Monday, February 8, 2016

Celebrating with Girlfriends


Sparkling Mead makes everyone happy
Unbelievable tree and fantastic weather!
Yes, I'm officially half a century old. Holy shit that sounds awful. The only thing that made this not as awful as it sounds was spending the weekend on the coast with my dearest girlfriends! Since a prior bday was celebrated in N'Orleans we had our own Mardi Gras night where I made (ahead of time of course) a Chicken and Sausage Gumbo  and my friend Carolyn made a King (Queen) Cake - this is what is pictured above - it was an amazingly tall 4 layer lemon cake with a little baby hidden in one of the green layers - and yes my slice had the baby in it- so I was Queen!

 Next stop was Point Reyes for some sparkling mead at Heidrun Meadery - for those of you who are not familiar with mead -we were not- it is wine fermented out of honey and water - and yes it was worth the hike out there ; ) inside joke.
View from our rental house

So - for your "Sunset Years" I recommend a weekend away with dear friends, good food, great wine, long walks and plenty of time to talk and watch the sunset. Love you all and thanks for being there with me.
sharing a cocktail with friends who've known me forever
Post Note - thank you Ingrid for the great pictures - except the last - that was the bartender's fault - but I love it anyway!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Presents and it's not even my birthday yet!

I'm was so thrilled today because a new friend of mine just found out I have a food blog and read my Nigella post so when we met for coffee today she brought me her copy of Nigellissima as a gift! I don't even think she knows it's soon to be my birthday! Anyway - thanks dear Kristen - now my collection is complete. And you have quickly moved up to dear friend! XO

Friday, January 8, 2016

Collection or Obsession?

When do you cross the line? If it's organized is that a collection? If it looks like the TV show Hoarders then it's an obsession? I'm talking about my recipes. I have an entire wall (and some additional bookshelves upstairs in my office - shhhh!) of Cookbooks! My husband's rule is - one comes in, one goes out.

THE Binder
Then when I was stuck living in Abilene one very depressing Summer I took all my mom's cooking magazines and cut out every single recipe I thought I would like to try making and painstakingly pasted them into this binder (this is way before the internet) and then when I first moved to SF and worked at a shop on Fisherman's wharf I copied by hand a bunch of recipes from their books (yes, I was bored)- Needless to say it's bulging and it needs to be purged as I'm pretty sure I'm never going to make Calvados Souffle!  Although it does contain some classics - like Pesto Potato Salad and Twice Baked Potatoes. And looking through it just now I came across a Chicken Indienne that I used to make and pulled it out to try again. And then there is my Saveur Magazine collection - I have them from way back 1998 - they are the only ones I keep - all other cooking magazines get potential recipes torn out and stored in this - my filing cabinet! 

So, whether you want to call it a collection or obsession - I love siting down and looking through all my "breakfast" options or thumbing through a new cookbook for inspiration - and no, I don't follow my husband's rules. ; 0

And of course this - my ultimate collection - my blog - where I go to all the time and search "chicken" to remind me of my favorites! xo

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Belgium Waffles - Best Ever!



First off - you know I love waffles - I have quite a few recipes - but the funny thing is this was the recipe my mom always used - and I avoided it. Not because she was a bad cook, or any other reason besides I HATE to have to separate eggs and beat the whites - yes that means I rarely (read never) make a soufflé - actually I have to take that back - I do make this one breakfast one, but haven't in a long time - I have to remember that one - it's great (and worth the beating!) And shit - I just searched my own damn blog and found the polenta one too - OK, so not never - but rarely! Anyway - this one I will do again - once I get all the ones eaten out of the freezer - and I have to say using the Belgium waffle maker really made them stand out - but don't worry if you don't have one - I remember these as delicious with a normal waffle maker too. So yes, beating the damn whites makes them light and fluffy, and all that butter didn't hurt either. New Years resolution - make your own waffles and freeze them - who needs eggos?

Belgium Waffles makes about a dozen squares

1 and 3/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 egg yolks
1 and 3/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 stick butter melted
2 egg whites BEATEN until stiff peaks form (stop whining)
chopped pecans (optional)

Mix dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl beat egg yolks with a fork and then mix in milk, vanilla and melted butter. Add them to the dry bowl now - whisking until blended but slightly lumpy. After beating the whites, gently fold them into the batter - don't over mix or you will undo all that aeration in the whites. Bake in your waffle iron of choice - and sprinkle with chopped pecans before you close the lid if you like - personally I love nuts, but these might be better without as it does take away from their fluffy goodness. Enjoy!

AND may I say HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! These would be delicious tomorrow before you have your black-eyed peas!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

HO, HO, HO

Just wanted to say Thanks for all the delicious treats that have been dropped on my doorstep - including  a big box of seafood from my family! And thanks for the carolers who showed up last night too - that was a treat! And if you are lucky enough to live on my street (or live nearby and come over) I made these Swedish Saffron Xmas Buns.

 MERRY Merry Christmas - give the gift of baking for someone - my favorite way of showing my love - xo R

PS. Yes, even the Pixies showed up last week - it's like xmas trick or treating! Love you all!

PPS. Mindy - love the macaroons! 

Forgot to mention - this would make a yummy make ahead xmas dinner Short Ribs with smashed potatoes, carrots and sautĂ©ed mushrooms- I just did it a few days early and had our neighbors over for an impromptu pre-holiday dinner. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Jen's traditional Sausage Bread


The is my BFF Jen's family recipe that is traditionally served Thanksgiving and Xmas mornings - look at all that sausage! Yes, it is packed full - not particularly good for you but delicious and I love a good food tradition.

Sausage Bread
Frozen bread loaf thawed and allowed to rise in a buttered bread pan (the brand is Bridgford). I also have used Trader Joe's pizza dough or I've made my own pizza dough.

1lb spicy italian sausage (remove from casing and crumble)
1lb mild italian sausage (remove from casing and crumble)
Cook fully, remove from heat and drain off grease
Add:
1 to1.5 cups cubed cheddar
1 to 1.5 cups cubed monterey jack
A bunch of parsley chopped
2 eggs beaten

Roll out the dough into an oval. Place the sausage mixture on one half of the dough leaving 1 in at the rim. Fold the dough over the mixture and create a seal (starting at one side twist the dough together to create a pretty edge - or just pull up from the bottom to the top to create a seal). It will look like a big calzone.

Bake on a sheet at 350 oven for 20 minutes, pull out and brush with olive oil and then finish for another 10 minutes or until the bread is nice and brown. 

Jen cooked it ahead of time and we just reheated the day after thanksgiving at my house. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Am I crazy?

If you could see all the cookies and candies I've been baking the past couple weeks - you might answer yes to my question above! I think I've been trying to distract myself (duh) and baking is so therapeutic so I'm going to say - NO - it's keeping me sane! Anyway - here is the list so that you can say "OMG" and  "I'm glad I'm your friend/neighbor/client" and "You are insane"

Pistachio Spice Cookies - really my favorite holiday classic - like a shortbread but with all the flavors of the holidays. This one cookie covers it all. If you do only one - do this one. 

Snowballs - classic, adorable. 

1 cup butter at room temp
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon water
2 and 1/4 cup flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup powdered sugar

Beat butter and add sugar mix until creamy. Then add water and vanilla and mix. Next beat in flour and then nuts. Shape into 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheet baking at 325 Degrees for 20 min or until lightly browned and firm to the touch - let cool on racks completely. Put powdered sugar in a large ziploc and then put in the cookies and gently shake to coat. 

Saltine Toffee - the best! Actually pretty easy the only thing you must have is a candy thermometer. 

White Chocolate dipped pretzels. These are so silly but everybody adores them- no baking required! Hilariously this year we didn't get time on our baking day to do them and we didn't have our long bags to pack them in and of course the first client I delivered them to said "oh, are the pretzels in there??" So now I did the damn things - and yes delicious and cute! 

Chocolate Salted Caramels - from Liddabit Sweets cookbook I made these last year too - the thing they fail to mention is that they are a bitch to A. get out of the pan  B. cut into squares and C. wrap individually in wax paper.  Richard had to get out his tools - a pry bar, rubber mallet and cleaver. They are damn tasty. And yes he washed the tools and covered in plastic wrap for sanitary sake!
We also made Fluffy Peanut Butter Nougat from Liddabit Sweets - it was difficult and delicious. And tricky to cut. 

Cranberry Orange Coconut Cookies - easy and holidayish - and no nuts which seems to be something we have trouble not adding to everything. So disclaimer - all of our stuff is made in a kitchen with nuts, by nuts ; 0

1 and 1/2 cups butter at room temp
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 and 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 and 1/2 cups sweetened coconut

Beat butter and sugar until smooth then add zest and vanilla and mix in. Combine flour with baking powder and salt and mix in until dough is smooth - finally mix in cranberries and coconut. Shape into small 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheets and flatten with your hand. Bake at 350 degrees for about 11 min - or until lightly browned and crispy. 

Gianduja Sandwich Cookies - Jen found this in a cookbook of hers - they were great! Basically little butter cookies with Nutella spread in between - yum.

Jen made 1 batch of peanut butter peanut brittle - this one is a secret!

Black Pepper Almonds - I've been making them for years - always for our xmas party - but I haven't been able to find blanched whole almonds lately - and then I saw them at Lucky's in SF - so if you can find them, make these! Great for a cocktail hour. 

Texas Pecan Pralines - my mom's recipe will post another time - this year they came out too soft - mmhhh is she messing with me?

Marzipan Shortbread Cookies - I bought a beautiful carved rolling pin from Shed last year and needed a cookie that would hold an imprint - well they did but it was pretty subtle. So I also used this dough to make a set of "silverware" very delicate so I carefully dipped the handles in white chocolate and sprinkled with silver sparkles - I took them over last night to Alex and Paula's along with a Sticky Toffee Pudding - and Paula used her "fork" to eat the cake - that's how tender the cake was! 

Finally (maybe) I made my traditional Chocolate spiral cookies and Cornmeal pecan cinnamon cookies - originally Martha Stewart recipes - it isn't xmas without these in my house. 
Whew. Are you dizzy yet?? I am. So get baking, don't eat them all in one day and don't be crazy like me and make them all ; ) Merry Merry.

Post Note: I forgot the mini M&M biscotti! 

Holiday Biscotti

2 and 1/4 cups flour
1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter at room temp
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 and half cups mini M&M's these were green and red!

Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs and mix. Beat in flour mixture until smooth. Gently stir in M&M's. Gather dough on a board and cut in half. Shape each half into a 15 inch log about 2 inches wide. Transfer to lined baking sheet set 3 inches apart and bake at 325 degrees for about 25 min or until firm but not browned. Let cool 15 min. On a cutting board carefully slice using a serrated knife on the diagonal about 1/2 inch thick. Return to pan and bake another 9 min per side turning once until golden and firm. Let cool.
Variation - instead of M&M's try 1 cup dried cranberries and 3/4 cup shelled pistachios - still green and red ; )