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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Cookie Advent

I stated and gave up within a week. I was going to bake a new cookie recipe everyday from Saveur's cookie advent calendar. When I started this plan I wasn't thinking, obviously. I do bake often, but not everyday. It got to be a little crazy and not quite as much fun as it should have been, so I decided to drop the idea. I did find a couple good new recipes that I'll share with you though.

These brown sugar cookies are my favorite of the experiment. They're from Cooks Illustrated, not Saveur ( I decided to be flexible in my list). To give you an idea of how good they are I'll share an example. Tuesday night  Kyle and I made 5 dozen of these for my family (7 people including us). In the morning maybe 10 were left. If you need a last minute holiday treat, make these. They'll take you an hour for one batch (including browning butter, mixing and cooking) and they're my current favorite cookie. If you like caramel flavor, brown sugar and overall deliciousness these are the cookies for you. You can find the recipe here. I highly recommend the dark brown sugar, but I'm sure they'd be good with light, but not as caramely.

These other cookies are from the actual cookie advent. Of them, my favorite is the Drömkakor (pictured above) or Swedish Dream Cookie. They are light are crumbly and melt in your mouth. If you don't have vanilla sugar you can use the same amount of regular sugar and a few drops of vanilla extract.

Here the Swedish dream cookies are pictured with some coconut cookies which were also good but not as much as the other ones.

These are caramel crumb bars. They're pretty good, but next time I'd double the caramel layer.

Merry Christmas Eve! And happy baking to you and yours!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cranberry Curd Bars

This picture does not really do these justice, so check out the original recipe at the kitchen for a much more mouthwatering depiction. 

If you're looking for a festive new Christmas dessert this could be it. I made it with fresh cranberries and the result was delicious! For a shortcut, the recipe also includes instructions for starting with 100% cranberry juice instead, but cooking down the cranberries doesn't take too long. I have a food processor, so the walnut shortbread crust took less than a minute to make, but it probably wouldn't take too long even without one. Also, we didn't have freezer space so i refrigerated the crust instead and it turned out fine. I hope you're all having fun baking goodies! Pardon me if you only see desserts on here for the next few days.

Ultra Crispy Roast Potatoes

I love Serious Eats, especially their food lab with Kenji! He develops delicious and amazing recipes like these ultra crispy roast potatoes and then explains why they work so well! These potatoes turn out extra crispy because you build up a layer of gelatinized starch by par-boiling them in acidic water first and then increasing their surface area by tossing them in a bowl with a metal spoon. Talk about cool! (And nerdy, but hey, I'm a chemist!) Then you roast them with fat, salt, pepper and thyme. These definitely were the most crispy roast potatoes I've ever had. I didn't have the recommended duck fat, so I went with bacon fat instead, which worked well. Next time I'll probably try olive oil to be nicer to my heart. 

Skillet Turnips and Potatoes with Bacon

Our first try at turnips was a total fail. We roasted them with beets and couldn't really finish the whole meal. I blame those particular beets. We still had some turnips left after that and decided to try this recipe because bacon makes things better! It was a nice quick weeknight meal that I would probably buy turnips for in the future. It took us around 45 minutes. We accidentally used only half the bacon at the start and cooked the rest separately and added it at the end. It still turned out pretty good, but I regret adding the rendered fat from the second half of the bacon, so I might take out some of the rendered fat after the first step of cooking the bacon if you use it all.

Santiago Salsa

This is basically a bean, rice and cheese dip. We made it a couple weeks ago for a quick dinner. Yes, I know it's supposed to be an appetizer, but there are only two of us! 

This is so extremely simple. You just combine all the ingredients (canned beans, rice, cheese, canned diced tomatoes, jalapenos and onion) and bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with some more cheese stick it back in the oven for a bit to melt, then serve with chips, salasa and sour cream. It was pretty delicious! I'd recommend using a good flavored cheese because that's where a lot of the flavor come from. I think this could also be good wrapped up in a tortilla!

The recipe is from the kitchn.