As I type this post, it’s a humid Friday night in August, and I’m sprawled out on my bed. I’ve just enjoyed a glass of rosé and plate of figs while watching Queer Eye, laughing my butt off as the Fab Five desperately scrambled to suit up in firefighter gear. For the first time in my entire life, I won’t be going back to school in the next few weeks. Instead, I’ll be shuttling myself off to work, returning home to nothing other than a good book and a reasonable bedtime.
Lately, many people have commented that I’ve been “living my best life,” which is true, I suppose. In May, I graduated summa cum laude from NYU, finishing my degree in three years and receiving my diploma the day before I turned twenty-one. I landed a wonderful job as program officer at Allergic to Salad, where I spend my days writing recipes and lesson plans for children’s cooking classes across New York City, along with managing a team of incredible educators. My home is a cozy studio in Chelsea, a safe haven filled with books, flowers, and every kitchen gadget known to humankind. Free-time these days is spent doing yoga at Laughing Lotus, rolling my purple trolley to the farmer’s market, and having meaningful heart-to-hearts with the friends I’ve cultivated here. Everything seems rosy, and for the most part, I’m happy.
Despite these accomplishments (of which I’m very proud), 2019 has been a profoundly difficult year for me, and much of the past nine months has been defined by deep hurt and labored healing. I’ve hemmed and hawed over whether or not I wanted to say anything nuanced about it online: heartbreak is messy, and I like to present myself as high-functioning, put-together human being. But authenticity is perhaps the most important tenant of my personality, and lately, I’ve been feeling that tug to share. So, here I am, in all my imperfect glory. Ready.
As some of you know, I started dating my first boyfriend in the fall of 2017, during my second year of college. I had been waiting years to experience any semblance of a relationship, and he was my first taste of it all. Over the course of a year, we moved in together, met each other’s families, and planned a shared future, gestures that would have shaken my younger self to the core. Things were serious, and we were very in love with one another.
But one Saturday in January, everything fell apart. A relatively normal conversation turned into a meltdown, with my partner slamming the bathroom door in my face as he curled into a ball against the heating pipe, sobbing. “I need to take a semester off of school,” he kept insisting, citing his need for space and clarity. It didn’t make sense: we were both one semester away from graduating, why would he need a break now? Prying the door open, I tried to talk him down, and then, the truth came out.
My boyfriend — my first kiss, the person I slept beside every night — had been suspended from NYU for sexual assault. He hid everything from me for six months — through our anniversary, family holidays, discussions about moving away post-grad — all while knowing he couldn’t return to school until the spring of 2020. The kicker? He had no plan to tell me, and thought it was okay to keep a situation of such gravity to himself.
So, I made a choice. Still in sweaty yoga clothes, I threw a few nights’ worth of supplies in my backpack, told him he had 48 hours to get out of my apartment, and left. It was the day of the Women’s March, and I wore my pink hat with pride as I quietly cried in the passenger’s seat of my Uber, Maggie Rogers’s new album blasting through my headphones. I was twenty, a week away from starting my final term at NYU.
I can’t describe how excruciating the pain was; I had never experienced anything that hurt more. Nothing knocks you off your feet like betrayal, especially from the person you loved the most. Every night, I came home to that empty apartment, slept alone in that bed we once shared. I sat with that loss and heartbreak, day and night, through the dead of New York City winter. It all felt tremendously dark, heavy, sad.
But I refused to let myself slip: I wasn’t going to let some boy stop me from anything. When the semester started, I went to all my classes, showed up for work, didn’t skip a day of yoga. I journaled every night, talked to friends on the phone, deleted social media apps off my phone for months. I learned how to read tarot cards, watched all six seasons of The Great British Baking Show, and got comfortable spending a lot of time by myself. Oh, I was miserable, but over time, the pain dulled. I thought of my ex and the destruction he caused less and less. The weather warmed, the sun came out, the flowers in Washington Square Park bloomed in all their glory. By the time graduation day rolled around in May, I was mostly patched up, ready for the next chapter of my life and the new, exciting people that might come along with it.
Over glasses of champagne on my 21st birthday the following evening, my friends encouraged me to try some online dating. “You’re so outgoing, it’ll be fun!,” they insisted, commenting on how attractive I looked in the red dress I was wearing that night. My best friend Natalie was in town that weekend, so we decided to set up some profiles for me and give it a whirl. As luck would have it, I was very taken by the first person I matched with on one of these silly apps. He asked me out for a drink — a truly weird phenomenon to a freshly-minted twenty-one year-old — and I decided to give it a shot.
And holy cow, what a shot it was. My longtime friends know I fall hard and fast, but none of us had ever seen me like this before. Instantly, this guy and I had an electric connection, one only heightened by the lightning storm that raged throughout the night of our first date. He was four years older, tall, handsome, insanely smart, kind, dorky in just the right ways. I stopped sleeping; it felt like my entire body was on fire.
For six weeks, we spent hours tangled in each other’s embrace, listening to Maggie Rogers on repeat and sharing stories from our lives as only children. Friday nights, we’d dress up only to spend the evening at home, snuggling and taking bites of each other’s desserts while jazz music played in the background. “I’ll never forget this,” he said to me as we gazed at the Hudson River one afternoon in June, his arms wrapped around me, chin resting atop my head. He promised that he had no intentions of leaving, would never do anything to hurt me. He always told me how beautiful I was, how lucky he was to be with me: I was his favorite girl, “dollface.”
But one night, something felt off when I saw him. I didn’t know what was wrong, but suddenly, there I was at Pier 64, sobbing my eyes out for two hours as the sky turned magenta. Must’ve been a premonition: the next day, he FaceTimed me to tell me that with his recent promotion, he would be on various assignments for two months before being relocated out of New York City. He didn’t have time for a relationship and didn’t want to see me again. I told him I loved him and he was breaking my heart; he cooly thanked me for a “fun” six weeks.
“Here we go again,” I thought to myself. For the second time in six months, there I was, knocked to the ground by someone else’s circumstances, all completely beyond my control. I felt broken.
This time, I did things a little differently. I bought myself a $400 Pusheen the Cat stuffed animal, plunged headfirst into books, even slept with someone different to try and forget it all. “Hot girl summer!,” I screamed to my best friend Jeromy one Saturday night, sipping a watermelon margarita just a few piers down from that fateful mental breakdown spot. More like healing again girl summer.
So, that’s where I’m at. I haven’t spoken to my ex in over eight months. As much as I loved him, I don’t fuck with liars or rapists. In no universe would I have sacrificed my moral compass for some guy, even if I thought he was the love of my life. I don’t know who she is, but I hope that the woman who came forward feels a sense of peace, that she can sleep a bit better at night knowing her perpetrator was punished. So many survivors are denied the justice they rightly deserve, and I hope her courage inspires others to speak up and call out those who so gravely disrespect consent.
The sudden loss of what turned out to be my summer romance still burns, and even though our schedules and priorities were out of alignment, I miss him. It took tremendous courage to be vulnerable with someone new after what happened to me, to allow myself to trust and love again, to voice what I needed in light of my trauma, only to have the rug pulled out from beneath me again. But that’s life: uncertain. At least this time, the feelings are familiar, and I know they will consequently fade and pass. I’ll be okay, and you know what? I am okay.
While I’ve been through a lot this year (and am emotionally exhausted from the heartbreak and transitions), I have gratitude for all the things that have happened to me. Breaking up with my ex opened my eyes to my own strength and beauty, and I realized that I had settled for far less than I deserved for too long. What I lost in companionship I regained in respect, reverence, and love for myself, gifts for which I feel very grateful. And although his abrupt, rather unfeeling conclusion to our romance stung, my summer guy showed me that I was capable of loving as fully and deeply as I did before, even in light of the searing pain I’d endured. More than ever, I intimately know my perseverance, and that no matter what happens, I can land on my own two feet.
As we head into the final third of this year and the seasonal clock turns to autumn, I hope you take a moment to have compassion for yourself and the journey you’ve traveled: bumpy, smooth, or anything in between. Regardless of what you’ve been through, know that love is still possible in all shapes and sizes. Sure, it may be through a romantic partner, but so too does it stem from friends, family, community, movement, music, Mama Earth, and more. But above all, love grows from within. Nurture and cultivate it.
And you can bet your ass that I’ll cry my eyes out from my orchestra seat when I see Maggie Rogers in concert on October 2nd.
Hey, I’m Abby’s dad, aka “Furbo,” and one of Abby’s early cooking co-conspirators. Furbo is a name Abby stuck me with when she was obsessed with Furbies. Many years later, I’m still proudly Furbo.
In my free time, I dabble in bread baking. My sourdough starter is the descendant of my father-in-law John’s, which was created at his summer home in Amagansett, NY in 1965. Carissa’s Breads in East Hampton, uses a version of the same starter. If you like what you see here and are interested in starter, comment and I would be happy to hook you up.
John still bakes regularly. When Abby was little, he used to send her loaves of bread in the mail (slices with butter were a regular breakfast item). Seven years ago he encouraged me to get into the game and sent me home with a container of sourdough, which I’ve been feeding ever since. Abby and I named him “Louie.” Today, he now has an offspring at our second home in Florida, which we probably need to name Houghie or Dewey.
A few years ago, John sent me a beautiful clay breadpot from ceramic artist Judith Moskin. This was the big difference maker for me. Commercial bakers inject steam into their ovens, and while it is possible to use ice or other techniques to do the same, the home bread baker is always at a disadvantage. Enter the breadpot. With a few spritzes of water and a hot oven, it produces an exquisite crust and a good crumb. Judy’s pots are amazing, but expensive, and I’ve broken parts of them over the years. I’ve found a much less expensive alternative from Superstone, their Bread Dome Baker.
John encouraged me to experiment, and has remarked many times to me about how incredibly forgiving bread baking can be. His tutelage, as well as his willingness to share his baking wisdom, is what brings me to this post.
This year, we were delighted to have several of Abby’s friends for Thanksgiving dinner. Over our meal, Abby’s dear friend Natalie conveyed a request from her Mom (DeeDee), my Facebook friend, who has seen the bread porn I occasionally post. She wondered if I could tell her how to use sourdough starter.
Being a bit of an Zymology evangelist, I decided to instead send her a “child” of my starter in the mail. I also turned her onto my secret, the breadpot (pictured at the top of this post). I assured her that with the right ingredients and a breadpot she too could make a good crusty loaf. So this is for DeeDee (as well as Madison and Natalie).
Here are some visual highlights to help guide you. First off, “Louie,” who I feed once a week, but otherwise keep in the refrigerator. He is incredibly tolerant and has lived through power outages and occasional periods where I neglect him.
The aforementioned “breadpot.” This one has a glazed interior, and is said to be good for cooking other stuff like chicken or tagine. Other than wiping it out occasionally, I don’t clean it.
Superstone Bread Dome Baker
My rubbermaid container that I use for proofing. This is totally optional.
Stretching the Dough
The banneton basket gives the finished bread a nice professional ridged look. Definitely optional, but a good touch.
Proofing Basket Banneton
John only keeps his “dome” on for the first 10 minutes of baking. To make my bread crustier, I leave the top on for 30 minutes.
Prep Time 10 min to make dough 60-90 min rise 5 min fold/stretch 60-90 min rise 2 min to shape loaf 60 min final proof Cooking Time 30 min with top on 15 min with top off Total Time3 - 4 hours (most inactive) Yield1 medium sized loaf
3 cups Unbleached All Purpose Flour †
3 teaspoons of Instant Yeast ‡
2 teaspoons salt
1 dollop sourdough starter (about 1/2 – 1 cup) ‡‡
1 1/4 cup warm water
Extra flour for kneading (and the proofing basket)
Cornmeal for the breadpot
Bring your sourdough starter to room temperature, either early the day of baking, or the day before.
In a 5 quart mixing bowl combine the flour, salt, and yeast. Stir to combine. Purist will do this without yeast, but I’m not a pure 🙂
Dollop the sourdough into the bowl and combine with the dry ingredients and stir. The consistency will be dry and flakey.
Slowly begin pouring the warm water into the bowl and using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon work the water into the dry ingredients. Depending on temperature and humidity, you may not need all of the water, so go slowly until the dough becomes tacky, but not too pasty. This will require some experimentation, and don’t be afraid to add more flour if it gets too pasty. Use your hands to finish kneading the dough into a ball, making sure to scrape bits of flour off the sides of the bowl until it is nearly all incorporated into the dough.
Lightly spray a lidded rectangular proofing container with neutral cooking spray and transfer the dough to it. I use a 24 cup Rubbermaid container, but you can skip this step and proof in a bowl, or on your flour dusted countertop with a towel on top of the dough. Make sure the container is out of direct light (and at room temperature) and put it aside to proof for 60-90 minutes.
After the first rise (the dough will typically double), lightly dust it with flour and fold it into itself from both sides. Then stretch it out. Put the top back on and put it aside for another 60-90 minutes.
Dust your counter with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Now form a round shaped loaf with your hands. If you don’t have a banneton proofing basket, cover the loaf with a tea towel and let sit for the final step before baking. If you have a banneton proofing basket, lightly dust it with flour. Transfer the loaf to it and cover with a tea towel. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees and while the oven comes up to temperature let the dough finish its shaping.
Dust the bottom of your bread pot with corn meal, or cut a circular round out of parchment for the bottom of the pot. Turn the loaf into the breadpot and make sure its centered at the bottom. With the bread in the pot, use a sharp knife to make 3 or more slashes in the top of the loaf. Using a spray bottle on mist setting, spritz the top a few times. Turn the oven down to 450 degrees and transfer the bread pot to the oven. Set the timer for 30 minutes. Remove the lid of the breadpot and return it to the oven. The bread is ready when the internal temperature is ~206 degrees.
Remove the bread from the breadpot and turn it out onto a wire rack and let it cool for 15-30 minutes (longer is better, but I will admit to ignoring this). Once the bread is cool store it in a paper bag.
† I like King Arthur. Also, I sometimes I substitute 1 cup of Whole Wheat
Every autumn as the leaves start to change, a sudden itch to bake pops into my mental periphery. I find myself daydreaming in class about French pastries and cinnamon, fantasizing about the ways I could reinvent chocolate chip cookies or braid a loaf of challah. As my friends can tell you, this is the season where the communal Tupperware container makes frequent appearances, gracing its audience with piles of brownies and cake slices. To me at least, fall and baking go hand-in-hand, and no autumnal meal would be complete without a sweet or bread-y sidekick.
As I stand in my kitchen stirring a caramel sauce or kneading dough, my mind turns reflective. In these repetitive motions, I think. A lot. And every fall, for some reason, I think about love.
Maybe it was because fall was the season when I first literally fell from someone. It was seventh grade, when I had the poofiest hair and biggest chutzpah you’d ever seen. I had a huge crush on this kid in a few of my classes, and one day, I decided to call him up and ask him to hang out. (Spoiler: he said yes, but to this day, it was truly one of the most awkward nights of my life.)
Honestly? Mistake. What was I thinking?! I was twelve and already a loud, ballsy feminist. The world of teenage boys was certainly not ready for adolescent Abby, who was ready for a mature man while still wearing peace sign scarves from Justice. Even though I commend my younger self for being so confident, I do wish I had waited. Because my very sensitive little heart got very disheartened when things didn’t go as planned.
After that, my love life was basically nonexistent until senior year, when I tried to give “romance” another try. I let myself be vulnerable and was honest with my emotions — which was kinda badass, I guess. But I got really, really badly hurt. It was the wrong time, and I picked the wrong person.
I got to college thinking things would be different. Boys would be more mature! Someone out there would be looking for an independent, quirky, strong-willed woman like myself! And I laugh. I’m sure people are out there, they gotta be. But so far, I have been disappointed. Young people are so into hookup culture, and I, as a closeted 40-something, am not. College students can be so wishy-washy and last-minute about things and people and plans. And even though it’s 2017 — where women should be able to ask out men (or other women!) without it being weird — initiating and being forward has never gone well for the potato. Ugh.
Part of it is patience. I’ve just gotta let go and let love find me. And sure, I can be all yoga-y about it and say, “I am a complete individual on my own, I do not need anyone to complete me. What you seek is surely seeking you, don’t be attached to ideas or people. Let the universe take you where it shall.” But you know what? That’s not really how I feel most of the time.
How do I feel? I feel frustrated. I feel frustrated that I still scare people away because I have opinions and personality and spunk. I feel frustrated that people still don’t respect my time. I feel frustrated how seemingly little people can seem to care. I feel frustrated that all of that — the inconsistency, the blasé spontaneity, the forgetfulness — is somehow okay. I feel frustrated that this is the same trope I’ve been experiencing since the first time I ever asked someone out seven years ago.
And you know what? It’s okay for your feelings about life and love to not be tied up in a perfect little box with a ribbon on top. It’s okay to be angry and frustrated and salty with the way societal norms are. It’s okay to want love and want to be loved and cry about it not being there in the way you want. It’s okay to have emotions, even “negative” ones.
So I guess that’s why I turn to carbohydrates. Because quite frankly, carbohydrates never fail to satisfy the romantic love I crave.
Apologies for the rant. I am truly an optimistic, upbeat person 90-95% of the time. But I think it’s important to share that 5-10% of pessimism, saltiness and frustration, because our multifaceted nature only makes us more endearingly human.
Anyway, to me, there is nothing more tender than biting into a fresh cookie, biscuit or roll. That doughiness, that warmth, that butteriness just melts all of the frustration away. One cannot possibly be sad whilst eating a homemade baked good: that is a scientific fact.
So, when I was feeling sad and nervous and anxious and disheartened last week, I made garlic knots. Because garlic can cure anything, I’m convinced.
I had such a fun time making these for my friends. My favorite part was tying them, because look at how cute they are! And each one is a little different. I find it simply adorable.
These are certainly a labor of love, but that’s my favorite part about baking. The more care you put into it, the more love you taste when you bite into that finished product. And having hot, crispy, chewy garlic knots last weekend was worth every second I put into making them.
Some notes! Please use bread flour. Bread flour means chewy, crispy garlic knots. Just get your butt over to Whole Foods and do it. And use lots of garlic. I actually adapted my recipe from the first time I made it to include more garlic. You wouldn’t want to make out with a vampire, anyway. (Sorry, I was never into Edward Cullen.)
Prep Time2 hr 30 min Cooking Time20 min Total Time3 hr Yield16 garlic knots
FOR THE KNOTS:
1/2 tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (~110 degrees)
2 tbsp EVOO
2 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
4 cups of bread flour
FOR THE GARLIC DRIZZLE:
8 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 stick of salted butter (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar, yeast and warm water. Make sure the water isn’t too hot, or else the yeast will die! Stir together with a spoon and let sit until the yeast are nice and bubbly, about 10 minutes.
Add the olive oil, salt, garlic powder, and 1 cup of the bread flour. Stir together with a spoon or the dough hook attachment on your stand mixer. Keep adding flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough is thick. Knead with your hands on a well-floured work space or with the dough hook in the stand mixer until smooth and not sticky, about ten minutes. If the dough still clings to your fingers or palms after kneading, add more flour, 2 tbsp or so at a time, until it stops sticking. If the dough seems dry and crumbly, add more water, 1 tbsp at a time, until it becomes smoother.
Lightly oil a clean bowl with some olive oil and put the dough inside. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 90 minutes – 2 hours.
Once doubled, put the dough on a well-floured work space. Cut in half, then cut in half again. Cut each piece into four quarters, trying to keep each piece the same size. If you have a kitchen scale, use it! Simply weigh the whole dough ball and divide by 16 to determine your individual roll mass. If not, no worries, just eyeball it the best you can.
Place the dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.
When the 30 minutes are up, take a dough ball and, on a well-floured work space, roll it into a rope about 7-8 inches long. Tie it just as you would a knot. If you have excess dough after tying the knot, tuck it under the formed roll. Repeat with remaining dough balls.
Place back on baking sheet, cover with a tea towel, and let rise for another 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the garlic and parsley, stir, and let cook for a minute. Remove from the heat, cover with a lid, and let steep while the rolls rise.
Once the rolls have finished their final rise, lightly brush them with half of the garlic/parsley butter. Let bake until golden brown on the outside, about 18-20 minutes.
Brush with the remaining half of the garlic/parsley butter upon exiting the oven. Let cool for a few minutes, then serve immediately.
We’ll see when love will find me. But until then, I have garlic knots and some incredibly kickass friends to keep me company.
Hello again, friends! I’ve been cooking up a storm, so I’m back again for another post. I hope you’re ready for some fat, decadent cookies.
In other news, it’s October, but still feels like summer. What gives, New York? (Or more like, what gives, climate change?) I’ve got a pile of sweaters in my closet just waiting to be worn, but the weather refuses to budge away from tank top temperatures. UGH.
While this complaint is justifiable — it shouldn’t be 75 degrees in the second half of October — part of the problem is that I’m an incredibly impatient person. I always have been: patience is an Achilles heel of mine. As I child, I couldn’t last for more than 45 minutes in a museum or aquarium. I’d work myself up into a tizzy if I didn’t know what I was doing each day. Lines and long car rides were the death of me (and my poor parents).
Patience is something I’ve been coming back to again and again recently. Because lately, I’ve been especially antsy about getting things to happen.
Everything I do is fast. I walk fast. I talk fast. I jump into friendships fast. I make decisions fast. I get tests done fast. I practice yoga fast. My brain is constantly going at lightning speed, quickly bouncing from one thing to the next. It doesn’t help that I live in New York City, one of the most fast-paced environments in the world. Simply stepping out my door makes me want to move and think even faster.
Slowing down is honestly so challenging for me. I wish I was some chill, laid-back girl-next-door who could just be spontaneous with life. But alas, I’m not she, nor will I ever be she.
And you know what? That’s okay. Being an energetic planner means that I’m great at initiating, whether that be in conversations or lunch dates. It means I give a shit about getting shit done. Authenticity is my jam, and I will never stray from who I am just because I’m not “chill” enough.
That being said, we all have things we could and should work on, and one of mine is definitely patience. I need to be more patient with people: friendships take time, and everyone has flaws and approaches things differently. I need to be more patient with life: love will find me when the time is right, when the person is right. And I need to be more patient with myself: lessons cannot be learned overnight, and something like anxiety takes a lifetime to conquer.
But one place where I can definitely exercise patience? The kitchen!
I personally see cooking as a laboratory for things I need to work out in my life. (Perhaps this is why I always hide in the kitchen when I get stressed out?) So this week, I worked out some impatience by baking some cookies that needed to chill in the fridge for a few hours before baking. (See the theme?)
No matter how you prepare them, cookies are delicious. But allowing some doughs to chill in the fridge before baking can do wonders for texture. Have you ever bitten into a thick, sensuous, chewy cookie? Part of that is likely flour content, but part of it too is that fridge time. When doughs are cooled in this fashion, the fat (butter) melts more slowly in the oven, thus preventing the cookies from becoming flat and crunchy.
And who would want a flat, crunchy cookie when you could have a sumptuous mouthful of peanut butter and chocolate?
These are pretty straightforward. My only recommendations? Use salted peanut butter. Crunchy, creamy, whatever, doesn’t matter. But please use salted. And DO NOT flatten the cookies before baking them in the oven. Drop ’em on the baking sheet and let them be. You want to maintain that magical thickness.
Prep Time15 min Cooking Time15 min Total Time3 hr Yield~30 cookies
2 sticks of unsalted butter (1 cup), softened
1 1/4 cups of brown sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup of salted peanut butter (crunchy or smooth, up to you)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt (if you aren’t into salt, use unsalted peanut butter and keep salt at this amount)
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups of dark chocolate chips or chunks
In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a bowl with an electric beater), cream the butter and sugar. Scrape down the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl again. Add the peanut butter and beat until smooth. Add the vanilla and give a quick beat just to incorporate.
Add the flour, 1 cup at a time. Scrape down the bowl between each addition. During the final addition, add the salt and baking soda. The cookie dough should be quite thick: if you’re using a stand mixer, the dough should stick and hold its shape around the hook attachment. If still feeling a bit too wet, add up to 1/4 cup more flour.
If you’re good to go, fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let chill in the fridge for 1-3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with plastic wrap.
With an ice cream scoop or two large spoon, shape the cookies. Do not flatten them in any manner. Space them evenly on the baking sheet. Bake until the edges begin to turn golden brown and the middle springs back with a gentle touch, about 12-14 minutes.
Let cool slightly, then transfer to a cooling rack. Serve warm, or keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
Here’s to zen, my friends. Maybe one day I too can be a chilled-out cookie.
Hello! I am still alive! And well! And I have a RECIPE to share on the blog?! WHAT?!
Unfortunately, Yes to Yummy has been on the back burner for the past year or so. While I have found time here and there to write about the New York delicacies I was sampling, I could rarely pull together a few hours to get myself to a kitchen, grab my camera, and write about what I was up to.
Oh yeah, and I didn’t have a kitchen in my freshman dorm. That played big role, too.
And this summer, I thought I was going to have time to cook and develop recipes. Yup, good joke. I’m pretty sure I just ate tomatoes with olive oil and salt for dinner when I’d get home at night from my full-time job.
But now I’m back in school. A good friend (and former roommate of mine) and I are living in a lovely upperclassman dorm with a wonderful kitchen. Being able to make dinner in my pajamas again has totally rocked my world.
The past month or so has reminded me why I fell in love with cooking all of those years ago. I love the process of planning, going grocery shopping, perusing the farmer’s market, preparing, eating. I love the sounds, the sights, the smells, the tastes. I love the satisfaction of feeding my friends something delicious. I love having conversations about everything under the sun at my dining table. I love having my passion back. It feels so good.
So, why nachos? There’s a story behind that.
When I was younger, I was never a fan of nachos. It was that goopy artificial cheese. From a can or something. Yuck. And I could never understand why you would purposefully ruin a wonderfully crunchy chip with tons of sub-par dairy. Needless to say nachos were not my snack of choice at the movie theater or bowling alley.
It wasn’t until my senior year of high school when my perspective changed. One night, a friend of mine and I went out to a local restaurant in the town over from ours, a healthy/vegetarian place called The Lime. I had been going there since childhood, eating their thick, warm slices of whole wheat bread and drinking glasses of carrot juice. But never before had I been there by myself, as a “kind-of-adult” who could drive and order her own food.
“We have to get the nachos,” my friend insisted, glazing over the appetizer list. “They’re amazing.”
For a moment, I resisted. I was Abby, lover of all things crispy, skeptic of sogginess and sour cream. I wasn’t a nacho fan.
But I agreed anyway. I still don’t know why. Perhaps it was because I was seventeen and itching for newness, itching to get out of my small suburban town. Everything felt repetitive and claustrophobically familiar. Maybe nachos would be my first step into the unknown, the rebellious, the reinvented.
Unfortunately, these nachos were not the cure to my teenage angst. But they knocked my socks off nonetheless.
I remember that dark brown dish landing on our table like it was yesterday. Beneath layers of melted cheddar lay succulent black beans and bits of onion. Salsa stood as a punchy sidekick, beckoning us to dip those cheese encrusted chips. We dove in with relish, and from that day forward, I was a nacho lover.
Even though high school is far behind me and that friendship is no longer, I still look back fondly on that chilly evening at The Lime. In a way, it was a small reminder that things could change, that things could get better. And they did.
And now, two years later, I’m standing in my kitchen, making nachos for myself. I’m so much happier, so much more secure in myself and my place in the world. I’ve let go of so many things I needed to put behind me. But I haven’t let go of my desire to make and eat nachos my way.
This recipe is honestly a breeze. If you’re got an oven, a nearby grocery store, and half an hour on your hands, you can get a delicious, inexpensive sheet of goodness on the table for you and several buddies. I got fancy and made my own salsa with heirloom tomatoes from the farmer’s market; if you’re lazy or short on time, just get some good salsa from the store. I love a combination of cheddar and jack cheese, but feel free to use one or the other. And yes, go ahead and put sour cream on top if you’d really like. (I’m still not a huge fan of sour cream. Some things don’t change, and that’s okay.)
Go forth my friends. Make good food for the people you love.
Prep Time15 min Cooking Time15 min Total Time30 min Yield4-6 servings
FOR THE SALSA:
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
2-3 jalapeno peppers, seeded or not (you decide), finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
The juice of 1-2 limes (about 2-3 tbsp)
Salt, to taste
FOR THE NACHOS:
1 15 oz can of black beans, drained
2 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp salt
1-2 tsp chili powder
4-5 cups of sturdy corn tortilla chips
1- 1 1/2 cups of mild cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup of jack cheese, shredded
FOR THE SALSA:
In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Taste and add more salt or citrus, if necessary. Let sit for at least half an hour to let the flavors meld.
FOR THE NACHOS:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the black beans, cumin, salt and chili powder. Cover with a lid and heat over medium. Cook until just beginning to soften, about 10-15 minutes. If the black beans start sticking to the pot, add a tablespoon or two of water to keep things smooth. Set aside.
Line the bottom of the baking sheet with a layer of tortilla chips, taking care to make sure the chips aren’t overlapping. Top with about a third of the salsa and half of the black beans. Cover with half of each of the cheeses. Add another layer of chips on top and repeat, finishing with a final layer of cheese.
Bake until the cheese melts and begins to turn golden brown, about 15 minutes. If the cheese is melted, but still looking pretty white, turn the broiler on low and watch carefully as the cheese begins to crisp up. (Be careful, though — there’s parchment under those nachos!)
Serve immediately with remaining salsa and guacamole, sour cream and/or fresh cilantro, if you’d like.