Tuesday, December 15, 2009
I was all set to skip this week of TWD because - let's face it - I think we're all busy, and while there is the opportunity to share creations both knitted and baked with those we love, we're also going to parties and shopping and taking finals and applying to college around here and it's all just too much sometimes! Plus three people in my extended family exhibit unmitigated gall by having their birthdays in December.
There's also the whole nut allergy thing here. John's got to be careful with nuts because, while we aren't quite sure exactly which ones he's allergic to (Understandably enough he doesn't want to do a taste-test to find out.), many of them are processed with peanut oil so they're out no matter what. The result is that I mostly leave the nuts out of stuff - I don't miss them too much and nobody swells up with hives that way. This week's cookies are 90% nut, so leaving them out was not an option. At the last minute I decided to whip them out because they are just so easy to make. I was so glad I did - they're easy, yes, but they're also really good. My family was over on Sunday and they loved them. I'm not sure I'll make them again because there are a million great recipes out there, but once more, Dorie's recipe didn't disappoint.
Thanks MacDuff of The Lonely Sidecar for choosing Café Volcano Cookies!
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Specialty Produce recently started offering CSA boxes once a week. You can opt in via email, which is great because I have commitment phobia when it comes to things like this - I already struggle with a weekly milk/dairy delivery that makes me guilty every time I can't quite finish the milk in any given week.
This is my first week, and I was so pleased with the contents of the box. In addition to the pretty vegetables you see here (heirloom lettuce and tomotoes, baby pink turnips. baby carrots, a leek, some thyme, a fennel bulb, asparagus, arugula, a squash - all locally grown and absolutely beautiful) there were also a couple of nice Meyer lemons and some Satsumas (which I don't really need because I've got a bumper crop of them myself). The interesting twist is that you suddenly find yourself in the position of having to cook something you normally don't buy, forcing you to be creative in your menu planning.
Last night I roasted a pork loin and accompanied it with roasted baby turnips & carrots that I dressed with just a little olive oil, kosher salt, and thyme - fresh, simple and delicious, and the carrots actually tasted like carrots. I also took the greens off the turnips and sauteed them in a bit of bacon fat (from what John calls my little jar of happiness). Dinner was so good I think it actually brought a tear to my husband's eye.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Okay, I know I say this about a lot of things, but these are my favorite Christmas cookies of all. They're buttery and rich, yet delicate and finely textured. I can't help it if I have a long list of favorite things. Don't even get me started on brown paper packages tied up with string.
In a rare instance of perfect timing during this crazy holiday season, Dorie Greenspan's sablés were the TWD pick for this week just when I had to provide cookies for an open house at the La Jolla Historical Society. And in addition to being timely and delicious, they come together in a snap and you can keep the dough in the fridge or freezer to slice and bake whenever you need a few.
Last Christmas I made them several times because they disappeared quickly, and at Easter I made a batch using pink sugar instead of the pretty yellow you see here. I've also tried making them with red and green sugar, but the yellow is my favorite. It plays up the golden buttery flavor of the cookie, I think. Thanks Bungalow Barbara for giving me an excuse to make yet another one of my favorites!
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
File this under better late than never...I just now finished assembling this tart at 9:30 pm on Tuesday while John was putting the lights on our Christmas trees alone (That's right, trees, plural. It's excessive, but you know how I am.). I almost thought of skipping this week but I love pears and I love pistachios so I had to give it a whirl despite the fact that I still have pie left over from Thanksgiving and I'm finally back to my normal weight after I gained a whopping five pounds in one day last week. It's my super power, gaining weight that fast.
The tart requires a few steps that have to be done in advance, i.e. poaching pears in a beautiful red wine bath, making the pistachio pastry creme (which bore an unfortunate resemblance to my minty hummus - but it's under those gorgeous pears, so who cares?), caramelizing more pistachios and blind baking a tart crust (which I made this morning). While the crust baked I reduced the poaching liquid as Dorie suggests and sliced up the pears in preparation for the assembly.
Given all those steps, you have to ask yourself if it's worth it. Well, it is. It is worth every bit of effort and dirty dish - that's how good this is. And it's impressive as all get-out in person. Go make one for any of the special occasions you have this month. I'd give you a slice of mine but I haven't figured out how to share with you all quite yet.
Thank you, Lauren of I'll Eat You, for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie entry - it was fantastic!