Earlier this year, Samin Nosrat, author of the bestselling cookbook Salt Fat Acid Heat and Hrishikesh Hirway, host of the podcast and Netflix show Song Exploder, teamed up to create Home Cooking, a podcast where they answer listeners’ cooking questions, make lots of bad puns, and share their passion for cookies, among other foods. They join Dan this week and accept a challenge: How much time can the three of them spend analyzing the most minute details of cookies? Plus, Dan and Samin resolve their olive beef. This week is heavy enough — we’re going for pure escapism.
Interstitial music in this episode by Black Label Music:
- "Sun So Sunny" by Calvin Dashielle
- "Party Hop" by Jack Ventimiglia
- "Still In Love With You" by Steve Sullivan
- "New Old" by JT Bates
Photo courtesy of Dan Pashman.
Dan Pashman: Now, we've got a few more things to cover here, but I think first we're going to clear the air here a little bit, Samin.
Samin Nosrat: What?
Dan Pashman: Because I...
Samin Nosrat: Have I wronged you?
Dan Pashman: Well, I sent a question into your podcast.
Samin Nosrat: Oh, that's right. I can’t remember. I just remember I was rude to you.
Hrishikesh Hirway: Yeah, even though the question was about olives, you two have beef.
Samin Nosrat: Uh-oh, you're already starting...you're doing it on his podcast now?
Dan Pashman: This is The Sporkful, it’s not for foodies it’s for eaters, I’m Dan Pashman. Each week on our show we obsess about food to learn more about people. Now you know that we sometimes get into pretty heavy topics here. But I'm gonna tell you right off the top, this is not going to be one of those episodes. This week is heavy enough. We are going for pure escapism. Here we go. Samin Nosrat and Hrishikesh Hirway are friends, creators and food lovers. Samin was on our show before, after the release of her cookbook, Salt Fat Acid Heat, which went on to become a hit Netflix docu-series. Hrishi is best known as the host of the music podcast Song Exploder, which I love, and which also recently became a Netflix series. But as you’ll hear, he has plenty to say about food.
Dan Pashman: Earlier this year, when everyone was sheltering in place, Samin and Hrishi came together to launch the podcast Home Cooking. They answer listener questions about food and cooking from home, they laugh a lot, and Hrishi tortures Samin with his puns. It was originally intended as a 4 episode limited run, but as the pandemic drags on, they’re now up to episode 11 of their 4 episode run. So, let’s get into it. First, Samin and I have to get past this olive beef, right? Now, here's what happened. A while back I submitted a question to Home Cooking, and let’s just say the response was less than satisfying.
Dan Pashman: My question was, does having the pit in the olive make it taste better? Because there's a perception that, like fancier olives are typically sold with a pit in. And pitted olives feels sort of like...more low brow.
Samin Nosrat: Mm-hmm.
Dan Pashman: And your first answer was, "I could have Googled it." (laughter) Which, you know, I hate to break it to you, Samin, but if that's going to be your answer, you're not going to have much of a podcast left.
Dan Pashman: But then then your more legit answer was basically like "As a chef, we are trained to you know, you want to get all your ingredients in their most untampered with state."
Samin Nosrat: Yeah.
Dan Pashman: Which is a good answer from a chef's perspective. But my perspective, I'm not a chef. And my approach is more the perspective of, you know, Joe Eater, who's going to buy a jar of olives in the supermarket and like, eat them right out of the jar after my kids have gone to bed, when I'm having a cocktail. Or like, chop them up and throw them on my pizza and I find the pit irritating. Because the pit distracts from the eating experience. Like you bit into it, you hit this rock in the center. It's unpleasant and then you spend most of the eating experience trying not to choke or trying not to look totally disgusting to anyone who might be looking at you. And by the time you've dealt with the pit, the rest of the olive is gone. You swallow it without noticing. Is the pit doing anything good? Is it contributing flavor? Is it preserving freshness? Is it doing something that counteracts all the crap that it brings to the table?
Samin Nosrat: Dan, do you have an idea of like how many months it's been since you sent this question and I gave you that frustrating answer? It's probably been like at least four months, right? So the fact that, like, you're still frustrated and then this has been frustrating you for however long before that, I think to me it points to something else. I will say, like, once you once you pit it, there's just like more oxidation that can happen. There's more you know, there's more sort of space...
Dan Pashman: More degradation.
Samin Nosrat: Yeah, degradation can happen. Exactly. But what I will say is what what I'm left with even more than like the specifics of like what percentage degradation in the taste is listening to how frustrated you are and like, looking on your face and feeling that. If dealing with the pit is so frustrating to you that it's costing you pleasure, then I think you should probably stick to pitted olives. You know? And not feel bad about it.
Dan Pashman: Ok, I will buy pitted olives and not feel bad about it. I think we can consider the matter resolved. I guess it’s time for me to let this one go. [Deep breath] OK, let's move on. On Home Cooking, Samin and Hrishi answer questions like mine. But before they became real-life friends and co-hosts, they were Twitter friends with a shared appreciation for each others’ work, a passion for bad jokes, and the love of food. As you’ll hear, the first time they hung out IRL, cookies were involved. These two love cookies. Well, it’s mostly Hrishi. He is obsessed.
Dan Pashman: All right. Let's talk about cookies.
Hrishikesh Hirway: Bring it.
Dan Pashman: This is really the thing I'm most excited to talk to you guys about. I almost feel like I want to take it as a challenge to see how much—in how much detail and how much time can we spend analyzing cookies.
Samin Nosrat: We're gonna be here for a long time.
Hrishikesh Hirway: This is my dream interview.
Dan Pashman: Hrishi, I want to start with you because I know this is this is really—this is right in your sweet spot.
Hrishikesh Hirway: Wah, wah.
Samin Nosrat: Wah, wah. You got him! You got him!
Dan Pashman: That wasn't even intentional. It’s like contagious. But like, you know, quick scan of your Instagram. You know, you've got a wide variety of cookies, chocolate mint chip cookies. You had oatmeal coconut chocolate raisin pecan cookies, like in, you know, everything in the pantry cookie, chocolate chili pistachio cookies, salted cardamom chocolate chip, ginger molasses, chocolate cookies with coconut almonds and dark chocolate chunks and sea salt. You tweeted years ago, I know you as a person who when you travel to new cities, you go out on cookie hunts.
Hrishikesh Hirway: That's right.
Samin Nosrat: That's was how Hrishi and I spent our first in-person day together, was a cookie expedition. A cookie adventure.
Hrishikesh Hirway: Here in L.A.
Dan Pashman: Well, Samin, in a minute I wanna hear your characterization of that process. But, Hrishi, just first off, what is it about cookies?
Hrishikesh Hirway: I mean, they're just the perfect amount of joy in this little package. You know? It's just...it's not a huge commitment to eat or to make. And as a format, you know, I really like formats and it's a really great format for combining all kinds of delightful flavors.
Dan Pashman: Right. Well, it’s interesting to me the way you think about it. It strikes me that you're a person who appreciates good editing.
Hrishikesh Hirway: (laughs) Yes.
Dan Pashman: In all of it’s forms. Like your podcast Song Exploder is very tightly edited, very precisely put together. So, there’s something about the cookie that it’s very compact. It doesn’t have anything extraneous.
Hrishikesh Hirway: Exactly. It travels well. You can get them individually. I think a lot of it does stem from that experience of traveling. You know, like if you're going to go to a place, it's a lot easier to kind of seek out a cookie, get one, eat it or get one from a few different places and have a sampling of things in a city. Whereas other things like cake or ice cream, it makes it harder to sort of sample in that same way.
Dan Pashman: Samin, tell me about going out on a cookie hunt with Hrishi. What's that like?
Samin Nosrat: My experience of Hrishi is that he—like his brain version of a Google map is all the bakeries of a city. And so he can be like, "Oh, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here." So that day we went, it was the first time we hung out in person after a few years of sort of corresponding online. And I can't remember how many places we went to. I'm sure he could tell you right now. But we went in search of a bunch of—did we eat them all as we went or did we collect them and then eat them all at the end? I can't remember.
Hrishikesh Hirway: Both.
Samin Nosrat: No, we ate them as we went.
Hrishikesh Hirway: We ate them as we went. And we also had we saved some for later.
Samin Nosrat: Yeah. And then, there was also the errant empanada. But then also, like, as we were going, he was like, "Oh, and then there's the most amazing cookie. But it's actually not even from a store front." And and so then there was this like kind of like secret, furtive phone call to a baker to see if she could, like, custom bake us some some cookies.
Dan Pashman: Oh my God. You're a guy to hang out with.
Samin Nosrat: Yeah, it was really amazing. It was really, really amazing. And then we pulled up and, you know, we had to go in, like, knock on the secret door and she did it. And it was just—it was a really fun way to get to know somebody. It's a really fun way to get to know, you know, a neighborhood or a part of a city that you're not super familiar with. I have always sort of identified with that Chowhound mentality of like, "Oh, yeah, I'll travel across a city or a town and eat anything. You know, to I'll eat all the tacos, I'll eat all the whatever." But my eyes are bigger than my stomach. And so I often like just am sick to my stomach by like 4:00 p.m., you know. Cookies, because they are sort of compact. Or like if you want to just take a bite and put the rest back in the bag and put it back in your backpack or whatever...
Dan Pashman: Yeah.
Samin Nosrat: You can and you can kind of care...and then it's like 10 p.m. and you're so excited because you found the cookie in your backpack.
Dan Pashman: And you're like "Oh! Backpack cookies." Right, right.
Hrishikesh Hirway: I think there's also an element to it that is just, you know, being able to stay connected to the joy that a cookie brought you when you were a kid. I think I'm always trying to stay connected to that feeling in everything in life. And I think hanging out with Samin for that first time, it was a really great way, I think, for us to get to know each other. It sort of felt like it was a great way for me to introduce her to to the way that I think and think about food. And it was it set the tone for our friendship, I think.
Dan Pashman: Ahead of this conversation, I put the call out to you, asking for your questions about cookies. Coming up, I’ll put those questions to Samin and Hrishi. How crunchy or chewy should a cookie be? Which is better, chocolate chips or chocolate chunks? If this episode itself is a cookie, we’ve only just begun nibbling at the perimeter. Stick around.
+++ BREAK +++
Dan Pashman: Welcome back to The Sporkful, I’m Dan Pashman..Of everything I’ve learned over the years on this show, one has probably stuck with me most: You can track an immigrant group’s assimilation in America by looking at whether their food is perceived as American or foreign. For instance, why is pizza accepted as American, while wonton soup is considered foreign, even though Chinese immigrants came to America in large numbers before Italian immigrants?
CLIP (ROBERT KU): If you are of European ancestry, you can easily be considered an American without any kind of friction. But if you happen to be brown or yellow, then suddenly you're first impulse is to say, "You must be an Alien. You must be an immigrant," when that person could be fourth, fifth generation American. So this struggle to be seen as American, as legitimately American, is a challenge that Asian American continually face.
Dan Pashman: In last week's show, we dig into this issue and more with professor Krishnendu Ray and chef and recipe developer Yewande Komolafe. That ones up now. It’s called "Spicy Doritos and How Foods Become American", check it out. Now, back to my conversation with Samin Nosrat and Hrishi Hirway.
Dan Pashman: So I put the call out to Sporkful listeners on Instagram, questions for both of you. I specifically prompted for cookie related questions. So that was a lot of them. Meg on Instagram writes, "Where do you stand on Chewy versus Crispy versus cakey for cookies? Personally, I think crispy cookies are garbage, but I'd like to hear the experts."
Samin Nosrat: I defer to Hrishi.
Hrishikesh Hirway: Ideal texture is a little bit crispy on the outside, but then softer on the inside and still, you know, with a good chew.
Dan Pashman: I don't think that any cookie, if you want to be a great cookie, it should not be mono textural.
Hrishikesh Hirway: Hmm.
Samin Nosrat: Oh, I think I agree with that. I think I agree with that. Except for things like um... No, I think I agree with that. I was gonna say except for like, say, an Oreo, but even an Oreo has multiple textures.
Dan Pashman: Right. Just once you bite it and it starts breaking, you get creamier bits you get. Right. I even apply that like, you know, I love the Girl Scouts, but the Girl Scout cookies, I think this is a problem. They’re cookies are mono-textural. This is why the Samosas or Caramel Delites, as they're called in some parts of the country, I think are the best ones because they're the only ones with textural variation.
Hrishikesh Hirway: You are right. They are the best ones.
Samin Nosrat: Very interesting. Texture is also really important part of flavor. Texture also just to go back to the olive pit, that interruption of the texture of the olive, you know, it's so disruptive to you, which is why you're just like, eww.
Dan Pashman: But if it was edible, I bet I would like it.
Samin Nosrat: Yeah.
Dan Pashman: Describe your ideal cookie texture, Samin.
Samin Nosrat: Well, one of my very favorite chocolate chip cookies is the Sarah Keefer chocolate chip cookies.
Hrishikesh Hirway: Oh, the pan bang?
Samin Nosrat: That comes at a result of the pan bang. The pan bang? Have you made that one, Dan?
Dan Pashman: No, but I've seen the video. You start off with a big ball of cookie dough and then it starts to cook. And then you take that baking sheet out every few minutes an bang it on the counter so it kind of settles ripples outward. And you do that every few minutes, right? You end up with these kind of ripples around the perimeter of the cookie. So those areas have more surface area exposed to the heat. They brown more. They turn crispier and then you have the center part that is kind of flat and stays soft and gooey.
Samin Nosrat: Exactly. And so you really get the full spectrum of textures, which is to me so deeply enjoyable. I love that. I really love that. I feel like that as far as a cookie that,I myself, have baked has been the apotheosis of cookie texture.
Dan Pashman: That's that's quite an endorsement. I'm gonna have to look into that. I think of cookies as like, if you're looking at a cookie from the top, what I want is like concentric circles of cookie cookedness.
Samin Nosrat: (whispers) Concentric circles of cookedness.
Dan Pashman: Like picture like a target. You got a target of the rings on the cookie and you have your your outer perimeter should be crispy.
Samin Nosrat: Uh-huh.
Dan Pashman: Then as you move towards the center, you want chewy.
Samin Nosrat: Uh-huh.
Dan Pashman: When you get right into the bullseye, you want gooey.
Hrishikesh Hirway: Mm-hmm.
Samin Nosrat: Ohhh.
Hrishikesh Hirway: The pan bang cookie really is aimed at that kind of experience I think.
Samin Nosrat: Yeah.
Dan Pashman: I'll have to...I'm gonna have to try it. And sprinkled throughout though, I want chocolate chips or nuts or fruits other like sort of surprise pieces of crunch and chew. So, you're getting like crispy, chewy, gooey, crunchy.
Hrishikesh Hirway: I think that one cookie that you mentioned, the pecan, raisin, chocolate chip, coconut oatmeal cookie that I made, is maybe the best cookie that I made. And I think it's because of the heterogeneity of the texture in it. It was, every single bite was a little bit different. And it was always a surprise.
Samin Nosrat: Yeah, I think going back to my eyes, being hungrier than my stomach, I always am like, "Oh, I want to add more chocolate," But then when I'm eating the cookie, I'm always like, "I want less chocolate. I want more cookie," because it's like— not not less chocolate. Trust me, I want plenty of chocolate. Because I know, I saw the shock on your face. I just don't like it when it's too chocolaty. I don't like it when there is not enough cookie. Do you didn't you know, I mean? Hrishi is totally not okay with this. I want the chocolate chip to feel precious, like I wa
Dan Pashman: 100 percent.
Samin Nosrat: Yeah.
Dan Pashman: Because it's like....
Samin Nosrat: Hirish's totally not OK with this. I want the chocolate chip to feel precious.
Dan Pashman: Yes.
Samin Nosrat: Like I want the chocolate to feel precious.
Dan Pashman: And you want what sensory scientists would call dynamic contrast you want...
Samin Nosrat: Ohh, Yes. I love dynamic contrast. Mm-hmm.
Dan Pashman: Yeah. Right. Right. Right. Hrishi, you want to argue this point with Samin? Is there a such thing as too many chocolate chips in a chocolate chip cookie?
Hrishikesh Hirway: Who's to say what counts as too many or not enough chocolate chips? Really, everybody has their own sense of what the ideal ratio is. Samin’s might be --
Samin Nosrat: Guys, I'm so stressed right now. I'm sweating. (laughter) I have like major armpit stains in my t-shirt because this is the most stressful conversation.
Dan Pashman: Last time you came on, Samin, know, we spent the first fifteen minutes talking about toast.
Samin Nosrat: Yeah, oh right.
Dan Pashman: You know, The Sporkful brings the hard hitting questions. Let me tell ya. Next next listener question, Eric writes: What is the best chocolate chip to use in a chocolate chip cookie?
Samin Nosrat: Ohhh.
Dan Pashman: Semi-sweet, milk, dark, white, combo. But I'm interested to hear your take on chocolate chips versus chocolate chunks.
Samin Nosrat: Oh, yes, I have full opinions on this. I'm not a fan of the chocolate chip. I mean, I love eating them, but I like having chocolate that you chop because I like the surprise of sometimes you get a little piece, sometimes you get a big piece. Sometimes there's a big melty pocket. Sometimes it's just like a tiny little thing. So I like having my hand chopped chocolate in a cookie. I also think that at most grocery stores, the selection of chocolate bars offers better chocolate options than the chocolate chip selection.
Dan Pashman: Higher quality chocolate.
Samin Nosrat: Yeah, higher quality. But I do think, like having variety is nice because, again, it's like that contrast. It's a little bit of surprise. So I like having sort of something in the 60s range and then something...
Dan Pashman: In the percent of darkness, you mean?
Hrishikesh Hirway: Or something a bit lower. Yeah, and the percentages. But but also like I fully have just gone through my cabinet in and just use whatever I have.
Dan Pashman: Right. Yeah. Hrishi, chocolate chips or chocolate chunks?
Hrishikesh Hirway: The best results I've gotten is actually a combination of the two. The chopped chocolate bar gives you all that that variety that Samin was talking about it. But it also melts, even the bigger pieces melt in a different way than chocolate chips melt. Chocolate chips might have a little bit of a different density. So I think for for my money, the best cookie is made with a combination of chopped dark chocolate in those high 60s or low 70s, mixed with semisweet chocolate chips. You don't just get the difference in the in the sweetness of the chocolate, you also get a difference in how melty different things are.
Samin Nosrat: I would go with that. I’ll endorse that.
Dan Pashman: That's a fair point. I think we're all roughly on the same page. You know, the talenti ice creams.
Hrishikesh Hirway: Yes.
Samin Nosrat: Mm-hmm.
Dan Pashman: One of my one of my criticisms of them is that the ones that they have...they're like chocolate chips. They have like sort of a thousand flecks of chocolate.
Samin Nosrat: It's just shavings. Yeah.
Dan Pashman: Right, it's just shavings and it's mono textural.
Samin Nosrat: Mm-hmm.
Dan Pashman: Every bite is the same. When you have the first bite of it, you're like, "Oh, that's kind of nice." And about the third or fourth bite, you're like, meh. I want a pint of ice cream to feel like a scavenger hunt.
Samin Nosrat: Mm-hmm.
Hrishikesh Hirway: Mm-hmm.
Dan Pashman: And then when you when you find that gigantic chunk of whatever...
Samin Nosrat: Oh, it's amazing.
Dan Pashman: Right. Exactly. But, you know, but in order for that experience to exist, there have to be other bites that don't have any.
Samin Nosrat: Mm-hmm.
Dan Pashman: You know? And that's life.
Hrishikesh Hirway: Dan, have you had the Everything But The ice cream from Ben and Jerry's?
Dan Pashman: I don't know if I've had that one. I mean, I've eaten a lot of Ben and Jerry's in my day.
Hrishikesh Hirway: That one might be my favorite. And it is exactly for this reason. It does feel like a scavenger hunt. There's so many different elements in it. There are toffee pieces and there are little peanut butter cup pieces and just, I think, white chocolate in there. Every single bite, you're just like, "What's gonna happen next?"
Dan Pashman: I'm going to try that out. I'm going to try that. Lauren writes: How many seconds should a chocolate chip cookie be warmed in the microwave? Eight seconds is my go to, but I'm open to suggestions for improvement.
Samin Nosrat: Ohh.
Hrishikesh Hirway: Eight second sounds great to me. I tend to usually do toaster oven instead of microwave.
Dan Pashman: Woah, this guy's got all the time in the world.
Hrishikesh Hirway: If you are doing it in the microwave, I would say put a paper towel on top of your cookie.
Dan Pashman: Do you also put a paper towel underneath? Because it drives my wife crazy and I put things in the microwave without a paper towel underneath.
Hrishikesh Hirway: Oh, yeah. I mean, we're not barbarians.
Dan Pashman: I'm going to get a little controversial here. Look, again, this is a matter of taste. If you like your chocolate chip cookies warm, obviouly there's a lot of people who agree. For me, I think I prefer my cookies room temperature or even a little bit cool?
Samin Nosrat: Cool???
Hrishikesh Hirway: There are some cookies that are better cool.
Samin Nosrat: Cool???
Dan Pashman: Samin’s face. Samin is like, does not compute.
Samin Nosrat: I'm like, "Cooler cookies?"
Hrishikesh Hirway: Wait, wait, wait, wait. We talked about Girl Scout cookies already.
Samin Nosrat: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.
Hrishikesh Hirway: Thin Mint cookies, out of the freezer...
Samin Nosrat: Okay. Okay. You're right. You're right. You're okay. Okay. I'm with you.
Hrishikesh Hirway: The thin mint cookie I think is definitely Thin Mints is the best example a cookie where being cold improves it.
Samin Nosrat: Yes.
Dan Pashman: Well, but when you have a cookie that's cold, it solidifies the butter in the cookie and it makes the cookie more dense.
Samin Nosrat: Mm-hmm.
Dan Pashman: More Tooth-sinkable.
Hrishikesh Hirway: Hmm.
Dan Pashman: And if you have a cookie that's really like gooey, undercooked in the center, it will still be very soft and moist, even out of the fridge. And you get more textural contrast.
Samin Nosrat: Ohh, Dan. You haven't really thought about this. You guys are way more professional at cookie baking than me.
Dan Pashman: Next question. This one....this one is had me stumped. Anne writes: Chocolate and peanut butter is widely acknowledged by one of the best flavor combinations.
Samin Nosrat: 100 percent.
Dan Pashman: Yes, we can agree on that. Chocolate chip cookies are arguably the most popular cookie ever made. Peanut butter cookies are also delicious, but I've never seen a peanut butter cookie with chocolate chips.
Hrishikesh Hirway: No, that's not true. I ate one last night, in fact.
Samin Nosrat: What??
Dan Pashman: Wow. OK, debunked. Anne, you just got debunked.
Samin Nosrat: But I will say, like to me, preferable to a peanut butter cookie with chocolate chips is the classic peanut butter flour, the peanut butter cookie with a Reese's peanut butter cup in it. I love those.
Dan Pashman: Right.
Samin Nosrat: I also love the Ohio Buckeye cookie.
Dan Pashman: I make those every holiday season, buckeyes are so good.
Samin Nosrat: Can you describe those, Dan? Because I don't know that I can describe them.
Dan Pashman: It's basically like you take—you mix peanut butter, sugar, and butter. Roll them into balls and then freeze them and then you dip them in chocolate. And I like to dip them in a hefty quantity of chocolate, dark chocolate. And then that way, when you lay them on the wax paper and put them in the fridge for the chocolate to solidify, some of it drips down and forms a little puddle along the bottom, like a little sort of skirt I like to think of it. And when you bite into it, you not only get the the thin chocolate shell— and the textural contrast again—then you get to the creamy peanut butter, but then at the acute angle at the bottom of the chocolate where the skirt...the the puddle meets the globe, so to speak...I don't know if I'm describing this in a way that people who can't see me can understand but...
Samin Nosrat: There's like a thicker part.
Dan Pashman: There's an acute angle. Exactly. And that is your crunch.
Samin Nosrat: Uh-huh. I have not seen a lot of chocolate chip peanut butter cookies, but the chocolate and peanut butter baked good, definitely there's a whole genre that I'm really into. But describe what you had last night, Hrishi.
Hrishikesh Hirway: Well, what I had was a store bought Uncle Eddie's vegan peanut butter chocolate chip cookie. But I made a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie that I thought turned out really well. I think the secret to a good peanut butter chocolate chip cookie is brown butter. If you can make it with brown butter, the peanut butter and the chocolate chip, I think, intermarry more harmoniously. I used a mixture of peanut butter chips and chocolate chunks.
Samin Nosrat: Oh, okay. Now you're just going to cuckoo balls.
Dan Pashman: That sounds really good though.
Samin Nosrat: I love peanut butter chips.
Dan Pashman: Yeah. It is strange, though, because I feel like chocolate based cookie with peanut butter chip is pretty common. I feel like I’ve seen that.
Samin Nosrat: Oh, I've seen those.
Dan Pashman: Right.
Samin Nosrat: I've seen those like in the variety pack.
Dan Pashman: Yeah, those are everywhere. But I don't understand. But it is true that the peanut butter base cookie with chocolate chips or chunks seems to be rare considering how common chocolate peanut butter desserts are. I don't know why that isn't...hasn't, you know, gained wider purchase.
Dan Pashman: After more discussion, we make the educated guess that peanut butter cookies are drier, more crumbly, more like shortbread. So if you put chocolate chips or other big chunks in there, the cookies are more likely to just totally fall apart. That’s our theory as to why you don’t see more peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips. So there you have it, we just spent about 25 minutes talking about cookies. If you're a long time listeners will recall that this used to be pretty much the whole show. Ten years ago, we spent a whole show analyzing the ideal surface-area-to-volume ratio of ice cubes. You know, like how fast do you want your ice to melt depending on the beverage and the weather? These are big issues. Anyways, before we wrapped up, I did have a few non-cookie questions for Samin and Hrishi.
Dan Pashman: Are you guys ready for the lightning round?
Samin Nosrat: Always.
Dan Pashman: All right...
Samin Nosrat: Except, you know how we are, with like—we're like very slow lightning people.
Dan Pashman: Just slow motion, lightning round.
Samin Nosrat: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Dan Pashman: All right. We've got a question for Mickey Maynard, friend of the show, a past guest who writes for Forbes and other publications. Mickey says: Would Samin ever go back to the restaurant world or open her own place? If so, what would she do differently compared with her earlier experiences?
Samin Nosrat: Never.
Samin Nosrat: It's never been my dream. I think I realized a long time ago the stress involved with it is just not what I—that's not what I want to do. But if we were to talk about, like, imaginary cooking world, and what I would want to do? I mean, Hrishi and I have our imaginary ice cream parlor, the Emperor of Ice Cream, that we're going to open up.
Hrishikesh Hirway: Hell yeah.
Dan Pashman: All the names of the flavors are literary allusions.
Samin Nosrat: Yes. And then also my imaginary roast chicken restaurant that I would like to have my rotisserie chicken place. And then I also would have like an imaginary lasana restaurant. Those are my imaginary restaurants that I would like to have...with no employees. I think employees and having employees and having to take care of employees, it's such a huge responsibility that I don't want to undertake. Yeah. So no, thank you.
Dan Pashman: Audrie on Instagram writes: We need an update on the Samin boyfriend application process. Now for people who don’t listen to Home Cooking, Hrishi you put a call out in the show for people to apply to be Samin’s boyfriend, much to her dismay. I know in a recent episode you said the effort has born fruit. Is there anything any more you can divulge?
Hrishikesh Hirway: There's no more that can be divulged.
Dan Pashman: Can I ask one question? Hrishi, have you met the gentleman?
Samin Nosrat: Digitally.
Hrishikesh Hirway: It's true.
Dan Pashman: OK, digitally, but not in person.
Hrishikesh Hirway: No, no, no, no.
Samin Nosrat: I mean, he lives in...
Hrishikesh Hirway: I'm not meeting anybody in person.
Dan Pashman: All right. OK. I mean, like, even distanced?
Hrishikesh Hirway: No, no, no. There's a plexiglass dividing the bed in my home.
Samin Nosrat: Yesterday on Twitter, I saw some like, um, you can buy like a pod. Like a pod that you can like wear out in the world now. Like you can just wear a pod out on the street. It made me think of you.
Dan Pashman: Carina writes: I spend a lot of time cooking for my family, but a lot of times I'm just over the food I've made by the time we're ready to eat. I've smelled it and been around it for so long that I'm not interested in eating it anymore—I really identified with this—I love that they enjoy the food but how can I cook in a way that I will enjoy sitting down and eating with my family too?’
Hrishikesh Hirway: Get one of those bubbles that Samin was just talking about. Keep it on until it's time to eat.
Dan Pashman: Right. Right.
Samin Nosrat: I'm like, keep a bunch of cookies in the fridge and eat that for dinner. I'm like, welcome to the cook's eternal problem. I don't know. This one, I don't have an answer for. Maybe re-contextualizing what it is that you expect to be having, you know. Watching everyone else at the table, maybe eating a whole meal and taking some joy out of that, maybe having just a small bite yourself. And that might be enough. Like, that's often what I do. I rarely, rarely, rarely, especially on a thing like Thanksgiving when I've been cooking really for days and I come to the table like the last thing I want to do is eat the whole thing. But yeah, I want to taste everything and I enjoy watching other people and have a glass of wine. So I feel you, Carina. like it's it's it's been my my thing since... the beginning of my career. But I think for me, I've just changed what it is that I want to experience at the table, which is just being with people and having a little taste.
Hrishikesh Hirway: You know, I worked at McDonald's and I never got sick of eating the food.
Dan Pashman: Interesting. What did you do at McDonald's?
Hrishikesh Hirway: I was a cashier.
Samin Nosrat: You look so good in headphones. I'm imagining you working at the takeout window.
Hrishikesh Hirway: There was no takeout window. It was in the mall. So we didn't we didn't have a drive through. I worked the cash register and, you know, and did the fries. I was 14, so I wasn't allowed to work in the back.
Dan Pashman: OK. And what did you learn from that experience that has informed your life today?
Hrishikesh Hirway: I'll tell you. There was one day a kid who might have been my age, maybe he was 15. He ordered his drink and then, you know, he got some combo that came with a drink. And I said, "What do you want for your drink?" And he said, "You know the suicide is?" And uh...he was real cool. And I said, "No. Whats that?" And he said, "It's when you mix all the different sodas." I was like, "Oh, yeah. That I do all the time." And he's like, "I’d like that." I was like, OK. And so, you know, special order. So I went in like did my custom mix of all the different flavors and the ratio that I thought would be right. And then I gave it to him, and he took a sip as he's waiting for the rest of his order to come in. Takes a step and he looks me and goes, "You make ‘em good."
Samin Nosrat: Wow. You really, really internalized that I compliment for the next 40 years.
Hrishikesh Hirway: That set me on a path to thinking I might be good at editing.
Dan Pashman: That’s Samin Nosrat and Hrishi Hirway. Their podcast Home Cooking is available wherever you listen. You can find Samin’s latest writing and recipes in The New York Times. And if you want to hear Hrishi’s expert editing in action, check out his podcast Song Exploder, and the Netflix show of the same name, where artists like Alicia Keys, Lin Manuel Miranda, Ty Dolla Sign and REM, dissect a song of theirs and tell the story of how it was written, it’s really good.
Dan Pashman: What are you doing on Election Day? Besides voting of course? My kids are off from school, so I’ve decided that we’re gonna pass the time by making those pan bang chocolate chip cookies. I’ll share videos in my Instagram stories so make sure you’re following me on the gram where I am @TheSporkful. In the mean time check out last week’s episode, “Spicy Doritos And How Foods Become American”, it’s up now.