December, 2007 Archive

Sunday, December 30, 2007

caramel cake

caramel cake

I know. I know what you’re thinking: this is out of control. This non-stop sugar/butter/egg/flour assault needs to stop. Our hips! Our abs! For the love of all that was once taut and perky, Deb, no more desserts! And I want you to know, I couldn’t agree more. I, too, strive for balance. I, too, swore those jeans were looser before Thanksgiving.

lumpy batter

Yet Dec. 30 is no time to be burdened with these lofty soup-and-salad goals. What else will we have to live down, and resolve ourselves better than, on New Years Day? Salad in December is like… mistletoe in January.

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, December 27, 2007

robert linxe’s chocolate truffles

robert linxe's chocolate truffles

My obsession with Robert Linxe’s truffles started as a matter of coveting. My roommate at the time had more suitors than she could count on two hands and both feet, thus I didn’t even bother trying to keep up, but there was this one–and I never met him, but still called him my favorite–who insisted upon “borrowing” her for the afternoon of her birthday and at Metropolitan Museum presented her with two items: Kissing in Manhattan and a box of chocolate truffles from La Maison du Chocolat.

Kissing in Manhattan was gorgeous–the rare book in Alex and my towering bookcases that we both, two years later, came with a copy of–but the truffles were something else. Not only were they the most rich and hands-down putting to shame any and every chocolate I had ever encountered previously in my life, they were painfully expensive. It just wasn’t fair.

In an effort to build my karma they became my go-to hostess gift and it was because of this that I learned one year at a holiday dinner where a Gourmet editor was a guest that the secret of the Robert Linxe’s La Maison du Chocolat Truffles were not sealed in an offshore vault along with the original Coke recipe and the location of Jimmy Hoffa but free for the clicking on Epicurious.com.

Continued after the jump »

Monday, December 24, 2007

aruba + a blue cheese iceberg wedge

aruba

If there is one thing that Alex has shown me the light of over the course of our relationship–but fortunately, there are many, including ribs, pickles, bourbon and skiing–it’s the consummate beauty of a vacation that entails absolutely nothing. No water skiing, no scuba diving, no afternoon of shopping, no conga lines: just hours upon hours on the beach, tearing through one book at a time. Can you imagine how awful this must be after months of doing things and being ‘on’ and producing things of value for other people in exchange for earning a living? I’ll tell you, it’s a big adjustment.

arubaarubaarubaaruba

Day one is always a little bewildering; we find ourselves saying “Wow, a whole week?” “Seven DAYS of this?” and “What will we do with ourselves?” a lot. Day two we start settling into the beach life–barefoot, sunscreened, our winter coats looking ridiculous hanging in the room’s closet–and make some dents in our books. By day three, however, we’re pretty used to it all: the bluest–aqua, really–ocean we have ever seen, silky white sand, absurd 3 p.m. cocktails called the Tropicolada and the uncanny ability to take a long post-cocktail nap despite having slept 10 hours the night before, and this is where everything descents into a haze. Without a singular event or laughable attempt at productivity that will serve as a demarcation between the days, we tend to blink twice and its day seven. We wonder how our families are doing. We ponder what plans we have made for the weekend we return.

Continued after the jump »

Friday, December 21, 2007

a slice-and-bake cookie palette

slice-and-bake cookies

I knew that there are a lot of would-be bakers out there that have looked at all of the cookie recipes I have posted this week and thought, “yeah, that’s great but it’s just never going to happen,” and I wanted to have a recipe that was just for you. The basic slice-and-bake icebox cookie that takes to a thousand variations is something that every cook–even the intimidated ones–should have in their repertoire, for several reasons.

slice-and-bake cookiesslice-and-bake cookies

First of all, if you’re looking to please a crowd, you can’t go wrong with simplicity. You can leave these so-called “plain” (but I don’t think they are) or include an add-in, or several, from nuts, dried fruit, zest, extracts or ground nuts swapped or cocoa swapped for an equal quantity of flour. You wouldn’t believe how many famous cookie recipe have slice-and-bake style dough at their base.

slice-and-bake cookies

The second reason a recipe such as this is awesome is that it doesn’t require a cookie cutter (but could be shaped, if you wanted to roll them out). But the third is really the clincher, and that is that you can make these cookies into their ready-to-slice tube and freeze them for a month or even longer, until you need them. I had no immediate need for these, so I sliced off a few to bake for pictures and tasting, and will use the rest for parties later this month. You can slice them right from a freezer with a sharp knife, though I find it a bit easier after leaving them in the fridge overnight. However, in order to keep them fresh, I wouldn’t store them in the fridge for more than a day or so.

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

austrian raspberry shortbread

austrian raspberry shortbread

If there is anything I am always on the prowl for–besides artichokes, cookie cutters and green anything–it is variations on classic recipes. It’s a sticky thing, of course, because the originals earned their prized state for being blissful the way they are. But I can’t help it–I see a twist, a curve, a departure, or in this case, once again, a grater and I can’t resist.

austrian raspberry shortbreadaustrian raspberry shortbreadaustrian raspberry shortbreadaustrian raspberry shortbread

In my mind, there are few cookie combinations as satisfying as a butter cookie with raspberry, and whether you make them into bars, sandwiches or thumbprints.

But all varieties have a certain density that attracts shortbread-junkies like me, but repels those who want a less weighty cookie experience. This recipe magically ingratiates itself to both parties with the help of a food processor.

austrian raspberry shortbread

Continued after the jump »