Recipe Corner: Neiman Marcus Fort Lauderdale’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Recently, someone asked me if I had ever heard the story about the infamous Neiman Marcus Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe. I had, indeed, since many years ago I was given a copy of what was then called: “An expensive lesson: the $250 cookie recipe.”

Both the story and the delicious cookie recipe are worth repeating, as is my conversation with the then Public Relations Manager, Kathleen Ruiz, at the Galleria Neiman Marcus store in Fort Lauderdale.

According to the story, a woman and her daughter had a salad lunch at the Neiman Marcus Café in Dallas. For dessert they had a chocolate chip cookie. It was so delicious, the lady asked the waitress for the recipe. The waitress declined, but when asked if they would sell it, the waitress said it would be “two fifty.” It was added to the bill and turned out to be $250, not $2.50.

I called the Neiman Marcus store in Fort Lauderdale, and spoke with Ms. Ruiz. She told me, first of all, that they had been plagued with that story for several years, and that it was not at all true.

She then explained that the Fort Lauderdale store had been working on a Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe they could give upon request, substituting macadamia nuts for the usual walnuts or pecans (that recipe you will find below). She also mentioned raisins as another tasty addition, but I include those as an option.

With the overload of chocolate chips and the macadamias, all those who are fortunate enough to sample will only say, “Mmm!”

  • 2½ cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 10 tablespoons of unsalted butter (1¼ sticks) softened
  • 1¼ cups of firm-packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 11.5 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips (used to be 1 pound)
  • ¾ cup of macadamia nuts (or walnuts or pecans) coarse-chopped (A 3.5 ounce jar of Mauna Loa brand macadamia nuts give you just the right amount.)
  • ¾ cup of seedless raisins (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Transfer to a piece of wax paper. In the same bowl, beat together the butter and sugar on the medium speed of an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time and the vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients well. Then stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. Refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drop the dough by the large tablespoonfuls onto lightly greased baking sheets, about 3 inches apart. Flatten slightly. They should measure about 2¼ inches across. Refrigerate the remaining dough between pans. Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 10- 12 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Remove to wire racks to cool. Repeat with the remaining dough on cooled baking pans. Makes about 36 cookies.

For an easy and tasty addition to serve with these delicious cookies, (and to add more delectable calories) swirl slightly warmed crunchy peanut butter into softened vanilla or chocolate ice cream and refreeze. Serve in parfait glasses sprinkled with chopped peanuts.

Resident Suzanne Jones is the author of “Readable, Doable and Delicious: Requested Recipes and Stories from the Past to the Present”. For a number of years, Suzanne wrote a weekly column in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel titled “You Asked For It”. For more information about her book, visit (www.past-presentrecipes.com).

Recipe Corner: Company Beef Brisket

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Isn’t it amazing how simple variations, imitations, modifications and/or just simple ingredient changes conceived by innovative chefs or other serious cooks can transform one recipe into another? By the same culinary “trick,” one ingredient can be utilized in any number of recipes in completely unrelated categories.

That one ingredient brings me to the recipe for Company Beef Brisket. Many years ago, I was asked if I could find a lost brisket recipe for a friend that had Coca-Cola as an ingredient.

Since that recipe was not in my files, I called the Coca-Cola Company’s Consumer Information Hotline and was rewarded with information on the brisket recipe, as well as numerous other recipes with Coca-Cola as an ingredient. Those recipes ranged from entrees, through soups, side dishes, dips, cakes and even an ice cream float.

They also informed me that at that time (some years back) if all the 6½-ounce cans were laid end to end, they would wrap around the equator 21,661 times!

This is a great company recipe. Whether you elect to simmer the brisket on top of the stove or cook it in the oven, your house will be filled with a tantalizing aroma. The original recipe called for the resulting sauce to be thickened, but ours was such a nice consistency we omitted that step.

  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (we suggest Canola)
  • 2½ to 3 pound beef brisket, well trimmed
  • 2½ cups of crushed, canned tomatoes
  • 1 cup of Coca-Cola (not diet)*
  • 1 package (1½ ounces) of spaghetti sauce mix
  • 1 large onion (about 7 ounces), finely chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • Salt to taste

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy pot with a tight fitting lid, preferably a Dutch oven. Brown the brisket on both sides, about five minutes a side. Remove to a plate and drain and discard the fat from the pot.

Stir in the remaining ingredients. Return the brisket to the pot, submerge in the tomato mixture and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat, cover tightly and simmer slowly for about 2½ hours or until the meat is fork tender. (Alternately, you can cook the meat in the oven at a temperature of about 300 degrees.)

 If you wish to thicken the sauce, mix together two tablespoons each of soft butter and flour. Remove the meat to a cutting board and stir the butter/flour mixture into the sauce one tablespoon at a time until the desired consistency is reached.  (As I mentioned in the introduction, I elected not to thicken ours, since the consistency was just as we liked it.)

If you are fortunate enough to have some leftovers, a couple nights after serving the original, we cut ours into small pieces, heated it in the leftover sauce and served it over some bow-tie pasta. Makes about eight servings.

*The Coca-Cola consumer line recommended using the Coke at room temperature and stirring rapidly to reduce the foam for accurate measurement.

FYI – Did you know that it takes four men to dress a salad? A wise man for the salt, a madman for the pepper, a miser for the vinegar and a spendthrift for the oil. -Anonymous

Resident Suzanne Jones is the author of “Readable, Doable and Delicious: Requested Recipes and Stories from the Past to the Present”. For a number of years, Suzanne wrote a weekly column in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel titled “You Asked For It”. For more information about her book, visit (www.past-presentrecipes.com).

Recipe Corner: Monte Cristo Sandwiches

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The recipe for Monte Cristo Sandwiches may remind you of the well-known Croque-Monsieur (that tasty ham and cheese sandwich) except for the addition of roasted chicken or turkey. Instead of just being sautéed in butter, these are dipped in an egg batter before cooking.

These substantial and delicious sandwiches are not calorie or fat free by any means, but keep them in mind for a special luncheon, and serve them up with a fresh fruit or tossed green salad.  In addition, you can add or subtract to make enough for one, two, 20 or more.

If you happen to have leftover ham and chicken or turkey, these sandwiches are a winning way to utilize those leftovers. Otherwise, good deli sliced meats will tastefully fill any amount you may need.

We recommend firm-textured whole wheat bread, such as Pepperidge Farm or Arnold. We also found that if we were wise enough to make an extra loaf of the Stuffing Bread (from December’s Village Voice), and freeze it for later enjoyment (like now), the flavor of these sandwiches was enhanced even further.

However, be warned that these are delightfully messy to eat. They are often easiest to eat with a knife and fork. But cut in half or quarters, fingers work just fine.  Make sure to have plenty of paper napkins.

  • 4 slices of firm-textured whole wheat bread
  • 2 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
  • 4 ounces of good quality thin-sliced smoked ham (about 6 slices)
  • 4 ounces of thin-sliced cooked chicken or turkey (about 6 slices)
  • 3 ounces Swiss or Gruyere cheese (about 6 slices)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of half and half
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon of fresh-ground black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

Spread one side of each slice of bread with two teaspoons of the mustard. Top two of the slices with the layers of ham, chicken or turkey and cheese. Cover with the remaining bread slices, mustard-side-down.  Press down gently but firmly to hold the fillings together.

In a flat bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream salt, pepper and cayenne, blending well. In a large, heavy skillet, preferably non-stick, melt the butter with the oil over medium heat.

Dip the sandwiches in the egg mixture, turning to coat both sides and the edges well. Place the sandwiches in the pan. Fry until golden on both sides, and the cheese begins to melt.

This will take about 3-4 minutes per side. If the sandwiches start to brown too much before the cooking time is up, adjust the heat. You do want them to be nice and hot throughout.

We found these were often easiest to eat with a knife and fork, but you can cut them in half or quarters and use your fingers – they will be a bit messy, but awesome! Makes two sandwiches.

Resident Suzanne Jones is the author of “Readable, Doable and Delicious: Requested Recipes and Stories from the Past to the Present”. For a number of years, Suzanne wrote a weekly column in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel titled “You Asked For It”. For more information about her book, visit (www.past-presentrecipes.com).

Recipe Corner: Crab (Surimi) Cakes with Cucumber Sauce

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Many years ago, I undertook the interesting project of learning about the history of surimi seafood for an article I was writing. I was surprised to learn, for instance, that it dated back to about 1100 A.D. when Japanese fishermen discovered they could preserve their leftover catch by turning it into fish paste.

A number of years later, in 1969 in Japan, the industrialized surimi-making process was refined. At the present time, the U.S. is the leading country for the production of surimi. The successful growth of the industry was based on Alaska Pollock, and still the world’s finest surimi seafood products are made from the high-quality Alaska Pollock.

Being pre-cooked, it is ready to use in any recipe calling for the flavor of shellfish. There is no waste, and it is a delicious low-fat, low-calorie and low-cholesterol source of protein. And compared to the price of fresh crab, lobster, shrimp or scallops, the lower- in-price of surimi is a definite plus.

There are various cuts and styles of surimi available in most supermarket refrigerator cases in vacuum-packed packages (and sometimes in the fresh fish counter by the pound).  Look for whole legs, mini-cuts (bite-size portions to use in salads or stir-frys), chunks that look and taste like fresh crab meat for both hot and cold dishes and shredded, again for salads, stuffings, sandwiches, etc.  I can guarantee that you have been enjoying this super seafood in most eating establishments in any number of delicious ways for a number of years.

The crab cake recipe below is just one of my favorite ways to serve surimi. The cucumber sauce is a nice, light complement. Make the sauce ahead so the dried onions and herbs have a chance to macerate.

  • 1 pound chopped crab (surimi) meat
  • 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 6 scallions, white part only, chopped fine
  • ¼ cup 2% milk
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • Salt and fresh-ground white pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients except the flour and butter. Form into eight small round flat cakes with moistened hands. Place on a wax paper lined plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Place the flour in a flat dish, and lightly coat each crab cake on all sides. In a large skillet, preferably non-stick, melt the butter over medium heat. Cook the cakes about 4-5 minutes a side or until golden brown. Serve with the cucumber sauce. Serves 4.

Cucumber Sauce

  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and shredded
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onions
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced dried parsley or dill weed

Place the cucumbers in a sieve to drain well, pressing out some of the moisture. In a small bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients, and then fold in the cucumbers. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Makes about ¾ cup.

Resident Suzanne Jones is the author of “Readable, Doable and Delicious: Requested Recipes and Stories from the Past to the Present”. For a number of years, Suzanne wrote a weekly column in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel titled “You Asked For It”. For more information about her book, visit (www.past-presentrecipes.com).