Saturday, September 15, 2012

Nutty Danish Pastry

Melt in your mouth?  Yes, Nutty Danish Pastry will do just that.

I found this pastry in a long-forgotten magazine at least 25 years ago and pulled it out for that brunch we hosted recently.  This is a fairly simple recipe but there are three specific steps that at first glance may lead you to think it is much more complicated.

The key is taking it one step at a time, and taking your time, but it is so worth the time spent.  I love this pastry's shortbread-like bottom layer and the top layer is one of my favorites when it comes to frosting.

Nutty Danish Pastry

Layer one:
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons water

Cut 1/2 cup margarine into flour until crumbly.  Sprinkle 2 tablespoons water evenly over surface; stir with a fork until moistened.  Shape into 2 equal balls. Place each ball on a parchment-lined baking sheet and flatten into a 12-x3-inch rectangle.

Layer two:
1/2 cup margarine
1 cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine 1/2 cup margarine and one cup water in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil.  Add one cup of flour.  Reduce to low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture forms a ball and leaves the sides of the pan.  Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.  Add eggs, one at time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

Divide mixture evenly onto the 2 pastry rectangles and spread until covering the first layer from end to end.  It will seem like way too much but it is the thicker layer so just keep spreading.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes until set and golden brown.

1/4 cup margarine
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped pecans, divided

Melt 1/4 cup margarine in a medium saucepan.  Stir in brown sugar and cook over low heat about one minute.  Add 1 1/2 tablespoons milk, sifted powdered sugar, and vanilla.  Use remaining 1/2 tablespoon of milk, if needed, for better consistency.  I used the full 2 tablespoons.

Spread frosting evenly over the two pastries while still warm.  This frosting sets in the blink of an eye so you will need to work quickly.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup chopped pecans on each.

Slice each pastry crosswise into 12 1-inch pieces.

Serve immediately, or if serving later cover and refrigerate then bring back to room temperature when you're ready.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Easy Sew Table Linens

I'm stepping away from the kitchen for a quick sewing project.  Several weeks ago we were host to a brunch and wanted to change up the look of the dining table.  With a few yards of a fabric remnant picked up at a discount sewing center and a few hours at the sewing machine I was able to create napkins and a table runner to give the table a fresh new look complemented quite nicely by my husband's floral decorating skills.

For the napkins ...
Begin by cutting squares of fabric to equal your desired finished size plus about 3 inches to allow for hemming.  My squares were 20" for a 17" finished napkin. Fold the raw edge over 1- to 1 1/2 -inches and press all around, then press in 1/4-inch all around the edge.

At each corner, fold in diagonally, lining up the pressed creases, then lightly press the folded edge.

Fold corner edges right sides together, and pin.

Stitch along the pressed diagonal crease and trim away excess fabric.

Repeat for the other three corners.
Turn hem to the wrong side of napkin square.

Edge stitch all around and press finished napkin.

And, for the runner ...

Cut a strip of fabric to desired length and width to fit nicely down the center of your table.

Fold right sides together and trim away a small triangle to give a pointed end to your runner.  To make sure both ends are identical, place the cut triangle on the other end and trim to match.

Press in 1/4-inch along raw edge all around the runner.

For a clean hem, you can fold in another 1/4-inch and press or simply fold in as you sew, encasing the raw edge.  As you reach the corners, stitch within a few inches of the corner, stop and tuck underneath the upcoming side; pin or hold in place as you sew around the turn.  Press well.

And here is the finished look, complete with inexpensive purchased place mats, candles, and flowers arranged as only my husband can.

I think I'll keep him.

P.S.  He's also a great cook, so I know I'm going to keep him.

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Strawberry Tea

Trying to squeeze as much summer out of summer as you can?

Strawberry Tea is a great warm weather drink and is quite refreshing for those last days of summer when like me, you want to hang on to the warmth as long as possible.

Strawberry Tea
1 (10-ounce) package frozen strawberries, thawed
1 1/2 quarts water
3 family-size tea bags
1/2 cup sugar
1 (6-ounce) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed and undiluted
1 (2-liter) bottle lemon-lime carbonated beverage, chilled

Place strawberries in a food processor; process until smooth, stopping at least once to scrape down the side.

Bring water to a rolling boil then add tea bags.  Cover and steep five minutes.

Remove tea bags.  Stir in sugar, lemonade concentrate, and strawberry puree then place in refrigerator to chill.

When ready to serve, pour chilled lemon-lime soda into strawberry mixture.  Stir until well blended.  Pour over ice and garnish with sprigs of fresh mint or slices of fresh strawberries.

This recipe is from a June 1994 Southern Living and I've made this more times than I can count.  It's not only delicious simply as a fruity tea but it makes a wonderful punch as well.  Simply freeze part of the mix as an ice ring, decorated with fresh berries and mint leaves, place in punch bowl and add remainder of tea.  

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