Leave a comment
cookies / desserts & sweets / In the Kitchen

I learned to make pizzelle at the knee of my great-aunt rose when I was quite young. She was an amazing baker and a real stickler about cleanliness. It was more than once that the “no lick” rule was enforced. Each time i lift my pizzelle iron from its tattered and batter-scarred box, I am reminded of holidays past. Memories of my dear aunt rose float richly in the fragrance of these cookies.  The season begins…

3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbs + 1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 Tbs Anise flavored extract
4 oz unsalted butter–melted and cooled
Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, yolks, sugar, extract and melted butter. Stir into the flour mixture. this batter will be nice and thick, similar to a pate a choux. Drop by the spoonful onto a hot pizzelle iron. Check after 60 seconds for color. You want it to be a light blonde in color. Do not undercook, undercooked pizzelle will not get nice and crispy. Sprinkle with a bit of powdered sugar and serve.
You can form these into cones or cups, or even cut in fourths while they are still warm.
I like to use them for large and beautiful ice cream sandwiches…or rolled and filled with a bit of brandy flavored whipped cream…but I mostly like them just as they are

Warm Brie & Date Bites

Leave a comment
appetizers / eggs & dairy / In the Kitchen

At the first sign of frost and chill, I begin dreaming of kitchen comforts.  I begin to categorize in my head all of the delicious things I will prepare, and the perfect gloaming light in which I will photograph them.  Stews, braises, puddings, cakes, savory lamb shanks cooked under the most perfect crust with just the slightest untidy boil-over {meant to look homemade and charming, just shy of a mess} flash behind my eyes, like the world’s best slide show.  I will tap the perfectly worn, turn of the century board from my vast selection of props, slide a piece of irish linen {just so} at the perfect angle and pose my dish as if it were Gigi Hadid on Capri.

That is always the plan.  Bless my heart for having such a great imagination.

The reality is this.  I’m dreaming of kitchen comforts, but I would gladly toss them aside for a kitchen cleaner.  I’m positioning our meals between bottle feeding goats and mucking out chicken coops.  I own beautiful dishes and linens and worn boards, but find myself opting for those pieces that are within reach in my tiny kitchen.  And when I say in reach, I am being literal.

When we have company, I channel my imaginative moments.  I {she said sheepishly} create a scene. A “why yes, we always have cocktails and warm truffled marcona almonds on the deck.  Here, please stave the chill with one of these throws we keep tucked behind the bar for moments like this”scene.  Maybe I don’t go that far…but I go pretty far.  Why I do it, is not up for discussion.  But how I do it is.

I keep it simple; putting together things that can hit more than one note, and can be mostly prepared in advance.
These warm brie & date bites are a wonderful treat that pair well with champagne, bourbon neat, or mulled cider.

Warm Brie & Date Bites
10 mini brie rounds {i have found them at trader joes}
puff pastry; defrosted and chilled
10 large dried dates; pits removed
maldon salt {or your favorite sea salt}

Slice the top off each brie round (it is best if they are cold for this step).  Prepare a sheet pan by lining with parchment paper or a silpat.   Using a cookie cutter, cut 10 rounds from the puff pastry that are only slightly larger than the brie. Using a knife, cut strips of puff pastry as wide as the brie bites are high. Using a pastry brush, one at a time,  brush the 1 round and  1 strip with water.  Place the brie on top of the round then wrap with the strip, making sure the ends meet or slightly overlap.  Cup the brie in your hand to make sure the bottom is attached to the strip.  Leave the open top exposed {the end without rind should be facing up}.  Butterfly the pitted date and place, gooey side down, on top of the brie.  Continue with remaining brie rounds.  Place in refrigerator to chill for a minimum of 30 minutes.
At this point you can cover and keep in the refrigerator overnight.
When you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 400F.  Space the bites with at least 1″ between them and bake until golden brown.  Depending on your oven, this could be 15 minutes or it could be 30 minutes. Start checking on them at 15 minutes.  When the pastry is puffed and golden brown, remove from oven.  While still warm, drizzle with honey and sprinkle a bit of sea salt on each one. Serve warm or room temperature.


Bangers & Mash

comment 1
beef, lamb & pork / In the Kitchen / potatoes

Several years ago, Mike and I enjoyed a quick trip to London.  My good friend Rebecca lives outside of London proper, but popped into the city to treat us to lunch at a fancy restaurant.  In typical American fashion, we eschewed the fancy and ordered pub style lunch.  And in typical British fashion, Rebecca didn’t flinch.  I lived in London, which now seems a lifetime ago, for several years.  I always ordered bangers and mash when found on a menu. Its one of those meals that everyone has a version of, and everyone’s mum made best.  I always found the meal to be hearty, comforting, and delicious.  My version here is an attempt to copy the version we had on our last visit to London.

Bangers and Mash
mushroom gravy
1 stalk celery–finely diced
1 carrot–finely diced
1 onion–finely diced
pinch salt
3 cups beef stock
1 bay leaf
3-4 sprigs parsley
2 sprigs thyme
2 oz unsalted butter-softened
3 Tbs flour
3 crimini mushooms–sliced
4 crimini mushrooms–diced
Cook the celery, carrot, and onion in a bit of olive oil until just softened. Add the beef stock all at once and stir. Toss in the sliced mushrooms, the bay leaf , the parsley and thyme. Cover and let simmer for at least 30 minutes but up to an hour. Strain. Return the liquid back to the pot. Mix together the butter and flour in a bowl. Add the warm stock, a bit at a time to the butter-flour mixture, whisking to make a smooth paste. Once you have a runny paste (much like toothpaste), whisk it into the broth until smooth. Toss in the diced mushrooms and simmer until it thickens and the mushrooms soften–about 10 minutes.

4 bangers
4 thick cut bacon rashers
1/2 bottle lager
Put bangers and bacon in a sided saute pan. Pour in beer and simmer until the beer has completely evaporated. Add just a bit of olive oil and allow it to continue to cook until the bangers are cooked through. Your pan will get really dark and scary looking. Don’t worry…it won’t damage (fill the pan with water and slowly simmer on the stove, it will clean right up)

5 smallish yukon gold potatoes–peeled and halved
1/2 stick of unsalted butter–room temp
2 oz cream chese–room temp
salt and pepper
Boil potatoes in salted water. drain and return to pot. Toss in butter and cream cheese and mash. Add enough milk to get your desired consistency. Once you add the milk, you have to be mindful. Do not whip and beat endlessly. If you do, you may end up with gummy mash–yuck. Better to have a lump or two.  If you like silky mashed potatoes, run them through a ricer before adding butter and cream cheese. add salt and pepper to taste.
To Assemble
Place a generous portion of potatoes on your plate. top with the sausage and enough gravy to make you smile. Top with a rasher of bacon.