Bouchon Bakery chocolate chip cookies

March 10, 2013 § 17 Comments

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I never was much of a chocolate chip cookie person.  In our house growing up, a chocolate chip cookie never emerged from the oven.  Not a single time.  We were given fresh baked bread or rye flatbreads with cheese after school, not cookies.  And, while I know I whined about it, I secretly thought it was kind of awesome (and on the whole, I’ll still take fresh baked bread over a cookie, or very nearly anything else, any day).

My friends had chocolate chip cookies that they would sometimes share with me, of course, or as we got older we would go to their houses and bake them (we did try to bake cookies at my house one time, and they turned out terribly, a melted puddle of disaster instead of cookies.  Thus it was that our oven truly never made a batch of chocolate chip cookies, at least not successfully).  And I’d eat them.  I was a kid, they were sweet, it was cool.  But, I never really got to like them.

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In college, my sophomore year roommate was a champion cookie baker.  She baked cookies whenever she wanted to avoid anything, which meant a heck of a lot of cookie baking.  From her, I learned that age-old teenage rite of eating half the cookie dough as we baked (it’s a wonder we never got salmonella, given she wasn’t exactly using the highest quality eggs), resulting in batches of only about a dozen cookies that would actually get baked.  And the baked cookies, again, were fine and whatever, but I never started to crave the cookies.

Nor did the signature chocolate chip cookies made by the boy I started dating that year change that.  Of course, these ones were odd cookies that didn’t taste particularly good unbaked, or warm, or at room temperature, but were at their best refrigerated and then soaked in milk.  Maybe he had accidentally switched to copying a biscotti recipe halfway through writing the cookie recipe down, or something.  Either way, I never saw what others seemed to see in chocolate chip cookies.  I know so many people who will get excited about a chocolate chip cookie of any quality.  But, I never found any cookie good enough to write home about.

Until, that is, my 5th year living in Boston when we moved to an apartment in Jamaica Plain near a hole in the wall little bakery named Canto 6.  A bakery with which we promptly fell in love.  They make excellent sandwiches with fresh bread and homemade ingredients as well as soups and vegetable quiches and the occasional thin slice of pizza with chevre and olives.  They make croissants that would hold their own in Paris, as well as meltingly tender scones, buttery Brioche topped with cheeses and honeys and fruits and other goodies, yogurt cakes, and olive rolls, and berry galettes, and sour cherry crumble pies.  All of which are ridiculously high quality and delicious. « Read the rest of this entry »

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Molasses spice cookies (grain free)

December 17, 2012 § 13 Comments

molassess cookie and milk

Life is really crazy right now, friends.  I honestly can’t quite keep up.  There’s holiday hustle, and major, major work bustle, and there are current events and insanity and life, really.  It just is crazy.

But in the midst of so much action, so much feeling, so much, I keep having these moments where my breath catches in my throat and I almost suffocate from the enormity of the sense that I am so blessed.  So, so blessed.  These stresses and worries are privileges, each a reminder.

The packages to be mailed, the gifts to be made, the notes to be sent show that I have people I love and who love me, wonderful, meaningful relationships to attend to.

The work to be done, the daunting decisions to be made, the worried conversations about scenario after scenario at all hours of the day mean that we have work, we are taking risks, we’re in a position to take risks, we have each other to talk to about it, and so much enthusiastic support from others that it’s almost absurd.

The emotions, oh the emotions, the tears of sadness and fury at the state of the world remind me that I care, that I’m able to care, and that I don’t have to be complacent.

molasses cookies

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Hazelnut coconut grahams

October 16, 2012 § 15 Comments

Joel has a, shall we say, ever so slightly suboptimal habit of eating in the middle of the night.  (Sorry for spilling the beans, honey!  Does it help that I find it cute?)  So, if we ever happen to have tortilla chips (with a hint of lime) or cookies in the house, which we do on occasion, I frequently find they disappear at a rate much higher than they should based on the scientific observations I make of them being eaten.  I also find crumbs on the counter in the morning.

It’s something I can’t say I really identify with.  Not because I’m anywhere near being above bad habits or in possession of an iron will.  But rather because, if I wake up in the middle of the night, I definitely don’t feel hungry.  I’m more likely to feel like a partially brain dead mole, and flail about blindly because my eyes are still stuck shut, and mutter things like, “the tortoise is about to submerge, we must save the depot!” or “do you think the otters need more water in their bedroom?  And, I think they should each have their own kibble bowl.”

I won’t be thinking about snacks.

When I am thinking about snacks, my general strategy with regards to preventing unwanted or unnecessary snacking is to keep snack foods out of the house.  If you need a snack, eat a piece of fruit or nuts.

Except, this apparently makes me a meany-pants.  Or a meany-face.  Or perhaps even a meany-face with mean pants.  And I don’t want to be any of those things.  Plus, let’s face it, every now and again, a crunchy little bite of snack does seem awfully appealing (though still not in the middle of the night!), no matter how much we oppose snacks on principle.  Principles only go so far when your tummy makes a frightening grumbly bellowy noise and it’s still 3 hours until supper. « Read the rest of this entry »

Slumdog Millionaire’s Shortbread

March 23, 2012 § 10 Comments

All through our childhoods, my brothers and I were only allowed candy on Saturdays – lørdags godt, “Saturday treat.”  Each Saturday we were given our allowance, to drop into the cleaned out yogurt containers that functioned as piggybanks, plus a quarter (adjusted up over the years to a dollar, a parent does have to recognize inflation), to clasp hot and sticky in our hands as we ran to the store to spend it on any candy of our choosing.

We had a complete free market phenomenon going on with our Saturday treat allotment, and (without remotely having the terminology to talk about it) we became very shrewd at calculating the relative utility of each variety of candy as compared to its cost, in order to determine how we could best balance the quantity versus quality of our purchases.

My brothers erred on the side of quantity.  My indifference curves must have been steeper because I tended to buy exactly the candy I preferred at the time, even if it meant I wouldn’t walk away with pockets bulging.

I remember an intense Mambo phase.  Do you remember those?  Fruit-flavored chews in a similar genre to Starbursts, but ever so much better. For a long time I also harbored a strong preference for Sour Patch kids.  But, as I grew older (and our financial allocation closed in  on a dollar), I – being female, and all – developed a powerful love of chocolate.  I recall many sweet, melty Saturdays of peanut butter cups or Three Musketeers Bars.

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Raspberry ice cream sandwiches with lemon coconut shortbread

July 9, 2011 § 29 Comments

Oh yes. Raspberry ice cream sandwiches.  You know I couldn’t keep them from you.

I have a friend who, as a joke, if you say something he disagrees with or that turns out to be wrong (you know, something like a weather prediction or saying you’ll arrive 5 minutes earlier than you actually do), will shake his head sadly at you with a mixture of disappointment and frustration and a joking glint in his eye, and tell you, “you know, I just really wish you weren’t a liar.”

It sounds like kind of a mean thing to do when  I try to describe it, but it’s actually quite funny.  And I can imagine him doing it to me right now.  A deep sigh of feigned disillusionment and dismay, and an “oh Emily, you don’t have to lie to me, you know.  I just wish you weren’t a liar.”

Because you see friends, I told you in my last post that I had a new favorite summer treat, that wasn’t ice cream!  And, while the BLC-squared is still fresh in my memory in all its crunchy, gooey, salty fabulousness, I’ve gone and stumbled into another new favorite summer treat.  And, well, this one is ice cream.

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Coconut macaroons

April 22, 2011 § 2 Comments

I have a deep seated love for coconut macaroons. To the degree that it probably seems a little wacky from the outside.  For example, I’m pretty sure that when I look at a coconut macaroon I get that doe-eyed look that an adoring puppy gives to her master or mistress, I love macaroons that much.  They’re a sort of edible security blanket for me, and when I eat one I am bathed in a sense of well-being, an internal lightness… Yeah, it definitely seems a little wacky.  But, lest you judge, I actually have a quasi-rational reason for feeling this way about macaroons.  You see, (and this may be too much information but it’s too late now because I feel the need to explain myself!) I have a wonky digestive disorder that occasionally  leaves me doubled over with stabbing pain in my gut.

The most frustrating thing about it is the sense that your body is rebelling against you.  That you can have seemingly done everything right to care for it and even so the pain will flare up now and then for no apparent reason, leaving you clenching your teeth, fighting back tears, and feeling helpless.  It’s the type of thing that leaves you feeling completely out of control.   And that is something that we as a species don’t seem to like much.  It’s in those moments that we search for talismans or rites, things that we imbue with powers that will allow us to feel we’re in control of the situation, even though we aren’t.  You know, rabbit’s feet, lucky socks, throwing salt over your shoulder, those sorts of things.

Now, a couple of years ago I heard from a little bird that they had read on the internet that coconut can help with digestive issues.  Disclaimer: the internet is not a trustworthy source about these types of things and you can’t just believe medical advice that you read there.  However, in a moment of feeling desperate, I decided to try it.  On my next bad day, I bought and ate a coconut macaroon, and lo and behold within about a half hour it felt as though my intestines suddenly got over their red-faced angry tantrum and simply relaxed.  They unwound.

Some of it may have been the coconut.  Some of it was probably a placebo effect.  I didn’t particularly care.  The placebo effect can give you real results, so if you can use it to your advantage, why not?!  Anyhow, coconut macaroons became my emergency parachute, and I fell in love with them.

They’re easy little treats to fall in love with, whether or not they make you feel better, what with their crunchy exterior and velvety interior and the powerful flavor of coconut lacing every bite.  I also realized after about the 3rd time I ate one that they tasted remarkably like Gjende Kjeks, these delicate, crispy-soft cookies imprinted with a reindeer that we used to eat in Norway when I was little.  A little dose of nostalgia never fails to add to the psychologically therapeutic properties of a food.

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Cardamom-currant snickerdoodles

November 29, 2010 § 9 Comments

It will come as a surprise to no one when I say that marriage, it turns out, involves negotiations.  Not the least of which is where to spend holidays.  We are lucky in that both of us really like both our parents and our in-laws, but in a way it makes it almost harder because both of us would love to spend the holidays with the others’ family while at the same time we’re each devastated by the thought of missing a holiday with our own.  It’s a win-win-lose-lose situation!  This year the solution is to spend Thanksgiving with Joel’s family and Christmas with mine (which does mean we’ll be missing the Chanukah party with the painfully inept magician.  Sigh.).  And we discovered this weekend that this also translates into getting to participate in the sparkles and lights of Christmas festivities twice!

I swear, we had no sooner wiped the crumbs of turkey and cranberry sauce from our lips and tossed our napkins onto the table with little groans of satisfaction, when a faint ring of jingle-bells began to tingle-lingle in the air.  And the soundtrack (yes, this would be the soundtrack in my mind) crescendoed until the strains of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” burst onto the scene.  The weather in Washington cooperated with gusto, dropping a foot and a half of snow over a couple of days, turning the city into a giant snow globe, and enabling us to cross-country ski through the streets, waving at the cheery red-cheeked neighbors and the children out sledding.  (Seriously, it was like someone decided we should spend the weekend in a Holiday greeting card.)  There were presents to be selected and given.  A chimeric Christmas-tree-Chanukah-bush to be cut down and trimmed.  Carols to be sung.  White Christmas to be watched.  And, of course, cookies to be baked.

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