December 28, 2011

Mom's Cookies

My mom went on a baking spree too and I can tell you for a fact, all of these cookies because they are not too crumbly travel well (yes, several boxes arrived with her in the suitcase).  The recipes are from different cookbooks.

These cookies are yellow because of grated carrots.  The younger set in the household was not fooled.

Chocolaty little crescents - these were my favorite!

Sesame biscotti - because these cookies are twice baked and dry they are best with a beverage.

Cookies waiting their packing orders!

Spritz Cookie

After the earlier featured macaroons I was left with a surplus of egg yolks. Luckily this spritz cookie recipe called for yolks. My version of the cookie was chai flavored and once I got past spritzing, ahem, challenges, I was in business. This cookie proved to be the runaway favorite with the junior members of the Modern Klatch household.

Butter, flour, sugar, egg yolks, and a seriously slick spritzer.

2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

(Chai Masala took place of the last two ingredients - for my mix I used cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and cardamom)

The cookies bake at 350 just 12 or so minutes.

The over-sized dark chocolate chip helped mask my spritzing imperfections.

December 27, 2011

Eastern Europe’s Import and Macaroons Sandwich

I am rapidly running out of time so it’s time to step up cookie exchange efforts. My mom and her friend Natalie did a bake-off of their own. Not only did Natalie send me super-detailed recipes but she packed up a box of cookies too (and I can tell you, Rugelach is A-D-D-I-C-T-I-V-E!).

Rugelach with cheeries and walnuts

Chocolate Chip, Cherry and Walnut Rugelach

"Rugelach comes from Russian "rogaliki” - one more wonderful addition to American Cuisine from the Eastern Europe. I omit chocolate chips as well as cinnamon and use Smucker’s Low Sugar Apricot Preserve instead of Sour Cherry preserve, which would be delicious, but is not always the right consistency or readily available. In this case it has to be spreadable. I also prefer toasted almonds or toasted pecan instead of walnuts, but it's all about personal taste. One more thing I learned after making it for year and years, this is not the case where too much filling is a good thing.”

Yield: Makes 32

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 ounces chilled cream cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 tablespoons cherry preserves
8 tablespoons dried tart cherries
8 tablespoons miniature semisweet chocolate chips
8 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup (about) whipping cream

For dough:

Blend first 3 ingredients in processor. Add butter and cream cheese and cut in using on/off turns until dough begins to clump together. Gather dough into ball. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces; flatten into disks. Wrap each in plastic and refrigerate 2 hours. (Can be prepared 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated. Let soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.)

For filling:

Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. Roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 9-inch round. Spread 3 tablespoons cherry preserves over dough, leaving 1-inch border. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons dried cherries, then 2 tablespoons chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar and 2 tablespoons walnuts. Press filling firmly to adhere to dough.
Cut dough round into 8 equal wedges. Starting at wide end of each wedge, roll up tightly. Arrange cookies, tip side down, on prepared baking sheet, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart and bending slightly to form crescents. Repeat 3 more times with remaining dough disks, preserves, dried cherries, chocolate chips, cinnamon sugar and walnuts. Place baking sheet in freezer 30 minutes.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Brush cookies lightly with whipping cream. Bake frozen cookies until golden brown, about 40 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool completely. (Can be made ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week or freeze up to 1 month.)

Chocolate Macaroons
In this recipe the finished cookies and sandwiched using the filling.

Chocolate Macaroon with almonds

1 1-pound box powdered sugar
2 cups whole blanched almonds
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
6 extra large egg whites
1/2 pack of sweetened coconut flakes (coconut can be omitted, but large eggs have to be used instead)

(I made a mistake of using jumbo eggs and the batter ended up being not stiff enough which attributes to somewhat free form shape. I also used 1.5 cups of almonds and 0.5 cup of blanched toasted hazelnuts, just because I like hazelnut's ever so subtle but distinct taste.)

Mocha Ganache
I will be using Mocha Ganache as a filling, but simple Dulce De Leche (try Spanish market or sometimes in the Spanish food section) would be a great as a filling also.

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whipping cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
9 ounces imported milk chocolate (such as Lindt), chopped (I am using bittersweet chocolate)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Bring cream and butter to simmer in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add instant coffee granules; stir to dissolve. Reduce heat to low. Add chocolate; stir until melted. Mix in vanilla. Pour into bowl. Chill until firm enough to spread, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.

December 23, 2011

Forgotten Cookies

Ashley's family calls meringues and fudge the "Forgotten Cookies" - you can leave them overnight and forget them (that is if any are left over!).  Not only did Ashley sent me her recipes she also set me straight about egg whites - room temp!


4 1/2 cup sugar
lg. can evaporated milk
1/4 lb butter
18oz. chocolate chips
7oz jar marshmallow cream
1 cup walnuts (or coconut, if you prefer)
2 tsp. vanilla

Bring sugar and milk to a rolling boil. Boil for 9 min. stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add butter, chips and marshmallow cream. Stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla and walnuts. Pour into 9x13" pan that is buttered well. Cool.

I am very intriguted with the marshmallow fluff!
Now, for meringues:

2 egg whites (brought to room temp - VERY important) - yep, that's what I've been doing wrong all along!
2/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup of mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat egg whites until dry and then add sugar gradually. Add salt and vanilla. Fold chips in by hand. Drop by teaspoon onto cookie sheets. TURN OFF OVEN when you put the cookies in. Leave in for at least two hours.

Be sure to check out other cookies and a lot more still to come.

December 20, 2011

Fake, Not Bake!

We've done macaroons, toffee pretzel goodies, and cranberries with white chocolate chunks. This cookie is from my sister-in-law Katy - it is actually healthy and you won't even have to turn the oven on! And no, I do not know where she got those plates - they are pretty awesome indeed.

1 3/4 Cup sugar
1 1/2 Cup milk
1/2 Cup peanut butter
3 Cups quick oats
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract

Bring first 4 ingredients to boil for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and spoon onto parchment paper. Cool.

Thanks Katy! Anyone else has no bake cookie options?

Nigella's by Nicole

These Cranberry White Chocolate & Almond creations came from my colleague and friend Nicole with a little help from Nigella Lawson. But before we talk cookies, lets talk about thoroughly modern dame Nigella. Did you know she is 50?  Yes!! Five-O. According to my sources (Wikipedia) Nigella comes from a seriously well-heeled background. She has a dozen or so books to her name.  And she is ridiculously gorgeous.  Nigella, I heart you.

But back to Nicole's cookies. She told me that recipe actually called for pecans but not having any on hand she improvised and added almonds.

And here is the proof that cookies did come from Nicole's kitchen, not Nigella's.

Thanks Nicole! Still a few more cookies in store and be sure to check out Angela's Awesome Creations and my macaroons (which are gone already!).

December 19, 2011

Angela’s Goodies (With a Twist)

This cookie awesomeness comes from Angela. We are cousins by marriage but in her I find a kindred spirit and wish we lived on the same coast. In a house full of boys she heartily embraces potty humor (if you cannot beat them….). And her cookies are incredibly original.

This first cookie is like a cupcake in disguise! These would be great for Valentine’s Day too.
Red Velvet White Chocolate Chunk

1 box red velvet cake mix
1 cup all purpose flour
2 sticks butter (softened)
1 egg
2 cups white chocolate chunks

350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.

I am loving the pretzels/peanut butter combination! Now pretzels at the bottom of the bag will be put to great use.
 Toffee Pretzel Peanut Butter Cookies

2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon
1/2 cup Heath toffee bits
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup broken pretzels

Bake at 350 for 10 -12 minutes on parchment. “Watch them close, they burn easy! They are pretty yummy and different. They boys made the 'balls' so they are a little uneven.”

Thanks Angela! Also, check out macaroons and stay tuned for more cookies!

December 17, 2011

[Virtual] Macaroons

Speaking of cookies, my first cookie of the season is macaroon. This is unchartered territory for me but it just seemed kismet – the recipe from Danny Macaroons in November Food & Wine could not be more easy, not to mention that macaroon is sort of perfect for Christmakah.

And Danny didn’t let me down. I got my mise en place ready to go – simple enough, coconuts, egg whites, and condensed milk. The latter, I am sure, is what made the macaroons so moist and gave them a caramel-ly flavor, but I get ahead of myself.

macaroons from Food & Wine by Danny Macaroons
Getting all ingredients organized is a luxury reserved for weekends!

I used a little cookie scoop to get my macaroons as round as possible.  And they were perfect little mounds, mostly.  

Note the raindeer handcrafted by Mr. ModernKlatch out of art canvas extra parts that noone knows what to do with.
After baking for 25 minutes the macaroons were just a bit browned.  Roasted coconut has a devine caramel flavor but, to be on the safe side, baking time in my oven is more like 20-22 minutes.

The browned parts were the best bit, actually.

Final step, bottoms of the macaroons got a little dip in dark chocolate melted in a double boiler (just a little bowl over pot with boiling water to keep chocolate from burning).  I managed not to burn my fingers on steam this time, bonus.
Upside down macaroons drying.
Stay tuned for more from the virtual cookies - and if you want to join, send along yours (a photo of the cookie with recipe or story).

December 13, 2011

Tortoise and Hare: The Real Tale

Speaking of all things Greek, we all know Aesop’s tale: overconfident rabbit challenges stodgy turtle to a race and manages to lose the race. Of course there have been many interpretations and debates (is there a moral lesson here or was rabbit corrupt and throw the race?).

From 1912 edition of Aesop's Fables

Well at last a plausible explanation which I ran across on ever-cool Brain Pickings in a 1947 dramatization. Supporting characters include a raccoon, a fox, and an owl. So worth watching!

*The film is in the public domain and available for free, legal download courtesy of the Prelinger Archives.

December 8, 2011

[Virtual] Cookie Exchange

Friends, get your rolling pins ready! A new Klatch holiday tradition in the making: a virtual cookie exchange! Here is how it works – email me photos of your holiday baking with recipes, tips, and baking stories. Deadline: Christmas. Easy as a sugar cookie!

December 2, 2011

Tasty Little Pasty

Cornish Pasty is a delicious treat, full of steaming curried chicken or winter veg. We are lucky as there is a genuine pasty shop in the strangely charming ally off our main street. It is a respectable establishment with a Union Jack on the façade and gleaming wood. Pasty is just the thing on a Friday night when you don’t feel like pizza or cooking.

Behold. Though the photo does not do pasty justice (the flaky crust and steamy aroma are heavenly!).

Cornish Pasty from Pure Pasty in Vienna
My mind wondered, as it often does, and I am convinced that with the right recipe I can create pasties in my own kitchen. Though I am still searching for the right recipe to try (if you have one, do be so dear and send it my way), I learned some fascinating pasty facts along the way.

For one, humble pasty now has a Protected Geographical Indication status. Yes, as of this year only a pasty that originates in Cornwall and following traditional recipe can in fact be called Cornish. And Cornish pasty is in good company – other foods holding such European distinction are Gorgonzola, Parmesan-Reggiano, Cornish clotted cream, and Arbroath Smokies (Smokies I will have to learn more about!).  It is fitting as even Shakespeare is said to have referenced the very pasty more than once. 


Cornwall by all accounts is a charming seaside place.  Falmouth Docks photo by Andy Roberts from East London.
But pasty is not fancy, miners often took pasties with them since they were easy to reheat underground.  A true Cornish pasty is shaped like letter D and crimped on the side (NEVER on top). According to the authorities on the subject (Cornish Pasty Association) the filling must be “hunky, made up of uncooked minced or roughly cut chunks of beef (not less than 12.5%), swede, potato, and onion with a light seasoning. The pastry casing is golden in colour, savoury, glazed with milk or egg and robust enough to retain its shape throughout the cooking and cooling process without splitting or cracking." Chew on that or better yet go get yourself a wonderful little Cornish-style pasty!

November 25, 2011

The Daisy Buchanan of Wines

Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!

It is time to revisit the noble topic of wine and it would be a grave omission indeed to let November pass without talking about Beaujolais Nouveau. Every year, precisely a week before Thanksgiving Day, known world over as the third Thursday in November, the first Beaujolais is released just mere weeks after harvest. Is it a marketing ploy? Sure, but so what? In these gray November days any occasion for merriment is as welcome as a ray of sunshine.

So back to Beaujolais (even saying it just rolls off one’s tongue!). Here are some vitals. It’s French from Beaujolais in Burgundy. Made of Gamay grapes Beaujolais Nouveau will please even the staunchest white wine drinker because it’s tasty and not at all serious, like the Gatsby’s Daisy - young, attractive, shallow, and tarted up with a new colorful label each year. Conveniently it is very nice with a turkey and at $10 a bottle will keep your family gathering jolly. If you are grabbing a bottle chances are it is George Duboef so no guess work there.

Beaujolais Nouveau by George Duboef Special Cuvee
Beaujolais Nouveau at the Klatch homebase: 11/17/2011

Word of warning, don’t let your Beaujolais linger, by spring it looses its charms so bottoms up! And go for the "special cuvee" you see above with a pink label rather than the yellow one here, it is a little more interesting.

November 21, 2011

Getting Spacy

Did you ever dream of space as a kid? These photos are magic. And each day NASA posts a new photo, a glimpse into another world. Some of these are not unlike otherworldly abstract paintings. These beauties are best enjoyed with Moby on the background (who incidentally is into space pictures himself).

Sharp view of the sun.  This is stunning!

Another photo of the sun

The Rosette Nebula. Note to self, improve one’s understanding about nebulas, something so perfect is worth knowing about.
Starburst Galaxy also known as Cigar Galaxy with superwind.

Orion Nebulae

Have you had enough? For more go to NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day, there is lots more where these from - and you can learn about nebulae, sun spots, and supernovas. 

November 16, 2011

Asian store

A couple month back I gushed about our visit to an old-school dry goods Apple Hill store.  This weekend we visited Great Wall supermarket and let me tell you, we might as well have journeyed to East Asia.

Look at these beauties, dragon fruit, persimmons, kumquats, pomegranates. Of course we bought some persimmons (they remind me of winter and transport back to being a kid) and dragon fruit to be daring a try something new. I should report that dragon fruit has quite a mild flavor that does not live up to its garish hot pink skin.

This here would be sugarcane, my friends. I've had sugarcane drinks before but am quite at a loss how to tackle this one. If you do, please let me know.

Canned goods with more exotic foods....

Sea Cucumbers which it would seem are quite valuable.  This section reminded me of Diagon Alley!

Exotic beverages with aloe vera....
The visit was an adventure in the middle of our quiet suburb, a stay-dventure.  Others in the store were just stocking up on pantry basics, making the visit all that much more memorable.

Okay, then!  We'll be back for panko crumbs, greet tea with roasted rice in it, and miso.

November 11, 2011

Mon-Fri Medley of Topics

Kids Books Month was a blast and I intend to revisit that topic in the near future. But in the meantime I have quite neglected the Klatch over the past week. Change of clocks in the fall always gets me down. But I am here to make amends. So here is an assortment of topics that has preoccupied me over these past days:

On Monday I pondered the popularity of Klatch post on artist Sonia Delaunay, thought written months ago it gets a steady trickle of traffic. I do wonder if writings on great artists like Sonia are scarce? Note to self: highlight another perfectly modern dame in November.
a lithograph - costume design by Sonia Delaunay
Unnamed Lithography by Sonia Delaunay (source:
On Tuesday I poked around HelloGiggles, the girliest of websites from Zooey Deschanel.

Hello Giggles from Zooey Deschanel
Hello Giggles founders
[Warning, if you are not a fan of unpleasant topics, move right along past Wednesday’s topic].

On Wednesday I wondered what happen to Sylvia Plath. I know what happen to her, but wanted to know a bit more about her and the road that took her to stick her head in the oven at age 30. Almost wish I did not read up about Plath’s biography. Sylvia’s two toddlers were sound asleep in their cots while their mama busied herself in the kitchen on that fateful morning. But it didn’t end there. Assia, Sylvia’s estranged husband’s lover, also killed herself and her four-year-old daughter by turning on the gas stove. Decades later Sylvia’s son hung himself. This saga really bothers me to the core. Sylvia might be a Klatch topic in the future, once I actually read the Bell Jar and make amends with their tale.

Assia Wevill and Shura
Assia Wevill and little Shura

On Thursday I found out about Weirdsister College, British TV series about college for witches. It sure smacks of Hogwarts but it is not on Netflix. Does anyone know where I can watch it online and if it is any good?

Today on Friday I am thinking about shadow puppets. Perhaps not as elaborate as this Victorian version, but I anticipate we will be entertaining ourselves by staging a play over Thanksgiving break, will keep you posted!

Victoria Looking Shadow Puppets
These remind me of Lemony Snickets!
Unitl next Klatch - what strange esoteric topics have you been thinking about?

October 31, 2011

Iggy, Lemony, and Book Worm

Our self-proclaimed kids books month is coming to an end and it’s been loads of fun. There are just a few more books that I wanted to spotlight.

Leslie (who knows a thing or two about what preschool set likes) wrote about her favorite book "Bringing the Rain To Kapiti Plain", written by Verna Aardema. “It's a rhyming story about a young boy in Africa who ends a drought and saves his animals. The pictures are beautiful. I first heard it narrated by James Earl Jones on Reading Rainbow when I was in preschool, and it really has been my favorite book ever since!”
Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain by Verna Aardema

Dina shared many gems but then she remembered a few other favorites and they are fine choices:
Roald Dahl The BFG (Big Friendly Giant who does not appear F at first)
Matilda is another one of Dina’s favorites by Dahl.

Dina also confessed an addiction to the The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. Things go from bad to worse for the Baudelaire children. These books are the antidote to any cloying syrupy children’s tales and neo-Victorian sensibility is majorly cool.

The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket Victorian

For my part I have mentioned the globe-trotting rodent Dodsworth and the cast of characters from Scandinavia. There are a few more honorable mentions.  Iggy Pack Architect by Andrea Beaty is about a creative kid Iggy who builds out of someone unconventional materials. Iggy’s parents are supportive but he is at the crossroads when his teacher does not share his passion. Amazing illustrations are by David Roberts.

Iggy Peck Architect by Andrea Beaty

Oliver Jeffers is another favorite irreverent author. The Incredible Book-Eating Boy is about a child who takes devouring books a little too literally.

There will be many more kids books posts in the future but for now the first kids books month is officially closed!


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