SmartPhone Santa Cookies

December 11, 2011 in christmas, cookies, Food Porn

Happy Holidays everyone! Things have been simply crazy this year – some good some not good – such is life. Am hoping to post some newer stuff – as always delicious – soon.

I recently had to get a new phone – my blackberry dated back to the Jurassic era and was just not working anymore – so I bought an iPhone.

I am so loving it. Even for spontaneous food photography!

I have been using my food photography as wallpaper images on my iPhone and have been enjoying images I have not seen in ages.

I thought that I would share one of them with you all. (for free of course)

While surfing on your smartphone CLICK THIS LINK to get a larger version of the image above – save it and then use it as wallpaper!

Let me know if you decide to use it.

Christmas Granola

December 24, 2009 in christmas, recipe

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We have been enjoying christmas here, lots of baking.

My mother gave me a Kitchenaid stand mixer and we have been using it for a few initial recipes.

Christmas 2009: my present!

One of them is a cheesecake we have baking in the oven as I type.

Another is a recipe I whipped together on the fly for a tasty NUT FREE granola, hope you enjoy it!

I used dried cranberries, dried cherries, dried medjool dates, and dried papaya.

Its super delicious, give it a try!

Christmas Granola 2009

Christmas Granola

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 c honey
  • 1/2 c maple syrup
  • 1/2 c oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 1/2 c dried fruit, cut up to small pieces

Directions:

Preheat oven to 250 F.

Mix oats, honey, maple syrup, oil, salt, pumpkin spice until well mixed.

Onto foil lined cookie sheets, spread mix and put into oven for one hour.

Pull from oven every 15 minutes and mix well.

After one hour, turn oven up to 350 F and toast until it is a color you like (ours is golden to light brown).

Remove from oven and cool to slightly warm.

Add dried fruits, mix, store in baggie.

Enjoy!

Christmas Granola 2009

Bright Spicy Holiday Desserts – Bon Appetit Contest

November 1, 2009 in christmas, contest, dessert, Food Porn

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I have entered this post into the annual Bon Appetit Holiday Dessert Bake-Off and I would be deeply thankful if you would follow THIS LINK and vote for my entry!

I have been fretting over this post for DAYS. I have been conceptualizing, racking my culinary brains, wondering if this entry should be super child friendly or uber – urbane and a global foodie galore. I have been hoping for just the slightest break in the driving dark rains here in Massachusetts. I baked all day yesterday while also getting ready for Halloween.

Today was meant to be simple – just assemble the lovely tidbits you see below and shoot. Not so fast!

At least the sun came out.

I asked my 13 yo daughter to help set out a stool onto which I would be setting the tray with the styled food. The 3 yo and the 6 yo decide that it would be time to run hair-burning-crazy amok around the house and outside of it – they see my camera as a few moments where I will be distracted and they run like the wind with it.

As the 13 yo was helping me with the stool one of our roosters attacked her and it was a fierce and brutal one. One of the girl chickens had some how found an antique plastic 6 pack plastic and had it wrapped tightly on her neck. As my DD was leaning over to help this poor hen the rooster launched himself at my poor daughter. She then was chasing the rooster around the garden as I rushed out to shoot while I still had sun.

So, as I am shooting these photos, 3 and 6 yos are running amok, 13 yos are running around in the garden, bleeding and swearing a blue streak, and a whole flock of chickens were assembled around me, the soft rustling of their feathers belying their impending attack.

Jeepers, what I do for food photography these days.

It is my hope that this holiday dessert offering can be considered delicious and non-denominational, good for any tradition.

When I was trying to think of what is THE iconic holiday dessert I was completely at a loss. In my house growing up, we just didnt do desserts. We had no tradition beyond Colombian bunuelos and those are not going to win a Bon Appetit contest.

My husband, being a first generation immigrant from England, suggested trifle. I vetoed that almost as soon as it came out of his mouth – trifle is NOT good food photography food.

I envisioned complicated frosted christmas cakes but decided I wasnt in the mood to do the frosting and knew it would not end well.

At some point, it struck me that holiday desserts have been about precious spices since time immemorial. With this thought in mind, I set out to find recipes that might showcase the spices I like and do it in a way that might win this contest.

I think its possible that the following two recipes might fit that bill. I had also in mind a persimmon panna cotta but I fell deeply in love with my persimmon, she is so very beautiful, that I decided to offer her simply as she is. Many cultures have done the same, serving simple fruits at the holidays.

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Once again, please consider visiting THIS LINK to vote for my entry into the Bon Appetit Holiday Dessert Bake-Off. The voting selects favorites and then the chefs at Bon Appetit prepare those recipes and then selects the grand prize winner.

What does the winner get?

A trip for two to NY and dinner at Le Bernardin restaurant with Editor-in-Chief Barbara Fairchild and Restaurant Editor Andrew Knowlton!

If I win, I am going to take my 13 yo daughter (who should have stopped bleeding by then) and we will try things like foie gras and lord knows what else at Le Bernardin! It should be something she will remember for a long time and I would love to be able to meet Barbara Fairchild and Andrew Knowlton though I am not exactly certain what we will talk about!

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Besides the persimmon, which is not an entry so much as food porn, we have, in front, Rosemary Coconut Hedgie Cookies (a variation of my very popular Chocolate Coconut Hedgies) and a Cardamom Cream Cake topped by figlets. The hedgies, as usual, are simple but just fantastic. They are crunchy and coconutty and sweet on the outside while still moist inside.

The Cardamom Cream Cake was something new to me and is also a very simple recipe. It is a traditional dessert in Scandinavian countries. The cake is very moist, quite decadent (made with heavy cream) and can stand up to all sorts of decorating abuse you might throw at it. I prefer simple. As such, all I did was make a homemade cardamom syrup, put that on the bottom layer and then sprinkled the top layer with powdered sugar.

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Rosemary Coconut Hedgie Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 C AP flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C butter
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp finely minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 C packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 C white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 C flaked sweetened coconut
  • powdered sugar, as desired

Directions

Mix flour, baking soda, and salt, set aside.

Cream together butter, minced rosemary, brown and white sugars. Make certain that it is very well mixed and that you get a light fluffy texture (you have incorporated air into the mix).

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Preheat oven to 325 F.

Make golf ball sized dough balls and put onto parchment.

You can dredge in powdered sugar or more coconut before baking.

Bake for about 25 minutes (your oven may be different, watch the first batch).

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Dust with powdered sugar.

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Cardamom Cream Cake topped by figlets (adapted from this recipe)

Ingredients

  • 2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp freshly ground cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 C heavy cream
  • several figlets, sliced in half for garnish
  • Powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Put about 2 tsp cardamom pods into a coffee grinder and grind as much as you can. Pick out the pod husks and any other large bits, set aside. You will use some of this in the cake and then in the following recipe for the syrup. Please be careful because this grinding releases A LOT of really intense cardamom essence into the air which can really choke you up. We had to open windows to vet out the kitchen area.

In a large bowl, mix (low speed) together all purpose flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, freshly ground cardamom, and salt. Use an electric mixer so that you can get a really good whip going. Keep your mixer on low and blend in your eggs. Next add your heavy cream and slowly turn the speed up to high. Continue beating until the batter looks like softly whipped cream. There is no water in this recipe so you do not need to worry much about excess gluten development. Really whip it.

You can then pour this batter into a cake pan but I wanted to get fancy so I used two spring form pans and spread it out thin so that I could cut the cake with a cookie cutter.

Bake until the toothpick comes out clean (an hour but check at 40 minutes on to be sure you do not over cook)

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Cool on a rack and then decorate as you wish. I think dusting with powdered sugar is the traditional way.

Like I mentioned before, I wanted to turn up the cardamom notch so I made a cardamom syrup that I put on the bottom layer. I sliced my figlets and adorned the top of the cake with them.

Cardamom Simple Syrup

Ingredients

  • 1/2 C water
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp ground cardamom, pod husks and all
  • 1 C granulated sugar

Directions

Add ground cardamom to water in small pot, bring to a boil, add sugar, simmer until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool.

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Strain out large bits, store in cool place until use.

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Dont forget to visit THIS LINK to vote for my entry into the Bon Appetit Holiday Dessert Bake-Off.

Drop me a comment to let me know if you did so I can thank you!

Bon Appetit Bake Off Entry

Oatmeal Coconut Scotchies

January 5, 2009 in baking, christmas, contest, cookies

(Don’t forget to enter Lou Manna’s “Best Looking Food of 2009 contest” to win everything you could possibly need for food photography! See my previous post for details. Contest ends February 16th, 2009)

Christmas 2008: oatmeal coconut scotchies

We made the usual sugar cookies this year but I do not have any photos, was so dark at the time and, well, who needs ANOTHER sugar cookie shot!

When shopping for cookie making ingredients, I picked up a bag of butterscotch chips without any particular plans for them. I made a couple of test sugar cookies studded with the chips but they seemed too plain. I took a peek at the recipe on the bag and found that I was latently craving oatmeal cookies, just like the ones in the bag’s recipe (amazing coincidence huh?)!

I changed the recipe to include sweetened coconut flakes because, well, they were on hand in my pantry and I love how they lend moistness.

I highly recommend these cookies. They pack a LOT of flavor and the flavor layers itself, delivering a long lasting experience. They also hold their flavor and moistness well on the counter, the few days until they are all gone. You can make them softer by not baking the full recommended period. Experiment with it.

Christmas 2008: oatmeal coconut scotchies

Oatmeal Coconut Scotchies (Adapted from this recipe which you may find on your bag of Nestle Butterscotch chips)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or grated peel of 1 orange
  • 3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
  • 1 2/3 cups (11-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Butterscotch Flavored Morsels
  • 3/4 cup Sweetened coconut flakes (I used these)

Directions:

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats, coconut flakes, and morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 7 to 8 minutes for chewy cookies or 9 to 10 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

PAN COOKIE VARIATION:
Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until light brown. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars.

Christmas 2008: oatmeal coconut scotchies

Have you ever noticed that your cat WILL be in the best spot for shooting? This is because they like it warm and sunny. If in doubt of where to shoot in a hurry, find your cat. We have 5 so I usually have to kick one out of the best spot. Sometimes, the cats just WON’T move.

Christmas 2008: Leo refusing to move for the shot

Leo is tenacious.

Christmas 2008: Leo refusing to move for the shot

Let me know if you make these and how they work out for you.

If you are a chocolate fiend, I don’t see why you can not pitch in a couple of tablespoons of powdered baking cocoa into the flour part, mix well before adding liquids.

Buen Provecho!