Scott Neuman enjoys cooking meals for his family, even though he is busy and works long hours in his restaurant furniture business. He and his wife Rhonda live in Overland Park, where they raised two adult children.
Q: Where did your love of cooking come from?
Both my mom and dad both loved to cook. My mom always baked bread, so I didn’t even taste sliced, store-bought bread until I went to college.
Q: What are some of your family’s favorite dishes?
After my wife and daughter went to France, they asked for boeuf bourguignon like they had enjoyed there, so I perfected my recipe and make it often. Family favorites also include spaghetti pie and the salted caramels and kettle corn that I make. Fresh, homemade salsa is a hit, especially during the summer, when I make two or three batches each week.
Q: Tell us about your chocolate chip cookies.
I wanted to bake a great cookie, so I tried maybe 20 different recipes before finally hitting on this one. Then I tweaked that recipe a little, so now my family and friends think it is just perfect and I bake a batch just about any time they are coming over. It is a little unusual as it uses a combination of cake flour and bread flour instead of just all-purpose flour. Also, the sea salt on top of each cookie is a great flavor addition.
When making the cookies, always use the best ingredients you can get. For example, I switched from regular grocery store butter to European butter that I buy at a membership wholesale store. And I think using top quality Madagascar vanilla makes a real difference.
For the bittersweet chocolate discs or chunks, buy 60 percent cocoa ones and no matter whether you are using semisweet chocolate or bittersweet chocolate, use a good quality chocolate.
For the best flavor, I think it is best to make the cookie dough one day, then cover and refrigerate the dough for a day or two before baking them. Be sure to measure carefully. In fact, when making these cookies, I weigh the dough for each one so the cookies are very consistent in size.
Q: Do you have a tip for others who are busy and want to save time when cooking dinner?
After a long day at work, I am often planning our dinner as I am driving home. However, when buying the pantry ingredients for my favorite recipes, I always buy enough for two batches, then store one set of those staple ingredients together in the pantry. It makes it easier to prepare our favorite recipes for dinner.
Q: Do you have a suggestion for those just learning to cook?
Don’t give up. You cannot succeed without failures.
Scott’s Spectacular Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 1½ dozen 5-inch cookies
2 cups cake flour
1 2/3 cups bread flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 cup + 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 ½ cups bittersweet chocolate discs
Coarse sea salt, to sprinkle on top before baking
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, stir together the flours, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
Using a heavy-duty stand mixer with a paddle attachment, at medium high speed, beat together the butter and sugars until the mixture is very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
Reduce the speed to very low and add the flour mixture, blending until just combined.
Gently, using a wooden spoon, mix in the chocolate.
Using a large cookie scoop, dip out a ball of the dough about the size of a golf ball. Each ball of dough should weigh 3 ½ ounces. Press each ball of dough into a biscuit cutter so all of the cookies are the same size and bake uniformly.
Arrange the cookies about 3 to 4 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. (Each baking sheet will only hold about 6 cookies; do not crowd.) Sprinkle each cookie with coarse sea salt.
Bake until golden brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. Do not overbake, as baked cookies should still be soft. Allow the cookies to cool on the sheet for 10 minutes. Remove the cookies to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Tip: Substitute semisweet chocolate chips for the bittersweet discs for a more traditional flavor.