Cookie Number Two!

Second on the list is a cookie that seems too easy to work. Really, a cookie with three ingredients? No flour? How is it possible?

Well, let me introduce you to my little Peanut Butter Blossoms!

peanut-butter-blossoms

 

Here is the incredible recipe. My 6 year old neice loves to make these, as the only thing she can’t do herself is take them in and out of the oven, (which we almost learned the hard way last night).

Peanut Butter Blossoms

2 Cups sugar

2 Cups Peanut Butter (crunch or creamy, preferably not natural style)

2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, peanut butter and eggs until thoroughly combined.  Scoop or roll into golf ball sized balls and place onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie. If desired, press balls down with tines of a fork or the bottom of a decorative glass coated in sugar. Bake for 9-13 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through bakig time. Remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes, them remove cookies to finish cooling on a cooling rack. Makes about 5 dozen cookes.

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First batch of holiday cookies!

The sugar, flour, and butter have been procured at the warehouse store – so the baking commences!

The first cookie to be completed are the Fig Twirls!

fig-twirls

They were supposed to be a bit more rounded, but my kitchen tonight was a little hot, so making a nice log was a bit difficult. I think they are cute though, kind of like biscotti in size, so they should be easy to pack in small, tall spaces. The recipe was from my most beloved holiday cookie resource, the Reader’s Digest Cookie Book.

I will let you know what people think of them!

Already December?

Wow has time flown –  I have been so busy… at work we had to set up some new subsidiary rights (long boring story), at home we had several concerts and a family vacation over Halloween, then the madness that is Thanksgiving, but I am here again. I spent the better part of Sunday trying to decide which cookies to make for holiday gifts this year, and compiling an ingredients list. I am almost ready, and will post when I figure it all out!

Sous Vide

Now that there are all sorts of cheapie vacuum storage bags on the market, my sweetie and I decided to try cooking something sous vide, or basically, under a vacuum and poaching it. We tried chciken breast with lemon and thyme in the sous vide bag, and poached it for about 20 minutes. Once it was done it was quickly seared for color, then made a pan sauce of white wine, lemon, and capers.

sous-vide

The chicken was perfectly cooked and sooooo moist. Definitely something to experiment with again…. maybe someone will look kindly upon me this holiday season and get me the new Thomas Keller cookbook about sous vide “Under Pressure”….

I love the farmers market. See how much?

heart-shaped-tomatoI so need to make this guy into an icon, I mean, how often do you get a heart shaped tomato?

This big guy is destined to become fried green tomato wedges to go with dinner, but I figured his cute shape deserved immortalizing in my blog, and as my sweetie put it, it kind of sums up my food philosophy… happy, fresh, soulful food is love.

Watermelon rind pickles

After having some lovely watermelon rind pickles served with rillettes in New Orleans, I decided to take it upon myself to make them for future holiday presents.  I know, too hot to be thinking about Christmas, but hey, that’s what happens when you do your own canning in the summer – maybe the steam carries you away down the calendar…. 

This was a relatively simple task when I was a child. My mother would simply save the rinds from the watermelon we had that week, and make the pickles on the weekend. However, that was 25 years ago, and things have changed.

The first watermelon I chose was small, as there are only three of us in the house, and we can only consume so much watermelon. Upon cracking it open with the knife I knew we had a problem. Horticultural innovation has meant that lately watermelons have been bred for sweetness and for smaller families, but I did not realize this also meant they had NO rind whatsoever really. Less than 1/4 of an inch. Great for maximizing the fruit ratio for the modern consumer, not good for pickle making. Luckily, we have ethnic markets and farmers markets here, and I was able to score a regularly sized watermelon. And by that I mean huge. After a couple of weeks of debating on what to make with the fruit itself (and after one of my cats had decided it was his napping companion on the freezer), I finally cut into the massive fruit.

butchered

Now that the outer skin has been peeled and the flesh scooped away, the watermelon rind is cut into fat little strips about three quarters of an inch by two and a half inches.

almost-pickles

These need to be layered with 1 cup of pickling or kosher salt in a large nonreactive bowl and covered with cold water. Weigh them down with a plate so that they stay submerged and let them soak for 12 hours. After they have soaked, rinse them in two changes of cold water. Place them in a large stockpot and cover with fresh water and boil for approximately 10 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain and set aside while the syrup is being prepared.

In a medium saucepan, combine 4 cups of sugar, 3 cups of white vinegar, 4 cinnamon sticks, 8 whole cloves, and a 2 inch piece of peeled fresh ginger. Bring the mixture to a boil, making sure all of the sugar has dissolved. Boil for about 10 minutes, to extract the flavors from the spices. Remove from heat, remove the whole spices and set aside.

While the syrup cooks, pack prepared canning jars tightly with the watermelon strips, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace. Depending on the size of the watermelon, you should get about 6-10 pints. Once the jars are packed, fill the jars with syrup, making sure to remove any air bubbles. Once the jars are filled, wipe the tops clean and add the prepared jar seals and screwbands. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (or whatever your local extension service recommends for your area). Remove from the bath and let seal, any that do not seal should be refrigerated. These are best after about 6 weeks of maturing, and will keep for about a year.

The finished product:

soon-to-be-gifts

Peach and Cayenne Pepper Jam

This is my glorious tribute to the summer bounty at the farmer’s market. Today they had both fresh peaches, and beautiful cayenne peppers. A bit of sugar and some pectin were all it too to make them the perfect spread for biscuits, and a spicy foil for fried chicken. Tastes so much better with egg rolls or dumplings than bottled duck sauce too.

Peach and Cayenne Pepper Jam

Peach Pepper Jam
Makes 8 half pints

8 large peaches, skinned and pitted
2 large cayenne peppers, stemmed and seeded
5 cups sugar
1 cup honey
juice of one lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package powdered pectin

Sterilize jars and lids and keep warm.
Dice peaches roughly and finely chop the peppers. Add the peaches and peppers to a large saucepan, and then add all of the other ingredients except the pectin. Set on medium high heat and stir frequently, letting the mixture come to a boil. Let the mixtue boil for about 3 minutes, then stir in the pectin. One it comes back to a boil, let it boil for one minute. Remove from heat and ladle into hot prepared jars. Seal and process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.