Spectacular Ginger “Hermits”
Dec06

Spectacular Ginger “Hermits”

Click here to see all three clips of Orna making Hermits on YouTube >>  These soft and chewy, gingery cookie bars are the ultimate holiday cookie.   They originated in New England in the 1900’s, and supposedly gained their name because the flavor improves on day 2 or 3, after being stowed away like a “hermit”—perfect for making ahead and giving as gifts. This is a modern version, with brown butter, crystallized ginger, and raisins. I just can’t stop eating them! Click here for latest blogpost on visit to Weight Watchers meeting! The history My mother-in-law once raved about the “best cookie she ever tasted in her life,” and she managed to get the recipe from a friend in Calgary, Canada—Sam’s hometown. I was reluctant, because neither Sam nor I usually like dried fruit in cookies. But his folks convinced us how fabulous these fruity “ginger cookies” were, and I decided to brave the very basic recipe she gave me. The whole process was agonizing! I had scoured the internet for a recipe with similar ingredients and instructions, and discovered that they were actually called “Hermits.” But I couldn’t find exact details on how long or wide to make the logs of dough, how big to cut them, how many cookies it would turn out, etc. If you’ve been following any of my other posts, you’ll know that I LOVE details, so this one was a challenge. The baking times were very tricky, but I FINALLY got it right, and they were outstanding. (I now realize that since the recipe was from Calgary—which is at a higher altitude—I should’ve reduced the oven temp by 25 degrees.) I was still in search of a better version I’m not a fan of cloves—a predominant note in the Calgary recipe, which also has dried apricots and raisins or cherries. I was sure that a different combination of spices would make this cookie really shine. The problem with making something everybody likes is that they will compare everything similar to that and tell you not to bother!   I tried Iced Hermits from Martha Stewart’s Cookies (fabulous book!)—also with crystallized ginger. I thought they were quite good (though a bit rich), but Sam vetoed them in favor of the originals.         You can imagine my delight when I found a detailed recipe for Hermits in my Cook’s Illustrated Baking for the Holidays 2012 magazine. Now I love this magazine even more! (You can find them for a great price at Costco.) They test hundreds of recipes to find the perfect version, explaining the science of each step and method, complete with...

Read More

The New Weight Watchers 360° Program—16 Routines that will change your life

I went to a Weight Watchers meeting today to hear about the new program (released this week), and also to put a stop to all the bodily and mental abuse that’s been going on in my house (aka my body). If you’ve been following my blog you will see that I’ve been doing a LOT of baking, and it seems that the more unsuccessful the item I have made the more of it I have to ingest! Why is that? And this coming from me—who used to drill into my Weight Watchers members heads not to eat anything that wasn’t “worthy.” I heard many times that members would hear me in their heads asking if something was “worthy” or not. So… I was ecstatic to see that Weight Watchers is finally pushing this part of the program—the behavior aspect and the science of why we lose control and overeat. Which in my humble opinion is what it’s ALL about! (Any monkey can count points.) I LOVE the 16 Routines – on page 25 of their introductory booklet. This is basically how I have lived my life for the last ten years, and how I have maintained my weight loss. Eat veggies or fruit with every meal and snack. Before you leave the house make sure you have a healthy snack with you. Eat breakfast every day. Know what you’re having for lunch. After each meal and snack, decide how many PointsPlus values you’ll use for your next meal or snack. Eat all your meals at a table. Put your fork down or take a sip of water after each bite. Eat all your meals free of distraction (e.g., not while watching TV, reading, in front of a computer, using your smartphone.) Before eating anything, ask yourself, “Is this worth the PointsPlus value?” (See—my old adage that has made ALL the difference) Get up and walk at least five minutes each hour. Know how you’re going to be active tomorrow. Always have comfortable shoes with you. Identify tasks you now do sitting and do them standing or pacing. Wait several minutes before reaching for seconds. Wear an activity monitor all day, every day. Get 7 – 8 hours of quality sleep every night. I was already inspired today, just from going to the meeting; instead of driving my three-year-old to the park I walked all the way up the huge hill to get there and had her dropped off. (She made it about half way home before I had to call for a ride!) I had forgotten about all the little things I used to do every day to feel and...

Read More

Apple Crumb Pie (From Awful to Amazing!)

The sad part of the story You might have seen the OrnaBakes post on Facebook two days before Thanksgiving, with the sad looking Apple Crumb Pie that my husband called the “most hideous looking pie I ever saw.” How it began I love the Apple Crumb Pie from Maria’s Italian Kitchen. I tried to get the recipe from them and got an email from Madelyn Alfano (the owner) that they make their pies in huge quantities, so she doesn’t have the single recipe for me. But she did tell me that it’s a butter crust and is made by hand, as opposed to the machine-made shortening crusts from Marie Calendars—which I had mentioned I am not a fan of. And so the quest began for the perfect butter crust pie. It would have been remiss for me not to have consulted the queen of cake and pastry, Rose Levy Beranbaum. I had to wait for my book, The Pie and Pastry Bible to arrive on Monday to start. (Agony!) In the meantime, I scoured the internet and watched demonstrations on how to make pie dough on thejoyofbaking.com. (great site) I was ecstatic when my book arrived on Monday—well “books” actually, since I also ordered The Bread Bible. (Gotta love Amazon) And even more ecstatic to find a recipe for Apple Crumb Pie, with a cream cheese and butter dough and a delicious cinnamon walnut streusel (crumb topping)! The Pie and Pastry Bible reads almost like an autobiography, with tips, details and gorgeous photos. I am dying to make everything in it! (I have a major thing for pastry—it’s a bit of a problem.) After reading all about the dough-making process and the issues that can come up, I decided to get a good night’s sleep and dive in on Tuesday morning. In the meantime, I tried desperately to find a demonstration online of Rose doing her ziplock bag technique—to no avail. The dough… The mixture was very dry and tough to knead into a piece of dough—with the knuckles and heels of your hands, like she says to do. Maybe I left the pieces of cream cheese and/or butter too big? I was in waaaay too much of a flap to take pics of the process, hence the spotty representation of the dough-making-process! But I did manage to flatten it into a pretty good-looking disk, so was quite happy. Unfortunately, I was now only left with 6 hours to refrigerate the disk—not overnight, which I had planned. The rolling… The dough felt very tough and hard to roll out. The video that I (and 170,000 people) watched on how to roll pie dough on thejoyofbaking.com sure made it look easier than it was… for...

Read More
Iced Cinnamon Roll Cookies
Nov10

Iced Cinnamon Roll Cookies

These are a little more tricky than your standard drop cookies, but they look and taste amazing so it’s worth the effort. I just made these again to take to a family Bat Mitzvah in the Bay Area, and this time I chose to ice them; my original post said To Ice or Not To Ice, and now I say definitely ice them! Cinnamon Roll Cookies Adapted from  Click here to see Orna drizzle icing on YouTube >>   I found meringue powder at Williams Sonoma. Tips An electric knife makes cutting the slices of dough easy as pie! For cookies with sharp, crisp edges, chill the dough for at least 4 hours before cutting. This gives it time to harden enough so the roll doesn’t buckle when you slice off rounds with a sharp knife. (Cuisine: Holiday Baking, pg. 45) How To Transfer Cookies to a Baking Rack To transfer the cookies to the wire rack, hold the baking sheet in one hand (using an oven glove!) and swiftly remove the parchment and cookies to the wire rack in one movement.   Cool Tools Fox Run Baking Mat Parchment Paper Sheets Hand-Mixer Electric Carving Knife Offset Spatula Ruler Quart Freezer Ziplock Bag Resources Cuisine: Holiday Baking, Pistachio Pinwheels, pg. 45 Kitchen Savvy: adding eggs and dry ingredients in baking The Joy of Baking: Butter or shortened cakes recipe Click here for my Facebook thread on Norene’s Kitchen (Norene Gilletz) on adding eggs one at a time >> Iced Cinnamon Roll Cookies 2013-08-05 16:38:02 Yields 40 Write a review Save Recipe Print Prep Time 1 hr Cook Time 25 min Total Time 1 hr 25 min Prep Time 1 hr Cook Time 25 min Total Time 1 hr 25 min 122 calories 19 g 22 g 5 g 1 g 3 g 30 g 36 g 11 g 0 g 1 g Nutrition Facts Serving Size 30g Yields 40 Amount Per Serving Calories 122 Calories from Fat 44 % Daily Value * Total Fat 5g 8% Saturated Fat 3g 15% Trans Fat 0g Polyunsaturated Fat 0g Monounsaturated Fat 1g Cholesterol 22mg 7% Sodium 36mg 1% Total Carbohydrates 19g 6% Dietary Fiber 1g 2% Sugars 11g Protein 1g Vitamin A3%Vitamin C0% Calcium2%Iron1% * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Does this look wrong? For the filling ½ cup granulated sugar 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon For the dough 3 cups (15oz) all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon table salt 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened 1 cup...

Read More
Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Nov09

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

My husband, Sam, is extremely picky about his Chocolate Chip Cookies—they can’t be too cakey, or the chocolate chips “too bitter” or “too sweet”. Though his favorite store-bought version is from Subway. Go figure!   I had tried many recipes and had almost given up… and then I made these from Martha Stewart’s Cookies. Easy, simple, and delicious. And high-ratings with the hubby! I LOVE this cookbook! I’ve made dozens of the recipes and they are all fantastic—with step-by-step instructions and beautiful pictures. If you don’t already have it TREAT YOURSELF! $15.98 on Amazon.com >>     Notes I use a medium cookie scoop (a must have kitchen tool!!) which is about 1½ tablespoons of dough. Level off the cookie scoop against the side of the bowl to get uniform cookies. Coarse salt has a larger grain than table salt (which is used in most baking recipes). I personally use kosher salt, though sea salt also comes coarse-ground. Always crack eggs into a separate bowl so you don’t get shells. There seem to be mixed reviews about whether it is really necessary to add eggs to the batter one-at-a-time. It seems like whenever I do not do this, the batter gets a bit curdled and I wish I would have! What are your thoughts on this?? Click here for more on adding eggs and dry ingredients from Kitchen Savvy >> Be careful not to under-bake or the bottoms will stick to the parchment. If you like them more crispy bake for 12 – 13 minutes. Using quality ingredients really does make a difference. I highly recommend using quality chocolate chips (I love Guittard) and good, pure vanilla extract. And of course, you always have to use good, fresh butter!   From the reviews… “The key is to cover and store the uncooked dough in the fridge for 24 hours then bake. It makes the flavors fully mingle and incorporate. Delicious! You will have to let the dough warm up a bit before you can scoop to bake.” JenniLoryn 6/6/12 (I’ll try this next time!) Some other reviewers complained that they were too sweet, which could be because they used Nestle or other lower-quality chocolate chips. Please try these yummy cookies and let me know what you think!! Or do you have your own fabulous Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe? Tips To transfer the cookies to the wire rack, hold the baking sheet in one hand (using an oven glove!) and swiftly remove the parchment and cookies to the wire rack in one movement. You can scoop the dough onto baking sheets and freeze till hard; then keep in ziplock bags...

Read More
Page 26 of 28« First...1020...2425262728