Saturday, November 28, 2009

Eggnog Pancakes

To kick off the holiday season right, I made some eggnog pancakes for breakfast. I got the idea from a friend who said to use a buttermilk pancake recipe, and just substitute eggnog for the buttermilk. Genius! I felt so festive eating eggnog pancakes, and then putting up the Christmas tree and decorating while listening to Christmas music. 'Tis the Season!

Eggnog Pancakes

2 eggs, separated
2 cups eggnog
4 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar

Heat an electric griddle or frying pan to 350 degrees F. Heat oven to 200 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients and set aside.

Whisk together the egg whites and the eggnog in a small bowl. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the melted butter.

Combine the eggnog mixture with the egg yolk mixture in a large mixing bowl and whisk together until thoroughly combined. Pour the liquid ingredients on top of the dry ingredients. Using a whisk, mix the batter just enough to bring it together. Don't try to work all the lumps out.

Cook on a hot griddle and serve.

Mmm, Pie!

I made my first attempt at lemon meringue pie for Thanksgiving, and it turned out to be an epic battle. 3 pie crusts and 2 lemon curd attempts later, I had a winner.

My first crust was Martha Stewart's Favorite Pie Crust. It was just too thin for me. It was flaky, but not very tender. Strike 1.

The second crust was Alton Brown's Pie Crust. I actually didn't taste it (duh) but it was also too thin for me. Not what I was going for. Strike 2.

My third crust was Sylvia's Perfect Pie Crust. And man, was it perfect. It was tender and flaky, and just the right thickness. It was sturdy enough to hold together when lifted out of the pie pan with that heavy curd in it. And it was SO EASY. Home Run!

The lemon curd recipe I used was Alton Brown's and with a few adjustments it turned out to be amazingly delicious. The first attempt was just plain soup. It didn't set right. And I followed every word in the instructions to a T. So, we made a couple of adjustments. I added an extra couple of tablespoons of cornstarch, and I made sure to simmer each step an extra minute.

In the end, everything was as it should be. Lemon meringue pie that was sweet, tart, and lemony, with tender, flaky crust, and just the right amount of meringue. Life is good.

Sylvia's Perfect Pie Crust


1 1/2 cup Crisco (vegetable Shortening)
3 cups All-purpose Flour
1 whole Egg
5 Tablespoons Cold Water
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
1 teaspoon Salt


In a large bowl, with a pastry cutter, gradually work the Crisco into the flour for about 3 or 4 minutes until it resembles a coarse meal. In a small bowl, beat an egg with a fork and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir together gently until all of the ingredients are incorporated.

Separate the dough into thirds. Form 3 evenly sized balls of dough and place each dough into a large Ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each ball of dough (about ½ inch thick) to make rolling easier later. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them. (If you will be using it immediately it’s still a good idea to put in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes to chill.)

When you are ready to use the dough to make a crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes. On a floured surface roll the dough, starting at the center and working your way out. (Sprinkle some flour over top of the dough if it’s a bit too moist.) If the dough is sticking to the countertop use a metal spatula and carefully scrape it up and flip it over and continue rolling until it’s about ½ inch larger in diameter than your pie pan.

With a spatula, lift the dough carefully from the surface of the counter into the pie pan. Gently press the dough against the corner of the pan. Go around the pie pan pinching and tucking the dough to make a clean edge.

* For prebaking, prick the crust with a fork several times, then put some parchment paper on top of the crust and fill it with beans. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, and then remove the parchment and beans and bake an additional 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

* If you want, you can also tent some aluminum foil around the edges of the crust to prevent from browning too quickly.

Lemon Filling

4 egg yolks (reserve whites for meringue)
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest


Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Whisk egg yolks in medium size mixing bowl and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine cornstarch, water, sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine. Turn heat on medium and, stirring frequently, bring mixture to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and gradually, 1 whisk-full at a time, add hot mixture to egg yolks and stir until you have added at least half of the mixture.

Return egg mixture to saucepan, turn heat down to low and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 more minutes, until very thick. Remove from heat and gently stir in butter, lemon juice, and zest until well combined. Pour mixture into pie shell and top with meringue while filling is still hot. Make sure meringue completely covers filling and that it goes right up to the edge of the crust. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until meringue is golden. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Make sure pie is cooled completely before slicing.

Meringue Topping

4 egg whites
1 pinch cream of tartar
2 tablespoons sugar

Place egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and then gradually add sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Use to top lemon filling.

Yield: topping for 1 (9-inch) pie

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sour Cream Cookies

Something you may not know about me is that I have cookie cutters galore for every holiday - Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, name the holiday, I've got a cookie cutter for it!

So you can only imagine that as we start getting close to a holiday, the thing on my mind is how and when I can make my sour cream cookies. These cookies are tradition for me. We used to make them when I was a kid, and I always looked forward to it. We even made them with my nephews a couple of Christmases ago. We managed to keep the mess under control, and the boys had a lot of fun!

So what is the difference between a sour cream cookie and a sugar cookie? Well, I think the sour cream cookie is softer and has a creamier flavor than the sugar cookie. I also love the little hint of nutmeg that shines through. These cookies are always delicious, and I have never had a batch go wrong. Oh, and the cream cheese frosting? Don't even get me started. DELICIOUS.

Sour Cream Cookies

½ cup melted margarine
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp nutmeg

Beat the above together until thoroughly mixed.

1 cup sour cream
½ tsp salt
3 ¼ cup flour
1 tsp soda

Mix well adding flour as needed to make dough workable. Best when dough is on the moist side. Roll dough out to about ¼ inch thickness. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes until brown barely visible around bottom.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 pound cream cheese, room temperature (2 cubes)
¾ pound unsalted butter, room temperature (3 cubes)
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract
1 ½ pounds confectioners sugar, sifted

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, blend together the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and almond extracts. Add the confectioners sugar and mix until smooth.