Monday, February 15, 2016

Spiral Shortbread Cookies

The shortbread, a rich crumbly cookie made with butter, sugar and flour, originated in Scotland around 1736.  They are baked at a low temperature to avoid browning.  When you remove them from the oven they are very crumbly and if not careful can fall apart.  Of course, if that happens you have to eat the evidence to hide the fact that you where inpatient to let them cool.  I'm not saying thats a bad thing, I had to eat a few myself.   It just means you will have less cookies to serve.

Spiral Shortbread Cookies
Serves: 24
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
gel food coloring, any color
2 Tablespoons flour
about 1 cup multi-colored nonpareil decors
1.  Combine 2 cups flour, baking powder, salt and sugars in a mixer and mix.  Add butter and mix until the mixture has a cornmeal consistency.  Add the vanilla and mix until mixture just forms a ball.
2.  Divide the dough in half and return one of the halves to the mixer.  Add the almond extract food coloring and 2 Tablespoons flour to the mixer and mix until just incorporated.
3.  Roll out each portion of dough between sheets of waxed paper into an 8"X11" rectangle, with 1/4 " thickness. Stack the dough, leaving on the wax paper, onto a baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.
4.  Pour the decors into a shallow rectangular dish, I use a cookie sheet with sides.  Remove the dough from refrigerator and peel off the top pieces of wax paper from each dough half.  Lift one and flip it over onto the other half so the doughs are touching.  Remove the top sheet of wax paper and trim the long edges with a sharp knife so that the sides are straight.
5.  When the dough becomes just pliable, roll the dough beginning with a long end into a log.  Gently curl the edge with fingertips and try to avoid creating pickets of air.  Carefully lift log into the dish with decors and roll until outside is completely coated.  Wrap the log in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm enough to slice, at least 4 hours, 
6.  Preheat oven to 325'.  Slice log into 1/4" slices and bake on parchment-lined baking sheets for 15 minutes until cookies are no longer shiny.  Or you can freeze the slices and bake another time, like when your man ask,"will you bake me up some cookies?"

Friday, February 12, 2016

Book Club-The Paris Wife

It was a remarkable period of time in Paris in the twenties.  Ambition and betrayal, an extraordinary love affair between two unforgettable people.   The novel, "The Paris Wife" focuses on the romance, marriage and divorce of Earnest Hemingway and Hadley Richardson.  
The couple met when Hemingway was twenty and Richardson was twenty-eight.  They married in 1921 and soon moved to Paris.  There they met Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein and James Joyce.    I'll prepared for the hard-drinking and fast living life of Jazz Age Paris, their marriage fell apart as Hemingway began having an affair with Richardson's friend Pauline Pfeiffer.  Richardson was the first of his four wives.
Our book club didn't give this novel high ratings, but the discussion was ranked very high.  It was a perfect evening as we sat around the dinner table, each having plenty to say regarding this love story.

Book Club
 Why Can't I Just Read All Day Everyday?

Book Club

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Talk is good when wine is fine!

It was time for our monthly wine social once again.  Actually we take off November and December, so I guess it's really not monthly, but close enough.
Stone and I were the first to arrive, bringing the desserts of Triple Berry Pie, Baklava and lastly Chocolate Pie.  This chocolate pie is my mother-in-laws favorite of pie's.  As Ms. Betty says, "who doesn't like chocolate."  She also says there is something wrong with those who do not like chocolate, that its just not normal.
Soon the others arrived bringing their assigned dishes that had been prepared.  The food is always excellent.  And as they say, "The Best Wines are the ones we drink with friends."

    Wine Social 

Swanson Merlot 2011 (Oakeville, Napa) 14.6%  $ 33                                     WW 91 Immediate appeal, with vibrant garnet color and robust aromas of freshly-crushed red and black cherries. Notes of sweet blackberry, coffee, red currant, and allspice add further complexity. Excellent depth; medium bodied, zippy, and lively on the palate with dry, nice acidity, good balance, and medium finish.
Potro di Piedra 2012 (Curico Valley, Chile)  14.7%   $ 30
Deep red color. Bold, spicy, and robust, but not overbearing. Great finish, silky smooth. Very good pairing with beef and lamb.

Justin Cabernet 2013 (Paso Robles)  14.9%   $ 30                                                      av. 89
Clear with a dark ruby purple core lightening at the rim. Aromas of ripe black cherry, blackcurrant, and berry fruit with vanilla, cinnamon, and dried fall leaf accents. Blackcurrant, cherry fruit, and baking spice flavors on the entry. Sweet tobacco and savory herbal notes on the mid palate, along with beautifully balanced tannins, providing a structure that supports the wine through its clean finish.

Buil & Gine Baboix 2012 (Montsant, Spain)  15%   $ 26                                              av. 91
Pronounced aromatics on the nose. Great fresh fruit on the palate with a crisp bite too. Dark berry aromas, with some herb action. Medium body, with solid minerality on the mid-palate, with the dark berry moving to the background. Long dry finish, with the fruit coming back into play.

Saggi 2013 (Columbia Valley, WA)  14.9%   $ 55                                                           V 93
Proprietary blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. Bright ruby red. Aromas of cherry, strawberry, and licorice. Plush and glyceral, offering superb depth to the flavors of red and darker berries, spices, and mint – a wave of fruit on the palate. Broad and pliant, with vibrant acidity, building dusty-but-sweet tannins and outstanding length.

Elu St. Supery Meritage 2012 (Napa)  14.5%   $ 68                                          RP 94  JS 91
72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 10% Malbec, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot blend.  Deep ruby/purple color.  Sweet licorice, tar, blackcurrant, plum, graphite, and blackberry notes.  Dense, full-bodied, voluptuously textured personality. Fresh acidity and tannins, flavorful finish. A complex wine that shows style and energy.  

RP/WA – Robert Parker for Wine Advocate
JS – James Suckling
V – Vinous (Antonio Galloni)
WW – Wilfred Wong of
av. - average

There are really only two food groups: chocolate and fruit - now if your fruit is covered in chocolate then you're set for the day.

Wine Social
Chocolate Pie

1 pie crust, baked and cooled.
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk
4 egg yolks, (from large eggs)
6 1/2 ounces, Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped finely.
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Tablespoon butter
Stabilized Whipping Cream, for serving, (optional)
Raspberries (optional) 


Roll pie crust and place in a pie pan.  Prick bottom with fork to keep crust from bubbling up.  Bake 375' until brown, about 20 minutes.  Let cool completely.

Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan.  Stir or whisk together.

Pour in milk and egg yolks, and whisk together.

Stir over medium heat until the mixture just barely comes to a boil and becomes thick, about 6-8 minutes (maybe less,  maybe more; just watch it!)  The second it starts to bubble and thicken (note it should be thick like pudding!)  remove it from the heat.  Add the chocolate, vanilla, and butter, and stir until everything is beautifully combined.

Pour the pudding into the cooled pie crust, (if there is extra, spoon it into small dishes) and place in the fridge to chill for 4 hours uncovered.  Or eat it right then and there, you know you want to! 

Cut into slices and serve with stabilized whipping cream.  Recipe from: