We’re about to find out. See, I had this idea of buying cookie tins and making a whole assortment of holiday cookies to bring to friends around L.A. a la Melissa Clark’s latest NYT piece. But then I thought: it’s Covid, am I really going to drive all over L.A. dropping off cookies when there’s a stay-at-home order? Plus: if I’m going to make a full assortment of cookies, isn’t that a lot of butter and a lot of time and, honestly, wouldn’t I be better served making the cookies for myself and taking pictures and telling YOU about them? I’m a terrible person; good thing people don’t read this part anyway.
Finding out someone’s favorite color doesn’t do much for me. “Oh teal? How interesting,” I say as I fall asleep standing up, collapsing into a heap and waiting for someone to kick me awake. But finding out someone’s favorite flavors is a different story. For my friend Michael’s birthday dinner, this past weekend, I texted his husband John to find out what kind of desserts he likes and John texted back: “He loves banana cream pie and pretty much anything peanut butter.” Banana and peanut butter: what a fascinating window into Michael’s soul! As I contemplated my own favorite dessert flavors (definitely anything almond; mostly because I grew up eating rainbow cookies which are made with almond paste), I started flipping through Karen DeMasco’s Craft of Baking–which was partially responsible for the crisp I just posted–and I stumbled upon the perfect Michael dessert recipe: Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream.
This is a week of recipes where the finished dish doesn’t look good, but tastes really good, so I lead with a picture of something else. Yesterday it was Kachin Chicken Curry with a picture of a mortar and pestle, today it’s No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies from Baked Explorations with an image of peanut butter in a measuring cup. You’ll understand why when we get to the end.
Do you like oatmeal? I love it. On Sunday mornings, sometimes I’ll make my Sunday Morning Oatmeal where I cook the oatmeal in milk, stir in butter, and top it with nuts, dried fruit and honey. When I’m feeling innovative, I’ll noodle around with the components and come up with something like my Oatmeal with Ginger, Coconut Milk and Lime. Mostly, though, I just cook oatmeal and then stir something into it–which is what this post is about.
The commercial goes something like this: a female college student unwraps a package sent to her from her mother, who’s on the phone, standing near a window where sunlight illuminates her smiling face. The girl’s face soon lights up too when she discovers the gift that her mother so thoughtfully sent her way: a jar of Jif peanut butter. “I love you mommy,” says the girl or maybe it’s the mom who says, “I love you.” Either way, I watched this commercial at the gym, while running on a treadmill, and I remembered it. And I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
Meet your new favorite weeknight dinner. It asks only a few things of you: that you have a cluster of esoteric ingredients on hand (chili paste, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil), and also a few familiar ones (ginger, soy sauce, peanut butter). It asks you to boil water and to blend things up in your blender. But approximately 20 minutes after you start, you’ll have the plate of food that you see above and, on a hot summer’s eve, you’ll find that very satisfying.
Inspiration strikes at the strangest moments. Like Newton under the apple tree, you might be daydreaming about “The Golden Girls” episode where Dorothy’s friend has a lesbian crush on Rose and BOOM–you’ve invented gravity!
Such was the case for me, last week, while grading student work in my Gotham Food Writing class: I had the sudden, inexplicable urge to stick a banana in a hot dog bun, schmear it with peanut butter, drizzle on honey and call it “The Elvis Dog.” This was a great moment in human history.
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.