Monday, October 30, 2017

Chocolate Cookie Cutouts

I had no intention of making these. No intention at all of making a time consuming cookie. But, an old neighbor/friend who now lives far away was back in town visiting and brought these as a gift for me. And my kids saw him give me the gift. So… I was pretty much on the hook to make cookies with them. We’ve had an incredibly busy October, but the Sunday before Halloween we were home with no plans, and I figured might as well get baking. I turned to one of my favorite sources for cookie recipes, Martha Stewart Cookies* cookbook. I suppose I could have done sugar cookies, but I love all things chocolate. So with the “help” of my lovely, wonderful children, we whipped up a batch. I’ll note, the recipe says it yields 3-4 dozen 3 inch cookies. We got exactly 16. I believe I made mine thicker than the recipe calls for, and my cookie cutters were bigger than 3 inches.

I also suppose I could have easily not decorated them at all. We could have enjoyed them plain. But I just knew they’d look SO cute decorated with royal icing. Apparently I’ve done royal icing in the past, and it was such a tiring process with ugly results I swore I’d never do it again and blocked it from my memory. (Seriously, only after looking in my archives before writing this did I realize I’ve made cookies with royal icing before.)

(Please excuse the wild hair…)

Anyways, I turned to the step by step tutorial on Everyday Annie (formerly Annie’s Eats). This recipe yielded the perfect amount for my small batch of cookies (with frosting left over). I also followed recommendations by Serious Eats to use organic powdered sugar to yield a tastier royal icing. I swear I was so nervous to do these I wanted someone to come and hold my hand through the process. But somehow I powered through and these turned out SO CUTE! The only one I didn’t like much was the pumpkin, and I think that is the fault of the cookie cutter. It had the eyes and mouth already cut out, which didn’t leave much space for creativity. Next time I’ll do a plain, solid pumpkin. And when it came to the cat, I had the idea to cover it in sprinkles, but I also liked the look of it without sprinkles so I did both versions.

Have I not yet mentioned that these are DELICIOUS?! They taste very reminiscent of an Oreo, thanks to all the cocoa powder. Especially when combined with the royal icing. My cookies were thicker than the recipe recommends, but I kept roughly the same baking time (8 min – 9 minutes), this yielded exactly what I was looking for, a thick, somewhat chewy cookie. These would not be described as “sandy” or crumbly, which is how I feel decorated sugar cookies can sometimes taste, and what I was trying to avoid.

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Chocolate Cookie Cutouts

Yield: I got 16 cookies, Martha says 3-4 dozen

I rolled mine out thicker (1/3-1/2 inch) than recipe recommends (1/4 inch), and my cookie cutters were larger than 3 inches. But I kept baking time the same. This yielded a SOFT cookie, not a crisp cookie. I have reflected my changes in the recipe below.

Ingredients:

COOKIES:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Royal Icing visit Everyday Annie

Directions:

COOKIES:
Sift together flour, cocoa, salt, and cinnamon. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and confectioners' sugar until pale and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, and beat to combine. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, beating until just combined.

Divide dough in half; flatten each half into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or overnight). Dough can be frozen, wrapped tightly in plastic and placed in a resealable plastic bag, up to 3 months; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

On a lightly floured work surface (or a piece of parchment paper), roll out one disk of dough to just under 1/3-1/2 inch thick. Transfer to a baking sheet; freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Using a 3-inch cookie cutter, quickly cut out shapes from dough (if dough begins to soften, chill in freezer 5 minutes), and transfer shapes to parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart, as you work. Reroll scraps and cut out more shapes. Brush off excess flour. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining disk of dough.

Bake cookies until crisp, about 8 minutes, firmly tapping down sheets once and rotating them halfway through. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks before decorating as desired.

For Royal Icing visit Everyday Annie

slightly adapted from Martha Stewart Cookies

*My Amazon Affiliate link* I love that Martha Stewart Cookies cookbook SO MUCH. It’s such a staple to me, I even have a tag for it on here. If you ever see a copy for sale buy it, if you like cookies you won’t regret it!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Rosé Ale Sipper

My husband is a fan of Rhinegeist Brewery based in Cincinnati. They distribute to parts of Kentucky that we pass through when visiting family. He knows I’m all #roséallday and really into ciders so when he saw their Rosé Ale, a cider variant actually, he instantly knew he had to get it for me. I’m not super into beer, but I like ciders. Technically this is not quite a cider, as they changed their recipe slightly to make it an ale, which made it more affordable due to lesser tax on ales than ciders. Anyways, it makes for a delicious drink.

Recently we had a cousin visiting and when we were making beverage offerings and mentioned the Rhinegeist he suggested making a cocktail with it. Now, technically he is a step cousin, but at that moment I’d swear we were blood relation. And so, a quick perusing of our liquor cabinet revealed a bottle of Cocchi Americano, an Italian aperitif, with hints citrus. It was introduced to us by a friend who is a bartender. Anyways, I decided to try out a little cocktail attempt with the Rhinegeist Rosé Ale + Cocchi Americano. I suppose you can hardly call this a cocktail, because it only had 2 ingredients. But still, the combination of the two flavors paired for a delicious drink. And a fun reason to use such a pretty glass!

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Rosé Ale Sipper

Yield: 1 drink

Ingredients:

4 oz Rhinegeist Rosé Ale
1 oz Cocchi Americano

Directions:

Pour the Rhinegeist Rosé Ale into glass, add Cocchi Americano. Stir gently with spoon. Enjoy!

{Below} I laughed so hard both when this happened, and again every time I see the photo. Two things here, 1) depth perception is a little off when looking through viewfinder. 2) My arm is not as long as I’d like…

Monday, September 25, 2017

MCFW 2017 Wrap Up

The 2017 Music City Food + Wine event has ended. It seemed to go by so much faster this year than in year’s past. As I mentioned in my previous post there were some changes & tweaking to the schedule this year. I was very curious as to how it would play out to move the Saturday & Sunday General Tasting sessions to Friday night & Saturday. On one hand I can see the appeal of a night time event to a lot of people. It makes for a fun “date night”, and the atmosphere is just different at night. But on the other hand, I personally found it harder to try and consume ALL the food & drinks that Music City Food + Wine has to offer in the 4 hour period at night. I also noticed that the panels seemed to have lower attendance than they typically have during the daytime sessions. In the daytime I think a partial reason people attend the panels is to seek out relief from the hot sun. Resting & entertainment/information. But at night, especially with 1 less hour than the day sessions, people are too busy eating & drinking to pop into the sessions. So, I kind of think if they do a night session again, cut the sessions WAY down.

Saturday brought back the MCFW festival magic I’ve been accustomed to the previous 4 years. There is a definite air of excitement when you walk in and are handed your cup. Speaking of cup, I noticed the cups are a little than before, and the bags had a redesign too! I enjoyed the Toyota experience where you could get a sturdy canvas tote screen printed with cute & unique designs, made specifically for the festival. It was also nice to make my own batch of Tim Love’s poultry seasoning.

One of my favorite aspects of the festival is connecting in new ways with brands & restaurants I already know and love; as well as discovering ones that are new to me. Two standouts on the alcohol front for me were Cooper & Thief, a red wine blend aged in bourbon barrels, and Owl’s Brew Radler. While I may be married to a craft beer nerd, I’m not nearly as enthusiastic about beer as my husband is. But I do enjoy radlers, and both the Watermelon & That’s My Jam varieties of beer + tea + fruit juice hit the perfect fruity/refreshing spot. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Cooper & Thief red blend was such an interesting array of flavors; rich, velvety, spicy. I sent quite a few friends over there to try it! I’ve already picked up a bottle for the house. We were also big fans of the bourbon slushes offered up at both Wild Turkey/Eli Mason Syrups, as well as Green Briar Distillery‘s “Cold Fashioned”. And, as always Hendrick’s Gin wows every year in both presentation as well as flavors. I loved the paper fans they gave out, providing much needed relief from the Saturday heat!

Some of my favorite bites from restaurants included both offerings by Deb Paquette from Etch & Etc. (pastrami beets, say wha-?!, as well as some kind of mashup between salmon & cheesecake!), Farm House/Black Rabbit, Sinema, and the AMAZING rib we were lucky enough to score hot off Martin’s BBQ & Friends. I can’t confirm, but I think I was told they were prepared by Greko, Nashville’s new Greek street food spot.

Another bummer of having a night session, is it was hard to get a good photo of all the dishes!

Another solid year of Music City Food + Wine just reminds me what a top notch festival this is. I already can’t wait for 2018!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

MCFW 2017 – What’s new?

Tickets purchased, these fools are going to Music City Food + Wine!

As you know, I’m a HUGE fan of the Music City Food + Wine Festival. I’ve went every year since the inaugural event. They’ve made a few changes & additions to the event this year, and I’m curious to see how it plays out. One of the changes I’m most intrigued about is the schedule. Previously the Grand Tasting events were held Saturday & Sunday mid-day to afternoon. Saturday’s music was provided by DJ, and the Sunday Grand Taste was themed Gospel Brunch with live gospel music, and a bloody mary bar. They’re switching it up and extending the festival by having a Grand Tasting event Friday night 6pm-10pm, followed by another Grand Taste 11am – 4pm, both at Bicentennial Park. Harvest Night is still Saturday 7-9:30pm at Walk of Fame Park. Now, the Gospel brunch will be a separate event 11:30am – 2:30pm at Walk of Fame Park. Therefore, an extra event has been added. Personally, I wasn’t thrilled to learn of the schedule change, as my body doesn’t handle drinking evening or night time. But, I trust that the organizers have a grand plan for extending the fun of this weekend. Looks like I’ll definitely be limiting my beverage consumption at Friday’s Grand Taste. Especially if I want to be up and at it again for Saturday!

Another change is one I’m really excited about, the craft beer lineup has vastly improved since the inaugural year. I remember the first year I told my husband he wasn’t missing much because there weren’t a lot of craft beer options. It was only a handful of breweries, and they weren’t that new or novel to me. (For those unfamiliar, I am married to a craft beer nerd, and therefore know WAY more about beer than I need to.) However last year they really stepped up their game with beer, and Blackberry Farm Brewery was among one of the breweries serving. This year’s brew list includes: 2nd Shift Brewery, Bell’s Brewery, Bearded Iris (a local favorite of my husband), Devil’s Backbone, Grayton Beer, Hap & Harry’s Tennessee Beer, Jackelope Brewing Company, Mantra Artisan Ales, Napa Smith Brewery, Radeberger, Schofferhofer (yay, grapefruit beer!), Starr Hill, Tennessee Brew Works, and YeeHaw Brewing Co.

Last year my husband only came for one day of the Grand Taste, now that he knows just how amazing it is, he’s in for BOTH Grand Taste events this year. We’re looking forward to seeing friends, and as always, making new ones at MCFW! Join us!

For ticket info, schedules, talent list & more, visit https://www.musiccityfoodandwinefestival.com