- See more at: http://blogtimenow.com/blogging/automatically-redirect-blogger-blog-another-blog-website/#sthash.2lzcOnhH.dpuf Nothing but Delicious

For Him

Just in case you're like me and end up waiting until the last minute to buy Christmas presents because you have no idea what to get anyone ever, I thought I'd share a few of my recent revelations. I have the most trouble buying gifts for the men in my life and over the years I've come to realize that there are really only two approaches to this problem: one, buy him something that you like to look at on him or two, give him cheese or pie. I'm yet to meet a man who dislikes both.
So if you're taking approach number one, I can't recommend anything more than a shirt from William Gray. They've been made by hand at the same factory for more than 75 years and each one is completely timeless. My favorite is The Braddock, which is a version of a vintage work shirt made out of sturdy but soft chambray. Also, this here model is one of my oldest and dearest friends, Jonathan Warner, and I'm happy to tell you that he moved to Nashville last week. He's such a creative and determined man and well, really an all-around sweet soul. If you see him around town, say hi!
Anyway, if you're taking the second approach, might I suggest that you order a serving tray or geometric cutting board (both pictured above) from my friend James at Handy Dandy Productions? They're the perfect accompaniment to the gift of cheese or pie and can hang on the wall all year round as a remembrance of a good meal shared and a promise of good meals to come. As far as cheese goes, you just can't go wrong with Sequatchie Cove Dancing Fern or Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog. And if you're in Nashville, you absolutely must get a Bella Nashville demi baguette to go with the cheese. Email James for pricing or to purchase one of his boards.
Olive Tapenade Hand Pies
-makes ten small pies 

one container (roughly two cups) pitted brined mixed Greek olives
zest of one small orange
1 teaspoon fennel seed, lightly pounded
2 small cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
scant 1/2 cup good olive oil
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed*
one egg, lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 400.

2. Place orange zest, fennel seed and garlic in a small pot with olive oil over medium low. When tiny bubbles start to form, watch closely. Don't let olive oil get too hot, but leave on heat until garlic is soft, about five minutes. Remove from heat and add well-drained olives.

2. Pulse in a food processor until everything is well chopped.

3. Cut puff pastry with the top of a pint glass. Spoon a reasonable amount of tapenade onto one round and coat the edges with a bit of water before sealing on the second round (here is a prettier way to make them). Brush with egg.

4. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on a rack.

*Or your favorite pie dough.

Kinfolk + Spiced Bourbon Madeleines

As much as I love hosting Kinfolk workshops, I think I might love attending them even more. Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of photographing the Natural Home & Holiday gathering which was put together by my friends Ruthie and Emily. And of course, I spent the morning helping Beth make snacks for the occasion: thyme biscuits with ham and honey butter, deviled eggs, mushroom and goat cheese tartines, pimento cheese, and a whole array of Christmas cookies.
The weather was perfect, unseasonably warm and sunny, but chilly enough to sip on spiked hot chocolate (made by Courtney) while we listened to the ever-wonderful Rebekka Seale demonstrate how to dye napkins with natural indigo. Like all of the Kinfolk workshops I've been to, the guests were an innovative bunch and by the time the napkins were hung to dry, several of them stripped the clothes right off their backs and dyed those, too. 
Then the sun set gracefully over the trees, leaving us to craft wreaths by the glow of candles and Christmas lights. And might I just say: perhaps my favorite part of this entire workshop was getting to know sweet Emily, who meticulously collected pine and magnolia clippings from farms all around Nashville and helped our new friends assemble ten of the most unique wreaths I've ever seen. She's a third generation, self-taught woodworker and fellow lover of Amy Poehler. Okay, she's just plain cool
By the way, this jacket is from local maker Elizabeth Suzann and yes, dear Santa, I sure would like to see one just like it under my tree a week from now.
I thought I'd share with you one last type of holiday cookie since they were such a big hit at the after party last night: a madeleine, spiced with white pepper, fennel, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and orange, and dipped in a boozy, bourbon glaze. If you've never had a madeleine, it's a little bit like a cake donut, but about a hundred times prettier and twice as buttery. The texture is totally dependent on the batter being very cold and the oven very hot, but as long as you get those two things right they're an amazingly simple way to show off a bit during the holidays. 

And no, that's not a promise. I'm probably going to share at least one more type of cookie with you before the week is over. 
Spiced Bourbon Madeleines
makes 24 regular madeleines or 40(ish) mini madeleines
adapted from David Lebovitz 

For cookies:
3 large eggs at room temp
2/3 cup raw cane sugar
1 1/4 cups AP flour, plus extra for pan
9 Tablespoons salted butter, plus extra for pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
zest of one large orange
1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese five spice
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)

For glaze:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon bourbon*
2 Tablespoons water

1. Melt butter with orange zest and set aside to cool. In a small bowl, sift together flour, spices, salt and baking powder.

2. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and sugar together until frothy and thick, about five minutes. Fold in flour mixture with a spatula.

3. Add butter a little bit at a time, cover and refrigerate.

4. Chill for at least 1 hour, or up to 12 hours. Preheat oven to 425, then butter and flour your pan when you're ready to bake. If you have the time, pop the pan in the freezer for a few minutes.

5. Spoon batter into pan so that it fills the molds up 3/4 of the way (this scoop is the perfect size for minis). Don't try to spread it out. Bake for 5-6 minutes for mini madeleines and 8-9 minutes for regular madeleines.

6. Remove from pan and let cool. Meanwhile, mix glaze- the amount of bourbon you use is totally up to you. I suggest starting with one Tablespoon and if it's not "bourbony" enough for you, add more bourbon and powdered sugar accordingly. Glaze madeleines as soon as they cool.

These madeleines are best if eaten the day they are made, but will keep in a container for up to three days. Do not wrap tightly in plastic or the glaze will melt. 

Foodie Crush

I'm happy to announce that the holiday issue of Foodie Crush came out today and my recipe for linzer thumbprint cookies with apple butter is featured on page 25. Hop over to http://www.foodiecrush.com/holiday-2013/ to see the recipe, plus lots more holiday cooking ideas.

Classic Anise Pizzelles

Special thanks to Maria Fine, who both introduced me to pizzelles and made them for this shoot. 
The older I get the less enamored I am with things. Different shades of lip gloss and plates for special occasions and specialized kitchen gadgets all look the same to me; they are bits of clutter overtaking my house and therefore too, they are my hard earned money on the fast track from my bank account to the Goodwill. And at first glance, a pizzelle iron seems to fall under that condemnable category of barely useable kitchen gadgets, but I've given it a lot of thought since I fell in love with the pizzelle in Pittsburgh last Thanksgiving. The fact of the matter is that, like a fancy dress and nowhere to wear it, I just plain wanted one because they're pretty. A pizzelle iron takes a minute amount of rather mundane looking batter and transforms it into an intricately ornate, buttery morsel. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this kitchen tool may only make one thing, but the thing it makes is a palate for an endless number of flavorings and uses.
Before I ramble on about all the proverbial places I plan to wear my prom dress, let me tell you about the little black dress version of the pizzelle. It's nothing but butter, eggs, flour and sugar, accented elegantly with the distinct scent of anise. For those of you who don't care for that somewhat abrasive, licorice-y punch that is usually associated with anise, I urge you to give it one last try in a pizzelle that is made with natural oil or whole seeds. When combined with copious amount of butter, toasted and caramelized on a hot cast iron press, the flavor of anise is metamorphosed into something earthy, sweet and mild. If you still don't like it, that's okay because there's only about a million other flavors of pizzelle you can make.
So now let's talk about the possibilities, starting with flavor. You can use this basic recipe and add practically any extract you'd like, maybe even a few drops of some food grade essential oil. You could make vanilla bean pizzelles, dip them half in dark chocolate and dust them with pomegranate salt. You could add the zest of any citrus, crushed coriander seeds, honey, sesame or poppy seeds, chopped thyme. And that brings us to application: this pizzelle iron comes with a cone roller, meaning you could make beautiful little waffle cones to compliment any flavor of ice cream you can imagine. Or, using this technique, make pizzelle ice cream sandwiches. If you happen to have a cannoli form on hand, you could make pizzelle cannoli! Go crazy.
If you make a flavor of pizzelle based on this recipe, I'm dying to hear about it! Post a picture to Instagram or Twitter and tag me @HMMessinger. 

Maria Fine's Pizzelles
-makes 50-60 5" cookies
6 eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 1/2 cups AP flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
flavoring: 1 Tablespoon anise oil OR 1 1/2 Tablespoons anise extract plus 1 Tablespoon anise seeds cooking spray

1. Preheat pizzelle iron according to manufacturer's instructions. Beat eggs and sugar together until sugar is dissolved.

2. Add butter, a little bit at a time, followed by flavoring. If using anise seeds, crush lightly with a mortar and pestle.

3. Fluff flour and baking powder together with a fork and add to egg mixture in three additions. Stir only until just combined.

4. Spray pizzelle iron before each cookie and ladle in the recommended amount of batter (once you get a feel for the right amount I recommend you order an ice cream scoop that size to make your work easier). The first few usually stick, so have a popsicle stick or scraper of some kind handy to get the cookies out before they burn. Cool on a wire rack.