Saturday, November 22, 2014

Vanilla Kiperl (Vanilla Butter Crescents)

I love simple cookies.  I used to like them with chocolate and other flavors, but my favorite kind right now are simple vanilla cookies.  Vanilla kiperl are German cookies, usually made at Christmastime, but are simple to make.  They are sweetened with a bit of vanilla and sugar and then dusted in powdered sugar when they are warm.  The sweetness comes through just right.  This is a mixture from a couple of recipes.  You can also make them with ground almonds instead of hazelnuts.  

Vanilla Butter Crescents
1/2 cup whole hazelnuts, toasted and peeled
1 cup flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Your hazelnuts should already be toasted.  Place in a food processor with 2 -3 tablespoons of flour to grind to a fine meal.   In another bowl whisk the rest of the flour with 1/4 cup powdered sugar.  Add the flour mixture to the hazelnut mixture and pulse again.  Add the butter and egg yolk and pulse until the dough begins to come together.  Remove and place in a ball and put in the refrigerator for about half an hour.  Preheat over to 325F.  Line the sheets with parchment.  Form the dough into a ball and then roll into crescents.  Bake for about 9 minutes or until just beginning to brown.  Remove and transfer to wire racks to cool.  Dust with additional powdered sugar when warm and again after cooling.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Raspberry Ribbon Danish Cookies

I love baking Christmas cookies, and we are fast approaching the time which will put my weekends into baking mode.  I am also planning on having a Christmas brunch this year.  Because my theme is Scandinavian, I have been testing out some recipe which I will serve for that brunch.  This is one that was on the list.  The benefits are that a lot of cookies can be made at one time and that they are bite sized, so you can't feel guilty about eating one or two....or more.  They also can be made ahead of time while I am preparing more time needed items like freshly baked bread.
So here is my first new cookie experiment for a lightly sweet touch for brunch.  They gave together very quickly and they were easy to incorporate into my other cooking during the cold weekend.  And as an extra bonus, I got to turn my oven on and make the house smell delicious!

Butter Cookie Dough:
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2  2/3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Additional ingredients:
Jam (I used a blueberry raspberry mixture.)
1/4 - 1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons cream

Cream the butter.  Then add the sugar and mix until well combined.  All the egg and mix again.  Finally, add the flour, extract and salt and mix until it comes together into a ball of dough.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  Makes about 3 cups cookie dough.

Preheat oven to 375F.  Roll out the butter cookie dough into about an half inch roll.  Place on an un-greased cookie sheet and press down the middle forming a u-shaped log.  Bake for about 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and repress the indentation.  Fill with jam.  Return to the oven and bake for about another 5 minutes or until slightly brown.  Remove from oven and cool.  Once cool enough to touch, mix up the powdered sugar and cream and pipe a line across the cookie.   Cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Denver Omelette with Coucous

I previously mentioned trying to increase my consumption of grains.  I have been experimenting with Whole Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon.  I have made quite a lot of her recipes and have a bunch more tagged to make.  This recipe is based off one from her book.  Since I love omelettes I thought this would be a different and yet similar dish.    I do miss the eggs a little, but this really turned out well with all the flavors, but yet different.  Next time I will probably scramble up an egg and add it to the end result to give me the same, but more filling Denver omelette.  Add more vegetables if you feel you want a more vegetable heavy omelette which is usually what I crave in summer when all the veggies are fresh.

Denver Omelette Coucous
2 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup finely diced bell pepper (I used a red one)
5 ounces cooked ham, diced into small cubes
2 1/2 cups cooked couscous
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
shredded sharp cheddar cheese (for sprinkling on top, so to taste)
2-3 green onions, chopped

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil until shimmering.  Saute the onion and pepper until soft.  Stir in the ham and cooked until thoroughly warm.  Fold in the cooked couscous and reduce the heat to low. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat and still in the parsley.  Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top.  It will start to melt.  Scoop the mixture into a bowl and top with green onions.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Peach Cobbler

My husband loves cobbler.  I have made a bunch of variations, but he loves them all.  This fall I bought a box of Paliside peaches and used this in this recipe.  At the height of sweetness, you can use less sugar since the peaches can hold their own.  The biscuit from this recipe is based off of Whole Grain Morning by Megan Gordon.  We did indeed eat this cobbler for breakfast...and then snacked on it the rest of the day until it was gone.  You can use any combination of fruit to make cobbler.  I want to try it with blueberries and peaches.  It would be great as well with apples.  The possibilities are endless.  Use what is in season for best results, though I think frozen berries would also work well.

Peach Cobbler
2 pounds peaches, pitted and sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1 -2 2 tablespoons lemon juice
lemon zest from half a lemon
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cornmeal Biscuits:
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup corn meal (fine ground)
3 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
1/2 cup plain unsweetened yogurt
1/2 cup buttermilk

Method: Preheat oven to 375 F.  Lightly butter a 9 inch pie plate.  In a bowl mix together peach slices, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest.  Let sit for at least 10 minutes to allow time for sugar to dissolve.  After the sugar has dissolved add the flour and salt to the peaches.  Make the dough by sifting the flours together in a separate bowl.  Add cornmeal, sugar baking powder and salt.  Add the butter and mix into dough until it is pea sized or smaller.  Add the yogurt and buttermilk.  Stir until the dough just comes together.  Pour the peaches into the pie plate.  Drop little pieces of dough until all the dough is gone.  Bake until the biscuit are golden brown and the peach juices are bubbling which should be about 35 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool at least 15 minutes before eating.  You can also wait and serve this at room temperature.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Shredded Salad with savory cabbage

The first cooking blog that I started reading was 101cookbooks.  I still get the email stating when new posts are there and I love the ideas that Heidi uses to create her recipes.  It was partly due to her website that I decided to start my blog.  This is recipe based on one that was on her blog not long ago.  Since the time change and the cooler days, I have been craving more greens.  I tend not to be very good with eating sufficient greens during the winter, so I always appreciate it when I come across a recipe which I want to make at home.  For some reason in winter, I am more willing for someone else to make it for me.  This salad is quite diverse and you can switch up the ingredient depending on what you have on hand or what you are craving.  I have made it twice already and varied it both times and it still came out excellent.  Give it a'll like it!

Shredded Salad
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil
2 tablespoon honey
sea salt
a small bunch of cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup roasted and salted peanuts
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
2 1/2 cups shredded savory cabbage (or any kind of cabbage you like)
2/3 cup herbs, chopped (I used basil on time and parsley another time)
2-3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2-3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (though I think pumpkin seeds would be good too)

In a medium bowl, stir together olive oil, sesame oil, 1 tablespoon honey, and a pinch or two of sea salt.  Add the cilantro, peanuts and scallions.  Mix to combine.

In a large bowl stir together shredded cabbage, herbs, and celery.  In a small bowl combine the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and 1 tablespoon honey.  Stir to combine.  Pour over the cabbage mixture and stir to coat.  Add half of the cilantro mixture and toss to distribute throughout.  Place the remaining half on top of the salad.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Swedish Kringle

I love the holiday season.  Starting from November until December 26th, I am like a little kid.  I can't wait for Thanksgiving to cook and eat with friends.  Then I get to decorate for Christmas.  I look forward to every last snow flake that might come...and some are predicted for tomorrow.  Today it is 70F and tomorrow we will have snow!  It is supposed to be 1-2 inches, but this week winter arrives even if it isn't for too long.

Last year I had a small group of friends over to celebrate together before Christmas before everyone went to where they were celebrating Christmas.  This year I decided to grow the table a little and have invited more people.  By heritage I am half Swedish.  My grandma used to cook a Swedish meal for Christmas each year, and so to honor the tradition I am throwing a Scandinavian Christmas brunch.  I have been pouring through my cookbooks and have come up with a tentative menu.  So today I started practicing with Swedish Kringle.  The recipe is close to the one Pat Sinclair has in her cookbook Scandinavian Classic Baking.  I have used this cookbook a bit, but am happy to have an excuse to make more from it.  The recipes are simple and come out beautifully.

Swedish Kringle
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter
1 tablespoon water

1 cup water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup flour
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
2 tablespoon heaving whipping cream (milk if you don't have whipping cream)
 Preheat the oven to 350F.  For the crust place the flour and butter into a food processor and pulse until crumbly.  (It should be pea-sized crumbs.)  Add the water and pulse until it comes together as a dough.  (You may keep it running to see how much water you need.  You may need more or you may need less.)  Divide dough into two balls.  On a lightly floured surface press it into two logs about 10 inches by 3 inches.
 Make the topping by bringing the water and butter to a simmer.  Once all the butter is melted, add the cup of flour and whisk until it comes together into a dough.  Remove from heat and set aside for about 5 minutes before adding the eggs.  Whisk in the eggs one at a time until each is fully incorporated.  Whisk in the almond extract.  Spread over the crust.
 Bake for 50-60 minutes or until lightly golden brown.   Cook on a wire rack or until fully cool.  As it cool the topping will collapse.  When it is completely cool, you can frost them.
 To make the frosting, mix the powdered sugar, butter and almond extract together.  Add 2 tablespoon of heavy whipping cream while mixing. Continue to add cream as needed to bring the frosting to the needed consistency to be able to spread the frosting.
 Cut into 1 inch pieces before eating.  This should make twenty pieces of kringle.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Homemade basil pesto

Basil Pesto

If you have never tried to make your own pesto, you are missing out.  I highly recommend giving it a try as it is easy to do and doesn't take any time either.  Plus, you can use a variety of different herbs to change up the flavor and it makes a lot more than you can buy in the store.  The first pesto I made was one from Italian Immigrant Cooking by Elodia Rigante.  Once I realized how easy it was to make though, I now put in basically whatever I am feeling that day or what I have on hand.

Basil Pesto
1/2 cup basil (or whatever herb mixture you want to try)
3 tablespoons pine nuts (toasted)
2-4 tablespoons Parmesan or Romano cheese, finely shredded
6 cloves garlic, peeled
3/4 cup olive oil (more if you like it thinner)
1 tablespoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all the ingredient in a blender until smooth.  Serve over pasta or gnocchi of choice.  Or you can try my ricotta gnocchi.  You can easily double this recipe.