City by the Bay Scenes

Day five of San Francisco living. The sun shines a different shade of blue. Not to wax rhapsodic or pile on the romanticism, but the air is a bit different out here. The biggest adjustment is the time difference. Three hours. Football is the first thing to air today. Not a terrible thing, its just not something I'm used to, especially when a beer used to be involved. Now its coffee or tea.

Blue Bottle coffee + saffron vanilla snickerdoodle at the Linden kiosk; 101 Cookbooks just posted the cookie recipe

Fort Mason/Off the Grid food truck park/Fleet Week Airshow - the outdoor volume will return to normal tomorrow.
@theMillSF coffee shop in progress - want to try their thick slices of toast
produce from the Grove + Divisadero Sunday farmers market - fresh figs were $5 a pound & flower bouquets $4 a bunch.

Nopalito's red chile chips + lime + crema (along with the rest of their menu) is crave worthy. And very welcoming and friendly service to boot. Its dangerous and delicious to be living around the corner.

Rosemary + Lemon + Olive Oil Cookies

These cookies are a hit. Expect an empty plate so be prepared to snag a cookie before sharing with your next party. A Meyer lemon (cross between an orange and a lemon) is the aromatic choice with intense and fragrant juice and zest. Rosemary is equally pleasing, but thyme is another option. Use a middle of the road extra virgin olive oil since this ingredient isn't the start of the show, but a key understudy.

Rosemary + Lemon + Olive Oil Cookies
adapted from FoodNetwork (yep, that one)
yield: 16-20 cookies

1 cup AP flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
8 grinds of black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary (thyme can also be substituted)
1 small lemon (Meyer, if available), zest and juice
2 ounces extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons milk

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, black pepper, rosemary and zest.

In another small bowl or measuring cup, stir the lemon juice, olive oil, and milk together until blended.

Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Feel free to add additional milk by the 1/2 teaspoon if the dough looks too dry.

Scoop the dough into ping pong size balls and place on a parchment lined sheet pan.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are golden. Let cool and serve with tea.

 

Black & White Cookies in the North End

Looking for a unique outing on Saturday night? Interested in checking out the North End section of Boston, but don't want Italian delights? Start a black & white cookie crawl. 

Last weekend's spontaneous idea with friends proved to be a fun sugar filled walking tour of the North End.  The group consisted of three BU Gastronomy students and visited four bakeries. Each person purchased one cookie from a store. After the first visit to a bakery that yielded no cookie due to a sell-out, we decided that one person would survey the cases before getting in line. Once all cookies were purchased, we employed a "critical tasting analysis" upon conclusion of the tour.  After two attempts to seek a dry seating area due to rain, cookies were lined up so that we could observe the color, size, and shape.  After taking bites of each cookie, it was immediately obvious which cookie reigned supreme.  The analysis lasted about five minutes leaving a few crumbs.

Some historical background:  the black & white cookie is also called a half and half, a drop cake or a half moon cookie.  It is considered a Manhattan or New Jersey dessert.  Common differences occur in the texture of the cookie and the flavor of the fondant or icing.  More details of the cookie's origins can be found here.

Thanks to foursquare for some tips, maps, and one "crunk" badge upon check-in. 

Stop #1: Modern Pastry (257 Hanover Street)
The line at Modern Pastry spanned the length of two to three businesses.  The wait was close to 30 minutes, and sadly, no black & white cookies to be found.  Modern was sold out.  We did debate the merits of finding an alternative cookie, but that would be outside the evaluation limits.  During the wait, we discovered overpriced ceramic mugs.

Stop #2: Mike's Pastry (300 Hanover Street)
Always a popular favorite in the North End, the line to get into the shop was a bit misleading.  One long line on the right side of the building did not seem to notice the empty space on the left side of the building.  We quickly swooped in, got in line, and purchased a cookie ($3.50) without too much of a wait.  The cookie came in Mike's distinctive box with white and blue lettering and string.

Stop #3: Bova (134 Salem Street)

This 24 hour deli/pastry shop was a fantastic find.  The line inside was short consisting of locals or folks who knew where they were going.  Located off the main drag of the North End, the black & white cookies were large and $2.50 apiece.  Hot sandwiches lined the counter along with deli meats and fresh breads.  Returning for a meatball sub might have to go on the to-eat list this summer.

Stop #4: Maria's Pastry (46 Cross Street)

The last stop on the black & white cookie tour ended at Maria's, a shop on the front lines of the neighborhood.  We walked right into the shop after passing a cat hanging out by the front door.  Like Bova, the cookie was $2.50.

Black & White Cookie Analysis

The clear winner was Bova due to the cookie's price, visual appeal, and flavor of cake and both white and chocolate frostings.  The vanilla frosting on Mike's cookie was preferred (detection of lemon juice), but that cookie's chocolate frosting tasted fake and lacked real chocolate flavor.  Maria's cookie tasted stale and had a matte finish; the cookies from Mike's and Bova's shined and appeared fresh.


Total cost of this adventure was $8.50 with a side of colorful people watching and knowledge of shops for return visits.

Feel free to comment on your favorite place in the North End (bakery or otherwise).  

Chocolate Oatmeal Dried Fruit Cookies

In the continuing journey to find a cookie that combines chocolate, fruit, and oats, this one takes the cake, err, cookie. 

Chocolate Oatmeal Dried Fruit Cookies
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
yield: three dozen (using a 1" cookie scoop)

1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, softened
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chips
1/2 cup dried fruit mix (raisins, cranberries, cherries)
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats, chocolate, dried fruits and pecans.

Either chill the dough for a bit in the fridge and then scoop it, or scoop the cookies onto a sheet pan and then freeze the whole tray, bag the dough scoops, and freeze for future enjoyment.

If baking immediately, bake the cookies two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 10 to 12 minutes, taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool.  If baking from the freezer, add 2-4 minutes of additional baking time.