Puffy pancakes | Dutch baby

flour, 1/2 cup
vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp
milk, 1/2 cup
eggs, 2
butter, 2 tbsp
powdered sugar, optional
lemon, cut into wedges, optional
fresh berries, optional
maple syrup, optional (I like Noble's bourbon barrel-matured maple syrup or the Tahitian vanilla bean and Egyptian chamomile blossom variety)

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. 
2. Whisk all ingredients in a mixing bowl.
3. Grease an 8-9 inch round baking dish or a pie plate.
4. Melt the butter and pour into the baking dish.
5. Bake for 20 minutes or until fully puffed. 
6. Serve sprinkled with powdered sugar and fresh lemon or topped with berries and maple syrup. 

the story
Blue Sky Basin, January 2013
This, quite possibly, is my favorite brunch dish. (It's closest competitor is blueberry crisp baked French toast.) My mom discovered them at a restaurant in Portland, Oregon forty years ago and started making them again for me and my sister at least twenty years ago. For a long time, I considered them forgotten to all except our family...then I spotted it (as "Pannekoeken, often called a Dutch baby or German pancake") on the menu of the Little Diner while I was skiing in Vail. 


Starlight cookies | Luce stellare

Dry yeast, one package
Original Starlight recipe with diagram.
Water, warm, 1/4 cup
Flour, sifted, 3 3/4 cups
Butter, softened, 2 sticks or 1 cup
Eggs, two
Sour cream, 1/2 cup
Vanilla extract, 3 teaspoons
Sugar, 1 1/2 cups

1. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Set aside.
2. Sift flour and add softened butter.
3. Work like pie crust.
4. Beat eggs, sour cream, and one teaspoon of vanilla.
5. Add egg mixture to flour mixture.
6. Add yeast to combined mixture.
7. Work dough until smooth.
8. Cover and chill for two hours or more.
9. Combine sugar and remaining two teaspoons vanilla.
10. Divide dough and sugar mixture in half.
11. Roll dough in 6 inch (15 cm) by 12 inch (30 cm) rectangle.
12. Sprinkle lightly with some of sugar mixture.
13. Fold rectangle of dough like a letter (trifold).
14. Roll out into a rectangle and sprinkle with sugar again.
15. Repeat until entire half of sugar mixture is used.
16. Cut rectangle into 32 strips and twist each.
17. Bake at 375˚F for 12 to 15 minutes on a cookie sheet lined with foil or parchment paper.

32 cookies

the story
With two of my youngest cousins,
Emmi and Chloe, then 10 months and 4.
Christmas Eve 2005.
Each day until Christmas I'll be posting one classic family recipe. Traditionally, my extended family assembles at my parents' house on Christmas Eve for a seated dinner for 35 people. Our menu usually includes shrimp cocktail and scampi, angel hair aglio olio, eggplant involtini, fennel, orange and pomegranate salad, and other classic Italian and Italian-American dishes, sometimes stuffed calamari or chicken marsala, but generally not feast of the seven fishes (we have a lot of seafood-refusers). The dessert table is usually at risk of collapsing under its own weight, including these buttery starlight cookies, almond petit-fours (similar to rainbow cookies), melty chocolate crinkles, decadent peanut butter cups, almond-paste cookies (often several kinds), baklava, round anise cookies, pusties (pasticciotti) and more. I also love to make sugar snowflakes with pale blue and white icing, soft gingersnaps, saffron madeleines, checkerboard shortbread, and, this year, maple-pumpkin cupcakes.

This recipe comes from my grandmother Ida and can be challenging. It demands patience to complete the required number of rolls. The flaky, buttery cookies are especially delicious fresh from the oven.

Starlight snowflakes
However, if you happen to mix up the starlight dough with some sugar cookie dough you also happen to have chilling in the refrigerator, here is what can happen:

Delicious nonetheless, but remember to sprinkle with sugar since the dough has none...
Christmas Eve 2012
Starlight cookies are in the glass dish behind the left candlestick, c. 1998.