Salted Caramel Ice Cream and IPC Annual BBQ

Memorial Day weekend is the beginning of our summer fun at IPC. Our Sunday evening service is moved to Point Pleasant on Talahi Island (15 minutes from downtown) where breathtaking view of the marsh is visible where ever you sit during evening service.

Too often during service, my mind drifts as I see through the windows the beautiful marsh grass gently swaying in the cool afternoon breeze. After the evening service follows a fellowship meal. And our children inhale their food so they can run off with their friends to swim in the pool, swing on a gigantic rope swing, to explore the Coon Island, or catch fiddler crabs!

Each year, our Grill Meister Tim and his right arm, Alton make our summer kick-off meal very special indeed with their barbecue pork and ribs. I tell you that you will not find better barbecue anywhere in town. Tim truly knows his stuff when it comes to grilling.

His ribs were perfectly seasoned and grilled. Absolutely the best tasting ribs in Georgia, if not the whole country!

To add to this wonderful meal, several year ago, Tim's wife, Tricia started the yearly tradition of homemade ice cream for dessert. She recruits dozens of families to make their favorite flavored ice cream. It is so fun to see what families bring to impress their friends. And my family's flavor this year was Salted Caramel Ice Cream.

First, the caramel made with sugar and heavy cream.

Then custard is added to cooled caramel. 18 eggs was needed for 6 quarts. Absolutely the creamiest and most luxurious texture I have ever tasted, borderline sin of gluttony!

Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Makes 2 quarts

For Caramel:

2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Custard:

2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
6 large eggs

Equipment: an ice cream maker

Heat 2 cup sugar in a dry 5-quart cast iron dutch oven over medium heat, stirring with a fork to heat sugar evenly, until it starts to melt, then stop stirring and cook, swirling skillet occasionally so sugar melts evenly, until it is amber. Be careful, sugar can easily burn!

Add 2 1/2 cups of heavy cream (mixture will bubble violently!), but hold tight! Caramel will clump up as though you made a terrible mistake. Continue to cook until all of caramel dissolves. Take the pot off the heat carefully and stir in sea salt and vanilla. Cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, bring 2 cups milk, 2 cups cream, and 1/2 cup sugar to a point of steaming in a heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally.

Lightly whisk eggs in a medium bowl, then in small increments add a ladle-ful of hot milk mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Do this until egg mixture is somewhat warm. Pour back into saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until custard coats thinly on back of spoon and registers 170°F on an instant-read thermometer (do not let boil). Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, then stir in cooled caramel.

Chill custard, stirring occasionally, until very cold, 3 to 6 hours. Following your ice cream maker's instruction, freeze custard in ice cream maker (it will still be quite soft), then transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to firm up.

Note: this ice cream is best when it is made the day before and has been completely firmed up in the freezer.


Blueberry Cobbler

Fresh blueberries are getting more abundant already and since I have never made Blueberry Cobbler for my church family, I thought I would give it a try. Cook's Illustrated had a great recipe which I modified a bit. The key to intense blueberry flavor is using less sugar than you think you need. Too often with cobblers, too much sugar can result in over sweetened goo rather than fresh baked fruit flavor. Fresh sweetened whipped cream balanced the slight tartness of the blueberries.

For this easy drop biscuit topping, I sprinkled coarse raw sugar and cinnamon on top before baking which resulted in beautiful rustic, sparkling tops . As an experiment, I added finely minced dried blueberries in the dough to see if it will give more flavor. But I found that it was not necessary since baked blueberries were so full of it already. I'll save the dried blueberries for another recipe.


1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon table salt
6 cups fresh blueberries (30 ounces), picked over
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Biscuit Topping
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (5 ounces)
2 tablespoons cornmeal , stone-ground
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Sprinkling
1 Tablespoon Raw sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For Fresh Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.

2. For the filling: Stir sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt together in large bowl. Add berries and mix gently with rubber spatula until evenly coated; add lemon zest and juice and mix to combine. Transfer berry mixture to 9-inch glass pie pan, place pie pan on rimmed baking sheet, and bake until filling is hot and bubbling around edges, about 25 minutes.

3. For the biscuit topping: Whisk flour, cornmeal, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl to combine. Whisk melted butter, buttermilk, and vanilla in small bowl. Mix remaining 2 teaspoons sugar and cinnamon in second small bowl and set aside. One minute before berries come out of the oven, add wet ingredients to dry ingredients; stir with rubber spatula until just combined and no dry pockets remain.

4. To assemble and bake cobbler: Remove berries from oven; increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Pinch off 8 equal-sized pieces biscuit dough and place on hot berry filling, spacing them at least 1/2 inch apart (they should not touch). Sprinkle each mound of dough with cinnamon-sugar. Bake until filling is bubbling and biscuits are golden brown on top and cooked through, 15 to 18 minutes. Cool cobbler on wire rack 20 minutes and serve.

5. In a large chilled bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in vanilla and sugar until peaks form. Make sure not to over-beat, cream will then become lumpy and butter-like.


Thai Noodle Salad

Here is the recipe I promised earlier to the ladies who attended cooking class last week. This cool, refreshing Asian salad is perfect with just about anything. If you want to make a meal out of it, you can toss some grilled shrimp or chicken, which will make a perfect summer dinner for your whole family.

Here is a nifty gadget called Japanese Mandolin Slicer. You can purchase it on Amazon.com or at the Han Me Korean Market for less than $30. But first the WARNING! It is not the safest kitchen tool for a beginner cook. The blade is extremely sharp and if you are not careful, you can easily cut your hand.

On the other hand, when you get used to this slicer, it makes the quickest and prettiest julienne cuts! There are three interchangeable blades with varying thickness. And for my poached salmon (click for photos), I use this indispensable tool to slice cucumbers paper thin to adhere to the body.

But remember, cooking is suppose to be fun. If you are hesitant to try julienne cuts by hand or with the mandolin slicer, get a package of already julienne carrots in the store for now. No sweating, OK?

Thai Noodle Salad
Serves 8-10 as a side dish

1 pound of linguini, broken in half then cooked and drained, put 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to prevent from sticking.

4 Sprigs of green onions, julienne
1 Red bell pepper, cored, julienne (Tricolor peppers are beautiful, too)
2 Carrots, peeled, julienne
2 Cucumbers, seeded, julienne
2 Jalapeno Peppers, seeded, julienne (*see note below)
1 bunch Cilantro, leaves only
1/4 C toasted sesame seeds (divided)
1/4 C toasted almond slivers (divided)

Dressing (can be made up to 5 days ahead)
1/2 C fresh lemon juice
1/2 C soy sauce
3 Tablespoon Chili Oil**
3 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
1 tsp Sugar
2 tsp Red Pepper flakes**

Pasta can be cooked and veggies prepped up to two days ahead. Place all vegetables, pasta, half of almond and sesame seeds in a large mixing bowl. Up to half and hour before serving, mix all the ingredients well with the dressing. Garnish with remaining almond slivers and sesame seeds. Serve.

*Wear latex gloves when seeding and slicing Jalapeno peppers. Oil in these peppers are very potent and can cause severe burning in your fingers and hands!!!
**If you are serving this to children, reduce or omit chili oil and substitute the same quantity with sesame oil.


Red Velvet Cake

Red Velvet Cake seems to be the favorite among Southerners. I have never seen or tasted this cake until I came to Savannah years ago. And certainly in Korea, we do not have such colorful cake.

Yesterday was Hannah's last day in IPC kitchen. Like most young and gifted people, she is moving onto bigger and better things in life, which I am very glad to see. It was her last wish as a designated IPC baker to make her favorite cake: Red Velvet. Intense red coloring is a bit scary, but if you want to make a statement with your dessert, this is it.

As a joke, Hannah decorated her beautiful cake for John Childress. I don't have enough space here to explain who John Childress is, but when you meet him, you will know why he is so well loved by our congregation.

To her last day in IPC kitchen, Hannah was a blessing. She will be fine where ever she goes. Her cheerfulness with childlike giggles and thoughtfulness to always think of others will carry her far in life.

It was my pleasure to be part of her life for a year to teach her how to cook and act as her older sister. Gosh, I am going to miss her!

Red Velvet Cake

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured), 7.5 oz
1 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon red food coloring
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

For cake: Make sure you sift the flour mixture!

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides or line the bottom of pan with parchment paper. Sift sifted flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, sour cream, and vanilla in small bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 3 additions.

Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 27 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely.

For frosting:

Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

Place 1 cake layer, flat side up, on platter. Spread 1 cup frosting over top of cake. Arrange 1 basket raspberries and 1/2 basket blueberries atop frosting, pressing lightly to adhere. Top with second cake layer, flat side down. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Arrange remaining berries decoratively over top of cake. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.)


Fried Egg Rolls

Fried Egg Rolls are the ultimate favorite for my church family. I can make a thousand of these and I assure you, and these will get eaten. I am so happy that I can finally post this recipe. A dozen of young moms and young ladies from my church gathered to learn how to make egg rolls and had lunch afterward: Thai Noodle Salad (I'll post this recipe later) and egg rolls. It was a great fun, food and most importantly, fellowship! We made close to three hundred and they all went home with a few dozens of egg rolls.

Here are some ingredients which are found only in Asian markets. In Savannah, Han Me (click for map) Oriental Market sells the Mung Bean Threads, Spring Roll wrappers, and fantastic Red Chili Sauce. I find that these wrappers are best for crispy egg rolls. Don't bother with square, pasta looking sheets sold in American grocery stores. They are too thick and chewy.

Shredded cabbage must be blanched in hot water when making in large quantity or pan-sauteed. Shredded carrots are also sauteed. Both vegetables are squeezed in a cheese cloth to get excess liquid out, or the egg roll wrapper will crack during freezing process. All ingredients are chilled before rolled with wrappers.

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I use only five simple main filling ingredients(browned meat has both beef and pork) since there are so many children in my church and many are not adventurous eaters, yet. You can easily add or make other variations of egg rolls from this basic recipe.

Here are the steps to rolling egg rolls.
1. The key is to not to put too much filling, 1 tablespoon is good amount.
2. First fold should be snug against the filling, shaping into a cylinder shape, not a flat parcel.
3. Fold over both sides of edges, make sure the folded lines are parallel, which will result in a neater roll.
4. Using your finger, smear egg white/cornstarch mix on the top triangular edges and finish rolling. There should be a complete seal.

You can use canola, vegetable oil, or peanut oil to fry. Make sure oil temperature is about 375 degrees F. for crispy skins. And don't crowd the pan or the oil temperature will plunge and egg rolls will take too long to brown.

For Filling (for about 50 egg rolls)

3/4 pound ground pork
3/4 pound of ground beef
3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

1 head of small cabbage, shredded or sliced 1/4 in thickness (see photo)
3 carrots, coarsely grated, dried sauteed on pan (no oil), for 45 seconds to wilt

1 pkg of Bean thread, or Mung bean noodles (Lungkow brand was used for this recipe), soaked in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes, drained well and cut with scissors into 3-inch length.

3 Tablespoons of sesame oil
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

For wrapping:
2- packages of Spring Roll Wrappers (Wei Chuan Brand), 25 sheets in a package, thaw completely and leave sealed package out, bring to room temperature. Always buy a few packages extra, keep frozen until needed.
2 egg whites
2 tablespoon of corn starch

1- Cheese cloth or any clean cotton sheet (18"x18") to squeeze liquid out of cabbages and carrots

Heat a large frying pan over high heat until hot. Add ground pork, beef, and soy sauce and cook until meat is no longer pink. Drain in colander.

Add shredded cabbage and saute for 2-3 minutes until slightly wilted. Set aside. Saute grated carrots in the same pan 1 minute until wilted. When veggies are cooled, put veggies in a cheese cloth or any clean cotton fabric and squeeze excess liquid. A great way to work out your muscles!

**I purchased a brand new mop wringer three years ago, just for this purpose. Squeezing 30 pounds of cabbages and carrots by hand is not recommended when you are making 400 egg rolls at a time!

Soak Mung Bean Threads in hot, not boiling, water, for 5 minutes until soft. Drain for 10 minutes. Cut with scissors into 3-inch segments.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of sesame oil, mix well. Add salt and ground pepper to taste. Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight.

For Wrapping:

Combine egg whites and cornstarch in a small bowl. Mix well until corn starch is well incorporated with egg white. This is your glue for egg roll wrappers!

Open the wrapper package and separate the sheets. Separate only 2-3 sheets ahead or they will dry out too quickly and it will be harder to roll.

See photos for how to roll. Can be refrigerated up to 4 hours or freeze.

For freezing, egg rolls can touch each other, but put a sheet of wax paper or plastic wrap between layers to ensure they will not stick together in the freezer. Can be frozen up to 2 months. Fry the egg rolls frozen, cooking 4-6 at a time.

Fill a heavy duty pot with 2-inch of oil. Heat oil until temperature reaches 350 - 375 degrees F. Gently lower the egg rolls, 4-6 at a time and fry until golden brown, turning a few times. 1 1/2 minutes or so, longer if frozen.

Serve with Red Chili Sauce.


Blackened Cod Sandwich with Avocado Aioli

Cod is a wonderful mild fish with very low fat content with dense, flaky meat. Since it does not have a particular flavor like salmon, I used my "house dry rub" and blackened it on cast iron griddle to add flavor.

For some odd reason, I ordered a bag of avocados last week and I had to use them today before they went yucky. So instead of making Basil Aioli as I had planned, I made Avocado Aioli instead.

The combined flavor of blackened herbs and spices and creamy, nutty taste of avocado with a hint of fresh basil in aioli was excellent. My only regret was not adding some wasabi to add a little kick. But I was running out of time. It was 12:20 pm already and the hungry lunch crowd would descend to kitchen in 10 minutes. I will definitely try adding wasabi next time!

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I just love this cast iron black top. It is so useful from sauteing veggies to blackening all sorts of meats.

For Cod:

3-4 tablespoon All Purpose Dry Rub
4 pieces of cod, thawed completely if previously frozen, pat dried with paper towel
2 tablespoon of vegetable oil

Sprinkle fish fillets on both sides with seasoning mixture
Heat a large cast iron skillet until smoking, add oil
Place fish on skillet, and sear about 2-3 minutes per side, turning once

Serve on a bed of garden salad or on a Hoagie bun with your favorite toppings.

For Avocado Aioli
3 Hass avocados, ripe
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup Mayo (Hellmann's)
3 tablespoons chopped basil
1 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small shallot, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Optional: Wasabi paste to taste

In a food processor, pulse the avocados and rest of the ingredients together until blended and smooth. Season with salt and pepper and serve. Add more lemon juice if too thick.


Lemon Coleslaw

Coleslaw is a must for BBQ dinner. With tender meat and sweet, tangy sauce, good crunchy coleslaw yields wonderful texture and flavor in your mouth. This was our Sunday dinner menu:

Pork BBQ with Tangy Sauce
Three-Bean Casserole
Lemon Cole Slaw
Cheese Biscuits
Garden Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing
Ice Cream Sundae

I have had plenty of Boston butts in my life but never had to chop one, never mind ten of them, 8 to 9 pounds each! With a giant cleaver in my hand, I asked, "Now what?". My practical friend, Dennis, who was visiting the kitchen said, "Just hack away, that's what Tim does." Tim is our church's renowned BBQ & Fish fry master.

With this encouragement, I took off the fat cap, and shoulder blade bone (yes, Butt is actually a shoulder of a pig), and gave it a timid whack. After few minutes though, I got in a rhythm and watch out, I was hacking away like a true Master Boston Butt Chopper! I must say, that was a great stress reliever and more fun than I could handle! And I got the sore shoulder to prove it.

Back to our slaw....

To avoid watery coleslaw, sliced cabbages must be salted first to extract some of the water. This is how my native Korean dish, Kim Chi is usually made. Salting the vegetables gives a wonderful crunch to cabbages.

I took a traditional creamy Cole Slaw recipe but added fresh lemon zest, minced shallots, and plenty of fresh parsley, which added so much flavor and colors!

1 head green cabbage (2 pounds)

1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)
1/2 cup mayo (Hellmann's)
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon, grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 small shallot, minced, about 2 tablespoon
2 Tablespoon, minced parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste

2 carrots, peeled, julienned very thinly, plus optional for color:
1/4 head of purple cabbage (salted & rinsed),
Tricolor peppers, thinly sliced
green onions, thinly sliced


1. Toss shredded cabbage and 1 teaspoon salt in colander or large mesh strainer set over medium bowl. Let stand until cabbage wilts, at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours. Rinse cabbage under cold running water. Press, but do not squeeze, to drain; pat dry with paper towels. Place wilted cabbage and carrot in large bowl.

2. Stir mayonnaise, vinegar, shallot, parsley, lemon juice, sugar, mustard, lemon zest, together in small bowl. Pour dressing over cabbage, carrots, parsley and toss to combine; salt and pepper to taste; refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour for flavors to blend. Can be made a day ahead.

Note: I omitted caraway seeds since most of the children in my church, including my own, do not like the flavor.


Turkey Sub on Ciabatta Bread

Each week, I purchase different types of buns or rolls to make sandwiches for Wednesday Service Lunch. But on Tuesday, as I was browsing through the bread aisle, I realized how little selection there really is at a typical grocery store and the price of buns is so outrageous. It nearly kills me that I have to pay three to four dollars for a pack of these too soft, very little flavor bread. So I thought I would attempt at ciabatta (pronounced chuh-BAH-tah) bread for the first time for our sandwiches.

Sponge is made the day before by adding bread flour, yeast, and water and allowing yeast to do its work for a day in a cool place. This fermentation process adds wonderful yeasty flavor in the bread.

Rest of the ingredients is added the next day and after the dough rises, it is shaped and baked.

True to its name, we made ours into small "slippers" for individual sandwiches. And for added flavor and color, tops were brushed with olive oil, then sprinkled with four-blended cheese, dried thyme, and granulated garlic.

Bigger loaves were cut into thick slices and served with Spinach and Strawberry Salad.

Boy, it is going to be so HARD to go back to store bought bread! I almost regret that I started this....but warm Turkey and Swiss on Ciabatta never tasted so good. I guess I'll have to fit bread making into our schedule.

Ciabatta Bread Recipe
For Sponge:

1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water (110 degrees
F/45 degrees C)
1/3 cup warm water
1 cup bread flour

1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm milk (110 degrees F
/45 degrees C)
2/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups bread flour
1-1/2 teaspoon salt

Optional: Brush with olive oil, sprinkle granulated garlic, dried thyme, and four cheese blend mix.

1. To Make Sponge: In a small bowl stir together 1/8 teaspoon of the yeast and the warm water and let stand 5 minutes, or until creamy. In a bowl stir together yeast mixture, 1/3 cup of the water, and 1cup of the bread flour. Stir 4 minutes, then over bowl with plastic wrap. Let sponge stand at cool room temperature for at least 12 hours and up to 1 day.

2. To Make Bread: In a small bowl stir together yeast and milk and let stand 5 minutes, or until creamy. In bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with dough hook blend together milk mixture, sponge, water, oil, and flour at low speed until flour is just moistened; add salt and mix until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Scrape dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

3. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. (Dough will be sticky and full of air bubbles.) Turn dough out onto a well-floured work surface and cut in half. Transfer each half to a parchment sheet and form into an irregular oval about 9 inches long. Dimple loaves with floured fingers and dust tops with flour. Cover loaves with a dampened kitchen towel. Let loaves rise at room temperature until almost doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

4. At least 45 minutes before baking ciabatta, put a baking stone on oven rack in lowest position in oven and preheat oven to 425 F (220 degrees C).
5. Transfer 1 loaf on its parchment to a rimless baking sheet with a long side of loaf parallel to far edge of baking sheet. Line up far edge of baking sheet with far edge of stone or tiles, and tilt baking sheet to slide loaf with parchment onto back half of stone or tiles. Transfer remaining loaf to front half of stone in a similar manner. Bake ciabatta loaves 20 minutes, or until pale golden. Cool loaves on a wire rack.

To make sandwiches, add your favorite deli meat and cheese.

Note: If you are putting cheese topping, lower the temperature to 400 degrees F. And since we had to make two dozens of of these, I lined regular cookies sheets with parchment paper and put shaped bread directly on them, let rise and baked in oven. The crust was not as hearty but the texture of the bread was wonderful.


Nutty Peanut Butter Cookies

It was a very busy morning for us in IPC kitchen. We had to prepare our regular Wednesday Noon Service lunch, and for a special youth event: Senior Roast, dinner honoring five graduating high school seniors. So we kept our dessert simple but good. Good ol' Peanut Butter Cookies drizzled with melted chocolate.

We agree with Cook's Illustrated taste test on peanut butter, Jif outshines other brands on clean, peanutty flavor.

Dip your fork in granulated sugar first when making criss-cross design, it keeps the fork from sticking to the dough.

After cookies are cooled, melt white or dark chocolate in a double boiler with one teaspoon of vegetable shortening. Put melted chocolate in ziplock baggies and snip the corner of the bag and gently drizzle on cookie tops.

Hannah could not resist a taste test.

Nutty Peanut Butter Cookies

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt

1/2 pound butter (2 sticks), salted
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup extra-crunchy peanut butter or creamy is OK, too, preferably Jif
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup ground,packed, roasted salted peanuts (ground in food processor to resemble bread crumbs, about 14 pulses

Optional: White or dark chocolate for melting

1. Adjust oven rack to low center position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl.

2. In bowl of electric mixer or by hand, beat butter until creamy. Add sugars; beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes with electric mixer, stopping to scrape down bowl as necessary. Beat in peanut butter until fully incorporated, then eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Gently stir dry ingredients into peanut butter mixture. Add ground peanuts; stir gently until just incorporated.

3. Working with 2 tablespoons dough at a time, roll into large balls, placing them 2 inches apart on a parchment-covered cookie sheet. Press each dough ball with back of dinner fork dipped in granulated sugar to make crisscross design. Bake until cookies are puffed and slightly brown along edges, but not top, 10 to 12 minutes (they will not look fully baked). Cool cookies on cookie sheet until set, about 4 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Optional: Drizzle melted chocolate on cookie tops. Cool completely before serving.

Cookies will keep, refrigerated in an airtight container, up to 7 days.


Choir Appreciation Dinner

Independent Presbyterian Church has by far the best choir in town and no, I am not biased. Under the masterful direction of our beloved organist and choir director, Kathryn, dedicated members bless our congregation each Sunday with their gifts of singing. And it was time for the church to say, "Thank You".

Choir Appreciation Dinner Menu:

Poached Salmon with Horseradish-Caper Sauce
Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Mustard Cream
Mashed Potato Casserole
Blanched Asparagus with Basil Viniagrette
Spinach-Arugula Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing
Barbie's Yeast Rolls
White Chocolate Cheesecake with Berry Coulis

Before every special event, my garden is raided. My herbs and flowers fear me when I approach them with a pair of scissors in my hand and that strange grin on my face.

Beef tenderloin is very affordable to feed a large crowd when you buy them whole and trim it yourself.

This is a great conversation piece at dinner parties. It is relatively easy to make and one 15-pound whole salmon feeds about 50 people.

This is my standard homemade yeast rolls. But to give it a different look, I brushed the top with egg white and sprinkled black and white sesame seeds before baking.

Mr. Ernest, at Merriwicke, did a splendid job with table centerpieces.

Spinach and Arugula tossed with fresh fruit and Poppy Seed Dressing.

Since food is my love language, I hope IPC choir members know how much they are loved and appreciated! Thank you, Kathryn, and IPC Choir!