I am asked, often, about how I come up with my crazy-kicked up ideas. Well, I admit I watch a lot of food tv shows, either on the Food Network or on PBS. (btw, Emeril Green on Planet Green is pretty good too). When I watch these shows I see what they are doing and always, always, always want to do it differently than what they did. The only time this does not happen is this seasons' Top Chef: Las Vegas; I'm blown away by the huge amount of talent. Almost every single dish they've made I am sitting there saying 'holy moly how very clever'! You know? Season one was sooo good too.
I keep a notepad with me almost at all times: there is one in the car, one on my nightstand, and one at my desk. The others times I carry one with me because I do get a lot of ideas when I'm at the gym or walking about. I'd say I get most of my ideas at night just before bed, and in the middle of the night to as I'm trying to fall asleep my mind just races with ideas. My list of 'to-make' is long, oh so very long; I finally resorted to typing them into my computer years ago or else I would be like those old college professors with papers, stack of papers, and stick-it's all over the place. I'm sort of a neat freak so that wouldn't fly. I am up to over 30 typed pages of ideas, not to mention the stack of recipes I printed from other food bloggers. I am very guilty of making more sweets than meals. My first love is french cooking, and I haven't been good about keeping that end up lately it seems.
Just like every chef and cook alike I have a fairly large cookbook collection. A lot of inspiration comes from cookbooks. One of my favorite things to do is look through a newer cookbook, ear-mark something, then go research almost the same thing in an old cookbooks and try to fuse the two together. Collecting old cookbooks is an addictive behaviour of mine that I don't get to practice as much as I'd like. Here on cape cod there are a lot of old, rotting bookstores with ginormous piles of neglected books; it takes hours to find the cookbooks because nothing is labeled and most of the people who go there prefer literary novels and the like, so the cookbooks are like those rug warehouses where the best carpets are at the very bottom! Don't get me started on the old, mile-long bookstores in NYC. That is heaven!! What I love about the older cookbooks: those food stains/mug stains on the pages, the withering ear-marked pages, and of course the old book smell--Love that old book smell!
There are so many food-creations I make that never make it to the food blog or are sitting in the photo archives. But I shall change that as most of you said you have no problem seeing my recipe-fails. This pretzel shortbread inspiration came from an old food & wine magazine--orignally it was a pretzel crust with chocolate filling type pie. I wanted to see if I could make shortbread with it. Came out ok, but for whatever reason they go stale fast--lasting only a couple days after being baked & dipped. Will I make this again? Not so sure, this is one of my recipe-fail ones, but I might if I add in more sugar and a hint of vanilla to it next time around.
inspired from food & wine
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups coarsely crushed thin pretzels (I used 1 & ½ cups)
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
A small pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg
About ½ cup of melted milk or dark chocolate (milk is way better)
In a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with 3/4 cup of the pretzels and the confectioners’ sugar at low speed until creamy.
Beat in the flour, egg, and salt.
Add the remaining 1/2 cup of pretzels, being sure to leave some pretzel pieces intact.
Flatten the dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 30 minutes. I only flattened them to ½ - ¾ inch thick—you don’t want them too thin.
Preheat the oven to 350°.
Roll out the dough between the sheets of plastic wrap. Cut them into circles of strips, whatever shape you desire. Place onto parchment lined cookie sheet.
Bake for about 10 minutes or until tops are almost light golden brown. These bake FAST! Once they turn a medium brown they are no good.
Let them cool a bit before dipping in melted chocolate. When you are ready to dip them make sure to let them set on parchment paper.
Note: these do not keep more than 2 days. They get stale fairly fast for whatever reason.