Monday, February 21, 2011

Scandinavian Classic Baking is Here!

It's official. Scandinavian Classic Baking (Pelican Books) is now available. Photos of every recipe and scenic shots of Scandinavia appear on every page. The recipes are a mix of easy and complex. Although I realize few cooks are going to try making Danish Pastries,I didn't want to exclude the recipe. I was pleased with my results and encourage serious bakers to try.

There's a great assortment of breads that are popular at "fika" or social gatherings centered on coffee. Also a variety of classic cookies. The Finnish Teaspoon Cookies (recipe follows) are easily shaped in the bowl of a teaspoon.

Finnish Browned Butter Teaspoon Cookies

Buttery and tangy, these cookies always popular on buffets or cookie trays during the holidays. Experiment on the easiest way to press out the cookies using the bowl of a teaspoon and forming the delicate oval shape. The dough is easy to shape because it’s slightly dry.

Makes 24 sandwich cookies

1 cup butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/3 cup raspberry or strawberry jam
Confectioners’ sugar

Brown the butter by melting in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally. When butter begins to foam up, stir constantly until it turns a deep golden brown. You must watch this carefully because at this point the color changes quickly. It takes about 7 minutes to brown the butter. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Heat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Mix the flour and baking soda together.

Combine the cooled butter, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl and stir until evenly mixed. Add the flour and mix to form a dough.

Shape cookies by placing about 1 teaspoon dough into the bowl of a teaspoon and pressing against the side of the bowl, leveling the top. Press out cookie, flat side down, onto an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake 10 to 13 minutes or until lightly browned and set. Let cool on baking sheet 2 minutes and remove to a wire cooling rack. When cookies are cool, spread a scant 1/2 teaspoon jam on the flat side of one cookie. Make a sandwich by pressing the flat side of a second cookie to the jam. Sprinkle sandwiches with confectioners’ sugar.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Easy Valentine's Dinner for Two

I've been developing recipes for Dinner for Two, what I hope will be my third cookbook. Although much of my time is spent baking, each night there are two here for dinner and I have adapted many of my favorite recipes. Here is an easy menu for a cozy evening in front of the fire.

I like to serve the shrimp on top of the cous cous so all the juices are absorbed. Add a salad and dessert. The year we are having a Tirimisu from a local grocery store that is being sold as a fundraiser for Children's Heartlink- delicious, easy and for a great cause.

Baked Shrimp Scampi

Easily prepared ahead, shrimp scampi is perfect for a special meal for two. Watch for specials on shrimp, especially on wild American shrimp. You’ll only need about 1/2 pound. For this classic Italian dish, I’ve used a shallot but for a garlicky kick, add one or two minced garlic cloves. Panko are dried Japanese breadcrumbs that are light and delicate and make a tasty topping but you can omit them and have a buttery sauce instead.

Makes 2 servings

6-8 jumbo shrimp (12-15 per pound), peeled, deveined and butterflied
2 tablespoons white wine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
Lemon wedges

Combine the shrimp, wine, olive oil and salt in a food storage bag. Massage the shrimp to distribute the marinade. Chill until needed.

Mix the butter, shallot, parsley, rosemary and lemon juice until blended. Stir in the panko crumbs.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Arrange the shrimp cut side down with tails standing up in a 1-quart baking dish. Pour the marinade over the shrimp. Crumble the topping over the shrimp.

Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until shrimp are bright pink and crumbs are lightly browned. Serve with lemon wedges.

Cous Cous
1 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup whole wheat cous cous
1/4 cup frozen peas
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Heat the chicken broth to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the cous cous, peas and salt. Let stand about 5 minutes or until the broth is absorbed. Add parsley and fluff with a fork.