Monday, December 22, 2008

Red, White & Peppermint

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies, originally uploaded by miss.mallory.

This recipe was adapted from the cookie featured in the back of Martha Stewart Living Magazine in the month of December (the regular mag, not any of the numerous special holiday rags she puts out). I have a thing for chocolate and peppermint, and an even bigger thing for cookies with any trace amount of chocolate. I've been snowed in for over a week now, I haven't been able to drive, I'm like a teenager without a license again, in order to get anywhere I've been relying on my mother, my friends with snow tires, the bus and my own two feet. I think I'd be more inclined to go out and about in general, if it weren't 23 degrees outside. That's preventative of my adventuring out into the world. So, instead, I've locked myself in the house and baked cookies. For nearly a week straight. Perhaps we'll be lucky enough this year to have white christmas, I hope it will stick around a few days longer.

These cookies were a big hit. Light, thin, and crunchy. Kind of like a little oreo. Instead of dipping them entirely in peppermint white chocolate like martha, I drizzled it on top. Also, she adds peppermint to her chocolate batter, I did not. The reason being; Thomas loathes the chocolate and peppermint duo. So in order for him to enjoy them, I made some cookies with peppermint in the white chocolate and some without. Those with peppermint received a light dusting of red sugar. Suffice to say, I think he actually snuck a few peppermint cookies, I couldn't have possibly eaten all of them on my own. They're not the easiest cookie, a lot of rolling, cutting, freezing, and repeating. Odd to me. But, give them a whirl, they're pretty good!

Recipe: Chocolate Peppermint Flowers


Makes 6 dozen
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 ounces (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
8 large candy canes or 30 peppermint candies, crushed
2 pounds white chocolate, coarsely chopped


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

1. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
2. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed for 1 minute.
3. Reduce speed to medium-low, and add egg, then yolk, beating well after each addition.
4. Beat in peppermint extract. Slowly add flour mixture, and beat until just incorporated.
5. Shape dough into 2 disks, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days).
6. Roll out 1 disk of dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness.
7. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Using a 2-inch round cutter, cut out circles, and place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets.
8. Roll and cut scraps once. Freeze cookies until firm, about 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining disk.
9. Bake until cookies are dry to the touch, about 12 minutes. Transfer parchment, with cookies, to wire racks, and let cool. (Undecorated cookies will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.)

Drizzle with melted white chocolate.


A Well Dressed Table

Holiday Tabletop, originally uploaded by miss.mallory.

I've come to a realization. I don't just love cooking, or baking but I truly love the art of entertaining. I adore all the lovely ideas out there. From runners, to place settings, to mats, cards, lights, dishes, etc. For me it's not just about making good food, it's about creating an unforgettable atmosphere too. Especially when it comes to a special event, like a birthday, baby or bridal shower or holiday. Making a fabulous meal for someone is a wonderful way to show your love or adoration, but creating something just for them, or for an event, in my humble opinion, makes everyone feel warm, welcome and considered. Creating an unforgettable space sets the the tone for an evening. The lovelier the space, the happier the guests and the more memorable the event. Listen to me, go on and on like an excited child!

This is the "table" I created for our cooking clubs holiday dinner. And conveniently, since it's got an underlying christmas/jul/holiday theme I intend to keep it up through Christmas. I'll layout the table in steps below.

1. Bottom Layer: Classic Linen Tablecloth. I've seen this same pattern of linen tablecloth at restoration hardware/pottery barn/martha stewart collection. Many run between $45 and $75. I found this baby at target for $20 in the Fall.

2. Runner: First layer of the runner is a strand of red lights and a fun strand of red tinsel garland (Michaels has some neat red tinsel ball garland for 70% off). On top of that I laid 2 yards of red tulle ($1.29 at JoAnn Fabrics).

3. Placemats: I didn't want to spend $20+ on a set of red or christmas placemats. And then it hit me, an amazing epiphany, why not use wrapping paper? It's cheap, disposable, and comes in many different cool patterns and colors! Viola, $4 later I had enough paper for placemats and a gaggle of presents.

4. Candles: I purchased the red candles with glitter on the bottom for about $2.50 a piece at JoAnns. You can do it yourself though if you've got a few candles lying around by painting the bottoms with egg white or mod podge and rolling in glitter or sugar.

5. For above the table I made red and white poufs of different sizes. These are easy to make (and Martha Steward doesn't offer anything but pink or yellow, plus she charges $20 and all these were made for under $10). For a quick tutorial see my Inspired Wednesday : Be Entertaining post below.

The rest of the stuff on the table are a part of my collection. Rosanna kings road plates and number goblets, roost antler candle holders, antique tea cups (for serving soup, a fun alternative to bowls), vintage pitcher and glasses. Adding your own pieces will create a personal flair.

Holiday Table Closer, originally uploaded by miss.mallory.

Holiday Table Setting, originally uploaded by miss.mallory.

God Jul!
Happy Entertaining!

I'm Certain of One Thing. . .

Are they russian or mexican?, originally uploaded by miss.mallory.

No matter what you may call them though, both titles include the "cake" moniker. I'm a flip flopper. I call these cookies both mexican wedding cakes and russian tea cakes. Although, in all honesty, I'd have to disagree with the "cake" title. These cookies are definitely not cakes. They're light, crisp, little medallions. Maybe a few hundred years ago when cakes were inherently crisp and dry would these tasty treats passed as cakes, but not anymore. They are officially in the cookie category. I do admit though that mexican wedding cookie, or russian tea cookie is not as charming as cake.

This recipe is courtesy of Emril Lagasse. Delicious, a perfect russian/mexican, cookie/cake. A holiday crowd pleaser as well. In fact, the first thing Thomas said to me yesterday morning was "bring me cookies!". He's in love (a man who doesn't love sweets has become hooked on these nutty little cookies). They're too easy. No eggs, just butter, sugar, vanilla and a bit of flour. Easy and delicious?! This is a must make cookie for this holiday season.

Recipe: Russian/Mexican Wedding/Tea Cookies/Cakes

1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar, plus more for rolling cookies
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

1. Cream butter in a large mixing bowl.
2. Add the vanilla then gradually add the 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, beating until light and fluffy.
3. Sift the flour, measure, then sift again with the salt.
4. Add gradually to the butter mixture. Add the pecans and mix well.
5. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
6. Flatten slightly using the bottom of a glass, then bake for 20 minutes, or until edges are very lightly browned.
7. Remove the cookies from the baking sheets and roll in powdered sugar while still hot.
8. Cool on wire racks and roll cookies again in powdered sugar before serving.

Once they are completely cooled, cookies may be stored in airtight containers for up to 1 week.

Yum! Enjoy!

Oooozing Evil Cake.

Oooozing Evil Cake., originally uploaded by miss.mallory.

Unfortunately, I didn't take too many pictures of food at our cooking clubs holiday dinner. Sadly, I only have two to offer. It has nothing to do with the meal, because it was stunning (I did a lovely job of hosting if I do say so myself). There are two major reasons no pictures were captured; One, because I hate low-light photography. I don't like the way food looks under artificial (and in my homes case, low wattage) lights. The food always has a bit of a yellow tinge to it. I much prefer the daylight when taking photographs of delicious dishes. And two, I may have gone with the yellow pictures if I'd ended up taking a picture of the main dish I'd prepared. But, we were all so hungry by the time it came out of the oven they were devoured (or picked over) in quick order. To start the evening I offered pear and pomegranate martinis that featured freshly juiced fruits (thanks to Ashleys nifty difty juicer, I need to get myself one of those!), Absolut Pear vodka, and a jolly rancher candied rim. Needless to say, it was a mighty delicious cocktail. The other dish I was responsible for was the main. Whoever hosts the dinner makes the entree, mostly because imagining having to pack up and cart around a main dish for 6-8 people doesn't sound like a chore too many want to attempt. I made mini beef wellingtons with filet mignon. Each pocket was stuffed with sauteed shitake mushrooms, caramelized shallots, and french gorgonzola. It was delightfully delicious (and I don't eat or cook beef often).

We also had mashed potatoes, onion gravy, stuffed pears, roasted red pepper soup, homemade sun dried tomato and mozzarella bread, creamy (heavenly, delicious, mind blowing) brussel sprouts, and to finish it off we had homemade cider and a truly decadent (beyond belief, pictured below) chocolate peppermint cake. This cake not only had four or five layers of moist chocolate cake, it also features layers of chocolate ganache, peppermint pastry cream, and a homemade marshmallow peppermint frosting, all topped off with shaved chocolate and crushed canes. It was surely a meal to remember.

For the recipes pictured here (brussel sprouts and devilish cake) check out roses and lemonade a lovely little blog by fellow (fabulous) cooking clubber ms. rachelle. On her blog you can find both of the recipes and her feelings on both dishes and our evening.


Heavenly Sprouts of Brussel

Brussels Sprouts From Heaven, originally uploaded by miss.mallory.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Inspired Wednesdays : Be Entertaining

Be Entertaining by missmallory

We'll see if I stick with this inspiration board on Wednesday thing. On the one hand I don't feel it's completely food bloggy. Yet, on the other, it adds a weekly flair of my style from many different places from entertaining ideas, decor, food, fashion etc. And lends a little something different to the blog. So, we'll see.

On Friday I'm hosting my cooking clubs holiday dinner (look for a long post this weekend featuring our fun and dishes). I'm hoping to go all out and create not only a mouth watering main dish as well as a killer cocktail, but, I also plan to create a stunning atmosphere that just screams "the holidays have arrived".

I present you with my holiday inspiration board.

1.) Martha Stewarts Tissue Balls : These are available for purchase at Michaels craft stores for about $19.99. While they don't come in red, they can be made by hand. Simply accordian fold about 8 pieces of tissue (like you would a fan), then cut the edges jaggedly or rounded. Secure the middle with floral wire, include a loop to tie your fishing line to. Then pull the the two ends into each other, so your piece makes what looks like a flat circle. From here you delicately pull the layers up and apart, and fluff it. Like a tissue flower. I'm creating about 9 of these in red and white to hang above my table, like a faux chandelier. This is an fairly easy and inexpensive way to add a big wow factor to your entertaining decor.

2.) Am I a little obsessed with Rossanna Inc. or what? In fact, I went down to Seattle this last weekend for their warehouse sale. They open their doors but only twice a year. The "Four Calling Bird" dishes have completely sold out, there are none available through the company but if you search online you can find them. I found a set at . Love the bird motif, perfect for entertaining during the Holidays.

3.) Another Martha idea. This carnation christmas tree would make a fun centerpiece. It also has a lovely vintage flare to it. Fun and a little funky. What's better? Complete Martha directions here.

4.) I wish I had a lovely buffet. Instead, I've sacrificed the extra room in my kitchen to a sofa, which takes precedence over a buffet. This gorgeous little crafty canvas doesn't need to be perched upon a buffet, it would add some sparkle to any room. Simply puncture holes in a plain (or painted) canvas and slip petit white christmas lights through the holes. To create a "burst" cluster punctures closer to each other in the center and create a more spuratic pattern around the main center cluster. You could use any color canvas or lights that you like. A pretty make it yourself art piece that would be pretty year round!

5.) I'll admit it, I'm a little old fashioned and I love, I repeat LOVE, hostess aprons. It's a beyond fabulous addition to your entertaining outfit, especially for the holidays. Heavenly Hostess has an amazing selection of fabulous aprons not for slathering food on, but for entertaining in. Simply lovely!

6. Want to create an amazing and simple holiday cocktail? Easy! In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, dissolve 1/2 cup sugar into 1 1/2 cups water. Add 1 cup of fresh cranberries and simmer for 5 minutes, or until softened. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain, discard liquid, and place cranberries on a tray in the freezer for at least 2 hours. For each cocktail chill 1 ounce of grapefruit vodka, 2 ounces of champagne, and 1 ounce cranberry juice. Mix these in a champagne glass. Garnish with skewer of 4 or 5 frozen candied cranberries.

7. I've always adored this fancy plastic flatware. Some may think it's tacky, but I love it. It reminds me of some beautiful lucite creation from the 1950's, yet harkens back to Marie Antoinette. Not for everyday, but perfect for entertaining. Check out Charles and Marie for a wide selection from sassy hot pink to classy and clear.

8. I have a set of laser cut felt placemats I bought from target over a year ago that I adore. Since then I've been on the hunt for more. There's something so modern, yet so different and alluring about these placemats. Plus, grey is the new black right? Perfectly pairs with just about any color palette, Christmas colors too. Kikkerland s has these pretty grey placemats for only $6 a pop. Good value for a unique table piece.

9. Not only does this candelabra match the fun plastic flatware, it will reflect christmas lights beautiful. Can't you just see the different colors bouncing through this pretty candle stand? Search spiegel for this fun accent piece.

10. I like placecards, I don't love them, I like them. I think they have their place, and a holiday party is a great place for them. Sit people by others they may not know so well, this will get everyone talking and out of their comfort zones. After one or two champagne cocktails the it will likely be hard to quiet your guests down! These gems, perfect for the holidays and our lovely red theme can be found at Crate and Barrel.

11.) Like many women, I have a thing for shoes. I have a few too many shoes that just sit around a look pretty, unlike many women, I don't wear my heels on a daily basis. I mainly use them when I throw parties. Piperlime has an amazing selection of shoes from many different companies. My boyfriend is a manager at the Gap and I came upon Piperlime via the Gap website (although I'm still unclear the relationship or affiliation, I assume they're owned by Gap as well). Check them out at Piper Lime for a wide selection of pretty shoes for your pretty feet!

Entertaining is an essential aspect of the Holidays for me. I love not only getting creative over the stove or in the oven, but it gives me an opportunity to go decor crazy. I hope you have fun throwing holiday parties this year and I hope that I got some of those creative hostess juices flowing.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Gumpaste A-Go Go.

Gumpaste Yellow Poppy Macro., originally uploaded by miss.mallory.

As some of you might know, I took about 6 months worth of cake decorating classes. Granted I repeated a few of the beginning courses (so that Ashley and I could do our own thing, in the "classroom" setting), which all culminated with a gumpaste course, something we'd dabbled with in our previous classes, but not devoted a serious amount of time on.

Frankly, it's a lot easier than it might look. The only really hard part is attaching the darn petals to the wire "stem", I truly loathe that step. The amazing thing about gumpaste is, that when fresh, it can be manipulated in various ways. Pulled, feathered, painted, twisted, molded, the possibilities are nearly endless. And once you've done that and allowed your pieces to dry they can be coated and painted with layers of shades, and may truly end up resembling what you've set out to create. In this case, I am posting the stargazer lilly, and yellow poppy that I made. While they may be a little campier than the living versions, I was pretty impressed and hope that I have some natural skill at this. Right now, I'm really looking forward to making a cake and using my new technique to create a real beauty, now I just have to find a reason to do so. Perhaps when that happens I will take step by step photos of my gumpasting process and try to post a tutorial, if you guys are interested! Until then enjoy these pretty confections!

Yellow Poppy

Gumpaste Yellow Poppy. , originally uploaded by miss.mallory.

Stargazer Lilly

Gumpaste Lilly. , originally uploaded by miss.mallory.

Gumpaste Stargazer. , originally uploaded by miss.mallory.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Getting Inspired - Gift Edition

A very good christmas. by missmallory

So, I've been damn smitten with all those gorgeous inspiration boards floating about in the blog-o-sphere. More often than not I have one pasted up as my computer wallpaper. They live up to their title, they truly are inspiring. Many include fashion, food, drinks, baubles, interior decor, and entertaining ideas. . . all things I simply couldn't live without. Unfortunately, I don't have photoshop, so I figured my dreams of creating my own inspiration boards were a thing of the distant future. That is, until I stumbled across Polyvore. It's a great site that allows you to create inspiration boards with items from all over the world wide web, and it's format is simple to use and easy to execute. Above is my first attempt. Clearly, it's not the best option out there (photoshop is clearly the winner when it comes to boundless creativity options), but it works well, and will be fun to play around with. Polyvore

I really enjoyed searching around and creating my own little inspiration board. Therefore, I've decided every hump day will be "Get Inspired Wednesday". They'll be boards with just about anything, links to recipes, gifts, music, books, decor, whatever strikes my fancy and things I'd like to share with my readers. This inspiration board is just a few of my favorite things. These would make great gifts, hostess or otherwise, and any would be a welcomed addition to any package under the tree I'm sure. Plus, I've purchased, tried, or worn nearly everything on the list, so they all come highly recommended by little old me! Plus, nearly everything here can be purchased for $25 or less. Here goes:

1. Au Revoir Simone - Verses of Comfort, Assurance & Salvation
I am a huge fan of Au Revoir Simone. They're a gorgeous group of three talented ladies, all who can lull you into a great calm, or get you dancing and twirling around the kitchen in your cutest apron. They are a must have for any music collection. Albums and other valuable au revoir links can be found at their website here.

2. Betty Crocker Classics
Now, I don't own this adorable box set, but I do have an old original orange and white betty crocker cookbook that once belonged to my grandmother. Old Betty is my go to whenever I need to get back to basics. When I wonder "how did I make that perfect pie crust again?" I refer to her pages. She may not be perfect, but it's a great jumping off point. The recipes in this book are straight from the pages of the original 1950's cookbook. A lot of comfort, in a cute package that most kitchen lovers would adore! Pick it up at Fred Flare

3. Whisky Bits
Okay, this one is purely selfish. I love signature pieces of jewelry. You know what I'm talking about, that necklace, ring or bracelet you wear so much it is basically a piece of you? Well, I'd like this guy, on a silver chain to be mine. I adore it because it's different (unlike a monogram, or horseshoe, which, yes, are lovely but not quite original anymore, right?) and it pays homage to my love of the kitchen and in particular, baking. This cute silver plated whisk charm is the only thing on the list I don't have or haven't tried. The jewelry kitchen, where this charm is sold, has a wide array of kitchen related charms. From kitchen-aid mixers, to pie, french presses and even a small silver jar of caviar. You're sure to find a unique and pretty charm for the foodie in your life. Check out the Jewelry Kitchen!.

4. Chanel Polish
There's just something about Chanel. I am giving a deep red shade to one of my best girlfriends this year. Great polish, gorgeous clean packaging, alluring label. Any girl would be proud to have a bottle tossed into their makeup bags, trust me. Plus, it's luxury for a good price, only $20. This cute bottle would make a great stocking stuffer. You can shop around for deals, but I'll send you straight to Chanel.

5. Lumiere - Honey Pear Candle
This is one of my very favorites on the list. The scent is so light, not overwhelmingly sweet or fruity, just clean. And it never makes me sneeze, which is a very good thing. Whenever I have this candle going in the kitchen, people walk in the house and say "It smells wonderful in here." Which opens the floodgates as I gush and gush about how in love I am with a candle. I want a drawer full, so I never run out! They're that good. And I'm not a big "scent" person, so that's saying A LOT! Go toLumiere, a truly amazing candle company. I believe that Anthropology is now carrying these candles. They cost $16, maybe a little pricey for most for a candle, but trust me, it's beyond worth it.

6. Bon Appetit
Ah, Bon Appetit. How I love the new look, it's modern font, alluring photography, clean layout. It's so appealing, looks great on the counter and offers a new slew of ideas and wonderful recipes every four weeks. I think magazines make the best gifts, they truly keep on giving, every few weeks the giftee receives a gift from you! There are many wonderful cooking magazines out there, but I do love bon appetit, there's something fresh and young about it. Plus, Molly Wizenberg aka Orangette has a column in there titled "Cooking Life", gotta love a magazine that's supporting the food blogging community (and one very talented lady). Here is a direct link to the subscription page. Just $12 for an entire year. Woot!

7. The Jutti
Screw flats, it's all about the Jutti. Well, okay, they're technically a flat shoe, I suppose, but they're so much more. Again, they're not your run of the mill flat. They're gorgeous, handmade, often boasting gorgeous hand embroidered designs that are one of a kind. If are planning a trip to India, then you can pick them up for pennies on the dollar. If not, it's best to and search google Inc. and look around the web. Fabulous with a pair of jeans, leggings or even a dress. I love the silhouette and the uniqueness of this shoe. Hopefully you'll find some that suit your fancy too!

8. Rosanna
Talk about unique, Rosanna Inc.offers some of the most beautiful and unique plate options out there. The gold crowns are my favorite, maybe it's because I'm a leo and while I hate to admit it sometimes, I have a slight royalty complex. I own a few crown plates, and they've been uber durable. They'll add sparkle and fun to any holiday table! However, this is the only thing on my list above $20, a set of four will run you $40 not including tax or shipping.

9. Sofia Blanc de Blanc
What holiday list would be complete without a bottle of my favorite champagne? There's just something about champagne, er, sparkling wine I should say. I prefer it above all others. The first place my mind goes in time of celebration is "champagne". It's romantic, flirty, fun, gorgeous, sophisticated and luxurious all at the same time. It makes ones mouth quite happy. I probably consume a bit too much of this good stuff over the holiday season, between birthdays, old friends I haven't seen in months or years, parties and christmas morning I become quite the champagne lush. For a girl who isn't a big drinker, that's saying something. And what would I prefer to have on my table? Sofia Blanc de Blanc. Made in Monterey County in California. It is unique in that it is a blend of pinot blanc, muscat, and sauvignon blanc. It is a very light champagne, and in my opinion shouldn't be mixed with juices or anything else. It's delicate and needs to be enjoyed "in the nude", so to speak. It's fruity, with notes of apricot and peach, it smells of lemon, cream and honeysuckle. It's bright, light, not too dry and simply amazing. Perfect for a holiday toast with close friends and family. In Washington, during the holidays this wine can be found at most grocers and is generally on sale for about $16.99. It normally retails in our part of the world for $23.99 and is well stocked on most supermarket shelves.