Food52′s Kristen Miglore has perfected her Genius Recipes column. Her writing and the recipes she picks out have gotten lots of kudos, but I’d like to add some more – just the way Kristen adds her original kudos to great recipes that may have already made their way around the internet.
When I first starting posting recipes and stories online, I was sure that food writing prized originality above all else. I’d consider posting a recipe for pasta in tomato sauce, but then I’d decide against it. Everyone can figure out how to sauté onion and garlic and add a can of tomatoes. Readers didn’t need to know how I did just that every Sunday night. Right?
And I felt a pressure not to riff off of what other bloggers and writers were baking and braising. It felt like copying. Sometimes, instead of sharing classic recipes, I’d share bizarre ones. For the hell of it, to be different. I had some big wins, like the time I put carrots in cookies. But there are times when I wish I’d developed more straightforward dishes, even if they weren’t the brandest newest meals of all time.
But then at some point I started appreciating, like really appreciating, the creative community around food. I was inspired by the cooking of people I didn’t even know – whose food I’d never even tasted in person. I’d put spin on inspiring recipes I’d found elsewhere, and then watch as readers added their own spins to mine.
Like: I learned about Lemon Posset on Food52 (now that should be a genius recipe!) and poured it into a tart shell I first learned about in Alice Medrich’s cookbooks. That combination became Lemon Posset Tart. The sum belonged to me, even if the parts didn’t.
That’s what cooking is, really. Tweaking and playing around with ingredients in a way that may or may not have been done before. Maybe you’ll hit on a perfect method, maybe you’ll craft a perfect flop. Maybe you’ll simply find another way to do something you’ve done before. I learned when we wrote the book that you can’t copyright a recipe. It’s a formula. What you can put your stamp on is the language and tone and interpretation, giving a voice to a recipe.
You’ve probably seen these flourless peanut butter cookies before. I was re-inspired to make them – and to add sunflower seeds – by this post on xo breakfast. Thanks, world wide web. Gluten Free Girl makes them too: she leaves the cookies as simple as can be, just peanut butter, sugar, egg, and baking powder. Joy the Baker tops each with a big chocolate chunk, which melts in the oven.
And in fact, in a little-known moment in BGSK history, we posted about this very recipe after Sarah made these cookies for a long-ago Mag Club. But it was smushed down at the bottom of a long post, not in the spotlight where it belongs.
Flourless Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 24 cookies
This recipe has so few ingredients. That’s part of what makes varying the nut butter and add-ins so much fun. Try almond, cashew, or sunflower butter instead of the peanut butter. Throw in any nut you like – or raisins, or chocolate chips. I also think a dash of cinnamon mixed in with the peanut butter would be lovely.
1 cup chunky natural peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, preferably not huge ones
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup roasted unsalted sunflower seeds
Preheat oven to 350ºF and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, beat the peanut butter together with the sugars. You can use an electric mixer but you don’t have to – I just beat them together hard with a rubber spatula. The peanut butter should thicken and get a little fluffy. Beat in the egg, baking soda, vanilla, and salt.
Add the chocolate chips, almonds, and sunflower seeds and mix to incorporate. Form the dough into walnut-sized balls and place them at least 3 inches apart on the cookie sheets.
Bake the cookies 8-10 minutes, until the tops have firmed up. Remove the pans from the oven and slide the parchment onto racks to let the cookies cool.