Friday, December 16, 2011

Almost Almond Macaroons

We have come to the end of the cookie testing, and I am glad that I did it. I had a few hits and a few more misses. And as per usual, I have left the most difficult cookie recipe to try for this weekend. So if you hear me cursing and throwing ingredients around the kitchen, don’t be alarmed.

In hindsight I wish that I had really cooked the s**t out of some new cookie recipes, but alas my time was taken away from me. So I apologize for only giving you a couple of usable cookie recipes and only a few posts this month as well. I feel as though I have really dropped the ball on this whole sharing recipes for the holiday’s thing.
This week I made almond macaroons after seeing an old episode of Baking with Julia. The cookies seemed so simple to make, and are a favorite Italian bakery treat for Joe and I. I figured, why not. Instead of using the recipe from that episode (mostly because it called for 8 oz. of almond paste and I could only find a tube of 7oz.) I instead used the recipe inside the box. And typically, this method works out just fine. Well, except for the Tollhouse chocolate chip recipe on the bag, I find that it is a little too much butter if you don’t refrigerate the dough before baking, but that’s just me.
Anyways, this recipe gives you very almond-y flavored cookies which is wonderful, but they are a bit too chewy for me. I feel like a dog eating peanut butter when I chomp into one of the cookies. Aside from that, the cookies are good, and simple to make.

I think I have narrowed down my Christmas cookie selection to the following:
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
Jam Filled Cookies
Chocolate Mint Cookies (previous post)
Italian Tri-Colore Cookies
And if the mood strikes me, maybe something else.
I’ll let you know next week which ones worked out the best!

Almond Macaroons7oz. Almond paste
½ c sugar
Pinch of salt
¼ c egg whites

Preheat oven to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Grate the almond paste and place in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sugar and salt and mix on medium speed to thoroughly combine. Add in egg whites and mix until the dough everything is well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times (about 5-7 minutes).

Scoop cookie dough into a pastry bag, or releasable bag and snip off one corner. Pipe the dough in a snail like formation onto the cookie sheet.

Next dampen a cotton kitchen towel and gently smack the cookies to remove the lines from piping. Bake for about 12 minutes or until the edges are a light golden brown.

Let cool on the baking sheet. To remove the cookies from the paper, lift the paper, wet your fingers, and moisten the paper directly underneath the cookie. Then peel the cookie from the paper. This will help get the cookie cleanly off of the paper. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 2 dozen.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fun in Foil

This post will not be about cookies.  I will admit to being weak-minded and buying cookies this week at the supermarket.  And when you already have some cookies in the cupboard, then you really oughtn’t make more cookies on top of that. 
Or at least that’s how I am dealing with my guilt about not producing another cookie recipe for you, and right before the Holidays too, sheesh.
Instead, I wanted to share with you some pictures from Thanksgiving and one of the recipes I have now made a few times which will be good all winter and into early spring.
As you know I grew some beets and leeks (I actually managed to get 3 leeks!) in my tiny little garden this year.  So I had a surplus of beets on hand come the end of harvest.  I love the idea of eating things that don’t necessarily seem to work together – and that is what this recipe is all about.  It is incredibly easy to prepare and is a very different way to get that side of vegetables onto your dinner plate.
I do recommend using Chioggia, golden or even white beets as standard beets will stain all of your pretty vegetables a bright pink.  And if you can find multi-colored carrots, use those too – it really ups the pretty factor.

Beets, Carrots and Leeks in foil

2-3 medium beets (Chioggia, golden or white)
2-3 medium carrots
1 large leek
1 Tb olive oil
3Tb white wine
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
½ tsp dried tarragon (or 1 ½ tsp fresh)
Salt and pepper to taste
Aluminum foil

Preheat the oven to 375° or preheat the grill.  Peel and chop the beets and carrots.  Arrange two sheets of foil, overlapping each other, on the countertop or work surface.  Pile the chopped beets and carrots onto the center of the foil.  Thoroughly wash and dice the leeks, add to the top of the vegetable pile.  Gently fold up the sides of the foil to create a little wall, pour on oil and white wine.  Add the thyme sprigs, tarragon, salt and pepper and toss to coat vegetables.  Fold foil up over the vegetables creating a tight seal, so none of the liquid spills out.  Place foil packet onto grill for 20-30 minutes until it smells magnificent and the vegetables are softened.  Or, place foil packet on a cookie sheet and cook in the oven until the vegetables are softened.

Serves 4 as a side dish