Monday, May 28, 2012

chocolate sablés


Every time I open this book, I want to bake everything in it.


Look at its beauty! Each page has scalloped edges. 

Miette is a recipe book put out by pastry chef Meg Ray, owner of the San Francisco based pastry shop of the same name. You can learn more about them here. I look forward to visiting the shop in person. Our good friends Chris and Hannah just moved to northern California, and a road trip is in order soon. I’ll let you know if Miette truly is San Francisco’s most charming pastry shop.


For this week’s baking therapy, I chose something simple... chocolate sablés. These combine two of my favorite ingredients... sea salt and dark chocolate.



Mine look more like brownies than cookies. They have a slightly sandy texture, hence their name. Cookies, brownies, sablés... either way, my taste buds say yum.

According to Meg, these cookies were inspired by Pierre Hermé boutique on rue Bonaparte in Paris. Here’s her description:
“...the Miette version replicates the same experience of biting into a crisp lattice supporting bits of pure, soft chocolate... this recipe calls for both cocoa and chocolate. When you bring these two ingredients together, you get a resounding chocolate taste, much more complex than if you were to use just one or the other.”
The key to the wonderful flavors in these cookies, and any good pastry, is this: use only the best ingredients. I used Guittard chocolate, with 72 percent cacao, which is one of my favorites. I used my mini-chopper to break it into small pieces. A good fleur de sel is also an important ingredient, I’m using sel de Guérande from France.

chocolate sablés
from Miette
makes about 36, 1-inch square cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 ounces 70 percent cacao chocolate, grated

1. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda into a bowl and set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla until lightened, about 4 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and grated chocolate and mix just to combine.

3. If the dough is soft, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. (The dough will keep, wrapped in plastic, for up to 1 week in the refrigerator or 3 months in the freezer.) Otherwise, roll out the dough 1/2 inch thick on a lightly floured work surface into a 6-by-6 inch square. Using a ruler, square the edges as much as possible. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into 1-inch squares. Place them 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with sugar.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the cookies until they are firm, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Store in airtight containers for up to 2 weeks.

I highly recommend them with a scoop or two of vanilla ice-cream. If you’re a chocolate lover like me, you won’t be disappointed. 


Monday, May 21, 2012

puppy love




It’s a boy!

Soon there will be a new baby at our house.

A Border Collie/Australian Shepherd mix, and half sibling to our 5-year old border/aussie, Bailey.


He still has a couple weeks to stay with his parents and siblings before coming to his forever home here with us.

Keeping my fingers crossed that Bailey likes her new baby brother!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mother's day

“Contrary to popular belief, Mother's Day was not conceived and fine-tuned in the boardroom of Hallmark. Mother's Day started nearly 150 years ago, when Anna Jarvis, an Appalachian homemaker, organized a day to raise awareness of poor health conditions in her community, a cause she believed would be best advocated by mothers. She called it "Mother's Work Day." At first, people observed Mother's Day by attending church, writing letters to their mothers, and eventually, by sending cards, presents, and flowers. With the increasing gift-giving activity associated with Mother's Day, Anna Jarvis became enraged. She believed that the day's sentiment was being sacrificed at the expense of greed and profit. In 1923 she filed a lawsuit to stop a Mother's Day festival, and was even arrested for disturbing the peace at a convention selling carnations for a war mother's group. Before her death in 1948, Jarvis is said to have confessed that she regretted ever starting the mother's day tradition.”

I hate to admit this, but I’m beginning to adopt Jarvis’ sentiment.

My Mother’s Day tradition started as an escape for my Mother and I from the obligations expected of us on our “special day.” We wanted a day... no, two days, away from all the family/social obligations that surrounded our day. So I created “girls beach weekend.” Every April for the past eight years, I book a room in Cannon Beach for the second weekend in May. In past years, this has been a fun time for my Mom, daughter and I to hang out together, eat what someone else cooks, laugh, sleep in.

This year, five million other people also decided to spend Mother’s Day weekend at Cannon Beach. Every Mother brought her children, parents, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, grandparents, great grandparents, and dogs! dogs! dogs!

Bad pet owners came out in full force. We witnessed people screaming as their dogs ran, leashes streaming behind like kite tails. As any good dog owner knows, when dogs see their owner running toward them, screaming, the dog sees their behavior as a game and run even faster in the opposite direction. More than once we heard, “your dog just peed on my _________ (chair, leg, tent).”

My dog loves the beach, but for my own sanity, she was home hanging with hubby in our quiet house in the city. Are you seeing the irony here?

Most of our time was spent waiting outside restaurants to hear our name called, waiting to order food, waiting for food to arrive, or waiting for the bill, but we did manage to sneak in a few fun activities. We saw a fabulous live performance of Butterflies Are Free. Remember that 70’s movie starring Goldie Hawn? The play was a lot like the movie, but without Goldie, without Edward Albert, without the busy city of SanFrancisco. It took place on stage in an old theatre. Don’s Mother, played by Sue Meyers, also happened to be married to the manager of the Land’s End Motel where we were staying. She was our favorite! 

This two hours was a nice reprieve from the crowded town and beach. If you happen to be in the area, Butterflies is playing through May 27 at Coaster Theatre in Cannon Beach, Oregon.

I loved this movie! It reminds me of my 20’s, when I could hang out in a bra and panties and look damn good doing it. 

Goldie is so freakin’ adorable!

Richard Bowman plays character Don Baker, and Sofie Kline is Jill Tanner
in Butterflies Are Free at Coaster Theatre, Cannon Beach Oregon.

By Sunday evening, the beach crowds thinned, and my daughter and I took a long walk on the beach at sunset. She practiced a dance routine she’s choreographing and worked on perfecting her cartwheel.



Do you have Mother’s Day traditions? Please share.