Do It Yourself Thin Mints

Thin Mints | Rookery

I couldn’t resist this recipe. The promise is so great – that you can make your own thin mints in fifteen minutes without any baking. It sounds too good to be true, but at its core there’s an ingenious trick.

If the sleight of hand worked, it would be amazing. And if it didn’t work, I would still be left with chocolate-covered Ritz crackers, and how could that be bad?

Well, I needn’t have worried because — eureka! It works! Add this to your list of Important Things To Know: coating Ritz crackers in chocolate and peppermint extract gives you a crazy thin mint doppelgänger. They do not taste like crackers. Except for the fact that the inner “cookie” is white rather than brown, I don’t think I ever would have guessed something was amiss.

Thin Mints | Rookery

I pondered this, as one is wont to do while eating an entire roll of thin mints at the kitchen counter. The crunch — yes, the crunch was perfect. The flavor was indistinguishable. And so here I am with one more dessert recipe made from a classic cracker…maybe that’s a blog within itself.

I grant you that these are not technically “homemade” and they do have some rather not-so-wholesome ingredients in them, as packaged foods do. And yes, it’s possible to make your own thin mints from scratch without any partially hydrogenated anything.

But when a shortcut like this comes along, it’s really too good to pass up. Continue reading

No-Knead Pizza Dough

Rookery | No-Knead Pizza Dough

One time, many years ago, I decided in a fit of ambition to make my own pizza dough. I kneaded the dough, I let it rise, I kneaded it again, and I made a very nice slab of cardboard. It was sort of like a pizza-sized Carr’s cracker.

I never tried to make my own dough again. Pizzas are a regular part of the dinner rotation, but I’d buy frozen or find semi-decent fresh at the deli counter, with varying results.

But with this pizza dough, I can put the past behind me.

Rookery | No-Knead Pizza Dough

The recipe comes from Jim Lahey at Sullivan Street Bakery in New York. By some miracle of either industriousness or extreme laziness, he discovered that you can just put the ingredients together in a bowl and “let time do the work.” No kneading. Nada. The only catch is that you have to start it a day ahead of time.

The dough is delicious. It’s flavorful. You can roll it out thin for a crisp crust or leave it thick for a pillowy, chewy crust. The texture is great. And with this recipe you can make six dough balls at once, stick ’em in the freezer, and pull them out whenever you need them. Continue reading

Strange and Mysterious Kefir

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I don’t know how it works, or why. It’s like having a strange and mysterious pet in our closet. We don’t really know what it’s doing, but we just know to keep feeding it.

Jesse and I are into breakfast smoothies. It started as a harmless habit and has quickly evolved into an expensive art form. The blame for this mostly lies with kefir, that deliciously tart, liquidy yogurt that gives the smoothie its texture and tang, balancing the sweetness of the fruit and honey. In our house, a smoothie isn’t a smoothie without it. Plain yogurt need not apply.

However, at almost $4 a quart, our kefir habit was getting ridiculous.

As with most of our nutty DIY projects, the idea started with Jesse, who has been convinced for quite some time that we could just get our own kefir grains and start our own self-sufficient, fermenting smoothie colony. Mmmm.

The "grains" aren't really grains, but rather colonies of bacteria and yeast. They look like little pieces of squishy cauliflower.

The “grains” aren’t really grains, but rather colonies of bacteria and yeast. They look like little pieces of squishy cauliflower.

Continue reading