My friend Katherine’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Ben and Cesca made them for the Baxter Workshop potluck tonight. Katherine says: “I’ve listed the ingredients below—just mix in that order and bake at 350 for ten or twelve minutes. They’re preposterously simple.” And preposterously good! —Thessaly
2 sticks butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tbs. water
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups flour
3 cups old-fashioned oats (not quick-cooking!)
I’m a little sad to let this recipe go, since it’s probably one of the top five reasons people love me. :) But here goes! Chicken with plums is one of the oldest and simplest Persian dishes, a wonderful example of several common themes in Iranian cooking: the combination of fruits and meats, turmeric-based sauces, rich buttery rice. It’s also the dish after which Marjane Satrapi (author of Persepolis) named one of her later graphic novels. —Dina
Please excuse the village measurements. This recipe will be for roughly four people:
- Chop an onion. Heat olive oil in a skillet and when it sizzles a little, throw in the onions. Brown until fragrant and golden.
- Skin and wash 6-8 chicken thighs. Dry them. Place them on top of the onions.
- add salt, pepper, turmeric, cumin, and coriander powder to taste. I usually add enough turmeric to really yellow one side of the chicken, but sprinkle a pinch of cumin and coriander, enough so I can smell them. With salt and pepper, you can always add more later, so just do as much as you usually do when cooking chicken.
-turn the chicken pieces over, add the seasonings to the other side, while the first side browns and seals in the seasonings. Turn it over again, so both sides are browned in the seasonings.
- mix it all up a little.
- add enough water to cover the chicken. Turn heat to low.
- add a bunch of prunes.
- put on a lid. Simmer on low until it’s cooked and the water has reduced. Usually about 30-45 minutes. Just keep checking it until it looks right and the meat is cooked and everything “Ja oftadeh” or “fallen into place,” as they say in Iran. The meat should fall apart with a spoon, and the sauce should be thick and dark, not watery. If you see that the meat is cooked, but there’s too much water, take off the lid and turn the heat super high. The water will reduce faster. But watch out that the bottom doesn’t burn!
- FOR RICE: Wash some white basmati until water runs clear. Put in rice cooker. Add the amount of water as instructed by the rice cooker (usually until the water reaches the first segment of your finger when your finger is touching the top of the rice). Add a pinch or two of salt. A whole helluva lot of butter (I usually add a whole stick for four people). Cook.
- serve chicken with its juices and prunes over the rice.
- Nooshe jan!
An impulsive urge to just get to the grocery store had me roaming the aisles with an empty cart and only a vague of idea of what to make. This recipe owes its success to the wisdom of Marcella Hazan, the queen of pasta and Italian cooking. I settled on these ingredients after some wild Googling in the middle of the store, and followed Marcella’s basic directions in preparing any cream sauce. Start with the base, and build out from that with flavor. Improvisation ain’t so bad. —Thessaly
Ingredients: 2 boxes of pasta (we used bow-ties, but fettuccine would work just as well); two pounds of zucchini; garlic; fresh basil; 1.5 cups of heavy cream; shaved almonds; two lemons; parmesan cheese.
Instructions: 1) Slice your zucchini into bite sized pieces. I chopped mine, but a lot of recipes urge you to shave them into long, thin strips. 2) Dice garlic, and pan fry in olive oil. Toss in zucchini. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the zucchini all the way through, and make sure that it starts to brown. 3) Get your pasta water boiling. And don’t forget to salt it! 4) Add the heavy cream to the zucchini, and cook (maybe 10 minutes), until the sauce has thickened and reduced. 5) You should be zesting those two lemons, and you can now add a squirt of the lemon juice into the sauce. 6) When the sauce is nearly done, throw in the lemon zest and the basil. 7) Meanwhile, toast in a pan on the stove the shaved almonds. 8) After mixing the pasta with the sauce, garnish with more chopped basil and the shaved almonds. Use salt and pepper generously. And add parmesan if you like.*
*Pasta snobs argue that parmesan on a cream sauce is redundant (as it might be with a pesto). But parmesan is essentially a really fatty, delicious way of adding salt to a dish, and therefore, I say that it is perhaps redundant but still just as delicious to throw on top of a dish like this.
Legend has it that paneer was accidentally invented by horse-riding Mongols carrying milk in raw-hyde bags. The desert heat and rennet in the leather turned the milk to paneer! What’s beautiful about this cheese is that it doesn’t melt on cooking and yet, unlike tofu, is wonderfully absorbent (of spice if you’re making a curry, syrup if you’re thinking dessert). Here’s a recipe for Palak (spinach) Paneer, one of the simplest and heartiest ways to enjoy it! —Devika
Ingredients (serves 4): three large bunches of spinach, 200 gms paneer (cottage cheese) dices into 1 inch pieces, 6-7 cloves of garlic finely chopped, 2 green chillies, 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds, 4 tbsp fresh cream, 1 tbsp lemon juice, salt
Preparation: For the spinach - remove the stems, wash the leaves in running water, blanche in salted boiling water for two minutes, refresh in chilled water, and finally, grind into a paste with the chillies. Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds. When the seeds begin to sputter sauté the garlic in for a minute. Add the spinach puree, salt, and some water if required. Stir gently till the gravy comes to a boil, then add the paneer dices and lemon juice. Finally stir in the fresh cream. And a tip: Palak Paneer tastes best without too many spices and herbs. Also, don’t over cook the spinach - that would kill both the taste and that lovely deep green color!
Serve hot with naan and a tall glass of chilled buttermilk.