Random (but not really)

Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas Cookies 2016: Cut-Out Cookies

Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich

Lemon Thins
Twice-Baked Shortbread

Lemon Thins



Fine Cooking Cookies: 200 Favorite Recipes for Cookies, Brownies, Bars & More by the Editors of Fine Cooking

Butter Cookies

Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts by Alice Medrich

Lemon Curd

Butter Cookies with Lemon Curd


The Essential Baker: The Comprehensive Guide to Baking with Chocolate, Fruit, Nuts, Spices, and Other Ingredients by Carole Bloom

Lemon Shortbread Coins



The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion: The Essential Cookie Cookbook by King Arthur Flour

Sugar Cookies

Pure Vanilla: Irresistible Recipes and Essential Techniques by Shauna Sever

Vanilla Frosting

Sugar Cookies with Vanilla Frosting

Written by Michelle at 9:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Food  

The Books of 2016: Cookbooks

I finally got around to reviewing some of the cookbooks I’ve been reading and enjoying.

I’ve always loved baking, and I like cooking, but all my recipes were for families, so we’d eat the same thing for a week to eat all the leftovers, and, well, meh.

I started to enjoy cooking when I started using a recipe app that had a “scale” option, so could automatically recalculate the servings from four or six to two.

Baking, however, is a little different, since leavening doesn’t scale linerally, so the discovery of books with tested recipes for baked goods? Fabulous.


Dessert For Two: Small Batch Cookies, Brownies, Pies, and Cakes (2015) Christina Lane : 9/10

This is the first cookbook for two that I found, and it’s marvelous. If I want to tweak the recipes, I have the base from which to do it. But many of the recipes are marvelous as is (although they really are more than two servings).

Comfort and Joy: Cooking for Two (2015) Christina Lane : 8/10

I got this because I liked the dessert book so well, and was pleasantly surprised to find dinner recipes I liked just as well.


The Complete Cooking For Two Cookbook (2014) America’s Test Kitchen : 8/10

This has more recipes, and like all of the America’s Test Kitchen recipes, you get the reasons why things work. But mostly I just like having recipes that are quick and I know will work.

If you click through any of the Amazon links and buy something, it’ll get me hapenny or so, which will eventually let me buy another book.

Written by Michelle at 8:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Food  

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Cookies 2016: Drop Cookies

Fine Cooking Cookies: 200 Favorite Recipes for Cookies, Brownies, Bars & More by the Editors of Fine Cooking

Cranberry Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies



Maida Heatter’s Cookies by Maida Heatter

Cookie Kisses



The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion: The Essential Cookie Cookbook by King Arthur Flour

Chocolate Walnut Holiday Cookies


Written by Michelle at 9:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Food  

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Cookies 2016: Bar Cookies

Aside from brownies, I think the only time I made bar cookies is at Christmas.

Probably because the recipes make entirely too many cookies, and I either eat them until I’m sick, or they go to waste (or Michael eats too many).


Christmas Cookies by Oxmoor House

Cranberry-Caramel Bars

I follow this recipe only vaguely–primarily I just drizzle the caramel over the shortbread and cranberries, and then sprinkle the other bits on top.




Fine Cooking Cookies: 200 Favorite Recipes for Cookies, Brownies, Bars & More by the Editors of Fine Cooking

Cranberry Streusel Shortbread Bars

This is my first year making these, and I think they need some work as far as presentation. The dough is gloopy like a drop cookie, rather than sandy like a shortbread cookie. But if they taste good, I’m willing to tweak the recipe.




Simply Sensational Cookies by Nancy Baggett

Praline-Pecan-Coconut Bars

OMG. I love these so much. I like to trim the edges off because it makes the bars neater, the cookies fit back in the pan better once sliced, and because then I have to eat those edges, since they won’t fit into the pan neatly.


Written by Michelle at 9:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Food  

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Cookies 2016: Biscotti

Every December I find myself scrounging around trying to find last years list of proposed Christmas cookies, and trying to remember what cookies I made, and what cookies everyone liked best.

This year I’m making note of everything.

I’ve made several different kinds of biscotti, and I have Many Thoughts on how biscotti should be properly made.

Biscotti aren’t supposed to be “high fat”; a biscotti recipe without butter is the correct way (or the traditional Italian way) to make biscotti. I hate the “less fat” designation because it makes you think something is missing, rather than something is made correct.

Biscotti are for dipping into hot drinks. They are supposed to be crunchy and hard. If you make biscotti with butter, they may hold the flavor better, but they don’t properly absorb the liquid when you dunk them in tea or cocoa (or coffee).

Trying some biscotti and cocoa.

Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich

Chocolate Biscotti with Less Fat

These “low-fat” biscotti are very delicious, and my new favorite biscotti recipe–dutch process cocoa AND chocolate.



Simply Sensational Cookies by Nancy Baggett

Cranberry Ginger Spice Biscotti
Spiced Chocolate Biscotti

Nope. The spices were interesting, but the butter made the texture all wrong, so I gave them all away. I learned my lesson–don’t even try making biscotti if the recipe has butter. I won’t like it.


The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion: The Essential Cookie Cookbook by King Arthur Flour

Orange-Cranberry Biscotti


The KAF cookie book has two recipes for biscotti–Traditional Italian or American Biscotti. You then try any of the variations with your choice of base recipe.

I of course used the Traditional Italian base.

Couple things I’ve discovered making biscotti. First, even when using parchment paper, lightly grease the paper. It makes it much easier to slide the hot biscotti loaf onto the cutting board without burning your hands. Second, in a tip I learned in David Lebovitz’s Room For Dessert, once you blop the the dough into a log (or logs), wet your hands to shape and smooth the log–it makes the sticky dough much easier to handle.

Written by Michelle at 4:42 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Food  

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Vanilla Cinnamon Bread

Vanilla Cinnamon Bread
from The New Best of Better Baking by Marcy Goldman

1 ½ cups warm water
2 ½ tsp instant yeast
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar (vanilla sugar if you have it)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 ¼ tsp salt (vanilla salt if you have it)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp non-fat dry milk
¼ cup instant potato flakes (1)
3 ½ to 4 ½ cups bread flour (2) (3)

2 tbsp cinnamon
¼ cup sugar (vanilla sugar if you have it)

Two 8- x 4- inch bread pans

Add yeast to water and let sit for a few minutes. Stir in butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, dry milk, and potato flakes / flour. Add 3 ½ cups of bread flour and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, adding more flour as needed to form a soft dough. (As noted, I use potato flour, and it is a really sticky dough that never cleanly pulls away from the sides of the bowl.)

Let dough rise 30 to 45 minutes, or until about doubled.

Mix together cinnamon and sugar.

Roll out dough into a 12 by 10 rectangle. Brush dough with milk. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Roll up into a log and cut in half to make 2 loaves and place in pans. (I actually cut in half before rolling, and manipulate the roll, pinching in the ends, so that the cinnamon sugar bits are sealed inside. This makes a finished loaf that is a bit more like poticza and less like normal cinnamon bread, but makes the pans MUCH easier to clean. And I like the more random cinnamon swirld.)

Cover and let rise for 30-45 minutes, or until dough rises just above the edge of the pan.

Preheat oven to 350. I generally preheat for at least 30 minutes, or try to bake something else before the bread so the oven is definitely at temp, but then I keep a baking stone in the bottom of my oven.

Bake 35-45 minutes or until loaves are brown. Cool in pans for 15 minutes then remove from pan.

(1) I only have potato flour, and I’ve dropped it to 2 tbsp and it’s still a very sticky.
(2) 1 cup of flour = 4.5 oz for her recipes
(3) I’ve used 1 cup of whole wheat flour and added 1 tsp gluten

Written by Michelle at 5:43 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Food  

Peach Rum Sauce

for Amy

Peach Rum Sauce
From the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

6 cups chopped, pitted, peeled peaches
2 cups light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 cups granulated sugar
¾ cup rum
1 tsp grated lemon zest

Combine ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly until sugar dissolves.

Reduce heat and boil, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 20 minutes.

¼ inch head space, process 8 oz jars for 10 minutes.

Written by Michelle at 5:41 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Food  
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