Hello, 2013.  So pleased to meet you.

While I made my list of New Year’s resolutions, I realized they were really more like New Year’s aspirations – stuff I really, really want to make/see/do but just haven’t quite gotten around to yet.  Some of the things on my list are repeats from previous years that are still pending, while some are debuting as the result of new inspiration.  So it appears that this will be the year I spend some time in Venice (the California one), learn some basic embroidery, and desperately try not to kill the succulents, herbs or lime tree I’ll be planting in containers in the courtyard.

Building on last year’s chandelier success, the Fun with Electricity theme will continue, and more lighting fixtures will be produced – hopefully a big kitchen overhead number made with recycled glass.  I’m going to swim more, fly a kite, go camping, visit at least one observatory, and sample all the outlandish ice cream flavors I can (starting with cap’n crunch).  I’m going to use as many different modes of transportation as possible this year, from aeriel tram to zip-line, and attend an Outstanding in the Field farm dinner.  I’m planning on making chinese potstickers for the first time, as well as brioche, giardiniera and a charlotte.  I’m going to try my hand at candy making, using the addictive Liddabit Sweets Candy Cookbook as a guide.  

And finally, I’m going to make more cookies.  Lots.  Starting with these practically perfect snickerdoodles, which I munched on while making my list.

Whatever you are doing in 2013, make it marvelous!

snickerdoodles cooling

Makes about 30 cookies.  Adapted from Martha Stewart, here.

2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons sanding sugar

Preheat oven to 350℉.  In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.  Line baking trays with parchment paper and set aside.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Mix in eggs. Reduce speed to low and add in one half of reserved flour mixture, mix until incorporated. Scrape down bowl and add in remaining flour mixture and mix again.

In a small bowl, stir together cinnamon, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and 2 tablespoons sanding sugar.  Shape dough into about 30 (one inch in diameter) balls and roll in thoroughly in cinnamon sugar.  Place dough balls on prepared cookie sheets about three inches apart.  Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden, approximately 12 -15 minutes.  Transfer cookies to wire rack and let cool completely.

Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to one week.


Deviled Eggs

This is it.

This is the recipe that gets me an invite to whatever party is going on out there.

I’ve made these deviled eggs dozens upon dozens of times, and for nearly every occasion imaginable – picnics, poolside barbecues, cocktail parties, bridal showers, birthdays, brunches.  These little guys are are versatile, and oft-requested.  Don’t expect a single one to be left standing.

My mom made them for us growing up (thanks, Mom!), and I’ve tweaked the recipe, but not much.  I use kosher salt, for the softer flavor, freshly ground pepper, and added paprika to the filling instead of just a dusting on the tops of the filled eggs.  To pipe in the filling, I use an icing/cookie dough gun fitted with a large star tip, which works great with the thick, slightly chunky consistency of the deviled mixture.  If you don’t have one, you can use a pastry bag instead, or just mound the filling in the egg halves with a teaspoon and give it a little swirl on the top.

You’ll note that this recipe calls for good quality thousand island dressing.  I’ve yet to find a thousand island recipe that justifies spending the extra time to make it myself, but I haven’t given up looking.  If you are lucky enough to have one, by all means use in place of the store-bought dressing (and please, please send it my way).



Deviled Eggs

10 large eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
4 tablespoons good quality thousand island dressing
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
paprika and freshly ground pepper, for dusting

Slice the hard-boiled eggs in half, removing the yolks and setting aside sixteen of the white halves.  Reserve the extra four white halves for another use.

In a medium bowl, lightly mash the yolks using the back of a fork, until all the large pieces are broken up.  The yolks should have a small, coarse texture similar to cookie crumbs. Add the salt, 1/4 teaspoon of paprika and thousand island dressing and mix well.  Then, add the mayonnaise and whip with a fork until fully incorporated and fluffy. Spoon the mixture into a cookie dough gun or a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.

Arrange the white egg halves on a platter, and pipe each egg with about one mounded tablespoon of filling.  Dust with paprika and freshly ground pepper, to taste.  Carefully cover and refrigerate eggs for at least two hours prior to serving.

Keeps for up to three days in the fridge.

Note:   I’m often transporting these.  If you’re planning on that, I highly recommend investing in one of those plastic deviled egg carriers.  They really do keep the eggs fresh, cold, and pretty ( no crushed peaks!) while you are storing them in the fridge or cooler.