Wednesday, December 13, 2006

No More Cookie Crumbles

Growing up, there were never sugar cookies and icing on the household Christmas agenda. I'd usually hop over to a friend's house to decorate candy canes and wreaths where I would bleed red icing into the green and totally obscure the white in the process. There's a reason why I still don't decorate cookies save the occasional chocolate dip. But somewhere I started baking cookies for the holidays and somewhere I came upon a cookie that the family loved. And now I'm stuck baking them every year. I love baking for the family, but it's become somewhat of a ordeal. I could say it's the quantity of cookies I try to turn out each year or the fact that I usually don't plan on baking until late at night, the night before our big bash, but mostly it's a lack of planning. Chopping nuts is not a difficult task thanks to the fine people at Cuisinart. And Silpats, along with a high butter content dough, have all but eliminated the need to grease the cookie sheets. And my offset mini-spatula for a span of hours, yearly becomes my best friend as it saves my fingers from cookie burns. I do not lack for baking accouterments.

This year I've resolved to do better in hopes of having the smoothest cookie baking year ever. I shall shop for all ingredients before 10 PM when I decide it's time to bake. I shall chop up all the ingredients that need chopping ahead of time. I shall take the butter out of the refrigerator hours before I start baking so it's softened rather than hastily melted in the microwave. I will not substitute baking soda for baking powder (a particularly heartbreaking year). And when all else fails, I shall blast Willie Nelson's Pretty Paper in the kitchen because there's nothing like a holiday country waltz to lift one's spirits and send one into a fit of giggling.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Coastside Eats

So Holland has finally flown off to...Holland. But before that, I had the good fortune to dine with her, not just at Thanksgiving, but at her multiple bon voyage bashes, the most boisterous of which was at the Davenport Roadhouse, a fine restaurant and inn if you ever find yourself on Highway 1 ten miles north of Santa Cruz. I've long been obsessed with Davenport, which so far as I can tell consists of two buildings on the highway, both of which house eateries. The more casual of the two would be the bakery, where I've warmed up with coffee, indulged in ice cream, and lunched with dear Renee, where between bites of chicken sandwich, we pored over maps during our marathon drive down the coast. A fantastic stop on a sunny (or not so sunny) day.

If you're in the mood for a more serious meal though, the roadhouse has all sorts of delectables. The lemon-infused parmesan accompanied with olives was a favorite as was the roasted vegetable pizzetta. I adored the hanger`steak with garlic frites (and brussels sprouts!) and whenever possible, took bites of other people's meals, which included cioppino, lamb shank falling off the bone, and several varieties of fish. A cozy table by the fire and a rocking chocolate cake completed our meal. And if the food isn't enough of a draw, the sunset drive along the coast was so lovely that our entire party showed up late because we could hardly take our eyes off the sky.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Fine Time to Use an Exclamation Point!

"New Zealanders are the highest per capita consumers of ice cream in the world!"

So says the New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturer's Association. Maybe I should consider joining my brethren in NZ...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A New Friend for Prosciutto

Peel a crispy (fuyu) persimmon. Slice into eight wedges. Wrap wedges in prosciutto.

Commence eating.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Jet Puffed

Because sometimes it's fun to make a mess in the kitchen.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Next Big Thing in Cheese Pairings

What could be better than an impromptu, mad cap sing-along to A Charlie Brown Christmas? Wine and cheese and gummy bears.

Not exactly a substitute for membrillo, but it's fruity and chewy, and no, I didn't think to try it out with the edam, though now I'm rather curious.