|mediocre picture of a great picture in Dorie's Cookies|
All cookbooks and cooking this morning. Dad, you don’t need to keep reading.
I want to make every recipe in Dorie’s Cookies and if I were skinny I would do so in an orderly and compulsive fashion starting today. I love this cookbook.
First of all, it’s gorgeous — bright and brash and almost abstract. It really pops in the sea of muted, matte-page books with their scenes of staged rusticity. The close-up shots of cookies depict them not as trivial consumables, but as strange, magnificent objects in and of themselves. It’s a big departure for Dorie whose previous books were somewhat stodgy in their design, as Gabrielle Hamilton pointed out in her unfriendly review of Around My French Table. I wonder if Hamilton’s sharp remarks stuck in the back of Dorie’s head. (I am calling Dorie “Dorie” because she seems to be inviting that with the name of her book and her friendly persona. Calling Gabrielle Hamilton “Gabrielle” would be unthinkable.)
In addition to being lovely to look at, Dorie’s Cookies is a big, heavy book. You can get lost in its 482 pages. Hundreds of recipes, countless variations. Amplitude. Bounty. Generosity. Wonderful qualities in a cookbook.
But is there really anything new left to say about cookies?
To quote an amazon reviewer:
“For some reason, I had assumed that it would be more like a "cookie bible"... a source of standard, well loved cookies from all over the world. Not at all! Dorie's Cookies is more like a Senior Thesis on cookies- like Dorie sat around in her kitchen trying out recipes that turn traditional cookie making on it's head.”
Exactly. There are classics here, but there’s a lot of invention too. I usually approach inventive recipes with caution, but I’ve made scores of Dorie’s recipes over the years and can only remember a few duds. She anticipates your questions. She warns you of pitfalls. She tells you that the dough might crack and what to do if it does. She offers alternative ingredients in case you don’t have espresso beans on hand. I would guess that in elementary school, Dorie Greenspan sat in the front row and always did the extra credit. Even though she was the teacher’s pet, everyone loved her because she was truly nice.
She’s not a schoolgirl, though. She’s a total pro.
|I overbaked my coffee malteds (see upper left corner) but they were nonetheless delicious.|
That’s a long preamble to a paragraph about a simple recipe, the first I’ve made from the book. The coffee malted is a basic butter cookie flavored with malt powder and coffee. Easy. Unusual. Delicious. I “whipped these up” just before my in-laws arrived for dinner last night. My father-in-law ate about a half dozen, my mother-in-law probably ate three, Mark made an ice cream sandwich with his, I ate two and 2/3 cookies, and Owen, the only underweight member of our party, ate 1/3 of a cookie.
Coffee malteds: A
The other dish I served my in laws last night wasn’t so awesome. If you’re tempted to try the pork shoulder with pineapple, sesame, and broccoli in this month’s Bon Appetit, I would suggest you don’t. It’s just too tricky. The recipe says to cut a pork shoulder into 1-inch steaks, but doesn’t account for how fatty and ungainly a pork shoulder is. I ended up with these disjointed, floppy, uneven steaks, something Dorie never would have countenanced. I could have really used some advice. The meat required twice as long on the stove as indicated and was still rare in random places. One bite was fatty and tough, the next dismayingly soft and pink. The broccoli and pineapple added little. I was bummed.
Pork with pineapple and broccoli: C-
But then I brought out the cookies.