Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Barefoot Contessa's Mac and Cheese

I doubled this recipe for our family Rock Band party tonight. I still haven't been able to find cavatappi in my grocery store. Have you?

Kosher salt
Vegetable oil
1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
1 quart milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small)
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.

Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

THE Sugar Cookie . . .

I'm fairly confident this is the one I've settled on. Have a Merry...

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 cup softened butter
1 egg
3 T. cream
1 t. almond extract

Sift dry ingredients together. Cut in butter and other ingredients. Blend thoroughly and chill for several hours. Using a rolling pin roll out dough on floured board between wax paper. Roll out to about 1/4" thickness (see post below re: rolling pin gadget). Cut out dough and place on parchment paper. Bake 5 - 8 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove the cookies from the oven as soon as you see them turning color at the base of the cookie. Let cool completely.

Makes 4 dozen cookies.

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Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Christmas breakfast? I'm always looking for something to have on that cake platter for the kitchen table. I watched Ina make this one ... piece of cake!

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sour cream
2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the streusel:

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional
NOTE: Next time I make this I will double the streusel ingredients

For the glaze:

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons real maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in the walnuts, if desired.

Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. Whisk the confectioners' sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Cookie icing . . .

Have you made Christmas cookies yet? Try this...

2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1/2 t. almond extract
1/4 cup milk
food coloring

Combine to make the frosting the consistency of thin glue. Pour into shallow bowls wide enough for dipping cookies. Add food coloring.

To decorate, dip the topside of each cookie into the icing. Remove quickly and let icing drip off. Let dry if you want to further embellish.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Anna Mason's Buttercrunch - Toffee!

More Christmas candy . . . and so easy to make.

1 cup butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 T. light Karo
3 T. water
1 cup chopped almonds
6 oz. chocolate chips
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

Melt butter in 2 quart saucepan. Add sugar, water, Karo. Cook, stirring often, to hard crack stage - 300 degrees. Quickly stir in chopped almonds and spread in well greased 9 x 13 pan. Cool. Spread melted chocolate bits and sprinkle finely chopped nuts on top. When thoroughly cooled (4 hours) break up and package.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Anna's Caramels

Want to make candy this Christmas? My longtime friend, Anna Mason, taught me how to make these (what seems like) a hundred years ago.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 t. vanilla
3/4 cup corn syrup
1 cup light cream
1/2 cup nuts (if desired)

Combine sugar, syrup, butter 1/2 cup cream and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Add remaining 1/2 cup cream and cook slowly to hard boil stage (260 degrees). Remove from heat, add nuts and vanilla and pour into greased 8 x 8 inch square pan. Cut when cold, wrap each piece in a square of waxed paper. Keep in airtight container. Makes 36 pieces or 1.5 lbs.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Thumbprints

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. In a medium bowl, cream together butter and white sugar until smooth. Mix in 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. Mix in flour until dough comes together. Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, and place on ungreased cookie sheets. Make a small hole in the center of each ball, using your thumb and finger, and fill the hole with preserves.
3. Bake for 14 to 18 minutes in preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Let cool 1 minute on the cookie sheet.
4. In a medium bowl, mix together the confectioners' sugar, 3/4 teaspoon almond extract, and milk until smooth. Drizzle lightly over warm cookies.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Snicker Cookies

This recipe comes from a Christmas cookie contest for the Las Vegas Review Journal. They are now a family favorite.

1 cup soft butter
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2.5 cups flour
1 t. baking soda
20 Snickers bars

Wrap cookie dough around each snicker bar. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

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