Tuesday, March 30, 2010

TWD Rewind: Trio of Cookies

Ok, I admit it. I'm a slacker. What kind of self-respecting Dorie baker logs three recipes in one entry? And it's not even a Tuesday.

Mike of Ugly Dude Food chose these Thumbprints for Us Big Guys. He has the honor of posting the recipe, so check it out on his site.

This is the best new cookie recipe I have tried in years, and thumbprints shall be a part of my holiday cookie sampler this year, for sure. I filled mine with Robert Rothschild Farm apricot spread and strawberry and Grand Marnier preserves. The hazelnuts pair perfectly with the apricots, so go for it the next time you are at Wegman's. The full Rothschild line of products can be found there.

The next cookie began with a trip to the local Asian grocery store for the sweetened condensed milk preferred by David Lebovitz.

(Cue the music appropriate for the entrance of a God.)

Super-easy instructions for making dulce de leche can be found on his website here.

Jodie of Beasy Loves Cake selected these lovely Dulce de Leche Duos. This is the first recipe I made with my new kitchen scale from King Arthur Flour.

My Favorite Taster, Gina, remarked, "Ohhhh, they're sandwich cookies?!"

In a nod to the magical pairing of caramel and salt, I tripled the salt in this recipe. I didn't think they would be a preferred cookie - but WOW!

And finally ----

Michelle of Flourchild - one of my favorite Dorie bloggers - chose Dorie's Honey-Wheat Cookies.

I thought these were just ok, but I used Meyer lemon for the first time and subsequently learned that I should have adjusted the sugar a bit.

By the time I took the photo, this is what I had to work with, so I think the gang at Moore Brothers enjoyed 'em.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Luccan Farro Soup

It's tough planning a second trip to Italy, especially when my sweetheart, the Wine Guy, has been so many times and wants to share all of its treasures. He wants me to see Cinque Terra, I want to camp out at Lake Como hoping for a glimpse of George Clooney. He wants to visit Gianni Piccoli at Corte Gardoni on Lake Garda, I want to eat my way through Bologna.

One thing we can agree on is there is never enough time in Tuscany. I'm not even there and I feel that rush of not wanting to leave so soon. Last time we became so enraptured with San Casciano and its environs that we couldn't blast ourselves to other villages. This time we hope to make it to Lucca.

In his mouth-watering and delightful article "The Riches of Lucca," Mark Bittman says that the best food in Tuscany can be found in Lucca. This traditional soup certainly supports his claim. It is deceivingly simple, yet so satisfying with the toothsome addition of farro and the creamy white beans. It's perfect on those March days that feel more like winter than spring.

If, like us, you are planning your trip to Italy well in advance, you can linger over travel books and enjoy a taste of Tuscany in this lovely dish.

Luccan Farro Soup
Adapted from the New York Times

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup farro, spelt or barley
1 cup dried white beans, soaked for several hours or overnight
2 cups chopped tomatoes (canned are fine; do not drain)
6 cups stock or water, more as necessary
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, optional
Freshly grated Parmesan and lots of your finest extra virgin olive oil for serving

1. Put oil in a large, deep saucepan over medium heat; a minute later add onion, celery, carrots, a large pinch of salt and some pepper. Cook until vegetables are glossy and onion is softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, and stir; add farro, beans, tomatoes and stock, and stir.

2. Bring to a boil, then adjust heat so mixture simmers steadily. Cook until farro and beans are tender, at least an hour, adding stock or water as necessary if mixture becomes too thick. Stir in parsley and basil (if using), then cook another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, then serve with lots of Parmesan and a healthy drizzle of olive oil.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Erin Go Bragh!

This is Dennis, my dear friend whom we affectionately call The Devil. Believe me, he's earned it.

Today he's just my favorite Irishman.

The photo was taken over the holidays in 2004, when we were celebrating what I found in the toe of my stocking that Christmas morning - the sparkly engagement ring on my finger. He had introduced me to the Wine Guy some 12 years before, and as you can see, I'm pretty thrilled.

Dennis and I started making Irish Potatoes together a long time ago, and now he resides in Spain. St. Patrick's day just isn't the same without him on the sofa watching Riverdance and drinking whiskey.

Mrs. Murphy's Irish Potatoes

1/4 lb butter
8 oz package cream cheese
2 lb bag confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 lb coconut, chopped in food processor
cinnamon for rolling

If you are using a stand mixer, the butter and cream cheese do not need to be softened. If mixing by hand, allow both to come to room temperature. Use

Cream butter and cream cheese. Mix salt and sugar; add slowly to creamed mixture. Add vanilla, mix well, then add coconut a little at a time. Spoon the batter on a large cookie sheet and allow it to become crusty, about 2-3 hours. Shape into small balls and roll in cinnamon. If you put the cinnamon in a sandwich bag, you can roll several at a time.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Gift

I know a lot more about being a daughter than having them. Actually, I can't even remember my first daughter. After teaching for 20 years, the blessings really start to add up.

In the early years, I was blessed with my cheerleaders - Chrissy, Shanae, Candice, Michelle, Amanda. Gilmarie. Pammy. Damaris. I still keep the photo of all of us together at the Holiday Light Show at Wanamaker's in my desk drawer.

There was Amarilys, my first "assistant." She made the tough days at Mastbaum so much better. Now she runs a household of 8 and I bet she doesn't miss a beat.

Then came the Mini-Mac years. Nicole spent so much time with me that her peers named her Mini- Mac, and eventually she just became Mini. She still surfaces with good wishes - and sometimes a plant - on every holiday.

Do you believe that children only come from our bodies? Well, I have news for you. I count all of these remarkable women - and more - as my daughters.

Now - a new chapter begins. Say hello to Jaylani Anne, and her momma, Idalee. 2 weeks ago she arrived - perfect and adorable and so content in my arms. Although many of my girls are now incredible moms, Jaylani is my first "glam-baby." Idalee is a particularly special daughter, and I am so happy for her.

Yea, yea, yea - I know - where are the cookies? What about the delicious dinners? Well, I have honey wheat cookies, and Cook's Illustrated chocolate chip cookies, and thumbprints to write about. This weekend I was really busy in the kitchen: shellfish squid ink pasta, pizza, and brioche buns.

I'll be back soon.

But first, I have to hold the baby.