Ispahan Sablés, bruh

Dorie Greenspan posted a recipe for raspberry and rose sablés in her Times magazine column recently. They are absolute perfection and you should make them tout de suite.

But then you should also spend some time LOL’ing about the people who comment on New York Times recipes. This round many of the comments center around people being exasperated that they are not familiar with some of the ingredients. Whenever I don’t know about something, I definitely lash out at people who do. Of course!

Luckily, a hero arrives to say:

To other readers: clearly you go online to post a question here. Why not just google terms like “sanding sugar, ” ” dried raspberries,” “rose extract.” You can get an immediate answer!

DUH.

Although props to the person who retorted: Because we crave human contact.

But seriously, these comments: read more+++

Throwing Parties During the Apocalypse

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After the presidential election in November, we were suddenly (at least it felt sudden) confronted with the holiday season—for many Americans a time of celebration and gathering. But enjoying Thanksgiving can be difficult when your president-elect is filling his cabinet with people whose only qualifications are being white and rich. Watching lawmakers play games with people’s healthcare can make it hard to enjoy unwrapping gifts. Though the holidays were a salve in some ways, providing a distraction and an opportunity to spend time with people we love, they highlighted the fact that we need to change the way we live. Hopefully more of us who have had the privilege and disgrace of ignoring things for so long, are waking up.

Having the time, energy, and resources to throw a party is a privilege. Having something to celebrate is a privilege. I hope in the new year we can all spend some time thinking about how we use that privilege. I propose that it is possible to have fun and throw parties while also doing some good. In fact, I think our hosting and homes will feel better when we combine the two. Remember, everything is political. And rich people seem to throw fundraisers all of the time, why can’t we? They rent ballrooms and have Beyoncé perform, we might have to settle for our backyard and a boombox. Our parties will be more fun and have better food.

We hosted a small holiday open house in December and turned it into a Planned Parenthood fundraiser. The deal was, I would bake a lot of cookies (cookie parties are the best parties), Bryan would make some drinks, and our guests would bring cash to be donated to Planned Parenthood. We made it clear that our guests should not bring anything else (no host gifts or cookies or bottle of wine or whatever—CASH. But we all stressed that it was not necessary, we do not want to make friends who may be strapped for cash feel bad about not being able to donate—there are other ways to help.). I put some latent crafting skills to work to make a donation box. We designed and produced three custom buttons for the event (I bought a button maker years ago). And I printed some fact sheets about the great work that Planned Parenthood does and had them available throughout our apartment. Otherwise, it functioned as a fairly standard holiday party, though with perhaps a bit more talk about politics. At the end of the night we had spent time with some of the people we love, had eaten our fill of cookies, AND we had raised $750 for Planned Parenthood. Not a bad score for an afternoon with friends. Even if we had only raised $50 it would have felt like a success. Something is always better than nothing. The revolution starts with lots of little things. We need a revolution—now. (We needed it ages ago, but now is all we got.) read more+++

The Cookie Crumbles

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1. Cried.
2. Quit Facebook.
3. Hugged my friends.
4. Donated to Planned Parenthood.
5. Made this galette. (It’s wonderful.)
6. Read this. (Funny)
7. Read this. (Not Funny)
8. RAGE.
9. Went on some walks.
10. Visited the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line.

That’s a list of some of the things that I’ve done since November 8th. I thought by now I would have something to say about something, but I don’t. I don’t know any more than anyone else. And I think that is why the present moment is so painful. None of us know what to do or what will happen. Sorry, it sucks. But there is work to be done. And here I am writing about cookies, which is both the best and worst thing I can do. read more+++

Lottie + Doof + Dana Cree!!

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I met Dana Cree this past autumn when I moderated a Taste Talks panel on one of my favorite topics, ice cream. Dana is one of Chicago’s most celebrated and beloved pastry chefs and is responsible for the sweets at both Blackbird and Avec, two of Chicago’s most celebrated and beloved restaurants. She has twice been nominated for a James Beard award for her work at Blackbird. Dana really loves making (and eating) ice cream. She’s been selling small batches of her carefully produced pints at Chicago’s Publican Quality Meats, where each one warmly introduces itself with a “Hello my name is…” tag. Someday she’ll undoubtedly have her own ice cream shop (I can’t wait!), but for now we hoard pints. Her ice cream landed her on that panel with me where I learned that Dana is funny (she talked about poop!), smart (further evidence available on her beautiful blog) and generous (here she is!). read more+++

Cookbook Review: Cookie Love

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There are a lot of cookbooks written by professional chefs who seem to have no memory of what it is like to cook at home. They often include complex recipes full of ingredients that are only available foraged from the forests of Northern California. Some of these books are perfectly lovely books and can be enjoyed for other reasons, but they’re unlikely to get much use in my kitchen. They’re aspirational, which I’m okay with—sometimes. More often, I want a book I can and will use regularly. On the other end of the spectrum there are books specifically designed for home cooks that include uninspired recipes for things like chocolate chip cookies or roasted chicken. Apparently, they’ve never heard about the internet. It is some seriously boring stuff. The current cookbook landscape leaves one feeling a bit like Goldilocks, looking for just right.

Mindy Segal, Chicago’s most iconic pastry chef, released her first cookbook, Cookie Love, this week. Segal is a James Beard award-winning (and frequently nominated) pastry chef who has been pushing sweets at Hot Chocolate, her restaurant/dessert bar, for the past decade. I learned to love pastry at Hot Chocolate. I lived near the restaurant for years and was a frequent and enthusiastic patron. The sweets she made were progressive and exciting, as well as totally satisfying and familiar. She never served a dessert so weird that you could not relax and enjoy it; her focus was on pleasure. She used salt and acid and temperature in her desserts, the way a savory cook might (and the way all pastry cooks should!). It lead to some incredible stuff. I have often hoped she would write a book—I was desperate for her secrets. About a year ago I learned that a book was finally happening, and that it would focus on cookies, the uncontested highest form of dessert. A food writer I admire, Kate Leahy, signed on to write the book with Segal. She has past experience translating the work of chefs to the home kitchen. Their book, published by Ten Speed Press, turns out to be exactly what this Goldilocks has been looking for. read more+++

Rugelach, Redux (Again)

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I’ve already shared two very wonderful rugelach recipes on my site, so who do I think I am writing about a third? Well, this one is my favorite. I think. Who knows, I’m fickle. But the world can never have too many recipes for rugelach.

These are from the Bar Tartine book (which I love, see Gift Guide), though for various reasons I had to adapt these to work for me, lil ole’ me without kefir butter or home dried fennel flowers. To be honest, no stages of the recipe worked as smoothly as I would have liked them to work, and there is a major typo in the recipe that is published in the book. But despite all of that, here I am. Maybe that will convince you of how delicious these are? I hope.

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Espresso Burnt Sugar Shortbread

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It’s cookbook season, and new books are hitting the shelves (and my mailbox) daily. Most of them are just okay. And then once in a while a book comes along that, for a variety of reasons, really speaks to me. I had never heard of Ovenly before opening this book. It turns out it is a bakery in New York. According to the cover of the book it is “New York’s Most Creative Bakery”, which is a ridiculous thing to claim. The bakery was started by two friends, Agatha Kulaga and Erin Patinkin, who met in a book club, both with Eastern European roots and a serious interest in baking. I really liked the introductions written by the owners, they both seem thoughtful, charming, and passionate about what they do. My first flip through the book had me wanting to bake everything, from Nutella and Banana Coffee Cake to Bloody Mary Scones and Jelly Donut Muffins. These are the sorts of things that you actually want to bake at home.

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Chocolate Nudges

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Love means sometimes having to bake with chocolate.

It’s valentines week and, love it or hate it, you’ve still got to eat. May I suggest these perfect little chocolate and pistachio cookies? Chocolate?! you say? Truth be told, my dislike of chocolate has probably been over-stated. Sometimes I like it, though I almost never prefer it (expect perhaps in the case of cheap milk shakes). I prefer chocolate as an accent, but rarely as the focus. You can keep your Death-by-Chocoholic-Avalanche-Lava-Cakes. But Bryan loves it, and because I am such a sweet husband, I baked him these cookies. read more+++

50/50 Sablé

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The whole grain trend that is sweeping the nation is alright with me. The health benefits of whole grains are great, but the flavor is what keeps me coming back for more. They just taste good, and they make even the simplest thing more interesting. Kim Boyce schooled us all a few years ago, and I am happy each time the lesson is reinforced.

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