Chocolate-Chai Pistachio Tea Cookies – Great Food Bloggers Cookie Swap 2015 – Holiday Gift Giving Idea

December 2nd! Cookies baked….cookies boxed…tags made… decorations added to  boxes…post office! (Thanks Brad) Once again it is time to join all the 1000’s of other bloggers participating in the 2015 Great Food Bloggers Cookies for Kid’s Cancer fundraiser. Just another reason to celebrate this time of year…having fun and helping.

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A big hi y’all from downtown Nashville, Tennessee to my 3 new food blogger friends who will receive a tin of cookies from Food on Fifth. Please go over and check out their blogs, see what they are up to and give them a shout.

Lisa Lotts at http://www.garlicandzest.com

Aimee Broussard at http://aimeebroussard.com

Allison Day at http://blog.fridgg.com

This year my cookie is a simple, easy slice and bake “Chocolate-Chai Pistachio Tea Cookie”.

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I get all my ingredients measured and ready before I start baking. Quickly assembled and chilled this dough is easy to slice. I love the green of the pistachios  against the chocolate.

Before…..

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….after baking.

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This little not-too-sweet cookie is great with a cup of hot tea, which I had while packing up cookies to mail. Notice the sanding sugar…adds just a bit of crunch.

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 I like creative packaging that has a homemade, yet stylish look. This year I added my small collage “art cards” inside each tin and tied my business card with twine around the outside. Yes, those little squares with a hole punched into the corner are my business cards!

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These incredibly fun cards with my name and info on back & a different instagram photos on the front…each one a different food photo… I have printed at Social Print Studio, a fabulous online site.DSC_0013

Thanks to Lindsay http://www.loveandoliveoil.com/ and Julie http://www.thelittlekitchen.net/ for organizing this yearly fundraiser and for inviting all of us to participate in this good, “sweet” cause.

Chocolate-Chai Pistachio Tea Cookies

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 6 Tbsp good quality cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp instant chai
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios
  • sanding/decorating sugar

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together the butter, sugar and salt until well mixed.
  2. Add egg and blend well, scraping down side of bowl when need be.
  3. Add cocoa powder & chai to mixture blending until well incorporated.
  4. Add flour, a few tablespoons at a time, with mixer on low until blended. Dough will be stiff.
  5. With mixer on low add pistachios. Scrape cookie dough out onto a work surface and knead together. Divide dough in thirds and form into  3 cylinders, each about 8 to 10 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Wrap each in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour before slicing.
  6. Preheat oven to 375. Cut chilled dough into 1/4″ slices and bake on sheet pans lined with parchment paper.spacing  1″ apart for 12-15 minutes. Immediately out of the oven sprinkle cookies generously with sanding/decorating sugar. Cool cookie completely on wire racks.
  7. To gift: place in tins or boxes with parchment paper sheets between layers.
  8. These cookies will keep for days in a sealed container and are just delicious with a cup of hot tea or milky coffee.  A not-too-sweet cookie with lots of chocolate-chai flavor!

Teresa Blackburn   http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com    www.foodonfifth.com

Cranberry-Pomegranate Cordial – Gift Giving Made Simple

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You still have time…plenty of time to make this cranberry and pomegranate cordial for gift giving. Ten days and you will be ready to bottle the best gift ever for all your amateur or professional bartender friends. This one can be drunk as is or used to shake-up some very special seasonal cocktails. A sip or two will also make you feel more “cordial”during the often stressful days of December.

One cup of pomegranate seeds (arils) and 12 ounces of fresh or frozen cranberries…..

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…one liter or good vodka, a simple syrup and the peel of one orange are all you will need.

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For 10 days this jar stayed in my pantry with a shake once a day and it was ready to decant and gift. Very yummy, very easy, very pretty.

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Clear seasonal color to sip!

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I really like to “bottle” as  you might have realized from previous blogs. I also like to make libations to bottle. Here are some previous posts that will give you information on how to make Limoncello, Blood-OrangecelloBuddhacello (using the exotic citrus Buddha Hand), or my Pear Infused Vodka among others.

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Cranberry-Pomegranate Cordial

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar mixed with 1 1/2 cups water
  • 12 ounces of fresh or frozen(thawed) whole cranberries
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • Orange rind strips from one orange
  • 1 liter of good vodka

Directions:

  1. To make the simple syrup bring the sugar & water to a low boil over medium high heat. Stir & turn to low to simmer for about 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Remove simple syrup from heat to cool completely.
  2. Put cranberries in a food processor and pulse until roughly chopped.
  3. Mix together in a large glass jar with a tight-fitting lid the cooled simple syrup, 1 liter of vodka, chopped cranberries, pomegranate seeds & orange rind strips. Store in a cool, dark closet or cabinet, shaking daily, for about 10 days.
  4. Strain liquid mixture through a fine sieve & pour cordial into small bottles to give as gifts. Close bottles tightly with metal caps or corks.

To enjoy: Drink chilled or at room temp as an aperitif….or pour into a glass of ice and top with seltzer or Cava for a refreshing cocktail garnished with a slice or orange.

(This recipe is adapted from a Cranberry Cordial recipe by Melissa Clark published in the New York Times.)

Teresa Blackburn       http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com    www.foodonfifth.com

 

A Winter Dessert, Deep Dark Chocolate Almond Pear Tart

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The light goes early this late November. I catch the last few minutes as my tart comes out of the oven. Dark, deeper colors as the sun sets casting a winter mood.

Deep dark chocolate….ground almonds…6 ripe, yet firm fall pears. Strong and delicate flavors melded to become something magical in the waning light.

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Small Seckel Pears, sometimes called “sugar pears” due to their sweetness. are the perfect fit for this recipe. Pears are very abundant in markets these days with a great variety on offer.

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Carefully cored and peeled,  I used the stems to add a bit of style.  I love the way they look when baked on top of each little pear.

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Before and after baking….

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…up close, ready to slice and eat.

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Yum and yum.

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A Winter Dessert, Deep, Dark Chocolate Almond Pear Tart

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 1hr
  • Print

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Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened + extra for brushing on tart pan
  • 6 firm, yet ripe Seckel Pears, cored, peeled, saving stems
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup almonds, whole or slivered
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemons zest
  • powdered sugar/confectioner’s sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Brush tart pan sides and bottom with softened butter.
  3. Toss prepped pears with the lemon juice
  4. Process sugar and almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Add butter, eggs, cocoa powder, vanilla and almond extracts, salt and zest until combined into a thick batter. Scrape batter into the tart pan and spread out evenly.
  5. Gently press pears into the batter around the edge of the pan evenly spaced. Insert the stems down into the pears. Place pan on a rimmed baking sheet.
  6. Bake tart until puffy, for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the batter comes out with a few wet crumbs attached. Take care to not overbake. Cool tart on a wire rack.
  7. Serve dusted with powdered sugar if desired.

Thanks-Giving Parmesan Polenta Madeleines with Fresh Sage & Butternut Squash

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Thanksgiving….giving thanks.

Thanksgiving is upon us and in my life there is so much to be thankful for that my mind reels. The list is long and I try to keep it in the front of my mind most days whether it is a holiday or not. It is not always easy but I try. Do you have a mental list of things you are thankful for?

For these savory “Parmesan-Polenta Madeleines with Fresh Sage and Butternut-Squash”, if you do not have a classic French madeleine pan, use a cast iron corn stick pan. I bought my pans at Amazon but recently picked up a few more at TJMaxx. You can find a previous madeleine post I did for “Chocolate  Black-Peppercorn Orange Madeleines” here as well. Madeleines are traditionally sweet and originated from the Lorraine region in France. My Southern, seasonal twist uses yellow polenta, sage and butternut squash as well as parmesan cheese and will be a wonderful addition to any Thanksgiving meal. Also great with chili or soups.

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Fresh sage leaves in the bottom of the pan….batter spread on top…..

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…baked for 15 minutes until golden brown…..

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…flipped out onto a cooling rack and while hot I shredded more Parmesan over the top.

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I made this recipe earlier in the year for a project I was working on with a friend. In that recipe I did not use butternut-squash, but I had some left from a photo shoot and did not want to let it go to waste so shredded it and tossed into the batter for a more seasonal twist!

Be Thankful. Be Kind and Share.

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Parmesan-Polenta Madeleines with Fresh Sage and Butternut Squash

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Ingredients:

  • coconut oil spray
  • 1 bunch fresh sage leaves
  • 2/3 cup instant polenta
  • 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese + extra for garnish
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup shredded butternut squash
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • special equipment: 2 madeleine pans

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray madeleine pans with coconut spray.
  3. Place one or two fresh sage leaves in the bottom of each “madeleine” space. Press down into the molds using your fingers. Respray with coconut oil. The oil will secure the sage leaves to bottom of the pan.
  4. In a mixing bowl blend together instant polenta, flour, baking soda, Parmesan cheese, sea salt & black pepper.
  5. Stir in the melted butter, eggs, butternut squash & buttermilk. Blend well. Spoon batter into the pan over the sage leaves just to batter being level. Pat into mold with you fingers. If batter gets too dry then add a bit more buttermilk. This batter is thicker than your regular cornbread batter.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes or until madeleines are golden brown and puffy. Remove pans from oven and cool for a few minutes. Turn pans upside down to release madeleines from pan. While they are still hot sprinkle more Parmesan on top. It will slightly melt into the surface. Serve immediately or keep in a warm oven until ready to serve. Can be reheated as well. Store any leftovers in a plastic bag for a few days.

Teresa Blackburn      www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com      www.foodonfifth.com

Cannellini Bean-Vegetable Soup Au Pistou and Black Pepper-Thyme Corn Sticks

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Comfort food in a world of chaos and uncertainty is what many of us home cooks create to ease the tensions of daily life. Few foods are more comforting than soups. The ease of preparation and ingredients, the simple cooking methods…these are things we can control when there is so much going on around us that we cannot.

My version of the classic French “Soup au Pistou” is one of my comfort foods on these November days when darkness comes early and there is a chill in the air and in a small place in my heart.

Pistou is somewhat like pesto but without pine nuts. Just a blend of fresh basil leaves, garlic and olive oil all smashed together either in a mortar and pestle, or as I did in a food processor. Pistou is a sauce or condiment from the Provence region of France and you will find it simple and easy to make.

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Do you ever add the rinds of Parmesan cheese to your pot when making hearty soups? Try it if you have not. It is a good way to use those flavorful rinds and will make your finished soup even more delicious.

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I love cornbread so these crispy “Black Pepper-Thyme Cornbread Sticks” are good to serve with this soup. Baked in a sheet pan and then cut into sticks make them great “dippers”.

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Eat well. Be kind to yourself and others.

Cannellini Bean-Vegetable Soup with Pistou and Black Pepper Cornbread Sticks

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 1hr
  • Print

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Ingredients for Soup:

  • Splash of olive oil
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 2 leeks thinly sliced, white and pale green parts
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 zucchini squash, sliced & cut into half moons
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced and cut into half moons
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • one piece of Parmesan rind
  • 2 cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

Ingredients for Cornbread Sticks:

  • 1 package of your favorite yellow corn bread mix (I use Bob’s Red Mill) + ingredients called for on package directions)
  • 1 Tbsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried)

Ingredients for Pistou:

  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves smashed
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil

Directions:

  1. For Soup: Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat & add the anchovies. Use a wooden spoon to stir and cook until the anchovies break up and dissolve.
  2. Toss leeks and celery into the pan. Saute for 10 minutes or until vegetables soften and begin to brown. Add a pinch of sea salt & freshly ground black pepper.
  3. Add zucchini and yellow squash, chicken broth and Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil. Turn heat to simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Add beans to pan, stir and turn heat to lowest setting to keep hot while you make cornbread and pistou.
  4. For Cornbread: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix cornbread mix according to package directions adding the cracked black pepper, Parmesan and thyme leaves to the batter. Spread batter into a rimmed baking sheet sprayed with vegetable oil spray. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove pan from oven to cool on a wire rack.
  5. For Pistou: Put basil leaves and garlic cloves in a food processor and pulse a few times. Drizzle in olive oil just until mixture is a pesto-like consistency. I like a less oily pistou. If you prefer more oil then continue adding until it is to your liking.
  6. To: Serve. Cut cornbread into “sticks”. Ladle soup into bowls and add a dollop of the pistou to stir into the soup. Serve remaining pistou on the side. Enjoy.

Teresa Blackburn      www.teresablackburnfoodstying.com    www.foodonfifth.com

Nibbling Venetian Butter Cookies while wandering Venice… August 2015

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Of some places there is really nothing that needs saying. Some places you just see. You  look, absorb, ponder on and wander in. Of some places so much has already been said. Well said and beautifully said. One of these places is Venice, Italy. A city of mystery & infinite beauty. One of the world’s best cities for wandering while nibbling on Venetian Butter Cookies.

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De Chirico-like shadows, small intimate corners, reflections & slices of light on water are what grab my attention. The large, all-encompassing, well-known, travel book images do not particularly enchant me. This is probably a lacking on my part, but one I accept. I am seduced by the little moments wherever I travel. Here are some of them……

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One needs nourishment to sustain lengthy wanderings….frothy cups of cappucino and Venetian Butter Cookies help as do glasses of vino,  all which are on offer at every corner.

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All images taken with iphone 6 the summer of 2015 while wandering Venice without & with my friends Terry and Julie. Two more intrepid wanderers who shared their trip with me. Grazie.

“Venetian Butter Cookies” are ubiquitous in Venice and pretty much all over Italy. They are not too sweet and are the perfect coffee-dipping cookie.

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Venetian Butter Cookies

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 sticks of unsalted butter at room temp (10 Tbsps)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 2 tsps freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In an electric stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  3. Turn mixer to low and add vanilla extract, lemon zest and salt.
  4. Turn mixer too medium and add egg yolks one at a time until well combined.
  5. Turn mixer to low and add flour 1/4 cup at a time, scraping down bowl as needed, until all flour is incorporated.
  6. LIne cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Form cookie dough into 1 inch balls. Roll each into a “rope” about 3 inches long and then shape into an “S”. Repeat with all dough, placing “S” shapes on parchment paper lined cookie sheets as you work about 1 inch apart.
  8. Bake for about 12-14 minutes or until cookies are firm and light golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Note: These cookies are found all over Italy in groceries, little markets, bakeries..fresh or in bags. They will keep for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container and are very good dipped in your favorite Italian coffee.

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Teresa Blackburn       http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com    www.foodonfifth.com

(Based on a Martha Stewart cookie recipe)