Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Waiting for Santa

xmas cookiesObserving those chubby hands while they work their way through stars and dough is truely entertaining. Questions arise on Santa.... How big is he?  Will he fit down the chimney? Shall we make more cookies for his elfs? Where does he park his sleigh? Each question leads to another and they are all of a certain importance. Christmas through the eyes of a child is magical!

This little man is waiting for Santa.
xmas cookiesxmas cookiesxmas cookies

(makes about 50 cookies)

250gr softened butter
175gr brown sugar
450gr molasses
740gr flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 tsp cinnamon* 
2 tsp nutmeg* 
2 tsp cloves*
pinch of salt
* all spices freshly grounded

In a mixer beat the butter and sugar until you reach a fluffy consistency.  Add all the other ingredients and beat until you form a dough. Roll out the dough on waxed paper, lightly dust with flour is necessary.  Place another piece of waxed paper on top and put the dough in the freezer for 5 minutes.  Remove from the freezer and with a few favorite Christmas cookie cutters make as much shapes as you can.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180ºC for about 8-10 minutes.  Allow the cookies to cool before decorating with icing sugar

Friday, December 13, 2013

Smile, there's wine

Mulled Wine
Mulled WineMulled Wine
Here's a classic for these festive days.  The aroma of cinnamon, anise, cloves simmered in wine with a citrus zest makes this a drink you will enjoy especially during the Christmas season.

The procedure is simple and straightforward.  

Open a bottle of good wine, I used cabernet sauvignon, and pour it in a high edged saucepan, add the juice of an orange, the zest of a lemon and orange, a few whole cloves, a whole cinnamon stick, 3 star anise, 5 tablespoons of brown sugar and cook on the stove for about 30 minutes.  

The wine will reduce, the spices will flavor, the aroma will intensify.  

Serve warm.  

At this point, grab a good book, sit in a big cozy chair next to a fireplace and sip, sip, sip and sip...  

Happy Friday!!

XXOO A presto!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Do it yourself Christmas wreath

Christmas Wreath
A small collection of Santas are lined on the fireplace, a star made of twined branches stands on the bookshelf and at last, the tree is up and sparkling bright, decorated with ornaments collected throughout the years.  A string of cardboard gingerbread men, which my son and I made when he was four, a small nest of birds that my mother had bought when I was a child, some wooden toys, ceramic snowflakes, glittered stars, many pretty pieces from my sister's trips abroad and the list goes on and on. The tree literally grows each year at the same pace of memories and intimate moments.

When it comes to Christmas decorating, an evergreen wreath can't be left out. It puts you straight in the mood and fills you with warmth just looking at it. This year I made a fragrant bay laurel wreath which hangs in my kitchen, it's sweet fragrance fills the house and when it dries out I can use the leaves for cooking.  You can also use any other soft greenery, such as rosemary stems or olive tree branches.  Twist a few branches to shape a circle, overlap the extreme ends, secure and tie with metal wire, that's how simple it is.  

A wreath will give that Christmas touch to your home, it's pretty placed in any corner and when it's handmade it's always better.

XXOO A presto!
Christmas Wreath

Thursday, December 5, 2013

An Italian Traditional Cookie, Canestrelli

These cookies were my favorite snack when I was in high school, they sweetened the hours spent on books making the sacrifice bearable.  Canestrelli hold an insane amount of butter, but less just wouldn't be right, because the buttery fragrance is why canestrelli are what they are. 

Don't expect them to be the type of cookie you would dip in milk, nor the type you would eat for breakfast. They're soft, fragrant, with a light scent of lemon and a delicate touch of rum. Fine tea serves them best. Good company serves them better. A sip, a bite, a chat, a friend, a sip, a bite and before you know it,  they're gone, not a crumble left.  So don't let their innocent daisy shape fool you, because they have nothing innocent and everything makes them dangerously addictive.

Shall we mark them as the bake-off start of the holiday season? I say yes. They are perfect for gifting. Place them in a pretty tin box, wrap with a ribbon a give them out to your precious friends and neighbours.  May the Christmas season begin!
Inspired by Sara