Saturday, March 30, 2013

Did Someone Say Butter?

When I saw a photo of these cookies on-line, I was sure it was my grandmother’s recipe and I was excited. After years of trying to recreate this recipe and tasting them in my mind almost daily, here it was right before my eyes.

There are two very essential ingredients in butter cookies – the vanilla and of course the butter.

I don’t remember what kind of vanilla my grandmother used and I’ve tried a lot of vanilla’s but Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract is by far the best vanilla there is.

If your budget does not stretch that far- I always find other things to cut out - don't worry because there are quality brands at your market. Just make sure you do not buy one labeled imitation vanilla.

Butter in the US is graded according to flavor, color, texture, aroma and body and one easy way to tell the quality of the butter is by the letter code or numerical number listed on the butter's package. The highest grade is AA (93 score), then A (92 score), followed by B (90 score)

My favorite? I surprised myself when I didn’t go for the French but rather the Kerrygold from Ireland…and not necessarily because I am Irish.

Was it my gramdmothers recipe? As good as it gets without my grandmother making them herself.

Now all I need is a half a gallon of milk and my brother to help me polish off the entire jar.

Bon Appetit!

Shortbread Cookie Recipes

All Purpose Flour – 1 cup
½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt

In a bowl whisk flour with salt, keep aside.

In another bowl beat butter and sugar well until creamy with a whisk. Add vanilla and give a quick stir.

Add in the flour mixture.

Combine to form a soft dough - If it doesn’t come together add just few drops of water/milk.

Flatten the dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill it for at least an hour (this is for making the dough firm so that while baking it doesn’t spread but I was in a hurry so skipped the chilling part).

On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness, then cut using your favorite shaped cookie cutters. Be careful not to roll them too thin or too thick. I did both.

Preheat the oven to 350 for 10mins.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes(mine took 15-17minutes) or until the edges start turning golden brown.

You can sprinkle with colored sugar before you bake them.

Little Market Brasserie 10 E Delaware

The Sandovals of Mercadito fame have partnered with Chef Ryan Poli who trained in classic French cuisine refining his skills at Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry. In my book, anyone that comes out of The French Laundry is golden. 

Chef Poli traveled with Alfredo Sandoval to twelve different cities (New Orleans included) to get inspiration for this new restaurant. Their menu needs little inspiration with things like Poutine, fish, pastas and an all day grilled cheese on the breakfast menu.

I ordered the Pork Belly Eggs Benedict which came on an untoasted English Muffin, sautéed spinach and bits of pork belly. It was really good but I would have loved a slab of pork belly instead of it chopped and the muffin toasted instead of plain…just for a little crunch.

The real treat was the house-made bacon which had an astonishing flavor.

Little Market is located at the Talbot Hotel and opens at 6:30 AM for us early birds.

Watch for more restaurants in the Mercadito Hospitality chain. Tavernita is also on my list to try.

Bon Appetit!

Homemade Meat Stock

If you want rich stock, roast your meat, bones and vegetables for about 45 minutes in a 450 degree F oven. Then add them to your pot and cover with cold water. 

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about four to five hours. Add more water in order to keep all ingredients covered.  

I also add bay leaves, black peppercorns, fresh parsley, oregano, basil and thyme. I season to taste and constantly taste about every half hour.

Strain and refrigerate. It takes awhile but once you get it in the pot it’s effortless.

I modified one of my favorite soup recipes and use beef stock instead of chicken. I also used beef instead of the sausage and added lots of little fresh tomatoes.

Bon Appetit!

Beef Zuppa Toscana

1 pound beef – on the bone
1 large chopped onion
1/2 cup bacon
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped kale
Fresh Tomatoes
20 ounces broth
Fresh Tomatoes
Green Onions

Roast meat, bones and vegetables for about 45 minutes in a 450 degree F oven. Add them to your pot and cover with cold water. Cook for 4-5 hours. Drain. Take the meat off the bone.

Place onions, broth and garlic in a pot and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes. 

Add meat and bacon and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Turn to low heat and add plenty of kale. 

Slice small multi-colored tomatoes and place in bowl.

Heat thoroughly and serve. 

Top with green onions.

Vegetarian Homemade Pizza

So happy that I ditched my cheap pizza stone and bought a quality one. Makes all the difference when it comes to how the pizza cooks. Yes, I like a crispy crust and the pizza just did not cook up like this on my old stone.

It goes back to the old saying “You Get What You Pay For.” At least in this case.

Use your favorite pizza dough recipe, a good assortment of Italian cheeses, good quality homemade tomato sauce and a variety of colored peppers cut into thin strips.

 Vegetarian just got this easy!

Bon Appetit!