Christmas came a little early this year when the chefs from the restaurant Bar Tartine of San Fransisco released their first cookbook. Bar Tartine is the culinary sibling to the famous bread mecca Tartine Bakery where their techniques and flavour combinations have been revolutionizing bakers and diners with incredible pastries, sourdoughs, and whole grains.
Bar Tartine Techniques & Recipes by chefs, Cortney Burns and Nicolaus Balla, is what they call a snapshot into a three year period in the restaurant. Both chefs are heavily influenced by their family heritages, culinary experiences, travels, and by the local, seasonal foods. Along with Tartine founder and photographer in this latest book, Chad Robertson, the chefs take us into the panty, larder, and kitchen where just about everything they use is made in-house.
As soon as I flipped through the first few pages of this book I could hear it speak to me - all from scratch, seasonal, preserves and ferments, real food, beautiful.
Ugly Christmas Sweater Cookies
I think I might be late to the sweater cookie party on the intertubes but in my world they are a brand new idea. Several weeks ago a post showed up on my facebook feed about hosting an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, complete with Ugly Christmas Sweater Cookies.
I shared it with a friend whom had mentioned how she had been baking up holiday treats with her kids and she picked up a whole buncha' fun sprinkles for decorating and we both agreed it looked like fun.
After that post I searched online to source a couple of sweater cutters but everywhere was either sold out or backordered (and in the US) so I gave up. Fast forward to last Wednesday and lo and behold - what is this in the bargain bin at the grocery store? Dozens of sweater cookie cutters, and only $1!
So with a budget of $5 I splurged on some holiday sprinkles to go with my decade old food dyes and whipped up a batch of sugar cookie dough and royal icing.
Now, I have no desire to eat these cookies. I avoid the additives in artificial food dyes as much as possible but for once or twice a year (Easter being the other), it's fun to play with the stuff. Maybe I can put a hole in the top and hang them from the tree?
Sugar Cookies - Recipe
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup fine white sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups pastry flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Makes approx. 36 sweater size cookies
Royal Icing - Recipe
1 lb icing sugar
5 tbsps meringue powder or 2 large egg whites
2-5 tbsp water (as needed)
For the past six months I have been working on a sustainable farm on the western edge of St. Thomas. One of my last blog posts before ignoring this website for a while was about a few local farms. As it turns out, one of them is where I ended up spending many of my summer and fall days.
On Our Little Farm we run a CSA program (community supported agriculture) and raise pastured pork, chickens, and ducks. At the farm is a mobile wood-fired oven on a trailer. This oven at one time was parked outside the landowner's garage and each day at the farm I would walk by it dreaming of when we would fire it up. Now that vegetables are done for the year and the animals are taken care of by Mark (he and his family began Our Little Farm), everyone had a little bit of time to spare to see just what this beautiful beast could do. Timed with a pickup date for the pastured pork, Wednesday Dec. 3 was the perfect opportunity to do some baking in the oven.
Eating. Drinking. Sharing.