Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Year's Eve, Part II

Ooh, wow

No, friends, I did not forget that I promised you two parts of my New Year’s Eve post, so here it is, albeit a little bit late.

Half of the spread
As I said before, we had quite a spread at our family New Year’s Eve soirée (attended by me, my mom, my dad (the bartender), Frakah, her husband, my nephew, and one of my best friends, 80 (hey, that’s her nickname). We had Greek olives, the bad ass hummus and tzatziki from the previous post, a Boursin-like cheese (that really didn’t taste like Boursin), Cheez-It-ish Crackers, and Mustard Bâtons. For dessert, my mom made a delectable Banana Butterscotch Pie from one of my new cookbooks. As for the drinks, my dad served up some French Horns. One day I shall have to do a post about my dad’s bar in my parents’ dining room. It’s quite spectacular.

Anyway, New Year’s Eve was a nice family affair, playing board games (Truth Be Told, our newest board game) and super-fun games (the After Eight game, which I learned from a box of After Eights when I lived in France). Fun was had by all. I feel obligated to share the fun of the After Eight game here. What you do is you take an After Eight dinner mint, place it on your forehead, and without using your hands, try to get it into your mouth. You can do a face-off and whoever gets it to their mouth first wins! I must warn you, however, that you will look like a freak when you play, so if you’re really concerned about that, maybe you shouldn’t play. Sadly, we all know that I could not give a hoot. Fun first, looks last.

As for the yummies I am covering in this post, the crackers were delish. In fact, they were like crack to me. I just could not get enough of them, but then I love cheesy crackers. And as for the Mustard Bâtons, they were awesome as well. I really love mustard (remind me to share my secret for the perfect scrambled eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches), so these things were pretty bomb. So, without further ado, here are the recipes:

Cracker time!
Cheez-It-ish Crackers
From Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces
¼ lb. Gruyère, Comté, or Emmenthal, grated
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground white pepper
Pinch of Aleppo pepper or cayenne (optional)
1 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour

     Put the butter, cheese, salt, white pepper, and Aleppo/cayenne in a food processor and pulse until the butter is broken up into uneven bits and the mixture forms small curds. Add the flour and pulse until the dough forms moist curds again- these will be larger.
     Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead it gently until it comes together. Divide the dough in half, pat each half into a disk, and wrap the disks in plastic. Chill for at least an hour, or up to 3 days.
     Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
     Working with 1 disk at a time, roll the dough out on a lightly-floured work surface until ¼ inch thick. Using a small cookie cutter- about 1 ¼ inches- cut the dough into crackers. Gather the scraps together, so you can combine them with the scraps from the second disk, chill, and roll them out to make more crackers. Place the rounds on the baking sheet, leaving a scant inch between the rounds.
     Bake for 14 to 17 minutes, or until the crackers are lightly golden and firm to the touch; transfer the crackers to a rack to cool. Repeat with the second disk of dough (and the scraps), making certain that your baking sheet is cool. You can serve these while they’re still a little warm, or wait until they reach room temperature.

Mustard Batons
adapted from Around My French Table

2 sheets puff pastry (found in freezer section at grocery store)
2/3 cup Dijon mustard
1 egg yolk (for egg wash)

So, I don't have the recipe in front of me, so bear with me. The gist of these is you roll out one thawed sheet of puff pastry to roughly 13 by 17 rectangle. Then you spread half of the mustard on one half of the pastry (you will be folding it hamburger style). Then you fold the dry side over the mustard side. Next, cut from the folded edge to the opposite edge using a pizza slicer. I cut thin slices, less than an inch. Transfer these to a baking sheet lined with parchment. Next, prepare the egg wash (egg yolk and a few drops of cold water beaten together) and brush across the tops of the sticks. You can then choose to sprinkle sesame seeds on top (to make them look fancy). Next, you bake them until done at something like 375 or 400 (I will edit this post once I get internet in my new apartment) for maybe 14 minutes. Presto, you have fancy batons that were super easy to make! Go ahead, impress your friends!

In closing, I'd like to wish everyone a happy new year. I think 2011 will bring great things and many positive changes. One of my resolutions is to bake a souffle for the first time. Is there anything you would like me to bake this year?

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