December 17, 2011

Christmas Cookies: Snickerdoodles!

All this week I'm featuring some new, some classic, and some all-around delicious Christmas cookie recipes!
We start the week with a classic recipe for Snickerdoodles, using this soft-bake recipe I found on

My friend Kwame helped me with this recipe, too. As I've mentioned before, I'm more into cooking than baking, but this recipe was so easy that I think that's definitely changing. If you're not super comfortable 'baking,' this is an excellent starter recipe!

Look at that gorgeous batter! We chilled it for a few hours before shaping the cookies into little balls and dropping them into a cinnamon-sugar mix (equal parts sugar & spice).

I like my Snickerdoodles to be chewy so I baked them only for the 10 minutes stated, but if you want a crunchier cookie, just bake them for an extra 2-3 minutes (adjust for your oven's settings/baking times).

Soft-baked Snickerdoodles

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar and eggs thoroughly in a large bowl.
Combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.
Blend dry ingredients into butter mixture.
Chill dough, and chill an ungreased cookie sheet for about 10-15 minutes in the fridge.

Meanwhile, mix 3 tablespoons sugar, and 3 teaspoons cinnamon in a small bowl. Scoop 1 inch globs of dough into the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Coat by gently rolling balls of dough in the sugar mixture. Place on chilled ungreased cookie sheet, and bake 10 minutes. Remove from pan immediately.

December 16, 2011

Homemade Eggnog

I love eggnog, always have, always will. Don't try to harsh my buzz with the stats on calories, fat grams, etc. It's a once-a-year treat and I relish every sip. This year, my friend Kwame & I decided, on a wonderful whim, to make some ourselves. Holy. Deliciousness. We were not prepared for the awesomeness. (PS: This recipe does not cook the eggs--we experienced no ill effects, but keep in mind the FDA warns against consuming raw eggs for pregnant women and young children, etc)

I'm so glad we made this together, as it's a little labor-intensive, and that my mother gave me not one, but two KitchenAid bowls when she gave me her mixer. First you cream the sugar and egg yolks in one bowl. That was Kwame's job (he's much more of a baker than I). We let the mixer go for 3-4 minutes until the butter was pale yellow and delightfully fluffy.

Next up, the egg whites, along with a little less sugar. These took a little bit longer, and we basically mixed them until we could hold the mixer upside down and have the egg whites rest there without falling. Sweet!

Third, the whipped cream, which we beat by hand, because hey, any extra calories you can burn before consuming this delectable drink are worth it.

I was a little unprepared for how much volume all this whipping would produce. We had to use my largest stockpot to hold all the creamy wonderfulness (folding the cream into the eggs, then the whites into the rest). We chilled it for a few hours while we baked dinner and some Snickerdoodles (the first recipe in next week's Christmas Cookies posts!), then poured 2 glasses, straight eggnog, no booze. That's how I always drank it, and it was good. Super vanilla-y, creamy, but not heavy. Went down very easily.

Second round, we put in some liquor. I chose spiced rum for mine while Kwame went with Irish whiskey. I was amazed at how the alcohol rounded out all the flavors and actually made it better. Now of course, if you don't like alcohol or choose not to drink it, this is still a wonderful way to toast the season!


This will change the way you think of, taste, enjoy, and otherwise relate to eggnog!
Oh, and here's the recipe we used, courtesy of the Butter-pimpin' Paula Deen:

Paula Deen's Eggnog
6 eggs (separated)
3/4 cup sugar
1 pt heavy cream
4 pts milk
1/2 pt bourbon (we added liquor with each glass as we went, so not all would be boozy)
1 tbsp vanilla
1 pinch nutmeg

Beat the egg yolks with the 1/2 cup of sugar until thick. In another bowl beat the egg whites with 1/4 cup of sugar until thick. In a third bowl beat the cream until thick. Add the cream to the yolks, fold in the egg whites, and add the milk, Bourbon, vanilla, and a pinch of nutmeg, if desired. Chill before serving.

December 15, 2011

Alfredo of Rome

My friend Kelli has long told me about the wonders of Alfredo's of Rome, which claims to be the birthplace, in 1914, of Fettucine Alfredo. True or not, they make a mean dish of Alfredo, and we finally made plans to share a meal there one night.

I think Kelli was even more excited to have me try Alfredo's signature drink: the spiced apple martini. I have to admit, I was picturing sicky sweet, unnaturally 'green' drinks in my mind, but Kelli told me this was something different--Alfredo's takes Red Delicious apples and soaks them in their vodka for 3 days. A sprinkle of fresh cinnamon on top and voila--it's like liquid apple pie, but without a lot of the sweetness. Refreshing!

We ordered the prix fixe dinner, which came with 3 courses. I started with, of course, the Alfredo pasta. If you order this as a main dish, they prepare it tableside, but not for the appetizer portion, alas. Still, this was fresh, light, not at all thick and heavy like you might expect. It had gooey cheesiness but didn't sink like a stone in my belly--beautifully balanced.

Kelli ordered the Caprese salad, another classic. Red & yellow tomatoes, surprisingly delicious for mid-December, topped with fresh mozzarella and basil. This was very, very good. Honestly, if we'd stopped here, with the martinis, pasta and Caprese, I would have been happy.

Main courses were still to come, though. I ordered the broiled halibut, which had a lovely, crunchy crust, and came with mashed potatoes and a white wine/lemon/caper sauce. It had a few green beans which were just ok (these are NOT my favorite veggie).

Kelli ordered the Lasagna, and my word was that delicious. It was a sort of deconstructed, loosely configured lasagna with a killer meat sauce. I may have snagged not one, but two bites. I wish I'd had room for more.

What really stole the show, however, was Kelli's favorite dish there: the green beans! I don't like green beans, but I LOOOOOVED THESE. Sautéed in just the right amount of garlic, barely cooked so they were still crunchy. Oh man..I could have made a meal just out of these. Amazing.
Dessert was included too--I ordered the profiteroles, which are normally a favorite. These, however, fell a little flat for me. They were cold and just not as appealing as I expected. i'm used to having them filled with ice cream and presented tableside with hot chocolate sauce, but everything on this plate was cold. I had a few bites and I was done--also, FIVE profiteroles? What an outrageously huge portion! Enough for 2, even 3 people.

Kelli opted for the simple, vanilla gelato. What a WINNER. This had such a rich vanilla flavor, I would guess Madagascar vanilla. I had 2 bites of this, and preferred it by leaps and bounds to my pick.

The food was fresh and surprisingly delicious. While there were some tourists (listen, it's in Rockefeller Center, and the Christmas tree is a huge draw this time of year), I was surprised and impressed that there were so many actual Italians there (speaking Italian and everything!) There are several branches of Alfredo's, including one in Rome, so if actual Italians from Italy make a point to visit this place while in NYC, I think that says a lot.

My only complaint would be with the service. We specifically made reservations ahead of time for a seat near the window (for better people watching), but those tables were all filled when we arrived. Rather than wait for our window seat, we went to the back room. No one welcomed us, greeted us, etc. Odd. Our server was a tightly-wound woman whose attention seemed elsewhere that night. I must give a shout out to the male server who, although he didn't take our orders, was quite attentive and followed up when Kelli's green beans were MIA. It was a Thursday night and while they were busy, it cleared out quickly after we arrived, so I'm not quite sure why we were so 'neglected,' but we made the most of it.

Despite the so-so service, I would go back. I'd get an apple martini, share an Alfredo app, and maybe split an entrée with someone. Hmm...who would be up for that? Someone whose initials are ABF???

Alfredo of Rome
4 West 49th Street
New York, NY 10020
(212) 397-0100

December 10, 2011

Duck Walk Wines: North Fork

Duck Walk Wines is one of my favorites in Long Island, but until Mike & Sara's trip out with us, ABF & I had only been to the Water Mill location.
After a lackluster trip to Pindar (nonexistent customer service and less than wowing wines), I asked the ever-accomodating ABF to drive us 2 minutes down the road to DuckWalk's North Fork location. (See Sara's review of all the hot spots here!)
For some reason, I'd always thought of it as a smaller location, but it's actually impressively large.

There's tons of seating, a spacious bar, a stunning fish tank and even more outdoor space (which I saw when I stepped outside during an unfortunate coughing fit).

We started with the Duck Walk Chardonnay, which is the very first chardonnay to win my heart (and my tastebuds). Sara & Mike are big Chardonnay fans, and I think they liked the offerings at Duck Walk (though once again, I'm more partial to stainless steel-fermented while they prefer the oak-barrel version).

We also tried their Reserve Merlot (one of my favorite favorites), Windmill White, you name it--we sipped it!

Of course we had to try the dessert wines, which wowed me from my first visit there. The Aphrodite (a Gewurztraminer) is like a fruity explosion in your mouth--perfect for sipping after a lovely meal, pouring over ice cream, or standing alone as dessert all by itself. Mike & Sara went home with a bottle of this, and ABF & I have one waiting at home. It's so so so so so so good, and it might even be for sale at your local wine/liquor store (a few of my neighborhood stores carry it). If you want a showstopping wine, Aphrodite is it!

Connor was our guide on this visit, and after the dessert wines, it turns out he was just getting started. He kept pouring taste after delicious taste, and sharing bits of trivia, knowledge, and passion along the way. He was in no hurry to get us out of there, even though we arrived about 30 minutes before the tasting room closed.

Duck Walk serves their dessert wines with small chocolates. They always instruct you to taste the port, ice wine, or Aphrodite on its own first. Then take a small nibble of chocolate and taste the wine again. It's striking what a difference the chocolate has on the wine's flavor profile (and by "flavor profile" I mean "awesome deliciousness that practically defies description").

Duck Walk was the polar opposite of our experience at Pindar (which I'm pretty sure is their sister winery!), where no one bothered to explain what we were drinking or even ask if we had any questions. I'm so glad Mike & Sara's first visit to the North Fork ended here! Thanks to Connor and everyone at Duck Walk North for making our trip there such a blast! We've replenished our wine cabinet and made yet another fun memory on the North Fork! Cheers!

Duck Walk North
44535 Main Road
Southold, NY
(631) 765-3500

December 09, 2011

Love Lane Kitchen: New Visit!

Love Lane Kitchen has long been a favorite for ABF & me, so we were excited for the chance to bring out That Sara (of NYCNomNom) and her BF, Mike!

We started the day with a tasting at Clovis Point, and a few hours later we made it to LLK for dinner. First up: those delicious dinner rolls!

That Sara has a pepper allergy, and our server was very attentive and took it seriously. She checked on all of our dishes to make sure they were safe for Sara to eat, and she was also correct! Several times I've been out with Sara and we've been assured there are 'no peppers' in a dish, only to find out that there is actually a jalapeno, habanero, bell or other pepper in there after all.

We started with the calamari salad to share, which was deeeelicious. No peppers, lots of flavor! Fresh lemon juice, navy beans, and perfectly cooked calamari. Yum.

You'd think we were sick of wine by this point, but Mike, Sara & I still had room for a chilly glass or two of Gruner Veltliner.

This was light and lovely.

For my entree, I picked the skirt steak. It came with fries and a tasty chimichurri-type sauce. The serving was huge--I shared with everyone and still had leftovers. Tender, tasty, delish. The side salad was perfectly dressed and full of fresh, crispy, delectable veggies.

ABF ordered the stout-glazed short ribs with mashed potatoes. These were melt-in-your-mouth scrumptious.

Sara ordered the pork belly with a soft-boiled egg. This smelled amazing.

Mike ordered the cheeseburger, which I've never had, but which seems to be quite popular.

When dessert time came, I was crushed to find out there was NO. RICE. PUDDING. I should have bowed out gracefully then, but no, I foolishly forged ahead. We all decided to share the pumpkin cheesecake, the chocolate pecan pie, and the apple pie. They were tasty, but I prefer the rice pudding AND I was way, way beyond full at this point. The pumpkin cheesecake was my personal favorite, but everyone enjoyed everything. Pretty much sums up every visit ever to Love Lane Kitchen!

Love Lane Kitchen
240 Love Lane
Mattituck, NY 11952
(631) 298-8989

December 08, 2011

Clovis Point: Wine & Cheese with Friends

For our fun-filled day on the North Fork, we took Sara & Mike to Briermere Farms and then Clovis Point! Sara & I had both bought Groupons for a wine & cheese tasting, and it was about to expire. To Clovis Point!

We arrived around 2pm and the joint was hopping! We saw Hal, one of the owners, pouring samples and greeting visitors. He always stops to say hi, and his passion for what he does is clear and makes the place even more welcoming.

We started with the whites, as Clovis Point's steel-barrel Chardonnay is one of my all-time favorite white wines. Mike & Sara enjoyed the oak barrel too, but they are even more fans of Chardonnay than I am. Long story short, everyone of us took home a bottle of Chardonnay.

How gorgeous are these wine glasses? Love.

We hit up the reds as well, including the complex and lovely Archeology blend. Once we had tasted all the wines, we each chose a full glass to take out on the patio with our cheese plate. I chose the Archeology. I would have gone for the Artifact, my all-time favorite there, but they were out. *sniff*

ABF, Sara & Mike all went with the Chardonnay-another great choice!

How's that for a lovely sip and nosh on the outdoor patio?

Almost as soon as we sat down, I knocked over my glass of red. No, I wasn't even tipsy, just klutzy. I did manage to get some on poor Sara's lap, but most of it hit the ground in a red splash resembling a crime scene. Thankfully, the glass didn't break, and the lovely staff more than replenished my glass for me at no extra charge.
I think we all had a lovely time, soaking up the sun's rays, laughing like crazy, and tasting delicious, award-winning wine offered by our hospitable hosts at Clovis Point. ABF & I are always happy to bring friends here for a little break from city life. Once again, a lovely visit...and our day was just getting started!

Clovis Point Winery
1935 Main Rd
Jamesport, NY 11947
(631) 722-4222

December 07, 2011

Briermere Farms: Winter 2011

ABF & I escorted That Sara & her boyfriend Mike to the North Fork for a fun-filled day of eating, drinking, and shopping. Our first stop (after a quick visit to Williams-Sonoma in Riverhead) was Briermere Farms, which is a one-stop shop for all things delicious.

Last year, ABF & I had the caramel apple to end all caramel apples (see that here!), but it turns out this visit we were a week or 2 too late--that season was over. Bummer. There were still plenty of fresh veggies, plants, and oodles of apples available.

Instead of stocking up on pies, we opted for smaller treats, of which there were plenty! It was an almost-overwhelming assortment!

I picked up some pecan puffs, which I know better as Mexican wedding cookies (and they go by a different name for every culture, it seems). These were outstanding--crumbly but not too so, and sweet and nutty. Divine!

I also snagged a pumpkin bite square--it smelled so spicy and heavenly. We all shared some later during our wine tasting at Clovis Point.

Once again, Briermere Farms kills it in the baking department. There is no bad 'season' to visit this spot...and personally, I prefer it in the off-season when the line doesn't stretch all the way across Sound Avenue.

Briermere Farms
4414 Sound Avenue
Riverhead, NY
(631) 722-3931

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