Comfort Food, Love and Latte, and Chef School Fantasies

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Marion Burros is the author of Cooking for Comfort: More than 100 Wonderful Recipes That Are as Satisfying to Cook as They Are to Eat.

Chinese Egg Drop Soup
6 cups

  • 6 cups Chicken Soup (recipe to follow)
  • 1/4-inch thick slice fresh ginger
  • 3 lightly beaten eggs
  • 2 tsp dry sherry
  • 3 green onions, which and light green parts, finely chopped
  • Toasted or Asian sesame oil for garnish
Make the chicken soup with a slice of ginger, or add a slice of ginger to the soup when you reheat it. Bring the soup to a boil. Remove the ginger and discard.

Whisk the eggs with the sherry. Slowly pour the eggs into the boiling soup in a steam, stirring back and forth (not around) with a pair of chopsticks until all the eggs have been added. Remove the soup from the heat and allow to sit for 30 seconds.

Ladle the soup into bowls, top each serving with some of the green onions, and drizzle a few drops of the sesame oil on top of eat bowl.

Chicken Soup
6 cups

  • 3 to 4 pounds chicken parts
  • 3 carrots, washed
  • 3 stalks celery, washed and cut into thirds
  • 1 large sliced onion
  • 4 sprigs parsley
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 sage leaf
  • Salt and finely ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 cups water
Combine all the ingredients in a large pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Strain the broth through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. Chill for several hours.

Remove the soup from the refrigerator and skim the fat from the soup. Reheat and serve.

*You can use any combination of chicken parts in this recipe. The soup will keep a couple of days in the refrigerator, or a month in the freezer.

Peanut Butter Cookies
Yields 24 cookies; 12 cookie sandwiches

  • 1 cup PLUS 2 Tablespoons smooth natural peanut better
  • 16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups minus 1 Tablespoon sugar, PLUS additional sugar for sprinkling
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces dry-roasted unsalted peanuts
  • Ganache (recipe to follow)
Place racks near the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the peanut butter and butter. Add the 1 1/2 cups minus 1 tablespoon sugar, and cream for 20 seconds on medium speed. Scrape the bowl and mix 30 seconds more. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add the flour mixture all at once. Mix until the flour is incorporated and stir in the peanuts.

Scoop the dough, about 1/4 cup for each, onto ungreased baking sheets. (There should be no more than nine cookies per sheet. You will need three sheets.) Press down lightly with a large fork in two directions to make a cross, flattening the dough slightly. Sprinkle each cookie with 1/2 tsp sugar. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheets. The cookies will be very soft, but as they cool they will firm up somewhat, though they will still be soft. Remove the cookies from the sheets when cool and fill with ganache.


  • 1 pound bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 pint heavy cream
Break up the chocolate into small pieces and process in a food processor until it is very fine.

Heat the cream to the boiling point. With the food processor on, pour the hot cream through the feed tube and process only until well blended. Remove to another bowl and cool. Refrigerate only long enough so that the ganache can be spread thickly between two cookies. Spread equally on 12 cookies, and top with the remaining cookies.

Put in a cool place, covered, for several hours or overnight. The ganache will seep into the cookies and keep them soft.

This can be made ahead and refrigerated tightly covered. It will keep several days. To use, heat the container of ganache in a bowl of warm water. If you don't have 3 cookie sheets, just reuse those that you have.

Amanda Hesser is a food writer for the New York Times. Her latest book is Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lovers Courtship with Recipes.

Bavette Cacio e Pepe
Pasta for 4, as a first course

  • Sea salt
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/2 pound DeCecco linguini fini
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon very coarse, freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and sprinkle in enough sea salt so that it tastes seasoned. Meanwhile, mix the cheeses together in a small bowl. When the water boils, add the linguini. Cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Near the end of the cooking, scoop out 1/2 cup of cooking water and reserve.

Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Drop in the butter, oil and 1/2 tablespoon pepper and stir with tongs or a large fork, lifting and folding the pasta together. Add about 1/4 cup of the pasta water to the pot and place it over medium-high heat. Cook for a minute, stirring to emulsify the sauce. Test a noodle to see if it's done. It should still be a bit firm in the center, though not as stiff as licorice. Remove from the heat and sprinkle half the cheese over the pasta. Blend once more, and divide the pasta among four warm bowls. Pass the rest of the cheese and pepper at the table.

Chocolate Dump-It Cake
Serves 10

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing pan
  • 2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups Nestle semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 375F degrees and place a baking sheet on the lowest rack, to catch any drips when the cake bakes. Put the sugar, unsweetened chocolate, butter and 1 cup of water in a saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir occasionally until all of the ingredients are melted and blended. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the milk and vinegar. Grease and flour a 9-inch tube pan. (If you prefer, you can grease it, line it with parchment and then grease and flour it. This is not necessary, but parchment does make getting the cake out easier.)

When the chocolate in the pan has cooled a bit, whisk in the milk mixture and eggs. In several additions, whisk in the dry ingredients. Do not over-mix. When the mixture is smooth, add the vanilla and whisk once or twice, to blend. Pour the batter into the tube pan and bake on the middle rack until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool on a rack. (This can be tricky, so if someone is around, enlist him to help. Place a ring of wax paper on top of the cake so you have something to grab onto when turning it out.) Let cool completely.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler, then cool to room temperature. It is very important that the chocolate and sour cream be the same temperature or the icing will be lumpy or grainy. (Test by stirring a little of the sour cream and chocolate together in a bowl. If it mixes smoothly, it's ready.) Stir in the sour cream, 1/4 cup at a time, until the mixture is smooth. Taste some!! It's good.

When the cake is cool, you may frost it as is or cut it in half so that you have two layers. (When I do this, I use 2 cups chocolate chips and 2 cups sour cream). My mother uses any leftover icing to make flowers. She dabs small rosettes, or buttons, on top and, using toasted almond slices as the petals, she pushes them in around the base of the rosette.

Sang Yoon is the owner of Father's Office, 1018 Montana Ave, Santa Monica. 310-393-2337

David King is the principal gardener at The Learning Garden, a collaboration between Venice High School and Yo-San University. The garden is open to the public from 10am-5p, Tuesday through Sunday. For more information and how to get involved, or call 310-722-3656. Volunteers welcome.