February 28, 2022
The Casual Cookie
Americans have had a long love affair with the cookie, and we sometimes say we have never met a cookie we didn't like. In the past, we have highlighted recipes for more elaborate cookies like Apricot Hamantaschen, Iced Butter Cookies, or many of the holiday cookies from our collection. You might consider these cookies to be more dressed up. But, in this newsletter, we are featuring the jeans and T-shirt cookies—those that are easy to make and intended for everyday munching.

We have an array of recipes for everyday cookies so you can make delicious treats at home, as well as some great ideas for shortcuts. We are also featuring some of our favorite boxed cookies for when an immediate cookie fix is required.

Let's start with some of our favorite product recommendations.
Baking them
The freshness and quality of the ingredients that you use have a direct effect on the success of your baking. This explains our unwavering commitment to using King Arthur Flour, Clover Sonoma Butter, Judy's Family Farm Organic Cage-Free Eggs, and Straus Family Creamery's Organic Whole Milk.

India Tree sugars add a whole flavor dimension to baked goods. We carry their Dark and Light Muscovado Sugar and Superfine Caster Sugar. And, if you are looking for molasses, pick up some Glory Bee Organic Unsulphured Blackstrap Molasses for strong flavor and Brer Rabbit Molasses for a more mild flavor.

Maldon Sea Salt Flakes are perfect for finishing cookies when you want that hit of saltiness (think sea salt caramel). And, we love Nielsen-Massey's line of extracts. We are carrying their pure extracts in Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla (organic, too), Orange, Chocolate, Peppermint, and Almond. We also have their Orange Blossom Water and Rose Water.

If you are looking for dried fruits and nuts and other flavors to mix into your dough, try Mariani dried cranberries and apricots, Marra Brothers No-Salt Roasted Almonds, or Reese's Peanut Butter Chips. Also, check out all the ways Ghirardelli Chocolate can be added to your baking.
Decorating them
For a little sparkle and a splash of color, we recommend you reach for Wilton Gel Food Colors—we carry two sets of colors with a palette of four colors in each set. Together they make just about every color you would want to add to your dough.

India Tree Sparkling Sugar Decorations come in a gorgeous range of jewel tones. We also carry their party Decoratifs Carousel Sprinkles and String of Pearls Sprinkles.
Half way there
Sometimes you want a fresh-baked cookie without all the fuss of measuring separate ingredients. This way you can bake just the amount that you desire, and have the kitchen smell amazing.

Country Baking Co. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough comes pre-measured, mixed, and scooped. All you have to do is pop the tray in the oven and enjoy warm cookies! And, for a gluten-free experience, try Immaculate Gluten-Free and Non-Dairy Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough.

Stonewall Kitchen makes a delicious Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix and Traditional Brownie Mix. You can never go wrong with Stonewall Kitchen.
Eating them
Sometimes you just need to buy a box of cookies. Here are some of our favorites in stock at the store.

Wackym's Kitchen Butterscotch Sorthbread are all-butter shortbread cookies made with barrel-aged scotch whiskey. And, their Chocolate Snicker Doodle Crunch is a spicy chocolate cookie sprinkled with cinnamon, sugar, & cayenne.

Other favorites include A Taste of Denmark's Vanilla Wafers and Kelley's Kookies Shortbread. And for a few gluten-free varieties try Délice Glacé Artisanal French Meringues or New Bread Gluten-Free and Vegan Lemon Tea Cookies.
The Kitchen Table

Categorically Correct
Describing myself as a foodie can be problematic—mainly because I am not sure what that means exactly beyond the fact that I love everything about food. I am not the person who will take pictures of my food at a restaurant (though I have done it on occasion). I am not the person who has to go to the latest “it” restaurant (though I am always down for a tasty night on the town).

I guess you could say I am the contradictory foodie. I have line in the sand standards and can be psychotically obsessive about an ingredient, technique, or authenticity. And, yet can be very cavalier about, say, Cool Whip and/or American cheese. (Though, as you can tell, I still have a healthy food snob side.) Adding to my quirks? Rules about certain edible items.

Case in point: I had a recent conversation about what constitutes a Christmas or special occasion cookie versus an everyday cookie. And, I, true to form, had some line in the sand opinions. A chocolate chip cookie is an everyday cookie. You will never convince me otherwise. Mexican wedding cakes are a Christmas cookie. You just don’t make them all the time. They are special. The problem is that, in my true contradictory/quirky foodie way, I have discovered a grey area. A good example is this cookie recipe my grandmother made, rather presumptuously named The World’s Greatest Cookie.

I love this cookie. It is without question one of my favorites…but, I hardly ever make it. Growing up, the only time I had them was when I went over to Gam’s house. My mother almost never made them. My theory as to why this was the case is that they are made with so-called pantry staples that were not staples in our pantry, things like coconut and corn flakes. These are not obscure ingredients. But, for whatever reason, we just never had on hand. So, to make these cookies would have required forethought and planning—which doesn’t quite qualify them for everyday status.
Fast forward to my own kitchen where corn flakes and coconut are pantry staples. And yet, I still don’t make these very often. So, you would assume that these cookies would fall into my Christmas/special occasion category based solely on taste and planning. But, no.

These cookies are buttery and flakey and are so darn good that they should go in the myriad of cookie tins that we make up every holiday season. But, they don’t for the same reason that they don’t fall into the everyday, pack ‘em in a lunch category. These cookies don’t travel well. These cookies break. They are delicate and unless you pack your lunch with utmost care, by recess you have crumbs instead of The World’s Greatest Cookie. They are tasty crumbs, but still…

So, I have placed these cookies in their own category that I have recently named Because I want to. The only reason needed to make these lovely bites is because you want to.

There are a number of versions of this cookie available on the interwebs. This is the recipe for The World’s Greatest Cookie that my grandmother used.

News & Events

The OMCA 2022 White Elephant Sale is happening in person this year and attendance is limited to 500 shoppers per day. This means certain days are already beginning to sell out. So, if you are interested in attending, get your tickets soon!

Known as the best and biggest rummage sale in Northern California, this year’s event includes even more opportunities to safely shop during the annual Bay Area tradition.

Featuring 19 departments with a wide range of quality goods, the White Elephant Sale proceeds directly benefit the Oakland Museum of California’s programming and exhibitions. The Sale is organized by the Oakland Museum Women’s Board, whose sole purpose has been to raise money to support OMCA since 1959.
This year, shoppers are in luck—additional sale dates have been added, and reservations will be required in advance in order to manage capacity.

From our blog, The Kitchen Table

Raising the Bar
Bar cookies are a wonderful thing. They can be simple. They can be complicated. No matter what version you go with, you can count on one thing—they will be popular.

Bar cookies are so popular because they are relatively easy to make. For the most part, you mix up a batch, put them in a 13 x 9-inch pan, and wait. Best of all, they travel well. This is why you will find a bar cookie at just about any school function, sports tournament, or potluck.

The hardest part is deciding which recipe to make. During the holidays I make a Five-Layer Bar that is deadly, and I usually follow that up with some pecan bars. When I am in the mood for something with a little fruit, there are lemon bars, raspberry bars, or apple pie bars. But, if I am being honest, my everyday go-to bar cookie is a blondie.

There have been heated debates about which is better the brownie or the blondie. The reality is, there is no right answer. For me, while I love the brownie, there is something about the buttery flavor of a blondie that is undeniable.
This recipe is my go-to when I have that blondie craving or just need a little pick me up.

A Cookbook Recommendation
by Dorie Greenspan

Over the course of her baking career, Dorie Greenspan has created more than 300 cookie recipes. Yet she has never written a book about them—until now.

To merit her “three purple stars of approval,” every cookie had to be so special that it begged to be made again and again. Cookies for every taste and occasion are here. There are company treats like Portofignos, with chocolate dough and port-soaked figs, and lunch-box Blueberry Buttermilk Pie Bars. They Might Be Breakfast Cookies are packed with goodies—raisins, dried apples, dried cranberries, and oats— while Almond Crackle Cookies have just three ingredients. There are dozens of choices for the Christmas cookie swaps, including Little Rascals (German jam sandwich cookies with walnuts), Italian Saucissons (chocolate log cookies studded with dried fruit), and Snowy-Topped Brownie Drops.

And who but America’s favorite baker could devise a cookie as intriguing as Pink-Peppercorn Thumbprints or as popular as the World Peace Cookie, with its 59 million Internet fans?

James Beard Award-winner for Best Baking and Dessert Book 2017

All-new collection from a "revered icon" and "culinary guru"
–New York Times
A Staff Favorite

These pre-cut sheets are for more than just lining cookie sheets.
From baking and roasting to sautéing and steaming, PaperChef Culinary Parchment has so many uses in the kitchen. We love the pre-cut sheets because they are so easy to use. And, they make clean-up a cinch. (Silicon baking sheets are wonderful, but they can be difficult to clean! PaperChef Culinary Parchment is an indispensable utensil of the everyday cook.

En papillote
Perhaps best known for its use in the classic French en papillote style where you bake your dish in parchment paper that has been folded to seal in the juices. This technique creates refined and delicious food by infusing meats, vegetables, and herbs together to create unparalleled flavor and richness.

Oven safe to 425°F, Culinary Parchment seals in nutrients and enhances the food’s natural flavors while virtually eliminating the need for synthetic cooking sprays and high-fat oils.

Whether you're a chef at a high-end restaurant or your own at-home cook, PaperChef's Culinary Parchment adds to your experience by putting food preparation at the center of creative expression.

News & Events

Mardi Gras is this week, and we have put together a list of recipes to help you celebrate. Some are more complex—others simple to prepare. Whether you are doing a whole feast or just mixing up some cocktails, it is all about letting the good times roll! Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Our list of recipes includes mains and sides like Smoked Duck and Andouille Gumbo, “Dirty” Rice (Cajun Rice Dressing), and Shrimp and Crab Étouffée. There are desserts like Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce and Bananas Foster Fondue. And we also list cocktails such as The Sazerac and The Hurricane.

From our blog, The Cocktail Post

The Greyhound is a refreshing classic cocktail that is simple to make. And, it is perfect any time of day from brunch to nightcap. The list of ingredients requires nothing more than grapefruit juice and vodka or gin.

The history of the Greyhound Cocktail begins in the 1930s using gin, and as vodka became more popular in the 1950s, that was substituted. Now we have the option of using either or both depending on your personal preference. Another variation is the Salty Dog—simply coat the rim of the glass in lime and dip in salt.
The Greyhound can also be the base for experimentation.

Try adding other fruit juices or use an infused vodka. It is generally served in a rocks glass over ice with a lime wedge for garnish.

From our blog, The Kitchen Table

Caught in the Cookie Jar
I had an email land in my inbox the other day that included a recipe for peanut butter cookies. And, I was intrigued by how unexpected it was. I haven’t made peanut butter cookies in forever—mainly because peanuts at school are a big no-go. So, that might explain some of the surprise. I also think I’ve been conditioned to think about cookies only really during the holidays…even though I eat cookies almost daily.

I am a frequent cookie maker. Sometimes they are for sporting event potlucks or some sort of school activity. But, mostly I make cookies because I like ‘em; because I can; and, depending on the variety of cookie, they can be a nice grab n go on the way out the door breakfast. (Hey, it could be worse…)

I am also one of those people who needs something sweet in the afternoon. Right around two or three o’clock, I get a cup of tea and something sweet and small to go with it. Nine times out of ten it’s a cookie. (Or three. Depends on the size.) Shortbread, oatmeal, chocolate chip, Oreos…any and all will do. These are what I consider everyday cookies. Not the fancy ones we hand out for Christmas. The cookie jar workhorses, if you will. They go in school lunches, soothe a sweet tooth, and welcome the kids home from practice.

I can’t say that I have an actual favorite cookie. There are just too many to narrow it down. A lot of the time it depends on my mood. Sometimes I want big butter flavor. Other times I am looking for big bites of chocolate or nuts. Over the weekend I was in the mood for the kind of cookie that will just melt in your mouth. The cookie the French call a sablé. But, I was making these particular cookies for a volleyball tournament so I went with a favorite from Dorie Greenspan. These World Peace Cookies are so good and once you get the hang of making the dough logs, making them is a snap…

A Staff Favorite

If the idea of rich, buttery Irish shortbread squares makes your pulse quicken, you need to try ClaireSquares Buttery Shortbread Squares — they're heavenly! They are just the right amount of crumbly, just the right amount of butter. These award-winning shortbread squares are so rich and dense they are destined to find a place in your heart.

They are perfect with afternoon tea, in school lunchboxes, or any time you crave a treat.

About Clairesquares
Although Clairesquares officially opened for business in 2006, Claire first began making her delectable treats at age 12. Growing up in County Cork, Ireland, Claire took inspiration from her mother’s recipe books.

Years later and miles away in San Francisco, Claire felt homesick for her native Ireland and turned to the stove. She whipped up a batch of those same buttery, Irish treats for her friends. Much to Claire’s delight, they elicited the same wondrous reaction as years past. Itching for a career change from environmental science and encouraged by her friends’ enthusiasm (and constant harassment for just one more square), Claire decided to sell her Irish treats in the States, and Clairesquares was born!

The Cocktail Post

The classic recipe for The Mudslide is a variation on the White Russian—with part of the heavy cream replaced by Irish Creme liqueur.

You can try our variation called a Frozen Mudslide which is great for dessert and similar to a milkshake and made in the blender with vanilla ice cream.

Casual Cookie Recipes from Our Archives
From our blog, The Kitchen Table

We have perused our recipe archive to uncover some of our favorite everyday cookie recipes. Check out the variety of flavors. And, we hope this inspires you to do some baking!

We love coconut macaroons—and making them couldn’t be easier. Bonus! They are gluten-free for those of us who can’t eat gluten. You can melt some bittersweet chocolate and either dip the macaroons or drizzle it on top

This historical recipe is delicious and inspiring. We can only imagine how much labor it took to make them without our modern kitchen conveniences.

This classic peanut butter cookie is dipped in melted chocolate for the perfect melding of those famously compatible flavors.

Our holiday biscotti recipe can be easily adapted for any season. In fact, we added the cranberries and orange to the original King Arthur recipe. These crunchy cookies are perfect for dunking in you hot beverage of choice on in a glass of cold milk.
Bar Cookies
You can’t go wrong with the classics. This recipe adds some oats to the mix for a slightly nuttier flavor. It’s fantastic.

This is a delicious recipe that you can make even better by serving them with the ice cream of your choice on the top for a sundae. Or, take it a step further and use the brownies as the base for an ice cream cake!

These bars are good and we love that she uses honey instead of corn syrup. The honey gives the pecan bars a more floral flavor. Plus, the addition of orange zest is delicious.

These are great in lunches and for breakfasts on the go. The brightness of the raspberry jam will make you smile and I think we could all use a few more smiles these days…

This makes a lot of cookies depending on the size. You can opt to freeze half of the dough. Play around with the add-ins: you can use chocolate chips, rice crispies, or whatever you have on hand that sounds good.
Sandwich Cookies
Talk about your peanut butter bomb! These Overstuffed Nutters are somewhat easy to make and definitely worth it. Just beware the altruistic soul who offers to “taste them to check for poison”. You could end up with half a batch…

Whoopie Pies are an East Coast thing. The traditional version features a chocolatey cakey cookie that is filled with vanilla-flavored cream. Kinda like a giant, soft Oreo. Our version uses a can of pumpkin filling for that spiced flavor.
Chocolate Chip Cookies Four Ways
Everybody has a preferred version of the chocolate chip cookie—some like them soft and chewy, others crispy, and still others with ingredients mixed in. Pick your favorite!

These are the classic recipe from the chocolate chip bag that has been baked millions of times for delighted cookie monsters.

These chocolate chip cookies were a family favorite. They’re crunchy and delicious. The dough doesn’t spread much, making a thicker cookie that was borderline biscotti-like.

We went on a baking adventure to try to duplicate Homemade Tate's Chocolate Chips. These chocolate chip cookies do exactly what we were hoping for. They spread out on the baking pan, and are thin and crispy. Don’t expect anyone to share!

The addition of oats and pecans to this classic recipe give the cookies a wonderful nuttiness and added flavor.
From our blog, The Butcher's Block

Knives are the most important tool in your kitchen whether you are a seasoned chef or just dabble from time to time. Knowing this, we’ve compiled a list of the essential kitchen knives (and maybe a few others) to own if you are just starting out or if you are looking to just start over.

First things first. Those knife block sets can be a great value and they are pretty to look at. But, generally, you get more knives than you need or know what to do with. Better to spend a little bit more on the knives you need than get a deal on a set and only use three of them.

Essential
With these three knives, you should be able to accomplish anything you need to in the kitchen.

Chef’s Knife
A Chef’s Knife is your day in day out all-purpose workhorse. This is where you want to spend a little bit more for a high-quality knife. A high-quality carbon steel knife that has been treated well can last for decades. This knife is used to chop, julienne, or slice. You can use it to carve up a turkey or quickly slice up a watermelon. It should be strong but lightweight and feel comfortable in your hand. They can be 8 or 10 inches long depending on your preference.

Bread Knife
Also called a serrated knife, a bread knife is great at slicing rustic loaves of crusty bread. But, is also ideal for slicing the heirloom tomatoes from your garden without squashing them. Bread knives tend to be super affordable. And, they hold their sharpness for a long time. They come straight or offset depending on your preference. Bread makers would benefit more from the offset version.

Paring Knife
Paring knives are for tackling the small jobs. They are usually 3 to 3.5 inches long and should have a lightweight handle. These knives are used for cutting berries, deveining shrimp, or any other job that requires precision. They are definitely on the list of essential kitchen knives.

Nice to Have
These are the knives that are great to have in your culinary arsenal, but you could make do without.

Boning/Fillet Knife
This knife has only on purpose, removing the bones from meat, poultry, and fish. Boning knives are usually 5 to 6 inches long and are the most flexible of any kitchen knife. A filet knife tends to be longer at 6 to 11 inches, are just as flexible, and are used mostly for fish. Fillet knives will have a definite curve to them and end in a sharp point.

Santoku Knife
This is the Japanese equivalent of the Chef’s knife. They tend to be a bit shorter at 7 to 8 inches long and can hold an edge longer than a traditional Chef’s knife.

Cleaver
These knives are large, heavy, and usually square-shaped. They are the tool of choice for butchery as they are designed to cut through bone. They can be straight-edged or curved. Their weight allows the knife to be “dropped” to make deep cuts easier on the hand and wrist.

Carving Knife
These knives are longer, thinner, and more flexible than a Chef’s knife and are designed to carve thin slices of meat off of larger roasts like turkey, ham, and roast beef. The thin blades allow for more control of the cut and the flexibility gives the cuts more precision.

Vendor of the Month

A world of sweetness.
We all know that the name Ghirardelli has been intrinsically tied to chocolate in San Francisco for over 100 years. So, take care not to overlook this local treasure. The flavor and quality of Ghirardelli Chocolate is delicious and delivers consistent results in recipes. It is great for snacking and sipping. And, they produce a wonderful variety of products to choose from.

History
Domingo Ghirardelli, an Italian immigrant, brought European chocolate-making practices to San Francisco in the 19th century. Ghirardelli’s namesake company is now the third-oldest chocolate maker in the United States. Ghirardelli Square is a famous SF tourist destination, and the chocolate factory moved to the East Bay in San Leandro in 1967.

Chocolate Squares
Ghirardelli is perhaps best known for its small, individually wrapped chocolate squares. They are perfect for slipping into lunches or taking on excursions because they travel so well. We carry them in 72% Cacao, 86% Cacao, 92% Cacao, Milk Chocolate Caramel, Sea Salt Caramel, Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate, Dark Chocolate Mint, Dark Chocolate Raspberry, Sea Salt Almond, as well as their Premium Chocolate Assortment.

Chocolate Bars
And, if the squares aren't quite big enough, Ghirardelli chocolate bars are a dream. Try the Intense Dark 92% Cacao, Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel, or Milk Chocolate Caramel.

Chocolate Chips
Ghirardelli chocolate chips are perfect for baking. We use them in cookies, cakes, and to make frosting. We carry their 60% Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, Milk Chocolate Chips, and Classic White Chips.

Hot Cocoa Mixes
If you are looking for delicious sipping chocolate, pick up a container of either Ghirardelli's Mocha Hot Cocoa Mix and/or their Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix.

Other Products
We also carry Ghirardelli Premium Baking Sweet Ground Cocoa for your baking projects and their Caramel and Chocolate Sauces to top desserts.

Store Hours

Monday through Saturday from
9 AM to 8 PM & Sunday from
9 AM to 7 PM.
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4038 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, CA 94611

(510) 653-8181
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Visit our recipe blog to learn what Amy, our VP and resident foodie, is cooking up in her home kitchen.