DoubleTree Chocolate Chip Cookies (High-Elevation)

If you’ve ever stayed at a DoubleTree, you’re familiar with the chocolate chip cookies that they give you when you check in. Thick, soft, loaded with chocolate and walnuts, with a touch of cinnamon and some oatmeal. I guess the folks at Hilton were bored enough during the pandemic that they published (they claim for the first time) the recipe – click here. Unfortunately, their version did not quite work in my high-elevation kitchen, so this is my amended version for 5000 ft.

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Isolation Sour

A whiskey sour by any other name … I’ll admit I got this recipe from Sam Heughan (that’s James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser to Outlander fans), part of a fundraiser for personal protective equipment (PPE) in Scotland a few months ago on Instagram. His version was a bit strong for me so I have modified it accordingly. If you are a Scot, and/or made of sterner stuff, then, well, feel free to double the whisky. Or more.

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Colombian Torta Negra

I was supposed to be in Colombia in June, before COVID-19 upended everything. Instead I’ve contented myself with looking at Colombian recipes and seeing what I could make at home. My first effort was arepas – corn cakes, basically – probably the simplest thing one could make. From there I jumped clear over to something that easily takes the most time: Colombian torta negra.

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Swedish Pear Cake with Cardamom (High Elevation)

This recipe for Päronkaka med kardemumma is adapted for my high-elevation kitchen from that in Magnus Nilsson’s Nordic Baking Book. Christina Gyllner has a very similar recipe here (let Google translate it from Swedish): – although be forewarned the flour and sugar measures are in dL. My initial attempts at making this cake, despite cutting back slightly the amount of baking powder, still had some classic elevation issues of rising too fast then collapsing. Third time was apparently the charm as by this attempt I pulled out all the stops on elevation adjustments. So for the record, here’s my version.

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Southwestern Cheesecake

When we moved to Arizona in 2001, and I found myself between jobs, I spent a lot of time watching food shows on television. Kind of like COVID-19 time, right? Anyway I used to watch a lot of Emeril Lagasse, and he had a Santa Fe cheesecake with cilantro pesto that I loved. Not particularly healthy though (what cheesecake is?) so it was set aside for many years once we started paying attention to cholesterol levels etc.

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Patagonian Chutney

This recipe is published with permission of Tierra Negra Gourmet, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

I made this chutney very recently as part of Tierra Negra’s online preserves class. It’s a wonderful combination of berries, ginger, red onion, and spices. You can use a mix of berries or other fruit, for example blackberries, raspberries, cherries. Calafate berries would be very authentic, but as there’s no chance of getting those in my part of the US, I opted for a handful of blueberries instead. (Maybe I should try growing calafate?)

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Tierra Negra Gourmet

Cooking class in 2014

In 2014, on a trip to Argentina, we enjoyed a cooking class with Tierra Negra Gourmet in the Palermo Hollywood area of Buenos Aires. It was a great day; we shopped for ingredients with Verónica at a local organic market, then cooked up a wonderful meal with Chef Manuel that included arugula and ricotta malfatti (kind of like gnocchi, but no potato), prawns with a carrot dip and homemade sesame crackers, dulce de leche cheesecake, and wonderful gin&tonics with Los Apóstoles gin, grapefruit, and rosemary. So I was quite happy to hear that they were offering online classes in this time of COVID-19!

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The Nordic Baking Book

What to do while self-isolating? Bake! My latest cookbook acquisition is The Nordic Baking Book, by Magnus Nilsson. It’s a hefty volume, a documentary cookbook that is compilation of recipes and techniques from Nordic countries.

The goal has been to create a recipe book that represents as many people as possible in as many parts of the Nordic region as possible. … It was important to me that this book … didn’t become some ridiculous list of antiquated recipes that no one cooks anymore. I wanted it to be a snapshot of what people actually bake today, perhaps with the occasional look in the rear view mirror at a recipe, which, even if it is uncommon today, explains something about how we do things now.

Magnus Nilsson, The Nordic Baking Book (2018)

I started reading and working my way through the book in April 2020, with a goal of trying something from the book every day or every other day. Click here for my “review” of sorts, it will be updated as I try recipes. At 576 pages, I think I will be working on this for some time. It’s a great way to keep busy!