Here's another delicious cookie recipe in honor of this week's contest, from Very Merry Cookie Party—a unique book that gives tips and tricks for staging a successful cookie exchange party along with classic recipes. These beautiful cookies are especially fun to make with children.
Use fruit-flavored Life Savers, sour balls, or similar hard candies for the “stained glass.” It is fun to make your own design for the ornaments. For example, if you want to make a holly leaf or a dove, draw the shape on a piece of cardboard—about 3 inches in diameter is a good size—and cut it out. Edge the gingerbread strips around the design on the cookie sheet. Continue until all the gingerbread has been used.
To crush the candies, use a food processor or place the candies between 2 pieces of waxed paper and crush with a rolling pin.
Cookie Exchange Tip
To make this cookie into a tree ornament, attach a loop made from the dough to the top of eth cookie before baking. After the cookie is baked, thread a piece of ribbon through the loop and tie the ribbon in a bow. To make these ornaments at a party, prepare the cardboard patterns in advance.
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy. Add the sugar and molasses and beat for 2 minutes. Beat in the water. On low speed, beat in the flour mixture until a soft dough forms.
3. Gather the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with aluminum foil.
5. Divide the dough into thirds. Divide each third into 10 equal pieces. Using your palms, roll each piece on a lightly floured work surface into a rope 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter. Gently trace the design of your choice onto the prepared cookie sheets (a wooden spoon handle or chopstick works well for tracing on foil). Outline each design with a rope of dough, pressing the ends together to seal securely.
6. Sprinkle the inside of each design with the crushed candies, dividing the candies evenly among the outlined designs and creating an even layer.
7. Bake in the center of the oven or until the edges of the cookies are golden and the candy has melted, 6 to 9 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets on wire racks until the candy hardens, about 5 minutes. Gently peel the foil away from the cookies and transfer to the racks to cool completely.
Recipe reprinted from Very Merry Cookie Party (Chronicle), copyright 2010, with permission from the publisher. All rights reserved. Read our review of the book.
Here’s another delicious cookie recipe in honor of this week’s contest, from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy (isn't that the greatest title for a cookie cookbook?) by Alice Medrich. These thin, chocolate-y, crispy cookies are a surefire hit.
Makes fifteen 5-inch cookies
A theatrical departure from mainstream chocolate chip cookies, these are large and decidedly flat. They shatter dramatically when you bite them, releasing loads of caramel brown sugar flavor and bursts of bittersweet chocolate. I created this recipe for the original Scharffen Berger Chocolate Factory Store in Berkeley. These cookies will not spread as they should in a convection oven, so make them only if you have a conventional oven.
1 1/3 cups (6 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup (1.5 ounces) quick rolled oats
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces) packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (2 ounces) light corn syrup
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped into chunks, or
1 generous cup chocolate chips or chunks
Cookie sheets, lined with foil, dull side up
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
Combine the flour and baking soda in a small bowl and mix together thoroughly with a whisk or fork.
In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, oats, sugars, corn syrup, milk, and salt. Mix in the flour mixture. If the batter is warm from the butter, let it cool before adding the chocolate. Stir in the chocolate chunks. If possible, let the dough rest for at least several hours at room temperature or (better still) overnight in the fridge. The rest makes for an especially crisp and extra-flavorful cookie!
Divide the dough into 15 equal pieces (each a scant 1/4 cup or about 1.75 ounces). Lay out 3 sheets of aluminum foil, cut to fit your cookie sheets, on the counter. Arrange 5 pieces of dough (4 in a square and 1 in the center) well apart on each sheet of foil, remembering that the cookies will spread to 5 inches. Flatten each piece of dough until it is about 3K inches in diameter. Slide two of the sheets onto baking sheets.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cookies are thin and very brown. If they are too pale, they will not be crisp. Rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Slide the foil with cookies onto racks to cool completely before removing the cookies from the foil.
Repeat with the third batch—you can even slide the next foil and cookie dough onto a hot baking sheet as long as you put the pan in the oven immediately. Cool the cookies completely before stacking or storing. May be kept in an airtight container for at least 3 days.
Excerpted from CHEWY GOOEY CRISPY CRUNCHY by Alice Medrich (Artisan Books).
Copyright 2010. Deborah Jones, photographer. Read our review of the book.
This week's recipe comes from The Essential New York Times Cookbook (Norton) by Amanda Hesser, a labor of love for sure. Hesser solicited readers' input on their favorite NYT recipes, then pored through the newspaper's archives to find other winners from as far back as 1895. She tested them all and chose more than 1,000 of her favorites for inclusion in this mammoth book. (Read our review here; watch the trailer here.)
The sprouts are then wilted in bacon fat and blended with fried bacon, scallions, nutmeg, and toasted pine nuts. If that combination isn’t good, then what is?
1. Trim and core the sprouts. Put them in a food processor (in 3 to 4 batches) and coarsely shred.
2. Fry the bacon in a large skillet until it is crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels.
3. Add the pine nuts to the fat remaining in the pan and stir over medium heat until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sprouts, scallions, and nutmeg. Cook, stirring, until the sprouts are cooked through but still crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the bacon and season generously with salt and pepper.
Serves 8 to 10
Ball instructs you to core each Brussels sprout, a step I had no interest in following. I aggressively trimmed the sprouts and cut off the stems with a small paring knife.
This dish reheats well in a sauté pan coated with a film of olive oil.
Around 2002, chefs in a couple of New York City restaurants began serving a dish of shredded raw Brussels sprouts, sprinkled with olive oil, salt, pepper, and shavings of Pecorino Romano cheese. In this case, shredding the sprouts in the food processor won’t work because you need the slices to be even—so you’ll want to use a mandoline. Dress the shreds with the olive oil, salt, and pepper, then spread a small mound of the sprouts on each plate. Finish with the shavings of cheese.
Butternut Squash Soup with Brown Butter (p. 156), Veal Shanks with Garlic Mashed Potatoes (p. 540), Red Wine Ice Cream (p. 730); also, Thanksgiving dinner
“We will be having this tonight—for about the millionth time (I skip the pine nuts).”
Mitzi Maxwell, Orlando, Fl, e-mail
“I learned the trick of cutting up and sautéing Brussels sprouts in this recipe, which is the very best way to treat them. I now use that technique when I cook them plain or with onions and lemon.”
Laura E. Perry, e-mail
December 16, 1990: “Coming Home,” by Aimee Lee Ball.
Reprinted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser. Compilation copyright (c) 2010 by The New York Times Company and Amanda Hesser. Recipes and reprinted text copyright (c) 2010 by The New York Times Company. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
This week's recipe comes from What to Cook and How to Cook It (Phaidon), a phenomenal new cookbook that takes readers through recipes step-by-step for "foolproof cooking," says our cookbook columnist.
Economical, warming, and delicious, this lightly spiced soup will brighten up even the coldest of evenings. It thickens as it stands, so stir in a little extra water or broth if you need to re-heat it.
Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and chili flakes and cook for 1 minute, or until they start to jump around the pan and smell toasty. Scoop half of the spices out of the pan and set aside. Take the pan off the heat while you prepare the vegetables.
Chop the onions very roughly, crush the garlic, and finely grate the ginger. Gently heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in the pan, then add the onions, garlic and ginger and cook gently for 5 minutes until the onions are starting to soften.
While you wait, peel and roughly chop the sweet potatoes.
Stir the sweet potatoes, chickpeas, and broth into the pan, cover with a lid, and simmer for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.
Use a potato masher to mash most of the potato to a pulp to make a thick soup. Season with salt and pepper, then roughly chop the spinach and stir it in. After a few seconds the spinach will wilt.
Serve in bowls topped with a spoonful of the yogurt, a sprinkle of the reserved spice mixture, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
MAKE IT WITH SQUASH
Butternut squash or pumpkin work wonderfully in this soup, but can take a little while to prepare. Either buy pre-cut cubes or allow 10 more minutes to peel and seed the flesh
Happy Thanksgiving! Today's recipe is from the Southern Living collection 1001 Ways to Cook Southern (Oxmoor House), a book full of "fail-proof, detailed instructions" for practical and delicious dishes. "Practical" can definitely describe this recipe—make it for a tasty way to get rid of those leftovers!
1 (15-ounce) bottle roasted-garlic dressing
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 head romaine lettuce, shredded
1 1/2 cups chopped smoked turkey (about 1/2 pound)
8 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped
2 cups cornbread, crumbled
8 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
5 green onions, chopped
Stir together dressing and buttermilk, blending well.
Layer a 3-quart glass bowl with half each of lettuce and next 6 ingredients; top with half of dressing. Repeat layers with remaining ingredients and dressing. Cover and chill 2 hours.
For testing purposes only, we used T. Marzetti's Roasted Garlic Dressing.
Recipe reprinted with permission from 1001 Ways to Cook Southern (Oxmoor House), copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Read our review of the cookbook here.
If you're looking for some new sides to put on the Thanksgiving table this year, check out these stuffing and chutney recipes from our cookbook of the month, David Tanis' Heart of the Artichoke. They're definitely out of the common way and will wow your guests.
3 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
One 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely slivered
Grated zest of 1/2 orange
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced
Put the cranberries and sugar in a shallow saucepan or a wide skillet over medium heat, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for a few minutes, then add the ginger, orange zest, salt, and cayenne. Continue cooking until the mixture thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the jalapeño. Transfer to a serving bowl and let it cool and jell in the refrigerator before serving.
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
2 large onions, finely diced
4 celery stalks, finely diced
Salt and pepper
4 tart apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
1/2 pound turkey or chicken livers, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped sage
2 teaspoons chopped thyme
10 cups cubed day-old bread (crusts removed), in 3/4-inch pieces
1 cup turkey broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the onions and cook until softened. Add the celery and let it soften, then season with salt and pepper. Add the apples and cook for a minute, then stir in the livers. Add the sage and thyme and turn off the heat.
Put the bread cubes in a large mixing bowl and add the contents of the skillet. Stir together well. Pour in the turkey broth and cream and mix well to moisten the bread.
Taste and adjust the seasonings; it should be highly seasoned.
Beat the eggs, and stir them in well. Transfer the stuffing to a buttered shallow baking dish. Bake for about 40 minutes, until golden.
Today's recipe comes from Nigella Kitchen (Hyperion), the latest collection of recipes for "homey holiday cooking" from the British domestic goddess Nigella Lawson. Try this traditional English dessert as the comforting finale to a cozy fall meal.
Now, this is a beauty. I don’t mean flash or fancy—rather the opposite; there is something austerely handsome about its appearance, and yet gorgeously warming about its taste. But then, this laid-back Sunday-lunch pudding is what kitchen food is all about. I’m happy to leave the picture-perfect plate-decoration dessert to the professional chef and patissier. When I want to eat one, I’ll go to a restaurant. That way, everyone’s happy.
I don’t want to be too prescriptive about this marmalade pudding cake—which has the surprisingly light texture of a steamed sponge—as it doesn’t seem in the spirit of things. I love the bitter edge of a thick-shred, dark marmalade and so tend to go for a proper, glamorously auburn, tawny one here; if this is too full-on for you, choose a fine-shred marmalade, instead.
1 x 8-inch square Pyrex or other ovenproof dish
Preheat the oven to 350°F, and butter the ovenproof dish.
Put the 1/3 cup marmalade and juice of ½ orange into a small saucepan and set aside to make a glaze later.
Put all the other ingredients for the cake batter into a food processor, process them, and then pour and scrape the batter into the buttered dish, smoothing the top. If you’re not using a processor, cream the butter and both sugars by hand or in a freestanding mixer, beat in the marmalade followed by the dry ingredients, then the eggs, and finally the orange zest and juice.
Put in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes – though give a first check after 30 minutes – by which time the cake mixture will have risen and a cake tester will come out cleanish. Remove from the oven and leave in the dish.
Warm the glaze mixture in the saucepan until melted together, then paint the top of the cake, letting the chunks or slivers of peel be your sole, unglinting decoration on top of the mutely gleaming pudding-cake. Know that this cake will keep its orange-scented warmth for quite a while once out of the oven, so you could make it before you sit down for the main course.
Use a large spoon or cake slice (or both) to serve, and put a pitcher of cream or crème anglaise on the table to eat with.
I urge you to try to keep some of this cake back and, once it’s cold, wrap it well and keep it in the freezer (in an airtight container for up to 1 month) until you need something effortless for a casual dinner party. All you need do (and see p.171 for exact measurements and step-by-simple-step guide) is to thaw for 3–4 hours at room temperature, arrange some slices on a plate, douse with orange juice and liqueur, and top with blackberries strewn with orange zest [and you have an orange-blackberry trifle].
But I admit it’s hard to override the temptation to keep (for up to 2 days in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap) whatever pudding-cake may be left from its first outing and heat up the odd bowlful, or just eat it cold straight from the dish.
From Nigella Kitchen by Nigella Lawson. Photographs by Lis Parsons. Copyright (C) 2010 Nigella Lawson. Photographs copyright (C) 2010 Lis Parsons. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.
This week's recipe comes from our cookbook of the month, David Tanis' Heart of the Artichoke (Artisan Books). Tanis is a chef with "true simplicity at his core and an understated approach to the seasonal," says cookbook columnist Sybil Pratt, and this easy, delicious dessert is sure to please.
8 slightly underripe small Comice or Anjou pears
1 (750-ml) bottle medium-bodied red wine, such as Côtes du Rhone
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 whole cloves
A wide strip each of lemon and orange peel
Peel the pears top to bottom with a sharp vegetable peeler, leaving them whole, with stems attached and the core intact.
Put the pears in a large wide nonreactive pot (enameled or stainless steel) in one layer. Stir the wine and sugar together in a bowl to dissolve the sugar, pour over the pears, and add the aromatics. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Poach the pears for about 30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted encounters no resistance. Remove from the heat and let cool, in the poaching liquid, overnight.
The next day, with a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to a platter. Heat the poaching liquid over high and boil down until it is reduced by half. Strain this syrup into a bowl and let cool.
Use a paring knife to cut a small slice off the bottom of each pear, allowing them to stand up straight. Stand the pears in a deep rectangular glass or plastic container large enough to contain them in one layer.
Pour the cooled syrup over the pears. Refrigerate for up to several days. Serve chilled, putting each pear in a soup plate and spooning over a little syrup.
The final recipe this month is another one from Around My French Table, our October cookbook of the month. One of the best things about this book is the way Dorie Greenspan makes even the most complicated recipes seem doable, with complete, thorough instructions. Try this one and impress your family this winter!
I call this dish a daube, which means it’s a stew cooked in wine and also means that it’s made in a daubière, or a deep casserole, in my case, an enamel-coated cast-iron Dutch oven. However, a French friend took issue with the name and claimed that what I make, while très delicieuse, is not a daube, but boeuf aux carrottes, or beef and carrots. She’s not wrong, but I’m stubbornly sticking with daube because it gives me the leeway to play around (see Bonne Idée) and permission to toss in orange zest, a typically Provençal addition, without having to clear it with the terminology police.
My first-choice cut for this stew is chuck, which I buy whole and cut into 2- to 3-inch cubes myself. Since the meat is going to cook leisurely and soften, it’s good to have larger pieces — larger than the chunks that are usually cut for stews — that hold their shape better. (If you’ve got a butcher, you can ask to have the meat cut at the shop.) My favorite go-alongs are mashed potatoes, celery root puree, or, spaetzle.
If you’re serving a crowd, you can certainly double the recipe, but if the crowd is larger than a dozen, I’d suggest you divide the daube between two pots or put it in a large roasting pan and stir it a few times while it’s in the oven.
Be prepared: See Storing for how to make the daube ahead — a good idea.
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide pieces
1 3½-pound beef chuck roast, fat and any sinews removed, cut into 2- to 3-inch cubes
2 tablespoons mild oil (such as grapeseed or canola)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 yellow onions or 1 Spanish onion, quartered and thinly sliced
6 shallots, thinly sliced
1 garlic head, halved, horizonally, only loose papery peel removed
1½ pounds carrots, trimmed, peeled, halved crosswise, and halved or quartered lengthwise, depending on thickness
½ pound parsnips, trimmed, peeled, halved crosswise, and quartered lengthwise (optional)
¼ cup Cognac or other brandy
1 bottle fruity red wine (I know this sound sacrilegious, but a Central Coast Syrah is great here)
A bouquet garni — 2 thyme sprigs, 2 parsley sprigs, 1 rosemary sprig, and the leaves from 1 celery stalk, tied together in a piece of cheesecloth
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Put a Dutch oven over medium heat and toss in the bacon. Cook, stirring, just until the bacon browns, then transfer to a bowl.
Dry the beef between sheets of paper towels. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the bacon fat in the pot and warm it over medium-high heat, then brown the beef, in batches, on all sides. Don’t crowd the pot — if you try to cook too many pieces at once, you’ll steam the meat rather than brown it — and make sure that each piece gets good color. Transfer the browned meat to the bowl with the bacon and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Pour off the oil in the pot (don’t remove any browned bits stuck to the bottom), add the remaining tablespoon of oil, and warm it over medium heat. Add the onions and shallots, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the onions soften, about 8 minutes. Toss in the garlic, carrots, and parsnips, if you’re using them, and give everything a few good turns to cover all the ingredients with a little oil. Pour in the brandy, turn up the heat, and stir well so that the brandy loosens whatever may be clinging to the bottom of the pot. Let the brandy boil for a minute, then return the beef and bacon to the pot, pour in the wine, and toss in the bouquet garni. Once again, give everything a good stir.
When the wine comes to a boil, cover the pot tightly with a piece of aluminum foil and the lid. Slide the daube into the oven and allow it to braise undisturbed for 1 hour.
Pull the pot out of the oven, remove the lid and foil, and stir everything up once. If it looks as if the liquid is reducing by a great deal (unlikely), add just enough water to cover the ingredients. Recover the pot with the foil and lid, slip it back into the oven, and cook for another 1½ hours (total time is 2½ hours). At this point the meat should be fork-tender — if it’s not, give it another 30 minutes or so in the oven.
Taste the sauce. If you’d like it a little more concentrated (usually I think it’s just fine as is), pour the sauce into a saucepan, put it over high heat, and boil it down until it’s just the way you like it. When the sauce meets your approval, taste it for salt and pepper. (If you’re going to reduce the sauce, make certain not to salt it until it’s reduced.) Fish out the bouquet garni and using a large serving spoon, skim off the surface fat.
Serve the beef and carrots moistened with sauce.
I like to use shallow soup plates for this stew. If I had enough small enameled cast-iron cocottes, I’d spoon the daube out into the little casseroles and let each guest dig into one. Alas, I’ve got only a few.
Like all stews, this can be kept in the refrigerator for about 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you are preparing the daube ahead, don’t reduce the sauce, just cool the daube and chill it. Then, at serving time, lift off the fat (an easy job when the daube’s been chilled), reduce the sauce, and season it one last time.
Recipe reprinted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), with permission from the publishers. Copyright 2010, all rights reserved.
This week's recipe is an Asian-inspired appetizer or side-dish from Mark Bittman's latest, the Food Matters Cookbook (Simon & Schuster). Bittman is an oft-used resource for the BookPage staff; his French toast recipe is a sentimental favorite of our nonfiction editor, Kate Pritchard, who made it the morning she got engaged. Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt is also a fan: she deems his new book "a super source of 500 'less-meatarian' recipes that invite you to consider grains, veggies and legumes as the core of your daily meals" in her October column.
A noodle cake makes a fantastic side dish, snack, or base for a stir-fry, where it soaks up all of the savory juices. You don’t need much else to call this a meal, though a beer alongside wouldn’t hurt.
1 1?2 pounds bok choy, gai lan (Chinese broccoli), tatsoi, or other Asian green
8 ounces any rice, buckwheat (soba), or wheat noodle, preferably whole grain
3 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons sesame oil
4 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 fresh hot chile (like jalapeno or Thai), seeded and minced, or to taste
8 ounces shrimp, peeled (see page 22)
1?2 cup chopped scallions
1?2 cup chopped peanuts, optional
1. Cut the leaves from the stems of the bok choy. Trim the stems and cut them into 1-inch pieces; cut the leaves into bite-size pieces or ribbons. Rinse everything well.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Cook the noodles until tender but not mushy. Check them frequently: The time will vary from a minute or 2 for thin rice noodles, to 5 minutes for soba, or up to 12 minutes for wide brown rice noodles. Drain them and rinse with cold water. Toss the noodles with 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce and 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil.
3. Put 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the noodles and press down a bit. Cook, pressing down occasionally, until brown and crisp on the bottom (adjust the heat so the noodles brown but do not burn). Carefully put a large dish over the skillet and flip it to turn out the cake. Add a little more oil to the pan, swirl it around, and gently slide the cake off the plate and back into the skillet, uncooked side down, all in one piece. Brown the other side, then slide it onto a platter. (At this point you can cut the cake into 4 wedges, or wait and roughly break it apart after topping.)
4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Add the ginger, garlic, and chile and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the bok choy stems, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the stems just lose their crunch, about 3 minutes.
5. Add the shrimp to the pan along with the bok choy leaves, scallions, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, and 1?2 cup water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates and the stems are very tender, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more soy sauce if necessary. Serve the stir-fry over the noodle cake, topped with peanuts if you like.
Proceed with the recipe.
Recipe reprinted from Mark Bittman's The Food Matters Cookbook (Simon & Schuster), copyright 2010, with permission from the publisher. All rights reserved.