Happy Holidays!

We're off for a little "island time" break.
See you in January!


Cranberry Bars

For my last post before Christmas, I thought I'd share a cranberry recipe. Thanksgiving may be over, but lots of us serve turkey for Christmas too, so cranberries are still plentiful in the market. I love finding new cranberry recipes....a couple years ago the Cranberry Upside Down Cake turned out to be the most asked for holiday recipe from my friends. So far this year, it's the Cranberry Curd Tartlets.
Which leads me to my latest discovery: Amanda's Give Me Flour blog. Along with some great photography, she has some excellent recipes...I found these cranberry bars there, posted last Thanksgiving. They're rather tart, which is why Amanda suggests sprinkling confectioners sugar on them twice. If you have some leftover cranberries, this is a great way to use them up.

Cranberry Bars
From Give Me Flour


1½ sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar, divided
Zest of one lime, divided
3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (3/4lb)
1/3 cup water
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting


Preheat oven to 350.
Line a 9-inch square baking pan with 2 crisscrossed sheets of parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
Blend butter, flour, salt, half of lime zests and ½ cup of sugar in a food processor until mixture begins to clump together. It will look sandy for a while, but does eventually come together. Press into bottom of pan. Bake until pale golden and sides begin to pull away from pan, 25 to 30 minutes.
While crust is baking, cook cranberries, remaining 2/3 cup granulated sugar, remaining lime zest and water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until berries burst, 6 to 8 minutes.
Pour cranberries over crust and bake until edge is golden, about 25 minutes, Sift confectioner’s sugar over top and cool completely in pan over rack. Lift out of pan using parchment paper overhang and cut into 12 squares, then sift more confectioners’ sugar over top. 


The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, Miami

During the first week of December, the second largest contemporary art event in the world takes place in Miami. It's commonly known as Miami Basel as opposed to the largest contemporary art event which takes place in June in Basel, Switzerland.

My daughter was down for the event and one afternoon we went to see the Margulies Collection in a warehouse in Miami. The Margulies Collection is a non-profit institution located in the Wynwood Arts District. The Warehouse presents seasonal exhibitions from the collection of renowned collector Martin Margulies as well as educational programs, & special exhibitions and an international loan program. It's considered one of the most important collections of its kind. 

I thought during the busy Christmas season,  you might enjoy a change of pace: a brief look at a (very) small portion of the art in a HUGE (45,000 square feet) space. In a space that size, you can just imagine the size of the collection. It was a truly fabulous experience and if you're ever in Miami, make time to visit the Collection. 

(A couple of my photos were blurred, so I snagged two from their website.)

                                         Artist: Astrid Svangren
                                         Title: It is about Four Animalistic Scents…
                                         (Silk, fabric, oil, acrylic, pigment, thread, glass and wood)

                            Artist: Tony Oursler (a video projection; the face changes expressions)

                               Artist: Domingo Milella   Photography
                               Uchisar, Turkey 2007 (on left); Monastir, Tunisia 2006 (right)

                               Artist: Nathalie Djurberg
                               Title: Puppets from The Parade of Rituals and Stereotypes

                              Artist: Ai Weiwei
                              Title: Fairytale, 1001 Chinese Visitors, Gottschalk-Hallen,
                              ladies dormitory

                              Artist: George Segal     Title: Depression Breadline

                              Artist: Song Dong  Title: Wisdom of the Poor: A Communal Courtyard

                              Massive installation of doors and windows juxtaposed with
                              sculptures by several artists, including George Segal


                              Artist:  Leandro Erlich

                              A video projection: elevator doors open and shut on this scene

                              Artist: Paolo Ventura    Title: The Infinite City
                              (photo from website)

                               Artist: Kenneth Snelson;  Stainless steel sculpture

                                              Artist:  Michelangelo Pistoletto
                                              Silkscreen print on mirror-polished stainless steel.
                   (Photo from website)

                              Artist: Izaak Zwartjes

                                        Artist: Anselm Kiefer     Title: Spranche Der Vogel

The Collection is open: 
 October 23, 2013 to April 26, 2014

Visiting hours:
 Wednesday – Saturday from 11 am – 4 pm

Visitors to the collection are welcome at the door for the price of a donation to the Lotus House, a shelter for homeless women and children in Miami.

 Adults: $10 
 State of Florida students with valid ID: Free
 Other students: $5.00


Joyce's Brazil Nut Fruit Cake

Our Antique Club held their annual Christmas fête last week. Joyce and Thom opened their smashing home (or casita, as they call it) to our group and Christmas was everywhere you looked. The home was recently featured in Palm Beach Illustrated and here's a photo of their dining room table from that issue...just to give you a little taste of how beautifully their home was decorated for the holidays. I should have taken some photos that night for this post, but thoroughly enjoyed myself among friends instead. 

Joyce is also a chef extraordinaire and had placed a small plate of her homemade fruit cake out on a (pine cone-decorated) counter in the kitchen. Now I am the first one to say: I am NOT a fruit cake aficionado. Those brick-shaped, brandy-soaked cakes loaded with candied fruit are not for me. I used to make them too....gave them as gifts to everyone! (Mea culpa to all who received them in the 60's and 70's and groaned when they saw them coming!) A friend of my mother's, Martha Kirby, gave me the recipe. For those of you who do love old fashioned fruit cakes, I apologize, but I have to be up front here. I am not one of you. And even though I made them for many years, not once did I ever taste one. But my mother said Martha's recipe was to die for. Oh well, sorry, but you're not going to see that old recipe on this blog.

So when Joyce asked us to taste, I was skeptical (those cherries looked suspiciously like candied cherries to me), but I must admit, the slice itself didn't resemble Martha Kirby's fruit cake one bit. And Joyce assured us: "trust me, this isn't like any fruitcake you've ever had. No candied fruit, lots of nuts and it's really special." So we all tried it and she was right. The cake is light and the crunch of the nuts a nice counter to the fruit and cake. I think you might like it too and since Joyce was sweet enough to share the recipe, I hope you have a chance to give it a try.

Joyce's Brazil Nut Fruit Cake

3/4 cup all-purpose flour 
3/4 cup white sugar 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
3 cups Brazil nuts (I suggest 2 1/2 cups of nuts and imagine you could substitute macadamia nuts if you prefer.) 
1 pound pitted dates (I used less)
1 cup maraschino cherries, drained 
3 large eggs, room temperature 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract  (I used vanilla bean paste)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Grease and flour one 9x5 inch loaf pan or three 3½ x 5 inch pans. (I used two 3 1/2 by 7 1/2 pans. I also lined the pan with parchment paper and lightly sprayed it with Pam. So much simpler to get out.)
Mix the flour, white sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Toss the nuts, dates, and cherries in flour mixture. (You'll find it easier to do all the mixing with your hands)
Beat the eggs until foamy add the vanilla. Pour the beaten eggs over the nut, fruit and flour mixture. Mix with your hands until combined. Transfer to the prepared pan/pans, pressing down slightly.
Bake at 300 degrees for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Store in the refrigerator or freeze. Cakes like this are easier to cut after refrigeration. Use a sharp knife.


Christmas Breakfast II: Gingerbread Waffles with Apple Cider Syrup

Ever since I made Marion Cunningham's Yeast Waffles, it spoiled me for all other waffle recipes. Delicate and delicious...the yeast makes all the difference.
I can't remember where I came upon this particular recipe (Pinterest?), but because I'm making lots of gingerbread recipes this season, it caught my attention and once I saw yeast as an ingredient, I copied it immediately. And yes, they were as light as Marion's recipe but with the added pleasure of that gingerbread flavor, color and fragrance in the house. You can serve them simply with confectioners sugar, maple syrup, or make the apple cider syrup (recipe below) that I tried. You'll have some happy faces around your Christmas breakfast table.

Gingerbread Belgian Waffles
From The Examiner

2 packages active dry yeast (4 to 5 tsp.)
2 cups lukewarm milk
1/2 cup molasses
4 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup melted butter (4 ounces = 1 stick)

Sprinkle yeast over warm milk; stir to dissolve. Beat egg yolks and add to yeast mixture with vanilla. Sift together flour, salt, and sugar; add to liquid ingredients. Stir in melted butter and combine thoroughly. Beat the egg whites until stiff and carefully fold into batter. Let mixture stand in a warm place about 45 minutes or until it doubles in bulk. Use 1-1/3 cups mix per waffle. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Yield: about 6 waffles

Apple Cider Syrup
From Southern Food

1 tablespoon butter
2 cups apple cider
1 cup brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks

Melt the butter and add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil while stirring. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until reduced by half to about 1 to 1 1/4 cups. This will take about 15 minutes. The syrup will thicken as it cools.


Caramel Meringue

This is a very special holiday dessert from the elegant past. I've never seen this recipe in any cookbook other than Private Collection (a little gem of a cookbook, BTW), which is all the more reason to try it. When you read through it, you'll say: I won't have time, or....it'll never unmold correctly. Not only is it quite easy to make (it's basically a meringue flan), but I've never yet had a problem with unmolding and you can make it in the morning and let it sit on your counter until serving time. You DO have to refrigerate the accompanying sauce however.

When the instructions say to smooth the air bubbles out of the meringue, it's easier said than done. I was very careful and you can still see lots of air pockets on the sides of the dessert in the first photo. I've never had one come out completely smooth, but then I'm not a perfectionist. I'm pleased to say, though, there weren't any air bubbles when I sliced the meringue (which is what counts) and I like the uneven look of the finished dessert, plus:
 those little pockets hold extra caramel. Yum.

Cooks note: trust me, you won't like the flavor of the sauce all by itself, but when served over the meringue, it's perfect. Don't skip it.

Caramel Meringue
From A Private Collection, Cookbook from Junior League of Palo Alto

Ingredients for the meringue:
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
6 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
large pinch of cream of tartar

Ingredients for the sauce:
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
6 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla

Method for the meringue:
Preheat oven to 275.
Get out a 9 1/2 inch ring mold.
Caramelize 1 1/4 cups of the sugar by stirring it in a heavy pan with a wooden spatula. When sugar has melted and is a rich caramel color, remove from heat and carefully pour into the mold, tipping it from side to side until the sides are well covered. Set aside while you beat the whites. Do not clean the heavy pan you made the caramel in, you will be using it for the sauce.
Beat the egg whites until they begin to take shape. Slowly add 1/2 cup sugar and continue beating until the whites are very stiff, more so than for an angel food cake. Beat in the cream of tartar and vanilla.
By hand, fold in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar.
Pile the mixture carefully and slowly in the ring mold, removing any air pockets as you go along. Place mold, uncovered, in a larger pan containing 1/2 inch of warm water. Place in the oven and bake for one hour. The meringue will be high, firm and slightly brown. Remove from the oven and quickly loosen edges of the meringue with a knife dipped in cold water so it won't tear. Immediately unmold on a pretty platter, allowing the caramel to drip over the meringue. Don't worry about the caramel left in the pan, some boiling water poured over it will melt it quickly so you can wash the mold.

Method for the sauce:
In the heavy pan you made the caramel in, pour in 1 cup milk and warm it. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with 1/2 cup cream. Add slowly to the warm milk, replace over the heat and whisk until it is as thick as heavy cream. Do not allow to boil or it will curdle. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Refrigerate until serving, then pass in a separate bowl.


Christmas Breakfast #1: Gingerbread Scones

Here's the second of my gingerbread recipes. While I do make regular gingerbread (I use Maida Heatter's recipe HERE) I've never experimented with gingerbread waffles, scones and biscotti. The biscotti post was first, so now the scones. Yes, they turned out nicely. No need to slather them with butter and I added some maple syrup to the glaze, just a touch. Debated some vanilla bean paste as flavoring, which I think I'll try on some I didn't glaze yet. I froze those. Scones are easier than biscuits, I think. I mixed these with a spoon and just patted the dough out on the counter...didn't use a rolling pin at all. Perhaps your kids would have fun shaping them. 

Glazed Gingerbread Scones
Adapted from The Village Cook 

2 cups flour
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1½ teaspoons ground ginger powder
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ cup softened butter
1 egg yolk (reserve white)
1/3 cup molasses
¼ cup milk

Ingredients for the glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar 
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 teaspoons milk or cream, or until a glaze is formed

In a bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.
In another bowl, mix the egg yolk, molasses, butter and milk.
Gently combine the two mixtures, being careful not to over mix.
Flatten dough into a 1 inch thick portion and cut into triangles or circles.
Arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet 1 inch apart.
Brush with the reserved egg white and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake in a preheated 400 oven for 8-12 minutes.
Remove while still slightly soft.

Method for the glaze:
Mix the sugar, maple syrup and milk until it's creamy, and dip each cooled scone into it.
Allow to dry on wax paper.


Jacie's White Chocolate and Raspberry Tart

The daughter of my dearest friend Nancy gave me this unusual recipe many years ago. I don't make it often, but when I do, mouths drop open. It's a cookie crust and the melted white chocolate turns into a caramel-type sauce that firms up a bit in the fridge. The raspberries add a tart foil to all the sweetness.....fresh raspberries work best, of course. Aren't the colors perfect for Christmas? Really, you ought to indulge yourself, 'tis the season after all....work it off at the gym later. 

Jacie's White Chocolate and Raspberry Tart

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick cold butter, diced
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons cold water
12 ounces white chocolate
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups fresh raspberries

Pulse flour and sugar in a processor. Add butter. Pulse until mixed. Add egg yolk and cream and dribble the cold water as needed to hold dough together. (I needed a tad more)  Form the dough into a round and flatten. Place in wax paper and refrigerate 1/2 hour or until firm enough to roll out.
Roll out and put in tart pan with removable bottom. Press in with fingers, and up sides. Blind bake with weights 15 minutes at 350, then without weights for another 15 minutes. Cool. 

Spread fresh raspberries on the bottom crust. Melt chocolate slowly in the top of a double boiler. Melt the butter and beat the butter and cream into the chocolate. It will slowly turn into a caramel-like sauce. Make sure there are no lumps. 

Pour over the berries and refrigerate overnight. Decorate with holly, chocolate leaves or extra raspberries.


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