Tuesday, November 30, 2010

That Orangette blog, or the Bon Appetit contributor


This recipe comes from my friend (not really) Molly Wizenberg via Orangette, the loveliest food blog in the universe. I read the recipe and ran right out to buy the Lurpak butter at the most awesome food museum in the world, Whole Foods. I am not the best judge when it comes to evaluating what is sometimes called the best butter in the world. I prefer my french bread plain. Don't hate. Instead I rely upon the butter connoisseur in my home, that person who starts to shake when we're down to four lowly sticks of Land 'O Lakes. He says Danish butter is different. Better. So Lurpak for Christmas every year, I say.

Real Danish Butter Cookies, Adapted from Gourmet, December 2008

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 lb. unsalted Lurpak butter, at room temperature for 1 hour
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, beaten
3 to 4 Tbsp. sanding or other coarse-grain sugar, such as Turbinado

Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, and preheat to 325°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until fluffy. Then add the sugar and beat briefly to combine. Add the flour mixture, and beat on low speed until just combined. The dough will appear crumbly. Divide the dough in half.

Roll each half between large sheets of plastic wrap into a rectangle approximately 10 by 15 inches, about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer, still in plastic wrap, to a baking sheet, and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Then remove the top layer of plastic wrap and cut into 2-by-1 ½-inch rectangles. Arrange the rectangles 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. If the dough becomes too soft, chill or freeze until it is again firm enough to handle.

Brush the tops of the cookies very lightly with the beaten egg, and then sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake the cookies, 2 sheets at a time, switching positions of the pans halfway through baking, until they are very pale golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes; then carefully slide the cookies, still on the parchment, onto wire racks. Cool completely. Make more cookies with the remaining dough, baking on cooled, freshly lined baking sheets. Reroll scraps once. Yield: about 9 dozen cookies, which is just about the right amount this time of year, right?

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Uno, Wii, Snow and Gingerbread...

Thanksgiving dinner was perfect . . . because Caity made it. Perfect turkey and stuffing and a delicious homemade cranberry relish with onion and pomegranate. Hot homemade rolls just out of the oven . . . and a Martha Stewart green bean dish with fried shallots that was so good I'm dreaming about it. Apple pie and pumpkin pie, ice cream from the co-op. Best dinner. Fun company.

To combat sleepiness we took out the Uno cards. This year we drew numbers to assign seats for our game. It worked. I ended up next to Russ' brother, Ryan, who easily won the award for "best trash talker". We mixed two decks for maximum playing time.


There were holiday movies and naps. Pretty much perfect.

Friday we went to Eagle to see the Wingets. We joined in their family tradition of making gingerbread houses the day after Thanksgiving and eating pizza. Translation: we ate candy and pizza. They are so fun.

Later we played a new dance game on the Wii. Robyn's sisters were good!

Later we headed to The Festival of the Trees in downtown Boise. There are no pictures on purpose. We walked to the movie theatre to see Unstoppable. It kept us awake...

This is what Boise looked like when we left for the airport yesterday. Snowy and gray.

We are warmer now, mostly because of the way we feel inside. Happy holidays.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Boise Co-op, Boise Hippies and restaurant supply stores...

It is still very "arctic" here, but oh so fun. There have been trips to the restaurant supply store where I discovered bakery boxes in sizes I never knew existed, plastic bottles to drizzle icing on Christmas cookies and assorted gadgets that don't even come close to fitting into the "need" category.

Then there was the co-op, an amateur cook/foodie's dream store. Bliss.

On the way to Boise Bridget and Phil's car ended up off the road in a snowbank in some small Idaho town about an hour out of Twin Falls, stuck with no way out except with the help of a heavy duty tow. A ruined tire and a hanging muffler later (and some sad body damage) they are here safe and sound, ready to be pummeled in the annual family holiday game of Uno. Maybe Phase Ten.

Did I mention I'm frozen? To the bone? I am.

Also, doesn't this just look like Christmas dinner with the Bumpus family? When those dogs march across the kitchen floor it sounds just like that scene in A Christmas Story.

Have a happy happy Thanksgiving.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Artic cold fronts, snow, whoopie pies and Thanksgiving...

This is the view of the snowy Boise River outside our hotel room. Pretty, yes? What isn't pretty is the temperature. Google it . . . I'm frozen to the core.

Here is why the Arctic blast doesn't matter . . .

We went to Goldy's for breakfast in downtown Boise. The arctic chill was in the air but it didn't take away from the food. Oh it was good.

This was my favorite sign in the place.

David's chicken fried steak, his ultimate favorite diner food.

Caity's croissant breakfast sandwich with some incredible potatoes.

Russ' biscuits and gravy.

Whoopies waiting for us at home...

Sugar cookies and a Texas sheet cake...

More to follow. Happy Thanksgiving. Stay warm.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nightstand reading and turkeys ...


Not that anyone cares what's on my nightstand, but right now it happens to be I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron. I bring this up simply because I was gifted this picture of myself after a fun night of 'destressing' at a friend's home. We were instructed to make ourselves a turkey with an apple and our choice of gumdrops. Little did I know my neck would end up resembling the turkey's.

I really didn't know.

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Ruth's Chris Sweet Potato Casserole


***For The Crust***

1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans preferred)
1 stick butter, melted

***For The Sweet Potato Mixture***

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, well beaten
1/3 stick butter, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine brown sugar, flour, nuts and butter in mixing bowl. Set aside.

Combine sweet potatoes, sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs and butter in a mixing bowl in the order listed. Mix thoroughly. Pour mixture into buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the surface of the sweet potato mixture evenly with the crust mixture. Bake for 30 minutes. Allow to set at least 30 minutes before serving.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Holiday Hot Chocolate


4 cups whole milk
4 cups half-and-half
1 pound white chocolate, chopped
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Seeds scraped from 2 vanilla beans

In a saucepan on medium heat, heat the milk and half-and-half to just below the simmering point. Remove the pan from the heat and add the white chocolate. When the chocolate is melted, add the vanilla and vanilla bean seeds and whisk vigorously. Reheat very gently and serve.

(Adapted to omit Ina's booze)

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

planes, trains, automobiles and banana fritters ....


It's just so interesting how Thanksgiving feels as if it is the most anticipated home cooked meal in America. Yes, there are regional differences . . . maybe you must have that potato stuffing your ancestors brought from Ireland, maybe it's oyster stuffing or cornbread stuffing. No matter. We wait for this day and we delight in the most favorite of favorite home cooked meals.

In New England there were often Thanksgiving morning football games, local rivalries looking for a holiday victory to make their day just that much better. It would be freezing and there would be plenty of hot chocolate in heavy coats and gloves and scarves. It seemed right. It's what you did Thanksgiving morning.

There was the dining room table with the very best linens on it, some with hand cutwork and embroidery. The buffet in the dining room had those silver candy dishes on them, just polished with that new silvery shine. One dish would have chocolates in it, more than likely Fanny Farmer, the other silver dish full of assorted fancy nuts. The relish dishes were on the table full of sweet pickles, the mixed kind that had pearl onions in them, and that pickled cauliflower. And olives. Delicious olives. Some things just were, and these are the things my holiday memories are made of. Crudites on the table with my sister sneaking those olives. I'm smiling.

We had banana fritters. They went with Thanksgiving dinner like our potato stuffing and cranberry and mashed turnip. A side dish with claret sauce in a tiny gravy boat. It wouldn't have been Thanksgiving without those banana fritters.

What is your must have?

If you are so inclined, here's the recipe for a good banana fritter. They are just so good with turkey and stuffing. Really.

Banana Fritters

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup water
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying 5 firm bananas

In a large bowl, combine the flour, granulated sugar, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl, beat the egg, vanilla and water and pour into the dry ingredients; whisk until combined. The batter should be thick enough to coat a spoon; add more water if it’s too thick.

In a wok, heat about 1-1/2 inches of oil (about 4 cups) to 350°. Line a plate with paper towels.

Peel the bananas; slice them in half crosswise, then cut each piece in half lengthwise. When the oil is hot, dip the banana slices in the batter and slip them into the hot oil, frying 5 or 6 at a time. Fry, turning occasionally, until the fritters are golden, 2 to 3 minutes.

Drain the fritters on paper towel–lined plates and repeat with the remaining bananas. Serve with (or without) claret sauce.

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Sugar Cookie Bars


Originally posted July, 2009

Caity (hyper-aware of my rolled cookie difficulties) recommended this recipe. It solves my problem. Yum.

1 cup butter; room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
5 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg. Add vanilla & mix well. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt & soda & stir with a whisk to combine. Add to wet mixture and mix just until combined. Spread on a greased baking sheet (use a 13 x 18 pan).

Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 min, until light golden brown or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely and frost.

Frosting:

1/2 cup butter; room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
4 cups powdered sugar
5 Tbsp milk
food coloring (if desired)

Combine butter and shortening until smooth and creamy. Add vanilla and salt. Add powdered sugar in 1-2 cup increments until combined, then add milk & mix until smooth and spreading consistency. Spread over cooled cookie.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Barefoot Contessa's Roasted Turkey Roulade


Originally posted 11/27/08 and again on 11/13/09.

Not long after our Thanksgiving Day feast in 2008 my daughter referred to it as "the best day of my life". It makes me happy to think about that.

Ina's new book hit the bookstore in late October (2008) and I immediately knew what I was serving for Thanksgiving. I hate the idea of all the waste of a whole turkey, so when I saw this recipe I was in. I visited the local butcher shop and ordered the boned and butterflied turkey breasts and swallowed hard. Abandoning the traditional potato stuffing was a risk. Take a peek at the ingredients here. Best of all, each turkey breast only took two hours to roast. All that white meat... oh it was good.

3/4 cup large-diced dried figs, stems removed
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup Calvados or brandy (I used orange juice)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups diced onions (2 onions)
1 cup (1/2-inch-diced) celery (3 stalks)
3/4 pound pork sausage, casings removed (sweet and hot mixed)
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
3 cups Pepperidge Farm herb-seasoned stuffing mix
1 1/2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 extra-large egg, beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 whole (2 halves) turkey breast, boned and butterflied (5 pounds)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1. Place the dried figs and cranberries in a small saucepan and pour over the Calvados and 1/2 cup water. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large (12-inch) skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and saute until softened, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the sausage, crumbling it into small bits with a fork, and saute, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, until cooked and browned.

4. Add the figs and cranberries with the liquid, the chopped rosemary, and pine nuts, and cook for 2 more minutes. Scrape up the brown bits with a wooden spoon.

5. Place the stuffing mix in a large bowl. Add the sausage mixture, chicken stock, egg 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and stir well. (The stuffing may be prepared ahead and stored in the refrigerator overnight.)

6. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place a baking rack on a sheet pan. Lay the butterflied turkey breast skin side down on a cutting board., Sprinkle the meat with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.

7. Spread the stuffing in a 1/2-inch-thick layer over the meat, leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides. Don't mound the stuffing or the turkey will be difficult to roll. (Place the leftover stuffing in a buttered gratin dish and bake for the last 45 minutes of roasting alongside the turkey.)

8. Starting at one end, roll the turkey like a jelly roll and tuck in any stuffing that tries to escape on the sides.

9. Tie the roast firmly with kitchen twine every 2 inches to make a compact cylinder.

10. Place the stuffed turkey breast seam side down on the rack on the sheet pan. Brush with the melted butter, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and roast for 1 3/4 to 2 hours, until a thermometer reads 150 degrees in the center. (I test in a few places.)

11. Cover the turkey with aluminum foil and allow it to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Carve 1/2-inch-thick slices and serve warm with the extra stuffing.

Hope your Thanksgiving was extra great this year. Mine was.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Miscellaneous ramblings...


Meet Lola. She comes and visits every so often. We are very much amused by her and we get that dog fix that keeps us from taking the plunge. That plunge into repeat dog ownership. We've become a little bit of a second family to Lola. Right here she's miffed - they say dogs have no sense of time, but by her estimation I have stayed in that shower much too long. With each visit when she arrives at our front door she cries when she sees us. Like with happiness. It's fun. In this picture she is unhappy with me. Not feeling the love.

Ignore the Christmas pillow in the background. It just arrived and I was trying it on for size. Last year that pillow sold out. I jumped for joy when I saw they brought it back.

No segue...

I have finally furnished my living room, although not completely. Just a really great head start. After 1 3/4 years with that big empty room it's fun to see things taking shape. Now where do I put the 40 sisters in my Ward when we have our Quarterly Temple Brunch? I wish I took pictures last time. That entire room was full of tables with fancy tablecloths and candles and real plates. And quiche! It was fun.

No segue...

Ina's new cookbook arrived. I've told myself Ina sent me an email announcing her newest venture and sending me an offer for an autographed copy, but that (of course) wasn't a personal email. One can dream, can't they? By the way, did you happen to catch that episode of 30 Rock where Liz Lemon talked about the Barefoot Contessa? Hilarity. Turns out Tina Fey is a true blue fan. Love that.

No segue...

Speaking of lying to myself, each morning I get up and use Truth Serum Collagen Buster all over my sun damaged complexion. Later I walk over to the magnifying mirror to see if it's made a difference. Every morning. It's just so very optimistic of me, don't you think? And very much like that definition of insanity that comes up every once in a while.

No segue...

When you live in the desert the months of October and November are perfection. They also seem to be the months that zip by the fastest. My spouse claims this is a figment of my imagination, but you just try and tell me July isn't a long month in Las Vegas. {I digress.} Anyway, October, November . . . beautiful weather. The food is the best, let's face it. Pumpkin scones and muffins and cheesecake, Trader Joe's brings out all their very best seasonal offerings, Williams Sonoma has that hot chocolate that should be a sin. Tell me you know what I'm talking about. I just want time to slow down. It refuses.

No segue...

My spouse had a hideous "procedure" done last month. Maybe it's okay to talk about? Not sure. I've had my share of "procedures" in this life, but nothing has ever been microwaved. Was that too much? I'm not going to say being the person observing is worse than the patient, because that's just wrong. Suffice it to say I had to sit back in a chair on more than one occasion because I honestly thought I might faint. Lot of lightheadness that day. In the end he is healthy, I am healthy. That is just such a huge thing in life. Gratitude.

No segue...

I have one lone Christmas present left to buy. I bought many books this year (like last year) and it turns out I'm only second guessing myself on about 65% of my purchases. This is progress. If my shopping is done my mind feels devoid of paralyzing details. If that makes no sense to you I'm so genuinely happy for you.

I think I'm done. Miscellaneous ramblings, like I said.

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Friday, November 5, 2010

Weight Watchers' Crustless Pumpkin Pie


Originally posted 9/15/08

1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup egg substitute (or 3 egg whites)
1/2 t. salt
1 T. pumpkin pie spice
1 t. vanilla
2/3 cup granulated splenda

Combine all ingredients. Beat until smooth Pour into sprayed 9" pie plate and bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 45 minutes. Served with one serving of fat free cool whip . . . 1 slice is 1 Weight Watchers' point and it's ONE QUARTER of the pie! I have a slice of this just about every day.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Apple Toffee French Toast with Apple Syrup


I haven't made this recipe yet but was immediately interested after reading the instructions. I love the idea of a custard over bread sitting in the refrigerator overnight. Perfect brunch food. This recipe is a contest winner sponsored by Tree Top.

French Toast:

8 cups French bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 tart apples, peeled, chopped
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup Tree Top Apple Juice
¾ cup milk
2 tsp vanilla, divided
½ cup English toffee bits
5 eggs

Apple Syrup:

1 cup sugar
2 TBSP cornstarch
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
2 cups* Tree Top Apple Juice
2 TBSP lemon juice
5 TBSP butter
* For thicker syrup, try reducing Apple Juice to 1 cup.

Directions:

Place half the bread cubes in a greased 13 x 9 inch baking pan; top with apples. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugars, Tree Top apple juice and 1 tsp vanilla until smooth; stir in toffee bits. Spread over apples. Top with remaining bread cubes.

In another large bowl, beat the eggs, milk and vanilla until well blended; pour over bread. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

While baking French toast prepare syrup.

Apple Syrup:

In a medium size saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, Tree Top apple juice and lemon juice; heat to a boil; whisk constantly. Boil for 1 minute. Add butter. Serve over warm Apple Toffee French toast to 8 VERY lucky people.

Serving Suggestions:

Spoon warm syrup over French toast. For real decadence, dollop a spoonful of whipped cream on top.

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