Monday, April 30, 2007

Cardamom Chocolate Chunk Cookies

In a word: yum.

In more than one word: I can't stop eating Shuna Fish Lydon's Cardamom Chocolate Chunk cookies. I snitch them from the kitchen, brush crumbs off my shirt, dunk them in milk. Just -- yum.

To be honest, I was a tiny bit disappointed at first. The recipe calls for both ground cardamom and seeds, so I was expecting more a cardamom punch. But the ground cardamom is subtle and the seeds, which provide a flavorful burst, are few and far between. I thought about adding more seeds.

But that was on Friday, with my first batch. By today (having baked off two or three dozen more) my feelings have changed: I am fully obsessed. Sure, I might add more cardamom in the future but I've come to appreciate them just as they are: a well loved cookie with new twist.

Cardamom Chocolate Chunk Cookies (adapted)

4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp cardamom seeds
2 sticks (16 Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 ¼ cups packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
8 oz. 67 to 74-percent dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
3 Tbsp cocoa nibs (optional)

Preheat oven to 375-degrees F; line baking sheets with parchment paper.

COMBINE flour, baking soda, salt, and cardamoms (seeds and ground) in small bowl; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Add eggs to butter mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chopped chocolate and cocoa nibs (dough will be thick).

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

RRC #7

Hey! Guess what? Shane & I are going to Russia! (In less than a month!) And I can't decide if I'm more excited about seeing an embalmed Lenin, visiting a city that inspired this song (translation), or being "forced" to eat samples on the Red October Chocolate Factory tour.b

The trip is also the inspiration for RRC #7: From Retro With Love. Recreate a dish with international flare, using a recipe first published before 1985. (Need some ideas? Visit the “helpful links” sidebar on The Retro Recipe Challenge Blog. )

Once you've created your dish, post a pic, along with the recipe and your review. Don't forget to include the year the recipe was first published and its source (e.g., Gourmet).
A link to this post would also be appreciated.

When you're done, send an email to RetroRecipeChallengeATgmailDOTcom by Sunday, June 3 at 11:59pm EST. In the email, please include:
  • Your name or blogging nickname
  • Your blog's name and URL
  • The recipe's title
  • The post's URL
Please attach a photo (no larger than 100x100 pixels) and include "RRC#7" in the subject line.

Bon voyage and bon appetite!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

FDA Deadline Extended!

A Lemon Vanilla Cupcake bon bon from Temper Chocolates. "Lemon zest and vanilla beans infused in a white chocolate ganache over a creamy graham cracker ganche, enrobed in milk chocolate."

According to Don't Mess With Our Chocolate, the FDA has extended their comment period to May 25! If you haven't done it already, go to the FDA's comment section (tutorial) and tell them NOT to change their current definition of chocolate. (And it wouldn't hurt to email your friends about the issue, either!)

Need a refresher on what this is about? Check these links:

An Argument Against 'Heathly' Chocolate -- NPR's Talk of the Nation (audio)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Spinach Stuffed Potato Skins

If you're looking for a lighter version of the cheese laden and bacon studded potato skins served at American pubs everywhere, his WW recipe isn't going to sate that craving.

But if you're looking for good side dish, one that help reaches your veggie quotient for the day, give these a try. I love the flavors and textures of the roasted potato skin against the creaminess of the spinach filling. The salty, smoky hit from the turkey bacon studding the top doesn't hurt either.

Spinach Stuffed Potato Skins
3 medium potato(es), baked, sliced in half and cooled
1 sprays cooking spray
20 oz chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
4 oz light cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 slices cooked crisp turkey bacon, crumbled

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Scoop out flesh of potatoes, leaving about 1/4 of potato flesh in potato. (Reserve remaining potato flesh for another use such as mashed potatoes.)

Place potato halves on a baking sheet and coat with cooking spray. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. While potato skins bake, combine spinach, cream cheese, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until well-blended.

Remove skins from oven and spoon 3 tablespoons of spinach mixture into each potato half; bake until warmed through, about 5 minutes more.

Remove skins from oven and top each half with about 1 tablespoon of crumbled bacon. Yields 1 potato half per serving.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Fruity Hootch Packs Healthy Punch, Study Sez

Fruity cocktails count as health food, study finds
Fri Apr 20, 2007 10:35AM EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A fruity cocktail may not only be fun to drink but may count as health food, U.S. and Thai researchers said on Thursday.

Adding ethanol -- the type of alcohol found in rum, vodka, tequila and other spirits -- boosted the antioxidant nutrients in strawberries and blackberries, the researchers found.

Any colored fruit might be made even more healthful with the addition of a splash of alcohol, they report in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

Dr. Korakot Chanjirakul and colleagues at Kasetsart University in Thailand and scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture stumbled upon their finding unexpectedly.

They were exploring ways to help keep strawberries fresh during storage. Treating the berries with alcohol increased in antioxidant capacity and free radical scavenging activity, they found.

Any colored fruit or vegetable is rich in antioxidants, which are chemicals that can cancel out the cell-damaging effects of compounds called free radicals.

Berries, for instance, contain compounds known as polyphenols and anthocyanins. People who eat more of these fruits and vegetables have a documented lower risk of cancer, heart disease and some neurological diseases.

The study did not address whether adding a little cocktail umbrella enhanced the effects.

God has answered my prayers. -- LR

Supernatural Brownies

The NYTimes' Julia Molskin wrote this of the following recipe:

[The Supernatural Brownie] is an accidental creation by [Nick] Malgieri, who (in a rare human moment for a pastry chef) once forgot to double the flour when baking his own fudge brownie recipe. He also adds a measure of brown sugar to the basic formula. The experts are divided as to whether the brown sugar actually contributes flavor or simply makes the brownie moister (molasses, which makes brown sugar brown, is powerfully hydrophilic). It's my belief that the slightly bitter taste of molasses acts as an invisible enhancer to the chocolate. The result is as complex and sophisticated as any terrine or truffle I have ever produced. (New York Times, 4/11/07 )

Hmm. Julia's description does not match the brownies in front of me. The chocolate flavor is good but the texture is disappointing. It's cakey and too dry. (And this isn't the first time I've found Malgieri's recipes to be dry. Maybe I should demand a refund?)

To be fair, I did not have muscovado sugar on hand, so I used regular dark brown sugar. They did get less dry after being tightly wrapped for a day (or two; see instructions below) but, um, I wouldn't call these supernatural -- they're definitely a terrestrial product.

Supernatural Brownies

2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, more for pan and parchment paper
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, such as muscovado
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or 3/4 cup whole walnuts, optional (I used pecans)

Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking pan and line with buttered parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350- degrees. In top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water, or on low power in a microwave, melt butter and chocolate together. Cool slightly. In a large bowl or mixer, whisk eggs. Whisk in salt, sugars and vanilla.

Whisk in chocolate mixture. Fold in flour just until combined. If using chopped walnuts, stir them in. Pour batter into prepared pan. If using whole walnuts, arrange on top of batter. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until shiny and beginning to crack on top. Cool in pan on rack.

Yield: 15 large or 24 small brownies.
Note: For best flavor, bake 1 day before serving, let cool and store, tightly wrapped.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Butter Mints

It took me a while to get the size of the mints just right.
Smaller is better.

Late last week, Tera, a reader, send me an email asking me to test out a butter mint recipe. "I made this four times and could not get it to work," she wrote. "Since it was published in Taste of Home magazine, I know that it is possible to make. I could not get it to stretch to cut. It became more of a grainy mint. They were delicious, but not the correct texture."

The recipe reminded me of making taffy: bringing sugar, water, and butter to a boil, adding the flavoring, and pulling the cooled mixture with your hands.

I participated in a taffy pull in high school. All I remember is a syrupy mess, a chaotic kitchen and an extraordinarily sticky floor.

I wasn't too keen on reliving that experience, so I did a Google search for the Taste of Home recipe and found this -- apparently, LOTS of people had problems with this recipe. "I tried this recipe twice and both times it failed to produce what the recipe claimed." "All I was able to make was mint sugar." "I as well followed the directions specifically and am not sure what would be missing from this recipe or wrong because as it stands, it doesn't work." Etc., etc., etc.

Instead, I tried this recipe and, although it appeared to turn out better than the other recipe, I still had problems. For the life of me, I can't imagine how the mixture could be cut into shapes; the "dough" isn't sturdy enough. You can, however, take small amounts of the mixture and, with well buttered hands, roll it into small balls. I prefer to roll the mints in a powdered sugar as well. The recipe below is adapted from the original.

As for the taste, it's good: sweet, minty, and rich. The only problem is that I have trouble getting past the idea that I'm eating (at best) pure frosting or (at worst) sweetened and flavored butter. The powdered sugar helped me think of the mints as a more of confection.

Butter Mints

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 package (1 pound) confectioners' sugar, or more if needed
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
paste food coloring, optional

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter. Gradually add sugar, cream and extracts; beat on medium speed for 3-4 minutes. If the mixture seems a soft, add a bit more confectioners' sugar. Add food coloring and mix to combine.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and butter your hands well. Form mixture into small balls, rolling in additional powdered sugar if desired. Place the ball on the cookie sheet and repeat the process. Chill the mints for at least two hours before serving.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Lightened Up -- and Delicious -- Egg Salad

I love egg salad but I never make it because A) I always think hard boiling eggs is a pain in the ass (even though it really isn't) and B) I'm kind of staying away from copious amounts of mayonnaise these days.

But the fridge was stocked with 10 hard boiled Easter eggs and, since I was tired of eating them as is, they needed to be put to good use. As such, I fooled around with this Cooking Light recipe and am pretty pleased with the results. Give it a try: the taste buds will sing, the belly will be full, and the waistline won't expand (probably...).

Egg Salad
1/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. reduced-fat sour cream
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 thinly sliced green onion (about 2 Tbsp.)
1 stalk celery, diced
8 hard-cooked large eggs

Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring well.

Cut 2 eggs in half lengthwise; reserve 2 yolks for another use. Coarsely chop remaining egg whites and whole eggs. Add eggs to mayonnaise mixture; stir gently to combine. Add additional pepper and salt to taste.

Voilà! Egg salad.

Winter Redux

Our Backyard: April 16, 2007

And Shane wonders why I want to retire in a tropical clime.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Vegetable-and-Cheese Strata

This is very tasty and simple to make, especially because all the prep work is done ahead of time. Don't worry if it looks as if there's very little egg compared to the veggies, cheese and bread: it all bakes up nicely.

One note: I substituted a few shallots for the onions in the recipe below.

Vegetable-and-Cheese Strata
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cups diced zucchini
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1 cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3/4 cup chopped drained canned artichoke hearts
8 cups (1-inch) cubed Italian bread (about 8 ounces)
Cooking spray
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups egg substitute
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated skim milk
Oregano sprigs (optional)

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, mushrooms, bell pepper, onion, and garlic, and sauté vegetable mixture 6 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat. Stir in artichokes, and set aside.

Arrange Italian bread cubes in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spoon zucchini mixture evenly over bread cubes, and sprinkle mixture with cheeses.

Combine egg substitute and remaining ingredients (except oregano sprigs) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Pour egg mixture over zucchini mixture. Cover mixture with foil; chill up to 1 day.

Preheat oven to 325-degrees F. Bake strata, covered, 1 hour or until bubbly. Garnish with oregano sprigs, if desired.

Yield: 8 servings

CALORIES 229(19% from fat); FAT 4.9g (sat 2.3g,mono 1.5g,poly 0.3g); PROTEIN 17.5g; CHOLESTEROL 14mg; CALCIUM 336mg; SODIUM 570mg; FIBER 1.9g; IRON 2.7mg; CARBOHYDRATE 29.1g

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Keeping Chocolate, Chocolate

"What?! They might reclassify chocolate?"

As a large -- and timid -- chocolate bunny stares at me from its bed of Easter grass, waiting for the moment in which I bite its little ears off, I'm thinking about a proposal put forth to the FDA.

That chocolate bunny -- tall, dark, and handsome; sweet, smooth, and decadent -- might next year have an inferior replacement. The Chocolate Manufacturers of America (CMA) in collaboration with the Grocery Manufacturers Association have petitioned the FDA to change the definition of chocolate, so that products made with milk substitutes and without cocoa butter can be sold under the label of "chocolate." Why? So the manufacturers can save money by selling cheap crap. (Check out the specific proposed changes.)


Now, if you're thinking "So what?" I want you to do a little experiment. Go down to your local grocery or drug store and pick up the cheapest, crappiest "mocklate" you can find (I'd recommend that Palmer Bunny Munny that are on sale right now).

Take a bite. Roll it around in your mouth. Maybe you're not going to spit it out (though you should) but obviously it's nowhere near as good as real chocolate. (You might want to eat a whole box of good chocolate just to make sure.)

OK, now here's the scary part: if this petition passes and the FDA reclassifies chocolate, the Palmer stuff -- and confections WORSE than Palmer, made with less care and quality -- could flood the market and still be called chocolate.

The big manufacturers might start producing your favorite candies with mocklate! Can you imagine the Hershey tinkering with the kiss? Mars screwing with the M&M? It could happen!

If I were Charlton Heston, I'd be running through the streets screaming, "Chocolate is vegetable oil and milk substitutes!"

But we can stop this dystopic future. All you have to do is send a comment to the FDA telling them not to mess with chocolate. Do it by the deadline of June 25, 2007. To make it even easier, guides you through the process, even providing you with a letter you can cut-and-paste into the FDA's comment box (but you should feel free to write your own letter).

Really: it only takes a moment and it's as simple as pie -- a delicious slice of chocolate cream pie, made with genuine chocolate.

Read more about this issue here and here.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Baked French Toast with Praline Topping

Trust me: it looks and tastes much better in person.

Yesterday was a lot of fun, but I'm exhausted today! Lots of laughing, lots of playing Wii Sports (I have tennis shoulder this morning), and lots and lots eating food. Ham, turkey, strata, french toast, Irish soda bread, fresh berries, cookies, Easter eggs, cheesecake and sfogliatelle -- all consumed -- plus coffee, tea, sodas, mimosas.

I guess I shouldn't have been suprised, but the runaway hit of the Easter brunch was Paula Dean's Baked French Toast with Praline Topping. It dissapeared in a flash, because it was damned good.

Then again, it's probably hard to make something with half-n-half, brown sugar, cinnamon, pecans and two sticks of butter and have it not turn out delicious.

Baked French Toast with Praline Topping

1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces)
8 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash salt
Praline Topping, recipe follows

Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1-inch each. (Use any extra bread for garlic toast or bread crumbs). Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices. [I couldn't fit all the bread into a 9x13 pan, so I used a 10-inch pie plate for the extra bread, and split the other ingredients between the two pans accordingly --LR] In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread Praline Topping (see ingredients, below) evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.

Praline Topping:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well. Makes enough for Baked French Toast Casserole.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Have a happy one!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Cookie Decorating Tips from Rachel

I've been having a nice email conversation with Rachel, a reader, and after I mentioned I was baking some cookies for Easter, she was kind enough to send me a slew of cookie decorating ideas & tips. They're great; take a look!

Idea #1: Leave the dough on the counter for 5 or ten minutes before rolling it out so it's not SO hard to roll out. I recommend rolling it out on marble or granite if you have a counter or cutting board made of it.

Idea #2

Idea #2: Take a few ramekins and put a beaten egg in each. Mix in any food coloring you'd like (for this I would use liquid, not gel food coloring). Be sure to mix well. Take a small paintbrush (I buy kids' disposable watercolor brushes because the food color is messy), "paint" your cut out cookies with it, and bake as you normally would. This gives a great "stained glass" type of effect and it's very shiny after baking. When put on a platter with cookies done with royal icing, it's a great contrast of cookies/effects.

Idea #3: When mixing any icing or egg yolks with food coloring, use lollipop sticks from a baking supply store. They are great for adding more gel food coloring, too, to whatever you're coloring. The colors get messy, and also require constant mixing of different batches. This cuts down on mess by a lot! (And the small size is great, too)

Idea #4: When mixing royal icing in the Kitchen-aid, cover the bowl with a damp towel while mixing small batches of colors so it doesn't dry out.

Idea #5: Put fresh batches of colored royal icing directly into the piping bag. Then, take a tall drinking glass, and put a "wad" of wet paper towel in the bottom of the glass. Put each colored piping bag in its own glass like that. This way, they are standing up straight, they don't get dried out at the tip, and you can see what you're working with.

Idea #6: When you want to cover an entire cookie in royal icing, pipe icing around the border first, and let harden for a few minutes. Then go in and "flood" the cookie within the border with the remaining royal icing (you could make a thinner batch of icing for this--just add more water). Nothing slides off the sides and you get a nice glossy, even coat of icing on the cookie. Much more so than using an offset spatula.

Three ideas from me, the first two to be used after you've flooded a cookie:

Ideas #6 and A (and a chocolate cookie decorating with royal icing)

A) Pipe thin stripes colored royal icing over the area that's been flooded. Then drag a toothpick across the royal icing and through the flooded icing. The result is a cookie that looks like the top of a Napoleon. (Here's Martha demonstrating the technique on her show.)

Ideas #6 and B

B) Allow the flooded icing to dry completely (I suggest overnight). Then, place drops of liquid food coloring onto a plastic plate, blending colors as you like. Using a paintbrush, dip the brush into the food coloring and paint images onto the surface of the cookie. The effect is similar to watercolor painting.

Idea C (Plus a butterfly cookie iced with white and robin's egg blue frosting and sprinkled with sanding sugar)

C) Instead of icing a cookie, drop dots of food coloring on the surface of a baked cookie. Then, using a straw, blow the food coloring across the top of the cookie. You'll be a culinary Jackson Pollock.

Sugar Cookies & Royal Icing

I made these for Kian, who doesn't like chocolate cookies (or chocolate at all, for that matter). He likes these very much, and they're popular with Sadie and Shane too. (As for me, I'll stick with the chocolate ones.)

Instead of flavoring these with vanilla or lemon (mmm, lemon) I added a teaspoon of almond extract in with a teaspoon of vanilla.

Click here for cookie decorating tips.

Sugar Cookies

4 Cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon baking powder
1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 Cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 Teaspoons pure vanilla extract, or 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice and zest of 2 lemons
1/4 Cup fine sanding sugar, for decorating (optional)

In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

Use an electric mixer to cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs.

Add flour mixture, and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Stir in vanilla or lemon juice and zest. Wrap dough in plastic; chill for about 30 minutes.

On a floured surface (or sandwiched between sheets of parchment paper), roll dough to 1/8 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. Transfer cut outs to parchment-lined baking sheets and refrigerate until firm, 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

After chilling the cookies and preheating the oven, bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until crisp but not darkened. Cool on wire racks; decorate as desired. Yields about 16 large cookies.

Royal Icing

1-pound confectioners' sugar
5 Tablespoons meringue powder

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar and meringue powder. Mixing on low speed, add a scant 1/2 cup water. For a thinner consistency, usually used for flooding, add more water. A thicker consistency is generally used for outlining and adding details. Mix until icing holds a ribbon-like trail on the surface of the mixture for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle. Yields 2 1/3 cups.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Chocolate Cookie Cut Outs & Royal Icing

Click here for cookie decorating ideas & tips.
Two Easters ago, Shane, Kian, Sadie & I converged on my parents' apartment in NYC. They threw a brunch and all of us, plus my Aunt Linda, Uncle Matt, cousins Chris and Matt, and Catherine, Matt's wife, joined us.

Catherine -- charming, adorable, gorgeous Catherine -- brought a tin of handmade chocolate Easter cookies that were nearly as charming, adorable and gorgeous as herself. Each cookie was decorated and sugared beautifully; Martha Stewart couldn't have done better. Better yet, the cocoa in the cookies was enhanced by the warmth of cinnamon: one of my favorite flavor combinations.

They were a Martha recipe and, after I found it, I vowed to make them myself.

So approximately 730 days later, here they are. They are as delicious as I remember, though my lack of decorating skills have not rendered them as pretty as Catherine's or Martha's cookies.

Cookie envy is never pretty.
Click here for cookie decorating tips.

Chocolate Cookie Cut Outs
3 Cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1 1/4 Cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 Cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/2 Cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 Teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, salt, and cinnamon. Set mixture aside.
Use an electric mixer to cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Add flour mixture; mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Divide dough in half; wrap in plastic. Chill at least 1 hour.

On a floured surface (or sandwiched between sheets of parchment paper), roll dough to 1/8 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. Transfer cut outs to parchment-lined baking sheets and refrigerate until firm, 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

After chilling the cookies and preheating the oven, bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until crisp but not darkened. Cool on wire racks; decorate as desired. Yields about 16 large cookies.

Royal Icing
1-pound confectioners' sugar
5 Tablespoons meringue powder

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar and meringue powder. Mixing on low speed, add a scant 1/2 cup water. For a thinner consistency, usually used for flooding, add more water. A thicker consistency is generally used for outlining and adding details. Mix until icing holds a ribbon-like trail on the surface of the mixture for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle. Yields 2 1/3 cups.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Easter Recipes and Fun

This year's inspiration: Martha Stewart's Sugar Cookies.
I'm going to make 'em this year, dammit!

I really like Easter because A) a big part of it has to do with candy and B) it's sort of the kick-off for Spring. (Easter is less fun, however, when you start to think about the whipping and crucifixtion. Even if it's illustrated with chocolate.)

Hmm. I think I've written myself into a corner here. How does one segue from religious martydom to Peeps?

Ah. There we go. Thanks, Google Image Search. (Mmm, sacrilicious.)



Sweets for Breakfast
Raspberry Cream Cheese Buns (muffins, really)

After eating an entire chocolate bunny, I feel the need to eat a vegetable
Simple Roasted Asparagus

But the vegetable should be kind of sweet
Roasted Balsamic Sweet Potatoes