Saturday, November 29, 2008

Holiday cookies: Celtic shortbread galore and a whole lot more.....!

It feels like I have not been blogging for the longest time! Yep, the Holidays are certainly my busiest period for my crafts and culinary delights and deadlines have to be met! You guys have become my family in the blogosphere and I do miss you all so terribly when I do not communicate with you on a regular basis. May you only have joy and peace during the Holidays and may all your wishes come true! God bless!!!

Celtic Designer shortbread ( Made in a mold) I made this design with all my Irish friends in mind but it is to be enjoyed by all in kind!!!

This shortbread is a far cry from the boxed version! When you bite into my homemade version, the "crumb" simply melts on your tongue. This shortbread offers absolutely no resistance to your taste buds! A shortbread connoisseur knows just by looking at this cookie that there will be no "snap" here just a soft crunch and then ahhhh...... complete and utter meltdown! This buttery cookie is made of the most superior ingredients and they may just make you dance an Irish jig . Ha! ha!
Please see my Grandmother's recipe below! I owe Her and my Mother a great debt of gratitude for this innate culinary and crafty artistry I possess! I have an insatiable quest to adapt all my Grandmother's recipes to above 5280 ft above sea level here in Colorado!! Believe me this altitude is a force to be reckoned with and I want nothing less than that same superior quality that she demanded!

Click on pictures! Rich buttery shortbread

A little dip in chocolate heaven!

Click here for recipe "Ginger choc crust cookies with eggnog shots"
Another one of my Grandmother's favorite Holiday cookies. One has to use roasted dessicated coconut in this cookie. See the eggnog recipe below if you prefer a homemade one.

Click here for recipe " Aero peppermint cookie"
This was my favorite chocolate bar when I was growing up in South Africa. Now I have made it into a cookie! This cookie has matcha powder in it and exudes an air of Christmas spirit because of the peppermint extract.

Holiday cookies 2007! Last year I taught a bunch of little children to make cookies for their trees. Their parents approached me again this year, but I said that I was busy! Oh come on!, I am really snowed under!!!

"Gingerbros"( This is what my nephew calls it and may I add that this gingerbread is not hard like some gingerbread tend to get if they should sit for a day!! It has a light crisp and a delightful chew! I shall have to post this recipe another time or e-mail me if you guys are really interested in this gingerbread). I use golden syrup in this cookie, a British product!

Edible shortbread cookie ornaments ( stained glass and royal icing)

Holiday cookies of 2006! ( My first attempt at the edible Christmas ornaments ha! ha!


Celtic shortbread plain:

Organic ingredients an absolute must!
  • 4 oz European butter ( rm. temp). During the winter months in Denver, the butter is still cold and a little hard even though it was left out of the refrigerator for 3 hours)
  • 1T rice flour
  • 1\3 c powdered sugar
  • 1 c McArthurs unbleached all purpose flour, minus 2 tablespoons
  • 1 T organic corn starch
Please double the amounts! Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl ( do not sift) and then rub the butter into this flour mixture until it resembles little pebbles. Press the dough together firmly and then knead into a smooth shiny ball. If you do not have molds, then just press into round cake pans( 7 inch well greased), prick with a fork all over and bake in a 325 degree oven for about 45- to 55 mins until golden. Cut into wedges if using a round cake pan or you could use an 11 inch x 7 inch rectangular pan and cut into squares. The idea for this shortbread is to have thick bar- like shapes!

Ginger and cardamom shortbread
  • 1 stick European butter( rm. temp)
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 2t ground ginger
  • 1/4 t cardamom
  • 1 c all purpose McArthur's flour minus 2 T
  • 1 T rice flour
  • 1 T cornstarch
Mix the butter until creamy. Add the brown sugar, ginger and cardamom and mix well until smooth and creamy . Add the unsifted flours and incorporate and then knead into a smooth ball. Follow the same baking instructions as for the Celtic shortbread !

Chocolate shortbread
  • 4 oz European butter
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 t good vanilla extract
  • 1 c flour minus 2T
  • 1 T rice flour
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 11/2 T Dutch cocoa powder.
Follow the same instructions as above.

Homemade virgin eggnog ( I do temper the eggs!) Then again if I do not want to make it from scratch, I rely on the Borden for the canned or just a good organic refrigerated brand. I must confess that the freshly made version does have that extra creamy taste!

  • 3 Egglands best eggs
  • 1 T organic turbinado sugar
  • 3 and a half cups organic milk
  • some nutmeg
  • 1 c organic softly whipped heavy cream
  • 11/2 c melted New york vanilla ice cream
  • some imitation rum extract( I do not use liquor)
  • 1 T of deep vanilla( the one from Santo Domingo rocks!!!)
Separate the eggs and place only the yolks in a bain marie( water bath) and whisk with the sugar until frothy about 15 mins over medium heat. Save the whites for another time and another use. Take off the heat and let cool and then add the milk, flavorings and spice and whisk vigorously. When this mixture is really cool to the touch, transfer to a pretty punch bowl and then whisk in the melted ice cream. Gingerly whisk in half of the cream and last but not least "float" cannelles of the remainder of the whipping cream on top!

This eggnog will knock your socks off! It is a good thing Christmas only comes once a year!

An award ( Click on the "Superior scribbler award") , it should transport you to its birthplace for all the rules of this prestigious award!!!

This outstanding "Superior Scribbler Award" was given to me by REENI. ( Queen of American comfort cuisine) Thank you so much! I do scribble and doodle all the time but this is exactly where great creativity is born LOL! So, off it goes to:

Please enjoy!
Nazarina A

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! ..... Panna cotta

I have taken my panna cotta out of "blahs ville" and gave it a face lift. One, mind you, even Joan Rivers would approve of!!!! This ethereal dessert was waiting for us after a fun day snowmobiling in the mountains! I made it Friday during the day, giving it a full day for setting up in the refrigerator. I don't know what it is but we love eating cold treats after skiing or snowmobiling.

White chocolate coconut Christmas panna cotta with a raspberry and cranberry gelee
in a snowflake form! What a mouthful!!! LOL! Lindt white coconut chocolate

See recipe below!

Or in a snowman on skates form! Make a raspberry coolie and pour over the panna cotta.

Last Saturday, I took a much needed break away from my work and went snowmobiling. It was the first day after a couple of unseasonably warm days with some real snow, not much though, just enough for snowmobiling but definitely not skiing! The time for skiing is yet to come! Later during the day, the sun came out and I just had to take off my hat, gloves and coat! Welcome to the Rockies folks!!! This trail is about 3 hrs drive away and is very close to Aspen.

Recipe for the white coconut chocolate Christmas panna cotta
. Vegans you can just substitute the heavy cream for coconut milk.

Please use organic ingredients when possible.

For the raspberry and cranberry topping:

Sprinkle 1 t kosher gelatin or agar agar over 2 T water and let stand for about a minute to soften. In a pot over medium heat, warm 11/4 c raspberry and cranberry juice, add the kosher gelatin and cook and stir until dissolved for about 1 minute. Pour this juice mixture into lightly greased molds or ( about 6 small custard cups. Let cool and then refrigerate until set. Grease the molds with grapeseed oil.

For the panna cotta:
  • 1 c coconut cream
  • 1/2 c coconut milk
  • 1/2 c organic heavy cream
  • 2 T organic powdered sugar
  • 2 T hazelnut syrup ( Torani brand)
  • 1 t coconut extract
  • 4 squares Lindt white coconut chocolate
Again sprinkle 2 t kosher gelatin over 2 T water for about a minute to soften. Place all the liquids in a saucepan over medium heat and stir in the powdered sugar. Add the Lindt chocolate and stir gently making sure the chocolate is dissolved. Add the kosher gelatin and cook for 2-3 minutes until dissolved. Put through a sieve and allow this mixture to cool and then pour on top of the already set juices. Place in the refrigerator until set ( overnight) . Makes about 6 small custard cups.

I had to use a knife to loosen the sides of the panna cotta. Just exercise a little bit of patience when unmolding these beauties! Your taste buds will be enveloped by the creaminess of this panna cotta and then suddenly the monotony of the cream is soon interrupted by a bite of that vibrant and somewhat tart raspberry and cranberry gelee.

Please enjoy!

I have received quite a few awards and I thank you all who passed them onto me. Thank you so very much again !!!! I know that I have certainly taken my own sweet time posting them but this Holiday season already has me in the "weeds." There are still more of them but I shall post those at another time.

This Premio Arte Pico award I received from The food hunter. ( Thank you so much my dear). I am passing it onto:

This hard working food blogger award I received from Lubna and also Dibs. Thank you so much ladies( You guys rockkkk!)! I am paying it forward to:

The" great buddy award" I received from Lubna and Yasmeen & Dibs and the" perfect blend of friendship" and" good job" awards from Lubna & Dibs. I thank you kindly ladies and I shall pass it forward to :

This inspiration award I received from Lubna. and also Dibs. Thank you so much, I love it!!! I am passing it along to :

This is the second time that I received this chocolate award, this time from Lubna. and also Dibs. Thank you so much sweeties! I have already paid it forward to so many but this time I would love to pass it along to :

Without you all , I am nothing!

View this on Chicago Sun-Times

Nazarina A.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

On my soapbox!

The chocolate part of the cupcake smells like chocolate and the cherry and the "frosting " have a raspberry aroma.

Watch out! do not let anyone take a bite out of you when using these whimsical soaps.

I love the aroma of cranberry, so I put it in these cute snowmen. At Christmas, many of my clients decorate their bathrooms with these miniature soap trees and just allow their guests to help themselves to these soaps and scrubbies. When I first suggested this idea, they loved it and so did the guests. Soaps also make great stocking stuffers

I have a couple of clients who always complain about stress and sore necks, so I started making these 3D " ENERGY" bars with eucalyptus . I love this bar because somehow or other the aroma of eucalyptus makes everything better. I love the song "amber is the color of my energy" This bar has that two toned effect going from yellow to amber!

It is strange how a simple bar of soap can give me such joy! I was extremely sad these past two weeks about my cat and just threw myself wholeheartedly into this art of saponification ( art of soap making). I am still sad but I am coping much better now. Thank you to all those who uttered those kind words!( You know who you are)!
Also, ever since I started showcasing and talking more in depth about my soaps, people have emailed me and actually ordering them from me. Thank you! I make them with great pride and the greatest ingredients and I know you will love them too!
Ingredients are: Goats milk, olive oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, essential oils, fragrance etc...
Enjoy the pictures! Email me if you guys have questions
Nazarina A.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

All you can eat salad in my bar !

A pineapple, banana, roasted bell pepper salad with a 3 citrus dressing

Do not forget the attention to detail!
Ha! ha!

Or an Asian pear, kiwi, radish salad with a "Mrs Balls bladjang" dressing
( I folded the napkin to resemble a fortune cookie)

Or a carrot salad and juice with my hand carve
d carrot and bell pepper palm tree!
Beta carotene taken to the extreme! This carrot juice has a fizzy element of surprise. I make this salad all the time!!!

Click here for ingredients

Or a cucumber, guacamole and tomato salad with sambal oelek (intermittent pangs of spicy pleasure !)

After all that chocolate on Halloween I felt the need to make a colorful salad everyday these past few days. Armed with such healthy and beautiful presentations of fruits and vegetables, one can almost skip the main course which is normally meat and potatoes or a seafood dish! In fact here in "my salad bar" these salads will be the entrees and all you are going to eat ! All the meat and seafood dishes will have to take a back seat!

Pineapple and banana salad : (Please use organic when possible)
  • Scoop out the flesh of pineapple with a melon baller
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • Roast a red bell and green bell pepper, remove the skin and chop
  • 2 bananas diced , squeeze fresh orange over this to inhibit oxidation
  • 1 apple peeled and diced and again coat with some orange juice
  • Half of a small red onion chopped.
  • 1 T chopped cilantro
  • 1 T brown organic sugar crystals
  • 1 orange juiced, 2T lime juice and 1T lemon juice
  • 1 small jalapeno ( seeds removed and minced/ or add the seeds if you like the heat)
Place all the chopped ingredients into a bowl and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Mix the citrus juices and pour over the fruits and veggies. Present inside the hollowed out pineapple.

Asian pear salad:
  • I used 2 Asian pears, 4 kiwis, some radishes and a spring lettuce mix.
I used cookie cutters to cut out Asian pear hearts and just used my garnishing skills to make little radish flowers. "Mrs Balls bladjang" is a South African apricot chutney available at World market. Use the salad dressing packages and make according to instructions. I use brown rice vinegar and olive oil and just mix in some of the apricot chutney. This dressing is killer!

Cucumber and guacamole salad:

  • 2 avocados diced
  • half of a small onion finely minced
  • jalapeno chopped
  • half of 1 t pounded garlic
  • 1 t roasted garlic and bell pepper seeds
  • kosher salt to taste
  • some lime juice (fresh)
Mix all the above ingredients for the guacamole. Do not mash the avos!! Cut cucumbers and arrange on the plate. Place a small pastry ring in the middle of the cucumbers and spread the guacamole on the bottom of the ring and then the chopped tomatoes making sure to season with kosher salt. Remove the ring carefully and you will have a perfect presentation. Dot the cucumbers with sambal oelek.

Mansi over at the Fun & Food cafe is hosting a vegetarian Thanksgiving. Click on her logo below and experience this holiday carnival that would open up a whole new world of culinary delights!


For this Sunflower sprout, toasted pine nut, roasted
cherry tomatoes, dried fruit & the star of this recipe,
Sour fig dressing, ( I made the dressing from sour figs)
from South Africa! click here

See this really inexpensive lattice pocket pie mold HERE (William Sonoma)

Only thing is I made my filling a lightly spiced, ground beef

See how easy this train was here. If you can handle a pizza cutter,
you too can make this chocolate gingerbread train. The food
processor did all the mixin! I glued the parts together with chocolate
& I have all the templates for ya!


Click on this link & see very latest salads & many more on my new blog:

& also my cute napkin folding.......So easy, a child could do it!

Tahitian vanilla powder scones