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She's posting again? Where does she take the time?

Vanillekipferl
Baka saves the day! She made me a mountain of cookies while she was here. I provided the amazing mixer and she did her magic... (If you click on the photo you can see a few more baking projects.)


Every year I have less time for Christmas preparations. This year I didn't even attempt to make plans for crafts. I figured if I didn't have anything planned I wouldn't know what exactly I didn't end up having time for. I play little mind games like that a lot. That means I'm crazy.

At the same time I think I am getting better at accepting that and appreciating what I do have. So, if Veronika and I only end up making one kind of cookie or all the crafts I manage is putting a few stars on a wreath I am ok with that. I just make sure I enjoy those moments to the fullest. As far as that is within my power. This year has also brought death to my life and with all its sorrow also some perspective. I haven't changed (unfortunately, I could use permanent change in some areas) but I was given some powerful direction if you will and I'm hoping to make this last as long as possible.

Anyway, I wish I had more time always, but I am joyful regardless. I may have lost in personal pursuits but I have gained incredibly in companionship. You should see how Ivan's eyes light up when you sing "Santa Claus is coming to town" to him and hear the earnestness in his tiny voice when he tries to sing along. Veronika's dedication to recreating parts of the nutcracker is mesmerizing... Both their excitement about every thing Christmassy is so infectious. I haven't had this much fun expecting Christmas since I was a kid myself.

Posted at 01:36 PM on December 20, 2008 | Comments (2)

Christmas Cookies Pt 2

Here's a chocolatey one for you. You can make these in parts (which I usually do), so you don't have to have a whole long chunk of time to make it all at once. (Actually you can make the previous recipe in two parts too: make the dough and freeze it until you're ready to do the cutouts, then thaw in refrigerator). Anyway, here goes:

Stage 3 - On standby for Christmas

Chocolately Sandwich cut-outs
(This is a made-up name. The original: Kakaobusserln mit Parisercreme. Did you want to pronounce that instead? Didn't think so.)

INGREDIENTS (Again, if given in ounces WEIGH these on a scale, don't just use cups):

Cookies:
- 7 oz flour
- 3-4 oz ground nuts (walnuts or hazelnuts, maybe even almonds, haven't tried those)
- 1 stick butter
- 5 oz sugar
- 1 tbsp baking cocoa
- 1 tbsp rum
- 1 egg

Filling:- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (don't use chocolate chips)

1. Mix everything together until a dough forms. (If you want to stop here, make a flat disc and freeze wrapped in plastic wrap) Store in fridge for about half an hour, then remove and roll out to make cut-outs. I usually don't roll out the whole dough, but maybe a quarter at a time. Cut out cookies in your favorite shapes - and make sure you have an even number of each shape (or not, then you HAVE to eat the leftover ones...!) to make sandwiches. Spread on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.

2. Bake at 375 F (approx 200 C) degrees for 8 minutes. Remove from oven, cool on a rack. (You can take another break here and store the finished cookies in a tin or plastic box until you're ready to fill them. If it's a matter of days, store in a cool dry place, if it's a matter of weeks.. freeze.)

3. For the filling (ganache), boil the cream in a small pot on the stove, heat it up slowly and drop in chopped chocolate as soon as it starts boiling. Take off the heat immediately and stir until the chocolate is melted completely. Let it cool down and store in the fridge for about an hour. Before use, whip it up with a mixer, because it will be too hard straight from the fridge. The ganache should be creamy, but not runny!

4. Spread one cookie with filling and top with another. Proceed until you're done.

5. The last step is more or less up to you. I have used chocolate glaze before (just melted semi-sweet chocolate and spread it on top of one cookie) and added sprinkles. I have also used Royal Icing - as you see in the picture and played around with the decorating tips. This will make really cute cookies (once you get the hang of it.. it took me some time), and this icing will.not.melt.ever. So that's nice, but for eating it's a little... crunchy. I recommend doing both - kids could go crazy with the chocolate glaze & sprinkles option and you could do your elegant icing by yourself.


If you end up making them, send some pictures!

Posted at 02:23 PM on December 10, 2007 | Comments (1)

Maybe not an easy read, but very rewarding

Best Peanut Butter Cookies

This is the best peanut butter cookie (with chocolate chips!) recipe from (of course) "The New Best Recipe" cookbook, which I very strongly recommend. It contains the best version of every classic recipe you ever needed (I made the Chili, Bruschetta and Devil's Food Cake... all flawless.).

Best PB Cookies WITH chocolate chip

Veronika and I made these the other day and they are perfectly soft and crumbly and retain a nice shape.

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 oz/350g) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks, 228g total) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 cup packed (7 oz/200g) light brown sugar
1 cup (7 oz/200g) granulated sugar
1 cup extra-crunchy peanut butter (I used creamy, worked out just as nice)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup salted dry-roasted peanuts, ground in a food processor to resemble bread crumbs
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl, set aside.

Beat butter with a mixer until creamy, add sugars, beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the peanut butter until fully incorporated, then add the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla. Gently stir the dry ingredients into the peanut butter mixture. Add the ground peanuts and chocolate chips and stir gently until just incorporated.

Roll the dough into balls, place on prepared baking sheet. Press each dough ball twice with a dinner fork dipped in cold water to make a crisscross design.

Bake at 350 until cookies are puffed and slightly brown around the edges but not on top, about 10-12 minutes. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet until set, about 4 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack with a spatula and cool completely.

Taste.

I know. You're welcome.

Posted at 08:28 PM on October 04, 2006 | Comments (3)

Family Member #6 (Yeah, I counted Digby)

A few weeks ago, on our anniversary to be exact, we welcomed The Amazing Mixer into our family. It was a surprise, but such a welcome one and we took to each other immediately. Mostly I took to it.

AMfront.jpg

Ever since it was placed on my kitchen counter, my life is transformed. I thought I liked baking before, but now! Now! Its quiet, calm but incredibly heavy (have you tried lifting that thing?) presence is a premanent inspiration. "How about more muffins? How about a fluffy jelly roll? I will do all the beating for you. You just stand and watch. How about meringue? Oh, oh, or something yeasty, maybe some dough? You don't have to move a finger. Wanna see how I make pizza dough? Wanna? Or maybe you want something salty? Whipped potatoes? Meat loaf? What? Let's do it! Come on, you know you want to!" Ok, maybe not that quiet after all.

AMmirror.jpg

I know. You think I'm crazy. And I am. I have finally reached the last housewife frontier: falling in love with appliances. I am smitten. I can't resist. So beautiful and sleek and shiny! It makes my life easier, so much so, that I will immediately clean it all up after I use it, so I can restore the sparkly beauty and its outer appearance can match its noble character. Obviously what adds to its attraction is the fact that it was a gift. There was no rude and pragmatical selection process at the store. The mixer appeared at our house and it was... meant to be! Destiny sent it to make my life complete. (Alright, it was destiny facilitated by my in-laws wallet.)

AMbowl.jpg

Every time I start cooking I stop and think if somehow we could get the mixer to be part of it. Stir-fry won't work, neither will corn on the cob, but maybe strawberry jelly? Sure, I can just stir it with a spoon, but we all know... it just won't be the same! The most important ingredient is always the love and I just want to feel the amazing mixer love! I am so grateful to have this thing on my counter, I don't know how to express it. I wish it made sandwiches and cleaned the counters or babysat my kids. It doesn't, I am aware (the opposable thumbs issue and all that), but we both know, deep down inside the shiny black steel... it really really wants to and that's all that matters to me.

Posted at 11:26 AM on July 01, 2006 | Comments (7)

Autumn you can eat

I made the following recipe recently (from Cooking Light of course) and even my husband liked it what with his apprehension towards squash. I used chicken for the croquettes because I didn't have turkey and it was just as good. For some European readers, who can't find a translation (I couldnt') for butternut squash here is a picture.

Roasted Squash Soup with Turkey Croquettes

Soup:
2 lbs butternut squash, kabocha squash or pumpkin
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp oil
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
3 garlic cloves
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt

Croquettes:
2 cups leftover cooked turkey, finely chopped
1 3/4 cups breadcrumbs, divided
2 tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsps chopped sage (replace with dried if you don't have fresh available)
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 egg white
2 1/2 tbsps oil, divided

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. To prepare soup, cut squash in half lengthwise. Discard seeds and membrane. Place squash, cut-sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with honey, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour or until tender; cool. Scoop out squash with a spoon, discard skin.
3. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, celery and garlic; saute 10 minutes until tender. Remove 3/4 cup vegetables, set aside. Add broth to pan, cook over medium heat 12 minutes. Stir in squash. Reduce heat, simmer 15 minutes. Place soup in food processor; process until smooth. Add 1 cup milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a dash of pepper, set aside.
4. To prepare croquettes, combine reserved vegetables, turkey, 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and next 6 ingredients (1/4 cup crumbs through egg white). Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes or until firm. Shape into 12 (1-inch-thick) patties, press 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs onto patties.
5. Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add 6 patties to pan, cook 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove croquettes from pan, keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining oil and patties.
6. Reheat soup. Divide evenly among 6 bowls, top with croquettes. Garnish with freshsage leaves, if desired. Yield: 4 servings.

Posted at 01:05 PM on November 16, 2004 | Comments (3)