Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cooking Day

Every now and then, my friend Debe and I get together and spend the whole day cooking. This last Saturday, we had a bit of a theme. We made Chipotle and Qdoba copycat recipes.
We made guacamole

 fresh salsa,

The recipes from all turned out wonderfully. The barbacoa beef was a bit lacking in flavor despite the marinade smelling so potent that it made me cough and my eyes water. Kind of disappointing.We used a Cook's Illustrated recipe for the salsa, which was pretty simple and straightforward.

The beans were a chore, let me tell you. I've tried cooking dried beans many times and it's always a crap shoot whether they'll turn out well or not. Most of the time, half of the beans are still rock hard while the other half of them are mush. The only way I've found to cook them with fairly good results is in the crock pot, but that takes all day and the results still vary. I decided that I'd start the beans the night before our cooking day and hope for the best. I started by doing a quick soak: covering the beans with water, bringing them to a boil and letting them sit for an hour. I let them sit overnight instead of just an hour. Saturday morning, I started them boiling on the stove again, simmered them for a couple hours, then put them in the crock pot when I got to Debe's. They cooked in the crock pot on medium for another 6-7 hours. They turned out really well. I guess the secret to cooking dried beans at high-altitude is just cooking the crap out of them. I'm not really sure that it was worth all the work though. I think next time I'll just open some canned beans and add some extra flavor or just cook them in the crock pot for 24 hours and be done.

Dessert was my favorite part. I made angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream. It was my first attempt at making angel food cake. (It called for 10-13 egg whites, enough to measure 1 1/2 cups. No problem there, but what do I do with all the yolks?) It was delicious, so much better than the styrofoam angel food cake you buy at the store. It had kind of a marshmallow-y flavor and a spongy texture. So yummy. Debe made Cook's Illustrated Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies even better by adding coconut! These were seriously the BEST cookies I've ever had! She substituted coconut extract for the vanilla and added about 1/2 cup toasted coconut in with the flour. They were amazing and didn't last long. I mean, can you get any better than browned butter chocolate chip cookies with coconut? I'm thinking, no.

It was a fabulous day.

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