Restaurant and a Recipe

Most work days are spent visiting job sites or doing paperwork from the office.  Yesterday, I was lucky enough to visit a particularly stunning job site; The Mayflower Grace Hotel in Washington, CT.

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About two hours or so from NYC, this hotel seems like it would be a great oasis from anyone’s hectic life.  While I was there for work, the general manager was gracious enough to offer me a comped lunch.  I’m sure she had some ulterior motives of lowering my quote, but I’ve never been one to say no to a free lunch (especially such a fancy free lunch).

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I propped my paperwork all over the bar of The Taproom, and was treated to a really lovely lunch. The atmosphere of the entire hotel property is very classic, New England elegance; above and beyond historic charm.  This may look like a simple salad, but it had such a level of savoriness I’ve never experienced in a light salad.

Upon the General Manager’s recommendation, I chose The Mayflower Bibb salad, “Maytag Blue cheese, crispy shallots, tomato truffle vinaigrette.”  Perfection.  (Sidenote: I did not pay for this meal, but left a hefty tip.  I’ll admit I’m young and not familiar with the professional prototypical here; what would you recommend?)

After work, I went straight to the kitchen to whip up a dessert to bring to the first night of Passover at my Aunt’s house.  Through the King Arthur Flour website, I found what looked like the perfect recipe to try out, Almond Cloud Cookies.  For those of you whom celebrate Passover, I’m sure you can agree there are only so many times you can make or eat macaroons or chocolate covered matzo.

The recipe is available through that link above, so I won’t go into too much detail.  I did make 1.5 of the recipe, because it called for 10 oz of almond paste and I could only find it in 7 oz packages.  I figured two packages equaling 14 oz was close to 15 oz, or 1 and a half times what the recipe was calling for, so I just multiplied the other ingredients accordingly.

Sugar and almond paste go in the stand mixer to get crumbly.

Whisk egg whites until frothy and add to the crumbly stuff in the mixer.  025.JPGAdd chocolate chips and almond extract. [the recipe calls for bitter almond oil….I’m not a huge baker so I didn’t want to go nuts looking for something so specific]

027.JPGThis is where things got really exciting for me.

I was doing all of this baking in my Mom’s kitchen; which meant I was using all of her gadgets etc.  I have never actually owned one of these cookie scoopers, but there was one in Mom’s drawer!  I felt very fancy following the recipe pictures so perfectly that I had to take a picture.  Take joy in the little things people.

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Scoop out cookie dough onto baking sheets.  030.JPG

Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Press three fingers into each to sort of mash them down. Then bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

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Oh man.  I cannot express how wonderful these are; imagine a really good chewy chocolate chip cookie that has a deep almond flavor that hugs your tastebuds.  These are cookies I would eat even when its not Passover, the fact that they are okay for the holiday is just a bonus.  Enjoy!

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International Chili Day

Nope, I have no idea if it is.  I feel like everything has a day now.  Like October 15th is International Wash Your Hands Day.

I feel like the second it starts to turn from summer to fall, everyone whips out their chili recipes.  Maybe its the cold air, maybe its the football games; but Instagram and Facebook are loaded with pictures of chili pots and saucy bowls.

Of course I made some.

I really liked the bean-less chili I made last time. Chili is great to make when you really don’t feel like doing all that much.  Brown meat, put stuff in a pot.  Leave it alone for a while.  Eat.

This batch was ground beef (I did organic), sweet potato, butternut squash, fire roasted canned tomatoes, chicken stock.

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Reheated at work it was pretty great.  But I’m kind of thinking, does this count as chili?

I knew a family that just cooked ground beef with chili powder and tomato puree; ate it over rice and called it chili.  When I was there, this baffled me.  But now that I’ve gotten pretty hooked on this version, I’m wondering what qualifies something as chili.  Does it have to have beef? What about chicken chili, or veggie chili?  What does it have to have to be considered “chili”?

I don’t really care all that much, more a point of curiosity.  Mine was pretty good, and I’ve got about 4 quarts of it in the fridge, which was the result of about 10 minutes of work.