Fromage Fort

Fromage Fort
I like having a neat house, but I am not the most organized person. I have a bad habit of saving paper and other things that should go straight into the recycling bin. Every since we became parents, we started to have someone come every other week to clean. It is a luxury that we adjusted to with such ease that I have no idea how we used to survive, and I am not exaggerating.

Having a spic and span home and a tidy refrigerator gives me a sense of calm. I love that now I have a shelf in the door that is just for cheese, so I don’t forget what I have. With a bunch of ends and little bits, I made fromage fort, a white wine, garlic-spiked spread involving a mix of leftover cheeses. Slathered on a baguette, these once odd scraps were tasty with a bowl of fresh figs.
Fromage Fort
Fromage Fort
Adapted from Jaques Pépin

Serves 4

1 garlic clove, peeled
1/2 pound cheese pieces
1/4 cup dry white wine
Black pepper

Mince the garlic clove in the bowl of a food processor. Add the cheese and wine and process until smooth and combined. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Fromage fort can be served cold or spread on bread and melted under the broiler.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies
I have created a monster, but not a scary creature with horns that lurks in the dark and in nightmares. This one is actually adorable and sweet. Our toddler has become a big fan of my home-baked treats. At first I was flattered and even excited, but when the requests for cookies before dinner became screams, I knew I was responsible for the situation.

It all started with this batch of chocolate chip cookies to get our guy hooked saying “cookie, cookie, cookie” in that cute repetitive toddler speak. I’ve resorted to hiding the cookie jar in a cabinet. Of course I am not eliminating all indulgences, but as a first time parent, I am learning as I go how to find the right balance of treats and pretty much everything else.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Cookie Love by Mindy Segal

Makes about 42 cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light muscovado or dark brown sugar
2 extra large eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups (8 ounces) chocolate discs (53% to 64% cacao)
Non-stick cooking spray

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars until light and pale, about 4 minutes.

In a small bowl, crack the eggs and add the vanilla extract. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salts, baking powder and baking soda.

With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs one at a time and mix until the batter looks like cottage cheese. Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl and continue mixing for 20 to 30 seconds until the batter is fully combined.

Put all the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds. Fold in the chocolate discs. Gather the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill the dough in the refrigerator overnight (up to 1 week).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two sheet pans with non-stick cooking spray.

Use a 3/4 ounce (1-1/2 tablespoon) ice cream scoop to portion out the dough. Arrange on the baking sheets spacing 2 inches apart. Bake 8 minutes, rotate the pan and bake about 4 minutes until the edges are set. Cool on the sheet pans for 1 to 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container up to 3 days.

Sweet Potato Chorizo Tacos

Sweet Potato Chorizo Tacos
In our neighborhood there is no shortage of donuts or tacos. The sugary fried scent of freshly made donuts fills the air in the mornings, and then by lunchtime, depending where you are walking, the irresistible smell of spicy goodness takes over. It should be no surprise then that I find myself devouring a few tacos every week.

These days we eat at home more than we dine out. I had a craving for tacos, so I decided to make sweet potato chorizo tacos, a fall version of my favorite street food. I roasted sweet potatoes in the oven and cooked spicy chorizo on the stovetop. Finished with cojita and cilantro, these stood up to the neighborhood competition.
Sweet Potato Chorizo Tacos
Sweet Potato Chorizo Tacos

Serves 4

2 medium sweet potatoes (about 3/4 pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 small white onion, roughly chopped
1 pound spicy chorizo sausages, casings removed
1-15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
8-10 flour tortillas, warmed
1 handful cilantro, roughly chopped
2 ounces cojita or feta, crumbled
8-10 flour tortillas, warmed
Lime wedges for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the sweet potatoes on a foil-lined sheet pan. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 30-35 minutes until a knife easily pierces the potatoes, and the edges have started to brown. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and sauté for 6-8 minutes until they are soft and translucent. Add the chorizo, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 7-8 minutes. Stir in the black beans and sweet potatoes before serving with tortillas and topping with cilantro and cojita. Serve with lime wedges.

Hazelnut Ice Cream

Hazelnut Ice Cream
I practically lived in the same pair of sandals all summer—a simple two-strap flat in snakeskin-embossed pewter that seemed to go with every outfit. After Labor Day I retired them to the back of my closet because their thin white soles whispered summer. When I’ve been getting ready, I long for my wardrobe staple. I desperately miss those easy sandals.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining that fall is official, but it is an awkward transition to boots when sweater weather still seems far off. The same is true in the kitchen, so I made the best of both seasons with hazelnut ice cream topped with magic shell. The toasted nuts tasted like autumn, but each frozen bite took me back to summer.
Hazelnut Ice Cream
Hazelnut Ice Cream
Adapted from The New York Times

Makes about 1 quart

1 cup hazelnuts, shelled, skin on
1 vanilla bean
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Arrange the hazelnuts in a single layer on a sheet pan. Roast for about 12 minutes, stirring once, until the nuts are light brown and fragrant. Let the nuts cool slightly before transferring to a clean dish towel and rubbing off the skins.

Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds into a large saucepan. Add the vanilla pod, milk, heavy cream, 1/4 cup sugar and salt. Simmer for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat.

While the milk mixture is cooking, puree 1/2 cup hazelnuts with 1/4 cup sugar in the food processor until they become a paste, about 3 to 5 minutes, and then stir into the milk mixture. Continue cooking over medium low-heat, until the paste dissolves, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the pod and add the vanilla extract. Transfer to a bowl and cool over an ice bath. Refrigerate until cooled completely. Roughly chop the remaining hazelnuts.

Churn in an ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions. Stir in the chopped hazelnuts and transfer to a storage container. Freeze until firm before serving.

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