Thursday, December 31, 2009

Rosemary Parmesan Crackers

Adapted from Parmesan Cream Crackers by Mark Bittman
2 cups flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup packed and grated Parmesan cheese
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup cream
2 tsp finely chopped rosemary
1 tsp each: ground pepper, nice flaky salt for sprinkling

Pre-heat oven to 400°. Pulse flour, salt, cheese and butter in a food processor until combined. Add the cream and let machine run; adding more cream if needed, a teaspoon at a time, until mixture holds together but is not sticky. Divide dough in half and roll out on a lightly floured board until 1/8" thick. Carefully transfer rolled out dough to Silpat (or parchment) lined baking sheet. Sprinkle top of dough with sea salt, ground pepper, and chopped rosemary. Pat toppings lightly with hands. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes, rotating pans half way through cooking time. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temp.

My Notes: These are not as crispy as I was hoping for, but they sure taste good and were quite easy.

Pick A Peck Of Pretty Pink Peppers

After reading this article about pink pepper-berries, I couldn't wait to see if there were any growing at my Mom's house when I visited for Christmas. Just off the back yard, there is a huge and graceful Peruvian pepper tree. That's where my tree-house was when the tree and I were much younger, but I don't ever remember there being pink berries on it. Turns out that these trees bear little or no fruit if there are not enough female flowers present. Since I've been away though, there has been a new Brazilian pepper tree growing under and among some other plants by the fence, stretching way up high for a bit of sunlight. And there were pink berries on it. Not a lot, but a few. The scrawny lanky "tree" was a volunteer in the yard, and though I didn't pick a peck* of pepper-berries, I did manage to reach a couple small clusters. Next time we'll need to get the ladder out. With these rosy little foraged berries, homemade crusty bread, and some goat cheese, we'll be all set for New Year's Eve! Now if only I had the thyme...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Blackberry Lemon Redemption Cookies

Blackberry Lemon Redemption Cookies
First of all, these treats were named by my Hubs. I had wanted to call them Reincarnation Cookies or Resurrection Cookies, or even Recycled or Repurposed Cookies. Hmm... How 'bout Metamorphosis Cookies? His idea trumped them all for its sweetness, appropriateness, and positive once-bad-now-good swing.

You see these cookies are the final reward for my Blackberry Pâte de Fruit from last summer. I'd saved it, ate one or two sticky globs, but there wasn't much to be said for it. Except that it was a big fat fail. Disastrous, yet still edible. It was thick, gooey and crunchy (the sugar that it was rolled in had been absorbed but not dissolved), beyond jam but not quite candy. But still there was that incredibly intense blackberry flavor that I couldn't turn my back on. So there it sat in an airtight container in the fridge. In limbo.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

(Hazy Shade Of) Winter Cookies

These cookies are the color of my mood. They are mood-cookies. Did you ever have a mood-ring? I did. When I was in elementary school. I quickly figured out its secret. It was sensitive to heat and would change colors as your body temperature fluctuated. I was a skinny little kid though and most of the time my ring only turned dark blue. That's the first color it would go to beyond the default black. If I rubbed my hands together (or put them under warm water), the ring would change to all sorts of lovely teals and amber colors. But it didn't really tell my mood. These cookies though? They are doing just that.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I thank heaven there is no cheaper form of bread than bread.
- Dodie Smith, I Capture The Castle, 1948

Pan co'Sante

My Notes: Did not have bread flour, so I used AP instead. Initial rise was 15 hours in oven overnight with light on. Used the parchment paper method from CI instead of the floured dish-towel method used in the recipe. Did not knead it at all. I slashed the top before baking. Not sure if oven was to temp. Didn't get the rise it should have had. Will try again with a little bit of kneading, and a higher initial temp. Smells and tastes great regardless!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

There Is No P In Granny Smith*

apple crostataIt was time to try making an apple crostata. I don't know why, but today was the perfect day for it. It just was. The rain we were promised (threatened with) earlier in the week finally materialized. And how. We were snug and warm inside though, and there was a round of crostata dough wrapped up in the freezer. I felt an urge to bake. Something new, yet also familiar. Apple crostata. By now, my friends are probably wondering if I know how to make anything else. How many of these have I made in the last 6 months? 10? 12 or more? But apple, I've never tried. Wanted to, but was never sure of the outcome. Apples are generally firmer than peaches, plums and pears*. How would they act within this recipe?

I just finished reading an excellent cookbook/memoir**, and in it the author describes an apple pie like the one I made years ago: piled high with apples going into the oven, coming out with a big space under the top crust where the apples used to be. They had cooked down while the crust stayed in place. Her solution was to sauté the apples first and then pile them into the pastry. Since this was an experimental crostata, I decided to try it both ways: cooked and raw in the same crust. This was my idea of "blind baking"; I had absolutely no idea what would happen. This one wouldn't be leaving my kitchen to be foisted onto unsuspecting friends though, so nobody would be thinking to themselves, "Crostata? Again?". Frankly, most of it wouldn't even live to see the following day. We ate it before AND after dinner, then forced ourselves to wrap it up and save some for the following day. I just know, that with the littlest bit of encouragement, we would have polished off the whole thing. Was it perfect in every way? No. Did it look magazine-cover gorgeous? No. Did it taste really really good? Uh, yep!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Vintage-Look Cordial Labels

Here is a link to some really cute download-able digital labels for your next homemade cordial* project:
*Note to self: Do not attempt to make cranberry cordial again. I know it sounds like it would be really good, but it comes out tasting like cough syrup. Really potent adult cough syrup. Now if that's what you wanted to make in the first place, go for it. Just make sure you label it accordingly!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Veg Stock

Recently empowered by making turkey stock (and desperately needing more space in my freezer), I decided to make some vegetable stock.

I'd been saving up veggie scraps in a big heavy-duty zip-top bag in the freezer for just this purpose: carrot ends, onion ends, chard stems, herb stems, slightly soft squash, potatoes, tomatoes, and wilted greens, among other things. Almost any vegetable scrap is fair game so long as it's not too far gone. The bag was full, so the time was now...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Turkey Veg Soup

Two weeks ago the Hubs & I watched some Jacques Pépin episodes for the first time. It was one of those head-shaking "where have we been all this time?" moments for us. The man is a total rock star! Well, the next day I was out "thrifting" with a friend and she finds a Jacques Pépin cookbook on the rack. Of course I bought it. It was all of a dollar I think. How could I not?

Yesterday I made turkey stock with that big carcass from Thanksgiving, and today I went looking for a turkey soup recipe. Imagine my surprise when I found the perfect one in my new Jacques Pépin book! Coincidence? Maybe... maybe not. Using some of that fantastic turkey stock from yesterday and armed with my rockstar cookbook, I made up a batch of turkey soup, packed with vegetables...