Saturday, December 29, 2007

Best Of 2007

Nupur over at One Hot Stove came up with the great idea of highlighting some of our best food blog moments of 2007. Since my blog isn't even a year old yet I've decided to do this a little different. So join me on this journey of recapping the top 5 new foods I tried in 2007.
1. Oxtail
The tail of a beef animal; oxtail is bony and often slow cooked or braised. Browsing through my local supermarket this past winter I stumbled across a package of oxtail. At the time I had no idea how to cook it; but decided to buy it anyway. I ended up making an oxtail ragu that I found in Molto Italiano by Mario Batali. It was delicious. Later in the year I had the opportunity to eat at Mario Batali's B&B restaurant in Las Vegas where I sampled his oxtail ragu. I'm happy to report that his is just as good as mine.
2. Speck
I won't repeat the details. You can read all about my speck experience here.
3. Cooked Fennel
The keyword here is cooked. My family has been eating raw fennel for years. It's our practice to eat the raw stalks between courses like celery. This year I decided to try roasting the fennel and eating it as a side dish. We enjoyed cooked fennel so much that I have been constantly trying to incorporate fennel into my menus. On Christmas Eve I made Fennel with Anchovies and Sambuca. If you're interested in learning more about the health benefits of fennel you can do that here.
4. Bulgarian and French Feta
I had the pleasure of trying both Bulgarian and French feta on a recent trip to Philadelphia. I know what you're thinking...All the way to Philadelphia to try feta cheese. Well I happened to be in my favorite cheese shop, Claudio's, and was offered a sample of both cheeses. The Bulgarian had a bit of a tang to it which I really enjoyed and the French was less salty and a lot creamier; which my husband liked. I like both varieties better than the Greek feta I was eating. They can be found here in Phoenix at the Middle Eastern Bakery and Deli.
5. Meringata This is something I recently enjoyed here at Andreoli's in Scottsdale. The owner makes several different types of these desserts. The one I tasted was described as a meringue and custard dessert flavored with chocolate and hazelnut. I did a quick google search and can't seem to find any additional information or recipes for meringata. Not in English anyway. (Goal for 2008...learn Italian) So I guess I'll be heading back to Andreoli's to enjoy this dessert and a lot of other things.
That's my top 5 for new foods I tried in 2007. Looking forward to 2008!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Holiday Sponge Cookies

This sponge cookie recipe has been passed down to me from my grandmother. Never did a Christmas go by without her making these cookies. Decorating them was always a fun family event. As my grandmother would pull them out of the oven there were always a few of us standing by ready to spread the icing and pour on the sprinkles. This past Sunday I made a batch of sponge cookies; and even though my grandmother is no longer with us I felt close to her that day as I baked and decorated her special treats. Of course I hope she couldn't hear what I was saying as I spilled hot icing all over the stove and dropped the container of red sprinkles on the floor. These are definitely easier to make with help. I'm submitting this recipe to the Eat Christmas Cookies event hosted by Foodblogga. Sponge Cookies 1 cup Crisco 1 cup sugar 8 eggs 1 Tbs vanilla 4 cups flour 5 tsp baking powder 2 egg whites 1 lb powdered sugar 4 Tbs melted butter 1. Cream Crisco and gradually add sugar until combined. 2. Add 1 egg at a time and the vanilla. 3. Blend in 2 cups of flour and baking powder (beat well). 4. Add last two cups of flour beating until mixture is stiff. 5. Drop by heaping teaspoon on greased cookie sheet. 6. Bake 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. 7. Glaze cookie with icing when warm not hot. Icing Directions 1. Melt butter over low gas. 2. Add eggs and beat over gas. 3. mix in powdered sugar over heat until combined.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

For the Cinnamon Lover in All of Us

Since taking over the holiday baking duties for our family (as explained here) I've added several new cookies to the mix. The cinnamon cookies below are my husband's favorite. They go especially well with espresso. I'm submitting these to Eat Christmas Cookies event sponsored by Foodblogga.
Cinnamon Cookies
1 cup sugar 1/2 cup butter 1 egg 1 tsp vanilla 1 1/2 cups flour 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp grated lemon peel 1/4 tsp salt cinnamon sugar 1. In a mixer bowl cream together sugar and butter. Beat in egg and vanilla. 2. Combine flour, cinnamon, baking powder, lemon peel and salt. Add to butter mixture; blend well. 3. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or until firm. 4. Shape dough into small balls about 3/4 inch. Roll balls in cinnamon sugar to coat. 5. Set cookies 1 inch apart on lightly greased cookie sheets. 6. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. 7. Cool slightly on pans. Yield: 6 dozen

Thursday, December 13, 2007

No Cookies Before Christmas!

One of my earliest holiday memories is my mother as the "keeper" of the holiday cookies. Weeks before Christmas she would spend hours in the kitchen making dozens of treats only to squirrel them away until that special day. In our house no cookies were allowed to be eaten until Christmas Eve. My mother would store them in cookie tins that she would tape shut to ensure we couldn't get to them.
To get around this I started helping her with the baking. This way I could sneak some cookies before they were stored away. Now I'm the primary cookie maker and I find it funny when my mom asks if she can try some cookies before Christmas. Here's the recipe for my mother's butter cookies. I'm submitting this to the Eat Christmas Cookies event sponsored by Foodblogga. Stay tuned for more cookies as they're baked. But remember there's no tasting them until Christmas.
Butter Cookies
3 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar 3 tsp baking powder 2 eggs 1 tsp vanilla 4 tbs milk 1 cup butter Sprinkles for garnish 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 2. In a mixer with a paddle attachment, add the sugar and the butter. Mix until light and fluffy. 3. Add the egg, vanilla and milk and mix to incorporate. 4. Sift together the baking powder and the flour. 5. Add the flour mixture to wet ingredients and mix until combined. 6. Using a cookie press, press cookies onto ungreased cookie sheets. 7. Top with the sprinkles of your choice. 8. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes, or until firm, but not yet browning.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Housewarming Party

I've been invited to a virtual housewarming party. Peabody over at: Culinary Concoctions by Peabody just purchased a new home and has invited all fellow food bloggers to a housewarming party. The weather has finally started to cool off here in Phoenix putting me in a soup kind of mood. So I decided to make some tortellini soup/stew to bring to Peabody's party. Congratulations on your new home Peabody! Tortellini Soup/Stew 

1lb Italian sausage
2 Tbs olive oil
2 stems fresh rosemary
2 stems fresh thyme
6 cups chicken broth
1 12 oz bag of baby spinach
2 roasted red bell peppers
1 lb cheese filled tortellini
1 cup mushrooms sliced thin
1 28 ounce can diced Italian tomatoes
3 garlic cloves minced

Heat oil in a large pot. Add sausage and cook till brown. Remove sausage and set aside. Add garlic and mushrooms cook 3-5 minutes over medium heat. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, herbs and peppers. Allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes. In the meantime cook the tortellini in boiling water. When the pasta is partially cooked drain and add to tomato mixture. Add reserved sausage which has been cut into disks. Cook for several minutes until pasta is done. Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.