The internet can be an overwhelming place when it comes to finding a chocolate chip cookie recipe. You type “chocolate chip cookie” into a Google search and suddenly you’re bombarded with thousands of recipes featuring various techniques, many of which ask more of you than you’re willing to give right now. There are recipes that have you age the dough for twenty-four hours, there are recipes that have you melt the butter, others that have you bring it to room temperature (which, in this L.A. heat, is basically the same thing).
Here’s my most controversial opinion: almost all chocolate chip cookie recipes are the same — with varying amounts of brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking soda, salt, chocolate — and you don’t need the best one or the latest one; you just need a very good one. Look no further.
Is there anything better than a hand-written recipe?
When my mom got married, her father’s co-workers gave her a bunch of handwritten recipes that she still has. And here on Eliza Island, where we’re on our last full day of summer vacation (which we’re lucky to have, considering what’s going on in the world), it’s not just the crab cake recipes that are handwritten. The dessert recipes are handwritten too.
A year or two ago, I got rid of my roasting pan. Not because I’m anti-roasting pan, or because I needed the space, but because I realized that my roasting pan had a non-stick surface and that I’d been scratching it up with a metal spatula over the years and that there was a teensy, tiny chance I’d been exposing myself and my loved ones to carcinogens whenever I roasted a chicken and that we’re all going to die and it’s all my fault.
So these days, when I roast a chicken, I rely on my largest cast iron skillet. Frankly, I think it works better. And I riff on the beloved Thomas Keller roast chicken recipe, the one I’ve been making for the past eight years, combining assorted root vegetables and potatoes and garlic in the bottom of the pan with a splash of vegetable oil, salt, and pepper, and then topping it with a chicken that I stuff with thyme and garlic, also rub with vegetable oil, before sprinkling with lots of salt and pepper. Only, I’ve been much bolder with a certain ingredient to really make my roast chicken shine. Can you guess what it is?
[Dirt Candy’s Amanda Cohen isn’t just one of the best chefs going today, she’s also a fantastic writer. Here’s her take on a sauce you met earlier this week, only with her unique twist. Take it away, Amanda!]
It’s not one of French cuisine’s mother sauces, nor is it a “daughter” sauce, but it is my favorite sauce and it was actually invented by a woman (Clémence Lefeuvre) so that already puts it one up on fussy old Escoffier. It’s beurre blanc (white butter) sauce and it will rock your world.
[Sometimes I think that Craig’s dad, Steve Johnson, writes more popular posts than I do when he’s at the helm of my site. Here he is, joining the Sauce Week fray, with a Lemon-Caper Beurre Blanc that I hope he makes for me the next time I visit Bellingham. Take it away, Steve!]
Several years ago, when I was developing a real interest in home cooking, my friend and I took an evening cooking class sponsored by our local community college. The recipes and instruction were from Joe Merkling, then chef of the restaurant at the Bellwether Hotel in Bellingham. The dishes he demonstrated that evening included Panko-crusted chicken breasts with a butter sauce. The sauce we made was a classic French beurre blanc (white butter), enhanced with lemon juice, capers and parsley. It was so delicious, so decadent and so rich that when Adam Roberts, The Amateur Gourmet, invited me to do a post during “Sauce Week”, I jumped at the chance. What a perfect excuse to make a sauce that uses a whole cup of butter, heavy cream and herbs!
While Craig was gone these past nine days, I found myself watching a lot of True Blood on HBO Go. I’m still finishing up Season One, so no spoilers please, but I found myself quite choked up at a moment that was a subtle one, as far as the series goes. Sookie, the protagonist, is mourning the loss of a relative (see, I’m not spoiling it either) who–before dying–made a pecan pie, half of which remains in the refrigerator. At the wake, Sookie freaks out when someone tries to remove it; at the end of the episode, she eats the pecan pie and cries. What got me was this notion that through our food we live on even after our death. The ingredients that we use are merely objects, but how we combine those objects–with our touch, our sense of taste–is a manifestation of our spirit. It’s also true of the recipes we leave behind. And so, in the real world, we mourned the loss of Italian cooking legend Marcella Hazan this weekend and last night I could think of no greater tribute than to make her celebrated tomato sauce with butter–a sauce that every home cook should know.
Now we all know the concept of the student beating the master and I don’t want to imply that my friend Diana was ever my student or that I was ever her master (though I was her roommate, which is kind of the same thing with me); what I’d like to imply, however, is that Diana–who was a timid cook when I lived with her–is now giving me a run for my money. I remember her not wanting to make a salad in front of me, back then, because she thought I’d be judgmental. Since then, and since moving in with her husband, she’s had a chance to hone her chops and by all accounts her chops are very good. Case in point: check out her potatoes.
Movie theater popcorn is a total treat, worse for you than a Big Mac (I’m making that up but I’m sure it’s true), but one of the best parts about going to the movies. I always get a small movie theater popcorn and a small soda (Sprite) despite the fact that, the way it’s priced, you can get a medium-sized popcorn and soda for $0.50 more. That’s how they trick you.