put it in my mouth


THE IMPORTANCE OF BRANDING AND FEWER EGGS: NEIMAN MARCUS’S CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES AND MOMOFUKU’S BLUEBERRY AND CREAM COOKIES
October 24, 2010, 2:43 pm
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Due, perhaps, to a few too many semesters at an expensive institution of higher education and capitalism, I recently had the inclination to bake two of the toniest cookies of all time: Neiman Marcus’s chocolate chip cookies and Momofuku’s blueberry and cream cookies. The cookies were pretty tasty, but the more important takeaway here has to do with metrics, not branding: You should always make cookies with fewer eggs than called for.

According to urban legend, some lady bought the recipe for Neiman Marcus’s chocolate chip cookies for $250 (originally thinking that she was going to get it for $2.50). Outraged by the rip-off, she flouted IP protocol and sent the recipe to all of her friends; there have been several variations of the recipe circulating for ages. Neiman Marcus finally decided to give the thing away for free and published their recipe online. And? It is pretty good—I like the addition of espresso powder!—but the trick here is actually that the recipe calls for one less egg than usual. (By “usual,” I mean “Tollhouse.”) This makes the cookies super thick! Plus a little crispier on the outside but still chewy on the inside.

The same can be said of Christina Tosi’s recipe for blueberry and cream cookies (Tosi is the mastermind pastry chef behind Momofuku Milk Bar). I altered the recipe, substituting blueberries with cranberries. Like the Neiman Marcus batch, these were pretty good! The secret? Not the milk crumbs, which Bon Appetit makes a big fuss about. Rather, fewer eggs!

While the recipe calls for two eggs, this is fewer than standard cookie recipes, based on the ratio of eggs-to-flour—usually, you’ll see about one egg for every cup of flour, whereas both the Tosi recipe and the NM recipe both cut this in half. Also, it should be noted that the Momofuku cookies took too long to make for what they were—making these took nearly two days from start to finish, which is way, way longer than any cookie should take.

So going forward, fewer eggs! Vegans should see this as a minor victory! And there are few victories for vegans.



FROM THE ARCHIVES: NO-KNEAD BREAD
September 13, 2010, 4:27 pm
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I know I’m making no-knead bread about four years late, but let me tell you: it is legit.

Jim Lahey’s recipe, adapted for the Times, is here.



EGGPLANT AND ZUCCHINI PASTA SALAD
September 1, 2010, 7:59 pm
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Suffice it to say that there have not been many meals eaten at home over the past three months, though I now have some pretty informed opinions about Thai delivery options in the neighborhood that Yelp mysteriously refers to as “Manhattan Valley.” It is good to turn on the stove again, even if it is for something simple, because it turns out that simple is still good.

1 medium eggplant
1 medium zucchini
½ lb. whole wheat pasta
½ lemon
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Chop the eggplant and zucchini, and place in a bowl. Sprinkle salt and a little bit of olive oil over the vegetables, and toss until evenly coated. Roast on a foil-lined baking sheet for about 20 to 30 minutes, until they are toasted and soft. Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Wait until the vegetables and pasta are cool, then toss with a vinaigrette made with the lemon, a little bit of olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Makes enough for two rather hungry people or three less hungry people.



HOMEMADE OREOS: CLOYING OR SICK-RIDICULOUS?
May 27, 2010, 1:08 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The answer to the above is sick-ridiculous, but it took me a minute to come to this conclusion. I’ve wanted to make oreos for a while, but what kind of an asshole would make oreos? You could get a really big box of Double Stuf at Duane Reade for $3.99 and they would be delicious. Making them from scratch seemed a little too precious, a little too much.

Whatever. I’m over it, and I’m glad, because these were awesome! I got the recipe from Wayne Bachman’s “Retro Desserts,” which is posted here. I back Deb’s spot-on suggestion that the sugar be reduced to about a cup; I also added a pinch more salt than was called for, which is a move I stand by. Also, making the cookies a day ahead is the way to go, because it allows them to become the right amount of stale.

Also, for those who are curious, the filling of the original Oreo cookie is no longer made from pork fat—it’s made with an undisclosed mix of vegetable oils in the Kraft/Nabisco factory in Richmond, Virginia. Knowledge is power!



MERRIAM-WEBSTER: HOPELESSLY OUT-OF-TOUCH OR WAY AHEAD OF THE CURVE?
May 9, 2010, 9:52 pm
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Also, I’m not quite sure why Merriam-Webster believes that the noun “stew” is more commonly used to describe a whorehouse than it is to describe something akin to a thick soup, but I am prepared to roll with it:

Main Entry: 1stew

Pronunciation: \ˈstü, ˈstyü\

Function: noun

Etymology: Middle English stewe heated room for a steam bath, from Anglo-French estuve, from Vulgar Latin *extufa — more at stove

Date: 13th century

1 obsolete : a utensil used for boiling
2 : a hot bath
3 a : whorehouse b : a district of bordellos —usually used in plural
4 a : fish or meat usually with vegetables prepared by stewing b (1) : a heterogeneous mixture (2) : a state of heat and congestion
5 : a state of excitement, worry, or confusion



TOMATO CHICKEN AND RICE STEW
May 9, 2010, 9:45 pm
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I never really got the appeal of chicken and rice soup—the rice always felt lost in too much broth, and chicken noodle always seemed a better, wiser alternative. This soup changes everything: add in some tomato and make sure to use brown rice, everything melds together in the way you really need it to, and then you’ve something truly spectacular. And I write this with the full understanding that it is way past chicken soup season.

1 whole chicken (about 4 lbs.)
4 cups broth
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
4 carrots
1 onion
3 stalks celery
1 ½ c. brown rice*
3 bay leaves
Garlic, as much as you are willing to tolerate
Cayenne pepper
Salt to taste

Chop up the vegetables and mash the garlic. Combine all ingredients in a very large soup pot. Add water to the pot until the chicken is fully covered. Bring the soup to a boil, and then reduce heat to a slow boil. Keep this up for an hour. When the chicken meat is about to fall off the bone, remove the chicken from the soup and drain in a colander until cool. Remove the meat, discarding the bones and skin. Chop meat and return to the pot. Stir and add salt if necessary.

* Use only 1 c. of brown rice if you want it more like soup and less like stew.



QUICHE, PLEASE!
April 11, 2010, 1:39 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I used to live a few blocks south of Tartine on Guerrero Street in San Francisco. Every morning, I forced myself to cross from the west to the east side as soon as I left my apartment; if I didn’t, it was impossible not to stop in for a croissant or a morning bun or both at once. The amount of care and butter that place puts into its pastries is truly extraordinary. You can smell it from across the street.

I recently made the quiche recipe from the Tartine cookbook, and I did a little freestyling on some extra pastry crusts. These were mildly less decadent—no crème fraiche—but they ended up being pretty delicious. The first is a variation on a quiche my mom used to make; the second uses olives, because olives make everything a little bit better.

TARTINE’S FLAKY TART DOUGH

1 tsp. salt
2/3 c. very cold water
3 c. plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 c. plus 5 tbsp. butter, also very cold

Two things to mention: 1. I made this in a food processor. You can make it entirely by hand, by cutting the butter into the flour with sharp knives or a fork, and then mashing in the water with a fork. This approach totally works, but your forearms will be sore. Be sure not to over mix, no matter what method you use. 2. This makes enough for two crusts—either pie crusts or tart shells.

In a small bowl, dissolve the salt in the water. Put this in the fridge or the freezer until you use it to make sure that it stays cool. Put the flour into a food processor. Cut up the butter into small chunks and scatter them over the flour in the food processor. Pulse until the flour and the butter form clumps, with some small chunks of butter visible. Add the water and pulse until the mixture is a big ball. Do not overmix. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, and form into two balls. Press the balls into disks about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least two hours or up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out until it’s about ¼ inch thick, or a bit larger than your pie pan. Press dough into the pan. Line with parchment paper and add pie weights. Bake for about 25 minutes. Take out the pie weights, and return the shell to the oven. Cook another ten minutes until the bottom is golden.

ASPARAGUS PARMESAN QUICHE

1 ½ lbs. asparagus
1 c. grated parmesan cheese
½ c. whole milk
½ c. heavy cream
3 eggs
salt
cayenne
nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Chop the asparagus, discarding the ends. Grate the parmesan. Steam the asparagus for a few minutes, just until it turns a brighter green. Toss the parmesan and the asparagus together, and place in a precooked pie shell. Whisk together the milk and cream, then whisk in the eggs one at a time. Whisk in salt, cayenne, and nutmeg (pinches of each). Pour the custard over the asparagus and parmesan. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the top is browned and a sharp knife comes out clear (but maybe a little wet). Let rest for at least ten or fifteen minutes before serving.

TOMATO OLIVE TART

½ c. grape tomatoes
½ c. Kalamata olives
½ c. whole milk
½ c. heavy cream
3 eggs
2 cloves garlic
salt
pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Slice the tomatoes in half and chop up the olives. Scatter in the bottom of a precooked tart shell. Whisk together the milk and cream, then whisk in the eggs one at a time. Whisk in salt, pepper, and pressed garlic. Pour the custard into the tarte. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the top is browned and a sharp knife comes out clear (but maybe a little wet). Let rest for at least ten or fifteen minutes before serving.