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Cookie Week 2020

At least around here, holiday baking is the best kind of baking. December is an excuse to try all the new cookie recipes I’ve been bookmarking, and the holidays make a perfect excuse for pawning off excess on friends gifting baked goods.

So. Welcome to five days of saccharine madness.

If you want to bake along, here’s what you can expect next week, plus shopping lists (which I haven’t converted to metric yet) if you want to follow along:

Pecan Pie Sandwich Cookies: NYT Cooking

Honestly, these sound so good that I actually might not make any tweaks – high praise coming from someone practically incapable of following the recipe as written.

You’ll need:

  • 325 grams pecan halves
  • 225 grams all-purpose flour
  • 340 grams (3 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 40 grams powdered sugar
  • 295 grams brown sugar (the recipe calls for light brown – I will probably use dark)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ea egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 80 grams dark corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
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Thanksgiving: in review

  1. They do not make small turkeys. To attempt to get around this fact, I purchased turkey parts. This was problematic for two reasons. First, I asked the turkey guy at the greenmarket for two thighs. When I got home, I discovered I had four thighs, because I didn’t think to ask how many thighs came in a pack. Second, I bought a 10-pound turkey breast, because they do not grow small birds. What I have learned here is that no matter how hard you try, Thanksgiving wants you to have too much turkey.
  2. Jackson and I don’t eat as much as I thought we did. I quartered just about everything – aiming to end up with 3-4 servings worth of every dish so that we had Thanksgiving, plus a day or two of leftovers. It has been five days. We are still working on clearing it.
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A freestyle chowder

It is currently 34 degrees here in New York, the kind of clear, bright, bitingly cold sort of weather that inevitably results in streaming, red noses and dreams of blankets and books and steaming mugs of soup.

But not just any soup.

Walking to the grocery store, I became fixed on the idea of fish chowder – a rich, creamy, aromatic broth, studded with chunks of tender potato and flaky cod. I don’t know why. The only chowder I have ever eaten with any regularity is Taqueria Del Sol’s shrimp corn chowder, which, while delicious, isn’t the sippable soup I’m seeking.

I blame Sam Sifton for the idea. His charmingly conversational (and delightfully imprecise) speedy fish chowder has been floating around in my head – as much for its formatting as for the end result.

It spoke to me, this idea for a no-recipe recipe: just enough guidance to take out some of the fear and guesswork, leaving me the freedom to get creative and experiment without worrying about compromising the end result. Exactly the kind of soul-soothing comfort cooking I can get lost in – something that feels just as good as a warm blanket on a night like tonight.

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The quest begins: honey oat sandwich bread v. 01

An overhead shot of two pieces of bread thickly spread with butter and raspberry jam sitting on a white plate. One piece sits slightly atop the other. A knife is resting on the bottom-most piece of bread. In the top left corner, you can see part of a white crock.
JUMP TO RECIPE>>

I was on the hunt for a new sandwich bread recipe to try last week, partly as a distraction from, you know, *gestures vaguely* the everything, and partly because my current go-to isn’t made with whole wheat in mind. It has a tendency to either misbehave in the proof and get really rough and open crumbed, or dry out and stale quickly, and I don’t love that. Plus, I love honey-oat sandwich bread, and this doesn’t quite fit the bill.

Enter King Arthur Baking Company’s Vermont Whole Wheat Honey Oatmeal Bread. It ticked a bunch of my boxes – it is designed specifically for whole wheat flour, it includes both honey and oats, and it has a lovely nearly-one-bowl mixing method that melts my little dishes hating heart. So I baked it. And it was delicious. A beautiful, pillowy-soft crumb that reminded me of the best kinds of cheap squishy supermarket sandwich bread, the faintest whiff of cinnamon to play off the oats, enough tooth to keep things interesting, and, best of all, it didn’t get noticeably dry or stale-tasting until nearly the end of the week.

It was, however, very sweet. We’re talking cinnamon roll-without-the-icing type sweet. Which was amazing spread with butter for breakfast, or for PB&Js…not so much what I’m going for in ham and cheese.

So I decided to hack it.

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Randomly on a Thursday

  1. I had grand plans for the opening post on this site. It was going to be a gloriously researched and documented process log for reactivating my long-neglected sourdough starter post-move, and I was (and am) very excited about it. My goal was to have it done by Friday.
  2. That isn’t going to happen.
  1. For a number of reasons, the starter just isn’t starting.
  2. This would have nothing to do with the fact that I haven’t fed it regularly because I am increasingly unable to focus on anything other than election returns in Nevada and Georgia. And the global pandemic.
  3. It also almost certainly has nothing to do with the fact that I’m not used to it being anywhere south of 70°F at this time of year.
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Hi! I’m Jessi

A culinary degree and two years of professional experience has not stopped Jessi from making stupid mistakes – she just makes them more efficiently. She habitually reads cookbooks before bed, loses track of time on Wikipedia, and yells at cooking shows like dads watching football. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband Jackson, five plants, and more cookbooks than a 600 square foot studio should hold.

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