Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Confessions of a Top Chef Junkie...

My name is Lauren and I'm a Top Chef Addict, no I don't just watch the new episodes, I watch the old ones in marathon, I DVR it and watch it, I even have watched Top Chef Masters religiously, if it came out on DVD I'd probably buy it, oh and yes I really want the cookbook....some people have much more harmful addictions, I'll admit, but this one is pretty bad. To the point that I go in to work the next day and have discussions with co-workers/friends who are also addicts....yes, we are a strange lot. I've been sucked into my Wednesday night TV and haven't looked back, which may not be the best thing on the planet but I figure it's not that bad, right? Or is that what I tell myself because I'm an addict?

The worst thing about all of this is that it further inspires me to whip up things I might not need and certainly didn't plan on - like last weekend's Pita Bread. While watching some DVR'd Top Chef Masters I decided I wanted Greek food, which would be ok without pita but since I had the stuff for it...pita too.

1 package of yeast, or quick rising yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 cup lukewarm water

1. Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until water is frothy.
2. Combine flour and salt in large bowl.
3. Make a small depression in the middle of flour and pour yeast water in depression.
4. Slowly add 1 cup of warm water, and stir with wooden spoon or rubber spatula until elastic.
5. Place dough on floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes. When the dough is no longer stick and is smooth and elastic, it has been successfully kneaded.
6. Coat large bowl with vegetable oil and place dough in bowl. Turn dough upside down so all of the dough is coated.
7. Allow to sit in a warm place for about 3 hours, or until it has doubled in size.
8. Once doubled, roll out in a rope, and pinch off 10-12 small pieces. Place balls on floured surface. Let sit covered for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 500 deg F. and make sure rack is at the very bottom of oven. Be sure to preheat your baking sheet also.
9. Roll out each ball of dough with a rolling pin into circles. Each should be about 5-6 inches across and 1/4 inch thick.
10. Bake each circle for 4 minutes until the bread puffs up. Turn over and bake for 2 minutes.
11. Remove each pita with a spatula from the baking sheet and add additional pitas for baking.
12. Take spatula and gently push down puff. Immediately place in storage bags.

*Pictures will appear when I post the remainder of my Greek dinner...hopefully tomorrow.

Oh no, I didn't stop there, why stop baking with one item when you can whip together many more?? After the pita I dug around and found some unsweetened baking chocolate bars and pistachios, unsure of what I wanted to do with them, brownie cookies were born...

Pistachio Brownie Cookies

2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter; more for the pan
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/2 oz. (1/3 cup) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
4 oz. (1 cup) chopped pistachios
1 cup Semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Position an oven rack on the center rung. Heat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment (or grease and flour the pan).
2. In a double boiler over simmering water, melt the butter and baking chocolate. Stir to combine; let cool. In an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium high 3 to 4 min. Take the bowl off the mixer. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and the vanilla; stir to combine. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Stir the flour mixture and the nuts and chocolate chips into the batter.
3. Spoon the batter onto the prepared baking sheet.
4. Bake the first until the cookies are puffed and cracked and the tops barely spring back when pressed, 8 to 10 min. The cracks should be moist but not wet. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.

*Mine seemed to have the best flavor when stored in the fridge, they were very fudgy and dense.

I can't help but to comment on my favorite show for a minute, if you watch it at all, did you see the last episode (not this week, but last week)? Wow - some major disparities in leadership style there (the re-run of last week is on right now which is prompting me to type this). I couldn't believe what a jerk Michael Chiarello looked like....yikes, tv can be a bit revealing, can't it? Ok - no more ranting for now, Top Chef Las Vegas is about to premier, and yes it needs my full attention.


Angie's Recipes said...

Cool...look forward to the Pita bread pix, I bet they are GOOD!

Angie's Recipes

Denise said...

I also love Top Chef. I loved Top Chef Masters. Those cookies look sinful

Donna-FFW said...

Pistachio brownie cookies .. omg.. they sound addictive. Cant wait to see the Greek dish and your pitas!! They sound wonderful.

I am addicted to Hells Kitchen.. Top Chef sounds interesting, Ill look for it!

Gloria Chadwick said...

I'm totally into Top Chef, too! The new cheftestants this season seem a bit lame. And -- my man, Rick, won Top Chef Masters!!! WooHoo! You rock, Rick. :)

Reeni♥ said...

I was kind of upset at Michael. I really like him. Maybe he's just misunderstood? I've been wanting to make my own pita breads - I bet they were delicious! Love the cookies too - what treats they are with pistachios!

Chef E said...

I catch them from time to time...I am a Hell's Kitchen, and Nightmares fan...I am however a chocolate junkie and these cookies would be on 'repeat' on the channel changer if I could do that...

Looking forward to the pita bread pics!

Grace said...

i'm enjoying top chef masters, but i wish john besh had made it further. since he didn't, i'm pulling for rick bayless. i'd devour everything he every made.
i love a good pita, by the way, and those cookies are flawless.

Anonymous said...

I'm the same way about Top Chef and watching it really makes me hungry. Would have loved to have some of those pistachio brownie cookies last night!

Kerstin said...

I'm completely addicted to Top Chef as well, it's the only show I will watch live! Those Pistachio Brownie Cookies look amazing!

Dee said...

I'm eying the cookies I have left here at the house as I see this post. They are getting the best of me....Delicious!

Hornsfan said...

Angie - hope you liked the pita bread, it's tasty stuff!
Denise - the cookies are definitely luscious!
Donna - Hells Kitchen isn't my fav Gordon Ramsay show, it'd have to be Kitchen Nightmares, something about seeing what disasters some of those places are really captures my curiosity (like a train wreck kind of!)
Gloria - I know I was excited to see Rick win, that mole looked amazing!
Reeni - I was kind of surprised too, his food looks so great and for the most part he behaved himself but he just wasn't so nice to the folks he was supervising, just a little too egotistical...such a shame!
Chef E - I second Kitchen Nightmares for sure! And yes these cookies might result in a chocolate hangover :)
Grace - I was saddened by John's early departure, I like him a lot and I really love what he is doing for New Orleans, neat guy. Alas, I think Rick did a pretty great job too!
5 Star - I've got to find a remedy for wanting to cook/eat while watching food's a bad habit!
Kerstin - I agree, my DVR is so intertwined with all of my TV viewing it's pretty impressive when a show makes it live on my TV!
Mom - I'll make some again soon, I promise :)