Monday, December 28, 2009

Plum butter snow crescents

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"What's in a name..." right? Plum butter snow crescents. Or shape them differently (like my Mom does) and name them Frog's lips. Flaky vanilla scented dough + thick, creamy plum butter + powdered sugar = perfection.
For the less faint hearted I recommend making them with lard. The original recipe which comes from my grandmother uses lard instead of the butter and sour cream. Now, to some of you this might sound strange, to say the least. But don't diss it till you try it! Lard makes any pastry incredibly flaky. You cannot fake this level of flakiness. No butter, no shortening, nothing will rise up to the challenge. That said I always make them with butter and sour cream. It's healthier and my palate is more used to that buttery taste.
So my friends, call'em what you will just make sure you give them a try. You'll thank me later.

Ingredients:

100 g butter, at room temperature
120 g thick sour cream
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
250 g flour
2 1/2 tbsp powdered sugar
generous pinch of salt

150 g plum butter
powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 375F.
In a bowl mix flour, powdered sugar and salt.
In another bowl mix butter and sour cream. Add egg and vanilla. Blend well. Add flour mixture and work dough until very smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next day, roll out chilled dough( keeping dough and surface floured) to about 16" square.
Cut into 20 squares. Place a small tsp plum butter into one corner of square, roll it up and form into a crescent.
Continue with remaining dough and plum butter. Place crescents on baking tray. Bake cookies for about 20 to 25 minutes, until golden around the edges. Roll crescents into powdered sugar while still warm.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

South America

We've recently taken a trip to a place not so far far away. South America has been on my radar for quite some time. This trip had actually been in the making, so to speak, for several years. We started in Peru, than on to Argentina, Chile and finally Brazil. Although this has been a trip of a lot of firsts and some mishaps, all in all it was wonderful. We observed nature at its best, made a lot of new friends and had some great food. What stood out the most was the amazing ceviche in Lima (ceviche is the next sushi, according to some local gourmands, and who am I to argue?), steak and ice-cream in Argentina, beach food in Brazil and some outstanding wines in Chile.(Try Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2006, from Concha y Toro; soooo ready for Christmas dinner!). Flavours on the continent are generally very mild, not a lot of spices.
Most days were quite action packed with a lot of hiking, surfing (I chickened out of this one), sand boarding, swimming. And finally to end the day on a perfect note, we had something special going on almost every night. Whether it was great dinners in Buenos Aires, grill parties in Patagonia or playing guitar (and having way too many caipirinhas) till the wee hours of the morning on a Brazilian island, these memories will keep us going right through the end of winter. Or so we hope!
I'll be using a lot more quinoa, dulce de leche and raw fish in my cooking in the near future. I'm also looking for the name and recipe for the best lime and coconut pie we had in Rio de Janeiro, courtesy of some very friendly Bahian ladies. If anyone knows the name of this Bahian pie, please let me know.
And now it's back to business. I have some cookies to bake,truffles to make, a book to finish and a very stylish shrug to knit.
Have a wonderful Christmas!

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Photos by: L.N. et moi.