Posts tagged sweet
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

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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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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

maple frozen yogurt

maple frozen yogurt

I can’t quite focus, my mind is all scattered and fragmented. A nasty voicemail left at work this morning threw me off, and I am feeling a bit of out of sorts. Like the music is playing but I can’t quite keep the beat. You know that feeling? I’d like for it to stop. And this is why I need to get the message across right away. That spoon above is full of something delicious – maple frozen yogurt. And you must make it soon. Maybe to sit on top of these. Because they go excellently together. I know this because that’s how we had ours.

maple frozen yogurt

Look, I know that it’s mid-November and that you might have retired your ice cream machine for the season, and I know what you’re thinking about homemade ice cream: all that waiting and planning ahead is just a bit too much around this harried time of year. I’ll be honest: this ice cream takes time. There are egg yolks to temper and a custard to chill. But this maple frozen yogurt – nothing to it!

First of all, this isn’t quite ice cream, nor is it quite frozen yogurt. It’s a bit of both, straddling both names and ideas. Secondly, it takes mere minutes to prepare, an hour to chill, and then the whole mess goes into the ice cream machine to emerge half an hour later as a glorious frozen maple ice cream. Or frozen yogurt. Whatever you want to call it. This is so easy and requires such minimal hands-on time, you could do the whole endeavor on a busy weeknight after getting home from work.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

apple upside-down cornmeal cakes

apple upside-down cornmeal cakes

Thanksgiving is two weeks away and I am all aflutter. My favorite holiday, my favorite time of year, my favorite foods. This year, for the first time in eight years, I’m hanging up my hosting hat and donning on a supporting one. It’s not easy – I’m so entrenched in Thanksgiving that to think I’ll only be cooking two dishes instead of a dozen is an adjustment. But it’s a good adjustment – this Thanksgiving is as cozy and comforting as it gets. This year we’re in Vermont, Andrew and I, celebrating with his family in a small, quiet, New England town. There will be fleece trousers, flannel pajamas, and, I hope, endless amounts of hot mulled cider. There will be naps. There will be a thousand piece puzzle. There will be bananagrams, I am told, longish trail runs, Andrew’s mother’s amazing sour cream cake, and book started and finished. I am bringing my camera and my only regret is that I don’t yet own a wide angle lens. I might even shoot some film too.

honeycrisps

It is because of Robert Frost that I will forever link together Vermont and apple-picking. His New England is the New England I ache for, the New England that has a firm, tight grip on my heart and has made me a New Englander forever. It is home, simple and true. It is at once rustic and elegant, austere and welcoming. It is home to messy apple cobblers, autumn apple pie, creamy clam chowder, and the best lobster in the country. New England was made for a holiday like Thanksgiving – or maybe it’s my foolish heart, heavy with love for the region.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

apple cobbler

apple cobbler

The very first time Andrew and I had dinner, we were, technically on a non-date. He had just moved to the city and it never occurred to me that our getting together was anything more than a new person looking for a familiar face to break bread with. I remembered how it was for me to move to New York – I didn’t know a soul, save for my roommate who pulled investment banking hours and spent her remaining free time with her boyfriend. It was lonely, stressful and overwhelming. I thought perhaps he might be going through the same thing and wanted to see a familiar face.

granny smiths

I, on the other hand, had other ideas. While I didn’t want to project an obligatory date, fearing rejection and embarrassment, I picked what I thought to be the perfect restaurant for a nice dinner that was relaxed enough to be construed as casual, but suggested subtle date-like hints. Braeburn was that restaurant – it had everything I wanted: lovely, thoughtful and comforting food; gracious and knowledgeable staff who knew the difference between attentive and overbearing; a room large enough for a few tables, but small enough for a quiet conversation; and a cozy, welcoming, and warm ambiance. Braeburn has and continues to strike me as a place that wants you to feel more like you’re in someone’s home than a formal restaurant, and I mean that in the best possible way.

lots of peels

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