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The History of Shortbread

The History of Shortbread

Have you ever enjoyed the dense delicacy that is shortbread cookies? Did you know they originated in Scotland and could date back to the 12th century? These traditional cookies have a high butter content and traditionally had a recipe of one part sugar, two parts butter and three parts flour. The more modern recipes include dipping them in chocolate or other delicious glazes or creating different shapes to fit the occasion. If you’ve never made shortbread cookies now is as good a time as any. They are simple to make and could quickly become a staple in your baking repertoire. Try out this recipe from Martha Stewart!

 

INGREDIENTS
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup confectioners' or granulated sugar

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter an 8 1/2-inch round cake or springform pan. Sift together flour and salt in a small bowl. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium, cream butter until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add sugar, and continue to beat until very light in color and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary, about 2 minutes more. Add flour mixture, and beat on low, scraping bowl if necessary, until flour is just incorporated and dough sticks together when squeezed.
Pat dough into prepared pan. Use a paring knife to score dough into wedges; prick all over in even intervals with a wooden skewer or fork.
Bake until firm in the center and just starting to color, about 50 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Cut into wedges. Cookies will keep, in an airtight container, at room temperature 3 weeks.

Butter vs. Olive Oil

Butter vs. Olive Oil

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What’s the difference?

Butter and olive oil are two of the most used ingredients in the kitchen. It would be hard to find a common household that doesn’t have these two cooking must haves. Although they are simple ingredients they manage to elevate dishes seamlessly and we have much heartier meals because of them!  Here are a couple differences between butter and olive oil and different ways you can use each of them.

The Differences between the Two

Butter is made from fat and protein found in milk. Typically we use the milk of a cow to make butter but you can use sheep or goat milk as well. It is made by churning fresh cream or milk. There are many types of butter including, but not limited to, salted, unsalted, grass-fed, clarified butter, and cultured butter. Butter can be stored in the refrigerator to keep it cool or hard, or it can be left at room temperature to stay soft. If you do leave your butter at room temperature you want to be sure to use a Butter Bay so your butter doesn’t go rancid!

Butter is often preferred for recipes that need creaming because it is thicker and will take better. Also if you are baking something like croissants or cake butter is typically favored!

Olive oil is the fat that is retrieved from the olive. Olives are a fruit grown on trees and these trees are now grown throughout the world, although they are native to the Mediterranean. The olives are harvested from the trees and pressed to extract the olive oil. You will normally see olive oil labeled as “virgin” or “extra virgin” which refers to how much that olive oil has been processed.  Olive oil is stored in a dry dark place and is not refrigerated.

Olive oil is used more often when you can’t or don’t want to include dairy in your meal. Also if you are looking for a lighter alternative to butter, so if you are making a salad veggies olive oil may be the way to go!

Those are a few of the main differences between the two! Which one do you prefer using when you are cooking and baking?

How to Set a Table

Setting a table for an event or dinner party can be a daunting task. Knowing the formality of the occasion and the differences between the three basic table settings can help ease your worry. With this simple guide you will always know what place setting is best and just how to execute it.

Basic Table SettingImage source: http://blog.postmark.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/basic-setting.jpg

This is perfect for any informal occasion. If you are just having family over for sunday dinner or want to have a nice sit down breakfast with the kids this should be your go to.

Place your plate center to the chair. From there, your fork and napkin go to the left of the plate, while knife and spoon go to the right. The knife should be on the inside of the spoon, closest to the plate and the blade should face the plate.

Much like using your left hand to form an ‘L’ to distinguish left from right, you can easily discern where your bread plate and drink should go by forming a ‘b’ with your left hand and a ‘d’ with the right. Your bread plate and butter knife go to the left above your fork and the drink will go to the left above your knife.

Informal Table Setting

informal place settingImage source: http://blog.postmark.com/evolving-etiquette/how-to-set-a-table-informal/

An informal setting is appropriate for a nice, three course dinner. Once again your dinner plate is center. To the left will be two forks, the larger, dinner fork, is placed closest to the plate with the smaller, salad fork on the outside. The Napkin is either set under the plate or to the left of the forks. Like the basic setting, your knife will go to the right of the plate, blade facing in, followed by the dessert spoon and then the soup spoon (left to right). All drinks go to the right above the knife. You may include additional plates for salad or bread. The bread plate follows the same rules as in the basic setting and goes above the forks, while the salad plate would be placed to the far left of the forks.

Formal Table Setting

formal place settingImage source: http://blog.postmark.com/evolving-etiquette/how-to-set-a-table-formal/

A formal setting would be used when the meal includes more than three courses or for a large holiday meal. Each course is brought in on its own plate and positioned in front of the guests. Dessert will arrive on it’s own plate with it’s own utensils included on the plate. Because you are bringing each plate individually, all that is needed in the setting is a large plate called a charger, upon which each course will be placed.
The napkin sits on the charger. Your bread plate goes, as usual, to the left above the forks and should have it’s own knife set on top of it. The forks are arranged to the left of the charger, they are arranged based on the order they will be used, working from the outside in. (Note, there should never be more than 3 of the same type of utensil on the table, bring any additional utensils out with the course). The dinner knife is placed to the right of the charger, with a fish knife (if appropriate) to it’s right. The spoon also sits in it’s usual location to the right of the knives. Drinks go above the knives and spoons and are organized in the order they will be used, not to exceed 5.

There is a rundown of the 3 main types of table settings. Thankfully the formal setting won’t be something you have to remember often. If you are looking for some added flare for your table settings, check out our entertaining board on Pinterest.