Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Three Kringla-teers

IMG_Kringla final

When I met my boyfriend's family almost ten years ago, one of the first things they said to me was, "Wait til you try Grandma's Kringla." They might as well have said, "7@t$b%9," because I had no idea what they were talking about. Then I heard the word cookie and stopped in my tracks. Something involving sugar? Bring it on family! As I took my first bite, their expectant and hopeful faces stared at me like, "Insane, right?" I ooh'd and awed although inside I was thinking, "Eh." I mean, I was new to the family and didn't feel like offending anyone just yet. As a show of good faith, I took another bite...and another...and another...until I 'came to' and had eaten...four. I don't know what happened. No initial wow factor, but so yummy. Soft and buttery and not too sweet...is it a cookie, a pastry...a biscuit?! I didn't know and didn't care. The slow burn of Kringla had reached me and I was officially under its spell. Kind of like when you meet a guy who's not your 'type', but you go out with him anyway and something slowly starts to tickle your fancy. Then suddenly, you're like, "Where have you been all my life?!"

There are different ways to make Kringla, but I'm only interested in Grandma Blanche's recipe. Truth be told, she doesn't really care for Kringla, but her family loves 'em and she loves her family. While in Iowa, I asked Blanche to show me the way and she was kind enough to share. I even got my niece, Skye, in on the action and the three Kringla-teers set off on an adventure.

IMG_Three amigos

Blanche's Kringla
(yields 50 to 60 cookies)

1 1/2 cups sugar
*1 stick margarine (we're goin' old school)
2 Tbsp. butter
2 egg yolks, unbeaten
1 cup sour cream
1 cup buttermilk
2 level tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder, rounded
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
4 1/2 cups flour

*I plan on trying an all butter version at some point, but imagine they won't be the same. Will let you know.

Cream butter, margarine and sugar. Mix in egg yolk, sour cream and buttermilk. Add dry ingredients and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Next day - Heat the oven to 425º. Lightly flour a pastry cloth (we used a thin tea towel). Be careful not to use too much flour. Remove only a handful of dough at a time, keeping the rest in the refrigerator. If the dough gets too soft, it's a bummer dude...

IMG_sticky hands

Next, cut off a small amount...


...and with very lightly floured hands, roll into a pencil.


Don't roll it too much or you end up with this...

IMG_skye's roll

Then, shape each roll into a figure 8...


...and place on an ungreased cookie sheet...


Try and place them at least an inch apart...


When you've rolled your last one, place the Kringla in the oven (we did them one sheet at a time) and bake for about 5 to 8 minutes. Keep an eye on them; you want the bottoms to be a very light brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes, then transfer from cookie sheet to cooling rack. Brush with cold water to keep them soft.

They're delicious while warm, so dive in...


...and wait for the slow burn of Kringla-dom.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

In a kitchen...far, far away...


...the Tarts had reached a desperate hour. Tired of the standard lemon cake, they were in dire need of a twist. So they reached out to a culinary Jedi...

"Help us Obi-Cake Kenobi, you're our only hope."

Smitten Kitchen did indeed answer the call...


slightly adapted from Ina Garten

1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 extra-large eggs
3 tsp grated grapefruit zest (approximately one large grapefruit)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

Grapefruit half

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, grapefruit zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup grapefruit juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the grapefruit-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and grapefruit juice and pour over the cake.


Would SK's cake restore delight to their edible galaxy?

The Tarts got out their knife-sabers and started slicing. The moist, not too sweet and tangy cake was enchanting. The party in their mouths went on deep into the night, until not a crumb was left in sight.

Luke Tart-walker invites you to join the rebellion.

May the cake be with you.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Salad of Shame


Okay, we admit it. We're ashamed. While we had hoped for a posting-palooza this summer, we fell short. Way short. A colossal amount of shortness. One of us has the tried and true alibi of baby wrangling, but the other...well, I got nothin', 'cept excuses. I think I even gave them to you a few posts back. You know, the one with the enchiladas when I referred to us as the Tartinators? I said we were back. Yeah, right.

Well, believe it or not, the LAME-inators are officially back and although it may sound simple, we're bringing you something we've been eating a lot of this summer...salad. Whether we're running from the kitchen to the crib or scrambling to meet a long awaited deadline, we can always find a few minutes to whip up a little something green. This one was created by my writing partner, Dave. We love this salad and eat it a lot, so much so, we should probably give it a writing credit.

The key element is this little doozy right here...


Nut-based oils are more expensive (this one runs about $12 at Whole Foods), but trust us when we say they go the distance. They pack so much flavor that you actually need less oil and fewer additional ingredients. You'll notice it's almost an even oil/vin ratio as we like the extra punch from the vin with this particular salad, but feel free to modify.

Now, let's get 'er done.

Dave's Salad

2 Tbsp. minced shallot
1/3 cup hazelnut oil
a little less than 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
Sea salt/black pepper
1 bunch fresh arugula (or mixed greens)
2/3 cup pistachios, shelled
2/3 cup dried cranberries (cherries or apricots are great too)
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
* 1 avocado, sliced - optional



Whisk together the shallot, oil and vinegar until emulsified. Salt and pepper to taste.

*We often change this up, sweating the shallot by sautéing it in 1/3 cup hazelnut oil, then adding to rest of oil and vin. You can also sub garlic and sweat the garlic.

Toss arugula with cranberries, pistachios and goat cheese. Lightly toss with preferred amount of dressing. (Save the leftovers for another salad, a marinade or drizzle over roasted figs.) We didn't have any avocado the day we made this one, but if you heart the avo like we do, go for it and just throw it right on top!



...the salad. Not Dave. Unless you really want Dave. I'll see what I can do.