Sunday, November 28, 2010

Holiday Entertainment

Wouldn't it be fun to attend this showing of vintage holiday films at Bay Street after baking a batch of gingerbread chocolate chip cookies, for swapping or gifting? Here's the recipe (adapted from Cookie Swap!):

Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 48 cookies

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup dark (not light or blackstrap) molasses
2 large eggs
One 12-ounce bag dark or semisweet chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli 60%)
1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger (buy it from the bin at Provisions)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
3. Cream together the butter, sugar, and molasses until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
4. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the batter onto the baking sheets, leaving at least 2 inches between cookies. Bake until the edges are firm but the centers are still a little moist, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then slide cookies, still on the parchment, onto wire racks to cool completely. Store in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Gifts for the Baker

Before we had to get the turkey into the oven yesterday, my husband and I took a dog for a walk, and did some holiday shopping reconnaissance. I spotted this rolling pin and pastry board in the window of Ruby Beets, in case you are out in town on this drizzly day and looking for a gift for a baker friend. Or if you are inclined to shop from home, check out my new gift guide for the baker, up on Zesterdaily today!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Tradition

In the past week or so, I've read several stories about nontraditional Thanksgiving side dishes (sauerkraut, pickles) that remind me of my own childhood Thanksgivings. The first time he came to my mother's house for dinner, my husband was horrified that our holiday vegetables came from a jar, but that's just the way we did things! Now, I have Thanksgiving dinner at my own house, and we're a little more flexible and inclusive with the menu planning, preparing sauteed green beans one year and roasted Brussels sprouts the next. One thing is always the same, however. Along with the stuffing (this year it is made with corn bread, fennel, dates, and nuts), we serve this savory noodle kugel to give our dinner just a little Eastern European flavor:

Savory Noodle Kugel
Serves 12 as a side dish

The key to this dish is cooking the onions low and slow, so they are caramelized but not burnt.

1 pound dried egg noodles
3/4 cup vegetable oil
6 medium onions, finely chopped
Ground black pepper
4 large eggs, lightly beaten

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the noodles until almost tender. Drain the pasta, transfer to a large bowl, and toss with 2 tablespoons oil.
2. Heat the remaining 10 tablespoons oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and cook over medium-low until they are deep golden, 40 to 50 minutes. Stir in 2 teaspoons salt and pepper to taste.
3. Stir the onions and eggs into the noodles. Turn the mixture into the baking dish. Bake until the noodles on the surface are golden and crispy, about 35 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before cutting into squares and serving.

Monday, November 22, 2010

More Signs That I Have Turned Into My Mother

1. Instead of making muffins or waffles, I've decided to provide bagels for my extended family on Thanksgiving morning.
2. I've asked my sister from Washington D.C. to bring me a vacuum-packed smoked salmon from Costco for the occasion.
3. Instead of buying bagels wherever I'm buying everything else for Thanksgiving, I made a special trip to Goldberg's in East Hampton, where the bagels are made the right way--they're poached before baking.
4. I bought several dozen, and froze them, so I have plenty of extras for a bagel emergency.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dark (Chocolate) Arts Waffles

Because popcorn isn't a meal, I had to feed the children something that resembled brunch before the 11:55 am showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in East Hampton (and then a pre-Thanksgiving marathon at King Kullen). We settled on these waffles:

Dark (Chocolate) Arts Waffles
Makes 4 Belgian waffles

Don't called Child Protective Services on me: To push chocolate waffles into the healthy breakfast category, I offered sliced strawberries as an accompaniment. I used my Cuisinart Belgian waffle maker for these. If your using an iron that makes thinner waffles, adjust baking time downward accordingly.

1/2 cup (about 3 1/2 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
Confectioners' sugar for dusting

1. Heat waffle iron according to manufacturer's instructions. Combine chocolate chips and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and heat until just melted, 30 seconds to 1 1/2 minutes depending on the power of your microwave. Stir until smooth.
2. Whisk together the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and milk in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the chocolate mixture until smooth. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt until just incorporated.
3. Spray the grids with nonstick cooking spray and spoon the batter into the waffle iron. Cook until firm and baked through, 3 to 5 minutes depending on how hot your iron gets. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve.

Friday, November 19, 2010

IGA Item of the Week

Those of you who have received a bouquet from me after a stellar dance recital performance or SCMEA concert know that I am not a fan of "the mixture" from the IGA. I usually prefer a dozen roses, tulips, lilys, or carnations. And yet...Today when I walked into the store I saw these striking Fall bouquets, reasonably priced and ready for the Thanksgiving table I rethought my position on the mixture. I hope these are in stock next week when I will be way too busy for flower arranging.

Monday, November 15, 2010

New Buffet Offering in Sag Harbor

I love this enticing advertisement for the selection of one-act comedies directed and performed by Pierson students on November 18, 19, and 20. To satisfy your hunger for culture, buy your tickets at the door, or click here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Photogenic Holiday Cookies

On Friday, a photographer came to my house to record the nine types of cookies I had made for a big holiday baking story (don't worry--I will link you to it as soon as it is out). So in the days leading up to the shoot I ran around to local stores in search of products to make the cookies pretty. These cinnamon-pecan rounds tasted great, but were a rather drab, so at Williams-Sonoma I picked up a can of edible gold spray paint, hoping to make them shiny and pretty. But when I sprayed one of them, I was horrified by the way it looked: About as edible as a bronzed baby shoe. Luckily, I had also purchased a container of golden sanding sugar. Before baking the remaining cookies, I dipped them in the sugar and then pressed a pecan halves in their centers. Here they are, getting ready for their close-up.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

IGA Item of the Week: Nicely Trimmed Brisket

The Quail Hill season is over and the Farmer's Market has closed up shop until the Spring, so it's time to turn to our Main Street supermarket for inspiration. No one trims a brisket like the butchers at the IGA. I just brought this 4-pounder home. After rubbing it with a mixture of paprika, rosemary, thyme, and lots of kosher salt, I'll brown it, add 3 cups of water to the pot, cover it with about 8 thinly sliced onions, and cook it for a couple of hours, turning once or twice, until it's fork tender (the recipe is loosely adapted from The Complete Meat Cookbook). We fight over the onion gravy!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Holiday Baking for the Ambitious

Although I worked all day yesterday, making and freezing holiday cookie dough, I felt like a bit of a slouch when I woke up this morning and saw what this guy was making. (Thanks to my cousin in California for the link).

Monday, November 8, 2010

Idea for Lunch

Yesterday, when I was checking out with my cod fillets at The Seafood Shop, I couldn't resist the cauldrons of New England and Manhattan clam chowder sitting right by the cash register. I brought home a pint of each (and four packets of oyster crackers) and we had soup for lunch. Looking ahead to noon, I wish I had bought two quarts so I had leftovers for today!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Post-Halloween (or Post-Thanksgiving) Skillet Pot Pie

We ate candy for lunch on Sunday, so a wholesome dinner was called for. I had bought some of David Falkowski's beautiful shiitake mushrooms at the Sag Harbor Farmer's Market valeditory. I had a little leftover chicken. And a while back I had made about 10 pounds of pie dough in anticipation of the holiday. So I decided to combine these ingredients in a skillet pot pie that was quick enough to make, bake, and devour between an afternoon walk along the Pumpkin Trail and a return to Suffolk Street for some nighttime trick-or-treating. I'll save most of my pie dough for my Thanksgiving apple pies, but I'll be sure to save a piece or two for leftover turkey pot pie when the holiday is over. Here is the recipe:

Skillet Chicken and Mushroom Pot Pie
Serves 4 to 6

One recipe for single crust pie dough
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon butter
3 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 leeks, white and light green parts, finely chopped
10 ounces shiitake or button mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 cups low-sodium canned chicken broth
1 tablespoon cooking sherry or Marsala wine
3 cups cooked shredded chicken
Ground black pepper

1. Place an oven rack on the top third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll the dough into a rough 10 1/2-circle. Use a plate to trim the dough into an even 10 12-inch circle. Fold 1/2-inch of the outer edge inward and press on the folded portion with the tines of a fork to create a pretty pattern. Cut five 3-inch vents into the top of the pastry with a sharp paring knife. Slide the pastry, still on the parchment, onto a baking sheet. Brush with the beaten egg and place in the freezer while you prepare the filling.
2. Melt the butter in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until almost but not quite crisp, about 5 minutes. Stir in the leeks and continue to cook until the leeks are very soft, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until they release their juices, 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Stir in the flour and thyme and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Slowly add the broth and then the sherry, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, stirring, lower the heat, and simmer, stirring, until the sauce thickens, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken and season with salt and pepper.
4. Slide the prepared pastry on top of the pan and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 375 degrees and continue to bake until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling, another 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the skillet to a wire rack and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Big Announcement

I am so proud to tell you all that I've joined Zester Daily as a contributor. I can hardly believe the company I'm now keeping. Other contributors include legendary cookbook authors Deborah Madison, Clifford Wright, Nancy Harmon Jenkins, and Jessica Harris; ethnic food experts Diane Kochilas, Robyn Eckhard, and Sandra Wu; and wine writers Elin McCoy, Virginia Boone, and Patrick Comiskey. As Zester's Sag Harbor correspondent, I'll be writing about baking and cooking in this small town. My first story is on cranberries, and includes a simple and wonderful recipe for these shortbread bars as well as shout-outs to some of my favorite nearby food and wine sources.