chocolate peanut butter cup cookies

The internet, or at least as far as I’ve seen, has three favorite peanut butter cookies. The first is a thing where you take a peanut butter cookie dough or prepared chocolate chip cookie dough, press it into a mini-muffin tin, press a miniature peanut butter cup inside of it and bake them together. Nobody has ever made these for me and I’m kind of mad about it. The second is this 4-ingredient, one bowl, hand-whisked salted peanut butter cookie, curiously absent in flour, butter and leaveners, that’s been around forever until the clever cooks at Ovenly figured out that using brown sugar instead of white, them into larger half-domes, and covering them with sea salt raised them to the unforgettable. The third is a soft chocolate cookie wrapped around a peanut butter filling and bakes into peanut butter cup cookies. No wait, pillows.

weighing peanut butter is the only way to livepeanut butter bellies, ready to gohello dark cocoain the food processor

I’ve seen them around for years. I thought I’d try my hand at them one day. But then in December, rumor has it that this cookie won the annual cookie contest at my publisher’s. And as a certain cookie — the gooey oat / bake sale winning-est bars in my second cookbook — won the previous year, this cookie effectively knocked it off its pedestal, oh, my interest was piqued. And by piqued, I mean, how dare it.

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stromboli

This is not a stromboli. If we’ve spoken in the last day, I’ve demanded that you weigh on a name for this dish. Pizza Streudel? Thousand-Layer Stromboli? Stromboli Babka? But that’s not where it began. It began as a dish called Scaccia Ragusana, which I found in an old Saveur issue. This stuffed flatbread is a Sicilian specialty from the province of Ragusa, made with a very thin rectangular layer of dough that’s folded in on itself a few times to make a veritable mille-feuille of a pie, with a dozen stunning layers greeting you when you, lucky you, cut into it. Not all scaccias have these thin folded layers; usually only the tomato and cheese ones do, while others have fillings from ricotta and fried eggplant, ricotta and sausage, greens, beans and more, folded over and crimped at the edges, sometimes elaborately with a braid, like a giant empanada.

what you'll need, mostly

I haven’t heard of any that are tweaked to taste like an American pizzeria pepperoni pie — fluorescent red salami rounds, oregano, red pepper flakes, mozzarella and all — but we can thank my husband for this suggestion.

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banana oat weekday pancakes

My favorite buttermilk pancakes are tall, fluffy, buttery show-offs. I make them on the weekend because my mom always made pancakes on the weekend and it feels as weekend-y as cake for breakfast should. But does Thursday morning deserve a pancake, just for being Thursday? I realized recently that a weekday pancake is different to me — fork-mixed, one-bowl, and fairly nutrient-packed, something I could make the kids before school and feel like I was sending them out armed with essentials — and also that my existing recipes left me short. Even these very beloved oatmeal pancakes require you to have or to make oatmeal before you begin, and then use two different flours and two different sugars. I love them… it’s just not happening on a weekday. [See also: complex thoughts or even a bare modicum of functioning before 9 am; alas, I live with two charges who disagree.]

fighting over whose turn it is to help

I found what I was looking for in an old recipe from Gourmet that uses only whole wheat flour plus quick oats, but it somehow not dry or heavy or even overly wholesome-tasting. From there, despite that, the whittling began. I made them with thinned yogurt instead of buttermilk, which I figure more people keep around, and they were great, but then, on a whim, I decided to replace the yogurt in part, and then in full, with mashed bananas and was delighted with the results; the resulting pancakes no longer needed sugar or melted butter to work. I nixed the nutmeg, because: laziness. And, as promised, mixed the whole thing in one bowl with a fork. Sometimes with help, I mean, “help.”

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sheet pan meatballs with crispy turmeric chickpeas

In October of last year, I made one of the best, and prettiest, dinners I’d had all year and couldn’t wait to tell you about them. Then I got a *little* (29 flights and 24 cities in 7 weeks) busy and somehow (somehow!) they — along with the Dutch apple pie, this endive salad and some brown butter carrots I’m still holding out on you — fell by the wayside. And so let me present a long-overdue entry in the Best of 2017 files, eagerly hoping to make a run in 2018.

what you'll need, kindaseason and spice the chickpeastoss the spiced chickpeas with half of onion slicesmix the meatballs

This dish is inspired by two others. The first is a favorite recipe from my first cookbook, the sesame-spiced turkey meatballs that teeter on a lemony smashed chickpea salad; I will forever love the combination of lemon, spices, chickpeas and just enough protein to balance the meal out. The second is a sheet pan chicken with turmeric, roasted and lightly pickled red onions and lemon I spied on the New York Times website last year and couldn’t get out of my head. However, I’m on a bit of a meatball kick, especially since I recently realized (only after all of you have been telling me for years and me stubbornly waiting to find out) how easy they are to bake, and how delightfully they keep their golf ball shape when you do. And those spiced meatballs, just barely tweaked, work fantastically here.

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boulevardier

According to my calendar, on December 19th I ostensibly signed special ordered books at The Strand and then took my two year-old to a holiday party, but I know the truth, which is that I was actually reading this hilarious piece on Bon Appetit from Alex Delany in which he complains that winter cocktails are usually too unsubtly wintery, that he doesn’t need “seven sticks of cinnamon, half a holly tree or a metric ton of cloves, mulling spices or liquor that tastes like cookies” to entice him to drink booze in the winter, and texting my husband that we should make boulevardiers that night after the kids went to sleep.

what you'll need, plus ice

Boulevardier, according to Google, means “a wealthy, fashionable socialite,” (aka “what is the opposite of Deb?”) but from that day on, it will be forever be the official drink of the winter of 2017-2018 (this is the official cookie, by the way) because we’ve found it downright habit-forming.

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split pea soup

Here are a few things I know to be true: Split pea soup is never going to win the winter soup Olympics. Its signature hue of mushy pea green will never be prized as fashionable by anyone but the unfashionable likes of me. If you know people who stand up and cheer when they hear that it’s a split pea soup for dinner kind of evening, you know amazing, rare unicorn people I would like to have over for dinner more often. It could be argued that split pea soup doesn’t help its cause by its, ahem, mushy texture that usually solidifies into a brick in a fridge overnight, which is why it surprised me as much as it did that when I mentioned making it — along with this black bread — in this food diary I kept for Grub Street last week, so many people asked me for the recipe.

what you'll need

I had been eating split pea soup for at least half my life before I realized it was not traditionally a vegetarian soup. Growing up, my mom made it from, well, tubes from the grocery store that included the dried peas and a seasoning packet I thought the results were above reproach. The fact that it was usually from Manischewitz probably could have explained the absence of ham hocks, but I don’t like to jump to conclusions or anything.

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salted butter chocolate chunk shortbread

Can there be a cookie of the year? Sure, it’s possible that I spend too much time consuming food media, the takes, the Tweets, the Instagram Stories. But if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have seen Alison Roman’s Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies virtually everywhere, weakening my resistance to the point that I had to try them, and when I did, realizing that just in case you’d missed them on, like, Refinery 29 or Eater or in her incredible first cookbook, I had to tell you about them because they should not be missed.

beat until softened

Roman’s book, however, was not new to me. I was lucky enough to read it the moment it was ready and it instantly became a favorite. If you saw me on book tour asked me what cookbooks I was into this year, I guarantee it came out of my mouth first. Roman has done stints at Milk Bar and Bon Appetit and writes regularly for the New York Times Food and her recipes show: she knows how to make the food we really want to eat. She’s also a sharp writer; I love her love letter to boiled potatoes. There wasn’t a chance I was going to miss the Roasted Broccolini with Lemon and Crispy Parmesan, Caramelized Winter Squash with Toasted Coconut Gremolata, Cucumbers and Kohlrabi in Crunchy Chili Oil, her whole section of Knife and Fork Salads, not-the-usual fruit salads (i.e. all savory), her Whole Wheat Pasta with Brown-Buttered Mushrooms, Buckwheat and Egg Yolk, Baked Pasta with Artichokes, Greens and Too Much Cheese and do I have to stop here? I don’t want to stop here but I’m getting close to just copying and pasting the table of contents.

dice cold, salted butteradding flouri had a lot of small chocolate bars!chopped chocolate

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dutch apple pie

Before I abandoned you (online) to spend time with you (in person) the better part of the last two months, leading to premature but rightly deserved obituaries*, I spend about half of the fall I was in town for obsessed with Dutch apple pie, and a significant amount of that time trying to understand what it was and was not. There seems to be a divide wherein American home cooking sites largely refer to a Dutch apple pie as a deep-dish apple pie (sometimes, but not always, in a cake pan) with a crumb topping and Dutch (or Dutch-sounding; I do not speak the language** so am making an educated guess) cooks use a more cookie-like dough that’s cross-crossed on top with a shiny finish. Fortunately, around this time I remembered that one of my son’s good friend’s mom is Dutch and she was happy to set me on the right course: yes the lattice is shiny, the dough is sweet and more buttery tasting than its American counterpart, the end result looks more like a cake, and please remember to send all samples over.

butter into flour and sugaradd the eggkneaded togetherwrap and chill the dough

divide the dough roughly into thirdscut a circle for the baselining the springform with crustlined crust

From there, I was off to the races… sort of. First I had to watch a lot of videos of home cooks making it and, as no two recipes precisely agreed, basically just throw my hands in the air and hope I could work it out in the kitchen. It does not always happen — figuring things out on an early go — but this time it did. I hope this is a good omen for the year to come, as my cooking wish list for 2018 could fill five calendars, and for you too: this is much, much easier than it looks.

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endive salad with toasted breadcrumbs and walnuts

I understand that most people, normal people, can outline phases of their lives through jobs or photo albums or even where they lived; I apparently can do it through endive salads I was obsessed with at the time. In 2005, there was one from Nigella Lawson in the New York Times with toasted hazelnuts, grain mustard, lime and orange and sesame oil. My husband and I were a relatively new thing at the time and he wasn’t terribly into endive but he ate it politely for weeks and weeks, and eventually came around, or caved. Same thing, right?

what you'll need

Nine years later, I surprised my husband with a weekend in Miami for his birthday, although I hadn’t realized when I booked it four months earlier that I would be pregnant at the time and unable to enjoy so many of the culinary wonders of José Andrés’ Bazaar — tartares and raw oysters and his signature gin and tonic and no I’m not still mad about it, you’re still mad about it and want a do-over. The endive salad with orange segments, goat cheese, almonds and chives made up for a whole lot; I couldn’t get enough of it and it made it at least 18 more times when I came home, and demanded you make it too. (I still maintain that nothing goes better with the latke course at any Hanukah lunch or dinner gathering, a lightweight contrast.)

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bakery-style butter cookies + the new book is here!

Today my second cookbook, five years in the making, Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant & Unfussy New Favorites, at last leaves my noisy, messy kitchen and, perhaps, makes its way into yours. I am, as ever, a nervous wreck. I hope you love it. I hope you find a new favorite recipe (or 5) in it.

smitten kitchen every day

I hope you make the granola biscotti and have them on hand for breakfasts and snacks for weeks; I hope your weekend is filled with sticky toffee waffles and breakfast potato skins. I hope you make a big batch of the dressing and the crumbs tonight for the kale caesar right away and keep them in jars in your fridge so that you can make more every night, as we do for weeks on end throughout the year and when you need a break, move onto the sushi takeout cobb. I hope you’re as excited as I am that there’s a soup section this time (including a mini-matzo ball soup that’s completely vegetarian and a grandma-style chicken noodle soup that’s cozy and economical and the only way I’ve made it since). I hope you find that the artichoke galette tastes a whole lot like that retro parmesan artichoke dip and it’s not an accident; I hope you don’t roll your eyes when you read about Debröd (but I’ll understand if you do); I hope you see why I make that herby baked camembert for every party and probably always will. I hope you’re excited that most of the mains are vegetarian again (halloumi sheet pan roasts and puffy dinner pancakes and a wild mushroom shepherd’s pie) but the meat dishes are ones I couldn’t shut up about (meatballs marsala with buttered egg noodles, street cart-style chicken and rice and short rib carnitas). And I hope you know that one of the most bonkers parts of this book is the Party Cake Builder, 7 different one-bowl, dead-simple cakes and 4 easy frostings (think: The ‘I Want Chocolate Cake’ Cake and then some) you can mix and match and present as cupcakes or sheet cakes or layer cakes without a lot of planning because I know — believe me, I know — most birthday cakes are made with love, devotion, and good intentions, but also at the last minute. And I hope you’ll see why I think the cookie section has some of my favorite recipes yet, because we’re finally going to crack the code of those bakery cookies so they at last taste even better than they look.

smitten kitchen every day (hidden cover)

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