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TDF Archives

Chai Bars in Brooklyn

Chai Bars.

Spicy. Sweet. Simple.

You can find the recipe, together with some thoughts on kitchen organization at, where the lovely Mrs. Limestone has asked me to contribute a guest post. Be sure to check out her fantastic house while you’re over there — it’s jawdropping.

You can also find the recipe [...]

Cinco De Mayo 1 – Aztec Chocolate Cookies

chewy chocolate chili cookies mexican aztec mayan
I am rather more-ish when it comes to cookies. You will probably not find me waxing rhapsodic about the simple charms of a basic, not-too-sweet butter cookie. I want a little more going on when it comes to cookies. More flavors, more textures, more zing. And more cookies please.

These cookies are all that AND a bag of chips (no, not literally). They’re packed with rich chocolate flavor that’s enhanced by chocolate chips, plus they have the warmth of spices and the heat of chilies. They’re crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle. And despite packing enough heat to make you open your eyes when you bite into them, they seem to be universally appealing, as we discovered when we left a plate on the dining room table. The enterprising and surprisingly agile Nuni climbed onto the table, helped herself to three cookies, and proceeded to smear chocolate all over my dining room chairs. Which is why we keep an oilcloth on the table and plan to reupholster those chairs. But I digress. [...]

Laurie Colwin’s Gingerbread

It’s a common question on college application essays and at boring dinner parties – if you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, whom would you choose? Jesus figures highly in the answers I’ve heard, so do William Shakespeare and Bill Clinton (which I suppose tells you something about my circle of acquaintance). Me? My answer is always the same – Laurie Colwin. If you’ve never read Laurie Colwin’s writing, you should, right now. I stumbled on a mention of her in an article in Gourmet in 2000, which led me to a discovery of her books, Home Cooking and More Home Cooking.
Reading these was like discovering an old friend who loved food and cooking as much as I do. If she were coming over for dinner, we’d hang out in the kitchen, chopping and gossiping, then sit down with some wine and a nice simple meal from ingredients we picked up at the farmer’s market – maybe a chicken scaloppini, or a pasta dish with leeks and a nice green salad, and then we’d curl up on the couch with a cup of coffee and something we both love – gingerbread.
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Cardamom Orange Teacake Cookies — Easy as 123

march 2009 668 There’s this idea when it comes to baked goods, especially in America, that more is necessarily better. More gooey, more sweet, more creamy, more decadent. And while I am IN NO WAY coming out against gooey, over the top desserts, sometimes you want some restraint. Just a little sweet, with subtle flavors. Something restful. These cardamom orange teacakes hit just that spot. I developed the recipe after getting my hands on a proof copy of Michael Ruhlman’s terrific new book, Ratio, which purports to break down many classic recipes of cooking into their component ratios, by weight. This is a terrific concept – knowing the fundamentals really encourages the amateur cook to feel comfortable with experimenting, and it’s really a “cook book” – one that teaches the reader to cook, rather than a collection of recipes. In my opinion, though, some of the ratios work better than others. I’m willing to believe that pie crust or choux pastry is always built on the same ratio, but I was more skeptical about cookies. Ruhlman gives a ratio for “Basic butter cookies” (1 part sugar, 2 parts butter, 3 parts flour) and then proceeds to give recipes for several other types of classic cookies that break this ratio, which is hardly universal. Still, it’s a starting point, and it does encourage experimentation. I was intrigued by Ruhlman’s description of these simple, not too sweet cookies, but I wanted to see if I could turn them into something a little more me. Full Post [...]

Butternut Squash Soup with Vadouvan

Bsquash soup 6
I admit it – I have an ingredient fetish. My husband constantly accuses me of taking over our limited refrigerator and pantry space with an overabundance of exotic condiments and ingredients. My reaction is, of course, to deny deny deny, but I do admit that when I see a new vegetable at the farmer’s market, I can rarely resist picking one up to see what I can do with it. As you can imagine, I was particularly intrigued when I caught whiff of a new spice mix while watching last season’s Top Chef (and if you weren’t watching, why not? It’s great TV). Chef Jamie Lauren of San Francisco’s Absinthe talked about her “secret ingredient”, vadouvan, and my ears immediately perked up. What was this mysterious spice? And where could I get some? I ordered some from the Spice House, which is one of my favorite resources for dried herbs and spices. The Spice House’s vadouvan is more of a powder than the other ones I’ve seen, without the fried onion look, but it does contain onions and garlic. I decided to make an onion based butternut squash soup to boost the onion flavor and showcase the spice. The good news for you is that this recipe can be easily recreated with another curry powder, if you are not a spice fetishist. However, I don’t promise it’s going to have quite the same smoky sweet onion flavor. Full Post [...]