Browned Butter Cookies with dark chocolate and cherries

It used to be that if I added butter to a too hot pan and subsequently it turned brown that as far as I was concerned I had burnt the butter and it was no good to be baked with.  Now we call it 'browned butter'.
Granted, in this case I didn't put the butter into a pan that was too hot.  It cooked in there for a good 10 minutes.  But still, it's now something that I want to do.  It's a thing.  Browned Butter.
It's quite an amazing thing.  All dark brown and flecked with stuff (I don't know what the flecks are - fat maybe).  The taste intensifies as well.  All in all it's pretty amazing stuff... that I used to think was a dumb mistake.

I'm now at the tail end of the March Break and I'll be honest with you, I can't wait to get back to work.  I love me kids, don't get me wrong.  But we're all about ready to put each other through a wall.  It's that whole 'You-need-to-entertain-and-feed-me-all-day-every-day' kinda thing.  I'm done.  Plus, kid #1 is quickly approaching the age when things can become weird and volatile fast.  Ugh.  It's exhausting.  I get 'mommied-out' pretty fast admittedly and I've never been the go-to-the-park type.  Adult space is pretty important for me.  And it's been a good while since I've had any serious amount of it.  Now, here I am bawling about my lack of 'adult space' when I know full well that some of you never get it.  I don't know how you manage.  My heart goes out to you.  You deserve an award.  And now I will stop.

The highlight of our week was definitely D getting his Canadian citizenship.  We all hauled ourselves out to east Toronto (Scarborough) early (for a March Break) Friday morning and sat through the ceremony that will finally give D voting rights in this country and a passport which requires significantly fewer visa applications than his Trinidadian one.  Best part:  he can hold dual citizenship.  We celebrated with some of this, hung out with a friend for a while and then generally had a quiet (aka boring, if you're 11 yrs old) day.  We still have a couple of things planned - a library trip (provided it's open on a Saturday - thank you budget cuts) and a trip to see friends in Orillia.  Outside Orillia really... on 40 acres of trees and animals and insects and blackberries (oh the blackberries).  My friend C is always so inspiring.  She inspired me to get into canning last year.  She encouraged me to start getting an organic food box delivery and educated me about CSA's.  She's pretty cool.  I'm looking forward to tomorrow.  I'm going to be making something to take with us when we go because I think it's pretty lame to show up empty handed but in the meantime we've been munching on these guys throughout the week.

I'm just about done with the canned cherries from last year and the combination here was perfect.  The chewy browned butter cookie dough went well with the cherries too.  I thought of using white chocolate here but then I thought it might be just too sweet and went for the dark.  I'm glad I did.  I'm going to get a little picky here and tell you that using maraschino cherries will get you a completely different result.  Not necessarily a bad one but definitely a different one.  If you try it please let me know how it turns out.  Generally though, this managed to stay in the not-too-sweet-and-therefor-Wanda-pleasing category.  I would totally use this dough for plain old chocolate chip cookies too.  Dang, I would use this dough in ice cream.  I would use this dough in...

Browned Butter Cookies with dark chocolate and cherries adapted from 'Completely Delicious'

1 cup unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup cherries dried or preserved (I used my home canned cherries)
1 1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks or chips

Over low heat, melt the butter in a heavy bottomed sauce pan.  Continue cooking the butter over low heat until it turns brown and gets little dark brown flecks in it.  Remove from heat and cool.  Continue cooling until the butter begins to solidify again.  It shouldn't be hard though.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment or a silicon liner.  Set aside.
Combine the flour, baking soda and salt together in a bowl and set aside.
Cream together the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.  Add in the eggs and vanilla and continue to whisk until completely incorporated and smooth and fluffy.  Mix in the flour into the butter mixture and until completely combined.
Add the chocolate chips and cherries and stir just until they're evenly distributed.
Spoon by large tablespoons onto the cookie sheet, leaving some space between the mounds.  Bake 10 - 12 minutes.  Remove the cookies from the cookie sheet onto a cooling rack.  Cool and eat.

Cabbage 'Spanish' Rice

It's March Break for us in Toronto.  This is awesome.
We were contemplating going away but decided in the end to stay here and I'm so glad that we did.  It's given me a chance to do some much needed sleeping in and since the clocks sprang forward on the weekend, what was formerly sleeping in until 8:30 a.m. is now sleeping in until 9:30 which feel just that little bit more teenage and rebellious.
It's given me an opportunity to spend some time with my BFF whose going to start foster-parenting very soon and who knows what kind of time we'll get to spend together then.
It's also given me a chance to sit back and think.  Always dangerous.  More on that to come.  In the meantime here are some other things we've been doing to keep ourselves busy.
We've fixed and replaced our bathroom fixtures.

I've re-potted a plant.

I've realised that D and I  have a serious addiction to these that needs an intervention.  However, since we're both hopelessly addicted I don't know who will take on the responsibility of an intervention... maybe my 11 yr old.

Since it's been near summer temps I'll be getting my bike out and cleaning her up after a winter of biking through you don't even know what.

With all my extra time off I made bread... twice.  I roasted a chicken.  I mashed some potatoes and celery root.  I roasted some turnip and carrots with the chicken AND I finished it off with gravy.  Awesome gravy.  I made cookies (you'll be getting that post next too).  Lastly, I made this stuff.  It's a nod to my Mom and the awesome poor man's cabbage rolls that she used to make us.  I loved them.  I've jazzed it up a little differently.  Used sausage meat.  Added some saffron.  Threw in some sour cream (or yogurt in my case.  But it must involve cabbage.  It must involve tomato and it must involve CHEESE.  We'll be eating well for the week and quite honestly I could live on this kind of food.  Well, if those damn chips didn't exist.

Cabbage 'Spanish' Rice adapted from 'Simply in Season' and My Mom
serves 6 - 8

1 cup onion, sliced or diced
4 cups green cabbage, thickly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs (ish) ground pork, beef or sausage meet
3 cups cooked rice (white or brown)
500 ml diced tomatoes
2 veggie or chicken boullion cubes
good pinch of saffron soaked in about 2 tbsp warm water
2 tsp salt
1 tsp chipotle powder (or chili powder)
dash of ground coriander
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 1/2 cups medium cheddar cheese, shredded

Heat a large pot or soup pot over medium heat.  Add about 3 - 4 tbsp of oil (your choice - I use some kind of leftover fat) and turn down to med/low heat.  Add the cabbage, onion and garlic.  Heat for about 15 minutes and turn the heat down a little more if it starts getting too brown - you want it to be golden brown.  
Add in the meat and continue to cook together for another 10 - 15 minutes. 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.   

White and Whole Wheat Bread

This is my life... and I'm here, in it, living it.
I read a post recently in which the writer put something like that out there into cyber space.  Do we ever think about it?  Seriously?  Of course it's sobering to think that I've got stuff to do and each day that goes by will never come back again.  But the scariest (and therefor most motivating) thought is that even when I'm not consciously making a decision about how I'm going to live my life, I'm still deciding how I'm going to live it.  Yeah.  Yikes.  In other words it doesn't matter if I put off deciding anything, it doesn't matter if I label it procrastinating.  I'm still deciding.  Creepy.

I'm thinking a lot about this lately because I have an 11 yr old.  Now it's not that I feel old having a pre-teen or anything like that.  It's the child herself.  We've had a lot of 'talks' lately with her.  We are essentially telling her the same thing that I just wrote one paragraph ago.  It's a huge thing, this life we are given, and it's short.  Incredibly short.  And before you know it 10 years have slipped by and you want to be able to see what you've accomplished in that time.  I want for my kids to be able to look back and feel proud and have a deep sense of accomplishment in whatever they choose to do.  I guess I'm saying that I want them to do their thing (everything that they decide is 'their thing') with everything they've got.
What I see a lot is that kids get rewarded when they do a good job.  With school, sports, music... whatever.  Nothing wrong with getting a prize.  Prizes are cool.  But sometimes I think we overdo it with the prize and rewarding thing.  When that happens it can get pretty easy to forget how damn great it feels to do something well.  You know you worked hard.  You know that you did it really well and other people have recognized that too.  It feels effing amazing... whether or not I get a present afterwards.  That feeling, that amazing feeling can motivate somebody to move on to bigger, better and hopefully deeper, more meaningful things.  Those are the accomplishments that I value at this point in my life and I'm pretty sure that those are the accomplishments that my kids will value later as well.  The only problem is how to communicate that to an 11 yr old kid.  And I would guess that's how we all fall into the 'present trap'.
However, I figure that my kids are going to blame me on way or another so I would rather that they blame me for pushing them too hard rather than not hard enough.  If that makes me a tiger mom (although I hardly think so) then I'm big enough to handle it.  I'll take the chance.

This bread turned out much better than I had hoped because I really did take some liberties with the recipe.  If I make it again (and I might just) I would go free form and make a dome shape instead of a loaf.

White and Whole Wheat Bread adapted from 'Kitchen Simplicity'
makes 1 large loaf (that I really should have done free form but didn't)

2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 tbsp honey
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Mix and set aside in a draft free spot for about 30 minutes.  It will get all bubbly and spongy.
After 30 minutes add in:

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 tbsp brown sugar (not packed)
1 tsp salt

Mix well and turn out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead until just smooth and no longer totally sticky.  I needed to add about a 1/4 or so more flour while kneading.  Place the dough in a lightly floured bowl, cover with a clean cloth and set aside to rise in a draft free spot for about 1 hr or until doubled in size.
Punch down and shape into a loaf.  Place in a very large, lightly greased loaf pan (VERY) or instead you could reform the dough into a blob shape and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Cover with the cloth again and set aside to rise in a draft free spot for another hour or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake the bread for about 35 minutes or until the bottom is nicely browned and sounds hollow when you knock on the bottom.
Cool slightly and enjoy.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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