The Notes Section: A little spicy
Phyllis Rosenblum’s recipe for chocolate cake was a personal patchwork of a couple recipes from the 1961 The New York Times Cook Book – one for cake, one for frosting (read Love in the Form of Chocolate, in this issue). But because she was baking pre-internet, her recipe notes were her own. Had she been baking in 2023, she would probably be checking out – or sharing on – “Notes” on the NYT Cooking website, where more than a million subscribers look for recipe reviews and suggestions from fellow cooks.
But don’t think NYT Cooking Notes is merely this would benefit from flaky salt sprinkled on top. Quips and comments like Life is too short to massage kale and Fear not the fat! make this section of the site entertainment unto itself, so much so that it’s been the subject of numerous articles, and even a few Instagram accounts. Here, passionate cooks who have never met – nay, who don’t even know each other’s real names – engage in heated debates and revealing monologues.
Like mez2 whose comment on Baked Spinach-Artichoke Pasta took a turn: Well this was delicious. Although I thought I had artichoke hearts, I didn’t. I’ll use cannelloni [sic] beans, I thought. So I opened a can and it turns out I grabbed kidney beans. Guess what, it was great…Then RBG died and I was devastated and crying and we ate the whole thing because we needed it and it was that good.
The same recipe received this note from Rinka2: Whoever suggested Greek yogurt and said it was better than using heavy cream, I hope you perish.
Sydne Newberry5’s comment on Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies has an internet life of its own: This has been my go-to brownie recipe for 30 years, even after going to baking school!...In the 80s, an cquaintance [sic] in Germany to whom I brought some of the brownies, and who considered herself a great cook, asked for the recipe but was never able to get it to work. She kept asking me what she was doing wrong and I was never able to solve her problem. Eventually, she moved to the US and stole my husband!
To which Roy Russell5 asked the question everyone wondered: but did he know how to make the brownies?
There’s George5 who reviewed Foolproof Pie Dough: This is a good crust recipe. But a correction needs to be made about who created this recipe....My grandmother had almost the same recipe in her box dated 1973…
Leslie5 wrote back: No, I think it was my Uncle Ferber from the old country who brought the recipe over in the sole of his shoe when he came over on the S.S. Nitpicker in 1889.
Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese Sauce received this from Kim4: I cannot comment of the taste of the sauce. It was cooling and I ran a short errand… my 8 year old Labrador Retriever, Jake, (who had never, ever bothered anything in the kitchen) somehow got the pot off of the cooktop and ate all of the sauce. The worst part was that I had tripled the recipe, so Jake ate 3 pounds of Bolognese sauce! I am certain he would rate the sauce a 5. We had to go out for dinner, but I will make the recipe again and post relevant feedback! PS Jake is fine.
On Dorie Greenspan’s Swedish Almond Cake, Cate2 wrote: Hazardous variable is the time required to prepare the topping, which must be tracked and then subtracted from total cook time…Set two timers instead, one for 45 minutes for total cook time and one for 20 to begin fixing topping…add topping when cake timer shows 15 minutes remaining.
Wendy2 shot back: I like to use four timers: a third one to keep track of the total time elapsed for the first two timers, and then a fourth timer to keep track of the total time it took me to set the first three timers. Oh, and sometimes I set a fifth timer, just to remind me when it’s time to take another Xanax.
And then there’s the big debate: beans or no beans in Texas Chili? KD Feedback says no: This is not even close to “Texas Chili.” You should change the name to New York Chili immediately, they write. GARY writes: Whatever this is, it’s certainly not Texas Chili… Cannellini beans? Are you kidding?
To the same recipe, Jean louis LONNE5 summed it up: I am retired and until I read all these hair-splitting commentaries and changes to this recipe, I thought I had nothing much to do.
We love hearing from readers about your experiences with recipes featured on our own online “Back Porch Table” every Friday…no stories about cake and ex-spouses yet, but who knows? We can only aspire.
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