Should Chefs Do Reality TV? A Discussion.

[I just chatted online with my friend Diana, who works in reality TV, about that very subject. Here it is, unedited (reality-style), for your consumption.]

AdamR218: i’m about to do a post about reality tv on my blog

Diana: ooh

AdamR218: i’m going to tell my readers never do it

AdamR218: that you always end up looking bad

Diana: haha

AdamR218: and even if oyu win

you won’t be that successful

The Night I Let Friends Cook For Me

Psychologically speaking, I’m a Jewish mother. I smother those I love with attention, worry, enthusiasm, judgment and, most of all, food. The food bit is a relatively recent development–I wasn’t smothering my high school friends with food–but now that I do cook and cook quite regularly, I have an almost compulsive need to feed others. I love having people over to dinner. Like you, you look hungry. Have you been eating? You’re too skinny. Can I offer you some leftover pasta? A semi-stale brownie? Let’s put some meat on your bones.

The consequence of this, however, is that I’m rarely eager to have others cook for me. It’s not that I’m ungrateful–the gesture is much appreciated–it’s just that, well, I’m a control freak. When you go to someone’s house for dinner, who knows what they’re going to cook? What if their pasta is gummy, how could I stand it? Or what if their food is undersalted? Can I sprinkle on some salt when they’re not looking? Keep some salt up my sleeve for that very purpose? What if they frisk me at the door?

This problem is amplified now that my food blog is basically my job. People KNOW that I take pictures of food and write about it–that’s my whole M.O.–so will they expect me to photograph what they cook and write about it? Will they be nervous and hushed as I take my first bite? Or will they go overboard, spending way too much time and money on a dinner that I may not even write about?

A Cookie Trick

As much as I miss Diana for her winning personality, I mostly miss her for her cookie sheets. It was with her cookie sheets that we first made the greatest cookies of our lives–you can read the recipe here. Meg of Megnut rejected these cookies when she tried them and called them “too thin,” but I still think they’re the best.

Yesterday I was all set to make them when I made a painful discovery: Diana, despite my efforts to thwart her, remembered to take her cookie sheets. Her cookie sheets, unlike mine, are flat with no sides and the cookies made on them came out perfect every time. The ones made on mine often got burnt around the edges or black underneath–my cookie sheets have sides.

I was almost ready to give up, when I had a “eureka” moment.

“What’s wrong?” asked Craig.

“I’m having a eurkea moment,” I answered.

The eureka was this: I could bake cookies on the BACK of my cookie sheets. Flip them upside down. Lay parchment across them and bake them that way. Look:


See what I mean?

So I made the batter as usual and, as I revealed in a previous post, I used an ice cream scoop to get the batter on to the sheets:


I also flattened them with a wet hand, a trick I learned from one of my regular TV shows (Barefoot Contessa)? They went into the 350 degree oven and I was going to switch the sheets after 9 minutes to cook another 9 minutes more, but at that point they were already a perfect golden brown and the edges were dark. So I made the executive decision to take them out 9 minutes early and guess what?

They were fantastic. I mean you saw that picture above, look at this one:


What more could you want from a cookie? And you can recreate these at home this weekend using my trick. Who needs Diana and her stinkin’ cookie sheets? From now on I will use her for her personality and nothing more.

Farewell Diana, Hello New Banner

A full year has passed since Diana and I moved into our apartment here in Park Slope. It’s been a fantastic year–with brunches, bargains, pork shoulders, trips to Maine, near-death experiences, and food in threes; there were discussions about ethical eating, pound cakes that threw up, and the best cookies of our lives–but life marches on. Yesterday, Diana moved to a new apartment (not too far, still in Park Slope, so she’ll be back!) and Craig officially moved in. It’s an exciting time, sure to bring lots of stories and anecdotes and recipes. But this post is dedicated to Diana: a fantastic roommate and an even more fantastic sport when it came to enduring all of my cooking experiments. She was a great audience and an even better judge and I hope that now that she’s moved out she’ll finally pick up where she left off before she lived with me and journey back into the kitchen. So farewell, Diana. We’ll miss you! [Note: for her farewell dinner, I made a roast chicken that’s both hers and Craig’s favorite…. it’s from the Chez Panisse cookbook, it’s the best.]

If the news of Diana’s departure upsets you more than you expected, take heart: as promised, there’s a new banner to enjoy. (Remember? As part of my new site design, there’ll be a new banner and a new color scheme each month.) If you can’t see it, trying emptying your cache and reloading. If that still doesn’t work, load it up temporarily in another browser. Thanks to Leah, Ben and my new illustrator Erin for doing great work on short notice. I love it.

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