At the age of 12, my granddaughter, Lu, is already a kitchen goddess. It never ceases to amaze me what goodies she creates in her limited amount of down time. The perfect eggs Benedict, homemade soups, and all manner of baked goods are already in her repertoire.

A fresh batch of giant chocolate chip cookies greeted me when I went over to visit recently, and although supper was nearly ready, that didn’t stop me from having a cookie for an appetizer and being delighted with the crunchy dusting of sea salt on top.

Lu explained she had been in a rush and forgotten the salt called for in the recipe so she had simply added a sprinkle to each cookie before they went in the oven. In my opinion, this move was genius.

Other cookie-baking tips from Lu and me include:

Use parchment paper to keep cookies from spreading and to make clean-up a breeze. (I buy it at the dollar store.) Butter and eggs should be at room temperature. I mix cookie dough with a wooden spoon; Lu uses the stand mixer. Always take the time to make a test cookie. Depending on how you like your cookies – crisp and thin, cakey or chewy, a bit underdone – adjust the dry ingredients accordingly.

And above any advice we can give you: keep your eyes on the cookies while they bake. Do not, I repeat, do not walk away. Even two minutes can make a difference.

When Lucy’s mother learned to bake, her cookie-making prowess included laying in all her lanky preteen glory on the kitchen floor where she had a birds-eye view of the cookies while they baked. It was this attention to detail that made her cookies perfect every time. We should all be so patient.

I could end my story here, but because we can’t live on just chocolate chip cookies alone (although heaven knows some of us have tried) here’s a tasty, healthy meal to have after your cookie appetizer. Yes, at least for today, the cookie comes first.

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt

1 cup plus 2 tbsps. flour

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Flaky sea salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine flour and baking soda.

In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugars until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until well-combined. Stir in flour mixture and chocolate chips.

Place dough by heaping spoonfuls about 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Sprinkle each with a pinch of sea salt. Baking time will depend on the size of your cookies, but start with 8 minutes for medium-sized cookies. Allow them to stand briefly before placing on a rack to cool. Yield: 30 cookies

Lasagna with Spinach, Mushrooms and Olives

2 tbsps. olive oil

1 1/2 cups onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp. garlic, minced

1 lb. mushrooms, chopped

1 lb. (6 cups) fresh baby spinach

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 eggs, beaten

1 (15 oz.) container ricotta

2 tsps. oregano

1 1/2 cups mozzarella, shredded

1/2 cup Kalamata olives, chopped

3-4 cups marinara sauce

1 lb. cooked lasagna noodles

1/2 cup Parmesan, grated

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium heat and sauté onions and garlic for 5 minutes, until translucent.

Add mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes. Add spinach, season with salt and pepper and cook 5 more minutes, until spinach wilts. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine eggs, cheeses, olives, and oregano.

In a lightly-oiled 9×12-inch baking dish, layer sauce, noodles, and cheese mixture, ending with plenty of sauce.

Top with Parmesan and bake for 45 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving. Yield: 6 servings

Roasted Asparagus Salad with Citrus

1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces

3 tbsps. olive oil (blood orange, lemon or lime is lovely)

Sea salt to taste

1/2 cup orange juice

1 tbsp. lime juice

1 large clove garlic, crushed

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

7 cups fresh greens

3 tbsps. slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the asparagus with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt. Spread the asparagus on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast until tender, 5-10 minutes. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the citrus juices, garlic, remaining oil, and salt and pepper.

Just before serving, arrange greens on a large platter and top with asparagus and dressing. Garnish with almonds. Yield: 6 servings

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected].

These gorgeous chocolate chip cookies with salted tops make a great appetizer.

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