Blog - biscuits and such
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Fuzzy Navel

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If you were to ask my younger sister Genevieve what she associates with peach schnapps, she would probably tell you that the traumatic experience of being forced to drink it by her older sisters made her the way she is today.  But that’s only because she exaggerates.  I mean, she’s in her sophomore year at Carolina, so she should probably be thanking us.  Though she does routinely eat babies*… maybe that was our fault.

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You see, when my grandmother died we all spent the better part of a few weeks going through her house and packing it up.  One afternoon Gen and our other sister, Lauren, and I were working together and Gen came across a bottle of schnapps.  Which we immediately made her drink from.  Naturally.  Even though she was only in… middle school?  Okay, we’re jerks.  But the groan she made afterward was so priceless that if I had to do it again, I so would.  I refused to drink any because clearly it was awful, I could hear the proof in Gen’s mouth noise.  Now, many years later, I will admit that I was mistaken and that Gen is crazy, because schnapps are delightful.

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As part of our holiday celebrating Dan and I made fuzzy navels, a drink combining peach schnapps and orange juice.  Fuzzy navels, despite having one of the more off-putting cocktail names, are delicious.  Fruity, not overbearingly alcoholic (though you can change that by adding vodka) and perfect to sip out of champagne flutes.  Because we recently acquired these gorgeous engraved flutes from anthropologie and now all I want to do is sip things out of them.  And the fruitier the cocktail, the better.  Maybe I’ll serve them the next time I’m with my sisters.

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* Gen probably doesn’t eat babies.  Though, if you ever find yourself on a deserted island with her, I wouldn’t leave your baby alone.  She might eat it.  Or try and barter it for a lean pocket.

Fuzzy Navel

1 part peach schnapps

3 parts orange juice

Combine schnapps and oj in a mixer with ice.  Shake well and serve.

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Halloween Berger Cookies

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There are two reasons I prefer to grocery shop by myself.  The first is that Dan has a bad case of parking lot rage.  He can’t even be passenger in a car that’s in a crowded parking lot without getting all cranky.  The second reason is that he compulsively sneaks treats into the shopping cart when he thinks I’m not paying attention.  When we first started living together, the closest grocery store carried a cookie that is unique to Maryland, more specifically Baltimore.

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Every week as I unpacked our grocery bags, I was (un)surprised to find a box of these cookies, Berger cookies.  Berger cookies are a Baltimore tradition almost 150 years old.  It’s a cakey white cookie (not unlike a black & white cookie) topped with a thick, rich chocolate icing.  These cookies are well known throughout Maryland and well loved by my husband.  I would pull out the box, glance over at him, and I always got the same sheepish look in response.

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Dan’s favorite holiday is Halloween, so I try and go above and beyond to make it special.  He doesn’t really like barhopping, so we do a whole day in, usually with festive drinks, an appetizer based dinner, lots of queso, and scary movies.  This year’s roster includes Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, fuzzy navels, and a halloween edition of the Berger cookie.  I added red and yellow food coloring to the dough so when it is paired with the rich chocolate icing it is perfect for this most ghoulish of holidays.

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Halloween Berger Cookies
Source: Adapted from The Washington Post

Cookies:

2 sticks room temperature butter

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp baking powder

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 eggs

1 cup whole milk

4 1/2 cups flour

Red & yellow food coloring

Icing:

3 1/2 cups chocolate chips

4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 stick butter

2 tbsp light corn syrup

Cookies:

Cream butter on medium high until fluffy.  Add in salt, vanilla, b. powder, and continue beating.  Beat in sugar.  While beating, add in food coloring, alternating red and yellow, until you get the desired color orange.  Add in eggs, one at a time.  Beat in flour and milk, alternating, beginning and ending with flour.

Heat oven to 400.  Bake for 11 minutes on a baking sheet covered with wax paper.  Let cookies cool on pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

Icing:

Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave 1 1/2 minutes.  Stir.  Microwave another 1 1/2 minutes.  Whisk until fully incorporated.  Let cool to room temperature.  Beat for five minutes to incorporate air into the icing.

When cookies are cooled, dip in icing and place on a rack so the icing can set.

After they’ve cooled, they’re best refrigerated.

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Chicken Stock

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I promised you a really long time ago that I would share my chicken stock recipe, but then I never did.  Because I’m a jerk.  Instead I just stuck my chicken carcass in the freezer and forgot about it.  Then, this weekend, when I was putting together my list of recipes for November for both b&s and iVillage (did I mention that starting November 9th I’ll be writing a weekly food column for iVillage?), and I realized that it was finally perfect timing to make chicken stock and share the recipe.

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Chicken stock is really water that has been infused with the nutrients, flavor, and essence of chicken, vegetable, and spices.  You combine the spices and vegetables with chicken scraps, bones, and leftovers and simmer for 6-8 hours with water.  It’s a great way to repurpose left over chicken from fried, roasted, or broiled chicken.  The stock can then be used in soups, stews, braises, etc.

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Why make it yourself, you may ask, when it’s only a few dollars at the grocery store?  Well, for a few reasons.  For one, you’re recycling your leftover chickens, and you can throw in whatever vegetable scraps you have.  Secondly, it’s better for you.  You can control the amount of salt, and there are no preservatives.  Also, you can make a lot in one sitting and freeze it.  Some people choose to freeze their stock in 10 little containers, but my freezer isn’t big enough for that, so I freeze it in 1/2 gallon batches.

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Another benefit is that if you’re making stock for one particular dish, you can flavor it so that it is as complimentary as possible.  For instance, when I made this stock I was going to use the first batch of it to braise short ribs.  I was braising the ribs in red wine with cremini mushrooms, with a flavor profile that included all spice, rosemary, and bay leaves.  So by including these ingredients in the stock, when I used the stock in the braise the flavors echoed beautifully.

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Homemade Chicken Stock

1 chicken carcass

2 cups baby carrots

1/2 white onion, sliced

5 garlic cloves

Fresh rosemary

1 tbsp whole peppercorns

1 tsp allspice

2 bay leaves

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp basil

1 tbsp kosher salt

1/2 tbsp pepper

8 cups cold water (plus more, as needed)

Combine everything but the water in a large stockpot.  Cover with the large steamer basket.  Pour water in, so that the ingredients are completely covered with water.

Bring to a boil.

Cover, lower temperature to a simmer, and cook 6-8 hours.  Every 30 minutes or so skim fat from the top, and add water as needed.  Make sure that vegetables and chicken stay covered completely.

Strain and freeze the stock for future use!

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