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on the downward side of the age mountain.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Dough Master

Last year I gave you a holiday strategy for making cookies- See Archives December 18, 2009. This year I want to share with you my 2010 selection.

This is not a typical Christmas on The Edge. Life is in boxes waiting to sell the house and move on to new adventures so my pastry tips, bags, and random fun toys are packed away. Licking my wounds I confided in The Princess that I wouldn’t be making cookies this year. “But MOM you have to make cookies even if you make just one kind!” I could feel her eyes welling up with tears.

Wait a minute!! Was that The Princess who wanted me to MAKE something in the kitchen for her??? How could I turn her down? And so I rallied.

First on the list was a new cookie from The NYT- Cardamom-Walnut Crescents a quick dough executed in the Cuisinart. Next a classic from my family- Candy Cane Cookies-but wait-my little grey cells jingled. Why do I always make the dough in one lump only to split it in half to color one part red? How about-(and this is where rocket science kicks in-) I just split the recipe in the beginning! Bingo fans I broke through the sound barrier! I almost called one of my culinary cohorts to brag but I had other dough’s to conquer.

Next up were the brown dough’s. From Rose Beranbaum’s Christmas Cookie book (if you only buy one cookie book this is the one!) I made Mrs. King’s Irresistibles a dense oatmeal, raisin, chocolate cookie made even more decadent with chopped up E. Guittard semi-sweet chocolate (screw Toll House). When finished I think we will do a drizzle of white chocolate to gourmetize. Rose also contributed The Princess’s favorite, Peanut Butter and Jelly Jewels. I used to buy special hydrogenised peanut butter but have changed my ways and use our everyday peanut butter increasing the flour to absorb the extra oil.

Last year Heidi Swanson had a Triple Ginger Cookie I tried. It usurped my Ginger Thin recipe from The Joy of Cooking. If you love ginger this is unbelievable!! It is a trifecta of ginger, freshly grated, ground, and crystallized with a lacing of lemon zest.

For the last few years I have been making Gourmet’s Chocolate Christmas Cookies this year Serious Eats tempted me with Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies. I read the title to NSSP and got a nod of approval. Really how can you go wrong with little cocoa discs filled with a peanut butter cream cheese?

And then I was done!! All wrapped labeled and accounted for chillin’ in the fridge waiting for The Princess to arrive and help with the baking.

If any of you are interested in the recipes. Drop a comment below and I’ll get them off to you!!

Pictures will follow~ Fa-La-La!!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Book Review-Buckhorn Springs Heritage Cookbook

Buckhorn Springs Heritage Cookbook
By Lauren, Leslie, and Bruce Sargent

I was recently contacted to review Buckhorn Springs Heritage Cookbook, by Lauren, Leslie, and Bruce Sargent. This is a unique cookbook that celebrates a family’s dream and those people the dream has touched. There is passion for the land, its history dating back to the American Indians, and how various owners tried their luck. The winners are the Sargents' who bring skill and love to a dream with success.

The book is woven like a tapestry. A cast of many lend their voice and stories about how Buckhorn Springs influenced them and lingers in their memories. Pictures are copious with before and after shots of the buildings, children growing up, and tempting food.

The stories and recipes are divided by the time of day; beginning with Morning and a selection of quick breads, a frittata, granola, and pancakes. All recipes are simply laid out and easy to follow. Noon’s offerings are many with various wraps, salads, and soups, just the right sustenance for a break in the day. Night is more substantial with many filling and mostly vegetarian dishes. After Hours has the kind of offerings that you want to take back to your cabin for a midnight snack.

Leslie Sargent is the driving force in the kitchen. She found her culinary infatuation at twelve when she began cooking for her family. The Buckhorn Kitchen philosophy is to create dishes “simple and fresh, with ingredients from the harvests of local farmers”. Her challenge has been to serve food that fits the wide variety of clients who pass through, taking into account diets, allergies, and food restrictions.

With that in mind, the recipes are stand alone terrific but with room for additions and subtractions to fit assorted diets. Leslie gives credit to her inspirational sources and suggests changes a cook may try. Always take note of the serving sizes because they vary.

If you try only one recipe in the Morning chapter it has to be Very Lemon Bread. This is a straight forward quick bread with the addition of a Lemon Pour that is poured over the bread while still warm. The pour soaks in and adds a fresh lemon infusion to the cake. Divine!

Lunch and dinner recipes embrace global flavors. Ginger Marinated Tofu Wraps with Peanut Sauce reside next to Sweet Potato Quesadillas and Minestrone for lunch. Aside from the usual salad suspects Leslie has included Quinoa Salad with Oranges, a brightly flavored dish with Middle Eastern spices, raisins, and almonds. Her Farro Salad has the addition of vaquer beans (sometimes called vaquero beans) that add protein, a unique color, and great texture. The dish is worth the adventure! Www.RanchoGordo.Com in Napa Valley, CA carries them.

A perfect hostess always sends her guests to bed with a little sweet. Leslie has that covered with a selection that appeals to all tastes and dietary restrictions. Vegan Wheat-Free Cashew Cookies, Summer Squash Spice Cake, Buck Bars (Leslie’s tasty answer to Cliff & Luna bars), and don’t forget Leslie’s Brownies or Lauren’s Oatmeal Granola all put a smile on visitor’s faces.

Buckhorn Springs Heritage Cookbook is an amazing story that one feels is ongoing and not yet at the end. It is a wonderful example of our unique state and what it has to offer the world.

I can’t wait to read the next installment!

Read! Eat! And Enjoy!

Judith Bishop