I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but there are days at work when I struggle to find something decent to eat. In fact, most days seem to fall into one of two categories, either feast or famine, and not anything in-between. There aren’t many famine days to be sure, and most days I struggle to eat dinner when I get home because I’ve noshed at so many tastings over the course of my work day, that I barely have an appetite when I sit down to our table at night. These swings in my at-work food intake are all the result of our teams’ schedules. While all of the “teams” that make up the America’s Test Kitchen family; “Cook’s Illustrated”, “Cook’s Country”, as well as “Books” and “Photo”, all share the same kitchen space, we are pretty tightly aligned within our team with regard to how we spend our day. For instance, during a week when we at Cook’s Illustrated are up against writing deadlines, and are desk-bound and working to deliver stories to our editors, it’s not unusual that all five of us that cook for CI never even see the kitchen. On those days, a quick spin downstairs MIGHT land you a snack snagged from one of the other ATK teams who are busy in recipe development, but timing can be tricky, and more often than not you’ll return to your desk empty handed.
I get to eat a crazy amount of really good food at work…..too much, actually. Every day there’s something new to taste and test, produced by the super talented group I work with at Cook’s Illustrated. From shrimp scampi to strawberry shortcake to Korean fried chicken to lemon posset, all so different and all among my favorite recipes developed by the CI team over the past year. Regardless of how much we all enjoy tucking into these dishes over the course of recipe development, after sampling a dish a few times a day for 3-4 weeks straight, even the most amazing treats can start to feel like a house guest that’s overstayed his welcome.
Not so with these Patatas Bravas.
Double Chocolate and Mint Cookies
Alas we have come to the third and final cookie I made for this year's holiday swap, and I'll have you know that this one was the clear winner among all voters under the age of 20 in my giving universe. My original plan was to make a peanut butter filled version of Thomas Keller's TKO's (his version of an oreo) as the 3rd cookie in my trio, but when I saw these little monsters posted by my friend, Sally, on her terrific food blog Bewitching Kitchen. One look at her post and I knew that these would be a hands-down winner with the kids, while also being a bit more holiday-ish in feel. In addition, I figured they'd survive shipping better than the relatively fragile TKO sandwich cookie.
Please don't click past this recipe because of it's less than appealing name….you'll be VERY sorry if you do, I can promise you that. These delightful little nuggets are from the Bantam Bread Bakery in Bantam, CT and come to us courtesy of the R.S.V.P. feature in the May 2014 issue of Bon Appetit magazine. R.S.V.P is where reader's write in to request that the magazine ferret out the recipes from their favorite restaurant meals.
World Peace Cookies
I know what you're thinking. Wouldn't it be lovely if all we had to do to rid the world of conflict and bring peace was to bake a few batches of top-notch cookies.
Israel and Palestine…..fixed.
Russia and Ukraine…..done.
Syria's civil war………a thing of the past.
Lannisters v. Tyrells……..just make sure there's enough cold milk to go around (it turns out drinking wine in Westeros can prove fatal….poor Joffrey).
It seems silly to ponder a world where a single sweet confection could turn the tides of conflict and put us on a path to world peace, but if any treat could, then it would surely be these masterful cookies.
Homemade Beef Jerky
I found this recipe in the latest issue of Esquire Magazine which I had picked up for a little plane reading on my recent ski trip with the boys. I am generally not a big magazine reader, with the exception of a few cooking mags and The Economist, but I picked this one up for two reasons. First, on the cover was the terrific actor Peter Dinklage a.k.a Tyrion Lannister from the great HBO show Game of Thrones, both a favorite actor and show of ours. Second, the mag had a feature called "Eat Like A Man", and hey, we were men on a men's vacation….. so Esquire was my choice for the flight to Colorado.
Chocolate Coconut Granola
As a Christmas gift, my Mom bought me a bag of True North Choco Granola which is made in Brattleboro Vermont where I grew up. Now I love a good pain au chocolat for breakfast as much as the next guy, but I have to tell you that I've always looked at chocolate breakfast cereals with a bit of disdain. No Cocoa Puffs or Count Chocula for me, thank you very much. So it was with more than a little hesitation that I tried the granola this past week, fully expecting that it would be too sweet to contemplate as a staple at breakfast, but rather might be put to better use as an ice cream topping or something.
Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds
I was introduced to these addictive little buggers when visiting with my brother not long ago. He made his from scratch, scooping the seeds from whole pumpkins, cleaning them, roasting them to dry them, then finally cooking them in sugar to candy them and tossing them in a sweet-salty spice mix to finish.
Chipotle Pepper Hummus
How to make a homemade Hummus is something I teach the students at each and every Cooking Matters class that I instruct.