Egg Usage – by month (January 2016)

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Best Sugar Cookies – um, ever

8 January – 3 – Chicken Salad
8 January – 1 – Sun-dried Tomato Palmiers – egg wash
9 January – 1 – Shortbread Chocolate Squares
16 January – 2 – The Browniest Cookies
16 January – 2 – Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
18 January – 2 – Sugar Cookies
26 January – 1 – Sour Cream Pecan Sandies
31 January – 2 – Lemon Crisps

14 eggs.  Meh. Need to try harder.

With eggs going at about $4 a dozen, that’s $4.66. Manageable but I do wish the egg prices would come down but I don’t see that happening this year.

Lemon Crisps

I do love lemon – I know, I know,  everyone is astonished by this fact right, but there it is.  I honestly don’t think there are too many lemon recipes in the world. I will try to come up with a few if my own. A goal of this year. There we go, me and my lists again. Sigh.

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Lemon Crisp Cookies

You know I have learned a few things about cookie dough over the years and in one case most recently. One thing is particularly important. If the raw dough does not taste good, the cookies (or cakes or whatever) will not taste good either. My mom would have had a hissy fit over this. She was a firm believer in not eating raw eggs*, but I’ve always eaten raw cookie dough. Though she did not know it. I mean, come on, raw chocolate chip cookie dough is kind of way better, in my opinion, than actual baked chocolate chip cookies.

All this said, this dough tastes so good I am not sure I want to make the cookies. That is a huge complement. But I will make these cookies just to see how they turn out.

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 1/2 Tbs lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbs lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt over a piece of waxed paper.

Cream together butter and sugar, then add egg until combined. Add lemon juice, zest, and vanilla. Sift in dry ingredients.

Drop by 1 1/2 tsp size  (or roll into 1 1/2 sized balls – way easier to be more exact) onto parchment-lined baking sheet and bake 10 – 12 minutes until lightly golden around the edges. Let cool on sheet for a minute then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Lemon Icing
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
4 – 6 Tbs fresh lemon juice

Beat together and drizzle over cooled cookies.

Notes:  Snappy little lemon cookies  – what could be better? I honestly have no idea.  But I did top the lemon icing with lemon sugar from King Arthur Flour. Let’s just gild that lily then. These were also so easy to make. I also let them sit in the fridge for a couple of days – no problem. That is my favorite kind of cookie. Easy. Non-fussy.

*This is total bullshit, but at that time eggs – or at least in my mom’s mind,  uncooked eggs were evil. It did not take long to learn that was not real. I did mess with her a bit about that, because I was that daughter, Raw chocolate chip cookie dough – probably my favorite chocolate delivery system, um, ever.

I do this every year – make a list. Sigh.

I make a list of things I want to try in the kitchen, but this year I am going to plan this out in some way that makes it possible. Not sure  how (not good), but at least I have motivation for a few things. This is a hallmark year for me (shut up Super Bowl), but something needs to kick me in the arse and I think this just might be it. So I am starting the list now. I expect it will get longer (and be updated) as the remaining days of this month – hell, probably the whole year –  go on. Who knows?

Venison – I kind of have a freezer full of it since the MotH’s brother is a hunter. I have NEVER cooked it. That said, I have eaten it and really enjoy it.  I have talked to my favorite hunter once about it and will do it again over the holidays – and make notes this time. I know venison is on the lean side, so right there I need to figure out how to make that work for me = add fat. I have the following types of venison in the freezer – sausage (!!), ground, chili, and something that may be backstrap, I will not know until I thaw that last one  and I can damn well guarantee that will be last one I try to figure out how to cook because in my head that is the most challenging. But I think this is a January project. Right now, unfortunately, leading right up to New Years here it is in the 60’s /70’s and rainy. Ugh. So save this project for some colder weather.

Pate a Choux (not sure how to add all the cool French accents)  – I will not go 1980’s crazy and make a croquembouche, but I think I will make gougeres since cheese is involved. And, sigh, this was on the list last year. Lord, I am a loser.

Beef Tenderloin – I cannot believe I have never made this. It is supposed to be dead simple – a favorite cooking method of mine. I even have a couple of recipes from America’s Test Kitchen for it which means it should turn out perfect – they are ATK for a reason, after all . I guess it is the fact that is it so much beef and now, it is just me and the MotH. Either way, I will have to get over that and just get to it.

Panatonne – I am going all in on this since the only bread I have ever made is soda bread (it was good, but it is kind of not real bread = no yeast).  I will not make it for Christmas / New Years, but for sometime while it is cold outside – Mardi Gras isn’t that far away – excellent thought! I may temper the dried fruit a little and there will be pecans involved – it is my Southern version of the thing after all – but I know my starting point will be the recipe I just saw on Martha Bakes. I really like this show – it is kind of like taking a master class in baking. I can watch it for ages. It is on PBS and really wonderful.  You may have missed my earlier MS reference – 1980’s croquembouche – first time I ever saw one was in her Christmas book. It is what I compare them all to. Need to get a copy of that book again. It is completely over the top, especially for me in the, um, 80’s. May still be way out of my league. There is a great deal of trepidation involved in this.

As I type, it is raining buckets – again. Ugh. Another front that brings rain not much cooler temperatures. And more rain due in two days. Not the Christmas / New Years that we wanted. Weather guessers (meteorologists) are not terrible accurate, Best job to have – you can be totally wrong and NOT get fired. This wreaks havoc on my candy making. Cannot make decent candy in anything but very low humidity. Every Southern candy make will tell you that. Our window is very very small, and this year getting smaller by the day.

 

Prep for Christmas – in all its forms.

We had a very quiet Thanksgiving which I enjoyed, but I am glad Christmas is going to be an all-out family party. I love the way my brother-in-law fries a turkey. No matter how many times I roast one (thank you AB for the best roasted turkey of all time! And I should add, the first turkey I ever made in my life), I still prefer a fried turkey, but do not have the nerve (or equipment) to do it myself. Very glad he does.

So here are my plans for the upcoming holidays:

Christmas Eve – just an aside – This is my favorite part of Christmas because growing up we had a smorgasbord (sorry lacking the umlauts and accents). Or at least my eleven year-old version of it. Why my mom let me kind of take over to a degree – although she still did most of the cooking, I have no idea. But that is what happened in my family. Christmas Eve we opened presents from each other and munched on a buffet of all kinds of things that my mom made and a few that I dreamed up. At the time, I realized I wanted to be a caterer, so it is not surprising that I went into event management – not really.

So for me Christmas Eve is meant to be relaxed. Our new tradition from a few year ago is to have Cheddar fondue night with all the things that go with it. In our case, that is apples, pears, grapes, baguette, and to gild the lily, some Boursin (for the baguette, not the fondue). Maybe some Brie or, well, who knows.  I always shop on Christmas Eve to get the freshest things I can find. It is so simple and it can be scaled for however many people you have. In our case, it is small – typically four of us, but fun nonetheless. I am just a bit too excited about this. Oh, and then there is dessert. Whatever kind of cookie I make for the next day – but we hit it anyway. Although after a bunch of fruit and cheese I do not have tons of room. Well, that is what I tell people.

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Sausage Balls – A Southern & a family tradition

Christmas Day – Morning. I am kind of going easy this year. I have my mom’s Banana Nut Bread that I will slice and broil until crunchy and smear with great salted European butter. I probably could just do with that. But I want something else, but something simple. This year, not sausage balls (which are a huge tradition in my family), or latkes which I love more than words, and yes, I might just be being a bit lazy in this department. But there may be just the two of us so I am going with sautéed hot breakfast sausage that I then add scrambled eggs. So the eggs cook in the sausage grease – it is amazing. That was the only way I ate eggs as a kid (long story – see: allergies).

Then the plan is to bake my stuffed mushrooms which you will see and reheat my Sunday Sweet Potatoes which you have seen way too many times, for Christmas with the family. I will have the third batch of Cranberry Horseradish Relish made by then and have more bags of cranberries in the freezer than make sense.  And have put up the pecan/walnut tassies as well – again things that people seem to really like.

So on the 28th, we are having another family thing on the beach – super cool! I plan to make my (yes, you’ve seen it here) sweet potato biscuits with something in them. May try to change this up this year. Probably will not, but … I might. You never know what happens.

I am dreading going to the grocery store today. I have put it off since it’s been raining for days. And the forecast does not get any better until, well maybe if we get really lucky – not likely, Friday for Christmas Day. That said, it will be in the 70’s. Not any kind of Christmas weather and certainly not any kind of candy making weather. Guess I am waiting for January for cold and dry to make Vanilla Taffy or English toffee, or Divinity or even Peanut Brittle. Nothing too unusual in the grand scheme of things. But irksome.

 

Cooking Challenges (or a big mistake)

I have a (bad) habit of making lists of things I want to try in the cooking/baking department that I just lose track of over time.
Here are the things from 2014 that I didn’t get around to, and that begs the question; do I just chuck this list and start over or do I try again?
Or do I just stop making lists altogether?

Baking bread, real bread with yeast. Scary prospect.
Spaghetti squash – pure curiosity. There is no other explanation.
Eclairs, and by definition, Pastry cream.
Hot dog chili- no beans. Better than the stuff in the can. Because I don’t care for hot dogs, but I do love a good chili dog.

Seems an amazingly short list for me, but somehow I’m sure it will bite me in the ass just for mentioning it.