Tuesday, December 28, 2010


My father is Jewish and was raised eating things like matzo ball soup, chopped liver, and kreplach (Jewish dumplings for soup) at the holidays. I decided to celebrate my Jewish heritage and make something authentic for the holidays. My dad loves cookies, he loves to tell the story that one year his mom made 140 dozen cookies for Christmas and that every one of them got eaten. So I figured cookies would be a good way to go if I was going to make something for my dad. I was really pleased with these cookies. They make a big batch plus they're delicious. They taste a lot like cinnamon rolls. They're perfect for the holiday season.

adapted from The Barefoot Contessa
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2-pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar plus 9 tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup apricot preserves, pureed in a food processor
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk, for egg wash

Cream the cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light. Add the granulated sugar, the salt, and the vanilla, with the mixer on low speed, add the flour and mix until just combined. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and roll it into a ball. Cut the ball in quarters, wrap each piece in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the filling, combine 6 tablespoons of granulated sugar, the brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, the raisins, and walnuts.

On a well-floured board, roll each ball of dough into a 9-inch circle. Spread the dough with 2 tablespoons apricot preserves and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the filling. Press the filling lightly into the dough. Cut the circle into 12 equal wedges—cutting the whole circle in quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Starting with the wide edge, roll up each wedge. Place the cookies, points tucked under, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove to a wire rack and let cool.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to say merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all of you! Thank you very much for following me and reading what I write. I appreciate every single one of you being here and I can't wait to see what the new year will bring for me and the blog. I promise I'll cook up some good stuff to share with you all. Until then God bless and I hope you all get what you asked Santa for and more.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Alton Brown's mac and cheese

Sorry about the lack of updating exam week got me and then I got caught up with starting back at work. Luckily now that it's Christmas break I'll be able get in the kitchen alot and cook up some good recipes for you all. In any case you really need to try this macaroni and cheese because it's amazing. Also if you don't know much about Alton Brown you should look him up because his recipes, although they sometimes include unconventional ingredients or methods, are completely trustworthy and amazing. Plus his show Good Eats is witty, informative, and entertaning. In short he's my hero. Anyway this macaroni and cheese is great it's creamy and cheesy and the mustard and onions add amazing amounts of flavor. I know this isn't your typical mac and cheese but that's what makes it so perfect. It's also a perfect side dish for the holidays.

Macaroni and Cheese
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko bread crumb

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, cook the pasta to al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, in a separate large sauce pan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and whisk continually for about five minutes. When it's free of lumps Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.

Mix a spoonful of the warm milk mixture into a small bowl with the egg to temper the egg and then add it to the pot. Add in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish and top with remaining cheese.

For the topping melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

peppermint bark

Christmas is rabidly approaching which means it's time for holiday baking! yay! The ball is already rolling at my house. Mom and I made a trip to Costco and our pantry is stocked in bulk with flour, butter, sugar, brown sugar, cocoa, dried milk, white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and mason jars. We've decided to make cookies in a jar and cocoa mix in a jar for family, friends, and select professors. Those recipes will be coming soon but this is what I chose to make when my friends at school decided to have a Christmas party. This recipe is simple, it makes a big batch, and every one loves it. Which I think qualifies it as a great holiday treat.
this recipe is actually a happy accident. My mom bought peppermint flavored Andes chips. I thought they were just normal crushed peppermints when I opened the bag I was sorely disappointed but I decided to throw them in any way. The results were good. You get peppermint flavor in every bite and you don't have to worry about the peppermint pieces not sticking or falling off when you bite into the bark.

Peppermint Bark

1 pound dark chocolate (60% cocoa works great)
1 pound white chocolate
1 cup Andes peppermint pieces

Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler or a glass bowl set over a pot full of water. Spread the melted chocolate onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Place the chocolate in the freezer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile melt the white chocolate in the same way let it cool slightly and then pour in the Andes chips. Remove the dark chocolate from the freezer and pour the white chocolate over the dark chocolate. Spread the white chocolate in an even layer over the dark making sure to work quickly so the two chocolates don't mix. Place the bark in the freezer for another 20 minutes. When the bark is chilled remove it from the freezer if you want neat little squares thaw the bark and then slice with a knife if you want rough shards of bark then while the bark is still frozen take the slab and drop it on the counter until the pieces are the desired size.