Saturday, December 28, 2013

Kalamata Eggs with Vegetables

Note:  This blog, with all its previous posts, has moved to, but I will continue to post here, as well as there, for another month or so to assure the transition.  Great thanks to my beautiful daughter, Emily Morgan, who managed the migration for me.
There comes a moment between Christmas and New Year's when you simply look around the kitchen and say, "I've had enough meat, cheese, and bread."  Parties, quick meals, egg casseroles, roast beast dinners, COO-KEES…

 Argh, they begin to add up.  If you haven't packed away a big tub of vegetable soup in the freezer,  maybe you'd like to try one of my quick breakfast-lunch-dinner skillets.
Out to brunch…eating… more!
This little meal takes the loveliness spinach has to sell (think cooked salad), combines it with the summery delight of onions with tomatoes, and tops it all off with a couple of quickly fried and runny eggs.  A piquant dollop or two of chopped kalamata olives or a spoonful of that tapenade leftover from the cocktail party might gild the lily, but probably not.  Make one for you and one for whomever else is still rambling about the holiday house.  OH, OK; have it with another mimosa.

kalamata eggs with vegetables                 makes one breakfast

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • pinch each crushed red pepper, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 large slice onion, broken into rings or pieces
  • 1/2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped kalamata olives or tapenade
  1. Heat an 8-inch skillet over medium heat with oil and spices for 30 seconds.  
  2. Add onion and cook five minutes or so, stirring regularly, until onion is soft and beginning to brown. Add garlic, spinach, and tomatoes.  Cook another 2 minutes or until spinach is wilting and tomatoes are softening. 
  3. Break two eggs on top of the vegetables -- one in each half the pan --  and sprinkle eggs with salt and pepper. Lower heat and cover for 2- 3 minutes or until eggs are done to your liking.  
  4. Tip pan out onto a warmed plate and top with olives or tapenade.  Serve with hot buttered toast and jam.

Sing a new song as you plan for New Year's,

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Stained Glass Shortbread Hearts

I used INDIA TREE Sparkling Sugar--Confetti "color."
I have a group of favorite Christmas cookies and I make most of them every year.  Not all.  Some years there's just no time for the cranberry bars and the candy canes do only make it into the round up every so often.  I'm not sure what gives one cookie a spot at the top of the favorites' team or what makes another a relief pitcher, but I'm thinking it's which little crispy piece of sweetness draws the most desirable oooos and ahhs from family and friends versus those that are still in the freezer at Easter.

To say I love my grandson's help in the Christmas kitchen is not an understatement.

That I love to make cookies is undeniable.  That I must, absolutely must, make a new recipe or two every year is something I know.  If only there were more days for baking, more mouths for chewing, more mugs of cocoa that needed a sidecar, more glasses of Vin Santo calling out for biscotti.

In fact, since my kids have left home, I schedule a  cookie party of some kind so that I have a reason to bake.  And bake.

An ornament I bought in Taos--it stays in my front window year-round.

Early in the season, I often place a cookie book or two next to my reading chair.   I put sticky notes at the recipes that appear promising and assure myself I'll try this one or the other -- and sometimes I do. Sometimes I'll see something online or in the newspaper that will call me.  My sister will send a recipe and those are treasures to tempt and attempt.

This uses the add the sugar to the dough method. (See *)

Inevitably, I drag out the old recipe box and find the tried and true blue friends of years past, and make those first, second, third….  Ginger Cookies, Chocolate Snowballs, 7-Layer Bars, Shortbread, Sugar Cookies, Pecan Bars, Date Bars…  (The list goes on.)

This is the add-the-sugar-to-the-top-of-the-hearts method described in the recipe.

And the new cookie may wait its turn patiently.  Might even have to wait until next year.

Cookies at left have sugar added at top.  At right, sugar added to the dough. (Same in next photo)

But sometime its turn at bat will arrive.

The music will start….
I bake to Peter, Paul, and Mary's Holiday Celebration  --  at least to begin with.

Double hearts.  This one just came out like this.  Ah. Sigh.

The counters are cleared of the coffee pots, salt and pepper, olive oil, crushed red pepper….

so that there's room for  a standing mixer, 3 or 4 favorite cookie sheets, and some cooling racks.

It takes a clear counter to bake a cookie.

This year's new cookie not exactly new, but it's a new version of my favorite shortbread.  And I think it's a perfect newbie.  Tender, but crisp all the way through.  Bright in affect.  Tiny.  Also a bit time-consuming, but worth it.  These meltable mouthfuls are just an inch long and hence are perfect for those who want a cookie, but don't want a cookie -- if you know what I mean.  An inch long cookie? What harm could that do?  (None if you stop at one.)  Here's how:

stained-glass window shortbread hearts
  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter--soft
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups white, unbleached flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • sparkling sugar (confetti)*
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
With an electric mixer or very strong hands, beat together the butter and sugar; add the vanilla.  

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and the salt.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, mixing slowly at first to avoid a flour shower.  When dough begins to hold together, stop mixer and remove dough. 

Shape first into a ball and then flatten into a disc.  Wrap with plastic wrap or foil and refrigerate 30 minutes.  (If you refrigerate the dough longer, you may have to let it warm up a bit.  I've left it overnight or longer; it has no eggs, so keeps a bit more than most doughs.) 

Divide dough into approximately 1-cup portions and, using a rolling pin,** roll out to 1/4-inch thickness on a lightly floured board or counter.

Cut out using 1-inch heart cookie cutters and press sparkling sugar into each.*  Place on baking sheets.  Bake 6-9 minutes or until set and just beginning to color at edges. Remove to cooling racks.  Store in tightly covered containers for up to a month.

*Alternately, add sugar to dough as you roll and then cut out the hearts; the cookies will look a bit differently, but will be just as good.

**No rolling pin?  Watch this little video.  A wine bottle might work just as well!

Provenance and Truth in Lending:  The ingredients (except for the sparkling sugar) for this recipe are from Eli Zabar via Ina Garten with great appreciation.

Around the 'Hood

 This year's twins munching in my front yard. (above)

Their vigilant mom. (above)

The family out back. (above)

On a clear day, you can see forever.  Well, you definitely can see Pike's Peak from my front door.

Click here for my Ginger Cookie recipe.  It's a keeper.
Our cookie party -- "Cookies, Carols, and Champagne," is Monday night. I am, uh, a bit behind.  Think of me.

Happy December…as you sing a new song,

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Slow Cooker Bean Soup at Altitude--Ski Day Special!


When I first moved to altitude, everyone seemed to talk about the changes needed to cook here.  There were lots of suggestions about baking particularly (use less yeast and sugar--more salt for bread), but also about cooking anything at all (cook longer and with more liquid) and I paid attention.  To be sure, some baking required a bit of adjustment -- a few things never did come around -- but the biggest hurdle was lack of humidity.  Leave a piece of bread on the counter for a few minutes  (say the phone rang when you were about to make a sandwich) and you'd return to dry bread--as if you left it out all night in Chicago or were drying bread for stuffing in Miami.  Bake cookies, leave them to cool on the rack a couple of hours instead of a couple of minutes, and you'd have rocks. All Colorado cookies are biscotti is how I look at it.  Cookies must be eaten, stored in very tightly-sealed containers,  and/or frozen as soon as they're cool. More than one Colorado baker has just thrown in the towel at Christmas.  You simply can't eat them before they're stale. My method is to freeze every batch, taking out just the number of cookies you'll eat -- or give away-- at one sitting. It works, but you need a big freezer --or a freezing garage-- if you're a happy baker in December.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Ina Fridays -- Appetizers -- Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers with Satay Dip

Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers with Satay Dip:  scroll down for link to recipe.

Perhaps it would have been better if I'd chosen something that didn't require grilling on a day when the high was 7 degrees Fahrenheit.

But, oh no, I had to make a grilled chicken dish.  Right oh.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Last Gasp Broccoli Soup

I hope your Thanksgiving was all you needed it to be.  Dave and I, having moved back into our Colorado Springs house just last month, were blessed to eat dinner at friends'.  Sean smoked a turkey; I made rolls and pies, as well as a pot of curried Butternut Squash Soup. Jami and Dave made a 4-quart Cauliflower Grantinee.  We ferried it all over to the north side of town, where a gorgeous table and a big group of friends waited.  All we had to do was sit down and enjoy it all.  Thanks, God.  I did bring home some leftovers...and hence this soup.  Enjoy this first week of Advent or the rest of Hanukkah...and make some broccoli soup.