Lemon & Lavender Shortbread Cookies

Lemon & Lavender Shortbread Cookies

Lemon & Lavender Shortbread Cookies

For years I have been making Lemon, Lime & Basil Shortbread Cookies, which I find refreshing with a glass of iced tea on a sultry summer afternoon.  I acquired some culinary lavender not long ago, and had been anxious to give it a spin.  I incorporated some into the Green Sun Tea with Lavender, Lemon, Honey & Basil with success, but I wanted a sweet, baked good to add it to.  Shortbread cookies seemed the perfect vehicle, and the resulting product far exceeded my expectations!  The first bite of this cookie starts with a lemony sweetness; the lavender is a mere whisper in the background, sort of saying "who do you think I am?".  Far from a bite of lavender potpourri, which I feared a bit, this is a well-balanced, lovely cookie, perfect for a tea, or with a dish of sorbet or ice cream.  Culinary lavender is easily obtained online.  Give this a try, you will be pleasantly surprised!

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon dried culinary lavender buds

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

4 ounces (1 stick, 1/2 cup) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes

1 Tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice

Sugar, regular or sanding, for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.  Line a large sheet pan with parchment or a Silpat (silicon mat). 

Into the bowl of a food processor, add the first 5 ingredients and pulse about 8 times to chop the lavender a bit and combine the ingredients well.  Remove the lid and add the butter evenly over the top of the ingredients, then sprinkle the lemon juice over all.  Replace the lid and pulse until the mixture forms large, moist clumps.  Dump the mixture onto a very lightly floured board and roll into an approximately 10-inch log with lightly-floured hands.  Cut the dough into 16 equal pieces (Cut in half, then in quarters, into eighths, then into 16 pieces.  Much easier than trying to start at one end and cutting to the other end!)  Roll each piece into a ball and place on the baking sheet.

Put some powdered sugar into a small plate.  Using a flat-bottomed 1/2 cup metal measuring cup dipped into the sugar, flatten each ball evenly to about 2 1/2-inches across.  Repeat until all are flattened.  If you like, sprinkle sugar over the top of the cookies.

Place the cookies in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, just until the edges are brown.  (Mine were done in 18 minutes.)  Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Print Friendly and PDF

Buttercream Frosting

Tulips piped using buttercream and Russian piping tips.

Tulips piped using buttercream and Russian piping tips.

1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) vegetable shortening, at room temperature

1/2 cup (4 ounces) butte,r at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla, almond, or butter flavor extract

2 tablespoons milk

4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

Beat the shortening and butter together until smooth.  Bea in the extracts and milk.  With the mixer on medium, beat in the sugar, one cup at a time until well combined.  Continue to beat for 7-10 minutes until light, smooth, and creamy.

Will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.  Makes about 3 cups.

Print Friendly and PDF

Favorite Banana Bread

A loaf of my favorite banana bread, cooling before being devoured!

A loaf of my favorite banana bread, cooling before being devoured!

Banana bread is probably the most frequently-made quick bread, and there are a zillion versions out there.   I've tried more than my fair share of recipes, but this is my favorite, first because it is utterly delicious, and second, because you mix it all up by hand in a flash.  It is one of those recipes that always performs.  It is good warm, which not every banana bread can boast, and it keeps and freezes well (if it isn't all eaten the first day). You will love this recipe!  Makes one 9X5-inch loaf.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup toasted, chopped pecans

3 very ripe bananas, very soft with dark speckles, mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)

1/4 cup plain yogurt

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

6 Tablespoons (3 ounces) melted butter, cooled

1 teaspoon vanilla

Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.

If using a regular (not non-stick) loaf pan (9X5-inches), grease the bottom only.  If using a non-stick pan, grease and flour the entire pan, as this gives the batter something to cling to and allow it to rise more.  Set aside.

Combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl; set aside.

Mix the mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla with a wooden spoon in a medium bowl.  Lightly fold the banana mixture into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until just combined with no streaks of dry ingredients.  (Over-mixing will result in a tougher bread.)  The batter will be thick and chunky.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out.  Bake until the loaf is a golden brown and a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean, about 45-55 minutes. 

Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Print Friendly and PDF

Deep Chocolate Biscotti with Coffee Flour

I recently discovered coffee flour and will admit that it has fascinated me.  According to an article in Medical Daily, the product is derived from the fruit of the coffee plants, contains 50 percent more protein per gram than whole wheat flour, and five times the fiber. Moreover, coffee flour contains three times the iron content than fresh spinach, twice the potassium of a banana, and 84 percent less fat than coconut flour, possibly becoming next year’s superfood. Considering all of that, I felt compelled to not only share this information, (and encourage you to do your own homework!) but also to create a recipe that utilizes this unique product.  How fitting to create biscotti, the perfect accompaniment to coffee with this flour!  Coffee flour is available online, and at Trader Joe's, but no doubt will be showing up on grocer's shelves soon.  This biscotti is delicious, and now a little bit healthier!  Makes about 30 biscotti   (I suggest printing this recipe without the photos!)

1 3/4 cups + 1 Tablespoons unbleached flour

3 Tablespoons coffee flour

1/2 unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup almonds or walnuts, chopped fairly fine

3/4 cup semisweet mini chocolate chips

6 Tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, very soft

1 cup granulated sugar

2 extra-large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 Tablespoon confectioners' sugar

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.  Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a bowl whisk together the flour, coffee flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add the nuts and chocolate chips and mix well.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and beat until well combined.  Beat in the vanilla.  With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients and mix until a stiff dough forms. 

With floured hands divide the dough into equal halves (weigh to be exact).  On one of the prepared pans shape one portion of the dough into a 12-inch long log, approximately 2 inches wide.  Repeat with the second portion of dough, placing on the same pan with about 2-inches between the logs.  Sprinkle liberally with the powdered sugar.

Bake for 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for 5-6 minutes. 

On a cutting board, cut the logs on the diagonal into 3/4-inch slices, approximately 15 per log.

Place on two baking sheets and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes.  Cool biscotti on a rack.

Keep in an airtight container for up to a week, or in the freezer for a month.

Print Friendly and PDF

Lemon-Pistachio Biscotti

Lemon-Pistachio Biscotti

Lemon-Pistachio Biscotti

Sometime, a little nibble is all that is needed to get through the afternoon.  Biscotti and a cup of tea or coffee is one of my favorite afternoon treats, and these are excellent.  Low in fat and really dense and crisp, these biscotti will hold up to a dip in in any hot beverage!

3 large (not extra-large) eggs

1 teaspoon lemon extract

1 Tablespoon finely-grated lemon zest

2 cups flour

3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup pistachio nuts, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 300-degrees and put the racks in the center of the oven.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.

In a small bowl beat the eggs, lemon extract, and lemon zest until very well combined.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well.  Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and, starting with a spatula or spoon, combine the ingredients.  Use your hands to finish mixing, as this is a very stiff dough.

Divide the dough in half (weigh to be exact), and on a floured board shape each half into an even log, 12-inches long.  Place the logs on one of the baking sheets, leaving plenty of space between, and place in the preheated oven.  Bake for 50 minutes.

Remove from the oven, and using a very long spatula, place each log on a rack and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Slice each log into 1/2-inch slices and place them on the baking sheets (this time it will require 2 sheets).  Reduce the oven temperature to 275-degrees.  Place the biscotti in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and almost crisp throughout.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool and dry.  (For extra-crisp biscotti, leave on the baking sheets to cool.)

Biscotti keeps well in an air-tight container for up to a month.

Print Friendly and PDF

Red Velvet Blossom Cookies

Red Velvet Blossom Cookies

Red Velvet Blossom Cookies

I recently discovered a recipe for these in a CIA publication (that's the Culinary Institute of America, not the spies!).  These seemed to me to be the perfect Valentines Day cookies, with a striped white chocolate candy on the top.  These are easy, delicious, and really cute.  Surprise your favorite valentine with a batch of these cookies!  Makes about 32 cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon table salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 granulated sugar

1 egg

1 Tablespoon liquid red food color

1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

32 white chocolate "kiss" candies (Like Hershey's Hugs)

Line baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.  Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.  Unwrap the candies and place on a plate or small sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer.

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl, set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large mixing bowl combine the oil, brown sugar, and granulated sugar and beat on medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes.  Add the egg and mix to combine.  Blend in the food color and vinegar until fully incorporated.

Add the flour mixture and mix until well-combined.

Scoop the dough with a #60 scoop (2 teaspoons) onto the baking sheets.  Bake the cookies until puffed and the edges are set, 10-12 minutes.

Remove the candies from the freezer, and then the cookies from the oven and insert 1 candy into the center of each cookie.  Let the cookies stand on the baking sheets 2 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Print Friendly and PDF

Farm Journal's Mile-High Biscuits

FJ Mile-High Biscuit Recipe.JPG
These biscuits are simply awesome!  They rise beautifully, and the inside of the biscuit is light.  They are also delicious.  Try these with some chicken soup or with fried chicken; they are superb split and topped with sausage gravy for breakfast.

"Stack a napkin-lined basket with these tempting biscuits"

3 cups sifted flour

2 Tablespoons sugar

4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup shortening

1 egg, beaten

1 cup milk

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar and salt into bowl.

Cut in shortening with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.  (Note: I did this step in a food processor, added the egg and milk and pulsed to combine, then proceeded with the recipe as written.  Time saver!)

Combine egg and milk.  Add to flour mixture all at once, stirring just enough with fork to make a soft dough that sticks together.

Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead lightly 15 times.  Roll to 1" thickness.  Cut with floured 2" cutter and place about 1" apart on ungreased baking sheet. (I re-rolled the scraps and cut all the dough.)

Bake in 450-degree oven 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve immediately.  Makes 16.

Print Friendly and PDF

Fast Focaccia

Focaccia Bread

Focaccia Bread

This is my "go-to" bread for so many things!  It's perfect in a bread basket right out of the oven, as the basis for a panini, and even split, toasted and filled with egg and cheese for breakfast!  That is the beauty of this particular bread, second only to the speed of itspreparation.  The ingredients all go into the bowl of a mixer, are mixed for half a minute, then the dough is spread into a prepared pan to rise and bake.  A great basic recipe to have in your culinary back pocket!

12 ounces warm water

1 1/4ounces olive oil

1 teaspoon sugar

1 Tablespoon instant yeast

15 ounces all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

2 teaspoons dried Italian or all-purpose herb mix for sprinkling

1 Tablespoon coarse salt for sprinkling

Grease a 9 X 13-inch pan with olive oil and line the bottom only with parchment paper, cut to fit.  Oil the parchment.  (Non-stick spray can be used, just coat the pan and parchment heavily.)

In the bowl of a stand mixer placed on a kitchen scale weigh the water, oil, sugar, yeast, flour, then salt into the bowl. (If you have a tare function on the scale, this is so fast!  Just hit tare after each addition and then proceed to the next ingredient.)   Mix until well combined on low speed, then beat at medium-high speed for about 30 seconds.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and pat into an even layer with well-oiled hands. 

Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.

Cover the pan with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for about an hour, or until the dough has puffed up all over.  Oil the fingers of one hand and make indentations evenly over the top of the dough (about 4 X 6 for a total of 24), being careful to only go partially into the dough, not completely to the bottom of the pan.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with dried herbs (Italian, all-purpose) and then with coarse salt.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25-35 minutes, until it is a deep golden brown all over.  Let set in the pan for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the perimeter and flip out onto a cooling rack.  Remove the parchment and flip over.  Serve immediately or cool on the rack and wrap tightly in plastic wrap to use later.

Print Friendly and PDF