The first time I made these cookies, Joy the Baker’s chocolate brownie cookies with white chocolate and roasted macadamia nuts, I couldn’t taste them. I was into third week of a month of Whole 30, and taking it so seriously that when I almost absentmindedly licked some chocolate batter off of my finger I squealed and jumped backwards. Despite not being able to take a tester bite, I had a hunch these cookies were the business. For starters, Joy the Baker really knows her way around a delicious sweet. Secondly, the star ingredients–two kinds of chocolate and salted roasted macadamia nuts–are pretty hard to argue with. And finally, there was the smell. Holy heck, did sniffing these cookies while they were baking test every bit of my Whole 30 resolve. I decided right then to make them as soon as I could eat sweets again.
We’ve been hung up on pumpkin season for the past few weeks here at butter poached, but we can’t forget that it’s apple season, too. As I’ve written before, apple season is impressive in central Illinois. The farmers market is dominated by tables of multiple apple varieties: Honey Crisp, Golden Delicious, Gala, Jonagold, Rome, and Fuji, to name a few. By the time I decide which couple of apples I want to try for the week, I find myself carrying at least a few pounds of loot. If I want to treat myself the next Saturday with even more apples, I have to make fast work of my weekly haul. My latest, greatest way to put apples to an exceptionally tasty use is this roasted applesauce from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook.
I loved absolutely everything about my visit with Laura and Ed in Springfield–getting a glimpse of their everyday, reuniting with their sweet pup Tenley, tasting some fave local tastes (a super slim burger, a Route 66 diner club sandwich, a perfect chocolate+vanilla swirl cone that I got all over myself, and a peach bruschetta I’m still thinking about especially stand out), finally seeing their gorgeous house, eating dessert twice before dinner, tagging along for La’s weekly trip to the farmers market, talking and talking and talking, watching the carefully DVR-ed premier of Bachelor in Paradise, and laughing til I cried at least once a day. But one of the very best parts of the visit was cooking together. And if I do say so myself, we put together one heck of a dinner. Laura boiled perfect little fingerling potatoes with thyme and butter, Ed grilled deelish steaks, and Laura and I tried a really knock your socks off new to us salad (that she’ll blog about soon!) and put our own blackberry spin on my very favorite peach cobbler.
I wrote at length a couple of years ago about my adventures with Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good cookbook. The book has remained a favorite for times when I’ve needed healthful dinner ideas, but there’s one recipe I’ve gone back to again and again just because it’s tasty: the Mexican Green Goddess Dressing. It’s pourable summer: bright, tangy, and a stunning shade of green. I love it as a dip for veggies and as a salad dressing. Oh, and it happens to be vegan.
Two weeks ago was our first Memorial Day weekend with a grill and the first stretch of truly beautiful days. Naturally, we grilled and grilled and grilled: steaks, sausages, veggies, and hot dogs. We ate potato salad, ice cream cake, chips, and washed it all down with cold white wine and beer. It was a delicious few days, but it was also a very salty, greasy, bloated few days. By Tuesday we were craving something much lighter. For inspiration, I turned to Ottolenghi, the master of satisfying salads. I flipped through Jerusalem and found what looked like a seriously virtuous recipe that would surely make us feel good about what we were eating: the saffron chicken and herb salad.
I’m home in Virginia with my sister this week, for the wedding of one of our dearest friends. We were tasked with making cupcakes for the reception (best task!), and were happily invited to make them in our aunt Carolyn’s kitchen, where we could take advantage of her double ovens and awesome collection of professional baker gear. While we cupcaked, she made two frozen strawberry treats: sorbet and sherbet, to see which recipe she likes best. Both were delicious–I favoured the sherbet, which had tangy buttermilk–but both also required an ice cream maker. Not exactly a deal breaker, but also not the easiest implement to use, especially if you don’t have the freezer room to always have the base chilling away. Unlike the absolute easiest frozen dessert I’ve ever made, Campari granita.
“This is the best cookbook you own, don’t you think?” Ed said as he finished the end of The Food Lab’s pork meatballs with mushroom cream sauce. It was the 24th recipe I’d tested from J. Kenji López-Alt’s book, and yet another plate-licking winner. Ed’s declaration has serious weight, as he is my chief taste tester and has sampled the results from countless cookbooks. So is he right—is The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science the best cookbook on my shelf? I hate to pick favorites, but I can’t think of any other book that’s had so many things I wanted to make, given me so many keeper recipes, and taught me so much.