Snickerdoodles

IMG_0241

On our way home from the farmer’s market today, we crossed paths with a lady who was taking her cute black Labrador Retriever for a walk. She was wearing a great pair of rubber rain boots covered in pictures of Labs. I complemented her on the fun footwear.

As we walked away, I thought to myself: that lady must really love dogs.

I have an affectionate, long-haired, black cat named Merlot. And I think it would be a hoot to have a pair of rubber rain boots covered in pictures of cats.

But, if I ever was to step outside the house wearing feline themed footwear, I would forever be branded a crazy cat lady. Not a lady who must really love cats. Just a crazy cat lady.

It’s an unfortunate double standard, especially since dog owners are just as crazy as us cat owners!

Don’t deny it. You talk to your pooches. Let them follow you into the bathroom. You buy them needless gadgets, beds, clothes, organic treats and Halloween costumes.

Us cat folk don’t have the market cornered on crazy. All pet owners have a little crazy in them.

I guess that’s why I’ve grown accustomed to Merlot curling up on my lap, keyboard or mouse pad whenever I sit down to blog. I’ve learned how to work around her.

Now that the baby is here, I think Merlot has realized that one of the few times I am solo is when I’m on the computer. So blogging isn’t just mommy time, it’s also a time for me to hang out with my favourite feline.

So this blog post is brought to you, in part, by my sidekick Merlot!

I’ve been meaning to try baking Snickerdoodle cookies for such a long time. And I’m glad that I finally did!

Snickerdoodles are a very simple, but delicious. The star ingredients are cinnamon and sugar. The cookies are cakey and moist, and they freeze very well.

I used a recipe from one of my favourite cookbooks, Martha Stewart’s Cookies: The Very Best Treats To Bake And To Share.

These sweet cinnamony treats were a crowd pleaser, so give them a whirl! Enjoy!

Snickerdoodles

(From Martha Stewart’s Cookies: The Very Best Treats To Bake And To Share)

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon coarse salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

 

– Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Put butter and 1 ½ cups sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in eggs. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture.

– Stir together cinnamon and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar in a small bowl. Shape dough into twenty 1 ¾ inch balls; roll in cinnamon sugar. Space 3 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

– Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.

 

Merlot the Cat sends her warmest regards!

Merlot the Cat sends her warmest regards!

IMG_0226

Sift it baby!

Mix the batter

Mix the batter

Shape the dough into Timbit sized balls, then roll in sweet, sweet cinnamon sugar

Shape the dough into Timbit sized balls, then roll in sweet, sweet cinnamon sugar

Line 'em up on your baking sheet

Line ’em up on your baking sheet

Fresh out of the oven!

Fresh out of the oven!

Lemon Meringue Cookies


IMG_0181

For the past week, I have been trying to carve out a bit of kitchen time to give Joy the Baker’s recipe for Lemon Meringue Cookies a whirl. Each time I tried, it seemed like the fates were lined up against me. Or to put it less dramatically, my four-month-old daughter is teething and has been fussier than usual.

It would be great to squeeze in some baking during her nap time, but that’s way too unpredictable. Sometimes she snoozes for a couple of hours, other times it’s just a 10 minute power nap.

With meringue and lemon curd, I needed to wait for an uninterrupted stretch. I’m glad I didn’t hold my breath, because this never came!

So last night I found myself holding a crying baby in one hand and a meringue covered spatula in the other. And I thought it was tough to make meringue before!

I had every intention of trying to pipe lovely little star shaped meringue drops, like Joy. I had to settle for hastily pumped out blobs.

My husband took on bedtime duty so I could make the lemon curd. By that time I was so tired I completely forgot to add two of the eggs to the mixture. This left me whisking a liquidy pot of curd for way longer than I should have.

I thought all was lost. It was too late to start over, and I didn’t have enough lemons anyway. So I refrigerated my watery curd and misshaped meringues and headed to bed.

Maybe it was luck. Maybe it was the congealing power of butter. But overnight, the curd set perfectly and developed a delicious tart lemon flavor. And in the daylight, my meringues didn’t look quite so funny-looking.

Against all odds, I actually pulled off Joy’s yummy Lemon Meringue Cookies. Score one for the multi-tasking mom!

The original recipe is kind of long, so I suggest you just read it first hand on Joy’s blog here. My only suggestion is to reduce the baking time of the meringues. In my oven, they were completely done after 1.5 hours. Keep an eye on them, and judge for yourself.

It’s also worth mentioning that these tasty cookies are naturally glutton free!

Enjoy!

Beat the eggs, salt and sugar and until you get the elusive glossy, stiff peaks

Beat the eggs, salt and sugar and until you get the elusive glossy, stiff peaks

When life gives you lemons...make curd!

When life gives you lemons…make curd!

The curd comes together, despite the fact that I missed two key ingredients

The curd comes together, despite the fact that I missed two key ingredients. And yes, there is an out of season gingerbread man on my spatula.

The curd set perfectly overnight in the fridge.

The curd set perfectly overnight in the fridge.

Curd is the word!

Curd is the word!

Yum!

Yum!

 

My meringues, Nonna’s magic

 

On Christmas Eve, Santa Claus holds nothing over my Nonna. While he is wiggling his way down chimneys across the globe, she is making a little magic of her own – in the kitchen.

Crispy golden fritters, stuffed with sharp cheese and anchovies, lay waiting for us on the countertop. A true holiday comfort food, the warmth and simple flavours of this dish envelope your mouth and rekindle memories of Christmases past.

Next comes the baccala, or cod, which is cooked with a traditional medley of figs, raisins, walnuts and potatoes. The sweetness of the fruit is a perfect pairing to the saltiness of the cod. The walnuts bring the dish a rich flavour and unexpected texture.

And the pièce de résistance is my Nonna’s pasta di mare, a delicacy which only comes once a year. Her classic tomato sauce is enriched by the flavours of fresh shrimp, scallops, squid and crab. As she plates the dish, my Nonna generously ladles out the sugu, or sauce, until the spaghetti is fully bathed in red.

As is the case with most of my Nonna’s cooking, there are no written recipes for these Christmas dishes. She calculates according to taste and touch. This makes it incredibly challenging for us to try and nail down a recipe on paper. My mother was on a mission this year, and is fairly confident she captured all the essential ingredients. But I know, there will always be that extra something that only my Nonna can bring to the dish.

Light and delicious: coconut meringues!

While dinner on Christmas Eve and Day are my Nonna and mother’s domain (my mom does a juicy bacon draped turkey), I am on dessert duty. And this year, I decided to try coconut meringues. This came about for two main reasons: we had leftover egg whites, and the recipe was ultra simple. Added bonus: this is one cookie that doesn’t pack a high-calorie punch.

For the recipe, I turned to our trusty 1973 edition of The Joy of Cooking. There’s an innate credibility that seems to emanate from the yellowing, sauce-stained pages of TJC.   

A cookbook classic

The recipe couldn’t be easier. Five ingredients: sugar, egg whites, salt, vanilla and shredded coconut. I am happy to report that I successfully beat the egg whites into stiff glossy peaks. However, I decided not to sift the granulated sugar, as called for by the recipe. I didn’t think it would make a difference, and opted not to dirty another utensil.  Once the stiff peaks were achieved, I folded in vanilla and the shredded coconut.  That’s it.

The cookies tasted like macaroons, except they were crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. Next time, I might reduce the amount of sugar to ¾ of a cup, to make the cookies slightly less sweet. In one of the batches I added a teaspoon of coco powder, which gave a nice hint of chocolate flavour.

The ever elusive (at least for me) stiff, glossy peaks!

The only aspect of this recipe that I wasn’t thrilled with was the presentation. The meringues I made ended up flattening out like regular cookies. Perhaps I should have formed a Hersey Kiss shape by using an icing piper. I’ll give it a try next time.

 

 Also, be sure you let the meringues cool completely before removing them from the baking sheet. Otherwise, half the cookie gets stuck to the parchment paper, giving the meringue a slightly disembowelled look. Otherwise, this recipe is definitely a keeper. And I would go so far as to call it my most successful cookie to date!

  

 

 

Coconut Meringue Cookies (from The Joy of Cooking)

– 1 cup granulated sugar

– 3 egg whites

– 1/8 teaspoon salt

– 1 teaspoon vanilla

– 1 ¼ cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened)

– 1 teaspoon coco powder (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. With an electric mixer on high, beat egg whites and salt until stiff, glossy peaks form.
  3. Add the sugar very slowly, beating constantly on high. If desired, add coco powder.
  4. By hand, fold in vanilla and shredded coconut.
  5. Drop the batter from a teaspoon onto a greased and well-floured tin. Bake for about 25-30 minutes. Cookies should be firm to the touch, and slightly golden (not brown) in colour.

 

 

Crisp outside, chewy inside, with a hint of coco!