Royal Icing: the Debut.

Last Sunday, Mister Webb and I decided the time was right to hunt down our Christmas tree. Last year, we ended up getting it a week or so before Christmas, and not wanting to shorten our enjoyment of it, left it up for an embarrassingly long amount of time after the holiday was over. Let’s just say… I could have strung paper hearts all over the tree and it wouldn’t have looked all that wrong.

All that to say, we jumped right on our tree finding quest as soon as we’d finished up the thanksgiving leftovers this year. Maybe we will have our fill of the Christmas tree by new years?

My sweet husband loves buying gifts for people, and loves seeing them all wrapped up under the tree. A package with my name on it appeared under the tree not a week after we’d put it up. Chris insisted I open it early- as long as I promised to use it that day. A Wilton Christmas cookie mold pan- with twelve different shapes! Slightly self motivated, perhaps, as he knew that cookies would be the result of my opening the gift…

And such was the birth of my first attempted royal icing decorated sugar cookies.

I grouped them by the main color that I would ice them with…

Mixed colors, filled pastry cones, outlined, flooded, and wiped a few beads of sweat from my brow… (a few cookies may have been eaten in the process)

It was tedious and time consuming, and my end result was not nearly as pretty as I’d pictured they would be, but I had fun with the learning process and enjoyed handing them out to some kiddies at my church.

A wonderful way to kick off the Christmas cookie baking season, I’d say!

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Turkey Noodle Soup.

‘Twas three days after Turkey Day, and all through the fridge

Not a leftover to be seen, not even a smidge

But wait! What is this? All wrapped up in foil?

A big ol’ heap of turkey bones for me to boil!

So I set a pot on the stove, and took out my cleaver

Chopped up some veggies (this couldn’t be easier)

Two hours later, as if in a dream

My kitchen was filled with the most alluring steam

With a bowl in my hand, I’m happy to say

I will be putting off that grocery trip for at least one more day.

Turkey Noodle Soup

For the Stock:

  • turkey carcass from turkey (mine was from a 12 pound turkey… reserve any meat still clinging to bones for soup at the end)
  • 2 carrots, chopped into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped into 2 inch pieces
  • one large onion, quartered with skin left on
  • large handful of parsley
  • dash of pepper
  1. Add everything to a large stock pot. Fill the pot with water to where the water is covering everything by at least one inch. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for two to two 1/2 hours. Skim the fat off the top of the stock every half hour if desired. I did not, but mine turned out a little bit cloudy because of it. Still tastes amazing.
  2. Strain the stock and discard the bones and veggies. You may also strip more meat off the bones at this time if you’d like to add it to your soup: I did not. I think it gets too soft after boiling for two hours.

For the Soup:

  • turkey stock
  • leftover turkey meat, shredded
  • 1 large carrot, cut into coins
  • 1 bunch of dino kale, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup dry macaroni, or other small-noodle pasta
  • 1/2 cup + 2 T leftover turkey gravy, if you have it
  • dash salt
  1. Boil your noodles per package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Put the carrots and kale into a sautee pan, and add a 1/4 cup of water (if using gravy, mix 2T of water with 2T gravy instead). Mix the veggies around in the pan, making sure they are all uniformly wet.
  3. Turn the heat to medium-high and steam until the carrots are fork-tender. Add a dash of salt to taste.
  4. Add your turkey meat, steamed veggies, frozen peas, cooked macaroni, and gravy to a 2.5 quart pot. (If you have a LOT of turkey meat leftover, ie more than what was left on the bones, feel free to use a larger pot and make more soup.) Add hot stock to the pot until the soup is at a consistency you like. I like my soup to have more “stuff” and less liquid, so I just covered the top of my “stuff” by an inch.
  5. Freeze the extra stock and reserve for another pot of soup… or whatever.

I hope you enjoy your turkey soup as much as I did! The beauty of soup is that you can play around with the additions, the amount of liquid, and the seasonings. I love mine exactly as I wrote it down, but I encourage you to make yours your perfect bowl of fall comfort.

Bon appetit, mes amis!

Double Chocolate Macarons

Ever feel like being fancy?

Most of the week, I look pretty grubby. I actually get to wear a chef’s coat at my job, but it’s not a flattering, fitted one like the celebrity chefs wear on the food network. It’s considered a good day if I’m not forced to quadruple-roll the sleeves of an XL coat because that was all that was left on the store’s rack due to laundry day. My hair is shoved up into a hat, I don jeans that are permanently stained by sheetpan grease, and my 5 am alarm clock leaves me little time to spend on a dazzling makeup job.

All that to say, I need just a little bit of fancy in my life when I’m not at work.

When I think of fancy, I think of France. If I had it my way, I would be magically transported to a quaint Parisian cafe on my day off. As the boundaries of physics clearly do not allow for this, I must do what I can to bring fancy to my Sonoma county life.

French macarons have been on my mental baking bucket list* since I first laid eyes on them. And at my first taste of one, I knew I had come across something magical. Their crisp and subtly sweet exterior contrasts beautifully with a soft and typically more flavorful interior. Perfect all on their own or dipped into a mug of steamy cafe au lait, the balance they strike is something that only the French could have come up with.

For my first attempt, I decided to go with a classic combo: chocolate and chocolate ganache. I happened to have all of the ingredients on hand, with the exception of one substitution I had to make: the recipe called for blanched, slivered almonds, and I only had sliced. Next time, I would definitely like to try the blanched almonds to see if that makes a difference in texture. My macarons ended up have little bits of crunch throughout due to the not-fine-enough ground almonds. I actually liked this, but I would like to try it the correct way next time.

Another tip the recipe suggests is to allow the piped macaron dough to sit for one hour before baking. This supposedly creates a crisper shell. I skipped this step due to time constraints, but next time I will know to allow for the extra time.

For all the time I spent intimidated by these sweet little cookies, they were not very difficult to make. To make them perfectly, however, is another story…

As for sharing the recipe? I am going to leave that to the expert, as I am just a student sharing with you my progress! Go visit Annie’s Eats to get the recipe.

But if you need a fancy treat… you’ve found it!

Cornish Pasty: getting back to my roots.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to a ladies’ potluck event at my church. The challenge? Make and bring something that is from your heritage.

Gulp.

Although I would not have been escorted out of the room by the ear if I’d shown up with chocolate chip cookies or taco salad in hand, I needed to meet this challenge for my own personal satisfaction.

You see, I am as far away and as unattached to my “heritage” as one can be. Never having met a relative that was born out of the United States, the only knowledge I have of my background is the few passed-down and most likely muddled stories I have heard from my parents. The closest I had come to eating European food growing up was when we had crepes on New Years Eve: and we’re not even French!

Working with what little I knew of my background, I chose to seek out an English recipe. Bonus: I had also remembered that my great great grandfather came over from the region of Cornwall.

Google led me to one main food that the Cornish are known for: the pasty (pronounced pass-tee). It has a nice little story to go with it as well. Apparently, the wives of Cornish tin miners would make and pack a pasty for the miners’ lunch. The thick crust on the rounded edge served as a “handle” which could be thrown away after the miner ate his pasty. Mining for tin exposed the men to arsenic, and clean water sources were not readily available where they were working.

The traditional pasty filling is steak, potatoes, onion, and rutabaga. Short on time and not willing to venture to the grocery store, I subbed the steak for ground turkey meat and left the rutabaga out. I imagine my Cornish ancestors would be turning over in their graves…

As expected, the neat little packages of meat, veggies, and seasonings wrapped up in buttery pie dough were absolutely delicious. I opted to make them mini, about the size of my hand, for the sake of the potluck. I’d never had any reason to identify with my Cornish ancestors before, but I now feel a tiny bit closer to my roots after baking, eating, and sharing these pastys.

For the record: only three out of the ten or so ladies at the potluck actually showed up with a dish from their heritage. Yay for me!

Ingredients:

  • pie crust dough, store-bought or homemade
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 3/4 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup finely diced red potatoes (about 2 large or 3 small potatoes)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt, pepper, thyme, red pepper flakes, garlic powder to taste
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method:

  • In a medium bowl, dissolve the bouillon in 1/2 cup boiling water. Add the ground turkey, onion, potato, and garlic. Season well with salt, red garlic flakes, and garlic powder.
  • Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Roll out to about 1/4 inch thick. Using a large biscuit cutter or freehand, cut out 4-inch circles. Combine scraps and repeat, using all the dough.
  • Put a small amount of the meat filling in the center of each of the circles. Close the circle of dough like a taco, and use a fork to crimp the edges together.
  • Line up the crimped pastys on a sheet pan with a sprayed piece of parchment paper. Cut a small hole or “x” with a knife in the center of the pastry to let steam escape. Use a pastry brush to brush the beaten egg on the top of the pastys.
  • Bake at 425 for about thirty minutes, or until the edges are nice and brown. If you want to be doubly safe, slice open one of the pastys to be sure the meat has cooked.

If you happen to be Cornish and you come across this recipe, I hope I’ve done it justice! If you are not Cornish and you come across this recipe: make it today. YUM.

Original recipe from here.