Must. stop. eating. shortbread. But seriously.
It’s not even December 15th, and I’m already feeling a bit of Christmas torpidity. All because I’ve been trying to get a handle on the Christmas baking by doing it early, with the result that there’s just way too much sugary stuff sitting around. And you know what leads to. My new plan is to prepare cookie dough ahead of time and make small batches when friends are coming over.
This is easier to do if you have a counter-top oven (like the Breville SmartOven shown above). Another great use for it — quickly toasting flour that you use to make holiday cookies – you will not believe how much flavour this adds. It’s a no-brainer - spread the flour on a sheet and put in the oven at 300°F for about 20 minutes. Stir it lightly every five minutes or so. I have been doing this for about 20 years, ever since I tasted shortbread made this way from Phipps Bakery. So, so good.
To combat the rising torpidity (see above) I also whipped up some sensible, yet yummy, soups. One recipe came from a new cookbook by Martin Kouprie, chef at Pangaea. The book, called Pangaea. Why it tastes so good is a glorious testament to Kouprie’s commitment to local and sustainable cuisine. At its launch a few weeks ago, I heard a few murmurs that some of the recipes might be too challenging for the home cook. I guess I agree – because I am probably not going to make the oxtail truffle ravioli. But it did inspire me to get some oxtails and experiment with them. And there’s lots an average home chef can make. For example, while ignoring a deadline the other day, conducting strenuous and exhaustive research, I made the parsnip and lemon soup. (I used my Breville Juice Fountain Plus instead of a blender, so that counts as research,no?).
Because I was on a soup roll, I also pulled out the Hamilton Beach electric skillet I’ve been testing and made onion soup. So simple! I caramelized the onions in the skillet in olive oil, then added some fresh thyme and broth (of course it was home-made) and let it simmer. Then I toasted pieces of rustic bread, rubbed them with roasted garlic and melted some Emmental on top before popping them into bowl with the soup. I hope Martin would approve! (Maybe I can ask him if my husband takes me there later this month for our 20th anniversary. HINT HINT)