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Showing posts from December, 2010

Baby Shower Cookies

I recently made these cookies for a baby shower and I'd like to show you step by step how easy it was to make them.  The chocolate cookies  are true keepers.  Treat this particular dough as a rollout cookie and proceed from there.  The sugar cookies  are always a favorite and the recipe makes wonderful cutouts.   It's important to chill the cookies before baking in order to retain that perfect shape.  Pick out your favorite cookie cutters and start rolling! On a well floured surface, roll out your cookie dough.  I use a piece of plastic wrap over the dough to help me.  Doing this reduces the amount of flour you add to your dough when rolling it out.  Notice that I'm using a large 2 foot professional rolling pin.  This particular one is made by Ateco. Start cutting your dough from the outside and work your way in.  Try to get the shapes as close together as possible.  This is a smart way to work.  I always keep a dish with flour for dipping my cookie cutters.  This helps

Martha's Chocolate Cutout Cookies

This is a recipe that I revisit every year.  The cookies are tender and a bit spicy, with just a hint of cinnamon and black pepper.  The Martha Stewart Weddings Book first introduced us to these tasty morsels and has since been used in many of her publications.  Everyone always likes them, so I tend to make several batches.  Click here  for the recipe.  This dough can be refrigerated for a few days or frozen if you don't plan on making them that day.  Follow along. The ingredients are carefully measured out. This recipe can also be found in her magnum opus, The Martha Stewart Cookbook .   Since the recipe calls for cocoa powder, I always sift it through a strainer to get rid of the lumps.  Cocoa has a habit of clumping, so it's very important to take this step.  I used dark Valrhona cocoa powder from France. If a recipe calls for creaming butter and sugar, I take the step of doing the butter first.  This helps make it more malleable and easier to incorporate t

Kitchen Towels

I don't know if you're like me, but one of the things I cannot live without is a good, sturdy, fluffy, white kitchen towel.  These multitasking towels are a must in a busy kitchen like mine.  From wiping up spills to drying dishes, a good 100% cotton towel will help make your life a bit easier and keep things clean.  Look for them in packs to save yourself some money & buy several to have on hand at all times.  I like all white towels because it makes laundering them a cinch.    This is the type of towel I prefer for the kitchen.  100%  absorbent cotton. For storage, I fold my towel in half lengthwise.  I then simply roll them up. My storage container is a repurposed wine crate.  This was a lovely French Hermitage. All of the towels are neatly rolled and stacked.  This box sits upright, underneath my prep area.  Flour sack towels fit snugly right behind--those are used for drying delicate glassware. Dedicate an area for your kitchen towels and keep them handy.  O

Chicken Stock 101

Chicken stock is something that I love to have on hand at all times and for me, homemade is best.  It isn't difficult to make & it takes little preparation time.  After I've roasted a chicken (so long as the seasonings aren't too strong) and have picked the bones clean, I drop it into a freezer bag if I'm not going to use it right away.  This is something I like to do on the weekends early in the morning, because the minimum preparation that goes into making stock can be completed while the coffee brews.  You will need a good stockpot, a good strainer, a large bowl, some cheesecloth, a ladle & some freezer containers.  The stock can be frozen in 1-2 cup portions.    The Ingredients   1 large yellow onion (skin intact) quartered 2 large carrots chopped in 1" pieces 3 celery stalks chopped in 1" pieces 1/4 cup celery leaves 4 sprigs of Italian parsley 1 bay leaf 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns 1 whole chicken carcass

Organizing Baking Equipment ~ Batterie de Cuisine

One thing I love about drawer storage is that it gives me easy access to my batterie de cuisine .  Having some of my baking equipment in one area saves time and effort when searching for the right tool.  Nowadays, I don't have to hunt for that tart pan or those cookie cutters like I used to in my former kitchen whenever I bake.  Everything is in one place and within easy reach.  Take a look at how I fit some of my tools in just two drawers. The top drawer shows you how deep & wide it is.    Here I have set out what I will store in this drawer.  First, I layer my round springform pans (8", 9" & 10"). I put my silpats in mailing tubes to keep them tidy.  This also prevents them from being scratched or nicked.  Those are layered in sideways.  Click here  to see how your silpats should be placed within these tubes. Now it's time to put in my decorating cake stand with the iron base.  This is essentially a lazy susan which can be spun when icing a cake

Persimmon Holiday Pudding

This steamed pudding, which originally came from a Martha Stewart Living publication, has been in my repertoire for about a decade now, and every year I seem to tweak it a little to make it more suitable to my tastes.  It has become a tradition to make at least one of these for our guests during the holidays and at least one or two to give away as a gift.  Even those who claim they don't like persimmons, will be quite surprised at how delectable this dessert really is.  It reminds me of a plum pudding, which is very traditional for the holidays in Great Britain.  Why not try making one this season? I came across these beauties at my local farmer's market.  Can you blame me for buying them? The most common persimmons are Fuyu and Hachiya.  Fuyu persimmons are shaped like a squat tomato and are ready to use even when they are firm to the touch; the skins must be peeled.  Hachiya are more tear shaped (pictured above) and must be soft before they are edible or they will be astr