Category Archives: cookies

boston: part 1 (good eats)

I was in Boston for about a week earlier this month for a work conference and came the weekend prior to explore/play. My friends (and talented colleagues) and I hung out and had some amazing food. I have so many pictures to share that I’ll devote another post to the sights of Boston. It was actually my second time here but first time really experiencing it on foot. Here are some food highlights:

Our first night in Boston, we took a short bus ride to this Asian fusion restaurant, Myers+Chang. I’m a bit weary when I hear fusion but it was a much needed pick-me-up after a 5+ hour plane ride. Our favorites were the papaya salad, Indonesian fried rice (below, top right, bottom left), and their dan dan cold noodles in a peanut sauce. Despite being a busy Friday night for the restaurant, we had ice waters (noticeably sweating from the humidity we’re not accustomed to) and seated at the window within 10 minutes.

The highlight was meeting Chef Joanne Chang as she came by and asked us how the food was!!! She even liked MY Instagram pic! I’ve been a big fan ever since she beat Bobby Flay on the Food Network’s  Throwdown with her signature sticky buns (keep reading).

We went to Cafe Luna for Saturday brunch in Cambridge (top left, bottom right). I ordered their lemon ricotta stuffed mascarpone pancakes with lemon curd. Probably one of the best brunch dishes I’ve ever had. These were so light and fluffy, perfect for the hot day with my iced chai latte. Julie had the lobster eggs benedict (bottom right). Doesn’t it look savory and decadent? She was saying how fresh the lobster was in her dish. We were very impressed by this small sidewalk cafe (which was packed on a Saturday morning, as good ones should be). The owner was so friendly and kind to us as we learned he’s originally from OC.

brunch and meyers

Day 2 continued: Flour Bakery in Cambridge. A few blocks from Cafe Luna is one of 3 Flour Bakery locations. The first one opened in 2000 and has become an integral part of the city. Chef Joanne Chang has not only the bakeries, her restaurant, and also 2 cookbooks to her empire :). Despite our stuffed bellies, we HAD to sample their desserts. They’re famous for their sticky sticky buns (below). OMG! Very gooey and a generous amount of pecans. I also had a chunky lola cookie (choco chip oatmeal cookie w/coconut and pecans), which was even better! I found the cookie recipe online and baked them last weekend (foolproof!).

I bought home some goodies from this bakery including coffee beans and their signature granola, both taste so good I wish I bought more. My parents really liked their coffee beans for a smooth taste (says a hint of chocolate, but I can’t tell). What’s interesting about Chef Joanne’s background is she graduated from Harvard w/a dual Bachelors in economics and mathematics to work as a management consultant only to realize her true passion was becoming pastry chef. If you’ve ever baked, you understand the art and science of baking. How cool is that?

flour bakery

We also explored the South Boston as our conference was a short walking distance to this up-and-coming area (NPR just did a story on this area). We found this gem of a restaurant, Sportello, one of Chef Barbara Lynch’s restaurants (she has 8 or 9 eateries and mentored the last Top Chef winner). The concept of the eatery is casual Italian diner with countertops covering most the restaurant and an open kitchen + bakery. It’s so cute and inviting. Most notable was their handmade gnocchi and tagliatelle with bolognese sauce. The simplest dishes are the hardest to pull off and they make it look effortless. Shout out to our server Ethan who was amazing.

sportello

I love exploring new cities because you stumble upon places that locals frequent like Barrington Coffee Roasting Company, a few doors down from Sportello. A simple cafe with high quality coffee. Their iced coffee hit the spot on those hot summer days. We also made room for cannolis at Mike’s Pastry in the North End after a full meal. $3.50 for a pistachio cannoli in a small, always crowded Italian pastry shop (cash only).

mike's pastry

Hope this gives you a little taste (no pun intended) of good eats in Boston. Stay tuned for Boston part 2 later this week. Too much good content to cram into one post.

almond butter cookies

I’m proud to say that I’m recovering from the flu (horrible this year). Btw, if you’re reading this and haven’t gotten the flu or flu shot this year, count your blessings, and GET THE FLU SHOT! Do yourself a favor, it’s only a matter of time when the virus comes for you. Don’t be foolish like me and put it off. I say this because even on flu day 13 (I feel 95% better), my sore throat is almost gone, I’m not coughing anymore (thank God), the runny nose has gone away, but my nose–I still can’t smell anything!!! I didn’t realize how important scent is to enjoying food when it’s taken away. I can still taste my food but a muted version of it. Currently, when I breathe in, it smells like a freshly painted walls on day 10 (again, a muted version).

I’m hoping that a in few more days, I’ll be back to my full olfactory senses. Once that happens, I can’t WAIT to bake these almond butter cookies. They are a more subtle version of peanut butter cookies. Think of a more sophisticated version that doesn’t hit you over the head with it’s rich nutty flavor but a more subtle one. You’ll just have to try it. Some reviewers on allrecipes.com complained that the cookie was a bit bland, but I appreciated the softer nutty flavor. Try it and let me know what you think!

almond cookie better!

Almond Butter Cookies (adapted from allrecipes.com)
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup of whole wheat flour
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
¼ cup unsalted butter, room temp
¾ cup almond butter, creamy
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp of vanilla extract
1 egg
36 raw whole almonds (recommend TJ’s or Fresh and Easy for good value and quality)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Either put cooking spray onto 2 baking sheets or lay down parchment paper (my preference for easy cleanup). Mix all the dry ingredients into one mixing bowl. Mix the sugars, butter, and almond butter until fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and egg until creamy. Gradually stir in the dry mixture until well incorporated.
I recommend molding the cookie dough into 2 logs and refrigerating it for at least 1 hour so the dry and wet ingredients and develop some flavor, or you can bake it immediately.
When you’re ready to bake them, form a chunk of dough into a 1 inch ball and gently press down with your 3 middle fingers to make form 90 degree hash tag look. Place an almond on top of each cookie and gently press so it becomes one with the cookie. Bake for about 10-12 minutes until lightly browned. Cool for about 5 minutes before eating.

Note: You can find almond butter at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or a specialty food market like Sprouts/Henry’s. Mine was about 8 bucks at Sprouts (on sale mind you). But once you have it, you can make almond butter and honey sandwiches and such. Happy baking!

barney almond butter