Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Vanilla Sour Cream Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting from Rose Levy Beranbaum

This is my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe, and I especially love the addition of sour cream.  The frosting is light and fluffy--if you are looking for a deeply chocolatey icing, look elsewhere--made of butter, egg whites, and sugar.  The white nonpareils add a bit of whimsy to this cupcake made for Reka's birthday.  

I believe it's important to have 4 basic cupcake recipes on hand:  vanilla and chocolate butter cupcakes, and vanilla and chocolate buttercreams.  The recipes below are two of my four go-to recipes, and the ones I used for the vanilla cupcakes with chocolate frosting picture above. For a delicious and easy chocolate cupcake recipe and a heavenly vanilla buttercream, see here for the cupcakes I made for my cousin Jennifer's wedding shower.  Or, if you are short on time or desire, a simpler, faster recipe for Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream from Martha Stewart can be found here.   What are your four go-to cupcake recipes?  Please post so we can all try them!

Vanilla Butter Cupcakes
From Rose Levy Beranbaum's Rose's Heavenly Cakes
I've been looking for a vanilla cake recipe for a long time, and I think I've finally found it. There is something bland about the traditional yellow cake recipes out there, but this one has sour cream for a little tang, and a moist, sweet interior that is at once airy and yet laden with dense butter.

2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 c cake flour (sifted into the cup and leveled off)
1 c superfine sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 tbsp unsalted butter

1. In a small bowl, whisk eggs, 3 T sour cream, and vanilla just to combine.

2. In a mixer, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt on low speed for 30 seconds. Add butter and remaining sour cream and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl.

3. Gradually add egg mixture in two parts, beating on medium for about 30 seconds after each addition. Scrape down sides. Fill 16 lined standard cupcake tins with about 1/4 cup batter each and bake 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees F. or until cake springs back when lightly pressed. Cool on wire rack in pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and continue to cool on rack until completely cooled.

Chocolate Neoclassic Eggwhite Buttercream
From Rose Levy Beranbaum's Rose's Heavenly Cakes
This buttercream is light, airy, and when just whipped produces a beautiful, pale brown frosting.

5 ounces dark chocolate (60% to 70% cocoa), melted
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 large egg whites (1/4 cup or 2 ounces)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup superfine sugar

1. Heat chocolate until almost completely melted. Stir until melted.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, beat butter until smooth and creamy. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites (use a clean beater) until frothy. Add cream of tartar. Beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar until stiff peaks form.

3. Beat the butter into the egg whites 1 T at a time on medium speed. If the frosting curdles, stop adding butter and beat at a higher speed until no longer curdled (this did happen to me--you may have to beat for a long time).  Beat in the melted chocolate.  Use at once or set aside for up to 4 hours. If keeping longer than 4 hours, refrigerate (I refrigerated some of the leftover for 6 days and it still tasted as good as the first day!), then bring to room temp before beating again. If it curdles, continue to beat until no longer curdled.

Note:  I used an Ateco #827 (star tip) for this design, which you can purchase from Amazon here.  You can also buy a set of ten tips here

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Zucchini, Carrot, and Cranberry "Bridge" Muffins from SoNo Bakery

I call these muffins "bridge" muffins because they very perfectly moved me from that last end-of-summer zucchini that had been sitting in my refrigerator to autumnal cranberries and carrots.  The sweet, golden-hued orbs are studded with tart cranberries, and the zucchini and carrot add additional texture and moisture.  

This recipe comes from The SoNo Baking Company Cookbook.  S and I went last winter to the SoNo Bakery at lunchtime on a freezing cold day.  Just the walk from our car two minutes away to the bakery had me shivering, and the steaming mugs of savory root vegetable soup that we had were a warm welcome.  The bakery is informal--you order at the counter and they bring your food to you at a table (or the bar chairs facing into the bakery if that's what you choose to do).  The day we went, S and I watched the bakers roll and fill chocolate croissants on big marble slabs while we sipped our soup and daintily bit into our array of baked goods.  The large glass windows for viewing are worth the trip there by themselves, but you will be satisfied with the cozy interior and clearly-baked-from scratch goodies.  I would recommend the little chocolate and caramel tarts, so tiny they urge you (and you are willing, of course!) to try several other desserts.

Zucchini, Carrot, and Cranberry Bridge Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour (you can also use some whole wheat--see notes below)
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup sugar
1 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
3/4 c finely grated carrot (about 2 medium)
3/4 cup finely grated zucchini (about 1 medium)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup whole fresh or frozen cranberries (no need to thaw the cranberries)

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease a muffin tin and set aside.  Note: If you plan to make large muffins that puff up over the top of the cups, gently grease the top of the muffin pan.    
2.  Whisk together the flour through baking soda and set aside.
3.  In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar through vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients and fold with a rubber spatula until incorporated.  Fold in cranberries.
4.  Divide the batter evenly among 12 muffin cups (about a 1/4 cup each--use more for larger muffins).
5.  Bake, rotating the pan, until muffins are golden brown, the tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.
6.  Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.  Gently lift muffins and turn on sides; allow to cool in pan.  
7.  Eat!

My notes:  I doubled the recipe, used 1 1/2 cups of sugar instead of 2, and used 2 cups of white flour and two cups of whole wheat pastry flour.  I also used extra large muffin pans, and the recipe made 11 of these (I filled each cup nearly full so that the muffin tops puffed up).   Extra large muffin cups will take about 35 minutes to bake.  Be gentle when removing the muffins from the pan--the muffins are dense with goodies and will break if not turned on their sides slowly.  Muffins can be frozen and taken out of the freezer the night before you wish to eat them for breakfast.  If you wish, you can reheat them in a warm oven right before serving.

Monday, October 4, 2010

New Website Launches: Connecticut Eats Local

Check out the new CT Eats Local site that just launched and take the CT Eats Local pledge!
You can even take this pledge if you are not a CT resident--see the FAQs page for details.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Aunt Cheri's Banana Muffins

My aunt Cheri emailed me this recipe to let me know these are the "BEST" banana muffins ever.  I took her word for it and gave them a try.  When my husband came home from work and popped one in his mouth, this is EXACTLY what he said.  "These are the BEST banana muffins you've ever made!"  

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
A scant 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large or 3 small)
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup milk
Optional:  about a 1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips and/or finely chopped walnuts (my addition--see the "My Notes" section below)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line twelve 1/3-cup muffin cups with muffin liners or grease and flour. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Mix together the mashed bananas, egg, melted butter and milk in a bowl. Stir banana mixture into dry ingredients just until blended, making sure not to overmix.
If you wish, add chocolate chips and/or walnuts to the batter (see the "My Notes" section below).  
Divide batter among prepared muffin cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake muffins until tops are pale golden and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, about 30 minutes.  Transfer muffins to a rack to cool.

My Notes:  I used a heaping cup of mashed banana because 2 bananas were not enough and 3 were a heaping cup.  I also replaced ½ cup of the white flour with a ½ cup of whole wheat flour.  I think it would be good to do this with whole wheat pastry flour as well.  Finally, I left the chocolate chips out of half of the batter and scooped the non-chocolate chip batter into 6 muffin cups.  I sprinkled these muffins with finely chopped walnuts.  I then added about a ¼ cup of mini chocolate chips to the second half of batter, mixed it in, and scooped this batter into the remaining 6 muffin cups.  I sprinkled this batter with mini chips on top. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Warm Apple Galette with Homemade Cinnamon Ice-Cream

The first time I had cinnamon ice-cream was with warm apple something or other at the Fashion Cafe in New York City when I was fourteen.  I thought the idea of cinnamon-infused ice-cream was so unique and so cool, and getting to stride down the cafe's runway and strut my stuff after consuming this fresh concept made the flavors and textures of hot apple and cool cinnamon stand out in my mind ever since.  This is a perfect fall pairing to serve to guests or to simply enjoy by yourself.
Warm Apple Galette 
from Claire Ptak of In the Green Kitchen
This is, hands down, the best crust recipe I know of.  It makes such a fabulous apple or peach galette that I've had five in the last month.  In one week alone, I made and helped consume three.  It helps, of course, that this is also one of the easiest desserts to make, especially because the recipe makes enough for 2 doughs and you can freeze one and pull it out later for an impromptu finish to dinner.  

Dough (makes enough for 2 12-inch tarts)
I love Claire's technique here of blending in half of the butter and leaving the rest in larger pieces--it makes for a very flaky dough.
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
12 T unsalted butter, cold
1/3 to 1/2 cup ice-cold water (before you begin mixing your dough, measure 1/2 cup very cold water in a liquid measuring cup and stick it in the freezer for a few minutes)
4 or 5 medium apples (for one galette)--you can also use peaches instead
1 egg

Measure the flour and salt into a bowl.  Cut the butter into 1/4- to 1/2-inch cubes and put about half of it into the bowl.  Work it into the flour with your fingertips, lightly rubbing and breaking the flour-coated pieces of butter into small bits, until the mixture is roughly the texture of oatmeal or cornmeal.  Add the rest of the butter and work it quickly into the ough until the pieces of butter are about half their original size.  Dribble the water into the dough while tossing the mixture with a fork.  Keep adding water only until the dough begins to clump and hold together when you squeeze a handful.  You may not need the full 1/2 cup.  Divide the dough into two equal pieces and gather each part into a ball.  Wrap each ball in plastic or wax paper and flatten into a disk.  Let the rest, refrigerated, for about an hour.  If you plan to make only 1 galette, freeze the second disk for later use.  

When ready to make the tart, let the dough warm up at room temperature for 15 minutes or so and preheat the oven to 4oo degrees.  Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface  in to a rough circle about 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick.  Transfer the pastry to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and refrigerate while preparing the apples.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pickled Green Tomatoes, Courtesy of Farmer Tom

This summer, I've been volunteering at the New Haven and Collinsville farmers' markets, which has turned out to be my favorite part of the week.  One of the best things about hanging around farmers' markets week after week is getting to know the farmers and talking about their wares.  As we were packing up our tents at the end of last week's market, one of the farmers I've gotten to know, Tom of Hard Rain Farm, gave me a huge bag of green tomatoes that he hadn't sold.  Of course, I had know idea what to do with them except to make fried green tomatoes, which is probably the only thing anyone knows to do with them.  So I asked him, and he had a ready answer.  He told me his grandmother used to pickle them.  Intrigued, I went home and searched for recipes online, and this is what I found.  Maybe next week, when I give Tom a couple pints of these delicious pickles, he will bring me his grandmother's old recipe--something to slip in the recipe file and save until next year's crop of green tomatoes comes in.
Pickled Green Tomatoes
Makes 1 quart
This recipe comes from Closet Cooking (who got it from About.com's American Food section, whose author claims it is one adapted from Chef Michael Symon) and can be found here
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 stick of cinnamon
6 cloves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic
2 cups cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon salt
1 pound green tomatoes (quartered and/or sliced)
1 quarts worth of canning jars 
1. Bring everything but the tomatoes to a boil for 3 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, stuff the tomatoes in the the jars.
3. Pour the liquid over the tomatoes, making sure to cover them.
4. Put the lids on and give them a good shake to make sure that all of the air bubbles come out to the top.
5. Store in the refrigerator for 3 months before eating.

My notes:  I doubled this recipe with the following changes:  I used 2 1/2 lbs. of tomatoes (instead of the 2 that would be required with a double recipe) because I had extra liquid left over and more tomatoes.  However, some had already turned a little bit red.  They ended up fitting into 6 pint jars, which was the perfect amount so I could give 2 jars to Tom, 1 to my dad, 1 to my grandfather, and keep 2 for us (3 quarts worth).  I sliced half the tomatoes and quartered half, as Closet Cooking recommends.  The slices I will use in sandwiches this winter (BLTs, maybe, or warm grilled cheese) and the quarters I will probably use for snacking.  I also used ground coriander seeds instead of whole because that's what I had on hand.  Generally, pickling recipes are pretty forgiving, and you can substitute or change it as you like.  I think fresh chili peppers would have been good in here, and Tom also recommended onions.   

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Chocolate Walnut Patriotism Bars

Eating one of these bars is like childhood, and summer trips to the fudge shop, and memories of that perfect crunchy-on-the-outside and gooey-on-the-inside chocolate chip cookie all colliding in your mind.  Frozen, the bars are cold and oddly refreshing, though your brain knows that chocolate and dough are not supposed to be this way.  The smooth-as-a-Slip 'n Slide fudgie interior cozies up to the rough-hewn oatmeal dough and cold, crunchy walnuts so a bite feels like fireworks in your mouth and tastes supremely sweet on your tongue.
Probably like many Americans, I am not particularly patriotic.  I like the classic American holidays like Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July largely for the same reasons the rest of us do:  I have an excuse to cook and eat way more food than I really need (there are whole books devoted to Thanksgiving leftovers), I get to spend time with my in-laws and extended family (Although many people complain about this, I bet they secretly love all that chaos as they realize that hey!  That's why I'm so crazy--I'm part of a loud, Italian family!  I'm not the only one!), and I can buy things I really don't need and claim the rational part of my brain was momentarily shut down by the holiday urge to consume, consume, consume, when my husband asks why in the world we have ten pounds of potatoes or 50 cookie tins (for the 1300 Christmas cookies I made--duh). 

At Thanksgiving, no one thinks it's weird if I spend several evenings after work planning what to make, take two too many trips to the grocery store because I absolutely have to have sage, which is the focal point of my stuffing, which is the whole point of Thanksgiving and which the store has been out of for a good 8 hours now, or stay up until midnight two nights in a row making green beans, cranberry sauce, and mashed potatoes.  Thanksgiving makes what I do regularly seem normal because everyone else is doing it too.  If you turn on the radio, people will be talking about how they will make their turkey or what sides they will bring to the feast, or how many times and with whom they will eat Thanksgiving dinner.  It's food, food, food, all the time.  

The Fourth is no different.  Suddenly you see throngs of people buying hot dogs and hamburgers like Obama is signing an anti-CAFOs bill into place and stocking up on red, white, and blue paper plates like it's Y2K.  Although I am not usually this way, during holiday times I am one of those suckers who will swoon at the sight of pumpkin-handled mini spreaders, grab heart-shaped cake pans, and allow too-cute-to-resist red and blue pails with star shapes punched into them to leap into my shopping cart.  Patriotism?  Not really.  
Which is why I'm re-naming these cookies "Patriotism Bars."  Hopefully, as I'm eating one out in the woods somewhere and hoping a bear doesn't have the same idea in mind, I might think about my country, the people who are fighting for it right now instead of enjoying a campfire and s'mores, our President, who I secretly believe is a Superhero, and about how lucky I am to have grown up in the United States.  So let's just say I'm sort of patriotic.  Let's just say that with each little bar I munch, I'll be working on it.  It will give me just one more excuse to eat up.      
"Chocolate-Walnut Patriotism Bars" 

(otherwise known as Supremes)
My family has been making these bars for years.  They hold up well, especially when frozen, and are good eaten straight out of the freezer, particularly on a hot summer day.  They seemed the perfect thing to take on our Fourth of July camping trip to Acadia National Park this weekend. 

For the dough:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 tsp instant coffee
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 c light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs
3 cups old-fashioned oats (you can also use quick-cooking, but not instant, if necessary)
7 ounces (2 cups) walnuts, cut or broken into medium-size pieces

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 15 1/2 by 10 1/2 by 1 inch jelly roll pan (I actually use a 9x13 pan.)
2. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.  
3.  In a mixer, cream the butter.  Then add the coffee, vanilla, and sugar and beat well. Add the eggs and beat well.  On low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients.  Then mix in the oatmeal.  Finally, mix in 1 cup of the walnuts.  
4.  Remove and reserve 2 cups of the dough.  Place the remainder by large spoonfuls on the bottom of the greased pan. With well-floured fingertips or a spatula, press the dough all over to make a smooth, even layer.  Set aside while you prepare the chocolate filling.

For the chocolate filling:
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
12 ounces (2 cups) semisweet chocolate morsels
2 T butter
A pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla

1.  Put the sweetened condensed milk, the chocolate, butter, and salt in the top of a double boiler and let soften and melt.  Stir to form a smooth mixture.  
2. Remove from the stove and stir in the vanilla.  

Assembly Instructions
1. Pour the chocolate mixture over the bottom oatmeal layer and spread evenly.  
2. Place the reserved oatmeal dough by large spoonfuls on top of the chocolate layer so that some of the chocolate shows through.
5.  Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup of walnuts.  

Baking and Cutting Instructions
Bake the bars for 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Cool completely in the pan at room temperature for several hours or overnight.  Do not cool in the refrigerator.  

After the cookies are completely cool, you may refrigerate or freeze them.  This makes it much easier to cut them and will result in smooth, even cuts.  Once the cookies are frozen, run a knife along the sides to release the large bar.  Cut the large bar into eights and remove each eighth from the pan.  On a cutting board, cut each eighth into 4 or 6 pieces.  Wrap in wax paper and then in aluminum foil.  Then place in a plastic Ziploc bag and store in refrigerator or freezer.  

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Soft Pretzels with Warm Poblano Queso

These pretzels are the kind of thing you want to curl up with when it's cold outside, tuck into while the wind howls or the rain comes down.

But, they are also good on a cool spring evening, and they are so irresistible I imagine they would be good anytime, really.

A couple of months ago, I watched a big bowl of these get eaten at a party, one after another, until the party was practically over and almost everyone had left.  
The few of us still there kept eating until the pretzels were gone, too.  It was sad when the bowl was empty and we had to drive home.

A week later, on a carb-craving evening, I accidentally drove to the grocery store and bought the ingredients.  It was a night when I was pretty sure there'd be a snow day the next day.

There was, and I slept in late after sharing half a batch of these with S.  I put the other half batch of dough in the freezer and had them for dinner last week.  When S objected, I explained that it was just like eating pizza, nutritionally.  He relented and finished off his half.   

You can find the recipe here.  Courtesy of Bobby Flay and the Food Network.  Thank you, Bobby.  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.  These pretzels made my winter.  And my spring.

The darker pretzels you see above are ones from the first time I made them.  I followed the recipe exactly, and they came out tasting like a pretzel.  This may not seem strange to you, but I mean, they tasted like a pretzel!  I had never made my own pretzel before. 

The pretzels you see in all of the other pictures are Linda's variation.  She was the one who made them the first time I had them.  They are shaped into fat little sticks, perfect for dipping into the cheese sauce.  Instead of 3/4 cup of baking soda, I just sprinkled a bit in, as did she.  Her cheese sauce was thinner (she didn't measure-so maybe more milk or less cheese?), too, and instead of the egg wash, I brushed the tops with melted butter, as did Linda.  The result is less pretzel-tasting, but mouth-watering.  I suggest you try them both ways, as you are sure to make these more than once.  Cup O' Cake Designs' Chrissy made them recently after her husband raved about them, and you can see her post here.  

Monday, May 10, 2010

Baby Banana Cream Cheesecakes

Some things to be thankful for:

Lovely bananas,

and cream, 

and cheese.  

Makes 18 baby cakes.  

For the crust:  
2/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
2-3 T butter, melted

For the filling:
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
6 T plus 1 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
pinch of salt
4 tsp cornstarch
2 eggs
1/2 cup mashed banana
5 T plus 1 tsp heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla

For the decoration:
3/4 cup whipped cream
2 tsp-2 T. confectioner's sugar (depending on taste)
1 ripe banana
1.  Prep:  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners and set aside.  

2.  Make the crusts:  Mix together the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter.  Put 1 T of crumbs in each cup and use your fingers to pat down the crumbs.  [The crumbs do not need to come up the sides of the cup, but it's okay if they do.  If you plan to remove the liners before serving, you will want to pack the crumbs down into an even line so that they look attractive.]  Bake the crusts for 5 minutes.  Then allow to cool for a couple of minutes while you prepare the filling. 

3.  Make the filling:   While the crusts are baking, beat the cream cheese in a mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment until fluffy.  Add the sugar, salt, and cornstarch and beat until mixed.  Then add the eggs, beating adequately after each until batter is smooth.  Mix in the mashed banana, heavy cream, and vanilla.  

4.  Fill and bake:  Fill each cup almost full (this will be easier if you use a cookie scoop).  Place muffin tins in a roasting pan or pans or other large pan(s) and put in oven.  Then fill the roasting pan(s) with hot water to come about halfway up the sides of the muffin pans.  Bake for 22 minutes, until centers are set.  

5.  Cool:  Allow the cakes to cool in the pan before removing them.  Then carefully lift them out of the muffin tin and set on a wire rack to cool completely (if not already cool).  Place in refrigerator and let set for about 4-5 hours, until firm.  

6.  Prepare the decoration:  Beat the heavy cream in a mixer with the wire attachment (or a hand-held mixer) until it holds a shape.  Then add the confectioner's sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.  Slice one ripe banana into 1/4 inch thick slices.  Cut each slice in half.  

6.  Decorate:  Fit a pastry bag with a wide star tip (I used Ateco #824) and fill with the whipped cream.  Decorate each cake with a large star.  Finish by placing one banana half-slice on top of each star.  Chill until ready to serve.  [Note:  These are best decorated right before serving, or a couple of hours before serving.  After that, the whipped cream will begin to melt and the star will no longer hold its shape.]

All on a Monday evening in May.  

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Yesterday, my day was spent in food.  

Reading about food.
Planning what food to make.
Shopping for food.
Making food.
Eating food.  
Writing about food.  

I can't imagine a better day.
In the morning, after perusing cookbooks and blogs, Steve and I went to the New Haven farmer's market for the first time this year.  We purchased:

fresh baby lettuces, bagged, from the Yale Sustainable Food Project garden on Edwards 

large, pale brown eggs 
tiny, bright red radishes with green leaves
potatoes, still a little bit dirty 
all from George Hall Farm in Simsbury

thick-cut, smoked bacon from Four Mile River Farm in Old Lyme

a pretzel from SoNo Baking Company in Norwalk

Then, we came home and cooked.  For dinner we ate

anchovy gougeres from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food
Villa Wolf Gewurztraminer
baby lettuces salad with olive oil and lemon vinaigrette, avocado, and roasted beets
grilled rack of capretto, from Dom's home in Sheffield, MA, and our favorite place to buy meat, Moon in the Pond Farm
baked potatoes with olive oil, cream, and parmigiano
Palmiers, recipe below

Afterwards, we felt full, and lucky.

Recipe from Sur La Table baking workshop I took in March

2-3 c granulated sugar
1 batch quickest puff pastry--see recipe below (or 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed and unfolded into a rectangle)

Roll dough out using sugar as you would with flour.  Press about 1/2 cup sugar into dough using a rolling pin, turn over, and do the same on the other side.

Fold both outer edges of doug in toward the middle from top to bottom.  Then fold the rectangle of dough in half, from left to right.  Finally, fold bottom edge up to the top one.  Set aside any remaining sugar on a small plate.  Press the dough lightly, then chill for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the folded dough every 1/3 inch and dip the cut sides into the sugar before placing on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Leave 2 inches of space around each cookie.  

Bake for 10 minutes on each side, until they are well carmelized.  The color should be deep amber, not brown.  Cool pastries for a few minutes until crisp and serve warm.  

Quickest Puff Pastry

2 1/2 sticks cold, unsalted butter
1/2 c cold tap water
1 tsp salt
2 c unbleached all-purpose flour

Cut 2 sticks butter into 1/2 inch dice and refrigerate. 

Measure the water and stir in the salt to dissolve.  Set aside.

Coarsely dice the remaining 4 T butter.  Place flour in the work bowl of a food processor and 4 T of butter.  Pulse until the butter is absorbed--it should be ground finely, with no pieces of butter showing. 

Add the chilled butter and pulse a couple of times to distribute.  Shape dough into a rectangle and place between 2 pieces of plastic wrap.  Press dough with a rolling pin to flatten, then roll back and forth several times with a rolling pin to make a 12x18 inch rectangle.  

Peel away top layer of plastic wrap and turn dough over onto the floured work surface.  Peel away the second layer of plastic wrap and fold the dough in thirds the short way, to make a 4x18 inch rectangle.  Then roll the dough up from one of the 4-inch ends.  Make sure to roll the end under the dough.  Press the roll of dough out into a square, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour, or until firm.  

Use dough within 2 to 3 days.  Or freeze up to one month and defrost in refrigerator overnight before using.  

*Adapted from "How to Bake" by Nick Malgieri, and included in our recipes from a baking workshop I took at Sur La Table in March with Chef Meg Buchsbaum.