Sunday, 8 July 2007

Christmas in July

Posted by Bonita

july8_05

Alright, so it WASN'T quite Christmas, but it sure felt like the holiday season with the amount of cookies I've been baking these past few days. I've only been back for 2 days, barely enough time to unpack, do a couple loads of laundry, repack my bags...oh yeah...and make some treats for my relatives when I head to Toronto tomorrow. But hey, I'm certainly not complaining after having been away from my kitchen for the past three and a half weeks. Does it make me slightly crazy if I told you that I actually hugged my Kitchen Aid when I got home? Yes...yes I did.

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While I'm not fortunate to have the Food Network here at home, my lucky brother does, so during the times when there was nothing to do, I'd have the FN on. A few shows were making jam, Jamie Oliver with his strawberry jam on Jamie at Home and Laura Calder's apricot preserves on French Food at Home. Now, I've never been a jam-fan. I've always found them to be sickeningly sweet, but I've started to get over my aversion for them this year with my new-found love for Greaves' raspberry jam. Yet, despite not being a huge jam fan, watching the likes of Jamie and Laura make jam got me into the mood of making jam, even if I didn't plan on eating it myself. Thus, 9 lbs of fruit, 8 cups of sugar and lots of loving tender car later, I'm left with 4 jars of strawberry jam and 6 jars of apricot jam to give away. Well...actually, make that 3 and 5 jars to give away. I think I'll keep one of each. Nothing beats homemade, and I think I might have a new crush with these lovely jems. My mom was smart to bring out a loaf of bread I had baked awhile back ago from the freezer, and it was lovely toasted with a bit of butter and my apricot jam. Yummy!!!

As for the cookies, I made Cinnamon Hazenut Biscotti and Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti because my aunt loves my biscotti, but have yet to try these ones. My little cousin also loves the butter cookies that I make for him, where I usually sandwich some jam in between. However, feeling slightly lazy this time around (more like I didn't want the hassle of washing out my cookie press afterwards...), I decided to make him Jam Thumbprints this time around.

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As for my other aunt, I made these lovely Jam Sandwich Cookies, thanks to a recipe from Cream Puffs in Venice (a really amazing foodblog!) and Apricot and Walnut Rugelach, inspired by the recipe at Williams-Sonoma. These cookies did take considerably more time to make, since it required making the dough, chilling it, rolling it out, and assembling them. The rugelach was a bit of a pain to make, but they did turn out pretty nice in the end, although slightly ugly in my opinion. However, the more you roll the cookies, the easier it gets, so my 2nd batch was definitely looking nicer than my 1st batch. The jam sandwich cookies took a lot of time too, but it was definitely worth it once you pop one of these treasures into your mouth. They literally melt in your mouth. I used raspberry and peach jam in between the shortbread cookies, although I do favour the raspberry cookies more (no surprise there). Both beautiful to look at AND tastes great, these gems were definitely the highlight of my baking weekend.

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The end? Not quite. You'd think it would be after the scary amount of sugary sweets I have concocted already. I still have a banana bread on my "To Do" list, so I guess I'm off to get started on that. I'll see you next week!!!

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