Yesterday I had to peel myself out of bed, one limb at a time. Matt and I had been out late the night before—at a surprise party to celebrate the engagement of two friends, a party that took us to downtown Boston, to a lounge where we sipped cocktails with what felt like a view of the whole world.
On our way home (after one too many fancy drinks, I will admit), I slipped on the ice that coats the sidewalk like a skating rink and took a hard fall: right on my butt. So I woke up with a sore body, a bit of a headache, a craving for coffee, and the desire to never again leave my home.
I spent much of the day in the kitchen, of course.
I love Sundays in the kitchen: the crisp pages of my cookbooks and the low gurgle of a pot of sauce simmering on the stove; the salty scent of butter and the sweet taste to sour cherry jam on a piece of warm toast.
I like to spend Sundays in the kitchen alone but for the sounds and smells of the stove. What is it that Laurie Colwin wrote? “No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
I spent this Sunday with Alice Waters and The Art of Simple Food, Marcella Hazan and Essentials of Italian Cooking, Amanda Hesser and The Essential New York Times Cookbook. I made fresh pasta for a spinach lasagna and a tomato sauce with onion and butter. I chop-chop-chopped a slew of veggies that I plan to eat in the coming days and mixed up a batch of cookie dough, which I left to chill in the fridge. My headache soon melted away.
I want to share the recipe for the fresh pasta lasagna, which came out of the oven looking kind of ugly though tasting quite fine. But I wrote about pasta on Friday. And today is Valentine’s Day, after all. So I’ll begin with the cookies.
I know I’ve written about chocolate chip cookies before. But, hey, they’re good. And Amanda Hesser’s Flat and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies? Even better.
Matt and I had some friends over for an early dinner last night—a Sunday Supper, if you will. When we finished with the lasagna and the salad, I remembered the un-baked state of dessert. I preheated the oven, plopped a few two-tablespoon-sized lumps of cold cookie dough onto a buttered baking pan, and stuck them in. Ten minutes later, the kitchen smelled like a bakery. Five minutes after that: a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies, flat and chewy and very good, just like Hesser said.
Flat and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Amanda Hesser’s The Essential New York Times Cookbook
2 cups flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 scant tablespoon kosher salt [Hesser recommends Diamond Crystal, because Morton is too salty. I only had Morton, so that’s what I used. But I made it a very scant tablespoon, closer to ¾ than 1 full. It worked just fine.]
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups light brown sugar, packed
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips [or chopped bittersweet chocolate, as Hesser recommends]
2 cups walnuts, toasted and chopped [optional]
Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of a standing mixer (or using a hand mixer) beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one by one, and then the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and blend until a dough forms. Fold in the chocolate. Refrigerate the dough for at least a couple of hours, preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a baking sheet, or line it with parchment paper or a silicone baking liner. Roll lumps of dough (about 2-tablespoons in size) into balls, place them a few inches apart on the sheet, and flatten them into disks. [Again, I must admit: I simply put the lumps on the sheet and threw them into the oven. They came out un-uniformed, but delicious all the same.]
Bake until the edges are golden brown, between 12 and 15 minutes. Let cool slightly on the baking sheet, and then transfer to a rack. I recommend eating them warm. With milk.