Sunday, April 23, 2017

Le 7 Torri Fiano di Avellino 2015

If you're in search of a good white wine to have this spring, look to this Southern Italian white by Le 7 Torri.  Made from the Fiano grapes in Campania and Basilicata, but also in certain areas of Sicily, Fiano di Avellino is an interesting varietal that is worth trying.

Its distinctively strong, yellow color hints at the honeyed and flower notes that are evident in this full-bodied wine.  Moreover, there is a slight tropical fruit flavor to the delicious Fiano, which makes it perfect to pair with many seafood and chicken dishes.  Think smoked salmon canap├ęs, poached halibut, or even a nice piece of red snapper.  I'm even going to go so far as to suggest to pair the wine with Ina Garten's Mustard-Roasted Fish Recipe.  That recipe is delicious!



Don't forget pasta dishes, such as linguine with clams or even garlic and olive oil pasta.  Tasty!  Enjoy a chilled glass or two of Le 7 Torri this week.

Cheers!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Emoji Sugar Cookies

Emojis, those ubiquitous symbols that many of us use in our day to day messages to one another via phone, seem to be easily adaptable to cookie designs.  My niece and nephew recently asked me to make them some emoji sugar cookies for a special celebration of theirs, and being the uncle that I am, how could I refuse their request?  Through fits of the giggles and some laughs, they told me not to forget the brown "you know what" emojis.  Yes, you know exactly what I'm referring to!


OK, now I'm laughing as I write this, because you have to understand that I wasn't 100% sure I was even going to post these on the blog.  Emojis on Good Things by David?  Well.....why not?


Batch after batch of my sugar cookie dough and royal icing recipe were made a day before I began icing the cookies.  

FYI:  I love the new grid pattern on Reynold's parchment paper!  It makes cutting so much easier.


For the poop emojis, I used a Foose cupcake cookie cutter.  Working along the edges of my rolled cookie dough, I cut out only the icing tops of the cupcakes, and used a paring knife to give them a wavy shape at the base.  Working in this manner, I didn't have to cut out the entire cupcake shape.  Easy!


In order to make the layers of the poopies look like the emojis, brown royal icing was used in stages.  I outlined and flooded alternating layers as shown using a #4 piping tip, letting them dry before the next icing.


The rounds were outlined and flooded with a bright yellow royal icing and were left to dry before continuing.  This icing goes very quickly if you use a large #5 piping tip.  You can see the brown emojis with that layered effect.  


Heart shaped eyes were outlined and flooded in red using a #1 piping tip, and then a black mouth was added to the bottoms.  Done!


The kissy, winky-eyed emojis were piped with a #1 piping tip.  The heart-shaped candies were glued onto the cookies with a dot of royal icing.  I loved these!


This face made me think of a Hollywood Royalty actress from way back when. After I posted this photo on social media, I could not stop laughing at the responses from some of my friends.

All of the emoji sugar cookies face accents were added on top of the dried bases.  Whether I was piping large white eyes on the poopie cookies, or black mouths with red tongues on the other faces, it was easy to do this on the dried bases.  I highly recommend using either a #1 or #2 (don't laugh!) piping tip for the eyes, mouths and other accents.


For this large batch of cookies, I decided to stick with less than ten emoji faces. The cookies were meant to be party favors, so I placed each one in a cellophane bag of the appropriate size, and instead of tying them with ribbons, I sealed them with emoji stickers.  


You can see how each of these cellophane bags were sealed shut.  Sheets of emoji stickers can be found at many party supply stores or discount stores. Don't forget to add one or two to the the fronts of the bags as well.



Happy face, kissy face, heart-eye face, tongue-out face, annoyed face and even poopie face emoji cookies are easy to make, because the dozens you see here don't require that many shades of royal icing.  Plan ahead and give yourself a day or two to make them.  I think the most important thing is to let the bases dry completely before adding the rest of the accents.  This way you avoid color bleeding on the yellow faces.  

If you plan on making these for a kid's birthday party or to hand them out to coworkers, friends, etc., don't forget to make the poop emojis.  Even they are cute and guaranteed to produce a giggle.  

A very sweet Happy Birthday to my little ones!!  


Uncle loves you very much!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Easter Bunny Sugar Cookies

For me, Easter evokes some of the best memories from childhood.  Weeks prior to it, probably around Ash Wednesday, mom would make it her duty to blow out eggs and save them for us so that we could dye them a few days prior to Easter.  Using one of those Paas kits from the local Woolworth's, we would set out bowls of boiling vinegar water and drop those food-coloring tablets in them.  Depending on what we wanted our eggs to look like, my brothers and I would give the eggs a quick dunk for light shades or let them steep in the mixture for minutes in order for them to take on a deeper hue.


As much as I would like to dye Easter eggs these days, I find it so much more rewarding to color sugar cookies in the shapes of eggs, bunnies and other images, so that I can hand them out to friends, family and neighbors.  

Over the years, I have gathered quite a nice collection of Easter cookie cutters, some of which are collectibles and others which are not.  I've even given them their own dedicated storage tins in my Cookie Cutter Pantry.

For this year's Easter cookies it was all about bunnies and little eggs.  A friend from Washington D.C. wanted some very specific bunnies for his holiday weekend, and others simply wanted "Easter bunnies" without any particular designs in mind.

Note:  the bunny cookie cutters that I used for this project came from Copper Gifts.  The large Bunny in Egg designed by SweetDaniB is perfect for making exquisite cookies meant for Easter baskets, while the Rabbit Cookie with Fluffy Body and the Big Bunny Rabbit Cookie Cutter are just right for treats meant to be placed in cellophane bags.



Dozens of sugar cookies flecked with lots of citrus zest were rolled, cut and baked a day prior to icing, and then it was a matter of tinting some delicious royal icing in pastel shades.


If you wish to use sanding sugars and pearl candy embellishments, put them near your workstation in small containers.  This way you can easily sprinkle them over cookies with small spoons, or place them in specific areas with some tweezers.


Easter and pastel colors go hand in hand.  They're the kinds of hues that make me happy if I'm decorating cookies.  For this batch I used a very light sky-blue, a soft kelly-green (this almost reminds me of jadeite), a pale lemon-yellow, an earthy taupe and of course, a very sweet, pale pink.  I like to stand my pastry bags in glasses or tumblers whenever I'm working with royal icing.


An overview of my workstation shows you how I like to keep everything within reach.  It's an efficient way of decorating cookies.

On a cake turntable I outlined and flooded the small eggs with royal icing, and I placed one pearl candy in the middle of each egg.  While the icing was still wet, I took a fine paint brush and speckled each egg with a bit of sparkly disco dust to give it some sheen.  It works just like glitter, except that you don't need much to make a cookie look exceptional.

I like using American-made disco dust from Sunflower Sugar Art.  For these cookies I sprinkled their Super White.  Get a small container of this because you're going to find so many great uses for it!


The bunnies were treated exactly the same way.  Small pearl candies in various colors were used for eyes.


You can see what I mean when I say that a little disco dust goes a long way.  The eggs sparkle!


My friend's taupe-colored bunny rabbits were placed in high-quality cellophane bags, and were tied with mint-green satin ribbons.

All of the taupe bunnies were enhanced with beaded borders.  I think the bunnies look especially cute with their hind legs and forequarters piped as they are here.


Half of the bunnies were iced facing one direction and half were iced facing the opposite direction.  It's good to have a bit of variety!

If you plan on having treats like this for your Easter egg hunt, place the wrapped cookies on wire racks, platters or trays so that guests can help themselves.


These cellophane wrapped, pastel-colored bunnies were given one tiny egg.  This flock is ready for Easter baskets.


For two special friends of mine, I decorated the large bunnies hatching out of cracked eggs.  As much as I like the classic Martha by Mail cookie cutter, I think that this particular cookie cutter designed by Sweet Dani B. is absolutely adorable!  The cookies don't need much to make them unique.


Luke is getting the blue-egged bunny, and his sister Samantha is getting the pink-egged bunny.  These are perfect for their Easter baskets!


For an Easter gathering, 
cookies can be placed on large platters such as these. 


I hope many of you cookie decorators out there are already in the midst of making your Easter cookies.  If you haven't started, gather the necessary ingredients and begin the moment you have a little bit of time.  All you really need is a handful of colors of royal icing, some candy embellishments, and that glittery disco dust that I talked about.  

Make them colorful and whimsical this Easter.  If you're like me, you're going to want to keep at least one bunny and one tiny egg for yourself.  

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 7, 2017

A Guide to Jadeite by EstateSales.org

As many of you know, I love collecting jadeite.  I've written extensively on this subject here on the blog, and if you follow from time to time, you will note that I continue to display and use my pieces throughout the year. 


A couple of weeks ago I was asked by EstateSales.org if I would be interested in sharing my thoughts, knowledge, opinions and tips on collecting jadeite.  As enthusiastic as I am on the subject, I jumped at the chance!  

The article that the folks at EstateSales.org have written, provides you with great information if you're an enthusiast or a collector of jadeite.  It's a great thing to have information online for existing collectors and potential collectors of this green glass, because knowledge is power.  The more we know about what is available at estate sales, flea markets, antique malls and stores, the better off we are about making informed purchases.  

Please click on the link below to read what EstateSales has to say!