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Sep 11, 2009

How to Roast Chile Peppers over a Gas Flame










1 Turn your gas burner on to high. Place the chile pepper directly on the gas burner. Let the chile pepper sit on the burner as its skin begins to bubble and turn black (about a minute).

2 Once one side gets pretty well blistered, use tongs (or you can grab the stem with your fingers) to turn the chile to another side. Repeat until the chile gets blistered or charred on all sides. Obviously you need to pay close attention to the chile. It should just blister and char a bit, not catch fire.

3 Place the chile in a brown paper bag. Close the bag and let it sit for 5 or 10 minutes. The steam from the hot chile will help the peel come off easier.

4 Remove the chile from the bag. Use your fingers or a damp towel to rub off the skin. You may find it easier to do this under running water, though doing so will wash away some of the flavor. Remove and discard the stem, seeds, and veins.

Apple Cranberry Currant Crumble Pie Recipe

Ingredients
1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup dried currants
1 1/2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries, rinsed and drained
1 cup granulated sugar
6 Tbsp plus 1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp finely grated orange zest
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 cups sliced peeled Granny Smith apples (about 2 1/4 pounds)
10-inch pie pastry for a single-crust pie
2/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks

Method
1 Combine the brandy and the currants in a small bowl. Let sit for at least an hour, until currants are plump.
2 Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl mix 1 cup white sugar with 6 Tbsp flour, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Use a slotted spoon to transfer currants from brandy (reserve the brandy) to the sugar mixture. Add cranberries and apples and mix well. Pour filling into unbaked pie pastry and drizzle with the reserved brandy.

3 In another bowl mix 1 cup flour with 2/3 cup of brown sugar. Add the butter and cut in with a pastry blender or rub with your fingers until the mixture forms small lumps. Sprinkle topping over the filling. Set pie in a foil-lined 10x15 inch baking pan (to catch the juices).

4 Bake on bottom rack until juices bubble, 55 to 65 minutes. If pie browns too quickly, cover loosely with foil.

5 Set pie on rack, uncovered, to cool for 2 to 3 hours.

Makes 10-12 servings.

OLD FASHIONED APPLE PIE RECIPE

Crust Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1/2 cup finely ground blanched almonds or almond flour (can substitute 1/2 cup flour if you don't have almonds)
16 Tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, chilled in freezer for at least 15 minutes
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon brown sugar
3 to 6 Tbsp water, very cold

Filling Ingredients
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 pounds of 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices of peeled and cored good cooking apples such as Granny Smith, Pippin, Golden Delicious (see cooking apple varieties)
1 1/2 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Egg Wash
1 large egg yolk
1 Tbsp cream

Method
1 In a food processor, combine flour, almonds, salt and brown sugar, pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse 6 to 8 times, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter. Add water 1 Tablespoon at a time, pulsing until mixture just begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready, if not, add a little more water and pulse again.

Remove dough from machine and place on a clean surface. Carefully shape into 2 discs. Do not over-knead the dough! You should still be able to see little bits of butter in the dough. These bits of butter are what will allow the result crust to be flaky. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

2 Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 375°F.

3 Combine sugar, flour and spices in large bowl. Use your hands and mix in the apples so they are well coated, then add brandy and vanilla extract.

4 Remove one crust disk from the refrigerator. Let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle some flour on top of the disk. Roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface to a 12 inch circle; about 1/8 of an inch thick. As you roll out the dough, use a metal spatula to check if the dough is sticking to the surface below. Add a few sprinkles of flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Gently fold in half. Place on to a 9-inch pie plate, lining up the fold with the center of the pan. Gently unfold and press down to line the pie dish with the dough.

5 Spoon in apple filling, mounding slightly in center.
6 Roll out second disk of dough, as before. Gently turn over onto the top of the apples in the pie. Pinch top and bottom of dough rounds firmly together. Trim excess dough with kitchen shears, leaving a 3/4 inch overhang. Fold dough under itself so that the edge of the fold is flush with the edge of the pan. Flute edges using thumb and forefinger or press with a fork.

7 Stir yolk and cream in small bowl to blend. Brush over top of pie. Cut slits in top crust to allow steam to escape. Bake pie until crust begins to turn golden, about 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°F. Tent the rims with aluminum foil or a pie protector if the edges are browning too quickly. Bake until crust is golden and juices are bubbling, anywhere from an additional 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the type of apples you are using. Transfer to rack; let stand 1 hour. Serve pie warm or at room temperature.

Serves 8.

THUMBPRINT COOKIES

Thumbprint Cookies Recipe

Ingredients
1 cup of butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces), room temperature
1/2 cup of sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 cups of flour
1 cup of chopped nuts (optional)
3/4 cup of your favorite jam
Parchment paper
Method
1 Cream the butter and sugar on high speed for about 3 minutes.

2 Separate the eggs. Add the yolks and vanilla extract to the butter mixture. If using nuts place the egg whites in a shallow dish on the side and whisk them until bubbly and frothy (the egg whites will be used to keep the nuts on the cookies).

3 Add the flour and salt. Mix until just combined. Place the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 350F.

4 Roll the dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter. If using nuts, dip the balls into the egg whites then roll them into the nuts until covered. Place the balls on parchment lined cookie sheets.

5 Press down with your thumb to make a small well in the center of the cookie. Do not press too hard or the cookie will fall apart. Fill with 1/2 teaspoon of jam.

6 Bake for 12-15 minutes or until slightly firm. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet to firm up before moving them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

MY SPECIAL COOKIES

Grandma's Oatmeal Cookies Recipe

Ingredients
1 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs well beaten
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
3 cups oats (we use Quaker Quick or Old Fashioned. Do NOT use instant.)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (use 1/2 cup if using raisins)
1 cup raisins (optional)
Method
1 Cream shortening and sugars, add eggs and vanilla and beat well.

2 Sift flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon. Add to first mixture and mix well. Add raisins (if using) and nuts. Add oats last.

3 Spoon out by rounded tablespoonfuls on to greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350°F. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove to wire rack. Cool completely.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.


Almond Crescent Cookies

Almond Crescent Cookies Recipe

Ingredients
1 cup of butter, room temperature
2/3 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of almond extract
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 cup of almond flour (can substitute ground almonds*)
1/4 cup of powdered sugar for sprinkling
*You can use slivered, blanched almonds and grind them up, but you will have a very crumbly, hard to work with dough. It’ll still taste good though.


Method

1 Cream the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the extracts and mix.

2 Add the flour and almond flour. Mix thoroughly.

3 Take generous tablespoons of the dough (it will be slightly crumbly) and roll it into a small ball, about an inch in diameter, and then shape into a crescent shape. Place onto parchment paper and bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until a light golden brown.

4 Dust with powdered sugar.

For added decadence let the cookies cool and dip one end of them into some melted chocolate, then let the chocolate harden.

Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies.




Banana Cookies Recipe


Ingredients
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup of sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 cup of mashed bananas (about 2 ½ large bananas)
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 cups of flour
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground mace or nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
1 cup of pecans (walnuts and chocolate chips are fine alternatives)
Method
1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

2 In a bowl, mix the mashed bananas and baking soda. Let sit for 2 minutes. The baking soda will react with the acid in the bananas which in turn will give the cookies their lift and rise.

3 Mix the banana mixture into the butter mixture. Mix together the flour, salt, and spices and sift into the butter and banana mixture and mix until just combined.

4 Fold into the batter the pecans or chocolate chips if using. Drop in dollops onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Let cool on wire racks.

Makes about 30 cookies.


Gingerbread Man Cookies Recipe

Ingredients
Cookies

3 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature, softened)
1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
Optional raisins, chocolate chips, candy pieces, frosting

Royal Icing

1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 3/4 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
Method
1 In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.

2 In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter. Add sugar and beat until fluffy. Mix in eggs and molasses. Gradually add the flour mixture; combine on low speed. (You may need to work it with your hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.) Divide dough in thirds; wrap each third in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight. Before rolling out, let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. If after refrigerating the dough feels too soft to roll-out, work in a little more flour.

3 Heat oven to 350°. Place a dough third on a large piece of lightly floured parchment paper or wax paper. Using a rolling pin, roll dough 1/8 inch thick. Refrigerate again for 5-10 minutes to make it easier to cut out the cookies. Use either a cookie cutter or place a stencil over the dough and use a knife to cut into desired shapes. Press raisins, chocolate chips, or candy pieces in the center of each cookie if desired for "buttons".

4 Transfer to ungreased baking sheets. Bake until crisp but not darkened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Let sit a few minutes and then use a metal spatula to transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired.

Makes 16 5-inch long cookies.

Royal Icing
The traditional way to make Royal Icing is to beat egg whites and lemon juice together, adding the powdered sugar until the mixture holds stiff peaks. With modern concerns about salmonella from raw eggs, you can either use powdered egg whites or heat the egg whites first to kill any bacteria. With the heating method, mix the egg white and lemon juice with a third of the sugar, heat in a microwave until the mixture's temperature is 160°F. Then remove from microwave, and beat in the remaining sugar until stiff peaks form. Using the powdered egg whites method, combine 1 Tbsp egg white powder with 2 Tbsp water. Proceed as you would otherwise. (Raw egg white alternatives from the 2006 Joy of Cooking)

If the icing is too runny, add more powdered sugar until you get the desired consistency. Fill a piping bag with the icing to pipe out into different shapes. (Or use a plastic sandwich bag, with the tip of one corner of the bag cut off.) Keep the icing covered while you work with it or it will dry out.


Heath Bar Cookies Recipe

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped Heath Bar pieces (Eight 1.4 ounce bars)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Method

Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine Heath Bar pieces and chopped walnuts. Set aside.

2 Cream butter until fluffy. Add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy (a couple minutes). Beat in eggs one at a time, and vanilla.

3 Alternatively mix in the Heath Bar mixture and the flour mixture, a third at a time, until well blended. Chill cookie dough for at least 30 minutes (better an hour).

Preheat oven to 350°F. On cookie sheets lined with parchment paper or Silpat, spoon out the cookie dough in small 1-inch diameter balls (size of a large marble). Place dough balls 3 inches away from each other on the cookie sheets. (Make sure there is plenty of room between the cookie balls, and that the cookie balls aren't too big. These cookies spread!)

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are just starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 6 dozen cookies.