My new favourite cinnamon buns

I keep the butter & cream cheese icing separate, warm the buns before serving, and let people slather on as much or as little icing as they like

This is my new favourite recipe for cinnamon buns. With a dough not too far away from a brioche, they’re a bit crispy on the outside and, inside, beautifully soft and light but not mushy.

Cinna-Buns

Adapted and expanded from the King Arthur Flour recipe here: https://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/cinna-buns-recipe

Makes 12 very large buns or 24 medium buns

Ahead of time: An hour or two ahead, take two sticks of butter (three if you’re doubling the icing), a package of cream cheese, and two eggs out of the fridge so they can warm to room temperature. Note that you can use salted butter if you want – there’s a negligible 1/8th teaspoon of salt in a quarter-pound salted stick, so it won’t make an appreciable difference.

Ratios are crucial in baking, so I measure by weight – especially important for the flour.

Ingredients

Dough

  •     1 cup lukewarm milk [heat in microwave about 1 minute until 115F/45C or so]
  •     2 large eggs, at room temperature
  •     1/3 cup (2 5/8 oz, 75g) softened unsalted butter, cut into half-tablespoon pieces
  •     4 1/2 cups (19 oz, 540g) all-purpose flour
  •     1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  •     1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz, 100g) granulated sugar
  •     2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast or active dry yeast

Filling

  •     1/3 cup (2 5/8 oz, 75g) softened unsalted butter
  •     1 cup light brown sugar, packed  (7 1/2 oz, 210g)
  •     3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Icing

  •     6 tablespoons (generous 1/3 cup, 3 oz, 85g) cream cheese, softened
  •     1/4 cup (half stick, 2 oz, 57g) unsalted butter, softened
  •     1 1/2 cups (6 oz, 170g) confectioners’ sugar
  •     1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

[I usually double the icing recipe and then let guests use as much or as little as they like. I also decrease the sugar and increase the butter and cream cheese to make the icing not as sickly sweet as the original recipe.]

Directions

  1. To make the dough: Mix together and knead all of the dough ingredients – by hand, mixer, or bread machine – to make a smooth, soft dough. [In a stand mixer with a dough hook, this will take 6 or 7 minutes. When the side of the bowl is fairly clean and the dough starts to climb the hook a bit, it’s ready. Note that, like brioche dough, which is similarly enriched with butter, sugar, and egg, this may seem too wet at the start, but it isn’t.]
  2. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turn to grease all sides, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for 60 minutes, or until it’s nearly doubled in bulk. [Enriched doughs can take longer to rise – up to two hours in a cold kitchen or if your ingredients weren’t at room temperature or if your yeast is a little tired.]
  3. Deflate and roll out the dough: Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface. [It’s very important to grease the surface – you’ll need two feet by a foot-and-a-half – because you’re rolling a fairly wet dough to 3-4mm thickness and it would stick like tape otherwise. This may seem daunting, but don’t worry, the dough is very pliable and easy to stretch without tearing.] Pat the dough out into a rough rectangle, then roll to 16×21″/40x53cm, keeping the corners as square as practical.
  4. Filling: [For this step, I find it’s easier to microwave the butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon for about 30 seconds, then mix to form a paste that you can spread fairly evenly onto the dough. Allow it to cool a bit if it feels hot. This method also stops a bunch of the filling from falling out and ending up on the bottom of your pan.] Original method: Spread the dough with the 1/3 cup butter. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon, and sprinkle it evenly over the dough.

5a. For 12 large buns: Starting with a short end, roll the dough into a 16″/40cm log and cut it into 12 slices. [Cut in half, then cut each half in half, then cut each quarter into three equal pieces.]

5b.  For 24 smaller buns: Starting with a long end, roll the dough into a 21″/53cm log and cut it into 24 slices. [Cut in half, then cut each half in half, then cut each quarter in half, then cut each eighth into 3 equal pieces.]

6. Place the buns in a lightly greased 9×13″/22x33cm pan. [3×4 rows for 12 buns or 4×6 rows for 24 buns.] Cover the pan and let the buns rise until they’re nearly doubled in size, about 30 minutes. [Again, your results may vary – it can take up to an hour. Be patient and let them puff up.]

7. While the buns are rising, preheat the oven to 400F/200C

8. Uncover the buns, and bake them until they’re golden brown, about 15 minutes. [Check them every few minutes starting at 15 minutes, but I’ve found that golden brown won’t appear until more than 20 minutes have passed. If you have a probe thermometer, 190-195F/87-90C inside the center buns is your target.] While the buns are baking, make the icing.

9. To make the icing: In a small bowl, beat together the softened cream cheese, softened butter, sugar, and vanilla. [I double the icing recipe and modify by using a little more butter and cream cheese and less confectioner’s sugar.]

10. Remove the buns from the oven. Spread the icing on the buns while they’re warm. [I keep the icing separate, partly so people can have as much or as little as they like and partly because only the baker normally sees that nice spiral. It would be a shame to hide it away permanently.]

11. Serve buns warm, or at room temperature. [Room temperature? Stop it.] Wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for a day or so; freeze for longer storage.

This is how slack the kneaded dough will be

The first rise will result in nearly two quarts/litres

Island surface sprayed with canola oil

Patted into a rectangle, then rolled out to about 16×21”/40x53cm and 3-4mm thick

Filling spread over dough – it doesn’t have to be perfect

Dough rolled up on long side, sliced in half, then quarters, then eighths

Those eighths cut into thirds for 24 medium buns

Arranged in buttered 9×13”/22x33cm pan for second rise – a bit wonky looking, but…

…after the second rise, the wonkiness from the slicing has corrected itself

Out of the oven

A previous bake of the larger size – they’re pretty huge

 

A little overproofed

It seems that the local bakery I mentioned in this article has a) become a fair amount bigger than I knew and b) not scaled the operation up in the best way. The warning letter they got ten days ago from the FDA makes it clear they’re still operating a bit like they’re back in the good old days, when they were producing, say, several dozen loaves a day. When you grow quickly and start supplying some supermarket chains, you’re going to be inspected just as the big boys are and held to the same standards; they ought to have known that.

I began reading the letter with some dread because I like their sourdough. Thankfully, the infractions aren’t too awful, but I certainly hope they address them quickly and well. I wouldn’t want to read about “seizure and injunction” in a month or two.

One focus of the letter is that their “whole wheat” items aren’t, though they have some whole wheat flour. That you can tell at a glance – they’re far too light in colour. I just checked their web site and the whole wheat there is a lot darker than any loaf of theirs I’ve ever seen in person, so maybe they’ve already adjusted it. Not mentioned is their rye loaf, quite tasty but again far too light and too well-risen for a lot of rye to be involved; I think it’s probably a minority flour in that loaf.

I only found out about this because of news articles yesterday deriding the FDA’s admonition to Nashoba Brook Bakery to stop including “love” in their granola ingredient list. The CEO took exception to that and the whole wheat hand-slap, grumbling about the nanny state, and in the process, whether it was intentional or not – guess my guess! – successfully misdirected the majority of the media away from the lengthy list of mostly allergen-related violations in the FDA’s letter. But not everybody looked away to the pretty assistant at the crucial moment of the sleight. Personally, I would have fixed the problems post-haste, sent those responses the FDA never got, and kept my mouth shut.

Now, maybe love really is in there, but if honesty is always the best policy – see Mark Twain for the answer – we might see, for instance, Kraft required to list “indifference” and “avarice” among their processed cheese food product ingredients. I can easily see lawsuits if not fistfights breaking out over such subjective ingredients. Is this a road we want to go down? Probably not.

Jasper White’s Corn Chowder

I’ll likely be making Jasper White’s Lobster and Corn Chowder this weekend or next, but I had a hankering for chowder today – without quite so much work – and selected the simple and delicious Shaker-style corn chowder from White’s 50 Chowders book, the recipe below. The corn and Yukon Gold potatoes here are from Willard Farm.

The only change I sometimes make to this recipe is to use rosemary instead of cumin in step 3 for a completely different background note – either a couple springs of fresh rosemary, fished out afterward, or ½ teaspoon ground rosemary. Today I stuck to the original.

I forgot about the thinly-sliced scallion garnish in the prep bowl not even two feet away. Oh, well…still tasted great. Click for a larger version.

To go with, I made a couple loaves of simple crusty bread, River Cottage style, one of those to be frozen for later. At the end of this article, there’s a seven-minute River Cottage instructional video and recipe for the bread – do watch that video and see how easy it is. I’ve also included there Jasper White’s general notes on corn and on the importance of curing chowder (yes, some things do benefit from curing). I enthusiastically recommend his book on chowders – it’s both authoritative and fun.

Click for a larger version

Corn Chowder

From 50 Chowders – One-Pot Meals – Clam, Corn & Beyond by Jasper White (2000)

Yield: About 7 cups; serves 6 as a first course

Corn chowder is the king of farmhouse chowders. Hundreds of recipes for it have been published over the years, but since corn and salt pork were staples of the American farm, it is likely that corn chowder was being made and enjoyed long before any recipe was ever printed. The oldest recipe I have come across is by Mary Lincoln, founder of the famous Boston Cooking School, in her Boston Cook Book (1884). Fannie Merritt Farmer, her successor, also published a corn chowder recipe in the original Boston Cooking School Cookbook (1896). A crop of corn chowder recipes followed Mary Lincoln’s, appearing in cookbooks from Philadelphia to Los Angeles and just about everywhere in between. Some were thickened with flour, others with egg yolks. Some, like Fannie Farmer’s, used canned corn (which has been around since the mid-1800s), some used fresh corn. The use of milk, cream, or condensed milk also varies from recipe to recipe. The Shakers, members of the well-known utopian community, are renowned today for their austere yet beautiful furniture, but they were also highly regarded for their cooking skills, especially their farmhouse chowders. My version of corn chowder is made similar to the Shaker style, according to a recipe from the Shakers at Hancock Village in Pittsfield, Massachusetts (1900), using fresh corn, butter, and cream. Its mellow, sweet flavor and lovely pale golden color are very comforting, and it is a big favorite with children as well as adults.

Serve corn chowder as a starter, with toasted common crackers or Pilot crackers. Or serve with Sweet Corn Fritters, Skillet Corn Bread or Corn Sticks, or Anadama Bread on the side to add a delicious contrasting corn flavor to your meal.

Cook’s Notes

Since corn is the heart and soul of this dish, the success of your chowder will rely a great deal on the quality of the corn you use.

If you are making chicken stock or broth especially for this recipe, add the corn cobs (do not scrape them in this case) to that stock for more corn flavor.

Although potatoes help to thicken this chowder, I also use a bit of cornstarch to give it an extra smooth and creamy consistency. Mix the cornstarch and water to create a smooth paste, called a slurry, before you add it to the chowder.

The ground cumin adds an interesting but subtle contrast to the predominant corn flavor of this chowder. In the Southwestern-style corn chowder variation that follows, the amount of cumin is doubled, letting it stand out even more. The small amount of turmeric brightens the chowder’s color, making it a little more yellow.

For equipment, you will need a 3- to 4-quart heavy pot with a lid, a wooden spoon, and a ladle.

Ingredients

A note on this blog entry: For my own future reference, I’ve put double-recipe quantities in square brackets here – so “3 [6] medium ears” just means 3 for a single recipe and 6 for a double.

3 [6] medium ears fresh yellow or bicolor corn
4 [8] ounces slab (unsliced) bacon, rind removed and cut into 1/3-inch dice
2 [4] tablespoons unsalted butter
1 [2] medium onion (7 to 8 ounces [14 to 16 ounces]), cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 [1] large red bell pepper (6 to 8 ounces [12 to 16 ounces]), cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 to 2 [2 to 4] sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped (1/2 [1] teaspoon)
1/2 [1] teaspoon ground cumin [alternate: 1/2 teaspoon ground rosemary or two sprigs fresh rosemary]
1/8 [1/4] teaspoon turmeric
1 [2] pound Yukon Gold, Maine, PEI, or other all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 [6] cups Chicken Stock or Chicken Broth
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 [4] teaspoons cornstarch, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
1 [2] cup heavy cream

For Garnish
2 [4] tablespoons minced fresh chives or thinly sliced scallions

Directions

1. Husk the corn. Carefully remove most of the silk by hand and then rub the ears with a towel to finish the job. Cut the kernels from the cobs and place in a bowl. You should have about 2 cups. Using the back of your knife, scrape down the cobs and add the milky substance that oozes out to the corn kernels.

2. Heat a 3- to 4-quart heavy pot over low heat and add the diced bacon. Once it has rendered a few tablespoons of fat, increase the heat to medium and cook until the bacon is crisp and golden brown. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat, leaving the bacon in the pot.

3. Add the butter, onion, bell pepper, thyme, cumin [or rosemary], and turmeric and saute, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for about 8 minutes, until the onion and pepper are tender but not browned. [If using rosemary sprigs, fish them out and discard.]

4. Add the corn kernels, potatoes, and stock, turn up the heat, cover, and boil vigorously for about 10 minutes. Some of the potatoes will have broken up, but most should retain their shape. Use the back of your spoon to smash a bit of the corn and potatoes against the side of the pot. Reduce the heat to medium and season the chowder with salt and pepper.

5. Stir the cornstarch mixture and slowly pour it into the pot, stirring constantly. As soon as the chowder has come back to a boil and thickened slightly, remove from the heat and stir in the cream. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. If you are not serving the chowder within the hour, let it cool a bit, then refrigerate; cover the chowder after it has chilled completely. Otherwise, let it sit at room temperature for up to an hour, allowing the flavors to meld.

6. When ready to serve, reheat the chowder over low heat; don’t let it boil. Ladle into cups or bowls and sprinkle with the chopped chives.

VARIATION: Corn Chowder with Tomato and Basil

Peel 1/2 pound ripe red tomatoes: Score an X in the bottom of each tomato. Drop into a pot of boiling water for about 30 seconds, until the skins loosen. Cool the tomatoes in ice water, drain, and pull off the skin. Quarter the tomatoes and cut out their juicy centers, reserving them for another use. Cut the tomato flesh into 1/2-inch dice; you should have about 3/4 cup. Add the tomatoes to the chowder right after you add the cornstarch (Step 5). When you remove the chowder from the heat, stir in 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil along with the cream.

VARIATION: Southwestern-Style Corn Chowder

Increase the cumin to 1 teaspoon. Just before you add the cornstarch (Step 5), add 1 small poblano chile, roasted, peeled, seeds removed, and cut into small to medium dice. After you add the cream, stir in 2 or more tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro.

VARIATION: Corn Chowder with Sweet Potatoes

To make this delectable sweet chowder, substitute 1 pound sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice, for the white potatoes. Sweet potatoes cook a little faster than all-purpose potatoes, so reduce the cooking time to about 8 minutes, then proceed with the recipe as instructed.

Simple White Loaf

From River Cottage

1 kg bread flour
10g fast-acting yeast
15g fine salt
1/2 tbsp canola or olive oil (optional), plus extra to oil the dough
600 ml water

1. Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add the oil, if using (not essential, but it makes for a slightly softer, more supple crumb), then add the water. Stir to create a rough, sticky dough. The dough really should be quite sticky at this stage – if it isn’t, add a splash more water.

2. Turn out the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, rhythmically stretching the dough away from you, then folding it back on itself. The idea is to stretch and develop the gluten within the dough, not to beat the living daylights out of it. Avoid adding more flour if you can: the dough will become less sticky and easier to handle as you knead, and a wetter dough is generally a better dough.

3. When the dough is smooth and elastic, form it into a ball, coat it very lightly with oil and place in a clean bowl. Cover with cling film or put inside a clean bin-liner and leave in a warm place until doubled in size – in the region of 1½ hours.

4. Tip the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and deflate with your fingertips. Reshape the dough into neat rounds and put on a lightly floured board to prove for around 45 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 250°C/475°F/gas mark 10, or its highest setting. Put a baking tray in to heat up.

5. When the loaves have almost doubled in size again, take the hot baking tray from the oven and sprinkle with a little flour. Carefully transfer the risen loaves to the tray. Slash the tops with a sharp, serrated knife and put in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5 and bake for about 30 minutes more, or until the crust is well-coloured, and the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it sharply with your fingers. Transfer to a rack to cool completely before slicing.

Jasper White on Corn

From 50 Chowders – One-Pot Meals – Clam, Corn & Beyond by Jasper White (2000)

The flavor of corn combines so naturally and beautifully with other chowder ingredients, it is little wonder that this staple of the American kitchen has found its way into hundreds of chowder recipes. The essence of chowder is making something special out of what is at hand, and for many people, especially those away from the coast, corn fits that criterion. In addition to playing the leading role in Corn Chowder, it performs wonderfully as a supporting ingredient in Lobster and Corn Chowder, Savory Summer Fish Chowder, Chicken Chowder with Corn, and several others.

Canned corn has been around for more than a hundred and fifty years, and its use in corn chowder is probably just as old. I do not use canned corn, but you can substitute canned or frozen niblets by volume in any of the recipes that call for fresh corn. Canned creamed corn has an artificial flavor I dislike, and I do not recommend it. My style of cooking celebrates fresh ingredients, and I don’t like to use foods that are not in season. Since chowder doesn’t call for or need the most tender delicate types of summer corn (trucked-in cellophane-wrapper supermarket corn works fine), I am content to make good corn chowders from fresh corn for eight or nine months of the year.

Types of Corn

The best types of sweet corn for chowder are the hearty yellow or bicolor varieties. Most of the corn in the market today is one of the sugar-enhanced hybrids. Unlike the old-fashioned varieties that need to be rushed from the field to the pot, these maintain their sweetness for long periods. Because of the extended cooking corn receives in chowder, texture is not a factor. When you stop for chowder corn at the supermarket, you most likely won’t have a lot of choice, but the corn will probably be right for chowder. At the farm stand, remember that tender young freshly picked white corn like Silver Queen, which is an ethereal experience when eaten on the cob with butter and salt, will not have the same result cooked in chowder. In either case, look for large ears, preferably of yellow corn; bicolor is the second choice. And it is fine to save a few pennies and buy yesterday’s corn. Some of the best varieties of yellow corn are Earlivee, Kandy Kwik, Sugar Buns, and Tuxedo. Among the most flavorful varieties of bicolor corn are Athos, Double Gem, Delectable, and Clockwork.

I have come across early chowder recipes that call for dried corn, but I’m sure these were driven by necessity, not choice. Sweet corn is a vegetable, but dried corn is a starch. Adding it to a chowder would produce something more akin to porridge than chowder.

Cutting Corn from the Cob

To prepare corn for chowder, husk it, then carefully remove the silk. Wiping the ear with a dry towel will remove any recalcitrant silk. Stand the ear with the tapered end up on the cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut from top to bottom, keeping the knife close to the cob but not cutting into it. Then use the back of the knife to scrape away the remaining moist bits of corn still attached to the cob — what I call the “milk.” The cobs can be broken in half and added to any stock that is intended for a corn chowder; if you are going to do this, don’t scrape the cob, just leave the milky bits on to flavor the stock.

Jasper White on “Curing” Chowder

The term curing is used in Cape Cod to describe one of the most consequential (and easiest parts) of chowder making — allowing chowder to rest while the flavors meld. Do not underestimate the importance of this process. It is during the resting and cooling-off period that chowder undergoes a metamorphosis, emerging with a deeper flavor and richer texture. Once you cook the chowder and remove it from the heat, you have two options: you can let it sit for up to 1 hour at room temperature to cure, or you can refrigerate it (curing it in the refrigerator) for up to 3 days. A 1-hour resting will improve your chowder immensely, and refrigerating overnight or longer is even better! If you decide to refrigerate your chowder, let it cool at room temperature for 30 minutes, then place it in the refrigerator uncovered. Covering can prolong the cooling process, resulting in a warm center that is ideal for bacterial growth. Bacteria ruins the flavor and shortens the shelf life of food. Cover the chowder only after it has chilled completely. I do not recommend freezing chowder, because it destroys the texture of the ingredients, but the stocks and broths in this book, which are often more time-consuming to make than chowder, can be made up to 2 months in advance and kept frozen. Always date the stocks and broths you store in the freezer.

Chips ahoy, unabridged

I recently consolidated all I know about these delightful chocolate chip cookies for people I share them with, so here it is:

Serving suggestion the next day: Microwave one cookie for fourteen seconds. You won’t regret it.

The cookies, pictured above in my kitchen in 2010, are my variation of what are widely referred to on the web as the…

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

Original 2008 article in the Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/09/dining/09chip.html

Accompanying recipe: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1015819-chocolate-chip-cookies

Throughout and at the end are my notes on improving and simplifying the recipe and making it more affordable while still delicious.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 ½ ounces, 240g) cake flour [examples available in supermarkets are Swan’s Down, Softasilk, and King Arthur Cake Blend]
  • 1 ⅔ cups (8 ½ ounces, 240g) bread flour
  • [You can safely substitute 4 cups/17 ounces/480g of all-purpose flour for the cake and bread flours because the above combination results in a protein content right in the range of all-purpose flour; bread flour is generally 14-16% protein, cake flour is 7 or 8%, and all-purpose flour is 10-12%]
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt [kosher salt to you and me – or you can substitute 1 teaspoon table salt]
  • 2 ½ sticks (1 ¼ cups/10 ounces/280g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ¼ cups (10 ounces/280g) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces/225g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  • [My addition: 1 ½ cups pecans, toasted as described in my note 1 below]
  • 1 ¼ pounds/565g bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see tip)
  • Sea salt for sprinkling before baking [see my note 4 below]

Tip

  • Disks are sold at Jacques Torres Chocolate; Valrhona fèves, oval-shaped chocolate pieces, are at Whole Foods. [people with earthbound budgets, see my note 3 below]

Preparation

  1. [Toast pecans as described in my note 1 below and allow to cool]
  2. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside. [flours generally don’t need sifting these days, so I just measure them into a bowl – the flour by weight – and whisk thoroughly]
  3. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop [pecans and] chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. [See my note 2 below about skipping this next step] Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
  4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
  5. [See my note 5 below about portion control – these are way too big] Scoop six 3 1/2-ounce/100g mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt [I bolded that because it’s really easy to forget] and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. [I simply slide the parchment off the baking sheet onto my kitchen island] Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

My notes on the recipe:

  1. Pecans: They’re essential in chocolate chip cookies for me. Before starting the recipe, I break a cup-and-a-half of pecan halves into quarters and toast them on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 300F for 10-12 minutes. When you start to smell them, they’re toasted. Don’t forget to boost the oven to 350F afterward for the cookies. Add the cooled pecans to the dough just before the chocolate chips go in. Pricing note: Costco sometimes has 2-pound bags of raw pecan halves for about US$12, which is what pecans used to cost down South about 20 years ago. That’s a lot of pecans, but you can freeze them and they won’t go rancid after six months.
  2. The so-called curing stage: Because I found it hard to believe anything can migrate anywhere in what is a very thick cookie dough, especially after chilling, and the fact that the flour will autolyze – soak up the liquid – in well under an hour, I did extensive blind taste-testing with friends when this recipe came out in 2008. We determined definitively that the 24- to 36-hour “curing” in the fridge is a sad example of wishful thinking of the “Sounds gourmet, right?” variety. Any difference in flavor was purely due to different baking times that people unconsciously or consciously used. It brings nothing to the party other than an unforgivable delay in access to your cookies, and who needs that stress?
  3. Inexpensive chocolate: Jacques Torres is a peach of a guy, but forget about his chocolate discs and those Valrhona fèves; they would make these cookies prohibitively expensive. Instead, use two 10-ounce/285g bags of Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate chips, which are delicious, in shape halfway between a standard chip and a disc (meaning the chocolate spreads well inside the cookies – see the photo), and priced between US$2.99 and $3.39 a bag at Market Basket depending on whether they’re on sale. They’re strangely up to $6.99 a bag at Stop & Shop and other supermarkets, way above Ghirardelli’s suggested list price of US$4.75.
  4. Sea salt: I use Maldon Sea Salt from the UK, available inexpensively on Amazon and in some US supermarkets. It’s also a nice finishing salt for salads, steaks, fish, &c.
  5. Portion control: I find their suggested 3½ ounce/100g scoop size ridiculous – that’s a #10 disher size, what you’d use for an ice cream cone, fercripesake. It’s no wonder so many pictures of these you see on the web depict wonky and/or partially raw cookies. I want more cookies that last longer, not cookies the size of Wales that I can’t finish, so I use a heaping tablespoon – a #30 disher or a not-quite-full #24 disher (the one I have), about an ounce/30g, will do that nicely.

100+ hours of Julia Child

Discovered among the last few shelves of videotapes going to digital: A 12-hour French Chef marathon I taped when WGBH Boston aired it on Christmas 2004, four months after Julia Child left us. The tapes, with no labels on the spine but Post-its indicating the contents, included seventeen half-hour episodes I didn’t have in digital form before, including S07E20 More About French Bread. I just uploaded that one to YouTube – see below – to go along with the S07E19 French Bread episode someone else previously uploaded that I featured in an article here a couple years ago.

My two favourite series from the lists below are probably Baking with Julia, a thirty-nine episode, nineteen-hour series, and Julia & Jacques: Cooking at Home. The former is mouth-watering throughout – just this week, I watched three episodes on my tablet while waiting for my car window master switch to be replaced and was then compelled to stop at a good bakery – exceedingly rare around here, but one happens to be just half a mile from the Hyundai dealer. In the latter eleven-hour series, filmed in Julia’s Cambridge home when she was 88, Julia and longtime friend Jacques Pépin frequently compare and contrast home and professional cooking techniques and sometimes disagree about various methods – or whether something’s done. She gives him plenty of good-natured sass, but he returns the volley more often than not. Lots of fun.

Windows Explorer tells me I now have 208 files with 105 hours of Julia Child shows in 40 gigs. Absolutely delightful.

Speaking of delightful, the image I grabbed for the video’s thumbnail is when Julia politely shushes Professor Calvel to allow us, too, to hear “la musique du pain”.

Episode Guides
[1963-1973] The French Chef episodes [201×28].txt
[1978-1979] Julia Child and Company episodes [13×28].txt
[1979-1980] Julia Child and More Company episodes [13×28].txt
[1983-1984] Dinner at Julia’s episodes [13×28].txt
[1989] The Way to Cook episodes [6×58].txt
[1992] A Birthday Party for Julia Child – Compliments to the Chef [1×58].txt
[1993-1994] Cooking with Master Chefs episodes [16×28].txt
[1993-1995] Cooking in Concert episodes [3×85].txt
[1994-1996] In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs [39×28].txt
[1996-1998] Baking with Julia episodes [39×28].txt
[1999-2000] Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home [22×28].txt
[2000] Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom [1×58].txt

[I’ve none of the three in italics]

[1963-1973] The French Chef [51 of 201 eps, the rest on Amazon Video]
S01E01 Boeuf Bourguignon.avi
S01E02 French Onion Soup.avi
S01E09 Vegetables The French Way.mp4
S01E19 French Crêpes.mp4
S01E20 French Crêpes II.mp4
S01E22 The Potato Show.mp4
S02E02 Cooking Your Goose.mp4
S02E07 Vegetable Adventures.mp4
S02E13 Elegance with Eggs.mp4
S03E17 Bûche de Noël.mp4
S03E20 Croissants.mp4
S05E03 Queen of Sheba Cake.avi
S05E09 Roast Suckling Pig.mp4
S05E10 More About Potatoes.mp4
S06E18 Bouillabaisse à la Marseillaise.avi
S06E20 The Spinach Twins.avi
S07E01 Cake with a Halo.mp4
S07E02 Hamburger Dinner.mp4
S07E03 Salade Niçoise.avi
S07E05 Lasagne à la Française.mp4
S07E06 Waiting for Gigot.mp4
S07E07 How About Lentils.mp4
S07E08 Fish in Monk’s Clothing.mp4
S07E09 Gâteau in a Cage.mp4
S07E10 Cheese and Wine Party.avi
S07E11 Curry Dinner.mp4
S07E12 Apple Desserts.avi
S07E12 Apple Desserts.mp4
S07E13 Meat Loaf Masquerade.MP4
S07E14 To Roast a Chicken.mp4
S07E15 Hard Boiled Eggs.mp4
S07E16 Boeuf Bourguignon.mp4
S07E17 Strawberry Soufflé.mp4
S07E18 Spaghetti Flambé.mp4
S07E19 French Bread.mp4
S07E20 More About French Bread.mp4
S08E01 A Vegetable for all Occasions.mp4
S08E02 Pot au Feu.mp4
S08E10 The Whole Fish Story.avi
S08E16 The Lobster Show.avi
S08E18 Mousse au Chocolat.avi
S08E20 To Stuff a Sausage.avi
S09E06 Terrines and Pâtés.mp4
S09E11 Cheese Soufflé.mp4
S09E12 The Good Loaf.avi
S09E13 The Hollandaise Family.mp4
S09E14 Tripes à la Mode.avi
S09E15 Sole Bon Femme.mp4
S09E18 The Omelette Show.avi
S09E20 French Fries.avi
S10E07 VIP Cake.mp4

[1979-1980] Julia Child and More Company [1 of 13 eps]
Julia Child & More Company Summer Dinner.mp4

[1989] Julia Child – The Way to Cook [6 of 6 eps]
01 Poultry.mp4
02 Meat.mp4
03 Vegetables.mp4
04 Soups, Salads, and Bread.mp4
05 Fish and Eggs.mp4
06 First Courses and Desserts.mp4

[1993-1994] Cooking with Master Chefs [16 of 16 eps]
101 Emeril Lagasse.mp4
102 Michel Richard.mp4
103 Patrick Clark.mp4
104 Lidia Bastianich.mp4
105 Charles Palmer.mp4
106 Amy Ferguson-Ota.mp4
107 Robert Del Grande.mp4
108 Jean-Louis Palladin.mp4
109 Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken.mp4
110 Jacques Pépin.mp4
111 Jeremiah Tower.mp4
112 Jan Birnbaum and Lidia Bastianich.mp4
113 Andre Saltner.mp4
114 Nancy Silverton.mp4
115 Jacques Pépin.mp4
116 Alice Waters.mp4

[1993-1995] Cooking in Concert [3 of 3 eps]
Graham Kerr.mp4
Jacques Pépin Holiday Meal.mp4
Jacques Pépin Stuffed Turkey Roulade.mp4

[1996-1998] Baking With Julia [39 of 39 eps]
101 Craig Kominiak.mp4
102 Alice Medrich.mp4
103 Michel Richard.mp4
104 Lora Brody.mp4
105 Marcel Desaulniers.mp4
106 Gale Gand.mp4
107 Norman Love.mp4
108 Lauren Groveman.mp4
109 Mary Bergin.mp4
110 Steve Sullivan.mp4
111 Nancy Silverton.mp4
112 Nick Malgieri.mp4
113 Flo Braker.mp4
201 Esther McManus.mp4
202 Beatrice Ojakangas.mp4
203 Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.mp4
204 Danielle Forestier.mp4
205 Markus Farbinger.mp4
206 Charlotte Akoto.mp4
207 Marion Cunningham.mp4
208 Johanna Killeen.mp4
209 Leslie Mackie.mp4
210 David Ogonowsk.mp4
211 Joe Ortiz.mp4
212 David Blom.mp4
213 Norman Love.mp4
301 Martha Stewart 1.mp4
302 Martha Stewart 2.mp4
303 Nancy Silverton.mp4
304 Michel Richard.mp4
304a Michel Richard.mp4
304b Michel Richard.mp4
304c Alice Medrich.mp4
305 Lauren Groveman.mp4
306 Johanne Killeen.mp4
307 Marcel Desaulniers.mp4
308 Nick Malgieri.mp4
309 Mary Bergin.mp4
310 Markus Farbinger.mp4
311 Jeffrey Alfor, Naomi Duguid, and Beatrice Ojakangas.mp4
312 Gail Gand and David Blom.mp4
313 Flo Braker and Leslie Mackie.mp4

[1996-1998] In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs [37 of 39 eps]
101 Roberto Donna.mp4
102 Jasper White.mp4
103 Lynne Rossetto Kasper.mp4
104 Jimmy Sneed.mp4
105 Madhur Jaffrey.mp4
106 Daniel Boulud.mp4
107 Jim Dodge.mp4
108 Charlie Trotter.mp4
109 Leah Chase.mp4
110 Christopher Gross.mp4
111 Jody Adams.mp4
112 Zarela Martinez.mp4
113 Jean-Georges Vongerichten.mp4
114 Rick Bayless.mp4
115 Gordon Hamersley.mp4
116 Dean Fearing.mp4
117 Reed Hearon.mp4
118 Johanne Killeen and George Germon.mp4
119 Carol Field.mp4
120 Michael Lomonaco.mp4
121 Monique Barbeau.mp4
122a Jacques Torres.mp4
122b Jacques Torres.mp4
122c Jacques Torres.mp4
123 Alfred Portale.mp4
124 Mark Militello.mp4
125 Julian Serrano.mp4
126 Joachim Splichal.mp4
127 Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Roberto Donna.mp4
128 Jimmy Sneed.mp4
130 Killeen, Germon, and Gross.mp4
131 Daniel Boulud and Gordon Hamersley.mp4
132 Madhur Jaffrey and Reed Hearon.mp4
133 Dean Fearing.mp4
134 Jim Dodge.mp4
135 Jody Adams and Jaochim Splichal.mp4
136 Mark Militello.mp4
137 Jasper White and Zarela Martinez.mp4
138 Alfred Portale.mp4
139 Monique Barbeau and Jaques Torres.mp4

[1999-2000] Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home [22 of 22 eps]
S01E01 Beef.mp4
S01E02 Fruit Desserts.mp4
S01E03 Salad Days.mp4
S01E04 Our Favorite Sandwiches.mp4
S01E05 Vegetables.mp4
S01E06 Beef Stews.mp4
S01E07 Fish.mp4
S01E08 Roast Turkey Dinner.mp4
S01E09 Soup.mp4
S01E10 Eggs.mp4
S01E11 Pork.mp4
S01E12 Creamy Desserts.mp4
S01E13 Shellfish.mp4
S01E14 Roast Chickens.mp4
S01E15 Souffles.mp4
S01E16 Winter Vegetables.mp4
S01E17 Charcuterie.mp4
S01E18 Comfort Food.mp4
S01E19 Salmon.mp4
S01E20 Roasts of Veal and Lamb.mp4
S01E21 Potatoes.mkv
S01E22 Duck.mp4

[2004] Food Network Tributes August 2004
Emeril Live Tribute to Julia Child 2001.mp4
From Martha’s Kitchen with Julia and Jacques 2000.mp4
Julia Child – A Tribute – Food Network 2004.mp4
Sara Moulton – Cooking Live with Julia 1997.mp4
TV’s Greatest Food Moments 2003.mp4
Wolfgang Puck and Julia Child In the Kitchen 2002.mp4

Other
Other [1978] Chicago Tonight interview.mp4
Other [1997] Julia Child – A&E Biography.avi
Other [1997] Julia Child – An Appetite for Life 1997.mp4
Other [2000] Out of the Box with Jack Nadel interview with Julia Child.mp4
Other [2000] Julia’s Kitchen Wisdom.mp4
Other [2001] Chicago Tonight interview.mp4
Other [2005] American Masters – Julia Child.mp4
Other [2008] Julia Child – Culinary Revolutionary – The New School.mp4
Other [2012] Siting Julia – Radcliffe Institute Conference Panels.mp4
Other [2012] Dearie The Remarkable Life of Julia Child.mp4
Other [2014] Sharing Julia Child’s Appetite for Life with Noël Riley Fitch — Dinner in the Library.mp4
Other [2015] American History (After Hours) The French Chef, American-Style.mp4
Other [2017] Alex Prud’homme – The French Chef in America Julia Child’s Second Act (Full Lecture).mp4

Automated recipe fraud – but why?

Every now and then, I do a search to see if someone has come up with a home method to make wafer sheets, which are tricky even for commercial bakeries, where heavy steel plates, high pressure, and steam are integral to the process. Because their manufacture is so specialised, I don’t hold my breath for a home method to appear, but hey, people are inventive, so I still check.

This time, I found a site that claims you can do it, and easily at that. Have a gander at this link:

Unbelievably Easy and Fresh Wafer Sheets in a 5 Step Model

“Huh”, I thought. However, right from the start, it all went wrong. At the top, “Health Benefit & Recipes”? Then “a 5 Step Model”, followed by a picture of waffles? What gives? Then there are completely unnecessary and obviously cut-and-paste boxes with large photos and lengthy descriptions explaining what butter and sugar are, for what must produce eight or nine feet of paper if you were to print this ‘recipe’. All the photos in that article are lifted from other sites, and the ingredients are bizarre. There’s no sugar or butter or wet eggs in wafers. To quote myself in 2012, “A basic wafer manufacturer recipe would be along the lines of 200g flour, 280g water, 1g bicarb (baking soda), 1g salt, and 1g vegetable oil, though some add things like dried milk, dried egg yolk, and/or corn starch.” My left eyebrow was a good foot above my forehead by this point, but little did I suspect the hilarity to follow.

For the coup de grace, go down the bottom of that page, where it explains how to roll out the dough and bake the sheets – along with a very large photo of an oven display showing 400F just to make sure you don’t get that part wrong. Now just look at that result at the bottom – why, it’s just like a commercially available wafer sheet. Precisely so, in fact. Bloody genius!

Ridiculous and transparently fraudulent and almost certainly spit out by a not-terribly-bright algorithm under not-so-close human supervision, sure, but what on Earth is the point of cobbling together this fake recipe? I’m still scratching my head.

New digs

We moved our offices into a new building a couple towns away this week, and I ended up with a substantially larger office – “All the more to decorate” thought I, rubbing my hands. A gallery of my new digs is below. I haven’t decided yet how to fill out one wall, but the other walls are pretty much as I want them. I still see trees and greenery out my window (two windows, actually), thank goodness, and there are wild turkeys at the new place, too.

In the process, I finally got around to having my William Phillips “Clipper at the Gate” limited print framed at this little shop, and it came out pretty spiffy, with the frame and matting matched to the bluish silver of the aircraft, the deep blue of the water, and the red of the Golden Gate Bridge (actually called International orange) and the wing stripes. The aircraft is the Boeing B-314 flying boat, in this case the Pan American Airways California Clipper, NC-18602, which made regular runs between San Francisco and Hawaii – a nineteen-hour leg – before continuing to farther destinations.

Only twelve B-314s were produced by Boeing, all for Pan Am, but it was – and still is – considered the acme of flying boat technology. The initial six had a range of 3,500 miles with fuel capacity of 4,200 gallons and the second group of six could travel 5,200 miles with 5,400 gallons, both variants far exceeding the range of other aircraft of the day. Travel on the clippers was strictly deluxe, with ticket prices comparable to Concorde’s and meals catered by top-notch hotels.

The B-314 model on my desk, in the same 1:200 scale as the B-17 and B-747, is also of NC-18602. The “Fly to South Sea Isles” poster is a high quality limited edition reproduction of a 1930s Pan Am poster that was made about twenty years ago [some weeks after writing this, I found my Hansa Editions print was actually produced thirty years ago]. An original copy of the 1938 George Lawler poster – not the original painting, just a poster – recently sold for US$20,000 at auction, where the listing read:

One of the most iconic and desirable of all the early Pan Am flying boat posters, this image of the Boeing 314 Flying Clipper landing in a tropical lagoon captured, and continues to capture, the imagination of travelers. The location shown on the poster is an imaginary composite of several renowned bays throughout the South Pacific. It has been speculated that the view is Tahiti, Pago Pago and/or Diamond Head, however, the physical characteristics depicted do not coincide with the actual geography of any of these islands. Lawler most likely worked from photographs to derive a fantasy collage of a location infused with realistic details from various islands. It is rare to find this poster with text. We have found only two other examples at auction.

The tail end of the gallery shows in detail some of the photos and items on display. I had 16×20 prints made of the three high resolution Apollo photographs – done beautifully by Shutterfly and Snapfish, I’ll add. Of the three drawings of mine on the wall, just one, the woman holding a newborn Bengal kitten, is my original pencil drawing – the other two are from high resolution scans I made before presenting the original drawings to their subjects.

Click on any image to enter the gallery, and from there you can view a 1920-wide version of any photo by clicking this at the lower right (you may need to scroll down to see it):

 

The doctor is in (5¢)

My best mate had a pretty bad week last week, so I suggested she take a couple days off and visit – for the cure. Part of that was her first visit to The Butterfly Place, where I took plenty of photos yesterday that’ll be in my next post (update: it’s here), and then the delectable popcorn shrimp and catfish at Border Cafe, a small chain that first opened in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Another part was a delicious dessert we hadn’t made for years, James Martin’s Croissant Butter Pudding with white chocolate and bourbon. Costco had a great deal on their high-quality all-butter croissants a couple weeks ago – their “let’s clear just 3 or 4 cents per croissant” price was US$4.99 a dozen – so I had those in the freezer and brought four out for this. Like most breads, croissants freeze and thaw beautifully.

Post-blowtorch with a bruléed crust; click for a larger version

This is how Martin serves it in a restaurant setting; click for a larger version

I first saw Martin make this in his BBC “Sweet Baby James” series in 2007, so we reviewed episode 4 last night and I dug out his Desserts cookbook for the weights and measures. The croissant portion of that episode happens to be on YouTube:

He hasn’t changed it much over the years – here he is making it again in his 2013 series “United Cakes of America” on the Good Food Channel:

Song of the South

Flying Biscuit with sawmill gravy and poached eggs; click for a larger version

FLYING BISCUITS

Excerpt from The Flying Biscuit Cafe Cookbook [my comments in brackets]

With some hesitation, I am revealing our greatest secret: the biscuit recipe. The hesitation comes from the fact that people will realize when they read this recipe that there really is no great secret — just a lot of patience and technique. [Well, not really…the recipe takes just six or eight minutes to prepare and twenty minutes to bake.] We make an average of 700 of these fluffy pups on a weekday at the Biscuit and 1,200 on a weekend day. Many different people have made the biscuits since the restaurant has been open. Our biscuiteers arrive before the break of dawn to produce these tender little morsels. If by chance you happen to drive by early some morning, you may catch a glimpse of them through the window, hunched over a table, flour everywhere. If you look even closer you might see the sparkle of the biscuit cutter and a little white ball of dough flying through the air and landing on a sheet pan, ready to be baked for our loving patrons.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (a soft winter wheat flour, such as White Lily, works best) [White Lily is found mainly in the Southern U.S.; an all-purpose flour with a decent protein percentage is fine to use]
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons [caster] sugar [I usually cut this back to 1 1/2 tablespoons]
  • 6 tablespoons [3 oz.] unsalted butter, at room temperature (it should be the consistency of shortening)
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream [double cream]
  • 2/3 cup half-and-half [aka light single cream in the UK, or just go wild and use single cream, which is about 18% butterfat compared to about 12% for U.S. half-and-half. For a triple recipe, one pint each of double cream and light single cream. And one big-ass bowl, of course.]
  • 2 tablespoons half-and-half for brushing on top of biscuits
  • 1 tablespoon [caster] sugar for sprinkling on top of biscuits

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 F [190 C]. Line a sheet pan [or insulated baking sheet] with parchment paper.

Place flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Cut softened butter into 1/2 tablespoon-sized bits and add to the flour. Using your fingertips or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. [I use fingers. This takes just two or three minutes.]

Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in all of the heavy cream and the half and half. Stir the dry ingredients into the cream and mix with a wooden spoon until dough just begins to come together into a ball.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 2 or 3 times to form a cohesive mass. Do not overwork the dough [always important to prevent things like biscuits, pancakes, brownies, &c. from having a specific density higher than lead’s]. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to a 1-inch thickness. The correct thickness is the key to obtaining a stately biscuit. Dip a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter in flour, then cut the dough. [I use a 3″ cutter and get 7 or 8 biscuits.] Repeat until all the dough has been cut. Scraps can be gathered together and rerolled one more time. [She says this because two or more regatherings and rerollings can result in overworked dough, but I find that as long as you do it gently enough, you can do two rounds after the first cutting instead of just one. The last round will get you one or two more biscuits from the scraps. They might turn out a bit misshapen, but they still taste good.]

Place the biscuits on the prepared sheet pan, leaving about 1/4 inch between them. [Why so close? Well, first, these biscuits expand almost exclusively vertically. Second, they retain more moisture when they’re baked closer together, so this measure helps keep the biscuits fluffy instead of crumbly.] Brush the tops of the biscuits with 1 tablespoon of half and half and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar. [That’s 1 tablespoon distributed between all the biscuits, by the way. The half-and-half here is to make the tops a little browner than they might otherwise turn out and to make the sugar stick. I usually don’t bother with the extra sugar on top, though. It really isn’t necessary because they’ve already got sugar inside.]

Bake for 20 minutes at 375 F [190 C]. Biscuits will be lightly browned on the top and flaky in the center when done. [And still almost the original colour on the sides.]

Makes 8 to 12 biscuits, depending on the size of the cutter.

SAWMILL GRAVY
By Alton Brown

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound bulk breakfast sausage
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

Cook sausage in a cast iron skillet. When done, remove sausage from pan and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat. Whisk flour into the fat and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in milk a little at a time. Return to medium-high heat and stir occasionally while the gravy comes to a simmer and thickens. (Be sure to scrape up any brown bits that might be stuck to the bottom of the pan, that’s where the flavor is.) Check seasoning [I use lots of freshly ground pepper], add crumbled sausage and serve over toast or biscuits.

Cave Prep

I’m having arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday to clean up a large lateral meniscus tear – I tripped over a power cord sixteen months ago and landed hard on my right knee – and don’t much fancy microwaved and canned stuff during recovery. It sounds like I’ll have limited mobility, likely unable for a while to stand in the kitchen for hours, so I was busy yesterday and today, making:

  • Four quarts of French onion pot roast beef stew with a chuck eye roast
  • Quart-and-a-half of four-hour pasta sauce
  • Two Comfort Diner meatloaves; one’s in the freezer
  • Approximately one boatload of mashed potatoes
  • Couple pounds of glazed carrots
  • Homemade mayonnaise – specifically for meatloaf sandwiches – using the very cool, very fast immersion-blender-in-a-jar method
  • New York Times chocolate chip cookies with Maldon sea salt and toasted pecans

Of course, I’m already unable to stand for extended periods without pain, so I kind of screwed up the knee in the last 48 hours, but the above will be worth all the wincing and shouts of “Ow!” to no one in particular today. Those plus my best friend keeping me company through Thursday plus the Percocet ought to see me through just fine.