Category Archives: Food

behold! the fancy pants cookies

I know what you’re thinking about this blog, and I want to set the record straight. It’s not always about babies. Sometimes it’s about cookies.

Take note, gentle reader. This is the post that will change your life. This is where you learn how to make the most salty-chewy-sour-cherry delicious of all chocolate chip cookies. This is the cookie that will make you stop mid chew, while you’re typing an e-mail to a co-worker at the job that you loathe (totally hypothetical situation) and think: I. Am. AWESOME!!! Just for having baked such an amazing treat. And that last part, you’ll sing! Just like these cookies do.

But don’t take my word for it. (Here’s looking at you LeVar Burton.)

A few words before you begin.

These cookies take approximately 36 hours from start to finish.

Take a moment. It’s okay. I understand.

They have to marinate, if you will, in their own ridiculous juices. I don’t pretend to understand the chemistry of this, I just accept it. Like a religion, but even better. Have faith and you will be rewarded. Like for real. In the corporeal flesh. In the very near future. You can’t beat that with a stick.

Also. These cookies, they’re not cheap. You should use the very best ingredients you can get your hands on. That means real vanilla (not imitation) and a full pound of Ghirardelli chocolate pieces (or even higher quality high cacao bittersweet chocolate).

Oh, and a cranberry flavored with cherry juice does not a cherry make. Yeah, that’s right, Craisins. Dried. Cherries. That’s what you want.

And even more annoying, where applicable, I’ve listed measurements in ounces, which means you’ll need a kitchen scale. Don’t fight it. Just go buy one. Seriously, the cookies are worth it. The New York Times recipe that my recipe is adapted from lists measurements in ounces and also in cups, but I can’t vouch for the cookie made without a scale. Why even risk it?

So. Let’s just all  take a deep breath and embrace the fact that these cookies are neither cheap or easy to make.

I should also say that the Fancy Pants were inspired by this cookie at the Metropolitan Bakery and the aforementioned recipe from The New York Times that I found on the food blog Orangette.

After making my first batch, I knew I was on to something.

And that, friends, is when my life began in earnest.

Fancy Pants Cookies

Adapted from The New York Times, David Leite, and Jacques Torres via Orangette

makes about 2 1/2 dozen

8 1/2 ounces cake flour

8 1/2 ounces bread flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

10 ounces light brown sugar

8 ounces granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract

1 pound bittersweet chocolate, at least 60 percent cacao

1 bag of dried cherries (about 8 ounces)

Sea salt.

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder, and kosher salt together into large bowl. Set aside.

Using the paddle attachment of your mixer, cream butter and sugars until fluffy (a few minutes). Add eggs, mixing well after each one. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low and attach plastic pouring shield (this thing here) to mixing bowl. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture until just combined. ***IMPORTANT*** Do not over mix! Pour chocolate pieces and cherries into batter and mix briefly. Press plastic wrap on top of dough as well as plastic on the top of the bowl and refrigerate for 36 hours.

36 impatient hours later, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Use an ice cream scoop to fashion six generous sized balls of dough per cookie sheet. Sprinkle dough with sea salt. Place one sheet (and mixing bowl of remaining dough) back in the refrigerator. Put the other cookie sheet in the oven. Bake cookies for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden, turning baking sheet about halfway through cook time. Place cookies on wire racks to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.

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things you should know if we’re going to stay friends

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1. We traded Camptown Races on the ceiling every morning for a deee-lux apartment in the skyyy-yyy-yy, and we haven’t looked back. This is one of the views from one of our bedroom windows.

2. We gave up Old World charm to move closer to this:

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Cheese fries, funnel cakes, FRIED OREOS!!!!!!! It was totally worth it!

3. This is our new coffee shop. It’s as cute as it could be.

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I’m off to unpack a box of books. Have a good night!

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a birthday suit, love in a jar, and other happy birthday stories

I loved the Lilly Pulitzer birthday suit that I rented.

S. and I enjoyed a delicious meal Saturday evening at our favorite restaurant, Barbuzzo. We really splurged with a bread pudding for dessert and a budino to-go! This little love in a jar was my breakfast this morn. It’s so good it makes me trill. And dance on my tippy toes. At the same time. Recipe here.

And I rounded out the day’s nutritious meals with macaroons from Garces Trading Company.

It was a lovely day! Thanks to everyone (especially S.) for all the birthday love.

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chicken and donuts

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On the very first day of 2012 (my mom’s bday, Happy Birthday, Mom! and Dad! His is Jan. 2), S. and I forewent all the traditional foods that people eat for luck on New Year’s Day. S. was unaware that such traditions exist and I have no problem flouting tradition if it requires me to eat sausage and sauerkraut and black-eyed peas. Yuck!  It may be an auspicious meal, but I’m looking for delicious, thank you very much.

We walked to Federal Donuts instead to try their much bally-hooed donuts and fried chicken. I’ve been kind of mad at them since they opened in October, when I walked all the way over there two mornings in a row only to find this sign on the door.

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The first day, I decided to get up earlier and return the next day. The second day, I was mad as a wet hen, and I haven’t been back.

Until Sunday. When we arrived, it was empty. We ordered two donuts (chocolate and spicy peanut and grapefruit with brown sugar) and six pieces of buttermilk ranch fried chicken. It was a slow day and we left with four extra donuts and twice the chicken that we ordered. I have to admit, that won me over.

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The grapefruit donuts with brown sugar glaze were my favorite … although the honey donut that comes with the chicken (yeah, you heard me) is pretty awesome too. I enjoyed the buttermilk ranch chicken that we ordered, but I didn’t love the complementary chili-garlic glazed chicken, although I’m happy we were able to try it.

On our way home, we saw some of these guys (you’re going to want to click on that) and decided to have a very Mummers New Year’s next year and resolved to continue making our own luck.

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christmas time in the city

We hopped on a train and headed to New York last weekend for a Christmas getaway in the city. We covered most of our bases: smell the chestnuts roasting on nearly every corner, check; battle the masses to see Macy’s animated windows, check; taxi to Rockefeller Center and squeeze in a few photos before they kick everyone out for the night, double check.

On the food front, we had an amazing lunch at this hole-in-the-wall cafe on Madison Avenue that’s so small it doesn’t even have a bathroom (One diner I know went to the closest one—on the second floor of Barney’s across the street). They have a KILLER turkey sandwich and cheese fries, though. We had dinner at Frank (kind of a tradition for S. and I) in the East Village, home of the best burrata mozzarella in the world! We also enjoyed an amazing meal at Public, where the complementary dishes just kept coming thanks to a friend who knows the manager.

 We kicked around SoHo, where we stumbled upon a Warby Parker pop-up store and determined !again! that I look terrible in glasses (see above). We took a grand tour of Eataly, where you can buy both white and black truffles by the gram (and anything else your gastronomical heart desires); visited the home of Chuck and Serena on Gossip Girl (omg!); professed some major Flatiron love, and strolled through the Union Square Holiday Market (thanks for the rec, Tracy). *And* we popped into Kwiat and I had my rings cleaned (bonus!).

It was a fabulous weekend in the city! We might make it an annual trip. What did we miss? I’ll put it on the to-do list for next year.

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Supper tonight

Supper tonight was so tasty I had to share tell you about it. Butternut squash ravioli (masquerading as pumpkin) from here with a butter sage sauce, sea salt, and cracked black pepper. Um, yum. Some of us eat well. You don’t even want to know how the other half lives.

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Happy Birthday, S.

S. had a birthday today. We celebrated with sea bass, salad, and birthday cheesecake. And then we rested (and by we, I mean I). And it was good.

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louisiane

(photo by Trevor Dixon for Garden & Gun)

I was enjoying my new issue Garden & Gun a few days ago when I came across a story about two Philadelphia coffee roasters searching for the roots of Southern coffee. Todd Carmichael and Jean Philippe Iberti of La Colombe Torrefaction recently released a reserve blend named Louisiane, which their website calls “a tribute to the culinary South.”

I thought it was interesting because obviously I’m interested in any intersection between the South and Philadelphia, but also because the article talks about how Carmichael and Iberti used shipping records from the 1700s to determine the origin of what Southerners were drinking in the pre-Civil War South. This bit of detective work is right up my alley.

For me, one big appeal of cooking has always been its wacky ability to bring people together, whether it’s the people in front of you or those separated by centuries or oceans or some other impenetrable barrier. By following a recipe from the Antebellum South, for example, you’re creating something tangible in the world that was a part of that earlier experience. It’s a powerful communion with the past that I’m not sure you can get any other way.

That’s why I need to get my hands on a bag of Louisiane. ASAP. As soon as I get a job.

What do you think? Do you feel this way too?

P.S. I went to try a cup of Louisiane at one of La Colombe’s cafes in Philly, but discovered they only serve their Corsica blend at the cafe (the one near Rittenhouse, anyway). I also wanted to get a picture of the outside of the place for you guys, but it’s covered in scaffolding. I struck out on both counts, it seems, but the Corsica was good, and the cafe was a hipster haven.

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emotional eating

When the tough gets going, Phillies fans head out for day-after cheesesteaks…or maybe those are tourists. It’s hard to say, but these were the lines today at Pat’s and Geno’s (the competing cheesesteak places that are located directly opposite one another on dueling corners). Needless to say, I’m sure there was a lot of emotional eating in Phila today.

I headed to South Philly this morn with this pastry as my primary objective.

Ignore the pesky shadow for a moment (that’s what happens when you head out relatively early and then dawdle past row houses, snapping random photos and marveling at how nice it is to live so close to the village that is South Philly and also to Old City and Rittenhouse Square and Washington Square. It’s what happens when you chat with the pastry chef before heading home, through the Italian Market, to which you’ve already professed your undying devotion and which is crackling with activity on a beautiful fall day and the next thing you know you’re in a kitchen shop you never noticed before and it stretches the entire length of a city block! and so there are pie pans and pastry blenders and croxetti stamps to look at and then your husband is calling and asking where in the hell you are…and you drag yourself away and stop at Starbucks to get one small and one large coffee before arriving back home with your pastries, which you will photograph. With shadows. Because it’s so late in the day. That’s what happens.)

Anyway, let’s just take a moment to admire this almond pain au chocolate, or almond chocolate croissant, or as I like to roughly translate—almond chocolate bread. I bought it at Artisan Boulanger Patissier, an unassuming French pastry shop in the heart of South Philly, which Leya at Curious Bird kindly pointed me to. I had emailed her about the raspberry and cheese croissants she mentioned here. I’ve been there twice now, and the pastries are amazing.

When I was in France a few years ago, I basically subsisted for several weeks on delectable pastries, cappucino, and red wine. The pain au chocolate alone made me want to move there and never look back. Ever since, it has made me crazy to see (some) bakeries in the United States selling pain au chocolate with chocolate chips inside a croissant.  Really? Why bother?

The pain au chocolate at Artisan Boulanger Patissier is a perfect french croissant with strips of high quality chocolate in its flaky interior, so that when you bite into it, the chocolate’s kind of melty and soft on the outside but firm and substantial as you bite through. There are no words.

The proprietors are a Cambodian husband and wife team. He is a French-trained pastry chef, and they used to sell their fabulous breads to Air France. That’s how legit they are.

If/when you’re in South Philly, do yourself a favor…

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speaking of champagne…

We never talked about this. Those of you who follow these things, know that I succeeded in my bliggedy blog pledge to post every day for two weeks. It wasn’t easy—I won’t lie—but I did it.

I finally celebrated with a glass of champagne at a BBQ joint near our apartment last week. Nevermind that it came in a can. And the bartender, who kept calling me “Love,” asked if I’d like a glass or if I was happy to drink it with the bendy straw that comes attached. I went glass, but I kind of love the self-sufficiency of the can/bendy straw concept.

As I sat there celebrating the enormous accomplishment of writing a blog post every day for two weeks on the blog I started for fun, I did wonder, “Okay, what next?” Did we learn anything? Did you like some types of posts better than others, Fair Readers? I’m sure you did, but I still didn’t get a lot of feedback. Was it fun? Who enjoyed it; raise your hand.

So, what’s next? I’m not really sure. Should I post every day?  Should I do more recipes or photographs or more Philly fun? I’m not really sure. I’ll think about it. Feel free to weigh in.

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