Champagne Cookies

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Ok so there isn’t any actual champagne in these cookies. I mean, what a waste of champagne that would be. It’s so much better bubbling in a champagne flute. But look how sweet these cookies are: K and J lent me some champagne flute cookie cutters for K’s Champagne Friday (they insist on the respect of capital letters) holiday party. My prompt was a classic christmas cookie. A pretty short-bread cookie, bling-ed out in christmas colored icing and sparkles. I opted for a light sugar glaze and some gold sparkles. Champagne bling.

The cookie itself is a maple nutmeg butter cookie. Maple syrup is absolutely divine. It’s a staple in my refrigerator. Every morning it transforms my hum-drum breakfast of oats into nothing short of a miracle. I cook oats for 7 minutes on the stove; and then add a dash of milk, an enormous SPLASH of maple syrup and crushed walnuts, and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg.

These cookies are also *spectacular* un-iced with coffee. They have the butteryness of a cookie and a special maple-y sweetness accented by nutmeg.

Ingredients 
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
makes about 40-50 cookies

1 Cup (2 Sticks) Unsalted Butter
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/3 Cup Maple Syrup
1 Large Egg Yolk
3 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1 1/4 Teaspoon Flaky Salt

1. Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer.
2. Drizzle in the egg yolk while the mixer is running. Then add the maple syrup.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, nutmeg and salt.
4. Mix in the flour mixture to the butter mixture. You should have a dough in ‘loose clumps.’
5. Tightly wrap the dough in foil or cling film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

6. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
7. Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it out 1/8 of an inch think. Cut into fabulous shapes and bake for 7-11 minutes.
8. Let cool. And then decorate!

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K made the most spectacular hor d’oeuvres.
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Deviled Eggs
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Deliciously melting tomato bruschetta
IMG_0217¬†Prosciutto wrapped melon: which reminds me of this wonderful moment in Eat, Pray, Love (yes, that’s right. I totally read it and totally loved it) when Elizabeth Gilbert orders for a table of her Italian friends in exquisite Italian. And amongst the many delicacies are slices of melon draped with thin slices of prosciutto. Unfortunately I just can’t bear the taste of melon. It is nothing short of a culinary tragedy. I tried one yesterday because K. and J. had so enticingly set them out.
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Pickled Okra; Pecans; Olives

Acorn Squash Bread

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Apparently I couldn’t even wait to take a photograph before taking a bite! I don’t know if the photo does justice to the beautifully speckled yellow-orange of the bread. Even mashed, the acorn squash ribbons the mixture wonderfully. I must give credit for this moment of genius to my dearest friend Jenni, and to the many conversations we have recently had about acorn squash. She’s an amazing cook, and sends me regular updates about the amazing things bubbling in her kitchen. And she has been ALL praise for acorn squash this season. So I roasted some over the weekend. I was spring (I wish) cleaning this afternoon and found leftover (unsalted) roasted squash in my fridge. I decided to adapt my go-to banana bread recipe. And good grief am I pleased.

I finished my one and only final exam today, and there is no greater celebration than to sit down to a delicious cup of coffee as something heavenly bakes in the oven.

Acorn Squash Bread
(adapted from a banana bread recipe from Epicurious from a million years ago)

Ingredients
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup mushed roasted acorn squash
1/3 cup buttermilk or 1/3 cup plain yoghurt watered to buttermilk consistency
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
a pinch nutmeg

1. Grease a bread tin and preheat your oven to 325 F.

2. Beat together the eggs and sugar (about 5 minutes).

3. Add the squash, buttermilk, oil and vanilla and whisk.

4. Mix in the dry ingredients.
[Apparently we need to sift the flour–I must admit I never sift anything. And in matters as basic as a version of banana bread, let’s face it: it’s pretty impossible to make a mess of it. I mean this is not a macoron or a souffle. There is a different moment for the erudition required for making those! And that moment is not today.]

5. Then add seasoning. I love cinnamon and nutmeg. I imagine all-spice would be delicious too.

6. Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes. My oven is smaller and I find it only requires about 45-50 minutes, though the recipe calls for an hour.

7. Do your best to let the beautiful rectangle of gold cool before turning it out of the tin and eating a steaming slice (as i did) with a hot cup of coffee.

God bless the freedom to compose run-on sentences.