What’s a birthday dinner without birthday cake?
There has to be cake. And after polling Craig on his preferred dinner option (the aforementioned birthday lasagna), I queried him about cake. His response: “Yellow cake with chocolate frosting, please.” That’s when a hyperlink appeared in my brain sending me to this cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen.
What’s that expression about teachers learning from their students? Is there an expression like that? There really should be.
You may recall that for my cookbook I have an intern named Tyla working with me. Tyla herself has a food blog called “Learning To Live Without A Microwave” and on her blog last week I saw an excellent recipe for “Zucchini Saute with Toasted Almonds.” Now Tyla got the recipe from my friend Deb of Smitten Kitchen who titled the post “My Favorite Side Dish”; Deb, in turn, got it from The Red Cat restaurant. (Another game of recipe telephone.) But the point is that I discovered it from Tyla and it’s such a killer recipe it’s time you discovered it from me; it takes just a few minutes and it’s a “wow-er.”
There’s a very hip restaurant in my neighborhood called Joseph Leonard; you go there, and everyone else is either more attractive or more wealthy than you. There’s a very cool bathroom with a medicine cabinet over the sink that has Q-tips, Altoids and tampons (I bet women wish more restaurant bathrooms had tampons; or maybe they do and that’s just a secret between women and restaurants?) and on every table a little jar of cornichons. It’s that little jar of cornichons (not the tampons) that I’d like to talk about today. It led to my own table decorating revelation, one involving sugar snap peas, garlic and lots of white wine vinegar.
Sometimes a recipe is so intriguing, so mysteriously alluring, so strange that there’s nothing you can do but make it to see what it tastes like. That’s precisely what happened when I saw this St. Louis Gooey Butter Cake on what’s becoming my #1 favorite internet recipe resource, Smitten Kitchen. I’m friends with Deb–we ate noodles together a few weeks ago–so I hope she doesn’t mind the fact that I’m cooking her entire ouvere here on my blog. I feel ok about it, though, because she adapted this recipe from another food world great, Melissa Clark. It’s like the recipe version of telephone (not in the Lady Gaga sense) and this recipe is one you’ll probably want to try too for the same reason I did; when you see how it’s made you’re going to ask: “What the heck’s that gonna taste like?” (In this scenario, you’re Marge Gunderson from Fargo.)
My friend Lisa was there at the very beginning of this blog. Six years ago, she and I would have debates about the worthiness of olives, we’d sing songs about pumpkin cake, and often we’d cook together. Then I moved far away to a country called Brooklyn and even though Lisa and I still saw each other socially, we’d rarely cook together. Three years passed. In that time, my cooking improved immeasurably and Lisa got engaged. Life is funny that way. And now that I’m back in Manhattan and Lisa still has an appetite I decided to invite Lisa, her fiance Eric, our friend Ricky and his new boyfriend David over for a sumptuous feast. Only problem: Lisa still is (and always has been) a vegetarian. What would I make for dinner?
Tina Fey coined a catchphrase on “30 Rock” based on something her daughter said that applied the moment I saw Smitten Kitchen’s recipe and pictures for Russian Black Bread: “I want to go to there.”
This is baking weather, peoples. What better on a chilly day than to fill the apartment/house/shack with the smell of something baking in the oven? Nothing better, I say, nothing.
Last weekend I had you make a chocolate cake and many of you came through; but this time I bet even more of you will join in. Why? Because those cookies you see above are maddeningly awesome; they come from the brilliant Smitten Kitchen website (seriously, is there a prettier website alive?) and the cookies are, to quote Michael Jackson, devilishly good. Let me put it in pretentious foodie terms: the salinity of the salt plays off the sweetness of the white chocolate, and the oats create a texture that is substantive without being heavy. And I took ’em out a bit early so they were actually pretty chewy (which I like) not so much crispy. So I guess you could call ’em “Deb’s Chewy Crispy Salted White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies” but that’d be a mouthful.
Your assignment: make the cookies. Here’s the recipe: the recipe. Take a picture of yourself or your loved ones with the finished cookies and upload the pictures to the Amateur Gourmet Photo Group on Flickr and prepare to see yourself on the blog on Monday. Millions of people will ogle you and talk about how sexy you are and how much they love your cookies. What could be better?
Have a salty, chewy, white chocolate-filled weekend.