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03 Jul 2019 Italian Butter Cookies

Italian Butter Cookies

I love these cookies. Not the ones in the package. Not the ones from the bakery. These cookies. Made at home. With butter.

I’m sure you’ve all seen these cookies. I swear they are in every bakery and often overlooked because they look at bit plain and basic, and even, in some bakeries, a bit dry and floury. The cookies often appeal to kids though, probably because of the rainbow sprinkles.

This cookie will appeal to kids and grown ups, because it’s not floury, it’s not dry. It’s very buttery and very vanilla and very delicious.

The cookie is pretty straightforward, made from everyday pantry staples plus a package of rainbow sprinkles, but putting the cookies on the baking tray does require a piping bag and tip. It’s an extra step and extra clean up, but it’s not an Italian Butter Cookie without it. The other tricky part is knowing when to take the cookies out of the oven. Do not overbake or underbake. Watch the cookies carefully, look for a very light golden browning So deep breath, you can do it! The results will be worth it.

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (2 sticks)

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon milk

1 egg, at room temperature

2 ½ cups all purpose flour (313 grams)

½ teaspoon baking powder

Rainbow sprinkles

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • With an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla and optional lemon or almond extracts.  Beat at medium speed until fluffy, 3-5 minutes.
  • Beat in the egg and milk and combine thoroughly.
  • Mix the baking powder into the flour and then slowly add the flour mixture to the butter-sugar-egg mixture. Beat until a dough forms.
  • NOTE: This dough should be piped right after it’s mixed.  Don’t let it rest for too long or refrigerate, as the dough will become stiff and more difficult to pipe.  If the dough does become too stiff to pipe, add a few drops of milk to loosen it. Fit a pastry bag with an extra-large French or open star pastry tip.  Fill the bag with half of the dough.
  • Pipe the dough into rounds about 2-inches in diameter.  Space the cookies about 1-1/2 inches apart as they do flatten and spread slightly. 
  • Sprinkle cookies rounds with rainbow sprinkles.
  • Bake the cookies for 15-17 minutes, or until they are light golden brown on the very edges and have very light brown bottoms! This is the hardest part of making this cookie: do not under bake the cookies and do not overbake. Do not allow cookies to brown beyond a very light golden brown on the outside edges and bottoms.
  • Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Depending upon size, makes 24-36 cookies. I’ve started doubling this recipe. (Cookies freeze well.)
03 Jun 2019 Filipino Chicken Barbecue (Skewers)

I know nothing about Filipino cooking, but my daughter organized a Boodle Fight for one of our cookbook club meetings. Knowing nothing, and needing to know something fast, I researched cookbooks and ordered one that sounded good, landing on “I Am A Filipino: And This Is How We Cook” by Nicole Ponseca. I made several recipes, Chicken Barbecue, Banana Ketchup Ribs, Pancit, Coconut Flan.  Two recipes were keepers, as is, no changes…, Chicken Barbecue and Banana Ketchup BBQ Ribs.

Good news, Epicurious is going all out on promoting this recipe, too, it’s a keeper! Can you see the chicken on the skewers in the picture above?  Look at all that food! A Boodle Fight is a GREAT idea! If you can’t do all of it, start with the Chicken Barbecue Skewers.

You’ll need some Banana Ketchup, which is ketchup made from bananas, not tomatoes, but tastes nothing like bananas, and is still a vibrant red color! I bought my first bottle of Banana Ketchup on Amazon.  It cost 4 times the amount of my 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th bottle of Banana Ketchup.  If you have a Filipino market close by, a bottle of Banana Ketchup will cost less than two dollars, if you order it off of Amazon it will cost over eight dollars. Do what you have to do, get a bottle of Banana Ketchup and make the Chicken Barbecue on Skewers.

Filipino Chicken Barbecue (Skewers)

  • 2 1/4 cups (540 ml) banana ketchup
  • 1 cup (240 ml) 7UP or Sprite
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) white sugarcane vinegar
  • 1/2 cup (110 g) packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (35 g) minced garlic
  • 3 pounds (1.4 kg) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Cooking spray or vegetable oil, for greasing
  • Wooden skewers
  1. Stir together the banana ketchup, 7UP/Sprite, lemon juice, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and garlic, keep stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Add the chicken pieces and toss. Cover the bowl or pour mixture into a Ziplok bag and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and preferably overnight.
  3. When you are ready to cook the meat, heat a grill pan over high heat or heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium.
  4. Reserving the marinade, thread 3 or 4 pieces of chicken on each skewer, letting the pieces touch slightly, and set them on a plate or baking sheet.
  5. Pour the marinade into a saucepan and bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes; set it aside.
  6. Spray the pan or grill grate lightly with cooking spray. Place the skewers on the grill pan or grill and cook, turning them and basting them often with the heated marinade, until they are cooked through or the center of a piece of chicken registers 165°F (75°C) on an instant-read thermometer. This should take between 8 and 15 minutes, depending on your cooking surface (discard any leftover marinade).
  7. Transfer to a platter. Serve and share.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!

31 May 2019 Madelienes

Madeleines. What are they anyway?  Almost a cookie but really a slightly dry cake?  Yes, that’s right! No frosting? Nope, but they are often dusted with powdered sugar… No caramel swirl? Never! No bits of chocolate? Not usually… And what’s with that lump on the back? Gotta have a lump in the back! Sooo…, what’s the big deal? Madeleines are super plain, super dry, and super yummy, I love them! Madeleines are popular tea cakes in cafes around the world. The world loves them!

Madeleines are French tea cakes, but thought of as a cookie, and are instantly recognizable with their scalloped shell shape that is ribbed on one side and smooth, but with a hump, on the other. Direct from the oven these buttery cakes have wonderfully crisp edges, tender crumb and are best eaten right away, although they will keep in a tin on the counter for 3-4 days. A dusting of powdered sugar is all that they really need, although some brush still warm Madeleines with a tangy lemon glaze.  Starbucks dips tips of their Madeleines into chocolate.

Madeleines are quite easy to make, but you’ll need to purchase scalloped Madeleine molds to get started. The molds are available in different sizes and materials, but you’ll probably find non-stick pans to be the easiest to use.

I have tested out many recipes over the years.  This one is from Epicurious, but with changes to cooking times, method, and ingredients (I doubled the lemon zest, upped the vanilla, added in some baking powder, reduced the oven temperature and reduced the baking time).

The recipe below makes 24 Madeleines.

Madeleines

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (usually from one medium lemon)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (125 grams) all purpose flour
  • 5 oz (10 tablespoons, 1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (plus extra to brush in molds)
  • Powdered sugar
  • Extra melted butter to brush on pans
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Brush each madeleine mold with melted butter (use the additional butter, not the 5 oz needed for the batter!)
  3. Beat eggs and sugar with electric mixer just to blend
  4. Beat in vanilla, lemon zest, and salt
  5. In another bowl, whisk flour with baking powder and salt and then add gradually to butter-sugar-egg mixture.
  6. Gradually add melted and cooled butter to mixture, beating with electric mixer just to blend
  7. Spoon 1 tablespoon batter into each buttered madeleine mold
  8. Place in preheated oven and bake for 9-10 minutes or until edges are slightly browned and there is a visible hump in the middle of each madeleine.
  9. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for about 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  10. Repeat with remaining batter. Recipe makes 24 standard sized madeleines
  11. When cool, dust with powdered sugar. If necessary dust with powdered sugar again just before serving.

Note: Batter can be made one day ahead. Refrigerate batter and baked on day two.

Variation: replace lemon zest with orange zest and add 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom to the flour mixture.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today! I hope you find someone wonderful to share these special treats with 🙂

10 May 2019 Tropical Mango Scones

It takes a lot to get true mango flavor in baked goods.  This scone recipe manages it but it does require mango in three different forms: crushed freeze-dried mango, dried mango, and diced frozen mango. Then throw in a bit of coconut and a bit of lime zest and you have a Tropical Mango Scone. You also have to add an egg. An egg? In a scone? I am usually a scone purist. No eggs! But I’ll make an exception, just this one time, because it works in this recipe.

The original recipe only called for frozen mango, which is interesting in itself. I’d never baked with frozen mango. I didn’t think it would work, but it did! I added the freeze-dried mango (always available at Trader Joe’s, and now starting to show up in main stream grocery stores) and the dried mango (available everywhere) to boost the flavor.

Tropical Mango Scones

  • 2 cups (260g) all-purpose flour
  • approx. 20 grams (less than one ounce) freeze-dried mango crushed to a fine powder
  • ½ cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • ½ cup diced dried mango
  • ½ cup sugar + additional teaspoon sugar (divided use)
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • zest of 2 limes
  • ½ cup butter, frozen
  • ½ cup heavy cream + additional 1-2 Tablespoons (divided use)
  • 1 egg
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup dried mango, diced
  • 1 cup frozen mango, diced into ¼ inch chunks
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Combine flour, crushed freeze-dried mango, flaked coconut, diced dried mango, sugar, lime zest, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Stir well to combine.
  4. In another bowl combine ½ cup heavy cream, egg, and vanilla and whisk until combined.
  5. GRATE the frozen butter into the flour mixture then, using a fork, stir the butter into the flour mixture until well combined.
  6. Drizzle the cream-egg-vanilla mixture over the flour-butter mixture. Using the fork, combine the ingredients into a cohesive ball, this may take awhile. If the mixture is too dry, work a little extra cream into the mixture.
  7. Gently fold in the frozen mango mini-chunks.
  8. Divide the dough in half. If necessary sprinkle with a bit of flour. Shape the dough into a circle about the size of a salad plate.
  9. Place onto one side of prepared baking sheet
  10. Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, divide dough into six equal pieces.
  11. Repeat with remaining dough in bowl (SEE NOTE BELOW).
  12. Brush tops of scones with the additional 1-2 heavy cream, then sprinkle with additional 1 teaspoon sugar.
  13. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  14. Remove from oven and share 🙂

NOTE: The second half of the dough can be placed on a plate and frozen for later baking. No need to defrost before baking. Just place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with heavy cream and sprinkle with sugar. Might need to bake 2-4 more minutes.

Thank you for stopping by my kitchen today!