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say it with me now, “om nom nom”

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I’m back! Didja miss me? Vacation was vacation, I won’t bore you with details, but I did meet Steffany from Dinner Love, and she’s a dear.

But hey check it out, while I was glutting myself daily on hotel breakfast Danish, there were 45 Tastebuddies trying out 11 different recipes in a valiant effort to determine which would qualify as THE BEST CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES there are. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, welcome to Omnomicon! Here’s where you can read about our monthly Recipe Round-Robin contest.

And here, let me show you what the best looks like, beginning to end.

The making of chocolate chip cookies.

That up there is all the stuff that goes into these suckers. It’s hard to tell, but there are a couple secret ingredients in there.

The making of chocolate chip cookies.

The white stuff is ground oatmeal, and the brown crumbs are grated Hershey bars. Specifically Hershey bars. Except instead of grating, I thought I’d try getting the job done with my food processor.

The making of chocolate chip cookies.

And what do you know, it totally worked.

The making of chocolate chip cookies.

And then stir that into all the other stuff with some nuts and, naturally, chocolate chips.

The making of chocolate chip cookies.

The batter is extremely tempting, but be sure to save some for the cookies, they’re worth it.


So do you recognize these? They were Bubbe’s Fantastic Chocolate Chip Cookies, code named Recipe L, and many big thanks to Hallie for letting us give them a try! Here’s what she had to say about ’em:

Here is my bubbe’s fantastic recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies. They’re definitely not low-fat, but they’re the best I’ve ever made (and I’m a pastry chef!).

So these are both pastry-chef and Tastebuddy approved. I knew you’s guys had great taste. My guess is that the groundedness of the oatmeal gives these more texture without being so suggestive of oatmeal cookies. I also have a theory on how the Hershey bar plays into things: usually a chocolate chip cookie is a sugar cookie with bitter chocolate chips here and there, but little to tie these two elements together. Maybe the grated chocolate creates a gentler transition from cookie to chip? Even if my theory is right (and I’m open to the alternative, I know what I don’t know), my word choice is not even remotely technical, so Hallie, please feel free to jump in with your expertise.

Here’s the word I got via email results:

  • Our house votes for recipe L. It had lots of chocolate and grinding the oatmeal was a great idea because it made for flatter and less dry cookies. Recipe L was nice and chocolaty! After we made our decision we did our own taste test with friends and recipe L definitely won hands down.
  • Far and away, I and my 3 co-tasters chose Bubbe’s Fantastic recipe as the best of the two. The finely ground oatmeal added a nice substance to the cookies without giving it the graininess of an oatmeal cookie. They baked up nicely–no flat cookies here–and the ground Hershey’s chocolate gave the cookies a beautiful brown color and a little extra chocolate kick. I used hazelnuts since it said you could add your choice of nuts–not a huge fan of nuts in cookies, but they tasted great in this recipe.
  • The texture was very nice; the oatmeal provided more substance to the cookie and even though some of us had hesitations about whether oatmeal belonged in a traditional chocolate chip cookie, it was quite good.
  • So good. If you’re including technique suggestions, rolling these guys into balls really helped.
  • Who knew oatmeal could help so much?

And here’s the word on the web (leave a comment with a link if I missed your post!):

And here’s what they looked like in other people’s kitchens:

Ruth made Bubbe’s
Ruth tries Bubbe's.

And Jeff also made Bubbe’s
Jeff gives Bubbe's cookies a shot.

Then Domestic Ambitions made the Friendly Choco-Chippers . . .
Domestic Ambitions also tried the Friendly Choco-Chippers

. . . and also Sheila’s (nice collage-work, btw).
Domestic Ambitions makes Sheila's cookies.

Next up are the Kitten-Free (calls for exactly 0 kittens in the ingredient list, and the cleverness was simply adorable) as compared to the Family Secret recipe, the latter which did not seem to work out for Carly, who may have been too busy with Sunday’s NYTimes crossword to care.
Carly compares the Kitten-Free to the Family Secret chocolate chips cookies...

And lastly, there was the recipe that ended in “Mmm. Eat.” and Ruby’s Plan ahead cookies. I want to give Lisa mad props for this photo, it’s gorgeous.
Mmm Eat vs. Ruby's Plan-Aheaders (courtesy of Lisa)

And there you have it! Yet another Recipe Round-Robin, now with 200% more reader participation. Hooray! So I’m announcing a savoury recipe for July . . . any suggestions? I’m thinking summer-time BBQ dishes—pasta salad, seasoned hamburgers, probably not potato salad because there’s a huge tendency toward grossness and grossed-out taste-testers—but I bet comfort food will work regardless of the time of year. We’ll save fruitcake for December.

Thanks again to everyone for participating. Really, I mean it! I’m so psyched that this works out every month because people are saying they had fun and because I like reading about it, and giving stuff away is fun too.

And last but not least, here’s Hallie’s winning recipe.

Bubbe’s Fantastic Recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies
yields about 3 dozen cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 cups oatmeal, ground to mealy texture
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
12 oz chocolate chips [2 cups]
4 oz grated hershey bar [this amounts to 18.5 rectangles from the Big Bar, but use your algebra to figure it out if you can manage . . . I food processored those suckers, and it seemed to do the trick. If grating by hand, however, one Tastebuddy recommends freezing the bar first so it doesn’t melt in your hand.]
~1 cup chopped nuts of choice (I usually use pecans or walnuts) [editor used pecans, and they were fabulous]

Cream the butter and sugars together.
Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy.
Mix the dry ingredients and add to egg mixture.
Stir in the chips, nuts, and hershey bar.
Drop by rounded tablespoons onto a lined cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 6-8 minutes. [editor’s note: mine took about 10 minutes, and one Tastebuddy had reported 11-12 minutes. Final recommendation is check in at 6 minutes, and then every two minutes after that until you can see a little bit of browning happening on top].

nom nom nom!

nutrition summary (1 of 36 cookies yield): 220 calories, 12g fat, 1.5g fiber; ~5 weight watchers points

So it would appear that the rest of the country has easy access to local produce for more than 3 months of the year. Must be nice, assholes.

Okay, I lied, nobody’s an asshole, I’m just super jealous. I was raised in the classic suburban white girl tradition of New Hampshire. And to us, the concept of vegetable seasonality was . . . simplistic. We had corn on the cob once a year, my mom made zucchini breads in August (and froze about a dozen), we went apple picking in September and in October we’d choose a pumpkin to carve as a family. The rest of the year we enjoyed carrots, potatoes, apples, oranges and frozen vegetables. My  mom and dad will no doubt read this and lay the guilt on how I make them sound like SUCH bad parents who never fed their kids ANY vegetables, which is not the case, the point here is that seasonality just never stuck with me.

So last year it occurred to me that maybe corn doesn’t get harvested on a single day of the year, and also, what is that day anyway, and hey, plants *do* grow in Massachusetts, so logic would dictate that some of them are edible, right? Perhaps this . . . what do you call it . . . agriculture? thing?? had made its way from the Midwest to our humble corner of the country? This must make me sound horrifically stupid, but really, I’d never seen a well-stocked farmer’s market (they have terrible hours around here, like middle-of-the-afternoon-on-a-Wednesday hours), and the most local veggies I’d seen were singly sold on the side of the road. After much searching, I found Berberian’s Farm in Northborough (no site, no link) and caught up with everyone else that the freshest food is local and that fresh really does make a difference.

This summer I’d like to document an answer to the question that popped up for me only last year: so what’s in season?

On May 13th, it was this junk:

What's in season in New England: May 13

(I do use the term “junk” loosely) We’re looking at radishes, arugula, asparagus, rhubarb and mint.

Needless to say, I did try to think of some clever recipe using only these ingredients, but you know, they really just don’t go together very well, and what’s more, the way I eat them isn’t very interesting. For example, I steamed the radish.

What's in season in New England: May 13

And while its Barbie appeal was heightened significantly, it didn’t taste like much of anything other than maybe overboiled summer squash, so I salted and peppered and ate it on the side with this.

What's in season in New England: May 13

And you can see how I couldn’t in good faith make an entire blog post about this because it’s like cheating . . . wait, what’s that, Bitten Word? Martha had a recipe for poached eggs on asparagus? Wow, either I’m next in line to wear that lady’s heavy crown, or she’s out of actual recipes, because “place poached egg upon steamed asparagus” is not exactly what I would describe as a “recipe” so much as “an idea I came up with on the fly and I’m sure I’m not the first.”

Still, it was really good. Recipe: toss your ‘spargus with 1 tsp olive oil, roast at 500o for 5 minutes while you fry an egg, then salt & pepper & sprinkle with lemon juice if desired and place the egg on top. The end.

Alright, so I did manage to get these big ole honkin rhubarbs though, and I did manage to come up with a recipe for them, and it’s not even strawberry-related! I know, I’m so original, right? First though, check out how huge they were!

What's in season in New England: May 13

The length of my arm, they were! This was the only way I could think to fit them in my lens, as it does not zoom and I’m sick of that overdone depth-of-field bullshit. Anyway, then I chopped ’em up.

What's in season in New England: May 13

Add a healthy dose of sugar because these things are as sour as lemons.

What's in season in New England: May 13

Then stew them for a few moments, make some oatmeal, and enjoy as follows. This makes an excellent breakfast or dessert, complete with vegetable, protein, and fiber. There’s no fat unless you want to add some, it’s easy to make vegan with some yogurt substitution action, and even if you don’t give a shit about any of that diet stuff, you will still like it. The rhubarb tastes just like pink lemonade, there’s just enough oatmeal to make it feel like a real dessert and the yogurt offers a neutral contrast in flavour and texture. I have to say, it far exceeded my vision!

A blushing shade of pink.



Healthy Rhubarb-Parfait-Cobbler-Type-Thing
This dessert (or breakfast) has a rosy blush that can aid a young lady in her pursuit to maintain her girlish figure. In other words, it looks nice and ain’t bad for ya!

2.5 c (about 1/2 lb or 4-5 feet) rhubarb stalks
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c dry oatmeal
3/4 c water
1 c yogurt (fat-free, Greek, full-fat, your pick!)
1/2 tsp sugar (in addition to the sugar above)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Rinse the rhubarb, then chop into 1/2″ chunks. Toss with 1/2 c sugar. This is easiest to do in the saucepan you’ll be cooking in—lid it then swirl it around til the chunks are coated. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring every minute or so. You’ll notice that even though you started with no extra water in the pot, suddenly all the rhubarb surrenders its water and you’ll have a kind of stew. Whenever you stir, give one of the chunks a fork to see if it’s tender; as soon as that happens, turn off the heat. It should happen within ten minute or so (if not, try medium heat for a little while, but keep an eye out for burnt bottoms!).

While that’s cooking, prepare the oatmeal. I microwaved mine because um, the stove was kind of already taken. 1/2 c oatmeal to 3/4 water. The oatmeal package will say otherwise; tell it to take a hike. Microwave 2.5 minutes.

Also, mix the yogurt with the vanilla and remaining sugar.

To assemble, we’re really just dividing everything into rough fours: 1/4 c rhubarb, top with a generous tablespoon of the oatmeal, then finish off with 1/4 c yogurt.



nutrition summary (for 1 serving of 4): 185 calories, 1g fat, 2g fiber; about 3 weight watchers points