Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Holiday Gifts for Home Cooks under $50

Christmas and Hanukkah are coming up fast and soon. Holidays are a great time and we all have those that are foodies or cooks in our lives. The probably have many tools but the question exists what to get that great cook that is making you your favorite dish? Prices may change as they are of the day I wrote the list

Under $10
Digital instant read thermometer in cute colors $8.99. Every cook needs one or more handy.

Manatea Infuser for Tea $10  Adorable little sea creature for the tea lover. Also awesome in soup pots for things like bay leaves that you want to fish out later.

Pepermint hot coco mix from Sur La Table Seriously this stuff is amazingly awesome. It is like french kissing Santa's elves. $10.95

Magnetic Retro kitchen timer. It adds charm to the kitchen and is super functional and makes a nice bzzing sound when it goes off. Comes in lots of cute colors. I have a blue one and friends are always asking where I got it. $11.56
Silpat Once they own one it will boggle their minds how they ever did without. From cookies to roast chicken one of these goes under and makes cleanup a breeze on everything as a matter of fact feel free to get people a second or third if they already own one. $17.24

Immersion Blender soups gravy sauces and smoothies are a wonder using this. Fast as anything to make awesome salad dressings. All sorts of easy emulsions and smooth things. Comes in all sorts of cute colors or classics silver or white. $34.95

Oxo Good Grips non skid cutting board- Ok you are thinking a cutting board?!? Yes a cutting board this one has grooves for liquids and a silicone bit that keeps the surface on the obverse from touching the counter it is the best real cooks cutting board. It does not move around and is solid and not that expensive at $21.99

Le Creuset Stoneware mugs- They have the heft of a good diners mug with the pretty Le Creuset colors and style. They are great coffee mugs that keep the coffee hot and I will admit that I felt envy at my friends place when she served me coffee in them. $39.95

Peugeot Pepper Mill- These are the best lifetime awesome pepper mills and do a fantastic job of size control along with easy grinding. $35

Nutmeg grinder- If you have been reading this blog at all you have heard me rant about how much better real fresh ground nutmeg is then the dried stuff in a jar. You have probably converted to the fresh stuff and might as well help your friends out. $26.15

Keep tuned you merry gifters I will be doing higher price limit gift guides as well as sailor gift guides.
Happy Holidays.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thanksgiving Cookies: Turkeys and Mayflowers

     A friend of mine from sailing loved loved loved the J22 cookies I made for the Thursday  sailboat racing end of season party. She had not known how to do cutout cookies and decorate them but wanted to learn. So she came over my place on Sunday afternoon and we had some awesome pumpkin chilli she made, made dough, cut out cookies, made icing, and iced the cookies. With thanksgiving coming up we decided to make turkeys and mayflowers. 

     Despite both of us being sailors ( she is one of the best sailors I know) I think the turkeys looked better then the mayflowers. I found out that trying to draw in icing the yardarms of a square rigged sailing vessel is difficult. I'm still not sure we did the best way of icing those square rigged sails however I think they will pass as mayflowers.
     Upon looking at the Mayflower again, I think one of the mistakes was doing too many square sails and that it would have looked better with fewer yardarms. Oh well next thanksgiving. 
As usual for my cutout cookies I follow the recipe from the old Joy of Cooking

and the royal icing recipe halved from Sweetopia.
     It was  a lot of fun to hang out doing this with a friend who I really do not hang out with all that often outside of sailing. You know when you get friends where you really only see them at a certain activity how it can be great and nice to see them outside of that context. So better then cookies was just a really nice afternoon evening of hanging out. 

Hostess Gifts for the dinner or party host

We are entering into party season. The cocktail parties the holiday get together the glitz the glamour the fun the stress of trying to figure out what to give as hostess gifts. Sometimes wine is the answer but a bottle of wine will often get lost in a bunch and not stand out to stand out try these ideas. Plus do not forget to send your thank you notes. Receiving a thank you note a few days after a party leaves the warm hosting glow that encourages people to host more often.

For the dinner or cocktail party host
Nutmeg grater
Fancy oils ( a friend of mine gave me this one and I love it )
Jar of Sea Salt Caramel Sauce(recipe here)
Good Coffee for the morning - a lb of nice coffee is always appreciated
Some muffins or cinnamon rolls for the next morning
Paperwhite or an Amaryllis bulb they require no effort from host that day but show your kindness for next month

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Margarita Cookies for Fiesta

A friend of mine is having a Birthday Fiesta tonight and thus I made Margarita Cookies.

I always base my sugar cookies on the Joy of Cooking's old Rich Roll Cookies recipe. I follow it perfect except I double occasionally triple  the vanilla and tend to use the lowest cooking time. 
I follow the Royal Icing Recipe from Sweetopia. Usually I only make a half recipe as otherwise you need a ton of cookies and I am usually not decorating that many at once.
Actually, when it comes to cookies Sweetopia is the world best inspiration for pretty baked goods I highly recommend following her great stuff.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Cheddar Butternut Squash Ravioli in a Sage Pasta

So two nights ago I had roasted a butternut squash and eaten a bunch with my dinner. I was left with about 2 cups of roasted butternut squash leftovers and was inspired to make this fantastic pasta to use up the left overs create a yummy dinner for myself and  some to freeze back for quick healthy meals for the next month or so of hectic holiday stuff.
This is also the time of year that I am cutting back my sage so that it does well over the winter. So I went outside to gather the sage and use it to make the pasta even more special.

Regular Pasta 
4 eggs
200g semolina flour
200g all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Sage pasta 
1/5th the regular pasta dough
2 cups sage leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
50g semolina flour

Cheddar Butternut Squash Filling 
2 cups leftover roasted butternut squash ( if starting from uncooked squash about 1/2 a large butternut squash roast till soft in 400 degree oven and then mash )
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

How to make regular pasta
1. Weigh out semolina and all purpose flour for regular pasta.Then mix together in a bowl.
2. In food processor with dough blades put the four eggs and pulse just 2 or 3 pulses just enough to mix the yolks and eggs.
3. In three or four batches add in flour and then mix to combine.
4. Add in salt. Process until dough has incorporated all the flour and is a ball rolling on side.
5. Put in ziploc bag and allow to rest.

How to make sage pasta
1. Boil the sage leaves for 5 minutes  to soften.
2. Drain and add to food processor with chopping blade.
3. Add olive oil and process until very fine chopped will almost look like pesto about 1 min
4. Add in 1/5th the regular pasta and process  30 seconds pulsing to mix
5. Add in extra flour and process again until fully incorporated and dough is ball rolling along sides of processor
6. Put in ziploc bag to rest

How to make Cheddar Butternut Squash filling
1. In food processor mix together all ingredients
2. Pulse repeatedly to combine

Putting it all together.
1. Using your pasta rolling attachment roll out your pasta on the #1 setting and then fold in thirds and reroll five or six times until the pastry is smooth.
2. Repeat with the sage pasta

3. Cut strips of sage pasta and place on regular pasta in a nice pattern push down lightly

4. Run through the #1 setting again twice
5. Run through the #2 setting twice
6. Run through the #3 setting twice and the #4 setting twice.
7. Put on ravioli mold pretty side down add a teaspoon of filling and then brush water in between the raviolis and place the top layer of pastry on (pretty side up)
8. Remove from ravioli from mold and cut using pastry cutter.

9. Boil 7 minutes or freeze in single layer and then ziploc and keep in freezer for up to 3 months.
10. Enjoy!!