Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Italian Anise Cookies

These are the best cookies to accompany your morning coffee. Make these a day ahead as they need to firm up and let the anise flavor develop.

I had one of those mornings where my camera decided to focus on my utensils and mixer rather then the ingredient so, there are no step by step pics.

Beat 1/2 C. of softened butter with 1/2 C. sugar until fluffy. Add 3 large eggs one at a time and beat until blended. Add 2 tsp. of anise extract. You can also flavor them with lemon or vanilla or almond. I think anise is best! Add 1 Tablespoon of baking powder. Add 2 1/2 C. of flour. You migh add up to 3 cups. I used 2 3/4 C.. The batter should be the consistency of a thick cake batter. Add 2-3 T. of milk until you have the right consistency.

Use a 1 Tablespoon scoop and place the dough in balls on parchment covered cookie sheets.

Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. They will not turn brown and they will be very delicate and cake like. Let them cool on racks.

Make a glaze by beating 2 cups of confectioners sugar with 1/8 teaspoon anise extract and 3 Tablespoons of milk.

After the cookies have cooled for about 10 minutes, dip the tops in the glaze and sprinkle them with colored sprinkles.

I've done it again..this is my 5th Kitchenaid I've gone through. At least this time I just broke the whisk and didn't burn out the motor. I need to find a replacement fast.

Let the cookies rest overnight. Store them in a sealed container.

Eat them for breakfast with coffee.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Valentine's Day Strawberry Cupcakes

If you like things with a fresh strawberry flavor, you will love this recipe. I bought some wonderfully flavored strawberries at the store the other day and made these for my daughter who was home this weekend. They would be perfect for Valentine's Day. The recipe calls for the addition of red food coloring which I left out. If you want the frosting and cake to be a deep red, add it.

Line your cupcake pans with cupcake liners. In the bowl of your mixer, add 1 C. softened butter and 2 1/2 C. sugar. Beat this until fluffy. Add 4 egg yolks. Reserve the egg whites.

Add 1 1/4 C. pureed fresh strawberries. Beat until well blended. Beat in 1 tsp. of baking powder and 1 tsp. of baking soda. Beat in 1 cup of buttermilk.

Add 3 C. cake flour beating in one cup at a time.

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.

Gently fold them into the batter.

I use a pancake funnel to put the batter in the cups. Fill them 2/3 full.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.

Cool on racks while you make the frosting.


Beat 8 oz. of softened cream cheese with 1/2 C. of softened butter and 1/4 C. pureed fresh strawberries. Add 1/3 C. heavy cream and 1 tsp. of vanilla extract. Beat in enough confectioners sugar to get a good spreading consistency. Mine took about 3 1/2 cups.

frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with some decorating sugar if you like.

This recipe makes about 24 cupcakes.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cock-A-Leekie Soup

This is a staple of Scottish cuisine. It might not look like much, but it is one of the best soups you will ever eat.

Cook 6 pieces of bacon in a heavy pot until they are crisp. Salt and pepper 8 chicken legs and brown them in the bacon fat until they are golden.

Keep the bacon on the side for now.

Remove the legs and set them aside too.

I thought this was a good chance to use some of my minced bacon. You can skip this step if you have none.

Clean and slice a dozen leeks.

Add 2/3 of them to the bacon grease and saute' for a few minutes.

Add the legs to the pot and pour in 10 cups of chicken broth.

Thinly slice the cooked bacon and add it to the stock. Add several stalks of sliced celery.

Add 4 thinly sliced carrots and a bouquet garni made from parsley, thyme and bay leaves. Add 2 cups of rinsed barley.

Bring this to a slow boil and skim off any scum that rises to the top. This could make your soup bitter if not removed.

And here is the key to this soup. See that dark spot on the spoon? Prunes. Don't run away yet! When I first made this I thought, no way am I adding prunes to soup. However, I wanted to make it as authentic as possible as I do all of my recipes. So, I decided to make the soup with the prunes and then remove them before serving. As the day went on and the smell filled my house and I watched the prunes virtually dissolve, I decided to leave them in. And boy am I glad I did. This is an example of respecting something that has been done the same way for hundreds of years. There is a reason prunes were added. There is virtually no prune flavor at all to the soup, rather, they add a deep richness to the soup that makes it as exceptional as it is. So, make sure you slice up about 8 prunes and add them. You too will be glad you did. Removing the pits is a good idea too.

Add 2-3 tablespoons of cracked black pepper. I also added a container of chicken demi glace'. If you don't have any, add some chicken bouillon. Taste it and adjust the seasoning. Let the soup simmer for a couple of hours. Remove the chicken legs and add the remaining leeks. Remove the meat from the legs and return it to the soup.

Great soup with a fun name. Your kids will like to say it. Mine thought I made it up.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Spaghetti all"Amatriciana Recipe

This can be whipped up fast for a very good dinner.

Fry 6 pieces of bacon until crisp.

Drain on paper towels.

Dice the bacon, dice 4 cloves of garlic and 1 large onion.

Saute' the onions and garlic in the bacon grease and add the diced bacon. Sprinkle in 1/2 tsp. of red pepper flakes. This just gives it a little kick.

Add 2 28oz. cans of crushed tomatoes. I like to use Muir Glen Fire Roasted. Taste for seasoning and add a bit of salt and pepper.

Boil spaghetti in salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water, and mix with the sauce. Stir to combine and add some of the pasta water if it is too thick.

Serve sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Scotch Eggs

This is the simplest recipe and one of my families favorites. Make these for breakfast this weekend.

Buy a roll of your favorite brand of sage sausage. Hard boil 6 eggs. Divide the sausage into 6 pieces. Flatten each piece out and mold it around a peeled hard boiled egg. Notice I pointed out that you actually should peel the egg. Just sayin'!

Roll each one in breadcrumbs. I used panko.

Bake them in a 375 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes until the sausage is cooked through. Let them sit for about 15 minutes and then cut them in half and serve. Some people deep fry them but I think they taste better baked. You can also make these with hot sausage and serve them with some marinara sauce.

If you want to make these as appetizers, use quail eggs!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Asian Cod with Sticky Rice and Broccoli

This is a really good way to prepare cod for something different than the common broiled cod.

Cut 2 pounds of cod into fillets and place them in a baking pan.

In a small bowl, mix 6 T. honey, 6 T. soy sauce, 6 T. rice vinegar, 2 T. fresh lemon juice, 4 tsp. sesame oil and 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger. Whisk this together and pour over the fish. Let the fish marinate in this for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

After 30 minutes, remove the fish and reserve the marinate. In a non stick skillet, cook the fish on both sides until browned and cooked through.

Cook the marinate over medium high heat until it thickens.

The cooked fish.

I steamed some broccoli and made some sticky rice. Serve the fish over the rice and drizzle it with the sauce.

Sprinkle it with sliced green onions. This is easy, fast and delicious!