momofuku’s compost cookie

Ever have one of those days when everything you attempt in the kitchen ends in disaster? I had forgotten what that felt like. And then I remembered. It was a Saturday and I had two items on my agenda for the day: a) Momofuku’s compost cookies and b) passion fruit curd. The passion fruit curd had to be sent to the trash while the cookies remained on the sheet pan for a long time, looking sad. It was that kind of Saturday.

To make a long story short, I burned the curd. I was super bummed out because it was supposed to accompany me to brunch the following morning, and also because juicing passion fruit is sort of a joke; one fruit yields approximately two large drops of juice. I think I felt even more defeated because curd is so easy to make, it just wasn’t in the cards that day.

But I was most upset about the cookies, or the cookie blob rather. I think one of the saddest feelings is opening the oven, only to discover that your perfect mounds of cookie dough have melted into one large mass of cookie. I tried to cut the sheet of cookie into squares, but that didn’t really work out. We ate it anyway, but I just couldn’t get over it. I needed a do-over.

Since I haven’t been back to New York in a few years, I haven’t been to Momofuku Milk Bar. But I’ve been drooling over the Momofuku cookbook for months now. And everyone on the internet has been talking about these cookies. I like cookies, but there are few cookies that do it for me. I needed to know if these cookies were really worth all the buzz they’ve generated.

Let me just say, for the record, that they are. They are also worth the half pound of butter and the two hours lost during the disaster that was the first batch. They are worth the time you spend baking only three cookies at a time so that you don’t end up with another cookie puddle. And they are most definitely worth the pounds you will potentially gain when you make these cookies because you won’t be able to stop eating them.

This cookie is everything. EVERYTHING. It’s chewy and soft and a little bit crispy. It’s playful but still sophisticated. It is the perfect combination of sweet and savory. And it’s buttery and slightly caramelized around the edges, two of my favorite cookie qualities. I love that every bite is a little bit of a surprise; sometimes you get a hunk of pretzel, sometimes a burst of coffee. It’s basically all of the snacks you love baked into one perfect package, coffee included. I totally get it.

momofuku’s compost cookie

adapted from Christina Tosi’s recipe courtesy of Live! with Regis and Kelly

makes 15-20 large cookies

1 cup butter

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1-1/2 cups your favorite baking ingredients (I used a combination of bitter-sweet chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and rolled oats)

1-1/2 cups your favorite snack foods (chips, pretzels, etc) (I used potato chips and pretzels)

1 tablespoon ground coffee beans (optional)

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugars and corn syrup on medium high for 2-3 minutes until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.

On a lower speed, add eggs and vanilla to incorporate. Increase mixing speed to medium-high and start a timer for 10 minutes. During this time the sugar granules will fully dissolve, the mixture will become an almost pale white color and your creamed mixture will double in size.

When time is up, reduce speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix 45-60 seconds just until your dough comes together and all of the dry ingredients are incorporated. Do not walk away from your mixer during this time or you will risk over mixing the dough. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.

With the mixer on low speed, add your favorite baking ingredients and mix for 30-45 seconds until they evenly distributed throughout the dough. Add in your favorite snack foods last, mixing on low speed until they are just incorporated.

Using a 6 oz. ice cream scoop, portion cookie dough onto a parchment lined sheetpan.

Wrap scooped cookie dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 1 week.

DO NOT BAKE your cookies from room temperature or they will not hold their shape.

Heat the conventional oven to 400°F. (350°F in a convection oven)

When the oven reads 400°F, arrange your chilled cookie dough balls on a parchment or silpat-lined sheetpan a minimum of 4 inches apart in any direction.

Bake 9-11 minutes. While in the oven, the cookies will puff, crackle and spread.

At 9 minutes the cookies should be browned on the edges and just beginning to brown towards the center. Leave the cookies in the oven for the additional minutes if these colors don’t match up and your cookies stills seem pale and doughy on the surface.

Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pan before transferring to a plate or an airtight container or tin for storage. At room temperature, cookies will keep fresh 5 days. In the freezer, cookies will keep fresh 1 month.

negroni

It wasn’t always this way. Once upon a time, my drink of choice was a Ketel-soda with lime. No frills. No fuss. Just Ketel One and soda water and I was a happy lady. Well, obviously, something has changed. Maybe now that I’m pushing thirty I’m required to drink a more complex cocktail. Or maybe it’s because negronis are just so damn delicious that I can’t go back to my boring (but wonderful) vodka-sodas.

It began sometime in August. I woke up one morning with an intense hankering for a negroni. And it never really went away. I’m not even sure what triggered that initial craving, but I have practically abandoned beer and wine and all other cocktails. I have a negroni pretty much whenever the opportunity presents itself. Drinks with friends, have a negroni. At home watching countless hours of a certain HBO vampire series, have a negroni. Dinner at Adrian’s, have a negroni. It’s been sort of ridiculous. Like the night I tried to order a negroni at a restaurant known for it’s tequila bar; needless to say, I had to settle for something else. And then there was last weekend, when I called Adrian two days prior to a brunch he was hosting to inquire about the possibility of me having a negroni that morning (I came to my senses and drank mimosas like all of the other guests). Who’s hooked?

The negroni is like the drunken cousin of the Americano. Both cocktails feature Campari and sweet vermouth, but an Americano is topped with club soda while a negroni is mixed with gin. It still surprises me that I’ve taken such a liking to the latter because I’ve never considered myself a gin drinker, and I have never been a fan of Campari.

I had my first taste of Campari at Evelyn’s house when I was twenty-one, maybe twenty-two. She was drinking Campari on the rocks and let me have a sip. Maybe because it’s red and syrupy, I was expecting something boozey but sweet like grenadine. What a fool I can be. I remember thinking it was horribly bitter and just all around awful. But here we are.

Because of its bitterness factor, the negroni is a bit of an acquired taste. It is all at once sweet, floral, bitter and citrusy. It’s considered an apéritif, so I find that it is the perfect drink to have after work, or while making dinner. I love that it’s one of those old world cocktails and like to imagine some handsome writer sitting in a cafe somewhere in Italy drinking negronis in the 1920’s.  Have a negroni. I’ll likely be having one too.

negroni

1 part gin

1 part sweet vermouth

1 part Campari

ice

orange (for garnish)

Pour the gin, vermouth and Campari over ice and stir. Using a paring knife or vegetable peeler, remove a section of peel from the orange. Twist the peel over your glass and then drop into your cocktail. Enjoy.


early girl tomato soup

September has left the building. And I’m feeling a bit wistful. September is hands down my favorite of all of the months. For one thing, September in San Francisco is absolutely gorgeous. It’s a sort of last call for summer and a sneaky peak at fall. It also happens to be my birth month, which may be the reason why I just want September to linger.

Because we here in the Bay are experiencing a later than usual summer, there is still a ton of amazing summer produce in the markets, like peaches and plums and early girl tomatoes. Last weekend at the farmer’s market, one vendor had so many early girls that they were selling twenty pound flats for twenty bucks. I’m not one to pass up a deal, but I had to stop myself for a second to contemplate this purchase. What the hell was I going to do with twenty pounds of tomatoes? I walked away so I could obsess and do some number crunching while I did a lap around the market. It was insanely hot. I was sweating. I bought the tomatoes.  I really cannot pass up a good deal.

When you come home with twenty pounds of early girls, what happens is this: You eat tomato salads with basil, olive oil, and burrata. Alotta burrata. And you make sauce, half of which gets eaten almost immediately, while the other half goes into the freezer so that you can enjoy it in a few weeks when the early girls are a thing of the past. And then you try your hand at canning, which doesn’t go quite as smooth as you had hoped because your jars are a little too big for the job since you didn’t read the recipe before hastily buying them. Lastly, you make a pot of good old tomato soup, nevermind the fact that it is 96 degrees outside. And even though its the end of September and impossibly hot, your bowl of tomato soup could not be more perfect. It’s silky and has an incredibly pure tomato flavor. And that drizzle of olive oil makes it extra luscious. And just in case you were wondering, it does in fact serve very nicely chilled if you feel so inclined.

early girl tomato soup

adapted from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters

makes about 1-1/2 quarts ; serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, sliced

1 small leek, white and green parts, sliced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

2 pounds ripe early girl tomatoes, washed, cored and sliced (or whatever tomatoes you have on hand)

1 scant tablespoon white rice (optional)

salt

1/2 bay leaf

1 small sprig of savory, thyme, or basil

1 cup water

Warm a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the olive oil, 1 tablespoon butter, onion, leek and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook until soft but not brown. If necessary, add water to keep from browning.

Add the garlic. Cook for about 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes, rice, bay leaf, choice of herb and a large pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes fall apart. Add water and remaining tablespoon of butter.

Continue cooking for another 10 minutes, until the rice is tender. Remove the herb sprig and bay leaf. Carefully ladle the soup into a blender or food processor (or use an immersions blender). Blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Pass the pureed soup through a strainer to remove skin and seeds. You can also use a food mill, which purees and separates the skins and seeds simultaneously. Taste for salt. Add more water if the soup is too thick.

Variations:

Omit the rice for a thinner soup.

Garnish the soup with crème fraîche and mint, or with buttered croutons, or with torn basil or finely cut chives and olive oil.

tomato basil salad with olive oil and burrata. word.