Wednesday, December 29, 2010

salt & pepper cookies

bitten

It doesn’t cease to amaze me that while I am never late for dinner, an appointment, or even a party (fashionably late, what?), I can’t for the life of me meet my own deadlines. There’s a lemon tart that I’ve got for you in the next few weeks that was made nearly a year ago, but because I had missed the citrus season was tucked away for the year, leaving me with pangs of guilt. It’s coming, I promise, sometime mid-January. And while I also promise to throw some less waist-challenging fare your way, I firmly believe in indulging, if only a little, around the calendar. I will also try not to be tardy on my own blog. That, perhaps, might be my only New Year’s resolution.

i love using a microwave for this

While offering cookies after Christmas is a little bit like responding to a party invite a day after the party took place and promising to make something for it, I’m going to stick my neck out and tell you about these cookies after all. They’re good, very good indeed, and if you are looking for something festive-looking to usher in the New Year, look no further. They’re as sophisticated as cookies get, dressed up in black and white, toothsome, laced with white pepper. They are an adult, black-tie version of the Oreo, an Oreo that at the same time, kind of wants to be a whoopie pie. It’s made for a decadent feast, but then again, who’s ever wanted to have a humble New Year’s party?

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Monday, December 20, 2010

ginger rum molasses cookies – joe froggers

ginger rum molasses cookies

Come Wednesday, Andrew and I are heading back to Boston’s North Shore where we’ll be visiting our families. Our towns are the kind of historic New England towns where the houses are often brandishing signs of the year they were built, the glass in the windows is always thicker at the bottom suggesting a notable age, and the entryway doors are lower and shorter hearkening back to the time when people were simply of a more modest height. We are neighbors to Salem, with its rich and dark history of persecutions, Puritans and propriety. Halloween is a real hoot there, by the way. And nearby is a little town named Marblehead. It’s a coastal town, small, beautiful, quaint. It delivers brutal winds in the winter and a much-needed breeze in the summer off the Atlantic. Sometimes you can spot a lobster or two sunning themselves in the shallow water. Marblehead, like Salem, is also rich in history, and its early sailors are considered the forerunners of the American Navy. It is also a town rich in fishing and fishermen. This cookie here belongs to them.

It’s not often that a cookie hails from the same place as you. And when you find out that it does, you pay attention and take notice. Especially when this cookie comes with a history and a story. On the outside, the cookie looks humble. It is, as you can see, brown and outside of a few sparkly granules of sugar decorating its top – it is a cookie unadorned. And it kind of likes it that way. It’s a cookie that doesn’t boast, isn’t in your face, and just quietly goes about its business with resolve and persistence.

ginger rum molasses cookies

Continue reading ginger rum molasses cookies – joe froggers.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

lemon butter cookies

lemon butter cookies

Alas, we have arrived to the season of the cookie, perhaps the most inspired of all seasons because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good cookie? It’s cold outside (and if you’ve been living on the East Coast, ooooh-weee did it get cold, or did it get cold?), you’ve got a cup of tea by your side, and you can’t be expected to have your tea solo, now can you? No, your tea deserves a companion, a partner in crime (if eating cookies is indeed a crime), and nothing accompanies a hot tea better than a simple, humble butter cookie. Also, few things make a better homemade gift around this time of year. Certainly, from the looks of it the butter cookie might come across as too unambitious a player in the Christmas cookie assortment, but it is precisely because it’s so unassuming and straight-forward, that it is the most versatile. Add a bit of lemon zest to it, and I’m a goner.

zesty bright yellow yolks

I should probably confess first that the butter cookie, the sablé, is my favorite type of cookie in the world. Throw a macaron in my direction and I’ll gladly, and gratefully, eat it. But give me a butter cookie, a tender, melt-in-your-mouth rich morsel of the perfect marriage of butter, sugar, and eggs, and I will be yours forever. It’s that easy. And no, while Andrew didn’t woo me with sablés, he sure appreciates a good cookie when he sees one. And this cookie that I got for you today is that cookie. It is perfection embodied and it comes in such a delightfully small size, that you could have a couple and not feel like you’ve just made a mess of things. One bite and the cookie melts in your mouth.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

concord grape muffins

concord grape rosemary muffins

Before I officially kick off some seasonal cookie recipes in the next few days, I want to share these muffins with you. You probably have already figured out from the title – Concord grapes are long gone and won’t be back until next fall. I’m sorry, it’s not fair for me to tease you like this, but I can’t allow this recipe to languish in the dark corners of my computer for nearly a year. I want you to tuck this recipe away somewhere, where you can easily find it. Also, I want you to mark your calendars for mid-September of next year. Pick a day and over it write “Concord Grape Muffins”. You won’t forget to make them, and trust me, you’ll thank me for the reminder.

last of season concord grapes

Concord grapes and I go way back. As in “back in Russia” way back where we called them Isabella grapes, purchased them for eating (as opposed to juicing), and ate them spitting out the pits (it’s not pretty, trust me). I hadn’t tasted a single seedless grape until I arrived to America. Grapes without pits – now that’s the ticket! Those grapes were yet another thing to make me tumble into love with my new homeland even more. Already, it offered some irresistible things in the way of food: pizza, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, Thanksgiving, peanut butter and chocolate together. But nothing – and I mean nothing – tastes like a Concord grape, unless you want to throw grape juice into the mix. And while I suspect, not many crave a tart grape with gelatinous flesh, I continue to pop them like candy, so much so that while I bought a few bunches intending to make this, I remembered my original intention only after I’d eaten the last grape of the bunch.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

make your own baking powder

Are you out of baking powder and don’t want to leave the house, but want/need to make those cookies? You can easily make your own by combining the following ingredients and amounts: 1 teaspoon baking soda + 2 teaspoons cream of tartar + 1 teaspoon corn starch. You can increase or decrease the amount, and once mixed, store in the refrigerator. Best part – you can ensure that your homemade baking powder is aluminum free.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

chana masala

chana masala

As I write this, my heart is somewhere in Vermont, where Andrew and I spent Thanksgiving week with his family and friends in a cozy house replete with bananagrams, a thousand piece puzzle, naps, and snow. It was perfection and neither one of us wanted to return to New York where lately I’ve been feeling a beat or two behind. We ate, rested, laughed. We watched quite a bit of football. There was a mishap with a golf cart that got stuck on the field. And everything about our trip left us grateful for having amazing family and friends. We’d go back in a heartbeat.

This post took me a whole week to write. A whole week, people! A Sisyphean task! I’ve been writing distractedly lately, and it’s been really hard to get my mind focused and honed on this wee space here. There are changes in the air; changes I will write about more clearly soon, but they have been on my mind in a singular, all-consuming way.

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