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The Chocolate Chip Cookie you never knew you needed (for the lazy baker)

There are hundreds, if not thousands of chocolate chip cookie recipes. I've tried many, with both success and failure at getting that perfect point of crispy-chewy-buttery-chocolatey perfection. I'll admit, when it comes to baking cookies I'm extremely impatient. I don't usually have buttered softened, or eggs at room temperature, and I know as a pastry chef that these are things I should be taking into account, but sometimes I just want to be lazy and use eggs from the fridge, one bowl, and a couple of sheet trays. Let me introduce this magical one-bowl cookie dough batter. Everything goes into one bowl. How easy was that? The gimmick here is softening the butter in the microwave, not until the point it's melted but just soft enough that its easy to mix with the sugars. Think the texture of melting ice cream. Otherwise, the recipe is fairly straightforward, all it requires is a little elbow grease, a bit of chilling (10-15 minutes while you preheat the oven) and you're good to go. 

Now, unfortunately I am a baker and therefore I use a scale to weigh my ingredients (you should too, it makes life so much easier!). At some point I'll try to measure it out but for now I'll have to try and persuade you to invest in that 20$ piece of cooking equipment. 

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 14-16 depending on how large your scoops are

180 grams all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon salt

125 grams (1/2 cup or 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted slightly until softened

90g  grams granulated sugar

65g grams light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla bean extract

180 grams dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Maldon Sea Salt for sprinkling 

1. Place the butter into a small microwavable bowl. Set the timer for 30 seconds, if the butter is straight from the fridge this should be the perfect amount of time. Add the butter into a large bowl along with the sugars. Beat well until the mix becomes light in colour, about 3 minutes. Don't worry if it looks soft at this point. Add the vanilla and the egg, beat until well combined. 

2. Place the bowl on the scale and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix about 3/4 of the way before adding the chocolate and folding to combine. You don't want to stir forever, it will work the gluten too much and you will end up with tough cakes cookies, not what we want here!

3. Place the bowl into the fridge while you preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Line two sheets with parchment paper. Using a normal spoon, take rough scoops and gently place onto the sheets, leaving 1.5-2 inches between the cookies as they spread. Bake on the medium racks in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove the tray carefully and tap the entire sheet on a surface, quite firmly. This will help get those crackly edges. Do this 2-3 times before adding a touch of sea salt and placing back into the oven for another 2 minutes. Remove and slide the parchment with the cookies onto a cooling rack. 

*You can pre-scoop these onto a tray and freeze them. When frozen, place into an airtight bag. Baking them from frozen will yield a different texture, as the composition of the butter changes when going from frozen to baked. I'll test it out on the next batch (aka the next craving) and let you know!

 

 

Simplifying your summer grilling is essential in my books. By using fresh, simple and good quality seasonal ingredients, you can make some really easy recipes in literally no time at all. In summer it’s all about maximizing those warm summer nights grilling outside and minimizing the time you spend in the kitchen. Enter this grilled salmon salad. Light, zesty (thanks to the herby chermoula), and healthy, this is the perfect midweek dinner. It’s also beautiful and easy enough to make for an impromptu dinner party, which in my mind is the greatest gift because who wants to be stuck slaving away in the kitchen when you’ve got friends over? 

I have to say the best thing about making this dish in particular is that I was lucky enough to cook with All-Clad’s Rectangular Outdoor Stainless Steel Roaster.Like many All-Clad pans, this roaster is madefrom durable stainless steel so it can withstand high temperatures making it perfect for the barbeque. It’s perforated so the smoke from the grill adds great flavour to both the asparagus and the salmon without me having to worry about the spears slipping through the grill grates or the fish skin sticking. Not to forget, these pans are dishwasher safe, making the cooking clean up that much easier. 

Now back to the food. Smokey grilled salmon, charred asparagus, fresh peas and a simple lemony-yoghurt dressing…need I say more? Honestly, summer grilling is all simplicity and seasonality. Check out your local farmer’s markets, buy colourful ingredients, experiment with different flavours, these are the joys of cookin. Now turn on that grill and try this dish! 

Grilled Salmon Salad with Asparagus and Chermoula

Serves 4

Cook time: 15 min

Prep time: 10 min

1.5lbs              Sustainably farmed salmon 

4 tbsp              olive oil, divided 

½  bunch          asparagus, tough stalks trimmed

1                      lemon, halved and zested 

½ cup               fresh peas

¼                      red onion, thinly sliced 

1 cup               baby romaine hearts

½ cup               plain greek yoghurt

1 tsp                toasted cumin seeds

1                      garlic clove, grated

2 tbsp              fresh cilantro, finely chopped

2 tbsp              fresh parsley, finely chopped

2 tbsp              fresh mint, finely chopped

2 tbsp              toasted walnuts, roughly chopped 

Salt and black pepper, to taste 

 

1.     Preheat the grill to medium high heat. Coat the salmon and asparagus spears with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and place on the roasting tray. Slice half the lemon into thin rounds and place on top of the salmon flesh. 

2.     Roast the salmon for 12-15 minutes until slightly firm to the touch. Remove the asparagus around 8-10 minutes, turning it halfway until charred. 

3.     Meanwhile, place the red onion into a bowl of ice water to draw out the bitterness.

4.      In a small bowl combine the greek yoghurt, toasted cumin, 1 tsp of lemon zest, the juice of half a lemon, grated garlic, fresh chopped herbs and remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5.     To serve, spread a couple tablespoons of the yoghurt dressing on the platter. Toss the remaining dressing with the romaine hearts, red onion, and fresh peas until well coated. Tip the salad on top of the yoghurt and top with the asparagus spears. Gently flake the salmon into large pieces and arrange on top of the salad. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts and serve. 

 

  Grilled Panzanella    This is simple Italian cooking at its finest. It’s not the soggy, boring panzanella of the past but the delicious, vibrant and slightly briney one of the future. Grilling the bread, especially on the barbeque, gives this salad that extra little crunch you never knew you needed. If you’re partial to the traditional method of allowing the bread to soak in the vinaigrette a little longer, go for it. I like to serve this at room temperature- that means no tomatoes in the fridge (where they should never be in the first place!)   Serves 4-6  Prep: 10 minutes  Cook: 10 minutes  4 tbsp              olive oil   4                      thick slices of sourdough bread (approximately half a loaf)  1                      Garlic clove, halved   4                      large heirloom tomatoes  1 cup               cherry tomatoes, halved   4-5                   radishes, thinly sliced   1/2                  red onion, thinly sliced  1 bunch           Basil leaves, torn   1 tbsp              Capers   3                      Anchovy filets, roughly chopped  1                      Lemon, zest and juice   ½ tbsp             Sherry vinegar  1 tsp                Sugar  4-5                   caper berries    1.      Heat the grill or a large grill pan. Brush the bread with 1 tbsp of olive oil and grill on both sides, about 5 minutes. While the bread is still warm, rub with the cut side of the garlic.  Meanwhile, place the red onion in cold water, this will help draw out some of the intense, bitter flavor   2.      Slice a couple of tomatoes into rounds, whilst cutting the remaining ones into large pieces, place into a large bowl. Drain the onion and add to the bowl of tomatoes along with the radishes, half the basil and capers.    3.      In a small bowl, whisk together the anchovy, lemon zest and juice, vinegar, sugar and grated garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Pour half of the vinaigrette onto the tomatoes and allow to marinate for 10 minutes.    4.      Cut the bread into large pieces and toss with the tomato mixture. Adding the remaining vinaigrette. Tip onto a platter and garnish with remaining basil leaves and caper berries.                 

Grilled Panzanella

This is simple Italian cooking at its finest. It’s not the soggy, boring panzanella of the past but the delicious, vibrant and slightly briney one of the future. Grilling the bread, especially on the barbeque, gives this salad that extra little crunch you never knew you needed. If you’re partial to the traditional method of allowing the bread to soak in the vinaigrette a little longer, go for it. I like to serve this at room temperature- that means no tomatoes in the fridge (where they should never be in the first place!) 

Serves 4-6

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 10 minutes

4 tbsp              olive oil 

4                      thick slices of sourdough bread (approximately half a loaf)

1                      Garlic clove, halved 

4                      large heirloom tomatoes

1 cup               cherry tomatoes, halved 

4-5                   radishes, thinly sliced 

1/2                  red onion, thinly sliced

1 bunch           Basil leaves, torn 

1 tbsp              Capers 

3                      Anchovy filets, roughly chopped

1                      Lemon, zest and juice 

½ tbsp             Sherry vinegar

1 tsp                Sugar

4-5                   caper berries 

1.     Heat the grill or a large grill pan. Brush the bread with 1 tbsp of olive oil and grill on both sides, about 5 minutes. While the bread is still warm, rub with the cut side of the garlic.  Meanwhile, place the red onion in cold water, this will help draw out some of the intense, bitter flavor

2.     Slice a couple of tomatoes into rounds, whilst cutting the remaining ones into large pieces, place into a large bowl. Drain the onion and add to the bowl of tomatoes along with the radishes, half the basil and capers. 

3.     In a small bowl, whisk together the anchovy, lemon zest and juice, vinegar, sugar and grated garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Pour half of the vinaigrette onto the tomatoes and allow to marinate for 10 minutes. 

4.     Cut the bread into large pieces and toss with the tomato mixture. Adding the remaining vinaigrette. Tip onto a platter and garnish with remaining basil leaves and caper berries. 

 

           

STRAWBERRY FRANGIPANE CROSTATA

  I can’t possible say enough good things about this dessert. Not only do you need to make it now, but you need to make it all year round. It’s got everything you could possibly want. The flakiest pastry (thanks butter!), the not-too-sweet almond paste often found in those delicious pastries called croissants, and a fresh fruit topping that requires no help other than the oven to produce a sweet, juicy filling. If you think you can’t bake, this one’s for you, it’s a rustic piefor a reason.   Serves 6-8   Prep time: 1 hr 30 min (includes chilling)   Cook time: 45 mins   Dough   1 cup plus 1 tbsp         plain, all- purpose flour  1 tbsp                          granulated sugar   Pinch                           salt  ½ cup                           unsalted butter, chilled and cubed   1 tsp                            apple cider vinegar  2-3 tbsp                       ice water   Frangipane    ¼ cup                           unsalted butter, softened   ¼ cup                           granulated sugar, plus extra for dusting   1                                  large egg  1 tsp                            vanilla  1/2 cup                        slivered almonds, ground   ¼ cup                           plain, all-purpose flour   2 cups                          fresh strawberries, large ones halved   1 egg + 1 tbsp water   Vanilla ice cream, to serve   1.     To make the dough place the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and using your fingers, rub it into the flour, breaking up the larger pieces until a crumb the size of peas is formed. Add the vinegar, stirring with your fingers to combine. Gradually add the water, one tbsp at a time until the dough comes together. Tip onto a clean surface and gently knead 3 times. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.    2.     For the frangipane, beat the butter and sugar until pale. Add the egg, vanilla and mix until combined. Stir through the flour and ground almonds until a paste has formed, set aside. * this can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Allow to come to room temperature before using.   3.     Preheat the oven to 425. Lightly dust a surface with flour and roll out the pastry into a large disc, about the thickness of a dollar coin. Lift and place the pastry onto a parchment lined baking tray.   4.     Spread the frangipane evenly over the pastry, leaving a 1.5 inch border. Arrange the berries on top of the frangipane. Lift the pastry border towards the center gently and slightly on top of the berries, creating folds. As the tart cooks the pastry will open slightly, so be sure to fold it tight. Chill for at least 30 minutes.   5.      Brush the pastry with egg wash and sprinkle over remaining sugar. Place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 400 and cook for a remaining 15. Remove and allow to cool slightly before serving.       

 I can’t possible say enough good things about this dessert. Not only do you need to make it now, but you need to make it all year round. It’s got everything you could possibly want. The flakiest pastry (thanks butter!), the not-too-sweet almond paste often found in those delicious pastries called croissants, and a fresh fruit topping that requires no help other than the oven to produce a sweet, juicy filling. If you think you can’t bake, this one’s for you, it’s a rustic piefor a reason. 

Serves 6-8

Prep time: 1 hr 30 min (includes chilling) 

Cook time: 45 mins

Dough

1 cup plus 1 tbsp         plain, all- purpose flour

1 tbsp                          granulated sugar 

Pinch                           salt

½ cup                           unsalted butter, chilled and cubed 

1 tsp                            apple cider vinegar

2-3 tbsp                       ice water

Frangipane

¼ cup                           unsalted butter, softened 

¼ cup                           granulated sugar, plus extra for dusting 

1                                  large egg

1 tsp                            vanilla

1/2 cup                        slivered almonds, ground 

¼ cup                           plain, all-purpose flour 

2 cups                          fresh strawberries, large ones halved 

1 egg + 1 tbsp water 

Vanilla ice cream, to serve

1.    To make the dough place the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter and using your fingers, rub it into the flour, breaking up the larger pieces until a crumb the size of peas is formed. Add the vinegar, stirring with your fingers to combine. Gradually add the water, one tbsp at a time until the dough comes together. Tip onto a clean surface and gently knead 3 times. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. 

2.    For the frangipane, beat the butter and sugar until pale. Add the egg, vanilla and mix until combined. Stir through the flour and ground almonds until a paste has formed, set aside. * this can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Allow to come to room temperature before using.

3.    Preheat the oven to 425. Lightly dust a surface with flour and roll out the pastry into a large disc, about the thickness of a dollar coin. Lift and place the pastry onto a parchment lined baking tray.

4.    Spread the frangipane evenly over the pastry, leaving a 1.5 inch border. Arrange the berries on top of the frangipane. Lift the pastry border towards the center gently and slightly on top of the berries, creating folds. As the tart cooks the pastry will open slightly, so be sure to fold it tight. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

5.     Brush the pastry with egg wash and sprinkle over remaining sugar. Place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 400 and cook for a remaining 15. Remove and allow to cool slightly before serving.