Archive for December, 2008

Liza’s Mustard

Friday, December 19th, 2008

lizas-mustard-web3

          My friend Liza Pyle introduced me to this sweet-and-tart mustard, which I included in my Pudding Hollow Cookbook. It’s lovely as a straight mustard or as a dip for pretzels or vegetables (if you want to dilute the dip, mix the mustard with some mayonnaise). I usually order a large tin of Colman’s Mustard from Avery’s Store in Charlemont, Massachusetts, so I can make several batches to give as gifts. If you want to give the mustard away, just be sure to tell the recipient to keep it in the refrigerator.

Ingredients:

4 ounces (about 1–1/4 cups) dry mustard

1 cup herbal vinegar (Liza uses tarragon)

1/4 pound (1 stick) sweet butter, cut into chunks

3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

6 eggs

Instructions:

          Place the mustard in a small non-reactive mixing bowl, and pour the vinegar over it. Do not blend the two at this stage. Cover the mixture, and let it stand overnight.

The next day, have the butter cut and the sugar and salt measured so that they can be grabbed quickly when they are needed. Place the mustard mixture in the top of a double boiler, and mix it with a wire whisk over hot water. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking continuously until they are thoroughly mixed.

          Add the sugar, butter, and salt, and cook over hot water for 5 minutes, whisking. Liza warns against overcooking as the eggs may curdle. It’s better to have slightly runny mustard (it will thickens as it cools anyway) than to risk this.

          Ladle the mustard into hot, clean jars. Cool them slightly; then cover and refrigerate them. The mustard will take a couple of weeks to develop its full flavor and will keep for months thereafter in the fridge. Makes 3 to 4 cups.

Cheese Blobs

Friday, December 19th, 2008

cheese-blobs-web

          Not everyone on my gift list has a sweet tooth so I like to make some food gifts that aren’t sugary. This year I decided to try some cheese straws. I’m not the world’s most talented slicer, however, so my straws are actually blobs. If you’re good at food presentation, yours should look better. If not, don’t worry. They will taste so deliciously cheesy no one will mind the way they look!

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon Creole seasoning

1 pinch dry mustard

2 teaspoons paprika

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold sweet butter

1-1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Instructions:

          In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, seasoning, mustard, and paprika. Set aside.

          In a food processor, pulse together the butter and cheese. Pulse in the Worcestershire sauce; then add the dry ingredients, and pulse until the mixture forms a ball (you may have to stop and push down the dough on the sides with a spatula).

          If you don’t have a food processor, cut the butter and cheese into the dry ingredients and then add the Worcestershire sauce. But you’ll work much harder.

Wrap the ball of dough in wax paper, and refrigerate it for at least an hour. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. On a floured surface, roll out the dough until it is quite flat (about 1/8 inch thick). Cut the flat dough into small slices, and braid them or crimp them quickly to make interesting shapes. .

          Bake the cheese straws on cookie sheets covered with parchment or a silicone mat until they are firm and a little brown, about 20 minutes. Makes 3 to 4 dozen blobs.

bucketblobweb1

Illumination Cookies

Friday, December 19th, 2008

illumination-cookies-web

 
I invented these cookies for my town’s recent Illumination Party. Just be sure to use homemade or high-quality eggnog when you make them!
 
Ingredients:
 
for the cookies:
 
3/4 cup sweet butter (1-1/2 sticks) at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar plus sugar as needed for rolling
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/4 cup eggnog
2 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
 
for the icing:
 
1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter at room temperature
1/4 cup eggnog
confectioner’s sugar as needed (probably about 2 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla
holiday sprinkles if desired
 
Instructions:
 
Start with the cookies. Cream together the butter, 3/4 cup sugar, and vanilla. Add the egg and eggnog, and beat until light and fluffy. Blend the dry ingredients and stir them into the creamed mixture. Wrap the dough in wax paper, and chill it for at least an hour.
 
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll small balls of the chilled dough in sugar, and place them on greased (or parchment-covered) cookie sheets. Bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms brown lightly. Let them cool for a minute or two on the sheets; then remove them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
 
Next, make the icing. Beat together the butter and eggnog. Beat in confectioner’s sugar until you have a smooth but not wet icing. Add the vanilla, and spread the icing on the cookies. If you like, throw on some sprinkles for color.
 
Makes 3 to 4 dozen cookies.
 

tinky-ices-cookies-web

North Meets South Pecan Pie

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

pecan-pie-web          Pie is a grand old tradition for the holidays. There’s love in every pie crust–particularly in our home, where my 90-year-old mother Jan is the designated crust roller.

Everyone has a favorite flavor for holiday pie. As far as I’m concerned, you can keep your apples and your squash. Give me a pecan pie, and I’m so happy I could sing (and frequently do)!

This recipe combines two of my favorite ingredients—Southern pecans and Northern maple syrup. It comes from the recipe files of my sister-in-law’s grandmother, Lois Bullard of Memphis, Tennessee. The delicate maple flavor makes the pie taste less sweet and syrupy than many of its molasses- or corn-syrup-based brethren.

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons sweet butter at room temperature

1 cup light brown sugar

2 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons flour

1 pinch salt

1 cup maple syrup (I like to use Grade B)

2 cups pecan halves

1 9-inch unbaked pie shell

Instructions:

          Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, flour, salt, and syrup. Stir in the pecan halves, and mix well. Pour the mixture into the pie shell. Bake for 5 minutes; then reduce the temperature to 375 degrees. Bake until the mixture just sets, 30 to 40 minutes, being careful to avoid burning. Serves 6 to 8. A little whipped cream on the side gilds this lily in decadent fashion.

Jan in the Kitchen

Rolling Pie Crust with Love: Jan in the Kitchen

 

 

 

Eggnog Scones

Friday, December 5th, 2008

eggnog-scones-web1 

Now that December has arrived I’m starting to think about holiday baking. Fruitcake is on the horizon, but since I love scones I’m starting with them.

These buttery treats taste like Christmas—delicious and full of nutmeg. I suggest using either homemade eggnog or a good commercial grade. If you’re trying the latter, take a good look at the ingredients.

They should be things you recognize—milk, cream, eggs, nutmeg, sugar—rather than powdered substances, corn syrup, or things that end in the phrase “ose.” Spiking the eggnog is fun but not essential.

Ingredients:

for the scones:

1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) sweet butter
2/3 cup dried cranberries (optional for flavor and color)
1 egg
2/3 cup eggnog
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

for the optional glaze:

2 tablespoons orange juice
confectioner’s sugar as needed (I used at least a cup!)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Liberally grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment or a silicone mat. Combine the sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. With knives or a pastry blender cut in the butter, but be careful not to overmix. Stir the cranberries into this mixture if you want to use them.

In a separate bowl, combine the egg, eggnog, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and blend until the dry ingredients are moistened. You may cut the scones in your bowl by forming the mixture into a round disk and cutting it into 6 to 8 pieces and then placing them on the baking sheet—or you may simply drop 6 to 8 lumps onto your baking sheet. Bake for 18 to 25 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown.

If you wish to use the glaze (which is sweet but delicious), place the juice in a small container, and add confectioner’s sugar until you have a slightly wet paste. Drizzle the glaze over slightly cooled scones. If you want to go wild, place sprinkles on top.

Makes 6 to 8 scones.