Valentine Cutout Sugar Cookies

Happy Valentines Day to everyone! I wanted to share this little moment to tell the people in my life that they are special to me.  While I may not be good a communicating all the time with words, I do communicate with the food I create.  This is my go to recipe for cutout cookies. This recipe was given to me to be a friend a number of years ago. Pam S. was the mom who did everything, baking, cooking, sewing and was the room mother for all her childrens classrooms. These cookies have been taken bake sales and block parties too many to count.

Once I tried this recipe I have never used any other recipe, it’s just that good. Tender, not hard, like some cutout cookies, and just the right amount of butter for richness.  These cookies are the way I say I love you!

Valentine Cutout Sugar Cookies

2 cups butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla paste
4 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a stand mixer cream together butter and sugar. Add egg yolks, vanilla paste and mix well. Sift together flour and sugar and combine into the butter mixture.
Chill dough in the refrigerator for one hour.
Roll out a portion on a floured surface and cut in to desired shapes.

 

Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes until golden.

Cool and decorate with royal icing.

~ OXOX ~

Apple Butter Bars

The smell of apples and spices are a simple comfort when its cold outside.  When you combine apples, spices, butter and sugar it gets even better.  I was lucky enough to have a friend who had extra apples on her trees and was given a 5 gallon bucket of these home grown little gems.  They were small and tart and very firm, but that meant they cooked down a little more slowly and they had a wonderful intense flavor.

I did a simple combination of sugar, cinnamon, allspice, lemon juice and apples in the slow cooker. Setting the slow cooker to low the cooking process for the apple butter lasted around 10 hours. Watching the liquid evaporate and replacing it as needed and watching the color go to a rich brown.

Short bread crust:

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 cup butter

Cream butter and sugar together and then incorporate the flour to create a medium crum.  Press into a 9″ square baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes until firm. Cool and top with apple butter mixture. And bake a second time for 25 minutes until the top is set.

Homemade Apple Butter

The apple butter was simply made by peeling and coring apple,adding sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice and reducing in a slow cooker for 12 hours.

Lemon Flavored French Macarons with Raspberry Buttercream Filling

Lemon Macarons with Raspberry Filling

Lemon Flavored French Macarons with Raspberry Buttercream Filling

1 cup Almond flour, sifted
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
3 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
A pinch of salt
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4-6 drops yellow food coloring, optional

Sift together powdered sugar and almond flour,  whisk in zest and set aside.

Whisk egg whites, salt, cream of tartar and white sugar to soft peaks. Then add food coloring if desired.

Fold in drying ingredients, being careful not to deflate the whipped egg whites. Fold to a smooth consistency.

Spoon mixture into a piping bag and pipe quarter to half dollar sized coins onto a silicone or wax paper lined baking sheet. Allow the disks to dry for 30 to 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 250°.

Once the disks have formed a skin, bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Raspberry Buttercream Filling

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 tablespoons raspberry sauce

Cream butter and sugar together and then add raspberry sauce.
Spoon raspberry filling into a piping bag and pipe filling onto the disks then sandwich the cookies together.

Salt Cured Egg Yolk

On a recent trip to Hawaii my husband and I made a stop at Mahini and Sun’s Restaurant. The menus is locally sourced and wonderfully innovative.  They served a salt cured grated egg over a butter leaf lettuce salad that was totally awesome.  So when we got home I decided to give it a try.  The whole process takes about two weeks, but in my opinion it really is worth the effort. The egg provides a very umami and obviously salty favor to the salad. But using it on a pasta or risotto dish would be another great option!

I first started with equal parts salt and sugar. I poured half the salt/sugar mixture into a shallow ceramic baking dish and made small divets in the “sand.” I then took my egg yolks and placed one in each divet and completely covered it all with the salt/sugar mixture. Then popped it into the refrigerator uncovered to start the drying process.

Now came the waiting and the watching.  I am not the most patient person when it comes to my food in any way shape or form.  So waiting for a week without touching it was a little hard. Oh, and be sure the refrigerator isn’t smelling off. The eggs can and will pickup any odors or flavors they come in contact with. This can be a good thing or a bad thing.  If you want to flavor the eggs with herbs this great, just mix in some herbs with the salt, however if the refrigerator smells like fish, not so much.

Once you’ve reached your one week mark remove the eggs from the salt and brush off as much of the salt as you can and wrap each egg in a small piece of cheesecloth, tie with a bit of string and suspend in the refrigerator for and additional week.

Now that your two weeks have  been completed you can unwrap the eggs and brush any remaining salt from the eggs.  The eggs should be completely dry now and not tacky. They can now be stored, wrapped in their cheesecloth,  in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

I used mine up fairly quickly but they should be good in the refrigerator for up to two additional weeks or put them into the freezer as well.

Grated over a salad or pasta the dried egg has a similar texture to parmesan cheese.

Mixed greens with salt cured egg and raspberry vinegrette .

Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze

 

Blueberry Scones with Lemon Glaze

Adapted from recipe by Kinfolk

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, cold
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 large eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream, plus 1 tablespoon for brushing
1 teaspoon vanilla paste

Lemon glaze
2/3 cup Powdered sugar
1 tablespoon Lemon juice
2 teaspoons cream

Preheat oven to 400°.

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. With your hands combine flour and butter pinching the mixture to resemble small peas or use a pastry blender to cut together.

Stir in blueberries.

Whisk eggs vanilla and cream together.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients together.

On a floured surface shape the dough into a 14″ square. Cut the square into 4 equal pieces, then cut each square diagonally into triangles. You will now have 8 triangles of dough.

Place the scones on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the top of the scones with cream.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Cool and then drizzle with the lemon graze.

Tea and Scones

Cleanup Crew

2nd Day Black Bean Soup

Black eyed peas are suppose to be eaten on New Years day to bring good luck for the coming year.  But since I didn’t have black eyed peas I decided to go another route and do black beans instead.  This particular soup thickens and becomes more flavorful if you wait a bit to eat it. So I recommend making it a couple days before you plan to serve it to amp up the flavors.

2nd Day Black Bean Soup

Adapted from Cuban Black Beans by Nigella Lawson

2 cups dry black beans
2 yellow onions, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
11/2 quarts chicken stock
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons dried chili flake
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 can diced tomatoes

1 bay leaf, optional

Toast cumin seed and chili flakes in a small shallow fry pan until you can smell the spices coming up. Pour the mixture into a mortar and pestle and add the garlic and salt, grind into a rough powder.

Sauté peppers and onions until translucent and pop in the aromatics. The kitchen in smelling pretty amazing now.

About now you can pull out the slow cooker if you have one. If not, a cast iron Dutch oven works as well. Toss in beans, no need to soak, stock, tomatoes and your sautéed mixture, set the controls to low for 8 hours and you’re  out of the kitchen for the rest of the day.

Christmas Chocolate Suger Cookies

We had way too much fun decorating these cookies!

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house the sugarplum fairy was running amok, up to her elbows in sugar, butter, cocoa and flour. Well I’m not quite the sugarplum fairy but I have been having fun with the sugar.

These cookies are just too good not to share. They are a great departure from the traditional vanilla sugar cookie. Not too sweet and very very tender , the little bit of egg that is in the dough,  makes these cookies a must for the Christmas cookie exchange.

Love Nicholos Moss Pottery!

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Merry Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

3/4 pound unsalted butter softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs and mix together thoroughly.
Sift together dry ingredients and incorporate into wet ingredients.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.
On smooth surface dusted with cocoa powder roll out the dough to about an 1/8 inch. Cut out your shapes and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake for 10 minutes in a 375° oven.
Cool for one minute on baking sheet and then move to cooling rack, to cool completely.
Once cookies are cool decorate with royal icing.

Quality control note: Yum!

Homina, Homina…Hominy: Pork Pozole

Hominy? What’s hominy, come on you’ve never heard of hominy? Hominy is essentially just dried maize that is then soaked in water and lye. Think masa for tamales.  See, you’ve had it and didn’t even know it.

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Pork Pozole

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Pork Pozole

3 cups cooked cubed pork butt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 whole roasted head of garlic
16 ounces chicken stock
1 15-ounce can of whole green chilis, diced
1 large jalapeños, seeded and finely diced
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon oregano, fresh chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 30-ounce can hominy
1 tablespoon pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt

To top at the end
1 lime, cut into wedges
⅓ cup cilantro leaves
In a medium sized cast iron Dutch oven heat oil and sauté onion until tender then add the roasted garlic. Pop in the pork and coat thoroughly. The rest of the ingredients can be added at this point. Simmer for 1-2 hours on low heat. The meat Is already cooked so you don’t really need to slow cook for very long but the longer it simmers the better it gets.
Ladle into bowls and top with a squeeze of lime and a spoonful of cilantro.

Here Piggy, Piggy, Piggy…

September 26, 2016

I am a self proclaimed porkaholic!  My father raised pigs when I was growing up and yes you did not want to be down wind of the barn. But being able to have fresh bacon, pork chops, pork ribs was pretty great!

When my husband and I traveled to Chicago we asked our daughter to recommend a favorite restaurant. My daughter has similar tastes to mine needless to says, so when she recommended a restaurant specializing in pork I was thrilled. Enter the Publican!

The Publican was so much fun. We started off with cocktails, a “Dancing Legs,” for me and a craft beer for my husband, and a plate of assorted hams. Can I just say wow!  We were in hog heaven.

Looking around the restaurant, I really enjoy people watching, I saw someone I recognized. I leaned over to my husband, “That looks like Aaron S. from the Foodnetwork? ,” my husband confirmed that yes I was correct. So not only did we have awesome food but we got a little food star gazing as well.

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Assorted Hams

 

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Busy Saturday night

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Ossabaw Island Hog

We continued to eat our way through the menu which included suckling pig and a unique take on duck confit, which reminded my a lot of Peking duck because of the plum in it.  Both very delicious!  We finished up with an amazing grilled sour cream pound cake that was absolutely stellar!

Yes, we in two words, pigged out, and I will need to put in several more miles in the next few days to compensate for the pounds I put on. Thanks Vic for the recommendation and thanks to the Publican for the beautiful meal!

 


 

I’m in a Pickle without you: Good bye to Savannah Grill

I found out last week my favorite restaurant, here at the lake has closed. Savannah Grill has been my husband and I’s go to place for several years now and I will miss the food and the staff very much!

The food there was exceptional and very unique, specializing in locally sourced produce and meats from the Missouri area. One of Chef Robert Sills specialities and my personal favorites included his charcuterie boards with wonderful pickled produce and totally awesome smoked meats.

So as a tribute to these lovely folks here’s my recipe for pickled beets.   We will miss you guys!


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Pickled Beets

2 medium beets, steamed or boiled, then sliced

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cinnamon stick

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons whole mustard

Bring mixture to a simmer, making sure to dissolve all of the sugar, and remove from the heat.  Steam or boil 2 medium beets and slice. Add the sliced beet to the warm pickling brine and refrigerate for 2 hours minimum and they are ready to eat.

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Sweet, sour, and a hit of spice.