Sunday, 13 April 2014

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Cookie Skillet

A couple of my closest friends went through difficult break-ups in the span of about a week. My default when someone has a broken heart is lots of chocolate and ice cream. And it's always better when that chocolate is actually warm gooey chocolate chip cookie dough served warm from the oven with ice cream. Add in some extra chocolate syrup for good measure and, if nothing else, they'll be in a sugar coma and able to sleep.

I may sound like a broken record, but I love anything that I can make in my cast iron skillet. The only problem with making this cookie skillet for dessert is that it means I can't make my one hour skillet focaccia bread to go with the main course. Cookie skillet vs buttery focaccia. Life is rough in our household! 

The real solution to that dilemma would just be to get another cast iron skillet.

If you have never had a cookie skillet (or pizzookie as some places call it), you have no idea what you are missing. This is something you need to experience immediately. There is almost nothing greater than warm cookie dough with cold ice cream. 

Speaking of which, make sure you buy a good quality, creamy vanilla ice cream. Simple is always best; we love this Breyer's creamery style natural vanilla. When we're not making it ourselves, we like to look for products that use just a few natural ingredients.

Anyway: this cookie recipe. Of course, you could use it to make normal cookies, too. I have certainly used this recipe for that purpose as well. Just adjust your baking time to 11-12 minutes for 1.5 tbsp scoops of cookie dough. This cookie recipe is super easy. It may not be the NY Times "best ever" recipe, but it also doesn't involve browning your butter or refrigerating your cookie dough for 48 hours.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Skillet

  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup room temp butter
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat your oven to 350 F.

In your stand mixer, cream the butter and white and brown sugar together. You could also do this using a hand mixer or, if you really wanted to, by hand.

Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, and mix until combined. I always crack my eggs into a small bowl before adding them to my stand mixer. 

In a separate bowl, combine your dry ingredients and fluff with a fork. Slowly add the dry ingredients to your wet ingredients, mixing on slow speed. Once the dry ingredients are incorporated, add the chocolate chips and stir until just mixed. 

If you're making a cookie skillet, press the dough into your cast iron skillet. You do not need to grease the skillet. 

Put the skillet in your preheated oven and bake for approximately 22-25 minutes. You want the edges of the cookie dough to be browned and starting to crisp but the centre should still be a bit gooey. 

Allow the skillet to cool for a couple minutes before serving. 

Serve wedges of warm cookie skillet in a bowl with ice cream and some chocolate syrup! 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

All you can eat meat at Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse

With friends visiting from Calgary, we decided to head to Pampa to finally try the "Rodizio" dining experience. It's hard to believe that we haven't actually tried this place before, it is literally the boyfriend's perfect meal: unlimited grilled meat brought to your table on swords and sliced off with machetes. What could be better? 

Unfortunately, we were all extremely disappointed with our meals, given the cost. For a significantly reduced price point we would have a lot less to complain about. But at $50 per person plus drinks, dessert, tax, and tip, this was a huge let down. Of course, I can never eat my money's worth at these places anyway. But the boyfriend usually makes up for that in eating both his and my money's worth. 

That was simply not the case here. Sure, there were redeeming parts about our meal. The restaurant's interior is beautiful, the wine display is very impressive, our server was attentive. And it's certainly a unique dining experience, if you're willing to shell out the ridiculously high cost. 

The salad bar (fortunately, included in the $50 price tag) is excellent. For me, this was the highlight of the meal. There were so many options to supplement all the meat, including a giant wheel of grand padano. Yum! The ceviche was so refreshing and balanced and I loved the variety of cheeses and fresh veggies. 

Once you're ready for the meat, flip your little disc from red to green. Once you give the green light, the waiters will literally swarm your table with meat sword after meat sword. This is definitely the coolest part of the meal. However, it would be nice if they were a little bit better at pacing - it was very overwhelming.

We were told there were 10 different meat options that evening: chicken drumstick, chicken thigh wrapped in bacon, pork sausage, pork loin with parmesan cheese, leg of lam, beef rumpsteak, garlic beef rumpsteak, top sirloin, bottom sirloin, and rib eye. We found that the meats were really hit and miss. Some were absolutely delicious; I could not get enough of the top sirloin! Unfortunately, that particular waiter was also very difficult to track down and rarely came to our table, unlike the pork sausage or beef rumpsteak waiters. The chicken drumstick was also excellent, as was the parmesan pork. The bacon wrapped chicken thigh, on the other hand, was not appetizing. The restaurant does not provide steak knives to diners, presumably because the meat is supposed to be tender enough on its own. There were a few cuts that were a bit too fatty and tough to cut without a steak knife. 

If you can believe it, after all that meat, we decided to order desserts. The desserts are not included in the price of the meal and, unfortunately, were extremely disappointed. I was persuaded to try a coconut pudding with stewed mangos, which I was told was like a light, tropical creme brulee. I am not one to send food back, but I sent this dessert back. The pudding tasted like something that would be served in a hospital and, worse yet, the mangos on top were crunchy chunks and definitely not fresh mangos. My friend had the chocolate angel food cake which she said was fine, but really not worth the $12 price tag.

All things considered, we had an enjoyable meal and it was neat to experience something new and interactive. We were all provided $20 vouchers, to be used on a monday-wednesday for dinner, with our bill at the end of the meal. Given the high prices and inconsistency, I don't think it is likely that we will return here, even with the $20 off. 


Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse

9929 - 109 St. N.W.
Edmonton, AB   T5K 1H6
(p) 780-756-7030
(f)  780-756-7033

Pampa Brazilian Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Convenience at Chinese Szechuan Stir Fry

Sometimes there is nothing better than a Saturday night spent curled up on the couch with Chinese take-out. There was a time when I was happy to go out every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. Now I really look forward to these quiet nights at home. I guess that's what happens when you grow up from being 18 years old to having a job and other priorities.

We usually order our Chinese food from Chinese Szechuan Stir Fry. The main reason we tried it in the first place is the convenience; it's literally minutes away from where we live. You seriously cannot beat that kind of convenience. They also have a super easy online ordering system. Meaning I can waver back and forth about what I want, adding and deleting items until we are satisfied with our order. And they have a 10% off coupon if you opt for pick-up. Since it is so close by, it's no trouble at all to just pop over. It's located pretty much right next door to the delicious Blue Chair Cafe (definitely check it out if you haven't been, their brunch and dinner are awesome!)

Is it the best Chinese food in Edmonton? Probably not. But it's decent and reasonably priced. The quality of the food is usually pretty good and the portion sizes are consistent. It's definitely what you would consider to be Canadian-ized (is that a word?) Chinese food, but whatever.

Like I said, on a quiet Saturday night, for us it's all about the convenience! The food is already ready within 30 minutes and is always piping hot.

They also always throw in a free order of some sort of deep fried, battered meat. The boyfriend thinks they are pork and they're salty and delicious and for some strange reason, he prefers to eat them cold the next day. In an effort to maintain some semblance of health (who am I kidding, we all know how much I love hollandaise sauce) I don't eat them. 

We have a few staples that we pretty much always order: for me, it's the wor wonton soup. Loaded with tons of veggies, chicken, pork, shrimp, and of course lots of wontons! The boyfriend loves the sweet and sour chicken balls. Don't ask me why, but it's his favourite. The shanghai noodles are always delicious and you can't go wrong with the chicken fried rice.

This particular Saturday night, with my sister joining us, we also ordered the cashew chicken, beef and broccoli, and Szechwan spring rolls. All of them met our expectations and left us satisfied and with tons of leftovers! 

Chinese Szechuan Stir Fry on Urbanspoon