Archive for December, 2009

Lemon Meltaway Cookies

These are little delicious lemony nuggets of yumminess.  They are bite-sized.  They crumble on your tongue.  They are lovely.

I really love these cookies.

I’ve been making them for at least 10 years now.  In fact, while Scott went gallivanting around the city with the boys for his bachelor party, my sister and I had our own little bachelorette party at home, making these cookies, drinking tea, and watching The Three Amigos—–I kid you not.  Talk about G-Rated- huh?  I do consider myself a little nerdy.  But I revel in my nerdiness.

Lemon Meltaway Cookies adapted from a Land O Lakes butter advertisement 10 years ago!!

If you have access to Meyer lemons, definitely use them- they’re great.

I usually mix the recipe by hand because the recipe is too small for the big standing-mixer bowl.  It’s simple and doesn’t require a lot of aeration in the mixing process.

For the cookies

  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

For the frosting

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

In a large mixing bowl, combine the butter and powdered sugar.  Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, cornstarch, and flour.  Stir with a wooden spoon until all ingredients are fully incorporated.

Divide the dough in half and roll into logs about 8 inches long, and 1 inch thick. They need not be perfectly cylindrical.  Set on a flat plate and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.  Now that they have firmed up a bit, you can roll them into nicely-shaped logs.  Refrigerate until fully chilled, 1 to 2 hours.

30 minutes prior to baking, heat oven to 350 degrees, and place the oven rack in the center position.  Using a sharp paring knife, slice the logs into 1/4-inch rounds.  Place them 2 inches apart on cookie sheets at bake for 8-12 minutes, or until set.  (To test for doneness, try to “scooch” a cookie to one side with your finger.  If the whole cookie moves, they are done.)  They may turn slightly golden on the bottoms, but will not color on top.  Cool completely.

In small bowl, combine all frosting ingredients.  Stir well until all ingredients are fully incorporated.  It doesn’t look like enough frosting, but fear not- it is!  Use the tip of a butter knife to swipe on a dab of frosting on each cookie and allow them to dry for 1 hour before packing and storing.


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Not so hum-drum

Pardon me sir, but do you have any prunes?  Yes prunes.  I prefer them with pits.  That way, you can gnaw at them and coax the bits of fruit out of the craggy pits with your tongue for hours.  Ahh, glorious.

Well, the other day I was following a recipe that required prunes to be soaked in tea.  So I brewed myself a pot of Earl Grey and soaked my prunes.  But the recipe suggested that I pour out the liquid!!!  (Sacre bleu!)  Heavens no!!!  I dutifully saved that sweet elixir and cooked my steel-cut oatmeal in it the next morning.  ‘Twas a lovely pot of oatmeal.  And oatmeal just ain’t oatmeal without a pat of butter, a spoonful of brown sugar and a generous pour of milk.

Steel-Cut Oatmeal Cooked in Prune-Sweetened Tea
yields one huge bowl or 2 average-sized bowls

To make the prune-sweetened tea, simply brew a large mug of your favorite black tea and  dunk in a handful of pitted prunes. Allow to steep for about 30 minutes.  Strain out the prunes and nibble at your leisure.

  • 1/2 cup steel-cut oats
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups prune-sweetened tea
  • small pinch salt
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • milk for topping
  • sugar for topping

In a small sauce pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Add the oats and stir until they begin to smell slightly toasted.  Add the tea and simmer very gently until the oats are tender but toothy, about 15 minutes.  Stir in a small pinch of salt.  Pour into a bowl and top with yummy toppings.

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These are every bit as fun as my buddy Nate whom everyone adores for his fiery character.  If he were a cookie, he would be a chewy, crunchy ginger-molasses cookie.  Hands down.  A little spicy and enough chew to keep you “jawin”.  And sweet enough to keep you comin’ back for more.  Yup, that is Nate in a nut-shell–not to imply that he could actually fit in a nut-shell…  But….well, we shorties gotta stick together!

Actually, Nate was the one who gave me this original recipe which I tweaked a bit to invoke his character!

Chewy, Crunchy Ginger-Molasses Cookies
yields about 20 large cookies

  • 3/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup Turbinado sugar for rolling (substituting regular white sugar will produce different results)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk the oil, white sugar, egg, fresh ginger, and molasses.  In a separate medium bowl, mix the flour, ginger, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon.  Stir the dry ingredients into the wet.  Scoop into 2-Tablespoon balls and coat with the Turbinado sugar by pouring the sugar into a small dish, and rolling the balls around.  Place the  balls 2 to 3 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with a sil-pat or parchment paper, 10 balls per tray, like this…

O    O    O

O     O

O    O    O

O    O

Bake for 12 minutes.   (At about 10 minutes the cookies will have puffed up but will be too soft and raw in the center.  Then they will fall, somewhat flat.)  Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack.  The cookies will seem underdone, but will be nice and chewy, once cooled.

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Feather Buns

I’ve been thinking about a certain issue of late…why is it that grandmother’s have the best recipes? After pondering for a good, long, while, I’ve come to a conclusion.  They have their whole lives to find them! I’ve got a good recipe here, a crappy one there, but see, I’m only 31.  Just wait til I’m 80!  Hooo, boy.

Of course, upon further pondering, a different thought occurs to me.  This is not a universal rule. One of my grandmothers was capable of whipping up a dinner party for 10 officers with no planning, at the drop of a hat, while my other grandmother’s specialty was Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese with hot-dog rounds stirred in.  Hmmmm.  Oh well, she had other specialties, I guess.  Like horseback riding.  And cooking broccoli in the pressure cooker ’til it was brown.  Oh, and Frosted Flakes.

Anyway.  These lovely feather buns have been at every family holiday for a great many years, and I’ve taken it upon myself to continue the tradition since my grama’s hands have a hard time mixing and shaping.  They are truly lovely.  I generally eat at least 3 the moment they come out of the oven.  With jam.  Or butter.  Or nothing.  I especiallly love them as mini ham or turkey sandwiches the day after Thanksgiving.

Grama B’s Feather Buns
yields approx 3 dozen

Warning: silly me– I attempted to make a 1-1/2 batch in my kitchen-aide mixer.  Ha!  Overflow! I’d stick to one batch at a time if I were you!

  • 1 cup hot mashed Russet or Idaho potato- reserve the cooking water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter or shortening (I use Spectrum Organic)
  • 2 cups whole milk, scalded and cooled
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 whole eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cakes fresh yeast or 2 pkgs instant dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm, not hot, potato cooking water
  • 8 to 8-1/2 cups all purpose flour

In a large bowl, mash the potato together with the sugar and shortening.  Stir in the milk, salt and eggs.  You’ll be left with a fairly sloppy batter.  Separately, dissolve the yeast in the reserved warm- not hot- potato water.  Stir into the potato mixture.  With a whisk, stir in 2 cups flour.  Cover with plastic and allow to rise for one hour.

Transfer to batter to the bowl of an electric mixer and add about 6-1/2 more cups of flour.   (Unless it’s a particularly dry day, I always use the extra 1/2 cup of flour.)  Knead for about 8-10 minutes to make a soft dough, stopping to scrape down the dough as needed.  At this point, the dough may still feel a little sticky, but the moisture will even out during the next rise.  Cover with plastic and allow to rise until double in bulk, about one hour.

Place your *oven rack in the center-most position and turn on the oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly sprinkle your work counter with flour.  Using a bench-scraper and scale portion out the dough into 1-3/4 to 2 ounce balls.  (Alternately, eyeball it!!  Each finished ball should measure approx. 2-inches in diameter).  To roll the balls, cup your hand over the piece of dough as it sits on the counter.   Begin moving your hand in a clock-wise motion (think: wax on, wax off”), until the piece of dough becomes a ball.  You’ll notice that the underside of the dough has formed a little belly-button.  Place the dough balls on a baking sheet- 12 per sheet- and allow to rise for 30 minutes.

Bake for 12- 15 minutes.  Remove to a cooling rack and try your darnedest to not eat them all at once.

*I find that these cook more evenly when baked one tray at a time.  If you are short on time and must bake 2 trays at the same time, place your oven racks in the upper third and bottom third of the oven.  Be sure to swap the trays, top to bottom and bottom to top, midway through the baking time.

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Chocolate Truffles

My friend Myvan has been feeding me doses of her chocolate truffles over the past year.  Now, my loving accomplice and I have been known to eat a full batch of chocolate chip cookies within 2 days.  And blueberry and cream muffins.  And brown-butter ice creamHowever I just didn’t think that we also needed to finish a whole batch of chocolate truffles by ourselves.  So with Thanksgiving fast approaching, I dug out Myvan’s recipe, searched high and low for a mini-ice-cream-scooper, and got to work.

And then I left the chocolate to chill in the refrigerater for a few days, until I had time to do the scooping.

And what did I come home to every night?

A chocolate-covered mini-ice-cream-scooper, reclined next to the sink.

And I thought to myself, “SCOTT!!- Can’t you at least HIDE THE EVIDENCE?!”

Luckily though, despite the surruptitious not-so-skinny-dipping that occured, I still had plenty of chocolate truffles to share with my twenty-or-so family members on Thanksgiving day.

And you know what?

I forgot to put them out!

So here we are, eating chocolate truffles.  By ourselves.  Taking one for the team.

Myvan’s chocolate truffles

If you’d like to make these more kid-friendly, just leave out the liqueur and add more cream.  They’ll be a little softer and richer but, according to Myvan, simply divine.

  • 20 ounces of dark chocolate (I like to use Guittard)
  • 8 ounces heavy cream
  • 2 ounces liqueur (any kind…I used cassis, but you could even use rum!)
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter
  • pinch kosher salt

Chop the chocolate into small pieces.  In a large saucepan, bring the cream and liqueur to a simmer, remove from the heat.  Immediately, stir in the chocolate until it’s completely melted.  When the mixture has cooled to 90 degrees, stir in the butter.  Pour into a 8×8 baking dish to chill.  Once it’s fully chilled, scoop* and coat with whatever you desire**.

*I made fairly ugly, non-uniform scoops and then attempted to roll them into cute little balls with my hands.  They remained fairly lop-sided and “rustic”.

**I coated mine with cocoa powder, but you could also use broken toffee, chocolate sprinkles, powdered sugar…(how ’bout a few sprinkles of sea salt?!)

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