I don't know anything about Alton Brown, except that his English muffins let me down and his granola is the most stupidly delicious I've ever tasted. My sister calls once a month to curse me for telling her about it.
Isabel gave Brown's chocolate chip cookies a high ranking -- too high, imho. But I'm just the secretary. I thought they were lumpish and undistinguished and would rather eat a pound of granola. I just tested two more cookies to confirm my judgment. Yes, very, very bad.
Anyway, here's Isabel's revised ranking:
1. Cakewalk by Kate Moses (Robust cookies flavored with espresso powder, irresistible and possibly unbeatable.)
2. Baking by Dorie Greenspan (The classic -- but better.)
4. Alton's Brown "The Chewy" (Thick, soft.)
5. New York Times (Fussy to make; thick; salted on top)
6. All Recipes (Stout, chewy, more-ish)
7. Silver Palate (Chewy, butterscotchy)
8. Ready to Bake by David Lebovitz. (Very good -- plus, they contain nuts, which we like.)
9. Toll House (The classic.)
10. Ad Hoc at Home (Too much severe chocolate, too little cookie)
11. Joy of Cooking, 1975 (Thin, pale, unimpressive.)
In other news, I made a green bean and seared shrimp salad from Stir the other night. You can extrapolate a lot from the name alone, but not the toasted hazelnuts, big handfuls of cilantro, sliced radishes and dressing made with Thai red curry paste and creme fraiche. One day I'm going to quit trying to peel toasted hazelnuts by rubbing them in a towel because it doesn't work. Do hazelnut skins even taste bad? I like this book a lot. I like that Barbara Lynch tells me how to do crazy stuff I've never done before, like wrap a chicken in bread dough, which I did tonight. Haven't eaten yet, or I'd tell you how it turned out.
Speaking of chicken, this story about pollutants and free-range eggs is a real bummer. It doesn't change my feelings about keeping hens or letting them run around in the yard or eating their eggs. I didn't believe that "pastured" eggs were much healthier to begin with, and now I don't believe the opposite. Still, depressing.