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Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

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All right my friends. Here we go. Day 1 of the 12 Days of Cookies. Happy December! If you recall from the previous post, we’re going to spend the next month taking one really good basic butter dough and turning it into twelve wonderful, completely different cookies. Today I’m kicking off this cookie extravaganza with a classic: Jam Thumbprints. Couldn’t be easier.

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We’re right in that sweet spot, still a little drowsy and cozy from the post-Thanksgiving blow outs and almost but not quite into the chaos of Christmas. Don’t get too comfortable; it will only last another day or so. December 1st hits and we’re off to the races. It’s non-stop chaos from that point on; an endless stream of shopping, wrapping, baking, Christmas concerts and holiday parties for the next 24 days. Somehow we work it all in, squeezing in those late night baking sessions between all the other commitments. It’s a mad, mad dash. I am no different. This is the busiest time for me, and every year I wedge my cookie baking in the odd hours between everything else. My cookies are a lot of damn work but over the years I’ve come up with some tricks to make it just a bit easier. Several years back, I posted a Holiday Cookie Primer with some tips that I’m going to revisit here to make the season a little more peaceful.

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Today, the day after Thanksgiving, are you taking that picked apart carcass and making soup? No? Me neither, but to be fair, I haven’t hosted a Thanksgiving in years so I’m not usually left staring at stripped poultry bones the next day. I always go to someone else’s house, bring the pies and leave behind the leftovers. In some ways that’s good; no clean up to deal with. In other ways, it kind of stinks; no turkey-stuffing sandwiches. I also don’t get to make soup. No carcass means no soup. This year I’m traveling for the holiday and enjoyed my Thanksgiving meal in a restaurant so they’ll be none of this. I’m good with that but I do wonder where I might find a stuffing sandwich.

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When it comes to cranberry sauce on my Thanksgiving table, I’m a traditionalist. I make this triple cranberry sauce every year. Made with fresh cranberries, dried cranberries and cranberry juice it is bright, full of flavor and I love it. I might make a second one, spiced with ginger or zapped with horseradish or whatnot to mix it up, but the triple-cranberry version is non-negotiable. I might even make an allowance for a canned jelly, which is as much a tradition in some families as the turkey, but a whole berry, chunky sauce is a must have. Regardless of which direction you go, canned or homemade, we can all agree that cranberry sauce in some manner is required, especially on a leftover turkey sandwich. But what about cranberries in other parts of the meal? Like dessert? This year I decided to try something different and came up with a cranberry tart to cap the meal. I have to say, I’m quite happy with the results.

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Today is St. Patrick’s Day and I have to admit, I’m well beyond drinking cheap green beer from plastic cups. I never much enjoyed crap beer anyway. In college, my friends and I would save our pennies for a pint of two of Guinness. Sure the corner bar had $1.50 pitchers of Coors Light every night but when we could, we’d spring for $4 pints of the good stuff. Really. These days my festivities turn more to good beer or Irish whiskey, old friends and delicious food. It is still just as fun if different in tone and I still enjoy a nice pint of Guinness. Which is, believe it or not, is a lot easier on your system than cheap, skunky, questionably colored beer. True story (in my inexpert but experienced opinion).

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I knew it would come to this and here we are. Merry Christmas my friends and welcome to Day 12 of the 12 Days of Cookies! The final cookie is a little special, it is Christmas after all, and one I have zero expectations of you actually making today. Perhaps you’ll file it away in your mental recipe box for next year or maybe you’ll just look at the pictures, smile and move on. Whichever is fine by me because this one is a bit involved. A real project-type cookie made for special times. Neapolitan Cookies, Seven Layer Cookies, Italian Flag Cookies or Rainbow Cookies, whatever you call them we can all agree that they are a stunner.

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We find ourselves nearing the end of the 12 Days of Cookies and I find it all a little bittersweet so I’m dishing up something sweet as a counterpoint. A good palmier is a special treat and one very conducive to the festivity of the season. It’s also something not commonly found or rather, a good palmier is not commonly found. I’ve had plenty of mediocre palmier, made with subpar pastry, lacking in caramelizaation, flavor and joy. I’m here to change all that. So Day 11 … Caramelized Ginger Palmiers to make your season bright.

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