Two years ago for Father's Day, I bought my husband two raspberry bushes. He planted them at the back of our yard, next to the strawberries and behind the raised vegetable beds. I've honestly forgotten about them until this summer, since they're shielded by the tuteurs that hold my tomatoes. Several weeks ago he told me how he needed to build a 6 foot grid frame to support the two plants. I actually thought that sounded a bit excessive, but I didn't argue (well, maybe a little)... But you know what? They definitely needed the support of that frame. They're massive plants. Now, each morning I go out and pick a pint of raspberries. I just made a Cherry-Berry Pie (recipe HERE) that is a combination of sweet cherries, blueberries and my garden raspberries. Tomorrow there's going to be a raspberry cake. And if they continue to produce berries until the fall, there will be many more raspberry recipes ahead.
The other day, we were just eating the raspberries as is, with a little pastry sauce drizzled over. I thought a little shortbread cookie would be perfect with the berries.
• recipe from the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook •
• 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1 cup pecan pieces
• Pinch of salt
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
• 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1. Grind the flour, pecans, and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade to a fine powder. Set aside.
2. Using an electric mixer or a wooden spoon, cream the butter and sugar. When the mixture is very smooth and creamy, mix in the pecan mixture.
3. Gather the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight.
4. Preheat oven to 300˚F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
5. Roll out the dough 1/4-inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut into shapes with a 1-inch cookie cutter. Gather up the scraps, reroll, and cut into as many cookies as possible. Place on the prepared cookie sheets and bake until colored, 20 to 25 minutes.
TAKE a LOOK:
During the holiday season, our big celebration has always been on New Year's Day. That is when my husband and I host our annual brunch; an event that now spans 30 years.
What I don't do very often, however, is plan an event right before Christmas. But a week ago, feeling like I had the holidays under control, I asked friends who are in our gourmet "supper club" if they would like to come over for an evening of appetizers and drinks. Amazingly, during this very busy time of the year, everyone was free!
I cooked and baked some of my favorites, and I have links for you below to all of the foods on my menu.
And the best part, for me anyway, was pulling out favorite serving pieces, stands, and vintage decorations... and sharing it all with family and friends.
• Tortellini Salad with Snow Peas
• Zucchini Galettes with Fresh Ricotta and Lemon
• Époisses, Ham and Apple Tart
• Rolled Vanilla Christmas Tree Cookies
• Vanilla Shortbread Cookies
• Macademia Shortbread Biscotti
• Sablés à l'Orange et Raisins
• French Canelés
• Chocolat Chaud
... assorted cheeses, olives, salami, crackers, roasted peppers and drinks were also served
TAKE a LOOK:
Sometimes, all you need is a cookie and a French Bulldog...
I would see macarons in France, long before I ever noticed them at bakeries here in the United States. Patisserie Ladurée in Paris is well-known for its macarons (Rue Bonaparte, Left Bank location shown at right). And a Ladurée cart at Charles de Gaulle airport lets travelers grab last minute purchases of macarons before they board their flights.
But that has all changed. Now they are being sold in numerous locations across the U.S., and judging by photo-sharing sites, there are many home bakers making them as well. I think it would be safe to say that the French Macaron is the "it" cookie at the moment.
• 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 14 ounce package of sweetened shredded coconut
• 1 large egg whites
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 6 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F and position oven racks in the top and bottom third of the oven. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Stir in the shredded coconut and mix thoroughly.
3. Using a whisk or a handheld electric mixer, beat the egg whites and salt until firm peaks form. Using a spatula, fold the whites into the coconut mixture and finish by pushing mixture together in a mound.
4. Fill a small bowl with cold water and wet your hands. Gently form spoonfuls of the coconut mixture into small balls, around 1 1/4-inches in diameter and place on prepared baking sheets, spacing 2-inches apart.
5. Transfer baking sheets to the oven and bake, rotating and changing out position of pans halfway through, about 25 minutes. Macaroons should be golden brown in spots on top and underside.
6. Cool briefly on the baking sheets, then transfer macaroons to racks to cool completely.
7. In the meantime, melt the bittersweet chocolate either in a double boiler on the stove, or in a small bowl in the microwave. Dip half of the macaroon into the chocolate and place on a piece of waxed paper until set.
8. The macaroons will keep, uncovered at room temperature, for up to 3 days, or refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. They can also be frozen for up to 6 months.
TAKE a LOOK:
This week I baked chocolate chip cookies and lavender-lemon scones. Both were delicious, but with results I had not anticipated. The cookies and the scones spread while in the oven, more than I ever thought they would. But hey... they were still good, and I would make both of them again, possibly with a little tweaking. If you're interested, here are the links...
And may I suggest... use a smaller round cutter for the cookies than the 2-inch dimension given in the recipe, or do as one reviewer did and cut the dough into small squares.
• 4 egg whites (1/2 cup)
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 4 1/2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 3 cups cornflakes (preferably organic)
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 300˚F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Using a stand or handheld mixer, begin whipping the egg whites at medium speed and when frothy, slowly add the sugar. Increase speed to high and continue to whip until you have firm peaks. By hand, fold in the cornflakes, chopped chocolate, and vanilla.
3. Drop meringues in 1 tablespoon mounds, with 1-inch spaces between, onto prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies for 20 minutes total, switching baking sheet positions after 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a baking rack.
TAKE a LOOK:
Still in the kitchen baking cookies. This time, however, I've gone the savory route. These Chocolate-Cayenne Cocktail Biscuits will be packaged as gifts, along with bottles of red wine... HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
• 2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
• 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
• 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
• 1 large egg yolk
• Maldon salt, for sprinkling
1. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, cayenne and sea salt into a bowl and whisk to combine. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with both sugars at low speed until creamy. Add the egg yolk and beat until smooth, then add the dry ingredients and beat until incorporated.
2. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead gently until it comes together. Divide the dough in half and press each half into a disk. Roll out each disk between 2 sheets of wax paper to about 1/4 inch thick. Slide the wax paper–covered disks onto a baking sheet and freeze for at least 1 hour, until very firm.
3. Preheat the oven to 350° and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with one piece of dough at a time, peel off the top sheet of wax paper. Using a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, stamp out the cookies as close together as possible. Arrange the cookies about 1 inch apart on the parchment paper–lined baking sheets and sprinkle with some Maldon salt.
4. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, until they are just firm; shift the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
TAKE a LOOK:
Daring Bakers Challenge
Desserts And Sweets
Friday Night Dinner
My Kitchen Renovation
New Years Day Brunch
Sweet And Savory Tarts