Saturday, December 10, 2011

Book Club

I love book club. I never miss it, even if I haven't read the book. I love the company of the women in my group and well, I'm never going to pass up the opportunity for adult conversation! We take turns picking the book and hosting the discussion. This month was my turn and I picked, If It Was Easy, They'd Call the Whole Damn Thing a Honeymoon: Living with and Loving the TV-Addicted, Sex-Obsessed, Not-So-Handy Man You Married, which I can't imagine any woman not enjoying if she has a husband. or has ever lived with a man. or talked to a man. or stood in line next to a man.

For me, planning the food is almost as important as reading the book, so without further ado, here are the yummy things we chowed down on ate delicately with pinkies up while we discussed literahture.

Bon Appetit, December 2003

I thought these were delicious! They tasted just like the Ferrero-Rocher Hazelnut chocolates. I found the hazelnut butter at Natural Grocers and it was so separated that I had to whir it up in the food processor to get it back together again. Many of the reviews for this recipe cited problems with crumbliness that I didn't experience, I did increase the cooking time to 14-15 minutes but that may just be my oven so start at 12 minutes and go from there.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup creamy unsalted hazelnut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 12-ounce package semisweet mini chocolate chips (2 cups)

Sift first 4 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter, hazelnut butter, and both sugars in large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated. Soften dough slightly at room temperature before shaping.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using 1 level tablespoon for each cookie, roll dough between palms of hands into 1-inch balls. Arrange 1 inch apart on prepared sheets. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are golden brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets on racks 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool. (Can be made 5 days ahead. Store airtight between sheets of waxed paper at room temperature.)

Little Gingerbread Scones with Lemon Glaze
adapted from Christmas with Southern Living 2011

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 Tbls. baking powder
2 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbls. crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbls. whipping cream, divided
3 Tbls. molasses
1 Tbls. vanilla

Preheat oven to 425'. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in crystallized ginger. Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender until crumbly. Combine 3/4 cup plus 1Tbls. whipping cream, vanilla, and molasses. Add to dry ingredients, stirring with a fork just until dry ingredients are moistened. Knead dough in bowl 4-5 times just until it holds together.

Dump out onto a lightly floured surface, divide dough into 4 equal parts. Lightly pat each piece into a round about 1/2" thick. Cut each round into fourths and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush tops of scones with remaining tablespoon of whipping cream.

Bake for 16 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool slightly, then glaze (if you put the glaze on while the scones are too hot, it will just slide off).

These scones could easily be frozen, unglazed, in a plastic freezer bag up to 3 months. Bring to room temperature in bag, then warm slightly in the oven and proceed with the glaze.

Lemon Glaze
1 Tbls. butter, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 Tbls. lemon juice

Whisk everything together in a mixing bowl, adding more lemon juice if not thin enough. This should be the consistency of a cinnamon roll icing.

This was not really a "recipe", so please visit Baked Bree to see how she made this. It was ridiculously easy with a big wow factor. I used Beemster Classic Aged Gouda which I was able to find at my regular grocery store in the specialty cheeses. I probably used a generous 1/2 pound of cheese.

Ham-Wrapped Olive Shrimp
adapted from Christmas with Southern Living 2011

I think this was the hit of the night! They were gone so quick I didn't even get a picture (that's my story and I'm sticking to it).

1 pound large shrimp (about 30), peeled and deveined
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
3 Tbls. fresh lemon juice
3/4 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
10 thin slices deli ham
30 pimento-stuffed olives

Stir together oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, red pepper, and salt in a large bowl. Add shrimp, toss to coat. Chill in fridge 30 minutes.

Preheat broiler 5 1/2 inches from heat. Cut each ham slice into thirds. Wrap each strip of ham around 1 shrimp and 1 olive; secure with a wooden toothpick. Place shrimp on lightly greased baking sheet and broil about 3 minutes per side. Serve hot.

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