Allison Day
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Vanilla Refrigerator Cookies with Chocolate Ganache

I’m not sure where this recipe originally came from, nor do I know who this “Susan” is, however this recipe has been in my family for years, showing up at gatherings every now and then.

The cookies are very delicious on their own. But we all know that chocolate makes everything better, and this is absolutely true for these cookies!

However, chocolate or no chocolate, these cookies are crazy easy to make. Even better, being “refrigerator” cookies, they’re super easy to make the dough ahead, and then you can easily bake a few whenever you need a cookie fix!

(P.S. Don’t be lazy like me. If you actually sift your powdered sugar before mixing it into the ganache, your cookies will turn out looking a lot better than mine did! ;) )

Susan’s Vanilla Refrigerator Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup soft shortening
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, unbeaten
  • 2 to 3 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup nuts (optional)
  • 1 batch chocolate ganache (optional)

Cooking Directions

  1. Sift flour, soda, salt. Mix shortening with sugar, egg, and vanilla until very light and fluffy. Gradually mix in flour mixture and nuts.
  2. Turn dough onto large piece of waxed paper. Shape into roll 1 1/2″ diameter, then wrap. Refrigerate several hours, overnight, or several weeks if desired.
  3. Start heating oven to 375°F. With sharp thin knife dipped into hot water, then wiped dry, slice roll 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick (slice off only what you need, return rest of roll to refrigerator to bake later).
  4. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 min or until done. Cool completely.
  5. If desired, make a batch of chocolate ganache and, using a butter knife or spatula, spread each cookie with ganache. Let cool completely, until ganache has hardened.
  6. Store in a tightly covered container. Makes 5 dozen.
  7. Enjoy!

Pistachio Cookies

All year, Son and I have been on a huge pistachio kick. So since Son generally isn’t much of a cookie person, I thought I’d make something for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap that I knew he’d enjoy. I had bookmarked these pistachio cookies from PureWow earlier this year, with the thought that they’d be great for the cookie swap. :D

Before I made these, I had been expecting a pistachio-flavored cookie. What I actually got was more of a sugar cookie, studded with pistachios. Also still very delicious! If you want a subtle pistachio taste, these are great. But if anyone has a recipe for pistachio cookies that are more pistachio-heavy, I’d love if you shared!

Pistachio Cookies, from PureWow

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios, toasted
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Turbinado sugar, for garnish

Cooking Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the toasted pistachios until they are finely chopped. (Some will be flour-like in consistency, but there will still be some pea-sized pieces.)
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until combined.
  4. Add the ground pistachios, flour, salt and baking soda. Mix until the ingredients are fully incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes.
  5. Scoop rounded tablespoons of cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Press the dough lightly with your hands to flatten, then garnish each cookie with 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar.
  6. Bake until the cookies are golden on the edges, 7 to 9 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool. The cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Chop Daddy’s

Formerly known as Pork Belly’s, Chop Daddy’s is a barbecue restaurant in Venice, CA.

With a LivingSocial deal in-hand, Son and I headed to Venice to try it out late last year.

The Chop

The Chop: Brisket smoked for over 12 hours in their in-house smoker, then chopped. Topped with homemade BBQ sauce and cole slaw on a brioche roll.

The Chop
The Belly Up

The Belly Up: Smoked BBQ pork belly topped with homemade coleslaw on a brioche roll.

The Belly Up
Fried pickles and sweet potato tots

Both sandwiches were juicy and delicious, a perfectly messy barbecue meal. The fried pickles and sweet potato tots (which are delicious dipped in the sauce that comes with the fried pickles) rounded out the meal wonderfully.

We don’t get out to Venice, CA very often, but we definitely want to visit Chop Daddy’s again!

Chinese Beef Curry Pastries

Shumai, har gao, char siu, xiao long bao. It wasn’t always the case, but these days dim sum (and dumplings in general) are among my favorite comfort foods. (Seriously, is there anything better than a steamer full of xiao long bao – soup dumplings – on a cold rainy day, or the soft warmth of a char siu bao?)

Also among my list of foods that make me happy, pretty much anything that Jen Yu ever posts on her blog.

She posted these Chinese Beef Curry Pastries to Fridgg two years ago, and I knew I had to make them.

… which I did, a year later.

… and now I’m finally getting around to blogging about them, another year later.

I’m timely like that.

These do take a bit of time to make, what with the pastry dough and wrapping the dumplings, so this recipe would make a great weekend project.

Even better, get the ingredients for several batches (or different types of dumplings), invite a bunch of friends over, and have a dumpling party! (Also known as the best, and tastiest, way to get all your friends to do all the work.) Woohoo!

But whatever you do, don’t be like me and take forever to get around to making these. They’re wonderful, and delicious, and totally worth the time it takes to make them!

Chinese Beef Curry Pastries, from Use Real Butter

Ingredients

  • 1 batch pastry dough
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 4 tbsp shoyu (soy sauce)
  • 2 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1 egg yolk
Pastry Dough
  • 3 cups (15 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 9 oz butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 8-10 tbsp water

Cooking Directions

  1. To make the pastry dough, mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl and cut the chilled cubes of butter into the flour until it resembles pea-shaped pebbles. Add water to the dough, one tablespoon at a time, tossing it with a fork to incorporate until it just begins to stick together when you pinch the dough between your fingers. Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and chill it for an hour in the refrigerator.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onions and a tablespoon of the curry powder in the oil until the onions begin to sweat. Add the beef, shoyu, and remaining curry powder. Cook until the beef browns. Stir in salt, to taste.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. When the dough is fully chilled, set it on a floured workspace and roll the dough out to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut out 3-inch circles with a biscuit or cookie cutter. Combine the scraps, roll it out, and cut more circles until you are out of dough.
  5. Place 1-2 tablespoons of beef filling on each circle of dough and fold the dough over (in half) to form a semi-circle. Pinch the edges together to seal the pastry (feel free to use fancy dumpling sealing techniques, if you know them). Set the pastries on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Beat the egg yolk and brush it over each pastry.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the pastry turns golden brown. Serve hot. Makes 2-3 dozen (depending on how many circles you got from the pastry dough).
  7. Enjoy!

Fishing with Dynamite

Fishing with Dynamite, in Manhattan Beach, CA.

New England Clam Chowdah’, with Neuske’s bacon, Weiser Farm potatoes, and (super snackable) house made oyster crackers.

Overall delicious, and the clams were really sweet.

Squash rolls from the chef’s mom’s recipe, with rosemary butter.

The rolls were light and airy, and we loved the rosemary butter.

Albacore Tuna Tartare with shrimp chips, spicy aioli, Asian pear, and kimchi furikake.

Definitely on the spicy side, but delicious, super fragrant and flavorful, and we loved the idea of using shrimp chips with it.

Thai Shellfish and Coconut Soup, with shrimp, mussel, rice noodles, kaffir lime leaf, and coriander.

Really loved the flavor of the soup – the only problem is it makes me crave Keizo’s Green Curry Soba like crazy!

Poached Half Atlantic Lobster with aromatic vegetables, pee wee potatoes, and Pernod butter sauce.

There was nothing about the meal that we didn’t love, however this was by far our favorite dish of the meal. The lobster was sweet and tender, and the broth was wonderfully fragrant. Oddly enough, it smelled and tasted quite a bit like pho (perhaps from the Pernod?), which got us contemplating how delicious lobster poached in pho broth might be. I’ve been dreaming about this lobster ever since…

Key Lime Pie, with a graham cracker crust and kaffir lime meringue.

This was just tart enough, and not too sweet. We LOVED it. The contrast between the cold lime filling and warmer meringue topping was refreshing, and the roasted marshmallow flavor of the broiled meringue really took the dessert up a level. A fantastic ending to a fabulous meal.