Congratulations on the holiday cookie recipe challenge to Bryony DuPont of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, whose spice cookies wins the drop cookie category, and to Robin Cohen of Arlington, Massachusetts, author of the dovesandfigs blog, who’s Rugalach wins the cut cookie category.  I assure you that my affection for Cleveland Heights and my affection for people who cook with goosefat (see Robin’s current post), did not weigh into the verdict (cookies above, photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman, thanks Donna!). The cookies were executed and evaluated by Marlene Newell and several bakers at her site CooksKorner: Dana Noffsinger, Kim Shook (she has public virtual recipe book here), Kerry Beal, aka The Chocolate Doctor, and Anna Serginson.  Thank you all!  My able assistant Emilia Juocys, also a primary tester, tabulated all results on a spread sheet.  Cookies were Read On »

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Stollen, Christmas pudding, panettone, and Les Treize Desserts.  Christmas cake traditions from all over the globe.  Happy holidays, via The Wall Street Journal.

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Pastry chef Fany Gerson’s book on Mexican desserts and sweets called “My Sweet Mexico” covers sweet tamales, peanut marzipan, cajeta and more.  Saving recipes from hundreds to thousands of yeas old, via The Atlantic.

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Two important introductions today, the first is a contest, a Holiday Cookie Challenge (more about Gourmet’s newly published book below).  And the second is an introduction to a culinary colleague who has begun helping me out, keeping me organized, preventing my brain from exploding all over my computer screen.  Emilia Juocys (pronounced YO-chess, Lithuanian background), graduated from Schoolcraft College’s culinary arts program and proved so valuable in helping Brian Polcyn (her former chef instructor at Schoolcraft) and me with the new Salumi book that I’ve asked her to spend part of her work week helping me.  While Ratio has gone a long way in making me understand the baking kitchen, I’m still a savory guy at heart, but I’m thrilled to introduce Emilia’s love of cookies and her challenge to bakers with this cookie contest. Read On »

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Seventeen years ago, my friend Stephanie began a Burns‘ night celebration, in honor of her Scottish heritage, and we carry it on still, an occasion to gather a group, once all in Cleveland but now half dispersed.  We tour the highlands, as it were, and I address the haggis— “Fair fa your honest soncie face/Great chieftan o’ the puddin race” —thrusting the knife in at the appropriate “warm-reeking” moment.  But Stephanie had arrived as well with her grandmother’s shortbread, and the book from which it comes.  Having coincidentally been making various versions of shortbread for a current project, I was particularly interested in hers. Shortbread is the simplest of preparations, flour, butter and sugar and in that simplicity is its deliciousness.  Also, it couldn’t be easier or faster.  Boxed pancake mix takes longer.  Shortbread to Read On »

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