I have the good fortune to be friends with a guy named Dan Fortune, a DJ with an incredible knack for hunting down obscure tracks–mostly show tune oriented–performed by unexpected artists (Stevie Wonder singing “Hello Young Lovers” from “The King & I,” Nina Simone singing a medley of songs from “Hair,” James Brown singing “September Song.”) Dan’s talent for weaving these songs together into a cogent stream of music has won him a large New York following; and because of that following, Dan often gets asked to DJ celebrity events. And, being his friend, he’s now invited me to two: one was Chris March’s book party (remember Chris March from “Project Runway”?) and the other, more recent event was Michael Musto’s party celebrating 25 years at The Village Voice.
I care about you, readers, and I don’t want you to go through this weekend without cookies. Everyone deserves cookies, especially on the weekend.
The cookies I’m going to tell you about may already be familiar to you. The first, Lucy’s Salty Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies, were cookies I told you about in December. Remember I went to a cookie party? And how I was assigned Pfeffernussen? And how my Pfeffernussen were a bit tough and unwieldy, but how the best cookies at the party–salty chocolate peanut butter cookies–were so good I tracked down the recipe for you? Well now I’ve made those cookies myself and they are still mind-bogglingly good.
Hear those distant drums? A great battle is about to begin: the Great Soup Battle of 2010.
As readers may remember, last week I announced a big contest on my blog. Submit your favorite soup recipe–it didn’t have to be original, just a soup recipe that you love–and the best one would win a $450 VitaMix blender. Then 325 of you, that’s right 325 of you, submitted recipes. And little old me had to wade through them to pick the best. It was hard work, not for the faint of heart, but I wound up choosing the three most intriguing; recipes that, for whatever reason, grabbed my attention and made me hungry to try them. Then I invited my friends Diana Fithian (an enthusiastic home cook) and Leland Scruby (who works at the French Culinary Institute) over to help me make them. The three of us, plus Craig, would sample these soups and carefully choose the winner.
Not long ago, my friend Diana had a friend visit from Italy and this friend–who went to college with Diana in the U.S. (Brown University, to be precise)–was incredibly eager to eat an American brunch again. “She was really excited about brunch,” Diana related to me later. “She says it’s one of the things she misses most about the U.S.”
A few days ago, while eating brunch at the Old Town Cafe in Bellingham, Washington, it occurred to me: if I were going to tell a non-American how to best experience American food culture, the meal I’d suggest (and this is a brand new revelation) is breakfast.
Let me say right off the bat: this is not a great recipe.
It has the potential to be a great recipe–I really wanted it to be a great recipe–but as it stands right now, it’s in need of some serious tweaking. And that tweaking may just be the simple addition of a Tablespoon of olive oil, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
[Hey, this is Adam The Amateur Gourmet. I’m on vacation in Barcelona, Spain and while I’m gone I’ve asked some awesome people to fill in for me. Now you all know my friend Diana Fithian, don’t you? She’s such a popular fixture of this blog, she deserves her own sub-category. Diana is currently working on a play, but if I say anything more, she’ll break my legs. Take it away, Diana!]
Last week my fiancé Mark and I went upstate to Kingston, New York for a quick summer getaway. Where we stayed was beautiful but pretty rustic, with no internet or cell phone service, and at first we were afraid that after a few days we’d start re-enacting scenes from “The Shining.”
My Twitter followers are a fervent bunch. A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was in the East Village, getting a haircut at Sei Tomoko (the best haircut deal in town), and thinking of going to Porchetta for lunch. “Ooooh!” they cheered, “you’ve gotta go!” “I’m jealous!” “Porchetta is AMAZING.” Then, later, when I confessed that I skipped Porchetta for Hummus Place–where I had a lighter, healthier lunch–the Twitter crowd was not happy. “Boooo!” they booed. “Grrrr!” they growled. “Hiss!” they hissed. (Wow, this post sounds like a children’s book.) I thought they’d unfollow me and spurn my name forever, but now they should be appeased: I went with Diana to Porchetta for lunch last week and now I get what got them so worked up.
If someone asks my friend Diana what I got her for her birthday this year, she’s very likely to answer: “Beans. I got beans for my birthday.”
That sounds like a negative thing, but in the case of Diana’s birthday dinner, it was entirely positive. These beans, like the beans Jack trades his cow for, were no ordinary beans: they were magic beans. Specifically: the Barefoot Contessa’s Baked Beans, which bake in the oven for six hours with bacon and ketchup and maple syrup and come out a deep rusty red and taste smoky, zippy and intense. In other words: the best beans of your life.