The Lady Gray

A household chronicle


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Happy Thanksgiving!

My two sisters came in from out of town for the holiday, and we had two friends come over to eat dinner with us. It was really a fabulous time!  My sisters helped me prep the food (one more than the other – but that’s okay, she helped get the house ready!)  I’ve typically done all of prep and cooking by myself, and it was such a blessing from the gods to have helping hands!  It felt like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders.  On Wednesday we sliced bread for stuffing, made the cranberry sauce, made the brine, and made two pies.  Thursday we did everything else!

Our menu:

  • Turkey (brined, of course)
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Gravy (DUH)
  • My Grandmother’s Stuffing (We made a double batch and it’s basically almost gone – it’s everyone’s fave)
  • Green Bean Casserole (Made fresh this year instead of the Campbell’s recipe)
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Carrots, cooked under the turkey, so they tasted delicious
  • Rolls – from Whole Foods – so good!
  • Apple Pie (made from scratch – that’s how I roll)
  • Pumpkin Pie (also made from scratch)

Everything was delicious.  So much deliciousness.

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Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

My husband loves chocolate chip cookies. Intensely. In fact, if I were to serve him a different type of cookie, it would be completely unacceptable to him.  The only kind of cookie in his eyes is the chocolate chip cookie.  I find this a real shame, because I love so many types of cookies!  Reverse chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, oatmeal scotchies, gingerbread cookies, etc. etc. etc!

I digress.

The other night I decided to surprise him with cookies, and I found the best cookie recipe ever.  Cooks Illustrated has a great recipe for thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies (and he needs a chewy cookie because he has sensitive teeth.)

I would link the recipe, but since Cooks Illustrated needs a subscription I don’t think you’d be able to see it.  Here it is:

  • 2 1/8 cups bleached all-purpose flour (10 2/3 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup brown sugar (light or dark), 7 ounces
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 – 2 cups chocolate chips or chunks (semi or bittersweet)
  1. 1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions. Mix flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

    2. Either by hand or with electric mixer, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Mix in egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients; mix until just combined. Stir in chips.

    3. Form scant 1/4 cup dough into ball. Holding dough ball using fingertips of both hands, pull into two equal halves. Rotate halves ninety degrees and, with jagged surfaces exposed, join halves together at their base, again forming a single cookie, being careful not to smooth dough’s uneven surface. Place formed dough onto one of two parchment paper-lined 20-by-14-inch lipless cookie sheets, about nine dough balls per sheet. Smaller cookie sheets can be used, but fewer cookies can be baked at one time and baking time may need to be adjusted. (Dough can be refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen up to 1 month—shaped or not.)

    4. Bake, reversing cookie sheets’ positions halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes (start checking at 13 minutes). (Frozen dough requires an extra 1 to 2 minutes baking time.) Cool cookies on cookie sheets. Serve or store in airtight container.

    That’s it! So, the secret to these cookies is the way that you put them together.  It makes them so beautiful!! Here’s a picture of the finished product.

    IMG_4334


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Carrot Cake. Delicious Carrot Cake.

Here’s the thing.

My Mom has the best Carrot Cake recipe in the world. I know, everybody says that about their Mom’s Carrot Cake.  But the thing is, my Mom’s really is the best. Also, she’s the best! I digress. One of my cousins would say that it’s actually her Mom’s recipe that she got from her MIL from some cooking magazine many years ago.  I’ve always thought of it as my Mom’s recipe and that probably won’t change any time soon.

We ate a very large meal on Easter Sunday with our best friends, and this cake was the perfect topper. Unfortunately, we got so into eating this cake that I forgot to take nice pictures. You’ll have to deal with my crappy, badly lit, ugly plate photos. The horror!

 

Cake Ingredients:

4 XL Eggs

2 Cups Sugar

1 Cup Oil (Veggie, Canola, Etc)

2 Cups Flour

2 Teaspoons Baking Soda

1 Teaspoon Salt

1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

3 Cups Grated Carrots

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit. Prepare two 9 inch cake pans. Grease and flour, and line with parchment or wax paper.  This is a crucial step….if you do not line your pans with that paper, you will not be getting that cake out of the pan. I learned that the hard way!

In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add oil and blend.

Sift dry ingredients. Beat into egg/sugar mixture. Stir in carrots. Pour into prepared pans. Bake 45-60 minutes. Cool Completely before frosting.

Frosting Ingredients:

1 8oz. package Cream Cheese

1/4 lb softened Butter

1 lb Confectioner’s Sugar

1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

1 Cup chopped Pecans

Frosting Directions:

In a food processor, coarsely chop nuts (I always chop mine finer because I prefer the texture that way – but it’s up to you!) Set Aside. Process remaining ingredients until frosting is creamy.  Add nuts and blend until finely chopped.

Enjoy! It’s one of my favorite cakes in the whole wide world….and I’ve tasted a lot of cakes.

Some pictures for your enjoyment:

Next to my cookbook, after being ravaged by hungry grown-ups

Next to my cookbook, after being ravaged by hungry grown-ups

Moist. Spicy. Delicious.

Moist. Spicy. Delicious.


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Strawberry Tart

Sorry I’ve been so absent these past 2 weeks! Things have been a little crazy around here and I’ve just been so busy!  I’m back now, and I’ll try to stick to my weekly posting goal.  This week I have a strawberry tart to share with you!  The weather has been absolutely gorgeous, so this past weekend we had a barbecue to kick off the spring season.  It was wonderful to see our friends, soak up the gorgeous sun, and eat some delicious foods.

The recipe I used was for Ina Garten’s strawberry tarts (individual mini tarts) and I turned it into one large tart.

Here’s the recipe! http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/strawberry-tarts-recipe.html

I took step by step photos – here they are:

Dough:

Floured board (I got to use my new pastry mat - huzzah!)

Floured board (I got to use my new pastry mat – huzzah!)

Disk after chilling

Disk after chilling

Close-up! Before rolling out

Close-up! Before rolling out

Rolled out and in tart pan. Disclaimer! I'm not great at rolling dough still...I need more practice!

Rolled out and in tart pan. Disclaimer! I’m not great at rolling dough still…I need more practice!

Baking. That's rice on top.

Baking. That’s rice on top.

All finished baking :)

All finished baking 🙂

Pastry Cream:

Egg yolks with sugar

Egg yolks with sugar

Scalded milk, ready to be added slowly to the egg mixture

Scalded milk, ready to be added slowly to the egg mixture

Adding scalded milk to egg mixture

Adding scalded milk to egg mixture

I should have added corn starch before adding the milk, but I was bad and forgot. Don’t be like me! However, I did add the corn starch on the stove top and it all worked out, so if you do make that mistake know that it will turn out fine!

Stove top, stirring constantly

Stove top, stirring constantly

After many minutes of stirring and then whisking, voila! A nice and thick pastry cream.

After many minutes of stirring and then whisking, voila! A nice and thick pastry cream.

Ready to sit in the fridge (plastic wrap on top to keep a skin from forming)

Ready to sit in the fridge (plastic wrap on top to keep a skin from forming)

Putting it together:

Strawberries, ready for the tart!

Strawberries, ready for the tart!

Starting to make the pattern after spreading the cream on top

Starting to make the pattern after spreading the cream on top

Almost there...

Almost there…

All the strawberries on top!

All the strawberries on top!

With the apricot glaze on top

With the apricot glaze on top

Well, there you go! From start to finish. I personally hardly let the pastry cream cool at all, and I think letting it cool longer would have enhanced the flavor.  So next time that will be the game plan.  I made it a few hours in advance and let it sit in the fridge until it was time to eat dessert. That was great, and it tasted so fresh and wonderful.  Go make it on a Saturday afternoon!  It’s the perfect way to celebrate beautiful weather.