This is the Best Cookie Ever and it’s named after compost

This is the Best Cookie Ever and it’s named after compost

A single bite of this cookie transports you into a taste-fueled rabbit hole, a complex tunnel of sweet and salty from which there’s no turning back … it’s Christina Tosi’s Compost Cookie. Tosi is the chef and owner of New York’s Momofuku Milk Bar, the sweet spot in David Chang’s restaurant empire, and she is awesome, creating sweet somethings out of everything from Cap’n Crunch cereal to corn to pretzels, even serving up cereal milk (a registered trademark!) to go with your candybar pie. She’s written a full-color book with her recipes, and if you’re in Brooklyn, you can even sign up to take classes to cook the book. I am NOT in Brooklyn and didn’t know about Tosi’s wonderland of taste until her Compost Cookie recipe (also a registered trademark!) caught my eye on Zite from the Table for Two blog. The “compost” part of the name comes for the idea that you can toss anything you have leftover into the dough, just like a sweet salad. Her cookie ingredients – chocolate and butterscotch chips, oatmeal, ground coffee, potato chips, and pretzels – sounded intriguing. I went for it. I’ve made these three times and have tweaked the recipe a bit. The original recipe called for mini butterscotch chips; those are hard to find and the regular sized chips added too much butterscotch. So I decreased the butterscotch chips a smidgeon, increased the oatmeal slightly, added dried cranberries for the tartness and texture, used ground espresso instead of ground coffee because that’s all I had, swapped dark corn syrup for the glucose, and used malted milk powder instead of milk powder in...
“Breaking Bad” – inspired “Bacon Bad” chocolate chip cookies

“Breaking Bad” – inspired “Bacon Bad” chocolate chip cookies

In Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 7, there’s a mid- show caper that begins with a character bringing a batch of chocolate chip cookies to the safety deposit box woman at the bank. They’ve got bacon bits, he tells her. Makes the taste pop. She replies that now she probably won’t share them with anyone, takes the package, and leaves him alone to his nefarious tasks. Bacon and chocolate chip cookies written into the script for Breaking Bad? Wishful thinking, or a sly nod to the plethora of odd bacon-laced foodieness out there these days? Didn’t matter. I was compelled. Had to Go There. And so I began. I stared at a basic Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe and wondered what I could to to really make it Bad – bacon bad. Bacon makes me think of breakfast and homey, rustic meals, so swapping honey out for granulated sugar seemed to be a natural. And using spelt flour instead of all-purpose would lend a bit of a toothy, rustic flavor. But how to make it really bad? I rummaged through the spices, contemplating cayenne, then landed something really worth trying . . . cardamom. It’s zingy, strong and highly aromatic, so I snuck in just a little to give it some kick. Very nice. A few thoughts: It worked out best to refrigerate the dough for an hour, since the honey makes a wetter dough than the granulated sugar. Baked cookies are less doughy, flatter, and more chewy than the traditional recipe The honey flavor in these cookies is more pronounced than I expected and the cardamom not...
Baking with Downtown Tom

Baking with Downtown Tom

A few weeks ago, before St. Louis temperatures turned to the sweltering triple-digits, my dad Downtown Tom was on a baking frenzy, concocting treats for my mother, brothers and sisters, and niece and nephews from the groovy concrete kitchen of his rehabbed hat factory-turned-urban loft. He sent me photos since I’m not around to sample his delicacies. Luckily he’s as good a photographer as he is a cook – these are all great pictures! Keep scrolling to the bottom of the page; he also sent a pretty good cookie recipe for you to try. He’s definitely mastered the cinnamon roll. This last batch is perfectly browned and buttery-looking; very drool-worthy:   Key Lime Pie, I’m not so sure. He sent me this photo with the line, “We followed directions. Pie was chewy.” Since following directions is not a family trait, though, I’m really not surprised it turned out like this:   And finally, the cookies. He copied this recipe from an old cookbook he had laying around, using dried cranberries in place of the coconut. whole wheat flour in place of the Rice Krispies, and omitting the chocolate chips. It looks like a nice dense cookie, and not too sweet – a perfect snack for my niece and nephews when go to visit: Here’s the recipe for you to try and substitute as you see...

Eating with Uncle Sam

Downtown Tom first got me hooked on the National Archives, where you can see everything from the handwritten police blotter entry detailing Lincoln’s assassination to Dorothea Lange’s haunting photos to an image of the dinner menu from Nixon’s 1972 visit to China. History is much more poignant and immediate when you can experience bits and pieces as it was documented.  Check it out sometime. If you make National Archives is one of you Facebook friends you can get a goodie almost every day. Food-related items are unusual, so I have to share what I got this morning this in my feed: I love the retro-homey design; it totally takes me back to the avocado kitchens and orange and brown plaid layered shirts of my childhood.  And politics aside, it looks easy and tasty enough to try out at Thanksgiving. This recipe card is part of the “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?” exhibit running at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. right now, and since a big part of cooking is smelling, they’ve added an aroma to the show . . . the sweet and spicy scent of apple pie. I wonder if that’s one of our instinctively engaging scents? I like to burn an apple and spice candle when it’s cold to feel more cozy, and I’ve heard real estate agents often have a freshly-baked apple on the kitchen counter during showings to make a house more homey. Simmering cloves, cinnamon, and apple peel gives the same effect but not as delicious-looking. Or maybe it’s just easy and inexpensive to reproduce without the fake/chemical notes I often find with candles? I like the smell but...
A Taste Dressed To Impress

A Taste Dressed To Impress

It’s the full moon stretching its golden arms toward the indigo sea. The long, searing notes of John Coltrane piercing your heartstrings in a crowded, dusky club. It’s the haute couture of cake; the Botticelli of bread; the ultimate apologia for a midday treat. It’s a taste that demands a soundtrack. It’s earthy, heavy, aromatic, and completely enticing . . . it’s the Rosemary Olive Oil Cake from 101 Cookbooks. I adore the aroma of rosemary. It first fell into my radar many years ago at, of all places, the beauty shop. My hairdresser used Aveda’s rosemary mint shampoo, and it smelled so luscious I went out and planted a patch of both herbs under my kitchen window hoping to catch the wafting aromas while washing dishes. I occasionally snip it to wrap around kebobs, season a soup, or put in a marinade for chicken, but most often I just enjoy watching it thrive. Ophelia pointed out that rosemary is for remembrance. My Aromatherapy Decoder says it’s also good for the heart and liver, for sight and speech. So I mix a few drops of the oil with grapefruit and lavender oils and broadcast the mixture into my office in hopes of channeling some combination of creativity and calm into my work. Does it work? I like to think, at the very least, I draw some inspiration from the aroma. At least my office smells nice – like my garden. So, even though I’m not a cake kind of a girl, when this recipe popped up in a Facebook status update it caught my attention. Spelt flour and bittersweet chocolate aren’t the usual...