Iced Thumprint Cookies

December 6, 2010

Thanks to Pru at Perfecting Pru for choosing Iced Thumbprint Cookies for today’s project. Pru, I was thinking of you while I was making this because you said you chose this because you tried to make some other thumbprint cookies and they ended up in the trash. I was hoping that would not happen with mine or yours this time!

Mine did not go spectacularly well, I have to admit! First of all, the dough was just crumbs. I tried to make it into a disk and it just wouldn’t. I refrigerated it and tried again. I gave up on that and then tried to make the balls. I had some success. But when I pushed in the middle with my thumb, some of them just fell apart. Yikes. I put them in the oven and then pushed the spoon handle in them and that went ok.

These are iced with just milk and powdered sugar (and food coloring). I’ve never had thumbprints that didn’t have jelly/jam or a cherry in the middle, so this was sort of weird. Everyone agreed they were pretty, but we missed the center filling we’re used to. I liked the taste of the cookie itself, so if I made these again, I would put jelly in the middle – probably strawberry.

Thank you Pru for getting me started on my holiday baking. I have so much to do and only 2 weekends left before Christmas. Yikes! I will be baking chocolate chip, sugar cookie cut-outs, gingerbread men, Russian teacakes (which most people call Mexican wedding cakes), fruitcake (there is a secret family recipe for this and I make one to give to my in-laws and one for us), and I need to make and freeze our Christmas morning donuts. I’ve got a giant index to get done before Christmas and I haven’t wrapped a thing. The shopping is mostly done though at least! How are you doing with your holiday baking and preparations?

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Martha’s Greatest Hits

October 14, 2010

In celebration of the two year mark for this blog, I’ve gone back through every recipe of Martha’s I’ve cooked and put together a list of the best of the best (with links!). It was quite an eye opening experience. Apparently, I am a fan of dips! I also didn’t realize quite how many Martha recipes I’ve cooked. Over 600. That’s pretty amazing. So I guess you could say I’ve really become a de facto expert. Of those 600, there were some that were simply awful. The most memorable of those for me would be that awful chocolate pudding made with avocado and the no bake brownies. Truly disgusting. A lot of things fall into the ok, but not memorable category. Some were good, but not great. What I’ve tried to do here is list the things that I think were fantastic.

I expected that the list might be more diverse than it is. The most exotic and hardest to make thing on the list is the Croquembouche. The things that were most memorable for me were the Thanksgiving turkey, perfect roast chicken, spatchcocked chicken, stuffed cabbage, rolled omelet, Baked Alaska, and rice pudding. I’d forgotten about many of these recipes until I went back through the blog, but once I saw the posts, it all came back to me.

I was struck by the fact that most of these things are homey, traditional foods. There’s not a lot here that would make people gasp at a dinner party (until they tasted it and realized how good these recipes are). I don’t know if that means Martha is best when she sticks to the basics or if I’m boring and just like traditional foods (I don’t think that’s the case  though- I love to try new things). Some of the recipes are not true Martha (well, as true Martha as something can be when she employees tens of thousands of people to do everything for her), some are from Lucinda Scala Quinn and one is from Emeril, but they all appeared in Martha’s magazines or on her show, so I’ve included them.

Enjoy Martha’s greatest hits!

Soups

Cream of Broccoli Soup This is a go-to recipe for me that I’ve made over and over. It’s simple, tasty and my kids love it.

Corn and Shrimp Chowder Simple and delicious.

Roasted Fall Vegetable Soup This one is recent, but I liked it so much I’ll do it again.

Dips

Artichoke Dip with Fontina I love dip. And cheese. And artichoke.

Bean Dip I really love dip.

Caramelized Onion Dip with Fingerling Potatoes Dip plus potatoes is as good as it gets!

Seafood

Shrimp and Zucchini Tostadas I love the ease of this recipe and it’s very adaptable to whatever you have in the fridge.

Golden Crab and Papaya Salad The flavors in this were amazing and it was beautiful to serve.

Seafood Bake This one surprised me with how good it was and how much it was to make.

Mr. Jim’s Shrimp To die for! The best shrimp ever.

Poultry

Perfect Roast Chicken This is a recipe everyone needs!

Thanksgiving Turkey I’ll be using Martha’s recipe again this year, although it seems she is no longer selling turkeys.

Spatchcocked Chicken Thank you Lucinda for the amazing sauce that goes with this.

Chicken, Spinach Casserole This one is recent, but memorable. Simple and much more fab than it sounds.

Tortilla Pie with Chicken Delicious! Great flavors.

Other Entrees

Mrs. Kostyra’s Meatloaf Who knew meatloaf could be so much fun?

Emeril’s Meatloaf Apparently Emeril knew meatloaf could be fun because his is fantastic too! This is actually a turkey meatloaf.

Lamb Chops with Citrus Sauce This one is an elegant dish.

Marinated Steak Thank you Lucinda. Easy and delicious way to make inexpensive cuts of meat taste great.

Sides

Spanish Rice I need to make this again.

Green Bean Casserole Surprisingly great! But very rich!

Baked Onion Rings I forgot about this and will be making it again soon!

Tomato Hand Pies Another one I forgot about, but something to remember when I have some wonderful tomatoes to use.

Warm Potato Salad with Goat Cheese Incredible! Not a combo I expected to like, but I really did.

Potato Gratin A basic, but simply amazing.

Rolled Omelet So easy and so delicious! I was hooked on this one for weeks after I first made, making it in the toaster oven!

Irish Soda Bread I like my version a lot, but Martha’s is quite good too!

Stuffed Cabbage Something I never thought I would like!

Desserts

Double Chocolate Brownies Ah, brownies….

Croquembouche Impressive! Boy was I proud of this one.

Icebox Cake Surprisingly delish! And tres retro.

Soft Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies Dude Martha’s fave!

Mrs. Kostyra’s Spice Cake Close to my wedding cake but not quite, but still excellent!

Baked Alaska A friend of Teen Martha’s still talks about how good this was.

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes I need to make these again – amazing.

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies I’m going to make these for Christmas again.

Genoise Something I never thought I’d try and it was great.

Rice Pudding This is now a staple in my house and I make it often.

Now it’s your turn. What are your favorite Martha recipes that you go back to time and time again? Have you made any of the ones I’ve listed? Do these appeal to you?

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Meyer Lemon Lace Tuiles Disaster

December 20, 2008
Batter

Batter

Yesterday I made the batter for the Meyer Lemon Lace Tuiles (page 32 of December Living). It was easy – lemon and orange juice, butter, flour, sugar, and lemon and orange zest (the recipe calls for Meyer lemon juice and zest – not attainable in my neck of the woods, so I just used regular). The recipe says to refrigerate overnight. Check.

Today I got it out and put the batter on the baking sheets as directed – 3 inch circles, 2 inches apart. No problem. I was really excited

Ready to bake

Ready to bake

about this recipe. You bake the batter then you take each cookie and wrap it around the handle of a spoon to make a tube shape. They looked crunchy and wonderful in the photos.

This recipe seemed really simple and I wasn’t worried about it turning out at all.

Silly me. Here is what I took out of the oven:

tuiles3

tuiles4

A total unmitigated disaster. There is nothing here that is usable.  It all ran into each other and did not maintain any shape at all. I threw it all in the trash.

What makes me even more upset is that this is the second batch of lemon cookies I’ve made this year that are worthless. The first ones were from a recipe I ripped out of a magazine in a Land o’ Lakes butter add for Lemon Meltaways. There was clearly a mistake in that recipe because the batter tasted like cornstarch and it cooked into piles of crumbs.

So I am 0 for 2 on my lemon cookie attempt this year. Really, this is why you should just stick with your tried and true family recipes. And from now I will.

Thumbs down on this Martha, very, very disappointing.


Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

December 13, 2008

Martha had Paula Abdul on (in all her non-coherent glory) and made Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies during cookie week (why isn’t every week cookie week in my life?) This recipe is also in December Living. I have to say, I passed right by the recipe in the magazine. It didn’t strike me as anything great. But then I saw it on-air and I knew it was something I had to make.

As complicated as Martha can sometimes make things, this cookie was actually pretty easy. First you make the cookie dough which is nothing difficult at all. It’s a basic dough with lots of cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s special dark). The dough did not firm up into a ball for me – it was a bowl of crumbs, pretty much. When I smushed it though, it stuck, so I was able to roll out the balls. You roll them in sugar then put them on the baking sheet.

Wooden spoon method

Wooden spoon method

On the show, Martha suggested using the end of a wooden spoon to make the indentations in the cookies. As you can see, this didn’t work very well. The cookies ended up splitting down the sides. I used my thumb instead and it was much more successful.

Baking them should have been simple, except I chose to attempt this on a weekday afternoon. I got them halfway done, and a child needed a ride, so out they came. I got home and put them in again and another child needed a ride. Out came the cookies again. It went on and on this way. It is truly a miracle they turned out at all.

Once these are baked, you make the chocolate and vanilla ganache to fill them. This part of the recipe was unnecessarily complicated. Martha wants you to cook honey and cream and scrape a vanilla bean and cook it with the scrapings and the whole pod. I did not have a whole vanilla bean and my grocery store did not sell any. I just dumped in about a teaspoon of vanilla extract instead.

Have a cookie...

Have a cookie...

Martha then wants you to cool this and strain it and then pour it over the bittersweet chocolate in a food processor. My food processor which  has served me well for 20 years) just died – actually the bowl broke. So until the replacement bowl gets here, I’m without one. Instead I just dumped the chocolate into the pot and warmed it up until the chocolate melted. No straining or mess. Very easy. Once it cooled, I spooned it into the cookies and let them rest. I needed to refrigerate them to get the ganache to really set up so I could pack them away.

The verdict? This is absolutely delicious. A good thing.  The cookie tastes very much like a very dense brownie. The ganache is tasty too. One point of contention – the recipe says it makes 90. 90! No way. Given, the recipe says to make each cookie 2 teaspoons, but on the air Martha was using a small little ice cream scooper/melon baller thing, so I used that too. This recipe made maybe 25 cookies for me. They weren’t huge either  -they were just about the right size. If you want more, you’ll need to double the recipe.

Happy birthday to me today!


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