Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year Recipes

Here we go again, another New Year's and many more resolutions. YUCK! Years ago I gave up on the whole idea of resolutions, way too much pressure. I will say that after hanging out with some amazing chefs over the holidays and over indulging in so many fabulous treats, I could step up my work out and eat a bit lighter! Don’t get me wrong, I have never been a big fan of long term no carb diets. I mean think about a diet that says you can have a burger wrapped in bacon and cheese, but don’t eat a carrot! I also hate the word diet! I think for the long haul moderation is the key. And so many people believe that no carbs means no Italian! I love to watch my Italian friends eat. It is all about pleasure! I think we could learn something from them. How they savor or every bite of small amounts of a wide variety of foods. It could be a simple lettuce salad with balsamic or a tiny chocolate truffle or a glass of Pinot noir. It is all about pleasure! You can take many Italian dishes and un-carb them. Have a Caesar without croutons or use a classic pesto over swordfish or scallops. You can use your favorite sauce over spaghetti squash as I have done with a classic tomato and basil. I invite you to try some of these Northern Italian inspired recipes. A bit lighter perhaps, but you can always serve them up with a little risotto, pasta or roasted potatoes! Mostly I encourage you to embrace the body you have and to be healthy, happy and live a love filled life.

Prosciutto with Melon

This is a classic appetizer. It is also great with a loaf of crusty bread or you can wrap the prosciutto around figs; or spread some goat cheese on slice and wrap around grilled asparagus.

1 melon, cut into 6 wedges
18 paper-thin prosciutto slices

Place 1 melon wedge on each of 6 plates. Arrange 3 prosciutto slices alongside melon or drape over melon and serve.

Spicy Mozzarella with Oregano and Capers
Serve with an assortment of artichoke hearts, olives and salami for an appetizer or light lunch.

12 ounces fresh water-packed mozzarella cheese, drained, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
2 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
3 tablespoons capers, chopped
Kosher Salt and ground Pepper to taste

Overlap cheese slices on medium platter.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and crushed pepper and stir just until garlic begins to color, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in oregano, salt, and pepper. Cool. Stir in capers and remaining 4 tablespoons oil. Spoon
over cheese slices.

Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes, Basil and Parmesan

3 pounds of spaghetti squash (1 large or 2 small)
2 tablespoons butter OR 2tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced onions
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
5 tablespoons fresh basil
Preheat oven to 375. Place squash on baking dish and pierce with a fork 6 times. Bake until squash tests tender when pierced with a fork. About 45 minutes; turning once during cooking.
Half way through cooking, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Sautee onions and garlic until tender, about 5 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes; cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat until tomatoes are thickened. Remove squash from the oven and using an oven mitt, cut the squash in half. Remove the seeds then pull the long strands into a large bowl using a fork. Toss well with butter, Parmesan and basil. Divide four ways and spoon sauce over top.

Halibut in Herb Sauce

1/4-cup fresh lemon juice
1/4-cup olive oil
6 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
6 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
6 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
6 6-ounce halibut fillets
Olive Oil for brushing

Puree first 5 ingredients in processor. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat broiler. Brush fish with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil until just opaque in center, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer fish to plates. Spoon sauce over and serve.


2 tablespoons olive oil
3 chicken breast halves with ribs and skin, cut crosswise in half
3 chicken drumsticks with skin
3 chicken thighs with skin
6 ounces 1/4-inch cubes prosciutto
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/4 cups dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup crushed tomatoes with added puree
Fresh rosemary for garnish

Preheat oven to 325°F. Heat extra-virgin olive oil in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches, sauté chicken until golden, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to platter. Add prosciutto, sliced garlic, and chopped rosemary to same pot. Stir 1 minute. Add dry white wine, chicken broth, and crushed tomatoes with puree. Bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Boil 5 minutes. Return chicken to pot, arranging in single layer. Return to boil. Cover pot and place in oven. Bake until chicken breasts are cooked through, about 30 minutes. Remove pot from oven.
Bring chicken mixture to simmer. Transfer chicken to platter; tent with foil. Boil until sauce is reduced to 2 cups and coats back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over chicken. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and serve.

Monday, December 29, 2008

New Year Cocktail Party

The cocktail parties that we throw are not like our mother’s that had somewhat goofy food, instead they are cornucopia of amazing flavored taste treats that fill us like dinner. You can have a grand assortment to accommodate all types of diets. Our stationary table is created with risers and fabrics to allow lots of interesting nooks to place food. We make all of our own sauces and dip, but there are many great pre-made ones available. Great crusty bread and a fun assortment of cheese and fresh fruit and veggies are all great items. Some of these years’ hot items are deviled eggs, turkey meatballs and pigs in blanket using mini Aidell’s sausages with homemade pastry and mustard. In this column I have included my three most popular signature tray pass items and my most requested recipes. As for the bar caterers use a formula that roughly estimates 10 people will consume 20 drinks at the average cocktail party. I would add 1 drink per person, as it is a holiday. If you pour 1.5-ounce shots you will get 16 cocktails from a 750 ml bottle while a liter bottle will yield 22. The average bottle of wine will get roughly 5 glasses. Most people don’t have a full bar, but serve beer, wine, sodas and a “featured drink.” You could make vodka martinis and also with a few additions add festive flair with cosmos, apple martinis, chocolate martinis and lemon drops. Be creative, have fun and have a happy and healthy New Year.

Shrimp with Coconut
3 Pounds Shrimp
3 cups shredded coconut (on a plate)
2 cups pancake mix
1 cup orange juice
1/2-cup coconut milk (more to thin the batter)
2 eggs
1-teaspoon cayenne pepper

Peanut or canola oil for frying
Set deep fryer or wok for 375. In a bowl mix pancake mix, eggs O.J. coconut milk and cayenne pepper. Holding by the tail dip each shrimp into the batter, roll in the coconut and drop into bubbling oil. Do not overcrowd the fryer; cooking several batches as necessary. Fry until shrimp are golden brown; about 3 minutes. (Don’t over cook, as the shrimp gets tough). Drain on a brown bag. Let cool a bit then serve.

Crab cakes with Remoulade Sauce
1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 small red onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, minced
1 green bell pepper, minced
3/4-cup fine breadcrumbs
1/2-teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1/4-teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Mix all above ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Shape the crab mixture into 24 small cakes. In a heavy skillet, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Sauté the crab cakes for 5 minutes per side until golden brown.
Remoulade Sauce

1 egg
2 egg yolks
2 dill pickles, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons balsamic
3-tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups olive oil
1/2 cup minced parsley
Fresh pepper

Place all ingredients in a food processor fitted with a steel blade except the oil. Process for 15 seconds. With it still running, pour the oil through the feed tube in a steady stream to make a thick sauce. Dollop over crab cakes.

Vegetarian Moonrolls
Similar to eggrolls but fresher with more veggies, a ton of flavor!

1-tablespoon olive oil
1-teaspoon sesame oil
Pinch of sea salt
1-cup carrots
1 each red and yellow bell peppers,
Halved and sliced
1 1/2 cups snow peas, thinly sliced
1 cup green or red cabbage, thinly chopped
2 cloves garlic
1-teaspoon fresh ginger
1/4-cup fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1/4-cup hoisin sauce
1-tablespoon chili sauce
40 pot sticker wrappers
1 egg, beaten
3 cups canola or peanut oil for frying

In a wok or fry pan heat olive and sesame oil. Add garlic and ginger. Cook for a minute and then add the rest of the veggies and cook about 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add vinegar, hoisin sauce, chili sauce and cilantro.
To make moonrolls, moisten edge of wrapper with the egg then add 2-3 tablespoons filling in the center. 2 to 3 tablespoons of filling in the center. Fold in half and seal completely. They will look like half moons! Heat 3 cups of canola or peanut oil on high heat. Drop moo rolls in batches of 3 and cook for 1-2 minutes until golden. When cooled down a bit serve with sauce.

Dipping Sauce

3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 inch fresh ginger, finely minced
1 cup apricot preserves
4 ounces Chinese mustard
4 Tablespoon rice vinegar (or sake)
Mix all ingredients together.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday Brunch

With so many holiday parties and evening events some times a leisurely brunch is a great way to entertain. Here is a very special menu that offers something for everyone. If you don’t like bacon and cheddar try replacing it with ripe winter tomatoes slices and goat cheese. Ginger scones are my most requested but I like to make all of them as minis so people can enjoy many flavors. Be sure to serve with plenty of heavy cream and jam. Mix and match these recipes with some of your family favorites. Add roasted potatoes, a green salad, brewed coffee, fresh squeezed juice and mimosas and you can truly relax and enjoy yourself with family and friends.

Holiday French Toast
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 large baguette
3/4 cup half and half
3/4-cup eggnog
5 eggs
1-teaspoon vanilla
1/4-teaspoon salt

In a small heavy saucepan melt butter with brown sugar and corn syrup over moderate heat, until smooth and pour into a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish. Cut one-inch slices of the baguette and arrange baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit.
In a bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, eggnog, vanilla, and salt until well combined and pour evenly over bread. Chill bread mixture, covered, over night.
Preheat oven to 350 and bring bread to room temperature.
Bakes uncovered until puffed and edges are pale golden. 35 minutes.
Bacon And Cheddar Frittata
1-pound bacon
1 dozen eggs
1-cup milk
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons dry mustard
1-teaspoon thyme
1-teaspoon salt
1-teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Butter a 9-12 inch Pyrex rectangular pan. Set aside. In a large Sauté pan, melt butter and sauté onion, and bell pepper. When soft add bacon. When fully cooked drain on paper towel. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, milk and seasonings. Add the bacon mixture and mix well. Add the cheddar. Pour into baking dish. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 oven about 35 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean.

Carsten’s Cured Salmon
Get a side of salmon, pack it in chopped dill, wrap it in rock salt, sprinkle a bit of aquavit - just to make it moist - wrap it in plastic or big zip lock - but all air has to be out - weigh it down with bottles or bricks - 24 hours later (no more or it gets hard) thoroughly wash the salt off - display with skin side at bottom - with your best knife shave the salmon into paper thin slices and serve with the following dressing.
Whisk together:
1-cup olive oil
1/4-cup honey
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
3-tablespoon fresh dill

Ginger Scones
2 1/4 cups flour
1/3-cup sugar
1-tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest (about 1/2 lemon)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, grated and frozen for 15 minutes
1 cup candied ginger, finely chopped
1-cup heavy cream, plus extra for brushing the tops of the scones

In the bowl of a food processor combine the flour, sugar, and baking powder and mix on low. Add the lemon zest and butter, and pulse until the mixture is pale yellow and the consistency of fine meal.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the ginger. Make a well in the center and pour in the cream. Using one hand, draw in the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.
Wash and dry your hands and dust them with flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently knead a few times to gather it into a ball. Pat the dough into a circle about 3/4 inches thick. Using a three-inch cookie cutter (or smaller if doing minis) cut out rounds. Gather the scraps, pat and press the pieces back together, and cut out the remaining dough. Place the scones 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the tops with the remaining cream. Bake in a pre heated 400-degree oven for 12 to 16 minutes, until they are pale browned. Let cool on a rack

Replace the ginger and the lemon zest with:
Cranberry orange scones- juice of one small orange, 2 teaspoons orange zest and one cup dried cranberries.
Rosemary garlic scones- 5 cloves garlic chopped fine and sauté until golden. Add with the flour with 3 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary.
Chocolate chip scones-add with the flour one and a half cups mini chocolate chips.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tree Trimming Party

This time of year there are so many great reasons to throw a party. We all want to spend more time with friends and family.
The ease and the ability to prepare this menu a head of time makes a great tree trimming party that you can make a spectacular presentation and fully participate in all the activates. This is a sit down dinner designed with two courses. If you are tight on oven space, you can eliminate the roasted veggies and steam or sauté what ever you like. Keep it simple. The idea is to give yourself lots of time with your guests. The evening before I would make the Caesar dressing, the crotons and the cranberry sauce. Serve cheese with crusty bread for appetizers. Have them out in the same room as the tree when the guests arrive. (I also recommend having the tree set up with the lights already strung.) One hour before Prep Salad. Place sauce in a saucepan, Bake Chicken and roast potatoes and after the tree is trimmed simmer the sauce. Toss the Caesar and serve it as a first coarse. Then plate up the main coarse and serve. After dinner you can relax a bit, clean up, make coffee and after about 30 minutes serve dessert. I would make the cake the day before as well. It is all about sharing time with friends and family and sharing a great meal!

Caesar Salad
In small bowl whisk together-
1 egg
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1-tablespoon anchovy paste

Then add,
Juice of one lemon
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Up to 3 cloves of garlic to taste
2 teaspoon dried thyme

In a steady stream add
1/2-cup olive oil
2 cups canola oil

If you would like, add a few shakes of pepper or a dash of Tabasco sauce. If you like a stronger flavor or are not keen on the anchovy paste, a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce works wonders.
Fill a large salad bowl with lettuce. The traditional Caesar lettuce is Romaine. I like to add spinach and radicchio for flavor and color. Mix in croutons (see below) shaved or grated Parmesan and then toss in the dressing. Go lightly the worst Caesars are the ones that are over-dressed. Taste as you go. For variation you can add cherry tomatoes or toasted pine nuts, both are tasty and add a little pizzazz.
Truly, you can use any kind of bread, seasoning and oil. I will give you the basic, but again - go for it and make it your own.
1 baguette (long loaf of French or sour dough bread)
Olive oil to coat
Pinch of Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Slice baguettes into quarter inch slices. Place in large bowl. Toss with oil until well coated. Add salt and pepper. Place on a cookie sheet in single layer rows and bake at 350 until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Cranberry Chicken

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 shallots, finely chopped
2-teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoon Sage
1/2-teaspoon white pepper
3 cups chicken stock
1 bag Fresh cranberries (12 ozes)
1/2-cup sugar
1-teaspoon cornstarch
8 chicken breasts

Sautee shallots over medium heat until tender. Add sage and thyme and sauté for one minute. Add stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Add cranberries and sugar and boil until cranberries burst, about 10 minutes. In a small bowl whisk together the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of the sauce. Whisk it in and return to a boil and cook for 5 minutes longer. Add white pepper. And serve over chicken. (To bake the chicken I slather with butter, thyme and sage. Cook at 400 for about 45 minutes until cooked through and golden. Pour a generous amount of sauce over the chicken.

Roasted Potatoes

You can use any potatoes that you like or can find. (There are over 400 varieties!) I love the mix of flavors and you don’t need to peel them. I usually use 2 potatoes per person. Be sure to include 2 Sweet potatoes and 2 Yams. Even my most devoted Adkins following friends can’t resist makes for such a simple, amazing presentation.

A mix of 16 potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
(Red, russet, Yukon gold, purple, fingerling, golden wonder Epicure, Cara, King Edward, Linzer Delikatess, Just to name a few.)
Coat evenly with Olive oil (About 1/2 a cup)
Sprinkle with kosher Salt, pepper, and dried thyme
Roast in a 400 degree oven until fork tender and golden Brown. About 1 hour.

Assorted Roast Veggies
If you are short on oven space you can do these a couple of hours before the guests arrive and then re heat for a few minutes after you take out the chicken and potatoes. This is a good combo of taste and color, however you can use any vegetable that you like. Also if you have left over you can make bowtie pasta with grilled veggies. (Page)

Roast Carrots, Parsnips and Asparagus

8 carrots, peeled with greens on and trimmed to 1 inch
8 parsnips
32 asparagus
Kosher Salt, pepper
Olive oil

Toss in a baking pan with olive oil. Salt and pepper. Roast at 400 until brown and slightly caramelized, turning occasionally about 30 minutes.

Chocolate Yule Log Cake

This is a very traditional Christmas cake usually made in Europe for Christmas Eve. Considering the lovely presentation it is pretty simple to make. Remember that butter cream is like glue so you can hide a multitude of cracks and mistakes.

5 eggs, separated
1-cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4-teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup white chocolate, chopped
1/4-cup sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla

Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting:
1-cup butter, softened
1-cup coco powder
2 cups powder sugar
2-teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk

For Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13-inch x 9-inch jellyroll pan with baker’s joy and then line it with parchment paper and spray again.
Beat the egg yolks and 1/2-cup sugar in a bowl and beat until it thickens enough to leave a trail. Then whisk the cocoa, flour and salt and gradually fold into the egg yolks.
Beat the egg whites until foamy. Add thee cream of tartar; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar beating on high speed until stiff peaks form. . Add one-fourth to the egg yolks and fold in, then add the rest of the egg whites and fold in carefully.
Pour into the jellyroll pan and spread evenly all over the pan, right up to the edges and into the corners. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until firm to the touch and the cake springs back when pressed.
Turn the cake out on to a linen towel dusted with powdered sugar. Peel off parchment paper. Carefully roll up in the towel, starting with a short side. Cool on a wire rack.

Break up the chocolate in to small pieces then put it and 1/4-cup cream into a saucepan. Heat slowly, stirring continuously until the chocolate melts. Put it to one side to cool to room temperature.
Whip the remaining cream and vanilla until it reaches the soft peaks stage then fold it into the cooled chocolate mixture. Chill. Unroll cooled cake and Spread over cake to 1/2 inch of each side. Re-roll cake. Be gentle, but don’t worry if it cracks…that’s why we have butter cream frosting!!!!!

Butter Cream Frosting:
In a large mixing bowl mix all of frosting ingredients together. Frost cake. Using a fork make lines to imitate tree bark.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Pecan Bars

As promised...the recipe for pecan bars!

Pecan Bars

1/2 pound butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
Preheat oven to 350. Mix in large bowl. Press the dough into a large (presprayed) jelly roll pan. Remember to press the dough up the sides too. Bake fo 15 minutes, until slightly brown. Set aside.

1/2 pound butter
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
5 cups chopped pecans

Melt butter and honey in a saucepan then addall sugars and bring to a boil(not stirring.) Let it boil approximately 2 minutes. Remove from heat and then stir. Add cream and pecans. Let sit for 5 minutes. Pour into crust and then bake at 350 for 30 minutes, reducing the heat the last 10 minutes to 250. Make sure it gets real bubbly looking. Let cool for an hour before trying to cut bars. Cut four rows x six rows. Then cut triangular, bite size pieces by slicing diagonally in both directions.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Holiday Cookies Part Deux

As I continue to receive emails and teach classes on cookie baking I can really get a sense of how interested we are in it. Many people have fear on baking. I am often asked for tips on baking. When I talk about how easy it can be people look at me like a reindeer caught in the headlights. This time of year gives us a great opportunity to do the one thing that will make us better. Practice! When using chocolate for baking I look for the highest percent of cacao for an intensely rich yet balanced chocolate sensation. All of the companies are making 60 percent or more! So practice away with your friends and family and share some warmth this holiday season.

4 cups chocolate chips or pieces
1 14-0unce can sweetened condensed milk
2-tablespoon water
2 cups chopped pecans, toasted
1-teaspoon vanilla
In a medium microwave-safe bowl, combine chocolate pieces, sweetened condensed milk, and water. Microwave, uncovered, on 100% power (high) for 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 1 minute more, or until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. Stir in nuts and vanilla. Spread mixture into 2 9x6-inch rectangular pans that have been sprayed with bakers joy. Chill fudge about 30 minutes or until firm. Cut fudge into 1-1/2-inch squares. Makes 48 pieces

Peanut butter Fudge
4 cups brown sugar
2 cups evaporated milk
1-cup peanut butter
2-teaspoon butter
2-teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped peanuts

Put all ingredients into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and continue to boil gently until a little dab added to cold water forms a soft ball. Add peanut butter, butter, and vanilla; beat until the mixture begins to thicken. Add nuts. Spread in a buttered 9x6 inch pan; chill until fully set and cut into squares. Makes about 30.

Blueberry Lemon Crumbles
1 cup sliced almonds
1 ¾ cup flour
1-cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1-teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ sticks butter
2 egg yolks
1-teaspoon vanilla
Juice of one lemon
1 cup dried blueberries
½ cup blueberry preserves

Preheat oven to 375.Place almonds on cookie sheet and toast stirring once until golden. Cool completely and leave oven on. In food processor pulse flour, brown sugar, 1-teaspoon lemon zest, cinnamon, and salt until combined. Add the butter and pulse until it resembles a course meal. Add yolks and vanilla and process until mixture comes together in clumps. Transfer 11/2 cups dough to a bowl and stir in almonds for the crumble topping. Gather remaining dough into a ball. Spray 2 mini muffin tins (24 minis all together.) with bakers joy. Press 1 tablespoon of into the bottom and up the sides of each muffin cup. Chill for 15 minutes. Meanwhile stir remaining zest lemon juice, blueberries and preserves in a small bowl. Spoon 1-teaspoon blueberry mixture into each muffin cup. Crumble 1 teaspoon almond mixture evenly into each cup. Bake until top is golden and filling is bubbling, about 20 minutes. When completely cool loosen edges with a sharp paring knife and carefully remove from pan.

Apple, cranberry, pear version
Follow the same recipe for the crust and crumble.
Peel and core 2 apples and a pear. Dice finely and in a mixing bowl toss with 6 ounces of dried cranberries, ½ teaspoon Chinese five spice, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ cup sugar. Proceed as in the blueberry version.

Chocolate Dipped hazlenut sticks
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
2 cups chopped hazelnuts
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
in a large bowl be at butter and sugar with an eltric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in yolks one at a time. Add vanills and mix until smooth. Gradually add flour and mix well. By hand add the hazlenuts. Half the dough and place into two peices of wax paper and shape into a 11x2inch loaf. Chill the dough for about 1 half hour. Cut the dough into 1/4 inch slices. Arrange on cookie sheet about one inch apart on cookie sheet. Half each slice lenghtwise to form sticks and seperate them. Bake in a preheated 350 oven for about 10 minutes until pale golden. Carefull remove sticks and cool completely. In a double broiler or a small saucepan over a larger saucepan of boiling water melt chocolate.gently dip each stik into the chocolate covering half of the sstick.Remove excess chocolate and place on wax paper for chocolate to harden.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Holiday Cookies

This time of year my e- mail gets full with people requesting cookie recipes. I enjoy giving cookie platters as holiday gifts and I enjoy baking with my daughter and her friends. These are super easy and very consistent favorites. Double or triple the recipes and you can have plenty for your gift list. Over the next few weeks I will give you my most requested holiday cookie recipes so you can enjoy making them with your friends and family.

Rum Balls
1 cup Butter
1/2 cup Powder Sugar
2 1/4 cup flour
1-teaspoon rum extract
1-tablespoon dark rum
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2-teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in rums and vanilla.
Add flour and salt. Mix in nuts. Roll in teaspoon size balls. Bake at 325 for 14- 17 minutes. Roll warm balls in powder sugar.

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups Sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375. Beat butter and sugar together untill creamy. Mix in eggs. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, cream of tartar, soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Mix well. Shape into balls about one inch in diameter. Chill one hour.
Combine topping ingredients in small bowl. Drop dough balls into topping mixture. Coat well. Place on greased baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks and let cool.

Basic Sugar Cookies
2 1/2 sticks Butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
31/4 cups Flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, soda and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Add the vanilia. Graudually add the flour mixture until well blended and smooth. Divide dough in two. Place each half in between large sheets of wax or parchmment paper. Roll out to a quarter inch thick watching for creases. Layer the dough on a cookie sheet and refriderate for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 375 and grease two cookie sheets.Remove 1 porton and leave the other until you are ready. Remove one sheet of wax paper and replace with a new one. (An old bakers trick to keep the dough from sticing when using cookie cutters. Throw away the second sheet and cut out the cookies using holiday cookie cutters. Gently place the cookies about one inch apart on the cookie sheet. Roll out the dough scraps and place bak in the fridge and mix with the second half scraps. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes; rotate half way through for even cooking. Place on a rack until they firm upand then transfeer to a wire rackand cool completely before using royal icing.
*Note- If you are working with kids, I like to do the baking a few days befor the decorating. The older kids can help and then all the cookies are done so you can just set out the icing and sprinkles and let the kids go to town.

Royal Icing
2 large egg whites
4 cups confectioners' sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Combine the ingredients in a bowl. It really is handy to have a kitchen aide or standing mixer for this, but not essential. Beat together until stiff about 10 minutes. You don’t want it dry, but it has to be really stiff or else it does not harden. This makes over 2 cups so you can put in small bowls and add food coloring. Make as many colors as you like and use whatever sprinkles and or candy you like to decorate.


3 sticks, softened
4 C. flour
1 C. sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 egg
2 T. milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy;
Add almond and vanilla egg, and milk and beat until well mixed.
Whisk flour and baking powder together, and then add to dough
Mix with hands if necessary. (Dough will be very stiff).
Push dough into spritzer gun and press shapes onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 6 minutes. Then let cool on cookie sheets for 10 minutes and then remove and cool completely on rack.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Shout Out To Chef Ann Cooper

As I start gearing up for some amazing holiday recipes...keep checking we are devolping many...I wanted to take a moment to recognize the awesome Chef Ann Cooper and praise her great work and leadership in our schools.

Chef Ann Cooper is one of my heroes. She is changing the way our children eat. She is the Director Of Nutrition at the Berkley Unified School District. She is the founder of Lunch Lessons a consulting firm and is dedicated to food, family farms and improving the health of American children. I invite you to check out her blog http://www.lunchlessons.org/. Packed with tons of information and together we can create great food for our children and edible schoolyards so that we teach our kids to think globally and to eat locally.