Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Mexico Biscochitos

If you know me in real life then you may know that I'm not a fan of chocolate chip cookies (CCC). If you see me eating one I'm usually nibbling around the chocolate pieces—true story. In fact, I actually prefer chocolate chip cookies sans the chocolate chips. Seriously, the CCC batter is DELICIOUS as its own cookie. I realize that's not normal, so I decided to blame my home state, New Mexico, on the reason why I prefer cinnamon-sugar sweets to chocolate.


I grew up eating a delicate dessert called biscochitos—a cookie that doesn't have a smidgen of chocolate, but are dusted with cinnamon and sugar and are so tender they practically melt in your mouth. These cookies are special and typically emerge around the holidays or for very special occasions, so they've always been somewhat of a delicacy in my mind.


Another thing that makes biscochitos the creme of the cookie crop is that they're the official New Mexico state cookie—a fun fact I learned when I was in elementary school. Depending on what region you're from in New Mexico, they're spelled different (biscochitos, bizcochitos, biscochos, etc.), but still taste pretty much the same. They're traditionally made with anise (a teeny tiny seed that tastes a bit like black licorish), but I grew up eating them without anise, so that's how I make them. They're also made with lard. Yes, straight up lard. They may taste "just as good" with shortening, but I think my family may disown me if I stray from the recipe too much.


Why all this talk about a cookie? Well, a couple weeks ago Better Homes and Gardens asked if I'd be interested in participating in their State Cookie Contest. I may be living in Georgia now, but since I'll always call New Mexico "home," I asked if I could bake on behalf of the Land of Enchantment. They said the New Mexico spot was mine, so armed with a brand new Better Homes and Gardens baking sheet*, I got down to business and made the first recipe that came to mind: biscochitos.




bhg bakeware
The grand prize winner in the State Cookie Contest wins a $100 Walmart gift card and TWO Better Homes and Gardens Bakeware sets (one for me and one to give away....or possibly TWO to give away since we're moving)!


Here's how you vote for this mouthwatering cookie...It's as easy as 1, 2, 3:
1.  "Like" BHG Live Better on Facebook
2. Look to the left and click on "State Cookie Contest"
3. "Like" New Mexico Biscochitos
(You can vote once EVERY day until July 27!)


Biscochitos
adapted from Simply Simpatico

Ingredients:
1 cup lard (or shortening)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon anise seed (optional)
3 tablespoons sweet table wine (Mogen David Concord works great!)
1/2 cup sugar (may need a bit more)
2 tablespoons cinnamon (may need a bit more)

Directions: 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream lard and sugar together until creamy. Add egg and beat until very fluffy. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; add to creamed mixture. Stir and mix in wine (and anise seed, if using) until it's a dough-like consistency (may need to knead). Roll dough out on floured board to 1/4" thickness. Cut into desired shape. Combine 1/4 sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon; sprinkle on top of each cookie. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Combine the rest of the sugar and cinnamon. Once out of the oven immediately cover the entire cookie with cinnamon sugar mix. Enjoy!

* I was not compensated in any way for this post.  I DID receive a free pan to use in the creation process, but all thoughts and reviews are my own**

Monday, June 27, 2011

Flour Tortillas


Tortillas have always been a staple in my home. When I was younger—much younger—I remember standing on my tippy-toes on a yellow stool out in Tome, New Mexico, watching my Nana and Tia make tortillas. I was amazed that these tiny women could knead and roll out dough with such intensity. I also distinctly remember they didn't have a recipe (a hard concept to grasp since, at the time, I had to quadruple check the directions on how to boil). My Nana and Tia always had tortillas on hand and whenever we went on vacation they'd give my dad a dozen or so to take with him so we could have tortillas no matter where we were around the country.

My mom would make homemade tortillas, too, but sometimes it was easier to just buy them. In New Mexico, packaged tortillas taste just as good as homemade, but in Georgia, they taste very processed to us, so we've been buying them out of a desperate need to have tortillas in our lives. For the rest of our time here, and when we move, I'll make them, because they are SO much better than anything store bought. I was always afraid that if we made them they wouldn't taste as good as they do from home. But I'm happy to say I'm completely wrong. These taste just like home.


The following recipe is what my mom, Tia Frances, and my other aunts use to make tortillas. Unfortunately, neither my Nana or Tia are around anymore so I'm not sure if they used it, too, but I'm willing to bet my Tia Frances got the recipe from them.

I have to warn you about one "ingredient" that's not mentioned, but absolutely necessary. This is going to sound completely cheesy, but I swear it's true. You have to make these when you're in a good mood, because they need to be made with love. My husband and I made them once while we were arguing and they were horrible. To this day he'll say that they were "fine," but they really weren't good. Trust me on this and really put your heart into making them.


Flour Tortillas
originally adapted from Simply Simpatico
makes around a bakers dozen

Ingredients:
4 cups white flour
3 tsp baking powder
3 tsp salt
4 tablespoons lard (or shortening)
1 1/2 cups very hot water (let the faucet run until it's as hot as it gets)

Directions:
Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Cut in lard or shortening. Make a well in the center and add water, a small amount at a time, to form a dough. Knead dough with hands in bowl until it's smooth and feel elastic. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes. Form dough into egg-sized balls and flatten between palms. Preheat ungreased cast-iron skillet to a medium-high heat. With rolling pin, roll each ball into 6-inch, thin circles (or to the size of your skillet). Cook for approximately 30 seconds to 2 minutes (depending on how hot skillet is) on each side until tortilla looks slightly speckled and golden brown. Cover with a clean towel to keep tortillas warm and soft until served. Store tortillas in a plastic bag for later use.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Berry Rhubarb Pie

My husband and I went to Costco last week—a big deal since the closest one is an hour away—and we went to town buying fruits and veggies. With an abundance of strawberries and blueberries, we knew we needed to make something with them other than plopping them in our morning smoothies. So we (or I should say my husband) made what he makes best: pie!


Last year we really wanted to make a rhubarb pie, but we procrastinated and missed rhubarb season. Whoops. This year we didn't take any chances and bought rhubarb the second we saw it, and since we had a plethora of berries on hand, we decided to make a Strawberry Blueberry Rhubarb Pie. Or a StrawBluBarb Pie, if you will. As with most berry pies, the fruit will release a lot of liquid, so it's best to let it sit and thicken a bit before digging in...if you can wait that long

I'm pretty sure this is my new favorite pie, especially for the summer. The blueberries popped with sweetness, the strawberries tasted like snozberries...naturally, and the rhubarb complimented the berries sweetness by making my cheeks pucker just a bit. Do yourself a favor and make this pie—or a variation of it with whatever berries you have on hand!



Berry Rhubarb Pie
adapted from All Recipes

Ingredients
  • 3 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and cut (if needed) into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon  
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon melted butter or butter spray
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • two prepared pie crusts

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. In a medium bowl, combine berries and rhubarb. In a separate small bowl, mix together 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour, and cinnamon. Sprinkle over fruit mixture and stir gently. Let sit for about 15 minutes. Gently stir again, making sure flour and sugar mixture isn't clumpy.
  3. Mix lemon juice into fruit filling, then spoon into pastry-lined pie pan. With the other crust, either make a lattice top (in photo) roll completely out and place over filling. Crimp edges and cut steam vents in top. 
  4. Brush lightly with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
  5. Bake for around 40–50 minutes, or until filling is bubbling thick and crust is golden brown.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sublime Doughnuts {a review}

Sorry for the lack of posts lately! I've been traveling and I think Amanda's been under the weather lately. Traveling combined with trying to sell our house means that I'm spending as little time in the kitchen as possible. Hopefully I'll get back in there soon! 

If you haven't heard, today is National Doughnut Day! I'm kicking myself for not talking about it earlier, especially on the food blog of all places, but a couple weeks ago I went to BlogHer Food in Atlanta and had an absolute blast! I posted this on my personal blog, and realized that I should have posted it here, too. Luckily, seeing as how it's National Doughnut Day and all, today is the perfect excuse to repost it...and get a doughnut today!

Sublime Doughnuts in Atlanta, Georgia

As we were chatting with our new friends from BlogHer Food at dinner our last night, I overheard this from the other end of the table: "They have red velvet, Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, nutella donuts, and so many other flavors I can't even remember. You have to check out Sublime Doughnuts before you leave."


Wait. Hold the phone. There's a specialty doughnut shop minutes from where we were sitting? Half a second after hearing about this magical place, I turned around to tell Natalie about it. I muttered "specialty doughnuts" and before I could even finish my sentence she agreed that we had to go there. 

I should mention that the next morning we were going to take a nice, healthy trip to Whole Foods before dropping me off at the airport. But the doughnuts won. Doughnuts always win. 



The next morning we picked up our fellow food friend, Mandy from Home with Mandy, and headed towards Sublime Doughnuts. We walked in and were almost overwhelmed with choices stacked in the display case. Almost.


Since we couldn't decide on just one doughnut, we decided to each picked four different flavors to try. Then out of nowhere Mandy, bless her heart, bought them for us! While she was picking up the tab we picked up for some forks and started tasting. The three of us made “mmmm” and “yummm” noises with every bite and before we knew it, they were half gone. 



My favorite was the one right smack dab in the middle of the picture: the strawberries in cream. It was the lightest and least sweet out of all the donuts, and now I'm craving another one...I know I'm weird; I like things that aren't too sweet. I don't remember which doughnuts Natalie and Mandy liked (I was too consumed with trying all of them), but maybe they'll tell you in the comments. 

click to enlarge!
So now that I've completely enticed you with donuts, I have two questions for you: 
1. Do you spell it doughnuts or donuts? Personally, I like "donuts," but that's because I'm lazy.
2. What flavor would you try if you had a chance?