Month: March 2014

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie

If you’ve dropped by Kitchen Kat more than once, you’re probably aware of my insatiable sweet tooth. Pies, cakes, candies and tarts. I love and make them all. What you might not know is that I am perpetually on the lookout for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. From Amy’s Bread, Birdbath, Levain and Jaques Torres to the less pricey offerings at Jack’s and Insomnia and the vegan version at Joe I’ve tried them all. You name the bakery or recipe. I’ve eaten the cookie. Last summer, while in the thick of promoting Fish Market, I came across what may be the best chocolate chip cookie that I’ve ever had. Crisp, sweet, aromatic and with just a hint of spiciness, it was the cookie that I’d been craving. This divine treat came not from a professional bakery or The Joy of Cooking but from my friend Elizabeth’s sunny kitchen. I took a bite of one, devoured it and then reached for another and another and another. Before I knew it, I was covered in cookie crumbs …

Philly Irish Potatoes for St. Paddy’s Day

Look up “Irish potato” in Herbst’s Food Lover’s Companion and you’ll find it defined as “a round, white, thin-skinned potato . . . good for boiling, frying and pan-roasting.” Ask for an Irish potato in Philadelphia and in all likelihood you’ll be handed a small, cinnamon-dusted, spud-shaped candy. A Philly original from the early 20th century, this sweet reputedly was created by Irish immigrants for St. Patrick’s Day. In spite of its name there is not a trace of potato in this confection. Its moniker comes from its oblong shape, white center and dusky skin. What’s in an Irish potato? Cream cheese, butter, coconut and lots of powdered sugar. If you don’t like intensely sweet treats, you’ll want to steer clear of this little guy. Even I, the queen of sugar, find some versions too cloying. To boost the sweetness even more, many flavor their Irish potatoes with a generous dose of vanilla extract. Since I have a surplus of Bailey’s Irish Cream on hand, I cut back on the extract and add a tablespoon …

The Scoop on Mushroom Barley Soup

Another week of blustery weather can mean only one thing — more soup simmering on my stovetop. This time it’s my take on an old family recipe for Scotch broth. One of Scotland’s most famous offerings, Scotch broth begins by boiling together chunks of mutton or beef and barley. Eventually, diced root vegetables and parsley are added to the pot. A sprinkling of fresh parsley then finishes it off. Unlike classic Scotch broth, my version replaces the meat with mushrooms, making it less stew-like. In essence, this is a hearty mushroom barley soup. With its vegetable stock base and abundance of barley, root vegetables and mushrooms this soup could be considered a vegetarian-friendly dish. For a bona fide vegan meal, substitute olive oil for the butter. MUSHROOM BARLEY SOUP To get the requisite 2 cups cooked barley, you will need to bring 2 cups water, 1/2 cup pearl barley and a pinch of salt to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to low and allow the barley to simmer for 40 minutes. …