Baby Back Ribs With Coffee-Honey Barbecue Sauce

It’s been a bit of a crazy summer here at Nerds Towers. (Note: our house is not actually called “Nerds Towers” – that was a humorous attempt to make our residence sound grander than it really is. We don’t have any towers. We have a shed, but it’s in the process of falling down.) With … Read more

Blackberry-Ginger Fizz

There are times in every person’s life when you have to make the hard decisions. When you find yourself at a crossroad. Do you turn left or right? Recently I was faced with one of those decisions. My own personal King Solomon’s choice, except if the baby was a blackberry. Here’s how it began. It was an ordinary Sunday morning. Matt and … Read more

Easy Baked French Toast

Hello gang! Ready for some delicious baked French toast? I do like to think of us as a gang, by the way: we, the writers of this madcap screed, and you, our wonderful readers. Not a particularly effectual gang, I have to admit. It’s not a gang to strike fear in the hearts of our … Read more

The French Blonde (or Red Head)

The French Blonde

Back when Matt and I lived in Brooklyn (a.k.a. before we moved to Beacon, went insane and thought it would be wise for two freelancers to try and buy a house), we occasionally went to a lovely little restaurant called Buttermilk Channel. If the name sounds familiar, it might be because they inspired our Spiced Pickled Grapes recipe (and I talk about the place constantly to anyone who will listen). It’s not a “fancy” restaurant, but everything is prepared with care and with an eye towards seasonality, including their cocktails. It was through their inventive menu that I began to expand my cocktail palate beyond gin and tonics and margaritas (though I still love both, of course. I’m not a monster).

For me, cocktail perfection is all about balance. I like a little sweetness, but not so much that I feel like I’m sipping dessert. (Matt, an unapologetic prom-drinker, doesn’t always agree with me on that). [Camera swish pans around to reveal Matt drinking Baileys straight from the bottle, a milky dribble glistening on his chin. “You knew what I was when you married me”, he says quietly.]

I want to taste a little kick of alcohol but I don’t want to shake my head a like a teenager chugging Southern Comfort out of a paper bag after every sip.

After extensive (ahem…) research, I have come to believe that fresh grapefruit juice is the best mixer of all time.

The French Blonde

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Roasted Figs Stuffed with Blue Cheese and Serrano Ham

Figs, Blue Cheese, Ham

An easy and elegant appetizer of roasted figs stuffed with blue cheese, wrapped in Serrano ham. Finished with fresh thyme, a drizzle of honey, and a few toasted almonds.

I know, I know, you’re thinking,”Emily, when did you become a member of the Royal Family cos, gurl, you fancy!” (I apologize for making you sound like a 1970’s sit-com character, but it was required for comedy purposes. You should see the wig I’m imagining on you).

Yes, it’s true that these beauties would be perfect alongside a glass of Champagne at an elegant cocktail party. But, truth be told, they’d be equally delightful with a (not terribly expensive) glass of rosé while sitting on the back deck. Guess which way we had them? (If you guessed “directly off the baking tray, standing in the kitchen with a dog and two cats staring at us”, you would be correct).

As fancy as they look, these are incredibly easy to make. On the preparing-for-a-party difficulty scale, they fall slightly above “pour potato chips into bowl” and well below “make homemade dip”. The hardest part is finding fresh figs, which isn’t very hard when they’re in season. If your figs are very ripe, you don’t even really need to roast them (but I find the combination of a warm, jammy fig, oozy sharp cheese, and salty ham to be irresistible).

If you’re making them for a party. you could prep them up to a day ahead and just roast them a few minutes before you want to serve them.

Figs, Blue Cheese, Ham
Cheese, figs, ham. Easy peasy. CH-easy peasy. Figgy pig…I’d better stop now.

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Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Our recipe for chocolate chip cookies comes with a bit of history, a Cookie Monster / Tom Waits mashup, and our usual nerdy tips for the tastiest cookies.

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookies! Who DOESN’T love them? The churlish people, that’s who, you know the ones I mean. Those sour, pinch-lipped joykills with hearts of black, black stone. People who, for whatever reason, just don’t have a sweet tooth. People whose doctors have advised them to maintain a cookie-free lifestyle. People with gluten intolerance. Er. Look, I’ll come in again.

Cookies! Who DOES love them?

While you’re enjoying that, have a little bit of history of chocolate chip cookies. No extra charge.

It’s not always possible to identify the exact time and place a recipe was invented, or with whom it originated, but with the chocolate chip cookie, we can. Not only do we know exactly who invented it, when, and where, but we also know that, somewhat bizarrely, it was invented before the chocolate chip.

In 1938 Ruth Wakefield, proprietor of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, MA, made a small change in the recipe for her butterscotch cookies, substituting a chopped-up chocolate bar. And that’s how chocolate chip cookies were born. It became so popular and renowned that Nestlé not only permanently added the name of her restaurant to their baking chocolate bars, but also began to sell packets of ready-made chips specifically to be added to this recipe.

Sadly, the inn burned down in 1985, and now the Toll House sign at the Inn’s original location only welcomes you to a Walgreen’s parking lot.

Where the Toll House was. Don't worry, it's a big lot. nobody will hear your sobs.
Where the Toll House was. Don’t worry, it’s a big lot, nobody will hear your sobs.

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