Monthly Archives: December 2009

Cookie Swap Anyone?

A friend of mine invited me to my 1st holiday cookie swap this weekend. Although I still have a tummy ache from all the sugar, this clueless baker learned a few things and had a great time playing with my food! As I sit here watching Paula Dean’s cookie swap party, I can tell you that cookies don’t come out looking that perfect – I wish mine did. Thank goodness there were other people baking at the party besides me. On that note, let me give you my favorite recipe of the day: English Toffee

English Toffee

Ingredients/equipment

  • 1 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 6 ounces chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • saucepan, cookie sheet
  • parchment paper (optional)

Now what?

  1. Cook the first 4 ingredients in a saucepan over Medium-low heat to hard crack stage using a candy or sugar thermometer (Tip: it should be stringy and about the color of a brown paper bag.)*
  2. Stir in pecans
  3. Pour batch onto parchment paper (cookie sheet) and sprinkle with chocolate chips. When the chips begin to melt, spread over entire pan with the back of a cold spoon. The chocolate should smoothly layer the batch.
  4. Sprinkle with almonds
  5. Allow to cool at room temperature for 20 minutes, then allow for complete setting in the fridge for at least 30 additional minutes or until hard. Finally, break into pieces by hand or knife

I can see how these cookie swaps have become so popular, giving people a chance to escape from holiday stress while gabbing about sweet nothings. Speaking of sweet, one thing that shocked me (literally) was the vast amounts of sugar, cream, butter, shortening and more sugar involved in making cookies. This is what I get for being clueless in the kitchen – not knowing that “vast amounts of sugar” are usually involved in making cookies!

One last thing, I had no idea what a candy/sugar thermometer was either, so I looked it up. Basically, you should think about getting one of these if you want to make toffee, peanut brittle, peppermint bark or any other sweet hard candy. These candy thermometers are similar to meat thermometers but they can read higher temperatures (including oil for frying). Ok, I have to work out now after talking about all this!

Happy Holidays!!!

P.S. Here’s the cookie that I made. It looked ok, but tasted…um…well, just stick with the toffee recipe and you’ll be ok.

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Winter Risotto & Choco Panna Cotta at Bloomies

Zuzy & Chef Preston Dishman of Viognier

Last night we warmed up some of our fans at Bloomingdale’s San Francisco with a Butternut Squash Risotto and sweet Chocolate Panna Cotta topped with fresh cream! It was so fun to learn from Chef Preston Dishman of Viognier. You might recognize Chef Preston from the “Restaurant Factor” segments on the Cooking for the Clueless DVD or from watching him on local Bay Area TV. He’s a regular on View From the Bay.

The risotto was perfect for a very cold night in San Francisco (felt like I was back in NYC sans the proper coat…Brrrr). As for the Panna Cotta, it was so easy to make! Try out our Comforting Winter Recipes this season and check out the free cooking demos at Bloomie’s. They’re great.

This Saturday Tony Gemignani will be there at 2pm. He’s the famous Pizza Tossing Champ from the Food Network who recently opened up Tony’s Pizza and Scuola di Napoli in North Beach (SF). He’s really fun and animated. I actually learned how to toss pizza with him a while back. Yes! and if I could do it, so can you!

Photo Credits: Michael Capozzola (my favorite cartoonist/comedian!)

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How did our first official review go?

Having someone you don’t know and without a vested interest review your work is scary right? Of course it is, but it’s also very necessary! The Cloth Diaper Report (a top mommy blog), just reviewed the Cooking for the Clueless DVD and although they think the “clueless” host may be too clueless (LOL: that’s me), the review was great! Here’s an excerpt:

“I would recommend this DVD set for anyone that likes to cook and wants to get different recipes and tips to add spice to your regular routine, as well as for newlyweds, busy families or couples and families looking to save money on their monthly restaurant or take-out expenses. Nothing saves more money, or adds as much love and warmth to a stomach as a home cooked meal! It would make a perfect holiday gift for anyone who loves food or for yourself! I already have my ingredients ready to make the super simple Spaghetti al Pomodoro for dinner tomorrow night, and feel confident in making it after watching this DVD.”

and in defense of being called “a little too clueless”…

The reviewer is an avid cook – and that may make it difficult to understand how people can be that clueless in the kitchen. But, we’re out there and I swear throughout the video, I’m asking honest questions – all in the name of  the clueless. LOL!

Check out our full review and many other family friendly product reviews, giveaways, resources and articles at http://www.theclothdiaperreport.com/.

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Tasty Awards Here We Come!

What does Cooking for the Clueless have in common with Anthony Bourdain, Paula Dean, Tyra Banks, Timm Gunn and other food and fashion demi-gods? We were just named official finalists for “Best DVD Series” for the upcoming Tasty Awards, being held in San Francisco at the Kabuki Sundance Theater on January 14, 2010!  AHHHH! That was my first reaction! My 3 month-old son just stared at me. We’re so excited.

Help us win Viewer’s Choice, click to VOTE NOW!! We are listed under question #10.

This is so cool!

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