>> Tuesday, December 18, 2007
So my friend Sopha (hi Soap) called me up and asked me why I thought her peanut butter cookies came out so flat? "Maybe you over mixed them" I said, "I'm not really sure".
She then proceeded to tell me she got her recipe from Martha and that she did not measure the peanut butter because she was in a hurry. Well I think she may have answered her own question. If there is one thing I have learned in baking, its that you have to measure everything. There are no short cuts in baking, after all it is chemistry.
So I told Sopha I would give her my recipe and here it is. But remember Soap, you really do need to measure the peanut butter (along with everything else).
These are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, just as a peanut butter cookie should be!
Jumbo Peanut butter Cookies
adapted from Tish Boyle, The Good Cookie
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter (1 cup), softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter at room temp. ( I use Skippy)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 lg. eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
3/4 cup chopped peanuts plus more for sprinkling on tops of cookies.
Whisk together dry ingredients, set aside.
Using electric mixer beat butter and peanut butter until smooth. Gradually beat in both sugars. Beat in eggs, one at a time. beat in vanilla. With mixer on low gradually add dry ingredients. Fold in chopped peanuts. Cover bowl and refrigerate until dough is firm, about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheet or use parchment.
Scoop out dough with 1/4 cup measuring cup. I left the dough rounded to get a good size cookie. Flatten dough with hand a bit. Use a fork dipped in flour to make a criss cross pattern in each cookie. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Bake about 20 minutes until golden around edges but still soft in the middle. be careful not to over bake them or they will not be chewy in the middle. let cool on wire racks. Freezes really well. Enjoy!
>> Tuesday, December 11, 2007
So I have been doing a lot more baking these days than blogging. I get this sort of itch when days have gone by and I have not posted anything new, especially if I have a lot of beautiful baked goods to blog about. There's just not enough hours in the day this time of year for me! So here is my attempt at blogging during this crazy month of holiday preparation.
Cookies, cookies, cookies! My freezer is filled to the rim with cookies! What says Christmas better than cut out cookies? Not much if you ask me. Here is a wonderful simple sugar cookie recipe with a hint of orange and vanilla. The dough rolls out beautiful and the cookies stay true to form after they are baked.
And if you want them to look even more christmasy (is that a word??) you can cut out even smaller shapes and melt some hard candy for a stained glass effect. It reminds me of going to church on Christmas eve, and I don't even go to church on Christmas eve!
Basic Decorative Cookie Dough
adapted from Tish Boyle, The Good Cookie
3 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups unsalted butter (2 1/2 sticks)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 Teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Whisk together flour and salt and set aside.
with electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and orange zest and beat until smooth. Add flour a little at a time and mix just until incorporated, be careful not to over mix. wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.
preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two cookie sheets or use parchment paper.
roll dough out to 1/4 inch on lightly floured surface. Cut dough using cookie cutters of your choice. When cookie sheet is full I put it back in the refrigerator to chill for 10 more minutes. This help it retain whatever shape you chose to use.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on size of cookie, until pale golden brown. Transfer to cooling rack and cool completely before decorating.
If you want to do the stained glass cookies crush or chop hard candy of your choice (I used Jolly Ranchers cinnamon flavor hard candy). Fill cut outs in with candy before you bake (be careful not to over fill or the candy will go up onto cookie) and bake as directed. Let cool completely on baking sheet so the candy has time to harden up again.
>> Tuesday, December 04, 2007
>> Sunday, December 02, 2007
A few tips on cookie making:
1 1/2 cups flour
sift the flour, cocoa and salt into medium size bowl and set aside.
>> Tuesday, November 27, 2007
>> Tuesday, November 20, 2007
>> Thursday, November 15, 2007
I have run across a few things that I thought were pretty neat and just wanted to share them. I think these would make amazing, thoughtful gifts.
The first one is something called TasteBook. TasteBook is a site that lets you create your very own cookbook. You can use recipes from epicurious and from your very own kitchen. I have always dreamed of getting my recipes in some sort of order, wouldn't this be a great way to do it?
The second is a site called Blurb. This site lets you turn your photos or your blog into a hard bound book. Now wouldn't that make a thoughtful gift for someone?
Cyn, are you reading this???
So I haven't been blogging much, sometimes life gets in the way. Its that time of year again, can you believe it? I went to the mall the other day- it was packed with people, get me out of here I thought to myself. And can you believe Santa was already there all set up for this years picture. Life moves to fast sometimes. Cant we just enjoy Thanksgiving without having to think about Christmas for a change?
Thanksgiving is hands down my favorite holiday. Maybe its because we don't have to go insane finding the perfect presents and spending money we don't have. But I think its more about the traditions for me, and of course the food! In our family the food is pretty much the tradition!
From the creamed onions to the scalloped oysters. And then there's the dates stuffed with peanut butter and rolled in sugar, it just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without these.
While staying with the tried and true recipes I am also always trying to find ways to simplify. It can be quite a challenge to get everything to the table at the same time. The past few years I have been making day ahead Mashed Potatoes, given to me by my good friend Jen. They are Delicious. A little more flavor than your typical mashed potato, but much easier to just heat up in the oven than have to worry about mashing them while your trying to carve the turkey! And besides, there's nothing wrong with a little more flavor!
Day ahead mashed potatoes
5lbs. Russet potatoes
1 stick butter
8oz. cream cheese
16oz. sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
Cook potatoes and mash. Add other ingredients and mix together. Put in casserole dish and bake the next day (covered) at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until heated through.
For even more flavor I was thinking some grated horseradish would be a Delicious addition to this dish!
And to end this post I would like to share with you a poem Caleb wrote and is planning to read as we are all so fortunate to sit down to this years feast.
>> Monday, November 05, 2007
>> Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Every year at harvest time I always have these high hopes of turning the seasons bounty into something that can be put on a shelf and enjoyed when nothing local is to be found. In other words, canning peaches, making pickles or turning strawberries into jam. I get out my cookbooks, find some amazing recipes, and then get to the part about a water bath and a seal on the jar. Ahh, maybe next year I think to myself. The whole canning process just seems like such a hassle. And it is a hassle when your trying to get dinner on the table or give the kids a bath. Or when your so tired at the end of the day that all you want to do is veg out on the couch in front of Greys Anatomy with a nice hot cup of tea (or bowl of ice cream).
So even though I am not at the point in my life where I can devote hours to preserving the summers best, I can still make one heck of a raspberry jam, and here's how!
adapted from Nigella Lawson
2 cups fresh raspberries
2 cups granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Put the raspberries and the sugar into separate pie plates. Put the pie plates in the oven for about 25-30 minutes until they are both very hot. Carefully remove them from the oven and pour the hot sugar over the hot raspberries. Stir together with a wooden spoon, and as you do the sugar and the raspberries will become one. Pour this amazing jam into clean jars and let cool before storing in the fridge. Alternatively, after mixing the raspberries and sugar you can strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve if you want to remove the seeds.
Sooo good with popovers fresh from the oven. Look for this recipe in my next post!
>> Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream
from Apples for Jam by Tessa Kiros
1 Cup milk
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups heavy whipping cream
3 T. superfine sugar
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup water
2 cups raspberries
For the ice cream, heat the milk gently in a saucepan. Whisk the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract together in a bowl until they are smooth and creamy. Just before the milk comes to a boil, remove it from the heat, and whisk a ladleful into the eggs to acclimatize them. Whisk in another ladleful and then pour the eggs and milk back into the saucepan. Turn down the heat to its lowest , and cook for a minute or so, whisking all the time, just to cook the eggs through. Remove from the heat, whisk in the cream, and pour into a bowl that has a lid. Leave to cool completely, whisking now and then while it cools.
Put the lid on the bowl and put it in the freezer. After an hour, remove the bowl from the freezer and give the mix an energetic whisk with a hand whisk or an electric mixer and then put it back in the freezer. Whisk again after another couple of hours. Put it back in the freezer until it is nearly firm.
Meanwhile, make the raspberry puree. Put the sugar, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup of water in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Simmer over low hear, for about 5 minutes until it has reduced a bit. Take it off the heat, add the raspberries, and then puree until smooth. Strain the puree through a fine sieve to catch all the seeds. Cool completely.
Swirl the puree through the ice cream with a spoon. Make a few more swirls, folds and pirouettes, but no so many that the puree starts to blend in with the ice cream. Cover the bowl again and return to the freezer to set completely.
Alternatively, pour the ice cream mixture into an ice cream machine and churn following the manufacturer's instructions. When it is ready, transfer to a freezer container, and then add the raspberry puree and make your swirls.
Take out of the freezer a few minutes before serving so that it is not rock hard.
Makes 6 cups
From Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, preferably Italian 00
2/3 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons very soft unsalted butter
seeds from 1 vanilla bean
vanilla or ordinary granulated sugar for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 325 F
Put the confectioners' sugar, flour and cornstarch into the bowl of a food processor* fitted with the metal blade and give them a quick blitz (just to save you sifting, which is my most-hated job in the kitchen) before adding the butter along with the vanilla seeds you've scraped out of a bean. (I find the easiest way to do this is by cutting the bean in half across, and then splitting each short half lengthwise and prising out the seeds with the point and edge of a sharp knife. Don't even think of throwing the seeded bits of bean away: stash them in a jar of granulated sugar to use next time a recipe requires vanilla sugar.)
Process again until the soft mixture coheres and begins to form a ball, loosely clumping around the blade. Turn this out onto a jelly roll pan** and press to form an even (or as even as you can make it) layer, using fingers or the back of a spoon, or both. Be patient: I promise you it will fit smoothly.
Using the tip of a sharp knife cut the pressed-out shortbread into fingers. I make two incisions lengthwise - i.e. to form three rows- and then make ten cuts down 0 so that you end up with eleven fingers per row. Obviously, the aim should be to cut at regular intervals, but don't start getting your ruler out. Just go by eye: uniformity is the province of the conveyor belt not of home cooking. Use the tines of a fork to make little holes in each marked-out biscuit: I press down about tree times, diagonally, on each finger.
Now that you've pressed, incised, and punctured, slide the jelly roll pan into the oven an bake for about 20 - 25 minutes, by which time the shortbread will be pale still, but not doughy. Expect a little goldenness around the edges, but shortbread should be not crisp but melting. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes or so, before removing, with a palette knife and your fingers, to a wire rack. Sprinkle with sugar and leave them to cool completely before storing in a tightly lidded tin.
Makes 33 fingers.
*I don't own a food processor so I just blended everything with a pastry blender.
**I used a 13x9" pan.
>> Tuesday, October 16, 2007
We don't often eat a meal with out some kind of meat or poultry. I'm not sure why, its a perfectly healthy way to eat. But after getting back from Rob and Sally's garden, meat was the last thing on my mind. We had so many wonderful (and Perishable) fruits and veggies that I knew if I didn't use them right away I would be sorry.
We had these huge potatoes that I threw in the oven for 1 1/2 hours at 400 degrees. The skin was crispy and the insides were creamy and golden. I served them with sour cream mixed with fresh chives from my garden and crumbled up bacon bits (OK so we didn't go all vegetarian).
I made a salad using the tender lettuce leaves, steamed green beans and the cherry tomatoes.
>> Sunday, October 14, 2007
Here we all are digging potatoes. Cyndee was the official photographer for the day! Thanks Cyn!
Here Caleb is trying his hand at harvesting them himself! Not bad for a beginner! This was around the time Abraham scolded Rob for getting his Mamas shoes dirty! That's my boy, always watching out for his mama!
Next we headed for the tomatoes and the raspberries. I think these were the sweetest tomatoes I ever put in my mouth. I cannot remember the official name of them but Rob referred to them as garden candy, a very fitting name. I'm still not sure if Caleb knew he was actually eating a tomato or if he really thought it were candy. Abe on the other hand was not fooled. He would not even take a bite!
Even one of the chickens was able to snag some garden candy.
The raspberries were equally delicious! They nearly melted in my mouth.
Here I am picking some baby lettuce leaves. It was the most tender lettuce I ever ate!
We also picked beans that day and the boys helped Rob harvest a gourd that will dry out and be turned into a bird house or feeder! We had a wonderful day at Rob and Sally's garden. Someday I hope to have a garden as beautiful and as plentiful as theirs. But the best part about it was that I got to take home some of the freshest and tastiest food we have ever had. I will share the wonderful meal we had and all the recipes in my next post.
Thank you Rob for inviting us to your garden. We had a wonderful time!