Lemon Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies

When I was younger I used to adore the Pepperidge Farm raspberry filled cookies. The buttery cookie was a perfect setting for the sweet and sticky raspberry filling. A few years ago while searching for good Christmas cookie recipes, I stumbled upon a raspberry lemon thumbprint cookie recipe ala Emeril Lagasse. After the first time making them, I set about making a few changes the next go around. I still make these every Christmas, as my dad loves them, but they are a great cookie to make for an outdoor occasion or a big summer bbq/potluck. One recipe makes almost 4 dozen cookies (if you are good about rolling your dough into exactly 1 in balls, which I am not) so there is always plenty to go around. If you are making these ahead, make sure to store in an airtight container with a piece of parchment between each layer of cookies, these guys are sticky!

Lemon Raspberry Thumbprint Cookies (adapted from Emeril Lagasse, makes around 4 dozen cookies)
 

Ingredients:
3/4 cup raspberry jam
1 1/4 tablespoon Grand Marnier
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper
2. In a small bowl, combine the jam and Grand Marnier and combine
3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk together
4. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and creamy then beat in the egg yolks, lemon zest, and vanilla
5. Add the flour mixture in 2 additions and beat just until moist clumps form, then gather the dough together into a ball
6. Pinch off the dough to form 1-inch balls. Place on the prepared baking sheets, spacing 1-inch apart

7. Use your floured index finger or a small spoon to create depressions in the center of each ball

8. Fill each depression with roughly 1/2 teaspoon of the jam mixture

9. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes
10. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool

 

 

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A Little Pie for the Pie Party

On Facebook today, a few folks have put together an internet wide Pie Party. Everyone is invited to take part, and take part they are. Go check it out, there are some crazy beautiful pies people are making and posting today that are simply mouth watering. My contribution to this Pie Party is a blackberry/raspberry mini pie in a cast iron pan. I’ve made one before and posted it on here, but the pictures were very sub par. I have a much better one this time around. Making pies in cast iron is a fun and different way to serve it, and makes it look that much more rustic.

Topless Blackberry/Raspberry Mini Pie in a Cast Iron

Crust:

1 cup plus 2 T. flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
2-3 T. cold water

1. Mix the flour and salt together in a bowl, add the shortening, and work it into the flour with a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingertips until the mixture resembles fresh bread crumbs
2. Sprinkle on the water, a tablespoon at a time, stirring lightly with a fork after each addition
3. Use enough water so that the dough holds together and comes off the sides of the bowl, but not so much that it is sticky
4. Pull dough into a ball and gently roll out
5. Place pie crust into cast iron skillet (make sure your skillet is well seasoned, when in doubt, give it a quick spray with olive oil)
6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Filling:

1 1/2 cups blackberries
1 1/2 cups raspberries
1/4 cup white sugar
3 Tbs. cornstarch

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl
2. Spoon mixture into prepared cast iron skillet
3. Bake at 400 degrees for ten minutes. Lower heat to 350 and bake an additional 15-20 minutes or until the filling is bubbly
4. Cool for at least 30 minutes (and hour if you can handle waiting) so the filling can firm up


Mini Cinnamon Sugar Popovers

This weekend was actually a bit of a lazy weekend, the last one I think I’ll have for awhile. So naturally, I used some of this downtime to bake.  I had been meaning to try popovers forever, but didn’t really want to go out and buy a special pan. Luckily, I stumbled upon a recipe on Pinterest that did not require a special popover pan and I was all set. These little guys are really easy to make, and if you are craving something buttery, chewy and sweet this is the recipe for you! I can’t wait to try this base recipe with something more savory… a goat cheese perhaps? Do you have a favorite popover?

Mini Cinnamon Sugar Popovers (makes 30 mini popovers, adapted from http://www.howsweeteats.com)

 Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
4 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar + 1 teaspoon cinnamon mixed for the tin and dusting

Directions:

1. Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees and place the oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven
2. Brush a mini-cupcake tin with butter and dust each tin with the cinnamon/sugar mix (don’t skip the buttering even if you are using a non stick pan, the butter and cinnamon/sugar caramelize on the bottom of the tin)


3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon until no lumps remain
4. In a large measuring cup (I used my 2 cup pyrex) mix milk, eggs, and 2 tablespoons butter, and stir into dry ingredients until just combined. (Note that a few lumps may remain, but do not stir until smooth)
5. Pour batter into mini muffin tins within 1/4 inch of the rim. Sprinkle more cinnamon sugar on top

6. Bake for 10 minutes. Don’t be tempted to open the oven, the popovers will fall
7. After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and bake until golden brown and puffy – about 7 minutes

8. Remove from oven and let cool. Brush with the remaining melted butter, then cover in more cinnamon sugar and serve immediately!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

It’s that time of year when strawberries are starting to pop up again at farmers markets and my parents backyard is full of rhubarb. My dad loves rhubarb, like I think he might have an unhealthy obsession with it. I think he’s even tried to pickle it before… not joking. Anyway last weekend I invited myself over for dinner and volunteered to bring a pie knowing full well I could raid their ever growing patch of rhubarb. Earlier that morning I scored a flat of freshly picked strawberries from the farmers market, so clearly a strawberry rhubarb pie was going to happen.

We make a lot of pie in our family and ever since I can remember my mom would make little toppings for our pies out of left over dough. Usually they would be a pretty leaf or flower (shes quite artistic) and ever since then it’s been a tradition in my family to top the pies with various shapes with the left over dough. There has been everything from “mom” spelled out for mothers day, to last weekends creation – the Strawberry Rhubarb Dinosaur Pie (decorations courtesy of my sister, and yes that is a dino breaking out of it’s egg.)

Even my little furry friends were around to help… well more to just get a chance at a falling strawberry or two.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:
Pie crust of your choice (I use Krusteaz)
3 cups sliced strawberries
3 cups diced rhubarb
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbs. lemon juice (use less if you prefer a sweeter pie)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup quick cooking tapioca

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a well-floured counter, roll half of pie dough into a 12-inch circle and carefully transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. (My moms trick for rolling dough is to lightly flour a piece of waxed paper and then roll the dough out on that. The dough can then be easily peeled off the paper.)
2. Stir together rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, lemon, salt and tapioca in a large bowl. Mound filling inside bottom pie crust

3. Roll out the second half of pie dough into an 11-inch circle
4. Place the second half over the top of the mound of fruit. Trim top and bottom pie dough so that their overhang is roughly 1/4-1/2 inch over the edge of the pie pan then crimp the edges
5. Cut a few slits on the top to allow venting and decorate with fun shapes using leftover dough (if you see fit)

6. Transfer pie to a baking sheet (or directly onto rack with a sheet of foil underneath to catch juice overflow
7. Bake for 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until the pie is golden and the juices bubble visibly.
8. Transfer pie to  rack to cool. Let it cool a few hours (I might have skipped this step which is why mine is so runny…)

Banana-Caramel Bread Pudding

Been a bit since I’ve written… buying a house and trying to move has kept me pretty busy! I was going through my photos on my phone the other day (3/4 of which are all food btw) and realized I never posted the bread pudding recipe I made for my lovely significant others birthday. It was his 30th, and I wanted to make something super special for him (aside from his sweet party medallions, picture below) for dessert. When I came across this recipe from epicurious.com I knew I had found the one. I didn’t change too much about the recipe – except the added salt and few measurements. These little gems are super easy to make and really delicious.

Banana-Caramel Bread Pudding – (adapted from Epicurious.com) Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup purchased caramel sauce (I used Smucker’s, they have a squeeze bottle)
4 5×3 1/2-inch slices potato bread, very lightly toasted
2 medium bananas, peeled, thinly sliced on diagonal into 1 1/2-inch ovals
2 large eggs
3/4 cup half and half
1/4 cup whole milk
1 1/4 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Directions:
1. Preheat broiler and butter four 3/4-cup ramekins
2. Spoon 1 generous tablespoon caramel into each ramekin
3. Place bread on rimmed baking sheet and spread 1 generous tablespoon caramel over each bread slice
4. Broil until caramel is bubbling and slightly darker, keeping and eye on it, 1 to 2 minutes then cool
5. Cut each bread slice into 6 squares, for 24 pieces total
6. Set 1 banana slice on each bread square and arrange 6 banana-topped bread squares standing on edge, side by side in each prepared ramekin, fitting snugly. Don’t worry if they stick out above the ramiken

7. Whisk eggs, half and half, milk, 3/4 tablespoon sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl
8. Pour enough custard into each ramekin to reach top and let stand until bread absorbs some of custard, about 30 minutes, reserving any remaining custard
9. Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 400°F
10. Pour remaining custard into ramekins and brush exposed bread pieces with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining sugar
11. Set ramekins in large roasting pan filled with enough hot water in the pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins (imagine water in the photo)

12. Bake puddings until set and knife inserted into custard comes out clean, about 45 minutes
13. Remove from pan and cool… and ta-da!
 It is best to serve bread puddings warm or at room temperature

As for the medallion I mentioned earlier – here it is… we went on a tracksuit pub-crawl in Ballard, all 40ish of us sporting these little numbers 🙂

My Date with a Souffle

So I wrote out a culinary bucket list last month and one thing I had wanted to make was a souffle. One of my besties, Hannah, and I decided to embark on this one together, and I’m glad we did. It’s not that making a souffle is that hard, you just need to be quick handed, so it helped to have two of us together in the kitchen for our first try.

There are a ton of recipes out there for souffles, many of which you can customize. We were too nervous to add anything to ours, so we followed each recipe to a tee. We settled on Julia Child’s Cheese Souffle recipe from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home and a Chocolate Souffle recipe from the NYTimes.com.

We served the souffles with a green salad laced with bacon and avocado with a simple vinaigrette and plenty of wine. I’m not going to individually type each recipe out, but I will give a few tips and tricks that we found to be helpful.

1. The first time you make these – have a buddy it really helps, plus it’s more fun!
2. Read the recipe through a few times and make sure that you have all the ingredients measured out and ready to grab ahead of time.
3. Add a little more chocolate than called for in the chocolate souffle.
4. Don’t be afraid to add things to the basic cheese souffle recipe – as Jacque would say, treasures.
5. Getting soft peeks in your egg whites takes time, often 5 minutes or more depending on your mixer. Be patient.

(about 2 minutes in)
(about 4 minutes in)
(Soft Peeks… FINALLY!)
6. Don’t be tempted to open the oven to check on it until the timer goes off.
7. Make sure you have a lot of bowls
8. Be OK with your kitchen being a TOTAL disaster.

I am thrilled to report that our cheese souffle turned out beautifully and we so excited to watch it rise. The chocolate souffles were so so. As I said above, it would have been better with more chocolate. I also over-filled the ramekins a little (as the recipe called for 8oz. ramekins and I only had 6oz) so they didn’t rise as impressively as the cheese one did.
All in all a success and that’s one more thing to cross of on the list!

Puff Pastry Cheese Sticks

I’ve been pretty behind with posts lately – the Christmas season will do that to ya! I wanted to get this recipe posted before New Years, in case anyone needed a good appetizer recipe. This has been a favorite in my family for the past couple of years… originally a Barefoot Contessa recipe, I made a few changes to kick up the flavor a few notches. The great thing about this recipe is that you can add whatever type of cheese or seasoning you want as the puff pastry provides a good canvas for most anything you can dream up.

The key is to finely grate whatever cheese you chose to use (unfortunately most cheese you buy pre-grated at the store is a bit too large, and usually falls off when you twist the sticks). I use a microplane which can be purchased almost anywhere these days, or you can use the smaller side of a box grater. Whatever seasoning you use make sure its chopped up fairly small – again larger chunks tend to fall off during twisting. One more tip – don’t skip the egg wash or you’ll end up with a pile of cheese/spices on the counter instead of the sticks.

Puffy Pastry Cheese Sticks – Makes about 20-24 sticks

Ingredients:
1 box (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry – thawed (throw it in the fridge overnight)
Flour for dusting
1 large egg
3/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1 1/4 cups finely grated swiss cheese
1  Tablespoon red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
2. Place one sheet of puff pastry on a floured cutting board. Roll the pastry out until it’s a tad bigger than a legal sized sheet of paper (about 10 inches by 12 inches)
3. Brush the sheet with the egg wash
4. Sprinkle the puff pastry with half of the parmesan, swiss cheese, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper
5. Gently press the toppings into the puff pastry with the heal of your hand (this will help the ingredients stay on while twisting)
6. Cut the puff pastry into one inch strips (this should give you about 11-12 strips per sheet) with a sharp knife or pizza cutter
7. Twist each strip so that the ingredients are on the inside of the twist
8. Place each twist on a cookie sheet with parchment paper
9. Bake the sticks for 12-15 minutes (or until the sticks are slightly browned). Be careful not to over bake!
 The sticks are served best at room temperature. 

Candied Walnuts

I will say, I’m not a huge fan of raw walnuts, but a few years ago my mom got me to try some of her candied walnuts she made for a dinner party and I was hooked. Roasting them brings out a totally different flavor and even without adding the sugar, they taste instantly sweeter. They are good on their own or on a salad with goat cheese, cranberries and a balsamic dressing (I will be posting that recipe soon).

Moms Candied Walnuts
Ingredients:
2 cups raw walnuts
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp water
1 tsp salt

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
2. Spread the walnuts out in a single layer on a baking sheet
3. Roast the walnuts for about 5 minutes, making sure they don’t burn
4. Heat a small heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat
5. Add the sugar and water, stir until combined
6. Bring the sugar/water mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes (keep stirring!)
7. Add the walnuts to sugar mixture. Make sure to coat all walnuts thoroughly
8. Spread the walnuts out on a baking sheet coated with parchment paper, sprinkle with salt and let cool.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

It’s that time of year again, when you pick out your costumes, buy (and eat) too much candy and carve pumpkins – it’s Halloween. When you carve those pumpkins, don’t throw away the seeds! Yes it’s a pain in the butt to separate all of the seeds from the huge amount of pulp and skin, but believe me, you’ll be glad you did.

I’ve heard of many different spice combos used on the seeds; parmesan cheese, cayenne pepper, cinnamon/sugar and rosemary/thyme/garlic. While all those combos are delicious, my favorite is just plain salt and olive oil.  I have included recipes for spicy roasted pumpkin seeds as well as salt roasted pumpkin seeds – but if you want to go crazy the standard spice to seed ratio is 1 Tablespoon spice to 2 cups seeds.

Salted Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients:
Washed and dried pumpkin seeds
Salt (you can substitute bacon salt)
Olive oil spray

Directions:
1. Wash* and dry the pumpkin seeds, removing all pulp from the seeds (a little left is ok)
2. Lay the seeds out to dry overnight
3. Pre-heat oven to 275 degrees
4. Spread the seeds out on a baking sheet lined with foil. Coat with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt
5. Bake the seeds for 25 minutes, flip seeds over (as best as you can) re-salt and bake another 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Spice and Smoke Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups washed and dried pumpkin seeds
¾ Tbs. cayenne pepper
¾ Tbs. smoked paprika
Olive oil spray

Directions:
1. Wash* and dry the pumpkin seeds, removing all pulp from the seeds (a little left is ok)
2. Lay the seeds out to dry overnight
3. Pre-heat oven to 275 degrees
4. Spread the seeds out on a baking sheet lined with foil. Coat (generously) with cooking spray and spices
5. Bake the seeds for 25 minutes, flip seeds over (as best as you can) re-salt and bake another 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.
*The easiest way to clean them is to soak them in a bowl of warm water, letting the heavier pulp drop to the bottom. Remove with your hands and place in a strainer. Work your hands through the seeds removing any excess, the rinse!

Peach Blackberry Crisp

At the farmers market last weekend, I was searching for pears to make a crisp for some dinner guests (my parents) but was surprised to find only one person selling them. Since we’ve had such a weird summer/fall the fruits and vegetables have been coming later than we are used to (I’m still getting ripe tomatoes and it’s October). The lady I was talking to at the farmers market was telling me that this is one of the latest berry seasons she’s seen and highly recommended that I get some blackberries and peaches as this was one of the last weekends to get them.

I figured that the sweetness of the peaches would balance the tartness of the blackberries (the original recipe calls for a sweeter pear mixed with the tartness of lemon juice) so I went with it. The flavors mixed really well together, and perfectly balanced each other out in this beautiful crisp. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Peach Blackberry Crisp

Ingredients:
4 cups peaches, pitted and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (skin can stay on)
2 cups blackberries
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, divided
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup regular oats

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Combine peaches and blackberries in a 2-quart baking dish, toss together
3. Combine granulated sugar, cornstarch, and 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon and nutmeg, stir to combine
4. Add cornstarch mixture to fruit mixture, toss to coat
5. Place flour, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor; process until combined
6. Add butter process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add oats pulse 2 times
7. Sprinkle flour mixture evenly over fruit mixture
8. Bake at 375° for 40 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature