change of address

if you’re wondering why i haven’t updated lately, it’s because i’ve moved to http://margaretinthecity.wordpress.com/

thanks readers! check it out xo

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mini linzer cookies

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i’ve been meaning to post this recipe for quite some time. it is THE favorite cookie recipe of my brother which is amazing as his idea of a dessert is the occasional Hershey’s kiss or two. how are we are related, i have no idea. apparently it’s also become a favorite of my brother’s 5th grade class, in particular his teacher. she absolutely loves these cookies and always asks to keep whatever leftover cookies or crumbs remain. i am a demi-god in her eyes.

they do require quite a bit of laborious tedium but are SO worth it. the shortbread cookie base is so crumbly and slightly nutty with the addition of ground pecans and with the sweet raspberry jam center, they are absolutely divine, kinda like your new status after you make these cookies.   

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Mini Linzer Cookies

¾ pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup ground pecans
3 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup seedless raspberry jam
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the ground pecans and vanilla.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the creamed mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a surface dusted with flour and shape into 2 flat disks. Wrap in plastic and chill for about an hour.

Roll the dough ¼-inch thick and cut into 2-inch rounds with a plain or fluted cutter.
With ½ of the rounds, cut a hole from the middle of each round with a small cookie cutter. Place all the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 15 minutes, until the edges begin to golden. Allow to cool to room temperature on a baking rack.

Dust the top of the cut-out cookies with confectioners’ sugar.
Spread raspberry jam on the flat side of each solid cookie and press the two different sides together.

makes about 40 cookies

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bella italia

some of the tastes from my travels abroad… the best memories are ones of food

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gelato. everywhere.

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sicilian cannoli

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superfood smoothie

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why?! *shiver, shiver* WHY??!!
i am currently bundled up in a blanket sipping hot water  as i curse myself for giving in to my chronic addiction.  

post-smoothie hypothermia.
yes yes, despite the plunging cold weather which caused my siblings to miss school (cancelled school for
cold weather? C’MON) i still refuse to give up my smoothie habit.

truth is, i’m a smoothie addict.  during the school year when i am sans blender and kitchen (ahh dorm life), i get my fix at smoothie king.  despite wind, rain, or snow, i am determined to get my smoothie.  i don’t know what it is about the smoothie.  to a fruit addict like myself, smoothies are just the perfect portable package for full-fruit consumption.  light & fluffy, pineapple surf, mangofest… they’re all like my children. delicious, bone-chilling children.

since we’re all penny-pinching these days, i’ve started making my own smoothies at home.  fraction of the cost and no styrofoam cups.  

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with spinach, blueberries and banana, this superfood smoothie is health in a glass.  i see your arching eyebrows (eh, spinach? in a smoothie?) but once all the ingredients get pureed, you can’t see, much less taste this popeye companion.  seriously, this one is a favorite of mine just don’t tell the other kiddos.

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Superfood Smoothie

½ cup fresh spinach, washed and dried
1/3 cup frozen blueberries
½ large banana (1 small)
½ cup orange juice
¼ cup soymilk
1/3 cup crushed ice

Put all the ingredients in a blender and give it a whirl until smooth.  Drink up!


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austrian raspberry shortbread

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what makes these austrian exactly? i’m not sure but those austrians got it right.

this is my kind of dessert.  while most people indulge over gooey chocolate concoctions or bowlfuls of creamy dreamy mousses, i much rather prefer formations of the fruity.  anything with berries or citrus is an immediate magnet for my finicky fingers.  mmm blackberry cobbler… strawberry shortcake… warm apple crisp à la mode… gets me every time.

these shortbread bars, however, are definitely climbing up the ranks of my fruitful fantasies.  with raspberry jam and a hint of lemon zest, they perfect the balance between delicacy and simplicity… with just a little sass.  even my diehard choc-pb friends are asking for this recipe.

countdown: 23 days until italy– and a mandatory stop at austria while i’m over there!img_2298

Austrian Raspberry Shortbread
adapted from Butter Sugar Flour Eggs by Gale Gand, Rick Tramanto and Julia Moskin

3 ½ sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup raspberry jam
juice of 1 lemon
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar

In a medium bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside. 

Cream the butter in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a hand mixer) until soft and fluffy.  Add the egg yolks, lemon zest, and vanilla extract; mix well.

Add the flour mixture to the butter and mix until just incorporated and until the dough starts to come together.  Divide the dough in half and form into logs (to fit into food processor).  Wrap each log in plastic wrap.  Freeze the dough for at least 2 hours or overnight (or as long as a month, if you like).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove one log of dough from the freezer and coarsely grate it by hand or with the grating disk in a food processor into the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking pan or a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  Make sure the surface is covered evenly with shreds of dough (do not press the dough into the pan—resist!).

In a small bowl, whisk together the raspberry jam with the lemon juice until smooth.  Drizzle as evenly as possible over the shortbread making sure to leave a ½ inch edge.  Remove the remaining dough from the freezer and coarsely grate over the entire surface.

Bake until lightly golden brown and the center no longer wiggles, about 50-60 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.  Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.  Then dust the top with powdered sugar and cut into bars with a serrated knife.  

 

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pizza, pizzah!

to prove to you that i am no one-trick, cookie pony…

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as a kid i refused to eat any pizza that wasn’t delivered from PIZZA HUT.  
mmm greasy, meat-lover’s, PAN pizza.

now… not so much. the carnivorous version of my youth would be shocked to see what i’ve become: a veg-head, whole wheat, granola muncher. but trust me, this recipe would please all my past and present personalities. it’s a favorite in my family from my 10 year old meat-man brother (margaret 2.0) to the reformed moi, the veggie-lover.

i topped this one with a mixture of pizza and bbq sauce, mozzarella & italian cheese, sliced cremini mushrooms, half of a black bean burger and some crushed red chili flakes. absolutely DELICIOUS. but of course you can top yours with whatever suits your buds– afterall, isn’t that the beauty of PIZZA?

Honey Wheat Pizza Dough
adapted from Southern Living, October 2004

1 (¼ ounce) envelope active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water (105-110° F)
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
sauce(s) [marinara, barbeque, alfredo, pesto]
pizza toppings

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast, honey, sugar, and the warm water; let stand for 10 minutes.

Add the whole wheat flour, 1 cup of the bread flour, oil, and salt to bowl and beat at low speed, using dough hook attachment for 1 minute.

Gradually add the rest of the flour until the dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl and pull together. (Note: the dough will take on a “shaggy” appearance as the flour is being added.  When enough flour has been added, the dough will look soft and smooth, not wet and sticky or overly dry with a rough surface.)

Increase speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes.  Cover bowl of dough with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place (85° F; I usually use an oven with a pan of boiling water) for 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Punch dough down and let stand another 10 minutes.  At this point, the dough can be wrapped up and refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Preheat oven to 475° F.  If you have a pizza stone, place in oven while preheating.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; shape dough into a ball.  Roll out into pizza crust and place on a cornmeal-dusted pizza peel or baking sheet (make sure it doesn’t have any sides). 

Spread pizza sauce and sprinkle with toppings.  Slide pizza onto pizza stone and bake for 20-25 minutes (6-7 minutes for mini pizzas).

Yield: one pizza crust/ 4 mini pizzas   

HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!

this post is an ode to my countdown to italy. yes, in 26 days i will be in ITALIA! siena, italy to be exact. i’m incredibly nervous/excited/delirious about the whole experience. as i will be there for about 5 months studying abroad, i am determined to break the realms of tourism and whole-heartedly embrace the day-to-day civilian life of tuscany.  

do i know italian? no.
am i worried? not as much as my mother. 

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holiday hangover

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while christmas may be over, i am still in the holiday spirit (known as after-christmas shopping!). since i didn’t get to see some of my high school friends before christmas, i’m having some belated gift exchanges this week. hence the prolonged baking spree (yes!). here is one recipe i baked before but never documented– so of course, i had to make it again.

this cranberry pistachio biscotti is perfection. a crumbly-crunchy-buttery perfection. it’s not too sweet or overcomplicated. the bursts of tart cranberry and roasted pistachio come out in every bite.

i did alter the recipe a bit with the addition of more cranberries, pistachios, butter (you know, all the good stuff) and some orange zest. make these cookies– the next christmas is only 362 days away. 

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Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti
adapted from Martha Stewart

2/3 cup dried cranberries
½ cup boiling water
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon orange zest
3 large eggs, plus 1 for brushing loaves
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¾ cup pistachios
12 ounces white chocolate, melted 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

Place cranberries in a small bowl; add boiling water. Let stand until plump, about 15 minutes. Drain, and set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the orange zest and then the 3 eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture, and mix on low speed until combined. Mix in cranberries and pistachios.  

Turn out dough onto a floured surface (dough will be rather sticky); divide in half. Shape each piece into a 16-by-2-inch log, and transfer to prepared baking sheet, about 3 inches apart. With the palm of your hand, flatten logs slightly. Brush beaten egg over surface of the dough logs, and sprinkle generously with sugar.

Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until logs are slightly firm to touch, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer logs on parchment paper to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 10-15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Place logs on a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut logs crosswise on the diagonal into ½-inch-thick slices. Place a wire rack on a large rimmed baking sheet. Arrange slices, cut sides down, on rack. Bake until firm to touch, about 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven; let biscotti cool completely on rack. Biscotti can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Can be dipped in the melted white chocolate for a special touch.

Yield: 3 dozen

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