Monday, December 20, 2010
If we get a solid snowstorm in December, then chances are, my friends get holiday cookies from me, so I am always stocked with butter, eggs, and sugar and I am always on the hunt for a special baked treat to prepare.
Since I was a child, stained glass cookies were always fascinating to me—you know, the cookies that hang from windows or holidays trees, the ones with the translucent, colorful center that looks like a stained glass window? They are so beautiful, I assumed they were for experts—turns out they're easier than you'd think.
Begin with a basic sugar dough of butter, sugar, a touch of molasses, vanilla extract and eggs. Roll out the dough and with cookie cutters cut the dough into stars, snowflakes, or diamonds—whatever you like, then using a smaller cookie cutter or a knife, cut shapes into centers of cookies. Fill the space with a crushed hard candy and cut a hole at the top of the cookie, so you can hang them after they bake. Pop them in the oven and the candy melts for a beautiful stained glass effect. I hope you'll add these to your holiday cookie repertoire.
Start to Finish Time:
3 to 4 dozen
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
20 hard candies (such as Jolly Ranchers or LifeSavers), preferably in several flavors
Heat oven to 375°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (aluminum foil may be used, but parchment paper works better with these cookies).
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add molasses and vanilla extract, mixing until incorporated.
Add egg and mix until light and smooth, about 1 minute on medium speed. Sift flour, salt, and baking powder over mixture; then, using a rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into mixture. Use electric mixer to blend just until flour is incorporated. Divide dough in half and flatten into two disks.
Wrap one disk in waxed paper and refrigerate while you work with the other disk. (Dough may be made up to this point and refrigerated up to 2 days.)
Place disk between two large sheets of waxed paper and roll to 1/4-inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut dough into desired shapes, such as stars, snowflakes, diamonds, or circles.
Transfer cookies to prepared baking sheets, about 1/2 inch apart. Using a smaller cookie cutter or a knife, cut shapes into centers of cookies, reserving these center bits to add into extra dough. (You may also roll dough into long, thin ropes to make shapes. Do this on the baking sheets so you don't have to transfer the dough.)
Remove any wrappers on candies and separate them by color into plastic bags. Using a mallet or the side of a rolling pin, crush candies. (Note: If you use a wooden rolling pin, the candies may dent the wood.) Use a spoon to sprinkle the crushed candy into the hollowed-out centers of the cookies, filling to the edges. You can mix colors for a mottled effect.
If cookies will be hung as ornaments or decorations, poke a small hole in the top of each cookie before baking. (Once cookies have cooled, thread string or festive ribbons through holes.)
Bake 9 to 10 minutes. The candy should be melted and bubbling and the cookies just barely beginning to brown and firm to the touch. Remove baking sheets from oven and place on wire racks to cool.
Allow cookies to cool on pans at least 10 minutes; otherwise, the candy centers may separate from the dough. When cookies are completely cooled, remove and store in an airtight container.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
The day after the big feast, the house is full of people young and old and although the fridge is bursting with leftovers no one's quite ready for turkey with their coffee. We use two morning staples—cornbread and sausage—in our stuffing, so why not begin the fourth Friday of November with a hearty breakfast?
Okay, for the record, this is so divinely delicious and ingenious (if I do say so myself), you are going to want me to be your new queen… seriously. All you do is line a muffin tin (or individual ramekins) with leftover stuffing—press it around the sides to form a nest. Crack an egg into each cup and bake. That is it. A perfect breakfast to fortify you for all those Friday-after shopping bargains.
Start to Finish Time:
6 cups (approximately) leftover stuffing
12 large eggs
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat oven to 350.° Mist the 12 cups of a large muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Put about 1/2 cup stuffing into each cup, pressing the bottom and along the sides to about halfway up. Without breaking the yolk, crack 1 egg into each cup. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake 15 minutes for slightly loose yolks, 20 or more for hard-cooked.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Today we're talking about French toast. This morning stalwart most likely got its name from the French dish, pain perdu or "lost bread"—a poetic way to say stale bread. And slightly stale bread is one of the keys to French toast that has a crunchy exterior with light and airy insides. Essentially this is bread, soaked in custard, and pan fried; perhaps the precursor to bread pudding.
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Start to Finish Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
1 cup milk
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 (1/2-inch) slices slightly stale country loaf, brioche, or challah bread
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
Heat oven to 350°. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Pour into a shallow pan (a pie pan works well). Dip bread into mixture and let soak about 30 seconds on each side. Remove to a cooling rack sitting on a sheet pan. Let sit at least 2 minutes, but not more than 3.
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt approximately 2 tablespoons butter (you want a thin layer coating the pan). Lay two or three bread slices into the pan and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan, lay on a baking sheet, and place in oven about 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining bread. Serve immediately with maple syrup.
Annie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine's food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
1-1/2 pounds fresh asparagus
3/4 pound scallions
1-1/2 teaspoons salt or more if needed
3-1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1-1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Freshly ground pepper to taste
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
Cooking the Vegetables
Snap off the hard stubs at the bottom of the asparagus stalks—they’ll break naturally at the right point. With a vegetable peeler, shave off the skin from the bottom 3-inches or so each stalk so they cook evenly.
Trim the root end of the scallions and the wilted ends of the green leaves. Peel off the loose layers at the white end, too, so the scallions are all tight, trim, and about 6-inches long.
In a wide deep skillet bring one quart of water (or enough to cover the vegetables) to a boil and add the asparagus and scallions.
Adjust the heat to maintain a bubbling boil and poach the asparagus, uncovered, for about 6 minutes, or more, until they are tender but not falling apart and cooked through but not mushy. To check doneness, pick up a spear in the middle with tongs: it should be a little droopy, but not collapsing.
As soon as they are done, lift out the vegetables with tongs and lay them in a colander (any fat asparagus spears may take a little longer so leave them in a few minutes more). Hold the colander under cold running water to stop the cooking. Drain briefly, then spread on kitchen towels and pat dry.
Making the Salad
Slice the asparagus and the scallions into 1-inch lengths and pile them loosely in a mixing bowl. Drizzle over the oil and vinegar over, sprinkle on ½ of the teaspoon salt and several grinds of black pepper. Toss well but don’t break up the vegetables.
Quarter the eggs into wedges and slice each wedge into 2 or 3 pieces; scatter these in the bowl and fold in with the vegetables. Taste and adjust the dressing. Chill the salad briefly, then arrange it on a serving platter or on salad plates.
Lidia Matticchio Bastianich was born in Pola, Istria, on the northeastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. She is a cookbook author, restaurateur, and TV chef extraordinaire. Watch Lidia’s Italy Saturdays at 1:30pm on WGBH 2 or Sundays at 4pm on WGBX 44.
Monday, August 9, 2010
A frittata is essentially a quiche of Italian ancestry, without the pastry. This recipe for morel mushroom frittata makes a fast, but elegant, weeknight meal.
Start to Finish Time:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups chopped morels
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
8 large eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat oven to 300°. In a 10-inch round skillet, melt butter. Add morels and sauté 7 minutes. Stir in chopped chives and sage. Remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, beat eggs. Stir in cheese, plus salt and pepper to taste. Pour egg mixture over mushrooms and stir. Make sure the egg mixture reaches all the way to the edges of the skillet.
Bake 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn on your broiler. Return to the oven on the top rack, and brown 3 to 5 minutes. Let it sit 5 minutes before slicing.
(Courtesy: Yankee Magazine
Annie B. Copps
is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine
. Annie oversees the magazine's food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.