Tag Archives: Corbett

Best Chocolate Chip Cookie


I was going through Jim Lahey’s new pizza cookbook, My Pizza, and when I got to the desserts I realized I had everything to make his chocolate chip cookies. I wasn’t feeling very well but when you have all the ingredients you are sort of bound to make them. Right? And cookies are a homeopathic remedy for congestion. But it turned out I was out of eggs. I needed one egg. Hey, who doesn’t like to run to the store in -30 wind chills to get an egg? This guy doesn’t. But in my mind I was already creaming the butter. So out I went. And it was totally worth it.

Lahey is the guy behind the Sullivan St. Bakery in New York. He became famous for his no-knead bread that you bake in a preheated casserole dish and end up with a perfect crust. If you haven’t tried it you must. He has inventive ideas about getting commercial oven results at home. His pizza book promises a solid replica of a wood-fired crust at home. You know, the kind usually baked for 90 seconds at somewhere around 900 degrees. I haven’t tried it yet but he heats a stone at 500 near the broiler, then hits it with the broiler for a few minutes to get the stone even hotter. The pizza then cooks for just a few minutes under the broiler on the hot stone. Am I excited? Yes! See that exclamation point? That’s how excited I am.

Anyway, the cookies were fantastic. He blasts them at 500 for 6 minutes and they come out with a crisp bottom and edge, and a wonderfully light, soft middle. And these aren’t overly sweet, one of the reasons I usually don’t go for a chocolate chip cookie. But this was just right.

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20130111-134109.jpgI forget where I first saw the recipe for these Bialys. They are essentially a bagel that is baked instead of boiled, and instead of a hole in the middle there is traditionally a depression in the center that is filled with cooked onions. I just sprinkled some sea salt on the top. They have a great, chewy texture.

The Bialy comes from Bialystock, Poland, which had a population of around 50,000 Jews at the start of the war. Only a few hundred survived the Holocaust. 

The proper way to eat these is while reading “Gimpel the Fool,” one of my favorite of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s short stories of shtetl life.

There’s also this animation of the story.

To make, combine the following in a stand mixer:

4 3/4 cups of bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
a package of active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups of water warmed to 130 degrees

Let the dough hook mix on slow for a good ten minutes. Then cover and let the dough poof for an hour. Then divide into 3 ounce balls (about 13) and let sit for another 30 minutes. Shape into rounds, sprinkle with salt and bake for 12 minutes at 450.


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C loves celery. A lot. Like the grocery clerk will ask what-are-you-doing-with-all-this-celery a lot. I usually mutter something about feeding several kindergarten classes peanut butter logs.

I have this jar of celery pickling away in the back of the fridge. I’m using David Chang’s pickled celery recipe from his Momofuku cookbook.

It’s a Christmas surprise. Don’t tell.

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The Mind of a Chef

The first ten episodes of The Mind of a Chef, about chef David Chang, are available free on the PBS web site. And well worth the 20 minutes per episode. They are narrated by Anthony Bourdain but basically just feature Chang talking about his work and eating. I enjoyed the first episode on ramen, as I love noodles about as much as anything. They went from Chang’s kitchen at Momofuku to some of the best ramen restaurants in Japan (hint: they are located in the subway). But I’m posting a link to the pig episode in honor of Stuart, who is known for his pork belly (the one he makes, not his actual belly, which is very unpork-like).

I couldn’t embed the whole pig episode, but you can click the link above and watch it a pbs.org.

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I never really liked butter and even now I will usually forgo buttering bread at the table. But I’ve been baking a fair amount and have gotten used to butter, albeit incorporated into a recipe. This butter was headed into banana bread.

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Harvest Time

We went out to our CSA farm a few weekends ago for a harvest event. Throughout the year there are a few times when you can go to the farm and pick extra produce beyond what you get in the weekly box. Last year we filled the back of the van. This year not so much. Most stuff had been picked clean by the time we arrived late in the afternoon. But we did manage a 5-gallon bucket or two of beets. At the rate the kids and their mother eat beets they may not last much into the winter. Here the kids are deep in a field of kohlrabi.

After a few hours in the field we stumbled upon Meadow Farm Foods on Highway 1 just outside Fergus Falls. It was a total surprise. It’s a natural foods and spice store on a rural highway. And they had giant bags of spices and grains. You could drop $50 on a humongous bag of pecans. If that’s your thing. On a rural highway. And on this day they were serving samples of chili and sour cream pancakes, as well as Peace Coffee. I’m in love with Peace Coffee’s Guatemalan. And there it was. Peace Coffee. Organic, fair trade coffee roasted in Minneapolis (and delivered around Mpls by bicycle). Samples of Peace Coffee. On a rural highway outside Fergus Falls. We bought some cinnamon.

In our last box from the CSA we got some kale. I quickly made kale chips, which the kids have loved in the past. Tear into chip size, toss in olive oil and sea salt, spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes.

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Moroccan Meatballs

We had C’s family over on Sunday for Ma’s birthday. Ma is the kids’ name for grandma. We wanted to make something fairly easy. Crockpot meatballs sounded like a good idea, but I wanted something different than the standard barbecue/grape jelly thingies you usually find in a crockpot in these parts. Is that grape jelly meatball a regional thing?

I had made these Moroccan Meatballs a while back and we liked them quite a bit. So I doubled the recipe and after simmering them on the stove in two batches I threw them in the crockpot to stay warm. (The photo is a slightly foggy action shot, as they were in mid-simmer.) Parprika and cumin are the main spices here. The recipe came from Rick Bayless’ cookbook with his daughter, Rich and Lanie’s Excellent Adventure.  We served them over rice.

Thinking about Rick Bayless reminded me that I ate at his Frontera Grill in Chicago many, many years ago and he had come out of the kitchen and was sitting with some people a few tables away. I don’t think I had any idea who he was at that point. And I have no memory of what I ate.

Now, I’m also reminded that C and I once sat at a table next to Lynne Rosetto Kasper at the original Punch Pizza in St. Paul’s Highland Park. That was way more exciting than Rick Bayless. I assume I was eating the Salame E Funghi and Olivada, an olive tapenade on their wood-fired crust. I wish I could remember what Lynne was eating.

(If you’ll notice, the link I provided for the meatballs is posted at The Splendid Table’s web site. So these random thoughts totally make sense.)

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The Kid Makes Banana Bread

The kids love this simple and slightly unique banana bread recipe from Smitten Kitchen. It has a nice blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves that give it just a hint of spice. (We left out the bourbon.) It’s totally addictive and doesn’t usually make it much past breakfast the next morning. (Yes, that’s Anakin Skywalker guarding the bread.)

This recipe is so easy that I asked O, who is 7, if he thought he could make it himself. He said, “sure.” We had three overripe bananas the other night so it was on.

I took the instructions and turned the paragraph into a numbered list of steps, which I thought would be easier for him to follow. I watched and answered questions. And I helped with the oven door. But that was it. He did it on his own: measuring, stirring, smashing, beating. He was super excited. He would have eaten the whole loaf if I’d let him.

Banana smashing.

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Dutch Babies

The kids and I were up early this morning so we made Dutch Babies. Well, I made them while they watched a WordGirl. These are super easy. Eggy and crepe-y. WordGirl might call them delectable.

Alton Brown has a recipe for one baby in a skillet. I made two, 9-inch babies in cake pans. The kids gobbled them up in record time. In fact, Clementine woke up just as the kids were finishing off the babies. So she missed out. You know what they say: you snooze…you don’t win. (Note: need three next time.)

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Cinnamon Brown Butter Breakfast Puffs

I like to bake on weekend mornings and lately I’ve been obsessed, like so many others, with Deb Perelman over at Smitten Kitchen. I don’t think I’ve made anything of hers that hasn’t been terrific. (And easy to follow.) Maybe I’ll attempt to make one of her recipes every day for a year like Amy Adams did with Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Well, Amy Adams played the home cook in the movie. The real cook was named Julie something-or-other (too lazy to google today). I wonder who would play me in the movie of me trying to cook my way through Smitten Kitchen. I’m thinking Woody Allen. You’d pay to watch Woody Allen make French Breakfast Puffs, wouldn’t you?

These French Breakfast Puffs were super easy. Making brown butter and creaming some butter (yes, there’s a fair amount of butter involved) are perhaps the only real techniques involved. Otherwise it’s just mixing. And the final step is quite fun. Next time I’ll get the kids involved in this step. You coat the just-baked puffs in the brown butter and then roll them in cinnamon sugar. (Deb provides options for regular size muffins or mini-muffins, and you can coat just the top in cinnamon sugar or the whole muffin. I went for the mini-muffin tin for a more donut ball like puff. And I coated the whole thing, of course.)

So I was making these puffs this morning when Bunny said it was Grandparent’s Day. I suggested we take the puffs over to Ma and Pa’s house (the kids’ name for Grandma and Grandpa) and have coffee. Then, I rolled the first puff in brown butter and cinnamon sugar and tried one. I immediately did the math: each of us would get about three puffs if we took them to Ma and Pa’s. My first thought? We could pick up donuts to bring them instead. With Ma and Pa out of the picture I could get 2-4 more puffs, depending on how many I could short the children. They were that good. In the end, we took them along and shared. Three turned out to be just right with a cup of coffee. But now there are none for tonight when the kids are in bed. Stinking Grandparent’s Day.


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