Archive for the ‘Cook’ Category

Mother’s Day

Tuesday, 05.13.14

We all loved our visit last month to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden so much that we decided to go again for Mother’s Day.  

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The visits were just a few weeks apart but so many things were different.  Equally beautiful but not quite as over the top.

Still a good amount of yellow:

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And fluttery purple flowers:

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I take it back.  There is nothing subtle about this kind of masterful color work.  I’m still very impressed.

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I thought we needed a little treat before our walk to celebrate the moms.  I made Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream.  I added mini chocolate chips to the batter and dipped the frosted tops in chocolate sprinkles.

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In order to transport them I thought of a brilliant idea.  I would put them into plastic cups!  After a little play on Pinterest I discovered this is not an original idea.  I popped them in the cups, they didn’t quite fit, but it did the job.

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You know how I like a bit of a theme.  I went with blue, not wanting to recreate the yellow drama from the last family gathering (He still doesn’t want to talk about yellow).  I decided on blue because sport cap water bottles where the only ones I could find in the mini size.  It just so happens that I really like blue and had lovely paper liners to use.

 I found a graphic that reminded me of the meadow.  I used it to make water bottle labels.

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I even managed to persuade my printer to print the design on lunch bags.  I don’t think the printer was too terribly happy about it but it still seems to be working.

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Each bag contained a cupcake, mini water bottle, cocktail napkin, and fork.

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I bundled up some cherries and berries for an extra treat for the Mothers.  The pretty little jewels!

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These little Chinese food take out boxes are one of my favorite things to use for food gifts.  Another bit of the theme printed on stickers.

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We found a picnic table to gather around and dig into our baggies.  The cup and fork really made the cupcake easy to eat and didn’t leave us with sugary fingers or a huge mess to clean up.

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From there we set off on a walk.  

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A different trail this time.  It took us through a forest of redwoods.

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Ending with the same glorious, grand finale.

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Bruschetta

Tuesday, 04.15.14

We celebrated my mom’s birthday over the weekend.  I had the family over for lunch and then we took a stroll in the most gorgeous, Spring explosion ever (photos soon).

So if I’m going to have everyone over for lunch I will need to think about some food.  My sister-in-law announced that she wanted to try a recipe for Caprese Pasta Salad she found on Pinterest.  No one would say no to that!  So I followed along with an Italian-ish theme.  I made Antipasto Salad with homemade Italian Dressing and Bruschetta.  The salad was fine but the Bruschetta is something to talk about.

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I don’t have an exact recipe for this but I’ll give you the basics:

Bruscetta

Grape or cherry tomatoes (I used half heirloom)

Baguette

Goat Cheese

Olive Oil

Balsalmic Vinegar

Garlic

Fresh Basil

Salt and Pepper

Slice baguette into about 1/4” thick discs.  Place discs on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and toast in oven.  Keep an eye on them, you don’t want them to be too crunchy.  

Cut tomatoes in half or quarters depending on size, chop up garlic, and place all in a bowl.  Add a glut of oil and a splash of vinegar.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Chop up some basil and toss that in too.  Stir.  (I did this part the night before and I think it made it a little extra amazing.)

When bread looks delicious, remove from oven and immediately spread on goat cheese.  Spoon over tomato mixture and enjoy.

TIP: I used the tomato mixture as the “T” in a BLT and it was one of the best ideas I’ve ever had.

One more shot because…yum!

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Dad’s Birthday

Monday, 03.31.14

It is my dad’s 70th birthday.

Every year we ask him what he would like for his birthday.  He says something along the lines of “family time”.  So that’s what we give him. Of course, he still has to open presents!  Making something sounds very appealing to me.  Cookies are a good option and they can be just for him.  He can decide if he would like to share.

Thinking about Dad’s birthday has made me very nostalgic.  I kept thinking about when we were kids and when Dad was in charge of preparing a meal it would be breakfast.  No matter the time of day.  It was usually eggs and many times with interesting additions (eggnog springs to mind).  There were a few French Toast episodes as well.  While these memories were floating around I started looking for the right treat.  I came across a recipe for maple cookies that sounded very fitting and delicious.

I made a few alterations and I’m calling them Mapledoodles.  Very much like a Snickerdoodle but with a richer flavor. (Recipe below)

It makes the most fragrant dough.

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I scooped out little one-inch balls with my cookie scoop (I love this thing).  Then rolled them in a mixture of white sugar and turbinado sugar.  I like the sparkle I get with turbinado sugar but it seemed like too much of the thick crystals to only use that.

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I think it was the right choice.

Here they are ready to go in the oven.  After rolling them in the sugar I flattened them a little with my fingers.  Maybe next time I’ll press them with a spoon.  Although the finger marks do emphasize the handmade quality.

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See the lovely sparkle when they come out of the oven?

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This recipe makes A LOT of cookies.  Which is good because they are SO yummy!

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Glamor Shot!

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Here they are all bundled up.  I used Everyday Occasion wooden basket and cello bag.

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Another great memory is cheesecake on Dad’s birthday.  I don’t know how often this actually happened but when I think of Dad’s birthday I think of Mom making cheesecake with mini-chocolate chips.  I attempted it this year.  I used Martha Stewart’s NewYork Cheesecake recipe and added about of cup of chips tossed in flour.  It is luxurious.  The edges are a little darker than they should be but it didn’t matter.

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Mapledoodles

Makes approximately 60 cookies

For the cookies:

1 Cup butter, softened

1 Cup packed golden brown sugar

1 egg

1 Cup real maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used vanilla bean paste because I am currently obsessed with it)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

4 Cups all-purpose flour

For decoration:

1/4 Cup granulated sugar

1/4 Cup turbinado sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Prepare cookie sheet with Silpat or parchment paper.  

In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar.  When smooth add egg, syrup, and vanilla.  Mix until blended.  

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking soda.  Add flour to butter mixture until completely blended.  

Scoop batter into one-inch balls and roll in combined sugars.  Place on cookie sheet and flatten slightly.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes and let cool on wire rack.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Scones

Sunday, 01.26.14

Chocolate Chip Scones were an answer to a serious problem.  It is January and cranberries are no longer spilling from grocery store shelves (at least not around here) but I am still in need of delicious scones!

The Cranberry Orange scones were such a hit that I made them every weekend in November and a few times in December.  I suppose I could be making them with dried cranberries as the Barefoot Contessa originally intended.  It just doesn’t seem right after tasting the beauty of fresh cranberries.  So this is where the chocolate chips come in.

I have a recipe for Chocolate Chip Scones that I’ve been using since junior high. However delicious those scones may be, they do not compare to the tremendous moistness of the cranberry ones.  (The original recipe calls for about half the butter.  Nuff said)  So I thought I would try chocolate chips in place of cranberries and vanilla extract instead of orange juice.

Success!

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Chocolate Chip Scones

Makes 8

2 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar plus 1 Tablespoon for sprinkling

1 Tablespoon  baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

12 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup half and half

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the egg wash:

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 Tablespoons water or milk

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture.  Mix with your electric mixer on low until butter is the size of peas.  Measure half and half in a measuring cup, add eggs and vanilla.  Lightly beat wet ingredients.  With mixer on low, add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients.  Mix until combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Turn dough out onto a floured surface.  Sprinkle more flour on top of dough and pat into a disk approximately 8-9 inches in diameter.  Cut the disk into 8 pieces or cut into circles with a biscuit cutter.

Place scones on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15-17 minutes.

Cranberry Orange Scones

Saturday, 11.02.13

IMG 0655Cranberries! They are just so pretty and look like they are about to burst with flavor or color.  The color varies so much it is like they are little capsules of color.

Last Thanksgiving I made real cranberry sauce for the first time.  It was amazingly easy and even more amazingly delicious.  This year I wanted to enjoy these beautiful berries for more than just one day.  As soon as cranberries showed up in the grocery store I bought them.  No real plan in mind.  Lucky for me, the same week one of my favorite blogs, Everyday Occasions, posted a recipe for Cranberry Orange Scones.   It is modified from the Barefoot Contessa recipe, which has dried cranberries.  I ended up making a mix of these two recipes.

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Orange zest adds a very subtle flavor to this buttery, creamy dough.

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Here they are all ready for the oven.  Who knew that’s what the inside of a cranberry looks like.

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Ina suggests an egg wash and sprinkle of sugar before baking.  I didn’t do this because I was going to add an orange glaze. I didn’t want it to get too sugary.  It does leave them looking a little pale though.  I think I’ll try the egg wash/sugar combo without the glaze next time.

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Orange zest in the glaze makes up for the paleness.  The finished product is moist with a great tang from the fresh cranberries.  My husband ate one and said, “How many of these can I have….all of them?”  I think I will be making these a lot!

Cranberry Orange Scones

Makes 8

2 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar plus 1 Tablespoon for sprinkling

1 Tablespoon  baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

12 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup half and half

1 cup fresh cranberries

zest of half an orange

For the egg wash:

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 Tablespoons water or milk

For the glaze:

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice

zest of half an orange

 

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture.  Mix with your electric mixer on low until butter is the size of peas.  (I used my hands to combine the flour and dry ingredients.)  Measure half and half in a measuring cup, add eggs and lightly beat.  With mixer on low, add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients.  Mix until combined.  Fold in orange zest and cranberries.  Turn dough out onto a floured surface.  Sprinkle more flour on top of dough and pat into a disk approximately 8-9 inches in diameter.  Cut the disk into 8 pieces or cut into circles with a biscuit cutter.

Place scones on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar (if desired).  Bake at 400 degrees for 15-17 minutes.

To make glaze, stir together orange juice, zest, and powdered sugar.  Drizzle over slightly cooled scones.

Enjoy!

 

Farmer’s Market and Strawberry Jam

Wednesday, 07.10.13

Two things I really like the idea of but haven’t had much success with: going to the Farmer’s Market and making jam.  I experienced great improvement with both of these things over the weekend.

I love the idea of going to the Farmer’s Market.  Strlling up and down the aisles in the open air, soaking in the aromas of fresh produce and flowers, and picking the week’s meals from what is in season.  Instead, what I get are people.  Lots and lots of people, all with the same idea, getting in my way and making it so I can’t browse, I have to plan ahead.

This week I set out with a goal.  I wanted strawberries.  It is summer in southern California and there is no reason I shouldn’t be constantly eating strawberries.  So I went to the Farmer’s Market with my goal in mind along with the knowledge that if some flowers happen to come home with me too, all the better. 

First thing I saw were the happiest teddy bear sunflowers.  “Those are coming home with me”, I thought.  I knew I shouldn’t get them first because they were HUGE.  So I continued on the strawberry hunt.  I found the smallest display with the biggest berries and they looked perfect.  Sampling proved it – goal accomplished!  Quickly grab the sunflowers on my way out.  Oh wait…peaches?  I managed to purchase an assortment of fragrant peaches without dropping my flowers (believe me that was an accomplishment.  These flowers were HUGE!)

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I did it! I got what I needed and some treats without getting overwhelmed by choices or the crowd.

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On the way home I had an idea…jam.  Realisticlly I wouldn’t be able to eat all the berries before they went bad and I love the idea of making jam.  I’ve had some bad results in the past but I don’t want to give up. The first strawberry jam did not gel at all and wasn’t even thick enough to call a syrup.  While wallowing in despair a friend suggested I turn it into ice cream.  Brilliant!  It made a delicious base for strawberry ice cream.  I shared it with family and they were all very impressed.  Delicious mistakes are the best mistakes.

The next attempt was marmalade.  It was almost amazing until after two days of working on it, right before canning, I got distracted and it burned.  Badly!  That is probably my worst kitchen experience since I was very young and put vinegar in the brownie mix instead of vegetable oil.

I found a recipe from one of my favorite blogs (Honey & Jam) and set to work on Strawberry Balsamic Black Pepper Jam.  It was super easy.  Put it all in the pot and heat it.  It filled the house with the most amazing smell.  

It mostly worked.  It still wasn’t quite as gelled as it should be.  I think my simmering technique might need some improvement.  That seems to be the time in the processes where gelling should be happening and isn’t.  Most importantly, it tastes delicious and so interesting with the unexpected pepper flavor.

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The sme afternoon I enjoyed the jam with fresh Baking Soda Biscuits and tea.  Later it was tasty in a turkey sandwich.

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About Manorette
I'm Margaret and I like to make things: in the kitchen, on my knitting needles, with the sewing machine, and for the home. Manorette is a delightful home to share my inspiration and maybe some goof ups. It is never a grand manor.
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