Tag Archives: black pepper

South African Chocolate Pepper Cookies


Who doesn’t love chocolate? I know I do and since moving to Belgium my love of it has only increased. After all, there are so many delicious quality chocolates to be had. And quality is the key word here. I would rather have a single bite of a great piece of chocolate than unlimited amounts of a mediocre one. And the same rule applies for cooking with chocolate as it does for eating it straight up. If I wouldn’t eat it plain I certainly won’t use it in my cooking.

And as these cookies from Food 52 demonstrate, chocolate can be paired with surprising ingredients to create delicious treats. In this case freshly ground black pepper, yes black pepper, enhances the chocolate providing these cookies with a surprising pop of spice. The cookies are soft, slightly chewy and filled with flavor in every bite. And to increase the flavor quotient in them I use two types of chocolate, a bittersweet and a semi-sweet. These cookies are so good that you might want to make a double recipe.


8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped and divided
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped and divided

12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup brown sugar

large eggs

cups all-purpose flour

2/3 teaspoon baking soda

tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Melt 4 ounces of the bittersweet chocolate and 4 ounces of the semi-sweet chocolate and set aside.
  • Using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat the butter until light and airy.
  • Add the sugar and beat until completely incorporated into butter.
  • Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda.
  • With the mixer set on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to to butter mixture, beating until just incorporated.
  • Add the melted chocolate into the butter mixture and beat until just incorporated.
  • Stir in the remaining chopped chocolate and the ground pepper.
  • Cover and refrigerate until dough is cool and firm.
  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Drop the batter by the tablespoonful onto the baking sheet, about 1 inch apart on sheet.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until crisp on outside but still chewy inside.

Yields: 40 cookies


Chinese Chicken w/ Black Pepper Sauce



It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

I really love Chinese and Chinese inspired food but here in my little corner of Belgium it imply isn’t as ubiquitous as it is in the United States. Yes there are restaurants that serve Chinese food and a few of them are actually pretty good but if you want home delivery for a cozy winter evening at home, think again. Virtually impossible. So my solution is to make it myself.

This recipe comes from Food 52 and I’ve tweaked it a bit to include more vegetables but the flavors remain true. Small pieces of chicken cook up quickly and by using pre-made oyster sauce as a base, this meal comes together in a snap. Do check the potency of your black pepper though and adjust accordingly. The over whelming response in my house is that this recipe is a keeper. And it’s fast; faster than take-out any night of the week.


Serves 4

For the Stir-Fry:

1 pound boneless chicken thigh

3tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup chopped green onion, white and light green parts only

cups frozen mixed vegetables

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon peanut oil


For the Black Pepper Sauce:

1/2cup oyster sauce

teaspoons dark sweet soy sauce

teaspoon  dry sherry

1 tablespoon black pepper

  • Combine the sauce ingredients in small bowl and set aside.
  • Place the cornstarch in a large plastic bag.
  • Dice chicken into 1/2-inch pieces.
  • Add the chicken to the cornstarch, seal the bag then toss to coat.
  • Heat 1/2 cup  of the oil in a wok set over medium-high heat and heat until it shimmers.
  • Working in batches, fry the coated chicken pieces in hot oil until golden and cooked through.
  • Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from the oil and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all of the chicken has been cooked.
  • Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the wok and add the green onion, cooking until translucent.
  • Stir in the mixed vegetables and toss to heat.
  • Return the chicken to the wok then stir in the sauce, cooking until everything is hot.

Serve with hot steamed rice.

Serves 4

Buttermilk Biscuits With Strawberry Mint Butter


These biscuits and butter makes for an easy and sophisticated weekend breakfast or brunch.  If you let the butter sit on the kitchen counter overnight you can easily whip up this dish for breakfast the next morning.  When served alongside a fruit salad and bacon or sausage you have a complete meal that is sure to please.  Living in Europe means that all of our butter is European-style with a higher fat content than most butters found in the United States. It is possible to find European-style butters in some grocery stores and if you can find it, use it.  The results are that much richer.  I love the combination of strawberries and mint this time of year when the strawberries are ripe and plentiful.  If the berries aren’t perfectly ripe look for another fruit. Other possible combinations include cherries and orange zest or blueberries and lemon zest.  Simply substitute an equal amount of fruit, an equal amount of zest for the mint, and omit the black pepper.

This biscuit recipe is courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen.  Like most of their recipes it is fool-proof and comes together quickly.  If you don’t have cake flour you can substitute 7/8 of a cup of all-purpose flour and 1/8 of a cup of cornstarch.  Make sure the butter is cold and do not overwork the dough; the less handling you do the fluffier the biscuits.


For the biscuits:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons cold butter, cubed

3/4 cup cold buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the flours, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a food processor and pulse six times to combine.

Sprinkle the butter cubes on top of the flour and pulse until the mixture comes together and resembles a fine meal.

Transfer the dough into a large mixing bowl.

Add the buttermilk and use a wooden spoon to combine until the dough is soft and sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board and pat into a large circle.

Using a sharp knife, divide the dough into 12 even pieces.

Roll each piece into a ball and place on a large baking sheet.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until brown.

For the butter:

1/2 cup softened butter

1/3 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries

2 tablespoons fresh mint, minced

1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

  • Place the butter in a small bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy.
  • Add the strawberries, mint, and peppercorns and blend until combined.

Yields:  12 biscuits and 3/4 cup of butter

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