or pinterest if you want better ideas for planning your wedding.  

*I received this book to review complementary of the publisher

Salted chocolate chip cookies

Sunday, December 27, 2015

When we posted a picture of our salted chocolate chip cookies as part of our edible gifts for friends and family on Instagram, people went wild. Never had it occurred to us that our followers would go banana for something as simple as chocolate chip cookies topped with a few grains of sea salt! 

So we're making good on our promise to share our simple but delicious salted chocolate chip cookie recipe.  It's amazing what heat can do to the chemistry of sugar, flour, baking powder, and butter! 

They’re perfect on their own with a glass of milk, as a pizookie, or an ice cream sandwich. We hope you like it!

Salted chocolate chip cookies (about 18 cookies)

1 stick of butter, cubed
1 ½ cup of all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup of dark brown sugar
¼ cup of turbinado sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz of semisweet chocolate chips (use the best quality chocolate you have)
½ tsp sea salt for sprinkling

1. In a small sauce pan, on low heat, add the cubed butter and let the butter melt into a liquid, about 5 minutes.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the sugars and melted butter and beat on low speed until homogeneous, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the egg and vanilla and beat on slow speed until well blended.
5. Sift in the flour mixture into two batches and beat until combined.
6. Scrape down the side of the bowl as needed.
7. Fold in the chocolate chips.
8. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes. If you have time, refrigerate dough overnight which allows a deeply caramelized flavor to come through.
9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
10.Remove the dough from the fridge and use an ice scoop to scoop out about 2 tablespoons of dough for each cookie.
11. Roll the dough into balls and place them on the parchment paper, about 2 inches apart.
12. Use the bottom of a measuring cup and gently press on the dough to flatten them slightly.
13. Sprinkle a few grains of sea salt on top.
14. Place the baking sheets on the lowest racks of the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
15. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let the cookies sit on the pan for another 5 minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack to cook.
16. Enjoy immediately or store them in an airtight container for up to a week.

Truffled polenta with mushroom ragu

Monday, December 21, 2015

Mushroom was not a part of my culinary repertoire until we lived in Washington and our friends introduced us to most amazing varieties. Every fall they would trek to Olympic National Forest and hunt for golden chanterelles and lobster mushrooms deep in the forest, turning over salal and fern to look for these treasures on the forest floor. When the mushroom crop was good, we were gifted with pounds of chanterelles. I’m smitten with the chanterelle because of its lovely peach-like fragrant, golden color, and meaty texture. I love turning chanterelles and other mushrooms into a ragu to pair with a bowl of polenta. This dish is one of our favorite fall comfort foods especially for those nights when we want a hearty vegetarian meal.

Truffled polenta with mushroom ragu
½ lb of chanterelle mushrooms (cleaned and cut in big chunks)
½ lb of portobello mushrooms (cleaned and quartered)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter
2 sprigs of thyme
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 small shallots, chopped
½ cup of white wine
½ cup of creme fraiche
salt and pepper
½ cup of polenta
1 1/2 cups of water
1 cup of milk
¼ cup of Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of truffle oil

1. To make the mushroom ragu, heat oil oil and butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat for 30 seconds.
2. Add the shallots, garlic, and thyme and let everything cook until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
3. Add the mushrooms and coat them in the butter and shallot mixture. Let them cook for about 10 minutes until their juices start release and evaporate.
4. When the mixture starts to dry up a bit, add in the white wine and creme fraiche and cook for another 15 minutes.
5. Season the mushroom ragu with salt and pepper to taste.
6. For the polenta, pour water in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and slowly pour the polenta in the pan while gently whisking the mixture together. Stir the polenta occasionally with a wooden spoon while it’s gently simmering to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
7. Add in the milk and continue cooking the polenta for another 30 minutes or until softened. If the mixture starts to dry out, add two tablespoons of water at a time to soften the mixture.
8. When the polenta is softened, stir in the shaved Parmesan cheese and truffle oil. Season with salt to taste.
9. Divide the polenta between four bowls and top with mushroom ragu. Garnish with chopped parsley and additional Parmesan cheese if you like.