My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies


Forget apple pie, chocolate chip cookies should be America’s iconic baked good. Everyone loves them, you can get them anywhere, and they’re easier to make than apple pie. 

This is my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. It uses browned butter to impart a toffee-like flavor that you generally only get from aging the dough in the fridge for a day or so (as started by the NYT famous recipe). While I’m sure that recipe is pretty damn delicious, I never plan ahead to make cookies. When I want chocolate chip cookies, I need them NOW. Maybe other people can plan ahead for their cravings, but not me. (That is also why my most common brownie-baking time is midnight.)

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Apple Sour Cream Crumb Pie


I’m not a math person, but I am a dessert person. So pi day becomes pie day, because any excuse to make pie is a good excuse.

Apple Sour Cream Crumb Pie is a mashup of apple pie, creamy cheesecake, and apple crisp. Apples are sliced and mixed with an entire 16-ounce container of sour cream, cinnamon and vanilla, plus eggs and flour for binding, then mounded into a pie crust and topped with a nut-studded pile of cinnamon crumbs.

This recipe makes a monstrous pie. The apple filling will need to be placed and poured carefully since it stands a good 4 inches above the rim of the pie dish. Maybe if you placed the apple slices more carefully instead of dumping them all in like I did, you can avoid stray slices falling on the floor. As it is, just do your best to arrange the apples so things aren’t sticking out, because those bits do get pretty dark in the oven. Because this pie is so dense, it needs almost 2 hours in the oven.

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Late Summer Lobster Salad


I’ve never cooked whole, live lobsters before. So when the local high-end grocery store, Sendik’s, had a one-day lobster sale, I figured it’d be a great time to try! $10 live ~1 lb lobsters. Awesome. I even avoided the first-come-first-serve fiasco by reserving them the day before.

My friend Lynn was having a cookout the next day, so I decided to use the lobsters in a dish to bring. It being late summer, there was plenty of gorgeous produce available at the farmer’s market, so I decided to make a lobster salad with sweet corn, tarragon and orange cherry tomatoes. And as another first, I made the mayonnaise from scratch. Because if you’re going to spend $20 on lobsters for a salad, you better make sure you use awesome ingredients with it!

The mayonnaise is an Alton Brown recipe, and was pretty easy. I initially used my immersion blender, and everything was going swimmingly until the emulsion decided to break about halfway through adding the oil. I have no idea what happened, but I switched to the old fashioned bowl and whisk for the next attempt. Of course, that worked perfectly, even if I had to ask Nick to hold the bowl steady for me while I whisked and added oil.

I was also hoping to have lobster fights on my kitchen floor, but alas, one of the lobsters was almost dead by how lethargic he was. So they simply went in the pot as soon as I brought them home. (I admit I was tempted to name one Pinchy and make him my pet and grow him until I accidentally cooked him in a too-hot bath, but that’s another story).

I served the salad on top of some crusty baguette slices that I drizzled with olive oil and toasted in the oven. I’m sure it’d be good on salad greens, as a lobster roll (though a complicated, sacrilegious one), in pita bread, or eaten with a fork straight from the bowl as I did with the leftovers!

Late Summer Lobster Salad

2 1lb live lobsters, cooked your preferred method (I chose to steam instead of boil)
2 ears of fresh sweet corn
1 large handful of orange cherry tomatoes, straight from the garden
1/4 c minced red bell pepper
2 TB fresh minced tarragon
1 TB minced chives
2-3 TB homemade mayonnaise, or to taste (see recipe below)
S+P to taste

1. Remove the meat from the cooked lobsters. I even lined up the little lobster legs and used a rolling

Say hello to my little friends

Say hello to my little friends

pin to smoosh the meat out of them. I don’t waste lobster! Roughly chop the meat and try not to eat it all while doing so.

2. Remove the corn from the cob. Quarter or halve the cherry tomatoes, depending on size.

3. Combine the lobster, veggies, herbs and mayonnaise and mix gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Simple and delicious!

AB’s Mayonnaise

1 egg yolk
1/2 t salt
1/2 t dry mustard
2 pinches sugar
2 t fresh lemon juice
1 TB white wine vinegar
1 c oil, safflower, corn, or canola

1. Whisk together the egg yolk and the dry ingredients. Whisk in half the lemon juice and vinegar.

2. Whisking quickly, add oil a few drops at a time until an emulsion forms and it becomes thickened and lighter. Then keep whisking while you add half of the oil in a thin steady stream. Add the rest of the lemon juice a vinegar, then continue adding the oil slowly until it is all incorporated.

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Homemade Pizza, part 1


Last weekend I decided to take on a new project, inspired by this pizza making forum. I’ve visited that forum randomly for the last year or so, but never attempted making any because I lacked some necessary tools, especially a baking stone. But, lovely Nick remedied that this year for my birthday and the stone now has permanent residence in my oven. (After making my first pizzas, however, I realize I now need a pizza peel and a kitchen scale…)

But back to that forum. Those people are crazy. Some of them must have OCD. Ten thousand posts on a pizza making forum, most at least 300 words long? Admitting you have 19 pages of notes on how to modify one crust recipe? Obsessively calling and emailing Giordano’s in order to reverse engineer their crust? Calculating crust thickness using pi and algebra only an engineer would understand? Sometimes I read this stuff and think, “What the fuck are these people talking about? Do they even have lives or jobs?” And other times, I think, “These people are frickin’ geniuses!”

Because damn, they can make some good lookin’ pizzas. So, they must be doing something right. Unfortunately, I did most everything on my first pizzas that they’d consider “wrong.” I made a quick-rise dough recipe instead of letting it ferment 3 days, I used volume measurements instead of weight (told you I need that kitchen scale), and I used a supermarket block of mozzarella instead of the wonderful buffalo mozz. But you know what? My pizzas still turned out damn good. And I see this as just the start of an obsession with making great pizzas. Maybe I’ll even start using baker’s percentages and calculating hydration ratios too!

The crust and the sauce are the most important parts of the pizza if you ask me. Either one of those things sucks, and so does your pizza. Cheese and other toppings are basically in the eye of the beholder, so to speak. We did basic pepperoni, Italian sausage and black olive pizzas, with a local cheesemaker’s block part-skim mozz. I plan to make buffalo and BBQ chicken pizzas soon, because I’m a sucker for those things. A pizza stone is ideal, but if you don’t want to spend the money, get yourself a pizza screen. Since I don’t have a peel yet, I started the pizzas on the screen, then transferred them to the stone about 7 minutes into baking. You can cook it on the screen for the entire cooking time if that’s all you have. It’s still much better than a sheet pan or those round perforated pizza pans.

For the sauce, most people on the pizza making forum swear by not cooking the sauce before you cook the pizza. I was a little wary, but it turned out really well. I used a can of imported San Marzano tomatoes, which I had to buy a new brand of because the store was out of the brand I normally buy. I wasn’t too happy with the quality, but it still turned out well. I can’t wait til I have great tomatoes again.

Eventually I’ll start using baker’s percentages, hopefully, but for now here’s an easy beginner’s volume-based recipe. I didn’t measure ingredients for the sauce, but use your best judgement; that’s why you have judgement. It’ll turn out great.

Quick-Rise NY-style Pizza

Crust for one 12-inch pizza:pizza3
1 3/4 c AP flour (high-gluten flour is best, but AP will work in a pinch)
~ 1/2 c water at 90 degrees F
1/2 t salt
1/2 t olive oil
1/2 t active dry yeast, plus a pinch

1. Dissolve salt in water in bowl of mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix yeast into flour in a bowl.

2. Turn mixer on low, and add flour slowly. Eventually, it will come together around the hook and away from the sides of the bowl. If it doesn’t come together in one mass after a couple minutes, it’s probably too dry. That is the problem with volume measurements. Add more water, a scant teaspoon at a time, until it comes together into a ball. It shouldn’t be sticky, but also not dry to the touch. It just takes intuition. When you think it’s about right, add your olive oil and continue kneading it (the mixer is doing the kneading now) until combined.

3. Coat your hands in olive oil. Remove from the bowl, and knead it a few times on the counter. The olive oil will keep it from sticking to you or the counter, though it shouldn’t really be sticky anyway. If it’s sticky, it’s too wet and you should have added more flour! Bring the dough together into a smooth ball, making sure it’s coated in a thin layer of olive oil before placing it in a bowl. Set aside at room temperature for 2 hours. Dough will double in size.

4. To make pizza, remove dough from the bowl. Pat out on the counter into a round, then you can use your knuckles to stretch it thin. It will naturally have a ring of thicker dough around the edge that will be the crust. I found this dough to be very easy to work with. Transfer to your screen or peel, top with your sauce and toppings and bake at 450 F for 15-17 minutes. If using a stone, preheat the oven for 45 minutes beforehand, and use the lowest rack.

1 ~28 oz can San Marzano or other quality whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 t dried oregano
1/4 t dried basil
2 T tomato paste
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 t red pepper flakes
salt to taste

1. Crush the tomatoes by hand into a bowl. Remove any stray skin or fibrous stem parts. Do not add any extra puree or juice from the can.

2. Add the other ingredients except tomato paste, then pulse with a stick blender or in a food processor, blender, or food mill. I used my stick blender and it was quick and easy.

3. At this point, judge the consistency. Mine was pretty thin and watery just from the liquid in the tomatoes. If it’s too thin, strain through a fine seive for a minute or two until the sauce left in the strainer is the right consistency (or slightly thin, the tomato paste will help thicken slightly).

4. Return it to a bowl if you strained it and add the tomato paste. I needed to add some paste because the tomatoes were not the best quality and were obviously not the ripest. The paste made my sauce thicker and brighter. Also, if you taste the sauce, be aware that the raw garlic will not taste good. This was off-putting, but the cook time in the oven took care of that, don’t worry. Let the sauce sit while the dough rises for the flavors to blend.

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Thai-style Drunken Noodles


Ah, drunken noodles. No, the noodles themselves aren’t drunk; There’s no alcohol in the dish, contrary to what you may be thinking. Instead, the name refers to the state people are often in when they’re eating these noodles. What drunk doesn’t love garlicky, spicy, salty food?

And really, if you’re not a fan of garlic or chile heat, then don’t make this. Don’t leave out the garlic because your mom doesn’t like it, or only put in half a seeded jalapeno because you don’t like heat. I’m sick of seeing comments on blogs and recipe sites where people explain how they changed numerous major components of a dish before they’d think about trying something. I don’t believe that recipes are gospel, by any means, but you can’t completely omit or change a dish’s major flavor profile. And in this case, that means garlic and chiles (and it could be argued, fish sauce).

Rant aside, this is a super easy and fast meal, great for weeknights. Just make sure to take some breathmints to work the next day.

Drunken Noodles

1 14 oz package of wide rice noodles
6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or minced through a press
1/4 c Thai chiles, chopped (alternately, use 5-7 serrano chiles if Thai are not available)
1 lb ground chicken or pork
1/3 c fish sauce
1/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c Golden Mountain sauce, or more soy sauce
2 T sugar
2-3 cubanelle or Anaheim peppers, sliced
Thai basil, to taste

1. Cook noodles in boiling water until cooked, but still firm. Time it so the noodles are done the same time as the sauce/meat.

2. Add a little vegetable oil to a wok, then add your ground meat. Stir fry over high heat until done, then add garlic, chiles and peppers. Stir fry until peppers are tender, about 2-3 minutes.

3. Add sauces and sugar, and bring to a simmer. Toss noodles into the wok, and combine with sauce. If needed, cook 1-2 minutes more in the sauce in order to cook noodles to your liking.

4. Serve with chopped Thai basil and extra chiles, if desired.

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