Archives for December 2016

Salted Carmelita Bars

Salted Carmelita Bars
Yields 24
  1. 1 cup sugar
  2. 1/4 cup water
  3. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  4. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  5. 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
  6. 2 cups flour
  7. 2 cups quick-cooking oatmeal
  8. 1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  9. 1 teaspoon baking soda
  10. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  11. 1 cup butter, melted
  12. One 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips
  13. 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
  1. In a small saucepan combine the sugar and the water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Using a pastry brush dipped in cold water, brush down any sugar particles that cling to the side of the pan. Continue to boil until the sugar caramelizes and turns a deep amber color, being careful not to let it get too dark and burn.
  2. Place the saucepan in the bottom of the sink. Carefully pour the cream into the melted sugar. The sugar will bubble violently and give off steam. Return the saucepan to low heat and stir until the caramel is dissolved and smooth. Add the butter and stir until melted. Add the teaspoon of flaky sea salt and set the caramel aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, baking soda and teaspoon of salt. Stir until combined. Add the melted butter, stirring until mixture is crumbly.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13 X 9 baking pan with foil. Spray the lined pan with canola oil cooking spray.
  5. Reserve half of the mixture (about 2 3/4 cups) and press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and the pecans evenly over the crumb mixture.
  6. Drizzle the caramel over the chocolate and nuts. Sprinkle evenly with reserved crumb mixture.
  7. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.
  8. Remove the foil from the pan. Cut into bars.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Thumbprint Cookies

Thumbprint Cookies
  1. 2/3 cup butter, room temperature
  2. 1 ½ cups flour
  3. ½ cup sugar
  4. 2 eggs, separated
  5. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  6. 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  7. your choice flavored preserves
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until softened. Add sugar, egg yolks, vanilla and half of the flour. Beat until thoroughly combined, then beat in remaining flour. Cover and chill for one hour.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  4. Slightly beat egg whites. Finely chop nuts. Form dough into 1” balls. Roll each ball in egg whites, then in the chopped nuts. Arrange 1” apart on cookie sheet. With your thumb or the end of a wooden spoon, make an indentation in each cookie. Bake 10-12 minutes.
  5. Remove cookies from cookie sheet and cool. Fill in the centers with your favorite preserves.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Gingersnaps in White Chocolate

Gingersnaps in White Chocolate
  1. 1 cup packed brown sugar
  2. 3/4 cup butter
  3. 1/4 cup molasses
  4. 1 egg
  5. 2 cups all-purpose flour
  6. 2 teaspoons baking soda
  7. 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  8. 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  9. 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  10. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  11. granulated sugar
White Chocolate
  1. 1 12-ounce bag white chocolate chips
  2. 4 tablespoons shortening
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with cooking parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
  2. In a large bowl, beat brown sugar, butter, molasses and egg with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Stir in the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Shape dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into balls. Roll in granulated sugar.
  3. On cookie sheets place cookies about 3 inches apart. Bake 9 to 12 minutes or just until set. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to cooling rack.
  4. When cookies have cooled, make the white chocolate for dipping. Either in a microwave or a double boiler, melt the white chocolate chips and the shortening. Dip half the cooled cookie into the chocolate.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Mole Poblano

Mole Poblano
  1. 1 pound (454 grams) pork or beef lard
  2. 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  3. 30 grams white onion, chopped
  4. 175 grams sesame seeds
  5. 65 grams almonds, slivered
  6. 80 grams peanuts, unsalted
  7. 1 dried chipotle chili, stemmed
  8. 6 dried mulato chilies, stemmed
  9. 3 dried ancho chilies, stemmed
  10. 3 dried pasilla chilies, stemmed
  11. 185 grams dark raisins
  12. 90 grams circular disk of Abuelitas dark chocolate
  13. 1 tomato, whole (285 grams)
  14. 9 ½ cups (2.25 liters) chicken stock
  15. ½ teaspoon cumin
  16. ½ teaspoon allspice
  17. ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  18. ¼ teaspoon avocado leaf, dried
  1. In a large stock pot, heat lard over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and lightly brown, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Add sesame seeds, almonds, and peanuts and cook until lightly browned. Add the chilies and stir to coat in hot mixture. Keep stirring the chilies until they give off a fragrant toasted aroma. Add the tomato, chicken stock and remaining ingredients.
  2. Simmer over medium heat for 1 ½ to 2 hours stirring occasionally. Cool for 25-30 minutes.
  3. Working in batches, carefully ladle 4 cups of cooked mixture into the Vitamix container and secure lid. Select Variable 1. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then High. Blend for 1 minute. Repeat the process for the remaining cooked mole mixture. Season to taste.
Marcel's Culinary Experience

Christmas Cookies, Advent Calendars, St. Nick and Chipped Ornaments by Kelly Sears

The pumpkins, platters, and roasters are put away, the final turkey sandwich has been eaten and we turn the corner to the decorated trees, spinning dreidels, shopping, gift wrapping, and a packed December schedule. But sprinkled among the have-to-dos are the traditional want-to-dos. Those “started-when-I-was-a-kid” holiday traditions that happen only once a year but are traditions we carry on with our own families.

kellyblog2I spent the majority of my early life living in a condominium. We met our neighbors at the mailboxes or in the garage with a passing hello, and many became friends. Every year, we would gift boxes of homemade Christmas cookies to these friends and others. Not just one kind, that wasn’t how it worked in our home. It was dozens of varieties and dozens and dozens of cookies. Cookie cutters, icing the colors of the rainbow, cookie tins, wax paper and huge Tupperware containers littered the kitchen. Mom would make hot chocolate and put on a pot of chili and around that small kitchen table we would fill cookie tins until the lid would barely fit. My dad would burst into the chaos, snatch a cookie (usually the angel whose wing would always break off as you tried to ease her out of the cutter), slather it with frosting and make a quick exit. The best part was delivery. The cookies never tasted as good as the look on the gifted recipient’s face when they opened the tin; pure joy. Baking is for sharing. A recipe makes enough for you and for others. Pack lots of tins.

kellyblog3One year, when my sister’s kids were toddlers, I went to a charity auction and bid on a quilted advent calendar. It had twenty-four sewn little pockets to fill and so it began. Each year, I would fill the pockets with candy or notes, little hot chocolate packets, shoe laces, Christmas pencils, and snowflake socks. Today my niece is 15, my nephew 14. Around the middle of November they start hinting as to the status of this year’s calendar; “you’re doing it again, right?” These days, the gifts are Starbucks cards, hockey tape, and giant marshmallows. But there are still notes, candies and little hot chocolate packets. Just about every day they text me and let me know what was in today’s pocket. They are excited by a candy cane; my heart is bursting that they chose to reach out. There are 24 days before Christmas each December; reach out and just see what you get back.

In the German tradition, children leave their wooden shoes outside on December 5th. If they were good, in the morning they would find them filled with fruits, nuts, a smattering of candy and a bread-man made of sweet dough. Every year my sister and I would leave our shoes outside the door in the hallway and forget about them. Late in the night there would be a loud pounding on the door and a jingle of bells and we would run trying to catch a glimpse of St. Nick as he darted off. As I got older, I got faster. As mentioned, we lived in a condominium. I got to our front door just as the stairwell door was closing. I ran to the door as fast as I could, looked up and looked down the staircase. I saw him, I saw St. Nick! And then it hit me, I didn’t want to know St. Nick. I didn’t want to know that it was really the neighbor from upstairs who had been pounding on our door for the last ten years. He was older now too and couldn’t make it up the stairs as fast anymore to escape his identity being unveiled. My sister was right behind me but missed the viewing. “Did you see him, did you see him?” Nope, I missed him, I said. Sometimes it’s better to believe than to know.

kellyblog1When I got married, one of my wedding gifts was a box of ornaments from our family tree. Some I had made throughout the years, some representing vacations or events, some just favorites. In amongst the old was a new bride and a groom ornament. The bride and groom hung proudly on our first tree front and center that year. Over the next couple of years, our marriage hit some speed bumps. We decorated the tree, it fell over and some of the ornaments broke. The bride and groom got chipped. She lost an arm, he had a cracked neck. We could have scooped up those ornaments in the dust pan and tossed them in the trash but we chose to wrap them in tissue and try to bring them out again the next year. Twenty-eight years later, the bride and groom are still on the tree, one armed and cracked neck. Life is fragile, handle with care.

Whatever your holiday traditions, keep them going. Presents are less important than being present. Pack lots of tins, reach out and just see what you get back, sometimes believing is better than knowing. Life is fragile, handle with care.

Happy Holidays!

My Mom’s Sugar Cookies
  1. ½ cup butter
  2. ¾ cup sugar
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  5. 1½ cups flour
  6. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar; beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour and baking powder.
  3. Chill dough for at least one hour or overnight. Roll onto a floured surface and cut out with cookie cutters.
  4. Place on parchment lined sheets and bake for 6-8 minutes.
Marcel's Culinary Experience