Saturday, June 1, 2013
Saturday, December 4, 2010
I baked some cookies today, using the following recipe:
2 sticks (1/2 lb) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
¼ tsp salt
1 Tbs Amaretto (optional)
½ tsp vanilla - use 1 tsp if omitting the Amaretto
3 ½ cups flour
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the softened butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating briefly after each addition just to incorporate. Beat in the salt, the Amaretto and vanilla and then about a third of the flour until smooth. Gradually beat in as much of the remaining flour as possible using the electric beater, then stir in the rest with a wooden spoon or a spatula.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. If you haven't stirred in all of the flour you can knead in the rest quite easily. Once you have a smooth, homogeneous dough, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Working with about half the dough at a time, roll it out to a thickness of not less than 1/8-inch, being careful that the dough is very evenly rolled out. Carefully cut out shapes with your cookie cutters. Gently transfer to a cookie sheet. You can use unlined, ungreased cookie sheets with no problem at all.
Bake for about 10 minutes. They will be set and appear cooked but they will NOT brown. You'll know they are done because they will slide right off the cookie sheet when just nudged with a spatula. Carefully slip each cookie off of the baking tray and all to cool on racks.
I had to buy a rolling pin and some cookie cutters this morning. You would think that a simple, round cookie cutter would be easy to find, but it wasn’t. I am certain there would be on in the tub of 500 cutters that was for sale, but that was a little excessive. I need only one, and would have to find a place for the remaining 499. I settled for a set of star shapes. The rolling pin guaranteed to not stick to the dough.
I halved the recipe. I figured that if the cookies turned into the equivalent of Elly May’s biscuits and needed to be thrown away; I wouldn’t have wasted a lot of ingredients. It took a little bit of practice figuring out the art of rolling dough. The dough stuck to the rolling pin with great ease. I was flouring the dough and transferring it back to the refrigerator to reset a couple of times. It was a trial and error time for baking, truly a great moment in kitchen science for me.
I spent the ten minutes baking waiting like an expectant father, hovering over the oven while Sinatra played in the background. They came out to better than expected. The first batch was slightly burnt. The dough was a little too thin. The following batches got better as I started to figure out how to roll the dough. By the end, the cookies weren’t browning excessively. Once cooled, they tasted great. They are even better with some cream cheese frosting that I had left over from a failed cake attempt. In the end, the recipe joins the keep file. I’ll have to do these again.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Saturday, May 8, 2010
The first attempt was a recipe from Food Network Magazine. I decided to try it for the simple fact that it looked easy. I can cook; don’t get me wrong. I have been on my own for several years and have had only one brush with bad food I have prepared. But I also am cognizant of what I can and cannot do. Boil water? Yes, I can do that. Deglaze a pan? No, that is a little out of my league and I really don’t understand the need to do it. Anyway, the recipe looked like I could do it. I worked on the cheese sauce while the noodles cooked in the boiling water. The sauce never seemed to set up properly. The roux turned out nicely, but when I added the soymilk it never seemed to thicken. To speed the process along, I added the cheese. Four cups of melting cheese is a sure way to thicken any sauce. I drained the water from the noodles and added the cheese sauce.
The recipe called for butter to be melted with parsley in the microwave. I did as the recipe suggested and added that to the bowl with some panko breadcrumbs. I mixed everything together and tried it. It was like eating cheesy burnt leaves. The cheese was a little bland. Overall, I was disappointed. The leftovers went into the garbage disposal.
I told my co-workers what I was trying and they suggested a recipe from a cookbook made of coworker submissions. There was a macaroni and cheese dish that was easy to make and really good they said. I tried it and do have to say it was better. The sauce had a better flavor and it did look good on the plate. The dish even did something impressive. The taste improved the next day. There must have been some magical food chemistry happening that I am yet to understand about leftovers improving as they sit. I was impressed, but wanted to be blown away on the first bite. I moved on.
One of co-worker gave me several macaroni and cheese recipes to try. I had been talking about my attempts and she went into her cookbooks and photocopied a couple for me. (She must have a library of books, considering the number of recipes I was presented with. I’ve been to her house and there has to be a wing full of cookbooks that I did not see.) They were all simple, with a variation on the theme of macaroni and cheese.
I gave one a try and have to say I have found it. It is a simple recipe with the roux. I used 2% milk instead of soy and the sauce thickened nicely. Cheddar and Swiss cheese were used. I used elbow macaroni instead on the fancier twisted pasta the magazine recommended. I mixed everything together and poured it into an 11 x 8 dish to cook even though a 13 x 9 was suggested. I could not see what the difference would be.
It turns out to be important…very important. The cheese bubbled up and over the sides of the pan. My cooking rack and bottom over my oven ended up with a nice, cheesy coating by the time cooking was complete. I opened the oven door to a face full of smoke and the sight of hot deliciousness in front of me. I pulled out my circular pizza pan to set the cheese-covered dish on and marveled at my creation.
My 11 x 8 pan held homemade macaroni and cheese. The cheese sauce still bubbled under a crisp layer of Swiss and Cheddar cheese sprinkled over top. The top mad a slight crunching sound as I broke it to spoon up a serving onto a place. It was wonderful. The macaroni interlocked itself into a nice pile. The Sauce was warm and had a more natural taste than any powdered creation from a blue box. The flavor even held up the next day. Leftovers were just as good. The final test was freezing the final few servings, which will be reported on at a later date.
I just need to find a new dish to attempt now.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
the barista at Starbucks rolls their eyes when told your drink order.
a friend describes the artists on your iPod as “a bunch of nobodies”.
the TV show you have watched for the longest time is on HGTV.
you almost sent a nasty email to HGTV when they moved your favorite TV show.
you can discuss literary theory, symbolism and hidden meaning as it relates to Batman.
you try to discuss popular music with your nephews, but you keep saying “Who?”
you will not watch “Smallville” because you consider it “to revisionist.”
you are looking for a good macaroni & cheese recipe that does not come out of a blue box.
you have talked about a great movie you watched on TV. When asked what channel it was on, you say “Lifetime” proudly.
you have turned off a hard rock station because the music sounded “angry.”