I’m a huge fan of Thomas Keller and I’ve never even had his food.
But he does feature prominently on my bucket list. One day, before I die, food from The French Laundry, Bouchon Bakery and Per Se will cross my lips. Any time is acceptable, but preferrably it will be during a fabulous whirlwind food tour.
A food tour isn’t on my bucket list because it’s relatively unreasonable, but a girl can dream.
I’m a fan of Thomas Keller because of the chef he is and presents himself to be. I was always in awe of all the things I heard about the food he created but there were two moments that really made me stop and take notice.
The first time was the result of my being a avid Pixar fan. I’m enamored with (almost all) the films and not only watch the films themselves obsessively, but also their behind the scenes featurettes. I love watching how all those incredible talented artists and storytellers work.
After watching the film Ratatouille, I was particularly excited to see the behind the scenes content, to see all the research on food I knew they must have done to make the kitchen scenes as full of energy as they were.
I was not disappointed.
Thomas Keller was the consulting chef for the movie.
I think that little featurette was the first time I had seen him at work. There was just this.. simple ease about him and he created beautiful things. He wasn’t flashy or snobby. He just clearly loved food, and loved working with it. Took great joy in the smallest parts of it.
The second was at the end of Anthony Bourdain’s trip to The French Laundry on his show A Cook’s Tour.
Sure, all the preceding moments of the episode had their impact (watching a rough man such as Anthony Bourdain in a mood I can only describe as “lost in wonderment” at the food he was consuming was memorable), but there was a moment near the end where Thomas Keller looks off to the side of the camera and says one of my favourite quotes.
“Perfection is something you never actually obtain. Only something you search for. Because one you reach it, it’s not perfect. You’ve lost it, it’s gone.”
It sounds somewhat depressing, but who really wants perfection? The feeling, the push of striving for perfection is so much more powerful. Makes you more than you already are. If you were to ever achieve perfection, there would be nothing left.
These cookies are from the Bouchon Bakery cookbook and they’re not perfect. They are chewy and cinnamony and the size of pancakes. They are not “perfection” because they don’t need to be. They taste of warmth by the fire and sweet memories. They are comfort and love. Perfection sounds so… sterile, lacking in peculiar yet fascinating characteristics. And who wants that when you can make peculiarly large cookies.
Reading through this cookbook and seeing recipes that range from simple but delicious cookies to expertly crafted croissants shows me what my drive is.
To eat Thomas Keller’s food.
Currently these cookies are the closest I have… and they’ll work. For now.
Bouchon Bakery’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Recipe from Bouchon Bakery
- 1 cup + 1 teaspoon (144 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoons (7.7 grams) ground cinnamon
- 1 ½ teaspoons (7.4 grams) baking soda
- 1 ¼ teaspoons (3.6 grams) kosher salt
- ½ cup + 3 ½ tablespoons (69 grams) light brown sugar
- ¼ cup + 1 ½ tablespoons (69 grams) granulated sugar
- 5.5 ounces (155 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¼ cup (62 grams) eggs
- 1 ¼ teaspoons (7.7 grams) vanilla paste
- 2 cups (155 grams) old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup (156 grams) mixed raisins (I used half dark and half golden as recommended in the cookbook. If the raisins are not plump, pour hot water over them and let them sit for about 30 minutes before making the cookies, then drain and pat thoroughly dry.)
- Place the flour in a medium bowl. Sift in the cinnamon and baking soda, add the salt, and whisk together. Whisk together the sugars in a small bowl, breaking up any lumps.
- Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn to medium-low speed and cream the butter, warming the bowl if needed, until it is the consistency of mayonnaise and holds a peak when the paddle is lifted. Add the sugars and mix for 3 to 4 minutes, until fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
- Add the eggs and vanilla paste and mix on low speed for 15 to 30 seconds, until just combined. Scrape down the bowl again. The mixture may look broken, but that is fine (over-whipping the eggs could cause the cookies to expand too much during baking and then deflate).
- Add the combined dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing on low speed for 15 to 30 seconds after each, until just combined. Scrape the bottom of the bowl to
- incorporate any dry ingredients that have settled there. Add the oats and pulse on low about 10 times to combine. Pulse in the raisins. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
- Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F (convection or standard). Line two sheet pans with Silpats or parchment paper.
- Using the ice cream scoop, divide the dough into 6 equal portions, 145 grams each. Roll each one into a ball between the palms of your hands. (The dough can be shaped in advance.)
- The cookies are very large; bake only 3 on each pan. With a short end of the pan toward you, place one cookie in the upper left corner, one in the lower left corner, and the third one in the center, toward the right side of the pan. Bring the dough to room temperature before baking.
- Bake the cookies until golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes in a convection oven, 21 to 23 minutes in a standard oven, reversing the positions of the pans halfway through baking.
- Set the pans on a cooling rack and cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely.
Makes approx. 6 4-inch cookies. The cookies are best the day they are baked, but they can be stored in a covered container for up to 3 days.
For Smaller Cookies: Divide the dough into 12 equal portions (72 grams each). Bake for to 16 minutes in a convection oven, 18 to 20 minutes in a standard oven.