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Mom (Won tons)

Mom (Won tons)

My mom came down and spent the week with us recently.  She is 93 years old and still lives in San Francisco in the same house I grew up in.  Her memory has faltered and her cognitive skills have diminished but she soldiers on.   I […]

Just Another Day (Decadent Chocolate Cake)

Just Another Day (Decadent Chocolate Cake)

Every year my birthday sneaks up on me…I’m sure it’s because I am in denial until the very day and then it’s unavoidable.  Which just so happens to be today.  When did I get this old?  I have kids and they’re how old?  Wow. But […]

Quest for the Holy Biscuit

Quest for the Holy Biscuit

I might have mentioned my obsessive tendencies when it comes to food.  For the most part I can control it but there are certain dishes that stay on the brain and whenever the opportunity arises, i.e. a restaurant that features it or I find a new recipe…I AM COMPELLED TO TRY IT.  This is true for cookies like shortbread and lemon bars but it is especially true for biscuits.  Having kids in the South has added fuel to the fire.  As soon as I know I am going to the South, I scour the internet looking for the best biscuits.  My current favorite in Nashville is Biscuit Love, (their Bonuts, fusion of biscuits and donuts served with fresh fruit and lemon curd, kill me now good).  A trip to North Carolina began and ended with biscuits.  No sooner had we arrived at the Raleigh-Durham Airport we made a bee line for Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen in Chapel Hill, a drive-thru that closes at 2pm. We made it just in the nick of time for their fried chicken biscuit sandwiches, freakin delicious. Heading to the airport to fly home we took the circuitous route so we could stop at Rise Biscuits & Donuts in Durham for our last biscuit fix…delicious ending!  I have found yummy biscuits in Portand, Oregon at The Tin Shed and Pine State Biscuits and right here in California at The Nickel Diner in LA and Brenda’s French Soul Food in SF.  I love biscuits, its my crack.

In my mind there are 2 kinds of biscuits, soft tender almost cake like biscuits and buttery FLAKY biscuits.  My current quest is for the latter, biscuits so flaky you can peel & eat them by layers.  I came across a recipe from Dishes and Dust Bunnies that I wanted to have a go at.  My first batch accompanied me to Mom’s Monday morning coffee where they were gobbled up.  Flaky, buttery, slightly salty, tender, I inch ever closer to the perfect biscuit.

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I made a few changes to the recipe….somewhere along the way I learned the addition of baking soda to biscuits made with buttermilk reduces the tangy flavor.  Despite being a native San Franciscan I am not fond of sour flavored food.  Sourdough bread, I’ll take a pass (blasphemous I know).  I used unsalted butter and reduced the salt to 1 teaspoon.  Remember the golden rules for making biscuits, keep the ingredients cold and don’t over mix. After chilling the dough, I rolled the dough into a 1/2 inch rectangle and folded the dough like an envelope (thirds) rolled again into 1/2 inch thick rectangle.  Repeat twice.  For taller biscuits roll dough to 1 inch thick on the final time.  Expect biscuits to about double in height when baked.

Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups all purpose flour, plus more on the side for dusting
  • 2½ tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • ¾ cup cold unsalted butter (1½ sticks), cut up into 1/2 inch piecs

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Combine dry ingredients bowl of food processor, pulse 2-3 times to mix
  • Place butter on top of dry ingredients and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. It is ok if there are some pea sized pieces of butter left.
  • Pour mixture into shallow bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the buttermilk to the mixture
  • Combine with your hands or a dough scraper gently mixing to blend. The dough is supposed to be crumbly so don't over mix.
  • After the dough has come together, chill in the fridge for about 10 - 15 minutes.
  • Take the dough from the fridge and drop it onto a floured surface. Sprinkle a little flour over the dough.
  • Roll the dough out into the shape of a rectangle about ½" thick. Sprinkle with a little flour.
  • Fold the dough in thirds and roll it out to about ½" thick again.
  • Fold over 2 more times and roll out to 3/4 - 1" inch thick. Sprinkle with a little flour.
  • Use a circular cookie cutter (2" cutter), cut out the biscuits and place them onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Do not twist cutter when cutting out biscuits, press straight down.
  • Alternative use a pizza cutter and cut cut dough into squares.
  • Leave at least 1" of space around each one.
  • Bake for 11 - 12 minutes until tops are golden.
  • Optional - Brush melted butter over the tops of the biscuits once they come out of the oven.
  • Serve with jam or butter
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Bananas Bread Revisited

Bananas Bread Revisited

I haven’t posted in more than just a few days.  It’s not because I have been busy and have pushed my blog to the back burner, nope.  I just haven’t been all that enthused about the recipes I have tried lately.  Then I thought, I should […]

Kids will be Kids

Kids will be Kids

Have you seen those Procter & Gamble Olympics commercials? You know, the ones about moms.  By the time they are over you are bawling your head off and grabbing another tissue.  Well if you haven’t, check out this link P&G Olympics Mom Commercial.  I cry every […]

Winter SOS from Nashville

Winter SOS from Nashville

We received an SOS from our kid Jorge who goes to school in Nashville.  For a California kid, 19 degrees (Fahrenheit!) and snow deserves a care package from home when requested.  If I could box some warm California sunshine I would send that too but he will have to settle for cookies and treats.

Care packages are quite a production for us (self-imposed of course). We bake cookies, scour our local Asian market for a particular brand of ramen and make homemade granola and candied nuts.  It doesn’t end there.  We freeze the cookies and vacuum pack them.  No stale smooshed cookies for my kids, nope.  I bet you think this woman is nuts…..you might be right.

Still reeling from the holiday cookie baking extravaganza, I enlisted the hubs to bake cookies.  There are two things that Wes bakes and he has perfected them both, carrot cake and his version of oatmeal raisin cookies.  I am off the hook for making birthday cakes as Wes’s carrot cake is the uncontested family favorite.  Birthday cake and carrot cake are synonymous in our house.

Good Cookies, that’s his other specialty.  That’s their name, Good Cookies.  But they live up to the name.  They are really, really good.  Think of them as oatmeal raisin cookies that have attained Nirvana.  Chewy and soft with a little bit of crunch from the addition of Life cereal.   Over the years he has tinkered with his recipe and has added tart dried cranberries and fresh rosemary which elevates these cookies from good to awesome.   Like his carrot cake these cookies have become a tradition, the unequivocal munchie favorite during midterms and finals.

This recipe can be easily halved or doubled depending on your need.  You can omit the rosemary if that doesn’t appeal to you but try it at least once.  You’ll have your friends wondering what is in that delicious cookie.

cookie

 

Good Cookies

Ingredients

    Wet Ingredients:
  • 1/2 pound salted butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs slightly beaten
  • 1.5 cups one minute (quick) Quaker oats
  • 1/2 cup cereal, crushed (Wes uses Life)
  • Dry Ingredients:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 Teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh finely chopped rosemary
  • 1.5 cups raisins (Wes uses a combination of raisins/cranberries at a ratio of 75%/ 25%)

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine wet ingredients plus oatmeal.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients (except the raisins).
  • Add dry mixture to wet and mix thoroughly but do not overtax if using an electric mixer
  • Add raisins and cranberries
  • Place heaping tablespoons on an un-greased baking sheet approximately 2 inches apart.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 12-13 minutes until edges are golden brown.
  • Wes actually makes these cookies by hand sans mixer. At most a spatula or wooden spoon to mix the dough. To form the dough use an ice cream scoop approximately 1.5 inches in diameter.
  • Makes around 5 dozen.
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The Big Apple

The Big Apple

Right before the holidays I was trying to figure out what to get the hubby so I called my cousin’s wife Kathy in New York.  She is my Go-to-Guru for kitchen appliances and cookbooks.  I was curious about a sous vide machine and knew she had […]

Downton Abbey (Blueberry Buckwheat Scones)

Downton Abbey (Blueberry Buckwheat Scones)

I don’t think I will be baking any cookies for awhile.  Twelve recipes seemed doable but amid the whirlwind of the holidays, shopping, friends and family visiting, it turned into a daunting task.  But I completed my cookie mission, finishing on New Year’s Eve…and  now I […]

Happy New Year! Champagne Shortbread

Happy New Year! Champagne Shortbread


New Year’s Eve!  I have never been one to celebrate New Year’s Eve on a big scale.  Every year we talk about going into the City, watching the countdown and toasting in the New Year with the throngs..and yet we ultimately find ourselves staying home, watching a favorite movie and falling asleep!  We manage to toast in the new year with a glass of bubbly and something yummy to nosh on, but that’s about it.  Since I have one more cookie for my 12 Days of Cookie bucket list, why not a festive cookie to bring in the New Year and to complete the list?  The aha moment, let’s make shortbread.  It goes well with champagne and you can dress them up easily.  I had been eyeing a recipe from Christina Tosi of Momofuku fame so here was my opportunity to try it.   A quick jaunt over to Sur La Table  for cookie cutters in the shape of a champagne flute and a bottle and for sprinkles, I’m good to go.  On the return home I popped in the movie The Holiday (put it in your Netflix queue now, its worth it just for the score by Hans Zimmer and Eli Wallach’s performance) and settled in to bake and bring in the New Year.

DSC02865This is a simple shortbread made with just a four ingredients, butter, flour, brown sugar and salt.  That’s it!  The cookie is the perfect foil for the icing which is made with sparkling wine.  I added a tiny pinch of salt and a dash of vanilla to round out the sweetness of the icing.  The cookie is elevated to a truly festive bite with the Rose’ icing (ok, so do the sprinkles).  The Rose’ gives the icing a hint of pink color and a nice grown-up flavor.  I generally don’t decorate cookies (you might have noticed) but if not on New Year’s Eve, when else?  I  realize my first New Year’s resolution should be to practice decorating cookies before next New Year’s Eve!

Now that I have a beautiful platter of festive cookies the least I could do is share them.  So breaking with our usual tradition of a movie and falling asleep, we are headed to our friends Lisa and Mike’s house, cookies in hand plus the rest of the bottle of bubbly, to ring in the New Year!

Christina Tosi’s Cut-out cookies with Champagne Glaze can be found on Leite’s Culinaria.  Another great site for cooking tips and recipes!

Happy New Year everyone here’s to 2016!

A song to bring in the new year.  Here Comes the Sun as performed by James Taylor and Yo-Yo Ma

Champagne Shortbread Christina Tosi

Ingredients

    CHAMPAGNE GLAZED SUGAR COOKIES RECIPE
  • Quick Glance 45 M 2 H
  • Makes about 2 dozen
  • For the cut-out cookies
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • For the Champagne glaze
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup Champagne (brut or rosé), plus more as needed
  • Sprinkles

Instructions

  • Cut-out cookies
  • In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed for 2 minutes, until well incorporated.
  • Add 2 1/4 cups flour and the salt and mix on low speed until well incorporated, about 1 minute. Flatten the dough into 2 evenly shaped disks or pancakes. Wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to overnight. (Don’t skip the chilling. It’s essential for the dough to be workable.)
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Remove 1 disk of dough from the refrigerator, dust on both sides with a sprinkling of flour (about 1/4 cup total) and roll out to 1/4-inch thickness with a rolling pin.
  • Cut the dough into your desired cookie shapes—I used Champagne flutes and bottles
  • Carefully transfer them to the baking sheet. (Lightly flour an offset spatula to make cookies easy to transfer from the counter to the baking sheet before baking.) The colder the dough, the easier it is to cut and transfer to the baking sheet, so work quickly. Repeat with the remaining disk of dough.
  • Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges. Let cool to room temperature. (You can freeze the cooled, undecorated cookies for up to 1 month.)
  • Make the Champagne glaze
  • Dump the confectioners’ sugar in a largish bowl and slowly whisk in the Champagne. If the glaze seems too stiff, add a little more Champagne, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is achieved. Whisk in the food coloring, if using.
  • Frost the cooled cookies with the Champagne glaze and, if desired, bring on the sprinkles.
  • You can store the cookies in an airtight container on the counter or in the fridge for up to several days or in the freezer for up to several weeks.
  • You can make and bake the undecorated cookies ahead of time and store them in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month. Let the cookies thaw completely and then slather with the Champagne glaze.
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