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The Dish
December 23  |  By Rick Nelson Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Baking tips from a cooking school pro
Amy Carter, a chef instructor at the Art Institutes International Minnesota, isn’t just a cookie-baking authority, she’s an avid enthusiast. “Cookies are one of my all-time favorite things,” she said.A former bakery owner, now a teacher, Carter estimates that she’s educated 3,000 to 4,000 students during her 17-year tenure at the downtown Minneapolis school.

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December 21  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Lime Cornmeal Cookies 1 cup flour 1 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1/2 cup granulated sugar Finely grated zest of 1/2 large lime, plus 11/2 teaspoons juice 2 large eggs Coarse or turbinado sugar, for sprinkling 11/2 tablespoons waterThese have a surprisingly complex flavor: bright lime with the sweetness of cornmeal.

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December 20  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Vanilla Basil Shorties For the cookies Leaves from 1 bunch fresh basil, stacked, rolled and cut into thin ribbons 24 tablespoons (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 11/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting 31/4 cups flour 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon vanilla extractFor the filling 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 13/4 cups confectioners’ sugar

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December 19  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Sicilian Almond Cookies 13/4 cups flour 1 teaspoon plus 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon 11/2 cups plus 2/3 cup skin-on whole almonds, toasted (see Note) 11/2 cups superfine sugar 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest (from 1 large orange) 2 large eggs 2 teaspoons baking powder Juice of 1/2 lemonThese are delicate, crunchy and full of almond flavor.Make ahead: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

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December 18  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Salted Butterscotch Cheesecake Bars For the crust 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan 1 cup flour 1/2 cup (about 3 ounces) toasted, skinned and coarsely chopped hazelnuts (see Note) 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup packed light brown sugarFor the salted butterscotch 1 cup packed light brown sugar 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 or 5 pieces 1/4 cup heavy cream 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 11/2 teaspoons kosher saltFor the filling

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December 17  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Pine Nut, Orange and Chocolate Drop Cookies 1 cup plus 1 scant cup (9 ounces total) confectioners’ sugar 1/4 cup (1 ounce) unsweetened cocoa powder Scant 1 cup (4 ounces) pine nuts Finely grated zest of 1 large orange, preferably organic or unwaxed 2 large egg whites (scant 1/3 cup total)These easy cookies are crunchy and subtly flavored.Make ahead: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

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December 16  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Key Lime Bars For the crust 21/3 cups crushed gingersnaps (from about 28 cookies, or 101/4 ounces total) 1 cup slivered (skinless) almonds 1/3 cup granulated sugar 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted 1 cup sweetened shredded coconutFor the topping 2 cups granulated sugar 1/4 cup flour 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted 5 large eggs, lightly beaten Finely grated zest of 2 limes (11/2 teaspoons total)

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December 16  |  By Reshma Seetharam Special to The Herald
A beautiful rum and fruit cake for the holidays This is my mom's recipe for a dense fruit cake made with dried fruits and nuts soaked in rum. Depending on how much you enjoy rum-soaked cake, you can soak it in rum and ripen the baked cake anywhere from three days to eight weeks. Apple juice can be substituted for those who prefer non-alcoholic.

Rum and fruit cake

3 cups dried chopped nuts. You can use any or all of these: almonds, cashews, walnuts

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December 15  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Italian Hazelnut Kisses (Baci di Dama) For the cookies 12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons (31/4 ounces) finely ground almonds (skinless; may substitute almond meal) 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons (3 ounces) ground skinned hazelnuts (see Notes) 3/4 cup sugar 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flourFor the filling 31/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped 7 ounces homemade or store-bought hazelnut paste (see NOTES)

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December 14  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Calissons d’Aix 31/3 cups slivered or sliced skinless almonds 1 cup granulated sugar 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons apricot jam 2/3 cup chopped candied orange peel 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar 1 large egg whiteThese petite, diamond-shaped confections are the ultimate elegant no-bake cookie, with a thin base of firm, almond-apricot jam paste and royal icing on top.If you’re concerned about health risks involved in consuming raw egg whites, use the pasteurized kind.

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December 13  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Boozy Chocolate Bites 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped 2 large eggs 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar 1/4 teaspoon almond extract 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1/3 cup (scant 11/2 ounces) flour 1/4 cup bourbon 1 to 2 ounces rainbow sprinkles, for garnish 1/2 cup slivered (skinless) almonds, toasted, then finely ground, for garnish (see Note)Consider these as a rich-tasting, rugged cousin to the rum ball. They’re small, but they pack quite a punch.

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December 12  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Vegan Gingerbread Snowflakes For the cookies 2 cups unbleached flour, plus more for the work surface 11/2 teaspoons ground ginger 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil 3/4 cup vegan granulated sugar (see headnote) 1/4 cup molasses 1/3 cup unsweetened or original soy milkFor the icing

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December 11  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Hippie Crispy Treats For the bars 1/2 cup maple syrup 1/2 cup brown rice syrup (see headnote) 1/2 cup almond butter 31/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70 percent cacao), chopped 2 tablespoons coconut oil 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt 4 cups crisped-rice cerealFor the topping 31/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70 percent cacao), chopped 2 tablespoons coconut oil 1/4 cup sliced, skin-on almonds, toasted (see Note) 1/4 teaspoon flaked sea salt

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December 10  |  
12 Days of Cookies: Crunchy Almond Cookies (Croquants de Cordes-sur-Ciel) 11/2 cups whole, skin-on almonds 2 cups sugar 11/2 cups flour, plus more for the work surface 2 large egg whites (1/3 cup)These dairy-free cookies are named for the medieval French village near the Pyrenees where they were created. They turn out crackly, puffed and, indeed, craggy and crunchy.Make ahead: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to several weeks.Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

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December 9  |  By Jan Roberts-Dominguez Special to The Herald
Long before there was Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving was a time when mothers were more likely to take their daughters to lunch than bargain hunting.

My cousin Bonnie and I were lucky to have grown up with two such mothers. And so for all the young years that I can remember, Margaret Roberts and her daughter Janet joined Nida Alexander and her daughter Bonnie for an afternoon at Allied Arts Guild Auxillary in Menlo Park, California. In the years when our younger...

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December 2  |  By Noelle Carter Los Angeles Times
Every tamale maker needs a good tamalera, and a big family
When it comes to tamales, you want a proper steamer (tamalera) as much as you need a large family to help you assemble a batch in the kitchen. The steamer is a simple tool consisting of three main parts: a pot, a tight-fitting lid and a perforated steamer insert. To use the steamer, simply fill the pot with water up to the water line, add the steamer insert and stack the tamales upright in the pot. Once you add the tamales, cover with the lid and steam until the tamales are set (you can tell...

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