Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cookie Monster

That's me, of course! Taking a brief break here in the Netherlands to report on tonight's unexpected cooking triumph: chocolate chip cookies. I know I haven't posted at all while I've been away (don't worry, I've got a lot stored up!) but I have been cooking quite a bit. We are fortunate to have a lovely, spacious apartment with a kitchen and dishwasher; however, we are oven-challenged. We basically have a microwave for an oven - I'm told it's a convection oven and so far we've cooked all kinds of goodies in it, but it still just looks like a microwave to me. I don't trust it. On top of that, the other night we had an unfortunate incident in which the microwave/oven began to smoke and emit a very strange and alarming smell, prompting me to worry that a fire might be imminent. I went so far as to fetch my neighbor (more on him later) and ask him to have a look at the thing, and we haven't really been on solid footing since then.

My lovely roommate was making dinner tonight and mentioned that she had tested out the oven a couple times and it seemed to be fine. Hope! Of course, at the end of our meal I began dreaming of chocolate chip cookies, and after a brief peak at the internet, I rose from the table with a mission. Baking makes me feel good, for so many reasons that I won't go into now, but suffice it to say that I love to eat and food is comforting and sometimes it helps to fill my heart with gezellig when I am missing someone. I was looking for something really quick and easy because after a few glasses of wine, I get a little sleepy. This recipe took all of 10 minutes and turned out delicious. I even made the entire thing in one pot on the stove, so there was minimal cleanup. I think the key is that you brown the butter on the stovetop, which imbues the batter with a heavenly nutty caramel flavor. Then it's just sugar, flour, the usual suspects, and some chocolate, which I chopped roughly from 2 different chocolate bars because they don't seem to sell chocolate chips here (perhaps the only deterrent from living here permanently?)

The cookies took about 8 minutes in our little convection contraption (I ran it hotter than the recipe calls for because our temperature only increases in 25-degree increments) and they were perfect...crunchy but not quite crispy on the outer edges, soft and almost mushy in the middle... I couldn't wait for them to cool off, but by the time I got to the third one, they were at perfect temperature. I guzzled some cold milk with these babies and sighed a long, happy, comforted sigh before crawling into bed.

Recipe here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Eatin' Good in the Neighborhood

Forewent (is that a word?) both franny's and the W (whose room service menu includes an entire page FOR DOGS) for Pam Real Thai Food, the best Thai joint I have found in Manhattan (I have yet to venture to Queens, where it's supposed to be really great). The four of us ordered, to start, fried calamari, which was served without the tentacles and in longer rings than you'd get at, say, a bar, and with a slightly viscous sweet chili dipping sauce. We also shared curry puffs, which were very similar to samosas (though lacking peas) and came with a thinner, brighter, more vinegary sauce. Then I went with my old standby, Pad See Eil, because I find that whenever I order something else there, even if it's delicious (and it usually is), I miss it. The wide rice noodles that fall in folds and stick together, the thick, dark sweet soy sauce, the tender stalks of Chinese broccoli, the scrambled egg, the crispy but not over-fried tofu--it drives me nuts. I was not disappointed, but admittedly envious of Steven's choice, which also consisted of wide rice noodles but tossed with chicken, cabbage, and a blended spicy red sauce instead. Jo got a third wide noodle dish with chicken, red peppers, and basil, and her co-worker had the larb gai (minced chicken) and Som Tum (shredded green papaya with a dense kind of green bean, peanuts, and tiny dried shrimp--another of my favorites).

Breakfast the next morning was: a slice of Boule bread with almond butter, a (perfect, if I do say so myself) fried egg, and a cup of English Breakfast tea, which I can never seem to finish.

Lunch: A very vanilla turkey-and-cheddar sandwich on a whole grain bread, with lettuce, tomato, and honey mustard. Half a pickle. A bag of Baked Lay's Potato Chips. A Diet Coke, which gave me a headache.

Dinner at the Grisly Pear, where my dear friend Becky was hosting trivia night: Sam Adams Winter Lager. A terrible, horrible, no good, very bad veggie burger. It was bloated and mushy with chunks of broccoli and topped with something called "cilantro cream," whatever that means, and on a sesame bun with a lifeless slice of tomato, some greens, and shredded carrots. The fries were decent at least. They were even better in the form of the cheese fries the other people on my team ordered--theirs came with cheddar and, oddly, rosemary.

Breakfast this A.M.: Another slice of Boule bread with almond butter. A very ripe banana. Three baby carrots. English Breakfast tea.

Lunch: In Bryant Park, delightful leftovers from Andrea's dinner party last night, which I rudely missed. Courtesy of Cook's Illustrated, butternut squash risotto with sage, which had a distinctly wine-y flavor in the best possible way, peas with cream and leeks, and a tangle of apple crisp made with lots of brown sugar and granola. Impressively good.

Monday, November 2, 2009


I am happy with what I ate so far today so I thought I'd blog about it. I miss this thing!

Breakfast: Fried egg, sunny-side down. Small hunk of orange Cabot cheddar (why's it orange, by the way?). Slice of delicious Boule bread from Brooklyn Larder, spread with Trader Joe's blackberry jam. English breakfast tea, no milk. Water, vitamin, fish oil.

Lunch: Leftover Szechuan: chicken with celery and mushrooms in a spicy garlicky sauce. It needed peanuts. Homemade Jasmine rice.

Mid-afternoon snack: Handful of yogurt-covered pretzels. One of the last Macouns of the season.

Dinner at franny's or the W?