Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Yia Yia's French Toast

I can't believe that I haven't blogged about our Yia Yia yet. The boys Yia Yia is my second mother. She was there for the birth of my sons, she's laughed and cried with me and shared her kitchen with me. I guess it started my first day of college. I was blessed to meet Meg. I won't call Meg my best friend because she's more like a sister to me now. She was that friend that I'd always wanted and she knows things about me that I haven't ever told anyone else. She's that special and loves me just the way I am. Meg told me lots of stories about her mom before I met her, mainly about her being Italian...Sicilian actually. Being 18 and not really knowing anything about Sicilian culture I had no idea what it meant when she would say things like, "well, ya know we're Sicilian" but I soon found out after my immersion into her family. Meg's family lives in the kitchen and Yia Yia's kitchen was the kitchen I had always wanted. Lots of people, music, wine, laughter, garlic, red pepper and lots of olive oil. EVERYTHING tastes better at Yia Yia's house and more importantly olive oil goes into everything so when I saw her FRY her french toast in olive I almost collapsed. I remember watching her thinking, "that stuff is going to nasty". I knew it was going to be a kitchen fail. Man, was I wrong. I remember eating her french toast for the first time and almost melting to the floors. It was crispy, soft inside and dusted with powdered sugar. It was was heaven. Although we don't get to see Meg and her family very often since we've moved they're always with us, especially when I pop open a bottle of wine, make zucchini sauce and of course make french toast.

French Toast

1 loaf of day old french or challah bread
olive oil for frying
3 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk (2% or whole)
1 TBS sugar
1 tsp. good vanilla
1 tsp. (scant) cinnamon

Have a prepared platter lined with paper towels ready for the french toast.  Combine eggs and milk then  whisk in sugar, cinnamon and vanilla and set aside. Cut bread into 1 in. slices (i like to use the ends for croutons) Add about 3 TBS of olive oil to a heated pan. Give the wet mixture another good whisk and dip a piece of bread into the mixture getting both sides a good soak. Immediately fry them in the pan browning them on both sides. Transfer to the lined platter and dust with powdered sugar. Serve immediately. I will tell you, depending on the size of your loaf you may have to make another bowl of wet ingredients. Enjoy friends! I usually top it with some fresh fruit or a fruit compote. Yummy Yummy!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Perfect Sugar Cookie

Since the holidays are here I've been a busy baker. I usually try new cookie recipes to prepare for our annual cookie exchange that we do every year. Some are complete failures like this lemon drop cookie I didn't even finish making on Sat and some are perfect. My sugar cookies always turn out perfectly. I'm not sure how it happens but I'll share the recipe and let me know if they're as perfect as I think they are :). I love these cookies because you can freeze or fridge the dough and you don't have to cute them. I switched up the recipe a little but using high quality vanilla and rolling them in sugar before I bake them. If you're really adventurous you can buy some baking crystals and sprinkle them on top instead of rolling them in sugar. I really hope you try these. The recipe is SO simple and it's been my "go to" recipe for the past 5 years. Try 'em out! Happy Baking! ~Danielle


2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups white sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

2.In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets.

3.Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dough Scares Me

As I was sifting through recipes in my own recipe collections over Thanksgiving, I realized that I had absolutely NO bread/classic pastry recipes. I love pastries and breads but they have always intimidated the hell out of me. Fresh baked bread is an art all unto it's self and I just never thought I had the nack for it. It takes a lot of patience and although I have patience for my 3 kids, I've been known to loose it in the kitchen. I guess I was feeling overly zealous for Thanksgiving and decided that I was going to make dinner rolls. To be perfectly honest I'm not a huge turkey and dressing fan and I'll head straight for the bread bowl and gravy dish at Thanksgiving dinner. So, naturally that would be the thing I would want to make. I read Ree Drummond's blog every day and her Parker House Rolls popped up. They, of course, looked absolutely delicious and I needed to try it. Fresh, double rising, dipped in butter...ahhh...HEAVEN!!! I'm not going to go into too much detail about the actual recipe because Ree does a great job on her blog. I will share some tips I think that are extremely helpful when dealing with breads and pastries. So here you go :)

1. Use exact ingredients! Baking is a science and if you don't follow the recipe, atleast for the first time, you'll end up screwing something up. after you've used the recipe a few times then you can experiement with different ingredients.

2. Before you get any ingredients out make sure and read through your recipe. Read them ALL!

3. Check your expiration dates on your baking soda and powder.

4. Patience pays off. If the directions say leave covered for 30 min...DO IT!

5. Watch your bread! Not all ovens are the same. 8 min. may be 10 min on your oven.

6. Think the recipe makes too much? Share it! Take it to neighbors or friends :)

7. No new recipes at holidays...try it out first! No one likes a "fail" on Thanksgiving or Christmas :)

8. Butter is better. When it comes to rolls use REAL butter.

9. Folded not flat. I took Ree's advice and folded my rolls. It gives them better demension and adds a spot for your butter :)

10. Don't be afraid (like I was) to try and make breads!! They're fun and much tastier than store bought stuff. yum yum...

Here's the link to the dinner rolls that Ree made. They take a long time to make but are definitely worth it. I've already had a couple of people ask for the recipe! As a side note, I think that next time I make them I'll add jalapeno and cheddar as well as maybe a little smokey inside and make kolaches.

Enjoy friends! Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! ~Danielle