Linzer Star Cookies

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Happy Holidays!

montana

We arrived in Montana yesterday to find plenty of snow and some pretty frigid temperatures. Well, frigid to me at least. 26 degrees probably felt like a heat wave to the poor folks who were dealing with 30 below temperatures the previous week. Ouch! We don’t get much chance to see a white Christmas in the Washington, DC area, so I’m hoping the snow sticks around, at least through Sunday.

It’s five days until Christmas. That’s five more days to bake, bake, bake. So let’s get busy, and make some cookies.

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I first tasted Linzer Tart when I was in culinary school. I loved the nutty, buttery crust with the contrasting sweet and sour raspberry jam inside. During a two-year stint living in Germany a few years ago I tried every Linzer Tart I could find in Germany, and in neighboring countries as well.

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Fast-forward to a few years later, and I discovered Linzer Cookies in a Food and Wine Christmas cookbook. Where have these cookies been all my life? They have all the great taste of the tart, but in one tidy, cookie-size package.

Have fun baking or doing what ever brings you and your family joy during this Holiday season. Merry Christmas from Jeannine’s Cuisine.

Adapted from Food and Wine magazine

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Linzer Star Cookies

3 Dozen

Feel free to adjust the type of nuts and the flavor of jam you use for these cookies. They won’t be a traditional Linzer, but give them your own spin. I’m thinking you could do a mixture of macadamia nuts and pineapple jam for a tropical spin on the cookie. Or how about almonds with an orange marmalade or cherry jam?

1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

3 large egg yolks

Zest from 1 lemon

1 1/4 cups hazelnuts

1 1/2 cups bread flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

1/4 teaspoon anise seeds, ground

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

Powdered sugar for dusting cookiesCream the butter with the sugar for about 5 minutes in a standing mixer fitted with a paddle. With the mixer running add the egg yolks one-at-a time and then add the lemon zest. In a food processor, combine the hazelnuts with the bread flour and process until finely ground. Add the cinnamon and cloves to the food processor and pulse until mixed. Add the nut mixture to the ingredients in the mixing bowl and mix on low until fully combined. Separate this dough into two discs. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two sheet pans or cookie sheets by covering them with parchment or silicone mats. Working in batches, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into rounds with a 2-inch round cookie cutter. Use another smaller star-shaped cutter to cut stars out of the center of half of the 2-inch rounds. Place the round cookies on one pan and the cut out cookies on another. Chill any dough scraps and reroll and cut as before. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, rotating the pans at the halfway point. Let the cookies cool in the pans.

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In a small bowl, mix the raspberry jam with the anise and coriander. Use a small strainer to dust the tops of the cut out cookies with powdered sugar. Use a small spatula to spread a thick layer of jam on the cookie rounds and top with a cut out cookie.

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Indian Shortbread Cookies

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Merry Christmas friends, family, and blog followers. It’s been a busy season. We have a new addition to our menagerie, a Jack Russell we named Ginger, so we’ve been pretty busy getting her adjusted to life with us.

Ginger

I cannot believe Christmas has come and gone. It seems like I just put the decorations up, and now it’s almost time to put them away again. I love this time of year; it just seems so magical to me — the lights, the carols, the cookies, the cookies… Speaking of which, let’s bake some. It’s never too late for more Christmas cookies. The season isn’t over yet, and January, with its resolutions and diets and good intentions, will be here soon enough.

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About a week ago I prepared a pretty substantial Indian meal — pakhoras, samosas, curry, basmati rice, eggplant, and the chutneys and pickles to go with it. I was cooking for guests and I wanted to prepare a dessert, but what would go with Indian food?

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I subscribe to “The Local Palate” magazine, a cooking periodical that covers the food scene in the South. Through the magazine’s website I discovered a chef named Maneet Chauhan, executive chef of Chauhan Ale & Masala House in Nashville, Tennessee, and a judge on Food Network’s “Chopped.” Hmm, I just might have to make a trip to Nashville someday.

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The magazine posted a link to a recipe for Indian Shortbread Cookies. They sounded amazing and different and they were. I served these with ice cream flavored with ginger and cardamom and it was a wonderful dessert that complemented the Indian meal beautifully.

Don’t think you have to serve these cookies with an Indian meal. They can easily stand alone or make a great addition to a platter or basket of a variety of cookies. They are also great with a cup of tea or Chai on a rainy afternoon. For some reason they disappear quite quickly — at least they did in our house — so you might want to make a double batch.

Saffron Cookies recipe

Indian Shortbread Cookies

Approximately 24

You can use clarified butter or even regular butter for this recipe but the results will not be the same. What really makes these cookies is the nutty ghee flavor. The dough for these cookies is very crumbly, but it will come together into small balls with a little work. It’s best to use your hands for this rather than a spoon or other tool. I rolled the dough into balls slightly smaller than a golf ball, about an inch and a half in diameter.

1 teaspoon milk

1/4 teaspoon saffron strands

1 cup semolina flour

1 cup all purpose flour

4 1/2 ounces (9 tablespoons) ghee or clarified butter

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon powdered cardamom

1/4 teaspoon powdered nutmeg (grated fresh if possible)

1 teaspoon yogurt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Warm the milk, add the saffron to it to dissolve and set aside.

Place the semolina and AP flour in a bowl and whisk to sift. Cream the ghee and sugar using a mixer. You will know when it’s ready when it loses its graininess and becomes the consistency of smooth peanut butter. Add the cardamom and nutmeg to the mixer bowl and mix in, then add the yogurt and baking soda and mix again. Add the flour mixture to the ghee mixture a little at a time.

Remove the dough from the mixer bowl and knead by hand to combine. Roll the dough into balls and place them on a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Adapted from The Local Palate

 

 

 

 

 

 

German Christmas Stollen

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Stollen has been part of my Christmas season as long as I can remember. My mother loves it and used to buy it for Christmas breakfast any time she could find it. This wasn’t easy in those days when food from other countries was difficult to find, especially in Little Rock, Arkansas, where I spent a considerable part of my childhood.

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When I was younger I could take it or leave it. To me it wasn’t nearly as enticing as my Dad’s cranberry bread, which we only got to have once a year. But when the Army assigned me to Wiesbaden, Germany when I was 24, I experienced Christmas in a whole new way. Stollen was everywhere, and I loved it.

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I found myself in Germany again for 2 years in 2010, this time with a husband and four pets. You know how some people say that you can never go back to a place you have been before because it will never be the same? Well that was the case with Germany at Christmas; it wasn’t the same, it was even better! Maybe it was because I had someone to share the experience with, maybe because I could appreciate it more, but I truly loved living in Germany, especially at Christmas time. There were Christmas markets everywhere, but my favorite was the Esslingen market, just outside of Stuttgart. For the Christmas market, the medieval town was lit only by candles, and it was simply magical. It could have been a movie – cue the snow, start now, carolers start singing… There we were walking along, mugs of gluhwein laced with Amaretto and cream (oh my God, so good) in hand, enjoying the snow and the sites. Two years later I still miss it.

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As much as I love it, my baking time is pretty limited, but when I came across a recipe for stollen in one of my Christmas cookbooks I just knew I had to make it this year. Stollen is a German yeast bread, dating from 1474 that usually contains dried fruit and nuts and is iced with a glaze or covered with powdered sugar. It’s perfect as is, warmed and spread with butter for breakfast. And, if it’s not completely devoured while it’s fresh, it’s also great toasted.

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German Christmas Stollen

1 large loaf

As with many of my baking recipes, you will need a kitchen scale to measure out the dry ingredients. If you don’t like or can’t find marzipan you can leave it out. Just fold the dough like you would if using the marzipan and leave to rise. Another option would be to roll the marzipan out into a rectangle half as wide and as long as the dough, placing it on half of the dough and then folding it over the rectangle of marzipan.

5 ounces whole milk

2 ounces sugar, divided

2 teaspoons dried yeast (about 1 package)

12 ounces bread flour, plus extra for rolling

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 ounces butter, softened

2 eggs, beaten

1 1/2 ounces currants

2 ounces golden raisins

1 ounce mixed candied fruit, diced

1 1/2 ounce dried apricots, chopped

1 ounce candied cherries, quartered

1 ounce slivered almonds

Grated zest 1/2 lemon

7 ounces marzipan

Juice of 1 lemon

4 ounces powdered sugar, sifted

Heat the milk just until it’s warm, but still cool enough to dip your finger into it. Stir in 2 tablespoons sugar and the yeast and allow to rest until it bubbles on top. Meanwhile, sift the flour, remaining sugar, and salt together in a large mixer bowl. Add the yeast mixture, butter and eggs and mix thoroughly with a dough hook. Add in the fruits, nuts, and lemon zest and knead in mixer for 5 minutes. Remove from mixer bowl, and knead by hand until dough is springy and elastic, adding more flour if necessary. Form the dough into a large ball, place in a large empty bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm draft-free place until double in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, punch it down and knead until smooth and elastic. Use your hands to press the dough out into a rectangle, about 10 X 8 inches. Use your hands to roll the marzipan out into a long log the length of the dough and place it in the center. Fold the dough in half lengthwise, over the marzipan log and press the edges together to prevent the marzipan from leaking out. Carefully place the bread on a baking sheet ensuring there is plenty of space. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave to rise until it again doubles in size. Preheat the oven to 375.

Bake the bread for 35-40 minutes until golden brown. Allow bread to remain in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer it to a rack placed in a baking sheet to cool. While the bread is baking make the glaze, by combining the lemon juice and the powdered sugar. After transferring the bread to the rack spoon the glaze over the bread while it is still warm. Allow to cool completely before cutting into slices and serving.

Adapated from Delia Smith’s Christmas by Delia Smith  

 

 

 

Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

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Snow day!  We don’t get too much snow here in Northern Virginia, so, when it does snow, it’s an event.  It started late yesterday afternoon, and, okay, it’s only an inch or so, but it’s snow!  When I got up at 4 a.m. to go to work, it was still snowing, the roads looked horrible, and I knew there was no way I was going to drive in this stuff.  Never mind that I used to drive in much worse in Germany.  Ahh, what good pair of snow tires will do for your car.  Anyway, I had two choices, ride to work with my husband or take the day off.  Hmmm, what to do?

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I grabbed my camera, went outside and started taking pictures.  The sun was just starting to come up, and the light was beautiful.  I stay pretty busy, and don’t often just stop and look at the beauty around me.  I did that this morning and realized I need to do a lot more of it.

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Snow on the ground signifies that I can continue the Christmas season just a little longer.  The recipe I’m sharing today is a beautiful salad I made for Christmas Eve.  I loved it so much I made it again for New Year’s.  The colors, red pomegranate, green arugula, and white goat cheese, make it perfect for Christmas, but don’t limit yourself to just making it for Christmas.

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Goat cheese salad, a French favorite of mine, is great any time.  And you could easily mix it up by adding or substituting ingredients, such as using frisee with a Dijon vinaigrette.  However, don’t skip the goat cheese.  Breaking into the crispy exterior of the cheese to the soft melty interior is what makes this salad.

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Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

4 Servings

This recipe can easily be doubled.  It can be made gluten free by using gluten-free flour and panko.  The best way I have found to cut goat cheese into smooth slices is to use dental floss.  If you don’t have any on hand, a knife dipped in hot water is also helpful.  Leftover vinaigrette would be delicious on a spinach salad with bacon.  You will need to allow the vinaigrette to warm up to room temperature before using.   

Pomegranate Vinaigrette

1 1/2 cups pomegranate juice

1/3 cup olive oil

5 teaspoons honey

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste

Salad

1/4 cup arils (seeds) from half a pomegranate

2 4-ounce logs goat cheese

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 egg whites

1 cup panko

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 5-ounce container baby arugula

2 navel oranges, peeled and sectioned

Prepare the vinaigrette.  Bring the pomegranate juice to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the juice is reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 15 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool, about 30 minutes.  Whisk in remaining vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.

If using a whole pomegranate, remove the seeds.  I have found the best way to do this is to cut the fruit into chunks and use my fingers to remove the seeds in a bowl of water.  The seeds float to the top and the fibrous fruit chunks sink.  Place the seeds in a bowl and set aside.

Slice each log of goat cheese into 6 slices.  Set up a 3–station breading area by place flour and pepper in a shallow dish, the egg whites and 2 tablespoons water in a second dish, and the panko in a third dish.  Dredge the goat cheese rounds in the flour, thoroughly wet them by dipping in the egg white mixture then thoroughly dredge them in the panko. Arrange on an aluminum foil–covered plate or pan, cover, and chill for at least 30 minutes.  Heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet and fry the cheese rounds 2 minutes per side or until lightly browned.  Drain on paper towels.

Assemble the salad by dividing the arugula and orange sections between four plates.  Drizzle with the pomegranate vinaigrette.  Sprinkle each salad with some of the pomegranate seeds, then top each with three cheese rounds.  Serve immediately.

Adapted from Southern Living A Very Special Christmas, December 2012

Crab Bisque

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Merry Christmas, everyone!  Christmas means different things to different people.  For some, it’s the celebration of Christ’s birth.  For others it’s a chance to get together with friends and family, those you see every day and those that perhaps you have not seen in a long time.  For many children, it might mean a visit from Santa Claus and gifts under the Christmas tree or next to the fireplace.  But, no matter how you celebrate Christmas, or perhaps Hanukah, holiday celebrations are all about traditions.

For me and my family, many of those traditions center around food.  As a child, the Christmas season started the day after Thanksgiving with making cut-out sugar cookies.  My mom rolled and cut the dough with a huge selection of cookie cutters, and the kids got to paint them with egg yolk paint and decorate them with a variety of candies and sprinkles.  I must admit, some years the cookies looked a little better than others.  But they tasted great, nevertheless.  There were other baked goods; some homemade, like a variety of cookies, cranberry bread, and pumpkin bread.  Later we added stolen and panettone, purchased from local bakeries.

I didn’t do much baking this year.  I attempted a gluten-free version of shortbread, a disaster that boiled over in the oven.  I’m hoping to try again next week.  Being new to gluten-free baking, I think I’d better stick to tried and true recipes until I get the hang of it.  Anyway, with no baked goods in the house, I wanted our Christmas Eve dinner to be special.  Growing up, Christmas Eve dinner was always Oyster Stew, a creamy, briny soup with plenty of oysters.  We usually had it with a selection of cheese, sausage, and crackers, some sort of salad, and Christmas cookies for dessert.  I continued the Oyster Stew tradition until we moved to Germany, where there were no oysters to be found.  We settled on a Lobster Bisque made with the small frozen lobsters we could get at the Military Commissary.  I shelled the lobsters and used the shells to make the stock that I used in the soup.  What an eye opener.  It was delicious!

When we returned from Germany a year ago, we went back to the Oyster Stew.  However, this year I wasn’t sure I would be able to find oysters; but finding crab in Virginia was a pretty good bet, so I decided on Cream of Crab soup.  I don’t generally eat the Cream of Crab soup that is available in many of the local restaurants.  You just never know what it’s going to be like — too floury, too thin, not a scrap of crab to be seen.  In one of the restaurants I used to work in, they used canned soup and doctored it up with a little extra crab.  So making my own crab soup seemed like a great idea this Christmas Eve.

Although we had this soup for Christmas Eve, it’s great for anytime of the year; no holidays necessary.  We had it as a light meal with a goat cheese salad, but you could also serve a small bowl as an elegant first course at a dinner party.   This recipe is not your typical Maryland–style cream of crab soup.  Hence, the “Bisque” in the recipe name.

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Crab Bisque

4 Servings

I made my own fish stock for the soup, which I honestly believe will give you the best results.  You can, however, certainly make a decent version of this soup using boxed fish or vegetable stock. When preparing the soup, I strained the stock after cooking the vegetables because I did not want the vegetables in the final soup.  It’s a little more work, but I really believe the soup is better for it. I used a claw/back crabmeat mixture to make the soup and finished it with half a pound of jumbo lump crab.  If you can’t get jumbo lump crab, just use 1.5-2 pounds of whatever crab you can get. This soup can be made gluten free by using gluten-free flour to make the roux.

7 tablespoons (3.5 ounces) butter, divided

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 stalk celery, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

1 cup dry white wine

3 1/2 cups fish or vegetable stock

1 bay leaf

2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

the juice from 1 lemon

1 pound crab

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups heavy cream

1 tablespoon tomato paste

Dash cayenne pepper

1/2 pound jumbo lump crab

4 teaspoons dry sherry, optional

1 tablespoon finely chopped green onion, optional garnish

Melt 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) of butter in a soup pot, add the vegetables, season with salt and pepper and cook on medium heat until they are beginning to brown slightly.

Deglaze with the wine, scraping any vegetable bits off the bottom of the pan.  Cook until the pan is almost dry, then add the stock, bay leaf, thyme, and lemon juice.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer this mixture for 10 minutes.

Strain the stock into a bowl, pressing on the vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible.  Return the stock to the pan and add the pound of crab.  Bring the stock to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 10 minutes or until you are finished with the next step.

Meanwhile, in a separate medium size saucepan, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and add the flour.  Stir to make a paste and gradually add the cream, stirring between each addition.  Season with salt and pepper and cook this mixture on low for 10 minutes.

Add a ladle of the stock mixture to the cream then pour everything back into the pot with the stock.  Add the tomato paste and cayenne and stir to combine.  Add the jumbo lump crab, stir gently to combine.  Cook, stirring constantly just long enough to mix the ingredients and allow the additional crab to heat up.

Ladle into soup bowls, add a teaspoon of dry sherry to each bowl, and sprinkle with chives or scallions.

 

Gluten-Free Cranberry Orange Muffins

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When I started this blog a couple of months ago I decided to call it Jeannine’s Cuisine, because that is exactly what I wanted my posts to be about – the food I love and the way I eat.  Rather than concentrating on any of my many interests: pastry, baking, healthy food from real ingredients, the myriad of cuisines I have experienced in my travels, I wanted it to encompass all of that.  And, so far, I believe it has.

Now, it’s time for Jeannine’s Cuisine to move in a slightly different direction for a while.  I was recently tested for celiac disease, and although the test came back negative, it seems I have some sort of gluten intolerance.  I am definitely discovering through experimentation that I do much better when I don’t consume gluten.  So, the blog will still contain scrumptious recipes, but, from now on, at least for the time being, they will be primarily gluten free.

This couldn’t have happened at a worse time than right before the holidays.  I checked out some of the gluten free offerings at the local supermarket and was not thrilled.  It seems the gluten-free stuff is more processed than the other packaged food, but that’s not what Jeannine’s Cuisine is all about anyway.  Once again I discovered this was the perfect excuse to buy more cookbooks.  Do you see a pattern here?  Help!  I have a cookbook addiction.

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I decided to try muffins as my first foray into the gluten free baking world.  Muffins are pretty much the easiest of all quick breads, and suitable for breakfast or with a cup of tea in the afternoon.  The holidays are upon us and cranberry and orange seemed like a good combination.  The recipe I chose is from Crave, a gluten free bakery in the San Francisco Bay area.

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Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

You could use any fat in this recipe.  I just happen to have a lifetime supply of palm shortening on hand.  Regular shortening would work, as would butter if you tolerate dairy.  The original recipe also called for rice milk, which would make the recipe dairy free.

3 tablespoons tapioca flour

3/4 cup sweet rice flour

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon potato starch

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup palm shortening

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon orange extract

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup dried cranberries

zest from 1 orange

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with non-stick spray or use cupcake papers.

Whisk the tapioca flour, rice flour, potato starch, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt together. 

Place shortening and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and cream on high speed with a paddle for 3 minutes.  Add eggs and extracts and continue beating on high speed for an additional 2 minutes.

Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk, adding half of each at a time.  Add cranberries and orange zest and beat for another 2 minutes.

Fill muffin tins almost to the top.

Bake muffins for 10 minutes then turn pan and bake an additional 10 minutes.  Remove from oven when a tester comes out clean. 

When cool enough to handle gently remove muffins from pan and cool on a rack.

Slightly adapted from Crave Bakery Gluten Free Cookbook by Cameo Edwards