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Archive for the ‘cookies’ Category

No-Rouz

I am visiting some friends in Colorado. Yesterday we celebrated No-Rouz, the Persian New Year. The exact time of No-Rouz changes yearly in accord with the exact time of the beginning of Spring (This year it was in the late afternoon.)  We began by preparing the “Haft Sin.” or “Seven S’s.” As you might guess from its name, Haft Sin includes seven items that begin with “s”, however it is not exclusive to these items.

Our Haft Sin setting included the traditional seven:

Sabhez- lentil sprouts, symbolizing rebirth

Samanu- a sweet pudding made from wheat germ, symbolizing affluence

Senjed- dried oleaster fruit, symbolizing love

Sir- garlic, symbolizing medicine

Sib- apples, symbolizing health

Somaq- sumac berries, symbolizing the color of the sunrise

Serkeh- vinegar, symbolizing patience

Plus some more recent additions:

Sonbol- hyacinth flowers

Sekkeh- coins, symbolizing wealth

Sohun asali- Sesame honey cookies

Shirini nokhod chi- Chickpea flour cookies with cardamom

Haj Badoom- Crispy almond cookies

Nargili- Coconut cookies

Ayeneh- a mirror, symbolizing honesty

Sham’- lit candles, symbolizing happiness and enlightenment

Tokhm e Morgh- decorated eggs, symbolizing fertility

Mahi-goldfish, symbolizing life within life

A book of Hafez (a highly respected Iranian Poet), and or the Qur’an

We prepared the Haft Sin setting together, each adding a little bit of the different items. After the sun passed over the equator and we had a quiet celebration, exchanged gifts, and gathered at the table for a traditional No-Rouz dinner.

We had sabzi polo – rice pilaf cooked with lots of fresh herbs and saffron, kookoo – a frittata like dish that is heavy on the greens and light on the eggs, maast – yogurt with shallots (a different variety than what we are used to in the states), and a tray of olives, mint yogurt, and naan khoshkeh – a crispy flatbread (literally “dried bread”) from Isfahan, and fish.

Sabzi polo:

3 cups basmati rice
water
3 tablespoons salt
3 cups finely chopped fresh herbs (parsley, young leeks, cilantro, dill, fenugreek)
3 spring garlic shoots*

2 Tbsp. butter, melted

1/4 tsp. saffron powder

Rinse rice thoroughly. Combine rice and boiling water (cover about 1″ above the rice) and soak for about 4 hours. Strain the rice. In a large pot, boil some water, add some salt and the rice, cook for about 5 or 6 minutes, or until the rice is tender but not to soft (you can 2 or 3 Tbsp. of yogurt to the water if you like). Strain.

In a large pot, place about 2 Tbsp. oil and 3 Tbsp. water add the spring garlic shoots, cut in half lengthwise and saute for a few minutes over medium heat. Layer rice and herbs on top of the garlic and cover with a clean cloth or paper towel and the lid. This prevents the excess steam from going back into the rice and making it mushy. Let cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes.

In a separate pot, melt 2 Tbsp. butter and stir in 1/4 tsp. saffron powder.

Stir a little of the cooked rice in with the saffron butter to use as a garnish. Mound the rice on a platter and decorate with saffron rice.

*For a potato version: replace garlic shoots with a potato or two, thinly sliced. Add a little salt and a touch of saffron while sauteeing.

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French Butter Cookies

A friend of mine lent me a couple of french cookbooks to browse through. My eye was caught by a recipe for butter cookies from Normandy in the French Farmhouse Cookbook by Susan Loomis.. I love french butter cookies, they aren’t too sweet and they melt in your mouth. I immediately got some butter out to soften, waited patiently, and made some dough.

The recipe has you roll the dough out and cut out cookies but I chose to form it into a log and slice them. I find there is less waste this way, plus its tidier in the kitchen. After the cookie dough had chilled, I took it out of the fridge, sliced it up, and popped the cookies into a hot oven.

The first batch I was a little cautious about overcooking so I baked them until they were just beginning to brown around the edges. I put the second tray in. While the second batch was baking, I snacked on one from the first. While it was tasty and cooked through, I decided that they were better off being a little darker and more flavorful. (The picture below is from the first batch that went in the oven, just to give you an idea of color.)

They are excellent with coffee, tea, and especially hot chocolate!

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This afternoon while I was at the store buying roses for a cake, I remembered how I had been missing them in my pantry so I got some extras. I picked up some pistachios also, thinking they would be a nice partner for the roses in a batch of cookies. I made some cookie dough adding the pistachios, rose petals, and a touch of white chocolate at the end.

I formed the dough into a couple of logs and chilled them for an hour or so, cut them up, and baked them.

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C is for Cookie


Last weekend I was on a major cookie kick, starting with some chocolate chip cookies on Thursday. One of my good friends had an Art Show Opening on Sunday, a lucky excuse to bake some more. I made two kinds for the opening, lemon sugar cookies and chocolate sables.

The lemon sugar cookies were cut out in the shape of bones in honor of the main focus of her work, Max (a fantastic poodle.)

The chocolate sables were thin and crispy with irregular bits of molten chocolate. The dough, sprinkled with fleur de sel, was just sweet enough to balance the deep chocolate.

Having a hard time fighting the temptation to bake still more cookies, with no real excuse, I gave in on Tuesday and made a batch of makrouth. A Tunisian cookie made with semolina, dates, oranges, and olive oil. The end result somewhat resembles a fig newton.

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Last weekend I went for a little drive and wound up Michigan. Among many things I (I should really say we, as it was a group effort) made some delicious chocolate chip cookies. The recipe that we used is from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. They were delicious, especially with a large glass of milk!

I am back home now and tonight I wanted to make some more cookies, I decided to play with the recipe and use yogurt with a little baking soda as a substitute for the eggs. They were quite tasty, though a bit thinner and more chewy with crispy edges. It’s hard to compare the two cookies, they are totally different. I enjoyed the eggless version but I am not completely satisfied. I will let you know when I come up with the perfect compromise, until then here are some more pictures.

This time, I used chocolate morsels from Askinosie Chocolate. They were well worth it! These dark chocolate morsels are a nice break from sweet cookie.

Ready to go in the oven…

and finally cookies before bed….

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Sarah Bernhardts

Yesterday I did a cooking demo at the At Home Store. I made some really wonderful cookies that are a cross between a macaron and a truffle. The recipe that I used is from The Sono Baking Company Cookbook:The Best Sweet and Savory Recipes for Every Occasion by John Barricelli. They were really fun to make! They were pretty simple even though lots of different steps were involved. The first step was making the chocolate ganache.

Secondly, I made the almond macarons. I used a pastry bag to pipe out tiny little rounds…

Then I melted some chocolate for the hard casing. (This was the only place that I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. It calls for a little bit of vegetable oil, to keep the chocolate looking shiny, but I only had olive oil pressed with tangerines–so that is what I used instead. The orange was very nice although maybe a little too strong. If I were to use it again I would use even less and maybe mix it with some vegetable oil.

With all of the elements ready, it was time to assemble the cookies. I piped some ganache onto each cookie…

…and then dipped each one  in chocolate.

They were really tasty! I had a lot of ganache left over! I think I could have made about a third of what the recipe called for and had enough.

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There was a blizzard last night and when I woke up this morning, everything was under at least a foot of glistening white snow. Since I was forced to stay home, I took the opportunity to do some baking. I decided to make some shortbread and since I couldn’t decide which kind to make, I made two – half batches.

The first one I made was pecan shortbread, here is the recipe:

1 stick butter, softened

1/4 c powdered sugar (not sifted)

1/4 c ground pecans

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 c flour

1/2 tsp. salt

*dark chocolate shavings

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the pecans and vanilla, mix until combined. Add the flour and salt and mix until it comes together.  Press into a buttered baking dish, I used a pie plate. Bake at 325*F for about 30-35 min. *Optional, sprinkle a thin layer of chocolate shavings on top of the shortbread while it is still hot, using a rubber spatula or a spoon, smooth it out over the surface.

The second kind I made is orange cornmeal shortbread:

1 stick of butter, softened

1/3 c sugar

zest of an orange

1 tsp. orange juice

1/2 tsp vanilla

3/4 c flour

1/4 c cornmeal (I used half fine and half coarse)

1/2 tsp salt

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add orange zest, juice and vanilla, mix well. Add flour, cornmeal, and salt. Mix until the dough comes together. Press into ad buttered baking dish (I used a pie plate.) Bake at 325*F for about 35-45 min. Cool completely before serving… If you can stand to wait.

*Sorry there aren’t any pictures this time around, I am house sitting and don’t have my camera with me.

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mmmmmm….Baci di dama. These are one of my absolute favorite cookies! They are little hazelnut cookies sandwiched together with a layer of chocolate, in this case chocolate hazelnut spread made by Shawn Askinosie (a favorite chocolate maker of mine.) I had a jar of Shawn’s ‘Hey Hey Hazelnut’ spread that Margot, the ‘chocolate lady’ at Zingerman’s Delicatessen, gave me to play around with. I had been mulling over some ideas when, one of my friends mentioned that she had a recipe for baci di dama! That was all I needed to hear, I decided to make a batch to share with everyone on my last day at the deli.

The recipe that I used originally came from Massimiliano Campanari, now the head chef at Circo in the Bellagio. I left the butter out to soften, when I returned, it was quite soft. (The kitchen was particularly warm when I was making these cookies.) I creamed together the butter and sugar. The recipe had me sifting together flour and hazelnut flour together, I skipped this step because the bag of hazelnut meal/flour I used was a little to course so make it through the sieve. I also added a tiny pinch of sea salt.

I gently mixed the dry ingredients in with the butter and sugar and rolled them into little balls. Now, when I say rolled it was more like gently molded, the butter was too soft to hold the dough together when I tried to roll little balls. (Because of this, the balls were a little larger than I would have liked.)

I pressed them down a little on the cookie sheets and baked them for about 15 minutes, flipping them midway.

When the cookies had cooled, I spread a layer of the chocolate hazelnut spread on top using the back of a spoon, stacked them in a little box, and put them in the fridge overnight so they wouldn’t melt.

I pulled them out of the fridge about 20 minutes before serving them to take the chill off. They were really tasty! When I got back to Iowa on Monday and saw several jars of ‘Hey Hey’ on the shelf at my mom’s store I was thrilled! I can’t wait to make them again, maybe with a finer hazelnut flour?!

Baci di dama:

225g butter
250g sugar
250g 00 flour (I used pastry flour)
250g hazelnut flour

I added a pinch of salt

Cream butter & sugar. Add sifted dry ingredients, do not overmix.  Roll into small balls & plop them onto a silpat to flatten them slightly
Bake at 325F for 10 minutes, turning halfway through. When the cookies are cool, sandwich with hazelnut-chocolate spread.

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Since I already made enough strawberry jam, I decided to make a fresh tart with some of the remaining berries. I was wanting to play around with a new crust recipe and ran into Faith from the kitchn while I was at the Deli, she told me about a oat shortbread crust that she had found some while back. It sounded tasty so I went for it!

I toasted and chopped the oats and mixed them with flour, salt and brown sugar (it called for dark so I added a little molasses to the light brown sugar I had.) I cut in the butter and patted the mixture into a pie pan and popped it in the oven until it was golden.

While the crust was cooling, I chopped the berries and tossed them with a little sugar and some mint. I whipped together some greek yogurt, lime zest and juice, sugar and vanilla and set it aside. I whipped some heavy cream and folded it into the yogurt mixture. I poured the whipped cream and yogurt into the pie crust and topped it with the berries.

I took it to the park for a picnic with a couple of friends. We found the first of the season black raspberries and added a few to the top. It was so good that none of it made it home!

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I really wanted to make a cake for my friend for her birthday! Since she lives in California and I in Michigan, I decided to bake her some cookies. (They are much easier to transport!) I couldn’t settle on just one type so I made three different kinds of cookies.

The first were lemon sugar cookies. For the first batch I rolled half of them in sugar…

The cookies that were sugar-coated didn’t spread as much and looked better overall so, after that I rolled them all in sugar.

The second type was Lime Cornmeal Shortbread…

I creamed together the butter and sugar, and then added the lime zest. I used the zest of one lime, next time I think I will use the zest of two.

Next,  I mixed in the rest of the ingredients, and finished with a very crumbly pile. I turned the dough out into a tart pan, packed it in, pricked it several times with a fork, and scored it into wedges. When it was done baking, the shortbread was nice and golden around the outside. The edges were a lot more crumbly than the inner part. Next time I think I will let it get a little darker and, hopefully, flakier.

The last, but definitely not least, were black and white sugar cookies, for these I followed a recipe from Simply Sensational Desserts by Francois Payard. These cookies were another first for me and really fun! They dough was very simple with a little lemon zest and cocoa powder.

After I mixed the dough,  I separated it in two. The smaller portion was for the “white”. I rolled it into 4 logs and put them in the freezer. Meanwhile, I added the cocoa powder to the rest of the mixture, rolled out 4 more logs and a couple of sheets. After everything was chilled, it was time to assemble. I glued the logs together with egg whites and wrapped them in a sheet of chocolate dough.

After the assembly, I had two large checkered logs. These logs went back into the fridge for another chilling before being sliced into discs and baked.

When all of the cookies were baked and cool, I bundled them up in waxed paper and ribbons and sent them off to be devoured!

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