Recently I made my first-ever visit to Kitchen Arts and Letters, a tiny bookstore on the Upper East Side devoted to food and wine titles. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed and intimidated by its bare, no-nonsense appearance when I walked in, but then I realized how much was packed in there, and I heard the clerks intimately discussing a recent attempt at caramel, and I softened right up. A sunny yellow spine with Laurie Colwin's name on it called to me, and I went home with a copy of Home Cooking. Now, I had heard much of Laurie Colwin's days at Gourmet, but I was not prepared to meet a writer of such charm. I gobbled the book up and resolved to read her novels. I am looking forward to making her bread; I already made Marcella Hazan's Tuscan meat roll at her suggestion; and the warmth and easiness of her words about entertaining convinced me to have a Christmas party.
I bought five pounds of butter on Wednesday, started making dough on Thursday, and fed my friends cookies and White Russians on Sunday afternoon. Here are clementines, parmesan-rosemary crackers from Martha Stewart's Hors D'oeuvres Handbook, and the Chez Panisse gingersnaps from Feeding Dexygus Seconds that convinced me to start a blog lo these many months ago now. These ginger cookies are the best recipe I've ever found on the internet. You should make them tonight.
I also made sugar cookies, rice-krispie-treat-style wreaths (with cornflakes instead of rice crispies), oatmeal shortbread, and Mark Bittman's easy cheese-straw-type crackers. Andrew made my favorite brown-sugar-chocolate-chip cookies from Martha Stewart Entertaining. Though he played fast and loose with the measurements, they were terrific...doesn't that just figure?
That's the oatmeal shortbread on the bottom right. I've been trying to convince people to like this Martha Stewart Quick Cook recipe since at least fifth grade--for a school event, I brought "oatmeal shortbread" and Anne brought "yummy bars"--guess which was more appealing to the eleven-year-old crowd? Well, however it looks or the name sounds to you, I'm telling you, this is good stuff--brown sugary, buttery, slightly salty, and really toothsome. In fact, I ate some more just now, even though the word "cookie" has been making me feel sick for a few days.
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Combine 3.5 cups rolled oats, 2/3 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 tsp salt.
-With fingers or spoon, work in until crumbly 1.5 sticks butter and 1 tsp vanilla.
-Press into buttered 9-inch-square dish and bake 15 minutes, until golden. Note: Mine was not golden at 25 minutes, so I took it out. It was good but could have gone a few minutes more with no harm done.