Each of us carries our own burdens. I regretfully report one of mine is that I must watch 22 hours of Gilmore Girls per day in order to retain the absolute mental calmness for which I am known. Still, I was not asked to write Gilmore Girls: The Official Cookbook, which came out last week. Instead the honor went to Elena Craig, a food stylist and recipe developer, and Kristen Mulrooney, a humor writer.
Interspersed with quotes and photos from the early-aughts teen drama, the book is a collection of recipes fans will recognize from the show: Ms. Kim’s eggless egg sandwiches from the dance marathon, the “Santa” burger Luke made for Lorelai after she was uninvited from her parents’ Christmas party, the apple tart Lorelai was looking forward to eating at her parent’s Christmas party before she was uninvited, and so on.
The writer Anna Fitzpatrick recently tweeted that “Gilmore Girls is a fantasy about living in a walkable community,” and I agree. But I’d add it’s also a fantasy about existing in a world without the limitations of time and physicality that typically confine human beings. Four movies can be watched in a single night. One chef is able to cook and present several complete and wholly separate dishes for the sake of a single dinner party comprising two to five people. A seemingly limitless amount of junk food — Pop Tarts, Red Vines, pizza, marshmallows, tater tots, chips, coffee, ice cream — can be eaten without the need to vomit.
I felt the release of the official cookbook was a felicitous time to test some of these limitations in our non-Stars Hollow reality. A single chef (me) (Kelly Conaboy) would attempt to make six separate dishes and two types of cocktails for two guests, whose privacy I will protect by referring to them as “Lorelai” and “Rory.” Would I be able to complete the task? Would “Lorelai” and “Rory” be able to complete their meal, which would be enough for ten? Would I go to Yale, even though I always wanted to go to Harvard? Let’s see.
It took me two full days to create this meal, not one evening, as it seemed Sookie did in, for example, the episode where Luke and Jess have dinner at Lorelai’s house and Jess leaves before eating even though Sookie made 400 different dinner options specifically for him. I made everything I could in advance (doughs, simple syrups, cakes) out of absolute necessity. So I begin this having already failed. Okay let’s keep moving.
EPISODE ONE: SALMON PUFFS
“Salmon puffs. Sal-mon — puffs.” Sookie says that while freaking out about serving salmon puffs at her wedding (you remember). But the presence of salmon puffs in the Gilmore Girls universe is mostly at Emily and Richard’s events. Salmon puffs are always there, being discussed, being in short supply, being given to Logan. (And of course Rory famously didn’t serve them at the Daughters of the American Revolution event she threw, where Richard confronted Mitchum and Emily confronted Shira and Paris became a communist.) Despite all that, until recently I didn’t even know what a salmon puff was, so let’s see.
WHAT IS IT: It’s basically a puff pastry sphere with smoked salmon, cream cheese, and capers inside. Oh.
COULD A GILMORE GIRL MAKE THIS: Absolutely not. I wouldn’t say creating the salmon puffs was particularly difficult — the pastry paste came together easily and baked in a way that basically looked normal — but you need a pastry bag, which I highly doubt the Gilmore girls have, to make the spheres and to shoot the salmon mixture into them. I also didn’t have one, so instead I used a Zip-Lock bag to do the wet pastry dollops and, instead of shooting in the salmon guts, I sliced open the puffs’ bottoms, scooped the goop in there, and then closed them up again. Sort of a salmon puff “hack.”
DOES EATING IT MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE IN STARS HOLLOW: It certainly didn’t make me feel like I was at home. And it tasted overwhelmingly of cream cheese, which I’m sure they have in Stars Hollow. “Rory” said it made her feel like she was in Stars Hollow, even though she “didn’t remember the salmon puffs being on the show.” (“I’m a fake fan I guess,” she said.) (She’s right.)
EPISODE TWO: LUKE’S CHILI CHEESE FRIES
At Luke’s diner, Luke exclusively serves food he finds disgusting. Hamburgers, donuts, chili cheese fries, apparently “really good” coffee — he hates all of these things and looks down on his customers for regularly consuming them, and yet when constructing his menu, these are the things he chose to include. We will never understand the self-sabotaging chaos going on beneath Luke’s horrible cap, but we can understand: chili cheese fries.
WHAT IS IT: Chili cheese fries.
COULD A GILMORE GIRL MAKE THIS: Actually maybe. The recipe instructed me to make the fries myself, but that seemed particularly antithetical to the Gilmore spirit, and also annoying, so instead I just used the frozen kind — a Gilmore staple. I made the chili myself, with vegan “beef” crumbles, but the Gilmores could have purchased pre-made chili and achieved a similar result.
DOES EATING IT MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE IN STARS HOLLOW: Sure. I almost never have chili cheese fries. You know what I do have sometimes, though? Disco fries.
EPISODE THREE: SOOKIE’S JALAPEÑO CHIPOTLE MAC & CHEESE
A famous blunder. As you recall, Sookie made mac and cheese in a jalapeño chipotle cream sauce (along with several additional dishes for grown-ups) while she and Lorelai were catering a Lord of the Rings birthday party for a child. The mac and cheese was green, and Lorelai suspected the kids would not even want to try it, due to its greenness. In the recipe book, the jalapeño chipotle mac and cheese did not even attempt to include chipotle, and it did not turn out green. We all have to learn to live with disappointments, and with anger at our supposed best friends. For Lorelai it’s Sookie, for me it’s Elena Craig and Kristen Mulrooney. (Do you remember who they are? They wrote this book.) (It should have been me.)
WHAT IS IT: It’s mac and cheese baked in a jalapeño cream sauce.
COULD A GILMORE GIRL MAKE THIS: No. Frankly, a Gilmore girl can’t make anything. “Rory,” my party guest, notes, “It never made sense to me that Lorelai cannot cook. She left home with a baby at 16, she knows how to sew extremely well, and she worked at an inn for 16 years, yet she only learned Pop Tarts? I just find it odd.”
It is odd. And this recipe was more challenging than a typical mac and cheese recipe. I had to like … simmer (oat) milk, and put flour in it. I had to grate cheese, and chop jalapeños. And then I had to bake it all together. (I added a chipotle, too.) (I’m a real fan.)
DOES EATING IT MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE IN STARS HOLLOW: It was really good, but I frequently make jalapeño mac and cheese for myself, so no. Instead of feeling like I was in the quiet hamlet that hosted several emotionally abusive outbursts from Dean, I was acutely aware that I was in my apartment.
EPISODE FOUR: SOOKIE’S FAMOUS RISOTTO
Sookie flips out on a restaurant reviewer because he called her famous risotto “perfectly fine.” As it turns out, and as of course you remember, he’d simply sampled the risotto with the wrong wine (a riesling). Let’s see if I can make it.
WHAT IS IT: I never imagined this as a seafood risotto, but it is a seafood risotto, with chopped shrimp and a few whole scallops.
COULD A GILMORE GIRL MAKE THIS: Never. A Gilmore could not make seafood (scallops in particular), let alone risotto. Plus the recipe required I simmer parsley, garlic, and shrimp shells in the broth before removing them in order to ladle it into the risotto rice, and they’re not doing that. Can you imagine? I can’t believe I did it.
DOES EATING IT MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE IN STARS HOLLOW: No. I guess I always imagined Sookie’s risotto as sort of a creamy, cheesy herb risotto. It was really good, though, I have to say. I don’t get why Top Chef contestants have such trouble with risotto. I guess maybe it’s because they have to make such large quantities of it, but I’ve never had trouble with risotto in my life and I’m a blogger. Literally even Blaise couldn’t make risotto that one time. Remember?
EPISODE FIVE: THE CHRISTMAS APPLE TARTS
We never really saw the Gilmores luxuriating in Christmas, which is odd to me because Christmas seems like an element of Christianity that Amy Sherman-Palladino would love to luxuriate in on-screen. Still, in the Christmas episode from season one, during which grandpa has a heart attack, we learn Lorelai loves her family’s Christmas apple tarts. Will we love them? This is one of the questions we’re gathered together to answer today.
WHAT IS IT: Basically a hand-held, open-top apple pie.
COULD A GILMORE GIRL MAKE THIS: No. All of these recipes were very involved. I made the pastry dough the day before and refrigerated it, and the next day I made the inner apple goop (by simmering chopped apples with butter and holiday spices), and put a little dough into each of the 12 slots in my cupcake tin. Then I had to, by hand, fan out the apple slices in the dough holders so that they resembled either roses or vaginas, depending on your mind.
DOES EATING IT MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE IN STARS HOLLOW: It made me feel like it was Christmas, which is not close technically but close in spirit.
EPISODE SIX: A CAKE SIMILAR TO THE RASPBERRY CAKE FROM WESTON’S THAT LORELAI DIDN’T PICK AS THE CAKE FOR HER WEDDING WITH MAX
I chose this because — okay, do you remember this scene? They’re at Weston’s, robbing the old lady of her cake samples, even though they know Sookie is planning to make the cake, and one of them has raspberries on it, and while “sampling” Rory takes literally one bite of a single decorative raspberry and says, “The raspberry, the raspberry!” Okay … you didn’t even try the cake? We see the cake, and we see that you have not tried it. You didn’t take one bite. Whatever.
WHAT IS IT: Chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream icing and raspberry cream filling.
COULD A GILMORE GIRL MAKE THIS: Oh my god, no. I could barely make this. Baking is much harder than making risotto. Also the recipe assumed I had like, the sort of kitchen supplies that allow you to whisk egg whites and sugar in a dish over boiling water and obviously I don’t have that. In a display of genius, I instead filled a mixing bowl with boiling water and put the stuff that had to be whisked while warm in a smaller mixing bowl, and placed that mixing bowl inside the boiling water mixing bowl. Are you following? It was smart.
Also, because the egg whites and sugar were glossy, the icing was glossy. (The egg whites and sugar were combined with melted chocolate and butter for the icing.) Never made glossy icing before.
DOES EATING IT MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE IN STARS HOLLOW: Ummmm. Sure. My guest “Lorelai” said it was “the best [cake] she ever had in her life” and that she liked having it with a cup of “Luke-like” coffee, which I forgot to mention I also made.
EPISODE SEVEN: SOOKIE’S MARGARITA AND “THE RORY”
Sookie’s margarita is from the Thanksgiving episode, when she’s drunk, (you remember), and “The Rory” is Rory’s signature drink from her 21st birthday party, when she was living at her grandparents’ house. Everyone was a real bitch about drinking “The Rory” even though signature cocktails are fun and it looked good.
WHAT IS IT: The margarita is a margarita, though in the show it was a frozen margarita and here it is regular. Emily explains the ingredients of “The Rory” in the episode (gin, grenadine, champagne), and they are not the same as the ingredients listed here, which are more similar to the ingredients in a Clover Club (gin, raspberry and rose simple syrup, lemon, egg white, ginger ale).
Every alcoholic drink recipe in the book is presented first as a nonalcoholic version, and in the description it tells you what you can “add” to make it alcoholic. I found this infantilizing. I’m a grown woman who is just trying to make the alcoholic drinks mentioned in her favorite teen drama from 20 years ago. But I bring this up because the recipe didn’t mention swapping ginger ale for champagne in the alcoholic version, but I did anyway, and would suggest you do the same.
COULD A GILMORE GIRL MAKE THIS: Hmmm. No. Even the margarita required some patience — you had to roast orange slices before letting them sit in the tequila overnight, which the gals are not going to do. And there’s no way they’re making any sort of simple syrup, especially not for a drink they were being so fucking rude about even though Emily was just trying to make Rory’s birthday party nice.
DOES DRINKING THEM MAKE YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE IN STARS HOLLOW: No, but that won’t stop me.
My guests and I ate about one-tenth of this meal. Gilmore Girls is a fantasy in many ways, it’s true; no one can eat like this, or cook like this, or relentlessly make obscure pop culture references in conversation without having someone tell them to please stop. But you know what’s a reality? Leftovers. And no one knew that better than our girls.