04 October 2014

Cookie Rings

 Baker extraordinaire, Dorrie Greenspan, is famous for her cookie jammers.  Basically they are shortbread cookies with jam and streusel on top.  What makes the cookies very distinctive is the way Greenspan baked them.  The cookies are baked in individual ring molds, giving them a uniform shape. They were so popular they spawned pop-ups, a cookie shop, and even a set of individual cookie baking rings. 

As the owner of a couple of dozen 2 inch baking rings, I though a lot about Greenspan's jammers.  I though, if one could cook shortbread cookies in individual rings, could you cook other cookies that way?

My personal cookie preference is chewy, neat cookies.  I was never one for those cookies that spread out on the cookie sheet leaving crispy edges.  I hate it when baking cookies run into each other.  I was that kid who wouldn't eat if the food touched each other! 

My "go to" cookie is a peanut butter, chocolate chunk.  When a visiting friend asked if I would make them, I thought it would be a good time to experiment.  I had tried before with good results, so I thought I would give the rings a try.

I have two dozen 2 inch rings.  I set them on a cookie sheet lined with a silpat.  Filled the rings and baked.  The cookies were perfect little 2 inch, fat, soft cookies.  I have toyed with idea of getting another dozen of the little rings and filling the tray.  I don't know if being that closely aligned would change the baking time, but it would be nice to bake an entire recipe of cookies all at once.  Right now, however, 24 at a time is fine.

02 October 2014

Happy Birthday Chuck Williams

Today is Chuck Williams' 99th birthday. 
  As the founder of Williams-Sonoma, he has transformed the way we cook.

Not to mention, the way we set a table.

From a personal standpoint, there are so many tools in my kitchen that I didn't know I needed until Chuck Williams told me I needed them,  Really, everyone needs a folding fish cooker!

Happy Birthday, Mr. Williams. 

17 September 2014

Happy Birthday Willy Wonka...

and Charlie and his chocolate factory.
The year marks the 50th anniversary of two of Roald Dahl's most endearing characters.  In the final analysis, Roald Dahl was perhaps the most enduring Roald Dahl character.  If one could step back and take a long look at the truly great children's authors, one might be quite shocked.  Frankly, they are not the kind of people one would actually leave children with.
I imagine that the very thing that makes children continually adore their work is a darkly violent undercurrent that is not always visible to the adult.  To be a truly great children's author one needs to retain the petulance of a child, a trait not greatly admired in the adult population.  Roald Dahl retained his childish petulance.  He was no paragon of virtue, but he innately understood the evil that lurks in the mind of a child.
He rarely let anyone in his writing hut, but once a year it was opened as children flocked to see the inner sanctum of Dahl's creativity.  A favorite object was his hip bone, removed during a hip replacement.  While adults seemed bewildered, children loved it.
This week, to mark the 50th anniversary of Willy and Charlie, 50 Irish bakers gathered and created cakes in honor of Dahl.   The Telegraph featured a large selection of these amazing cakes here

11 September 2014

Requiescat in Pace -- My Darling Clementine

Little did I know when I picked up this little sprite of a kitten, with ribs like fish bones that she would grow into the big bruiser of the cat she did. 
I've had Clementine for nearly 20 years, which is longer than most of the people in my life! 
She will be missed.

The Aftermath -- Progress

You know how it is.  You plan for a job.  You start the job.  Chaos ensues.
Once we got the shed jacked up and all the stuff out of it, it became clear there was no saving it.

It needed an entire rebuild, which we didn't need.
So we had a big fire.
 A controlled burn that reflected nicely in the cold house window.
 Truth be told, it looks much nicer now.

Alas, the yard is still littered with a thousand old canning jars that need to be dealt with and an enormous soapstone sink and counter that never got installed.

But we are moving on...

05 September 2014

Labor Day

This is for you slackers and procrastinators out there who watched Labor Day come and go.

We were very proactive this year.  In March, we started making lists of things to do so we could hit the ground running once spring got here.

We bought paint and painting supplies to paint the upstairs hall and stairs.

We bought paint to paint the porch.

We bought glue to repair chair rungs.
We piled up boards to fix the bridge to the garden. (The bridge I fell through in June.)

We bought sandpaper to sand the smoker and high intensity paint to paint it.

We bought new shelving to put in the kitchen.

We got piles of wood mulch to start a garden compost.

We discussed propping up a sinking building.

We talked about fixing a tiny leak.

A week before Labor Day it was impossible to get into the house because the paint, painting supplies, new shelves, old shelves and who knows what else were still sitting in the mud room.

In August (late August) we did get the mulch moved to the garden.  The new kitchen shelves are up, but the old ones are still waiting to be moved to a new location and the box the new shelving came in has not "went."  The painting supplies are now in the upstairs hall, still in the bag.   The leak has been repaired.

The sander broke in early August, so we just got the new replacement.

The glue is missing.

On Labor Day we watched 9 1/2 hours of Mike and Molly. 9 1/2 hours!  Of Mike and Molly!

Today the last nail went into the bridge.

The small building sinking into the groundhog hole is almost up and level.

We have revised our March estimate and hope to have the hallway painted by Thanksgiving.

We are still smoking in the rusty smoker, but should we decide to paint it, we know where the paint is and the sander now works.

As for the glue... we have it on our shopping list.

30 August 2014

Roll Tide Bruschette

(We would like to take this opportunity to reflect upon those readers who don't care about football.  We are sorry, but for the next few months, you will have to endure many a post about the SEC.  Mostly on Saturdays.  You have been warned.)

Today is the first Alabama game.  A bit saddened that is against West Virginia, as EVERYONE I met today has on their yellow and blue.  I laid low, only changing into the BAMA shirt when I got home.

Last night I started cooking some beef cheeks for the game.  I used a winter chocolate spice blend, then braised them in beer  for 14 hours and we are pretty excited dig in.  We harvested our crop of Mexican cucumbers and we are going all in cucumber on the gin and soda.  Cucumber gin, cucumber soda, and a cucumber garnish.

Pre-game snacks include our Roll Tide Bruschette. 
This is a more upscale homage to 5 or 7 or 9-layer dip and chips.  I admit it, I was that kid who didn't want their food to touch! So layered dip is a bit problematic.  While I like the idea, I have to admit that after the first few chips, it starts to look like the bottom of my compost bucket.

So gearing up for football season, we got some University of Alabama jello molds.  No jello here, we made a spicy aspic.  (An aside about molds...They never actually look as good as they do on the "artists" rendering on the package.  One would be hard pressed to actually read the lettering on the University of Alabama mold, though the "A" does last for a brief second.   As for the elephant, he is there if you have a bold imagination.  but now that I have told you what you are looking at....)
We went very simple and small.  We put our layers in very tiny ramekins to avoid the overt mess.  Here's what we did.

One thin layer of goat cheese, thinned with a bit of milk.

One layer of herbs and scallions, finely chopped.

One layer of avocado.

A final layer of the goat cheese.

An aspic topper.

We toasted some slices of bread and dug in.

 Almost game time...Roll Tide.

28 August 2014

Woodcuts by Loren Kantor

I have always had a fondness for woodcuts.  The stark contrast of the black and white leaves no room for error.  When I saw Loren Kantor's Virginia Woolf, it was all the more evident that this medium reveals just enough of the subject to be familiar, but it withholds as much as it reveals. 

You can look at Tom Waits and hear the rolling gravel in his voice.

If you have never been to the Canyon Country Store, if you have never heard Jim Morrison sing about the "store where the creatures meet," you might just want to visit after seeing this.

Check out Loren's website for more of his woodcuts.

27 August 2014

No Fuss Veggie Sorbet

How many times has this happened to you?  You are sitting on the settee in lounging pajamas reading Photoplay and eating bonbons when the hubby calls and says he is bringing home the boss for dinner.  What's a girl to do?   Come on, that never happens unless you watch reruns of I Love Lucy.

But what if you do need a quick and easy dish for company?  Here's our newest favorite.

Let me begin by saying, I love a long complicated recipe.  Two days, three days, I once attempted a glacé fruit recipe that took 8 days.  Don't ask!  

If a recipe calls for some new piece of kitchen paraphernalia, I am all in.  But sometimes, a classy no-brainer is a great thing.   So here is a quick and easy recipe that involves no cooking and will make you a culinary star. 

This is a sorbet that you can use as an appetizer, a salad, a palate cleanser, or dessert, depending o on how you dress it up.  I like it best as a salad, it is after all, veggies, and its much more fun than that bag of chopped radicchio.

Lucinda's Salad Sorbet

1 bottle Naked Berry Veggie juice
1 ice cream maker

Pour juice in ice cream maker.  Process about 25 minutes.  Place in a container in the freezer till ready to use.

Plain is fine, but for a salad course, try serving it with a few vegetable chips, some candied carrots or beets, or some pickled blueberries or grapes.

Not to mention there are tons, tons of fruit concoctions out there just dying to make and appearance on your table.  Kale Blazer is my next fave sorbet.   Think about it a bowl or raw, chopped kale or wine glass of kale sorbet?  

As a dessert add some macerated berries with a bit of sugar to boost the sweetness.  

Go on, use your imagination and be sure to send photos!

22 August 2014

Famous Food Friday -- Georgia O'Keeffe

O'Keeffe's Kitchen Sink, Ghost Ranch, 1975  by Dan Budnik  
Just when you though you had seen "everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to Georgia O'Keeffe -- we give you Georgia O'Keeffe's kitchen sink.

When she was 24, Margaret Wood met the 90-year-old Georgia O'Keeffe.  She was hied to be Miss O'Keeffe's companion, staying with her at night and preparing her evening meal and her breakfast.  Alas, Margaret Wood was not much of a cook at the time, so Miss O'Keeffe taught her.  Years latter Wood compiled recipes that she cooked into A Painter's Kitchen: Recipes from the Kitchen of Georgia O'Keeffe
As one might expect from an elderly woman living in the middle of nowhere, the recipes are simple, filled with natural ingredients.  An avid gardener, O'Keeffe was an early adopter of the writings of Adelle Davis who's book Let's Eat Right to Keep Fit was a huge bestseller.  With all of her care for nutrition, making her own yogurt, milling her own flour, and growing her own vegetables, she never shied away from good steak.
Each recipe in the book has a headnote memory of O'Keeffe; food they ate, books they read, stories of travel and friends.  O'Keeffe had an old Chambers Stove from the 1940's.
Photo from the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
Like so many houses, the kitchen was the focal point of the house, with three different rooms radiating off the kitchen.
Photo from the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
During the waning light of fall, O'Keeffe spent a lot of time pouring over recipes, she seemed to be a big fan of Prevention magazine.
Photo from the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum
She was always reading about vitamins, minerals and natural foods.  She had a real love of nuts and grains.  This recipe featured several different kinds of nuts wrapped into a single muffin.

Atomic Muffins
1/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cashews
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup unbleached flour
1/4 cup soy flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons brewer's yeast (optional)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 cup safflower oil
2--3 tablespoons honey
1 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop the almonds, cashews, pecans, and sunflower seeds (or other nuts of choice). Combine the flours, brewer's yeast (if desired), baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.  In a smaller bowl, beat egg then and add the oil, honey and milk. Add the liquids and nuts to the dry ingredients and mix just until blended. Grease a muffin tin and fill to 2/3 full.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until nicely browned. Serve with butter/oil and fruit preserves. Makes 1 dozen muffins.
Generally, we are not big fans of "nuts in our food" but we might just make an exception in honor of Georgia O'Keeffe. 
If you are a fan of O'Keeffe, this cookbook is a perfect addition to your collection.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin