Monday, September 24, 2012

Boston Local Food Festival

Sorry I don't have a corn-specific post this week. I've been spending a lot of my writing time lately moonlighting for The Boston Local Food Festival.

Not that that's a bad thing. I've had the opportunity to talk with some great people who love local food as much as I do, and learn about some great companies I didn't know about before. If you're in the Boston Area, check out the festival on Sunday, October 7th. In addition to samples from some of the best local restaurants, there will be how-to demonstrations on everything from pickling to composting, and the festival's zero-waste mission means you don't even have to feel guilty about all those paper plates.

If you're not in the area, check out the blog anyway for information on some great sustainable organizations, some of which sell their wares online for your long-distance enjoyment.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Chocolate Cheesecake Coconut Thumbprint Cookies

You know the feeling. An image on a magazine cover that you pass by at a newsstand. A scrap of conversation overheard on the train. A piece of song lyric you didn't quite process as you changed the channels on the radio. These things can haunt us until we track them down and find out what they truly meant.

For me, it was a picture on Pinterest, that most useless and time-wasting of all social networking sites, little more than a random collage of images, really. We can never hope to sift through ALL of that information and still get anything done, but we try anyway. A lot of us food bloggers do it under the guise of "but this is productive! I have to see what all the other food bloggers are posting! Oh look, those shoes sure are sparkly."

Usually I don't give much thought to images I see on Pinterest. If there's something I find particularly interesting, I'll save it and make a mental note to try the recipe sometime, but I usually forget.

Not with the cheesecake thumbprint cookies though. I just couldn't. My co-workers can vouch for the fact that I haven't been able to shut up about them all week. Cheesecake! In thumbprint cookies! It's brilliant! Why didn't I think of it before?

It was when I found myself actually looking forward to Christmas so that I could make dozens of them and force-feed them to everyone I know that I realized something had to be done. Another glance at the original picture that started it all, though still tantalizing, was actually a little bit boring. The cheesecake was pretty much the same color as the cookie part, and whoever had made these, culinary genius though they clearly are, had foregone the best part of the traditional thumbprint cookie: the coconut coating! These problems had to be solved before any more time was lost. Add "color contrast" to the list of chocolate's many, many uses.

My recipe just lumps the chocolate right in with the cheesecake filling, but if you've got the patience and the steady hands, I'd recommend adding the chocolate separately to each individual cookie for an even prettier and just as tasty finished product.

The idea was to have a marble pattern, but I gave up after this one.

Cookie ingredients:

3 sticks grass-fed butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (beware of the fake stuff they try to pass off!)
7 ounces organic unsweetened coconut flakes
3 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 free range egg

Cheesecake Ingredients:

1 free range egg white
4 ounces grass-fed cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup organic chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Cream butter and sugar together in the largest bowl, then add the vanilla.
3. Slowly stir flour into the butter and sugar mixture.
4. Roll the dough into a flat disk, wrap in plastic, and chill for 30 minutes.
5. Roll dough into 1/4 inch balls, dip in egg wash, and roll in coconut.
6. Place balls on an ungreased cookie sheet, pressing the center with your thumb to make a well.
7. Place in the oven for 10 minutes.
8. While dough is cooking, make your cream cheese filling. Heat chocolate chips in the microwave for about     a minute and a half, until well melted.
9. Mix together cream cheese, sugar, and egg white until well blended and about the consistency of cake batter, then stir in chocolate.
10. Pull cookies out of the oven and with a small spoon, carefully add cheesecake mix the center. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until coconut is golden brown, and fork stuck in the cheesecake comes out clean.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Chili: Hold the Corn Bread

The annual "Badassachusetts Chili Cookoff" has become an end-of-summer tradition among some friends of mine from college. Chili isn't a strong suit of mine, and I don't usually make an entry, but this year I couldn't resist the chance to force some corn-free propaganda down people's throats (literally), not to mention the fact that taking on a new challenge in the kitchen is getting to be something I really love. I took some guidance from a recipe I found on Smitten Kitchen, and I really tried this time to keep track of what ingredients I was putting into the mix, but toward the end there I just started tossing stuff in, so you'll have to improvise a little to get just the right flavor for you, but that's the fun part part, right?


- 1 eggplant
- 2 large white onions
- 5 medium sized tomatoes
- 1 pound ground pork
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 30 ounces canned kidney beans, drained
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- grated cheddar cheese

Other Things You'll Need:

- cooling rack
- large pot
- small pot
- cutting board
- sharp knife
- stirring spoon
- 3 bowls
- cheese grater
- sieve


1. First, slice your eggplant into 1/4" thick sections, salt both sides, and lay them on a cooling rack so excess water can drip off. While you're waiting for this to happen, dice up your onions, tomatoes, and garlic.
2. Put all the skins and other unwanted bits of the vegetables you just sliced in a saucepan with 1 1/2 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Then cover and leave to simmer for awhile. If you already have a bag of vegetable scraps in the freezer, you can add those too.
3. Place a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook until browned.  Add onion.
4. Wipe excess water and salt off eggplant slices, then chop them into small pieces and add them to the pork and onions. Put the diced garlic in the pot and cook for another few minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Take your vegetable scraps off the heat and pour everything through a sieve into the pot. Stir in diced tomatoes and chili powder. Then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and let simmer for 10 minutes.
6. Add the beans, salt, and vinegar, stirring. Simmer uncovered for another 10 minutes, adding spices to your taste.
7. Serve with a garnish of cheddar cheese.