Monday, January 19, 2009

Using my Christmas gifts

Because of the generosity of Santas in multiple locales, I received lots of cooking-related Christmas gifts that I'm just now getting around to trying out. I have my dad to thank for this and this, and my husband to thank for this.

My mother-in-law gave me a Silpat baking mat, which I used to make the pecan-raisin drop cookies shown in the photo. These mats have been around for a while -- they're more environmentally friendly than aerosol cooking sprays and less messy than butter. I love mine, and will surely use it for all of my future baking projects. After washing it, I store it rolled up in a cardboard paper tube from a roll of paper towels, a suggestion from Cook's Illustrated.

About the cookies: The recipe is from the January issue of Bon Appetit (available on Epicurious here) and we loved them. The ingredient list is blessedly short, which meant that I was able to put them together in about 10 minutes, not including baking time, of course. With a short ingredient list it's especially important to use good ingredients and to maximize the flavors of the ingredients you do use. I toasted the pecans for a few minutes in a pan on the stove, and I poured boiling water over the raisins to plump them up. (Especially important because I think they were in our cupboard for a long, long time.)

Friday, January 09, 2009

A fresh start for 2009

Many of you readers (if I have any readers left) have probably guessed the reason(s) for my lack of posts over the past couple of months. A new house, new city and (wonderful) new job have left precious little time for blogging. During this time of transition, I've managed to continue cooking and experimenting with new recipes, but haven't had the time to cook and photograph the results and blog about them.

As many of you also know, my best news of all is that there's a new little eater in our house! Baby Sophia arrived just over six weeks ago and has been great fun. She's proven to be a little one-dimensional in her food tastes right now, but I plan to start introducing her to new tastes as soon as I can.

About two weeks after Sophia was born I was desperate to get back in the kitchen but of course, didn't have the time for anything elaborate. This mango-pomegranate guacamole was perfect. Not only was it festive and healthy, it allowed me to take advantage of some seasonal (though admittedly not local) flavors. It's a quick dish and the colors are gorgeous! I can't wait to make it again.