Tag Archives: american food

Chocolate Chip Cookies

The world loves its chocolate chip cookies, and that makes them immensely difficult to bake. By buying from bakeries built on the backbones of their basics, we consume so many magnificent cookies. Our palates and preferences become particular. Prickly. 

Consider the precise chemical nature of baking. This is why, more than any other baked good, you can find endless variations of CC cookies with fractional ingredients and precise timings. People recommend specific brands of ingredients, and bakeries sometimes get their chocolate chips custom made specifically for their cookies.

I’ve read lots of articles about the science of chocolate chip cookies, like by the Times/Jacques Torres and Serious Eats/Kenji Lopez-Alt and NPR, but I just started with  the Times’s recipe. It’s good. My roommate has snapchats to prove it.

This is the smallest batch that I can bake as it calls for one large egg (I can’t switch egg sizes lest it ruin my other recipes). All ingredients were from Trader Joe’s except for Domino’s sugar and Diamond Crystal salt.

NYT Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Cream 1.25 stick room-temp butter, 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp light brown sugar, 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp sugar until very light.
  • Add 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla. Mix well.
  • Add 1.75 cup AP flour, 5/8 tsp baking soda, 3/4 tsp baking powder, 3/4 tsp kosher salt. Mix until just combined. Stir in 1/2 lb bittersweet chocolate disks.
  • Spoon into ~18 golf-sized balls. Cover with plastic, refrigerate for 24-72 hours. No less.
  • Place onto parchment-lined baking tray. Sprinkle lightly with flaked sea salt.
  • Bake at 350 F for 17-20 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes, until it solidifies enough to eat warm.

By the way, this makes new recipe #52 for the year. Primary mission accomplished!!


Edit: 5/15 another version, this time from J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of the Food Lab.

Kenji Chocolate Chip Cookies

    • Brown 1 stick butter by swirling constantly over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add 1 tbsp cold water. Chill in fridge for about 20 minutes.
    • Cream 1 egg, 3/8 cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla until very light.
    • Add cooled brown butter and 3/8 cup dark brown sugar. Mix to just combine.
    • Combine 1 cup AP flour, 3/8 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp kosher salt, then add. Mix until almost combined.
    • Chop up 4 oz chocolate into half- to quarter-inch chunks. Add. Mix until just combined.
    • Refrigerate dough for 12-72 hours. Divide into ~16 1 tbsp roughly torn balls.
    • Bake at 325 F until edges are golden brown, about 13 to 16 minutes. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Let cool for 2 minutes.

Edit 5/27 yet another cookie, this time inspired by the massive scone-like cookies that Levain Bakery on West 74th sells. Recipe from modernhoney.com. Not for the faint of heart.

Levain-like Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Beat 1 stick butter, cold and cut into cubes (scone-style), into 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar.
  • Add 1 egg and 1/2 tsp vanilla and mix fairly well.
  • Combine 1.5 cups AP flour (or sub half with cake flour), 1/2 tsp cornstarch, 3/4 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/8 tsp baking soda. Add. Mix until almost combined.
  • Add 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup walnut quarters/pieces.
  • Divide into 6 giant balls. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or more.
  • Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes, until light brown. Don’t overbake. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Edit 6/4: working off this recipe, although the Nutella did not melt as expected. I think I was using an old jar where the top half with disproportionate palm oil had already been scooped off. Still yummy though.

Nutella-stuffed CC Cookies.

  • Beforehand, spoon out ~16 1 tsp dollops of refrigerated Nutella onto a sheet. Freeze.
  • Brown 1 stick butter by swirling constantly over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add 1 tbsp cold water. Chill in fridge for about 20 minutes.
  • Cream 1 egg, 3/8 cup sugar, 3/4 tsp vanilla until very light.
  • Add cooled brown butter and 3/8 cup dark brown sugar. Mix to just combine.
  • Combine 1 cup + 2 tbsp AP flour, 3/8 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, then add. Mix until almost combined.
  • Mix in 1 cup chocolate chips until just combined. Refrigerate for 2-72 hours.
  • Spoon out about 1.5 tbsp dough. Roll into a ball. Flatten very thinly. Wrap around frozen nutella balls. Make sure nutella is not protruding. Gently flatten, edges of dough up, with palm onto cookie sheet. Chill again if needed.
  • Bake at 350 F until edges are golden brown, about 10 to 13 minutes. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Let cool.


After returning from America’s heartland (I was in Minnesota for an extended weekend), I figured it was time to try a quintessential American dish. 

It’s something where if chefs want to make it “simple, they spend lots of money on the best beef, cheese, and bun. To be reasonably tasty while using cheap ingredients (like what I’m using), you should spice it up a little. This is when I learn that Worcestershire sauce is kind of magic.


  • Combine 1 lb 80:20 ground beef, (2 strips cooked bacon finely chopped,) 1 small onion finely diced, 1 clove garlic minced, 1 egg, 1/2 tsp mustard, 1 tsp worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper.
  • Optionally: salad dressing, sun-dried tomato, sour cream/yogurt, lemon zest, ginger, ketchup, bbq sauce, curry powder, dried oregano/thyme/rosemary, cajun seasoning, sesame oil, teriyaki sauce, jalapenos.
  • Shape into 4 patties, about 3/4 inch thick.In a skillet on medium heat with little to no oil, cook 3-4 minutes, until browning creeps up side, without moving or pressing. Flip. Top with cheese. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Cover briefly to steam cheese.
  • Serve with burger things.

Edit 6/4: my friend and I made an Asian-inspired burger. It basically took the ingredients I’d usually put in a ground beef stir fry of sorts and shaped them into patties.

Asian-Inspired Burger

  • Combine 1.5 lb 80:20 ground beef, 1/4 cup panko, 2 tbsp oyster sauce, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1 egg, 4 cloves garlic minced, 1/4 onion minced, 1” ginger minced, 1 tbsp sugar, 1/4 tsp white pepper.
  • Shape into 6 patties, about 3/4 inch thick. Cook on skillet on medium heat with no oil for 4-6 minutes on each side.
  • Serve on ciabatta rolls with shredded cabbage slaw, cilantro, and 1:3 Sriracha:mayo.

Simple Salmons

Chinatown supermarkets sell these 1-lb salmon fillets for $7.49 and it’s kind of great. I chopped it up and cooked it three simple ways. Only one is new, but all three are solid.

Pan-fried salmon

  • Take 4-8 oz salmon fillet, score skin side halfway through when holding salmon rolled.
  • Season inside lightly and top with kosher salt.
  • In smoking-hot olive oil, Pan fry skin side down, pressing flat.
  • When salmon is cooked 2/3 up, flip. Tilt pan so thickest section cooks more.
  • Serve with lemon.

This baked salmon is a staple in my household, taught to us by our family friend who is from Spain. Not really sure where it came from though.

Baked soy sauce salmon

  • Rub 6-12 oz salmon fillet lightly with salt and pepper.
  • Bake at 350 F for 15-25 minutes, depending on thickness of fish (15 min for 3/4 in, 25 min for 5/4 in).
  • Top with 2-3 scallions chopped. Pour over 1-2 tbsp soy sauce.
  • Pour over 1-2 tbsp olive oil heated to be smoking hot.
  • Serve on rice.

This is actually the only new recipe that I cooked and it’s hardly a recipe! This sweet-savory flaky salmon reminded me so much of a kind of smoked salmon that I had it room-temp on a cream cheese bagel.

Miso Salmon

  • Marinate 6-8 oz salmon fillet, skinned, in 3 tbsp miso, 1 tsp cooking wine, 3/4 tbsp sugar overnight. Scrape off marinade.
  • Pan fry in olive oil 4-6 minutes on each side, taking care not to burn.

Baked Mac and Cheese

After the skillet cookie, my friend told me to bake a mac and cheese. That I did. Recipe from kitchn.com.

Baked Mac and Cheese

  • Boil 8 oz macaroni in salted water, undercooking a little.
  • In skillet over medium heat, melt 2+ tbsp butter. Stir some melted butter into 1/2 cup panko (and 1 tsp fresh thyme).
  • Sift in 2 tbsp flour, whisk for 1-2 minutes, until brown and fragrant. Add 1.5 cups milk. Cook until thickened, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, slowly stir in 1.5 cups (6 oz) grated cheese, such as sharp cheddar. Stir in 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp paprika.
  • Stir cooked pasta. Top with bread crumbs. Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes, until sauce is bubbling and top is golden brown.


Boy oh boy, why did I follow a New York recipe for Louisiana dish? Counting the 40 minutes it took me to peel and devein 50 shrimp, this dish took me almost 2 hours of active time to cook. That’s because fresh thyme that’s a little old is a pain to strip, the veggies absorbed all the oil so I had to redo the roux, and I realized last minute that I should brown the sausages. Just to cap it off, I didn’t even like the outcome that much…

Below is a recipe I’d follow on a second try, modified to use fresh tomatoes, more sausage, fewer bougie ingredients (like tomato paste, which the NYTimes throws in everything).

Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo

  • Peel and devein 1 lb medium shrimp in shell. Season with salt, pepper, 1 tsp thyme, 2 cloves garlic minced. Refrigerate.
  • Make shrimp broth: In 1 tbsp olive oil, fry shrimp shells, 2 thyme sprigs, 3 cloves garlic for 1-2 minutes. Don’t let brown. Add 6 cups water, 1 bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 45 minutes. Strain.
  • Make roux: Heat 1/4 cup oil (optimally bacon drippings). Stir in 1/2 cup flour, cook on medium while stirring until richly browned.
  • Saute 1 large onion diced, 1 green bell pepper diced, 3 ribs celery diced, 4 cloves garlic minced. Add 1 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp cayenne.
  • Slice and brown 12 oz andouille sausages.
  • To boiling broth, stir in roux. Add veggies, sausages, 3 tomatoes diced (or 15 oz can), 2/3 lb (half bag) okra sliced. Add 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 bay leaf, 1/2 tsp thyme. Season generously. Simmer for 60-90 minutes.
  • Add shrimp (as much that will be eaten now). Cook for 2 minutes. Garnish with 4 scallions sliced.
  • Serves 6-8 over rice or cornbread.

Steak and Potatoes

I can’t really write a terse recipe for steak and potatoes because it’s just featured ingredients plus salt/pepper/oil plus lots of technique. I’ve picked up some from watching cooking shows on YouTube.

Sorry for the subpar photo. I was a little eager to eat this after my ridiculous snow adventure today. I was also trying to disguise the fact I only own one plate, which is much too small.

Home-Fried Potatoes

  • Scrub skin. Dice potatoes to 1/2″ cubes.
  • Parboil for 2-3 minutes. Drain.
  • Transfer to skillet. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil.
  • Roast at 425 F for 30-35 minutes. Turn twice in between, trying to achieve sear on sides.
  • Separately, saute 1/4 small onion, diced.
  • Combine, garnish with chives.


  • Bring to room temp. Pat dry to remove blood.
  • Season with generous kosher salt, cracked pepper.
  • On skillet on high heat, heat olive oil, then lay steak down to sear.
  • After about a minute, flip over, then turn to low heat.
  • Cook without moving 5-7 minutes, depending on thickness. Flip.
  • Add knob of butter, a couple whole cloves garlic, a couple sprigs thyme. Baste with butter. Cook for 6-8 more minutes.
  • Remove steak, pour juices over, rest for 5-7 minutes.

Beef Stew

Look at me, cooking during the day! I actually get to take photos with sunlight. Notable for using the first bottle of red wine I’ve ever bought. Based on an NYTimes formulation.

Edit 11/23: see Thanksgiving post for legit beef stew.

Beef Stew (Edit 11/23: nullified)

  • 1 lb stew beef, cubed. Coat in 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 tsp pepper. Brown on all sides, Remove.
  • 1 cup red wine, (2 tbsp red wine vinegar), to release scraps from pan.
  • Replace beef. 2 bay leaves, 3.5 cups beef broth.
  • Simmer covered for 2 hours. 40 min before end, add 1 onion, 5 carrots, 4 stalks celery. 30 min before end, add 2 potatoes.

This turned out wetter than anticipated. Thus, when I tried reducing it, it was much much starchier from the potatoes. Consider cutting back on wine and broth, and adding potatoes later to account for the cooking time from the de-skinning by boiling protocol.

To offset the very heavy nature of the stew, I decided to make a light salad, and because I have canned chickpeas…

Chickpea Salad

  • 1 can chickpea washed, 2 roma tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes), 1 cucumber seeded, 1/4 red onion, 2 tbsp parsley, 1/2 lemon of juice, drizzle olive oil. Cut. Combine.

I roasted the chickpeas with 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1 tsp olive oil, in a skillet, 375 F, 45 minutes. Shouldn’t have. Oh well.

Butternut Squash

You know how carrots are like kind of tough to cut? Well imagine if it were just as dense, had a skin that was twice as tough, and was the size of a butternut squash. That’s how much a pain in the ass butternut squashes are to cut when raw. Goodness grief!

butternut squash “dicing”

Roasted butternut squash

  • 2-lb butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 4 medium shallots, peeled and quartered; 1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp sugar, in 2 tbsp olive oil.
  • 450 F, 20 minutes, stir, 15 minutes.