I wasn’t really sure what I should write about for my first post.  Start with my favorite recipe?  Show you my kitchen?  Talk about gadgets?  Hold forth on my philosophy of cooking?

So, I decided to start at the very beginning …

As I mention in my all-about-me page, the very first kitchen memory I have is sitting on the counter, watching my mom make Toll House cookies.  In fact, I can still pretty much recite her cookie recipe by heart (2 sticks margarine creamed with 2/3 cup white sugar, 2/3 cup light brown sugar, beat in 2 eggs and a teaspoon vanilla, 2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 pinch salt, 1 cup chopped pecans and a bag of Nestle Toll House chips … there … 40 years later and I can still type that in less than 30 seconds without even trying).  It’s tried.  It’s true.  It’s mom’s.

But, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that, just because it’s mom’s doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.  Starting with the chips.  Now, I know Nestle’s chocolate chips are an institution and badmouthing them is like spitting on the flag.  BUT.  It’s got to be said – chocolate in chip form is loaded with stabilizers — why, why, WHY would you want to do that to your cookie?  What did it ever do to you?  This bit of buttery, crunchy, chocolate-y heaven-on-earth and you want to add chemical stabilizers?  Good grief, why not just pee in a baptismal font, while you’re at it?!

Instead, grab a couple of bars of good dark chocolate (70% cocoa), enough to make 10 ounces, and bash them into chips — my favorite is Green & Black’s.  What Jon Hamm does for a grey flannel suit and a crisp white shirt (don’t forget the Brylcreem), Green & Black’s does for chocolate.  Mmmm … Jon Hamm … (sigh).   What was I saying?  Oh, yeah … put the bars into a zippy bag and bash the heck out of them with a rolling pin, meat tenderizer or just bash the bag against the counter.  And voila!  Chocolate chips … and shards … and splinters … and dust.  This way, you not only get chocolate chips, but a bit of additional all-over chocolate, as well!  Does it get any better than that?  I think NOT!

A small word about butter in cookies.  If I want a super-thin crisp cookie, I use butter.  If I want a thicker cookie that has a little bit of crunch and a little bit of chew, I use a combination of butter and margarine.  If I want a cookie that is going to hold its shape, I use only margarine.  In this recipe, I prefer something that’s got the crisp+chew factor – if you like super-thin and crispy, just use butter when you make it.

The only other thing I can add to general, all-purpose advice is to avoid overmixing the flour.  When making cookies, treat the addition of flour like you would a covert CIA operation – get in, do what you need to do and get the hell back out as quickly as possible.  All you want to do is incorporate the flour into the batter just until it’s no longer visible.  What you do NOT want to do is mix it so much that you cause the flour to start forming gluten, which is going to make your cookie tough rather than crisp.  Most recipes ask you to add the flour then the chips – resulting in you innocently and without malice aforethought overbeating the flour.  What I recommend is to add the flour, give it a couple of stirs, then add the chocolate and finish incorporating together.  Works like a charm.

Anyway, this recipe has been tweaked from Jeffrey Steingerten’s book, “It Must Have Been Something I Ate”  — which, by the way, is a fantastic read for anyone who has a love of good food.

Red’s Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt (if it’s sea salt – if it’s table salt, use about 3/4 tsp)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 oz. butter + 4 oz. margarine at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp strong coffee (room temp)
  • 1 egg
  • 10 oz. bashed dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 375 F

In a medium bowl, toss together the flour, baking soda and salt then set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream the butter and margarine together, combining thoroughly.  Add sugars and beat until light and fluffy, then add egg, vanilla and coffee.  Beat well and make sure you scrape the sides down well.  Add the dry ingredients as described above – pour in the flour, stir a little, then add the chocolate and finish combining without overbeating.

On a lined cookie sheet, use a heaped teaspoon to drop the batter into rows, about 3 inches apart to give them room to spread.  Bake about 12-14 minutes until browned.  Makes about 2 dozen.

Yummy cookie goodness ...