Archive for the ‘Cookies’ Category

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Share your traditions… Win a book!

December 10, 2008

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Frequent readers and subscribers to our feed will notice we’ve taken a couple of sabbaticals since we began this blog. Occassionally people have mailed asking, “So, what are you up to?” Well, this post is an effort at both making excuses and shameless self-promotion.

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Well, during one of these breaks, the wife – the funny and talented one – wrote a book: Cole Family Christmas. The tale is based on a true story told by my 88-year-old grandmother, Hazel Cole Kendle, who was the youngest of the nine Cole children.

Cole Family Christmas tells the story of a very special Christmas my family experienced in 1920 when my great-grandfather was working as a coal miner in Kentucky. That year, he had received a promotion and had a little more money, and so the nine Cole children were able to write to Santa to ask for special gifts from the “Wish Book” (AKA the Sears catalogue). But when a freak snowstorm prevented the gifts from being delivered, my great-grandparents had to scramble to save Christmas. As the Cole children remembered it, though, the results of their efforts were even more inspiring – and more meaningful – than the store-bought gifts they had wished for.

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This story was passed down in the family for years, until at last my mother thought it should be memorialized in writing. Originally planned as a small pamphlet to be handed out at our annual family reunion, the project blossomed into a book geared toward families and younger readers. Cole Family Christmas is now a hardcover book, complete with beautiful illustrations, and has received broad distribution. We’ve been lucky not only to be picked up by online sources like Amazon, but also by brick and mortar places like Barnes and Noble.

It has been a thrill for us to see Cole Family Christmas sitting in the children section’s at bookstores. As I hope you can tell, I’m extremely proud of my wife. As a result, I’m going to try to capitalize on my wife’s talent even more than usual.

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We are going to have a contest.

As you might be able to tell, traditions around the holidays are a big deal for my family. The one I remember most as a child is the annual cookie decorating contest. Like many families, we’d make dozens of cookies, and then a major competition would begin. Typically, the winner would be picked by the first non-participant to walk in the door — a rule that resulted in a hilarious, and controversial, choice when a teenage girlfriend of my older brother made the choice one year.

What are your traditions? We’d love for you to share them, too! To sweeten the pot, we’ll award the top three favorites with a signed copy of the book. Below are the rules:

Rules:

1. Post on your blog about your family’s food traditions for the holidays. It doesn’t need to be about Christmas.

2. Only one submission per blog.

3. Send an email to myhusbandcooks@gmail.com that includes your name, your blog’s name, a link to the relevant photo, and to the post in which it appears.

4. The best three (3) posts will get an autographed copy of the book.

5. The deadline is December 20, 2008 at 11:59 PM EST.

6. Round up will be posted on December 23, 2008. 

My family will choose the winners as soon as all the posts are up, and we’ll be sending out the books ASAP in hopes of getting you the book before Christmas day — unless you live outside North America, then we’ll do our best to get it there before New Years. I hope you enjoy our little competition and have a Merry Christmas!

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Hay Donna, do I get a merit badge? Coconut cheesecake (featuring Girl Scout cookie crust)

March 5, 2007

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Alright… So this is, hopefully, the last of my super-sweet torture devices for my beloved pregnant wife. In fact, my wife, who cannot eat sweets until our son is born, gave me the OK and was even my prime consultant on this recipe. The brilliant crust was all her concept…. but I’m getting ahead of myself.

This recipe was built on the confluence of inspiration and necessity. Last week, my wife came home with boxes of Girl Scout cookies. She’d ordered them before the doctor issued his ban on sweets. Normally, an excess of Girl Scout cookies wouldn’t be such a bad thing — heck, it really wasn’t a bad thing, except that they were now my Girl Scout cookies. Sure, I like Girl Scout cookies as much as the next guy — but I can’t go through more than a few boxes without starting to feel guilt and pressure (from my belt).

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So my wife suggested that I make something with them. A pie crust perhaps? Some other sort of dessert? At first, I scoffed at the idea. (I imagine there is already a special merit badge out there for the Girl Scout who comes up with the most creative way to use the cookies. Picture some 12-year-old earning her stripes by building a thin mint fallout shelter somewhere in the mountains. How could I compete? And, more important, would I get a badge?) But my mindset shifted when it became clear that I need to get rid of these cookies.

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Then I discovered that this month’s Hay Hay It’s Donna Day, being hosted by Culinary Concoctions by Peabody, was cheesecake. This, combined with a dinner party we had this weekend, created a compelling purpose for these cookies: I would feed the masses with a beautiful and tropical cheesecake.

So, once again, this isn’t really a torture device for my long-suffering wife. I mean, it was her idea after all. Wasn’t it?

Finally, I want to ask a technical question of you fellow cheescake lovers. I am using a water bath for my cheesecake. I’ve always preferred this method, because I think the texture is better and believe that having an uncracked top is always a goal. But I’m curious what you do.

… So, to water bath or not to water bath?

Click here to download the recipe for Coconut Cheesecake.

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What time is it? It’s pecan chocolate chip cookie time.

January 22, 2007

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The ingredients may be humble: Flour, sugar, butter, egg, chocolate and pecans. But the results are extraordinary.

It may seem silly to lavish praise on cookies; after all, don’t most cookies taste pretty good? Doesn’t everybody have a go-to cookie recipe from which they can conjure a satisfying snack or dessert? True, I suppose. But every now and then you come across a cookie that stands crumb and chip above the rest… A cookie that rises above the tepid praise “it tastes pretty good” to the indecipherable and higher praise of satisfied eaters mumbling and nodding vigorously as they stuff portions down their gullet.

This is one such cookie.

Now, I am biased, because I get to eat these piping hot and straight from the oven — when the cookie is perfectly moist and steaming and the chocolate is oozing a bit from the seams of the crumbly mound of goodness. Yes, cookies do taste better warm. But I think these boys will also stand to scrutiny after sitting in Tupperware for a few days, too. The thing that distinguishes them from an ordinary — though good — chocolate chip cookie is the addition of pecans. The cookie itself is the perfect combination of not-too-chewy and moist, with the right balance of sweetness and butteryness, and the chocolate weaves its spell as expected… but the nuts add delightful depth and a subtle crunch; there’s just something about pecans and dessert. Am I right?

Well, there’s only way to find out. Fire up the oven, kids. It’s cookie time.

Click here to download the recipe for Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies.

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Pretty maids all in a row: Pistachio Madelines with meyer lemon glaze

January 7, 2007

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Madelines. Sure, they’re beautiful: Allluring golden exterior, perfectly molded scalloped shape… they even have a seductive feminine name. But are they tasty?

Yes, indeed.

At least the Madelines that my husband makes are. Continuing his pistachio theme — as evidenced by the handful of dead pistachio soldiers I’ve been sweeping up from our kitchen floor — he thought to include those yummy green nuts in his first foray into Madeline-baking. Brilliant!

The pistachio flavor here is subtle; the green nuts add most of their punch in the texture of the cake. As you sink your teeth into the delightfully fluffly Madeline, you get a taste of the green flecks of pistachio laced throughout. Meanwhile, your nostrils are filled with the breath of meyer lemon zest that the cakes contain. It was quite an experience for my wittle tongue, but my intrepid taste buds can handle it.

Can yours?

Click here to download the recipe for Pistachio Madelines w/Meyer Lemon Glaze

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Five cookies that are worth sliding down a chimney

December 20, 2006

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You’re Santa. You’ve been laboring for months as a supervisor in a toy factory. You’ve gotten your creaky butt up in the middle of the night, hauled it into a sled weighed down with packages, and are now diligently directing eight cantankerous reindeer (of all things) all over the world to deliver these packages.

You’re tired. You’re cranky. You have hardly a “ho, ho, ho” in you… Until you squirm down the chimney and see a beautiful plate of cookies in the offing. Yes, tucked next to the fireplace (or other magical entrance) is a nice tall glass of milk and some mighty fine Christmas cookies. Suddenly, you feel a spring in your steps. Your belly shakes like a bowl full of jelly (or, more accurately, Christmas cookies) as you laugh with delight. You wolf them down and brush the crumbs from your beard, ready to face Christmas night again.

Those are some darn fine cookies.

Yes, Christmas cookies are magical — and not just because they get Santa through a harrowing night and contribute to his legendary waistline. Making cookies is a holiday rite of passage, and one that we couldn’t neglect. The trouble is, we’re not cookie-masters, and we don’t want to disappoint Old Saint Nick.

The solution? Call on the expertise of our baking fellow bloggers. Yes, we baked a variety of Christmas cookies and have others’ genius to credit. Each is tasty, delicious, and different from the next. And it just goes to show what amazing bloggers there are out there. No doubt Santa will reward them.

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Backgrounder…
Santa is a big man with big cookie issues, and this holiday season my wife had the same issues. This little project was completely her idea. She got it in her head that we needed to make cookies for her co-workers as gifts (Hence, the picture of the tissue paper forest on our dining table).

Now, I don’t mind making food for other people. Heck, I often send baked goods I’ve cooked on with her to the office. This minor obsession by my wife became a full on brilliant idea when she suggested we cook other people’s cookies. So she did all the research and found four others she liked plus our own Crème Fraîche Clouds. So in these final days of the holiday season, these recipes got the MHC seal of approval, plus the approval of many of my wife’s office mates. So if you are looking for ideas to bake, then go head and click the links while the oven preheats.

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1. Chocolate Shortbread Fingers from Bake or Bake or Break—These are great. I love shortbread with its beautifully buttery flavor. In this version, the chocolate with a sprinkling of sugar truly make a dramatic impact. One of the best cookies I’ve ever had.

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2. Korva Cookies from Dessert First—If you love chocolate, this is your cookie. It is rich, crisp and intoxicating. It’s pure chocolate perfection. It’s a bit harder to make then the other recipes here, but if you have the need for chocolate, make these. I just want to note quickly that we add the powdered sugar for a visual effect here. We also used a very dark cocoa powder. Dessert First’s cookies are prettier and perfect.

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3. Snickerdoodles from the Kitchen Wench—A classic cookie and well done. My wife loves snickerdoodles. When she thinks of cookies, I’m pretty sure she thinks of snickerdoodsles. These from the Kitchen Wench are beautifully spiced and have a touch of nutmeg which really adds depth to flavor while keeping that combination of soft and crispness that make snickerdoodles so great. If nothing else, who doesn’t like to say, “Snickerdoodle.”

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4. Toasted Pecan Toffee from Cookbook 101—Okay, you win. It’s not technically a cookie. It’s a candy. But, it’s the holiday season so we can all be generous. For the candy making novice, this is a great recipe to get your feet wet with. It’s delicious, impressive and not overly complex. Also, when you break your toffee for service-sized pieces, be sure to save the little pieces for ice cream or other cookies.

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5. Crème Fraîche Clouds from MHC—Yeah, we decorated them for the season. These delicious derivation from tradition sour cream cookie really are great. They are simple to make and I enjoy them, but the best part was spray painting them to look festive. Yes, I said spray paint. The local grocery didn’t have the colored sugar we usually use this time of year for cookies, but did have this colored spray.

Boy did we get a chuckle out it. I felt like I was tagging my food. I wanted to start my own gang of bakers and cooks after doing a couple dozen cookies. But alas, I didn’t get that far with my gang. I don’t think my wife even wanted to join. So alas, I’m back to cooking as a family project. Enjoy the baking. Enjoy the season.

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Cookies soft like a cloud… crème fraîche clouds

November 19, 2006

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Mmmm….. Cookies.

I’m all about a cookie’s taste. I don’t care for those fussy, frosting-laden creations, even if the resultant cookie is beautiful enough to merit hanging on our bathroom’s walls. Give me a humble, tasty cookie any day.

Well, these cookies fill the bill. They’re humble… little dollops of drop cookie that take abstract shape depending on the shape of your spoon and the tilt of your oven rack. Their only attempt to fit in at a fancy-dress party is an optional sprinkling of colored sugar over their uneven, pillowy tops. And they’re tasty; they have a wonderful, springy, cake-like texture and subdued sweetness that is complemented by a breath of nutmeg. They’re beautiful, moist and slightly spicy cookies that can be devoured by the fistful.

My mom always made these sour cream sugar cookies around Christmas time (they were then sprinkled with the obligatory red and green colored sugar), using a recipe drawn from a much dog-earred and crumbling, hand-written local cookbook. Once my husband tasted these cookies, he became a huge fan and would demand that I make them whenever we had sour cream, sugar, eggs, flour and nutmeg on hand. Which is not an infrequent occurrence.

Now my husband has found a way to expand that ingredient list to include crème fraîche, meaning that cookies can be in his future on an even more frequent basis. Bonus: He’s learned to make them himself. Not that I’m complaining… I may like these cookies even more than he does. You will, too, if you try them! Read the rest of this entry ?

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Eat your heart out, monster: Orange Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

October 5, 2006

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Cookie, cookie, cookie starts with C. Heck ya.

Ah, the wonders of a fresh, warm cookie straight from the oven. Cookie Monster knew it. (Though now I hear he’s on a carrot diet.) I know it. My husband practically worships it. There’s something comforting about even the smell of cookies in the oven.

So, I can’t complain when my husband decides to run some cookie experiments in our kitchen. This particular one involved oatmeal cookies — one of my favorites. Fortunately, all phases of the cookie trials were edible, though they were vastly improved in their final iteration.

Among the many cookie offerings out there, the oatmeal cookie is unique. Humble in its ingredients, modest in its flavors, the oatmeal cookie is hearty and delicious, not cloying and syrupy. Now, my husband (and Gourmet magazine) have pushed the envelope by adding things like orange zest and chocolate chips to the simple oatmeal cookie. And I’m pleased to announce that it totally works. These oatmeal cookies preserve the hearty, chewy texture of the unalloyed oatmeal cookie, while adding the aroma of cinnamon, the melty goodness of chocolate chips and the surprising hint of citrus and orange in the zest.

Well played, my husband. And I think Cookie Monster would agree.

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