Sunday, December 17, 2006

Recipe Teaser

Sorry about that. I said I'd have recipes and it's been days. In those days though, I have been quite busy. I still had a lot of work left on Elspeth's baptism gown which I finished yesterday, of course, because she was baptized today. It would be too smart to finish it a week or so before, right? Nevermind that I also had to clean the house for my parents coming into town for the event, or that I had mounds of food to make for their visit, or that two of my children are running a fever of 103, or that I had eighty Christmas cards to address and sign five names to, or that in all of that madness I had Christmas gifts to send halfway around the world. $45 in shipping! Can you believe it?! They give you two choices: freight, which takes 6-8 weeks; or air, which takes 6-8 days! I was thinking something in the middle, more economical, but also not like sending things by way of the Mayflower. I reckon I should go ahead and buy next year's gifts soon if I want to send them for less. Or for about the same, I could just fly over there and deliver them myself. Wouldn't that be awesome if you really could get international flights for $50? Anyway, I don't really know what the solution is; if you've got family in France, you're going to have to pay a little extra to send them stuff. They also make you declare everything on a custom's slip which they tape right on the box. So Rach, if you're reading, don't read the custom's slip or you will know what you're getting before you even unwrap your gifts.

But back to the whole mounds of food thing. I think I have made five batches of biscotti. George keeps eating them before I can give them away or stash them for serving guests. I was able to get some to Frank the other day. I think everyone will remember Frank, my hair stylist who went Roanoke but then George tracked him down. I love Frank! So I took him a little Christmas goodie bag this week. He opened it when I was leaving and said "Oh, I love biscotti!" Then, the next day I got a phone call from him. He said it was the best biscotti he ever tasted and that I should go into business selling it. Now don't you want his number? He's just the kind of guy that always makes you feel good about yourself. And what a dear man to track me down just to praise my baking! So, against my better judgment, I'm posting my million dollar biscotti recipe. If you know of a market for selling these things, let me know. Maybe I'm on my way to being the next Famous Amos. Don't think Wally Amos would publish his cookie recipe online though... Hmmm, now I can't decide. Remember when I said I would send y'all cookies back in the spring and I never did? Maybe if you really want, I will send you some biscotti. And maybe, if nothing else than to drive Rebekah crazy, I'll keep my recipe a secret! Besides making a delivery to Frank, I also managed to send some in the big box to France, but that particular batch had to forfeit its chocolatey coating in order to get there before Christmas. I will give the secret away for that part, just melt some chocolate chips and add a smidge of cooking oil to thin it out and dip the bottom of the cookies in to coat. Haven't had an unsatisfied customer yet!

Another family favorite around here is sugar cookies with royal icing. It's not the same royal icing that you use to glue gingerbread together- which, incidentally, we did this past Monday with some little girls from our neighborhood. It turned out so cute! We have an entire snow covered gingerbread village in our living room! Ahem, anyway, it's not so stiff as that, but it has the same basic ingredients: egg whites and powdered sugar. Anyway, I think there are probably lots of good recipes out there, but this one is guaranteed- it's from Martha Stewart, you know! But you will also benefit from my own personal experience after making these cookies for every holiday, year round, for seven years. I made a giant double recipe just this week!

Sugar Cookies
4 1/2 c. sifted flour- sifting is actually pretty important so don't skip out- measure after flour is sifted to be sure you don't have too much making your cookies too puffy and cakey!
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 c. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla

- sift together dry ingredients.
- cream butter and sugar until fluffy. add eggs and mix well.
- add dry ingredients 1 cup at time, alternating with the milk and vanilla, beating well after each addition.
- divide dough into fourths and wrap each quarter separately.
- chill for at least on hour.
- take one piece out at a time to roll out (with a floured pin on a floured surface) and cut.
- place cut pieces on parchment lined and baking sheets and chill sheets for several minutes to firm dough back up.
- bake cookies at 375 for 8 to 10 minutes.
- cool on racks.
- ice with royal icing

Royal Icing
1 c. confectioner's sugar
1 egg white
gel food colors
- mix and spread or pipe onto cookies
the gel colors just keep the icing from getting too runny. I have the Wilton kind that you buy at Michael's. You might could also get those from Walmart, but as you know, I do not shop at Walmart (three years and counting!). I also think the size of your egg matters. If you buy extra large, don't. My mom always did and it messed up all my recipes. It took me a while to realize she buys the big ones to scramble/fry etc. As far as egg cooking alone goes, bigger is better, I guess. But for baking, extra large is no good. Even with large eggs, I usually probably use closer to 1 and 1/4 cup of sugar for my icing. And if you do use just regular food color liquid stuff, you will have to add more sugar too. But my experience is that the liquid food colors are no good for these. Dried egg whites and water is even better than egg whites too as far as not being too runny, but it is much more expensive to use that than eggs.

So that is my laborious explanation of how I make sugar cookies. But several people actually asked me, so I wanted to be as helpful as I could.

I've been busy with lots of other recipes, but I have already been writing too long. I haven't gotten to bed before one AM, or two for that matter, in at least a week. And if I go straight up, I can just make it! More recipes soon though. In hindsight, I was a total bonehead to plan Elspeth's baptism smack in the middle of George's finals and right before Christmas. I was thinking it would be great for everyone to get to see Elspeth for her first Christmas. In my defense, it did work great with Amabel and August who were also both baptized the week before Christmas. Didn't have quite the turnout this time though, and I essentially bumped Christmas up one week this year. It was crazy trying to have everything done so early, but now I have a week until Christmas and not too too much to do. Well, except I haven't shopped for anyone living in St. Louis yet. Yes, that includes my husband and three children. Do ya think that might be a problem? All I know is, I'm gettin' some sleep! I'll think about it tomorrow!


Fittsy said...

This biscotti thing really is hilarious. I was thinking this morning that I would call you and ask for that recipe. And now, you're saying you'll keep it a secret? Oh, bother. But I have a good memory: didn't the recipe come from Southern Living? I'm off to search....


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the sugar cookie recipe! I've got to make some of those today, if I find the time. :)
-- annie :)

Fittsy said...

Ok, so my memory isn't as great as I claimed (or Southern Living isn't bringing up a plain biscotti recipe). So really, please share. Or I guess I'll be patient and enjoy yours when you come.


Abby said...

Being the elite status that you are with me, Rebekah, I would share the recipe with you, except I know your policy demands that you would give it out if someone asked. So I can't share the recipe with you because I can't have you sharing it with everyone you know. Maybe if you weren't so popular!!! And if only my blog weren't so popular (ha ha!). But I'll bring at least a double batch when I see you next week!

Elizabeth said...

When are you coming through N'vegas? We'd love to have y'all over!!

Merry Christmas!!!

Love, Elizabeth

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