Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Rain" O'er Me

A couple of interesting things for you today. And, by the way, Happy Sunday to you! I hope it's a nice day wherever you are reading this from. Here in, New Jersey, yes, it's still raining. This is Day 18? 28? Who knows? We're all a little bit soggy here. BUT, I did see a sprite of sun on the weather map for Tuesday-Thursday, so things are looking up.

My camera is not back from the repair shop yet so I've included a photo taken a few weeks ago of my glorious Double-Knockout Rose tree - beautiful, yes?

I just whipped up a batch of delectable cookies - these are SO good. Chocolate-Chunk Cookies with Pecans, Dried Apricots, and Tart Cherries. Hellooooo? Sound good? I think so. And easy? Absolutely. Get the recipe here or below. I added some unsweetened coconut to the second batch on a whim. Either way, these are terrific.

Next: here in northern NJ we are surrounded either by mediocre chain restaurants or a glut of Italian restaurants. Now, I am certainly not opposed to above par Italian restaurants, but there are times when you want to move away from the norm and try something a little different. Good breakfast spots are especially hard to find here. Sure, we've got iHOPs, and this being NJ, diners galore, but they all offer the same tired breakfast standards.

We (OK, not really me, but my ever-intrepid culinary explorer husband) found a little Mexican/South American restaurant in Lyndhurst that serves wonderful breakfasts. Today I enjoyed the Huevos sobre Arroz con Chorizo (translation: eggs over rice with chorizo). Barry had Huevos Rancheros served with a delicious, spicy green salsa. The eggs were cooked perfectly and the chorizo was flavorful and crispy. Everything is homemade and the owner is very personable. Being a small, independent shop, they don't have a web site, but if you live in the north Jersey area and want to try something outside the norm, I heartily recommend the Bagel Stop Mexican Cafe at 290 Ridge Rd in Lyndhurst (201-460-0001). It's not much on atmosphere, but the food is very good.

Have a good week and may the sun start (or continue) to shine in your little neck of the woods!

Chocolate-Chunk Cookies with Pecans, Dried Apricots, and Tart Cherries

This recipe can be prepared in 45 minutes or less.

Yield: Makes about 34 cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened 1 cup granulated sugar 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar 2 large eggs 9 ounces fine-quality bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate 3/4 cup quartered dried apricots (about 4 ounces) 1 cup dried tart cherries (about 5 ounces) 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans (about 4 ounces)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, and beat in flour mixture until just combined.

Chop chocolate into 1/2-inch pieces and stir into batter with apricots, cherries, and pecans. Working in batches, drop dough by heaping tablespoons about 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets and bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, about 12 minutes total, or until golden. Cool cookies on baking sheets on racks 5 minutes and transfer with a spatula to racks to cool. Cookies keep in airtight containers at room temperature 5 days.

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