Saturday, January 22, 2011

Casualties: Two

I did it again.

If I had a nickel for every time I forgot to put the butter out in advance so it would be room temperature, I'd have ... at least a couple of bucks. Enough to buy more butter, anyhow.

In the interests of sharing all the gory details, I did grate two knuckles on my left hand along with the freshly grated ginger for the cookies, but did not include the blood in the batter. I used the lemon zester. I have an odd method of using the zester: I hold the fruit stationary and run the zester across it rather than vice versa (or in this case, across the back of my hand. Not recommended).

Observation: recipe says to use the chocolate glaze OR the royal icing. I chose to go with the former. I also had enough of the Dutch-processed cocoa powder, so I did not have to go to another country, much as I might have liked to try New Zealand cocoa powder. I also did decide to toast fennel seeds for some (not all) of the cookies. Finally, I discovered that my cookie cutters were larger than the size suggested. I guess I have a big heart. Hearts. Two dozen of them, approximately.

Warning: if you make these cookies and use a stand mixer - and why you would beat something that requires this much mixing by hand, I don't know - be sure you put the lock on it. Even in the first steps, it's very dense, and I got to watch mine buck around the counter for a bit. Dough is very thick and sticky, even after refrigeration time. The combination made it almost impossible not to lick my fingers, since I'm one of those people who can't stand gooey stuff all over her hands.

By the time I got the dough in the fridge, I had molasses all over my so-called chef coat. It looked sort of gory, which is ironic, given the state of my left hand.

Final verdict: excellent cookies, very strong, but not very sweet. Toasted fennel seeds or some kind of topping recommended for texture. However, the glaze, while rich and thick, is almost imperceptibly sweet. I've made a few of Aarti's chocolate recipes, and she seems to favor a very strong, bitter chocolate. Next time, I will use a shade or two lighter, and if you want any sweetness in your cookies, I recommend it.

The white chicken chili went off without a hitch. Decimating the rotisserie chicken seemed much easier this time. Maybe I've got the hang of it. There were no guidelines in the recipe as to how to handle the seeds and veins in the peppers. I vaguely recalled when I watched the episode that the Neelys said to temper it: keep everything for a very spicy chili and remove for a milder one. In other words, hot chili is in-vein.

I decided to remove most of the seeds and veins from the jalapeno and by contrast, leave most of them in the poblanos. It turned out just a little bit too spicy for me - keep in mind that I have a high-but-not-ridiculous tolerance for culinary heat. I crumbled up tortilla chips in the soup as I ate and thought it added a needed element of texture. (If you just stick them in beforehand, they gush out.)

I ended up using two-thirds of my medium onion and for me, that was perfect.

Juicing a lime with grated-open knuckles, by the way? Not so fun.

Final verdict: Recommended. Cut back on pepper parts. Actually having had the chili, I think the lemon-pepper rotisserie chicken would have gone well with it. Such is life.

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