Tag Archives: Chef’s Corner

FEBRUARY CHEF’S CORNER with John Rudy: Chocolate Chip Cookies

THE BEST BIG, FAT, CHEWY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES EVER

from John Rudy

It is hard to find chocolate chip cookies that have enough chocolate, the right taste (thus the brown sugar), and are chewy-soft.  Do not stint on getting the proper chocolate.  I use Ghirardelli 60% Cacao.  For starters, they must be large because the outer edge will always cook faster, and if the edges are most of the cookie you have a problem.  Second, the cookies continue to cook as long as they are hot and sit on a hot pan.  So they must be removed from the oven when not fully cooked.  My suggestion is to make a small pan first, do what you think is right, and then adjust from there.

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter (1½ sticks), melted

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Grease cookie sheets
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended.  Beat in the vanilla, egg, and extra egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended. Stir in the chocolate chips by hand using a wooden spoon.
  4. Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart.  They really should be that far apart or as they cook they will merge together.
  5. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
  6. It is fine to freeze them for later–and they even taste great when frozen.
“CHEF’S CORNER” feature writer John Rudy

John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked exclusively vegetables in boilable packages.)

john.rudy@alum.mit.edu (781-861-0402)

JANUARY CHEF’S CORNER with John Rudy: General Tso’s Chicken

GENERAL  TSO’S   CHICKEN

from Chef John Rudy

In 1998 we went to China, and I noticed that General Tso’s Chicken was never on the menu.  I asked and was told that they never heard of it, and anyway, who was General Tso?  Since then, I have done some research, and it seems that it was named after Tso Tsung-t’ang (1812–1885), a Qing Dynasty military leader who suppressed the 1862–1877 Dungan Revolt.  Now you can impress your friends.

This recipe came off the net many years ago, though I have fiddled with it.  It tastes exactly like the best version I’ve ever had out.  Remember that the Cayenne pepper powder can be very hot.  Presumably dried peppers can also be used, but I couldn’t find them.  Make sure that you use Asian sticky rice, and not something like Uncle Ben’s.  If you haven’t used Sticky Rice, be careful with the amount of water.  It usually takes about 50% more than what the bag says, so check it periodically as it cooks the 20 minutesm to make sure that it doesn’t burn.

This recipe is for a small amount of chicken.  White meat dries out, so always make it with boneless, skinless thighs.  That also makes it possible to reheat it without turning it into cardboard.

  • 1 lb  Chicken (best with dark meat)
  • 3 tbs cornstarch (for coating)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbs cornstarch (to thicken)
  •  1/4 cup soy sauce
  •  3 tbs sugar
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin and in half
  • spicy red pepper, as desired
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbs water, cold (for cornstarch)
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juide
  • 1 clove garlic (sliced thin)
  • peanut oil (about 3/4 cup, add more as needed)
  • broccoli
  • sticky rice
  • Note:  If tripling the recipe (to serve 6-8) you need only double the egg/cornstarch mixture, but triple the sauce.
  1. Depending on where you buy the thighs, there might be some tough strands attached that you have to remove with a sharp knife. Cut the chicken into chunks.  One thigh might be 4 pieces, but it depends on the size of the thigh.
  2. Mix cornstarch and egg and coat the chicken. Once mixed, it will separate after about 5 minutes, so you might have to re-stir it.
  3. Heat oil very hot in a wok, electric fry pan, or regular fry pan and fry chicken. This will take about 5 minutes and chicken should be turned.  If there is a lot of chicken, do it by turns.  The pieces of chicken should not be touching, or they will attach to one another.  Don’t overcook the chicken.
  4. Remove chicken to a side tray, keeping it warm in the oven at 200° which will not continue to cook it.
  5. Remove all but a few Tbs. of the oil and cook the onion, covered, along with the pepper. You may need to add some water to keep it from burning.  I like the onions to be soft but not mushy, and certainly not blackened.  The best way to slice an onion is to cut it in half, from north to south pole, and then using a very sharp knife, make the slices.
  6. Mix the juice, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, garlic and ginger and add to the onion mixture. Cook until it boils and the sugar is dissolved.  This takes 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add the cornstarch/water mixture to thicken the sauce, and add the chicken, stirring constantly. Serve immediately.  Reduce the cornstarch if you want a thinner sauce.
  8. Serve over sticky rice (about ¾ cup per person) with steamed broccoli on the side.
  9. Though I have never seen it in a restaurant, I like to cut celery stalks ½“ thick and cook in butter about 5 minutes (in a separate pan) and add them in.
BOLLI Chef John Rudy

THE CHEF’S CORNER:  John says that it was his mother who inspired his love of cooking and baking at an early age.  (She cooked exclusively vegetables in boilable packages.)

john.rudy@alum.mit.edu (781-861-0402(

THE CHEF’S CORNER with John Rudy: Tiramisu

We discover all sorts of interesting aspects as we get to know our BOLLI colleagues–who knew that John Rudy is not only a  knowledgable “techie” but an accomplished “foodie” as well?!    We at BOLLI Matters are pleased to introduce our new FOOD FEATURE–  

TIRAMISU

When in Italy for our 20th anniversary (1988) we had Tiramisu, a tasty creamy dessert, made from dozens of different recipes–including Tiramisu ice cream!  When we returned, we scoured the Italian cookbooks looking for a Tiramisu recipe but didn’t find anything that sounded right.  Then, for our daughter’s Bat Mitzvot, we asked our caterer to make one.  It was excellent, exactly what we wanted, but he refused to divulge any recipe details.

After continuing to look, in a casual way, over the years, we started to see tiramisu recipes, but, again, none were really quite right.  So,  I decided I’d try modifying a recipe I found–I omitted the wine and used sponge cake instead of lady fingers.  I contacted a local gourmet shop to find the Mascarpone cheese.  They asked if I was making Tiramisu.  When I said “yes” and that I wasn’t happy with my recipe, the fellow said that he was teaching an Italian cooking course and would be teaching Tiramisu the following week.   What follows is an amalgam of my recipe, his recipe, some things found in cookbooks, and a number of personal changes.  There are hundreds of different recipes available.  Many use brandy, Marsala wine or Amaretto, none of which taste right to me.  Very few use chunks of chocolate.

Tiramisu has a cake portion (I use home-made sponge cake; traditionalists use lady fingers which are dry), a coffee-liquor mix, and a cheese mix.  Make Tiramisu at least a day before so that it has time to sit.  Remove it from the refrigerator 1 hour before serving.

The following is enough for a Pyrex 8”x8” pan plus a Pyrex 9”x14” pan.  I use glass pans.  It takes ~2½ hours to make this dessert.  (If you want to use only the larger pan, use two-thirds of the following ingredients.)

The Cake

8                   Eggs, separated, at room temperature

2 cups        Flour, sifted BEFORE measuring

2 cups        Sugar, granulated

2 tsp.         Vinegar, white  (it causes the sponge cake to rise; but                                    leaves no taste)

  1. Beat egg whites in a large bowl until fluffy; slowly beat in sugar.
  2. Separately, mix yolks and vinegar;  beat slowly into whites.
  3. Sift flour, then measure, and sift into batter while slowly beating the egg-sugar mixture.
  4. Pour half of the mixture into the two pans. Do not flour or butter the pans.  Pour the other half of the mixture into an11x17x1 cookie sheet, which has been lined with wax paper.  This will later be used for the top layer.  If you use a smaller pan, it will not cover both surfaces.
  5. Bake at 350° for about 12-15 minutes, until a toothpick poked into the cake’s middle comes out clean.  Do not be surprised if the pans take different amounts of time.
  6. Cool the glass pans upside down so that the sponge cake does not shrink.

Soaking the Cake

2 cups        Cold Coffee  (the stronger the better)

¾ cup         Crème de Cocoa  (you could use another liquor)

As evenly as possible, pour half (or a bit less) into the two cake pans, onto the sponge cake.  This will be the lower half of the cake.  Save the remaining liquid.

Cheese Mixture

24 oz         Marscapone cheese.  (room temp).  Can use the microwave                      to soften but not for more than 15 seconds for an 8 oz                                  container

6                Eggs, separated

8 oz           Chocolate, bittersweet, coarsely chopped  (Guittard semi-                       sweet Super Cookie Chips or Nestles Chunks work well).

2/3 cup     Sugar, granulated

  1. Beat egg whites until fluffy.
  2. Whisk egg yolks in double boiler with very hot, but not boiling, water. Whisk in the sugar.  Cook for a few minutes.  Ensure that the yolks do not turn hard by whisking constantly.
  3. Mix in the egg whites and then stir in the softened Marscopone cheese. This will be very tight in the double boiler!  You may find it easier to add these ingredients to the larger egg-white bowl for blending, and then return the mixture to the double boiler for about 5 minutes.
  4. I use the extra large chocolate pieces for chocolate chip cookies and might chop some pieces. Fold the chocolate into to the mixture and remove from the heat.  Otherwise the chocolate will melt.  Or could sprinkle the chocolate after pouring the cheese mixture.
  5. Spread the cheese mixture over the soaked sponge cake.

Finishing it off

1 pint         Cream, whipping  (beat cold, in cold bowl)

¼ cup        Sugar, granulated

1 tsp          Cocoa, un-sweetened  (can use regular cocoa or flaked chocolate)

  1. Take the waxed paper off the other piece of sponge cake and cut it so that it fits over the cheese mixture in the two pans.
  2. Pour the remaining coffee-liquor mixture over the cakes so that it soaks in.
  3. Whip the cream and sugar and, using a rubber spatula, spread over the two cakes covering any cracks in the sponge cake and also keeping in the moisture. Use a sponge to clean the edges.
  4. Sprinkle the cocoa over the cakes for decoration. This is done most easily by putting the cocoa into a fine-mesh sieve and tapping the sides while moving it over the cake.  Use a sponge to wipe the sides of the pans, removing any extra whipped cream and cocoa.  Cover carefully with Glad Wrap
  5. Let sit, covered, refrigerated, for at least 24 hours before serving. Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before serving.  This dessert can be frozen
  6. It should really be covered, but plastic wrap can damage the top. Sometimes I just put wax paper over it–it is usually eaten before it dries out.
Chef John Rudy says that his mother inspired his lifelong love of cooking and baking. (She cooked vegetables in boilable packages.)