Dorie and I calmly brainstorm.

“For years, I wanted to make a cookie that would go with beer. From the start, I knew I wanted it to have pretzels and some cheese. I worked on the cookie on and off and never really got what I wanted. Then one day, when I was making a shellfish recipe that called for Old Bay Seasoning, I had that eureka moment: Old Bay was what was missing. A couple of spoonfuls of that blend, which relies heavily on celery salt, and the cookie came together. Is it good with beer? Yes. But here’s the bonus: The Old Bay makes the cookies a winner with Bloody Marys too.” -Dorie Greenspan, in Dorie’s Cookies.

Frontispiece of Dorie’s Cookies

This fall, I am revisiting my old self of, say, twenty years ago, that woman who would start many weeks in advance to stock the freezer with cookie tins, the contents of which would be revealed in all their corporate glory beginning on Christmas Eve. The first visible sign of the revisit was me taking Dorie’s Cookies off the shelf this morning and perusing a few recipes. I think it is the only book here that is devoted solely to cookies, and when I read the stories of Dorie’s creations I feel that I have a friend in my kitchen. She’s always telling me to “play around.” Yes!

Two pots of ginger broth were simmering on the stove and the aroma lent its warmth to visions of Christmas feasting. That would be the culinary sort of feasting, but its purpose, we must remember, is to celebrate The Feast of the Incarnation; if not for the real presence of the Son of Man among us, we have slight reasons for bothering.

Neapolitans

I don’t drink beer or Bloody Marys, but I hope to make Dorie’s Old Bay Pretzel and Cheese Cookies. I do drink wine occasionally, so some of her other recipes are worth considering, if I were to start up a wine-and-cookie snack tradition. She claims her Garam Grahams are good with beer or red wine, and tells us to bake the Triscuity Bites “with a sprinkle of salt, and start mixing the cocktails or pulling the cork on some sparkling wine.”

Both of those are in the “Cocktail Cookies” section of the book, but also in chapters such as “The Beurre and Sel Collection” or cookies for “Every Day, Any Day,” drinks other than my own traditional milk or tea are suggested as an accompaniment; for example, the Italian Torta Sbrisolona, which Dorie thinks go well with strong drink and a hunk of cheese.

I noticed years ago that reading recipes is for me incredibly relaxing and calming (and it doesn’t make me sleepy the way wine does). It might be that this is partly because it is the first step in that creative process of cooking, and specifically right now, Christmas cookie-baking, that I find so satisfying. I’m brainstorming about this year’s cookie platter, and in this stage of the project there is little effort required, no timers buzzing and no mixing bowls in the sink. No real commitment, only a vast palette to dream over.

Pippin gave me the book several years ago. At least sixteen pages have post-it notes stuck on by me, suggestions to myself, and there is a note about Kit having made the apple bars when she lived here. Dorie’s Cookies has provided hours of fodder for musing and researching — but I don’t think I have used one recipe! 2021 just might be the year to begin.

7 thoughts on “Dorie and I calmly brainstorm.

  1. I had never thought of beer and cookies… it does sound a bit weird to me. When I was child I remember baking Christmas cookies with my mom and it was always so cozy being in the kitchen with her while it was getting dark outside. I repeated that tradition with my daughter, albeit on a different continent where it doesn’t get dark that early in the winter. Nowadays I don’t bake that many cookies anymore, only one or two different recipes. I wish you happy baking and trying out recipes in this delicious looking cookbook.

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  2. I also find recipes calming to read through – one can always dream! I sense a focused purpose here and look forward to vicariously sampling your selection of Christmas cookies in time. The weather is generally so hot here over the festive season that cooking and baking can be quite an effort. Tradition is tradition though and you make me realise I should start thinking in that direction too.

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  3. Sounds like Dorie might have a slight drinking problem, lol. I hope not! Enjoy your recipe perusing and your delightful holiday cookie baking. I have to be careful to keep the cookies down to an amount the grands can eat up. Otherwise I’ll keep putting on the pounds. Happy baking!

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  4. This looks like a fabulous book and one I need to explore a bit! All the recipes you mentioned sound good and I love the thought of holiday baking. I’m not ready for a bit — but I think I might be soon! (This morning I was looking at a book of Italian cookies and decided I’d like to eat them — but not make them!)

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  5. I love browsing through cookbooks although I mostly stick to my tried-and-true recipes. I look on Christmas as the entire month of December and also have lots of family who love to eat so I can bake and it all gets eaten and enjoyed. This week I tried a new recipe for Lebkuchen. Being me I messed up the ingredients and didn’t read the recipe all the way through before starting. However DH has declared the result very good.

    I wish you lots of fun choosing what to make and then baking. (I’ve always wanted to try making Parmesan savoury cookies and have a recipe bookmarked. It calls for exactly 3 ingredients so I shouldn’t have any trouble getting it right.)

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  6. I had to smile when I first read your quote — I thought you were quoting yourself and how unlike you it seemed that you’d been plotting cookies to accompany beer. Glad you enjoyed your time reading and planning and imaging your cookie stations.

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