Thursday, February 24, 2011

palmiers (elephant ears)

These are literally the easiest cookies I have ever made, and they are elegant enough to work for any occasion. I don't remember where we originally found the recipe, but my mom and I made them for one of last year's holiday dinners and I couldn't stop eating them. I made them again for a friend's housewarming party this past weekend and had about a dozen of them (just the burnt and broken ones, you know) before I left for her place. The recipe makes about four dozen cookies total and could be modified in a million ways.

2 sheets puff pastry
2/3 cup white sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Thaw the puff pastry for about half an hour or until you can unfold the sheets without breaking them. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a small dish. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Roll out one sheet a little (it should only get about 1" bigger all around) on a surface sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. 

Sprinkle more cinnamon sugar onto the sheet, and start folding each side of the dough inwards until the two rolls meet in the middle. Repeat the process with the other sheet. The tighter the roll, the smaller the cookies will be, but the easier it will be to cut them.

If the dough is getting too soft to hold its shape, stick the rolls back in the freezer for a few minutes. Place on a cutting board with the smooth side up (the place the two rolls meet should be facing down), and use a sharp knife to cut 1/4" slices. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, adding more cinnamon sugar halfway through and rotating the baking sheet if one edge starts to burn. Cool on the baking sheets. If you make them the night before you can re-toast them for a few minutes before serving.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

shepherd's pie

Shepherd's Pie

My beloved Tante Gerda, who was a second mother to me and my siblings and is probably singlehandedly responsible for most of my academic achievements, used to make Shepherd's Pie for us some of the nights we had dinner at her house before attending German School. I hadn't had it since high school, but I was thrilled when mine turned out very nearly as awesome as hers.

I am pretty sure I originally made this the same week as the butternut squash pasta, but I totally forgot to take finished photographs. I fed it to a couple of guys from Ohio, it was good. Decided to make it for myself tonight, as the temperature has dropped thirty degrees since yesterday and wintry-type food seems in order. Original recipe is from Epicurious, and I didn't do much besides add some more meat and some spices. I made a half-batch, since I'm the only one eating it (for the next three meals), but this recipe serves about six people.

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 lbs ground lamb (you can substitute half with another meat)
1 cup broth (I prefer vegetable)
1 heaping tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 cup frozen peas
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
6 tbsp butter
1/2 cup milk
salt to taste
grated cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Put the potatoes in a pot of boiling water and set a timer for 20 minutes. Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet, and sauté the meat, onion, and carrot until the meat browns (about 10 minutes). 

Drain the fat (if there's a significant amount) and add the tomato paste, broth, and herbs. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the juices thicken. Add the peas (they can still be frozen). Pour into a large baking dish (mine is a 14"x8" Pyrex pan). 

Mash the potatoes, which should be done by now, with the milk and butter. Add as much salt as you like. Spread the potatoes over the meat mixture. This is best accomplished by gently dropping most of it down the middle of the pan and using a spatula to smooth it toward the edges. Draw some designs in the top with a fork. 

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden brown. Serve with grated cheese on top.

My only photo from the first round of this--lamb mixture in the pan. I forgot the peas that time, though.

My potatoes didn't brown very much this time (I mis-measured when I was reducing the recipe and made them too thin), but lots of juice crept up to the top.


Friday, February 18, 2011

photos from Christmas break

More photos! This one is How I Spent My Christmas Vacation.

My mom always has the prettiest tree.

Christmas boots.

My sister was bunny-sitting over the holiday. This is Jasper.

He is the most gluttonous bunny ever.

I decorated my sister's (gorgeous) apartment for our brother's surprise 21st birthday party.

Josh and I stayed at the beautiful Glidden House hotel for a couple days after Christmas. It's right on Case campus and I'd been pining for a night there for years. Worth the money.

Josh makes funny faces when confronted with cameras.

My dentist is one of those people who wishes it were Christmas all year. She's awesome.

Freshly dyed hair, funny face.

I took a couple of walks on frozen Lake Erie while I was home.

My aunt's darling dog, Cooper.

Vintage cigarette ads from some awesome old magazines Josh gave me.

Betty Draper.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

photos from last fall

Lots of photos (I warned you about this, right?), some from my phone and some from my camera. All from Fall 2010, through Thanksgiving.

I don't really like that the NYU library re-binds all its books with blank covers, but the shelves do look very pretty.

Wells visited New York the same week I bought the hipstamatic iPhone app.

Sometimes I eat appetizer plates for dinner.

My Halloween costume: the 1992 Perry Ellis "Grunge" collection that got Marc Jacobs fired and made him famous.

New York City Halloween parade

Wells and Henry, who is the best dog. They should both move to New York immediately.

Cleveland colors.

I made a headband for the 11/11 meeting of the Corduroy Appreciation Club.

Corduroy cape

Eric and Riley made turducken for Thanksgiving Part II.

Josh and Wells bonded with guitars.

Mulled wine and paprikás. That was a good evening.

Nerd wine brought by a friend from nerd school. It was tasty.