Chocolate and Peppermint Stars

Well, I'm back, sort of. First the move and then a trip to NYC to see my daughter. I will be sure to tell you about the restaurants when I have time. Deeeeevine! 

As far as the move is concerned, you really don't want to know what the house looks like. No boxes unpacked, furniture stacked in the middle of rooms while painters are working. Will I be ready for Christmas? I doubt it. Isn't there a movie called The Nightmare Before Christmas? It applies here.  :)

Anyway....I do have lots of Christmas cookie recipes to post. Here's the first:

Are you impressed with that photo? I knew you would be. These actually came out perfectly....no screw ups. First attempt, too. I'm not certain, but I think I found this recipe last year; the link doesn't seem to work, that's why I'm in doubt. Of course, it's Martha Stewart. And my best guess is it was in her magazine, Living. Whether you like her or not, she sure knows how to throw a holiday! It was great fun making these and they taste fabulous....this from someone who doesn't even like chocolate! But there's something about peppermint and chocolate teamed that gets me every time.

Chocolate and Peppermint Stars

Martha Stewart

20 round hard peppermint candies
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Finely grind peppermint candies in a food processor. 

Whisk together flour, cocoa, and salt in a bowl.

Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until combined, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg, vanilla and beat for 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in flour mixture. until combined,about 2 minutes. Shape dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

Roll out dough to a 1/8 in. thickness on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minuts.

Preheat oven to 325. Using a cookie cutter that has a smaller counterpart to use for removing the interior space. Cut out shapes and transfer to a parchent lined baking sheets. Space about 1 in. apart. bake until slightly firm, 12 to 15 minutes.

Remove cookies from oven and fill the center of each cookie with ground peppermints. Bake until candy melts, about 6 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheets set on wire rack for 10 minutes. Transfer cookies to rack and let cool completely.

Dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks and frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw before using.

Cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. 

Linzer cookie cutters are good for these cookies.

Yeild will vary depending on the cookie cutter used.



Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

(Be back in a couple weeks.)


Veteran's Day

Happy Veterans Day. Thanks to all veterans for your service, your courage and dedication. 


Faith's Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts (ROZ MLOW’WAN)

You're going to have fun here today! So many super links for you to check out, each containing a fabulous recipe. Why? Well, sweet blogging friend Faith Gorsky from An Edible Mosaic just had her first cookbook released: An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair. I’m excited to be participating in her virtual book launch party and sharing a recipe from her wonderful book. Congratulations, Faith! 
Be sure to visit her blog....she's got some amazing giveaways!

A little background on the book along with Faith's story: 
The book has over 100 Middle Eastern recipes, with a focus mainly on dishes from the Levant, but also a few recipes from other areas of the Middle East. Faith has a pretty unique story…after getting married Faith spent six months living in the Middle East, where she fell in love with the culture and cuisine. Subsequently, she returned four more times for visits, each time delving deeper into the cuisine and deepening her passion for and appreciation of the region. Recipes in her book are authentic Middle Eastern (taught to Faith mostly by her mother-in-law, Sahar), but streamlined just a bit for the way we cook today, with unique ingredients demystified and cooking techniques anyone can follow. If you didn’t grow up eating Middle Eastern food, it can be a difficult art to master; Faith understands that, and explains complicated dishes in an approachable, easy-to-follow way. The book is available to order on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!
After you check out the recipe below, please head over to Faith’s blog to check out her
virtual book launch party to see the other bloggers who are participating. Also, as part of her virtual book launch, Faith is hosting a giveaway of a fabulous set of prizes. Be sure to head over and enter!


Faith asked me to make her Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts and below that you'll find her variation for Mixed White and Yellow Rice. The recipe is actually vegan so you won’t have any trouble incorporating it into a vegan or vegetarian meal, but it is just as delicious served with chicken, beef, lamb, or seafood, and it would be really fantastic with just about any curry dish. (In the cookbook, Faith recommends pairing Shrimp in Aromatic Tomato Sauce with this rice dish.  I served it with Sophie Dahl's easy Curried Chicken, which I make often. Both recipes take about 20 minutes, so the timing was perfect. (For Sophie's curry recipe, click HERE.)
My rice did not turn out as yellow as Faith's, probably because I used saffron threads and didn't have enough, but the flavor was there. I may try tumeric next time just to see the difference. But I did use the cinnamon stick and cloves as Faith suggested. I'll be making this often. Delicious!

Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts
Recipe courtesy of An Edible Mosaic:  Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky (Tuttle Publishing; Nov. 2012); reprinted with permission

Serves 4 to 6 
Preparation Time: 10 minutes 
Cooking Time: 20 minutes, plus 15 minutes to let the rice sit after cooking

1½ cups (325 g) basmati rice, rinsed 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
3 tablespoons pine nuts 
1 onion, finely diced 
4 tablespoons sultanas (golden raisins) 
1¾ cups (425 ml) boiling water 
¾ teaspoon salt 
½ teaspoon saffron threads (or ½ teaspoon turmeric)

1. Soak the rice in tepid water for 10 minutes; drain. While the rice is soaking, put half a kettle of water on to boil.
2. Add the oil to a medium, thick-bottomed lidded saucepan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer the pine nuts to a small bowl and set aside.
3. Add the onion to the saucepan you cooked the pine nuts in, and cook until softened and just starting to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the sultanas, boiling water, salt, and saffron (or turmeric), turn the heat up to high, and bring it to a rolling boil.
4. Give the rice a stir, then cover the saucepan, turn the heat down to very low, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes (do not open the lid during this time). Turn the heat off and let the rice sit (covered) 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
5.Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top; serve.

OPTIONAL Add two pods of cardamom, two whole cloves, and one 2-inch (5 cm) piece of cinnamon stick at the same time that you add the rice. 

Mixed White and Yellow Rice

Serves 4 to 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes 
Cooking Time: 20 minutes, plus 15 minutes to let the rice sit after cooking

1½ cups (325 g) uncooked basmati rice, rinsed 
2 tablespoons oil 
1 onion, finely diced 
1 bay leaf 
2 whole cloves 
2 pods cardamom, cracked open 
2 whole peppercorns 
¾ teaspoon salt 
1¾ cups (425 ml) boiling water 
1-2 pinches saffron threads or ½ teaspoon turmeric dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water

1. Soak the rice in tepid water for 10 minutes; drain. While the rice is soaking, put half a kettle of water on to boil.
2. Add the oil to a medium, thick-bottomed lidded saucepan, cover and place over moderately high heat. Once hot, add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
3. Add the rice, bay leaf, cloves, cardamom pods, peppercorns, and salt, and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the boiling water to the rice, turn heat up to high, and bring it to a rolling boil. Give it a stir, cover the pot, turn heat down to very low, and cook 10 minutes (don’t open the lid during this time). 
4. After the rice is cooked, let the pot sit with the lid on for 15 minutes, then fluff the rice with a fork. Transfer 1/3 of the rice to a separate bowl.
5. Stir the saffron or turmeric-colored water into 1/3 of the rice (the rice will turn yellow). Mix together the yellow rice and white rice; serve.


Coffee-Toffee Pecan Pie

Do you make more than one pie for Thanksgiving? Always pumpkin, but my dad preferred pecan pie. My mother's recipe was my old standby, but  I made this pie last Thanksgiving
 and just looking at the photo, I'm remembering how much everyone raved. And there's bourbon too. Be still, my heart. My dad would have loved it. (With a big dollop of whipped cream.)

Coffee-Toffee Pecan Pie
From Fine Cooking


3 oz. (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter 
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar 
3/4 cup light or dark corn syrup 
1/2 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup 
3 large eggs, at room temperature 
2 Tbs. bourbon 
1 Tbs. instant espresso powder 
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract 
3/4 tsp. table salt 
1/3 cup very finely chopped toasted pecans 
2 cups toasted pecan halves 
1 blind-baked All-Butter Piecrust  
1/2 cup crushed chocolate toffee candy pieces, such as Heath or Skor 


Position a rack in the center of the oven, set a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 375°F.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until the butter is brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Immediately whisk in the brown sugar, corn syrup, and Lyle’s Golden Syrup until smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool slightly. One at a time, whisk in the eggs. Whisk in the bourbon, espresso powder, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the chopped pecans.

Sprinkle half of the pecan halves in the piecrust, followed by the toffee candy pieces, and then the remaining pecan halves. Pour the syrup mixture over all.

Put the pie on the heated baking sheet and reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until set, 45 to 55 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. When the pan is nudged, the center of the pie will no longer wobble, but the whole pie will jiggle just slightly, and the filling will bubble at the edges.

Transfer to a rack and cool completely before serving. The pie can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Update on Sandy: My daughter has electricity, but no heat in either her apartment OR the gallery. Brrrrrrr. She's still better off than most. Hope the heat returns before the Nor'easter on Wednesday!


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