Friday, December 14, 2018

Happy Holidays!


Minxeats will return in January with more recipes and restaurant posts! In the meantime, we hope the rest of 2018 treats you well.

Posted on Minxeats.com.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Best Ever Rolled Sugar Cookies

Sugar cookies seem pretty simple, right? Just flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, and eggs. The ingredients might not vary much from recipe to recipe, but the proportions sure do. I've seen recipes that involve 2 cups of sugar, 5 cups of flour, and only 1 1/2 cups of butter. Also ones with less sugar and flour but also less butter. And none of them seem to have very much vanilla, which should be the main flavor component.

Personally, I'm not a fan of making rolled cookies. Too much work. I'm a drop-by-spoonfuls kinda gal. But Mr Minx had a hankering to make rolled cookies. He even went out and bought a rolling pin. If he was going to do all the heavy lifting (or rolling), then I was willing to go along with it. I even had a recipe at the ready.

Years ago, I had a group of friends that got together at the holidays. One of these friends is no longer a friend because he's a big jerk, but at the time he had a girlfriend who liked to bake. Her contribution to the party that year was sugar cookies...the best damn sugar cookies I have ever eaten. Though I would probably not make them myself due to my aversion to rolling pins and hard work, I asked her for the recipe. It has moderate amounts of sugar and flour, a cup of butter, and a whole tablespoon of vanilla. I think that's the secret right there. They are sugar cookies with actual flavor.

The dough needs to be refrigerated before baking, otherwise it's too soft to roll and cut. But once chilled, it cuts like a dream (especially with sharp, brand-new, cookie cutters like ours) and bakes up into lovely crisp and buttery cookies redolent of vanilla that can be iced or, if you're lazy like us, sprinkled with festive sugars.

Laura's Sugar Cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Sift together flour, salt, and baking soda (or dump it in a bowl and stir thoroughly with a fork). Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 minutes or so. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then add the vanilla and eggs. Beat until combined, another half minute or so. Turn the mixer off and add the flour mixture all at once. Beat at low speed until all the flour is incorporated, another minute or so, scraping the sides of the bowl once or twice. If the dough seems too stiff for your mixer, use a wooden spoon and combine by hand.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate dough about 2 hours, until firm. If it's in the fridge for longer and becomes rock hard, allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before rolling.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

On a floured surface, roll the dough to a thickness of about 1/8-inch. Sprinkle with flour as necessary to keep the rolling pin from sticking. Cut dough with cookie cutters and carefully transfer each to a parchment-lined baking sheet (use a spatula). Sprinkle with colored sugars.

Bake for 6-8 minutes, until firm and only vaguely golden (they should not brown very much). Use a spatula to transfer cookies to a cooling rack.

Makes about 6 dozen cookies.

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Posted on Minxeats.com.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Flashback Friday - Scallops with Lavender Honey Brown Butter

flashback friday graphic
This post originally appeared on Minxeats.com on November 21, 2012.

Scallop dishes at restaurants don't seem quite as astronomically priced these days as back then, but they're still not cheap.
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Remember when I complained last month that scallops are the restaurant world's biggest rip-off? Here's some proof. I paid $15.95 per pound for U-10 drypack scallops at the local Giant. U-10 means there are fewer than ten scallops per pound - these three babies weighed .37 lb. ("Drypack" means they were packed and shipped on ice without the use of preservatives. They sear quite nicely and don't leach a lot of moisture into the pan.)

I seared the scallops in a bit of olive oil, removed them from the pan, and turned off the heat. To the still hot pan, I added a tablespoon of butter, a tablespoon of honey, about a teaspoon of dried, food-grade, lavender buds, and a teaspoon of chopped preserved lemon. The honey caramelized almost instantly, creating a rich, lightly sweet sauce for the scallops, which were also garnished with a sprinkle of green onion and a few more lavender buds.

Had I ordered this in a restaurant, it would have cost $35. Cost me around $6 to make at home. And they were damn fine.

Posted on Minxeats.com.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Gingerbread Linzer Tart

I made the original variation on this tart (with chocolate cookies and raspberry jam) 20+ years ago. I have no idea where I got the recipe, but every once in a while I pull it out and make it for dessert. It's pretty simple, and the results are delicious. Last year, I decided to tinker with the flavoring a bit. Rather than chocolate cookies and cocoa powder, I opted to use gingerbread cookies and spices. I almost made a cranberry curd for the filling, but I was stressed out and feeling lazy, so I used a jar of Polaner seedless blackberry All-Fruit. Everyone seemed to like the variation, so I thought I'd share it with you here.

A baking note: The butter tends to ooze out of the bottom of the pan, so it's a good idea to bake this on a foil-lined baking sheet. If you use a tart pan or baking dish without a removable bottom, you won't have this issue, but it will also be a little harder to cut into wedges and serve.

Gingerbread Linzer Tart

1 1/2 cups almond flour
1 1/3 cups gingerbread cookie crumbs (I used Pepperidge Farm Ginger Family cookies)
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 whole egg
1 jar Polaner All-Fruit seedless blackberry jam, or your favorite blackberry jam
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Place ground almonds, cookie crumbs, flour, sugar, ginger, and cloves into a large bowl and mix well. Distribute the butter over the mixture and add the egg. Work the dough with your fingertips, rubbing in the butter and making a smooth dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to two hours.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Pat about 3/4 of the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the a 9" tart pan with removable bottom. Spread the jam thickly over the crust but not quite to the edges. Roll pieces of the remaining dough into strips and arrange on jam in a lattice pattern. Sprinkle on the chopped almonds.

Bake for 35 minutes. Let the pastry cool completely in the pan.

Carefully remove the sides of the pan. The crust is fairly sturdy, so this shouldn't be a problem. You can use a knife to coax the bottom off the tart, but I usually just leave it there. Place the tart on a serving plate and cut into wedges.

Serves 12.

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Posted on Minxeats.com.