Friday, February 16, 2007

Recent Recipes

A few of you have requested recipes for my latest dishes. The puff pastry-wrapped brie didn't turn out as good as I had hoped. The brie wasn't melted enough and the honey bubbled out of the wrapping and all over the pan. I was trying to recreate an appetizer I had a Yocona River Inn and it didn't work. Yocona must have the creamiest brie, the sweetest honey, and the best puff pastry around.

The Angel Thumbprint cookies did turn out delicious. You should make these soon and give some of them away to a friend!

(Courtesy of Leslie Mackie's Macrina)
Makes 4 dozen cookies
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup solid vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups finely chopped pecans
3/4 cup raspberry preserves
  • Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Combine butter, shortening, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed for about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix for another 5 to 7 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth and pale in color. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding another. After the last eggs is added, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the vanilla extract and almond extract and mix for about 30 seconds, making sure the egg and extracts are fully incorporated. Remove bowl from mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
  • Using a rubber spatula, fold half of the flour and the salt into the dough. After the first batch is fully incorporated, fold in the other half and continue folding until all of the flour has been absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Pour pecans onto a plate or pie pan. Scoop small amounts of dough out of the bowl and roll the dough into quarter-sized balls. (If the dough is too sticky to handle, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill the dough in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.) Roll each of the balls in the chopped pecans and placed them on the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between each cookie. Use your thumb to press down on the center of each cookie, flattening them about halfway. Place baking sheets in the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Bake on center rack of oven, 1 sheet at a time, for 15 minutes. To help the cookies bake evenly, rotate the baking sheet every 4 minutes or so. Remove the cookies from the oven and using a small spoon, slightly dimple the center of each cookie to make sure the "thumbprints" are big enough to hold the preserves. Top each cookie with 1/2 teaspoon of raspberry preserves, the return the cookies to the oven. Bake for another 5 to 7 minutes, or until the cookies are golder brown and the jam has just set. Do not let the jam start to bubble. Let cool completely.
  • The best way to store these cookies is to lay them flat in a single layer. If you want to stick them in a tin or cookie jar, place a small piece of parchment paper between each layer to keep the jam from sticking. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 month at room temperature.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Cookies for My Sweethearts

Angel Thumbprint Cookies

Mexican Wedding Balls

The wedding cookies are just okay. The dough was really crumbly. I think they are supposed to be this way, but I don't necessarily like it. The thumbprint cookies are TO-DIE-FOR! Seriously good. The dough is flavored with almond extract, the cookies are rolled in chopped pecans, and mid-way through cooking I put raspberry jam in the center. Mmmm!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Tulips are Coming!

Today I found little tulip tips coming up out of the ground. So pretty! I got a free bag of tulips from Wayside Gardens last year with my order (two Jack Frost brunneras, Echinacea 'Twilight' and 'Ruby Giant', and some lily-of-the-valley). The brunneras put out a few leaves that look to have gotten a bite from frost. I think they are going to do well where I put them. The lily-of-the-valley need a bit more mulch on them. I'll might do that today.

I raked the front yard, and look what I found?

Today I'm going to make some Valentine's Day cookies for my family. Some heart-shaped shortbread cookies, some Mexican wedding balls, and thumbprint cookies that have raspberry jam in them: recipes all from the Macrina cookbook I love so much. I hope these all turn out good. I'll add some photos of the finished product later.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Late Winter Gardening Tasks: Done

Saturday was the perfect day for some late winter gardening tasks. I was in the yard by 1 PM and stayed outside until about 4 PM. The weather was mild, about 52 F, and very sunny.

  1. Sweet Olive. Got it pruned. Need to fertilize with a complete fertilizer, such as 15-15-15. A good general rule is to apply one-half pound of fertilizer every three feet of height of the plant. I'm thinking of adding another Sweet Olive tree behind the one I already have.

  2. Ruella. Cut it back to the ground. Need to add new mulch to that side of the yard. I'd also like to add some ferns in front of the ruella.

  3. I planted my roses!!

In other news, today is the Super Bowl! We've been waiting years for the Colts to get to the championship game. Peyton finally broke the Patriots playoff curse, and I really hope they take it all the way! We're watching the game with my husband's boss, who is from Chicago, so it should be an interesting day. I'm making a pastry-wrapped baked brie with orange blossom honey. Yesterday I bought a genuine King Cake from The Ambrosia Bakery in Baton Rouge, so I'm taking that too. I hope it is good!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

English Roses 2007

Today I received my 2007 rose order from David Austin! I went with two yellow roses, Molineux and Golden Celebration, because I wanted them to coordinate nicely with the sea of lantana in the front bed. I'm trying to stick with a yellow, pink, and purple color pattern.
I plan to put them in the ground on Saturday. For now, I'm leaving them wrapped in the plastic with plenty of humidity to keep the roots moist. Friday night I'll soak them in a tub of water so the plants are nice and hydrated before planting.
I prepared the soil back in the fall because I knew where I was going to plant them. I might add a little bit more compost to the soil before I dig the holes.
More photos to come!